Jazz it up.

One of my unofficial new year’s resolutions was to dedicate some time to learning.  Have you heard of MOOCs – massive open online classes?  Well, there are MANY online courses on every subject imaginable, hosted from many different institutions and web portals.   They are free – if audited, and are taken online from the comfort of your couch.  Ten weeks ago I enrolled in a MOOC on Jazz Appreciation on edx.org, along with 11,000(!) other students.  I love all kinds of music, but I really didn’t know much about Jazz, and I thought if I learned a bit more about it, its eras and artists, that I might enjoy it even more.

Today I finished the course.   I highly recommend it.   I now know a bit more about early jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, modal, free jazz, fusion, and neo-classical eras.  I know that Coltrane was THE MAN on tenor sax.  I know that Miles varied his music on trumpet to influence many eras.  I found out that I really like the pianist Bill Evans and will seek out some of his albums.  I understand why Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk transcend a specific Jazz era.  I decided that I don’t care as much for bebop – no offense to Dizzy and the Bird.  I enjoy early jazz and modal and hard bop and cool.   I can distinguish blues form from AABA form.   I can listen for the bass and drums to try to pick out swing from even-8th rhythm.   I heard many snippets of a variety of performances from artists that I was already aware of, whetting my interest to hear more by them.  And I learned about some of the newest artists to appear on the Jazz stage.  Professor Hellmer was great.

All and all, a great class!  Aaaaaand, I got an A.  :)

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openculture.com maintains a list of over a thousand MOOCs here.  Take a look, pick one out that sounds interesting, and enroll!

Be happy. 

Today is the International Day of Happiness.  Get out there and make a happy moment.  :)   Here are a few happy moments from my day. 

Friday!  Nuff said.

It’s raining over the lake. 

The vernal equinox will occur at 5:45 PM in Austin today.  

Julie is coming back to Austin tonight for a visit.   It’ll be nice to catch up with her at dinner. 

Aaaaaand we’re going to make pizza!



Ides of March. 

We enjoyed a beautiful night on the lake.  I came home early today to get some Work things done before tomorrow.   Boooo!

The calendar says we are midway through March already.  The late freezes haven’t killed everything though.   The bluebonnet patch out back is coming along.  



Only one more week of winter !

Bringing back the bread machine. 

We received an awesome Breadman Ultimate breadmaker for a wedding gift way back when.  And I used it for several years but stopped for some reason.   I was probably traveling a lot at the time.

A couple weeks ago I was cleaning out the pantry, and rediscovered it.  I have since stocked up on wheat flour, gluten and other ingredients and am back in the bread making groove.  The 1.5 lb loaves are perfect for the two of us for several days.

The light whole wheat bread loaf is delicious.

This one’s hot out of the machine:

And this is a link to 100+ page PDF for the bread machine with many recipes.

And *poof* … 5 years gone by.

Sunday was the 5 year blogoversary for sheila365!  I meant to draft a post ahead of time, and post it bright and early on March 8th.   But I just looked at the calendar and time has snuck by on me once again.

That’s ok.  In these 5 years sheila365 has evolved, and I think I have a bit, too.  My blog started as a post-a-day 365 project during the first year or two, which had me snapping photos during the day to make sure I had something that I judged “share-worthy;”  and now it has become more of a leisurely, post-every-week-or-so project, which I have to say has been much easier, though less artistic in terms of trying to capture beautiful photos, but rather just moments from my day that struck me as special or interesting in one way or another.

So happy blogoversary to me!  :)    I thought I’d go back through my posts from year 5 and pick a photo from one post from each month that especially makes me smile.  I have to say it was very hard to pick just one picutre from each month. 

 March 2014:  Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.   A visit to the walled El Morro.  Beautiful Caribbean views.

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April 2014:  British Virgin Islands sailing trip – this was taken while snorkeling off Cooper Island.

Turtle dude surfacing - 2

Turtle dude surfacing – 2

May 2014 – A trip home to Seattle.  One of several last year.   It is a beautiful, special place for me.IMG_4009

June 2014 – Back in Austin for fun on the lake with some of my crazy sailor friends.IMG_4863

July 2014 – An amazing trip to Panama City Beach to celebrate a very special anniversary with a very special family.

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August 2014 – A roadtrip to the Texas Gulf Coast.  One of my favorite places to relax.IMG_5697

September 2014 – A lovely anniversary trip through the Texas Wine Country.IMG_5876

October 2014 – A fun girls’ trip to Washington, D.C.  Lots of laughs, lots of wine, and lots of walking.  :)

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

The residential streets are lined with historic townhouses.

November 2014 – An oh so special birthday.IMG_6994

December 2014 – Family visiting means showing off Austin and the Hill Country.  Never gets old.IMG_7297

January 2015 – Hiking as many trails as I can before I had to go back to work after taking a few months off.IMG_7688

February 2015 – Yep, more tulips.IMG_7780

What an amazing lap around the sun!

Thanks for coming along for the ride. :)

Beef burgundy. 

Today winter seems to have relaxed its grip.  Temps were in the 50s for most of the day.  Monte and I headed outside and trimmed, pruned, tilled and sowed.   A great day. 

I’ve dug out my crock pot recently and have been making recipes from way back when.   Tonight I made Beef Burgandy.  And Monte made homemade noodles to go with.  Oh my.  Delicious!





Beef burgundy ala crockpot:

- 2-lb beef round steak, cut in 3/4″ cubes

- 1/4 c flour

- 1/2 tsp salt

- 3 Tbsp butter

- 2 c red wine, Bordeaux or burgandy

- 1 c beef broth

- 1 c chopped onion

- 6 oz white mushrooms, rinsed dried & quartered

- 2 bay leaves

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Coat beef with flour and salt mixture.   Melt butter in skillet.  Add beef and brown on all sides.  Transfer browned meat to crock pot.  Deglaze hot skillet with a little bit of wine and put those tasty bits in the crockpot, too.  Combine all other ingredients in crock pot and stir. 

Cover.  Cook on high for 2 hours, then reduce to low for another 2 -3 hours, until meat is tender. 

Before serving, remove 1 c of liquid, heat over medium on stove; bring to a low boil.  Wisk in 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in  2 Tbsp cold water,  until  thickened.  Pour back into crockpot and stir. 

Remove bay leaves.  Serve over noodles. 

March is here!

March marks the beginning of one of the best times of the year! Sunny, spring days are right around the corner. Although today we are still toughing out the chilly, misty weather. Cabin fever is setting in. Today we headed down to Zilker Park to see the 86th annual Austin Kite Festival. Not your typical turnout, and only the slightest hint of wind – but it was still nice to take in, and all the kids there were having a blast.

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The downtown skyline was shrouded in low clouds.
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Afterwards we headed to the Texas State History Museum – free admission on the first Sunday of the month.   And tomorrow is Texas Independence Day, so it was fitting we popped in.

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