Saturday, January 28, 2023

So I got a new piano

In retrospect, after reading, piano is my oldest hobby.

I started taking lessons the summer after first grade, so that is more than three decades ago now.

Our first piano was an upright, one my parents got for free from the zoo.  It had been in the bird house, and they left it on the front porch for three days to let it air out.  It was probably eighty years old at the time, and the ivory on the key fronts was very chipped (which was occasionally hazardous), but the resonance in the bass was glorious.

Eventually we got a replacement for that piano, an upright player piano that had been redone as a regular piano but still had all the player piano doors and whatnot.  It was also probably about eighty years old.  It played fine, and a lot of my earliest juvenile compositions were written on that piano.

So when I moved out, I got a hundred year old upright.  I paid about the same price as it cost new, not accounting for inflation.  It was a 54" upright Carlisle, built in 1899/1900 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I like the look of uprights, and aesthetically it worked well in our living room; it was actually older than the house.  And it played well enough, but...  At this point it was over 120 years old, and it was getting to where the problems with it couldn't be fixed without just rebuilding it.

54" upright Carlisle piano

So I got a book at the library about buying used pianos.  I had never really played a newer piano regularly, other than at lessons.  I knew I wanted two things in a new-to-me piano: I wanted one that was new enough for the sound quality to last me at least thirty-ish years, and I wanted one that was light enough for my husband and I to move away from the wall so I could paint the living room.  That Carlisle?  It was like seven or eight hundred pounds.  It was not budging for new paint.  So after reading the used piano book, I figured I would start looking around for a newer Yamaha; it said the used ones held up pretty well.

Back in December we went to go walking at the mall because we needed to go to the post office in it that was open till 8 p.m.  That mall also has a piano store, and I figured we could pop in and I could try out some pianos and see which kind I like.

Okay, so I like broken-in, worn-out action, because it's what I'm used to.  The new pianos felt stiff in comparison.

The new Yamahas also cost less than what I had budgeted in my head for a used one.

They had a used piano there that I liked the look and the action of, but... the stiffness in a new piano means you got much more control over the volume of what you're playing; piano and forte actually mean something with much more contrast.

I wasn't planning to actually buy a piano back in December when we stopped in the store.  But we also never got around to walking the mall that night.  (We did get the really good Chinese carryout on the way home.)  So the next day my husband called them back to order the new Yamaha.

There was a bit of a warehouse snafu, so the piano didn't get here till January 2.  It is shiny.

New Yamaha B1

It's a Yamaha B1, and the piano movers put it on furniture glides for us (recommended by the piano store owner).

I nearly cried on the first run through of the first movement of Moonlight Sonata on it because I had never had that kind of control over the volume before.

I'm still not completely used to the stiffness of the newer action, and it doesn't have the bass resonance of an upright - but it's got a little prop for the lid which helps the latter quite a bit.  I'll probably get it tuned in March sometime once it's settled for a couple months.

I was originally planning to strip the wallpaper in the kitchen this summer and paint, but now I can add the living room to the schedule too, once we decide on a color.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Broccoli cheese frittata

I do a lot of egg dishes (mostly frittatas) on Wednesdays because by mid-week I'm too tired after work for anything intensive for dinner.  The broccoli cheese frittata is the most recent modification.  It's also pretty easy.


  • 1 yellow or sweet onion, chopped (the ones I use are usually baseball sized)
  • 16-oz bag of frozen chopped broccoli (you can use another cut of broccoli like florets or cuts, but the chopped is nice and small for easy eating in the frittata)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I use the pre-packaged macaroni and cheese blend)
  • 12 eggs, beaten (I do this after step 4 below so I can use the bowl I cooked the broccoli in)
  • salt, pepper, paprika, and/or msg to taste


  1. In a 12-inch cast iron (or otherwise oven-safe) skillet, cook the onion until translucent.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or msg.
  2. Cook the broccoli according to the package. (I usually microwave it while I'm cooking the onion.)
  3. Turn off the heat under skillet during assembly.  If your broiler needs to preheat, move the top rack up to broiler position and turn it on high.  (This is also a good time to check that you aren't storing anything in the oven, which used to be where we kept the iron skillets.)
  4. Spread the onion evenly on the bottom of the skillet, then layer the broccoli on top of it. (I use a slotted spoon so as not to get too much of the broccoli liquid into the skillet.)
    broccoli cheese frittata after adding the broccoli
    After adding the broccoli to the onion
  5. Spread the cheese evenly over the broccoli.
    broccoli cheese frittata after adding the cheese
    After adding the cheese
  6. Pour the beaten eggs evenly over the layered vegetables and cheese.  Gently smoosh down anything sticking up through the eggs. (It may not all be under the surface of the eggs, which is okay.)
    broccoli cheese frittata after adding the egg
    After adding the egg
  7. Sprinkle with paprika if desired.
  8. Turn the burner back on medium to medium high and let cook till you start to get bubbles up through in the egg.
  9. Turn the burner off and transfer the skillet to the oven under the broiler.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the egg is set and the top has browned slightly.
    Broccoli cheese frittata done

 We do this as four servings, but you can probably do six if you're serving it with something else.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Turkey pot pie

So Wednesday I made stock with the 19 lb./$7 turkey we got back in 2021.  My husband is the champion poultry carcass cleaner, so he got 20 cups of meat off it; 3 containers (15 cups) went straight into the freezer.  Thursday, after letting the fat congeal, I canned 16 pints of turkey stock.  This all led up to tonight's dinner: turkey pot pie.  This is a faster, altered version of the New York Times Cooking tarragon chicken pot pie.


  • 1 pie crust
  • 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 onion, chopped/diced
  • about 3 cups of turkey, cut into bite-size-ish chunks
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt/pepper/seasonings to taste 
  • 1 egg

This falls into that category of recipes that are shortcuts; I use a pre-made pie crust and frozen vegetables to cut down on the time it takes to get this in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I cook the onion for 2-4 minutes in the microwave, covered in a glass dish.  While that's going, I start the gravy: melt the butter over medium/medium-low heat, add the flour, and combine with a whisk.  Add the two cups of stock and whisk the flour mixture well to avoid lumps.  Add the milk and keep cooking until it starts to thicken, whisking to keep it from burning.  Once it's thickened, I stir in some salt, pepper, and herbs (in this case tarragon).

Combine the meat, onion, frozen vegetables, and gravy in a 10" deep dish pie dish.  Cover with the pie crust; brush the crust with egg and cut slits in it.  Accept that the gravy is going to bubble out the sides anyway and place a cookie sheet on the lower rack of the oven to catch drips; place the pie plate on the rack in the middle of the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 and bake another 25-30 minutes.  Let the pie rest for 10 minutes before serving.  (Like lasagna, it will set up some and be easier to dish out.)

I do this as six servings, but it could be more or less.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Dragonflight Transmogs

So when I found out that tauren would be able to be mages in Dragonflight, I knew what I was finally going to do with my orc mage: orc no more!

And then I found out that the dragon wings from the edition I bought worked out really well with mage transmog.

Jezdana, tauren mage

But I have more tauren, and there are four more dragon flights' worth of wing transmogs.

I initially though to change my mage's transmog to the blue flight, because blue dragons = arcane magic and whatnot.  But none of the blue cloth I have works with them, so the mage is keeping the red flight.  Then I thought maybe my druid's transmog would work with it, since it's already blue, but that didn't match, either... nor did any of the blue leather I had.  So even through the green wings slotted in perfectly with the emerald plate transmog my paladin had going... paladin gets the blue flight wings.

Dawning, tauren paladin

It's not even a perfect option with plate; I'm matching on the pink accent color for most of it.  The one whose transmog did slot in perfectly with one of the flights was my death knight, who got the bronze flight's wings.

Greenmoo, tauren death knight

I've had the yellow/blue/shovel transmog going on her for a while.  The death knight wasn't even on my original plans for leveling in dragonflight, until I leveled my fighter and my paladin for their professions and realized I don't like either of their tank specs anymore.  (The fighter I feel like I don't know what I'm doing anymore, and that paladin just feels boring to me.)

Since blue didn't work for the druid, she got the green wings, which seemed thematically appropriate (and she got such a sassy looking screenshot from the login screen).  I've got enough versions of G'hanir to pull together something and still get my flower puddles.  (You may note that I never even considered tanking on my druid; I no longer prefer druid healing to priest healing as of the talent revamp, but I still prefer it for my druid.)

Jezda, tauren druid

 That left me the wings for the black dragon flight, and two remaining taurens that I will play regularly during the expansion: my hunter and my bank alt.  My hunter has been using the same transmog (with occaional exceptions) since... at least 2016?  I'm loath to mess with it too much.  My shaman gets the mail transmog swaps.  So, bank alt it was!  Cloak happens to be the only transmoggable slot she's got right now; I may pop some heirlooms on her so I can put her back in the tux I used to have her kitted out in.

Rainwatcher, tauren priest

Besides my taurens, the toons I'll play at least for their professions in Dragonflight are my priest (tailoring/enchanting), rogue (alchemy), warrior (blacksmithing), and shaman (leatherworking).  My paladin is my jewelcrafter, and the druid is a scribe.  The hunter is, as ever, my engineer.