7.30.2012

At the Beach >> In Instagrams

Yesterday, Andy proposed that we take a late afternoon trip out to Tomales Point. We had gone out there a few weeks ago and had a really nice hike along the coastline, so even though I had a ton of stuff to do, I packed up my stuff and we were off.

About two hours into the drive though, we both realized that it was further than we remembered. But we were past the point of no return...we decided not to go all the way out the end of the point as we had last time, but we settled for the first beach we found and explored there a bit instead.
I had never touched the ocean until I was 26. 26, people! That's crazy, even to me. I had seen it out plane and train windows in my European travels, but never actually touched it until then. Well, when you grow up in the Midwest, your chances to get oceanside are few and far between. I've made up for it in spades since then, though. I've been to a handful of Central American and Caribbean countries, lived on the San Francisco Bay for a year, went to Hawaii in March, drove along the coast of New Brunswick and Maine, and have been all up and down the California coastline since moving here two years ago.
I'm not quite an ocean person yet. It's the immensity of it that makes me uneasy. But I think it's growing on me. I think we still may become good friends yet! The sound of the waves crashing in and out; it reminds me of Lake Superior. I could sit on the beach and listen for hours. I'm glad I'll still get more opportunities to commune with the ocean with our move to Seattle. Plus, we'll have mountains, too! The best of both worlds. :)

The beach here is cold and windy, but it's refreshing when you come from the inland heat and stillness where we live. It's a place to slow down and experience the world through all of your senses. Do you have a place like that? It's always nice to get away on a Sunday afternoon.


Are you on instagram? You can find me at instasondra if you want to see more of my day to day pics.

shanti>> sondra


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Monday Muses >>

Well, ARGH, I was alllllmost ready to click publish on this post, which was all written out and lovely and everything, and I accidentally closed the wrong window. And it somehow is not saved AT ALL. Sigh.

This is one of those times I reach into my yoga bag of tricks...  and remember to take a deep breath...and remember that we can always begin again. Worse things have happened in this world.

So I will try it again.

Albeit in a much more abbreviated form. And with much more clicking of "save."

Here we go.

Things that have been sticking in my craw this week:






















1> This letterpress print from inhauspress is all kinds of spectacular. I think it's really the frame that makes it. Any idea where I can find myself such an item?

2>These reversible leggings from Zella had my name on them. My favorite colors, on sale, and two pants for the price of one?! Booya.

3> I am starting to cultivate a wee obsession with geometric designs. When I saw these on the ISO50 blog, I immediately set one as my phone wallpaper, and it makes me happy every time I see it.

4> This is my current read. It's a fascinating story about how the cells from one woman changed the course of medical and science history. Oh, and they were stolen from her. And she was poor and black. And her surviving children can't even afford to go to the doctor, although their mother's cells have saved countless lives. Highly recommended.

Okay, off to bed with me. I get to teach again tomorrow (yay!).

Oh, and I have added Disqus here to manage my comments better. Do you like it? Hate it? Uhhhhh...leave me a comment and let me know? :/ (and my apologies; many previously left comments seem not to have made the switch over, so sorry if yours was one of them). I LOVE comments and interacting with everyone though...it's the whole reason I started this thing!

Now, yaaaawwwwwn. And happy Monday to you! (It is after midnight, after all.) :)

shanti > sondra

7.28.2012

Happiness + Yoga >>

The other day, a friend asked a really good question on the abhaya facebook page (btw, are we fb friends yet, because omg we totally should be). >>


"In my experience, I have yet to meet a pissed-off person that regularly practices yoga - what's happening here? Is it that yoga creates happiness, or are only happy-type people attracted to yoga?"


I thought this was a spectacular question, and I've given it some thought. I think it's sort of complicated and of course it varies a lot because there are just so many reasons that people come to yoga, and so many different types of people. But in general, and definitely for me, yoga creates happiness.

I didn't used to be happy. Not like I am now, anyway. I used to feel much more like a pendulum, swinging way up one way some days, way back the other way on other days, and the rest of the time some variation of up or down or blah. And honestly, before yoga I don't think I really thought about how I felt most of the time, unless it was a very extreme emotion like anger or ecstasy. I had very little self-awareness, and did not proceed with anything particularly intentionally.

Eventually, I realized that something wasn't working in my life. I was stressed out and anxious, and a little (okay, a lot) directionless. Some of it had to do with personal life circumstances which is life, it's just what happens. But the rest of it - my perspective- was coming from the inside. I didn't consciously start devoting myself to my yoga practice to solve any problems. I originally just did it because it was something that I liked to do once in awhile, and it seemed like more would be a good thing. But eventually, yoga sorta worked its way from the inside out on me, and one day I realized that it felt like the storm in my head cleared. It was a very distinct realization, and the only thing I could think of was that it had to be the yoga. So I did more. And I read more. And I practiced more. And I started this blog. And now I've started teaching. And I can honestly say that although my life isn't perfect and I still have some ups and downs, I have never been more happy in my life than I am at this moment.

Yoga creates intention, it creates awareness, it creates compassion, it creates creativity (you heard me). Those are things that were missing in my life, and I found a way to make space for them. If those are things that are missing in your life, than maybe yoga is for you, too. I don't necessarily think yoga is the answer for everyone, but I do think that finding what makes you feel whole and putting your heart and soul into it is. For me, it's yoga. What is it for you?

shanti >> sondra

7.27.2012

Blueberry + Mint >> Popsicles

Man, has this been a hot summer, or what? It seems like it's been much hotter than usual this year for most regions. My perception is probably also compounded by having spent the last two summers in Berkeley, where it is stupid and cold all summer long. This summer, we've been in sunshiny Davis, where it's been 90-100+ since about May. I used to think the heat was unbearable, but little by little I adapted. I thought I was all down with being hot, and then...I went home to Minnesota.

Oh, Minnesota, you dastardly weather-devil, you. You go from -30*F in the winter to over 100* in the summer. That's a crazy spread! And don't even get me started on wind chills and heat indexes...

Actually, it's a running joke in Minnesota that all we talk about is the weather. But when it can literally be anything any day, it's really something to consider. I thought learning about the weather was so interesting, I even took a meteorology course in college. Now, I barely glance at it, because it just does not change here. Sunny and hot, everyday until October. And then it might sprinkle once in awhile until May. Repeat.

But I digress.

So I thought I had this heat thing down, until I went home for two weeks, and it was not just hot, but humid. I grew up in the humidity, but I guess the semi-desert has dried my tolerance for it right out of me. The combination was stifling, and I was a hot mess most of the time. And while I slowly melted into a puddle, I often found myself dreaming of popsicles.

At the beginning of summer, I had this idyllic idea of making homemade popsicles all the time, with all the amazing farmer's market produce that we'd surely be carting home each week. I even bought the popsicle molds way back in May in anticipation of all the sweet treats sure to come. But here it is, almost August, and I found myself still without my frozen mistress. So I got off my lazy butt and made it happen. And you know what? It took me less than 5 minutes to make these things. I'm sure I've spent more time staring at the freezer section trying to decide on a flavor than it took to make these.
Here's what I used >>

1 big handful of mint
1 pint of blueberries
Sweetner to taste (agave, stevia extract, or sugar)

Here's what I did >>

Pour about 1 cup of boiling water over the mint leaves, and let them steep for about 8-10 minutes. Pour the whole concoction (some might even call it "tea," haha. You could also use a couple of mint tea bags here instead of fresh mint) over the blueberries in your blender, and blend away. Add a bit of your sweetner of choice, and taste. It should be  a little on the syrupy sweet side to taste good frozen, so add until you are satisified. Fill the molds, pop in the freezer, and a few hours later, ta daaaa! Amazingly tasty and amazingly easy pops! Oh, don't have any molds? No worries, fill up an ice cube tray and pop one in your mouth anytime for a mini-treat. Or drop them in sparkling water for a tasty drink!

Has it been blah hot where you live? How are you beating the heat?

In other news, I taught my first real yoga class today, and it was SO amazing! Everything went well, and I had so much fun doing it. A few students came up to me after class and said that if I hadn't said I was a new teacher, they'd never have known. They said it sounded like I'd been doing it for years! What a great compliment. :) I have never done anything (as a job) in my life that I felt was truly my choice and my passion, and it felt great. I can't wait to do it again!!!

shanti >> sondra



7.26.2012

What to Wear >> In the Garden

I'm back with my second installment in the What to Wear series. And this time, our threesome has expanded to a fivesome! Links to their pages are below, so go show some lovin'.

And now on with the show.
I thought about this topic, and I realized I could go two ways with this. The first would be to show you what I might actually wear to do gardening in, which I can assure you, is not particularly glamorous. It's probably a pair of cut offs and a ratty tank top. Besides, I have a a few flowers and a few pots of veggies and herbs, but it barely qualifies as gardening (especially when everything is on a timed watering system...it's basically "set it and forget it" around here). The second - and more fun - thing to do I realized, would be to show what I would wear to a garden. Jackpot. I actually really love to wear florals, so there was plenty of closet inspiration to choose from. Also, wearing a floral turned out to be good, because when we got to the arboretum on campus here, there was barely a flower to be seen. I hadn't walked through there since May or so, when it was bursting with blooms. I forgot that California turns into a barren wasteland from June to October. I did manage to find a few hardy blooms hanging by the creek though.
I love these mustard colored linen shorts because not only are they one of my favorite colors, but they hide hot dog stains. Just kidding, I don't eat hot dogs. Just veggie dogs. ;) The one bummer about these shorts is that they wrinkle when you look at them. The necklace I'm wearing is a actually a locket. The best part was that when I opened it, there was totally a sweet love note in it that I had forgotten was in there! 

If you look closely in the last picture above, you might be able to see my new nose piercing! No, it's not a silver pimple, it's just really small. I don't even have my ears pierced (I let them close up when I was about 10), so this was a big leap for me. So far I love it - it's subtle, and just what I wanted. Plus, I got my left nostril done because I read that in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), it's believed that the left nostril is connected to women's fertility and reproduction, which is why Indian brides often have elaborate nose jewelry. Now, I'm not planning on growing babies anytime in the immediate future, but a little love for your lady bits can't hurt, right?
In other news, holy moly did today fly by! I feel like I I just woke up and now it's time for bed again. Part of it might be the jet lag from returning to the West Coast on Monday night; I think I'm still screwed up. 

Tomorrow's a big yoga day for me, as I prepare to teach my first class at Fusion Yoga on Friday! I'm so excited! I also applied for my first jobs in Seattle today...we'll see how that goes! (fingers crossed)
Be sure to check out all the other ladies' blogs to see how each of us interpreted this look into our own styles. Did we all go the floral route? I can't wait to find out!

7.24.2012

Adventure File >> North Shore

I'm back from my two week trip to Minnesota! It's always great to go home and see many of my favorite people and places that I grew up with, but I'm glad to be home, sleep in my own bed, and give the cats all the scratches and hugs that I'd saved up for them. I just wanted to pop in with a short post and a few pictures of our trip "up north."

Growing up in Minnesota, everyone always refers to "up north" and you know exactly what they're talking about. Lakes, cabins, forest...basically pure goodness. We made two short trips "up north" on this visit home, one to my husband's family cottage and the other for a camping trip to my favorite place in the whole world - the North Shore of Lake Superior. The North Shore is special to a lot of Minnesotans; I think because it's just so different from everywhere else in the landlocked Midwest. It truly has a north-Atlantic vibe about it, and I have been up every year since I was a baby. It's cold (usually), breezy, rocky, and beee-utiful. The lake just has this presence about it - sort of like the ocean, but somehow more...melancholy? if that makes sense. Anyway, it is my favorite place in the whole wide world, and is very special to me. I was married on its shore, my mom's ashes are scattered here, and many, many, many happy memories take place here.
We camped for two nights at Cascade State Park way up near Grand Marais (about an hour from the Canadian border). On the way up we stopped and ate at one of our very favorite brew pubs, Fitgers Brewery (the mister and I are brew pub connoisseurs...although I don't like beer...go figure!) and I inevitably took a  nap in the car. The things you HAVE to do at the North Shore are (in no particular order)
  • walk out to the end of a lighthouse pier
  • skip stones in the lake
  • hunt for agates
  • stick your feet in the 40* water - if only for a second!
We cooked dinner over the fire, went on some lovely treks, and poked around a few cute shops in Grand Marais. I think my favorite thing that we did on this trip was a short hike out to an old beaver pond along the Superior Hiking Trail. There were so many butterflies out there - nuts! Someday I'd like to hike the entire Superior Hiking Trail, or else rent a tiny cabin along the shore and hole up for at least three months, just watching the lake and taking it slow. Dreams! :)
I did 101 fun things while we were back in Minnesota (including getting my nose pierced! Eeeee!), and perhaps I'll share a few more. BUT I also have a million good ideas for posts I also want to share, so we'll see what I get to. That's one of the great things about vacation - time to reflect and recharge! I also got a new camera - a DSLR - and I'm excited to experiment with my photos a bit more! My new blog design went up like the second day I was on vacation, so I may be playing with things a bit more now that I'm back. Don't worry if certain things look wonky for a bit while I figure things out and change a few others. Please let me know if there's anything you like or dislike though!

The next six weeks will be B A NA N A S for me as we get ready for our upcoming move to Seattle. So much to do...! I wish I could stop time and just have it all go in slow motion for awhile.

shanti >> sondra



7.23.2012

Plastic Bag Challenge >>

A few years ago I watched an amazing series from Vice magazine (<-- go watch it right now!) about "garbage island,"  the huge floating mass of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean. It was eye opening to say the least, and ever since then I have made a real effort to reduce my plastic usage. It's so easy to throw something away and forget about it since you'll never see it again. But every sandwich baggie, toothpaste cap, and Barbie that you ever threw away, still exists out there somewhere in some form. Some wastes we can't avoid as part of modern culture, but if we all reduce a little bit it can definitely make an impact.
If you checked out my guest post on Nicole's blog, then you might have seen the post below it from Trisha from veranellies. She wrote about plastics consumption, and a few easy ways that we can reduce our use. She started a 30 day plastic bag challenge, where we just say NO to plastic bags for 30 days. Brilliant! I would say that I'm already pretty good (usually) about toting my own bags, or else doing an awkward dance to try and carry all my stuff out of the grocery store. But if you still find yourself always forgetting your reusable bags at home or not even thinking about it until you feel the guilt pangs as the cashier puts one thing in a plastic bag, then start small and challenge yourself to say NO more plastic bags for a month!
On her own blog, Trisha posted a list of other plastics alternatives to consider (originally from the Bag It movie website). Some of these I already do (saying no to plastic produce bags, buying from bulk bins), and some I would like to work on (making my own seltzer, making sure I choose phthalate free products). I'm going to use my 30 days to see what other plastic reducing I can do in my life. So, come on, join me! Whether it's remembering to grab that reusable bag, or filling up a reusable water bottle, let's do this thing! Oh, and grab a button from Trisha and help spread the word.

A LIFE LESS PLASTIC

TEN ALTERNATIVES

1. Carry reusable shopping bags

Whether you're shopping for groceries, clothes or electronics, be sure to bring along the reusable bag(s) of your choice. Keep them in your car so you don't forget to use them. We recommend the Chico Bag—small enough to fit in your pocket or purse!

2. Give up bottled water

By drinking your water from a glass jar or a reusable bottle, you can help reduce the environmental costs associated with producing bottled water and save money while you're at it. Unlike bottle water, the quality of your tap water is regularly monitored by your city. Click here to learn more about your local tap water supply.

3. Say no to plastic produce bags

Bagging your produce is generally unnecessary. If you do want a separate bag for produce, cloth options are available. Some alternatives are EcoBags, Acme produce bags or making your own from old t-shirts.

4. Buy from bulk bins

You can find almost all dry foods, as well as some personal care products, from bulk bins. If you can't find bulk bins in your neighborhood, you can still buy non-perishable goods in large packages, which will decrease the amount of plastic used.

5. Make your own seltzer

When it comes to carbonated drinks, you can avoid high intakes of high fructose corn syrup AND the need for purchasing disposable bottles by making your own seltzer. We recommend adding a splash of juice to your homemade soda to create a delicious bubbly drink. Kids love it!

6. Pack food in reusable containers

Bring reusable containers to restaurants to take home your leftovers. Ask the butcher or deli server at your grocery store to package your food in your reusable container. Use them to pack your lunch, and don't forget to carry along reusable utensils. We love these containers from LunchBots and Life Without Plastic.

7. Choose milk in returnable glass bottles

Many communities have local dairies that provide milk in returnable glass bottles rather than plastic or plastic-coated cardboard. All cardboard milk containers are coated inside and out with plastic, not wax. Check out local dairies in your area to see if this is offered, or ask them to start a co-op.

8. Use bar soap and shampoo

Make the change from liquid to bar! Try Lush shampoo bar, Chagrin Valley shampoo bars, Burt's Bees, or J.R. Liggett's Old Fashioned shampoo bar.

9. Choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers

Organic Essence is packaging its body lotions in compostable cardboard jars and its lip balms in ingenious cardboard tubes that squeeze from the end. There are also lotion bars and lip balms and glosses that come in glass or metal containers. Or you can even make your own products.

10. Make sure your personal care products are phthalate-free

Phthalates, which are plasticizers, have become standard as additives to scented products because they help fragrances last longer. But research has shown reasons to be concerned about the impact of phthalates on our health . Use this list to find phthalate-free products

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7.21.2012

Guest Post >> Gypsy in Jasper

I am so honored that Nicole from Gypsy in Jasper asked me to take over her space for a day! I wrote about the top 3 reasons why yoga is so awesome, and why you should consider starting a practice. Pop on over to read more!

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Green Power >>

I'm not gonna lie. Me and veggies have a tenuous relationship. I WANT to like them, but they're so much work to prepare, and honestly, many are just not my favorite thing to eat. One of my New Year's resolutions (remember those?) was to eat more vegetables, and so I've been working on incorporating veggies in new and sneaky ways. Enter, the green smoothie.

I know I'm not the only one on the green kick, because pretty much every time I check any social media these days, I see a new green smoothie recipe pop up in the feed. Even my grandma's been getting into the smoothie scene; she asked me for some tips just yesterday. I've got my own tried-and-true that I'd like to throw into the mix. It might not be that exotic, it might not even be the healthiest, but dang it if it isn't delicious. My goal when coming up with a smoothie was to get it to actually taste good, so that I would want to drink it everyday, and I have definitely succeeded with that goal. I have one pretty much every day as a late afternoon snack, to tide me over until dinner so that I'm not ravenous by dinnertime. The other goal was simply to up my fruit and veggie intake. There's one serving of veggies, and one and a half servings of fruit if you count the juice. Pretty good for a snack! Here's what I do:

  • At LEAST two cups of greens (you need two cups for a whole serving). I have been using mixes of baby greens, since they're a bit more tender. Kale, chard, spinach, bok choy, tat soi are all good. I find full on "adult" kale a little fibrous for smoothies, but if you don't mind a little texture, go for it. Organic, if possible, since they're greens and all.
  • Banana
  • 4 ounces 100% pineapple juice
  • Yogurt, about a quarter of a cup. I use whatever we have, but Greek has the most protein and keeps me full for a loooong time - perfect if you use this as a meal replacement. Plain works well, and sweetened is fine if you don't mind the added sugar or like it a bit sweeter.
  • A nice big scoop of ground flax seed for some added fiber and Omega 3s. A friend gave me some that she picked up at Costco recently, and it has a great texture. You can also find it on Amazon.
I only have an immersion blender, so that's what I use and it works well for this. Someday I'd like to get a juicer and start juicing (that way I can throw all the weird interesting vegetables that come in our winter CSA box in there and drink 'em. Do you have a favorite smoothie or juicing recipe? Share it with me!



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7.16.2012

Life Lately >>

Hello everyone! I just wanted to pop in with a little update. We've been in Minnesota visiting friends and family since last week, and we will be here for another week. I haven't been able to post or keep up with everything as much as I'd like to, especially with the re-launch of my blog, but that's okay. I'm really trying to stay in the present this summer and enjoy every second so I'm focusing on that. Our time home is always packed, but it's so awesome to catch up with old friends, visit our old haunts, and spend quality time with family. The internet will still be here next week, right? ;)

In the meantime, here's a bit of what I've been up to...

We went up to my husband's family cottage up in northern Minnesota. Growing up here, I didn't realize cabin culture was such a place-specific thing (17,000+ lakes!). Everyone's family (including mine) had a cabin "up north." I grew up on lakes, woods, and boats, and now that I'm not around it all of the time, I really miss it. Tomorrow we head up to Lake Superior - one of my favorite places in the whole world. I can't wait!
  Here's me, Captain Shineyface, after attending my cousin's wedding on Saturday. The wedding was beautiful, but lordy, was it hot. It was on a rooftop, and unfortunately it was 95 degrees and huuuuumid. I may have melted a bit, but what I lost in water weight I made up for by eating two pieces of cake. We stopped for a nightcap on the way home, which is where I am in this noir-ish shot.





And here's a shot of the most adorable little girl in the world - my niece. The heat has been relentless, so my sister and I took her to a splash pad to cool off yesterday. She had fun, but I think I liked it more than she did!

Today is another 100 degree scorcher with high humidity, and we're mostly laying low. I swear, it was more comfortable in Death Valley the other week then here in MN! I'm meeting some friends for drinks later, and then I'll be getting ready to head up to Lake Superior, where thankfully it should be a good 25 degrees cooler. Whew! I can't wait for nature's air conditioning. I also think I am going to go out and buy a new camera today, so hopefully I can capture my moments more like I actually see them for this here old blog. 

I hope you're staying cool!

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7.14.2012

Adventure File >> Death Valley

Last week I went down to Las Vegas for a fun weekend with friends. I had never been there before, and I thought it wouldn't be my cup of tea, but it was actually really fun. Lots of time by the pool, tasty food and libations, and great company. On the way down, we camped overnight in Death Valley. We had planned on going down there a couple of times before, but convinced ourselves into going other places the other times. We planned it so we would arrive after dark, hike a bit on the morning, and then drive on to Vegas by noon. This (unsurprisingly) still made for a very hot trip in late June.

We saw wild burros, bees going nuts for water, and lots and lots of sand. I'm actually really glad that we drove through when it was so hot; it's Death Valley, it's supposed to be hot! I was stoic and declined the AC the whole way. I also took some pics with my Holga which I'll share when I finally get the roll developed.

I'm really glad that we finally made it down there. Empty places are some of my favorite places. So peaceful and strange!






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7.12.2012

What to Wear >> To Meet the Parents

I am so excited to be partnering up with two awesome ladies for a "What to Wear" series! Every other Thursday we'll show you style ideas from each of us about what we might wear for a specific outing. First up? What to wear to meet the parents. Lucky for me, I've been married for 5 years and met my husband's parents about 10 years before that (yup!), so I have never actually had to encounter that awkward scenario. Well, I'm assuming it's a bit awkward, or at least a bit nerve-wracking. I decided to go with an outfit that's trendy without being too young looking, and that doesn't show too much skin. I figured something that says "fun but grown-up" fits the bill. At least that's how I'd want to come off.
This turquoise color is so great. It really livens up so many other things! I loved the way the mustard color of the purse plays off the blue.
Then Mitz wanted to get in to the action. That guy...
Be sure to check out Nicole of Gypsy in Jasper, and Jill from JillyBeansTALK to follow along on our style adventure! And be sure to let us know if you'd like in on the fun; we'd love to link you up!


Shirt + watch: Target
Necklace + Sandals: F21
Purse: Handmade by my sister
Jeans: LaughPing (have you checked this new sale site out yet?! DO! SO many great scores for under $20!)

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7.11.2012

New look >> New Direction



















Hey everyone! I want to introduce you to my new blog design and layout! After struggling with the Blogger template and failing to get the aesthetic and functionality changes to work the way I wanted, I decided to get a little help. Enter, the amazing Charlotte of Twist + Snag. I actually found her by chance just by clicking through page after page of Google results, and I am so happy that I did. Right away she got the look I was trying to go for, and she went above and beyond in meeting my needs and requests. If you are looking for someone to really collaborate with you for a design need, she’s your lady. She also does invitation designs, which look pretty awesome, too. :)

One of the best parts of the re-design process for me, was that it really forced me to think about what I wanted this blog to be about. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to include and highlight, and I now have a clear vision of where I want to go. I love blogging about and sharing my love of yoga, and that will continue. But as I thought about it, I realized that yoga informs almost all aspects of my life now; it really is a lifestyle and so I would like to share a more holistic view of what that means for me and my life. Besides posts that are more obviously about inspiring you to hit the mat, I’ll be sharing style posts, natural living and recipe posts, my inspirations, as well as travel and adventure stories. Here’s how these topics fit in:
  • Style: Yoga has taught me to really tap into who I am, and to feel more comfortable in my own skin. It also has opened me up to more creativity in my life, and one of the ways I have always unconsciously cultivated this is in my style choices. I am so excited to share this outlet with you!
  • Natural living: One of the most important things that yoga teaches is the concept of ahimsa, or nonviolence. Another way to interpret this is to practice kindness-to yourself, other people and creatures who share this world with us, and to our planet. I am a product of the modern world and its conveniences, but I am trying to incorporate choices that are kinder for me and the world when possible.
  • Inspiration: I’ll be sharing things that I am loving from around the web and beyond; things that inspire me to live my life a little more fully, and hopefully yours, too.
  • Travel: I love to travel. My husband and I take all kinds of trips, big and small. Yoga and travel have a lot in common: they both inspire compassion and an interest in the way others live, they force you to slow down and be in the moment, and they inspire a love for the world and the beauty that is all around us.
I am so excited to continue this journey, and I would be so honored to have you join me. There are handy new buttons to the right to follow along in various capacities. Join me by subscribing, and/or any of the other social media buttons over there that interest you. There may be some tweaks here and there along the way, both with the the blog itself but also with content as I grow and discover what works and what doesn’t. Please be vocal about what you like and what you don’t! I want this to be a place to really grow a community of like minded people who just want to connect through space and time. And isn’t that what life is all about? :)

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7.09.2012

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.beat.the.heat.

This has been one HOT summer! I remember when I was a kid, 100 degrees was a pretty rare event (in Minnesota that is), but it seems like triple digits are becoming a summer staple around most parts of the country. I suppose we can expect more of it, as extreme weather events become more commonplace what with the global warming and all. I've been trying to soak up as much heat as possible, and resisting turning on the AC whenever I can since after our move to Seattle this September 100 degrees will be a distant memory and peaks of sun won't be so plentiful.

This most recent heat wave got me thinking about other ways to keep cool, other than retreating to the AC. One of my favorite ways is something my grandma taught me when I was very little: running your wrists under cold water. Since your blood flows so close to the surface right there, you can cool off very quickly. Or grab an ice cube and hold it there while it melts...soooo refreshing!

Another way is to cool off, is with some cooling yoga poses. What, you don't think of cooling when you think of yoga? Think again, these are some cool (punny?) moves for beating the heat.
Classic down dog is great. In fact, all inversions (poses where your head is below your heart) that have some support are nice and cooling. It takes the pressure off your heart and circulatory system, allowing the blood to come back up to your heart more easily, and thus produces a cooling effect. If holding down dog is not easy for you, you can simply do it on the wall, placing your hands at a 90 degree angle and letting your head and torso hang. See here for a how-to).
This is another great move for some insta-cooling. It's another supported inversion, since your knees should be bent until your belly rests on your thighs. Let your head and neck relax, and take several deep breaths.
This last one is definitely the most effective, but yes, is the most silly looking and feeling. BUT I swear, you'll feel the effects instantly. It is known as shitali pranayama, or simply "cooling breath." To begin, curl your tongue up unto a U. If you can't do that (up to 35% of people cannot), then just open your mouth into an O shape. Now breathe in and out through your mouth, letting your breath pass over your tongue. A lot of heat comes from the tongue and mouth area; why do you think we take our temperature there (in the olden days at least. Have you seen those new forehead thermometers?!)? Stay cool, yogis.

p.s. Don't forget, Yoga Journal's 28 day Meditation Revolution starts today. Join me in challenging yourself to start or deepen your practice!

.shanti.
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7.07.2012

.red.white.and.amazing.

I know I'm a few days late to the party, but thought I'd pop in to share how we spent our 4th of July. Actually, it was a pretty subdued holiday for us. We just came back from Death Valley and Las Vegas on Sunday, and we leave for a two week trip to Minnesota tomorrow night. Whew, time is flying! By the time we get back from MN, we'll have to get serious about this moving to Seattle business and start looking for a place to live. Crazy! Well, I'm trying to just stay in the moment this summer, and enjoy every second of it, which is exactly what we did on the 4th.
After a bit of yoga in the morning, we headed to Sacramento for some lunch and brews at Rubicon Brewery, and then took a walk down by the Sacramento River. After getting thoroughly sweaty on our walk, we stopped at Dairy Queen for my favorite - a cherry dipped cone. I loooooove Dairy Queen soft serve, I can't help it. I'm sure it's made with a million chemicals, but I grew up on it and nothing else tastes more like summer to me. After that, we headed home, cranked up the AC, and watched Robert Altman's 3 Women. It was...weird. But I liked it. I think. We were planning on watching fireworks from the roof of our house, but I chickened out (or wised up, depending on how you view it), and decided not to pull myself up there. We walked over to the park instead, where we had a fine view of our fine town's modest display. Here's what I wore:
When I asked Andy how I looked before we headed out, he said, "red, white, and amazing." Sarcasm aside, I'll take it. :) Did you do anything fun for the 4th?


Dress: UO
Belt: Vintage men's bow tie
Sandals: Thrifted
Necklace: F21
Bag: Walmart


.shanti.
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7.03.2012

.queen of quinoa.

I don't want to brag or anything, but I'm kind of the queen of quinoa. It's a self-bestowed title, but one that I take seriously nonetheless. If you're not familiar with this amazing mother grain, then you should quick get hip to the square, because it's amazing. It's easy to make, quick, loaded with nutrients, and is considered a complete protein. It is gluten free in case that's important to you, and best of all, it does not taste like cardboard.

Behold, a creation that I have made variations of many times this summer. It is fresh, light tasting, and quick to put together. The ingredients are all in season right now, so it should be a cinch to find really good quality ingredients at the grocery store or farmer's market. Plus, since it doesn't have any mayo or cheese in it (why yes, it IS vegan!) it would be perfect for a picnic or potluck. It would also make an awesome burrito filling, or we've even just used tortilla chips to scoop it up.

Mexican Quinoa Salad
Makes 2 entree servings, or 4 small servings
1 c. quinoa (uncooked)
2 c. water
2 ears of fresh corn
1/4 c. diced red onion
1 large bell pepper (your favorite color)
1/2 c. grape tomatoes
1 small avocado
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 tbs. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne
2 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs. olive oil
salt
freshly ground pepper
From here, it's pretty straight forward. Rinse the quinoa, and add it to a saucepan with the water, plus a big pinch of salt. Simmer over medium heat until all the water is absorbed, and you can see "rings" around the edges (see here for a how to).  This takes 15 minutes or so, in which you can prep the other ingredients.

Slice the corn off the cob, and chop and slice the other ingredients. When the quinoa is done, take it off the heat to cool a bit. Ideally you would cool it to room temperature, but I'm not very patient usually and I just stir it every few seconds to let the heat escape. You could also put it in the freezer and/or spread it on a cookie sheet to speed up the cooling. 

Then, just mix it all up! Give it a taste, and add more lime juice of necessary. Salt and pepper to taste, and add a little more cilantro on top. Voila! Happiness in a bowl.

.shanti.
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