Alex’s Bedroom : Painting the Mural

A couple of weeks ago we gave you a little tour of Alex’s finished bedroom with the promise that we’d be back to discuss the mural in greater detail. Well, today’s the day, and we’re ready to share both the highs and lows (there definitely were some!) of this project. If you want more background information, in the last post, we discussed why we wanted to do a big mural with some discussion of how the mountains fit in with our woodland theme.

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As I mentioned in the last post, our inspiration for the mural came from this nursery designed by Emily Henderson. The first thing I did was to sketch out an overview of the mountain landscape that we would try to reproduce. Keeping in mind that odd numbers are more appealing to the eye than even, I went with five mountain peaks. I tried to stagger the heights, while keeping a natural perspective in mind, which meant making the background mountains shorter (these are also the ones that would be painted gray).

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Cooking with Kids : Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve used it to make some pumpkin butter, pumpkin popsicles, and a quick weeknight pasta.

Welcome back to our new Cooking with Kids series, where Alex is the true star, and these pumpkin cookies are the runner up. If you haven’t seen our first Cooking with Kids post, it’s worth a glance, especially if you’re just starting out on this whole kids-in-the-kitchen adventure. Today’s post will not go into as much detail about how to make the cooking fun for your little one, instead, I’m just putting all of our past tips into practice and sharing a few ideas related specifically to this recipe and baking cookies in general. As a point of reference for any moms out there, Alex helped with these cookies when he was 29 months old (just shy of 2 1/2 years).

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This is a recipe that I first saw on Design Mom. I made a batch for a party last fall, and predicted then that they would become a fall favorite. This year’s batch turned out just as delicious and well-received by everyone in the house, that they’ve retained their position as “favorite fall cookie”. The cookies are delicious little fluffy cakes of pumpkin, and if kept in an airtight container, they will stay moist for at least two weeks (surprisingly a few cookies made it that long in our house!). The original recipe includes instructions for a glaze, I didn’t make it this year, opting for a plain cookie, but made it last year and loved it. I’ll include it below in case you’re craving the extra touch of sweetness.

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Plane vs. Bus

liveseasoned fall15 kathmandu pokhara nepal6 There are plenty of ways to travel abroad: trains, planes and buses are some of my favorite. In Nepal there are typically two viable options: a loooong bus ride or an often delayed flight.  Today we’re going to look at the positives and negatives of both options that way when you come visit you’ll know exactly how you want to travel. Continue reading

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World Rivers Day

Let’s work together to keep our rivers and oceans clean.  Here’s a recent post about our favorite biodegradable shower products.

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Happy World Rivers Day!  Hopefully you’re in close proximity to one and can easily enjoy some cool river water today.  I’m still in Nepal, a country racked with rivers that are fed by beautiful snow capped mountains.  The raging rivers in Nepal power a whopping 80% of the country’s electricity.  Nepal’s three major rivers are the Kosi, Gandaki and Karnali.  Pokhara, where I’m currently living, is near to the Seti Gandaki or White River.  Below you’ll see photos of the white river during a yoga teacher training group outing.  Liveseasoned fall15 rivers2

We ventured ninety minutes outside of Pokhara to hike and visit the hot spring on the White River.  This was actually last week during Clean Up The World Weekend.  My group helped pick up lots of litter at my request.  It was a great bonding experience because none of the Nepali people could fathom why we were picking up trash with our bare hands and insisting we put it in the van and take it back to the hotel.  You can see my Indian asana teacher (in all white) carrying a box we found on the side of the mountain, which we then used to pick up more trash along the White River.

_DSC6749Liveseasoned fall15 rivers6Liveseasoned fall15 rivers3While we did our best to collect trash there is obviously a lot left to be done in Nepal and all over the world.  The river I visited in Kathmandu was absolutely trashed.  It’s no wonder since it runs through a city that is home to over a million people.  It was quite a surprise to me though because my guesthouse receptionist describe it as an amazing natural area.  You could say I was a little disapointed when the local bus dropped me off here.

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Then there is the Bagmati River, the one in which cremated remains of hindus are tossed into. While it’s easy to judge those who use rivers differently, it’s hard to tell if we would act the same if our country’s standards for water cleanliness were different or almost nonexistent like those in Nepal.  We learn from those around us and if your piers are washing their clothes in the water and throwing the detergent wrapper downstream you will almost certainly do the same thing.  One of my favorite books growing up was A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry. It’s the story of native americans and europeans working together to restore a river that had been heavily polluted. I honestly think that book was my first introduction to the concept of water pollution and realizing that whatever you do upstream will have a consequence downstream. It still baffles me that some people don’t realize storm drains lead to rivers and oceans.  It’s never too early to educate your children (or even your adult friends!) about the importance of fresh water and the way we interact with it.

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(Paleo) Pumpkin Popsicles

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve used it to make some pumpkin butter, and cheated by using butternut squash to make a quick weeknight pasta.

Luc is able to eat solid foods now and teething in a major way, so I was inspired to make a round of pumpkin popsicles that he could enjoy with the rest of us because we have plans to ride the popsicle train well into fall! As for the paleo aspect of this treat, we aren’t paleo, and that was a complete surprise to me until I stumbled upon the info when trying to decide if I should drink the little bit of the mixture that didn’t fit in the molds or would that be crazy (answer : it’s not crazy, all the paleo folks are whipping up almost this exact mixture and calling it a smoothie).

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Happy Autumn Equinox

liveseasoned_fall14_autumn-2Remember this sentiment from last year?  We thought it was too good not to bring it up again.  Ever since I did this quick photo shoot, I’ve been thinking about how much fun it was to have an idea and make it come to life all within a couple hours.  As strange as it sounds, it’s quite rare that I act on my ideas immediately.  I usually write them down and talk myself out of them later.  Often times I think it’s because I don’t have a creative partner (on this side of the country) to help bring my ideas to life.  Whenever Katie and I are together we’re bouncing recipes, products and photo shoot ideas off one another constantly.  Either I move west or stop making excuses for my inability to act because I absolutely love how this little shoot turned out and it was so easy.  This is all to say that Autumn is most definitely a time to act. Seize the day because they’re getting shorter!  By the time I return to the U.S. there will be a chill in the air, but no complaints here, the weather in Nepal is absolutely beautiful right now.  The skies are growing clearer every day, which means more and more glimpses of the Himalayan range.

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Remember to get outside on Monday, September 28th, for the full harvest moon.  The entire yoga group is going to visit Sarankot, a nearby peak to watch the moonrise and do some meditating.  I’m stoked for such an adventure and I think you should plan something just as special 🙂

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It’s a Taga

Since yesterday was Zero Emissions Day and today is World Carfree Day, I wanted to sing my praises to our Taga. What is a Taga? This is a question I used to answer every day last year!

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The Taga is a bike that easily folds up into a stroller and has a variety of attachments to let it grow with you and your kids. In my opinion, it is the ultimate cruising-around-town bike if you have kids, a bike-friendly neighborhood, and don’t want to travel by car. My mom bought one for us when Alex was born. We brought it to Boulder with us, and it was my dominant form of transportation during our first year here when we lived in town.

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I have such fond memories of my first days in Boulder. Everything in the city was new to me, and I couldn’t wait to explore. Alex and I would hop on the Taga, I would pick a bike route and a final destination, and off we would go. As anyone who walks or bikes to explore a new place knows, you feel so much more connected and see more details than if you were in the car.

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For us, having the Taga was a godsend because Alex hated (with a capital HATE) the car, so being able to do almost every errand by bike was amazing. I was so proud of myself on the weeks when we would get to Friday and I would realize that we hadn’t used the car once!

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As you can see from the image at the top of the post, the Taga comes with a variety of options, the primary one being the kid’s seat that allows you to use it as a bike or stroller. This is what we had, and we always kept it in bike mode. The only downside is that there’s not a lot of storage space for lugging home groceries. To remedy that, we added a seat post mounted bike rack and a basket. That gave me plenty of room to bring home a few day’s worth of groceries at a time.

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Of course, sometimes Alex would go for rides with Calder in a kid’s seat mounted to the back of a regular bike, but for everyday transport, the Taga was our favorite. When we decided to move into the mountains, I was so sad to say goodbye to those every-day trips. In fact, I really wanted to buy the double wooden seat for the two boys if we bought a house in town, because I had high hopes to keep our driving lifestyle to a minimum.

But alas, we’ve put our daily bike rides on hold in exchange for daily hikes up our backyard mountain. Not a bade trade, but I do have high hopes of the boys and I hopping on bikes again once they are a touch older. We can drive down the mountain with bikes, park the car and do all of our errands by bike (a girl can dream!). 

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In the meantime, looking through these photos brought back so many memories. Like trips to buy new shoes!

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Going to vote.

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Bundling up and driving a little bear cub around town on chilly days.

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If you live in a town with bike paths and/or nice bike lanes, I can’t recommend the Taga enough. I mainly stuck to the paths because in Boulder we were lucky enough to have them running right by our house and to all of our favorite parks and shops. I took it on the street a few times, but always felt more comfortable with a little more distance between us and the cars. 
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By last spring, Alex was an old pro at hopping on and off of the bike. As you can see, he always made himself comfortable, often with his feet up on the handlebar. And eventually he learned that he could just reach his hand through the little sunroof whenever he wanted a snack or the drink bottle. What a kid! 
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The Taga worked so well for us, and whenever we were out on a ride, we would always get at least one compliment. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen more in the US, particularly in such a bike-friendly town like Boulder, so with that in mind, we wanted to share our love on the blog today.

I know it can be hard to go car-free with kids, but we are such big fans that we want to encourage everyone to give it a try. If you can make it work, it can lead to even more adventures and moments of exploration for your little ones. We were always stopping the bike to watch construction sites, trains go by, and prairie dogs popping up from their burrows! Seriously great memories from our first year in our new hometown. 
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Butternut Squash Pasta

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. Today I went crazy and threw out the pumpkin for a butternut squash. Hope you don’t mind!

Today’s recipe for butternut squash pasta is absurdly easy, and it’s something that I find myself making every fall to usher in the season of squash. Come fall, I always have at least one butternut squash on the counter, so that’s what I used today, but this dish would be just as delicious if made with a sugar pumpkin. If you currently have a few squash on the counter, roast two squash today, eat one with your pasta, and use the other for our roasted root and squash soup.

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It’s been years since I’ve lived with roommates, and while sharing space has plenty of downsides, one thing I always loved was sharing the kitchen during meal times. I didn’t live in many situations where we actually shared meals (we were all on different schedules and often had different diets), but being in the kitchen while roommates were cooking often exposed me to new ideas, flavors, dishes, and stories. We all know it, time spent in the kitchen together is special, and it’s no surprise that guests/roommates/family will often congregate in the kitchen. This dish came from one of those random roommate moments in the kitchen.

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It was my first year living in Boston, there was a fall chill in the air, and my roommate had just roasted a squash. He didn’t have a particular dish in mind, but while the squash was roasting, he was also boiling pasta. The squash came out of the oven, a lightbulb went off in his head, and he combined the two. I don’t remember what else was in his dish, but I remember taking a bite and loving the combination of perfectly cooked pasta caked in the sweet squash with a dash of salt.

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Over the years, I’ve made some version of this dish every fall, and I’ve started to fall into a routine. I always slowly sauté the onions in some butter and olive oil until they are translucent, super soft, and amazingly sweet. After the roasted squash is added to the onions, I season it with a bit of dried thyme and garlic powder, and I use water from the cooking pasta to get a sauce consistency that is thin enough to easily mix with the pasta, but thick enough to stick in every nook and cranny.

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Once the sauce is ready, I stir in the cooked pasta and season it with salt. Before serving, there’s one more, absolutely crucial step : add a bit of freshly grated parmesan. The nutty and salty flavor of the parmesan does something amazing to the squash and pasta combination. It adds a deeper flavor (maybe it’s a touch of umami?) that rounds out each bite, and will have everyone at the table finishing their plate.

And speaking of finishing plates, now that one of my roommates is a toddler and the other just got his first teeth, I love making healthy food that they devour. As all moms know, you can’t go wrong with pasta, but you don’t necessarily love giving them plain noodles. This, my fellow moms, is a winning vegetable main course with my boys (granted, baby Luc can only eat the squash).

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We don’t have a formal recipe today, that would just ruin the experience of the casual weeknight meal shared by roommates hanging out in the kitchen after too many hours in the library.

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Tips For Visiting Temples

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Visiting ancient temples and beautiful mosques abroad is quite popular and enjoyable.  It surprised me a little bit since I’m not religious at all, but it’s more of a cultural experience than a religious one.  If you’re new to traveling or have never visited a temple abroad there are a few things you should know before you go.  I’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way and thought it could be helpful to share them here.  I feel so lucky to have visited dozens of religious sites in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Kathmandu, India and beyond.  Read on to discover all the things I’ve learned along the way.

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Two Bits

Each Friday we share some tidbits from our week.  We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned

Katie here :

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I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve checkin in on a Friday (thanks for keeping this ship afloat, Sarah!). This is our second full week at home and it felt so nice. We’ve found our rhythm with plenty of park visits, friend time, and family time (popsicle time!). I feel so lucky that I made it to two yoga classes this week! And when everyone is tucked in and the house is quiet, my thoughts turn to all of the great things that I’m hoping to do this fall, which includes planning Christmas gifts! Did I speak too soon? Don’t worry, I haven’t done anything other than think.

Sarah here :

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Last week, I gave you a peek into my days at the 200 hour yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal.  I’ve just completed day ten and holy heck am I exhausted!  I actually skipped yoga philosophy and yoga nidra today (my first time playing hooky!) so that I could take a much needed four-hour nap.  I woke up feeling refreshed and excited about the rest of the day so let’s hope that little bit of energy carries me through the rest of the week.  Tonight I’m trying to be in bed by 9pm instead of my usually 11pm.  Besides lack of sleep, everything else is going well.  I’m a bit better at chanting sanskrit mantras and holding handstands (against the wall) than I was last week.  The daily meditation practices keep getting better and better and I can’t wait until I have some time back in the states to share in detail all of the beautiful things we’ve been working on here.

I also met some really great girls that I’ll be hiking the Annapurna Circuit with once our teacher training wraps up in October.  I can’t wait to hike around majestic peaks with my giggling yoga ladies.  I have a feeling this winter back in the U.S. will feel a little dull after all these adventures are over.  What do you have planned for the weekend?  Some hiking or cooking, or flying somewhere? Remember that it’s Clean Up The World Weekend!

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