Affirmations >> 05

I had a little fun editing pictures today, and I came up with this for this edition of affirmations >
I think no matter what your beliefs are, or even lack thereof, that the outdoors is truly a refuge for everyone. I took this photo last week, while we were out for a day of mini-adventure (I'll share more about that later this week).

Yesterday we looked at an apartment that we liked a lot, and put in an application for it. It's maybe a bit smaller than our current place, but waaaaaay more functional. One of the other benefits of it is that it is very near the water and several parks, so we could "get our outdoors on" pretty easily. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

shanti >> sondra

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Ideas for >> Planting Herbs

We've had a few gorgeous days this week (although I think we're back to rain for the weekend), and I was able to get outside and get a few herbs planted! We have almost no outdoor space at our current place, just a few front steps outside of our door. Nonetheless, I wanted to maximize the space we do have and get some green things outside.
I had found this pallet a couple of months ago while taking the dog on a walk, and I dragged it home with the idea of another project in mind. Instead though, I thought it would make a great shelf for a few small pots to use up some vertical space. For now I have mint, dill, and thyme going, and I'd like to add a few more now that I know I have space for them.
I used a tea tin with a few holes punched in the bottom for a free, easy container.

When we lived in California, one of my favorite things was being able to have herbs growing outside year-round. We can't have plants outside year-round here in Seattle, but since these are in small containers they'll be easy enough to bring inside and place on a sunny windowsill (well, what passes in a Seattle winter).  It's so nice to be able to grab a sprig or two of what you need when you need it, rather than spend $3-$4 for a little plastic box of way more than you likely need at the store!

A few other ideas for planting herbs >

> Take this same pallet and turn it into it's own planter!
> Another idea for a vertical garden. Also, a great inspiration for re-using cans as planters.
> Start your own herbs from cuttings from friends.

I hope this inspires you to get your green thumb out!

shanti >> sondra

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Oh, No >> Not Another Green Smoothie

Oh, yes, my friends, it IS another green smoothie; just what the world needed! I can't help it, I LOVE SMOOTHIES! I'll shout it from the rooftops if I have to. I know, I know, the interwebz are already flooded with smoothie recipes, and lordy knows I've done my share to contribute. But, you see, I've been on a bit of a health kick lately. I attribute it to equal parts spring fever, turning 30, one too many nights of one too many indulgences, and a desire to get in shape for our upcoming summer hikes.

Usually, I drink one smoothie a day, and I have an old standby that I always make (baby kale, banana, cucumber, pear). However, I have been wanting to mix it up a bit and expand to two, and I came up with this yesterday. It's an inspired by a recipe I got from a friend, but I added my own twists.
1 stalk celery
1 c. frozen pineapple and/or mango chunks
1 big handful of parsley
Coconut milk to taste/consistency you like

Blend it up and enjoy!

I toyed really hard with the idea of getting a juicer, but the more I thought about it, I decided that smoothies have got to be better for you since you're not filtering out all of the fiber and pulpy stuff. Instead, I got a new blender thingy (a Bella Rocket), and it's been working really well for me. I've been trying out new combinations that incorporate veggies, but still taste good. I mean, it's not hard to make a bunch of fruit mashed together taste great -- it's when you start throwing kale or broccoli into the mix that it gets interesting. Perhaps I'll share some more of my creations with you all...? Anyone else out there down with smoothies?

shanti >> sondra

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Earth Day >> Everyday

Happy Earth Day, everyone! As a child of the late 80s and early 90s, Earth Day has always had a special place in my heart. And now that I'm older, and actually enjoy the outdoors (I hated it as a kid...or at least I always said I did), it's become more important to me than ever to honor, appreciate, and take care of Mama Earth.

Here are a few small ways I try and be green >

buy in bulk// hitting up this bulk foods section at the grocery store is a great way to cut down on the packaging you use, not to mention the ink it takes to make packages, the glue needed to shut them, etc., etc. Plus it saves money! Bonus points for bringing re-usable containers each time you go.

say no to plastic bags// I almost always have a reusable bag with me, and if I don't, I'll try and carry what I bought. I've been using re-usable sandwich bags at home, and recently bought a bunch of glass tupperware for portable lunches and things. We use bio-degradable plastic bags to pick up after the dog (I can't recommend these ones highly enough). Check here for more tips on saying no to plastic bags!

recycle// Duh. But I can't believe how many people I still see throwing away cans and glass on the regular! DO. IT.

campsite rule// leave it better than you found it. When you are out on a walk and see a wrapper caught in a bush, pocket it until you get to a trash can. Last year, my grandparents were honored by their community for doing just this, every day, on their daily walks. They were even featured in the paper! I am so proud of them!

These things are small, but they add up, especially if we all pitch in.

Be sure to tell the planet you love her today. <3

shanti >> sondra

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Summer Lovin' >> Had Me a Blast

I've been getting antsy for summer. Here are a few summery ideas that have caught my eye as of late >>
be// ermahgoodness, I could live in this picture. Even though I'm sure I won't find myself at any beaches quite like this one this summer, I sure wouldn't mind if I did.
wear// I actually wore a variation of this in India quite a bit. I love that maxis have been back the last few years, it makes it easier to find good versions of this closet staple. I love the simplicity of this black and white duo.
make// I'm not a huge DIY kind of lady, I more like the idea of making things rather than actually doing them. But these look simple enough for even me to make.
eat// This faro salad that was on bleubird recently is the kind of thing I love to make; simple ingredients, not too much prep, and can be packed easily for a picnic or road trip. I hope to try this one soon.
all images and links can be found via my pinterest

shanti >> sondra

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What to Wear >> While Exercising

I actually did snap pictures of what I wore to yoga this morning, but the more I thought about it, the more it wasn't sitting well with me.

Excuse me while I climb atop my soapbox. *Ahem*
Obviously, my primary form of exercise is yoga, and something that is very important to me is that anyone can do yoga. Wearing anything. With the rise in popularity of yoga over the last decade, what’s come with it is trendiness and a "cool" factor, which really has nothing to do with yoga. In fact, if you view fashion as an expression of your creativity and self, it doesn’t have anything to do with fashion either, since everyone is trying to look just like each other. You do not need to wear $90 pants, or have the latest and greatest mat in order to show up to class. What’s important is that you show up. I can barely afford to take class regularly, let alone drop a lot of cash on the clothes that I wear. I think you should wear whatever makes you feel good, even if it's grubby old leggings and a plain ol' tank top. Descends soapbox.

That said, yes, it is nice to wear nice things, so if you can afford it and it makes you happy, awesome! A few other tips for being what to wear for a yoga class:

> Marshalls and TJ Maxx are GREAT places to score deals on workout clothes. Also, REI occasionally has awesome scores on the clearance rack (I recently got a bunch of Hardtail stuff 70% off).
> For yoga in particular, form fitting it better than loose. You don’t want your shirt flying up in your shoulderstand! It also makes it easier for you to see your alignment, and for your teacher to make adjustments.
> When buying bottoms, try them on and SQUAT DOWN. Try and look in a 3-way mirror to check for opacity. I have definitely had my underwear clearly showing through on a few occasions!
> Be sure to bring a hoodie or a cardigan to class, even if it’s hot out. You’ll want it for savasana at the end (aka the best part of classJ).

Be sure to check out what the other ladies are rockin' this week! I can't wait to see the variety in this week's posts. If you'd like to join us today, link up! In two weeks, we'll be sharing what to wear for a coffee date.

shanti >> sondra

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Fearlessness >> in Action

Confession time: I have spent a lot of my life living in fear, and living in the future. I have struggled with anxiety issues off and on throughout my 20s, and I know a lot of you have, too. I have obsessed over the what ifs, the what mights, and felt certain that many terrible things were potentially in store of me. I have let it get the very best of me, and it has definitely taken me down more than once, and for extended periods of time. But I have never felt as good as in the last year, since taking a year off from working, devoting myself to studying yoga, and really finding a new perspective -and way out of!- my own brain. That's not to say that I don't still have my moments some days, or that I won't ever go down that path again. But, I'm living in the moment a lot more these days, and these days are good. Very good. So when we came upon a leather maker, out on our day of tulip traipsing, who would custom design anything you wanted on a bracelet, I knew exactly what I wanted:
I named this blog for the Sanskrit word for fearlessness, because that is exactly how I want to live my life. Starting this blog was a big deal for me, talking about my anxiety issues is a big deal for me, and putting myself out there with people is a big deal. But these days, I'm doing all of it, and it feels amazing. I have reaped nothing but rewards for the little seeds I have sown, and it makes my heart feel so full. 

We all have our demons and the stories that we carry with us, but I am here to say, that you can definitely change your story. The ending isn't written yet, and you can choose your own adventure. I love that I can look down at my wrist and remind myself of that anytime now.

shanti >> sondra

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Tulips Don't Wilt >> So Much as Faint

Okay, this one's got a lot of photos.
Cuz, BAM, we went and saw tulips! Before I even had a kernel of a thought of an inkling that we might end up living here someday, I had wanted to come and see the Tulip Festival. My sister told me about it a few years ago, and we even talked about making a trip one year for my birthday, but it never happened. Of course now that we're here, we had to go!
Please excuse my use of 90s slang here, but it was the bomb dot com.

The fearless beagle accompanied us. Sometimes, when you talk to her, she cocks her head like in the picture here. Like she's really listening. Adorables. And I just liked the way this bus looked.

It was also a fun excuse to try out my new camera lens. I went with a 50mm f/1.8, and am loving it! The only thing is getting used to the fixed focal length, but no biggie.

Turns out you can't really do much with a field of tulips, except walk around the perimeter a bit and take lots of photos. Except, after awhile you've kinda taken all the pictures of tulips that you could possibly ever need, so then no more of that. So, we traipsed in the mud a bit, found a cute little town, and got some picnic supplies for a lunch by the water. All in all, a pretty great spring day. If you're ever in Washington in April, put this on the list of "can't misses."

Is anything blooming in your neck of the woods?

shanti >> sondra

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Easy Peazy, Lemon Squeezy >> Fizzy Basil Lemonade

I don't know about where you live, but it's been cold, rainy, and windy the last few days. What happened to spring?! Well, we're faking the funk over here, because today I made a batch of fresh lemonade.
I've never actually made fresh squeezed lemonade before. However, last weekend I was supposed to bring lemons for a cocktail I was collaborating on with a friend, and I totally left them sitting on the counter at home. Luckily I was able to run to the nearby store, but what to do with the bag of lemons sitting on my kitchen counter? I think we all know what to do when life hands us lemons, amirite?
So a-squeezing I went. When we lived in Berkeley, there was a cafe in our neighborhood that made the most wonderful basil ginger lemonade. I thought I'd try and recreate it, except in my mind all I remembered was the basil part. Next time I'll get some ginger up in here, too. Anyway, this version was most excellent as is. To make 6 twelve ounce servings (72oz total), you'll need:

3/4 c. lemon juice
1 1/4 c. basil simple syrup (directions below)
~1.5 liters (56 oz) sparkling water
basil for garnish (optional)
ice cubes

To make the simple syrup, bring 3/4 c. water + 3/4 c. sugar just to a boil, and take off of heat. Roughly chop 1/2 - 3/4 c. basil leaves, and add to sugar water. Using a spoon, muddle the basil leaves a bit to release some of the oils and flavor. Let cool. After this, you can choose whether or not to leave the basil pieces in; strain the syrup if you'd like them out.

When you're ready to serve, pour all of the ingredients into a pitcher over ice. Garnish with a lemon slice, or more basil if you'd like. This would also be fantastic with a bit of vodka thrown in, if you're feelin' sassy. ;)
There you have it! California dreamin, on such a winter's day I tell ya.

Let me know if you try your hand at this!

shanti >> sondra

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I've Been Through >> the Desert on a Horse With No Name

I still haven't shared all the rest of our pictures from the our trip to the desert of Eastern Washington yet. Looking back at these photos, I can feel that we'll be back very, very soon.
We drove up some service roads until we found this little ridge line with a fence along it. We decided that it would be a good place to take a walk and stretch our legs, since it had such a gorgeous view of the river valley below. This is where I collected the sage that I bundled.

It's actually pretty crazy to see how much the landscape has changed since I took these pictures. Here in Seattle, all of the trees have started leafing out, and everything is green, green, green.
We also visited a petrified forest near here, which we were pretty excited about. Although it has nothing to do with actual petrified forests, we love the movie. Isn't the wood beautiful, how it colors and changes with time and geologic processes? There were just huge hunks of it all around. Crazy to think about how long it has existed on the Earth! Sometimes, the Earth just blows my mind!

Also crazy to think about? The people who made these petroglyphs. I've seen several petroglyph sites all over the West and Hawaii, and I'd say these are some of the best preserved and most detailed ones that I've seen. Aren't they beautiful? I just love thinking about the people who left these, why they would have left them, and what they would think of me standing there gawking at them now. I wonder what people thousands of year from now will consider our "petroglyphs." This blog, perhaps? ;) Lawd, I hope not.
I'm trying to figure out a way to sneak a trip out to the deserts of Nevada or Utah for a few days into one of our summer junkets. To Google Maps I go!

shanti >> sondra

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India v2 >> El Shaddai Orphanage

First off, thank you all SO MUCH for all of the lovely birthday wishes! It was truly a weekend to remember, I had a blast. Pizza was had, champagne was drunk, cupcakes were eaten, karaoke was (badly) sung, and Mad Men was watched. What more could a girl ask for?

Today I thought I would share some more pictures from my trip to India, this time from our visit to the El Shaddai Orphanage. Admittedly, I was a little nervous about this part of the trip. I sometimes feel like I'm not that great with kids, and I had no idea what to expect. Would it be sad? Would it be hard to communicate? Would they even care that we were there?

Well, I shouldn't have worried. The kids certainly weren't! They were just like little kids anywhere-- curious, playful, rambunctious, and carefree. These first few pics are of the building itself, where the children all live. This house had about 50 kids under the age of 7 or so living here. There were other houses for the older kids.
The room above is the main room where they sleep and spend their time indoors. The mats piled up on the back are what they sleep on.
All of the little toothbrushes piled up. How they keep them separate, I have no idea, maybe they don't.
This is where all of the clothes were kept. I think they're just sorted by size, and the kids wear them that way.
This is the back, where laundry is hung out to dry, and chickens are kept. There were also pretty new-looking bathroom and shower facilities.

Is this place grim, especially by Western standards? Most definitely. But after hearing that many of these kids are here because their parents were exploiting them in the slums, or because their parents couldn't afford to feed them (some were brought here by their parents, who can visit them), it doesn't seem as bad in comparison. Some of these kids, as young as 3, were made to collect recycling in the streets of Delhi or Mumbai, and told not to come home if they didn't have enough. They would likely not be getting fed everyday, let alone going to school.
Here, they go to school everyday, have a clean, warm place to sleep, and receive regular medical care. Their English is impeccable, and the workbooks they showed me were full of creativity, smarts, and big dreams. El Shaddai has programs that run all the way into adulthood, to prepare them for a life where they can work and earn a good living. Of course an orphanage is no substitute for a stable, loving family who can provide for you, but the reality is, these kids did not have that.

The girl above, Saraya, was SO CUTE! She attached herself to me right away, and wanted to play, play, play. She and her sister reminded me a lot of me and my sister at their ages.
We brought stickers and markers for the kids, who went nuts for them. As we started handing them out, more and more little hands would appear to get whatever you had.
I brought sidewalk chalk, which they were really into, but got taken away by the staff pretty quickly (I think because they didn't want them to make a mess -- fair enough!). I hope they get to play with it another day.
Almost as much as the stickers, the kids LOVED seeing pictures of themselves on our cameras. I took countless pictures of them, and as soon as I was done with each one, they'd run over to peer at the screen on the back.
It was such an unforgettable experience, and I'm so glad it was part of our trip. I had a blast playing hide and seek with the kids, swinging in trees, and taking pictures of each other. It wasn't much, but I hope it was a bright spot for them, because it definitely was for me.

If you'd like to learn more about El Shaddai and the work they do, or better yet to contribute, please check out their website for more info.

shanti >> sondra

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Hello, World! >> Anniversary

Guess what, guys? It's my birthday today! In fact, it's my 30th birthday. I thought I would want to write a post that got all reflect-y and all that, but Louise did such a good job of it recently, that I suggest you just pop over there to see what she had to say about this matter of getting older. Besides, the sun is shining, I've got a sparkly dress to wear, and french toast is being prepared in my honor as we speak. Life is good.

And you know what else? Since it's my birthday, I'm going to share about my favorite internet cat of all time: Colonel Meow. If you are not already a minion, then come over to the dark side. This kind of humor is a portal into my brain,  my friends.

I'm off to paaaaaaaaarrrrtttttyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

shanti >> sondra

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What to Wear >> To Work

It's style time, guys! I kinda love this week's topic: what to wear to work. I mean, this is what most of us get dressed for most of the time, right? I didn't work for most of last year while I was doing my yoga teacher training. Wearing spandex all day everyday was kinda nice on the one hand (i.e. comfort, time saved on getting ready), but I eventually sorta missed having a reason to put on real clothes everyday. I really see clothes as an extension of myself as well as a creative outlet, and I'm glad I get to explore it everyday!
I have spent my entire adult life working for non-profit performing arts (almost all of it theatre). The organizations have all been on the bigger side, so they're pretty office-y, but I mean, it's still the arts, so the dress code is pretty relaxed. I pretty much wear whatever I want, as long as it's not sweatpants and my boobs aren't hanging out. I am a manager though, and I do work with the public, so I try and look somewhat put together most days.

I'd say this is a good example of a work outfit for me. I wear many variations of this. Blazer-type thing? Check. That's like, the epitome of "work clothes." But this one is made of sweatshirt material, so it's not stuffy. Then I've got the llama shirt going on, as a nod to not looking too serious. Ankle length pants and my trusty Tom's take me the rest of the way. Oh, and the jasmine in these pics is blooming outside of our apartment and smells heavenly! YUM.

Yup, definitely something I would wear to work, and you should, too.

This week is another link-up party! Head over to Gypsy in Jasper to see more ladies getting in on the action, or post your own outfit and party with us!

Oh, and sorry if these photos look a little wonky. We got out to take pics just before it got dark out. How do style bloggers do it everyday?!

shanti >> sondra
blazer >  miley cyrus + maz azria for walmart (seriously!) way old, maybe $15?
shirt > madewell $12 
pants > target $10 
scarf  > thrifted, $4
bracelets > india
watch > timex

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Doggie Bag >> Pumpkin + Flax Treats

I don't know what got into me, but all of the sudden I thought it would be a good idea to make my own dog treats. I think it was because I saw a pin on Pinterest for treat recipes, and I didn't realize how easy it was to make your own. They're basically just weird flavored people cookies.

I am always scanning the ingredients list of the store-bought treats we get, and I only buy them if all of the ingredients are actually recognizable as food. The other thing I look for is price, and some of those fancy whole-food treats can get pretty expensive. Why? I have no idea. These were the cheapest thing ever to make. Don't have a dog? These would make awesome gifts for the dog lover in life!
Pumkin + Flax Dog Treats
(adapted from White on Rice Couple)
1 14.5oz can pureed pumpkin
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. flax seeds
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients in order listed, stirring thoroughly after each addition. When it came to adding the last few coups of flour, I mixed with my hands, which was easier. The dough should be pretty stiff and sticky. Roll out to 3/8" thickness (mine were definitely not that precise), and use LOTS of flour for this.

Then, cut out into whatever shapes you like! I wanted smallish treats, since our dog is a monster and wants many treats all. the. time. These are about 1 1/2" in diameter, and I used an empty honey jar to cut them out. Of course, you could get cutsey and find dog-themed cookie cutters to use as well. Piko isn't too into aesthetics; she said circles were fine with her.

Bake for about 30 minutes for smaller shapes like these; adjust the time based on the size/shape you choose.
The best part about making these was how many it made. I got well over 150 treats from this batch, plus Piko stole some of the rolled out dough while the first batch was baking. She was an ever-loyal watchdog throughout the process, staring at me in case I accidentally dropped anything on the floor. What a lady! I had all of the ingredients on hand, except for the pumpkin, so these were c-h-e-a-p to make. Win!

Let me know if you try making these!

shanti >> sondra

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Currently >>

I haven't done one of these in awhile, so I thought I'd do a round-up of what's currently up in my world.

Thinking About > Rearranging our living room. We have a severe case of "we hate our apartment-itis," but neither of us want to spend the time, energy, or effort on moving. One of my favorite things to do when trying to get to sleep at night is to imagine my dream spaces, complete with furnishings. Like, playing interior designer in my head. Is that weird? Anyway, I find it relaxing. Last night I thought of a new furniture configuration for our living room, that might jazz things up a bit for the summer, and maybe get us out of apartment-funk land for awhile.

Listening to > The new Bonobo album, The North Borders. Even if you are not already an electronic music fan, take a listen. The soulful, loungy grooves of this album are the perfect soundtrack for summer, and I've had it on repeat all afternoon. You can stream it for free, here.

Drinking > Another new favorite, Tazo Rest tea. I've got a big mug of it going right next to me. Such a delicious blend of lemon balm, rose petals, honeybush and about 10 other things. It really does taste like relaxation in a cup!

Liking > The new Passionfruit Marketplace. I spent about 45 minutes just scrolling through and discovering new blogs this afternoon. But, uh, I guess I don't really need another diversion. :/ Still, lots of fun. Have you checked it out yet?

Anticipating > This next weekend! It's a big one for me. Not only is my 30th birthday on Saturday, but it's the annual Gala for the theatre I work for that night. Double score! A bunch of girls from work are getting together beforehand to get ready and get all gussied up. I can't wait! Plus, the Mad Men season premiere is on Sunday night. Gah! So. Excited.

I'm off to spend some time in kitchen, including putting together a little recipe for you dog-lovers out there (I'll share soon!).

shanti >> sondra

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