Friday, July 3, 2015

Weekly Wish-list


Have you heard? We're in a heatwave! Well, what Germans consider to be a heat wave.. It's 33 degrees and although I'm used to warm(er) weather in Australia and I don't mind so much it does make it hard to concentrate on work instead of daydreaming about going swimming. The problem here is that I can't just zip off to the beach whenever I want :(  In an effort to try and curb some homesickness for the beauty of Australian coasts this week's wish-list is all about swimwear; with a focus on Australian design.

Zimmermann swimwear doesn't come cheap but I've owned a couple of their pieces and they do stand the test of time. Although be warned: if you want a suit that will survive a little jostling around in the surf with out a nip untucking then maybe you should look elsewhere. As many of you know though, for me sometimes aesthetics win out over practicality.

The recent pieces by Zimmermann make use of beautiful Asian patterns and I can't help but share a number of their pretty items.




This one above is called the Lucia Embroidered 1 Pc and I love the design. The frill in the middle is so pretty with the floral fabric and the non-traditional neckline leaving the back completely free really tickles my fancy.

The one below is called the Anais Floral Plunge 1 Pc. The fabric feels quite oriental to me; reminds me of something Vietnamese somehow. A relatively simple one-piece design is given a bit more edge with the cutouts without becoming too slutty-bondage-dress ('scuse the language but I hope you know what I mean..)
























Here we have the Lucia pattern of the above 1-pc now in a Mesh Bikini form. Again, I'm loving the non-traditional bikini cut and whilst I find racer-cut shoulders too masculine sometimes, the frill keeps it pretty. Also for the girls who are lighter up top I think the frill can have a dual purpose ;)



Now we are at my absolute favourite: this one ^above^ the Anais Floral Mesh 1-pc. I absolutely adore the cut and design of it. I like the idea of high-waisted bikini briefs but I ultimately feel like they really aren't that flattering on the stomach and with the transformation of this into the flowing upper part of the one-piece I think it finally works! I love that the upper part comprises a more transparent fabric (saved from nipple flashing by the bikini top underneath!). I am so so in love with this one.

Now this next one, the Ceramic Shoulder Frill Bikini, won me over with the frill in the back. The clear definition of the underwire in the front is not my cup of tea but the effect at the back is too good to pass up. I like the more structured nature of this frill; it's more like a scalloped edge. I think this one is definitely for the smaller-chested ladies because I really don't think that front would work on a big bust.






 And last is the Ceramic Floating Halter which I like for the same reasons as my favourite one above. Tasteful high-waisted bottom + transparent fabric up top + racer cut neckline = a stylish and clean piece. The only think that holds it back in my eyes is that it's maybe a little too conservative. If the back dipped right down I think it would give it a nice bit of allure.

Dreaming of sun-kissed beaches and being fully emerged in seawater.

All photos from the Zimmermann website. Links for each item are in the name.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tunesday

Fresh Off the plane from London today and it's equal parts good and bad to be back in Stuttgart. The air feels a lot cleaner but I miss the bustle and hum of London city (blog post on it to come later). Just before I left I participated in a Jazz-sort-of workshop. It wasn't exactly jazz in the purest form of the genre but was more of an eclectic modern music mix. My university got a guest: Daniel Schnyder to come and work with a bunch of classical musicians; although the jazz band boys (drums, bass and keys) were all jazz students. It was a really great experience and like dipping my toe into a new language. In some ways I found it really difficult and I'd love to experiment and explore more of that world. Today's tune is not a YouTube video, because sadly they're not so great. Instead I highly recommend you go onto Schnyder's bandcamp page and browse and have a little listen. If you want to hear the kind of crazy stuff I was playing last week then click on the album "zoOM IN" (we played the last movement). A bit of something to get your juices flowing for the week!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Motivation Monday

It's so easy to float through life without doing much at all. At least.. I find it so. I tend to get stuck in a bit of a rut where I do everything that needs to be done but nothing more than that. I meet deadlines etc. but I find it hard to use the time I have for the things I want as part of the bigger picture of my life. A lot of the time there's a depressing feeling that I'm letting my life pass me by. Well I shouldn't just sit here and watch it! The only person who's going to change it is going to be me. I know it will be hard to whip myself out of this rut, as it always is, but I want to and that's the first step.

The next step is to verbalise my goals. Obviously I'm not going to go outside and shout on the street "I'M GOING TO PRACTICE!" I'm going to do it here. Clear and hopefully realistic goals. And I'm going to prioritise them but also try and strike the right balance. Often I put all my energies into one thing and take prioritisation to the extreme (where it doesn't work!). For example: if I have an audition coming up I'll practice like a mad-woman two weeks before and nothing else, and afterwards I'll stop practising completely and start getting stuck into exercise. It's not a very efficient system to work by! I'm always fluctuating between this and that and every time I return to something it's like a catch-up job.

So. Let's get stuck into it.

GOALS

  • Viola
Clearly this has to be at the top of the list. It's my "profession" (yes, I use "" and will do so until I have a full-time job). I want a job in an orchestra. I shouldn't be too fussy but I definitely want it to be in a pretty well-connected city. Ideally having a job in Australia would be fantastic, but I'm not sure it's a realistic goal for the very near future (maybe in a decade?). Right now I think I rely a lot on luck and I'm really thankful for having the good fortune to be accepted into a praktikum with an orchestra here in Stuttgart and also having a casual position with another. So in that way I guess I'm on track.. but I need to work through this next year until the end of my masters with the goal of taking serious professional auditions and actually giving them a proper shot. Many many times before I've made practice goals: "per day I'll practice x hours" and it just never works. So this time round I'm going to try something different. I know it doesn't seem like much, but I think it's a reasonable goal seeing as some weeks I'll have to practice lots of orchestra music, or solo stuff for uni, but it most importantly means that when I don't have things on I'll still have to keep my fingers in action. I've got some travel coming up where it would just be stupid if I brought my viola so obviously not in those weeks. 

*Every week learn 2 excerpts and record them, play as if in an audition. 
  • Exercise -
I hate do not like exercising. It's something I really have to force myself to do. I'm not sure I can remember a time where I really liked it.. it's such a solitary activity and there's so little reward in the moment (at least in practice I'm making nice sounds.. hopefully). This is what makes it really difficult to maintain regularly in my life. The reason why I want to make exercise take a bit more prominent a role in my life is because I'm only getting older and it's important for health reasons to try and get fit. I don't want to wait until it's a real uphill battle in my middle-age. Now is the time I should make it part of my routine so that it's easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle later. Also, superficially, I want to wear some of my clothes a little more comfortably and confidently. Some of them are really meaningful pieces to me and I'd hate to sell them. Being realistic I can't commit to doing the yoga every day especially when I do a high-energy workout (right now it's running up and down stairs near where I live). But when I don't do that I should take a nice walk and do some yoga.

*Engage in some kind of physical activity every day. If it's not a high-energy workout it at least has to be a brisk walk and yoga. Right at this moment my goals are to finally properly commit and finish the 30 days of Yoga and Arm-mazing workout I've mentioned before.
  • German study -
Well this is embarrassing.. I've been living in Germany for almost a year now and I am still not great conversationally. I really want to be better at talking in groups and more comfortable and fluent with what I want to say. Learning a language is not something that can be done by sitting on your ass. I have to pull my socks up and stop coasting through and "getting by".

*Have at least three conversations per week where I force myself to speak only German. Do a couple of exercises on Duolingo every day. Study with my German textbook twice a week.
  • Blog -
Yes yes.. I've been totally AWOL for probably the whole year. We're in an on-off relationship it seems. I guess it's been really hard because really it's all for my own pleasure. When I'm in the throes of concerts and competitions and auditions and blah blah blah it's really too easy to let this slip. Having said that though, I'd really like for it to be a little more. I want to return to my self-teaching computer-coding lessons so that I can make the website the way I want it to be (not just because I'm on the spectrum of OCD but also because it'll be better for you! You readers that maybe don't really read this but stumble on though). So why do I blog? I think it's because it's a great way to keep track of things. If I could organise the coding stuff then it would be really easy to go through my archives and see music, travel posts, recipes, etc.

*Every Sunday sit down and write as many blog posts for the week as possible. Plan what posts for which days and when I'm really busy at least stick with Tunesday and Weekly Wish-list. Once a week study coding.
  • Italian study -
Why Italian study when clearly I should be learning German? BECAUSE I'M GOING TO ITALY FOR A HOLIDAY!!!! Sorry.. I'm getting really excited already. I think the only reason for going to another country for a holiday is to experience the culture and there's no way one can really try without trying to learn some of the language. I'm not going to try and be fluent or anything but I'd like to get by, buy transport tickets, order food and charm some locals ;)

*Do a couple of exercises on Duolingo every day. Study with my Italian textbook once a week.


How do you like my attempt at motivational-quote-on-abstract-background? I want to work more on my paint-writing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tunesday

So some good news! I got a casual position with die Staatstheater Stuttgart! A couple of weeks ago I did a symphony project with them. They probably do more operas and ballets, but I think it's awesome that they also put on symphony programs. The week was a project with a choir, and some soloists. One of the pieces on the menu was Bruckner's Te Deum and one of the movements, with the solo tenor starting, is absolutely beautiful. I love the solo violin part and the part when the other soloists join the tenor (for example about 25 seconds in). Here is a video I found on YouTube, but there is a great recording with the Berlin Philharmonic on Spotify.


Now some happy snaps from my week with them:

I love this viola-holder that's attached to the music stand!
My name in the program!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Motivation!

It's coming up to summer here and that's the time when all those ads on Spotify shout at me in German about getting a summer body: "Sommer kommt! Bikini!" or something like that. Here's a little easy motivation for a start. I've been doing this 30 days of Yoga program on YouTube and it's fantastic! I really like Adriene, the yogi. She's a little bit crazy and I feel really free and flexible to play with my own limits in her videos. I highly recommend it. I find yoga really amazing for my playing. It's a way of stretching during the day of that involves a higher level of focus. Not only are the routines great for stretching and relaxing but they often also include a core component with some plank vinyasas. I like to finish each practice with a 5 minute meditation. I'm on day 20 now and on the home stretch! I have been doing it since the beginning of the year, very on and off.. but I'm trying to go every day really regularly now.




Another daily month-long program I'm doing is this Arm-mazing thing that I found in my Lorna Jane diary gifted to me by my sister. I've been feeling a little funny about my arms lately (probably because of the passing of yet another birthday on the downhill slide to 30) so this has been great. I've only just started and I'm on day 3. (I copied it out of my diary onto this sheet because I couldn't take my diary on the plane from Australia.. too heavy). Do it with me? I wrote down the days but you could just have the days numbered, no real need to start on a Monday. :) The top number is narrow push-ups, the second number is wide push-ups and the last number is tricep dips. Right now I'm not strong enough to do full on "man" push-ups, or even "lady" push-ups with my knees on the ground. I do an even easier variation I learnt in a class with Fitness First where I start off in a hands and knees position and I keep my bum in that place whilst I dip my arms. I tried to find a video on YouTube to better explain but when one searches "push up variations for weaker people" all that comes up is the crazy buffed-up meat-heads doing nutso hard stuff. No shame is doing the easiest variation like me! As long as it's a challenge for you. Once I'm up with this month I will do it again but as lady push-ups. Maybe even one day I might be able to do some "man" pushups.



Also, there's nothing like some FREE workout. ;)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Weekly Wish-list

Focus on Russia!

Label Ruban by a sister-duo. They've been going since 2010 but these items are from their latest collection. The first piece, a shift-dress is so simple but at the same time embellished. I love the apron-style with the open side seams (obviously better if you wear a slip underneath!) and the ties. It's like a super beautiful piece of clothing like a sandwich board. The next piece is a lovely little top again with the ties and I've included a photo of the whole look because I love the layering of it. The third piece is wow a stunning dress that also looks like the most comfortable thing in the world. I'd love to sweep on stage and perform something in that. (I take that back.. performing on stage scares the hella out of me!).

1. Sandwich-board chic (image)

2. Such a beautiful dusty blue. I always hear of the colour "dusty pink" but never dusty blue, so this can be it!!

2. Layer by layer. Crop top images (actually called a "Chemisette".. fancy).

3. Short in the front long in the back makes much more sense on a floor-length gown (not a mullet dress!)

3. And such a lovely golden cream colour. Images from here.

Vika Gazinskaya. Now that is a proper Russian-sounding name. The label was launched in 2006 in Moscow. The first piece is a fun little flouncy top. Normally I shy away from clothing that clearly cannot be worn with a bra but the fabric looks so voluptuous that I don't think it'd be too much of a worry (nobody's going to see much of what's bouncing around uncontrollable under there!). The second piece is a very pretty, very respectable skirt. The kind of thing I'd love to go teaching in because it's the perfect length. But mostly I love it because it strikes the perfect balance between feminine (I guess from the colours) and angular (from the geometric patterns). Thirdly and lastly is a dress from clearly the same collection as the Flouncy Top. I dig those puffy sleeves!! Helping to steer clear of the stuffiness of a sleeve type of centuries ago is the exposure of the shoulders.

1. Pretty russet colour. From the Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Images (and it is actually called a flouncy top).
1. I do wonder whether there's a safety boob-tube under there.. one strong wind and it's all for everyone.
2. Personally, the pattern reminds me of snowflakes. It's from the Fall/Winter 2015 collection. Image.
3. Looks so simple. Images.
3. Loving it styled with the pants (anyone else can't stop thinking about Emma Watson that red dress and pants on the red carpet?)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tunesday

I've been making a study of vibrato these days (one of my absolute weakest :( points…) and so naturally I'm looking at the great violin masters. It's amazing that in this age we can watch how a lot of things are executed on YouTube; such a great tool. So, here is Oistrakh playing Clair de Lune by Debussy, stunningly beautiful: