It's that time again, when we share what we learned this month! This is a practice hosted by Emily P. Freeman, one of my favorite authors. She says that it's good to honor what has just passed before moving on to what's to come. It gives us a little bit of closure, and it reminds us that what has happened to us over the last month is totally valid. And we need that.

I would love to hear what YOU learned this past month -- feel free to tell me about it in the comments!

What I Learned in November

1. Evernote!

Evernote is a note-taking app I used a lot when I was in high school. In college, I've traditionally handwritten my notes, because it helps me to remember the information better. But this semester, in my Persuasion class, I got tired of writing the myriad of notes, so I dug around in my computer and found my Evernote application. After deleting some old notes (now four years old) from my senior year of high school, I rediscovered just how awesome Evernote really is. Everything is beautifully formatted and super clean. Plus, users have access to a lot of online features. I'm pretty simple, though -- I just take notes.

Bonus: hidden in my Evernote were the quotes that my high school best friend took all four years of high school. Those were the only notes I kept from that era. I reread them regularly and I simply cannot stop laughing.

2. I really like the “Notes” application on my Mac — NOT my iPhone.

The Notes application on my phone is itty-bitty and only good for lists, in my opinion. But the same application on my computer is delightful. There's tons of space. I like to write and edit in that app before transferring it to the blog. That capability doesn't really exist on the phone because of the nature of the keyboard, so I guess I can't blame it. I just love the expansiveness of the computer version so much -- so much space!

3. How to make recordings for graduate school.

On the date of the publication of this post (December 1), all of the graduate applications are closed. So I spent much of November freaking out about my grad apps. Early in the month I recorded my prescreens, which was not as hard as I had anticipated, to my delight. It was just me and my marvelous pianist Becca in a room; I set up a camera on a tripod, and away we went. It went like this:

Step One: Push record.
Step Two: Walk in front of camera.
Step Three: Announce self: "Hello, my name is Sara Baumgardner. I'm auditioning for [insert degree program here], and I'm going to sing [insert title, composer, and larger work here]."
Step Four: Sing (hopefully this one was self-explanatory).
Step Five: Walk around behind camera and turn off the recording.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It was fairly simple, and after about an hour of recording, I got to upload the recordings to my computer and listen to/watch them. Which brings me to the next thing I learned this month...

4. I really don’t like watching myself sing.

Listening to myself sing is one thing. Watching it happen is another. My response was something along these lines: "What am I doing with my face? Why is my arm moving? Dr. Brookes was right: that IS weird-looking... Why am I blinking so much? Sara! Stop thinking about technique." It was kind of a painful experience. On the other hand, it was incredibly illuminating to watch some of my annoying performance habits. It makes me want to quit doing them immediately.

5. Hamilton the musical.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is famous for his musical In The Heights. He writes in the hip-hop idiom, which works surprisingly well on Broadway. He recently released a new musical on Broadway about the life of the founding father Alexander Hamilton, aptly titled Hamilton (shock of shocks). I had heard a lot about it, but didn't think I would like it, because I'm usually not into hip-hop. But I decided to give it a listen, because it sounded intriguing.


I have never encountered anything more brilliant in my LIFE. Somehow the combination of hip-hop with eighteenth-century costumes and settings works gorgeously. The lyrics are extraordinary. The best part is that Miranda brings back recurring musical motives throughout the show: for example, the motif for the name "Alexander Hamilton." I am such a musical nerd about this show. I am a blonde, white girl, and I would totally learn to rap to be in it. I am so in love and I listen to it on repeat and I'm just obsessed.


6. SQUARESPACE. And all the website building involved in it.

My website and blog recently (last week) underwent an entire redesign, and it is all thanks to the magic of Squarespace, a website design program that I'm using to host my own site now. Squarespace has gorgeous templates and the easiest, clearest Support page I've ever encountered. I am not technologically gifted. At all. In fact, that might be the understatement of the year. But the Support page on Squarespace made my life so easy: all the instructions are clear and free of technical jargon. They're really just telling me what to click to get what I want, and that's exactly what I need.

I think the site looks beautiful; I am so happy with the results. I really enjoy getting to play with it on a regular basis. The only issue? When I'm writing blog posts, the site keeps crashing and I keep losing all my work (this is the third version of this paragraph that I've written). I'm still trying to figure out how to make that not a thing -- maybe I need to change browsers. At any rate, I'm incredibly happy with Squarespace and the results that they product. Go, Squarespace.


I work at a Texas-based grocery store that shall remain unnamed, and I usually shop there for groceries. I love the products they carry -- but they are so dang expensive! Over Thanksgiving Break, my mom and I were talking about ways I can save money, and she suggested no longer doing my shopping at my workplace -- instead, I can do it at Costco. Lubbock has recently acquired a Costco, and Mom has a membership, so she made me an authorized user on her account.

Now, I have been to Costco. I promise. My mom goes all the time, so when I was living at home, I would tag along sometimes. I know about the wonders of Costco.

Except I didn't know at all. 

I went to Costco on Sunday night, when I got back into Lubbock from break. And y'all, my life has been utterly changed. I CAN BUY PRODUCE IN BULK. I repeat: Produce. In. Bulk. This Paleo girl's heart is so happy! I called my mom and as soon as she answered, I said, "I immediately repent not going to Costco for my entire life." I don't think I have ever experienced grocery store love this intense before. Is this how I know I'm an adult?