Gals With Goals: As One Door Closes…

On Saturday, October 11, 2014, Brooke took me to The Pearl for a belated birthday brunch of chicken and waffles. After a couple hours of conversation and brainstorming, we came up with the idea of trying something new every month for a year (which turned into two) and writing about it every couple of days (or once a month). We created our lists of goals, had a photoshoot, Chris built our website, and just like that, Gals With Goals was born. 2015 successfully came and went in a blink of an eye, and it was hard to believe that we had each completed 12 goals! Instead of saying goodbye to Gals With Goals, we decided to stick it out for another year. 2016 brought some heartache, a few hits and misses, and huge successes for both of us. My year included two trips to the west coast; one as a finalist for a college job and the other as a presenter at the National Flute Association’s Annual Convention, an article written in a national newsletter, trips to Ireland and Italy, an invitation to audition for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and a web feature for Music & Arts.

It’s now Saturday, December 31, 2016 and here we are at The Pearl yet again eating chicken and waffles to celebrate everything that is Gals With Goals; 2 years, 48 goals, 224 total blog posts, readers in 5 different countries, 10,400 readers, 17,300 total views, and 2 very tired, yet energized gals. There simply aren’t enough words to express our gratitude and thanks to our friends and family, our readers, and our husbands for putting up with our crazy ideas. Brooke, thank you for your support and motivation on this journey. It’s hard to believe that on February 11th, 2017,  you will be celebrating the release of your first book and I’ll be fluting it up as the guest artist for a flute festival in Utah. It’s very fitting I guess, that we will both be hard at work in two separate cities, on two separate projects that wouldn’t even exist without our blog! We are exhausted and even so, I know we both have endless lists in our phones of goals just waiting to be accomplished. Here’s a list of things I would like to pursue in 2017.

Angela’s Goals for 2017 and Beyond

Certification & Training: In 2017 I hope to broaden my horizons and experience with Suzuki teacher training, body mapping, yoga, and meditation training.

The Thoughtful Flutist: Stay tuned for a new podcast, workshop, blog, and maybe even a book that will cover a wide array of topics, such as health, wellness, performance, auditions, etc. My goal is to create a platform for flutists near and far, encourage personal growth, and maximize creative potential.

Groupmuse Columbus: I can’t get enough chamber music. Who wants to host a concert in their home here in Columbus? (www.groupmuse.com)

Recording Projects: I think it’s time that Joe and I work on a CD together. I’d also like to record an album for piccolo and piano.

Research our roots: With a simple swab of the cheek, I hope to learn a little bit more about my ancestry though DNA.

Travel: I recently stumbled across this inspirational quote attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo, which I believe to be true: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I will continue to choose travel and experience over material possessions in 2017. According to the app Been, we’ve only experienced 7% of the world!

Home improvement projects: Insulation inspection, a fresh coat of paint, declutter and organize in a minimalist sort of way, a new office space, etc.

Website Updates: The new pages are drafted, I just need to continue to post new items.

Telemann Fantasy project revisited: Along with my monthly goals for 2016, my hope was to learn and record a new Telemann Fantasy each month. Well that lasted for about a month and fizzled. Perhaps I will return to this project in 2017.

One Final Thought…

It’s New Year’s Eve, a time for reflection and a time to reenergize. We are only given one very short life, so I ask you, what are you waiting for? Give yourself a little bit of time each and every day to be creative, dream big, and whatever you do, write your ideas down! Create a list of things you would like to experience, and then pick something, ANYTHING! Explore a curiosity, pursue your passion, embarrass yourself, fail a million times, try something only to realize you hate it, or try something to realize it was the very thing that makes you feel alive, complete, and whole. These two gals with goals will be here to cheer you on!

Cheers to Gals With Goals and new adventures in 2017!

When Your October Goal Goes In A Different Direction, You Roll With It

When establishing my goals for 2016, my plan for October was to create a resource for flutists, like an app, website, blog, or electronic newsletter. As luck would have it, Music & Arts asked me to create a student resource guide to the piccolo for their website! (http://www.musicarts.com/Student-Resources—An-Introduction-to-the-Piccolo-g29193t0.mac) Feel free to share this information with your students.

STUDENT RESOURCES:

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PICCOLO

By Dr. Angela Heck Mueller, Music & Arts Lesson Instructor

 

TOOLS FOR SUCCESS

MUSIC STAND SHOP NOW >

A nice music stand is an important tool that every musician should own. It not only holds the music, but also allows the musician to develop and maintain great posture at any height and angle.

CLEANING ROD SHOP NOW >

Condensation build-up is a common occurrence on the piccolo. The instrument should be swabbed frequently during use and after every use in order to avoid watery keys, damaged pads, or even mildew, all of which could lead to expensive repairs. The cleaning rod is also used to check the placement of the headjoint cork.

CLEANING CLOTH SHOP NOW >

It is really important to purchase a soft, absorbent cleaning cloth specifically meant to swab the inside of the piccolo. This instrument is very small, and you don’t want to get a large cloth stuck inside the instrument during the cleaning process.

PAD CLEANING PAPER SHOP NOW >

Even with constant swabbing, piccolos tend to collect water in the keys and pads. Moisture can be removed by placing a sheet of cleaning paper between the instrument and the key. Once the paper is in place, gently close and open the key. Pulling the paper while pressing a key can lead to torn pads, so please ask your teacher for assistance.

PENCILS (NOT A PEN)

Every musician should have a pencil with them at all times in order to add important markings in the music and to take practice, rehearsal, and lesson notes. Make sure to use a pencil instead of a pen so you can make any necessary changes.

CD/DVD/AUDIO/COMPUTER DEVICES

The various types of technology available to us today play a vital role in music instruction. Some method books include supplemental materials, such as CDs, audio access resources, instructional videos, and downloadable documents. Using these additional resources will enrich your experience learning the piccolo.

METRONOME SHOP NOW >

This device will allow you to keep a steady beat at various speeds and it gives you the option to practice subdivisions of the beat. Every musician should own and use a metronome on a regular basis to practice keeping a steady pulse. When learning a new piece, start with a slow tempo. Once you are able to master the passage at that tempo, repeat the passage while slowly increasing the tempo until you are able to play the passage comfortably at the desired speed.

TUNER SHOP NOW >

Pitch is one of the most challenging aspects of playing the piccolo. Every piccolo player should own a tuner and use it regularly to learn how to play each note on the instrument in tune. This device will tell you the pitch you are playing and if that note is sharp or flat. By playing with a tuner the student will learn how to adjust their embouchure and air stream for each note. A piccolo player can also use this device to train the ear to hear and match pitch.

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL/SHEET MUSIC SHOP NOW >

Sheet music is essential for all musicians. Whether you need a new book for band, a method book for private lessons, or a solo for your next recital, Music & Arts will have what you need.

STAFF PAPER SHOP NOW >

Paper that is printed with the five lines and four spaces of the musical staff allows musicians to practice writing notes, rhythms, scales, chords, theory concepts, warm-up exercises, etc.

EARPLUGS SHOP NOW >

Playing in the third register over long periods of time can damage your hearing. Make sure you have a pair of earplugs to practice with. You can purchase a pair specifically designed your musicians that fit inside the ear canal, however, basic foam earplugs are better than nothing at all. Ask your private teacher for a recommendation.

PRACTICE LOG

A practice log is a great resource for private instruction. It provides a place for teachers to write assignments, instructions, and specific practice goals. It also provides space for the student to keep track of what they practiced, when they practiced, and for how long they practiced. It is a great resource to track progress, write questions and comments for the student/teacher/parent, and it also holds the student accountable for their practice time.

MIRROR

Piccolo players should practice in front of a mirror in order to check their posture, embouchure, aperture, and air stream.

PICCOLO STAND (OPTIONAL, BUT RECOMMENDED) SHOP NOW >

A sturdy piccolo stand will keep your piccolo safe and upright when you aren’t using it. Instrument stands also make your instruments easily accessible when switching back and forth from flute to piccolo.

 

ASSEMBLING, HOLDING THE PICCOLO AND CORRECT POSTURE

Assembling the piccolo

The piccolo consists of two parts: the headjoint and the body. When assembling your piccolo, be sure to handle each piece with care. Hold the headjoint firmly in one hand and the barrel of the body in the other. Using a gentle twisting motion, assemble the instrument with a “straight on” approach, not from an angle. The embouchure hole should be aligned with the row of keys on the body.

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Holding the piccolo

To hold the piccolo, the left hand forms a tilted “C” shape with a bent wrist, and the palm faces down the piccolo. Place the instrument on the side of the left index finger, position the thumb on the rectangular thumb key, and place curved fingers on the keys.

 

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The right hand should also form a “C” shape. The thumb will rest under the instrument between the index and middle finger while curved fingers rest on the keys. The palm faces the floor. Make sure the right thumb doesn’t protrude. The right hand should not lean forward or hang on the rods.

 

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Correct posture for the piccolo

Correct posture is critical for proper piccolo playing. Always bring the piccolo to you, not the other way around. There are four points of balance when holding the piccolo: the chin, the base of left hand index finger, the right hand thumb, and the right hand pinky. The fingers should hover over the keys at all times in a relaxed and ready position. This includes the left hand pinky. Press the keys with the “fleshy” pads of the fingers. Avoid squeezing the keys to produce sound, and avoid any excess up and down motion with the fingers. Use good posture while sitting and standing. If you plan to sit while playing, use a straight-backed chair, and sit up tall on the edge of your seat with both feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart. When standing, the feet will remain shoulder width apart. The right foot should be slightly behind the left, creating a 45 Degree angle. The piccolo should be positioned straight on the chin and remain parallel to the floor. The chin should also remain parallel to the ground to maintain an open throat and airway. Avoid squeezing the ribcage with ribcage with the elbows by positions the arms away from the body and creating enough space for a full breath. Your shoulders should be relaxed and the neck long. Adjust the music stand to your posture and height, not the other way around.

 

READING MUSIC: NOTES AND RHYTHM

Reading music is similar to learning how to read in another language. First we must be able to identify individual notes or words and eventually be fluent enough to form phrases or sentences. As the student continues to grow and develop, so does their musical language. They will not only learn how to read notes, but other music fundamentals as well, such as rhythms, time signatures, key signatures, dynamics, articulations, tempo markings, etc. Reading music is a critical skill for anyone interested in learning how to play the piccolo. All music composed for piccolo is written in treble clef. It is also important to know that the piccolo sounds an octave higher than written. Practice your reading skills as often as possible using flash cards, websites, and helpful apps in order to improve reading skills and gain true mastery.

 

PRODUCING YOUR FIRST SOUND

Tone is the most important element in piccolo playing. Most piccolo players have studied flute before learning how to play the piccolo. Like the flute, sound is produced on the piccolo by blowing across the embouchure hole, not down into it. The air stream and opening of the lips is smaller when playing piccolo.

 

PRACTICE TIME

Proper practice time and techniques are critical for piccolo playing. Simply put, you get out what you put into your practice time. Many flutists recommend warming up on flute before practicing on piccolo and finishing the practice session on flute. It is important to set practice goals with your private teacher. Some teachers require a minimum number of practice minutes per day. Others will ask you to practice however long it takes to accomplish a specific practice goal. Use a practice log in order to establish a routine, and set goals that provide the best results for you.

Divide your practice time between long tones, scales and other technical exercises, etudes, solo repertoire, orchestral excerpts and sight-reading exercises. It is important to spend the majority of your time on passages that you struggle with, rather than playing the things that you do well over and over again. Decide what you would like to accomplish in the practice session before you begin and stick to it. Focus on smaller sections within the music and do “nitty gritty” detailed practice, rather than playing through the music over and over again without making any progress. Once you have mastered the smaller sections of music, you can work on connecting the pieces and practice smooth transitions. Before you know it, the entire piece will be ready to perform. Ask your teacher for a variety of practice techniques to make your practice time as efficient as possible.

It is important to practice in a quite space, devoid of distractions in order to maintain focus. Try to avoid multi-tasking while playing your piccolo, such as texting, gaming, or practicing with the TV on. However, it is important to take a break about every 20-25 minutes to avoid injury and to clear your mind.

 

MAINTAINING YOUR PICCOLO

About the piccolo

Your piccolo is very fragile so make sure you handle it with care. Avoid holding the instrument by the rods and touching the small screws and springs. It doesn’t take much to accidentally knock your piccolo out of alignment. If you experience any difficulties while playing the instrument, have your teacher look at it.

Basic Care/Daily Maintenance

Make sure your hands are clean before playing your piccolo. Never warm up a wooden piccolo by blowing into it. The instrument could crack. Instead, place it under your arm for a couple seconds so the instrument can easily acclimate to your body temperature and the temperature of the space you are in. Condensation build-up is a common occurrence on the piccolo. The instrument should be swabbed frequently during use and after every use in order to avoid watery keys, damaged pads, or even mildew, all of which could lead to expensive repairs. Keep your piccolo stored in its case, in a safe place, and avoid exposing the instrument to extreme temperatures and humidity changes. Even with constant swabbing, piccolos tend to collect water in the keys and pads. Moisture can be removed by placing a sheet of cleaning paper between the instrument and the key. Once the paper is in place, gently close and open the key. Pulling the paper while pressing a key can lead to torn pads, so please ask your teacher for assistance. Swab your instrument after every use and gently wipe any fingerprints off of the keys with a soft cleaning cloth.

Annual Maintenance

Schedule an annual clean, oil, and adjust with a professional repairperson. Request that they check the placement of the headjoint cork and replace it as needed. Depending on the condition of the instrument, your repairperson might suggest an overhaul. This service is performed about every ten years, depending on the instrument and the care it receives on a daily basis.

 

PICCOLO VS. FLUTE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Although the mechanism and fingerings are the same, the piccolo is quite different than the flute and should be approached as a separate instrument. As the highest voice in the ensemble, the piccolo is often exposed, adding color to the texture and should be played with confidence. Once the flutist has a solid third register on the flute, they can consider pursuing the piccolo. The piccolo sounds an octave higher than the flute and acts as a fourth octave extension of the flute. The piccolo is much more sensitive than the flute and requires finger muscles control and more support. Even the smallest changes can lead to a great difference in sound quality and intonation. Practice with a tuner often to establish a strong pitch center and play duets with a friend to work on your intonation in a fun, chamber music setting. The piccolo is placed a little higher on the bottom lip compared to the flute and the embouchure should be slightly firmer, but not tight or inflexible. The aperture should be smaller for piccolo playing, but be sure to keep the oral cavity open and relax and avoid pinching the lips.

The piccolo should be played with finesse, not power and force. It requires less air than the flute, but the air stream should remain fast and focused. Articulation will be lighter on piccolo than flute and the low register should sound relaxed and full, allowing the sound to resonate in the mouth and chest of the player. The piccoloist can accomplish this by playing long tones regularly with the goal of making each register sound rich and even. The fingers are closer together when playing piccolo, so technique might be a little easier than on flute. Scales and other technical exercises should be practice on both flute and piccolo to develop great flexibility and intonation. Both flute and piccolo should be practiced equally and it is important to vary your practice sessions to get used to switching back and forth between instruments often and easily.

 

PURCHASING A PICCOLO

When purchasing an instrument and asking what kind of piccolo you should buy, ask yourself what you plan to use it for and how much money do you want to spend. Metal piccolos have a headjoint with a lip plate like the flute, so that makes for an easier transition if you are new to the piccolo. These instruments are great for marching band, because they are durable and have a very bright tone. Plastic piccolos are durable enough for use outdoors and can be used in a concert band setting. The tone quality is warmer than the tone of a metal piccolo and they are reasonably priced. Many instrument makers are now making piccolos out of plastic or composite materials. These piccolos are perfect for younger players who might need to use their instrument in both indoor and outdoor settings. The best quality piccolos are made out of wood, usually grenadilla, which gives the instrument a really warm sound. They are more expensive than metal and plastic piccolos, are best suited for indoor use, and blend more easily with other woodwind instruments.

‘Tis The Audition Season…

A couple of months ago I decided to focus on piccolo for this season and about a second later, it was announced that the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was holding auditions for piccolo. I submitted my resume and received an invitation to take the audition on my birthday! Last year when I auditioned for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, I used notes from a class I had attended at the 2009 NFA Convention by Sharon Sparrow called, 6 Weeks to Finals. It felt like fate when I attended the NFA convention in August and found that she had published the book, 6 Weeks to Finals: The Complete System for Audition Success! I purchased my copy and hit the ground running in my quest to play more piccolo this year!

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Week 6:

I have six weeks until audition day, so it is time to get moving! I received my repertoire list for the audition, complied all of my music, and made three copies of my audition booklet. Next, I assembled all of my equipment and materials, including my instruments, tuner, recording device, blank staff paper for useful warm-ups, index cards for each excerpt, my audition booklets, complete scores of all of the pieces, etc. It’s time to get busy! A big part of this process is not only practicing the excerpts, but preparing the mind. In order to work on my mental toughness, I’ve been listening to You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero and Success Is A Choice by Rick Pitino. The last piece of the puzzle is physical toughness. Thanks to my BFF, Laura Roeth, I’m completing the 21 Day Fix Extreme workout and nutritional program. I haven’t felt this good and in shape since my college cheerleading days! Now is the time to “respectfully decline” any other plans, activities, or responsibilities that are sent my way in order to carve out enough time to practice and prepare for the big day.

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Week 5:

It’s time to start practicing and establish my “naughty list” of excerpts. Luckily I’ve played most of these excerpts before on a number of past auditions. However, there are a couple new pieces and a few little devils I have yet to fully master. My naughty list includes 1) Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, Mvt. 5 2) Berlioz, Dance of the Will-o-the Wisps from The Damnation of Faust, excerpt 2 3) Mahler, Symphony No. 2 4) Ravel, Piano Concerto 5) Shostakovich, Symphony No. 8 6) Shostakovich, Symphony No. 9. After using the “nitty gritty” practice method on my naughty list, I’m going to shuffle my index cards, draw, and practice! My main focus this week is rhythm, intonation, and expression.

Week 4:

The audition is a month away, so this week consists of my morning workout, the practice routine I established last week, healthy eating, and mental training. I’m also researching all of my music and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, their personnel, the hall, etc. I feel like I’m playing mock auditions in front of people all the time, whether it be for students, parents, co-workers at MTMS, or our poor cats who cry at the door while I’m practicing. Joe even walks through our house singing the excerpts, because he’s heard them so many times at this point.

Week 3:

My routine continues this week, but with the added challenge of making the music a little bit more difficult in hopes to make the actual excerpt feel easy. (Yeah right!) I continue to perform mock auditions all while doing visualization exercises. I’ve also played through all of the pieces with a recording. Sharon Sparrow suggests treating yourself to a small reward at the end of week 3, which is exactly what Brooke and I did. We headed to Canton for the Propel Women’s Leadership Conference. We spent the weekend reminiscing our cheerleading and roomie days and gaining inspiration from some really successful and inspiring women.

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Week 2:

This week is all about reaching full potential. In order to obtain that goal, I’ve been using focus and visualization exercises before more practice sessions. This week is also the time to focus on intensity and extreme measures, such as temperature, food, acoustics, and sleep. When you are prepared for every scenario, it’s hard to be thrown off track.

Week 1:

I’m entering into my final week of preparations, so I’m doing mock auditions everyday without stopping to practice my focus and plan a routine and flow through the list of excerpts. At this point, I’m just trying to enjoy the music and focus on a “personal best performance.” I’ve packed everything I need for the audition weekend, including my excerpt books, water, snacks, a journal, a sweater, books/iPad, headphones, my phone, music stand, etc. I’m starting to feel the physical demands of an audition, so I’ve schedule a massage to hopefully relieve the back pain I’m experiencing from practicing so much. I drove to Atlanta on Saturday by myself and checked into my hotel to find that I chose the hotel with the anime convention! Doh! Everyone around me was dressed in costumes, so I decided it wouldn’t be weird at all to serenade them with piccolo excerpts.

Audition Day:

7:00am: I woke up a little later than normal and completed my Sunday morning yoga routine, focusing on my breath and staying relaxed.

8:00am: I enjoyed the complementary hot breakfast at my hotel with all of these anime characters. :/ Needless to say, I was very thankful the hotel had good coffee!

9:00am: I showered and started getting ready while binge watching Netflix to stay relaxed.

10:00am: After a long morning warm-up, I did a little bit of practicing.

1:00pm: I ate lunch and continued my Netflix binge. This might be the longest day of waiting in my life.

3:00pm: Afternoon practice session…can I just get this over with already?!?

5:00pm: I left the hotel and drove downtown for the audition.

5:30pm: After a little wandering and searching, I finally arrived at the hall and checked in for the audition. Off to my private warm-up room I go to prep.

7:00pm: AUDITION TIME! I managed to keep my nerves in check for the most part, but I struggled to keep my excerpts grounded. I learn so much about myself and my playing from this process. While playing the waiting game afterwards, I took notes on the experience in hopes to make the next one a little bit better. I didn’t advance to the next round. Normally I would have a really good cry and “why me” fest at this point, but that didn’t happen this time. I simply told Joe what I learned from the experience and drove home the next day thinking about what my next goal will be, reminding myself that it’s about the journey, not the destination.

 

A Month Exploring Essential Oils

During the month of August I jumped on the essential oils bandwagon to see what all of the hype is about. I purchased oils from Pure Haven Essentials (purehavenessentials.com) and a diffuser from amazon for the experiment. The oils I will be using are certified organic, all ingredients are grown without pesticides, are non-GMO, and the products haven’t been tested on animals. Here’s what I learned along the way.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils contains the “essence” of the plant’s fragrance or the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived.

Oils contain the chemical components that naturally occur in plants, which can help our bodies heal themselves.

They are highly concentrated properties of the herb/plant they are derived from. For example, it takes 256lbs of peppermint leaf to make one pound of peppermint essential oil.

Ways To Use Essential Oils:

Apply: Essential oils can be applied topically using safe dilution rates. You can apply them to the soles of feet or affected areas (excluding eyes, ears, mucous membranes and genitals)

Diffuse: Essential oils can be diffused in the home with a quality diffuser of your choice

Inhale: Essential oils can be inhaled using an aromastick, steam bowl, cotton ball, or diffuser jewelry

Safety Note: Keep essential oils out of the reach of children. If pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician or a Certified Aromatherapist before using essential oils. Never ingest essential oils unless under the direct care of a Certified Aromatherapist or physician.

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Pure Haven Essential Oils:

Here is a list of the Pure Haven Essential Oils I experimented with this month with their description from www.purehavenessentials.com.

Jojoba Oil: “Jojoba is the perfect “carrier” to mix with any essential oil or oil recipe that comes into contact with the skin. The properties of Jojoba closely resemble the body’s own natural skin lubricant and moisturizer. Use it alone as a massage oil or lotion. Or, as an ingredient in an essential oil recipe.”

Eucalyptus Essential Oil: “Eucalyptus Essential Oil is one of the oldest native medicines used in Australia. Today, it’s well-known for its use in inhalants and vapor rubs, and as a household disinfectant and cleaner.”

Tea Tree Essential Oil: “Tea Tree Essential Oil is extracted from the twigs and leaves of a plant native to Australia. Commonly known as the oil that is a ‘jack of all trades’ in terms of remedies – it is best known for its amazing skin-aiding properties and benefits.”

Oregano Essential Oil: “Oregano, which means ‘Delight of the Mountains,’ was first recognized in ancient Greece to treat bacterial infections on the skin or in wounds. This powerful essential oil contains strong immune-enhancing and antioxidant properties.”

Frankincense Essential Oil: “Frankincense is considered the holy anointing oil in the Middle East. It is often used as a valuable ingredient in skincare products, beginning with ancient Egyptians, who used it in rejuvenating face masks.”

Peppermint Essential Oil: “Native to Europe, Peppermint holds the prestigious title of the world’s oldest medicine. It is one of the few herbs and essential oils to have been studied and scientifically proven to have numerous health benefits.”

Lemon Essential Oil: “Lemons are an amazing source of vitamins. No surprise, then, that lemon essential oil has a myriad of health benefits, attributed to its stimulating, calming, detoxifying, antiseptic and anti-infection properties.”

Rosemary Essential Oil: “Rosemary is used extensively in food preparation, cosmetics and medicinal herb care. Extracted from the leaves of the Rosemary bush, this essential oil is often described as invigorating and stimulating.”

Lavender Essential Oil: “Lavender is one of the most beloved of nature’s fragrances and its essential oil is among the most versatile, blending well with many other essential oils, including Lemon and Frankincense.”

Five Defense Essential Oil: “A 15th-century tale tells of thieves in France who robbed victims of the highly contagious Black Plague, but never fell ill themselves. They were protected with a balm made of various aromatics. And, in exchange for this life-saving recipe, they received lighter sentences for their crimes. Our blend includes 5 key ingredients: Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Rosemary, Lavender and Eucalyptus.”

Be Well Essential Oil: “This fragrant and unique blend of four Essential Oils includes: Lemon, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Peppermint. Use it for individual care or to protect everyone in your home during flu season.”

Sweet Orange Essential Oil: “Cold pressed from the peel, the sweet orange essential oil is like a burst of sunshine on a sweet summer day. Citrusy yet sweet smell helps uplift and energize your mind and body. Diffuse it for a bright, positively charged environment.”

Cedarwood Essential Oil: “With a rich, woody aroma, Cedarwood is calming, soothing and grounding for mind and body. Calms and soothes the skin. Add to shampoo for scalp health and conditioning. Diffuse to create a relaxing environment. Add a few drops to jojoba for a muscle-relaxing massage oil.”

Tranquility Essential Oil: “A calming blend of five essential oils (cedarwood, lavender, frankincense, sweet orange and chamomile). Aids in more restful sleep. Helps relax and calm body and mind. Diffuse to deepen yoga or meditation practice.”

A Month Exploring Photography…

My hope for the month of July was to learn a little more about Photoshop, but unfortunately I didn’t get that far on this journey. Here’s a taste of some of the programs and videos I was able to explore this month.

July 11th-12th: I downloaded a ton of photo apps in hopes to make a couple photo collages, play around, and hopefully learn something about photography along the way.

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July 13th-14th: Photography 101 is a great introduction to photography basics to learn the abc’s of depth of field, framing, lighting and composition with a few fun surprises in the mix. There are over 12 excellent video tutorials within the app.

July 15th-16th: LiveCollage features layouts to quickly combine up to 16 photos with 5000+ layouts into a fun, personalized photo collage. You can also edit photos using touch-up tools to draw, remove redeye and blemishes, etc.

July 17th-18th: Photo Lab is a free photo fun generator in your pocket with over 18 million downloads. It contains more than 600 awesome effects for your photos including: realistic photomontages, stylish photo filters, beautiful frames, fun face montages, holiday e-card templates, creative artistic effects, and collages for multiple photos.

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July 19th-20th: Pic Collage has everything you need to create amazing collages with your photos. Simple touch gestures allow you to rotate, resize, and flick to delete. I used this app to create a collage of all of the beautiful flowers of Ireland!

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July 21st-22nd: Aviary allows users to create and share beautiful photos and use professionally designed filters, creative stickers and frames, touch-up tools and more to create and share amazing pictures. The app allows you to enhance with Hi-Def, scenery, food, portrait and night. You can touch-up selfies with red-eye and blemish removal and boost smile wattage with teeth whitening.

July 23rd-24th: Pic Jointer allows you to share multiple photos simultaneously with your friends. It has adjustable layouts, a powerful photo editor and beautiful backgrounds that easily create collage artworks.

July 25th-26th: PIP Camera allows you to make snapshots extra fun and unique with pic-in-pic materials.

July 27th-18th: Edit.Lab is a powerful and fast photo editor in the palm of your hand. You can customize your photos with a variety of different editing tools and effects.

July 29th-30th: InstaEditor is a powerful photo editor with many amazing effects, such as a one-tap Magical Enhance filter, brightness, saturation and contrast adjustments, red-eye, whiten and blemish, and ten beautiful stylistic effects to make your photos stand out.

July 31st: InstaBeauty is described as the best selfie photo editor for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It contains more than 50 makeup styles and 100 filters. The added make-up feature allows you to choose your favorite colors of lips and blusher, then draw your eyes.

Ireland, The Most Beautiful Place In The World!

June Goal: Learning the Irish Flute

For those of you who know the Mueller’s, you know that Irish music and dance is a big part of our lives. Ted and Elizabeth both play in the band, Vinegar Hill. Elizabeth also plays fiddle and sings with Ladies of Longford and Lone Raven. Our nieces, Isabella and Sophia are champion Irish dancers and Zoe is quickly following in their footsteps. During the month of June, I attempted to learn Irish Traditional Music on classical flute in preparation for our trip to Ireland. I feel like a beginner again and like most skills, I’m realizing that Irish music is way more challenging than I anticipated. After a year and a half of goals, I’m pretty worn out and didn’t give this goal as much attention as the others. However, here’s a couple things I learned and experimented with along the way.

Several years ago I received the DVD, Irish Music on the Classical Flute by Brian McCoy from my father-in-law, Ted. I watched this instructional video throughout the month to learn the basic fundamentals of playing this new style. Irish flute playing requires more fundamental tone and less harmonics than classical flute playing. The tone has a very focused, dark, reedy and haunting sound. Vibrato is used sparingly and mainly on longer notes. Playing with an “Irish Accent” requires new ornamentation, such as cuts, strikes and rolls. The slide comes from the Irish Uilleann Bagpipe tradition. To slide, the flutist slowly opens the keys by pushing the fingers forward. A roll, like the classical turn, requires the flutist to play the written note, the note above, the principal note, note below, and principal note again. The cut is used for staccato playing and grace notes are played one note above. Classical fingerings or alternate fingers can be used. The cut and strike cut are performed by rapidly lifting and putting down a finger. The strike is executed by rapidly hitting and lifting an open hole with a finger. I can only hope that someday I’ll be able to execute all of these new techniques! Irish flute music is usually performed in a legato, less articulate style. Most Irish music is written in two parts, usually 8-bars each. (A and B) Each part usually has introductory or lead-in notes, like the classical pick-ups. Lead in notes don’t always need to be played. As flute players, we can leave those out to breathe. Throughout the month, I tried reading a tune a day from Anne McGinty’s 99 Irish Dance Tunes for Flute.

July Goal: Discovering the World of Photography

During the month of July my goal is to learn a little bit more about photography, photoshop, and various photography apps. I certainly didn’t run out of things to photograph this week in Ireland. We returned with 800 photographic memories to enjoy for years to come! Here’s a little photo journal of our travels!

July 1st: This morning we arrived at Columbus International Airport bright eyed and bushy tailed to embark on a journey of a lifetime to the Republic of Ireland!

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We arrived at JKF with hours to spare when Mother Nature decided to pay us a visit with a tornado warnings. After hours and hours of delays, we were planning to board our plane around 1:30am. Just as the flight was starting to board, “CANCELLED” flashed across the screen! 🙁 We watched in horror as this looney tune screamed at the staff and then decided to walk behind the counter and book his own flight. Just steps away, I looked on as these gals raised their tent for the evening while the rest of us just slept on the floor!

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July 2nd: We were supposed to have the day to ourselves in Ennis, but due to our travel delays, we spent another night in the airport. At the very least, we were in London Heathrow at this point instead of JFK. However, I was wondering when Tom Hanks planned to join us for the filming of a sequel to The Terminal. :/ We finally made it through security and had the most amazing breakfast at WonderTree Cafe! I followed it with a $20 shower at the airport. After sleeping on the floor for two nights, it was totally worth it, not to mention the best $20 I’ve ever spent!

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July 3rd: We arrived in Ennis with 30 minutes to spare before our tour of the Cliffs of Moher began. It was the most beautiful day to experience such a breathtaking view!

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July 4th: After a much needed night’s rest in a real bed, we toured a 13th Century Ennis Friary and then headed to County Limerick’s Village of Adare. We had a delicious lunch at the Market Place Cafe and then headed to the Dingle Peninsula.

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July 5th: This morning we visited Dingle Crystal for a cutting demonstration and before boarding the bus for the most beautiful road in Ireland, Slea Head Drive, I met this adorable cow. Slea Head Drive certainly lived up to it’s reputation!

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We returned to Dingle for a tour of the Dingle Whiskey Distillery. Keep an eye on the Columbus Dispatch in the coming weeks. You might see this picture again! 😉

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We ended the day in Dingle with some traditional Irish music where I met an amazing Irish flutist, Teresa Horgan. We talked briefly between sets and she gave me some tips for playing the Irish flute.

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July 6th: Today we set out on a walking tour of Dingle Town and took a boat cruise around Dingle Bay where we had a couple encounters with Fungie, the dolphin! I wasn’t able to capture a picture of him myself, but here’s a video of him! This week has been filled with new animal friends! Meet Seamus, the Irish wolfhound of Milltown House!

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July 7th: Today we traveled across the Emerald Isle to Dublin. On the way we stopped at the Rock of Cashel.

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July 8th: This morning we visited the ancient tombs of Brú na Bóinne and the Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum in Dublin. These ancient tombs have been around longer than the pyramids!

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July 9th: After a walking tour of Dublin, we visited Trinity College, the National Museum, and Dublin Castle. Tonight we say goodbye to our fellow travelers and our tour guide, Stephen.

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July 10th: During our travels back to the US, I played around with some photo apps and created a collage of our favorite moments together on the trip!

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Summer Here We Come! Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

May 17th: After six days of cold and rainy weather, I was able to get back outside to continue this month’s goal. Today I added mulch to our back porch area. Eventually I hope to add a second raised garden bed and some flowers along the side of the house.

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May 18th: I added more garden soil to our raised garden bed and hope to plant very soon!

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May 19th: I mulched our backyard flower beds this morning. My hope is to separate some of these overgrown plants to wrap around the back of the house.

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May 20th: Natalie and I helped Christina plant her garden this morning. We planted sweet potatoes, watermelon, several varieties of tomatoes, and a variety of greens. We added a trellis for the peas and cucumbers and I learned how to properly plant tomatoes. No wonder mine didn’t do very well last summer. :/

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May 21st: Last August we had to have the tree in our backyard cut down and eventually we had the stump ground down. Today I used the stones that were surrounding this tree to build a fire pit in our back yard. I moved the remaining stones surrounding our backyard tree to the front yard and added a couple of bags of new mulch around the tree in the front yard.

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May 22nd: This morning I weeded the side yard by our neighbor’s garage and added new mulch.

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May 23rd-24th: The past two days I weeded and mulched around the side of our house. I’m looking forward to blooms on my hydrangea.

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May 25th-26th: The past two days we visited with Ben, Kelly and Jack. We enjoyed the outdoors at the zoo!

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May 26th: Today I weeded and mulched the front of the house. Eventually I’d like to add some color with new flowers.

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May 27th: I planted our garden this morning in the raised bed. Christina gave me a tomato plant and two sweet potato plants leftover from her garden and I purchased the rest at a greenhouse over by ODU. I planted several varieties of lettuce, three types of onions, a green pepper, another tomato plant, carrots, and celery. I wasn’t quite sure about the onions, so I checked with Christina and found out that I needed to separate those. (Doh!) I spread those out throughout the garden.

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May 28th: I purchased three new plants for the back of the house instead of separating the ones we already have. I also mulched the fence line between our house and garage.

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May 29th: Using my hanging baskets from last season, I potted mint, cilantro, and parsley. I used another container to plant strawberries. The baskets are now hanging along the side of the garage beside above our raised garden bed.

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May 30th: This morning I drove over to Moo Moo Express Car Wash to wash both of our cars. I vacuumed and washed the interior mats and carpets, cleaned all of the windows, and wiped down all of the interior surfaces.

May 31st: After a morning workout, I washed all of our windows both inside and out. I have one more outdoor project to complete, but that will have to wait until later in the week. I hope to clean and organize our garage so it’s ready for summer fun!

 

April showers bring May flowers…and weeds

In January, my goal was to focus on organization and fixer upper projects on the inside of our house. My May goal compliments that with outdoor projects, such as yard work, gardening, and organizing our garage. This week I began my May goal by focusing on our back porch area.

May 1st: Christina and I decided that we are going to garden together this year. We will use both of our gardening spaces, plant together, and then share in the rewards the garden has to offer. Christina shared her garden plans with me and I plan on using my garden bed for the things we buy the most of from week to week at the grocery, such as garlic and onions. I might also add some greens for summer salads and I might even add a second garden bed this year.

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May 2nd: Ever since we bought our house, one of my favorite spring activities is to purchase hanging plants for around the exterior of the house to add a little color. I headed over to Flowerama in the Reynoldsburg/Whitehall area and lucky for me, the delivery truck was unloading the hanging plants when I arrived. There’s nothing better than getting “first dibs” on these beautiful flowers! With all of the green our yard has to offer, it’s nice to add some pops of color!

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May 3rd-5th: Our backyard is starting to look like a forest full of weeds, so I’ve spent the last couple of days weeding the area between the back porch and our garage. I pulled all of the weeds and then used a tool to pull up all of the roots in hopes that the weeds stop growing all together. I’m thinking about adding a second raised garden bed in this area.

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May 6th-7th: Back porch maintenance continues this week. I’ve weeded my garden bed and surrounding areas in hopes to plant and add new mulch next week. I also swept and sprayed down our back porch. Now we just need a new grill for summer fun! 😉

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May 8th: The city of Columbus has finally decided to bring our neighborhood up to code and added wheelchair accessible sidewalks. We started researching companies to get estimates for new driveways and sidewalks, so our lot is completely new and up-to-date. More to come on that project later!

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May 9th: It rained all day, so Laura and I took Audrey to the Franklin Park Conservatory for her 5th birthday. The conservatory offered a lot of wonderful inspiration for the possibilities in our own yard! The butterflies were beautiful and friendly too.

May 10th: I didn’t have a ton of time today so I swept off our front porch. I’m looking forward to better weather and enjoying a good book on the porch very soon!

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The Celebrate Teaching 5K

Another goal in the books for Gals With Goals! Unfortunately, I experienced some setbacks this month with my Couch to 5K goal. After experiencing extreme joint pain in my knees, my workout plan was put on hold. As the reality of a goal sets in, sometimes we need to modify the goal in order to move forward and that’s exactly what happened with this goal. I started taking supplements for joint health in order to get back on track with my workout plan, but it takes about a month to experience any relief. I decided to walk the race instead of run in order to avoid serious injury.

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Here’s the rest of the Couch to 5K workout plan:

Week 4 Workouts

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by: 3 minutes of jogging, 90 seconds of walking, 5 minutes of jogging, 2 1/2 minutes of walking, 3 minutes of jogging, 90 seconds of walking, 5 minutes of jogging

Week 5 Workouts

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by: 5 minutes of jogging, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of jogging, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of jogging.

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 8 minutes of jogging, 5 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of jogging

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 20 minutes of jogging without walking

Weeks 6-9 Workouts

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 5 minutes of jogging, 3 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of jogging, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of jogging

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 10 minutes of jogging, 3 minutes of walking, 10 minutes of jogging

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 25 minutes of jogging without walking

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 25 minutes of jogging

Brisk five minute warm-up walk follwowed by 28 minutes of jogging

Brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 30 minutes of jogging

Days 11-16, Preparing for the Celebrate Teaching 5K

April 11th: Week 3 workouts began today with a brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 2 repetitions of the following: 90 second of jogging, 90 seconds of walking, 3 minutes of jogging, and 3 minutes of walking. The weather is still questionable today so I ran laps inside. Thank goodness for an open ranch floor plan. 😉

April 12th: My back and knees are killing me so today I did a little bit of yoga and a lot of stretching to ease the pain. Days of rest are important too, but it’s days like today that I need to remind myself of the benefits of running, like improving your overall mental health, strengthening your lungs (a perk for a wind player like myself), preventing high blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, weight control, physically strong legs, stress relief, increased bone density, increased joint strength and stability, and increased confidence.

April 13th: The weather this week is absolutely beautiful so I’m hitting the pavement today with my week 3 workout of a brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 2 repetitions of the following: 90 second of jogging, 90 seconds of walking, 3 minutes of jogging, and 3 minutes of walking. It feels so great to be outside again! This morning I was joined by construction crews around our neighborhood who were painting our curbs and sidewalks for future repairs to make our neighborhood wheelchair accessible! I’m really looking forward to that improvement. (and so are my knees) :/

April 14th: Holy hamstrings batman! I am really feeling it today! I decided to stay inside for stretching and time with my heating pad on my legs and knees. I even took my heating pad to work with me today to use during two hours of staff meetings.

April 15th: With cleaning and laundry in the morning and a to-do list as long as my arm to tackle in the afternoon, I decided to take a brisk walk in the afternoon and followed it with a lot of stretching. I can’t imagine being ready for a race in three weeks, but we shall see!

April 16th: This morning I woke up early and completed my last week 3 workout of a brisk five minute warm-up walk followed by 2 repetitions of the following: 90 second of jogging, 90 seconds of walking, 3 minutes of jogging, and 3 minutes of walking. Knee braces just jumped to the top of my grocery list this week. Stay tuned next week for a Week 4 workout plan!