Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

I can tell you what I'm doing New Year's Eve: playing games with the family, eating new foods, putting luminaries out on the front porch, and enjoying root beer floats!

My family has a few New Year's Eve traditions. We always put luminaries out on the front porch. The black one is new this year. We started the tradition with special store-bought disposable luminaries. We always reused them, though. Over the years we've collected different kinds of metal luminaries. My sister is a purist and always uses real tea light candles--unscented, of course. But we also use small battery-powered, flameless candles. I prefer the flameless kind since I don't need to worry about the wind tipping over the luminaries!

Another New Year's Eve tradition is each family member picks a new food to try. Usually we go to the store together, but this year my mom went to the store in the morning before the snowstorm hit town and got some new foods for us to try. Here in eastern Iowa there is incredibly beautiful snow! So today we tried baby back ribs, a new kind of pizza, and stuffed mushrooms.

Also, we always have root beer floats. I don't remember how that tradition started, but we've been doing it as long as I can remember!

One of the best New Year's Eve songs is a jazz ballad and I love it so much I released it on my first Christmas album Jazzy Christmas to You! So check out "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" from Jazzy Christmas to You! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Guilty Dog...

We love this little guy, but he can get himself into trouble.

Tonight we were all watching an old show on DVD and suddenly noticed Deno was no longer in his new favorite spot under the Christmas tree. We ran upstairs toward some rustling noise only to find him under a bed...with a box of crackers. Deno had ripped the sides off the box and torn into the bag but had not eaten all of the crackers. I think he was savoring them.

Deno is pretty smart and knew he wasn't supposed to eat those crackers. He wouldn't even come out from under the bed even after I cleaned up the mess.

So the picture above is of a very innocent Deno after his foray into cracker eating because I did not think to take a picture of the guilty Deno!

Oddly enough, Deno does not know that tomorrow is the last day of 2013, but people do! So to get ready for New Year's Eve, check out "Auld Lang Syne" from Jazzy Christmas to You III. It's unlike any version you've heard before. It has a very "odd" meter!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cranberry Muffins

Cranberry muffins are a holiday staple at the Chaston home. It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

This recipe is an old one from my mother's side of the family. We think it may have originated during WWII since it has no eggs and uses evaporated milk. However, it does have a lot of sugar so that may not be true. Regardless where it originated or why, it is a great recipe!

These aren't the typical "muffin." They are spongier than a normal American muffin. Some with whom we have shared these muffins dislike them, yet others love them.

This Chaston Christmas staple pairs perfectly with another Christmas staple: "Frosty the Snowman." What made me think of it is in the story/song, those who meet Frosty either dislike him or love him--the same divided response to our cranberry muffins! So check out "Frosty the Snowman" from Jazzy Christmas to You III. And hopefully, you'll absolutely love it!

Yield: 36 Muffins (using 2½ inch baking cups)

6 tablespoons butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
4 cups (or more if desired) fresh cranberries
  1. In a large bowl, beat with an electric mixer butter, sugar, and vanilla together.
  2. Combine baking powder, salt, and flour in a small bowl.
  3. Open evaporated milk cans with church key can opener making a large triangular pouring spout on one side of the rim and a smaller hole on the opposite side of the rim.
  4. Pour one can of evaporated milk into butter mixture and beat on low speed.
  5. Add 2 cups of the flour mixture and beat on low speed.
  6. Add last can of evaporated milk then flour mixture, beating on low speed after each addition.
  7. Rinse and sort cranberries, tossing out the soggy ones.
  8. Add to the batter and stir lightly with a large spoon.
  9. Line muffin tins with papers.
  10. Scoop batter into cupcake tins about two-thirds full.
  11. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden on the top.
  12. Serve with Cranberry Muffin Sauce. 


1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1½ teaspoons vanilla
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally as it thickens. 
  2. Cook for 10 minutes.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Christmas can be a time for reflection. Honestly, I haven't had much time the past four months for much reflection, so I feel like I have to make use of the time I have now before the next semester starts!

So on a cold night, I grab a cup of hot cocoa and think. A lot has changed in my life since last Christmas, but my faith in God hasn't!

When life is especially challenging, I remember that I believe. And it doesn't hurt to have it on a mug.

The words to this hymn are contemplative, yet powerful. And the melody is beautiful. So check out "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" from Jazzy Christmas to You!

Friday, December 27, 2013

With Family, It's Still Christmas

I just love Christmas. There's no way to contain how much I love Christmas. I own two "Mrs. Claus" floor-length dresses (for performing and I have two because the first was lost and we had to make another and then the first one was found), an elf costume (also for performing), have released three Christmas CDs (Jazzy Christmas to You!, Jazzy Christmas to You II, and Jazzy Christmas to You III), and I listen to Christmas music year-round.

I also love to be home at Christmas with my family. In fact, we often joke that anytime we are together it's like Christmas. And it's true.

So check out "Please Come Home for Christmas" from Jazzy Christmas to You II. It is and always has been one of my favorite Christmas songs.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Baby, It's COLD Outside!

It is the day after Christmas and it IS very cold outside. I grew up with cold winters, but this one has been really cold early on in the season. I'm glad I have warm coat! I am very grateful.

But all of this cold reminded me of a fun duet I recorded with James Archibald for my first Christmas CD Jazzy Christmas to You! So check out "Baby, It's Cold Outside" from Jazzy Christmas to You!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful Christmas at the Chaston house. And, of course, we still get up early--including my parents. This year my mom was the first to wake up!

And this year it was even a white Christmas! Not only was there snow on the ground from the storm last weekend, but new snow fell throughout the day! The backyard is scintillating!

So check out "White Christmas" from Jazzy Christmas to You III. And don't forget to download (for free) "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve!

It's Christmas Eve!

This morning, Amy and I were on Y105 with Chris Farber! Fun times!

As a family we caroled around town. It was so cold, I ended up wearing my coat over my dress! Last year, we bought Dad a Santa suit after Christmas (75% off) and it's a new tradition this year! He made one boy very happy when he talked with the boy as "Santa" as we were caroling. Definitely worth it to see the little boy's happiness at having a Christmas Eve visit from Santa Claus!

The yearly Christmas nativity went well, though the Christ child was brought drumsticks by one of the shepherds...and a light bulb since He is the "Light of the World." At times, the youngest shepherd brings gifts he feels are appropriate--not unlike the three kings in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

We also opened our yearly children's Christmas books, ornaments, and pajamas.

We're all excited for Christmas tomorrow! Can't wait to see the candy trail!

So, since "every mother's child" will stay up to see if they can see Santa Claus, here's "The Christmas Song" from Jazzy Christmas to You III.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Home for Christmas

I love being home for Christmas! It's wonderful to be in familiar and comforting surroundings with the people you love. None of my siblings are married and there are no grandchildren, so it's just us four "kids" and our parents. So even though we're older now, we all still get together for Christmas. It's almost like a "time-warp" back to our childhood!

I haven't promoted the ballads from the new album, but there are quite a few good ones. So here's "I'll Be Home for Christmas" from Jazzy Christmas to You III.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Today it snowed, and snowed, and snowed! My sister and I baked a lot today in preparation for our caroling give-aways. My mom made an excellent pork roast rub which I'll share another day. My brothers helped the neighbors by clearing their sidewalks and driveways with the snowblower.

Our snowblower is a 2-stage. I don't really know what that means, but it is beefier than the models the neighbors have. I grew up in Iowa and until six years ago we didn't own a snowblower. We always shoveled whenever it snowed. I honestly don't know how we survived, although all six of us usually helped shovel, so that may have had something to do with it. Plus, we had a wonderful neighbor who would help us clear our sidewalks and driveway with his snowblower.

Needless to say, today's song is "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" (featuring James Archibald) from Jazzy Christmas to You II.

And don't forget to get your free download of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" from Jazzy Christmas to You III.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Helping Santa...And Asking for a Little Help in Return!

Today I helped "Santa" wrap some presents in preparation for Christmas! I often take on the role of an elf at Christmastime!

One of my favorite memories of Christmas is The Dick Van Dyke Show Christmas episode ("The Alan Brady Show Presents"). In it Rose Marie sings a song asking Santa for a boyfriend. I loved the song so much I recorded it on my first Christmas album Jazzy Christmas to You!

So check out "Santa Send a Fella" from Jazzy Christmas to You! 

And don't forget to download your free track "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" from Jazzy Christmas to You III.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Link to Jillaine's Interview on the Doug Stephan's Good Day Show!

If you missed my artist interview to promote Jazzy Christmas to You III on the Doug Stephan's Good Day Show this morning, no need to fret! Christmas miracles--and archived audio--do exist!

You can listen to the archived interview here. I don't think it will stay at the top, so just scroll down until you find "Christmas Star of the Day - Jillaine."

I enjoyed being on the show and talking about Jazzy Christmas to You III, starting my own jazz record label  (Jillaine Records) with Erik (my brother), and choosing to go to law school! Doug Stephan was great to talk with! And I loved being able to be on radio again! It has been since August that I was on the air. During the Christmas break I'll be joining Chris Farber on Y105 again for the weekday morning show 7:00-10:00 a.m. CST, so stay tuned!

I've been promoting Jazzy Christmas to You III a lot, but I also have two other Christmas CDs: Jazzy Christmas to You! and Jazzy Christmas to You II. Today it was really cold and so icy that school was canceled in my hometown in Iowa. So check out "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" from last year's Christmas CD Jazzy Christmas to You II.

And don't forget, you can still get a free download of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" at jillaine.com/JCTY3!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tomorrow I’m on the Doug Stephan’s Good Day Radio Show!

Finals are “finally” over! Actually, they weren’t quite as stressful as I had anticipated. Not that they were easy—they were definitely challenging—but “first-semester-law-school-anxiety” didn’t overtake me!

Now I can focus on Christmas and Jazzy Christmas to You III. Which brings me to the exciting news I alluded to in a blog a few days ago.

Tomorrow morning at 6:40 AM Eastern Time I will be the “Christmas Star of the Day” on the Doug Stephan's Good Day Show! I’m very excited!

If you can’t listen in live, no worries, you can still listen to the recording of the interview. I will post the link when the interview is uploaded to the Doug Stephan's Good Day Show website.

And if you’ve been waiting to buy your physical copy of Jazzy Christmas to You III, your wait is over! You can order your CD at Amazon. Don’t worry if it says “out of stock.” If you order, the CDs will arrive at your door.

So listen in tomorrow to the Doug Stephan’s Good Day Show radio show at 6:40 AM Eastern Time.

For me, Christmas is officially starting NOW since my finals are over. To show how excited I am to be on the show tomorrow I want to share with you my jazzy rendition of an old Christmas boogie woogie song, “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” from Jazzy Christmas to You III!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Christmas Song

It is just about here! I'm very excited! Believe it or not, I've had my three little Christmas trees set up and decorated since the beginning of November. And the garland on the railing with Santa hats hanging from it has graced the stairway for just about as long! I just can't get enough Christmas!

And what song could be more apropos than "The Christmas Song" from my latest album Jazzy Christmas to You III for today's blog?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As Finals Wind Down, Christmas Revs Up!

I took my third of four finals today for my first semester of law school. I have one left. Hooray!

So as finals wind down, Christmas is revving up! I have more time for enjoying that Christmas spirit and dreaming of sugar cookies (not sugar plums).

So on December 17th, this jazz singer/law student is glad that "It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas" (from Jazzy Christmas to You III)!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Pre-Review of Jazzy Christmas to You III

I've talked a lot lately about my new CD Jazzy Christmas to You III. But I'm not the only one talking about it!

Check out this pre-review about the album on Stubby's House of Christmas!

If you missed the artist interview I did with Merry and Bright last year, check that out, too!

Also, be sure to listen to Sounds of Christmas. Not only does it play Christmas music 24/7, but you might just hear Christmas music from me, too!

And soon I will be sharing some exciting news regarding the CD!

In the meantime, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is still available for free download. Want to hear a bit before you download? Stream it on Soundcloud.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Monkey Bread for a Good Christmas Morning!

The Chaston family has many Christmas traditions. Last year, I wrote about many of them: Christmas Pajamas, Christmas Eve Nativity, Christmas Children's Books, Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Candy Trails, and Christmas Caroling. We also have our Christmas Cereal tradition. Each family member gets a favorite cereal just for them for Christmas breakfast--but we all share! This tradition had more significance when we were all little and only had sugary cereal at Christmas, but it still lives on. If "Santa" stopped bringing the Christmas Cereal, there might be an uprising on Christmas morning...

In addition to our Christmas Cereal, however, we often try a new baked good for Christmas morning, too. One year we tried popovers--my sister and I both got popover tins for Christmas--and they were mildly successful for a first attempt. Popovers are tricky, though, and probably should have been tried out pre-Christmas morning.

Well, this year, we're getting a little smarter. For a fuss-free Christmas breakfast (cereal included) we're trying out our baked good BEFORE the big day. And what a keeper this monkey bread is!

Now that we have grown wiser, we can keep those Christmas morning "my-baked-goods-didn't-turn-out-right" blues at bay! So be wise, and check out "Good Morning Blues" from my new album Jazzy Christmas to You III. Trust me, you won't be blue for long! (And try the monkey bread, too. It's absolutely delicious!)

And remember, you can still download--for free--"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" at jillaine.com/JCTY3!


½ cup granulated sugar                                        
2½ teaspoons active dry yeast                            
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided                         
¾ teaspoon baking powder                     
¾ teaspoon baking soda              
1 teaspoon salt                                                       
2 cups hot skim milk                                             
½ cup canola oil                                                     

8 tablespoons butter, melted                               
¾ cup granulated sugar                            
12 tablespoons cup brown sugar, divided                                                        
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon                       
  1. Combine ½ cup granulated sugar, yeast, 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl stir hot milk and oil together.
  3. Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture while the mixer is mixing just until mixed together. .
  4. Stir in last cup of flour by hand with a large spoon.
  5. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise until it has doubled in size.
  6. In a saucepan, melt butter just until it is pourable. Set aside.
  7. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  8. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper covering the bottom and sides of the pans.
  9. On a clean, floured surface, scoop dough out of the bowl. Roll dough into a large rectangle that is ¼ of an inch thick.
  10. Pour 7 tablespoons melted butter over the dough. Spread cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the butter, reserving 4 tablespoons for sprinkling over the top of the bread.
  11. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons brown sugar over the cinnamon mixture. Spread evenly.
  12. Loosely roll dough into a log.
  13. At a 45-degree angle cut the dough into one-inch slices. Then cut into the dough at 45-degree angle in the opposite direction.
  14. Line two 9-inch glass pie dishes with parchment paper. Put ½ tablespoon of the remaining melted butter in the bottom of each pie dish. Spread butter over parchment paper up the sides and across the bottom. the sides of the parchment paper with your fingers.
  15. Place chunks of dough in each loaf pan and adjust the height to be even between the two pie dishes.
  16. Drizzle ½ tablespoon of the remaining melted butter over the top of each pan filled with dough chunks.
  17. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar and 6 tablespoons brown sugar over the top of the dough chunks.
  18. Let rise until double.
  19. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes and check to make sure the center is no longer doughy.
  20. Remove from oven. Let loaves sit for 15 minutes in the pans. Taking the loaves out of the pans, place them on cooling rack with parchment paper intact. You can flip the monkey bread over onto a large plate also.