My Piano Cover Version of Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift 

Hey guys!!

I have been having lots of fun experimenting with cover songs lately & this is my favorite one that I learned by ear recently 🙂 such an awesome song & fun to play. Hope you enjoy my version!

If you want to hear more music subscribe to my YouTube channel or visit the music page on the blog.

Happy listening!

Thanks for visiting!

-Janeen

Storm At Sea – Original Piano Composition

Hi All!!

Today I thought I’d share with you my most requested piano composition to play for my friends & family 🙂

Storm At Sea was the 3rd piano composition that I wrote when I first starting writing music at 14 years old. I remember wanting to come up with something big & strong sounding, so the low octave baseline was born, melody followed, & Storm At Sea instantly became my “crowd pleaser.” I’ll NEVER forget the moment when my 3 older brothers (who are all around 10 years older than me & were in their early 20’s & in college at the time) heard me play this song & they were fist-pumping around the room & high-fiving each other. Haha!

I knew I had something special with this composition & it continues to be the most requested song for me to play for my friends & family to this day. I’m extremely proud of this one. I used to dream of this becoming the theme song of a movie with orchestra added to it. Hey, it could still happen right? 😉 Ha! I don’t think an explanation on the title is needed as the melody speaks for itself (at least I hope so anyway!)

Hope you all enjoy Storm At Sea! If you’d like to hear more of my music, subscribe to my youtube channel, or visit the music page on the blog.

Thanks for listening!

– Janeen

Italian Sausage & Veggie Pasta with Garden Fresh Roasted Tomato Sauce

Well hello there!!

Yes, I’m still alive! Haven’t posted in awhile because of our busy season at work (which will be over in about a month & then you’ll be hearing from me a lot more) but I’ve missed my blog! Plus, after creating this DELICIOUS recipe with tomato sauce I whipped up from my very own garden, I could not help but share.

So, the awesome thing about having a garden is obviously that you get heaps of garden fresh produce at your fingertips. However, it’s a lot of work & with the busy season & not as much time in the kitchen, I was neglecting some of these ripe veggies 😦 Eventually, I found myself in my kitchen staring at a giant heaping bowl of tomatoes trying to figure out what to do with them (I have already made several giant batches of salsa so wanted to try something different).

Solution: Homemade Tomato Sauce.

I searched the web for the easiest method & I found the winner! Easy peasy. Ready for this?

1. Cut tomatoes in half & cut out core.
2. Drizzle rimmed baking sheet with olive oil & place tomatoes face down.
3. Throw in some fresh garlic (chopped or whole cloves), & fresh herbs. I just tore up some fresh basil & oregano I have growing.
4. Drizzle olive oil & some salt & pepper on everything. Admire the beauty 🙂

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5. Place in oven preheated to 250 degrees for 3-4 hours, or until tomatoes are soft & bursting. Mine only needed about 3 hours, but they were pretty ripe & soft already so depending on ripeness of your tomatoes, they may need longer. When they’re done, they’ll look like this. Nice & juicy 😉

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6. Once tomatoes are cooled down a bit, work in batches & spoon tomato mixture into a blender. Here, I added some more salt & pepper, a few more fresh herbs, & some dried herbs (italian seasoning). Blend up to your liking (less blending if you like it chunky, more blending if you want it smooth). Taste & add more salt & pepper if needed. Pour into a container & voila! You have homemade delicious tomato sauce.

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This actually made about twice as much but I froze half of it. Also some of my tomatoes from my garden are an orange color (not sure why that is, but whatever, they still taste good), which is why my sauce is an orangey red.

For a printable version of this sauce recipe, click here.

So, now that I had this delicious tomato sauce made, I had to think of something to do with it! I immediately thought of using Italian sausage & making a pasta dish. I have always LOVED pasta, but since I’ve gone gluten free, I don’t eat pasta much anymore. Luckily they’re making it a lot easier on people with gluten sensitivities nowadays & you can easily find gluten free pasta noodles, even in my small town! So I went to pick some up & came up with this recipe.

And I must say ….. it was a treat. Here’s how you make it!

1. Gather up all your ingredients. You will need a package of Italian sausage, penne pasta noodles, your homemade tomato sauce (or any sauce that you like), green pepper, red pepper, onion, mushrooms, & spinach. Oh, and wine….but that’s just for drinking while you cook (optional but recommended).

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2. Start heating up your water to boil the pasta noodles.

3. Heat up olive oil in large saute pan & place whole sausages in pan. Disclaimer: I tried cutting some up first before cooking. This makes it really hard to get an even cut as the insides like to squeeze out of the casing (that sounds gross but whatever). SO, with some input from my brilliant husband who was just watching me cook this & drooling, we decided it would work best to cook them a bit whole, then cut them. I ended up doing both as I had already attempted to cut up a few. Oops. Cook them whole & throw some chopped onion in the pan while you’re at it.

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4. When the sausages have a nice sear, remove them from the pan & let them cool a bit. Throw in some chopped green & red pepper (I used 1/2 of a large each). Sidenote: If your pasta water is boiling by now, toss about 1/2 package of penne into the water & get that cookin!

5. While the peppers & onion are cooking, slice up the sausages. The insides will probably still need to be cooked through, so toss those back in the pan to finish off. Throw some mushrooms in there while you’re at it too (I love mushrooms so I added a whole package of sliced mushrooms). As you can see, I’m making a ginormous batch of this pasta (my husband can eat a lot & we like leftovers…ha)

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6. Once the veggies & sausages are cooked through, throw in some spinach. Cook for a minute or so until wilted down slightly, then add in your wonderful sauce!

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7. Drain your pasta if cooked through & toss into the pan. Top with more fresh herbs if you please 🙂

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     8. Taste & add more salt & pepper & Italian seasoning if needed (try not to eat the whole pan while you’re at it). I had some fresh mozzarella cheese in the fridge, so I decided to grate some of that on top. Oh so goooood!

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     9. That’s it! This pasta dish took me less than a half hour & it made a ton. I’d say about 6-8 servings depending on portion sizes. Serve with garden fresh green beans (or your veggie of choice) & some wine & enjoy with someone you love! 🙂 We made this a special date night & ate in our dining room (with placemats & everything…ha!)

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Hope you enjoy this recipe! If you’d like a printable version, click here.

Thanks for following!

Until next time (which I hope is sooner than later),

 – Janeen

Safe In Daddy’s Arms – Original Piano Composition

Well hello again!!

Time to share some more music (about time, right?) Been a little MIA on here, but have been busy busy with work & preparing/practicing music for weddings, etc. BUT as promised, I have lots more songs to share in my arsenal so time to roll out another one! To be honest, I was hoping to share this one around Father’s Day as a shout-out/dedication to my wonderful dad, but that obviously didn’t work out so well. It’s still June though, so that counts, right!? Ha! We’ll go with it 😉

This is one of my original group of songs I wrote 12 years ago when I was 14. An oldie but a goodie that I often play for Mass & include in prelude music for weddings. As the name obviously implies, this song was definitely named in dedication to my dad – the rock of our family who has always been the one to not only make me feel safe, but to also always make me feel beautiful, strong, capable, talented, & most importantly, loved. He has always been one of my biggest supporters, despite me being the odd-ball of the family who picked music & dance & arts instead of sports. He’s the first to give me praise when I do something great, but also the first to give a shoulder to cry on when I make a mistake.

Even though I named this song in dedication to him as an adolescent, no matter how old I get, I will always feel “Safe In Daddy’s Arms.” Love you Dad! ….And Happy Belated Father’s Day to all the dads out there 🙂

If you liked this & want to hear more, visit my music page on the blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel.

Thanks for following my melody!

– Janeen

My Cover Version of “Living In The Country” by George Winston

Hey guys!!!

Finally more music on the blog 🙂 I’ll get back to some original stuff soon, but I have been OBSESSED with playing this song lately. It is my favorite “summer” song to play & now that our weather finally feels like summer here, I’ve been spending lots of time outside in our beautiful backyard enjoying the weather & soaking in all the things I love about summer & nice weather (literally….my horrible sunburn from the other day is proof. Oops!). I feel like this song is an expression of all those things I love about nice summer days (minus the sunburns).

This has always been one of my absolute favorite George Winston songs!! As I mentioned in this other post of me playing George Winston’s “Kanon”, George does publish some of his sheet music…..but not all. George only has published sheet music for a handful of his songs, & I was disappointed to learn that this one did not make the cut. So, one day about a year ago, after years & years of listening to this song & wishing I could play it, I decided to take it upon myself to learn it by ear.

As I dove in, I realized that George’s version is in a pretty difficult key with lots of sharps & flats. So, in my angst to learn it as quickly as possible, I decided to try it out in the good ol’ key of C 😉 Within an hour, I had it down!! It’s not exactly like the recorded version, but that’s the beauty of music…..this is my take on George’s melody & it just makes me so happy every time I sit down to play it.

I hope you enjoy my take on this song!! George is one of my favorite composers, so I hope I did this song justice. Enjoy “Living In The Country!”

If you liked this & want to hear more, visit my music page on the blog or subscribe to my youtube channel.

Thanks for following my melody!

Until next time,

– Janeen

My Weekend Coffee – A Simple, Healthy, Delicious, & Satisfying Way to Jazz Up Your Normal Coffee :)

Hey hey!

As I’m sitting here on this fine Saturday morning enjoying my “weekend” coffee on my deck, I thought this was just way too delicious not to share on the blog! Normally just a black coffee drinker during the week, I like to enjoy this delicious treat on my mornings off on weekends, BUT the nice thing is that it’s healthy & all clean ingredients so no feeling guilty indulging in a frothy coffee drink. Sooooo feel free to have this during the week too if you want too 😉

As I talked about in my last post about Robyn’s CPF+, (go here if you missed it) I try to incorporate healthy fats into every meal. My weekend coffee recipe gives me a good dose of those healthy fats for sure! Ready for the recipe? Get the blender out & let’s go 🙂

Start by assembling your ingredients. I usually like to make 2 servings, to either share with the husband or to just sip on & enjoy myself throughout the morning 😉 SO, in that case, you’ll need 3 cups of freshly brewed coffee, organic grass-fed butter (yep you got that right), & coconut oil. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can totally customize it & do whatever you want. If you like coconut oil more, just double up on that & skip the butter (vice versa if you’re a butter lover……which who isn’t? Ha!) Other optional ingredients are: unflavored gelatin (I like to throw this in to anything & everything I can for a little extra protein boost), honey (can sub pure maple syrup if you want or completely omit), cinnamon, vanilla, or any other clean flavors you’d like to add. This time I added gelatin, honey, & cinnamon.

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OK, next is the measuring………which I don’t do. So I guess I’ll just do my best guesstimating for you (see this is really impossible to screw up). Pour your brewed coffee in the blender & add about 1 tablespoon each of coconut oil & butter (I know it seems weird but trust me), 2 tablespoons of gelatin, 1 teaspoon of honey, & a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon.

Blend it up! See the frothy goodness?!?!?

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Done!!! Pour into a big ol’ mug (compliments of my best friend Robyn for my birthday), top with an extra sprinkling of cinnamon if you want & enjoy on a nice quiet spring morning on your deck or patio (optional but highly recommended).

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Hope you enjoy this guys!! When I first read about this I was super skeptical, but once I tried it I never looked back 😉 I’d love to know what you think of this if you try it! Leave me a comment to let me know!

Thanks for visiting & happy weekend!! 🙂

– Janeen

P.S. Don’t forget to follow the blog if you like it! Muchas gracias.

Keep Healthy Eating Simple with CPF+

Hey guys!!

Jeeze, sorry I’ve been MIA for awhile on here! Since we opened for the season at The Prairie Club, I’ve been busy busy with work….all the more reason to dive into this topic on how I keep healthy eating simple with a super valuable acronym/practice taught by my best friend & registered dietitian Robyn Johnson. I’ve bragged about her before in other posts (like this one) about how valuable she’s been in my health journey & the good news is, she can help you too!

The concept is called CPF+ and it stands for:

  • C = Carbohydrates
  • P = Protein
  • F = Fat
  • + = The BEST, most nutritious version of all 3 (aka: REAL FOOD)

Seems pretty simple right? Well, the good news is that it IS!

What I love about this way of viewing nutrition is that it is BALANCED & that’s what I’m striving for in all areas of my life! This is NOT a diet. I hate diets to be honest with you because I know that, quite simply, they don’t work for long-lasting health. There’s plenty of research backing that, but more importantly, I can speak from personal experience that obsessive calorie counting & any form of deprivation, including restricting calories to an unhealthy level (which most diets do), can & will completely backfire eventually! CPF+ is a way of thinking about your nutrition & practicing healthy habits that you can sustain for LIFE.

Since implementing CPF+, I’m healthier, but more import than that, I’m WAY happier! Eating real food & listening to my body for what it wants & needs is way more sustainable than relying only on the numbers & counting every little thing that I put in my mouth. I’ve learned that not all calories are created equal, so eating the right  calories instead of getting under my calorie “limit” is the key to lasting health (and sanity….ha!). I now focus more on the ingredient list (the shorter the better) instead of the calorie or fat content.

OK, so let’s dive in shall we?! I’m going to keep it pretty simple today, but will include a link to more info from Robyn if you want to dive in further.

C = CARBS

  • No, this does not mean highly processed, junk carbs, like most breads, cereals, & pastas.
  • The most nutrient dense (+) carbs are found in the form of good ol’ fruits & veggies!!
  • Contrary to some popular diets (ugh) out there, YOUR BODY NEEDS CARBS. They’re our main source of energy in the body. Don’t listen to any diets that suggest cutting out or extremely limiting one of the macros (CPF). You need all 3!
  • My go-to healthy carb sources: all fruits & veggies, beans, rice, oats, & quinoa

Carbohydrate Foods

P = Protein 

  • Protein is essential for muscle building, hair & nail health, tissue repair, & so much more!
  • Complete proteins contain all 22 amino acids, which are essential for our body to function optimally.
  • My go-to healthy protein sources: beef, pork, chicken, fish, gelatin, eggs, & greek yogurt

protein

F = Fats  

  • One of the most detrimental dietary recommendations in America has been the low fat craze!! We NEED healthy fats (just make sure they’re the right kind)!
  • Fats are essential for carrying nutrients throughout the body, building hormones, absorbing vitamins, & providing satiation.
  • Avoid any food product that’s labeled “fat free” or “low fat,” as they’re always supplemented with artificial, crappy ingredients like sugar, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives, to retain the flavor that is stripped away when they take out the fat.
  • My go-to healthy fat sources: olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter, avocado, olives, natural peanut butter, almonds, chia seeds, & flax seeds
  • Fats that I avoid like the plague: vegetable oil, canola oil, margarine, shortening, or any food product with “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients list

Foods containing healthy fats

That’s IT! Pretty simple right? Just remember CPF+ when meal building & you’re good to go! I keep this in mind any time I eat meals or snacks & it really helps me control blood sugar imbalances, curbs my hunger, & keeps me energized & satisfied throughout the day.

Here’s some examples of my favorite CPF+ meals:

Breakfast 

  • Local eggs (P+) cooked in coconut oil (F+) with a banana (C+) & natural peanut butter (F+)
  • Smoothie with spinach, bananas, & strawberries (C+), gelatin powder (P+), & chia seeds (F+)

Lunch 

  • Salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, & carrots (C+), deli turkey breast (P+), homemade olive-oil based dressing (F+)
  • Burrito bowl with rice, black beans, tomatoes, & salsa (C+), diced chicken (P+), olives & sour cream (F)

Dinner 

  • Grilled steak (P+) with a side of potatoes, peppers, onions, & mushrooms (C+) grilled in a foil packet with organic butter & olive oil (F+)
  • Sweet potato hash made with diced sweet potatoes, onion, peppers, kale, & other veggies (C+), cooked in bacon fat or coconut oil (F+), mixed with chopped bacon & topped with 2 fried eggs (P+) – find recipe here!

For more awesome information about this, click here for Robyn’s free CPF+ nutrition guide! You can also follow her nutrition facebook page, or follow her on instagram @personalizednutrition_ 

I hope this is helpful information for some of you striving to live a more balanced, simpler, happier, healthier life. I’d love to hear what you think so comment below or like this post if you found it useful 🙂 Also, if you liked this, don’t forget to follow the blog so that you’re notified when I post new content!

Thanks so much for following my journey.

Until next time,

– Janeen

Music Box Ballet – Original Piano Composition

Hey all!

Time to share another song! 🙂 This is one of the original 12 compositions I wrote over 11 years ago. I decided to share this one today because I just played it at church for Mother’s Day this past Sunday! My sister (who is a mom & celebrating her 2nd Mother’s Day) was visiting & this is one of her favorites, so I thought I’d play it at Mass as a dedication to her & all moms!

Speaking of moms, my own wonderful mother helped me come up with the name of this one too way back when! The beginning especially is reminiscent of a music box. We could just picture a little ballerina twirling around to this melody. It has a very lighthearted, carefree feel to it, which makes it fit for lots of occasions (including playing in church or for weddings, etc.)

Hope you enjoy this one guys! Would love to hear what you think so comment below, follow the blog, or subscribe to my Youtube channel if you’d like to hear more pieces I have yet to share! If you happened to miss any of the other songs I’ve shared, scroll through the Music page on my blog where you can find them all 🙂

As always, thanks for following my melody!!

– Janeen

The Echo – Original Piano Composition

Hello all!

Today I want to share the song that brought me back into the composition world last year 🙂 As I talked about in my first blog post, My Melodic Journey, I wrote my first 12 songs when I was 14 years old & then took a break (for 10 years!) & finally started writing again within this past year. “The Echo” was the first song I wrote after that 10 year hiatus.

I remember writing this song after getting a heavy dose of inspiration after learning George Winston’s “Living In The Country” by ear (one of my favorites, which I’ll have to share with you on the blog soon)! I guess learning something by ear & having no notes to follow let something loose within me … I remembered the magic of being able to make a song my own & play it as I want & as I’m inspired to play it with no rules or distractions. So, I started playing around with my own melodies, working off that inspiration and soon… “The Echo” was born!

I named this song “The Echo” because of it’s echo-like theme between octaves throughout the entire piece. You’ll notice that I play the melody in one octave & then immediately mirror it in the octave above, similar to the way an echo sounds. That was my inspiration for the title (finally I’m naming my own songs now instead of relying on my Mom to come up with something, like I did with every song I wrote 10 years ago… Ha!)

I hope you enjoy this one guys! It’s a very special one to me because it really launched this new chapter in my life & my renewed passion for composing music. As always, I’d love to hear what you think!

If you want to hear more songs I’ve shared, scroll through my Music page on the blog, follow the blog to get email updates when I post new ones, or subscribe to my YouTube channel 🙂

Thanks for following my melody!

Until next time,

– Janeen

Stargazer – Original Piano Composition

Hello again!!

Since I’ve already taken it all the way back to the beginning with “Reflections of Joy,” I thought we’d just move right into song #2! This one is called “Stargazer.”

Honestly, if I had to pick my favorite song out of all that I’ve written so far, this would be it. I think the reason I’d pick this one as my favorite is that it’s definitely the most creative & complex song in my “library.” It still challenges me to this day (as you can tell from some of the errors in the video….shhh… haha)! The rhythms between right hand & left hand are complicated & kind of awkward, as they’re basically playing the same notes/melody but at a slightly different time in some parts (right hand follows immediately after the left hand). If I would play an extremely slowed down version of those parts, it would totally clash, but sped up, it all blends together & becomes this beautiful, glorious, mess of a song 😉

This one took lots of practice & repetition & hard work to train my fingers how to play it, which is another reason why I think Stargazer is so close to my heart. Sometimes I think I had an out of body experience when I wrote this song, because to this day I think to myself, “How did I write that?” haha!

This song definitely inspires a sense of wonder & awe in me every time I sit down to play it, much like the feeling of gazing at the stars on a clear summer night. I just love this one guys …. I hope you all enjoy “Stargazer” as much as I do!

If you want to hear more songs I’ve shared, scroll through my Music page on the blog, follow the blog to get email updates when I post new ones, or subscribe to my YouTube channel 🙂

Thanks for following my melody!

– Janeen