Friday Finds #119

It’s Superbowl Sunday weekend!

If you’re looking for last minute ideas for game-day food, check out my favorite appetizer-type recipes in the post “Game Day Round-up for Your Studio and Kitchen“.

 

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Another great piano teacher blog I just came across this week! CreativePianoTeacher.com. One of the writers, Davis Dorrough actually announced my session last year at the MTNA Conference in Orlando. Hi, Davis!

 

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MTNA just announced a new conference for advanced teaching. This is very, very cool!

 

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The MTNA e-Festival has taken a drastic drop in price from $60 to $25 per entry! Another incredible announcement from MTNA!

 

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I’m feeling really tempted to buy this piano bench after reading the review on 4-D Piano Teaching. Does anyone else use this bench and have feedback? If so, please comment below!

 

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GIML (Gordon Institute for Music Learning) has given their website a much-needed update. It is so much more user-friendly and visually appealing!

 

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We hit record low temperatures this week in Indiana with one day at -15 and windchills at -40. Chili was on the menu for dinner that night. Here’s my current favorite chili recipe. 

Other favorites through the years have included Tex-Mex Corn Chip ChiliOne-Pot Chili Mac, and Instant pot White Chicken Black Bean Chili (we prefer the chicken cubed rather than shredded).

 

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Good intentions (how to be on time).

 

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The story that Emily P. Freeman tells in episode 65 of The Next Right Thing podcast had me rolling with laughter. It’s exactly the sort of thing I could see happening to me. I found it so funny, I made my husband listen to it that night.

It’s about having a green thumb…or maybe not having a green thumb… (we’re talking caring for living plants here in case you’re lost).

It’s a 2-minute story and will add a smile to your day. (It starts at 1:30 in case you only want to listen to the story.)

 

Friday Finds #118

Two weeks ago I told you that I would share a photo of the make-shift kitchen we set up after we moved into the basement of our new house. It wasn’t photo-worthy last week but this week it was.

To be honest, I can’t believe I’m even showing you this! You must think I’m crazy, but I don’t care! We’re finally living in our new home and that to me is amazing.

The top left photo is my “cooking area” with a toaster oven, George Foreman Grill, Induction cooktop, basic oils and seasonings, Ultimate Cutco knife set (I used to sell them in college), cutting boards, and hot pads. The crates below house some of my basic bowls, storage containers, and frequently used utensils.

In the bottom right photo, we see the microwave, coffee maker, toaster, and water kettle. The tubs and bags below the table are holding the paper serve-wear we’re using to minimize dishes, plastic wraps, and baggies, etc. I just try to think of it as camping on steroids.

The best part is yet to come when, later this year (sometime between April and July), our kitchen cabinets will be done and then I can show you the pretty kitchen!

Now that you feel better about the kitchen you have – go cook something wonderful!

 

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One of my favorite “under 20-minute” podcasts is the Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips. As with the majority of podcasts I listen to on a daily basis, I only listen to the ones that interest me the most (or you eventually go on podcast overload). Here’s one of my recent Nutrition Diva listens:

3 Myths (and 1 Truth) About Grain-Fed Beef

 

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What’s In Season: January Produce Guide. I always seem to find myself craving orange juice in the winter. Unfortunately, I don’t like eating oranges because I hate the membrane, but citrus is definitely a big one this time of year!

 

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“Frustrations” by Piano Addict. I love the opening quote on this post…

 

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How to be Honorable.

 

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Hands Separately Practice – Useful or Not?

 

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Recently I’ve determined I really want to try and incorporate more fish into our diet. So, last week we had this super-simple and really delicious Cod Sautéed in Olive Oil with Fresh Tomatoes

On my recipe list for this week is another super simple Poached Cod in Tomato Sauce, and bookmarked in my recipes tag in Evernote for the future when I have a better setup is a this a-little-heavier-on-the-ingredients recipe Macadamia-Crusted Sriracha Ranch Salmon.

After seeing my kitchen you understand why my recipe list includes only recipes with minimal ingredients!

 

 

 

Friday Finds #117

My piano was long overdue for a tuning. The start to the semester is always a good time to give a little extra care to our instruments. This time around, my sostenuto pedal needed to be adjusted. In order to fix it, my tuner had to pull the key bed out which was a perfect time to give it a little cleaning!

Besides dust, other items that had found a home below included a sticker and a key letter-name manipulative that students set on top of the keys when they’re learning key names. All in all, I would say we weren’t doing too bad!

While we’re on the topic of piano care…

 

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My Local Music Teachers group met last Friday at a local piano shop for a program on piano care. One of the items they recommended was the Cory products for cleaning your piano keys and polishing the body of the piano. Pay attention to the finish of your piano before choosing the polishing product.

You can get a kit on Amazon that includes the Key cleaner and polish for super high-gloss piano finishes.

 

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“Naked Piano Week”. Exploring the piano and understanding how it works is something I’m sure we all think is important but likely forget to do. Ideally, I think it would be nice once a year to set aside one lesson to refresh with students how their instrument works!

 

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This blog post on using multiple computer screens by Rosemarie Penner was an excellent idea to share on productivity for teachers. I’ve been using two screens for a couple of years and should have done it sooner. My husband has been using 2-3 screens at work for even longer. It’s not hard to set up and it saves a lot of time flipping between screens.

 

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Speaking of flipping between computer screens/windows, if you’re not using some of the basic keyboard shortcuts (like “Alt-Tab” for switching between windows), you will save yourself a lot of time by learning some of those shortcuts. Here are shortcuts for Windows users and shortcuts for Mac users.

 

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Several of you have emailed me after I write the post on how I manage internet content. Part of managing internet content is also managing your email inbox. Here’s a podcast I listened to a couple of years ago that helped me improve how I manage my inbox.

 

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Oxo products are amazing. See what items Oxo employees love.

My absolute favorite Oxo product is the cutting boards. I would recommend owning all three sizes (especially the 14.5″x 21″)

 

 

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Like Nicola, I started using My Music Staff this year. One of the biggest things I like about it at the moment is having professional-looking invoices emailed to families. Check out Nicola’s review.

 

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What a lovely thing. See how this woman transformed a rotting tree into a useable space for her neighborhood.

 

 

Friday Finds #116

This is my photo of the week because mostly because it encompasses what I’ve been meditating on these last few days. James is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Plus, since we’re just back to lessons this week, I didn’t take any photos of studio happenings.

If you’re on the Piano Pantry email list and read December’s Secret Letter, then you’ve heard the news that we moved! (Hence no Friday Finds the last two weeks). We’re finally living in the basement (future studio) of our new house while we finish the upstairs. Next week, if I remember, my photo of the week will be my crazy makeshift kitchen!

 

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How to Handle Sentimental Clutter – whether you’re moving or just de-cluttering after the holidays, this is good advice.

 

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WunderKeys now has a Level 1A – this is big news!

 

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One of my students started playing Tum-Balalaika from Faber 3B Performance this week, so we Googled “Balalaika” and came across this amazing video.

 

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SETH GODIN | The thing about arguments…

 

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8 Easy Ways to Create Work-Life Balance (using self-care habits) from piano blogger Rosemarie Penner.

 

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A 7-pound bucket of Nutella. Tempting.

 

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The Best Guide on How to Buy, Care For, or Sell a Piano

 

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A new collaborative project by Jennifer Foxx.

 

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Types of posts that have to stop in 2019. I can’t say I disagree.

 

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A few podcast ideas from one piano teacher to another.

 

Friday Finds #115

Christmas Edition

Last lessons are being taught, final gifts are being purchased and wrapped, and grocery cards are full of holiday treats as Christmas nears. May you have a blessed time with friends and family over the next week and find your time off from teaching rejuvenating and relaxing.

Merry Christmas!

 

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Easy Christmas Lead Sheets to Inspire Creativity.

 

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If you’re a user of hashtag’s, check out The Best Hashtags to Use During the Holiday Season.

 

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     #myfavoritechristmascandy

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I thought I was in heaven when one of my husband’s co-workers made this Peanut Butter Brownie Puppy Chow.  

His co-workers went bonkers over this Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake I made. (Tip: We like it better with about 1/2 the number of cranberries.)

Both our families go crazy over these Cranberry Feta Pinwheels when we make them during the holidays.

 

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A beautiful night time Christmas tour.

 

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Peppermint candy canes or fruity candy canes? Get in the debate!

 

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We’re having ham for our family Christmas lunch. Here’s the most popular honey ham recipe on Pinterest. (My mom is making ours – she does her own thing and it’s awesome but I don’t have a recipe 😉 )

 

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How to Host an Easy Holiday Brunch.

 

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You Need To Follow These 10 Instagram Accounts For Holiday Inspiration.

 

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Christmas season posts from my Instagram account (which I use mostly for my studio).

 

Friday Finds #114

I’ve finally learned my lesson over the years that I should not wait until the last week of lessons to give my students their Christmas presents. Why? There have been plenty of years where students didn’t come to the last week of lessons and thus I had a handful of gifts left. It just felt strange giving it to them in January.

Next week is our last week of lessons so this week was the gift-giving week. The ornaments I gave out this year were a breeze as they came pre-wrapped in cute little gift boxes with ribbons around them. Easy! That’s my cup of tea.

The other lesson I’ve learned is that I try to purchase next year’s gift the year prior, then I don’t have to worry about what to get my students when Christmas comes around next year. There have been plenty of years where I was down to the last wire getting an order in time. It was such as relief this year to find this box of ornaments all ready to go!

You can find the ornaments pictured above on Amazon.

(As always a reminder that anything linked to Amazon is an affiliate link which simply means that if you happen to purchase using that link, I receive a small percentage back at no extra cost to you which helps me maintain this website).

We’re in the long-stretch to Christmas break. Keep it up!

 

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Ear infection. Yuck! I haven’t had one of those since I was a kid and yet here I am, fighting one this week (along with other cold symptoms). Consequently, I’m using a lot of my go-to tips shared in Germ-Alert: A Studio Teachers Guide to Staying Healthy. (Or maybe telling you I’m sick isn’t a way to get you to read my tips to staying healthy…hmmm…I think I have that backward. 🙂 )

 

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THAT person is more important than your phone. Yes, Amen. I try to always keep this in mind when going through a drive-through. More than once I’ve found myself driving away and realizing I never even really looked the people in the eye that took me money or handed me food.

Be intentional at acknowledging people.

 

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The best pack of stickers I’ve ever spent money on. I tell my students even I want to earn one of these stickers! 🙂

Koobar Year-Round Holiday Stickers Variety Pack (400+ stickers)

 

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I’m always up for a good list of recommended podcastsThanks, Leila.

 

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While we’re on the topic of lists, Rosemarie Penner at TheUnfinishedLesson.com has created a couple of lists on her Top Must-Have Teaching Apps and Top Must-Have Business Apps for the Studio.

 

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If you need some help organizing those apps, watch my video on how I organize my devices in App-land Madness.

 

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One of my students who has been with me for more than 5 years has always had TERRIBLE posture.  It is a continual battle to get him to sit up and not slouch.

This past week I finally had a revelation to have him sit on one of the vestibular wedges I purchased this summer after being at Joy Morin’s Piano Retreat where we talked about technique/posture, etc. The instant effect was astounding and he even said that he noticed himself sitting taller at school (even without it). I wish I would have thought about this years ago

Personally, I’ve been using this one on my teaching chair this entire semester and absolutely love it.

Friday Finds #113

Happy Friday!

In this weeks featured photo, my sweet little student was using some of our favorite winter-themed Japanese erasers to lay out the notes of the E minor scale(s). (I would suggest buying two sets since it only comes with 7.)

Recently, I shared my love for these erasers in the post Piano Teacher Must-Haves: A Minimalist’s List.

I love teaching all three forms of the scale at one time. We always start with the natural minor so they understand the relationship between the relative major and minor. This is also the reason why I use moveable DO with
LA-based minor. It makes not only the “theory” but the audiation of major and minor keys so much easier to understand! To execute the minor all you do is start on a different note of the scale (LA).

Enjoy this week’s links!

 

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Here’s what your resume should look like in 2019.

 

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My senses are enjoying the gentle and tantalizing scent of this Coconut, Vanilla, and Tangerine Essential Oils Body Lotion. Diane Hidy’s first shared it a few years ago in one of her Christmas lists. It’s a bit of a splurge, so I’m using it sparingly, but it might make a great gift for someone you’re not sure what to get!

 

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One concept I don’t have a game for in my Master List of Manipulatives is for Crescendo and Decrescendo. There are plenty of piano games out there for dynamics in general, but I like how this one from Teach Piano Today is specifically for crescendo and decrescendo only.

 

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It’s about that time: 3 Gentle Ways to Review Your Life in the New Year.

 

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Washing the Dishes May Help Relieve StressThis past year I’ve been hand -washing most of our dishes because the dishwasher in our rental is old and doesn’t do a great job anymore. I’ve actually been enjoying the somewhat liturgical practice and motion of hand-washing the dishes and even when I have a good dishwasher someday will likely continue to hand wash as much as possible. Not only that, but dishes just fare better with the gentle hand-washing.

One small downside to hand-washing is the skin on my fingertips tends to get really dry and annoyingly catches on things like my clothes. So, I finally started using dishwashing gloves and my hands are thanking me. These Playtext Living gloves ones are the best I’ve found. Plus, each season there’s a fun new color.

 

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Congratulations to Tim Topham on the release of his new Inner Circle Piano Teachers App and to Elisa Milne for her new Shop!

 

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Thoughts on making time stand still.

 

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In past Friday finds, I’ve shared this fun lego piano.

Piano Street recently posted a video of a complex concert grand piano in Lego form that hopes to someday make it into retail production. Would this be amazing or what?

 

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A fascinating video on how real Parmigiano Reggiano is made in Italy.

 

 

Friday Finds #112

Now that our bellies are full of turkey, we can fix our eyes to the Christmas Season! I hope you had a joyful time with your family around the Thanksgiving table making memories and sharing joy and laughter.

(Due to the holidays, I took last week off from FF so if you missed the Thanksgiving Edition posted two weeks ago, you can catch it here.)

The turn from Thanksgiving to Christmas is practically a phenomenon as we seemingly go to sleep on Thursday and wake up Friday to the world transformed.  ‘Tis the season! Are you ready?

 

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The photo above is at our City Hall. I follow a fun Instagram account @the.joy.of.it that posts a lot around the holidays. The owner of the account even shares photos sent to them, so I passed this one on. If you follow the account you may catch it sometime!

 

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As you prepare for the upcoming season, you may consider: Is it Time for Us to Rethink How We Give Gifts?

 

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For all you Chai fans – Caffeine-Free Chai Mix.

 

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If you’re struggling to come up with another gift idea for your students, have no fear, help is here! Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Music Students: Who Couldn’t Use Another Idea?

 

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What you may not have known about IKEA.

 

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Some great suggestions for the Advent season on The Art of Simple.

 

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I am absolutely loving this Peppermint Chapstick by S.W. Basics. It’s made with beeswax, cocoa butter, olive oil, and of course, peppermint! A tiny touch of the season on my lips.

 

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A gift guide for new cooks.

 

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If you don’t have an Advent calendar yet, you can get a CHEESE one at Target!

 

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Group classes don’t have to be stressful  – sometimes it’s nice to just keep it simple.

 

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Winter is fighting with Fall here in Indiana. We’re not sure what season we’re in. It’s been colder than usual though and last Sunday I appreciated the opportunity to keep my oven on for an extended period of time making  Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

The way the slow roasting completely permeates the flesh of the potatoes is incredible. The potato stood on its own two feet with absolutely no butter, brown sugar, or maple syrup added. Just beautiful orange-fleshy sweet potato.

Friday Finds #111

Thanksgiving Edition

For some reason, the month of November feels like it’s gone faster than any other month this year. Every time I think about the fact that Thanksgiving is next week I feel like reenacting the face made by Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.

Enjoy this week’s finds and I’ll see you in two weeks! ~Amy

 

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Some of my favorite recipes, gadgets, and music for the holiday season can be found in Amy’s Holiday Favorites.

 

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Chasing the Turkey board game from Susan Paradis.

 

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Melodic dictation of Thanksgiving tunes for intermediate levels and Pumpkin pie listening thermometers from  Compose Create.

 

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When we lived in Australia, one of my favorite chefs to watch on TV was the Canadian show French Food at Home hosted by Laura Calder. As we’re coming into a season of having our homes full of family, food, and friends, it’s the perfect time to share her book The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness.

“The Inviting Life” what a beautiful idea!

 

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#GivingTuesday is a large part of the upcoming season. As an independent teacher, if you’re looking for ways to give back to the profession, consider the MTNA Foundation Fund.

 

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Speaking of giving…

If you use Amazon for shopping at all, consider connecting with a non-profit through Smile.Amazon.com before doing all your holiday shopping. For example, our local creative arts organization and the church camp Drew and I support both have an organizational account. Simply do your shopping at smile.amazon.com rather than on amazon.com and 0.5% of your purchases will go back to your organization of choice without costing you any extra!

 

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Lauren just shared a great little challenge she gave to her piano students. Maybe you’ll find the December Studio Challenge a great fit for your student next month!

 

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Journals and diaries have never worked for me – I’ve tried over the years and it never lasts. The idea of the “One-line-a-day” journal is very appealing to me though and I’m thinking of doing this in 2019. It seems like a simple and yet beautiful way to reflect on life. Does anyone do this and if so what do you think? Do you have a particular journal you like? This is the one I’m looking at purchasing. Share in the comments!

 

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Have you seen Natalie’s new website? It looks amazing  – so simple and fresh. Check it out!

 

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Thanksgiving often is focused on the blessings of health, position, family, friends, home, and belonging – all good things, but perhaps we should consider also giving thanks for spiritual blessings – the kind that has value beyond life on earth.

This beautiful song written by Keith and Kristy Getty focus on the spiritual blessings. They state:

In “My heart is filled with thankfulness” we give thanks to God for spiritual blessings – past, present and future:  what Christ has done for us – for forgiveness and new life, which only He could bring by coming here to earth and suffering for us…for how He walks beside us each day and having lived, breathed and walked here on earth…for how He promises to be with us whatever our future holds.

 

 

Friday Finds #110

This past week must have been a pretty dull week because I couldn’t find a photo worthwhile to share, so I’m jumping back just a bit.

This photo is from our Indiana State Conference in early October where we had Dr. Christopher and Katherine Fisher (Piano Safari) as our Pedagogy Clinicians. They were absolutely fabulous.

Dr. Fisher conducted an elementary/intermediate masterclass. Generally, we only have an advanced masterclass, so this was a treat. I’ve seen a lot of masterclasses in my career and Dr. Fisher certainly comes out on top for excellent ones. I especially loved how he engaged all the students directly in the class together as a group. (The one at the piano is my student!) I would highly recommend him (them) for your next state conference!

 

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As I was finally resetting my mini date/time clock in my studio this week (a little late) following the daylight savings time change, I realized I don’t think I’ve ever shared the awesome little clock I keep next to the piano. (Forgive me if I have!)

It’s perfect because it’s really small – so I can keep it out of the eye line of students and it can alternate the date with the time! (Optional)

 

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Lauren has put together a nice list of resources for those of you who teach using the Piano Safari Method.

 

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These binder dividers are what I use in my student binders. They are incredibly durable and reusable.

We keep our assignment sheets in the very front on top of the dividers, then label the dividers: Mastered Pieces (that’s where we keep our 40-piece challenge lists), Memorized Pieces (again, a list) and then from there, it varies depending on the student.

 

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Sandi Patty has one of the biggest voices I’ve ever heard. She was especially popular when I was growing up. Here’s an interview with her: Listening to God’s Voice and Finding Your Own: An Interview with Sandi Patty.

 

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Joy Wilson, the baker extraordinaire and woman behind one of the most famous cooking blogs, Joy the Baker, shows us how she hosts friendsgiving.

I can’t wait to have a “friendsgiving” someday (gotta finish the house first)!

 

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It’s gotten chilly around here this week – the perfect week to break out the first round of chili this season. 🙂

Chili, like meatloaf, is one of those foods for me that I like, but I’m really picky about and have never quite found a recipe that I absolutely love. Until now.

This Simple & Tasty Slow Cooker Chili was SO GOOD. I used fire roasted diced tomatoes, and our homemade venison stock in it which I’m sure added to the goodness. We like to top it with a dollop of our homemade plain greek yogurt, shredded sharp cheddar, and some kind of crunchy (I like Fritos! :-/)

 

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Want To Keep Your Brain Sharp? Take Care Of Your Eyes And Ears

 

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For a limited time, anyone can get free shipping on anything from Amazon with no minimum purchase. Wow, that’s a pretty amazing deal.

 

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This side-by-side trailer video of Aladdin from 1992 and 2019 is kind of cool! It’s amazing how far the animation world has come.

 

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Finally, How to Trim Your Own Bangs at Home Like a Pro