Back to the ATX

Yes, I’ve moved back to Austin. It was both an easy and difficult decision to make but it had to be made. I loved the kids I worked with and we were making progress towards high quality music making. Leaving them was the hard decision I had to make.

My parents are older, some may say elderly. Both our parents have had some health issues in the recent years, mostly minor things, but watching and hearing about these little things add up from 8 hours away has been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my adult life. Moving back to be near them was the easy decision.

So, with a leap of faith that the right opportunities would come along at the right time for the right reasons, I quit my job at Tascosa and moved back to Austin. Not only am I now closer to my parents, I’m living in their house! :-o It’s been nice, actually. Already, I’ve had wonderful chats with them about random things and helped them start getting organized and rid of stuff that’s been lingering around the house, in boxes after their fire incident a few years ago. I think in the first week back, I went through almost 25 book sized boxes of random papers and stuff they didn’t need anymore.

I figured I’d either find a teaching job or make connections to teach private lessons, masterclasses and clinics while at Summer Convention. Two days before I left for San Antonio, I got an email from a friend and mentor asking if I might be interested in a job at a charter school. It’s only part time but they’re looking for someone enthusiastic, energetic and ready to build a program. “Like you” were the words in the email. “Sounds great”, I emailed back. That same afternoon, I got a call from the principal and I almost feel like I was hired before we ended our call setting up my interview for the next morning. “Oh, by the way, we start school next Monday. Can you start right away?” was how we ended our call. So there ya go – if you’re patient, the right thing comes along at the right time.

I’m now teaching 6th-12th grade band and orchestra and the entire program is just over 100 kids. My orchestra class (6th-12th grade in one class) doesn’t really fit in the classroom I’m assigned but we’ll make it work. I think right now, we’re all just happy that we get to work together. I’m also working at the desk at The Yoga Room in Round Rock as well as working on some video editing, photography and web editing projects for them. They’re a wonderful yoga studio and just sitting at the desk during classes is a calming and relaxing environment. Once I get my schedule settled, I’ll be coming up to get back into my yoga practice here. I’ll also be helping a friend with office administration stuff for his business. Ya know, back of my hand stuff. I guess I don’t know how to just work part time….

As quickly as the school is growing (it’s in its third year of existence), I’m sure we’ll be moving to a building that’s purposed for a secondary school and my position will become full time before I know it. It’s exciting to be a part of new growth. It’s also a little frustrating because we have very little equipment but the administration is extremely supportive, nothing like I’ve experienced before, so I know that won’t hinder our success. The families are also understanding and willing to do whatever it takes to make the school and its programs successful for their kids. Again, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before from an entire campus view. An example of extreme support – the school asked for donations of community supplies such as paper (both copy and lined), tissues, cleaning wipes, pencils, etc. for our campus. From around 400 student families, they almost filled a classroom, both on the floor and on folding tables, with their donations. Then asked what else we needed. It’s like having a school full of the best band boosters you could ask for!

Me: “Kids, you need to rent your own instruments because we don’t really have a working inventory here.”
Them: “Okay, can I get mine this weekend?”
Me: “Um, not yet, we’re doing instrument testing on Monday so you don’t know what you need to get yet.”
Them: “Oh yeah. Monday night then?”

They’re all willing to get on the same page so they’re eating up counting basic rhythms (Count-Tap-Clap) and Masters of the Alphabet. I’m cramming string pedagogy as fast as I can absorb it and local music stores are more than willing to help however they can. I also had a friend at Yamaha walk with me at convention so he could introduce me to his friends to collect donations of items. I have a lot of Thank You emails to send out still. It’s going to be another wonderful year!

So, you want to be a music performance major?

I’ve had a few students who have recently come to me, wanting to be music performance majors when they get to college. Students I’ve talked to about becoming a music major have all been interested in one day becoming a band director so this was a bit of a new thought process. The most recent student is mid-way through sophomore year so I feel like it’s critical to get everything on the right track now. So, here are some things I’ve come up with. If I’ve left anything out, please add in the comments.

  • Start private lessons with a college professor.
  • Skype lessons with as many professional musicians as I can connect with them.
  • Summer programs like Tanglewood or Interlochen.
  • Find as many performance gigs as possible.
  • Figure out where professional performers went to school and look into the current procedures of auditioning at those locations.

What else?

Thanks for any input in advance.

Finding Balance

Recently, I was part of a nice “conversation” on Facebook about New Years Resolutions. I haven’t set any New Years resolutions for quite a few years now – I realized a while back that when I try to make resolutions because of a special occasion, they weren’t authentic resolutions so I didn’t stick to them. Don’t get me wrong, I still set personal goals as I need them, I just don’t feel the need to set any JUST because it’s a New Year.

Anywho, my friend mentioned he was looking to find more balance in his life this year. What a wonderful resolution! It got me to thinking about my own life and the balance that exists (or not) within. How does one find balance? Before a person can start finding balance, maybe a few questions must be asked.

  • What does one try to find balance between?
  • What’s weighing one down?
  • What in one’s life is unimportant and can be discarded or released?
  • What’s missing in one’s life?

I’m sure there are quite a few more questions that can be asked but they’re probably more personal to each person trying to find that balance. What are some ways you’ve found balance in your life? Or, if you’re willing to share, what are some of the answers to the questions above for you? What other questions could we ask in finding balance?

I think it is very important that we all try to keep balance in our lives. Of course, “balance” means something different to each and every person so the process will look different for every person. I’d love to hear what you’d like to share about it!

Love you, mean it!
~C

Basic Meatloaf

I really enjoy meatloaf. I have a couple of “fancy” meatloaf recipes (if you can call any type of meatloaf fancy) I’ve tried in the past but I can’t remember the last time I made a simple, traditional meatloaf. Today, I went online to the Food Network website to find Paula Dean’s “Old-Fashioned Meatloaf” recipe and give it a try. I baked it in my Pampered Chef mini-loaf pan so instead of one decent sized meatloaf, I have four small ones! Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures so you’ll just have to take my word on how easy it is and that it does indeed look like meatloaf. Here’s the recipe, which does include a few of my modifications:

Paula Dean's Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr 10mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

Meatloaf:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz can diced tomatoes (with 1/2 juice)
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Topping:

  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 Tbs yellow mustard
  • seasonings to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine all meatloaf ingredients in a bowl. Place in loaf pan or baking dish (shape into loaf if without loaf pan). Mix ingredients for topping and spread on loaf. Bake for 1 hour.

There you go. Simple, no? Enjoy!

Blog format update

I’ve been poking around Pinterest a lot lately and have found many blogs of recipes have a nice way to print just the recipe and not everything else that people like to blog with the recipe itself. I’ve posted a few recipes, most of the time trying to put the ingredient list at the top so there some ease of use to my blog, but have been wondering lately how to make that easily printable recipe card appear. (Sorry for that run-on sentence. My coffee obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.) I think I found the code to make the recipe card work. Here’s my test post on it:

Cathy's Test Recipe Card

  • Servings: 0, it's just a test
  • Time: as long or short as you'd like on this one
  • Difficulty: quite easy, if I do say so myself
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • A good webhost support support page
  • Easy to use blog format
  • A minute or two to search for what I’ve been looking for
  • Directions:
    Combine three ingredients. Wala, you’re good to go!

    Did it work? If so, I’ll try to go back and update my older recipe blogs with this formatting but I’ll definitely use this for future recipes!

    On an aside, I found a recipe on Pinterest for “fried” pickles you actually bake in the oven. I may try that recipe today and blog about it. I pinned it but I have to tell ya, the original blog was written in a very clumsy manner and took FOREVER to get to the actual recipe. If you’re going to blog a recipe, talk about the food, not for paragraphs on end about your childhood and other things that don’t have to do about the food. And put your pictures (smaller, please) with the instructions. I have no idea how a jar of pickles has to do with being 12 and having the responsibilities of an 18 year old…. Vent over. Sorry about that.

    Posts of 2013 in review

    The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people. All for the 6 posts I wrote this year!

    Click here to see the complete report.

    Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

    My friend Megan posted on Facebook about making these delights. I can’t tell you exactly when I first had them but almost every Brazilian restaurant serve them and they are delicious! You have to be careful though – they fill you up a lot quicker than you’d imagine. I made these for a pot luck and they were a HIT! I now know what I’ll take to many pot lucks in the future because they are so easy to make. Next time, I’m going to try adding roasted red peppers or garlic or jalapeños. What other flavors do you think would go well with this recipe?

    Ingredients:
    1 egg (have at room temp)
    1/3 cup olive oil
    2/3 cup milk
    1 1/2 cup tapioca flour
    2/3 to 3/4 cup (packed) shredded cheese – queso fresco is preferred but sharp cheddar works well.
    salt to taste (use about 1 tsp the first time)

    These will need to bake in a mini-muffin pan. This will make a batch of around 16.

    Instructions:
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    In a blender, pulse all ingredients until smooth. Tapioca flour is much like corn starch and not like flour. It will stick to the side of the blender so have a spatula ready to scrape downy he sides as you blend.

    If your muffin tin isn’t non-stick, you will want to grease before filling. When you fill the mini-muffin tin, fill each one about 3/4 or so full. They will puff up while baking so don’t worry about filling each one to the brim.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. When ready, they will be puffy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

    This recipe originally came from the Simply Recipes website – http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_brazilian_cheese_bread/. What is posted here is the original recipe with my modifications and recommendations.