Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Music Notes

I wanted to finally share the details of how my music teaching business has grown! Michael, the most awesome hubby ever, built me a fabulous website at to assist with all the growth that has occurred. It is a thing of beauty. 

As some of you may know, I record all my voice lessons for my students to listen to in between lessons as practice tracks, or to brush up on their warmup skills, or just to hear how much their voices have changed over time. I used to share these mp3s with students through Google Drive, but not anymore! Now, my website is built with a student login and each student can access their files and receive email notifications when new files are uploaded!

Also, I'm no longer limited as to how much storage space I have for files because Michael has hosted the website on our server downstairs in our home's "command center".

The website gives info about voice, guitar, and music therapy (even though I am not currently practicing).  I still need to add an "About Me" page with a picture and do some refining on the wording on the other pages, now that everything is officially launched and I've had some time to re-examine what I want to say and how I want to say it. Michael is currently working on a calendar feature which can be shared with each student and they can receive email or calendar reminders about lessons. Just a few things to always improve. But, all in all, isn't it a great website? I'm loving it!

And lastly, I wanted to share a video of myself performing at the Christmas Recital I hosted in December. I know many of my friends have wanted to see my performance! All my students did an awesome job and I was so proud of them, seeing as it was their very first voice recital. I was relieved that everything went VERY well, without any major hiccups or issues. Please be kind when watching my performance, as I was in the middle of a rather terrible 3-week long cold and had barely any voice the day before. Tender mercy that I was able to sing at all, and for that I was very grateful!

By the way, listen for my daughter "singing" near the end of the song at about 2:45. Yeah, it's cute.

So, let me know your thoughts. I'd love any feedback on the website. And, if you have compliments to give me on my performance (hehe, just kidding)....

Monday, February 23, 2015

1 YEAR OLD {Jessica}

 Hhhwha?!? How did this happen? How did my little squishy, tiny leg rolls, faux-hawk, brand new, pink-smelling baby turn into a 1 Year Old? She's practically a toddler. And yes, I know that I just screamed the blog post title at you (all caps, what can ya do?).

These next two photos were really close to Jessica's face because she wanted to come up and grab my lens. I just kept snapping pictures and even though you can't see her full head, I love the joy and laughter depicted in them!

1 Year Stats:
Weight: 18.63 lbs (11%ile)
Height: 27.01 in (3%ile)
Head Circumference: 17.7 in (42%ile)

Dr. Conover said that Jessica is perfect and growing well, she's just going to be short and tiny like her Mommy! But, her head is cute and round, and the biggest thing about her. We joke that she needs room for that big smart brain to grow!

 This looks like she was sad, but actually she was just incredibly focused on the camera. Hehe.

 I've been realizing that I use the word "fun" about a million times to describe everything that surrounds Jessica. It's very true, life is just so fun right now. And I can't think of a better word describe it. We are having the time of our lives with our girl. She brings pure sunshine and joy into our home and hearts!

 Crazy baby. She decided to put her little mouse finger puppet in her mouth and start crawling around. And then...this picture just happened. Not sure why her eyes got all big and scary at this moment, but this picture is gold. Blackmail gold. 15 years down the road :)

 Isn't this just the most precious "in the moment" photo you've ever seen?

Exciting Updates:
She's "talking" like crazy. Using the new consonants s, g, l, and the "th" sound. And is really into the vowels i and e, along with oo and ah.

Jessica is always pointing at things to show us what she sees and has discovered. This is accompanied by some type of word she's created for that object. We're seeing consistency in "words" and particular objects, even though it all basically sounds like gibberish right now.

Jessica know the sign language for dog, which is sticking your tongue out and panting. Anytime she sees a dog or puppy in a book, in a picture, on the tv, or in real life, she points to it and starts panting. That is, if she's not just squealing and laughing with delight. She loves dogs and any animal, for that matter.

She loves looking out the window in the back door while eating her meals. It's a perfect spot for her to spy on the neighbor's dog and anything else interesting outside. This usually results in long conversations between the two of us about what she sees.

Also related to the backdoor. I will usually tell Jessica when it's close to Daddy coming home and she will lean up against the glass in the back door and stare at the garage until he drives up. Once he opens that side door to the garage and she catches a glimpse of him, she squeals, giggles, and smiles such a big smile because she is so happy to see him. She loves him so much and he absolutely loves this little tradition we've started. Who wouldn't love coming home to such a greeting from the two girls who mean the most to him in the whole world?

Jessica has become my "yoga baby" or "yoga girl". I just recently started doing yoga each morning in the living room through the youtube channel for I love this website and their videos. Seriously, I have learned so much and it makes me grateful to be able to exercise in the comfort of my own home. It has also been great for my flexibility, relaxation, and stress levels. Jessica joins right in with me each morning. She will go over to where I keep the mat rolled up, pull it out (and complain to me if she can't quite get it all by herself), then when I put it in the middle of the room, she will roll it out and sit herself down in the middle, all ready to go! She imitates me quite well through all the poses and does a better downward dog and cobra than I do!

Jessica is pushing and pulling herself to standing more and more everyday. Something that we're pretty sure was a direct result of the benefit of doing yoga with mommy. All that practice doing downward dog really helped her get confident on her feet!

She has started to become even more snuggly, something that makes both Mommy and Daddy very happy. And she's very attached to one fuzzy pink blanket. She has to be wrapped in and hold it while sleeping, nursing, etc. If we put it around her and on our shoulders, she'll lay her head right down and snuggle so close. She usually grabs a corner and rubs her cheek with it as a self-soothing measure. It's the sweetest thing.

Jessica is a pro at drinking from a straw. I didn't realize this is sometimes a later skill to learn, because she's been doing it for months. She loves her straw sippy cups and really drinks very well from them. Which is great, because who couldn't use more hydration?

Jessica has now started wanting to try on my shoes, slippers, flip-flops...anything that goes on my feet she feels should be put on her feet. She'll pull them off my feet, or bring them from across the room, then hand them to me and lift her little leg in the air, ready for me to put them on her feet. And so the diva behavior begins. I can't wait for her to start wanting to play dress-up. Now that is going to be incredibly fun and entertaining!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

White Chocolate Toffee Brown Butter Cookies

These are my new favorite cookies to make. I was having a serious craving the other night, after about a month of detox from the holidays, and I wanted to make this exact recipe because it is awesome. Something about the browned butter combined with white chocolate, and how the toffee gets all melty. Yep. Fantastical. 

And I know that's not really a word. But I just couldn't think of anything else to best describe these cookies. So, make these today...yum!

White Chocolate Toffee Brown Butter Cookies
(adapted from Baker By Nature)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted until browned
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 bag chocolate toffee bits

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large cookie sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat melt butter, whisking constantly, until it reaches a golden brown color; remove from heat at once.
  4. Transfer melted butter to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add egg and mix for 30 seconds; the egg will not be totally incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing just until combined.
  6. Stir in the white chocolate chips and toffee bits.
  7. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon form cookies with the dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes, just until they start to brown on the edges.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas..2014

We had a very special Christmas this year. Our first with Jessica in our lives, and she made the entire time special and so fun. It was a Rougeau Christmas, so my brother Michael and his wife Natalie came to visit, along with my mother. We rode the "North Pole Express", also known as the Heber Creeper, and got to meet Santa, eat cookies, and drink hot chocolate while singing Christmas carols on the train. It was cute.

Christmas was filled with seeing lights, getting some last minute shopping in, and just hanging out. We read the Christmas story from the Bible in both English and French, and even sang some carols out of the French version of the LDS hymnbook. The hubby and I have really felt strongly how we need to be more centered on Christ and family throughout the holidays and we definitely feel like we got a jumpstart on those traditions this year, as we are now more than just a family of 2. Anyway, pictures are included below for your perusal. Fun memories to cherish!

The Blacks on Christmas evening! We love our little family!