Home Away >> From Home

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra

image via vanilla & lace


In the Darkness >> I Fade to Grey

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra



Giving Up >> The Ghost

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

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

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

Have a lovely Thursday!

shanti >> sondra



Brown Paper Packages >>

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

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



Days of Solace >> Nights of Peace

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

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra



So Fresh >> And so Clean, Clean

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

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> On a Road Trip

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

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

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra

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



Glowing With >> a Glittering Gladness

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

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

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra

image sources



Taking It >> Slow

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

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

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

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

Take good care of yourself!

shanti > sondra

image via



Wringing Out >> To Ring In

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

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

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

shanti >> sondra