The August Break >>

Remember how I was all "blah blah not feeling motivated blah blah" the other day? Well, the flying spaghetti monster must have heard my whining, because last night I came across The August Break.
It's hosted by Susannah Conway, and has been going for 4 years running now. Basically, it's a month to post pictures only, with maybe a word or two, or maybe not. It's pretty free-form, you don't have to do it everyday, you can post one pic or many, etc. There's also a whole bunch of other optional components: a flickr group, an Instagram hashtag, photo prompts, a link up. But the part I like best is that they're all optional.

I'm going home to Minnesota to visit family for half of August already, so this seems like a great way to keep up, while also taking a break at the same time. I'll post a few regular posts here and there as well, but I think I'll mostly do a photo or two, especially while I'm traveling.

Anyone want to join me?

shanti >> sondra



Hot + Bothered >> Yellowstone's Thermal Features

True story: I have not felt like blogging much lately. I am very much a creature of momentum, and this summer has been a doozy for me in that area. Every 3-4 weeks this summer, I keep switching from being at home, to being on the road, to back at home, to back on the road, with some bits of working and other distractions sprinkled here and there. It's been a little hard on my routines, y'know? I think transition time is really important to me and I can't really rush it, jumping from one thing to the next. So this summer I am definitely spending a lot of time transitioning.

I think also I keep panicking that  ohmygodsummerisalmostover, which of course it's not, but my remaining time is already planned pretty full. I see that a lot of the things that I wanted to accomplish are simply not likely to happen, and it's hard not to feel a bit defeated. I envisioned having all this time to be bored this summer, to be able to really dig my teeth into a project or two, to do a lot of reading, to just do nothing. So. When I have had free time at home, I have been trying to do those things, and not sit at the computer. Although I miss sitting at the computer, too. Make sense? Ugh. Humans are wonderfully complicated. ;)

What do you do when you hit a blogging slump?

The upside of doing all these activities that do not involve the computer, is that I have certainly packed a lot in to my adventures, and I have no shortage of things to share. Today I thought I'd share some of the photos I took in Yellowstone of the thermal features. They are so otherworldly beautiful...

These are from the Lone Star Geyser Basin and the area around Old Faithful...just in case you were planning on dropping by to see them for yourself.

shanti >> sondra



Chihuly Glass >>

I have been busy the last few days...very busy playing tourist with some family that is in town visiting. I had delusions that I would have time to keep up with my blog while they are here, but really, I should have known better. We've done a bunch of very "Seattle" things while they're here, of course, but probably my favorite thing that we've done was go to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. It's actually just steps from where I work, and I've walked past it a zillion times, but it's pretty spendy to just casually pop in, and I wanted to wait until somebody visited to do it.

Anyhow, it was pretty sweet, and worth the wait.

If you've lived in the PNW than you already know who Dale Chihuly is, but in case you are uninitiated, he apparently has a big personality and an ego to match (legend has it). But you have to admit, his glass is pretty amazing.

Also, he has one of the largest collections of Pendelton blankets in the world. Whodathunk? There was a display of some of his other Indian trade blankets at the museum as well. I would have been happy looking at those all day long.
I will have to make this short and sweet, as I am about to be picked up for another stop on the tour: up the Space Needle!

shanti >> sondra



Devil's Lake >> In Photos

Sometimes, I just really like editing pictures. I find it very realxing. I battle between trying to keep them as "natural" and "real" as possible and making them fun and pretty. Lately, I've just been going with whatever I feel like - sometimes natural is better and sometimes tweaked is better. And I think it's okay to mix and match them, too. Anywho, here are my results from the last stop on our big camping trip, Devil's Lake outside of Bend, Oregon. The water was actually that SUPER green - I didn't mess with the color there!

This was the last stop before we headed home, and we both agreed that we should have gone there earlier and spent more time. It was SO pretty. And Bend, Oregon is perhaps the best city, ever (we were about 30 minutes from there). We would move there in a heartbeat if Andy could get a job there (there are no real University's or colleges nearby, so it's not likely).

We spent our time there mostly just hanging out - reading, doing some shorter hikes, and heading into town for pizza and beers. It was sort of what I had envisioned our whole trip would be like, but most of it felt a lot busier than that! It was a good finish to our long adventure.

shanti >> sondra



Liebster >> Deja Vu

I'mmmmm back! I know you all can hardly tell I've been away since I scheduled posts for my absence, but man, can I tell I've been gone! A few random thoughts about coming home again >

// It's always weird when you get to see your own house the way a stranger would. Coming home, I definitely had to re-acquaint myself with our digs. They were nicer than I remembered (always good!).

//  I missed the internet...but not in the way that I expected. I get SO MUCH inspiration from all of your blogs, instagrams, pins, etc., and this trip really made me realize how important that is in my daily life. I missed the visuals of the internet that make me want to daydream and create. I did not find myself doing much of either of those things these last three weeks.

// I'd be okay if I never saw another mosquito again.

// I am in love with eating good, healthy meals again. Camping and being on the road does not lend itself to fresh, clean food, and my gut paid for it. I also got a stomach bug about 2/3 of the way through our trip, and it is hard to get the digestion back on track when your options are mainly freeze-dried or processed foods. Ick.

All in all, it was a lovely trip, and I'm excited to share more pics this week. In the meantime, I thought I'd start back into blogging with sort of a softball post - liebster! Louise from Stars in Jars nominated me, and I thought it would be a nice way to jump back in. Yes, I've already done one of these, but neveryoumind that.

Here's how it works >

1. List 11 random facts about yourself.
2. Answer your nominator's 11 questions.
3. Pose your own 11 questions.
4. Tag 11 bloggers with less than 200 follows to answer your questions.
5. Link back to your nominator.

Here goes.

11 Randoms.

1 // I am obsessed with Target. Best store ever.
2 // I have never been stung by a bee. <---- knock on wood
3 // I have never been pulled over by a cop.  <---- knock on wood
4 // For the life of me, I am terrified of headstands and handstands in yoga. I do not like being upside down. I am working on this.
5 // I love anything Muppet related. They just make me insanely happy.
6 // My favorite play is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
7 // I think a cube of good feta eaten with a grape tomato is about as close to heaven as you can get on earth.
8 //  I have always been a strongly cat-oriented person, and ever since we got our dog I feel like I am betraying them a little bit.
9 // I am naturally a blonde, but have been dying my hair black (with one year of dark red) for the last 12 years. 
10 // I never spoke with a professor once outside of class in all 4 years of University. 
11 // I read magazines thoroughly cover to cover, every single caption and blurb, and in order.

Louise's Questions

Tell me a joke. Oooh, I am no good at jokes. My husband is a mathematician, so this one always sticks with me: What did one math book say to the other? I've got problems.

What you change if you were president/prime minister for the day? Wow, I would change A LOT. Well, the president doesn't actually have that much power, but I'll answer this question as if I was dictator for a day. First off, I think it is abhorrent that we do not have universal healthcare in this country. While "Obamacare" is step in the right direction, it does not go far enough, so I would instate free healthcare for all. I think there are problems with the gap between the rich and the poor, women's rights issues, campaign finance reform, race issues (I would put George Zimmerman in jail!), food deserts, etc., etc., etc. I'd try and fit a lot in. And that's just on the domestic front!

It's dinnertime, what are you cooking me? We eat vegetarian 95% of the time, so probably something with some good veggies and grains, and most definitely some cheese in there :). When I entertain, I often turn to recipes from Heidi Swanson, since they're all veg-friendly, and just a hair fancier than what I cook everyday. This recipe for Giant Chipotle White Beans is a favorite. I have never made anything of hers that I did not like.

Have you ever had a mystical/spiritual experience (or anyone you know)? I can't say that I have personally, or anyone I know since people tend to keep that sort of thing close. I can say that through my practice and study of yoga, I have developed a spiritual practice of sorts, and it's something I think a lot more about now than I used to. I think chanting "om" is one of the most lovely things a group of people can do together. I wrote an article about why it's so great once here.

Who would play you in the movie of your life? Audrey Tautou, duh.

What's your favorite childhood movie? There are lots, but one that sticks out is Dirty Dancing. Me and my friend Sara would watch the end scene over and over again, and try and re-enact that dance in her basement family room.

What is the wildest thing you've ever done? Hmmm. I tend to be pretty risk-averse, so I don't get too wild. To me, the wildest thing I've done is move to 2 new states in the last few years, where we know no one and start from scratch. I never would have done this if I wasn't forced to, but I'm so glad that I've done it. 

Describe your perfect date. Wellllll...I have been with the same guy for the last 15 years, so I haven't had a lot of technical "dates." One of our special things that we do is go out for Neapolitan pizza and fancy cocktails, and then proceed to critique the food like restaurant critics. We're pizza geeks.

What's the best gift anyone's ever given to you? My student loans were paid off by a dear benefactor completely out of the blue. It is truly the best gift I have ever received. Also, my husband just dropped off a chai next to me accompanied with a forehead kiss; that was pretty nice, too. ;)

Which are cooler, dinosaurs or dragons? DINOSAURS by a million. THEY WERE REAL that is CRAZY! We've coincidentally been watching Walking with Monsters on Netflix and the whole pre-historic world blows my mind. 

Are you proud of yourself? Oh, jeez, that's a big personal question, huh? ;) Well, yes in some ways and not in others. I am proud that I have supported myself fully (loan payoff aside) since I was barely 18 years old. I am proud that I am the wife of an amazing guy, and that we've worked hard to make our relationship work over the years. I am proud that I became a yoga teacher, that I have been successful at all of my jobs, and that I like me. There are things I'm less proud of, of course. I wish I set higher personal goals; I wish I knew how to push myself; I wish I was better at connecting with people sometimes. But all in all, I am proud that I'm a work in progress.

My Questions 

If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Describe your perfect breakfast.
Dream dinner party. Five guests, alive or dead. Go.
Do you practice yoga? 
     If yes, what's your favorite pose? 
     If not, what keeps you from liking it?
Have you ever broken a bone?
Do you believe in ghosts?
What album has been your soundtrack this summer?
If you could be any animal for a day, what would you pick?
What is the prettiest place you have ever been to?
Are you a lover or a fighter?
Are you more of a Bert or an Ernie?

Tag, You're It.

I'm going to tag less than 11, and go with the 4 lovely ladies from my sidebar that have less than 200 followers (want to swap with me? go here.)

Sarah @ Exploring Woods
AndrĂ©anne @ Hey Miss Pickle
Jesi @ Willow and Pear
Becky @ United States of Becky

Have you done one of these posts before? Leave me a link in the comments, I love to read these things!

shanti >> sondra



For the >> Living Room Camping Enthusiast

Okay, okay, so maybe I haven't convinced you to take a foray into the Great Outdoors. But can I at least talk you into building a living room fort and watching Into the Wild underneath it? Here are a few "outdoorsy" items that are better suited to a trek of the proxy nature (#3 is on my personal covet list!).

1 > Fire Kit Lamp // 2 > Pillow Cover // 3 > Wool Throw // 4 > Flask

As you read this, I should finally be on my way back from our grand adventure. I'm excited to share a bit more from our trip with you!

shanti >> sondra



Affirmations >> 07

I guess it's not too surprising that I love inspiring quotes and images about getting outside. So many people have said such amazing things, I thought I'd share some of their words instead of my own. Here are a few favorites that I've collected from Pinterest //
For image sources and to see more like this, check out my Words to Live By board.

shanti >> sondra



On the Trail >> Beauty Tips

Yeah, yeah, you're in the wilderness  you don't technically need to do anything but go au naturale. But honestly, it's a lot nicer to minimize the stink, the greasies, and to wear something that performs well and you feel good in.

Here are a few tips and products that I've found useful //

> Makeup remover wipes. At the end of a long day outside, there is simply no more gratifying of a feeling that using a makeup remover to clean your face. Even if you're not wearing makeup, it'll take off the dirt, sweat, and grease that have accumulated. Also, hanging around a campfire leaves a film of soot over your skin; these will clean it right off. I've used tons of brands, and I like the good old generic Target ones best.

> Baby wipes. These are good for the rest of you. Even when you can't bathe properly, you can at least use a couple of these to wipe off your arms and armpits, legs, and the back of your neck.

> Deodorant. Well, yeah. But in particular, this powdered version from Lush is amazing. I have never found a natural deodorant that I liked that didn't leave me stinky at the end of the day, and this one works. It has charcoal in it to actually absorb odors, and it has a pleasant, herbal smell that I like. Plus, you can sprinkle some in your shoes or anywhere else that's getting stinky and sweaty. It's a little spendy for a deodorant, but I've been using my bottle for several weeks now and haven't put a dent in it.

> Dry Shampoo. I have had bangs since my hair was long enough to cut, and to me, there is no faster way to feel dirty than to have greasy bangs. This is by far my biggest motivator for bathing on a regular basis. But ever since dry shampoos have become a thing, I can easily stretch out the time between washings by a day or two. I've used versions from Batiste, Ojon, Tresemme, and L'Oreal, and honestly, the one that works best for me is the cheapest, from Suave.

Okay, so now you're relatively not-stinky and your hair is clean-ish. What to put on top?

These are tried and tested by yours truly, and I can say they work well while maintaining a bit of style. Numbers one and four come from Target, who have really stepped up their game workout-apparel wise lately. I guess it makes sense, since workout and yoga-style gear has become pretty fashionable for everyday wear as well. This top is AWESOME; it has thumb holes (which I am so glad have come back into trend again, because I LOVE them), a zip pocket along the small of the back, and mesh panels so it breathes well. The skirt is great, too, because it cinches up the sides so you can change the length, has shorties underneath, and can be worn alone or over leggings (I'm wearing it in the top pic over leggings). Very versatile. LOVES IT.

This dress by Merrell is stellar as well. It has really good built-in support, and is made of a super thick, wicking material which has a UPF rating of 50+. The unique back makes it easy to take this one from the campsite to out on the town.

The hair ties are for...just because. Why not take these instead of boring old black elastics? They aren't any less functional, and they're pretty to boot (although I recommend DIYing these - why are they so expensive at stores???).

There you have it!  A few of my favorite tips for feeling and looking good on the trail. Any tips or products you'd like to share with me? I always love a new idea!

shanti >> sondra



Happy >> 4th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In America, we don't do things half way. So if you want glitter bokeh all over your quaint instagram pic, then by all means, that's your god-given right.

That's what 'merica's all about.

I think there are a lot of things wrong with this country (understatement of the century), but at the end of the day, it's still pretty great and I love it (I was an American Studies major after all). If you're an American at home or abroad today, I hope you have a happy 4th.

Oh, and thank Team America for the greatest patriotic song of all time. Also, view this 4th of July PSA from the Hipster Shore.

shanti >> sondra



Checking In >> From the Road

Heya, everyone! In case you haven't noticed already from the many times I've said I'd be traveling, I'm on the road right now! I just wanted to check in and say an actual hello. I scheduled a bunch of posts for while I'd be away, so things haven't skipped a beat around here, but I have been busy sleeping in a tent, being bitten by copious amounts of mosquitoes, and feeling the sun shine on my face and the trail under my feet. We're about half-way through our trip right now, and taking a breather with a friend who lives in Bozeman, Montana.

{An aside // Sorry I haven't been able to respond to most comments/messages/etc.! I've been reading them when they download in the brief moments I might get service somewhere, but my ability to respond has been limited. Also, I can't wait to catch up with everyone's blogs/feeds when I get back!} 

Overall, we've been having a great time, with just a few small set backs. One almost involved this picture.
Crossing this stream was tough, and a little scary. You can't tell from the picture, but the water was moving very fast and the current was pretty strong. Not to mention, the water was ice cold. I also didn't have sandals to do it in, so I had to do it barefoot. It took all of my concentration to not slip and/or not let myself be pushed over by the current. A few years ago, I know for a fact that I never would have attempted this, so I was SO PROUD of myself when I took a deep breath, and just did it. And succeeded!

Things are not all triumph though, and there were other crossings I wimped out on. And then promptly beat myself up for not being "brave" enough to do it. I'm glad I have this picture to remind me that sometimes it literally is one step at a time to accomplish hard things. One of my favorite yoga teachers sometimes uses the mantra "inhale acceptance, exhale expectation," in her classes, and it's one of my favorites. I think that's what travel is all about on some level, and this trip has definitely had many moments where I can put that mantra to good use.

Today is our last day of bumming around for a few days, as we're heading to Yellowstone tomorrow bright and early for a few days of backpacking and hiking into geyser country. I am crossing my fingers that there aren't any crazy creek crossings. ;)

shanti >> sondra



Impractical (but pretty) >> Camp Items

I've come across a few items that I absolutely love, but would be terribly impractical to take on an excursion. However, they're perfect for bringing camping home with you! If you're only able to get out to the backyard this summer, any of these would make a pretty addition.

shanti >> sondra