Welcome January

Typically, on the first Wednesday of each month, we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, sometimes we focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields and other times we expand the conversation to highlight relevant nature and environmental topics in the news, a discussion of our intentions for the month, and other bits of inspiration.

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In the News

Guys, there is something called a bomb cyclone and it’s coming for the east coast. Think hurricane, but wintery conditions. Ick. I moved to North Carolina to avoid winter and here we are talking about temperatures 20-40 degrees colder than usual. Typing that just sent a shiver down my spine. Hopefully, Santa brought that electric blanket I asked for, we’ll see at Russian Christmas this weekend in Saxis.

I thoroughly appreciated this nature in the news roundup for 2018. What to expect in 2018: science in the new year gives you a briefing of what we’ll hear about this year.

Two negatives and a neutral is what we’ll call this segment :

Human impacts on forests and grasslands are much larger and older than we previously assumed. Why does that matter? Well, carbon stocks in vegetation have a crucial role in the global climate system and if we’re going to take climate change and the Paris Agreement seriously, these studies are important for future bioenergy policies.

Boats are threatening the survival of Panama’s Bocas Del Toro dolphins. These dolphins are pretty special because there is a pod of about eighty who do not interbreed with the more common Carribean dolphins. Dolphin watching in the area is increasing, which may work in the dolphins’ favor as it will bring awareness and attention to this small, unique dolphin population.

Lastly, humans are kinda helpful here: Ecologists used maps produced before World War I to recent kelp forest surveys in the Pacific Northwest and found that they’ve been pretty stable over the past century. Read the article to find out why we surveyed kelp beds way back then in the first place, pretty interesting stuff.

 

Russian Christmas

If you’ve been a friend of the Schu family long enough, you know the whole crew gets together during the first weekend of January to celebrate Russian Christmas, which takes place on the 7th each year. The date marks the birth of Jesus on the Russian Orthodox Church’s calendar and really that’s where it starts and ends for the Schu fam. We use the date as an excuse to gather once more, which is especially convenient now that some siblings head to their inlaws for Dec. 25.

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Tea Season

For me, tea season is all year long, but I find myself doubling up this time of year. If there’s not a steaming mug of tea in my hands, likely I’m walking to the kitchen to procure one. Drinking tea has become one of my favorite daily rituals. Heating the water, picking my favorite mug, selecting a tea, allowing it to steep, reading the tag (kind of like a fortune in a cookie) sipping it in both hands until the mug is empty.. and repeat.

A few details of my tea routine :

  • My Mug – I used to photograph for Haand, a lovely local company, and I honestly love their mugs and dishes more than any I’ve ever used. First off, matte glazes. I could end there, but they’re also really easy to clean, they’re restaurant quality, so not easily chipped, and each piece is designed to interact with you and your food in a really delightful way. I use these three pieces every single day: the short large mug, the margay, and the caracal. My friends also bought me this eat, sleep, yoga, repeat mug, which is a great reminder and there’s a little golden smiley face waiting at the bottom of the mug for when you finish, which always brightens my day. So choose your mug wisely, it should bring you joy each time you pick it up and even while you wash it.
  • My Tea – Celestial Seasonings is my absolute favorite. I’ve been drinking their brews for years, but after visiting the factory in Boulder, CO and hearing the company’s story (basically a few flower-picking hippies) my love was solidified. They also minimize waste by skipping the teabag string, tag, and wrapper. I also like Yogi Tea because of the little tea fortune and I think Trader Joe’s makes a few great blends, but I really hate that they wrap each individual teabag in plastic. I don’t think I would have even thought of this if it weren’t for Celestial Seasonings. Brands that drive you to be more conscious of how you consume are the best brands, don’t you think? My favorite teas at the moment (some of these are always on the list): CS fast lane, CS sleepytime, CS tension tamer, Yogi Green Tea Kombucha, Yogi Breathe Deep, Yogi Relaxed Mind, Yogi Calming, and TJ’s Moroccan Mint.
  • My Brewing – I was a big fan of the teapot for a long time, but last year, I moved in with a roommate who used an electric tea kettle and I must admit I’m totally hooked and it’s the number one appliance I use, second up is my coffee grinder. You can buy a ceramic, stainless, or see-through version. Here’s a super secret teapot trick I didn’t learn until I was 22, you *never* need to take the lid off, just fill up the pot from the spout. Maybe you knew this? Maybe I revolutionized your life? No need to tell me which.

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New Year’s Resolution Success Story

It’s nothing major, but last year, a few of us sat around and wrote down resolutions. We then put the resolutions in a bowl, mixed them up, and picked one. The one I received was, “Read a book a month” and funny enough this was a resolution I made years prior, but never fully followed up on. After pulling that resolution from the bowl in 2017 however, I made it a point to always be reading a book or three. I just decided that I needed to reincorporate reading into my daily or at least weekly routine, and I did. Simple as that. I picked up a book and made time for reading again. This is me reminding you that READING IS FUN and awesome and totally worth it and way better than facebook or instagram or whatever else you’re wasting time on (besides this website obviously). Sometimes I find myself reading by way of procrastination, but honestly, that feels way better than scrolling through FB to procrastinate. I actually deleted my FB app over six months ago and haven’t looked back. I log on way less and my life feels full of interesting stories instead of mostly superficial ones. Here’s what I read in 2017.

On that note, are you a resolute person? But really, do you take the time to look at your year and plan for the next or do you treat the shifting from December to January just like you would February to March? I’m a bit of both. I value the pendulum that swings from December 31 to January 1st, but I also feel like each moment is an opportunity to decide to take action or cease bad habits. Did you hear about our Meditative Mondays email newsletter? Just a little opportunity to bring some calm into your atmosphere this year. Join us if you’d like 🙂 or pass it along to that friend who is always running circles in his or her mind.



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Happy New Year!




New Year, new projects! Over the couple past years, I’ve integrated a short meditation practice into my daily life. It has helped me immensely, in more ways than I can put into words here. Simply interacting with the world in a more mindful way has opened up my reality into a playful game of shifting perspectives in order to watch the world around me in a more positive state. While there are still some days that I wake up feeling a little blue or bummed out for no reason in particular, I’ve said good riddance to the idea that the world is sometimes set up against me. Being grumpy, crazy, sad, or mean because I’m in a funk just doesn’t exist any longer. I can see those emotions from a mile away and I have the tools to interact with them instead of being completely taken over like the hangry and tired monster I once was. It’s pretty amazing. I feel free from my thoughts and emotions even though yes, I still have them and enjoy their presence, I’m not talking about shifting into robots here. It’s almost as if a veil has lifted and I’m starting to see the world for what it is not just what it has to do with me and that’s a pretty liberating thing.

Enough about me, let’s make this about YOU! I want to invite you to try a weekly meditation practice with me. I’m calling it Meditative Mondays because there’s no better time to start a mindfulness practice than at the forefront of a busy and hectic week. Basically, I’ll send you an email with a pre-recorded guided meditation led by yours truly, offer a few mindfulness practices like breathing techniques, and a little bit of homework in the way of a journaling prompt. None of the work is required, I’m not grading you, but if you follow along each week for a year, I think you’ll reward yourself in more ways than one. You’ll notice differences in the way you interact with yourself, the world, and the ones you love. Just a warning though, you’ll probably want to drag all your friends into this with you. I don’t blame you that’s exactly why I’m doing this because I care about you and want you to join me too.

Along with a guided meditation, mindfulness tools, and some introspective questions, I’ll share a few personal suggestions to better curate your experience. I’m big on podcasts, so I’ll definitely link you to a pertinent episode or two each week and I also have a book recommendation for each month. All the books I’ve chosen are ones that I can look back and point to knowing they’ve had a positive impact on my path towards mindfulness. More than that though, if you follow along, I’ll be here at my keyboard waiting to hear from you. I want to know how it feels to start a meditation practice, what is challenging you and where you’re finding encouragement each week. I have hopes that Meditative Mondays will be a place where you can go to kill a little time to improve yourself, some sphere on the web other than pinterest and facebook.

If all that doesn’t sound half bad, you can sign up below & if you really dig it, maybe share this post with your pals or partner and have them come along for the ride too!



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Ideas For Celebrating New Year’s Eve At Home

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Haaaaappy New Year! Well, almost. The past two years I took it easy on New Year’s Eve. In 2015 I was actually at Katie’s house, alone, sitting on the couch watching a movie. All the cool kids (every single person) in the house went to sleep way before midnight! Last year, I hung out in Florida and found myself sitting around a patio table at midnight with a few close friends. It was intimate and amazing. I’ve also had my share of exhausting awesome nights. Two of my favorites were seeing Phish at Madison Square Garden and frolicking on a beautiful island in Thailand. I love it all, the quiet nights and the crazy ones.

This year, I’m attending a Vegas-style house party. Cute dresses, gambling with fake money, and a bit of boozin’. If it wasn’t for this party, I’m not sure exactly what I would be up to, but I’d definitely celebrate in the comfort of my own home. Here are a few unconventional New Year’s Eve ideas if you’re staying in this year. If you have another good suggestion, let me know.

Wine or beer tasting

Buy a couple bottles of different types of wine (Trader Joes has quality, inexpensive wine) or if you know what you fancy, maybe three bottles of the same type of wine. If you’re going the beer route, do a mixed six pack, again several types of beer or six of your favorite variety.

Set it up properly. If you’re drinking wine, allow each bottle to breathe for at least thirty minutes before the tasting. Set out an assortment of cheese, crackers, and some fruit. If you’re doing beer, cheese works, but you could also do some bar snacks or maybe soft pretzels. If you’re really in it to win it, take notes during the process. Document the look, feel, flavor, and your overall opinion of each drink that way you can better choose your fancy next time.

Pajama party

First, bring all the blankets and pillows out into the living room. Pile them on the carpet or on the couch and make the best little nest for yourself. Then shower and change into the coziest pajamas you own. If you have a robe, throw that over the jammies before slipping on fuzzy socks and slippers. Do you have dogs? Where are their pajamas? Put them on. Cue the music or your favorite movie and pj the day away!

Spa day

Everybody (dudes, I know you do too) has a drawer full of bath and body products that never get used. Today is the day. Pull them all out because this is basically a wine tasting, but with face masks.. for your skin.. not your taste buds. At the very least, your day should involve a lot of exfoliation, followed by layers of lotions and creams. If you’re on top of your game, a bath or at least a footbath and epsom salts should consume an hour of your day. Maybe your spa day includes making some of your own potions too. Here’s the recipe for our DIY bath bombs. Also, my dry skin cannot skip a day of Katie’s winter face oil.

Reading marathon

Vow to read a certain amount or maybe as much as possible in a single day. You switch back and forth between a few books to keep it interesting or throw in an article or maybe even a graphic novel, whatever you need to do to read, read, read. The little boy who read 100 books in a day originally inspired this idea. Thanks, Caleb!

Movie marathon

Are you illiterate? Watch some movies or a TV series instead. Apply a theme or pick your absolute favorites from 2017 or maybe your childhood? Can I recommend the movie Fargo and then the entire Fargo the TV series? Whatever you choose, try to do something to inspire the marathon instead of just binging on something random otherwise it will just seem like a day in front of the TV instead of a magical movie marathon, ya know? You could also be inspired by the marathon and dress up like a character or take on their persona for the day. Tell me you picked Cheech and Chong and now you’re stuck smoking weed all day? See how funky this movie marathon could be?!

Vision board

Have you ever created a vision board? I think of it like brainstorming for life instead of an essay prompt. Your vision board can be as complex or simplistic as you deem necessary, I think it’s best to really do it your way. Maybe you like to cut and paste or maybe you have fantastic journaling skills, that we’re all insanely jealous of. Whatever your chosen route, gather any necessary supplies, light a candle, and put on a soothing playlist. Now ask yourself the following questions and make sure you tell the truth when you answer.

Describe the life you envision. What gives you the most enjoyment? Who and what inspires you? What does your perfect day look like? Who do you love?  Set your life’s intention and create!

Declutter + Donate

Let it go, let it goooooo! Really though, just get rid of shit, you absolutely won’t miss it. My roommate and I leave a big cardboard box by the door and day by day we find things we can live without and place them in the box at the end of each week we drop it off at the Goodwill. The fewer things you have, the fewer things you need to organize and clean.

Gratitude List + thank you cards

Everyone loves mail. Everyone. Everyone. Every single person you know will be delighted to see an actual piece of mail in their box instead of a pile of junk. If you aren’t sure what to say, start with ‘thinking of you!’ and if it ends there, sweet, you just finished your first card. If you want to take it a step further, craft a few care packages.

No stamps?! Write out a gratitude list instead. It’s pretty straightforward, just jot down all the things you’re thankful for including big and small, human and inhuman, avocado and nonavocado. You can also be grateful for the absence of negative things in your life. For instance: I’m thankful there is no longer a travel ban on laptops and cameras and that I can fly through Doha without having to check my equipment at the gate. First world problems, ick.

FaceTime friends + family

I’m going to let you in on a revolutionary facetiming tactic. Set down the phone! Just have your partner prop you up somewhere and you do the same. Set your phone on a desk or windowsill or table and get on with your life. Maybe you’re cooking or crafting or watching a TV show, whatever it is, it’s much more fun together. I tend to become some combination of awkward, shy, nervous, and bored when I facetime so setting down the phone and doing something while I chat really relaxes things.

365 of something

sit-ups? push ups? sun salutations? a mantra? focused inhales + exhales? jumping jacks? pages of a book? things donated? wishes or intentions for the new year? ways to use coconut oil? things you’re grateful for? pieces of popcorn eaten? dollars earned? vacations planned? Okay, things are getting ridiculous, but now I’m off to make a list of 365 places I want to go.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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2017 : A Year in Readview

A year in Readview, get it? Of course you do. I’m so clever and it’s absolutely because of the books I read this year. I’m always asking other peeps what they’re reading and so I figured I should share my booklist from this past year as well. Below are most of the books I read in 2017 and a few I listened to. Unfortunately, I usually give away my books after i finish them and I am quite forgetful so there are bound to be a few books I’ve left off the list. Oops.

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Feel Better! {Bedside Necessities for the sick}

Poor Katie is sick and then I realized more than a few of my friends are too. I think it’s time to repost my bedside necessities for those sick days. Along with what’s listed below, get plenty of sleep and try to consume some fats, they’re great for your immune system.liveseasoned_winter14_feelbetter

Happy Friday Friends!! I’ve been feeling down and out for the past few weeks and I figured I would share my bedside necessities with you in case you’re in the same boat.  I’ve found these ten items really brighten my otherwise stuffy, achy, coughing-fits-forever type of days. Of course, I need things like cough drops, medicine, tissues, and soup too, but they come and go from my nightstand while these items are there around the clock.

Sarah’s Bedside Necessities:

  • Air purifying snake plant – makes me feel like something is actually alive and well in my bedroom…
  • Himalayan salt candleholder brightens my day. I love, love, love candles and crystals so combining the two just makes me smile that much more.
  • Mason jar + Cuppow filled with hot tea makes drinking in bed a little bit easier.  I love my leather Holdster too.
  • Ginger shrub and club soda is the perfect drink to settle the stomach and excite the tastebuds a bit, even when you have no appetite.  I also love having a jar of kombucha on hand.
  • A handmade lotion bar is a perfect solution for dry winter skin and lazy I-can’t-walk-to-the-bathroom-for-the-lotion-bottle legs.
  • Lip balm is essential for your dehydrated self. Katie actually made the one pictured and she is always crafting new batches for our Etsy shop!
  • A GIR lid is the perfect companion to a huge jar of icy cold water.
  • My tablet is the perfect bedside companion. I can read Kindle books without using an overhead light or browse Instagram for hours on end.
  • A few good books are great to have on hand. I just finished I Am Malala and I’m still crawling my way through How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.
  • Soft lighting is key to comfort in my book. If I can’t have natural light, bring on the nice glow of a small lamp.

What do you need when you’re feeling sick?  Any of that jazz or something completely different? On that note, I hope you don’t need this article EVER! Stay healthy people!

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Holiday Habits Prompt

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, What’s up everyone?! Nothing too groundbreaking today, but as it’s the day after Christmas, I thought it would be nice to do a little recap on the holidays. We still have New Year’s Eve, but really, for the most part, the craziness of the holiday season is winding down.

If you will, pour yourself a mug of coffee or tea or maybe a glass of wine depending on when you’re reading this post, and let’s think through some things together. You don’t need to write these answers down, but it wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes putting pen to paper allows for a subtle release and acts as a tool for emotional exploration.

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The Shortlist : Our Favorite Christmas Movies

Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg… While we could ramble off a dozen holiday films, we’re sticking to the shortlist. None of these are really appropriate for kids unless they’re on holiday break from college. These are movies our family watches year after year, knows pretty much every word to, and yet still laughs at the same corny jokes. We force our husbands and boyfriends to watch and we don’t tolerate any criticism, especially when it comes to our absolute favorite, so let’s start there :

Mixed Nuts – A Christmas comedy that focuses on a small office of crisis hotline workers in LA. It’s one of those films where the entire thing takes place over the course of a single day. Starring Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, Madeline Kahn, Juliette Lewis, and Anthony LaPaglia with funny and skillful appearances by Liev Schreiber, Adam Sandler, and Rob Reiner this movie has a ton of talent. It’s super quirky and offbeat, but that’s what we love about it. You can watch it on Amazon.

The Family Stone – Is a *must* for our family because it mixes equal parts comedy with drama is a melancholy, we’re all gonna survive, but feel something sometimes sort of way. There are a ton of heavy hitters in this movie, so each character really holds their own, just a few are : Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Diane Keaton and those are just the lead females. IMDB describes the plot as such : an uptight, conservative businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family’s annual Christmas celebration and finds that she’s a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life. Totally true, but it’s more than that singular storyline. The Family Stone magnifies the intricacies of family life, especially when there are a bunch of siblings involved. I love this film and I think it does a fantastic job of giving a realistic view of life in a large family, especially when trying to introduce a new boy or girlfriend into the mix. You can watch it on Amazon.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Another Christmas comedy with a few huge stars : Chevy ChaseBeverly D’Angelo, and wouldn’t you know it, Juliette Lewis as a younger, sassier character this time. I think the relatability of this movie is why everyone loves it, whether you can sympathize with the stress of hosting extended family for the holidays or decorating your roof with thousands of lights or potentially not receiving that holiday bonus you’ve already spent in your mind, you’ll be snorting while you sip your eggnog from your moose glass all evening. You can watch it on Amazon, but c’mon, you already have the DVD.

Bad Santa – Fuck, we love this movie. I googled it and apparently the word Fuck is said 159 times and Shit 73 times, but that’s not the only reason we’re a fan. Billy Bob Thorton’s acting is impeccable. I just learned that he was pretty trashed for filming to better play the part. We commend you Billy. I don’t think I need to say anymore, just fucking watch it, shit. Hooraaay! Bad Santa is on Netflix, but you can also watch it on Amazon. I heard the Director’s Cut is better, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Cheers!

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Seasoned View Vol. 29

Each month we share our Seasoned View.  Snapshots of nature and daily life taken by the Seasoned sisters. Find our archive of past months’ views here.

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Welcome, November. Today we’re sharing our joint view. While Katie explored the mountains of Colorado, I biked the streets and swam the cenotes in Mexico. You can upload one or all of these photos to use as your desktop background or even as phone and tablet wallpapers.  Simply click on the download link below each photo and save the image.  Enjoy!

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Taking the Bus from Cancun to Tulum

Curious about international travel? Here’s how to save, here’s how to pack, and here’s your first destination.

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It’s Monday! Time to daydream for a moment about taking a bus in Mexico. Ohhhh intriguing. A Little bit scary? Meh, it’s amazing. Let me tell you about it. The Yucatan is perfect this time of year. The rainy season just wrapped up and now the weather is quite perfect, warm, but not oppressive. Hurry down soon because once January rolls around, tourists flock to the area for the next couple months.

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Best Scary, Dark, Horror, and Halloween T.V. and Movies on Netflix

It’s scary movie time! Even if you’re a horror hater, you must watch at least one creepy flick this month. I recently watched The Houses October Built with a few of my friends and I was so surprised at how well done it was, more on that below. I decided to compile a list of my favorite Netflix shows and movies that veer towards the dark side. There are a few I haven’t watched, but are on the list, I’ll denote them with an asterisk* Happy haunting!

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The Fall – This is a Netflix original T.V. show and like the rest, it’s amazing. The Fall is about a detective trying to track down a serial killer.  This show is disturbing on a few levels. The serial killer is an attractive, unassuming family man, and the violence portrayed against women is pretty graphic. Maybe don’t watch this one if you’re a single lady living alone.

The Killing – Another Netflix original T.V. show, The Killing is based on the investigation that takes place after the murder of teen Rosie Larsen. I watched the first two seasons and then I faded out, but initially, it is a nail-biter.

*Mindhunter – I haven’t watched this one yet, but it sounds super interesting. Yet again, another Netflix original (they obviously know what viewers want) it’s about two FBI agents in the seventies who look at the psychology of murderers.

Hostel – I saw this movie in 2005 before I had ever traveled anywhere. I didn’t even realize what a hostel was or that this concept for shared bunk rooms was prevalent in most countries besides America, where there are surprisingly few. Eeeek, travel and horror, this one hits close to home.

Saw – All the Saws are on Netflix right now, but if you haven’t seen the first one, it’s by far my favorite. Saw is the type of movie that horrifies me because I didn’t even know such dark thoughts were possible. You’re a real freak, James Wan. Thanks for having a healthy outlet for your dark thoughts.

*Gerald’s Game – I haven’t seen this, but it has a rating of 9.1 on IMDB, which is unheard of for a horror film. Here’s the synopsis: while trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame. I think the movie delves into the darker side of one’s psyche.

Gremlins – A classic and actually a lot freakier than I remember it being. Basically, a new pet turns into a thousand new mischevious little monsters that wreak havoc all over town.

The Babadook – A dark movie with an interesting theme. I really enjoyed how vague The Babadook was at times, but how evident it was during the final few scenes. A satisfying watch.

The Houses October Built – I thought the premise of this scary movie was sooo spookey. It’s about five friends on a road trip looking for the ultimate haunted house. They travel around looking for bigger and better scares until it seems like it’s being taken too far or is it all part of the haunt? Who knows?!

 

Hopefully you have a friend or at least a pet to watch these flicks with, if not, you may want to stick to the Gremlins. Good luck!

*And if you want to make a witch silhouette for your window, more on that in this post.
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