Into Reflected Light >> I'll Stare

I recently came across the work of Canadian artist Lawren Harris, and thought it was very moving. One of his frequent subject matters is Lake Superior, one of my very favorite places on the planet, so of course I was particularly drawn to those pieces. I just loved the way that he captured the frozen, icy north, with geometric swaths of color that feel exactly like the 1920s, but perfectly contemporary at the same time.

For a girl who proclaims to mostly dislike the cold and snow, I sure do feel drawn to it (she says, from the comfort of her warm house with slippers on). I guess you can take the girl out of Minnesota...
Lake Superior, c.1926

Pic Island sketch, c.1924
Lake Superior Hill, c.1925
North Shore Lake Superior, c.1926

shanti >> sondra

images via



You Make Me Happy >> When Skies Are...

Everyone remembers my snafu from two weeks ago, right? Well, check back if you don't, and you can see what I wore for a snowy day. In the meantime, you can check out the other ladies' fabulous ensembles. I wish it was snowing here, I could go for a snuggly, wintry day. But a cool, grey, wet one will have to suffice.

 I'll be back on schedule with what to wear for a road trip in two weeks! >

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

shanti >> sondra



Let Her >> Sweep You Off Your Feet

As seen on yesterday's hike >
Hard to argue with, huh? Happy Wednesday. :)

shanti >> sondra



The Hummus >> Among Us

Today I am at home, decorating for Christmas a bit and jamming out to some Christmas tunes on Grooveshark. But before I start posting about Christmas stuff, I want to get the other recipe I made for Thanksgiving up.
I made delicata squash hummus, which was SUPER DELICIOUS and SUPER EASY. It was a big hit. I highly recommend this if you need to bring any potluck-type dishes this season. Beware though, it made a TON, so if you don't need a large amount, I would halve the recipe below.

Here's the recipe, from Delighted Momma >

- 2 cups of butternut squash (I used delicata, because it came in our farm box last week)
- 1/2 cup of tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- 2 cloves of garlic
- The juice from half of a lemon
- A dash of cumin
- 3 dashes of cinnamon
- 3-4 dashes of pepper

Slice up the butternut squash into small pieces and boil for about 8-9 minutes or until soft.
Throw all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth and creamy.

Andy made rosemary flat bread to go with it, which was perfect. Basically, make your favorite pizza crust dough (or even easier, buy one pre-made from the grocery store), roll out, and top with a little bit of minced garlic, olive oil, chopped rosemary, and a little salt. Bake until crispy and slice into little pieces. Easy peasy, homemade goodness! This whole thing, hummus + bread, came together in about half an hour.

Now, back to Christmas. I have been doing quite a bit of shopping online so far this year. Not as fun as going out to the stores, but definitely less stressful. Plus, I can browse handmade and artist shops on Etsy and the like, which is nice. Are you hitting any cyber Monday sales? Find any amazing shops I should know about? I am always looking for cool ideas!

shanti >> sondra



Nothing I'd Like Better >> Than to Fall

Twice now, I have gone to do something that not that long ago, I could never imagine (willingly) doing.

Rock climbing.

Well, more specifically, bouldering. What is bouldering you might ask? It's like rock climbing, except not as high (maybe 20 feet) off the ground, and you don't use ropes or anything. Instead, there is a big cushy mat on the ground below you in case you fall.

I have been afraid of heights for as long as I can remember. Even looking over the side of a building from the third story will cause my stomach to leap into my throat. I'm not sure why I agreed to go to the bouldering gym the first time, but I know why I will be going back. I'l go back because I am terrible at it. And amazing at it. Both at the same time.

I am terrible at it in that I can barely do the beginner level routes. My hands hurt only minutes after arriving, the skin blistering from gripping, and my arms feel like they are going to fall off. Sometimes Often the fear catches up to me, and I literally cannot go up anymore -or worse- back down.

That's where I'm amazing at it. Because not going up or down is not an option. It just isn't. There is only one way off the wall, and it's by conquering your fears. You either push yourself to let go for the next hold below you and trust in yourself, or you push yourself to reach higher and grab for the one above you. Worst case scenario, you fall onto the mat, which is scarier than both of the other options. But even in doing that, you learn that everything is okay. You'll land, pick yourself up, and try again.

Both times that I have gone, I have surprised myself at what I can do when the choices are very, very simple. When it gets tough, I close my eyes, take a deep inhale, and go up...or down. Either way I learn  a lot.

Do you ever put yourself into scary (but safe) situations so that you can push yourself? I highly recommend it!

shanti >> sondra



Like a >> Winter Pear

Holy man, did we feast yesterday! Our Thanksgiving was a smashing success, thanks to lots of hard work from our host. We had a slightly non-traditional Thanksgiving in that we had turkey pot pies instead of regular turkey, but they were AMAZING! So many delicious things. Lots of laughs, lots of wine, and lots of game playing was had.

I was put in charge of bringing a pre-dinner cocktail and an appetizer to snack on while we all waited for the main event. Both things ended up involving rosemary. This was perfect because not only is it seasonal and I love it, but we have a huge hedge of it out front.

Today I'll share the rosemary pear cocktails that I made. I had made one recipe that I found, but thought it was a little heavy, so I made some alterations and came up with these. They were SO GOOD.

For one cocktail >
In a shaker combine
> 2 tablespoons pear flavored vodka
> 1 tablespoon rosemary simple syrup
> 1/4 c. pear juice
> sprig of rosemary
> handful of ice

> pour over a glass of ice
> top with lemon sparkling water

ENJOY! Hopefully you like rosemary as much as I do, because I have some other ideas on how to use it that I am going to share here soon.
I have to work all day today, and in fact I work all weekend. If you are off, enjoy it for me, because I really wish I were staying home to clean, decorate for Christmas, and nest a bit.

shanti >> sondra



Grateful, Thankful >> Appreciative, Content

This morning as I laid in bed thinking about what I wanted to write, a huge smile spread across my face. I was thinking about all the things I was truly thankful this year; it was a lot, and I can't help but feel joyful about it.

So, as if we are all sitting around our huge internet Thanksgiving table (which I wish we were!), here are a few big ones from the past year >

Moving to a great new city > Jobs we both love > A sweet dog who makes us laugh every day > New friends > Getting to travel home > Starting this blog, and all the awesome people I've met through it > Completing yoga teacher training > A cozy home > Chai lattes every morning > and, most importantly, abundant health

I hope you have (or had, if you are north of the 49th) a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are able to remember all of the things big and small that are amazing in your life. A whole holiday for gratitude! What a killer idea!

Now I'm off to make my contributions to the Friendsgiving we're attending - delicata squash hummus and rosemary pear cocktails (I'll share recipes here soon!).

shanti >> sondra



Let the >> Fire Burn Bright

I've had a little list of things collecting that I've meaning to share, and it seems they've hit critical mass.

Reading (1) > I recently finished Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf. It’s a humorous look at one guy’s journey from regular dude, to an ashram-living yogi at large. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, where he sort of bumbles around making discoveries about how transformative yoga truly can be. He ultimately uses it to manage his colitis and ADD symptoms. While I identified a lot with Brian in the first half of the book, the second half of the book has him going from ashram to ashram over a period of about 10 years, pursuing various healing modalities. It was a little bit harder to identify with him at that point; I’d rather read and learn from someone who is able integrate yoga into their everyday life. That said, if you are new to yoga and want to learn more about what it can maybe do for you, I definitely recommend this book to shed some light, with a dose of humor along the way. Ever since I finished this book, I’ve been bumbling a bit; starting books but not getting into them too much. Have you read any good books lately that you can recommend?

Coveting (2) > Trisha of Veranellies has a new line of homemade body products that look –and smell!- amazing called The Hive Botanicals. I’m thinking of putting an order in for the holidays, and sneaking in a thing or two for myself. Isn’t that always how holiday shopping goes? It does for me, anyway. I am loving the activated charcoal soap, and the peach lip balm sounds so amazing. I am so excited to support a fellow blogger trying to get her business going, while at the same time getting products I know my friends and family will love…what a good feeling!

Wearing (3) > I’ve kind of been digging velvet lately. I’m not sure why, but it looks and feels so luxurious, so why fight it? I recently picked up this scarf from LuLu’s, and have been trying to figure out how to wear it. The fabric is so fancy looking, everything I pair with it seems almost too casual! I also found a navy blue velvet blazer at a thrift store, which I’m thinking about busting out for Thanksgiving. The possibilities!

Feeling (4) > the Christmas spirit. Every year, from Dec. 26th until sometime in mid-November, the thought of Christmas seems overwhelming and gross. But somehow, every year, there is a day when all that changes and all of the sudden I can’t wait to start spinning some Bing Crosby records, watching Elf, and baking a treat or two. Living on the West Coast the last few years, I always miss the cold and snow during the holiday lead-up. I try and make up for it by burning lots of cedar and pine scented candles (wouldn't those cedar tealight holders be perfect for holding cedar scented candles?!), and wearing snuggly sweaters and slippers around, but I’m so grateful I get to go home to Minnesota for a (hopefully) white Christmas.

Watching > Downton Abbey season 3. Yeah, we downloaded it (it aired in the UK already). No, I won’t spoil it for you. I will say though, that ever since I watched The Forsyte Saga, I have been less entranced with DA. That said, it’s still a great watch.

Anticipating > Eating, drinking, and lots of laughs on Thanksgiving, which we are spending with new friends from work. I'm also looking forward to reading Rebecca's 5 Ways to Put the H.A.P.P.Y. Back Into Your Holidays guide. This year, I'm really trying to focus more on the joyful parts of the holidays, and less on the gift aspect. I want to be thoughtful and intentional as I move into the holiday season, and it seems like Rebecca has nailed it right on the head with her guide!

So, there’s a peek into what’s been yanking my crank lately! How about you? Excited for Christmas yet? Dreading it?

shanti >> sondra



The Heart >> of the Matter

Thought of the day.
Have a lovely Sunday. Mine will be spent in pajamas, listening to the rain outside, and making cauliflower mac and cheese. Comfort at its finest.

shanti >> sondra



White Silence >> Speaks Volumes

We have returned from adventures north! And, boy, were they some cold adventures. Temperatures hovered just above and below the 0*F mark (that’s -20*C for those north of the 49th.. As a Minnesotan at the core, we didn’t let this stop us at all, but I have no idea how Nicole does it so early in the year; it felt like January in November!

Anyway, the sun shone most of the time, and all the trees looked sugar coated and beautiful. The bigger lakes, like Lake Louise here, weren’t frozen over yet, so they were steaming and looked so magical in the light.

This is the hostel where we stayed. We’ve stayed here before and we love it. I love hostelling so much; I should do a post on the wonders of hostelling another time. This particular hostel is very special though, as it’s a wilderness hostel. No running water, a solar panel for electricity, and a wood-fired sauna for bathing and getting warm to the core. The one bummer is using an outhouse…in the cold. Needless to say, I was mighty grateful to use a heated bathroom after our stay.

Although it was very. very. cold, there is something so serene about the frozen world. Kind of like the desert, any living thing you see has adapted to life in those conditions. The snow dampens all the sounds, and there’s this dulled sonoric quality all around. And the stars! So many stars… that’s always one of my favorite parts about getting out really far from big cities. And in the cold, the starlight is amplified and looks like nothing else.

Piko loved it – of course. She was able to run around with a couple of other dogs that were at the hostel, and was a champ on the trail. We took her hiking and snowshoeing. It was so cute to see her fall through the snow chest deep and try and plow her way through! I love this picture of her looking like such an adventurer, surveying the horizon and eyeing up her next conquest.

I can't wait to go back....something to daydream about. :)

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> for the Elements

:::EDIT::: Oops. Giant oops. Apparently this week's was "what to wear to a family dinner." Needless to say, this is not what I would wear to a family dinner. But that family dinner thing makes a lot of sense, seeing as how it's Thanksgiving in the states next week and all. This is what happens when you are so sure you remembered something, that you don't even bother checking. Lesson learned. :)

Ladies and gents, it is time once again…

This week’s prompt is what to wear…for the winter elements! We just got back from our trip to Canada, so I didn’t have time for proper outfit photos. BUT, we DEFINITELY encountered very cold and snowy conditions, and this is what I wore. 

See me? Looking like a ninja? Word. It may not be cute or fashionable, but darn it if I wasn’t warm. I have two ways of dressing for the cold. The first is if you are not actually going to be spending any time outside. If you go from warm house, to car, to work, and don’t spend more than a few minutes at a stretch outside, you can totally wear something impractical. My last few winters in Minnesota I wore a thin wool swing coat from Urban Outfitters, and was totally fine. But if you are planning on actually spending any time outside, like going for longer walks or hitting the slopes or trails, I highly recommend hitting REI and shelling out for some decent gear. I did not used to believe this.  I refused to. But I now know it to be true. See my get-up up there? It’s down, and neoprene, and goretex, and whatnot, but I was able to stay totally warm and dry for a few hours while out snowshoeing while it was around 0F. Oh, and that balaclava is a miracle. This was the first time I ever wore one, and my face stayed warm and comfy the entire time. Brilliant!

rainy warmth

rainy warmth by abhaya on Polyvore

That kind of gear is really for your more extreme end of the cold spectrum. Luckily, I get to just visit the very cold, and the rest of the winter is spent mostly just wet here in Seattle. Wet is something you don’t want to mess around with. My first “winter” in Berkeley, I found some gear that is fashionable and functional; I own similar boots and a similar coat from the set above (the models of these from 2 years ago). Both are waterproof, and just warm enough to ward off the damp chill. I HIGHLY recommend both items, from Merrell. I also love wool socks and leggings in the winter. These options from SmartWool would be perfect for wearing out and about, as well as snuggling at home.

So there you have it – my winter recommendations. As always, be sure to check out the other ladies’ participating in this week’s series…I can’t wait to see what they all come up with!

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper
Adriana: Horses of Ares
Lisa: notladylike
Katherine: thinkin' outloud
Lisa: lala faux bois

I’ll be back tomorrow with a few more wintry pics and a recap of our trip up north.

shanti >> sondra



All You Need >> Air. Sleep. Sky. Dreams.

There is absolutely, positively, nothing better in the world to me than a road trip. I love everything about it - the pre-daydreaming, packing the car, stopping at rest stops, eating at small town diners...ahhhhhhh. Andy and I have put about 70,000 miles on our car in the 3 years that we have had it, and I'd say probably 3/4ths of that is from trips big and small that we have taken all over Western North America. I (half) joke that maybe we should become truckers, criss-crossing the continent watching amber waves turn into purple mountains majesty.

To me, hitting the open road is like a meditation. You are in the moment. HERE. NOW. You become extra-aware of  the new sights and smells around you. The world slows down and you catch your breath. You notice the little things in the small towns, in the landscapes, and these things inform how you view your own world, seemingly so small and far away.

Today we are leaving for Banff, up in the Canadian Rockies. More specifically, we are heading to a hostel north of there. The place we are staying is rustic - no running water and only solar electricity - and I can't wait. We are heading for a weekend of looking out the window as the countryside rolls by, snowshoeing, and hopefully, a camp fire or two.

All this to say, the blog will be quiet until next week. I probably should have tried my hand at lining up some guest posts, but I didn't, so there you have it. I shall hopefully return with lovely pictures and tales to share with you all; can't wait!

shanti >> sondra

p.s. YES our beagle, Piko, is coming with us! Eeeeek, I can't wait to see her romping in the snow!

>>original image via; altered by me. 



A Place to Piece >> A Place to Stay

Thank you SO much for all the sweet comments and emails I got about Piko! She is such a little lover, we are so lucky she came into our lives. She wanted to say thank you, too, so she put on a crown to show you.
What, that's just how dogs show appreciation, okay? Maybe it's a beagle thing.

In other news, the sun is shining today, the election gods were good to us, and there is a hot chai tea latte in my near future. Just appreciating the little loves around here.

shanti >> sondra



Expanding >> the Heart

This is what we did over the weekend...
WE GOT A DOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have wanted a dog for so so long, and we finally decided to go for it. We've been saying "someday" for too long...

We have had little say over where we have lived and where we might end up. We have not been able to buy a house like many of our friends, and we want to wait to start a family until we are more certain of our future. Getting a dog used to be on that list, but we decided enough was enough, we get to make some decisions around here!

So this is Piko.

She is a 5 year old beagle, and she is the sweetest thing. We adopted her from a family who just had their second baby, and were finding that Piko had fallen to the bottom of the priority list. They loved her so much they wanted to find a family who would give her the love and attention she deserves.

The cats have already let her know who's boss, and I think with a bit more time, they'll all be the best of friends. It's only been two days and they'll all pile on the couch or bed with us happily.

We are taking her with us on our trip next week, and she will come home to Minnesota with us for Christmas. I can't wait to see her sprawled out in front of the fireplace!

"Piko" means belly button in Hawaiian, where her first "mom" is from. More than just the literal place of the belly button, it also means a spiritual/emotional/energetic center; akin to the idea of chakra. Beautiful, huh?
We have only had her for 48 hours, and already love her so much. Aren't hearts amazing, how they expand to hold more so effortlessly?

shanti >> sondra



All the Way >> to the Horizon

We are going on a little trip next week up to Banff. I have been there before, and it is a non-stop beauty-fest. Veteran's Day weekend has turned into an annual road trip/outdoor adventure for us. Last year we went to Zion in Utah, and the year before we headed to the Grand Canyon. Banff is pretty much the opposite of those places landscape and climate wise, but I can't wait for some amazing mountain vistas, white snow, and plenty of hot springs.

I discovered the photography of Owen Perry on the ISO50 blog, and the way he captures the Canadian wilderness is breathtaking. I hope I come back with photos that are a tiny fraction as ethereal and wonderful as his. Check out his website for lots more amazing mountainy goodness.

shanti >> sondra



What to Wear >> Halloween Edition

As promised, I'm back today to share what I came up with for Halloween this year. As you can see...Little Red Riding Hood! I'm not sure what prompted the idea, but after I came up with it I went with it because all I needed to do was make a cape.
Since I'm not the best crafter in the world, I was pretty proud of the cape I pulled off. It was more labor intensive than I thought it would be (I imagined it would be possible to do it without sewing...it's not), but it still only took about an hour, and it only took that long because I stitched it by hand. I used this how-to (which was by far the best of all the ones I looked at) in case you ever need to make a cape. You know, all those random cape-making needs. ;)
Everything else was stuff I owned. This was a great costume, because basically you get to wear a fleece blanket around, plus you can put all of your stuff in the basket.

Don't forget to check out the other chicas and see what they put together!

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper
Adriana: Horses of Ares
Lisa: notladylike
Katherine: thinkin' outloud

shanti >> sondra