Monday, March 28, 2011

And So it Begins...Again.

This quarter is a time that I am looking forward to focus on immense self-improvement. Mainly in the areas of music, organization, and finances. So what are my goals for the next three months?

  1. Practice flute at least three hours a day, every day without fail. I would say that my goal is to be the best flute player in the world, but unfortunately that would be a bit hard to do, and even harder to measure. I do, however, hope to place in the top three of our undergraduate scholarship competition this year (I placed third last year, and hope to keep moving on up!). 
  2. Keep my apartment and room clean. This is a bit harder because a) it is super easy to just drop everything on the floor right when I get home and b) for some reason it's harder to find time to clean up or do the dishes than it is to find time to do just about anything else. 
  3. Keep my personal appearance above par. I say this every quarter, and it's usually the easiest resolution to keep. However, I also think it's important to keep reminding myself that when I'm not wearing sweatpants and an old t-shirt, it's a lot easier to feel good about myself. Good hair and nice fingernails also fit into this category. 
  4. Eat out less. This is where almost all of my money goes. It's awful. And most of the time the food I get isn't even that great! I mean as much as I love Subway...nope let's just stop right there. So yesterday I went out and bought a whole ton of delicious food that will be so awesome and easy to make that it will make me forget all about Buffalo Wild Wings...ok maybe not all about it, but the point is to save money and eat better. I can do this! I'm planning on blogging about cheap and easy things to eat sometime this week, so be on the lookout for that!
Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You'd Be Surprised

First of all, I want to say that my vacation in Florida was awesome. Even if I did get uber sunburned the first day, and I'm kind of starting to peal...

Then I have to say that I bought a hat. For probably the first time in my life. It's part scary, part liberating. And it keeps the sun out of my eyes. So that's fun. It was shockingly useful in Florida, but I'm still a bit skeptical of it's versatility in Cincinnati. Perhaps it will come in handy on my beachy bike rides this summer in Minnesota. I suppose only time will tell. Here is evidence that I actually went through with it:
(With my super awesome brother and super sunburned legs)

Next I have to share this great blog that I have found multiple times through StumbleUpon;! It's a very down-to-earth blog about fashion, lifestyle, and also some more kitchy articles about 'the college experience'. While a few of the entries seem a bit 'Seventeen Magazine-like' for my taste, it's overall a pretty good read. There are many contributers from all over the country, so it's probably the most relatable blog I've found. 

Finally, I have to share my latest addiction: Evernote. Here's why; I currently have 11 tabs open on Google Chrome. I also have three word documents and three sticky notes pulled up. And all of these things have been open for at least three weeks. Because I like to save things for reference later on. Like a list of haunted houses in Cincinnati, and an article about Mary-Kate and Ashley's dog from their Olsen and Olsen detective agency days, and the Minnesota Orchestra's Sommerfest concert schedule. When I let people use my computer and they either close a tab or even more daringly *gasp* close a window, it feels a little bit like the world is going to end.
So it seems I have found a solution. Evernote keeps track of everything from word documents to websites to photo albums. AND you can access it from any mobile device or computer. So it's also an automatic back-up for your important documents. Bam. Your 'notes' are filed by title, date, and tags so they are super easy to find. 
Yup. You should probably get Evernote. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

10 Best Things About My Vacation in St. Augustine, FL

1. The smell of the ocean. It was the first thing I noticed when I stepped out of the car. Nothing like salt and humidity to remind you that you're not in Kansas anymore.
2. The sound of the ocean. I'm big on auditory memories. And we can hear it from our condo. Which is about 20 yards from the ocean.
3. The history. One of the few memories I have of elementary school involves learning about the explorers. Ponce De Leon is everywhere. And old houses. Another one of my favorite things ever.
4. The musical ambiance that seems to be everywhere. Every restaurant of course has a soundtrack, but even some museums and outdoor attractions have been blasting this week. Mozart string quartets apparently do have a place.
5. Chicken. I've been eating a lot of it. I think chicken is my favorite food.
6. The colors. Tropical places are much more flamboyant about color choices (especially for houses and buildings). I wouldn't want to live here necessarily, but pink houses on every block is certainly fun to look at right now.
7. Seeing the sun again. Sorry Cincinnati.
8. I bought a fedora. Talk about playing Calvinball! I never would have done this ever before. But it's growing on me.
9. I also got a new swimsuit for the first time in four years. It's black. To make up for the craziness of the fedora.
10. Hot surfers. At lunch I expressed to my family that the only things separating this vacation from a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie are matching vespas and love interests for myself and my brother (that would require the hot surfers-or longboarding girls, in Matt's case-to talk to me).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

10 Articles of Clothing I can't live without.

These essentials are easy to find just about anywhere and can be worn in an almost infinite number of combinations! With a bright purse or scarf you can make an almost flawless outfit! 

1. Black flats. (Photo credit: Target) I wear mine almost every day with everything from concert black to jeans and a T shirt.

2. Dark-wash straight-leg jeans. (Photo credit: Express) I love the way Express jeans fit, and dark-wash straight-leg jeans are flattering on everyone! Not only are they super comfy, but they are also really easy to dress up or down.

3. White shorts. (Photo credit: Ralph Lauren) I live in white shorts in the summertime! I like mine a tiny bit big so that they make my legs look skinny in comparison. They can also be dressed up or down with an airy summer blouse or a cozy sweatshirt for nighttime. 

4. Black yoga pants. (Photo credit: Gap Body) Want to know a secret? I've worn mine onstage for a concert! They're definitely not the most formal option, but black pants match just about any top in your wardrobe. 

5. The white tee. (Photo credit: American Apparel) Personally, I love getting the six packs of men's v-necks at Target, but if I had the option to splurge, I'm sure American Apparel makes a really great option too. 

6. Neutral tanks. (Photo credit: Target) I wear one practically every day, even if it's just under a white tee shirt. They are also essential for wearing under little black cardigans (see no. 8). 

7. Juicy hoodie. (Photo credit: Juicy Couture) For those days that I really don't feel like dressing up, this looks infinitely better than a stretched out college hoodie I stole from my brother...

8. Black cardigan. (Photo credit: Gap) It's been a staple in my wardrobe since high school. Throwing a cardigan over a even a plain t shirt makes you look put together.

9. Floral sundress. (Photo credit: Forever 21) With flip-flops you can wear it to the beach. With a blazer and heels you can wear it to the opera.

10. Black blazer. (Photo credit: Ann Taylor) It makes any outfit look better. It can be worn with jeans and skinny jeans for a very cosmopolitan look, and can be super warm on a cool spring night. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The American Band(stand)

This week I have spent copious amounts of time just listening to music. There have been a number of end-of-quarter ensemble concerts as well as my Romantic-era Music History Final (studying for which required a lot of listening). In order for this post to make sense, I need to elaborate on my love of program music. I love any song, work, or ditty that tells a story or evokes a setting different from the here and now. That's probably why I've always found film scores to be so effective. 

When maestro Mark Gibson gave us a dress-rehearsal pep talk about playing Mahler's Symphony No.6 as though we (the orchestra) were the hero missing from the story composed by a supposedly content (at least at that point in his life) Gustav Mahler, it was as though the world of the symphony sprung to life right before my eyes. For those of you unfamiliar to the piece, it's particularly dark, even for Mahler, though I don't think I would call it sad. Creepy would be a more fitting adjective. Or, as Maestro Gibson so aptly put it, 'like a Johnny Depp movie'. 

Playing in this Mahler concert was perhaps one of the most invigorating and simply enjoyable performance experiences of my life. The piece came alive onstage as it never had for this orchestra before. On page 19 I got so wrapped up in the music that I grabbed the wrong instrument and played flute instead of piccolo (or was it piccolo instead of flute? ...oops. Good thing the part was doubled!) for about half a page. It felt as if the orchestra really had become the missing hero that Mahler himself couldn't compose. 

The next day I was able to attend an all-Sousa concert by the Wind Symphony. And what a concert it was. I've always been a fan of some good ol' American music. Love me some Copland, Barber, Liebermann...but I suppose most of you already knew that. I also spent a good chunk of my childhood wishing that I lived in River City Iowa about a hundred years ago so I could hang out with Professor Harold Hill, but I digress... Since there is nothing like music to take you away, the concert was a really great opportunity to take a load off from the emotional overload that was the Mahler symphony. I felt as though I really had taken a mini vacation to a simpler time where the most pressing issue at hand was finding a date to the town picnic. Gosh, wouldn't that be the life? 

I will leave you now with some turn-of-the-century inspiration in the form of Robert Preston (The Music Man. Matthew Broderick just can't compete) and vintage-inspired dresses by Modcloth. 

Photo credits: Google images and Modcloth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting Through...

Finals week is upon me yet again and it's just as much of a struggle as I remembered. As much as I told myself not to, I still ate pizza and brownies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Sunday. Theory still feels like an impossible task that only the arrival of Wednesday night will reveal if I get through it or not. And I could probably go for a shower right about now.
So. To help get myself through the week, I'm putting together a list of quick and easy ways to brighten your mood. Instantly. Hopefully they work for you too.

1. Make a power playlist. Mine is called 'Getting It'. To get started, here are some of my faves; Beck-E-Pro, Shakira-Waka Waka, Lily Allen-LDN, TV on the Radio-Dancing Choose, Motion City Soundtrack-Everything is Alright, Passion Pit-Little Secrets, Outkast-Hey Ya, Selena Gomez and the Scene-Naturally, Weezer-Buddy Holly, Bond-Allegretto.

2. Change the background on your computer. New brighter colors can help wake you up, and anything outside of your norm will help productivity! I've been really excited about the Lily Pulitzer wallpapers you can find on her blog. The print gallery on the left side of the screen changes every few months, so there's always something new! Google chrome even lets you choose funky and colorful browser themes!

3. Protein, protein, PROTEIN! While it's tempting to eat pizza, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate bars for the entire week, eating meat or beans will give you more energy and feel less like a brick in your stomach. (Salmon is brain food!)

4. Throw on some color. At my middle school, teachers were very big on the concept of wearing yellow on test days because it apparently wakes up your brain. I don't own a ton of neon clothes, but bright socks or a new coat of nail polish will make you feel a bit less dreary! Right now I'm really excited about Essie nail polish. It dries really quickly and doesn't chip! And check out all those colors...

5. Mix up your caffeine intake. If you're usually a coffee drinker, try a fruity tea. And if you are all about the chai, Starbucks' skinny caramel macchiato just might hit the spot! (And it's only 105 calories!)

6. Go for a walk. Even if it's just a few blocks to a coffee shop or your friends' house. Getting out of the house/dorm will make you feel much better. Bonus points for changing clothes! I am lucky enough to go to school at the foremost performing arts venue in the state of Ohio, so catching a recital or concert is another great way to get out of study mode for a while.

Photo credits: Shitta, Lily Pulitzer,, Beauty Snob, 3 Limes,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Play Ball!

Remember Calvin and Hobbes? One of the most memorable strips involved a game that Calvin used to play with his stuffed tiger, aptly called 'Calvinball'. The only rule of Calvinball is that you make up the rules as you go along. Inevitably, this meant that every game ended in Calvin's victory and a full-on brawl between the boy and his tiger.

This morning I was thinking about how beautiful life is; how a lot of that beauty stems from the fact that there is no 'right way' to live your life. New experiences will lead to new insight and new ways of looking at situations. The way we make it through tough situations or even day-to-day frustrations make us who we are.

Sure I have rules about how I plan to be 'the best Hannah I can be', but the beautiful thing about these rules is that I can change them at any time. Yesterday I splurged on a bottle of Essie nail polish and Neutrogena stress-relief facial scrub. Usually I try to be as frugal as I can on these so-called 'drugstore essentials', but it's been a tough quarter and sometimes all I need to get back on track is a little 'sum-sum' to spice up my daily routine.

So I guess what I'm saying is that it's ok to change things up every once in a while. Question your own rules and look at your life objectively every once in a while.

In other news, guess who's going to Florida for spring break? I leave in six days and I can't wait!!

Animation credit: Thomas Archer Group

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Well That Was Easy!

In high school I was 'that girl' who tried on three outfits every day until I found something that was both comfortable and fashionable. Most of the time it was a pair of jeans, a bright top, and a cardigan. Go figure. Even today I have a really hard time some days trying to make sure that I will feel comfortable and confidant all day long.
And then one day about a week ago it dawned on me. I have come up with an equation for the perfect outfit every time without fail. Here we go:

Neutral outfit + one element of color = perfect color scheme.

Neutral colors (in this context, at least) include black, white (and variations thereof), grey, brown, khaki, and denim. In following this equation, I'd also stick to only one element in print so as not to overwhelm
At the same time, you have to make sure that the proportions are good, so that you're not wearing an all around skin-tight ensemble that makes you look like a stuffed sausage, or a big puffy mess that makes you look like a mildly confused bag lady. A good rule to follow is the rule of four.
In the rule of four, you must assign each article of clothing a number from one-three. A pair of really tight skinny jeans or leggings would be a one, a pair of nice-fitting straight leg jeans would be a two, and a pair of trouser jeans or an A-line skirt would be a three. Likewise, a tight tank or t-shirt is a one, a fitted sweater or polo is a two, and a big sweatshirt or blouse would be a three. By making sure your outfit always adds up to four, (tight pants and a flowy top, a little tank and a long full skirt) the proportions are perfect!
Ready for some examples?

Fendi on the runway!

I recently found a dress similar to this striped number at a thrift store in green. I will definitely be pairing it with black tights, ankle boots, and blazer!

I love this. Everything about it. The fit, the cut, the proportions, wow. I'd love a pair of boots like that to pair with my endless collection of black clothes! I could even wear them with a shorter skirt for orchestra concerts!

I'd love this outfit. Everything about it. Especially the shoes.

I'm not a big hat girl, but this outfit is close to flawless in my eyes! I love mixing neutrals for their textures! It is interesting without getting overwhelming. Not to mention how cozy this looks for a rainy day!

This jazz-age look is another one of my favorites because it evokes a time and place so different from out own, but all of the elements are totally wearable today!

All photos credit: The Sartorialist