So Faintly >> You Came Tapping

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

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

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra



Near The >> Whitewashed Palings

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra



I Saw A >> Rainbow Today

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

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

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


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

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend, lovelies.

shanti >> sondra



What Does Your >> Soul Look Like

I have been feeling really quiet the last few days.

Not like, in a depressed way. Just in a quiet way. One part contemplative, one part withdrawn, and two parts the natural turning inward of Fall.

It's sort of nice actually, but not so good for the old blog I suppose.

In this month's issue of Yoga Journal, there was a lovely description of a pose (Bakasana) that I have been thinking about. "Balance isn't something that happens when you're standing perfectly still. It happens when you're staying strong and at ease with all of the fluctuations inside you."

I think that's exactly how I feel, like I am sitting with the fluctuations inside of me. Making room for them, letting them find their place.

Is there anything you need to make room for?

shanti >> sondra

image via



I'd Be A >> Heavenly Person Today

You have all been so kind in not calling me out on my lack of photo of the day posts. But I am here to call myself out today. I have taken pictures most days, but I admit, I did forget a few days. But, no bother, that does not mean that I failed.

With each new breath, I begin again.

So, here are pics from most of the last many days. Here is what my October has looked like >>

view of my lampshade as I fall asleep > shadows on my yoga mat > reading in the sun > opening night at the theater, getting ready to par-tay
fancy cocktails downtown > yoga in the sun > ack, fall is so pretty! > the gang gets some lovin' on
I love the 60s cool of the Pacific Science Center building > dahlias from Pike Place market > first real Seattle rain > aspen at the lake while out for a chilly walk
a helper to clean the closet > out for a walk in my slippers > motivational garbage can > a real hippie lunch break
those guys again > driving into a DOUBLE RAINBOW > feeling autumnal > the view from our walk on a sunshiny day

If you scrolled all the way through, then thank you for making it this far. I will for-certainly-most-definitely-probably-maybe be better about my pics going forward. Inhale...exhaaaaale.

shanti >> sondra



Stars Were Hanging >> Like a Crown

Along with my pull between being a city mouse or a country mouse, I also feel a tug between living a life of simplicity, and one of ...amassing (for lack of a better word).

Take one look inside my home, and you'll see the amassing. Piles of quilts, stacks of books, and baskets of woolen socks. I like the clutter, it's comforting. I limit the amassing only to certain things I enjoy finding and then displaying; they tend to be of the pretty, cozy sort. I don't believe in specialty gadgets in the kitchen, I don't keep cheap paperbacks that I've already read, and I don't like gimmicky products. So I am selective in the clutter (usually), but the fact remains that there is Too Much Stuff to fit into my tiny dream cabin.

When I let my mind wander, it invariably ends up resting in a place that likes a lot like these pictures here. Lots of wood, a fire in the stove, and trees all around. A dog running in and out of the house, and days filled with quiet tasks and trips into town. Walks in the woods, and snow falling outside of the windows.

Le sigh.

shanti >> sondra

 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 << Sources


What to Wear >> Laundry Day

Can I be real guys? I don't do laundry that often. There are a two reasons for this. The biggest reason is that I have an obscene amount of clothes. If I waited until I was down to the nitty gritties clothes-wise, I would probably do laundry like, twice a year. True story.

The second reason I don't do laundry that often is that I only wash things when they are actually dirty. It must be stinky, spilled on, sweated in, or otherwise soiled to be washed (with the exception of underthings. Duh.). Judge me if you will. I do not wash things like jeans and sweaters every time that I wear them. So between having a lot of clothes and not washing things every time I wear them, what dictates when I do laundry is when I run out of good underwear. And I am a lady of good repute, so I will not be showing you a photo of me in my laundry day underwear.

Instead, I thought I'd show what I've been wearing around the house lately. If I am at home, chances are good that you will find me in some version of this outfit. It is warm, comfortable, and decent looking enough to run up to the cafe for a chai, as I did this morning.

There's nothing too special here, but I'd like to point out a couple of things that take this outfit to the next level for me. The first are these leggings. They are American Apparel's winter leggings, and they are magnificent. I have three pairs of these and have been wearing them for 4 years now, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are the thickest, warmest, stretchiest, bestest things in the winter. They saw me through many below zero (Fahrenheit!) days in Minnesota, and have kept me warm on many cold nights camping. They are a little expensive as far as leggings go, but trust me, SO WORTH IT.

The other thing of note here, is this little grey skirt. I recently realized that this cheap cotton tube skirt is the perfect thing to pull over leggings when out running errands, or coming and going from yoga class. It provides just the right amount of modesty, and makes it look like you are actually dressed and not out in your jammies.

Here's the roundup of participants this week, be sure to check them out!

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper | Adriana: Horses of Ares | Marcia: Moose in Chartreuse | 
Dorien: Bodacious Thought | Lisa: notladylike | Sarah: Exploring Woods | 
Katherine: thinkin' outloud | Amanda: Salvaged Strawberry | 

shanti >> sondra

<< wearing
hoodie, slippers >> target
leggings >> american apparel
scarf, skirt >> f21



Running >> Into the Sun

In my yoga class yesterday, my teacher said something about imaganing yourself as a hollow bone.

I don't know why, but for some reason that has really stuck with me.

Weird. I thought I'd write a haiku.

hollow bones so smooth
the emptiness, the potential
fill her up inside

shanti >> sondra



The Rain Came Down >> With a Rhythm

Whew, what a weekend. It got off to a good start, with dinner out and a drink shared with some of Andy's new colleagues, but I ended up pretty sick later that night. Still not sure if it was something I ate or what, but the rest of Saturday was mostly a wash, with an afternoon spent reading and watching Netflix. Yesterday was spent at work, and it ended with a rainy walk to a nearby pub for a beer (for him) and peppermint tea (for me). All in all, let's call this weekend a draw, shall we?

On to Monday things. I wanted to share my final takeaway from my cleanse week, and a little bit of what's been going on lately with me. I was overall pretty proud of myself with sticking with it, if only for a week. I am a lady of little will power and self-discipline, so it is good when I see something through. The surprising thing that I learned was that I found that the fasting was the most profound experience for me, and I never even intended to fast. I found it kept me present like nothing else, and really brought me back to the reason why I was doing it in the first place. The rest of the week, I kept to a vegan diet, and I avoided soy and any processed foods. I felt pretty "meh" about that part of it. I am really interested in the idea of fasting though, and would like to try it again soon. I read up on the religious traditions that incorporate it, which is pretty much all religions, and found it fascinating. I am playing around with the idea of doing a short fast before Thanksgiving, as a way of really thinking about my gratitude for the abundance in my life...

And now for your reading pleasure, a Life Lately segment. 'Tis inspired by Elizabeth and Julie, who were apparently inspired by Danielle.

Reading >
The Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf. I am going to post a full review of this soon, but right now I'm about half way through. It's a quick, light read, and a nice palette cleanser after reading Desert Solitaire which was a bit more heady.

Watching >
We are not actually in the middle of anything right now. Last week we finished This is England '88 which was phe.nom.i.nal. The whole This is England series (the movie, and subsequent BBC miniseries' This is England '86 and '88) is deeply moving and so well done. So, coming off the heels of that, we tried to get into Bleak House to no avail. While I was poorly (a new British-ism I picked up), we watched If a Tree Falls, which was also quite good. I love me a good documentary, and this one was the best kind. It tells the story of the Earth Liberation Front, and follows one of their members' prosecution on charges of eco-terrorism. SO thought provoking, about what it means to be an activist, about morality, and what it might take to see the changes we seek in this world.

Anticipating >
Getting a handle on our messy house. Since it is small and so full of things, it doesn't take much for it to get out of hand. We need to devise some organizational systems. Tomorrow we start with the Big Daddy of our problems: my closet. Eeek. But it will feel so good when it's done!

Thankful For >
Rainy days, feeling good, and being back on dairy. :) It was rainy all weekend, which had the pleasant side effect of making my hair all wavy. I am looking forward to a winter of soft, pretty hair! I am obviously thankful to be feeling better, nothing like being sick to remind you of how great it is to NOT be sick. And lastly, I am thankful for milk and cheese, which I sorely missed last week. Almond milk is all right, but chai just isn't the same without some good old fashioned cow's milk.

shanti >> sondra



The Desert >> Says Nothing

Desert dreaming...sigh. I have really been craving a trip to the Southwest lately. It might be because I just finished reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. A fantastic read, by the way. He writes about the landscape near Moab, Utah as if he were a man starving to death and dreaming of a cheeseburger.
So, yeah, it might be that. It might also be the fact that last year I went to Utah in October to chase petroglyphs in canyons and then went to Zion over Veteran's Day weekend. The year before that we went to the Grand Canyon over the same weekend. So maybe it's the time of year as well.
Or it might be that Southwest prints and textures are all the rage right now. And lordy knows, I have embraced it. Moccasins, burnt oranges, fringe, and geometric designs...yummy.
Or it might just be because the American desert is a magical, soulful place where you can really hear yourself think and let yourself be enveloped by the beauty. The desert says nothing and asks for nothing.
I suspect that as the damp, grey Northwest days climb in number, my desire for the solitude, the sun, the empty will intensify...

shanti >> sondra

image sources 1 > 2 > 3
Fourth image by me from 2010



Soothe Your Throat >> Soothe Your Soul

Hi, guys. We were supposed to go to the mountains for a hike today, but instead we are taking our kitty in to the vet. She's prone to painful crystals forming in her bladder (TMI?) because sometimes she doesn't drink enough water, but usually we're able to catch it quickly and coerce her into drinking more. This time though, she doesn't seem to be getting better, so in we go. Her appointment isn't for a couple of hours, so I have a little extra time to work on blog stuff instead. Well, when life gives you lemons...you should whip this little recipe up...? ;)
When I came across this in my Facebook feed a few weeks back, I knew I had to make it. It sounded too simple, too smart, too obvious not to make it. I often suffer from frequent sore throats and dry, awful coughs in the winter, in particular following any type of cold or upper respiratory thing. The coughing gets so bad sometimes that it keeps me up at night. I have tried pretty much every cough syrup out there, including prescription ones, and I am here to tell you that they do not work. What does work? Honey! It really coats your throat and soothes that tickly feeling.

Here's how to make this simple elixir. You'll need:

> a glass container that seals
> enough lemons to fill it
> honey
> 1"-2" piece of ginger root

Slice. Fill. Done.
Refrigerate. After awhile, the lemons will sort of dissolve into a jelly-like substance, and you can just add a spoonful or two to hot water when you feel like you need a little self-care. In addition to the honey coating your throat, the lemons help to cut mucous, and the ginger works as a natural decongestant. The jar should last 2-3 months in the refrigerator. According to internet lore, this stuff is ubiquitous in Asia, and you can buy it pre-made in any grocery store there. But what fun is that?

While I certainly hope I don't get sick and need to use this, I'm glad I already have this mixed up and ready to go for when that inevitable first cold strikes. If only it worked for cat bladder problems!

shanti >> sondra



The Leaves Began to Fall >> No One spoke At All

Hello, souls. I hope you all had a lovely and restorative weekend. Mine was mostly spent at work, but I wanted to share one little bit from my weekend, plus an update on how the first part of my cleanse went.

Yesterday afternoon we headed downtown for a bit of wandering, and then I suggested we drive out to the edge of Ballard to see what there was to see. We ended up at a marina on the Sound, and the light was so pretty. Luckily I had grabbed my camera to take along. Here's my favorite picture >
This is Leif Ericson, Norse explorer. Ballard was largely home to the Scandinavian seafarers who settled here to work on the docks and out at sea, and still maintains a strong Scandinavian community. Andy and I are both of Nordic descent, and grew up in place that is heavily Scandinavian. Feels like home!
I'm such a sucker for taking pictures into the sun. I just love the way it looks.

Well, cleanse update. I did it...! Well, the first part, anyway. It was a really interesting experience. The first day I didn't mind it at all. The kitchadi is pretty tasty, it tastes just like an Indian dish which is exactly what it is. But by the end of the second day, I just did not find it appetizing. I mean, there's not much I would still find appetizing after eating it two days straight. Instead, I decided to just go without. And the next day, too. I found the process of sitting with my hunger more interesting and thought provoking than eating the kichadi, which I did not expect at all. I found that I sort of liked feeling the dull gnawing in my stomach. It was a constant, but subtle reminder of what I was choosing to do, and I found it easier to focus my thoughts.

Some random observances:

> While watching a movie the other night, there was a scene with news footage of starving children in Africa. You know, the scenes you always see of terrible starvation, bellies distended, and people made of nothing more than skin and bones, held together by the last of their spirit. Right then I wanted to punch myself.

> Our social life pretty much revolves around consuming things. I honestly could not come up with anything I wanted to do that didn't involve eating or drinking something. At night, at least. Since I work until 8pm most evenings, all I could come up with on the fly was watching things. Or board games. Anybody have any other creative ideas?

> The things I found myself craving the most were cheese and bread. I have heard that consuming these things can create addiction pathways in the brain similar to other stimulants...perhaps there is some truth to that?

I have switched to eating unprocessed vegan foods for the the remainder of my cleanse. For me, I can already tell that the biggest benefits of a project such as this have nothing to do with my physical body. Being conscious, aware, and intention-ful in my everyday life is such a gift....

I'll be sure to share my final thoughts on this week when I'm all done. Until then...

shanti >> sondra

p.s. I have been keeping up with my photos of the day, but I can't find my USB cord to upload them! I've ordered another, but until then, I'll keep snapping away to keep up with this other goal. :)



Hello, Autumn >>

Today is the first day of my cleanse. I have to admit, I sort of don't want to do it. I mean, I do and I don't. But by putting it out there, making it one of my goals, and then having the happenstance of Laura Emily hosting a clearing out event today, I knew that I must.

I have decided to do a very loosely based Ayurvedic cleanse. The full Ayurvedic Fall cleanse is pretty intensive, lasts several weeks, involves fasting, and traditionally, also involves forced vomiting and blood letting. Yikes! Clearly I will not be doing that! Instead, I took the parts that appealed to me, mashed together other things that appeal to me, and am calling it a cleanse. For the first 3 days I am going to eat an Ayurvedic dish called Kitchadi, which is an easy to digest dish of rice, mung dal beans, veggies, and lots of warming spices (think ginger, tumeric, cinnamon). The point of this is to support my body's natural ability to cleanse and be strong, by allowing it time to rest and revitalize. The spices aid circulation and blood flow, further allowing the body's natural processes to take place. In addition, I'll have warming herbal teas and LOTS of water. After three days, I'll transition to eating a seasonal diet of whole foods, prepared simply--vegan and refined sugar-free. This might not sound very intensive to some of you, but for me, it's a big step. I am a lover of all things desert, pizza, and chai lattes. While I do eat a pretty healthy and whole-foods based diet most of the time, I allow for plenty of splurges and enjoy lots of things in moderation. Well, not this week...!

The other part of the cleanse, is a mental cleanse. Every day, I intend to be mindful and set aside some time for yoga, meditation, and/or reflective thinking/journaling. These are also things that I do regularly, but not always everyday and not always with a specific intention. I hope to clear my head-space a bit, and develop a focus and clarity as we move more fully into Fall, and then to Winter. After such a chaotic year, I'm sure there is all sorts of mind clutter in the corners that could be swept out.

I'll post an update of my progress early next week...

Are you joining the Hello, Autumn clearing out? Do you have a space -physical, mental, emotional- that could use some attention?

shanti >> sondra

Image source 1 



What to Wear >> Pumpkin Patch

This was the MOST fun post to put together! It gave us an excuse to head out of town for a brief adventure, plus the patch we ended up at was run by the nicest guy. It was just his little hobby farm, and he does the whole thing for fun. We were the only people there on a Tuesday morning (go figure), and he took us on a tractor ride and let us play with his dogs. Win. Anyway, here's what I wore for the affair.

It was chilly when we left the house, but after tromping around a bit, I warmed up. Thus why I am wearing a sweater in some of these pictures, and not others. I think anything comfortable is good for a trip like this, but I was mighty glad I had worn rubber boots for the fields. It's been a really dry September here, so the field was pretty dusty. The boots kept me nice and clean, and I didn't worry about the leaves and stems snagging my leggings.

As always, be sure to check out the other What to Wear ladies and their fabulous ensembles. And, if you'd like to join us, just send any one of us an email!

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper | Adriana: Horses of Ares | Marcia: Moose in Chartreuse | 
Dorien: Bodacious Thought | Lisa: notladylike | Sarah: Exploring Woods | 
Katherine: thinkin' outloud | Amanda: Salvaged Strawberry | 

shanti >> sondra

<< wearing
dress, cardigan, boots >  target
leggings >  kensie
scarf >> h&m
belt >> anthropologie


From Fading Light >> On Flying Wings

It's happened. I'm up to a four cups of tea a day minimum, I've been wearing scarves non-stop, and yes, I have baked with gourds. It seems like it changed from Fall-ish to F.A.L.L. almost overnight. Ahhhh, I love it when that happens. This is my first real Autumn since leaving Minnesota almost three years ago. Forgive me while I revel in it.

The change of the seasons is in my bones, in my cells, in the fibers of my being. I can't begin to describe how distressing it was to not be in tune with Nature's rhythms the last few years. While I was sloooowly adjusting to the beat of a new drum in California, I think it would have taken several more years to un-do the previous 25 years that my bio-clock was already synced to.

And now, some gratuitous photos of baked pumpkin goods.
This is a Pumpkin Pear Bread from this month's issue of Vegetarian Times. I loved the concept of the big chunks of pear in the bread, but I won't make this one again; I just wasn't a fan of the bread parts of this one. I think just adding pear to your favorite pumpkin bread would be delicious though.
These muffins, however, were quite good. Any muffin with a crumbly topping is a winner. I used raisins in them as the recipe called for, but dried cranberries would be super good, as well as maybe some chopped walnuts or shredded carrot.
Ahhhhh, isn't Yogi Tea the best?! Nothing like a little tea bag wisdom. Have you been cooking with gourds lately? Let me know if you have any killer recipes!

Embracing the season over here...
shanti >> sondra



Lights >> From Pages

Here are my photos since my last photo of the day update. I can't say I am in love with any of these images, but I guess the point wasn't to take beautiful pictures, it was to capture moments of everyday life.

From l to r, t to b >
I have been spending my lunch breaks in the grass, in the sunshine, reading. 'Tis lovely | Another day, another lunch break | This was at a bar I was at, and it cracked me up | Ahhh, finally MY weekend! (Mondays and Tuesdays are my days off)

shanti >> sondra


Find Where >> You Belong

Happy Monday, everyone. How was your weekend? Did you get a look at the Harvest Moon? My weekend was good, although I spent much of it at work. Working at a theater requires working a lot of nights and weekends, unfortunately. It's really a shame, because other than having to work on the weekends, I am loving my new job. Besides working, I went to a dinner party on Friday night, went out with new co-workers on Saturday night, and saw a play last night.

I did not, however, take any photos to speak of of any of these activities. I thought I'd share a few peeks of my favorite nooks in our new apartment here in Seattle. I took a few photos one day when the house was all nice and clean...which it is not anymore.

After moving 10+ times in the last 11 years, what I have learned is that any space will feel like home if you surround yourself with lots of things you love. As soon as we get unpacked and settled in a place, it always looks looks and feels like home. It's just like a, stuff re-mix, you know?

So, here's what our stuff is currently looking like.
This is my absolute favorite place in our new home. This is our front window, immediately to the left as you come in the front door. The window is bright and sunny, and has a view of a really cool pine tree right out of it. It's a great place to curl up with a book and a cup of tea. Or, just sack out all day everyday if you're one of our cats. They're pretty into this spot, too, as you can see. My yoga stuff is stored here as well, under the chair and in the basket under the table. The floor right here is just the right size to roll out my mat and practice, or to sit and meditate.
This is the corner directly facing the front window. We decided to set up our space a little unconventionally. Half of the living room are these sitting areas, and the other half is our computer and desk, with a loveseat facing it. This is partly because the layout of the living room was a little awkward, and partly becuase it makes sense for the way we use our home the most. We spend a lot of time on the computer, both using it and also watching things on it, so it works for us. We chose not to have a large space for entertaining a bunch of people, because honestly, we don't often have more than two people over at a time. Why set your house up to entertain and then barely use that space?
We opted instead to set up our smaller second bedroom as our "living room." We call it the den, though, short for "opium den." Haha, not because there is any opium doing going on, but because that was how I envisioned the room when I conceived of it. I wanted it to be nest-like, and full of pillows and comfort. We bought this this day bed from Ikea, which has storage underneath and pulls out into a full sized bed for guests. It's a pretty sweet piece of multi-tasking furniture. Plus, it's not upholstered so the cats can't scratch it up. Bonus. I threw a peach silk scarf over the lamp in there, so that the light is all soft and pink at night. So cozy! Our TV is set up in there, although we do not have it hooked up for actual TV. We stream Netflix to it, or watch movies via USB.

This is a small peek at my favorite places in our current home. All of the stuff you see here has been thrifted, gifted, or otherwise obtained on the cheap from places like Ikea and Target. If you have any questions about the origin of something, let me know!

In somewhat related news, I have been feeling really grounded lately. I'm not sure what it is, but after all the stress from moving wore off, I just fell right into living here in Washington. We have been here one month exactly, today. It just feels like home, so quickly, which was not at all what happened when we moved to California. The quality of the light, the crispness of the Fall air, the sun glinting off Green Lake; it all seems just right. I am trying to stay in the moment and not over think it too much. :) I'll be back later today with my photos of the day from the last few days.

shanti >> sondra