The Great Backyard Bird Count is Happening Right Now!

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Hey peeps! The backyard bird count is happening this weekend! Learn all about it here, but basically you sit somewhere for 15 minutes or more and you tally up all the different kinds of birds you see then you report in with your findings.  Read this, it’s a good introduction of what you’re getting into.  You can make it as big or as small of an affair in your household as you please.

Yesterday and today I simply sat in front of my big office window watched the woods behind my house for thirty minutes.  It’s kind of meditative and if you’re thinking you can’t sit still and do nothing (you’re actually helping quite a bit!) listen to a podcast or an audio book while you wait and watch. I’m currently listening to All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Total coincidence BTW.

If you have children, this would be a great time to get out any bird identification books you might have, bird stuffed animals, stories about birds or even a big pair of binoculars.  While you’re at it, you could fill any feeders you have hanging on your porch or in your yard.  Get your babes interested in our feathery friends.  My pop started taking me on bird walks at a very young age and I still remember the wonderment I felt finding and identifying different birds.  Great egrets and snowy egrets were some of the first I learned and to this day I still get excited when I see them even though they’re hella common.  Have an amazing weekend and whatever your plans, make time to spend at least fifteen minutes contributing to the Great Backyard Bird Count.

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Welcome January

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A new year! Ugg/yay. I’m feeling so many feelings about the flipping the calendar from 2015 to 2016. Excitement about all to come while wanting to slow down time because I don’t want to miss a moment and there’s so much to do, but I’m sure many of you feel the same way. I’m assuming that this is a sign of old age? blah.

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Seasoned View: Vol. 21

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.

Happy New Year everyone!  We have a nice mix of sunny and frosty for your January edition of Seasoned View. All of these images were taken my Katie or myself in Colorado over the past two weeks.  As you can see, we went on our fair share of wintery hikes and we’re suggesting you do the same- you won’t regret it.  Bundle up and get out there!

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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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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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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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Welcome September

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, with a particular focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields.

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September is a great time to take a hike.  The extreme heat disappears, rain moves in and cooler temperatures arrive.  The damp woods are bursting with fungus. You could even think about joining a mushroom club or going along on a foray this month.  If you’re trotting along you’re sure to see squirrels and chipmunks gathering nuts and seeds for the winter months.  Overhead you’ll hear birds migrating, check out this post to see how to properly prepare for those on the move.  If you’re interested in following along with this season’s migrations, the Cornel Lab of Ornithology produces a bird migration forecast.  You’ll learn what species you should expect to see traveling in different regions of the United States.  Migrations are heavily dependent upon weather conditions.  The best times to see large flocks are directly after a cold front passes and very early in the morning.  That’s why birdwatching groups always meet at the crack of dawn, if you wake up early, head to the nearest native habitats with lots of water.

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Bats are also on the move this month.  As fall approaches big brown bats are looking for a place to hibernate.  Cool nights with fewer insects are the primary force that starts the migration to hibernation.  Some of these migrations may be very short, only a few miles from their summer homes.  At this time of year, big brown bats are plump, healthy and ready for a long sleep.  Unheated attics are actually ideal hibernation places for bats so keep an eye out in case some make their way into your home.  You’ll want to have them removed before they hibernate or else you shouldn’t disturb them until spring!

 

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Gardens of Nepal

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Namaste from Nepal!  I arrived in busy Kathmandu on Tuesday afternoon at which point I found a cozy little guesthouse in thamel and promptly went to sleep.  I was so worn out from thirty-six hours of travel that I needed a long nap.  I ended up sleeping from 6p.m. on Tuesday until 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning.  When I woke up, I decided to go up to the rooftop garden to read until the sun came up.  Later in the afternoon, I ended up wandering into another lovely garden that I enjoyed so much I spent four hours there.

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The rooftop garden at my guesthouse is so quaint and beautiful that I had to share it here today.  It is the perfect representation of so many small rooftop gardens all over the city of Kathmandu.  While there is currently a broader initiative to promote vegetable rooftop gardening in Kathmandu, it is already widely popular to cover roofs with potted plants of all varieties.  I most often see jade, spider, and coleus plants with a bunch of other beauties sprinkled in.  I admire the simplicity of the rooftop garden.  Nothing too fancy just a whole lot of potted plants.  I love how my guesthouse rooftop garden was arranged by type of plant.  That is something I probably would not have done.  I’m always mixing and matching plant types on shelves and windowsills, but now I think I’m doing it all wrong. What do you think?

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The view looking down from the roof at the courtyard isn’t too bad either, right?  I couldn’t have been more lucky with my choice of guesthouse this time around.  If you’re staying in Kathmandu, I highly recommend Pilgrims. Don’t be afraid to haggle on the price either, I shaved a few bucks off of each night.

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After watching the sunrise and having breakfast, I took yet another nap.  I woke up around lunchtime ready to explore Kathmandu by foot.  I decided not to take a map since I giggle at tourists squinting at their paper maps in the sun and the last thing I want to be is a hypocrite, but really, Kathmandu is a fast paced city and there is no time or space on the sidewalk to be looking at fine print.  Instead of relying on a map, I made sure to be extra observant about where I was going, when I was turning or crossing streets, and any major landmarks or buildings that seemed unique and memorable.  After a couple hours of wandering around, I conveniently ended up near the border of thamel again.  Just as I heard my belly growling and felt my feet aching, I passed a small sign that said, Garden of Dreams.  There was no other hint at what might be beyond the ten foot wall so I figured what’s there to lose and I wandered through the small gate and into an oasis.

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After paying a small entrance fee of 200 rupees ($2), I was granted access to a beautiful neo-classical garden that spans over 74,000 square feet.  The Garden of Dreams was also known as The Garden of Six Seasons, but I must admit, if it was named Kathmandu Botanical Gardens or something similar I would have passed right by.  There is something enchanting about a mysterious high-walled garden sitting right in the middle of crazy Kathmandu, with a name like Garden of Dreams, that encourages the passerby to stop and explore.

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The Garden of Dreams sits across the street from the former Royal Palace and was originally thought up by Field Marshall Kaiser Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana in the 1920s.  (Imagine trying to remember that name at a cocktail party.)  Apparently upon completion, the Garden of Six Seasons (as it was known then) was considered one of the most sophisticated private gardens of that time, which surprises me none at all.  Traditionally Nepal has six seasons: spring, early summer, late summer monsoon season, early autumn, late autumn and winter.  The garden was designed by Kishore Narshingh, a prominent architect who designed and constructed Singha Durbar (a massive palace) in 1907.  In the 1920s, the Garden of Six Seasons had six pavilions, numerous fountains and sunken pools, verandas, pergolas, urns and birdhouses. He erected six impressive pavilions, each dedicated to one of the six seasons of Nepal.  Today, only half of the original garden and three pavilions are in existence, but the renovations pay homage to the beautiful garden of the past.

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It was interesting to learn that the Garden of Dreams was restored in cooperation with Austrian Government in the early 21st century.  Inside one of the buildings, there is a photo gallery with images of the garden in complete ruins during the nineties and what it looks like today.  It was really neat to see the comparison of what looks like an overgrown jungle to the beautifully manicured lawns of the present.  Several changes have also been made that lend well to transforming the private Garden of Six Seasons into a space that can be utilized by the public for events and leisure.

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While the Garden of Dreams boasts itself as a tourist destination, I must admit not one person recommended I visit or even mentioned the gardens to me.  I hadn’t read about it in a guidebook or seen flashy photos of the garden on any brochures or signs and a selfish part of me is glad.  When I first arrived at the garden around 2 p.m. there were only five other people on the grounds.  I loved wandering around taking photos uninhibited by crowds.  As the hours moved on dozens and dozens more people arrived and it overjoyed me to see that all but a couple were native Nepalese.  The Garden of Dreams is their garden and knowing it is affordable, accessible, and actually used by Nepali people made me really happy.  Seeing all the couples and throngs of friends gathered in the gardens that afternoon had me feeling like I was in on a local secret.  I just had to share it with you in hopes that you’ll make it to the Garden of Dreams one day.

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Best of the Season : Summer 2015

At the end of each season, we take a look back and highlight our favorite posts. See previous Seasonal Bests here.

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Summer flew by! Let me say here and now that this was the Summer of Kate.  She created SO many posts this summer and I’m eternally grateful for her hard work and dedication to Live Seasoned so if you enjoyed this summer, know that it was mostly brought to you by Katie. We love summer for so many reasons: the sun, the berries, the beach, our birthdays, we could go on and on. We even added an extra week, did you notice? We both agree that autumn is pretty awesome too.  The cool, crisp smell of the leaves in the air mixed with a cup of hot tea and every cliche fall activity we can think of, yep, that’s why autumn totally rocks.  Before we move on to fall, we wanted to take a look back at summer and highlight our favorite posts. If you had a fave we didn’t mention, we would love to hear in the comments!

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Best of Dinners

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Best of Desserts

  • Katie’s pick : I think I’m still tickled by how perfectly the Pineapple Flowers fit the fourth anniversary gifts of fruit & flowers. Plus, they were so easy to make and looked beautiful. I’m exciting to have this little trick in my repertoire for future dessert decorating. 
  • Sarah’s pick : I ate so many Lemon Bars that I became ill and I would do it tomorrow if I had them in front of me!

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Best of Popsicles

  • Katie’s pick : I have to admit that I loved the Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Popsicles because they were delicious, but also because I could give them to Alex at any time of day and not feel guilty about it!
  • Sarah’s pick : You know it’s a good summer when we have a best of popsicles category.  I loved Katie’s Lemon Cream Popsicles.

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Best of Drinks

  •  Katie’s pick : Let’s just say that I have to make another batch of lemongrass simple syrup today to keep the Lemon Lemon Gin Fizz(es?) coming through the weekend.
  • Sarah’s pick : I think my homemade lemonade post was technically in the spring, but I made lemonade more times than I can count this summer.

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Best of Crafts

  • Katie’s pick : Does it count that I love the moth watercolor from our Mad about Moths post? I would love to be able to paint like that.
  • Sarah’s pick : I’m still in disbelief that you can print out an enormous photo for only ten bucks, which means the winner is Cheap Oversized Photo Art.

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Best of Wedding Crafts

  • Katie’s pick : I know it was only four years ago, but I really loved looking back through our wedding day through the DIY projects. While I loved making everything, my top project would have to be the bunting, because we still bring it out for special events like birthdays, including decorating the hospital room where Luc was born!
  • Sarah’s pick : I loved looking back at Katie’s wedding and seeing all the details that made it so very special.  This was a hard decision for me, but because I still carry the Purse around (four years later) all the time I have to pick it as my favorite wedding project. Ps. I totally saw two other bridesmaids using their purses this summer too!

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Best of Health & Beauty

  • Katie’s pick : With our new high-altitude home and all of the time we spend outside, I’m so excited that I know how to make DIY Mineral-based Sunscreen. While it’s already great, I’m hoping that batch by batch I’ll customize the recipe to something that’s just right for our family. 
  • Sarah’s pick : I use Katie’s Summer Face Oil every single day. I love the way it smells and feels and I love knowing my scientist of a sister concocted it on her own 🙂

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Best How To

  • Katie’s pick : Because we had just as much fun doing it as writing about it, I’m going with the Camping with Little Kids post.
  • Sarah’s pick : Even though I don’t have kids, I loved Katie’s post Cooking with Kids.  I was surprised at how many great ideas she had (har har 😉 ) that pertained to cooking with little ones.

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Best of Photography

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Best of Nature

  • Katie’s pick : I liked writing the shark species spotlight, because it actually helped me to get over some of my fear of knowing that they were swimming so close to our summer stomping grounds! 
  • Sarah’s pick : I love Katie’s new Species Spotlight feature and I’m totally partial to the Argiope aurantia aka cool yellow spider because in this case, the more you learn, the more you love.

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Best of Travel

  • Katie’s Pick : The beach! Maybe because we’re still here and living it :-).
  • Sarah’s Pick : I loved revisiting Cannon Beach & Haystack Rock through photos.  It truly was one of the most amazing tidal pools I’ve ever seen.

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Best Around the House

  • Katie’s pick : While not exciting, and definitely not our typical type of post, I have to go with my post about Recovering Photos from LaCie RAID Drive because the end result was so valuable to me (saving over a decade worth of photos!) and because it feels so empowering to be able to do research and fix a software problem myself.
  • Sarah’s pick : I loved writing Five Best Earth Friendly Products for an Outdoor Shower because it gave me a chance to research the companies that I use and love so much.  I found out so many interesting and inspiring facts while writing the post that I’m actually excited to buy more of their products.  I love feeling like an informed and responsible consumer, how dorky am I?

And that’s it, another summer in the books. We always think it goes by too fast, but that’s part of the reason why we blog. Having this record of the season helps to remind us that while we may not have had time for every adventure on our list, we still did a lot and had a fantastic time! We hope you did too. xo

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Summer on Saxis Island, Virginia

In the past we’ve highlighted Saxis Island through photo stories about the watermen and our bike ride to the beach.  Yesterday we introduced you to our favorite spider and last week we mentioned a few of our favorite outdoor shower products.

We already love Saxis for so many reasons, but like most things in life, when you experience them again through a child’s eye you appreciate them that much more.  We wanted to highlight some of the shenanigans going on in and around Saxis this summer with a few photos. Hopefully you also have a favorite summer stomping ground where you can act like a kid again.  If not, let these photos be inspiration to get out there, mess around, and maybe find a spot that you’ll return to each summer.

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Playing in the surf never gets old.  If you have little ones like Alex, we recommend having one adult for every child because you never know when they might sprint right into the waves (Katie here : with these crazy boys I’m starting to think that we need two adults for every kid!).  Alex is one brave boy.  He’s constantly shocking us with the challenges he takes on like diving head first into holes in the sand. Yep, he treats sand dunes and big holes like a slide at the playground and going feet first would be too safe and tame for that tyke.  If you’re the cautious type or you just need a break, you could seek out the nearest bay to play in.  Chances are the water is calm and shallow and you may even find some bayside critters swimming in the water.

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Of course, it’s not all about the kids. Our family has always enjoyed a good game, often it’s a card or board game at night, but we’re also a big fan of lawn/beach games. This year our mom discovered Kubb, and our pop made a set for the beach. Everyone in our group had a great time playing, and recommend this for anyone who loves horseshoes, corn hole, or any similar toss game.

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While we love a good beach day, we also love our water toys.  Each year it seems our family is adding something to the fleet.  This year we acquired two stand up paddle boards.  Stand Up Paddle boards are a fantastic way to hop right onto the water without much set up and hassle.  SUPs can be carried by one person where as kayaks are much easier to transport with two people. SUPs are also a nice way to give young kids a little taste of the bay without taking them too far out in case they’re a bit apprehensive about water.


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As much as we love SUPs, kayaks and classic boogie boards, nothing beats a motorboat. We keep it pretty simple in our family with a small fishing boat, but it feels luxurious to us since we grew up paddling a canoe.  A motorboat allows you the freedom to bring along all the fishing and crabbing you could want and don’t you dare forget that cooler full of drinks!

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While we’re running down docks, pulling up crabs and diving into sand holes, we’re learning about the world around us.  Every moment is a chance to see and experience something new on the island.  We get equally excited about feeding horseshoe crabs at the Assateague Visitors Center as we do about looking at dead dragonflies through a bug magnifying box.  Last year Alex’s first word was “burd”, which he said while watching the seagulls fly by the house. This year we started to teach him the names of different birds as we saw them, from egrets in the trees to osprey watching over their nests. We’re hoping these summers on Saxis instill the same love and appreciation for nature in little Alex and Luc that we have now as adults.

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Species Spotlight : Argiope aurantia

If you’ve been following along with our Instagram feed, then you’ve seen a few photos of the spider living at the beach house. We’ve all become a bit enamored with her and wanted to share more information. First a formal introduction, meet Argiope aurantia, common referred to as the black and yellow garden spider.

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Even we can admit that she looks equal parts mesmerizing and scary, fortunately, she’s relatively harmless. She has no interest in biting humans, and would only do so if grabbed (although she would rather drop down from her web and hide). If she does bite, the result is said to be no worse than a bee sting. Did you get that? If you come across a garden spider in your yard, don’t worry, don’t scare her away, and definitely don’t kill her!

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