Homemade >> Love

Fact about me: I am terrible at making things. I really want to be one of those girls who can whip up a sewing project, or turn out pretty knitty things by the dozen, but I just can't for some reason. I don't have the patience to sit and make millions of tiny stitches, or purl row after row for more than 20 minutes straight. Also, I am sort of an anti-perfectionist, which is not good in the craft world. I like to do things that you don't have to pay too much attention to, and where mistakes become part of the beauty of the finished product. This is why I love toy photography and yoga. When you make a "mistake" in those endeavors, they just become happy accidents!

But I LOVE handmade things. I love that someone loved this item, that it was made with care and thought, and that it is unlike any other thing in the whole world. I can't resist buying embroidered tea towels at garage sales, and old doilies at the thrift store. It makes me so sad that these things that someone painstakingly created from nothing are heaped into the same pile as old k-mart dishtowels. I rescue more of them than my husband thinks that I ought to, but they make for a special collection.

Lucky for me, I also have an awesome sister who inherited the crafty gene from our mother. She's made me all sorts of things over the years, but here are two of her latest that she made me: a custom laptop bag, and a yoga mat bag.
I had found a couple of pics from Etsy and Pinterest of similar items, and then she set about creating her own patterns. A couple of weeks later, a package arrived with these two lovelies! The laptop bag is especially rad. I should have taken a pic of the inside, but it's lined with a quilted material to protect my computer, and she sewed a pocket inside to hold little things. The nylon straps wrap all the way around, so even though it looks delicate, it's a super sturdy little bag. The mat bag is pretty great, too. It fits my mat perfectly, and since it's an open pattern, it lets my mat air out a bit in between uses. She added little beads to the end of the toggle closure, which was a cute touch. Love it! I'm trying to get he to open an Etsy shop of her own. I think she could definitely be successful!
This last pic is of the quilt I found at a local antique store. It caught my eye, and when I looked at the price and saw it was only $10, I knew it had to come home with me. It's all soft and worn in, and just needed a wash and small repair job. Plus, it's plenty big enough for our queen-sized bed. I wonder what life this quilt had before it came to us?

shanti >> sondra



On the Road >> Mt. Shasta

I totally forgot about these pictures until I was looking for something else on my camera the other day. I'm so glad I found them, because it was a really pretty hike! We'll actually be driving right by this same spot on Friday morning on our way to our new home.
Earlier this summer, Andy hiked to the top of Mt. Shasta with a friend. He's starting to get into more serious mountaineering, the kind that involves ice axes and crampons and whatnot, and I'm out on that. I love hiking, but climbing on ice is another beast. Anyway, when we drove up to Seattle to apartment hunt, the drive took us right past where he had hiked, and he wanted to show me the area. We just went up a couple of miles to the base camp where most climbers stay before they summit, but it was a good taste of the what the mountain looks like. The picture above is the little cabin where the local ranger lives. Doesn't it look like the most magical place to live???

The best part about reaching the base camp, was that there was pure, fresh mountain water that you could drink. No chemicals, no filtration, and icy cold. It was heavenly. The hike back down featured views such as this:
aaaaaand this:
Pretty nice way to stretch your legs on a long car ride, huh? :)

shanti >> sondra



Monday Muses >> 8.27

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Mine was spent packing, which was a less than fabulous way to spend the weekend, but today we are heading to Lake Tahoe for one last California thrill before we leave on Friday.

Let's see what's on the menu this week, shall we?
1> I discovered Elemental Herbs' All Good Goop by chance at the co-op where we grocery shop at (and which I am SUPER going to miss), and it was on mega-sale. I read through the ingredients list, and was immediately sold. It's a blend of lavender, calendula, comfrey, and yarrow in an olive oil, beeswax, and vitamin e base. It sort of has the texture of Vaseline, but it smells amazing, and I feel good about putting it on my skin since it's all natural and organic. I've been using it on the delicate area around my eyes before bed, and on my lips and it works great. It's good for dry skin, cuts, burns, rashes...basically, whatever's ailin' your skin. A multitasking powerhouse!

2> The Forsyte Saga. Sigh. My sister in law loved this series and gifted me the 2002 and 2003 series' for my birthday, but I'm just now getting to it. But I am definitely hooked! We love to really get into a show and watch it obsessively until we're done, so this has been occupying our evenings the last week. If you're a Downton Abbey fan, you should definitely check it out. It's very similar, except I'd say a bit more realistic, the characters are a bit more nuanced, and it's not quite as soap-opera-y. It's streaming on Netflix (well, here in the U.S. it is anyway). Highly recommended! {image source}

3> I was introduced to the blog of Lisa Congdon, and her 365 day project of hand lettering. She's pretty far into it, but I'm excited to see what she comes up with each day. I love her simple yet graphic style, and she picks the best quotes. Definitely some good affirmations in the bunch! Look through her archives, and maybe print off a few of your favorites. Then, tape them somewhere you'll see them everyday, like a mirror or your journal. :)

4> Okay, so maybe I'm a little late to the game on this one, but it was still pretty exciting to me. I just noticed that Pinterest had FINALLY released an Android app! Plus, it's beautiful and easy to use, to boot. It's definitely inspired me to pin more than usual, especially when I can do it from the comfort of my own bed or whenever I have a few spare minutes. I love being inspired by all the images and ideas on there! Interested in what I pin? Let's be pin buddies!  {image source}

Alright homies, check ya on the flipside this week. Our week is JAMMED with lots of lasts, saying goodbye to friends and places, and coordinating lots of little details for the move.

shanti >> sondra



Bánh mì >> In My Belly

Today I thought I'd share a bit about one of my very favorite food items: the bánh mì. If you live somewhere with a population of Vietnamese immigrants, then you probably already know the magic that is the bánh mì (pronunciation guide >> bon me).

But in case you don't know, it's a Vietnamese sandwich that is a commonly sold street food in Vietnam, and increasingly, in the U.S. and abroad. The French occupied Vietnam from the late 19th century until 1945, and this sandwich is a result of the culinary marriage that transpired. It combines French bread, mayo, and pate (on the non-vegetarian versions) with traditional Vietnamese ingredients, such as cilantro, daikon, and jalapenos. The result is a really unique flavor combination that is fresh, light, and satisfying. Plus, they're super cheap, usually around $3.

My friend Dorothy took me to South Sacramento which has a large Vietnamese and Chinese community, and we enjoyed tasty bánh mìs last week. Since she's Vietnamese herself, she taught me a little about some of the other desserts and specialties that we saw, some of which are in the picture on the right. We ate the most wonderful banana things that you dip in sugar and coconut milk....mmmmmm.

I also tried my hand at making them myself, and I have to say, they turned out AWESOME. While it was more work and probably not cheaper than buying them out, making them at home was fun and I was able to buy organic versions of the ingredients. Plus, if you can't buy them locally where you live, this is a great alternative. They tasted EXACTLY like the ones we get at our favorite hole in the wall we go to in San Francisco. Here's a pic of what mine turned out like (ugh photographing food is the WORST):
And here is the recipe that I used from thekitchn.com. I didn't have a julienne-er thingy, so I just used a vegetable peeler to make thin shavings of the carrot and daikon which worked perfectly.

Thanks for letting me share about one of my favorite foods with you! I hope that if you have never tried one of these babies before, that you give 'em a shot.

Our house is a currently a disaster as we continue packing. I think we've made enough progress though to take a last day trip to Lake Tahoe tomorrow. I can't wait! A day off from the moving stress sounds pretty good right about now.

shanti >> sondra



DIY >> Succulent Planters

I have a confession to make. I am no good at DIYs. That is, unless they are really, truly, almost childishly, simple. I do not own special tools, I am not very patient, and I am unfailingly cheap. So when I actually find, complete, and love something that I have done myself, I just about feel like I have won the lottery. This is one such project.

Here's what you need  >> 

> Aquarium gravel in any color you like

> Bonsai planting mix (this is what the guy at the nursery recommended, because it it is made for containers that do not drain)

> A bag of charcoal (also found at the nursery. This will help absorb any trapped moisture and smells.)

> Succulents that will fit your container

> Glass containers. I used a few mason jars, because if Pinterest has taught me anything, it's that everything is cuter in a mason jar.

> Moss for decoration (optional)

Here's what you do >>

> Pour a layer of gravel in the bottom of your glass for draining and keeping the roots out of any water that accumulates.
> Next, add a layer of charcoal.
> Add the plant, break up the roots a bit, and fill in with the bonsai mix. You may need to use a spoon to help fill and get the dirt down into all the crevices. A chopstick might also be useful.
> Repeat for each container, give 'em a little water, and you're done! I covered the tops of the soil with either more rocks, or some moss from the garden store. Super easy. Oh, and you do NOT have to have a green thumb to be maintain these successfully. I give you - exhibit A:
This is a larger grouping that I planted earlier this summer in a thrifted bowl. It has grown like CRAZY since I planted it! Plus, after awhile it got this green moss/algae looking stuff growing along the sides of the bowl which I think makes it extra pretty. Just give it a little water every few days, and leave in a semi-sunny spot. I usually add more water when I can't see any in the rocks at the bottom. If you forget to water it for awhile (like I do often), no biggie. It's good for them to dry out once in awhile. You can also add rocks, driftwood, or little ceramic figurines for extra interest.

All of the supplies for this project probably cost less around $20 total, including the plants and containers. And I still have plenty left to do a few more (read: SUPER CHEAP GIFT IDEA!).

Let me know if you try making these!

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> To a Bonfire

Hiya folks, it's time for another outfit post. Two weeks sure did fly by! I was really hoping to actually have a fire, it seemed like a good excuse to have one last fire in our outdoor firepit thingy before we move and don't have any outside space anymore. Alas, we have been too busy to spend an evening by a fire, and tomorrow we start packing things up and REALLY making this move thing happen.

Although I didn't get to enjoy a fire, I did enjoy wearing a few new things that I have picked up in anticipation of Fall and the cooler temperatures up north. The shoes are the Tom's wedges that I featured in a Monday Muses post a few weeks back. They are SO comfortable, even for the heel and wedge adverse such as myself. I can't wait to wear them with tights and dresses soon, too! The hoodie/blazer thing is pretty awesome, as well. I picked it up at the North Face outlet store of all places. I love it because it has all the functionality and comfort of a regular old hoodie, but it's a teeny bit fancier because it's cut like a blazer, which I am normally afraid of. It seems like a good thing to wear to work (which I start soon!). The last new thing are these jeans, which are the pants version of the shorts that I wore in my what to wear to the beach post. You can't tell here, but they are high waisted, and super stretchy and comfy to boot. I figured that since I wore the shorts version so much, I'd get a lot of wear out of the jeans this fall and winter.

We have this huge flock of turkeys that live in the park near our house, and the little chicks from earlier this year are now almost full-fledged-get-in-my-belly size. They have been molting and shedding pretty striped feathers all over the park, and I have been collecting them on our walks. Now I have a pretty feather bouquet from them! And yes, I am proud tree hugger. :)
Plaid, hoodie, and jeans. Yup, that's what I would wear to a bonfire for sure. Hopefully we'll make some friends with a backyard in Seattle and we can go over for a fire this fall. Ooh, on a related note, I got this idea that I want to try and create a fake fireplace in our new apartment, since we weren't able to rent a place with a real one. Anyone know of any easy DIYs out there? I've been scouring Pinterest for ideas, but most of them require cutting wood and whatnot. Leave me a link if you know of something!

And as always, be sure to check out the other ladies participating in this week's style challenge:

  Moose in Chartreuse | Jillybeanstalk | Gypsy in Jasper | Horses of Ares| Not Lady Like|

Outfit details >>
Hoodie thing > The North Face 
Button Up > thrifted, vintage 
Jeans > bdg via Urban Outfitters 
Wedges > Toms

shanti >> sondra



I'm a Drifter >> I'm a Thrifter

I mentioned in my Liebster Award post that thrifting is a big part of my style. I typically have better luck thrifting household goods then clothing and such. I think it's maybe because it requires a little less patience than looking through all those clothing racks. Plus, it's just easier for me to re-imagine house stuff as having a new life - probably because I can't sew! I had a particularly fortuitous week at the thrifts, so I thought I'd share my finds!
The first (and which I did not take a detail picture of) is a few old story books to add to my growing collection of children's story books. I love the illustrations in these classic volumes, and I can't wait to read these out loud to my kids someday! In the meantime, they sure do look pretty on my bookshelf.
Another score are these Norwegian tiles, decorated with traditional rosemaling. Both Andy and I grew up with Scandinavian family backgrounds, so these remind me of my grandmothers and relatives from back home.

The other finds include some pretty silk scarves, this tin, and an old potholder weaving loom and yarn. I found a video on youtube that shows how to weave with regular yarn on this instead of with those potholder loops, and I'd like to make lots of squares to put together as a blanket. Um...someday. Hopefully this doesn't turn out like most of my projects and never actually gets done.

The only bummer about finding all this awesomeness, is that is needs to be packed away in boxes for our move next week. NEXT WEEK?! Yeah, that freaked me out, too. The moving company called this morning to confirm some details, and she was all, "so it looks like we're scheduled to pick up *a week from tomorrow.*" I can't believe it's almost time to leave California.

shanti >> sondra



On Compassion >>

I had an entirely different post lined up for today, but sometimes, if the spirit moves you, you gotta just go with it. I thought I'd write a little bit about compassion, and its role in our lives.

Today I found out that someone I love is having a rough go at things, and so I immediately thought about them and wanted to send loving, caring, and healing thoughts out to them. What they are going through is partly caused by their own doing, but I don't in the least feel that they deserve to feel as they do. I think most of us feel this way when we know that a friend or family member (or heck, even a stranger!) is having a tough time. I had a yoga class to teach this afternoon, so I thought I'd incorporate the theme of compassion into today's practice, since that was what I was feeling. I talked about feeling compassion for the parts of their minds and bodies that weren't feeling 100% today; to be gentle and aware of those places. I read a quote about a lotus flower blossoming in the mud, and that we all need to remember that we all come from the same trials and obstacles, and that it makes life beautiful and all of us human. I even had everyone give themselves a hug, and reminded them of how happy they should all feel in their own bodies, and how wonderful it was that they made the time to care for themselves today.

After I was done teaching, I was driving home and I started ruminating on some of the details from the class. I started nitpicking this and that, wishing I had done this one thing differently, or done something else another way. But really, the class was fine. The problem was, I wasn't having any compassion for *myself.* How can I be teaching others to feel compassion for themselves and others, when I don't remind myself to do the same thing?

After that little reminder, I felt my shoulders relax a bit. My chest sank back in, and I breathed deeply. Maybe class wasn't perfect, but then what class is? What person is? Nobody but me was still thinking about my tied-tongue or the song they didn't like that I played. It is so much easier to feel empathy and compassion for other people than for ourselves, but if we never cut ourselves a break, how can we expect others to?

Hopefully I can take that reminder of compassion into the rest of my day, my week, my month. Because that's the only way that I'm going to be able to spread it around, and share it with those closest to me, and beyond. One thing that can really help is a simple meditation.

Compassion Meditation >> adapted from {source}

To begin, take a comfortable position. You may want to sit in a chair or on cushions on the floor (just make sure your back is erect without being strained or overarched). You can also lie down. Take a few deep, soft breaths to let your body settle. (note: while I think it is best to sit or lie down in a quiet place, even if you just find yourself waiting in line somewhere or have a few minutes to spare in your day, almost anytime and anywhere is a good time to try this - you will still get lots of benefits. Just be sure to focus on your thoughts wherever you are.)

Closing your eyes or leaving them slightly open, start by thinking of someone you care about already—perhaps she's been good or inspiring to you. You can visualize this person or say her name to yourself, get a feeling for her presence, and silently offer phrases of compassion to her. The typical phrases are: "May you be free of pain and sorrow. May you be well and happy." But you can alter these, or use others that have personal significance.

After a few minutes, shift your attention inward and offer the phrases of compassion to yourself: "May I be free of pain and sorrow. May I be well and happy."

> Then, after some time, move on to someone you find difficult - someone you do not like at ALL. Get a feeling for the person's presence, and offer the phrases of compassion to her. 

> Then, choose someone you've barely met—the supermarket checkout woman or UPS man. Even without knowing his or her name, you can get a sense of the person, perhaps an image, and offer the phrases of compassion.

> Close with the offering of compassion to people everywhere, to all forms of life, without limit, without exception: "May all beings be free of pain and sorrow. May all be well and happy."

I know I'm definitely going to be doing this meditation today. Whether you try it or not, remember to show yourself a little love today, and cut yourself some slack. 

shanti >> sondra



Yoga + Style >> Love

I've spied a couple of cute items that would be perfect for wearing to or from a yoga class! Or even if you don't practice yoga, they're just cute items that are good for an active lifestyle. I am forever on the lookout for clothing that can do multiple duties: wearing to practice yoga, wearing around town to run errands, or going hiking in. The beauty of all of these activities is that you they all require something that's easy to move in, and comfortable (read: stretchy. My favorite clothing adjective!). What's not so easy is finding things that are cute to boot. Because who wants to wear just plain old workout gear?

1> This first one is from a company called Plantstyle. I actually have another of their shirts that my mother in law very sweetly bought for me at her local farmer's market. What I really like about these besides their obviously adorable style, is that they are locally made (well, local if you're in MN), they use organic materials and dyes when possible, and it's a husband and wife duo producing these out of their Minneapolis studio. Wouldn't this kholrabi print look adorable on your next trip to the farmer's market? They also make cute skirts, dresses, and hoodies.

2> I just stumbled on these socks on Etsy, but they look so great for the cooler months ahead! I'd love them for yoga, but they also look awesome to just wear around the house, on those first fall days.

3> I LOVE the collection of yoga-inspired wear from Foundation Collection. Their prints are graphic and cool, and they are produced in limited editions. I'd love to get a few of their easy tanks to wear to class!

Yoga+ cool clothes = a very happy Sondra. There is no better combination in my book! Well, if the clothes featured kittens or something. That would be better. Hey, let me know if you find anything like that, will ya?

Well, we're in San Francisco today to meet a very special 3 day old baby! Eeee! I can't wait to hold her and smell her sweet baby goodness. :)

shanti >> sondra



Why OM-ing is Awesome >>

Just a quick pop-in to let you all know that my second article for DoYouYoga is now up! Why OM-ing is Awesome.
Although I will have you know that my original title was a lot more awesome: "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Om." Which is a play on the title for Dr. Strangelove. Anyone with me? Anyone? Yeah, I know why the editors changed the title, too. :) Well I thought it was punny!

Anyway, if you've ever wondered what the deal is with people doing yoga chanting the word "om," here's a little more info about why we do it and why you should, too.

shanti >> sondra



One Hour Magic >>

Hiya, fellas. So yesterday I mentioned that I took a little trip in to Sacramento to take a yoga class, but one thing I didn't mention was that before class I dropped off a couple of rolls of film to be developed, and picked them up afterwards. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites here with you! Plus, you can see a little bit of a few of our adventures from the last several months.

light leak at mono lake

Digital cameras are great and all, but I tell ya, there is something so magical about taking pictures and then waiting to see how they all came out. These were all taken with my Holga 35mm. I also have a regular Holga which shoots 120 film and I also dropped a couple rolls of that off, but they have to be sent out to be processed. I love the 35mm though, because it's easy and cheap to get film for it, and much easier to find a place to process it (although even those are getting to be few and far between!). But both are super fun to take pictures with becuase of the unpredictable nature of these cameras in particular, and of film photography in general.
double exposures. left is from hawaii, right is from a hike in yosemite.

I got the first Holga 4 years ago, and 3 years ago I was lucky enough to take a class on toy photography at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Not only did I learn the basics of photography and how to develop and make my own prints in the dark room, but I also learned how to work with the eccentricities of these plastic wonders. I just love the light leaks, the graininess, and the vignettes that show up whenever they feel like it.

waterskiing at the lake; I love the soft colors and blur

parked in the middle of Nevada, chasing a wild horse. our car looks so little!

i dig old abandoned places in the middle of nowhere.

How about you, when was the last time you felt the thrill of opening up a packet of prints to see what's inside? If you want to learn more about toy photography and Holgas, check out the Lomography website. I'm excited to get my other rolls back!

shanti >> sondra



Liebster Award >> Finally

I have been meaning to do this post for forever, but for one reason or another it kept getting pushed aside. You know, silly things like "job interviews" and "grocery shopping so I can eat" kept getting in the way. Pure indulgences.

But here it is, in all of its glory like a month after the phenomenon that was (is!) The Liebster Award has swept the internets. I received nominations from not one, not two, but THREE sweet blogger ladies who were all so kind to think of little ol' me over here - Gypsy in Jasper,  Bodacious Thought, and Marissa Moondaughter. I have loved reading other people's posts for this, because I think it's a really good way to get to know the people you read about a little better. Brace yourselves though, it's a long one. You might want to get yourself one of those marathoner gels to sustain you for the haul.

So, without further adieu...

1> I love writing with Sharpies. In particular, I love writing with fine tip Sharpies. I don't know what it is, but everything seems so much nicer when written with a Sharpie.

2> My husband and I have been together for almost 15 years. That's over half of my life! People always think it's so cute that we're still together. To me, it doesn't really seem so much cute as it does just lucky. He's my best friend, and I'm so glad I met him early on so we'll get extra time together!

3> I majored in American Studies in college, but I really wished I had studied Art History. Not that it would have changed my career path in any way (it's probably equivalent in the "useless" degree category), but art is something that I love and it would have been fun to study.

4> I'm really good at starting things, but terrible at finishing them. Crafts, books, movies...all are candidates for being left in a half-done wake.

5> I am an NPR junkie. I listen to it all. the. time.

6> I didn't fly on an airplane until I was 18. Since then, I've flown dozens of times, including several international trips.

7> I decided to get braces as an adult. Yup, when I was 23 I decided that I wanted to fix a tooth that had bothered me all of my life, and to do that I had to get braces. And not those Invisalign deals, either. Full on, brackets and all, metal mouth braces. I even had 2 teeth pulled. The funny thing was, after I got the braces put on, everyone would ask why I had decided to do it. I had always thought everyone noticed my snaggly tooth and was just too polite to say anything, but it turned out it was only a big deal to me. It didn't matter to me though, it bothered me and I was happy I did it. It took 3 years until I got them off, but my straight teeth make me happy every time I see them.

8> I don't like coffee or beer, but I love hanging out at coffeeshops and brewpubs.

9> I lost 30 pounds when I graduated from college, and have pretty much kept it off for the last 7 years.

10> I could switch off meals between pizza and Mexican food for the rest of my life and be content, I think.

11> I definitely prefer vanilla over chocolate.

Since I recieved three nominations, I thought I would answer the questions from the last blogger to nominate me, which not-coincidentally was the one who got me to get off my butt and do this post finally. Here are Marissa Moondaughter's questions!

How are you today? Today, I am great! I took a little trip into Sacramento for a Yin yoga class, stopped at one of my favorite thrift/antique stores and found a bunch of great stuff, and now I'm working on this. Can't complain, right? Oh, and a couple of our very dear friends had their baby today. So exciting! They're the first of our peers (that we're not related to) to become parents. Eek!

What are you currently reading? I actually have a few things going at the moment. Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh (which is SO SO SO good btw), The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea about illegal immigration and border policy (I just started this so I can't say if it's good or not, but it came highly recommended from a friend), and then the newest issue of Natural Living magazine. Ha, you'd think having three things going would be the reason I don't finish things, but I can assure you, it makes little difference if I'm reading 1 thing or 5. :)

If you are not, what is your favorite book? I could never pick a favorite book, there are just too many good ones to choose. Plus, different moods and times of your life call for different books.

What is your favorite thing about yourself? Don't be modest! Hmmmm, this is a hard one! I guess I'd say I really love my sense of style (I would though, huh?). I love putting together the way I look everyday, as well as making our house reflect my personal style.

What is one thing on your bucket list? I really want to travel to India! It seems a little intimidating, but I think it would be an unbelievable trip.

What helps you get through "off" days? Yoga. For sure. But of course I would say that! It calms me, centers me, ignites my creativity, and clears my head. I can definitely feel it in not just my body, but  mentally when I haven't practiced in a few days. 

What is your favorite holiday? Easter. Best candy, no pressure, good food, it's near my birthday, and it's in my favorite season - Spring!

Dream vacation? The list of places I want to travel gets longer everyday. In fact, there are very few places in the world that I wouldn't want to travel. For the sake of the question though, I'll pick one of my favorite places - the North Shore of Lake Superior. I'd love to hole up in a remote cabin on the shore for at least a month, and not leave except to go on hikes and explore.

What do you find inspiring in your daily life? Oooh, I get inspired all kinds of places, but one of the most consistent is through this here blog-world. Even before I started this blog, I followed dozens of girls all over the country and world. It's so cool to see so many ways of living and being, and all the individual voices from everywhere!

Do you have any morning or evening rituals you do everyday? In the mornings I start the day with a chai latte while I check news/email/facebook/blogroll from bed on my phone. In the evening, I always take all my makeup off before bed, and moisturize with Cetaphil - the greatest lotion ever made.

How would you describe your home decor? I love color, and I love pattern. I buy what I like without thinking too much about what it will look like with everything else. It turns out that when everything is mismatched, it ends up kind of looking like it all goes together anyway. Our decor is a mix of vintage from many eras, clean-lined modern furniture, and pieces that have a handmade touch to them, such as crocheted throws and upcycled furniture. Honestly, the best word to describe our decor is CHEAP, because almost everything has come from the thrift store, Ikea, Target, and antique stores. And even then I'll usually only buy from the clearance rack or sale area at those stores! You just have to have a bit of imagination and patience. After we move, I'll do a home tour here of our new digs, and you'll see my style a bit more.

What is one of your favorite past-times? One of my all-time favorite past-times is taking a drive somewhere pretty on a Sunday afternoon or evening while listening to NPR or a favorite podcast, and just looking out the window watching the world go by.

Make it to the end? Congratulations! I hope you liked learning a little bit more about me. I'm actually not going to do the bit about nominating 11 other bloggers and all, because honestly, I think all of the blogs that I read with less then 200 followers have already done this. But I thought it was fun putting this together ~ ! Now I'm off to start contemplating dinner... I'm thinking quiche.

shanti >> sondra



Monday Muses >> 8.13 edition

Dudes, I'm exhausted. This last week was killer. We went straight from our last weekend in San Francisco to driving 13 hours to Seattle to apartment hunt, and we just got back this morning at  1:30am. We got to Seattle Tuesday night, and hit the ground running on Wednesday to view apartments and then I had a job interview. And then apartment hunting went...not so smoothly. The rental market there was nuts! We would show up for open houses for these apartments, and people were practically knocking each other over to talk to the landlord and show them what an amazing tenant they'd be. Alas, we really liked a couple of places and lost out on them due to the incredible competition. In the end, we did sign a lease in a very nice neighborhood (but not the neighborhood we hoped for) for a perfectly nice apartment. So, don't worry dear readers, we won't be homeless when we arrive. The new place has lots of light and pretty hardwood floors, which I'm excited about. Oh, and I won't be jobless either. I did land the job I interviewed for while I was there, at the Seattle Repertory Theater. I'm really excited to be working in theater again!

Anywhos, this little bloggy-blog was neglected a bit with the nuttiness of this last week. You can't blame a girl. But I did manage to put together a few things that have caught my eye recently...


1> When I came home, the new Tom's catalog was in the mailbox. I flipped through it without thinking too much, expecting to see the usual slip-ons. Then, these boots caught my eye. I have been thinking about my fall and winter wardrobe recently, and what will work in the colder northern climes I'm headed for, especially things that will work well for going back to work. I am usually wary of wedges and heels, but I hear these are super comfy (they are Tom's after all!), and I think they'll update a lot of the warmer clothes I already own.

2> While in Seattle, one of the things I ordered with lunch one day was rosemary lemonade. Simple, but so brilliant! I LOVE herbal tastes and smells, so this was right up my alley. I think a non-alcoholic variation on this recipe sounds super easy and delicious! Or maybe I'll go one easier and buy some really good fresh-squeezed lemonade and just throw a few rosemary sprigs in there, and top it off with a bit of soda water. ;) We're looking at 107 degrees for the high here today, so a little lemonade sipping sounds pretty great right about now.

3> I am super stoked for the new movie from the makers of Baraka to come out. It's called Samsara, and in their words it is "a new nonverbal documentary film portrait of the cycles of our world." It was filmed over 4 years in 9 countries in 70mm film, so it will have this amazing picture quality. Like Baraka, it features time-lapse photography, beautiful landscapes, and emotion-filled music. I am particularly excited to see it on the big IMAX screen in all of it's visual splendor, but I saw Baraka on a crummy old VHS many years ago and it was still awesome. I just love movies like this that really show how complex, yet simple, our world is, in that we are all connected and sharing this same crazy Earth-ball. Another good one is Life in a Day (which you can watch for free on YouTube). Check the trailer for Samsara out and see if it's coming to where you live...!

4> One thing that I haven't shared much about here yet is my interest in tiny houses and the lifestyle that goes with it. After spending the last week looking at apartments, it's got me thinking about the whole idea about small spaces and making the most of what you have no matter where you are. It's a very contradictory part of myself, in that I kinda love stuff, but also have this desire for simplicity. I think what it comes down to is that I don't want just any old stuff, but I want the things that I choose to surround myself with to be things that I absolutely love and that make me happy. Also, after spending the week back in the hustle and bustle of the big city, I felt the pang of wanting to retreat into a tiny cabin in the woods surface. Someday, I hope to be able to have a little place out in the woods or mountains somewhere that we either live in full time, or can retreat to regularly. The picture above is one of my favorite house inspirations, from Malissa Tack.

That's all for now homies! This girl is one tired sack with a long to-do list on her hands. I really missed being able to sit down and write for y'all though, and I have some good posts coming up in the next couple of weeks! Next to yoga, working on this blog has become my favorite past time, so even though life will be insane for awhile, I'll be sure to make time and save energy for this space when I can, because it sure does do my soul good. :)

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> To the Beach

It's time for another installment of "What to Wear!" This has become one of my favorite posts to do, since this little feature keeps growing and g r o w i n g! We now have seven girls all posting their own interpretation of the prompt...it's so much fun to see how different we all are and how our personalities are reflected in our clothes! I hope you are finding it fun to play along, too. :)

This week's topic is what to wear to the beach. As I talked about last week, the beach here in Northern California is not the kind where you can actually get in the water. Once in a great while it's actually hot enough there to lay out in the warmth, but most of the time it's a sweatshirts and scarves kinda deal. Inland, where I live, it IS hot enough to go swimming pretty much every day. But here, there's the problem of NO WATER. Yeah, yeah, there's a couple of rivers nearby, but they're always packed full of rowdy people drinking beer and throwing their cans wherever they feel like. It's not so nice. Then there are the reservoirs. Personally, I think swimming in a reservoir would be creepy. They don't have a natural shoreline and they stock them with fish. I guess growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes has made it so I do not accept reservoirs as "real" lakes. I will settle for nothing less. :)

There are also the public pools. Here you can see the pool near our house. When we first moved in to our current place, I was so stoked because we live about two houses from the park, and the park has this nice big swimming pool in it. I had dreams of getting a summer pass and going for a quick dip every day. Except...the pool never opened this year. And then a stupid sign went up saying that the pool was only available for rentals this summer. What the what? Lame. LAME! Darn you, budget cuts!

What we have here is what I would wear to the beach, or the pool, or to run through the sprinkler (if we had one). This is exactly what I wore when I was home a couple of weeks ago to bum around the lake in, and to take my niece to the kiddy pool. I really like this combination because it plays up my favorite parts (my arms and shoulders), and plays down my less favorite parts (my hips and thighs). I'm naturally pear-shaped, so the high-waisted look is one of my favorites. These shorts from Urban Outfitters have been in heavy rotation the past couple of months. If you're pear-shaped like me, higher waistlines can really be so flattering if you do them right proportionally. They hold you in and emphasize your waistline, making you look va-va-voom curvy. Well, approaching that at least. To complete this retro-inspired look, I added a vintage scarf to keep my hair back (I hate getting my hair wet - blech), and this halter-style swimsuit top. The strap is removable, but I'm not brave enough to let the girls hold up their end of the deal, ifyouknowhatimsayin.

You know what's the most important thing I'm wearing though? SUNSCREEN! I'm big on making sure SPF of 30 or higher is applied anytime I'm going to be spending time bare-skinned outside. See that white glow coming off my stomach? That's the healthy glow of preventing skin cancer, not to mention wrinkles.

There you have it - what I would wear to the beach. It's not just comfortable to move around in, but I feel comfortable in it. I mean, no woman I know feels 100% awesome walking around in a swimsuit. For me, though, this look covers up just enough to not feel bare and hides the parts I'm less comfortable with, but reveals enough to show a bit of skin and show off the parts I worked hard to tone. And that's what's most important, that YOU feel good in whatever you're wearing to the beach!

Did you check out the other 6 hot chicks taking part in this week's challenge yet? No? GO GO GO! Give 'em a cheer for showing off their hot bods to the interwebs! Pop over and say hello to:

If you'd like to join our style crew, send any one of us an email! In two weeks we'll be tackling what to wear to a bon fire. One of my favorite late summer/fall activities!

Until then, have a beautiful day. We're still in Seattle looking for an apartment, where there will definitely be no beach going... ;)

shanti >> sondra

outfit details >
swimsuit + watch: Target
shorts: bdg via Urban Outfitters
sunglasses: f21
scarf: vintage, thrifted
sandals: The North Face
bracelets: from all over
basket: gift from Panama



Monday Muses >> On a Tuesday

Why, hello there lovelies, fancy running into you here! Since you dropped by, d'ya wanna see some stuff I've been digging this week? Great! I just happen to have this little collage made up to show you.

1> This is the greatest stuff known to man. Well, that one man with very frizzy hair at least. I had a gift certificate to Aveda that needed using, so I went in to the store the last time I was in Berkeley to get some conditioner. I had some money left over still, so I picked up this Smooth Infusion Style Prep Smoother and gave it a whirl. Let me tell you, this stuff is life-changing. Okay, maybe not life-changing, but definitely hair-changing in that it is honestly much much smoother and silkier when I use this. It says it's good for up to 12 hours, and I'll be giving it a run for its money in Seattle. Oh, and if you've never used Aveda products before, you need to. They smell sososososososo amazing. And I'm not exaggerating or being sarcastic even a little. Plus it's plant-derived and organically sourced and what not.

2> The new Ikea catalog came in the mail last week. I just flipped it open and happened to see this rug, which has now lodged itself onto my gottahaveit mental list in my brain. Since we're getting a new apartment, a few new things to spruce up the pad are surely in order, amirite? Plus it's only $69.99. Steal. Of. The. Century.

3> I alllllmost hesitated to post this, but what's the point of having your own blog if you can't be real on it? So I am obsessed with this South African music group, Die Antwoord. They are the strangest, craziest, most creative-est thing I have seen in Buddha-knows-how-long. But here's the thing; their music and videos are um, explicit, to say the least in pretty much all ways possible. But I kinda love it, and I kinda love their crazy style of music they call "rave rap." I'm just gonna link to the Wikipedia here so it's all SFW and all if you wanna read about them, but if you're curious to see more, then give 'em a good old fashioned search on the youtubes and see what I'm talking about. There is creative genius coming out of every pore of these two (three?).

4> I got this way too expensive twist scarf from American Apparel this weekend (but in a peach color, not this mint), and I love it. It has wire in it so you can twist it however you want, and it stays perfectly put all day long. I kinda want another one in another color, but the price tag makes it hard to justify. I'll just have to love the one I got extra good and pretend I got two.

This is what I'm digging this week. How about you?

Have a beautiful Tuesday.

shanti >> sondra



Somebody >> That I Used to Know

Hola, amigas! (or -os? Probably not too many...) I have just returned from a weekend of over indulgance -- eating too much, drinking too much, and not moving my body enough. It was a blast though, as a very dear old friend and her boyfriend came up from L.A. to see us and the sights of NorCal before we move along in a few weeks. It was a lot of fun playing tourist one last time before we leave, eating at our favorite restaurants in San Francisco and watching the fog roll over the Golden Gate Bridge and across the city. I haven't taken any pictures off my camera yet, but here are a few I snapped with my phone that sum up the weekend pretty well:
(From L-->R, T-->B)
Grapes in the vineyard> Tasting sparkling wines at Mumm Napa> Dahlias in bloom in Golden Gate park> Beautiful wire sculptures at the De Young Museum> Sweets and treats at Bouchon> Delicious fresh watermelon cocktails at Urban Tavern

I'm ready to resume my regular life and schedule, but alas, that is not to be this week (probably not for many weeks, unfortunately). We're leaving this afternoon to go up to Seattle to look for an apartment! Eek. I can't believe it's time to finally make this whole move thing a reality. I really hope we're able to find a place that we love in a neighborhood we like. We've always had good apartment karma though, so hopefully it holds up this time around. I've just never had to go to a new city that I've never even visited and had to view, decide on, apply for, and get an apartment within the span of a few days. So, yeah, a bit nerve-wracking, but I'm hoping for the best. And I'll definitely keep you all posted! I'm working this afternoon on putting together a few posts to keep this baby afloat while I'm away, but I might be a little quiet with comments and whatnot. We're driving to Mt. Shasta this afternoon and camping there and doing some hiking tomorrow morning, then driving the rest of the way. I'll be sure to get lots of pictures to share here when we get back! Keep your fingers crossed for us that we find a nice place...! :/ 

shanti >> sondra



Kitchen Meditation >> Summer Squash Soup

It's that time of year. You know the time. When all of your hard garden work pays off ALL AT ONCE. You thought you wanted summer squash, but did you think that you would want to eat like 6 of them in a sitting? I actually didn't even plant summer squash, but we got a heap of them in our CSA box last week, and they needed a home, and quick. Enter, this fantastic soup recipe from the incomparable Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks fame. I even feel a little silly posting about such an awesome chef and blogger on this here ole' humble internet space of mine, but just in case you have not run into her site yet, then GO.  She comes up with the most inventive, tasty, healthy, whole foods based recipes that I have ever seen. Almost everything I have made of hers has come out great, and several of her recipes have become staples at our house ever since I got her newest cookbook (a year old now) Super Natural Every Day. I hadn't made this particular recipe since last summer (probably the last time I had a mound of squash that needed eating), and I forgot how good it really is. Plus, then there were leftovers for lunch today, so double score!

The recipe features summer squash (duh), but it's rounded out with some potato which gives it a bit more body, and curry and coconut milk. There's also plenty of onion and garlic here, which in my opinion, you can never go wrong with. Don't be afraid of the tofu "croutons." They're SO good, and they add protein to make this a super-filling meal. But if you don't love tofu you can totally skip it and just add regular bread croutons, or even have none at all. Serve with some crusty bread and you're done! Aside from a bunch of chopping, this recipe is super easy and requires not a lot of time or special skillz.

Here's the recipe with my notes/tips in blue.

Summer Squash Soup with Curry and Tofu Croutons (from Super Natural Every Day)

8 oz. extra firm tofu
1 tbsp. thai red curry paste (I used green)
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 large shallots, chopped
1.5 pounds (about 5 medium) yellow squash or zucchini, sliced in half then cut into 3/4" chunks (really any summer squash is fine, mine were green AND yellow, I'm not even sure what they were)
12 oz potatoes, unpeeled and diced into tiny cubes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 C. lightly flavored vegetable broth or water (I used low sodium chicken broth)
1 14oz can coconut milk (I used light to lessen the saturated fat content)

1> Season the tofu with a pinch of salt, toss with olive oil, then brown in a large, heavy skillet for about 5 minutes - until browned on one side. Toss gently and continue to cook until browned on all sides. Set aside. (The more golden and crispy they are, the better. But, careful! Tofu is sneaky and goes from being perfect to burnt in like 30 seconds. Be sure not to have the heat any higher than medium.)

2> Mash the curry paste with the oil until well blended. Heat the curry-oil in a large heavy pot until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the shallots and a dash of salt and sauté until the shallots are tender. (Make sure you have EVERYTHING chopped and ready to go when you start heating the oil, as you'll add things very quickly and won't have time to chop.)

3> Stir in squash and potatoes and cook until squash begins to get tender. Stir in the garlic, then add the broth & coconut milk. Bring just to a boil, then simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.

4> Here you have a choice. You can leave it chunky, or you can puree it with an immersion blender. I personally love pureed soups that I can sop it up with bread, so I puree mine. This is also why I used green curry, so when you blend it you don't get a "red + yellow/green = brown" pile of gross looking mush. Although it tastes totally fine if do decide to puree it anyway). 

5> Taste and adjust salt or curry paste if needed. Serve each bowl topped with tofu croutons. (I have found that I have to add A LOT more curry paste to taste how I like it - a tablespoon or more. Maybe it's the brand I use, I don't know, but don't be afraid to add to your heart's content). 

Eating healthy, whole foods is one way that I honor my body and spirit, and it feels so good to put something homecooked into your belly. I used to HATE cooking, but I now love the rhythmic chopping and dicing, the stirring and sauteing. It's like it's own little kitchen meditation. :)

Bon appetit! I hope if you try this that you like it!

shanti >> sondra



You Are Getting Very Sleepy >>

Hiya, guys! I'm very excited to be able to say that as of today, I am a contributing writer for DoYouYoga.com, a daily blog written by yogis for yogis. I'll be contributing bi-weekly articles there and participating as a part of their yoga expert community. Yay!

If you're a new reader who found your way here from DYY, welcome! Pour yourself a chai tea latte, kick off your shoes, and make yourself home!

The articles that I write there will probably be a little more yoga-practice oriented rather than the more yoga-lifestyle related content I write for this blog, but I'll summarize them here (and also add some stuff that maybe didn't fit with the original article) with a link to the posted article if you want to know more.

My first offering? 3 Yoga-Inspired Tricks to Help You Fall Asleep.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I have trouble sleeping. I personally don't have much trouble falling asleep, but more often I have trouble with waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep. Then, one bad night of sleep leads to another, because I put even more pressure on myself the next night to get a good night's sleep, which of course backfires on me. It sort of builds up into a vicious cycle of bad nights of sleep. The three tricks that I mention here are all things that have worked wonders for me in the past, and I regularly turn to in case I find myself staring at the ceiling at 4am. Check out the complete article on DYY to find out the details on how to do each technique.

1.> Be aware of your breath. Counted breathing can work wonders for slowing down both the body and the mind.

2.> Try Jin Shin Jyutsu finger holds. A friend from my yoga teacher training taught us this as a way to meditate, but I love using it to help me fall asleep. The reason I can't get back to sleep sometimes is usually because I start thinking about too many things, and I can't turn my mind off. This technique helps me sort my thoughts and organize my mind-clutter.

3.> Use visualization. This is another good one for helping you manage your mind. I go over a couple of visualizations that are good for relaxing and taking your mind off of whatever is keeping you up.

Pop over to DoYouYoga.com to learn more, and check out my article and the rest of their offerings! I hope these tricks help you if you have ever have trouble falling asleep.

Oh, and have a wonderfantastamazeballs weekend everyone! I'm off to pick up some friends from the airport, and then we're heading to Napa for some wine tasting. So excited!

shanti >> sondra



Change Your >> Perspective

This afternoon I met up with a couple of my favorite yoginis for an afternoon yoga class. The three of us had recently been discouraged by some frustrating experiences in our personal lives, and we had made a committment to really engage in our yoga practice together. We picked this class off the schedule because it was a time we could all agree upon, but after we showed up, it happened to be the perfect class for where we were all at mentally and emotionally.

Funny how that happens, huh?

The theme of the class was "changing your perspective." The teacher talked about how oftentimes in life we can't change our circumstances, but what we can change is our perspective of any given situation. It means giving up always being right, and allowing your heart to open with love, understanding, and compassion for other people and where they're at on their own respective journey. It reminded me of what I had written about yoga and happiness the other day, and how a shift in my own perspective had truly opened me up to a new life filled with new opportunities.

We were able to demonstrate this in our class today by literally seeing the world upside down in a handstand. While it's lots of fun to play around with the pose itself, it truly does give you a new view of your world. Did you ever hang upside down as a kid and imagine what it would be like if the ceiling was the floor and the floor was the ceiling? I totally did! And when was the last time you tried it as an adult? C'mon, try it with me! You don't have to go full-on handstand to appreciate the lesson...just use your couch!
Isn't it amazing how different your own familiar space looks so different just by flipping upside down?

Try and go upside down for a few minutes...and see how your own perspective changes. While you're there, think about something in your life that you wish you could change right now, but can't. Maybe a new approach is in order...? (Plus, all that blood and fresh oxygen rushing to your head won't hurt things either.) :)

shanti >> sondra