DIY >> Cut Out Geo Dress

Guess what?! I'm in Minnesota for a few days soaking up some good friends and family time! But don't fret, pets, as I've prepared some pretty sweet posts for my absence. However, please don't be offended if I'm even slower than normal to reply to any comments or emails. :) On to the DIY!

I saw this really cute tank at Urban Outfitters recently that had these triangle cutouts all around the middle, but I didn't buy it. Then, out of nowhere the other day, I thought, hey, I could do that! So I did. Well, a variation anyway. I've seen some cute tutorials for different t-shirt makeovers, so I thought I'd combine the two ideas. Here's the before and after >>
Fun, right? I used a t-shirt dress that I've had forever, but a regular tee would be great, too.

Besides a shirt, you'll need >>
- A piece of flat cardboard, sharp scissors, a cardboard cutout of desired shape, a marker or piece of chalk.

Here's how I got this look:
// Turn the shirt inside out, and lay it as flat and smooth as possible. Cut the sleeves off just inside the shoulder seam, following the line of the seam.

// Cut out the neckline. I used a big bowl to help me get it as even as possible, and used a marker to make a light line. You might want to use another shirt that you like the neckline of to use as a guide for how low you want to go.

// Place the flat piece of cardboard inside the shirt to make a flat surface. Using your cardboard shape, trace the pattern out that you want. Since the shirt is inside out, I just used a regular old fine Sharpie and pressed lightly. If you were fancy and had some dressmakers chalk around, that would be even better.

// After drawing out what you want, snip a hole in the middle of each negative space to make it easier to cut out. Then, carefully cut each shape. They don't have to be perfect since the edges will roll a bit, but the cleaner your lines the better it will look. Keep the cardboard in the shirt for the cutting out part, as it will ensure you don't accidentally cut through two layers (I've done it).

// Turn it right side out and rock your new frock out!

I'm a seriously un-crafty lass, so if I can do this, anyone can. Let me know if you try it out!

shanti >> sondra

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Spice it Up >> Cucumber Salsa

Most of the time, being one of those cooks who isn't big on measuring or following recipes too closely ("a pinch here, a handful there") works out great. I feel like I typically end up with tasty food, and I have a good intuition about what works and what doesn't. But every once in awhile, it comes back to bite you. This recipe was one of those times. Although, don't mistake me here -- because it was still REALLY good, and I am for sure going to make it again...but with one crucial adjustment.
So this, my friends, is cucumber salsa. Creamy, crisp, fresh tasting, and SPICY. ERMAHGOODNESSSPIIIIIICY! That's where the mistake came in...but it worked well with the challenge for this week -- "spice it up." Spice it up I did! I got too brazen with the jalapeño addition and that was where it went wrong. Usually the jalapeños I get are not very hot, and being a lover of spicy food, I can barely taste them. So I went ahead and threw the whole thing in, seeds and all. The little voice in my head said, "Wait! You can always add more, but you can't take it out! Start with half!" But then the other voice, was all, "Quiet, you! Just do it!"  Long story not any shorter, I highly recommend you make this, but go easy on the pepper, k?


1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
jalapeño pepper, SEEDED and chopped :)
1/4 c. chopped red onion
2 cloves minced garlic
4 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Mix the first seven ingredients in one bowl, mix the last 5 in another bowl, then combine. Serve with tortilla chips. 

// To make a vegan version, try a sour cream substitute like Tofutti's or make your own. Also, mine is a little creamier looking than yours will likely be, because I added extra sour cream to combat the heat. :)

// Reduced fat or fat free sour cream would work fine here, too, of course. If you're looking to lighten it up even further, you could even go down to just a couple of tablespoons without sacrificing too much flavor.

// You could easily skip the parsley, and add more cilantro instead. 

// This will be an awesome recipe when all of those cucumbers and tomatoes are piling up in the garden and markets later this summer! Recipe adapted from here.

This, of course, is this week's entry for the What She Ate linkup! Be sure to check out Kate at Miner Temptations  and Stacy at Let It Unravel to see what kinds of healthy, spicy creations they've come up with this week. And if you'd like to join us, in two weeks we'll be tackling outdoor eats with "No Ants at this Picnic." Send any one of us an email or comment if you'd like to cook along with us!

shanti >> sondra

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Affirmations >> 06

Of my favorite themes of my yoga practice, both on and off the mat, is gratitude. Honestly, I just can't get enough. Sometimes all it takes is noticing the small things in life that are good, to help us change our perspective on the not so good.
I hope you take a minute to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think of one thing in your life that you are grateful for today.

shanti >> sondra

{photo from my trip to India}

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It Felt Good >> To Be Out of the Rain

I almost didn't post these pics because I thought I might be boring you all to tears with all these desert trips. But then I looked through them again, and realized they were too pretty not to share. Besides, while it wasn't a new place, it was a new experience, because I went backpacking for the first time!
Here I am, strapping on the old hiking boots. Yes, that's a pink extension in my hair. A little camping is no reason to stop the jazz, amirite?
We got there right as the sun was about to set, so it was amazing and beautiful as we trudged along with our packs. We chose this place because a) it's warm there before the Western part of the state, and b) because we knew the hike to where we wanted to go was only a couple of miles. Perfect for a newbie like me. I've done tons of car camping, and tons of hiking, but I have never strapped on a backpack and walked until I felt like stopping to set up shop. I have to say, it was pretty amazing and I think I'm hooked.

One of the reasons why I had never done it before, was that it takes kind of a long time to acquire the right gear. That shizz is expensive! Sure, you can go out John Muir style with just a crust of bread and a wool blanket, but it's a lot more fun if you have things like a down sleeping bag to keep you warm and dry, and a tiny stove for a hot mug of tea in the morning. Finally, Andy and I have enough for the two of us to go out. We got all of our stuff slowly (4 years or so), through clearance racks, outlet stores, gifts, craigslist, and good ol' plunking cash down. Hopefully it's an investment that will last us for awhile!
This is in the morning, and you can see the waterfall in the background. This was Piko's first time camping, and the reason I know this is because she thought it was scary. She was SO confused when it got dark out and we were still outside. When we called her into the tent, she looked at us like we were insane. Poor lady. I'm not sure she slept too much! We're going to work with her on it though, because we have a lot of trips lined up that she's a part of! Other than that, she had a blast running around and scaring birds.

These are some of the aforementioned birds. They're ducks with little ducklings in tow, and as soon as Piko splashed down into the lake, they swam away. They found a pretty sweet spot though!

Oh, and we saw a rattlesnake. Actually, I heard it and then saw it. I think it was giving us a "hey, I'm here, don't mess with me" warning rattle. Eeeeee! We were in sight of the car though, so it wasn't too scary. Plus, it's already too hot out that way for any return trips until next winter probably.

Rattlesnakes aside, what was most exciting about this trip, was that it was a taste of the summer to come. In just about a month from now, we're setting off for three weeks of road tripping, camping, and hiking. Can't wait!

shanti >> sondra

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Film Photography >> On Some Girl

Hey gang! Remember the lovely Emily who stopped by the other day to share a few things that made her happy? Well, I'm over in her neck of the woods today sharing some photos I've taken on film. Below is one fine example, but I am betting you want to see more. Righty-o? Righty-o. Head on over to check out a few more!
shanti >> sondra

p.s. want to see more of my posts with film photography? I thought so.

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Currently >>

If you follow me on Instagram, then you've probably seen most of these photos, and if you don't follow me on IG, then why not? JK, dears, you do what you feel. ;)

I am officially on summer break from work. This also means I have a lot of catching up to do. Well, self-imposed catching up, but the ideas have been piling up nonetheless. I feel like I've been neglecting this space a bit lately, so I'm excited to have more time to play here. I was also way behind on blog reading; last night I had over 300 unread in my reader!

I also feel like I've been neglecting my living space, since we've been in this limbo of are we moving/are we not. We are frustrated with our current place for sure, thus the desire to move. But since it seems unlikely that we can make that happen right now, I really want to get on with the business of making our space work better for us in the meantime. And boy, do I have ideas! More ideas than money, unfortunately, but I'm excited to see what changes I can make. I'm sure I'll share some of my progress here.

Photos // wisteria while I walk the dog // a caterpillar on the sidewalk // the sun peeked out on our hike yesterday // I dyed my hair black! // Piko rolling in the grass // measuring spices to make an Indian pilaf // vintage goodies from an old friend // heron in the sound

Anticipating // Andy is leaving for a work trip for the next few days, and I think it'll be good time to get a jump start on all of this catching up I'm talking about! Although I'm not looking forward to the drive to the airport this afternoon in rush hour...blerg.

Feeling // Cold. It's 49 and drizzly out right now. What the heck, summer? Where u at? I've got the space heater out, and the wool socks on. 

Contemplating // Attending the Schoolhouse Craft Blogger Summer Camp. It looks like a couple of interesting panels, and I've never attended any of these kinds of events before. Anyone else out there going?

Excited for // I am excited for so much right now. In the short term, I'm excited for a little trip to Minnesota next week to see friends and family, and also to teach yoga this Saturday. Say whaaa? Yup, I'm teaching yoga again! I'm just teaching one small class of mostly people I know to get back into the groove, but I hope to expand my teaching over the next several months. It feels so good to be back sharing something I love. :) 

Loving // One of the girls I work with just got married, and her photos are gorgeous! She made a breathtaking bride, and her photographer, Carly Bisch, is very talented. Check out the beautiful set on Carly's blog!

Whew, so glad we're all caught up now! I caught up with and cleared out my blog reader this morning, and now you're all caught up on me. That's a lot of catching. Hopefully I'll catch you back right here, soon. :)

shanti >> sondra

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Five Things >> Guest Post

Happy Sunday, compadres! Boy, am I excited for this day to be over! I don't usually say that, what with my intention to try and live in the present and all, but today is my very last day of work for nearly 4 months. Yeeee! That's just 8 hours standing between me and summer break...pretty sweet. Plus, Mad Men is on tonight, so double win for today. 

In the meantime, I'm having Emily from Some Girl - a Diary over for a visit. You may have noticed her hanging out in my sidebar, but here's your chance to get to know the girl behind the button. :) Like what you see here? Why don't you pop on over to her neck of the woods and check out some more of her awesome skillz! Take it away, Emily!


Five things that make me happy...

1.) Traveling! This photo was taken on my way home from D.C. just a couple weeks ago. Probably my favorite place that I've been so far is northern India. It was absolutely gorgeous there. The foothills of the Himalayas were to die for. I'm headed to Cancun at the end of June and then Japan next spring! There's nothing better than getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing other cultures!
2.) My dog, Trixie. We picnic together at Fairyland (sandwiches and cracker cookies), go for Sunday tea at Beans and Brews, cuddle and watch movies, sleep in the same bed every night, and share bagels on the kitchen table. BFFs here, you guys. 

3.) Photography! I take my camera everywhere. I love taking photos, editing photos, looking at photos, talking about photos, literally everything. There is just so much beauty that can be captures and saved forever. I like the thought that you can save a moment in time forever. You know?
4.) School. I know this sounds weird, but I hate not being in school. It drives me nuts. Throughout high school, I took online classes and my senior year was a breeze because of it. Now that I'm in college, I do independent study packets. I just feel like summers are such a waste of time, unless I'm doing something that will progress my life in some way. It's a weird, restless thing, but then again, I'm a weird, restless person. Ha ha ha.

5.) JAKE COOPER. He is my husband in 46 days and I love him more than anything. He fills my gas tank every time, buys me candy, takes me on dates, lets me choose the movie, doesn't complain when I fall asleep twenty minutes into every movie, gives me back rubs, works so I don't have to, moves my stuff for me, supports me in whatever I do, and is just so great over all. He is the number one thing that makes me happy and I have no idea where I would be without him. I can't wait to spend forever with him!

Those are the things that make me happy. Being happy should be everyone's goal. I blog over at Some Girl - A Diary and I'd love to hear your thoughts on appreciating life and the little things. Thank you for taking the time to read this! I hope it brightened your day in some way!

- - - - -

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La Vie en >> Neon

I've been a little obsessed with all things neon lately. What can I say, I'm easily influenced by trends! But unlike it's 90s heyday, I'm loving the fresh new take on it this time around, paired with whites and grays and used as more of an accent. It just seems to freshen up whatever you put it with, so it's an easy way to update your style. For example, I bought a $10 neon yellow tank top from Target recently, and paired with basic skirts and shorts from summers past, it feels like a fresh new wardrobe.

I haven't ventured into neon beyond my closet yet, but I am loving all of the ideas here!

shanti >> sondra

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Naughty, but Nice >> Cauliflower Crust

Sorry it's been so quiet around here this last week! It's not for a lack of inspiration, in fact, quite the opposite.  It's more a lack of time and energy. I've been working some extra hours the last couple of weeks, plus a lot of my internet time has been consumed by stalking Craigslist for places to live. No luck so far. Sigh.

However, a girl still needs to eat, right? Enter this week's entry to the What She Ate link up! This week's challenge: naughty, but nice. I pinned a recipe for a cauliflower crust pizza not long ago, and was intrigued by the premise. I'm a sucker for anything that sneaks veggies in where you least expect them (note my smoothie obsession). Plus I LOVE LOVE LOVE pizza; I'd eat it nearly everyday if I could. Oh wait, I can, and sometimes I do. :)

I ended up reading through a couple of different recipes and the comments from people who tried them, and came up with my own version. And this is not just hyperbole -- it was SO GOOD. Definitely a keeper. My husband, who hates cauliflower and made a face when I brought it home, also loved it. He declared, "best cauliflower ever," and then questioned if there was actually even cauliflower in it.

Here's what I did >

1 c. grated raw cauliflower (about two c. florets)
1 egg
1 c. grated mozzarella cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning blend (oregano, basil, parsley)
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 450F. If you have a pizza or baking stone, this is a great time to bust it out. If not, no worries, a baking sheet will do, too. Leave it in the oven to heat up while the oven heats.

I used a food processor (well, sorta, the thing I make smoothies with) to mince the cauliflower finely, and then I laid a stack of paper towels in a colander and let the cauliflower drain for awhile. I pressed it with my fingers to get as much of the water out as possible. Alternatively, you could mix in the pinch of salt here and then let it sit for awhile to drain. The salt will help draw the moisture out. This step will help in getting a crisper crust, but is not totally necessary. Then mix the cauliflower with all the remaining ingredients, and mound onto a sheet of parchment.

Press the mixture out into a 12" circle as evenly as possible. The mixture won't exactly hold together right now, so just mash it and keep it formed. When you're happy with your circle, open the oven, pull out the rack with the pre-heated stone or pan, and carefully lift and set the parchment paper with crust on it. Bake for 10-15 minutes, keeping a careful eye on it towards the end.

Alright, donezos! From here, do what you will with it. You can top it with sauce and your favorite toppings, and stick it under the broiler for a couple of minutes. You could make it into breadsticks. Make a flatbread. Here, we went with no sauce, and just the classics: a little more shredded mozz, sliced tomato, and fresh basil. NOM NOM NOM.

Not exactly guilt-free pizza, but pretty close. Gluten free if that's your thing, vegetarian (maybe a vegan version with a couple of subs is possible?), and sneaks in extra veggies. Definitely naughty but nice in my book!

Want to cook (and eat!) along with us in two weeks? Let me know and I'll get you set up with the goods.

shanti >> sondra

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Have Nothing >> In Your House


I started this post yesterday when I was feeling overwhelmed with Stuff. Yes, Stuff with a capital S. Maybe it's the spring cleaning bug hitting me, but I've been hit with the urge to purge. I should probably run with this feeling when it strikes, since I'm much more often struck with the urge to accumulate, thus the problem.

I'm actually feeling a little bit better about the Stuff Situation, since Andy and I sat down and finally made a plan for apartment hunting last night. I always do better with a plan. As much as I like to think I'm a free spirit who flies by the seat of her pants, I'm not. Like, at all. At least when it come to the big stuff, like a roof over my head.

Renting in Seattle is a huge bummer. Any place that is halfway decent has people clambering to rent it. Last night, a friend who is also looking went to an open house for a cute house. She said 40 people showed up and a bidding war ensued. Gah! This is the first time in the 12 years I have been renting that I am finally at a place to declare that I'm over it. I used to love the freedom to change the view out my window and to make it someone else's problem when the hot water heater went out. But now I want a place to call my own and invest a little blood, sweat, and tears (and money!) in to. Unfortunately, since Andy's job in Seattle is temporary, we are not in a position to buy.

In the meantime, I'm thinking of off-loading some of the Stuff. Might as well make the current place as pleasant as possible while we wait, right?

Do you rent or own? What do you love/loathe about it?

shanti >> sondra

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What She Ate >> Indian Slaw

Hey yo! I'm super excited to bring a new feature to this here ole blogspace, and that's with the introduction to a fabulous new link up I'm participating in! This is a new series started by Stacy at Let it Unravel, and it's meant to inspire and encourage all of us to eat delicious and taste-tacular food, in a thoughtful and healthful way. Awesome, right? Every couple of weeks, we'll tackle a new theme and share what we came up with. I don't know about you, but I definitely need inspiration in this department. While I enjoy cooking (and even more so, eating), I often find myself relying on the same rotation of meals. I love that not only will I get to challenge myself to come up with something great to share, but I also get to be inspired by what everyone else came up with. Win win!

To kick off, I thought I'd share an Indian dish that I made for lunch today: Indian Coleslaw. Say whaaaa?
Yup, like the good ole American coleslaw you know and love (or loathe), except not at all. This dish actually reminds me of the type of food that we'd eat at Satsanga for lunch: light, crunchy, and full of flavor. Here's how to do it >

Indian Slaw
1 bag shredded cabbage mix
1-2 serrano chiles, chopped (incl. seeds + ribs)
1/4 c. roasted + unsalted peanuts
1/4 c. shredded + unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp. canola or sunflower oil
1 tsp. black or yellow mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. ground tumeric
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
plain yogurt (optional)

Add the oil to a small saute pan and heat over med-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. While this is heating, dump the peanuts into a food processor/spice grinder/coffee grinder type thing, and pulse until the peanuts have the consistency of breadcrumbs (don't go too far or you'll get peanut butter!). By now, your oil should be hot. Add the mustard seeds, and stand back, because they'll pop and sputter a bit, like popcorn. Let them go for about 30 seconds until they smell nutty, and remove from heat. Add the tumeric to the hot oil. This will extract the flavor and good spice-oils.

Now, add the peanuts and all of the rest of the ingredients to the cabbage in a large bowl, and drizzle the spice and oil mixture over the top. Toss well, and enjoy! I topped mine with a dollop of plain yogurt, since I feel all Indian food is best eaten this way, but you do what you feel. Also, a note about the serrano chiles. Wash your hands really well after chopping. Like, Really. Well. I washed mine, but an hour or so later I absently touched my eye which resulted in a burning tearfest of pain. Consider yourself warned. ;)
This recipe is from a recent episode of The Splendid Table (public radio nerd alert!), and I also made the other two recipes that were featured (Scented Rice Pilaf and Yellow Lentil Dal) which were SO SO SO good! I highly recommend them, especially if you're newer to Indian cooking like me.

Wanna join in on the culinary fun? Leave a comment here, send me an email, or get in touch with Stacy. Our first official post will be May 14th, with the challenge "naughty but nice." NOM!

shanti >> sondra

p.s. There's also a pinterest board for this group! Find us there.

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In the Desert >> You Can Remember Your Name

Remember how we visited the desert of Eastern Washington recently? Well, we went back. On a drizzly Seattle Saturday, we headed up and over the mountains and found ourselves in a lush, springtime desert. Isn't that amazing? Sometimes I hear people poo-pooing Eastern Washington...those people are nuts, because there's some magic over there. At least that leaves it quieter for the rest of us.
We got to this little hike in the afternoon, so as we walked we hit the "magic hour" and everything had that beautiful glow to it. See these tents? That's going to be us in a few days, because we're heading back to this very spot for our first camping night of the season! So. Excited.

The special part about this place, is that it's a short hike out to a waterfall, which of course is pretty unusual in the desert. There were actually two waterfalls, and this was the smaller one. It just looked so pretty with the light coming through at the end of the day.
Of course the fearless beagle accompanied us. She is so great on the trail, unless there's food involved of course. At one point on this hike, she went up to a guy camping (he invited her over) and proceeded to immediately stick her nose in his dinner. Silly lady.

Thank you for all of the good apartment wishes the other day! While we were indeed given a lease to sign, the person pulled out at the last minute due to some health problems she was dealing with. Sigh. Back to the drawing board on that one...

I hope you are having a lovely weekend! I'm stuck at work both days, so enjoy yours a little extra for me. :)

shanti >> sondra

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Satsanga >> A Place for Community

I totally forgot that I never shared the rest of my India pictures! Today I thought I'd share some pics of the place we stayed, Satsanga. It was really, truly, the best place I have ever stayed in my whole life. It's not lavish, but it's beautiful, serene, and feels like a home away from home. Satsanga means community in Sanskrit, and it is the perfect word to describe this place. These pictures don't do it justice, as is usual with such experiences, but hopefully some of the magic of the place comes through.

One of the things that made it so special, was all of the people working there. Satsanga employs about 25 people from the local village, mostly women, and this provided them with a good income. It can be very hard for women especially to find well-paying jobs in India. And they were amazing! They saw to every need, and always added extra touches to everything. There was one woman who went out every other day and placed fresh flowers everywhere, like on this Buddha statue. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the people. This is one thing I struggle with when traveling: taking pictures of people. They are what I want to remember the most, but not only am I too shy to ask sometimes, I also don't want to feel like I'm exploiting the people. I think it's a fine line of being respectful and treating people like they are on display for their "otherness."
This is the room where we stayed. I shared with another girl, who turned out to be an awesome and sweet spirit. The rooms were simple, but plenty comfortable, and we had our own bathroom as well. We left all the doors and windows open at night to get as much air moving as possible. The ceiling fan was a lifesaver!
This where we would often hang out, or eat together in the evenings. There were so many cozy places like this.

A traditional temple to Shiva, where many of the Hindu staff members would leave offerings of fruit and incense on their way in.
More cozy loveliness.

This is the larger of the yoga shalas that we practiced in. Isn't it beautiful? I didn't get a good shot of the other shala, but that one is up high in the treetops. The flower pattern was on the floor one day for another group who was finishing a teacher training.

In addition to all of this amazingness, there were several cats and three dogs who live there, and they were always up for a pet. I think that really made it feel homey, and helped me to not miss my own animals as much. And the FOOD! I could do a whole post on the food...it was soooooooo good.

Satsanga mainly caters to retreats and teacher trainings, but if they have space you can also just stay there as a regular guest. If you ever find yourself in Goa...

shanti >> sondra

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