Home Away >> From Home

Whatever you are celebrating this season, I hope it is lovely, and that you are enjoying it. I am finally home in Minnesota, enjoying the holidays with family and friends. Posting will be scant until after the New Year, but I can't wait to return full force. One of my resolutions involves this blog, so I can't wait to dive into it.

I missed today's What to Wear post, and I'm sorry to the other girls who participate, but not sorry in the big picture. I should have realized in advance that it would be too hard to find time between the holidays and catching up with people, to also find time to blog. And honestly, I want to be present here and not trying to cram in computer time. So, I will most likely not be here, FB, Pinterest, etc. very much until I return on January 5th.

In the meantime, I wish you all peace, prosperity, and cheer!

shanti >> sondra

image via vanilla & lace


In the Darkness >> I Fade to Grey

Today is the shortest, darkest day of the year, and I invite you to revel in it. Get yourself a mug of something warm, keep your scarf on all day, turn in early, and enjoy the silence.

There is a beauty in the darkness; it lets us be grateful be for the light.

I have learned this lesson this in so many ways over the last year; over this lifetime. We all have. So settle into it today, and think of all the sunny days to come.

shanti >> sondra



Giving Up >> The Ghost

I don't believe I've mentioned it here, but I am joining up with Laura Emily's Apothecary Circle that starts TOMORROW! It is a yearlong course in which you can earn a Certificate of Home Apothecary upon completion. Here's how she introduces it >

"The Apothecary Circle isn't for the casual organic herbal loving lass, although she might love joining in as well! This yearlong course is designed for the woman who wants to step into the role of being a healer within her home and community. It is designed for the woman who wants to return to earth medicine, holistic living, and abundant health."

Intrigued? Read lots more about what it all will entail, and join us! Today is the very last day to sign up, and I very much encourage you do so. Laura Emily has a beautiful spirit which she shares through her writing, and there are over 200 women taking part in this course. I can't wait to get started!
On a bummer note, I lost my phone yesterday. I am disappointed that a nefarious soul was the one to find it instead of a good samaritan who would return such a thing, but really, it just reminds me to be grateful. It is just a Thing. An item which I don't really have the money to replace, but a Thing nonetheless. All of my friends, family, and furry critters are safe and well, which is more than too many people can say, and more than money can buy.

Have a lovely Thursday!

shanti >> sondra



Brown Paper Packages >>

A "life lately" of sorts, served three ways: (I may or may not be in the midst of Top Chef: Seattle) ;)
I woke up this morning to the teeniest dusting of snow. It wasn't much, but it made me smile. The days here in Northern Washington have been very dark as we approach the solstice. I have to have lights on inside until well after 9am these days, and the sun is already fading by 4 in the afternoon. As I type this, Andy is speeding across the Montana plains, where he reports that the sun is high and the skies are blue. He said he didn't even realize how much he missed the sun until he saw it. I think I'm okay with a few more days here, in the dark and the grey. Cups of tea, cozy slippers, and cats curled up at my side seems just about right.
These are a few packages that I sent off last week. I made a potato stamp and stamped a few, which was so much fun. I was hoping to be able to stamp more, but alas, Andy was leaving and I needed to have all of the gifts packed in the car for him to take and ran out of time. I have a few more gifties to make this week, so the itch to Make will get scratched a different way.
Last night I co-hosted my office Christmas party, which was a solid success. I would share some pics here, but I don't like sharing pictures of people without their permission. Also: confession. I have not told the people I work with about my blog. I love them all to pieces, I am so lucky to have landed in a group of such funny and smart people. BUT. And here's the big BUT. I am a little weird about people I know and my blog. I started blogging solely about yoga, and told all my family and friends about it. But then my blog sort of morphed, and became more of a lifestyle dealie, and now it feels a little strange when people know things about me or what I've done, because they saw it on my blog when I haven't talked to them in months. I forget, you know? That everyone from my Grandma (hi Grandma!) to people from around the world check in here. I'm still navigating how to traverse that divide, because strange as it may seem, I am better at being open and sharing my most inner bits with strangers than I am with many of my loved ones. Or, maybe, it's more like how normally you have the different parts of yourself that you pick and choose to share with certain people. Maybe you are one way with your Mom and Dad, slightly different at work, slightly different with your friends. But you get to pick and choose, and that's what makes having a blog different. You still pick and choose, but the audience is SO VARIED, that it's a little vulnerable feeling. Nicole mentioned the other day that she gets all red in the face when someone talks to her about her blog IRL. I totally, completely, get that.

Okay, rambling over. But, uhhhh, ya'll feel me?
shanti >> sondra



Days of Solace >> Nights of Peace

Happy Sunday, everyone! I just wanted to pop in with another offering for self-care. During this crazy-busy time of year, I think it's really easy to let external energy get the best of us. There is so much focus on social events, parties, getting out in the crowds to shop, etc. Not that all of it isn't lots of fun - but it can be really draining, and really easy to not take a minute to tune in to ourselves, and keep on touch with our internal world.

Find a moment to yourself, and take a comfortable seat. Place one or both hands over your heart, and make small, gentle circles. Close your eyes, try and smooth out your breathing, and really listen to your heart. You might choose to think about all the things you are grateful for this holiday season, or focus on positive changes you'd like to make in your life. You could also choose a simple mantra, such as "I am loved" to focus on as you make your rythmic circles. After a minute or two, switch the direction of your circle.

This heart meditation is really simple, but really moving. I love that it incorporates a physical touch aspect. It's such a tender, caring thing to touch our heartspace, and remind ourselves of who we truly are and what's important to us at the core.

I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves, and of each other after a week filled with such tragedy and hearbreak in the news.

shanti >> sondra



So Fresh >> And so Clean, Clean

Ever since we got Piko, the world's greatest beagle (imho), I have been learning a lot about dogs. I have always wanted a dog, but never had one growing up. And now that I have one, I love her to pieces and only want what's best for her. I have been looking carefully at the food and treats she gets, and making sure that we're not giving her anything that's not good for her. I'm choosy about what I put in MY body because I want to live a long and healthy life; why would the logic for a dog be any different?

I wanted something to freshen up her coat between baths, since she gets wet so often here in Seattle. Nobody likes the smell of wet dog. I learned it's not good to bathe your dog too often, and I thought I had seen something called waterless shampoo for dogs at the store. When I looked at the ingredients though, I saw a long list of chemicals. I mean, I know she'll eat garbage and sniffs poop, but I still don't want her licking chemicals off her fur or absorbing them through her skin. I went home and brewed up my own batch instead.
In a spray bottle I combined >>

1 c of water
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp baking soda
a few drops of essential oil

The vinegar and baking soda will fizz for a few minutes, but will die down quickly. Then, shake everything together and you're done! If your dog does not like spray bottles, you could always use this mixture to wet a washcloth and wipe him/her down. Piko smells so fresh and clean for about 2 days after I use this on her. And I don't have to worry about her licking it off (although, be sure that the essential oil you choose is safe for pets).  Since we're all in gift giving mode, a batch of this in a fancy spray bottle (or even a not fancy one!) would be cute for a dog lover.

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> On a Road Trip

I'm back on track with this week's what to wear! This week, in anticipation for the holidays, we are showing what to wear on a road trip. Andy is actually making the drive from Seattle to Minneapolis with Piko, and I'm super jealous I can't go with him. We are road trip warriors, and with the addition of Piko, we're now a road trippin' team. But alas, I have to work through the 22nd, so I have to fly to be home in time. But actually, what I wear for a road trip is pretty much the same thing I wear to fly. (It's also not too different from what I wore on laundry day. It's kind of a go-to combo for me.)

For me, leggings are a must. They're the epitome of comfort. Then I like to wear some sort of t-shirt dress. Something that is essentially a t-shirt, but just a little longer and looks a little less like I'm in my PJs. This sweater is a staple in my wardrobe. I call it my "blanket sweater," since that's essentially what it is -definitely one of my best buys of the last few years! Then, I add a scarf. A scarf is necessary, since it can double for so many things. Besides looking stylish and keeping your neck warm, you can ball it up to use as a pillow, tie it around your eyes to block out light for an overnight flight, or drape it over your legs if you're cold and there's no blankets. For car trips, I usually wear slippers or easy flats in the car that I can slip on and off for gas stops and bathroom breaks. When I fly, I wear my bulkiest footwear to save suitcase room; usually a pair of boots.

Other road trip must haves for me: lots of good podcasts, a reusable coffee cup for Starbucks stops, a blanket for napping, and my holga for fun film pictures along the way.

As always, be sure to check out the other ladies this week >

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper
Lisa: notladylike
Katherine: thinkin' outloud

shanti >> sondra

shirt dress  >> h&m, via buffalo exchange
sweater >> uo (2 years ago)
leggings >> american apparel
slippers + scarf  >>  target



Glowing With >> a Glittering Gladness

Hello, loves. Well, I am certainly not going to win any awards for most consistent blogger this month! It's just that time of year, when we're all busy and off enjoying the good things. Also, I had a bit of a cold over the weekend which slowed me up a bit. Andy had it before me, and between the two of us, we downed A LOT of my winter soother. So glad I had that ready to go when the the need struck!

I have been trying to get to all the Christmas-y things that I wanted to do this year, and knocked a few off my list this last week: went downtown to look at the lights and wander through the department stores, watched Charlie Brown and Grinch holiday specials (complete with 80s commercials), and mailed out my Christmas cards.

When I think about Christmas and traditions, besides the kitschy ones, what I always come back to are the things I grew up with. Growing up in a Scandinavian family in a Scandinavian place, I didn't realize that many things that I associate with the holidays were quite culturally specific. I thought they were Christmas things, not Swedish or Norwegian. Lefse, fruit soup, straw ornaments, and little red candles are all part of my fond memories, and have become more and more important to me as I have gotten older and realized it was a special part of my upbringing.

When I picture doing my own Christmas someday, it looks a bit like these pictures. Of course, there's the other part of me that also loves me a good tinsel tree filled with with colorful vintage glass ornaments. Sigh...maybe two trees someday? :)

Today we took a hike out into the snowy forest. The fog nestled between the pine boughs, and felt like a misty blanket. By the time we were almost back, it was 3:30 and we needed to have the headlights on. I think it is so lovely that we celebrate winter right at it's very darkest. Chasing away the long nights with candles, fireplaces, and laughter.

shanti >> sondra

image sources



Taking It >> Slow

It’s such a busy time of year, with all of the hustlin’ and bustlin’ from one place to another. It can be pretty stressful. Between trying to pick out the right gifts, the expense of the season, seeing loved ones and spending time with family (which may or may not be a good thing ;)), and pushing through crowds of people all trying to go out and spread their own forms of “cheer,” it can be easy to lose track of ourselves in all of it. I know for me, it’s always times like this when I feel the most squeezed for time and energy that I actually need to slow down a bit and do something for me. If you don’t, it’s too easy to lose yourself in all of it and come back up on the other side gasping for air. I’m going do a couple of posts with tips between now and Christmas reminding you (and me!) to take a moment for self-care.

For this first post, I wanted to share a bit about myofascial release. This sounds weird and sciency, but actually, all it is a massage that you can give yourself. All you need is a tennis ball, or any ball up to the size of a soccer ball. The smaller and harder your ball is, the more intense the massage will be, and vice versa. Tip: check the pet store for cheap balls that works great for this.

To do, simply roll the ball between either the floor (more intense) or the wall (less intense) and your back, glutes, and hips. When you come to a particularly tender place, pause there for a few seconds and breathe into it. You can either make small motions over the sore place rolling back and forth, or else just hold and press into the spot. Between the shoulder blades, the lower back, and the sides of the hips are all places where we all tend to hold a lot of tension.

There are many different kinds of fascia in the body, but one kind is the stuff that connects all of our muscles together. If you eat meat, you’ve probably encountered this as the “silverskin” (ew, gross, I know). I learned about this initially in an anatomy workshop that I took during my yoga teacher training. What I learned is that pain in one place, may be felt in another place via these connections. I’ve personally experienced this, and have had quite a bit of trouble with my back, having referred pain from tension on a vertebrae. I saw a couple of doctors, had scads of tests (some of them scary), and the answer for me turned out to be a simple tennis ball and this technique. The human body is so amazing and complex! I love it.

Take good care of yourself!

shanti > sondra

image via



Wringing Out >> To Ring In

Oy, I have not been posting as much lately as I have wanted to! Most days I want to write, but life gets in the way and I don't get around to it. Believe me, it's not for a lack of inspiration, I have a whole month's worth of posts planned out; hopefully I get to them all!

One thing that I have been remiss in sharing is Relish12. Rebecca has spearheaded an effort to look back on 2012 and really reflect on all the amazingness that transpired this last year. It's a celebration of wonderful days, people we've met, and challenges that have pushed us to discover our edges. Each day, she presents a writing or photo prompt (either from her, or from a guest blogger) that will encourage us to look back with gratitude and reverence for all that has been. Link up to join in on the fun! I haven't been able to formally write responses out, but even just taking a moment to reflect on the day's prompt is quite satisfying.

Besides Relishing, I have been pinning like mad lately. There is something so gratifying about all the inspiration I've been finding lately! I love looking back at my pin boards; they are so me! I love my taste in things. Haha ;)

shanti >> sondra



Into Reflected Light >> I'll Stare

I recently came across the work of Canadian artist Lawren Harris, and thought it was very moving. One of his frequent subject matters is Lake Superior, one of my very favorite places on the planet, so of course I was particularly drawn to those pieces. I just loved the way that he captured the frozen, icy north, with geometric swaths of color that feel exactly like the 1920s, but perfectly contemporary at the same time.

For a girl who proclaims to mostly dislike the cold and snow, I sure do feel drawn to it (she says, from the comfort of her warm house with slippers on). I guess you can take the girl out of Minnesota...
Lake Superior, c.1926

Pic Island sketch, c.1924
Lake Superior Hill, c.1925
North Shore Lake Superior, c.1926

shanti >> sondra

images via



You Make Me Happy >> When Skies Are...

Everyone remembers my snafu from two weeks ago, right? Well, check back if you don't, and you can see what I wore for a snowy day. In the meantime, you can check out the other ladies' fabulous ensembles. I wish it was snowing here, I could go for a snuggly, wintry day. But a cool, grey, wet one will have to suffice.

 I'll be back on schedule with what to wear for a road trip in two weeks! >

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper
Lisa: notladylike
Katherine: thinkin' outloud

shanti >> sondra



Let Her >> Sweep You Off Your Feet

As seen on yesterday's hike >
Hard to argue with, huh? Happy Wednesday. :)

shanti >> sondra



The Hummus >> Among Us

Today I am at home, decorating for Christmas a bit and jamming out to some Christmas tunes on Grooveshark. But before I start posting about Christmas stuff, I want to get the other recipe I made for Thanksgiving up.
I made delicata squash hummus, which was SUPER DELICIOUS and SUPER EASY. It was a big hit. I highly recommend this if you need to bring any potluck-type dishes this season. Beware though, it made a TON, so if you don't need a large amount, I would halve the recipe below.

Here's the recipe, from Delighted Momma >

- 2 cups of butternut squash (I used delicata, because it came in our farm box last week)
- 1/2 cup of tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- 2 cloves of garlic
- The juice from half of a lemon
- A dash of cumin
- 3 dashes of cinnamon
- 3-4 dashes of pepper

Slice up the butternut squash into small pieces and boil for about 8-9 minutes or until soft.
Throw all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth and creamy.

Andy made rosemary flat bread to go with it, which was perfect. Basically, make your favorite pizza crust dough (or even easier, buy one pre-made from the grocery store), roll out, and top with a little bit of minced garlic, olive oil, chopped rosemary, and a little salt. Bake until crispy and slice into little pieces. Easy peasy, homemade goodness! This whole thing, hummus + bread, came together in about half an hour.

Now, back to Christmas. I have been doing quite a bit of shopping online so far this year. Not as fun as going out to the stores, but definitely less stressful. Plus, I can browse handmade and artist shops on Etsy and the like, which is nice. Are you hitting any cyber Monday sales? Find any amazing shops I should know about? I am always looking for cool ideas!

shanti >> sondra



Nothing I'd Like Better >> Than to Fall

Twice now, I have gone to do something that not that long ago, I could never imagine (willingly) doing.

Rock climbing.

Well, more specifically, bouldering. What is bouldering you might ask? It's like rock climbing, except not as high (maybe 20 feet) off the ground, and you don't use ropes or anything. Instead, there is a big cushy mat on the ground below you in case you fall.

I have been afraid of heights for as long as I can remember. Even looking over the side of a building from the third story will cause my stomach to leap into my throat. I'm not sure why I agreed to go to the bouldering gym the first time, but I know why I will be going back. I'l go back because I am terrible at it. And amazing at it. Both at the same time.

I am terrible at it in that I can barely do the beginner level routes. My hands hurt only minutes after arriving, the skin blistering from gripping, and my arms feel like they are going to fall off. Sometimes Often the fear catches up to me, and I literally cannot go up anymore -or worse- back down.

That's where I'm amazing at it. Because not going up or down is not an option. It just isn't. There is only one way off the wall, and it's by conquering your fears. You either push yourself to let go for the next hold below you and trust in yourself, or you push yourself to reach higher and grab for the one above you. Worst case scenario, you fall onto the mat, which is scarier than both of the other options. But even in doing that, you learn that everything is okay. You'll land, pick yourself up, and try again.

Both times that I have gone, I have surprised myself at what I can do when the choices are very, very simple. When it gets tough, I close my eyes, take a deep inhale, and go up...or down. Either way I learn  a lot.

Do you ever put yourself into scary (but safe) situations so that you can push yourself? I highly recommend it!

shanti >> sondra



Like a >> Winter Pear

Holy man, did we feast yesterday! Our Thanksgiving was a smashing success, thanks to lots of hard work from our host. We had a slightly non-traditional Thanksgiving in that we had turkey pot pies instead of regular turkey, but they were AMAZING! So many delicious things. Lots of laughs, lots of wine, and lots of game playing was had.

I was put in charge of bringing a pre-dinner cocktail and an appetizer to snack on while we all waited for the main event. Both things ended up involving rosemary. This was perfect because not only is it seasonal and I love it, but we have a huge hedge of it out front.

Today I'll share the rosemary pear cocktails that I made. I had made one recipe that I found, but thought it was a little heavy, so I made some alterations and came up with these. They were SO GOOD.

For one cocktail >
In a shaker combine
> 2 tablespoons pear flavored vodka
> 1 tablespoon rosemary simple syrup
> 1/4 c. pear juice
> sprig of rosemary
> handful of ice

> pour over a glass of ice
> top with lemon sparkling water

ENJOY! Hopefully you like rosemary as much as I do, because I have some other ideas on how to use it that I am going to share here soon.
I have to work all day today, and in fact I work all weekend. If you are off, enjoy it for me, because I really wish I were staying home to clean, decorate for Christmas, and nest a bit.

shanti >> sondra



Grateful, Thankful >> Appreciative, Content

This morning as I laid in bed thinking about what I wanted to write, a huge smile spread across my face. I was thinking about all the things I was truly thankful this year; it was a lot, and I can't help but feel joyful about it.

So, as if we are all sitting around our huge internet Thanksgiving table (which I wish we were!), here are a few big ones from the past year >

Moving to a great new city > Jobs we both love > A sweet dog who makes us laugh every day > New friends > Getting to travel home > Starting this blog, and all the awesome people I've met through it > Completing yoga teacher training > A cozy home > Chai lattes every morning > and, most importantly, abundant health

I hope you have (or had, if you are north of the 49th) a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are able to remember all of the things big and small that are amazing in your life. A whole holiday for gratitude! What a killer idea!

Now I'm off to make my contributions to the Friendsgiving we're attending - delicata squash hummus and rosemary pear cocktails (I'll share recipes here soon!).

shanti >> sondra



Let the >> Fire Burn Bright

I've had a little list of things collecting that I've meaning to share, and it seems they've hit critical mass.

Reading (1) > I recently finished Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf. It’s a humorous look at one guy’s journey from regular dude, to an ashram-living yogi at large. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, where he sort of bumbles around making discoveries about how transformative yoga truly can be. He ultimately uses it to manage his colitis and ADD symptoms. While I identified a lot with Brian in the first half of the book, the second half of the book has him going from ashram to ashram over a period of about 10 years, pursuing various healing modalities. It was a little bit harder to identify with him at that point; I’d rather read and learn from someone who is able integrate yoga into their everyday life. That said, if you are new to yoga and want to learn more about what it can maybe do for you, I definitely recommend this book to shed some light, with a dose of humor along the way. Ever since I finished this book, I’ve been bumbling a bit; starting books but not getting into them too much. Have you read any good books lately that you can recommend?

Coveting (2) > Trisha of Veranellies has a new line of homemade body products that look –and smell!- amazing called The Hive Botanicals. I’m thinking of putting an order in for the holidays, and sneaking in a thing or two for myself. Isn’t that always how holiday shopping goes? It does for me, anyway. I am loving the activated charcoal soap, and the peach lip balm sounds so amazing. I am so excited to support a fellow blogger trying to get her business going, while at the same time getting products I know my friends and family will love…what a good feeling!

Wearing (3) > I’ve kind of been digging velvet lately. I’m not sure why, but it looks and feels so luxurious, so why fight it? I recently picked up this scarf from LuLu’s, and have been trying to figure out how to wear it. The fabric is so fancy looking, everything I pair with it seems almost too casual! I also found a navy blue velvet blazer at a thrift store, which I’m thinking about busting out for Thanksgiving. The possibilities!

Feeling (4) > the Christmas spirit. Every year, from Dec. 26th until sometime in mid-November, the thought of Christmas seems overwhelming and gross. But somehow, every year, there is a day when all that changes and all of the sudden I can’t wait to start spinning some Bing Crosby records, watching Elf, and baking a treat or two. Living on the West Coast the last few years, I always miss the cold and snow during the holiday lead-up. I try and make up for it by burning lots of cedar and pine scented candles (wouldn't those cedar tealight holders be perfect for holding cedar scented candles?!), and wearing snuggly sweaters and slippers around, but I’m so grateful I get to go home to Minnesota for a (hopefully) white Christmas.

Watching > Downton Abbey season 3. Yeah, we downloaded it (it aired in the UK already). No, I won’t spoil it for you. I will say though, that ever since I watched The Forsyte Saga, I have been less entranced with DA. That said, it’s still a great watch.

Anticipating > Eating, drinking, and lots of laughs on Thanksgiving, which we are spending with new friends from work. I'm also looking forward to reading Rebecca's 5 Ways to Put the H.A.P.P.Y. Back Into Your Holidays guide. This year, I'm really trying to focus more on the joyful parts of the holidays, and less on the gift aspect. I want to be thoughtful and intentional as I move into the holiday season, and it seems like Rebecca has nailed it right on the head with her guide!

So, there’s a peek into what’s been yanking my crank lately! How about you? Excited for Christmas yet? Dreading it?

shanti >> sondra



The Heart >> of the Matter

Thought of the day.
Have a lovely Sunday. Mine will be spent in pajamas, listening to the rain outside, and making cauliflower mac and cheese. Comfort at its finest.

shanti >> sondra



White Silence >> Speaks Volumes

We have returned from adventures north! And, boy, were they some cold adventures. Temperatures hovered just above and below the 0*F mark (that’s -20*C for those north of the 49th.. As a Minnesotan at the core, we didn’t let this stop us at all, but I have no idea how Nicole does it so early in the year; it felt like January in November!

Anyway, the sun shone most of the time, and all the trees looked sugar coated and beautiful. The bigger lakes, like Lake Louise here, weren’t frozen over yet, so they were steaming and looked so magical in the light.

This is the hostel where we stayed. We’ve stayed here before and we love it. I love hostelling so much; I should do a post on the wonders of hostelling another time. This particular hostel is very special though, as it’s a wilderness hostel. No running water, a solar panel for electricity, and a wood-fired sauna for bathing and getting warm to the core. The one bummer is using an outhouse…in the cold. Needless to say, I was mighty grateful to use a heated bathroom after our stay.

Although it was very. very. cold, there is something so serene about the frozen world. Kind of like the desert, any living thing you see has adapted to life in those conditions. The snow dampens all the sounds, and there’s this dulled sonoric quality all around. And the stars! So many stars… that’s always one of my favorite parts about getting out really far from big cities. And in the cold, the starlight is amplified and looks like nothing else.

Piko loved it – of course. She was able to run around with a couple of other dogs that were at the hostel, and was a champ on the trail. We took her hiking and snowshoeing. It was so cute to see her fall through the snow chest deep and try and plow her way through! I love this picture of her looking like such an adventurer, surveying the horizon and eyeing up her next conquest.

I can't wait to go back....something to daydream about. :)

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> for the Elements

:::EDIT::: Oops. Giant oops. Apparently this week's was "what to wear to a family dinner." Needless to say, this is not what I would wear to a family dinner. But that family dinner thing makes a lot of sense, seeing as how it's Thanksgiving in the states next week and all. This is what happens when you are so sure you remembered something, that you don't even bother checking. Lesson learned. :)

Ladies and gents, it is time once again…

This week’s prompt is what to wear…for the winter elements! We just got back from our trip to Canada, so I didn’t have time for proper outfit photos. BUT, we DEFINITELY encountered very cold and snowy conditions, and this is what I wore. 

See me? Looking like a ninja? Word. It may not be cute or fashionable, but darn it if I wasn’t warm. I have two ways of dressing for the cold. The first is if you are not actually going to be spending any time outside. If you go from warm house, to car, to work, and don’t spend more than a few minutes at a stretch outside, you can totally wear something impractical. My last few winters in Minnesota I wore a thin wool swing coat from Urban Outfitters, and was totally fine. But if you are planning on actually spending any time outside, like going for longer walks or hitting the slopes or trails, I highly recommend hitting REI and shelling out for some decent gear. I did not used to believe this.  I refused to. But I now know it to be true. See my get-up up there? It’s down, and neoprene, and goretex, and whatnot, but I was able to stay totally warm and dry for a few hours while out snowshoeing while it was around 0F. Oh, and that balaclava is a miracle. This was the first time I ever wore one, and my face stayed warm and comfy the entire time. Brilliant!

rainy warmth

rainy warmth by abhaya on Polyvore

That kind of gear is really for your more extreme end of the cold spectrum. Luckily, I get to just visit the very cold, and the rest of the winter is spent mostly just wet here in Seattle. Wet is something you don’t want to mess around with. My first “winter” in Berkeley, I found some gear that is fashionable and functional; I own similar boots and a similar coat from the set above (the models of these from 2 years ago). Both are waterproof, and just warm enough to ward off the damp chill. I HIGHLY recommend both items, from Merrell. I also love wool socks and leggings in the winter. These options from SmartWool would be perfect for wearing out and about, as well as snuggling at home.

So there you have it – my winter recommendations. As always, be sure to check out the other ladies’ participating in this week’s series…I can’t wait to see what they all come up with!

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper
Adriana: Horses of Ares
Lisa: notladylike
Katherine: thinkin' outloud
Lisa: lala faux bois

I’ll be back tomorrow with a few more wintry pics and a recap of our trip up north.

shanti >> sondra



All You Need >> Air. Sleep. Sky. Dreams.

There is absolutely, positively, nothing better in the world to me than a road trip. I love everything about it - the pre-daydreaming, packing the car, stopping at rest stops, eating at small town diners...ahhhhhhh. Andy and I have put about 70,000 miles on our car in the 3 years that we have had it, and I'd say probably 3/4ths of that is from trips big and small that we have taken all over Western North America. I (half) joke that maybe we should become truckers, criss-crossing the continent watching amber waves turn into purple mountains majesty.

To me, hitting the open road is like a meditation. You are in the moment. HERE. NOW. You become extra-aware of  the new sights and smells around you. The world slows down and you catch your breath. You notice the little things in the small towns, in the landscapes, and these things inform how you view your own world, seemingly so small and far away.

Today we are leaving for Banff, up in the Canadian Rockies. More specifically, we are heading to a hostel north of there. The place we are staying is rustic - no running water and only solar electricity - and I can't wait. We are heading for a weekend of looking out the window as the countryside rolls by, snowshoeing, and hopefully, a camp fire or two.

All this to say, the blog will be quiet until next week. I probably should have tried my hand at lining up some guest posts, but I didn't, so there you have it. I shall hopefully return with lovely pictures and tales to share with you all; can't wait!

shanti >> sondra

p.s. YES our beagle, Piko, is coming with us! Eeeeek, I can't wait to see her romping in the snow!

>>original image via; altered by me. 



A Place to Piece >> A Place to Stay

Thank you SO much for all the sweet comments and emails I got about Piko! She is such a little lover, we are so lucky she came into our lives. She wanted to say thank you, too, so she put on a crown to show you.
What, that's just how dogs show appreciation, okay? Maybe it's a beagle thing.

In other news, the sun is shining today, the election gods were good to us, and there is a hot chai tea latte in my near future. Just appreciating the little loves around here.

shanti >> sondra



Expanding >> the Heart

This is what we did over the weekend...
WE GOT A DOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have wanted a dog for so so long, and we finally decided to go for it. We've been saying "someday" for too long...

We have had little say over where we have lived and where we might end up. We have not been able to buy a house like many of our friends, and we want to wait to start a family until we are more certain of our future. Getting a dog used to be on that list, but we decided enough was enough, we get to make some decisions around here!

So this is Piko.

She is a 5 year old beagle, and she is the sweetest thing. We adopted her from a family who just had their second baby, and were finding that Piko had fallen to the bottom of the priority list. They loved her so much they wanted to find a family who would give her the love and attention she deserves.

The cats have already let her know who's boss, and I think with a bit more time, they'll all be the best of friends. It's only been two days and they'll all pile on the couch or bed with us happily.

We are taking her with us on our trip next week, and she will come home to Minnesota with us for Christmas. I can't wait to see her sprawled out in front of the fireplace!

"Piko" means belly button in Hawaiian, where her first "mom" is from. More than just the literal place of the belly button, it also means a spiritual/emotional/energetic center; akin to the idea of chakra. Beautiful, huh?
We have only had her for 48 hours, and already love her so much. Aren't hearts amazing, how they expand to hold more so effortlessly?

shanti >> sondra



All the Way >> to the Horizon

We are going on a little trip next week up to Banff. I have been there before, and it is a non-stop beauty-fest. Veteran's Day weekend has turned into an annual road trip/outdoor adventure for us. Last year we went to Zion in Utah, and the year before we headed to the Grand Canyon. Banff is pretty much the opposite of those places landscape and climate wise, but I can't wait for some amazing mountain vistas, white snow, and plenty of hot springs.

I discovered the photography of Owen Perry on the ISO50 blog, and the way he captures the Canadian wilderness is breathtaking. I hope I come back with photos that are a tiny fraction as ethereal and wonderful as his. Check out his website for lots more amazing mountainy goodness.

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> Halloween Edition

As promised, I'm back today to share what I came up with for Halloween this year. As you can see...Little Red Riding Hood! I'm not sure what prompted the idea, but after I came up with it I went with it because all I needed to do was make a cape.
Since I'm not the best crafter in the world, I was pretty proud of the cape I pulled off. It was more labor intensive than I thought it would be (I imagined it would be possible to do it without sewing...it's not), but it still only took about an hour, and it only took that long because I stitched it by hand. I used this how-to (which was by far the best of all the ones I looked at) in case you ever need to make a cape. You know, all those random cape-making needs. ;)
Everything else was stuff I owned. This was a great costume, because basically you get to wear a fleece blanket around, plus you can put all of your stuff in the basket.

Don't forget to check out the other chicas and see what they put together!

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper
Adriana: Horses of Ares
Lisa: notladylike
Katherine: thinkin' outloud

shanti >> sondra



So Faintly >> You Came Tapping

Happy Halloween, everyone! Are you wearing a costume? I hope so. I LOVE the excuse to wear a costume during daylight hours. I don't even care if it's elaborate, I just love the idea of wearing something that makes everyday life feel extra-ordinary...like something special and magical is among us.

Costumes (and candy) aside, I have not been a huge Halloween lover in the past. I don't like scary movies, I hate the colors black and orange together, and I'm not a fan of slasher/violence type stuff. But this year for the first time, I started to think a little more deeply about Halloween's origins, beyond the commercial presentation of it. What got me thinking about it was Dia de los Muertos, and the beautiful imagery that surrounds that holiday in Mexico. There, the dead are celebrated and remembered, with parades and parties, food and offerings. In the Wikipedia entry about it, it talks about similar traditions in cultures around the world, that celebrate the dead and the links between this world and the next.

Death is not something that is discussed much in this culture. At least not in mine. I will be the first to admit that I am not at all comfortable with the topic, whether it pertains to my own demise or a loved one's. I did not grow up in a place that celebrated or honored death, and I suspect many of you did not either. It was something to put behind you, to move on from.

But today, on Halloween and the days surrounding it, many cultures believe that the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest. That the lines are blurred, and things can pass through. I do not know if this is true. I do not know what may be on the other side. Perhaps nothing. But I do not know. So today, I am going to be receptive...to open my heart and think of loved ones who have passed, to light a candle to honor their spirit...

...and tomorrow, I'll be back with the fun part of Halloween - my costume - to share with you all! So, let's celebrate the dead, dress up in a ridiculous outfit, and nosh on some Reese's... now it's starting to sound like a holiday I can get behind. :)

shanti >> sondra



Near The >> Whitewashed Palings

I sort of forgot that I had a bunch of photos that I took on film and never shared here, so I thought today might be a good day to share a few of them. These were taken in June 2010, as we drove south along the Maine coast from New Brunswick. There were lupines blooming everywhere, but this field was too idyllic to not stop and take a few photos. Let's take a little break from Fall and revisit early Summer, shall we?

These first two are nearly identical, but I think it's amazing how just a small shift to the right to catch the light results in such a different effect in the photo.

These were taken with a Holga 120 and have not been edited whatsoever. I love the ease of all the digital filters and masks you can use that replicate many of these effects, but there is something so magical and unpredictable about shooting on real film. Especially when you wait two years to develop the photos! Do you ever take pictures on film anymore?

shanti >> sondra



I Saw A >> Rainbow Today

Shut your eyes. Think about something that's bothering you, something that's been stressing you out. If this thing/person/situation were a color, what would it be?

Now. Imagine something that makes you happy. Something that makes you feel calm, centered, balanced, whole. What color pops into your mind?

Keeping your eyes closed, take a deep breath down into your belly, imagining your breath as having your tranquil, happy color. As you exhale, let the breath go out with your stress color. Fill your body with the calm color, letting it radiate out into every cell of your being. Get rid of all the negative emotion on your exhales, emptying your body of that color. Keep it up for several breaths, or whenever you feel complete.


I have a scarf in my happy/calm color, and I am going to wear it today to remind myself of that place in me. Maybe you have something in your color, and could incorporate it into your day. Just a thought.

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend, lovelies.

shanti >> sondra