Sticky Waterfall – Bua Tong

During my adventures, I’m often captivated by the natural beauty I witness. I’ve felt the sudden and overwhelming need to hug trees, lay down in the dirt, and literally salute the sun, but every once in a while there is a place that leaves me in complete aw. A place so magical that I know I will visit again because I must show someone else the wonder. Bua Tong is that place. All afternoon I felt dumbstruck. How is it possible that this type of beauty exists in nature? I felt like I was transported to Neverland, there was just no way that what I was seeing and experiencing was real. Was I asleep? Did someone slip me acid? Am I in a storybook? Nope, the earth is really this amazing and I had the opportunity to experience it.  Let me attempt at explaining what I experienced at Bua Tong although surely no words or images will come close.

What is Bua Tong, the sticky waterfall? As unbelievable as it sounds, it’s just that. It’s sticky not slick, so one is able to walk quite easily up and down the slope of it even with water rushing by. What makes it this way? An abundance of calcium carbonate runoff.  Calcium carbonate is commonly found in Limestone, which is what lies under the thick deposits that you see covering the falls. Even though I briefly researched the waterfall (I didn’t look at any photos) before visiting, it didn’t prepare me for the experience.


Walking up a waterfall. How absurd. That’s what I thought while reading about Bua Tong. Once I arrived, I stripped down and slathered on sunscreen all the while keeping my eyes on the handful of people walking up the falls. They were making it look so easy, but they looked athletic and young, surely it was harder than it appeared. Then it was time to try it for myself, I braced myself, felt my core tighten and prepared to face plant as I took my first step. Complete shock and amazement washed over me as I took one step and then another upwards through the rushing water. With my mouth hanging open and my eyes wide, I looked around at my friends, ‘are you seeing this!?,’ is what I’m sure my expression read. Pure bliss and bewilderment followed me around the rest of the afternoon and I climbed up and down, up and down, all around  Bua Tong. The mineral deposits look like white, cloud-like  sponges and actually feel similar though a little bit harder and slightly pricky, the surface even gives slightly under a firm touch.  There were a few patches that were slick, but it is because the calcium carbonate was covered with a mossy slime. These spots are easy to see and avoid.


In the company of only about two dozen other travelers, Bua Tong had truly felt like one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever visited. Usually while traveling you’re forced to share the magic, but here it was all our own. As I looked around, I saw that most people had carved out a little space on the waterfall’s slope to sit in the sun and marvel at where their life had brought them. It was only a few minutes later that I joined my best friend, Natasha, on a sunny log in the middle of the rushing current to simply be. As I lay meditating, tiny tickles of what I thought were mosquitoes kept dragging me back to the outer world. It was in the midst of one of these tickling sensations that I opened my eyes and realized, it wasn’t mosquitos at all, but dozens of colorful butterflies. I closed my eyes again, determined to be at peace with each coming sensation. As I reflected on my weeks in Thailand, the friends in my company, my path in general, I had the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that materialized as a single teardrop from each eye. Life is beautiful. There is magic everywhere and I have so much to be grateful for, sometimes it takes a trip to never never land to remind you that every single day is a gift to be cherished and spent wisely, whether you’re climbing a sticky waterfall or navigating your work week.


Are you ready for a spiritual awakening? Kidding, but here are more details on how to reach Bua Tong and what to experience while you’re there.

What to pack:

  • Money for gas and snacks
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Book
  • Camera
  • Dry bag/waterproof bag if you have one
  • Long sleeve or sweatshirt (the ride home will be a little chilly)

How to get there:

Located over an hour outside of Chiang Mai, Bua Tong isn’t on the beaten tourist track, but still worth a visit. We rented motorbikes for the duration of our stay in Chiang Mai, which costs roughly 200-300b per day. I personally enjoy driving and navigating through crazy Thai traffic, but to some this may seem dangerous or unappealing. If you are in the latter group, you can ask your guesthouse or a tour operator for a songtaue to Bua Tong, but because it’s so far outside the city, it will be kinda pricy for Thai travel standards. I would find a cool crew the day before and convince them that they need to join you on this quest, that will surely reduce the price of the songtaue. If you’re in the former and you’re down to drive a motorbike, download either the app maps.me or google maps and download the northern Thailand map, while you have wifi that way you’ll have to problem navigating to Bua Tong. It really isn’t too tough and once you are about twenty minutes outside Chiang Mai, the traffic really slows down. I think driving the motorbikes to and from Bua Tong really added to the adventure and it was nice exploring the falls at our own pace instead of knowing a songtaue driver was waiting around for us.
What to explore :

Obviously you came for the sticky waterfall. If I were you, I’d take the stairs all the way to the bottom, stash your bag on a log (most people left their bags near the bottom of the falls unattended, I did the same and didn’t worry about my $3,000+ camera once, but do what feels comfortable to you) and start the climb up. Find a nice space to sun yourself midway or hike all the way to the top in one go. Now it’s time to hike down. Slightly scary, but equally easy. There are several ropes along the way to offer support in tricky areas  and ensure your decent is safe. Don’t you dare chicken out and take the stairs back down. You only live once. Once back at the bottom, continue a little further than the bag drop area where the stairs end. You’ll find another smaller waterfall with a shallow plunge pool at the bottom. Submerge yourself and dig your toes down into the soft, glittery sand, you did it.


After you’ve had your fill of the waterfall, hike back up to the tip and explore the natural seven colored fountain. Even if you’re famished and tired (we were both) you can make it to the fountain. It’s less than a five minute walk and it’s a wooden boardwalk the entire way. You’ll be amazed at how insanely clear the water is and you’ll enjoy leafy jungle views on the way to and from.

There’s also another short hike depicted on a large wooden sign near the entrance to the fountain trail, we decided against it only because we were sure to die of hunger (or morph into hangry demons) at any moment. We contemplated buying a snack from the small restaurant on site and then completing the hike, but we wanted to have time to stop on the road for a late lunch and return to Chiang Mai before dark.


Where to eat & stay:

On the way back to Chiang Mai, we stopped at the loveliest little guesthouse and restaurant. If we had more time, we certainly would have stayed the night. The guest house is called Howiman or Horwiman. You pull off the road across from Lhongkhoa Resort and head straight down the dirt hill, you’ll immediately see a grouping of dark wooden buildings on the left and you’ll probably hear a yapping little dog, and you’ll know you’re in the right place. If we could have stayed and drank our Chiangs in frosty mugs all evening we totally would have. Next time I visit Bua Tong I will.  


Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

A few of my favorite things…

Oh Amazon, how I love you 364 days a year, until Amazon prime renewal day when you swipe a hundred bucks out of my bank account. I’ll show you! I’ll just order a bunch of stuff and get free two day shipping. Hah! Makes sense, right? I know, I know, but really, I always end up ordering a bunch of stuff the day after my account gets renewed to justify it all. It’s called Sarah science guys. Here are some items I ordered, some items I want and a few others that I already own, but use pretty much every day. Most would make great gifts. Fa la la la la la la la la…

packs

My essential travel gear includes a well-made backpack, a hydration system, a sleeping bag to stay cozy and a light to guide the way. Here’s a gift list for the adventurer in your life.

While adventuring, I’m either hiking, practicing yoga, bouldering, or simply being.

If I’m simply traveling around town for the day, I always take my mason jar, cuppow and holdster.  My phone of course, handy dandy chapstick & balm, and a camera.

If I have no errands to run, it’s likely I’m inside trying to stay warm, dressed in a onesie, under my blankets, reading a good book or coloring this hilarious (for adults only) coloring book.

If my friends are stopping over, I’ll light a candle, prepare a cheese plate and pour some wine. To keep them occupied, I’ll put on a record and set out some of my favorite coffee table books – one, two and three. We may even get into a game or two.

If we’re talking gifts, you can never ever go wrong with a nice pair of socks, comfortable slippers, blooming tea and duhhhh luxorious body oil – although you may have to provide the massage.

At the end of the day, as much as I loooove Amazon, I’m a total sucker for local, handmade goods. If you can meet the maker and purchase items made with love and intention, you’re the real winner. This past weekend, I bought some Christmas presents from these lovely makers and shakers : Haand . Gather Goods Co .  Lo & Behold . Shop Wind Blown . JaxKelly . Kate & I also stocked the Live Seasoned Etsy Shop for the holidays – there are even some goodies for the littles in your life.

I also make an effort to buy beautiful goods from thrift stores and vintage shops. There are always treasures to be found, you just have to dig a bit. I don’t want to give away any surprises here in case my siblings are reading, but oooo did I find some sweet steals from half a century ago. More on that after Xmas.

Full disclosure : if you purchase anything through these links we’ll get a few cents from each purchase. It doesn’t increase the price on your end, but it helps us out a little bit. Cheers!
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Happy Mountain Day!

10-14-15-web-muktinah-1

Sup mountaineers! Did you know that yesterday was International Mountain Day? In 2003, the United Nations designated 12/11 as International Mountain Day. A day meant to encourage the international community to organize events at all levels in order to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development. Of course, with all the crazy going on this month, we missed it. We missed national letter writing day too, but I’ll fill you in on that another day. Anyway, this year’s theme is Mountain Cultures: Celebrating diversity and strengthening identity. From hiking the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, to climbing Mt. Agung under the stars, to trekking the Annapurna Circuit, I’ve experienced enough mountain magic to be hook. Mountain spaces are sacred, enchanting and come with an immense feeling of satisfying insignificance like I’ve never experienced elsewhere.

10-15-15-web-kagbeni-5210-16-15-web-jomsom-2110-18-15-web-pokhara-15

If you’ve ever wandered high up into the mountains, you will have noticed that remote mountain villages are home to ancient cultures and traditions. These traditional lifestyles are largely determined and linked to sustaining a living in harsh and remote mountain landscapes. Isolation helped to create and maintain immense diversity between villages and allowed these cultures to stay intact. Of course, as decades pass, mountain populations experience change and culture loss through migration and urbanization.

10-15-15-web-kagbeni-26

Whenever I experience remote mountain life, I’m captivated by the use of land, for farming, raising animals and capturing fresh water. Mountain people are so in tune with their unique environment and how to properly respect it while gaining what they need to prosper. Mountain people’s deep respect and attachment to the land quite often has religious ties. Mountains have commonly been revered as the home of deities throughout history because of their fresh water sources and their seemingly close proximity to the sun. It’s no coincidence that you often see crosses, pilgrimage sites and places of worship high on mountain tops.

10-14-15-web-muktinah-9410-14-15-web-muktinah-48

Obviously I’m quite conscious of my place while visiting mountains. I’m always a guest, a traveler, an ambassador of society at large and therefore I take my role very seriously. As much as possible, I strive to find community-based tourism that I can support. Tourism that will help maintain the culture, not parade it around and inevitably degrade it. I also distribute my dollars broadly to local people. Spending a little bit here and there, not a bunch in one place. Lastly, I ensure everything I hike in with also comes back out and of course I respect the ecosystem by not wandering off trail. As a visitor to these spaces, I have a big responsibility in ensuring these ancient cultures continue for future generations to experience. Hiking into mountain villages is like stepping back in time. It’s absolutely breathtaking and there’s no way I can aptly describe it, but maybe these images from the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal will help a bit.  10-14-15-web-muktinah-3310-09-15-web-upper-pissang-77 10-09-15-web-upper-pissang-88 10-09-15-web-upper-pissang-10110-11-15-web-manang-57 10-11-15-web-manang-62 10-11-15-web-manang-8010-13-15-web-new-phedi-82

I’m planning a trip to Nepal for October & November of 2017. Want to join me on a trek?

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

5 Ways Yoga Helped Me Heal After a Breakup

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
-Mary Oliver


I began practicing yoga seriously after I returned from a long stint in Asia in 2011-2012. My relationship to yoga actually began after I was dumped by my then boyfriend of about five years over the phone the night I returned to the USA from Thailand. Pretty fucked up right?

I thought so too. I was sad. I was defeated. I felt like I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. See about two months before I flew home, I had sensed a shift in our conversations over Facebook. I could just tell there was something different happening with him in America, I just wasn’t sure what. I even mentioned it, but he never answered.

I took it particularly hard because I had tried (and failed) to break up with this man twice over the course of five years. I knew the relationship wasn’t meant to last forever and yet somehow we would work it out, we would be ‘better’ and the attempted breakups did make our relationship stronger so when I finally committed my vulnerable little heart to freely loving another person unconditionally, I was dumped. It was painful.

In hindsight, the breakup was so devastating because this same boyfriend came all the way to Thailand that Christmas to visit me. I felt so loved and lucky to have someone literally travel across the earth to be with me. For the first time in my life, I envisioned marriage and even my future wedding. It’s true, as I traveled Thailand by bus and a love song would come on, I would listen to the lyrics and consider it for my imagined wedding. It would take me years after the break up to be able to listen to John Legend songs and not feel pangs of hurt and rejection. I guess all this is to say, sometimes you are completely blindsided by a breakup and it forces you to sit in a sobbing puddle of rejection and just deal with your feelings.

The entire next month, my main goal was to not break down and cry in public. I would go to work, which at the time was catering parties and weddings, and I would have to sneak off to the bathroom or around a corner and mentally talk myself out of sobbing. It was really hard to keep it together. Once I got in my car or home to my sister’s apartment, I would breakdown. Watching any type of tv (even commercials), listening to the radio, even walking down the street in a neighborhood where he and I spent so much time together, felt like the most challenging task in the world. I was a mess and I had never in my life dealt with something so agonizing.

At the time, my ex and i were still texting periodically throughout the day. We had actually bought tickets a few months previous, to a huge music festival together with about 15 of our closest friends and we had agreed that we would still attend it together and try to act normal. The first day was fine as I got completely obliterated, but the second was draining. I ended up just laying in a grassy field for hours and hours while all my friends pranced and danced and my ex completely disappeared from the group and did his own thing. It was during this festival that something clicked. We are all individuals and while I cannot fathom life without this dude, it’s obviously meant to be that way. If we were meant to get back together, we would eventually, but until then, I needed to try to move on and forget about how hurt and rejected I felt.

I started by moving to my other sister’s, hours from my ex and pretty much my entire life and community I had created in Philadelphia over the past five years. I’m so glad I did this and I feel like it was a major step in my healing process. To not have to bump into him and our mutual friends in my neighborhood on a weekly basis really helped to distance myself from the breakup.

I also decided to cut off communication with my ex. At my request, we stopped sending our handful of texts each day. I remember how fucking hard that week was though, I felt like my best friend had died and I was all alone. Along with not texting, I made a concerted effort to stop looking at his or his friends’ social media because who really wants to see their ex dating someone already after a couple months. Again, this was a huge step forward in terms of starting my own life again. I will admit, I relapsed a couple times and looked at his Facebook and his girlfriend’s Facebook, but that’s how I found out he started dating her before I even moved home from Thailand. While this bit of information felt like hot lava being poured on my chest, it also gave me the ammunition I needed to mentally move on for good.

After spending a couple more weeks crying and feeling bad for myself, I found a random job, started hiking with Katie’s hound dog (he’s now mine!), and making plans with my friends again.

It was around this time that I remembered a yoga studio that Katie and I visited a few years ago. I had always felt a connection to this studio even though I only attended a couple classes there. I’ll never forget the first yoga class I attended after the break up, I looked up the schedule online, realized I had about ten minutes to get there, contemplated it for a moment and then drove like hell to make it on time. That class changed the entire course of my life. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s absolutely true. I told you that entire sob story only so you’d begin to understand the power that authentic yoga (not just stretching and exercising to music and practicing handstands) can have on your life.

After a few months of yoga, I was completely transformed and in a way, reborn. Yoga teaches many lessons, but in terms of dealing with a breakup it teaches you ::

  • Self acceptance of where you are at this moment in time. Sometimes life throws us for a loop. There is no sense resisting, fighting what is currently taking place, you can only settle into it. When the breakup occurred, I was convinced it was a momentary mistake, something that would soon be corrected. Once I started practicing yoga and accepting what was being handed (or taken away) in life, I realized nothing is a mistake. Each situation is a gift to learn more and connect deeper with oneself. I also began looking back and remembering times in my life that seemed tragic and hard to deal with and I realized I prospered after those periods and I would after this one as well.
  • Your mat is your world. Nothing outside of your mat is a reflection or judgment of what is happening on your mat. You’ll hear this quite often in yoga. Do not compare yourself to others, focus on yourself, accept where you are at this moment in time, do no strive to be further along in your journey even if you’re seemingly further behind than you were yesterday. This lesson was absolutely crucial in getting over my ex. Not only did I feel like I lost a great dude (he was attractive, interesting and motivated), but I was replaced by a younger, more beautiful girl. For awhile, it was really hard not to be jealous of his new, fit and attractive girlfriend. I could immediately see that she was everything I was not, all the little things he had wanted me to be over the course of our relationship. Not only that, but they were traveling all over the place, something I would have loved to do. I felt like I lost everything and they had it all. What a ridiculous notion it is to look at what your neighbor has, covet it and wallow in your discontent. This will get you absolutely nowhere and it will create an ugly person in the meantime. Once I focused all my energy inwards and began cultivating my own happiness and directing my own journey, I was able to actually nurture love and happiness for my ex and his new beautiful partner. I don’t know this girl, but I’m positive she’s a great human. I also learned to see more clearly and to realize my ex was in many ways not the right partner for me. I gained clarity about my situation once I focused my energy inwards.
  • Connection to breath and body sensations. Basically yoga taught me to be mindful, something I hadn’t practiced before. Mindfulness was a completely new concept and to this day it has a profound effect on my psyche. Each time I found my mind wandering or getting hung up on a memory or feeling, I would bring myself back to a deep belly breath and try to not only identify my thoughts, but also to locate what sensations were arising and how they felt in my body. Being more present, connected and aware helped me to realize that often my sadness was just an autopilot state of being. If i wasn’t stimulated or even if another emotion was trying to shine through, my sadness would overwhelm me, it was as if my heart wanted to feel broken and my mind was just cruising along with it instead of thinking rationally about the present moment and my true feelings from hour to hour.
  • Disconnection from emotion and external forces. Disconnecting from my emotions was really the next step in my mindfulness practice. Once I was able to stay present and identify my emotions, I was able to question them and in a way compartmentalize them in my mind. Obviously it’s okay to feel deeply, but instead of allowing our monkey minds to completely hijack how we feel, it’s crucial to question why we feel the way we do, to think rationally about the entire situation at hand. I was so so sad day after day even though I had previously tried to initiate a break up, even though I knew the relationship was in no way sustainable, so why was I allowing emotions to run my life? At a certain point, it’s absolutely necessary to box up reactions and intense emotions and disconnect from them, to set them aside, and allow yourself to think with clarity about the situation in life.
  • Self love. Above all, yoga has taught me to love myself inside and out. Cheesy as it may sound, I believe self love is the key to a happy life full of successful relationships whether they’re romantic or not. Having love, gratitude and appreciation for yourself above all else allows you to thrive and feel comfortable in any situation. Creeping feelings of self-doubt and ugly notions of jealousy are eradicated and more space for compassion and appreciation is created. I now see endings as new beginnings and heartache as an experience to be cherished as much as mourned. In all beings and situations I search for love, any tiny speck of love that allows everything to fall into place and make sense.

Yoga allowed me to fall in love with myself again, while disconnecting from emotion long enough to process the breakup and begin to heal. I was taught to practice mindfulness and realize my expectations of the relationship and my life in general were just that, expectations, not reality. Yoga allowed me the space I needed to present with my emotions without becoming wrapped up and attached to them. I look back to the person I was ten even five years ago and I barely recognize her. Yoga has changed me in many ways and it all started with one shitty breakup. Today I’m grateful for the heartache because it introduced me to a yoga lifestyle and a set of tools that allow me to thrive in all situations. Are you going through a transition or a difficult time right now? Find your nearest yoga studio and dive in.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Sarah’s Five Must See Documentaries on Netflix

Hey booboos! It’s not a stretch to say this post lacks a bit of substance, but these five documentaries are chock full. If I’m not watching adventure or travel documentaries, it seems the only type of TV I truly like is that which practically rips my heart from my chest. If I’m sitting wide-eyed, unblinking and holding both cheeks in my hands then I’m enjoying myself, even if it looks like I’m about to cry, which I probably am. I’m sure you’ve watched Making a Murderer by now. If you haven’t, kick off your ‘questioning life and existence’ documentary binge by watching it on Netflix. Making a Murderer really reawakened a true crime obsession that I’ve had for at least a decade. My family was less than thrilled that one summer at the beach when I bought five true crime books, all with various blood patterns splattered across the covers. If you’re not into true crime, don’t worry, these documentaries cover a broad range of topics, but fair warning, all are pretty dark.live-seasoned-netflix-documentary-suggestions

 

Amanda Knox – The story of American exchange student, Amanda Knox, when she is tried and convicted of murder in Italy. This documentary is enthralling because it features in-depth interviews from Amanda herself as well as her boyfriend at the time (also convicted) and the detectives who worked the case. Truly a terrifying story because I realized anyone can get caught up in a serious situation.

The Square – A current, first person account of Egyptian revolutionaries organizing against the regime. The Square shed a lot of light of a story I knew relatively little about. It’s a documentary that encourages empathy and cultural understanding by highlighting another country’s relationship with their own government.

Audrie & Daisy – Is a heart wrenching look at the effects of bullying in today’s world where photos and fibs are spread online like wild fires. Audrie & Daisy helped to remind me of the struggles that young girls and boys face each day throughout middle and high school. If you have children, this is an important documentary to watch, but not necessarily with them. Have tissues handy.

13th – The 13th highlights government policy that led to the massive success of private prisons in America and the perceived motive of those moves. This documentary serves up stats and information that will come in handy during your next cocktail party debate about the prison system in American without you having to read The New Jim Crow, which is an enlightening book that I’m constantly telling everyone to devour.

The Culture High – Possibly the hardest documentary for me to watch, The Culture High, features graphic scenes and stark realities of the war on drugs in America. The criminalization of drugs in America is a topic I’ve personally had to deal with and suffer the consequences of, which is why I cried throughout this movie, knowing how lucky I was and how unlucky others were when dealing with the same drug possession charges.

If you’re wanting more, I highly recommend these true crime documentaries, none of which are on Netflix at the moment: Central Park 5, The Jinx, and The Staircase.

Now go! Go feel pain, agony and helplessness and hopefully gain more empathy for our fellow man’s struggle.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Five Tips For Shooting Better Fall Photos

Happy Monday! There’s only one week of October left, eeek! Grab your camera and go take a walk in the woods, but before you head out, learn how to take better fall photos. This post was originally published on October 30, 2014, but after a wonderful hike in the woods this weekend, I thought it was worth another look.

liveseasoned_fall14_fallphotography-1-2

Autumn really tends to steal the show in terms of natural beauty, dontcha think?  This year I took a trip to Asheville, NC and after cruising up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway I don’t think I’ll ever take fall for granted again.  I spent three days hiking, driving and simply sitting and looking at leaves.  After the trip I mentally cataloged what went well and what went wrong in terms of the photos I took.  I thought it might be helpful to share a couple fall photography tips here in case you want to capture the season.

  • Zone in.  Don’t be afraid to focus in on one tree, one branch, even one leaf!  Get close, choose your angle and go for it.  While the whole forest is beautiful sometimes when we constantly shoot at a wide angle, the viewer’s eye doesn’t really know where to focus when looking at the picture.  The resulting image will be a mess of pretty hues instead of that amazing sugar maple with fiery red leaves. While you’re busy looking up, don’t forget to look down and around too.  There are multitudes of berries, fungus and seed pods waiting to be photographed too.

liveseasoned_fall14_fallphotography-1-7

  • Photograph your subjects in open shade or on cloudy days.  Cloudy days are great for photographing people; the clouds act as a huge soft box eliminating all shadows.  Obviously you have no control over the weather, but avoid midday sun and its harsh shadows, instead find a big wide open area of shade (near a building, under tree cover, etc) and take portraits there. You should find that the light is even and diffused because of the shade, but still bright enough because you’re in a wide open area.  If the sun is peaking through and creating hot spots (over exposed areas) in your photo, it will be pretty distracting so look around and try to avoid that as best you can.  Shooting in open shade is more comfortable for you (not so hot!) and your subject (no squinting) and the balance of light between your subject and background won’t be as drastic and therefore much less confusing for your camera in turn creating a better image.

liveseasoned_fall14_fallphotography-1-3

  • Shoot when there’s weather. Shooting during a sunny day with blue skies is nice, but shooting when it’s stormy, foggy or rainy is more dramatic and interesting. Weather easily adds mood to a photograph without a subject present.  I especially like shooting dark blue stormy skies during the fall because the contrasting colors of the deep blue sky makes the orange leaves pop even more. Shooting in the rain (or right after if you want to stay dry) looks fantastic during fall.  The colorful leaves that normally look dry (well, cause they are) glisten and shine, which really brings out their color.  Think about how nice a car looks when it’s freshly washed and still has drips of water on it or how shiny your nails look when you put a clear coat on.. it’s all about the glisten 😉

liveseasoned_fall14_fallphotography-1-4

  • Try setting your white balance to Shade.  (Its symbol is usually a house with three diagonal lines next to it)  Shade basically warms up your photograph, which in turn will result in leaf hues closer to what you are seeing with your eyes.  Sometimes photography can be frustrating and disappointing because what we see isn’t what our camera sees.  It’s ok to use the camera as a tool to better create the scene in front of you.  Using Shade white balance is one way I’ve found to help the camera represent changing leaf colors more accurately. Try it and see if it works for you.

liveseasoned_fall14_fallphotography-1

  • Coordinate with the fall foliage.  We think about color whenever we’re trying to create something visually pleasing (interior design, picking out an outfit, choosing a palette for an art project) so it only makes sense to do the same when we’re creating photos.  If you know you’ll be the subject or the shooter, dress to compliment your scene!  This is especially easy in the fall because you generally know what colors to expect. Next time you are the subject of the photo, you’ll compliment the scenery and visa-versa.

liveseasoned_fall14_fallphotography-1-5

I planned on only dishing up five tips, but here’s a bonus that works for shooting in any season and setting: Shoot during the golden hour.  This rule basically runs every photographers life.  The light is warm and shadows are long, which creates for interesting and beautiful photographs.  If you want to shoot the changing leaves and natural scenery, shooting during the first hour and last hour of light is highly advantageous.  The colors of the yellow, orange and red leaves will look even more brilliant during the golden hour so plan your walks just before sunset!

Have fun and happy shooting! Oh and if you snap a shot using one of these tips, tag us on IG @liveseasoned because we would love to check it out 🙂

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Sarah’s IUD Update

Hey, hey. It’s October, which means I have 4.5 years until my Mirena IUD becomes inaffective. That’s right, it was only six months ago that I had the Mirena IUD inserted and lived to tell about it here.

I thought it would be helpful to review the first six months after I got the Mirena IUD. Initially I had painful cramps and I found myself complaining a lot. Every few days, I was grumbling to my girl friends. Two of them instantly admitted that they didn’t let me know how painful the cramps were during the first month. It was worth it they said. A few months later and I was still bitching at them, but by that time they learned to ignore me. I had always planned on giving a six month update and for awhile I thought it was going to be one big bitch fest, but over the past two months everything has changed, thankfully for the better.

First, I thought it would be helpful to review the most common side effects and then my experiences with each.

The most common side effects of Mirena are:

  • missed periods (amenorrhea) – No missed periods here. I was under the impression that my periods would disappear, but they haven’t.
  • bleeding and spotting between periods – My gyno warned me about light spotting. I basically thought my period would be replaced with a few days of spotting, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Instead, I was bleeding and spotting every.single.day. This is totally TMI, but I ruined every single pair of underwear. It was gross and irritating and quickly became something my boyfriend and I had to laugh about because it became an awkward fact of life.
  • heavier bleeding during the first few weeks after device insertion – Absolutely. I was not prepared for this and I was worried intitally, but after a quick google search, I learned it was quite common.  Obviously as a woman, bleeding is a common occurrence, but the bummer about this was it was unpredicatable. I would spot every day, but some days I would be hit with heavy bleeding and I would be completely unprepared. Imagine me working a ritzy retirement party, running around, two cameras in hand, wearing a white dress and then having that sinking feeling of imminent bleeding. Yup. That happened. I made it through, but I was terribly anxious and upset while working, which had me hating the IUD for a few days. Finally, after four months, I’m not spotting every day. It’s magical and I feel so much better about the IUD.
  • abdominal/pelvic pain – Immediately after insertion, the cramps were horrible. The following ten days were similar to a terrible period. It was nothing I couldn’t handle, but I did find myself taking Aleve pretty often, which is rare for me. I felt desperate. The cramps did come in back waves for about five months. I just recently noticed that they’re gone. What a relief. The cramps sucked and I bitched a bunch to anyone that would listen, but now that I’ve lived at least four weeks without any debilitating cramps I can barely remember the pain.
  • ovarian cysts – Thankfully I didn’t have any trouble thus far.
  • back pain – Immediately after insertion, absolutely. During my periods I would also have lower back pain and it was so apparent and intense that I was completely confused by it until a day or two later when my period arrived.
  • headache/migraine – It’s rare that I ever have headaches and I can’t say I remember a single one in the past six months.
  • nervousness – This is interesting. There were a few moments over the past few months where I had a moment of apprehension or nervousness that I felt was out of character, but really nothing major to speak of.
  • dizziness – I only experienced this immediately after insertion.
  • nausea – Again, I only experienced this immediately after insertion.
  • vomiting – I did throw up after insertion, but then I felt much better. Another random side note: there were about a dozen times over the past six months where I had this immediate and overwhelming feeling of having to throw up. Each time it caught me by surprise (because it was completely random), but I was able to regain composure and just let the feeling pass. It was over as quickly as it came on. Once I was mindful of my increased gag reflex, I noticed I gag pretty much every time I brush my teeth something that rarely happened before the IUD. It’s not a big deal, it’s just strange.
  • bloating – Nope!
  • breast tenderness or pain – Nothing. Actually now that I think about it, my boobs are usually tender during my period, but they haven’t been feeling that way recently.
  • weight gain – I was concerned about weight gain (maybe a little excited at the thought of my boobs growing), but I haven’t experienced an ounce of weight gain and I haven’t changed my diet or exercise patterns at all.
  • changes in hair growth – I haven’t noticed anything major.
  • acne – I don’t think my skin has changed at all.
  • depression – Nothing out of the ordinary. I think I tend to lean towards depression instead of enthusiasm, but I’ve been aware of it for almost a decade so I try to be very present and combat any bouts of sadness before they feel overwhelming.
  • changes in mood – I haven’t noticed anything major.
  • loss of interest in sex – Intially I was very hesitant to have sex. I get freaked out by any medical procedures so I felt pretty vulnerable for a couple weeks. Also worth noting, sex was painful and uncomfortable for me for a few weeks after insertion. Thankfully my partner was more than understanding, but it was disappointing to try to have sex only for it to be uncomfortable and something I wanted to get over with as soon as it began.
  • itching or skin rash and puffiness in the face, hands, ankles, or feet – No rashes or changes that I noticed.
  • increased vaginal infections & UTIs – I’ve actually had two minor yeast infections since the insertion. I’m in tune with my body and once I felt a change, I bought medication from the pharmacy to combat the infection.
  • sciatic nerve pain and numbness – I didn’t realize until writing this post, but my numb, tingly legs and increased lower back pain could be caused by my IUD.

What else? The strings. Ick. Like I said, I’m a wuss when it comes to anything internal so the first time I noticed my strings, I almost fainted. I actually closed my eyes and pretended it didn’t happen and then of course I turned to the internet. I learned that the positioning of your cervix changes over the course of the month and so mine had probably shifted and my strings were more exposed. I’m not exactly sure if that’s correct, but seeing the strings really posed no threat and if anything I was happy that my body didn’t expel the device.

Now that we’re discussing strings, it’s worth noting that your partner may (mine definitely did) feel your strings with their fingers and/or penis. The strings are actually two thin braided wires. I’m only warning you of this in case you have a partner that’s inexperienced with IUDs. He or she may feel the strings and be completely shocked. It might be something you want to talk about before hand if you’re comfortable expressing your concern.

It may not be helpful to compare the IUD to the pill, but for me it has been a massive improvement. While I was on the pill, I felt wildly different from week to week. It was hard for me to maintain a baseline emotion and overall that really f*cked with me. I also experienced weight gain, vaginal dryness and a complete lack of sex drive. I haven’t experienced any of those symptoms with the IUD. The best part? I don’t have to worry about taking a pill every night or refilling my perscription, I know I’m covered for the next 4.5 years.

Overall, I’m completely happy with my IUD. If you would have asked me two months ago, I probably would have listed a host of complaints (all the side effects above), but I would have definitively said I’m pleased with it. Now that I’m at the six month mark, I’ve forgotten the pain and the bleeding that plagued my life just two months ago. I’m over the moon. I praise my decision to get an IUD. Funny thing is I lost my health insurance and ended up having to pay full price ($800+) for the IUD and I’m still absolutely certain I would do it all over again. It was worth the twenty pairs of ruined panties and the crippling cramps. They lasted four months, but I’ll have a reliable contraceptive for the next four years.

I hope if you or someone you know is considering an IUD, you’ll read my IUD insertion post as well. The original post also had a great mix of comments from individuals who liked and disliked the IUD. Please reach out if you have any other questions or if you want to share your contraceptive experience.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Fall Farmers Market Recipe Roundup

Headed to the farmers market this week? We gathered up some of our favorite fall farmers market meals to tide you over during October. The best part about this recipe roundup? The ingredients are fairly interchangeable so you’ll be able to make multiple recipes if you pick up this short list of farmers market essentials. Many of the other items are probably already in your pantry. Enjoy!

Essentials:

  • McIntosh apples
  • butternut squash
  • small pumpkin
  • onions
  • carrots
  • beets
  • peppers
  • potatoes

 

Pumpkin & Squash Dishes

Three Sisters Stew

Pumpkin Galette

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Butternut Squash Pasta

Roasted Root & Squash Soup

 

Apple Desserts

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Crockpot Apple Butter

 

Yummy Others

Red Cabbage & Apple Salad with Tahini Ginger Dressing

Arugula Walnut Pesto

Chicken & Pea Soup

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Visit Arches National Park & Moab, Utah

live-seasoned-2016-moab-arches-utah-2

It’s Wednesday, you’re half way through the week that means you deserve to procrastinate by looking at pretty pictures of Moab, Utah. I’ve only visited Moab once, but I have not stopped thinking about it since. People are shocked by my profound love of Utah, but if you’ve never been, you need to stop yappin’ and start packing. After all, a few of the most scenic national parks are located there.

The following photos were taken at Arches National Park. Standing in the midst of such vibrant colossal rock formations was surely grounding. Upon entering the park, I read the history of Arches then spent the next several days trying to imagine the landscape as it changed throughout the ages. I believe connecting with the landscape and witnessing earth’s transformation is a powerful conservation tool for current and future generations. Getting to know and appreciate the natural beauty in the world will surely encourage you and others to be an active participant in securing these spaces for future generations. If you haven’t visited Arches yet, call a few buddies or load the family into the car and experience history, geology and immense beauty this year.  Continue reading

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone