How are you doing? Hanging in there? I hope so!
This quarantine hasn't been easy for anyone I've spoken to in the last several weeks. The things that seem to be getting people through are family, music/the arts, and food - 3 of my favorite things! Which is why for today's Wonderful Wednesday post I'm sharing three of my go-to recipes.
These are easy, yummy, and healthy recipes that kids can help make...but only if you want them to :)
The recipes from each website are written pretty solidly, so I'll be providing a link to the original recipe and sharing my alterations for our personal household taste.
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs
This recipe comes from DamnDelicious.net.
We're not big green bean people in my house, so I add some extra carrots and potatoes to the recipe. I also reduce the amount of honey and soy sauce to 1/3 cup and add some ginger and 1/2 cup of ketchup to the sauce.
What I love most about this recipe is all of the optional changes that you make to the sauce.
Want it Spicy & Savory? Use the original sauce recipe with these modifications:
Looking for an Asiany Flair? Use this sauce instead:
You can even eliminate the veggies and use only chicken thighs! Use your imagination, it won't steer you wrong.
Sheet-Pan Pineapple & Shrimp Fajitas
This super yummy recipe is courtesy of CleanFoodCrush.com, which quickly becoming my go to website for new recipes.
We had this for dinner last night and I totally should have taken pictures. Alas, I didn't. My bad.
I only make a couple of changes to this recipe. Sometimes we like a little heat in our meals, so I add some red pepper flake or jalapeño or habanero peppers to the sheet-pan.
I also tried something new last night. Instead of having this as a fajita, I put it over shiritaki noodles. It adds a different texture more than anything. I would definitely try it again.
Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
Okay, so maybe this isn't necessarily a healthy recipe, but what would a recipe post be without some dessert?
These cookies come from BonAppetit.com and with only 6 ingredients, they're perfect!
Seriously, I don't make any changes to this recipe.
So go make them. Right now!
You can thank me when you're face is covered in powdered sugar and you only have 3 cookies left 20 minutes after they come out of the oven. :)
Have you made any of these recipes before? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Happy Wednesday, friends!
That's right, tomorrow is International Piano Day!
What is Piano Day?
"The aim of the day is to create a platform for piano related projects in order to promote the development of musical dimensions and to continue sharing the centuries-old joy of playing piano. It is intended to be the most joyful of all holidays!" (pianoday.org)
When is Piano Day?
Piano Day is celebrated on the 88th day of the year - March 28th, 2020 - because of the number of keys on the instrument.
Why Piano Day?
Why the heck not?
No, seriously, we observe so many other holidays that have lost meaning to most people celebrating them, why not celebrate something that has meaning in our lives?
As Nils Frahm puts it, “Why does the world need a Piano Day? For many reasons. But mostly, because it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener.”
How Can You Celebrate Piano Day?
The easiest way to celebrate is by playing and sharing the love of all things piano with those whom you love.
There are typically local gatherings and concerts across the world, but due to the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic, many (if not all by the time this is posted) of the live events have been canceled. There are however several groups have chosen to continue their performances via livestream. You can find more information about that at pianoday.org.
Here are some additional resources:
The official Piano Day website - http://www.pianoday.org/ Here you can create your own beautiful piano music by clicking on the tabs. I've had it going on loop in the background while writing this post 😊
Piano Day on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pianodayofficial/
These are my hyacinths! I snapped this picture after a full day of snow and freezing rain the previous day - they are so resilient!
I'm always amazed in late February when I see the first signs of these lovely flowers popping up through the snow. It's a wonderful reminder that winter is coming to an end and the warmth of Spring is on it's way!
I look forward to these hyacinths every year for their adorable pedals and their intoxicating aroma - though I am the first to admit that they can be so strong that they're kind of "stinky", haha.
There are pink, purple (blue), and white hyacinths in my garden. This year though, my white hyacinths have turned Yellow! I've never seen a yellow hyacinth before, but like everything else in life, flowers change. What doesn't change, for me at least, is what they bring: Promises.
The promise of warmth.
The promise of longer days.
The promise of time spent outside.
The promise of fresh air coming in through my open windows.
The promise of birds singing me awake in the morning.
The Promise of Spring!
Summer might be my favorite season (yes, I love the heat and I'll take the humidity over cold any day), but I love Spring with all of its newness, freshness, and growth.
The beginning of Spring this year has been dampened by the pandemic, but these hyacinths remind me that God is here and so is Spring!
Happy Wednesday, my friends!
Hello my friend. I very much hope you, your family, your friends, your teachers, and your students are healthy and well.
Today’s post is not what I had originally planned, but given the unprecedented time we’re in, I felt it would not be prudent to share what I had originally planned. It’s day will come, but for now I’d like to discuss online lessons with you.
My entire studio (5 teachers and myself) will be transitioning to online lessons next week. We’ve done online lessons before for students who are sick or who’s parents aren’t able to bring them in, but never to this scale. And I’m finding that a lot of teachers who don’t specialize in online lessons are struggling to wrap their minds around how this can be beneficial to their students, so I polled some online music teachers about the benefits of teaching online. Here are their top 10 responses.
1. Continuous Learning
It’s well established that music is best learned uninterrupted, continuing online when not able to meet in person keeps students from losing progress that they worked so hard to achieve.
2. Keeps normalcy
With so many other things changing in their world, children appreciate their normal lesson with their music teacher. And this is one of the few activities right now that some children CAN continue.
3. At-Home Set Up
You get to see their at home set up and offer suggestions and guidance for improvement.
Parents & kids, and adult students, love how easy it is to jump online. A 30 minute lesson takes 30 minutes, no drive time no waiting because you had to get there early. Parents can make dinner or do household tasks. Student’s get to play in the comfort of their own home, where they practice…which leads me to my next point.
5. Playing Their Own Instruments
Unlike other instrumentalists, pianists almost NEVER get to play their own instruments. With online lessons, however, their playing on their piano in their practice space. How much better does it get than that?
6. Playing an instrument eases anxiety.
I’m just gonna leave that one here.
7. Online Lessons Can Feel Different
Stay with me here, it’s not a bad thing. A change like this can put a spark back into their lessons. If you have a student who has been blasé, this could be the change they need to reignite their love for their instrument!
8. Attention and Focus Are Developed
Students engage differently with teacher, music & instrument. They have to listen carefully & watch more more attentive & aware. We as their teachers have to choose our words more carefully. It actually motivates the students to stay more focused and pay better attention to the details.
9. Independence Skills
You are not there to physically point to a note on the page, so they have to learn to find the note you're talking about. Students have to turn their own pages, they have to learn to count measures, write their own assignments and notes. It seriously ups the responsibility game.
10. It’s Super Fun
No really, it’s so much fun! As one teacher said, "Kids are amazing and funny and creative. Run with that!" Play games using their instruments as the game board. Have flashcards dance across the screen. Be silly. Be enchanting. Be compelling. Be YOU!
One Word: Pajamas!
You get to wear pajamas and you get to wear pajamas and you get to wear pajamas and you get to wear pajamas!
Which benefit do you like the most? Which one do you see fitting your students/studio the most?
Download a PDF of this list to share with your studio parents and teachers.
The year was 19hmhr. I was a toddler in a cart singing songs with my grandma as we were grocery shopping. Not just singing softly and gently to each other.
Singing so the whole store could hear us whether they wanted to or not. That, in a nutshell, was my childhood.
Fast forward to today and I don't see that anymore.
What has happened to us?
When did we get so uptight that singing in our cars is considered absurd? Or something only kids do? It seems the only place most people feel "safe" enough to sing is in the shower and even then, someone with roommates might be hesitant to share their song.
Think about movies. Just 50-60 years ago, the majority of movies were musicals. Now, animated kids' movies are often the only ones with featured songs throughout the film—and even that is slowly dwindling.
Neither my grandma nor my mother had any qualms about singing with my brother and me. When the urge struck, we sang! It didn't matter where we were or what we were doing. We Sang!
Maybe we're the exception, but I think that needs to change. There is a lot to be said about the bond between families who sing together and the developmental benefits to children of parents and grandparents who sing to and with them.
The importance of singing to your children is something that I feel can't be stressed enough to parents with newborns and young children.
It's widely known that music is a fabulous teaching tool. Singing with your children builds:
A perfect example of this is my cousin's now 5 year old. Every day since the day she was born my cousin has sung to her daughter. The result: She was able to sing "You are my Sunshine" when she was 14 months old and her vocabulary & clarity of speech at 2 was better than some 4 and 5 year olds I know.
It dIt doesn't matter how "good" you think your voice is or isn't. No, really. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if your pitch is spot on or if your voice cracks or if you warble a little—or even a lot. The melodic tones of your singing voice are enough. So please, sing with your child!
Sing with your neighbor's child.
Sing with the child in the cart in front of you in the checkout line.
They will all benefit from it!
Not sure what songs to sing? Start here with some nursery rhymes.
Need a little vocal help? Here's a list of YouTube channels to help you get started:
Big Block Singsong - this one is my personal favorite
The Learning Station
Super Simple Songs for Kids
The Kiboomer - Kids Music Channel
I should've posted this one last week as it was closer to the actual anniversary, but I didn't think of it in time. So, I'm sharing it now.
One year ago (on February 28th) my now husband, Chris and I were on vacation when he surprised me by proposing. I will be keeping the details of his proposal to myself as it was a private moment for us and I would like to keep it that way.
The ring, however, is has a story of it's own.
This is my engagement ring.
My husband made it - yes, made it - from the first bass string of my Grandpa’s piano.
My Grandpa passed away almost 2 years ago now. He was a huge influence in my life as a musician. I even lived with him and my grandma my first year and a half of college. Losing him was very hard on me and Chris' decision to make this ring is the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me.
By the way, if you want your own piano string jewelry, you should head on over to his Etsy shop where you can find earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Sorry no rings though, I kinda want this to be a one of a kind. :)
Saint Patrick's Day is a little under 2 weeks away and I have a fun little composing worksheet you can use in your lessons today!
I used to overlook this holiday in my studio, but the same year I created the Valentine's Day Composing activity, a student asked if I she could compose a song for Saint Patrick's Day.
I said 'Of course!' and we whipped up a fun little piece together in her lesson. Since then, I've made sure to include Saint Patrick's Day themed activities in my March lessons and it's been a blast!
Not all of my students have the same composing bug as this little one, so I created this little song worksheet to help them out.
Looking for more Saint Patrick's Day activities for your lessons or music classroom? I created a Pinterest Board with many other games, songs and activities!
I saw a quote a while back that said, "Make today so awesome, yesterday gets jealous."
It's been a very full year so far and there have been a few times where I could've let life overwhelm or frustrate me, but here's the thing. I have the power to choose how I respond to those things in life.
YOU have the power to choose how You respond to those things in life!
Today, I choose to make my day so awesome that not only does yesterday get jealous, but tomorrow tries to be even better. What are you going to do today?
I, like most people, thrive on routine. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all are more productive, healthy, and happy (in general) when we follow a regular routine.
I've recently discovered that I'm one of those weirdos who loves having a routine while simultaneously feeling stifled by it. Especially if it's very detailed. But before we get into that, allow me to flashback for a moment.
When I taught in public schools, I was on top of things. Productive, efficient, effective, energetic. All things administrators and parents want in a music teacher.
That was me. At least while I was at school.
Here's a quick breakdown of my day:
In the morning, I had enough time to get ready and that's about it, so I'd get up, shower, and get dressed. While my coffee was brewing, I'd put together my breakfast & lunch. I'd have my coffee in the car and I was ready for the day.
At school, I'd have breakfast (oatmeal while on hall duty w/orchestra teacher), prep for classes for the day. Then I'd teach, prep/plan, teach, lunch, teach, meetings, and after school ensembles.
When I got home, things...well they fell apart. I didn't belong to a gym or have anything regularly scheduled, so my health and fitness were lacking. I lived alone so my cleaning habits were lacking (I'd sporadically deep clean everything then do nothing for a month...not the best of times.) I was in a miserable relationship, so my mental health was lacking. And I didn't have an instrument in my apartment, so my practice was lacking.
At school I seemed to have it all together. At home, I was lost.
Why couldn't I keep my life together?
Because at school, my schedule was set for me. I had no choice but to teach classes at their appointed times, eat lunch at 1pm, go to the bathroom on my break even when my bladder was ready to burst 90 minutes ago (I feel you teachers!).
It was easy to keep the routine because the schedule was already determined for me. When I got home, I was able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted...or not.
I was a young adult and up until that point the schedule I followed my ENTIRE life was one that someone else had set for me.
Think about that for a moment, especially if you have children.
How much of their time is scheduled FOR them as opposed to being scheduled BY them? How much responsibility to they have over the use of their time? How much choice do they have over the use of their time?
I did not feel prepared for adult life. At least not for the time I wasn't working.
Fast forward 10+ years and my daily schedule is totally different.
I have the entire morning to do whatever I need/want. I technically don't have to be at work until 1pm. Most days (like today) I'm working several hours before that, but I don't have an actual routine.
So who needs a routine? Well, I certainly do!
Over the next several months I will be trying different morning routines to find what helps me be most productive while not making me feel over-worked or overwhelmed.
Okay, confession: I started this experiment earlier this month and I think I've found a general outline that works for me, but I'm still going to try out other routines.
I'm excited to see how this changes my productivity, my mental health, my physical health and my overall outlook on life and work.
I'd love to hear about your routines. Morning, work, evening, workout, meal planning....whatever you've got, let me hear about it.
Drop me a note and let me know!
Yes, it's February and I'm about to discuss Christmas. But this is too good to hold onto until December, so please bear with me.
Every year, like most teachers, I get gifts from students and their families. Teacher decorations, candies, gift cards, etc. One student gave me an awesome pair of piano socks!
This year was no exception. What made it different was a note and gift I received from the grandma of 2 of my students. The youngest handed it to me and said, "This is from Grammy".
My heart melted.
And then melted some more when I read the note.
The note and gift themselves are beautiful and I so appreciate them. But when I saw that the card was signed "Love, Grammy", it just brought me to tears. (The tears are welling up now thinking about it.)
See, I had a Grammy. She was my mom's maternal grandmother, my great-grandmother and I had the honor of knowing her until I was 19. Most people don't get to have their grandparents in their lives that long let alone a great-grandparent. Having the grandma of my students sign her name Grammy and not "M and G's Grandma" or "Mrs. So-in-so" just made so many things feel worth it. (Where are my teachers at? You feel me, right?)
This is what I love about what I do. My students are family. Their families are family and what is more wonderful than that?