With Eyes Skyward >> Travel Essentials

This week I am total travel preparation mode, since I leave on Monday already for India! While I haven't traveled as much as some people, I would say I have traveled more than the average person my age has. This will be my sixth overseas trip in 8 years! I had never flown on an airplane until I was 18, and did not travel outside of Minnesota much until I was 21. Since then, I've been to 15 countries, 5 Canadian provinces, and 26 US States, including living in 3 of them. While many of my peers have spent their 20s starting families, buying homes, or climbing the career ladder, I have spent my 20s travelling. I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything!

I thought I would share some of my must-haves for really long flights. This will definitely be my longest flight ever, with 10 hours from Seattle to Amsterdam, and then 8.5 hours from Amsterdam to Mumbai. Ugh! I wish I could skip that part entirely. But since I can't, here are the things I'm bringing to help make it more manageable.

1> Kindle. Duh. One of the reasons I finally went e-reader, was that it will be so much easier to take lots of reading with me, and really lighten my load. Plus, I can even even get newspapers and such on it, so I'll always have something to read.

2> Dried Cherries. I've read that they are on the most natural sources of melatonin (which helps you sleep and maintain your natural bio-rhythm), and can help fight jet lag. I'm going to try it out; hopefully it helps!

3> Ginger. Travelling sometimes makes me feel woozy in the stomach. Sometimes it's turbulence,  sometimes it's eating bad airport food, and sometimes it's just plain anxiety. I like to keep ginger to suck on or chew to help soothe my stomach and digestion. It works so well!

4> Comfortable headphones. I just got these off of Amazon, and I think they'll do the trick. I think earbuds get uncomfortable when you lay on them, and these are nice and cushiony. Plus, while not noise cancelling, the over the ear design really block out a lot of outside noise.

5> Folder. I am SO disorganized. I am always losing things. I need all the help I can get to keep things together. I am going to use this folder to keep all of my documents and printouts together and wrinkle-free. Bonus - I found it in the $1 section at Target!

6> Earplugs and Face Mask. I am a big believer of sensory deprivation for sleep. This eye mask from REI is the BEST (I've tried a lot), and the earplugs will drown out any crying babies that might be on board (lord help us).

7> Cleansing Wipes. Flying always makes me feel icky. I like to use easy, no-water-needed wipes to freshen up. These ones from Pacifica are made with coconut water and papaya. Yum!

8> Luna Bars. I get grumpy when I'm hungry. If the airplane food stinks, or is not enough (I'm a growing girl!), I like to keep these on hand for emergencies. Also, they're a heckuva lot cheaper than buying overpriced airport food.

What are your must haves for travelling? Anything I should add?


A Walk >> In the Woods

Has anyone else ever read that book? It is HILARIOUS. It's about a middle aged, out of shape guy who decides to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. I know I relate to Bill Bryson in that book lately! I don't feel at the top of my fitness game lately (especially cardio-wise), so this hike we took last week was a tough one. It didn't help that is was essentially straight up, with LOTS of elevation gain over a fairly short distance. Oh, well. I trouped along until I gave up, and then we turned back and got some banh mis. Mmmmmmmmmm.... Nothing a good sandwich can't fix. :)
It wasn't an especially beautiful day for a hike, but I tried to notice the small things. I thought this pine cone was so cool! I loved the pattern in it.
We're heading out for a snowshoeing adventure tomorrow -- with the destination being a hot spring, so I better bring my A game! I'll bring my camera and share that junket later this week. I can't believe I leave for India a week from today. Tomorrow I'll be knee deep in snow, and a week from then I'll be in 90-100 degree heat, hanging with monkeys. (I was told there'd be monkeys. And elephants. Just hangin' around. Whaaaaaa?! So. Excited!)

shanti >> sondra


Yoga 101 >> Energizing Poses

I think we're all feeling it. The grey, the cold, the wet, the blah. It just kinda gets to you this time of year. The holidays are long gone, and spring is just a liiiiiiittle too far away to bring relief. Getting into your body is an amazing way to snap out of the doldrums, and I think for a lot of us, absolutely essential. I know when I stop paying attention to my physical body, I feel anxiety start to creep in, I feel lethargic, and it's hard to feel inspired creatively.

These poses are all really energizing, and will definitely get the blood flowing and get all the good juices {yes, that's a technical term ;)} flowing again!

The first is bridge pose. I'm showing sort of a "medium" height bridge below, but you can also wiggle your shoulder blades together and clasp your hands together to get more height. You can also stick some pillows or folded blankets under your hips for a more restorative version. Whatever way you choose, you're getting the blood flowing back towards your heart, expanding your chest and taking deeper breaths, and gently releasing the spine into a back bend.
Another really energizing pose is camel. I'm showing two different variations on this, depending on how bendy your back is. Please PLEASE be very careful with this pose, it can be pretty intense. Start off slowly, and only keep moving backwards if it's okay with your body today; just keep checking in with yourself as you go along. This has many of the same benefits as bridge pose, but you're able to really open up through the chest and the neck. I tend to be really tight in the neck, so I love the additional opening I can get in this pose. When you finish with this pose, come out veeeery slowly, and come down into child's pose for several breaths. I guarantee you'll feel your heart pounding and the blood moving all around when you're done!

The last energizer is a breathing technique. Basically, you just close off your left nostril and take slow inhales and exhales through only your right nostril. The right side of our body is energetically associated with the sun (HA), and the left with the moon (THA). The point of Hatha yoga is to bring these two elements into balance, so when the "Tha" side of things (cool, slow, dark, etc.) gets to be a bit much, we can stimulate the "Ha" side (warm, lively, bright, etc.) to even it out. Place your second and third fingers on your Third Eye Point (the space between and just above your eyebrows), and use your ring finger to close your left nostril. Continue breathing like this for 1-3 minutes.

Try one or all of these to put a little spring back into your step! And let me know how they worked for you if you do. If you'd like more detailed instructions on how to do each pose, Yoga Journal is a great resource with lots of pictures and descriptions.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend!

shanti >> sondra


What to Wear >> Ladies Night

Back again, with the What to Wear series! This week we're tackling ladies night. I suppose ladies night could mean just about anything, from staying in to watch movies and drink wine, to a full on night on the town, so I would suit my attire accordingly. But, for the sake of argument, let's say it was a surprise what we were doing. In that case, I think this outfit could go pretty much any direction!
First off, I would like to apologize for the wretched state of these photos. Taking photos of yourself is really hard! Especially when you don't have a tripod (note to self: get a tripod). So, if you can look past the grainy and blurry no-goodness, you will see my new favorite pants. Well, new favorites as of yesterday. I snagged them on the clearance rack at Target for $8. They are suuuuuper comfortable, and I love the shade. I tell ya, I'm a sucker for trends. I can't help it. This whole neon thing going on right now? Plus colored pants? Totally diggin' it. And these have the benefit of being a bit on the lemony side, rather than the highlighter pen side of neon yellow. I am especially loving neon paired with neutrals (my favorite neutral being grey!).
And, lookee! I got my hairs cut! So much shorter now. I was having a delusion that I was growing it out, but I realized recently that all I did was put it up everyday. What's the point of that? So I whacked it off. It's a bit shorter than I envisioned, but that's okay, it'll grow. It's fun in the meantime, anyway! The other things I'm wearing are this strange/cool sweatshirt-y thing that buttons at the top, over a grey t-shirt. I topped it all off with my trusty Tom's. Someday I'll wear different shoes on here, promise! I'm just not much of a shoe junkie, usually I stick with a few pairs that work for lots of things. Oh, and Piko was watching me while I took these, and was too cute not to snap pics of.

Are you much of a trend follower, or do you shun them (you trendsetter, you)?

As always, check out the other ladies this week!

shanti >> sondra
jeans $8 << target
sweatshirt $14 << marshall's
t-shirt $9  << h&m
shoes $80 << tom's


Fairy Tales + Magical Worlds >> The Art of Phoebe Wahl

I was going to post about a little hike adventure we took yesterday, but I can't seem to be able to figure out how to get the photos off of my new phone! So instead I am going to share something else that I've meaning to show y'all - the art of Phoebe Wahl.

This was the first piece of hers, and I came across it on Pinterest. Basically, this picture looks like heaven to me. A cabin in the woods, with me meditating/doing yoga/communing with nature in front. Ahhhhhhh....bliss. But then I followed the link through to her blog, where I found a gajillion more amazing watercolors and illustrations!

They evoke the look and feel of Scandinavian fairy tales with a helping of a hearty love for nature and growing things. Looking at them makes me so happy... I wish I could jump right into of them and live there!

She is -unbelievably- still a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. I imagine she has quite a career ahead of her!  Swoonyswoonswoon. :)

shanti >> sondra

images via Phoebe Wall


Latest >> Pinspiration

I noticed recently that I have now pinned over 600 things. I find it so therapeutic to look through all of the amazing (and not so amazing) stuff out there, and discover new and beautiful things. I like to do it before I go to sleep at night, lulled into dreamland with dreamy images and thoughts of DIYs that I'll likely never do... (I mean, let's be honest here;))

Here are a few of my recent favorites >
I've really been drawn to (get it? punny!)line drawings lately // truer words have never been said

this looks so yummy! plus I discovered a new blog from it // reminders are good
grafitti in India // cool yogi graphic

All sources can be found via my Pinterest, where you can also a bunch more of my recent pinspiration!

shanti >> sondra


Affirmation >> 03

Whether you are partnered or single, love the holiday or loathe it, we all struggle with this message sometimes. Take all the love and awesomeness and greatness floating out there today and everyday, and run with it!

While it's great to export all of our energy to others on this holiday, don't forget to do something special for yourself today, too. Run a bath, stop at a Starbucks and get your favorite drink, blast your favorite guilty pleasure and sing along. While you do it, remind yourself that you are worthy of love and happiness. <3

Happy Valentine's Day!

shanti >> sondra


InstaTrip >> Spokane

I'm guessing when most people hear "Spokane," they don't think "romantic getaway." But for us, it was perfect. Long car ride to somewhere random + pizza + fun bar + cheap hotel is our idea of a great time. We celebrated V-Day a little early, Andy and Sondra style...

The impetus for the trip was to get a heart shaped pizza from a place near and dear to our hearts ; Rocky Rococo. It's essentially fast food deep dish, but it is SO good. Rocky's pretty much only has locations in Wisconsin, but they used to have a few in Minnesota and we have fond memories of spending a few Valentine's Days there as young'ns. It's near and dear to our hearts, and when we discovered they have one location west of the Mississippi River and it happens to be in Spokane, that was enough for us. It was every bit as amazing as we remembered. Oh, and side note. I eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but Rocky's is on the exception list. :) We ended the night at a great bar with a stellar juke box, and a delicious French Gimlet.

Yesterday, we walked around the Riverfront downtown, which reminded me a lot of Minneapolis. We also hit up a thrift store and ate some great burritos before hitting the road. For us, the drive is half the fun. We love hitting the road with a pile of podcasts and watching the wide open spaces roll by.

It was a short and sweet trip, and now it's back to the grind. Do you have any special Valentine's Day traditions? How about anti-traditions?

shanti >> sondra


Heart Shaped >> Breakfast

I'm in the boat with most people, in that I think Valentine's Day is mostly overrated. Shouldn't you show your love in special and thoughtful ways every day? I'm also not a fan of chocolates, or red roses, or overpriced fancy dinners, or any of the other commercialization that goes along with the holiday.

That said, I do think it's nice to have a day that reminds us what this thing called life is all about: keeping our friendships and relationships strong, through acts of loving kindness. A really nice way to keep it low-pressure, is a special Valentine breakfast! I used a cookie cutter to make heart shaped eggs. If you had a couple of cookie cutters, you could also try your hand at making heart shaped pancakes. Oh, and by the way, acts of loving kindness are good for yourself, too. I made this breakfast for me, and it was delicious. :)

I paired my eggs with a tasty smoothie. I usually make green smoothies, but I wanted to come up with something that was a little more pink-hued.
I still wanted to sneak a vegetable in there, so I went with pumpkin. This made the smoothie more of a pinky-orange color, but it was still really pretty! More importantly, it tasted good.

To make >

1 c frozen strawberries
1 banana
1/2 c canned pumpkin
2/3 c vanilla almond milk

Blend up and enjoy!

We're off this afternoon and evening for a little Valentine get-away of our own. AKA an excuse to drive across the state for some of our favorite pizza. Yes, I am that dedicated.

shanti >> sondra


Currently >>


Eating > Well, not this moment, but we are going to a friend's house tonight for a pizza-making party. I don't think I've expressed my love  obsession for pizza very much here, but I LOVE it like it's going outta style. I geek out about crust textures and sauce flavor profiles like people do about wine (of which I'm totally down with the two buck chuck). Priorities!

Drinking > A chai tea latte. As always.

Reading > The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. I'm only on the third "tribe," but this book is pretty great. It's also a fitting read since it's African American history month, and this tells the story of The Great Migration. I majored in American Studies in college, and this itches that scratch in me that loves the story of America.

Smelling > Voluspa Golden Cypress candle, currently burning. I never used to be into candles too much, but lately I've been digging them. If you get a scent you really love, they add so much coziness! {Don't mind Captain Obvious over here ;)}

Grateful For > A tax refund! We have owed money the last few years, and finally we caught a break and are getting some back! I guess there's one benefit to making less money...

Anticipating > Summer. I know, I know. SO. FAR. AWAY. But, we're starting to get an idea of what our schedule will look like, and what trips we want to make. Planning is half the fun! Plus it looks like we're in for a great few months.

We had a lovely afternoon today -- we grabbed some udon and headed to the beach to let Piko run around. We saw an adorable seal pup laying on the beach, and found a rope swing to swing on.

hope you are having as equally lovely of a day!

shanti >> sondra


Moving Forward >> Staying Present

Whoa, Nellie, notice anything COMPLETELY DIFFERENT around here?! That's right, there is a whole new look going on, courtesy of the amazingly talented Melanie Lea of My Billie Designs! I love l.o.v.e. LOVE it so much...it feels so fresh and clean, and the aesthetic is perfect!

What? What's that you say? That this is already my third design and my blog is less than nine months old? I know, my pets. I'm fickle. Sometimes I change my clothes multiple times in one day. But more than that, my blog has evolved a lot over a short time. With my last re-design, I really wanted to use this space as a tool for my yoga teaching, and a lot of my choices were geared toward that. Along the way, I learned that having it be that and my personal blog blurred the focus of either one too much. Now this feels more like a space where I can really express myself creatively, and I love that.

The content will be much the same as it has been as of late. I'll continue to share about yoga, well-being, and natural living, as well as style and inspiration posts, recipes, the occasional DIY, and snippets of my life. Everything is staying the same, even as it changes to embrace the evolution that is a natural and lovely part of being human. :)

Seriously, if you are in need of a lady who can design circles and triangles around you, check out more of Melanie's work and hit her up!

shanti >> sondra

p.s. The title for this post comes from one of my favorite yoga teachers here in Seattle!


What to Wear >> Shades of Blue

Blue is definitely my favorite color. Especially shades that more toward the turquoise/peacock end of the spectrum. When I looked in my closet, I had SO many blue options, it was hard to choose! I ended up going with some recent favorites.
The dress is sort of a sweatshirt material, so it's nice and warm, but is cut in just the right way so that it has a little shape to it. And this scarf. This scarf! It's a navy blue and white heather, and I have been wearing it nearly constantly since I got it over a month ago. It's basically like having a sweater around my neck.
I have a lot of variations of this exact outfit. Do you ever find yourself buying essentially the same things over and over again? I sure do. I am such a sucker for plain cotton that's cut in dressier ways. It's like wearing a t-shirt, but no one knows!

Be sure to check out the rest of the gang's choices for shades of blue, including new member, Lexi! And if you'd like to join us, shoot any one of us an email.

Nicole > Gypsy in Jasper
Lisa > Not Ladylike 
Lisa > Lala Faux Bois  

Have a lovely Thursday! I'm off to work and then to play pub trivia this evening.

shanti >> sondra

dress > target ($10)
scarf > american apparel ($20 w/groupon)
clutch > target ($4)
tights > target ($2)
shoes > uo ($20)
watch > american apparel ($16 w/groupon)



Ladies With Sisu >> Helmi Juvonen

A couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to the Frye Art Museum here in town, and that's where I learned about the work of Helmi Juvonen. Born to Finnish immigrants in 1903, she moved to Seattle in 1918 and lived in Washington until her death in 1985. She was able to support herself with her art, by selling rag dolls, and drawings that she would clip outside of her studio on University Avenue. She was fascinated with Native American culture, and would often show up at reservations all over the Pacific Northwest to observe and participate in ceremonies and sacred rites, and sketch what she saw there. She was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder in 1930, although there is no evidence that she actually suffered as such. She did, however, suffer from some sort of mental illness, as she had a lifelong  ( please see comments below) obsession with a fellow artist, Mark Tobey (who was gay). She went so far as to send out wedding invitations to major museums for their marriage and to create a life-sized doll of him that she kept in her bed. When she was 57, she was committed to a mental hospital where she lived the remainder of her life, caring for scores of cats that became her family and continuing to create art with whatever materials she could scrounge up. She did not receive any notoriety for her work until the last decade of her life, when museums in Seattle began exhibiting her pieces.

Isn't her story amazing?! I could not get it out of my head after I saw this exhibit. Her art is expressive and lovely, and you can tell it comes straight from her heart. If you'd like to learn more about Helmi's amazing story, check out this essay.

There is a Finnish term known as sisu that I think sums up Helmi perfectly. Sisu means being brave, and continuing on even when the odds are against you. It means creating art even though no one will look at it, and showing up at Indian reservations and asking to be let in.

shanti >> sondra