The Simple Woman's Daybook - Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Outside my window...a cold sunny day in the midwest.  I stepped outside to put the trash out and I got a face full of a bitter cold breeze.  Next time I will be wearing a coat that's for sure. 

I am thinking...about how cuddly both my children are but especially my little Oli.  He's even curled up on me while I type this.

I am thankful for...my ability to be patient.

I am wearing...comfy but nice clothes.  I teach a piano lesson today so I can't be too casual.

I am remembering...Christmas traditions of years past

I am currently reading...not much at the moment but I did just update my book list on Goodreads.com.  I love being able to track what I have read, what I am reading and what I would like to read all in one place.  You also can share your book list with friends and get ideas.  Now I just have to decide what I want to read next. 
I am hoping...for a peaceful holiday season full of meaningful moments and wonderful memories.

On my mind...There are so many choices of cool things to do with your family for the holidays.  I am also quite overwhelmed by all the neat craft ideas out there to do with your kids.  Here is just a list of a few websites I have been looking at.
Noticing that...December 1st will be here before I know it.  Tomorrow even!  I think I better get cracking on my advent calendar print out and start cranking out some paper chains. 
Pondering these words... 

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

From the kitchen...I did some bulk cooking last week so I haven't cooked a whole lot this week.  I just popped a casserole in the oven every couple days.  This might seem strange to some but I haven't cooked my big Thanksgiving meal yet.  Several factors have made it necessary to postpone it until next week.  So I am still looking forward to mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and my famous pumpkin pie. 

Around the house...the usual cleaning and tidying up today.  I am also preparing to decorate a little for Christmas.  House hunting is also on my mind.

One of my favorite things...getting to make my Christmas wish list.  I'm working on it now and will share it in a future post. 

From my camera...I thought I would share a couple pictures today.  The first one is our first attempt at a box guitar.  So far it has held up pretty well to the beating my children have given it.  But yesterday my husband found a shoe box with sturdier cardboard that has turned out to be a better alternative to a cereal box. 

My second picture was taken on Thanksgiving last week while we waited for our table at Cracker Barrel in Independence, MO.  We had a lunch with friends before they set off to visit family for the holiday.  The gift shop was so full of people waiting that we couldn't move around very well but we did enjoy looking at all the new ornaments and Christmas decorations. 

Would you like to linger on the simple things...then join me and many others at "The Simple Woman's Daybook" in taking a little look into the day plans and thoughts of those who are focusing on simplicity...beauty of the 'everyday moments'. I will be posting a weekly update using this unique and simple format.


Hope: Advent Devotional - Week One

Welcome to week one of this Advent season!  I have decided to try something a little bit different for my blog this year.  I wanted to create a unique way to share this special time of year with all of you.  So, I have put together a series of musical devotionals that take us on a journey from Advent to Epiphany.  Each devotional in the series will include a visual word cloud that I hope aides in your reflection time, a Scripture passage, a music video, and a prayer.

So take a minute to light a candle and reflect on today's message of Hope.


Scripture:  Isaiah 11:1-10 (The Message)

Isaiah 11     A Green Shoot from Jesse's Stump

 1-5 A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse's stump, from his roots a budding Branch.
The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,
   the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,
   the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.
Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight.
He won't judge by appearances,
   won't decide on the basis of hearsay.
He'll judge the needy by what is right,
   render decisions on earth's poor with justice.
His words will bring everyone to awed attention.
   A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.
Each morning he'll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,
   and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.

A Living Knowledge of God
 6-9The wolf will romp with the lamb,
   the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
   and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
   their calves and cubs grow up together,
   and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
   the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
   on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
   a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.

 10On that day, Jesse's Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious. 


Song:  Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Featuring Christy Nockels from Chris Tomlin's album "Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs Of Worship"

Prayer:  O, Holy Comforter, come and dwell in us and among us.  Help us to stay hopeful even when we are facing hardships and strife.  Amen.

*Special thanks to these online resources who helped me pull this together.


Making Music with Cheerios

Made by Joel is one of my favorite blogs for neat and simple designs you can share with your kids.  His tutorials are so easy and usually use items you regularly have around the house.  So, this day after Thanksgiving I thought I would share this simple project for taking your empty cereal boxes, rubberbands and clear tape and turning them into a new and fantastic musical instrument.  It is sure to bring hours of joy to your little ones.  Enjoy!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, 
to set in the hearts of honest men; 
but be careful that you do not take the day, 
and leave out the gratitude.  

~E.P. Powell


Video of the Week: Playing for Change & "Stand by Me"

Music has this amazing way of  helping to forge connections with people of all ages, races and creeds.  Playing for Change is one of those projects that has managed to cross boundaries with the power of music.  I think their website sums it up the best.      

"Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.  The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world."

I wanted to highlight the 16 artists from all over the world that took "Stand by Me" to a whole new level.

In 2007, Playing for Change created the Playing for Change Foundation, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to create "positive change through music education for all musicians and their communities". In early 2008, they established Timeless Media, a for-profit group that helps to fund the work of Playing for Change. Later that same year, Timeless Media entered into a joint venture with the Concord Music Group through the support of label co-owner and entertainment legend Norman Lear and Concord Music Group executive vice president of A&R John Burk. The ultimate goal for all of these ventures is to bring Playing for Change’s music, videos and message to the largest audience possible.

And now, anyone and everyone can participate in this life changing musical experience by joining the Playing for Change Movement. You can host a screening, spread the message of Playing for Change through media sharing, or hold a benefit concert.  You can also purchase "Songs Around the World: Playing for Change" on CD and DVD or the DVD "Playing for Change: Peace Through Music"

"Together, we will connect the world through music." 


The Simple Woman's Daybook - Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Outside my window...It was a cold and gray day today.  I got out for a little bit in it but it was too cold for the kids. 

I am thinking...about the consequences of big life decisions.

I am thankful for...the simple things that can improve a day and bring a smile.

I am wearing...a new floral t-shirt and purple cardigan with jeans. 

I am remembering...the old cliche about things being simpler in the past.  (cue "The Way we Were")

I am currently reading...not much today really.  Oliver and I did spent some time with a little book of the world this evening.
I am hoping...for everything to be fixed like magic *POOF*

On my mind...too much to share.
Noticing that...time really does fly.
Pondering these words...  

From the kitchen...yummy Mexican leftovers and prepared stuff.  We were low maintenance today.

Around the house...the usual chaos.

One of my favorite things...iced animal cookies with sprinkles.  I ate way to many recently but loved every minute of it. 

From my camera...I have no idea why blogger won't let me upload the picture I want to share.  If I can figure it out I will update this post.  I find this really strange.  

Update:  So stuff is working this Wednesday morning.  Silly TechnologyThe picture I wanted to share was one of my glimpses of fall.  I love the different shades of brown and tan and all the texture

Would you like to linger on the simple things...then join me and many others at "The Simple Woman's Daybook" in taking a little look into the day plans and thoughts of those who are focusing on simplicity...beauty of the 'everyday moments'. I will be posting a weekly update using this unique and simple format.


Play Your Mood with Musicovery.com

Musicovery is where I go when I want the music I'm listening to to reflect how I am feeling or how I want to feel at a certain time.  Musicovery is where you can go to "Play your mood".

You can choose from four basic moods: Dark, Positive, Calm, and Energetic.  From there you can choose decade of music and your favorite genre to further customize your experience.  Color is also used to express a mood so you can select songs that are all in the same color family if you want and know that they will go together.

New users are encouraged to sign-up for an account so you can keep track of favorites and customized moods.  There is a paid version but I haven't felt the need to try it.  I also just noticed an iPhone App and an iTunes plug-in.

So the next time you are looking for the perfect song to set your mood check out Musicovery.com.


Video of the Week: Los Lobos

Los Lobos has a new album that I can't wait for you to hear for yourself.  The Tiny Desk Concert series does it again by bringing Los Lobos into the office for a three song mini concert.  If I were to pick a favorite of the set it would have to be "Yo Canto".  The rhythm is infectious and it combines one of my favorite languages, Spanish and the musical style of the latin culture.  What I would've given to be the cow bell in the back of the room while they were recording.  Their new album is called "Tin Can Trust" and can be purchased through Amazon.com.  Enjoy!            

Los Lobos: Tiny Desk Concert

Set List
  • "I'll Burn It Down"
  • "Yo Canto"
  • "Don't Worry Baby"


Quote of the Week "For flowers that bloom about..."

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Video of the Week: Rana Santacruz

Another Tiny Desk Concert from NPR Music came across my RSS feed reader last week and I was pleasantly surprised.  Rana Santacruz's music can be categorized as Mexican Folk Alternative or Mexican Ranchera.  It's an unusual mesh of styles but it works beautifully and seems to have a lot of flexibility.  The four song set that was played for the Tiny Desk Concert spoke to the topic of death in honor of "Dia de Los Muertos" or "Day of the Dead" and each song had a unique story to tell.  His most recent album, "Chicavasco" can be found here on Amazon.  Enjoy! 

Rana Santacruz

Set List
  • "Tacho El Gacho"
  • "Dejala Entrar"
  • "El Funeral De Tacho"
  • "El Ranchero Punk"


The Simple Woman's Daybook - Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Outside my window...The fall leaves are slowly trickling down to the earth.  I have found looking outside very relaxing today and I have sure needed it.

I am thinking...about how music can really change a mood.  I sat down to write this post feeling frustrated and quite mad knowing that I needed a bit of a mommy time-out.  I decided to turn on some music and immerse myself in it's melody and words.  I could just feel my blood pressure drop and as an added bonus my little ones also quieted down.  

I am thankful for...the music of Ingrid Michaelson that I listen to for free on old.thesixtyone.com. Her lyrics speak to me so often.  It's uncanny.
I am wearing...I am sensing a trend here but I tend to be wearing my pj's still when I right this and that is the case today.  They also seem to be black.  Must be a favorite.

I am remembering...memories of my younger self.

I am currently reading...a couple articles on church music that I will share soon and some neat crafting ideas for the holidays.  I even found a few music inspired crafts that I hope to try this holiday season. 

I am hoping...for more peace and less stress.  That's a tall order but that's my hope right now.

On my mind...an ever growing list of things:  potty training ideas for my daughter; what's for dinner this evening and the fact that I really don't want to cook tonight but need to; new music to learn; the many things I want to write about
Noticing that...There really isn't enough time in the day.

Pondering these words... 

"All we can do is keep breathing."  

~In a song by Ingrid Michaelson called "Keep Breathing"

From the kitchen...yesterday I cooked up a storm.  I made a turkey tenderloin with vegetables in the crock-pot and my favorite salmon recipe in the oven.  I simmered my fast and easy risotto rice on the stove.  I also managed to make brownies from a box for my United Methodist Women's circle meeting that night.  Today we just ate leftovers of all the goodness.  

Around the house...I cleaned up my messes in the kitchen and started organizing for the week.  I still am in my pj's.  Showering might be a good idea yet today.

One of my favorite things...Raspberry Iced Tea.  I tried some instant stuff from Lipton and it's now my new favorite drink.  I served it at my women's meeting last night.  Yummy!   

From my camera...A few days ago I dyed my hair.  I haven't done that in years.  I had planned to dye it a week or so ago after my new haircut but we ran out of time during my Mom's visit.  My mother helped me and we were nervous but I think it turned out quite nice.  It definitely is different and a change for me.  This one washes out in 28 shampoos so there's not a lot of commitment there.        

Would you like to linger on the simple things...then join me and many others at "The Simple Woman's Daybook" in taking a little look into the day plans and thoughts of those who are focusing on simplicity...beauty of the 'everyday moments'. I will be posting a weekly update using this unique and simple format.


Christmas is Coming!

As a musician I have always lived the holiday season musically several months before everyone else.  There are always new songs to learn and new cantatas to rehearse in preparation for the big day.  So by the time Advent comes I have had all I can really enjoy of the season's music.  I used to be a bit depressed by that fact but I have come to terms with it and just try to enjoy what I can each season.

This year I am starting out very optimistic.  My calendar is not too terribly full as of right now so I am hoping to get the chance to enjoy the season at a little more relaxed pace.  My current plans include singing in a Christmas musical in mid December and working on a recording project of original songs of the season that I hope to release in 2011.

So to get you all in the mood here is a list of Christmas resources I have been using to prepare this year and a few links to some neat seasonal music deals.  Enjoy!

  • NoteKids just posted a video of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas & Pachelbel's Canon arranged together for duet.  You can purchase the arrangement for pre-reader and teacher or early-staff reader and teacher.  It looks like so much fun to play!


Quote of the Week "If the only prayer you said..."

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." 
~Meister Eckhart


Keep it Simple Sweetie with Kisstunes

I have seen several online keyboards but keep coming back to this one because of the ease of use and simplicity in its designKisstunes is in its third edition and has made some really useful updates including:

  • Play and Record tunes in real-time using a virtual keyboard
  • Flash interface runs on your browser, no need to download anything
  • Create video-like demos and embed them on your website
  • Downloaded tunes can be used as mobile phone ringtones
  • Tunes are saved in standard MIDI format, compatible with WMP and Quicktime.

I decided to try the keyboard demo feature were you can embed the Kisstunes player with your prerecorded song right to your blog.  The keyboard even lights up while playing your tune.  This is great to use as a learning tool for all types of music students so they can not only hear a tune but get a visual representation, too.  I am also looking into using it to share vocal warm-up ideas and simple tunes right here on the Elliott Music Studio Blog.  So here's my simple melody that I call "Melody by Thirds"  Enjoy!


Musical Links to Share

I have been away from my blog for awhile due to some internet difficulties and an amazing flu that my family has been passing around to one another.  We are all finally starting to feel like ourselves again and I have had a chance to catch up on my email and web reading even though the connection has been frustrating.  I did stumbled upon some really neat stuff that I thought I would share.  So enjoy some linky love!

  • 3 copies of Goal-oriented Practice Giveaway to Music Matters Blog readers. Just leave a comment on the Music Matters Blog to be entered in the drawing. They will use a random number generator to determine the three winners at noon on Thursday, November 11!  This is one of my favorite blog resources for my studio.  She has such neat ideas.  And who couldn't use more goal-oriented music practice?  I made sure to sign up.
  • Free CD with Purchase  now through November 5th from Wendy at ComposeCreate.com.  When you order the All is Calm, All is Bright Christmas book, you will automatically receive a free CD for every book purchased!  This CD contains all of the 13 solo piano arrangements in the All is Calm book and is sure to add some spice to your holiday listening and piano playing.  Wendy's arrangements are always spectacular. 
  • Free Buttons for your blog from the writer at The Days of a SAHM.  She is offering to help you create your very own blog button to share around the web.  I think that's pretty neat.  All you have to do is send her an e-mail (thedaysofasahm@hotmail.com) telling her that you are interested.  I'm going to give it a shot.  I'll keep you posted.  


Video of the Week: Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) by Chris Rice

This week's video of the week is the "Untitled Hymn" better known as Come to Jesus by Chris Rice that was included on his 2003 album "Run the Earth Watch the Sky".  This song came to me by a request from a family for a funeral earlier in the year and I have sung it several times since.  I love the simplicity of the message and the light guitar accompaniment.  I have used the piano arrangement several times and have enjoyed it as well.  I did also find performance tracks on Amazon here and here .

I chose this video in particular because I just love a well chosen photo to express a moment visually and I think AcaciaPictures1 did a beautiful job here.  Enjoy!

Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) by Chris Rice

Check out Chris Rice's official website here at http://www.chrisrice.com


Blog Widget by LinkWithin