Friday Finds #257



Amazon ends its charity donation program AmazonSmile after other cost-cutting efforts. (NPR)



STOMP closes after a 29-year New York run. (NPR)



Five excellent podcast episode recommendations:

Why Your Creativity Matters with Liz Gilbert (Everything Happens)

Special Episode: The Bono Interview (The Bulletin)

The Art and Science of Gathering with Priya Parker (A Slight Change of Plans)

Andrea Yahr on Tax Prep Tips and FAQs for 2023 (Music Studio Startup)

Did Artificial Intelligence Just Get too Smart? (The Daily)



Krispy Kreme is releasing its Biscoff collection, and one of them tastes like a  cheesecake. (The Kitchn)



Speaking of Biscoff, besides just eating it by the spoonful, here are some great ways to enjoy the cookie-butter-peanut-buttery-like goodness.

Cookie Butter Muddy Buddies (Bake Me Some Sugar)

Two recipes I haven’t tried these yet, but I am intrigued!

Cookie Butter Pie (All Recipes)

Cookie Butter Blondies (The Pioneer Woman)



A new website, blog, and game membership resource:

Get their free game, Dynamic Den, here.



Bang Bang Chicken: The Authentic Sichuan Version (The Woks of Life)

My husband and I went crazy over this recipe! It’s healthy and full of flavor! We ate it with a bit of brown rice and… oh my!



I have had a razor-sharp sore throat for almost two weeks. I’m not sick otherwise, so it’s been really strange. Besides sore throat Chloraseptic lozenges, this Spiced Hot Toddy from Williams Sonoma has been the best for soothing the pain.



Germ Alert: A Teacher’s Guide to Staying Healthy (Amy Chaplin)



Registration for the Digital Organization Series is OPEN! Meet with Amy and a small handful of other teachers via Zoom over eight consecutive Fridays (12:00-1:00 pm ET) to gain control of your digital workspace.

Amy will walk you through how to clean up, reorganize, and maintain key areas, including devices, documents, media storage, email, & more.

DATES: Jan. 27 – March 17 



Your turn! Did you discover anything interesting or delicious this week? Share in the comments!


Friday Finds #256



A list of favorite books read in 2021-2022 from Joy Morin.



Big News!

“Effective January 1, 2023, the FJH catalog will be exclusively distributed by Alfred Music in both print and digital forms. In addition, FJH’s educational catalogs will be exclusively available for interactive practice on MakeMusic Cloud, formerly SmartMusic, the reference online platform for music practice from MakeMusic.”




Piano Studio Business Claims: Home expenses, work expenses, and industry codes, oh my! (Rebekkah Maxner)



Made money online this year? You could owe more in taxes. (CBS News)



A playlist for the winter season from “moi.”



Braised Chicken Thighs with Carrots, Potatoes, and Thyme (Williams Sonoma)

This is a wonderful winter meal. You’ll want a little bread on the side to mop up the delicious braising liquid though – believe me! (P. S. I actually do not like Thyme so I much prefer the dish without!)



Strategies for Tax-Time Organization with Andrea Miller (Duet Partner Podcast)



Choosing One Word to Inspire (Jennifer Foxx | Music Educator Resources)



Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan (a lighter version of the classic)

I tend to avoid making recipes where I have to do the whole breading thing because it’s a lot of steps, messy, and I just don’t like it. This recipe was the perfect substitute for parmesan chicken because it had no breading and was easy to make when having my family over. I made spaghetti on the side and tossed in just a bit of butter. Everyone loved it!



While there have been years I’ve read mostly “knowledge-building” books, fiction is my favorite, and I’ve been trying to be much more intentional about allowing myself enjoyment.

I’m kicking this year off with a great one!

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn


Friday Finds #255

I couldn’t resist squeezing in one more goodies post before the end of 2022! I mean, who could let it sit at #254? LOL. Plus, I had a lot of Christmas fun to share with you, including a list of items I’m in charge of making for our various holiday gatherings. Let’s start there!



Pimento Cheese Spread (Gimme Some Oven)

We always provide a tray of venison summer sausage and crackers for both family gatherings. This soft cheese spread will make a nice addition to the mix. I prefer about half the amount of green onion. You could even substitute with a 1/2 t. or so of dry onion powder.

Brandied Apple Cake with Figs and Walnuts (Williams Sonoma)

I’ve made this cake one other time, and oh my…. it’s full of apples, incredibly moist, and full of flavor.

Apple, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries (Pioneer Woman)

When my brother texted my mom and me with who should bring what for our Christmas Day meal, my list included dessert and “Adam’s favorite salad.” I knew exactly what he meant!



While we’re talking about dinner, my friend Joy shared a beautiful and simple table centerpiece on Instagram this past month. Here’s the link she shared online on how to make one.



For your holiday entertainment – here are a couple of personal favorites.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas (The Roku Channel)

White Christmas (Netflix)



If you have any down days to binge-watch, we really enjoyed The Playlist on Netflix. It’s about the creators of Spotify.



Ukrainians sing ‘Carol of the Bells’ at Carnegie Hall, 100 years after its U.S. debut (NPR)



Thanks to Janna Williamson for sharing this interesting article on her Facebook page!


These are my top 10 favorite books from what I read this past year (out of around 28) in rough order from most favorite.

  1. On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass
  2. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
  3. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  4. The It Girl by Ruth Ware (my favorite of all her books)
  5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  6. Playing Nice by JP Delaney
  7. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
  8. The Codebreaker’s Secret by Sara Ackerman
  9. Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin
  10. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman



A musical mash-up of Carol of the Bells with Pirates of the Caribbean played on Harp.


I especially enjoyed the last three episodes of the Key Ideas Podcast:

#61 These are a Few of My Favorite Things

#59-60 Navigating a Post-Pandemic World with Vanessa Cornett

I have to admit; I almost didn’t listen to this one because I feel past the whole “navigating a post-pandemic world” topic. That said, I really wanted to hear from Vanessa Cornett, and I am glad I did. It was 100% worth listening to both long episodes. She has beautiful insight and a special way with words. I might even go back and listen again!

Ten Posts and Podcasts You Loved in 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of you for being here. It’s a joy and a privilege to share with you all through this blog, podcast, and social media.

This time of year, it’s always fun to peek back at what the year brought us before being present for the holidays and looking forward to the year ahead.

While the Piano Pantry Blog was a little quieter this year due to the launch of the weekly podcast, I still managed to share with you through the written word in 22 posts (now 23) and 13 Friday Finds. Included in that mix, we hit #250 in the Friday series, where many of you chimed in with YOUR favorites. Launching at the start of January 2022, the podcast hit a nice round #50 (which makes this Enneagram 3 very happy! LOL).

This post will highlight the top five blog posts and top five podcast episodes from this past year.  Honestly, it’s hard to say how 100% accurate the stats are because posts that occurred earlier in the year have had more time to get more views, etc., and with podcasts, it can be hard to get clear and accurate stats between all the platforms.

Previous Top-Post Highlights: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016


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My 2021-2022 Student Christmas Gifts

Over the years, I’ve shared several ideas for Christmas gifts for students, including all that I’ve done up until 2020. If you would like to check out some of those, visit these posts:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Music Students: Who Couldn’t Use Another Idea?!

Music-Themed Bookmarks for Student Christmas Gifts

Christmas Gift Round-Up

My Perfect Homemade Student Christmas Gift: Hot Cocoa 

I’m playing a little “catch-up” in today’s post, sharing what I did last year and this year.


My 2021 Student Christmas Gifts

Have you ever done a “hodge-podge” gift year? This was one of those years for me.

The main gift I planned and was especially excited to give was sugar cookies decorated with the new studio logo (the small version).

If you want to read more on this new logo pursuit, read this post: Keep Your Studio Marketing Fresh with New Branding

Thankfully, we have a bakeshop in our small town so I could hire them out (cookie decorating is not my strong suit)!

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European Food Inspirations: Nine Easy Recipes to Make At Home

As 2022 quickly closes, I wanted to squeeze one final blog post in! This one, in particular, because it is the last of four things I wanted to share with all my teacher friends from our 28-day journey through Europe in the fall of 2022.

The first was a fun list of random observations and experiences – especially useful for anyone looking to do some travel in Europe.

The second was Episode #42 of The Piano Pantry Podcast, where I shared the entire story of the month of adventures, including when I lost my passport!

The third was a glimpse into 500 years of fabulous keyboard instruments we viewed at the Music Instruments Museum in Brussels, Belgium.


The final thing I thought it would be fun to share in this post is a list of nine food items we discovered in our travels you could easily make in your own home!

While we had lots of excellent food, I tried to choose simple, delicious, and unique items you might easily enjoy.


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500 Years of Keyboard Instruments

This past fall, my husband and I had the privilege of traveling to Europe for the first time. Countries visited included Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (London), and France.

If you want to get a little peek into this adventure, listen in on episode #47 of The Piano Pantry Podcast!

The entire trip went quite smoothly. The only transportation hiccup we encountered was traveling via train from the Netherlands to London. One of our trains out of the Netherlands was delayed, causing a missed connection from Brussels to London. Luckily, they could get us on a train later that evening, but it meant we had an eight-hour overlay in Brussels, Belgium.

What at first seemed to be an inconvenience turned into a wonderful opportunity as we could spend an entire day exploring the city! A delay of two or three hours would have kept us waiting at the train station.

As we walked through the city, we passed a beautiful building, its splendor making me pause in awe to take it in.

A closer look revealed it was a musical instrument museum!

(As a side note, my husband and I noticed schoolchildren on field trips in multiple places, each wearing yellow vests. Brilliant!)

Aren’t the details on this building gorgeous?

Since this blog is about piano teaching, I selected around 25 favorites from the keyboard segment of the museum to share in this post – just a fraction of what the museum held! (Plus a couple of fun other instruments.)

They’re listed in date order through the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s. A few of the instruments in this post are featured here on the museum’s website. Those that are, I also directly linked below each image.

Enjoy this phenomenal collection!



Fretted Clavichord – Italy, c1587


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Friday Finds #254



A nice simple visual of different types of artificial Christmas trees.



Creating a Seamless Music Experience (Daniel Light)

In this blog post, Daniel shares a variety of creating transitions between songs in different keys for a seamless musical experience in Christmas service music. Beautiful!



In Daniel’s post, he mentions the Carpenters Christmas Portrait Album, which has a seamless musical experience. I’ve never listened to this album, so I’ve added it to my list and am really enjoying it!

Other holiday playlists that are currently on my rotation include Shadow & Light Advent from Tsh Oxenreider as part of her advent book I’m doing and my own personal Advent playlist.



Transparent sticky notes?! I knew there were transparent tabs but not large post-its like this! Thanks to teacher Rebecca Brown for sharing this on Piano Teacher Central on Facebook. Mine are already on their way!



Holiday Activities for Your December Group Classes (The Piano Pantry Podcast).

One of the items I mention is piano ensembles. The resource I’ve always used is Hal Leonard’s Christmas Piano Ensembles. This year, however, I’m excited to try out another resource – Lauren Lewandowski’s Piano Ensemble Music.

She has three Christmas ones (Jingle Bells, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, and Carol of the Bells). At the time that I’m writing this post, they’re discounted from $14.50 to $8.50 – I purchased all three!



A free source for hymn lead sheets and more.



Music Teachers Helpers Helper was the very first online music studio management software (that I was ever aware of, at least). A couple of years ago, it was bought out and is now Duet Partner.

I really enjoyed hearing the story in this interview on the Music Studio Startup Podcast with the new owner and CEO, Neylan McBaine.



“The Musical Communication Podcast” was created as an extension of the Ploger Method. In this podcast, Marianne and her producer, Karen, explore her method, music perception, and cognition as well as how we can develop fluency in our musicianship.



My husband and I really like cooking with cast iron and both enjoy following this Cast Iron Cooking group on Facebook.



Should We Measure Our Student’s Musical Growth

Interesting thoughts from Eric Bluestine, author of one of my favorite books, How Children Learn Music.

Friday Finds #253



Items that I’m making for various holiday gatherings over the next week:

Dry-Brined Turkey with Roasted Onions (Smitten Kitchen)

I have never made this turkey recipe so I can’t vouch for it, but I’ve been a Smitten Kitchen fan for years. Also, this past year we made a few recipes that used Gochujang sauce (a fermented chili paste) and we really liked it. I don’t think it will make the turkey spicy or “Asian-food” flavored, it will just give it a nice deep “Umami” flavor.

Arkansas Green Beans (Bubba Pie)

Dijon-Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Recipe Center)

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping (Cook’s Country)

Apple Fritter Cake (King Arthur Baking)

Citrus-Cranberry Tart (The Kitchn)

Cranberry Rosemary Shrub Cocktail (Good Life Eats)



My favorite password manager, Last Pass, is celebrating Cyber Week by offering 25% off on Premium, Family, Teams and Business accounts. Offer is valid for new purchases only and runs between November 21st , and November 29th.



I haven’t had to stop a podcast to write down so many quotes in a long time like I did with Kate Bowler’s recent interview with Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering.



Check out all the wonderful Free Resources available on Creative Piano Teacher!



I binge-watched through a couple of playlists recently. The first is a series of videos of vocal artist Natalie Weiss giving private coaching sessions.

The second is a series of videos of MLT-trained teachers demonstrating how they “teach a tune.” Mostly this is geared toward Music Education but I still find it inspiring and helpful to see their process.



All YouTube Creators are getting their own handles.

Mine is



If you’re on Spotify, fill your holiday week with this super fun Thanksgiving playlist!




Friday Finds #252




While working on one of my speaking sessions, newly available this year, I discovered a highly useful tool on Canva.

It’s a Color Wheel. You can input one color, and it will give you a variety of other colors that can be used in combination with that color. This would be super useful if you had a studio or brand logo with a color and you wanted to add more colors to it.



Canva is part of my daily work flow. While working on slides however, I wasn’t sure at first how I could use their slide templates but then easily change the color scheme without changing each item one by one. I knew there had to be a solution. As always, I just had to Google it! The place to do it is at the bottom of the page and I didn’t even see it until I read about it.

How to Quickly Update All Colors in Canva with Just One Click | Anchor Design Co.



While I’m only one chapter into it, I’m already thoroughly enjoying this short little book by Anne Lamott.

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers




I purchased this and another book for the first time on It was a great way to get a book in good condition for half the price! Reduce, reuse, recycle!



In the first chapter of the above mentioned book, Lamott mentions The Merton Prayer, a beautiful, raw prayer we can all relate to at some point if not frequently in life. I printed it out immediately.



Interested in being part of saving standard time and ending the switch to daylight savings time forever? Help take action here. 



Thanks to teacher Abby Maser for introducing me to matte-texture screen protectors!

If you could call the feel of something “delicious,” this is it!

Supershieldz iPhone 12 Tempered-Glass Screen Protector



Practical advice from Jennifer Foxx: Opening a Zip File



White Bean Pumpkin Turkey Chili | Skinny Taste

Thanks to Christina Whitlock for recommending this recipe. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely make again!



Does getting students to sightread feel like pulling teeth at times? Consider Rebekah Maxner’s idea of a “YOYO” assignment instead.

P.S. Guess who’s going to be in the next Teacher Talk episode (#45) of The Piano Pantry Podcast?! 🙂



Should Piano Students Memorize Their Repertoire? | Janna Williamson



In high school I remember being the fastest typist in my computer class. There were two reasons I was successful with typing early on. First, I taught myself to type on my parents electric typewriter in middle school. Second, it has to be because of piano lessons too, would you agree?

Awhile back, I saw piano teacher Clinton Pratt share a link on Facebook for a free typing test. I hadn’t taken a test since high school so I thought it would be fun.

I’m happy to report those fingers still do me well – 97WPM, 99% accuracy. Wahoo! So fun.