Tag Archives: winter

Hitting The Ice

One of the most tossed around phrases in all of sports is “defense wins championships.” It seems pretty simple, right? If your team can prevent your opponent from scoring more points, then you should be a pretty successful team. This season, out of all the issues the Blackhawks will encounter, defense will be their number one concern.

To say the defense is thin is a little bit of an understatement. Yes, they do have Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook coming back but outside of those two guys, the Blackhawks don’t have much depth. The loss of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marian Hossa is huge. Outside of Keith and Seabrook, Hjalmarsson was the Blackhawks best defenseman. The direction General Manager Stan Bowman went in the return of the Hjalmarsson trade shows that the Hawks are trying to do one thing on defense— to get younger.

Connor Murphy was the key return in the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade. Not only is he under team control, but he is also 24-years-old. With the other defensive prospects the Hawks have, Bowman is hinting that getting younger on the back end is a priority, not only because of the talent aspect, but because of the salary aspect, as well. The majority of the Hawks’ money is going to Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Hossa, and Saad. This allows Bowman to keep those players, while developing these younger defensemen. Most importantly, they are still on low salary contracts.

How much of a concern should the Hawks’ defense be? Personally, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say an eight, mainly because so many questions remain unanswered. Questions such as who is going to fill the Hjalmarsson void? How much ice time can Duncan Keith handle this season? Will Joel Queneville be able to trust those younger defensemen coming out of camp? Can Seabrook bounce back from last season? Can Michal Roszival return healthy and play decently? Do we see any improvement in Michael Kempny?

Don’t get me wrong, the Hawks have a lot of young defensemen who can really take advantage of an opportunity, but if last year’s post season was any indication, it’s that the Hawks are going to have to be better.

My prediction: the Blackhawks WILL make the playoffs, BUT not win the Central Division or the Stanley Cup this season.

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Are you there, spring? It’s me, Chicago.

I’ve decided the only way I can continue coping with the brutally cold, snowy weather is simply to ignore it entirely. Now that I’ve sacrificed all sanity, I’m able to delude myself into accepting a new reality: It’s spring! The leaves are starting to fill the trees that line a slush-less sidewalk as a warm breeze blows off the lake.

In celebration of winter being over (in my mind), I’ve drafted a playlist—almost entirely of female pop and pop rock artists—to help others transition into the new season. Let’s break it down track by track.

Leave (Get Out) — JoJo
Due to the fact that I willingly live in Chicago, I’m aware that winter is a prominent season. Like all relationships, sacrifices and compromises have to be made. Flaws have to be accepted. As Chicagoans, we learn to co-exist with everything winter throws at us. But sometimes we reach our breaking point, and it’s time to call it quits. Who better to vocalize our frustrations with this winter than JoJo? Get out, winter! Leave right now. It’s the end for you and me, and I truly can’t wait for you to be gone.

Breathe — Michelle Branch
Now that I’ve  liberated myself from winter’s brutality, I can finally breathe. I’m free. No longer am I stuck in a loveless, unbalanced relationship. Let the calm rush over your face.

Soak Up The Sun — Sheryl Crow
Civilization has all but crumbled in Chicago these past few weeks. The never-ending cold and snow started to strip us of our humanity, and if my morning commutes on the bus and subway were warning signs of anything, we’re damn near close to turning on each other. But we don’t have to worry about that anymore. The people of Chicago are reunited as they welcome the sunshine back into their lives. Lighten up, everyone, and soak up the sun.

Perfect Day — Hoku
The feeling in our feet and hands is starting to return, which means it’s time to really enjoy this perfect spring day. Grab your friends, hop on a bike and laugh in unison as you ride off into the sunset together, which is setting after 6 p.m. You’re invincible. There’s nothing holding you back.

Anything Can Happen — Ellie Goulding
What’s this feeling? Is this…happiness? I had almost forgot what that felt like. Suddenly I’m not dreading the moment I step out of my heated apartment and out the door, because you know what? There’s no bitter cold hawk winds awaiting my arrival. The air is filled with the smell of flowers, possibilities and the will to live. Without those heavy winter boots you remember that pep you had in your step back in September. Dance down the street, pop and lock it on the train, do whatever you want because anything can happen.

Go Outside — Cults
Beside the literal message this song delivers in the context of what this playlist is all about, this particular selection also attests to my mental state as a result of this ridiculous winter. “Go outside and live your life, don’t stay inside and sleep the day away,” I sang in the middle of the street in a snowstorm as onlookers inform the authorities.

The Sweet Escape — Gwen Stefani ft. Akon
This song is a musical (and abstract) version of a conversation I would have with Chicago regarding this winter. If I could quit you, I would, and I’m sorry I’ve been in a bad mood. But it’s “your fault you didn’t shut the refrigerator,” Chicago, so can you really blame me for being so bitter and angry? We can make it better, Chicago.

Shut Up and Drive — Rihanna
Here’s where things switch up a little bit. We’re warm, we’re on good terms with Chicago, and we’ve had the absolute perfect day. But as Chicagoans, we’re more than smiles and sunshine. The cold made us hold back, it make us dormant and stale. No longer. The top’s down and we’re taking back the night. Lake Shore Drive, here we come.

I Love It — Icona Pop
If you’re wondering if the previous song was chosen simply to make a joke regarding the lyrics of “I Love It,” you aren’t wrong. Maybe the warmth went to my head and I crashed my car into a bridge after repeatedly being told to “shut up and drive,” but you know what…I don’t care, because I love it. This playlist is officially a success.

Steal My Sunshine — Len
This song is included for two reasons. One, it is perfect and will never get old. Two, I literally don’t know how to make a playlist without including one of the greatest contributions to the music industry. Hop on your orange Vespa blasting “Steal My Sunshine” and live your post-winter life.

The Home Stretch: Looking Cute in the Spring

  • Winter is fashion’s most depressing season. Everything is dark and dull, bulky and unflattering. But now that spring has arrived and we’re at the end of the snowy tunnel- it’s time to pull yourself up by your Doc Marten shoe strings, learn how to layer, while still retaining some type of human shape. Follow these few tips to get you through the last bitter weeks of wind, cold and rain. (WARNING: most of these tips are for feminine fashion but there are a few cross-overs!)

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  •  Thigh high thick socks are your best friend. They come in many colors, patterns, lengths and thicknesses. Perfect for pairings with boots, dresses and skirts- it will break you out of your legging and pants pattern. In addition, tights can dress up any outfit, or tie it all together. From lace, to patterns, to solid colors, to nude- there is no reason not to own at least three pairs! Sweater tights will keep you warmer but you can pair a solid color thigh-high sock with patterned tights for equal warmth. And you can keep your skirts and dresses in the front of your closet for just a little bit longer!

Tip:   Here’s how to fix a run in your tights!

scarf

  • Use scarves as accessories! Imagine it as a nice chunky statement necklace, instead of a scratchy wool torture device. More than one solid color adds variety in length, material as well as color. Fashion scarves can be pretty but may not be the warmest choice. Just remember when wearing your scarf outside it goes UNDER your coat, its purpose is to keep YOU warm.
  • Salt Stains on Boots!   I don’t care how cute your outfit is-no one looks good with salt rings around their boots or shoes.  These stains latch on to your footwear easily, especially during icy winters when sidewalks and roads have been treated with rock salt.   The best thing to do is to brush off excess salt and dirty, using a shoe brush or try a conditioner or a suede spray cleaner.  Seriously it’s like $15-$20, and will save you money over time so you’re not buying new shoes every year!  If you don’t want to fork over the bucks try a mixture of white vinegar and water.  Should you get a stain on your shoes, you can try rubbing them together and this might get the stain out without ruining the material. An emery board can also do the trick but do it lightly so the material isn’t destroyed.
  • Find some funky sweaters!  GoodWill, Buffalo Exchange, even your parents’ closets are great places to start! Fashion is cyclical, so the basics of fashion 30-40 years ago will still be fashionable today! Easily pair them with leggings or skinny jeans and wear them like a tunic. Guys, varsity sweaters are back! The more authentic the sweater- the better it will look.  Sometimes a light sweater is needed during the early spring months when temperatures hover around 40 and 50 degrees.

Oct 22 pink sweater  separates-sweaters-4000-01aa-marisa-christina-sweater 6a00d8341c8c6253ef01127917a03a28a4-250wi

  • Make earrings your statement jewelry piece.  Use big earrings to make up for the lack of sparkle and detail during the early part of the year with it’s dull color palette. Chandelier earrings, colorful hoops, or animals are great options. There is so much variety in earrings there’s no way you won’t find something that you love and look great in!

Tip:  Ideas for Great Statement Earrings!

For more fashion tips, quirky life advice, and just all around ridiculousness- you can listen to Shawn O’Donoghue, Tuesday mornings from 7-11 AM every week or follow her on Twitter @donniewho!