Affirmation >> 02

This week's affirmation comes at a point when I feel like the New Year's intentions we set for ourselves really start to wane. I know that's definitely true for me! I find it really hard during the dog days of winter (if you will) to feel motivated and inspired to make healthy decisions. My mind says, "Go for a long walk! Eat that kale!" and my body says, "Let's watch a movie! And drink lots of mugs of hot chocolate!"

So, this one is for any of you struggling alongside me this week. :)

shanti >> sondra



To Baker Lake >> I Took My Cake

Last week, we took a little day trip to do some hiking. I originally wanted to go out to the Olympic Peninsula  but we're trying to save some money and it involved either an expensive ferry ride or else staying overnight. So, we went up to Baker Lake where we've been near before, and enjoyed some sunshine and fresh air.

It was grey and cloudy in Seattle, but when we got far enough north we were rewarded with blue skies, and temps that felt like early spring.
The hike basically followed above the shoreline, and it wasn't anything too remarkable, but it was nice to get out and do something active. I packed along some of the cake I had made earlier in the week, and I had a good time taking pictures of the light through the trees.
I don't think I'll ever NOT enjoy taking pictures directly into the sun. There's just something about the way it makes all of the greenery glow....mmmmmmmm! Magical.

We finished the day with pizza and drinks in Bellingham, which is the best way to end any day spent hiking. Or wait, that's actually the best way to end ANY day!

Have you taken any trips out to the great outdoors lately?

shanti >> sondra



Currently >>

Drinking > Chai. Duh, what else?

Listening > Right this instant, I am listening to Jens Buchert's Into The Silence. Perfect chill-out background music.

Anticipating > Book club this afternoon! Me and some of the girls from work started a book club, and today's our first discussion. We read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. A solid read, pretty light, and made me excited to hit a hiking trail for a longer backpacking adventure.

Planning > Need I say, my trip to India?! Actually, there's not too much planning I need to do. But I did visit the travel clinic the other day to see about getting vaccines and malaria meds. Exciting!

Watching > Lots of things! We've been watching The Story of India on Netflix, which, even if I wasn't going, is FASCINATING. I know so little about the history of this part of the world, and this is such a well produced documentary series. Also recently watched: Girls, Top Chef, Project Runway, and Happy People: A Year on the Taiga

Missing > My friend Anna...but she's coming to visit from Minneapolis this weekend! I can't wait to hit the town with her for some good time lady-lovin'. :)

Reading > The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr. This was loaned to me by someone who thought I would like it, and so far, I really do. It's a collection of short stories, which is one of my favorite formats. Wow, I have really been on a reading roll lately!

Wanting > A new phone. Big time. I gotta save up some dollar-dollar bills first though.

Making me happy > Honestly? Piko. Seeing her furry face little beagle face when I walk through the door puts a big smile on my face, every time. :)

shanti >> sondra

>>currently template inspired by MyBillie!


The Secret Ingredient >> Is Love

Last weekend, Andy demanded cake. This is unusual. I am the one with the sweet tooth, not him. But when a man demands cake, you gotta give it to him, right? ;)
At any rate, it gave me a good excuse to try out this lemon + lavender cake that I had pinned on Pinterest. It was pretty simple to put together, but I didn't want to haul out the stand mixer, so I creamed the butter and sugar by hand. I dunno, I find something very gratifying about cooking the way my great grandmother might have. I mean, if I am going to all the trouble to bake from scratch, why not put a little extra sweat and love into it while I'm at it?

If you try this recipe and you really like lavender, I'd suggest doubling the amount of lavender. It was pretty subtle in mine, and I would have liked more. If you're not sure if you like the flavor of lavender, make it as is and see. It's a very unusual flavor, and not for everyone. Personally, I love it, and it has me itching to try out a few other lavender recipes that I've had up my sleeve.

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> to Karaoke

Clearly I am not doing karaoke here. Now, I love to belt out old tunes at the top of my lungs as much as the next lass, but I'm at least 4 gin and tonics away from that at almost all moments. BUT. If I were to go out for a night at the bar, here's something I would wear out. I will gladly accompany others who wish to sing, but I will not likely get up there with them.
That is, unless they have Salt 'n Peppa in the catalog. Then all bets are off. (I still know all of the words to both Shoop and Whatta Man. Classics!)

The main star of this outfit for me is the fur collar. All rock stars need a bit of fur, right? Then it's just an easy tank dress, a slightly fancy (because it's lacey looking? Does that make it fancy?) cardigan, tights, and my trusty Tom's wedges. Comfy, and dressy enough for a night out, but not too dressy to hit up dive bars.

How about you, do you like to get up there and sing your heart out? Or are you with me, nursing your g 'n t back at the table?

Check out the what the other ladies would wear for their nights out!  >>

shanti >> sondra 

<< outfit details (I'm going to start including prices I paid here, too, since almost everything I buy is some super-clearance rack score)
dress > UO ($10)
cardigan > target ($8)
tights > gap ($5)
shoes > Tom's ($80)
fur collar > h&m ($3)



Affirmations >> 01

Hiya. I thought I would start a semi-regular (since I am no good at straight regular) series on here of affirmations.

Affirmations can be powerful tools. Our heads are often filled with so much negative self-talk, and we all know how powerful THAT can be, amitrite? So, let's flip the script on it. Let's tell ourselves positive, loving, and powerful things. Let's build ourselves up rather than tear ourselves down. I chose this first affirmation because the name of my blog, abhaya, is the sanskrit word for fearlessness. I have let fear get the best of me on too many occasions, and it really does keep me from living my best life. This affirmation reminds me to get out there, try new things, take leaps, and say YES.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

shanti >> sondra



Tea for Two >> Two for Tea

It's no secret that I love tea. I drink many cuppas-a-day from October until April. The act of drinking a hot mug of tea is so soothing, so ritualistic. That's why I was so excited to make this blend of tea, and package it into tea bags to give as gifts this past Christmas. I came across the blend on michelle's blog, and made up a big batch one December afternoon. You'll need >

> 6 heaping tablespoons dried peppermint (digestion, stomach issues)
> 3 heaping tablespoons fennel seeds (fever reducer, anti-microbial, digestion)
> 2 heaping tablespoons dried basil (immunity, digestion)
> 1 heaping tablespoon licorice root (immunity, digestion)

I was able to find all of the herbs at a local herbal apothecary, and I was surprised at how inexpensive they were. For about the cost of one box of 20 tea sachets, I was able to make almost 3 times as many.

To make the tea bags, I used unbleached coffee filters with the sides cut off >
Staple the top closed; you can add a string here if you like, and even a tag at the end. For the tea I gifted, I added baker's twine for strings and filled mason jars with sachets. I then tied a ribbon around the top of the jar, and added a tag with the ingredients and their benefits. Voila!

I have making these little coffee filter tea bags ever since, for all of my loose leaf teas. I hate tea balls and the like, I always have the worst luck with them and end up with a bunch of leaves in my mouth somehow. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the steps!

shanti >> sondra

p.s. The winner of the GaiamTV giveaway is Richelle from INDIGOBEANcreations! Congratulations! You'll be getting an email soon!



Oh, the Places >> You'll Go

Guys, I am so excited...in a little over 6 weeks I'm going to India! I put my deposit down just before Christmas, but this last week I bought my plane tickets and got all of my visa paperwork submitted, so now it feels real.

My husband asked me a few months ago what I wanted to do for my 30th birthday, and I said go to India. I half meant it, half figured it would never happen. But then, one of my favorite yoga teachers announced that she was leading a retreat in Goa, India in March, and the price was not crazy. So I said yes. Without too much thinking about it, without asking too many questions, I leapt. Sometimes, things just feel right.

I'll be going with 7 other women connected in various ways to this yoga community, but the trick is, I have to get myself all the way around the world alone. We meet at the retreat center in Goa. I am strangely not nervous about this. I'm sure as the plane approaches Mumbai I will feel differently. But for now, I am just excited to spend two weeks on the beach, doing yoga, and immersing myself in something totally wonderful and strange.

Aaaaaiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! :)

shanti >> sondra



Give Away >> Reminder

Today is the LAST DAY to enter the giveaway for a yoga mat courtesy of GaiamTV. Last I checked, NO ONE had entered, so your odds of winning are amazing! ;)

Seriously, it is the perfect time to kick off your New Year's intention, and give yourself a little self-lovin.' DO IT :)

shanti >> sondra



More of This >> Less of That

Something I've been struggling with a lot lately is BALANCE. I will be the first to admit that time management is something I struggle with. But how do people keep up with everything all of the time? I cannot for the life of me find enough hours in the day to keep up with my blogroll, pinterest, facebook, instagram, etc., etc., let alone live a life interesting enough to even have something to blog about - and then find time to write said blog!

I know that I don't have to do any of these things. They are all voluntary, and frankly, blogging is my hobby and all of these things sort of go along with it (some more than others). I honestly enjoy all of these things, but man, doing it all everyday is time consuming. No wonder so many people get burnt out by it all! I give myself permission pretty frequently to skip things (for example, many days I don't check any of these things, and I'm very good at shutting it all down while on vacation. Also, I stopped tweeting because something had to go). But, then when you return, there's that much more to catch up that you have missed.

I recently found a really cool service called unrollme, which manages your email subscriptions and unsubscribes you from junk mail, and it is making my inbox very happy. Anyone have any time management tips or know any other resources out there for managing everything? I can use all the help I can get!

shanti >> sondra



So Pale >> So Luminous

I am down and out today with a bit of a vague cold/flu-like thing. I really don't feel too bad, but I'm tired. I'm trying to honor what my my body is telling me and take it easy today, reading and drinking many cups of hot honey-lemon water. These are a few pics from over Christmas vacation that I thought captured the winter light so beautifully and have been wanting to share. Now, back to bed for me!

shanti >> sondra



Giving, Getting >> Taking, Letting

One of my intentions for the year is to grow my blog and really settle into this space. I started it only a little more than 6 months ago, and since then, it has really evolved and changed a lot (and likely will continue to a bit!). I hit 50 followers this week on Google Friend Connect, which I know is hardly a drop in the bucket compared to some blogs, but is still exciting for me. That's why it was perfect timing when I was contacted by GaiamTV to partner up for a give away!

As my blog evolves, one thing that I know I want to continue sharing about, is my love of yoga. It's why I started this blog in the first place, and honestly, my practice has changed my life in so many amazing ways. I was lucky enough to be able to try out GaiamTV for the last couple of weeks, and I have nothing but good things to say about this service. Gaiam is the real deal in the yoga world; I have used their mats for years, practiced along with their DVDs, and lusted after many-an-accessory that they make. This extension of their brand is sort of like the "Netflix instant" for yoga and wellness videos, where you can stream hundreds of videos on yoga, pilates, cardio, meditation, and tons more. Not just videos, either - they're the full DVDs that you would buy at the store. On top of that, they have lots of full length movies and documentaries (I watched Happy last night - so good!) about a wide range of topics, from nutrition to eastern spirituality, to sustainability to ancient wisdom. They even have an app so you can take videos to go. Perfect for the gym or while you're travelling.

The winner of this giveaway will receive their choice of any yoga mat or accessory (up to $60 value), PLUS a free month of Gaiam TV! I am super jealous that I can't win this myself. This is the perfect opportunity to kick off your New Year's intentions, or just to continue on your own wellness journey!

To enter >
> You must sign up for a free 10 day trial of GaiamTV.
> You must be a follower of this blog via GFC or Bloglovin'.
> Leave a comment here letting me know how you plan to be healthier in 2013 (be sure to include an email address)!

Bonus entries (One bonus entry for each. Leave an additional comment for each thing done.) >
> Like GaiamTV on FB.
> Like the abhaya page on FB.
> Tweet/Pin/Share on FB to spread the word.

Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm PST 1/17/13, and contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Winner will be drawn at random. Good luck!

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> Stripes

I semi got my shiz together for this edition, guys! I remembered, AND had time to put together a post! Win! Except I forgot the minor detail of it getting dark super early, and not being home in time to take pics. Oops. So, alas, I put together a little spread here of some awesome stripey items I found that I would totally rock altogether as an outfit.
1> I have been afraid of blazers for a long time. I think they make me look like a stuffy old grown-up. But recently I've taken to wearing these blazers made out of thick sweatshirt-y material. They are super comfortable, and I think because they are a little less structured they don't make me look all weird.They add the perfect amount of polish. This one from Target is fantastic!

2> Um, these flats from Modcloth are amazing. They even have stripes on the inside! So they totally still count! And they are priced pretty reasonably, too. I'll have to keep my eye on these for when they come back in stock in my size.

3> Stripes on stripes is perfectly acceptable. I like the pop of green this scarf brings, plus the grey ties the shoes in. I top almost every outfit off with a chunky scarf these days. Anyone else?

4> I have a really similar pair of coral pants (these are F21), and I love them to pieces. They are surprisingly versatile, and would be great with the black and white stripe of the blazer. I'm also really digging the "flood pants" length that's popular right now.

To finish this outfit, I'd probably pair a plain white tank or tee under the blazer, and then I'd get 5> as a cover for my new Kindle. I'm pretty broke after the holidays, but I am currently coveting this one. Maybe next payday?

Be sure to check out the other ladies' offerings ~ we've had a few changes in the line up!

Shayla: Northern Exposure

shanti >> sondra



You Came >> You Went

I know I'm like, a week behind the rest of the interwebs, but I thought I'd post a bit about intentions. Or you might prefer to call them resolutions, or goals.

That's where the hang-up is for me. I am realizing that I am not a very goal-oriented person. You may recall a few months ago when I had set 4 simple goals for myself to accomplish before December. I did not accomplish all of them. And now I feel bad.

Goals work great for many people, but not for me. To me, they are benchmarks for what I have not accomplished; they do not motivate me, they are only reminders of how I have failed. Yesterday during yoga class, however, we came to one of my very favorite parts of practice: setting an intention.

Why would this be so special to me, when I detest goals so much? Maybe the difference is subtle, but to me it is huge. I want to be purposeful in my living and choices, and reminding myself of that in moments of need is SO SO useful to me. So I think that is my resoultion/goal for the year: to live with intention. Yes. My intention is to...live with intention. (Has that word lost all meaning for you yet? Heehee!)

This year, I intend...

-to make choices that support my health and well-being.
-to grow my blog and cultivate this space.
-to ground myself more firmly in my yoga practice.
-to turn 30, and realize the person (woman! I still feel weird calling myself that) I have grown into.
What are your resolutionsgoalsintentionsplans for this New Year? If you posted about it, leave me a link in the comments to check it out!

shanti >> sondra



Too Much >> Is Never Enough

Wow, 2+ weeks later, and I'm back! Going home for the holidays is always such an intense whirlwind of activity for me. So many friends, family, and places to catch up with, check out, and spend time with. Honestly though, this was one of my favorite trips home that I've ever had. I got to do SO MUCH. TOO much, in some regards (eating, drinking) but not enough in others (laughing, catching up, sleeping, exercising). I need a vacation from my vacation! Here's a little photo collection of moments while I was away.
1> Fancy manicure 2>Kringler on Christmas morning 3> Snow! 4> Yes, that's a cat under there
5> The best pizza ever 6> Dog and cat water battles 7> Book club reading 8> Lights in St. Paul
9>Winter light 10> High tea with grandma 11> Pool with friends 12> Icicles!
13 > Lights & ice in Minneapolis 14> NYE dancing 15> Flowers blooming in Seattle (?!) 16> Peace found on a walk

Now that I've got that catch-up out of the way, I can get back to regularly scheduled programming. I am SO EXCITED to be back to blogging, and back to the little community I've formed here. Honestly, I get so inspired by all of you and I really missed it the last couple of weeks.

shanti >> sondra