Making it Happen >> Tips

Setting up camp (with deer!) from our 2008 trip to Glacier Ntl. Park.

As I've mentioned, Andy and I get out almost every chance we get. Whether it's just for a day hike, or for a long trip, we've learned a lot along the way about how to maximize our time, and minimize our stress. Here are a few tips that apply no matter how long you're planning to go >>

1 // Leave the night before. If you're going out for at least a full day, leave the night before. If you're planning a day trip a couple of hours away, waking up at your destination will make it seem like you've gone so much further, and will really extend the day. This applies for longer trips, too. If you can get a Friday off, but leave on Thursday night, it will seem like a properly long trip. The day you leave, drive as far as possible and get as close as possible to your destination. Which brings me to the next tip...

2 // Embrace the cheap motel. Cheap, no-name motels are the best. Don't be afraid of a little outdated-ness or shabbiness. I have stayed at  MANY hole-in-the-wall motels in many hole-in-the-wall towns, and have never had a bad experience (knock on wood). All you need is a clean, safe place to sleep and maybe shower. Use your best judgement, of course, but most motels not in major cities will give you just that. Plus, I've found that the cheaper motels are a much better value than mid-range motels: they often have free WiFi and free continental breakfast.

3 // Have everything ready to go. Keep your gear as ready to go as possible. Keep first aid kits stocked, replace batteries as needed, air dry the tent as soon as you get home, etc. When you get home from one trip, make everything is right again before you put it away and while it's still fresh in your mind. Then you'll know that everything's ready the next time you want to go. The less you have to do pre-trip, the less stress and the less excuses you'll make.

4 // The bucket system. A couple of years ago, Andy picked me up from work to leave for the Grand Canyon. We were driving from Northern California for a long weekend and leaving the night before. He had done the packing that afternoon so we could hit the road ASAP, and when he showed up all of my clothes were in a plastic tote. I looked at him like he was dumb. But, after that weekend, I was a believer. We had a plastic tote with clothes which made them easy to rummage through on the road, and a tote with gear and supplies. A third tote held food. Travelling this way keeps everything simple and organized, and super easy to go out the next time. Everything is already packed and ready to go!

5 // Do more with less. This is sorta standard trip advice, but it really cannot be emphasized enough. One of my favorite examples are black leggings/running tights. Get just plain black ones, and they won't look as dirty as they likely are. You can wear them to hike in, to sleep in, as a base layer when it's chilly, and under dresses while in town. Another is Dr. Bronner's Soap, a camp classic. Good for laundry, hair, dishes, hand wash, and even toothpaste (haven't tried, but I'm curious). There are tons more ways you can do double (or triple, or quadruple!) duty with your stuff; just think creatively and don't be afraid to not have it be the BEST solution. Remember, it's only for a few days!

I hope you find these tips useful! If you have any of your own pointers for how to get out the door as fast and pain-free as possible, I'd love to hear them.

shanti >> sondra



In Season >> Watermelon, Nectarine, + Feta Salad

Time for What She Ate! This week's challenge: "In Season."
Hands down, this is the best and easiest time of year to eat in season (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway). As opposed to my sometimes tepid feelings towards vegetables, I love fruit, and now is when all of the good fruit is ripe. I didn't even have to do much to put this recipe together, because most of the ingredients came from my CSA box this week before we went out of town, and the mint came from my very own plant that's going gangbusters outside of our front door.

This recipe is just a variation on one of my favorite combos - watermelon, feta, and mint, which sounds weird to the uninitiated, but is really a subtle play on the classic salty/sweet combo. I wanted to jazz it up a little further, and also use up a little more of the abundance of produce we have. Here's what I came up with >>

(one main serving or two sides)

3 c. cubed watermelon
2 nectarines, pitted and diced
3 tbsp. chopped red onion
1/4 c. crumbled feta
2 tbsp. minced fresh mint

1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. grated lime zest
1/8 tsp. dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/8 c. E.V. olive oil

Combine the salad ingredients in one bowl, and in another bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients except the olive oil. Whisk the dressing ingredients while slowly adding the olive oil, or add it a little at a time. After it's fully combined, drizzle over the salad and toss gently. Voila! Summer in a bowl.


// Don't make this ahead of time, you kinda have to eat it straight away. All of the juicy fruit combined with the salty cheese starts to make a liquidy pool in the bottom if you wait too long (although it will still taste delicious, it just won't be as pretty).

I know I've said this about every recipe I've posted, but this is SO GOOD. I suppose I only post the things that are delicious and save you from the duds (and believe me, there are duds) so that makes sense. I've inherited the "new recipe gene" from my grandma, whereby I just constantly make new recipes and have very few in my rotation. I guess I just love the adventure of seeing how something will turn out! Anyway, this one turned out great, so give it a go and let me know if you like it as much as I do.
Checkout  Stacy at Let it Unravel and Kate at Miner Temptations to see what they've come up with! On July 9th the challenge is "By the Campfire," which is beyond perfect, because I'll be in the midst of our three week camping trip by then. I'll be sharing something from the road! If you'd like to cook along with us, let any one of us know and we'll get you looped in. Also, you don't need to commit to doing all of them, it's cool if you just want to pop in for a post or two. ;)

I hope you're enjoying nature's bounty this summer!

shanti >> sondra



Craft it >> Forward

An outfit post! It's been awhile, eh? For anyone wondering, YES, I've still been getting dressed. But for no particular reason, I haven't participated in the last few What to Wear linkups. I think I will again down the line, but for now I'm just taking a little break. However, I wanted to share an awesome new necklace I recently acquired via Tamber at Yellow Porch Light! (Oh, and please excuse my wrinkly dress, that's the way I roll sometimes.)

I was lucky enough to be one of the first five commenters on her craft it forward post, and this is what she sent me. Isn't it beautiful?! I love it. I wore it with this outfit the other day out to meet friends for happy hour. I love plain, fluid dresses paired with bold jewelry. It feels like wearing art, y'know? Like you're making a little gallery wall for your jewelry.
Now it's MY turn for the forward part! In case you don't know, here's how it works: the first 5 commenters on this post will get something handmade with love (and maybe a few swears) by yours truly. The only thing you have to do in return is make something and give/send it to 5 more lovely souls, and so on. You don't have to have a blog to participate, but I'd love to see a pic of what you make when it's your turn to craft it forward.

I'm not the craftiest lady by any means, but I'm not afraid of a little DIY and I've got a great idea for what I'm going to make and send! It'll probably be awhile since I'll be gone for a few weeks, but rest assured I'll get it to you. So what are you waiting for, put your John Hancock down at the bottom here with an email address or some way of contacting you!

shanti >> sondra

dress >> f21
wedges, blazer >> target
purse >>  secondhand
necklace >> yellow porch light



Currently >> The Solstice

original image via

Today is usually one of my very favorite days of the year: the summer solstice. I just love the idea of celebrating the abundance of summer, and reveling in the long light of the day. Also, the Scandinavian in me loves making it a big holiday - I wish it were bigger here in the states (although, I guess that's essentially what July 4th is, huh?). This year though, it kind of snuck up on me. Hmmmmm, maybe because it's been cold and rainy the last few days, and I'm currently in slippers and a hoodie zipped up to my neck? Maybe? Probably.

At any rate, I've been too busy this last week getting ready to leave on our 3 week camping + backpacking + hiking + road trip extravaganza, so I guess it's just as well. We leave Monday, and that brings me to the rest of the post.....


Anticipating // leaving on Monday. Duh.

Reading // The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. So far this book hasn't taught me anything I haven't already learned studying yoga, but I'm loving the new perspective on old concepts. In a nutshell, the book explores the idea of what consciousness really means, the art of being present, and where the YOU is in you.

Internetting // (yeah, I made that a verb). Bear safety info. I'm not super afraid of bears (more like medium afraid), but backcountry camping in grizzly country has me reviewing my bear safety knowledge. Eek! Also, although I haven't played with it much, I'm excited to make some little videos with the new Instagram video feature (not of bears though, let's keep those two separate, k?).

Drinking // chai. Another duh.

Making // lists, lists, and more lists. I've kind of become a list addict, and I've taken to carrying my little journal everywhere with me. I just love having it handy for jotting down notes, ideas, inspirations, reminders, etc. I've tried jazzing it up Lisa style, which is fun, but usually I'm lazy and don't embellish much. I've tried digital note-keeping apps and such, but for me, I keep coming back to the notebook and a pen.

Today is for writing out a few blog posts for when I'm gone, and just general gettin'er done around home. How about you, are you doing anything on this fine first day of summer?

shanti >> sondra



We ARE >> Those People

I saw this post recently on Lisa Congdon's blog Today is Going to be Awesome. As I read it, the thought that popped into my head was, "we ARE those people!" We travel. A lot. Day trips, weekend trips, and all-out multi-week adventure junkets around North America and beyond. I often get comments from friends and family saying that they wish they could do that, or that they're jealous that we "get" to travel so much. Yes, we are lucky in many ways that allow us to do this (no kids, a job that occasionally requires it), and not so lucky in others (unemployed over the summer being the biggest curse/blessing) but the biggest reason that we are able to travel so much is that we make it our #1 priority. This is where our discretionary income and energy goes. Often we spend our time on a trip planning out the next trip.

But we don't make a lot of money, and we're not really special in any other ways. And when we do have kids in the future, we plan to adapt our trips to fit our new life. Our trips are most often not far; an afternoon out for a hike, or an overnight to a quirky place in our own backyard, and occasionally we work out a larger excursion. All this to say, we will be travelling for much of the rest of the summer, starting with leaving Monday for three weeks in Montana and Wyoming. A lot of what I'll be posting for the next couple of months will revolve around our trips and getting outside and doing. My intent is for this to be inspirational and motivating, and not braggy or "lookitme!". I truly believe everyone can fit in an adventure here and there, and that the rewards are infinite.

So, here's to an amazing summer of travel and adventure in the outdoors! If you're planning on going anywhere or you've already posted about it, leave me a comment and we can be excited together!

shanti >> sondra



Prairie Daze >> Part II

Here's the second batch of photos from my visit to the prairie! This time, we're talkin' bison.
No trip to the prairie is complete without a visit to one of the few herds left. This one lives at Blue Mounds State Park, where we camped for the night.

This was one of my favorite pics of the whole trip, and one of my favorite memories, too. The bison kept getting closer and closer to us, until they were just several feet away (on the other side of the fence). They were curious about us, and all you could hear was the low sound of the grass ripping, as they kept grabbing mouthful after mouthful. So peaceful.
There were so many wildflowers, but I'll spare you all of the many flower pics I took and share just this one. "Prairie smoke."
One of the places we visited was Pipestone National Monument, an active mining quarry, where Native Americans come to quarry the rare stone that has been made into pipes and other ceremonial objects for generations. The stone found there is just the right amount of hard and soft to be able to be sturdy yet carvable. The site is considered sacred, and these are some of the prayer bundles left as offerings.
Frollicking in pastures aside, we are just about two weeks out from the end of Google Reader. I've switched over to Feedly and am still enjoying it's lovely UI, but lots of peeps love Bloglovin', too. I've added buttons (below and in the sidebar) for both to make it easier for you to switch over if you haven't already. You're welcome. :)

shanti >> sondra



Prairie Daze >>

On my whirlwind trip back to Minnesota last week, one of the things I did was take a trip down to Southwestern MN with my mother in law. She had been talking up this little corner of the state for some time, so we decided to finally make the trip happen. It was short and sweet, but it definitely left an impression on me.

I love the look of silos against the flat prairie landscape. In a place where you can see for miles upon miles, and any slight rise in the land is considered a "feature," silos are dramatic and striking as they rise out of the horizon.
I've never actually spent much time in Southern MN. In my family, any and all vacation time was spent "up north," where the lakes and the forests are. Admittedly, that's probably why pine forests will always hold a special place in my heart. But, geography lesson time! Minnesota is a convergence of three major biomes: prairie, deciduous forest, and coniferous forest. All three feel so familiar and "home" like to me. Growing up, The Little House books were some of my very favorites, and I often imagined myself as a modern-day Laura, running out to help Ma with the washing or take a ride into town with Pa for supplies.
Well, well, what do we have here? Cactus! I was pretty surprised to come across these little guys. They are apparently brittle prickly pear, and they thrive in sandy rocky areas, like the Western plains.
This ridge is for sure something that would be considered a "feature" on the prairie. And when I looked up and saw the sun coming through the trees, I couldn't resist snapping a photo. There's something about sun flares that makes me all tingly inside.

The prairie is so quietly beautiful. It's nuanced, and thoughtful, and I think you have to work a bit harder to really connect with it. I think this is what makes it special and worth getting to know; it's a lot more like my own personality than the showy mountains and majestic woods that I am often drawn to. But the prairies will always hold a corner of my heart for it's own. If I had a little house on the prairie like Laura, I'm sure I'd be just as happy there as nestled next to a mountain lake.

I took so many pretty pictures that I want to share, so I'll be back soon with part 2 of my prairie trip!

shanti >> sondra

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No Ants at This Picnic >> Dilled Potato Salad

Cooking time again! Or, more importantly, eating time! I definitely don't like to cook so much as I like to eat. For the most part, I'm happy eating most meals out, especially now that the whole local-organic-farm to table-thing is a thing. So many tasty and healthy options at restaurants these days! But, alas, not only can I not afford that, I suppose it's good for me to actually rub two sticks together and see what happens. Today I rubbed some potatoes together and this is what happened.
This week's What She Ate challenge is "no ants at this picnic." I suppose potato salad isn't the most original idea in the world, but, it's a classic for a reason, amirite? BUT, this ain't your momma's potato salad. Or maybe it is, I probably don't know your mom. Well, it's not my momma's potato salad, although she did make a good one. At any rate, it's definitely MY potato salad, and last I checked, I haven't pushed any tiny people out of my body yet, so it's definitely not a potato salad from a momma. You still tracking here? Okay, here's how you make it.

DILLED POTATO SALAD {makes enough for a potluck-sized batch}

5 c. potatoes, diced into bite-size pieces
1/2 c. chopped green onion tops
1/3 c. finely minced fresh dill
1/3 c. mayo
1/3 c. plain yogurt
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar
S + P to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fork-tender. Drain and let cool slightly. Add the rest of the stuff, and gently mix. NOW EAT IT! Or refrigerate it until you're ready to eat it, that's cool, too.

This is an improvement on the way I usually make this, as I added and subbed a couple of different things from normal. But let me tell you, this version is the new normal. SO. GOOD. Fresh dill is the star here; it makes it taste light and summery, not all heavy and mayo-laden like like the version you're maybe familiar with.


// Start your potatoes in cold water, and salt the water. I learned this from Rachael Ray and it seems to be smart (here's why).

// Choose thin skinned potatoes, such as yukon golds or new potatoes. The skin is good for you, and contains lots of vitamins and fiber, plus you can be lazy and not peel them.

// You could totally go all yogurt and no mayo on this one. It's flavorful enough to still be delicious without the richness of mayo. I probably would have, but didn't think of it until I had added the first 1/3 c. of mayo in.

It's raining here today (What? In Seattle? Shut. Up.), so no picnics over here. However, I'm going to a yoga workshop-type-thing with a potluck afterwards, and this baby is coming with me.
For more good picnic eats, be sure to check out the other participants in this series, Stacy at Let it Unravel and Kate at Miner Temptations. In two weeks the challenge is "In Season," which at this time of year, isn't too hard of a challenge at all! If you'd like to join us, let any of us know!

shanti >> sondra

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Swap >> With Me?

Peeples of the internets! Would you like to play swapsies with me? I am kind of not that good at getting my button and blog out there. I guess I'd say it's the least fun part of blogging, since it's more marketing/"businessy" and less pretty-picture-taking and wacky-word-making.

Anywhos. I've met some really cool people and discovered fun blogs through button swaps, as well as by clicking through buttons on other people's blogs. SO. It's definitely something worth investing in. Wanna get in on the fun? Here's the deets:

// Code DOWNDOG will get you either size option for FREE

// Either email me or include the swap code for your site in the "about your blog" section on Passionfruit checkout

// I ask that all uploaded images be sized correctly (200x200 or 100x200). I will reject any button that stretches weird or is pixelated

// I also reserve the right to decline any swap that I don't feel is a good match content-wise

// I am also happy to host buttons for shops. If your shop doesn't have a blog or a way to swap ads, send me an email and we can work out some other "swap" (maybe pinning or tweeting my posts or pics, for example)

I hope you're having an otherwise ice cream-eating, firefly-catching, picnic blanket-laying, sun-drenchiest fun weekend.

shanti >> sondra

{image via}

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Stress Buster >> Legs Up the Wall

It's been just over a year since a started this blog! I can't believe how much this little space of mine has grown and changed, and how important it's become to me! When I originally started this blog, it had much more of a yoga focus, but as I've figured out what this space is for me, the content has changed, too, which is okay. I love not feeling limited to what I share here, and to be able to paint a more complete picture of "me." Another part of why I haven't shared as much yoga stuff recently is logistical; I have NO place to take pics of poses in our current apartment since we are pretty cramped. However, since we're not moving, I've made a few changes to our space, which has helped. Also, since I'm teaching again, I can use the studio space. Yay! I'm super excited to re-invest a little more in this topic again. I hope you are, too!  :) Now, on to the pose!

Having a rough day? Week? Month? It happens. Sometimes life doesn't play nice. In fact, I just got off of a very frustrating phone call with a government office that is sooooo maddening, don't even get me started....argh. One of my favorite ways to shake off stress and hit the re-set button, is with this yoga pose. If you are new to yoga, you might look at this and not see what you think of as "yoga." But this here is some powerful action, and can soothe even the most frazzled of nerves.

It's as simple as it looks. Scooch you tush up as close as possible to the wall, recline and stick your legs up, letting the wall support them. Now breeeeeathe. That's most important. Loong deep inhalations and exhalations. This will help to stimulate your Parasympathetic Nervous System, and to signal to your body that you are in a safe place and can relax. Other things happening here? Blood is flowing down towards your heart, warming your body and easing muscle fatigue.

Wanna take it to the next level? Let's get some props.
A pillow or a couple of folded blankets placed under your sacrum will help further elevate the lower body, intensifying the relaxation effect. This is also a good addition if you have any low back sensitivity.

Gentle weight placed on the body can be soooo soothing. You can can do any one or combination of these, or do them all!

// A blanket or pillow placed on the feet.

// A folded blanket placed on the chest.

// An eye pillow or a small, folded towel over the eyes.

Stay for 10 minutes or more to get the full effect. Your feet will probably fall asleep, but that's okay. Try and just sit with this feeling and make space for it. Continue to breathe and let the waves of your breath wash away the tension and fatigue.

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Social Media >> And Me

Like most of you (I'm betting), I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Sometimes it's great: I love the connections I've made with new friends, and the ones I've been able to maintain with old friends as I have wandered from state to state. But sometimes, I think I feel it breaking my brain. Literally (studies show it is). For example, I have been on and off twitter at least 3 times in the last few years. The problem I've had in the past, is that at some point I start thinking in thoughts of 140 characters, wondering what witty quips I've made are the most tweet-able. I don't like that. At all.

But like I said, I also love the connections I'm able to make and maintain, and I think that's been a huge benefit to me in many ways. Also, I love sites like Pinterest and Instagram for the mountains of visual and creative inspiration they've given me.

How to find a healthy balance? Set boundaries. I came across Red Parka Diary's Year of Marketing project a few months ago, and the plans she outlined seemed so eminently reasonable, I've been inspired to incorporate some of her tips into my social media routine.

One of the other biggest helps has been discovering and using new apps to help manage everything. Here is what I'm currently using //
- Twitterfeed to post my blog posts to Twitter automatically
- Bloglovin' to post my blog posts to Facebook automatically
- Buffer to schedule posts of interesting content I want to share
- Feedly to keep up with blog reading at home and on my phone

And the last two aren't apps, but are features that help immensely //
- Pinterest "secret boards" feature to help organize post ideas and other content I'd like to share
-  Lists on Twitter to make keeping up easier, and to keep the clutter down in my feed.

With these tools, I have slowly re-upped my efforts at some of my old haunts. So far, I've been able to make a bigger presence with smarter effort rather than more effort. We'll see if I'm able to keep up!

How do you tame the beast that is social media? Any tips or other cool services out there that I should know about? And most importantly, are we following each other? I'd love to see what you're up to! All of my links are up at the top of this page; leave me a comment with your username if you'd like me to follow back.

shanti >> sondra

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Inspired By >> Inaluxe

Aren't these the best ever? They make me so happy when I look at them. The textures, the colors, the shapes! 1950s swooooooooon party.

And if they weren't beautiful enough, they are AFFORDABLE!!!!! All of their prints can be had for the crazy good price of $35 (shop here), or hold onto your hats kids, they have a set of TWO posters available at Ikea for $6. Whoa. Mama.

They also make a pretty bomber phone background. Just sayin'.

shanti >> sondra

{all images via inaluxe}

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