“Shoulder Stand” Original Drawing by Becky Kazana. Please do no reproduce without permission.  

Finding the right yoga studio is like choosing a church. You are looking for something intangible, a mood, a vibe. All of these places are pretty similar; usually clean, bare rooms with polished wood floors, maybe a wall of mirrors, maybe plants, maybe candles, maybe a singing bowl. Some use music, some don’t. Some are hot, some warm, some cool. The teachers are important, but you will learn something from every person you take class with. The style of yoga is part of it- but you will learn something from every practice, from Hatha to Bikram.

Since arriving in Minneapolis, I’d gone the Groupon route, trying out Heat Yoga, Core Power, Minnehaha Yoga, Your Yoga, and Yoga Studio. I’ve barely scratched the surface of studios in my area- there is Life Power, Iyengar Yoga and a Bikram studio, all within easy walking distance of my apartment.

So far, One Yoga has definitely been my favorite. They offer a wide variety of classes in many styles, almost every hour, so there is always a class that is convenient. But the intangible something is in the air. Bold letters on the door announce “YOU ARE ENTERING A CALM PLACE.” and it’s true. You can feel it when you walk in. The rush and bustle drain away as you pull off your wet boots and hang your coat on a peg, find a spot to unfurl your mat and go inward, slowly and deeply.

During practice recently, I had an idea to make this drawing. I love looking at my legs and feet in shoulder stand- they always look so tiny and far off up there, and it’s nice to send all the blood flowing in the opposite direction from feet to head for a change. I often have a dream that I am looking at my hands, feet or body from a distance as they slowly swell gigantic and then shrink back down to teeny tiny, and somehow this pose reminds me of that. Everything in your life is a matter of perspective, plain and simple.

Do you practice yoga? What’s your favorite pose right now? What do you look for in a teacher? A studio? Do tell!

Soaking in Winter original illustration by Becky Kazana. Email me to purchase. Do not reproduce without permission. 

A few weeks back, Prem invited us for roll your own sushi night- we had fun making rice, chopping fish, frying tempura, making a huge mess in the kitchen and getting full of tastes of this and that long before we ever sat down at the table to eat properly.

Afterwards, we went out into the moonlit snow, bravely stripped down to our swimsuits in the freezing air and climbed into the steaming hot tub.We four sat there talking about nothing, huddled close together, knees and feet bumping into each other from time to time in a kind of intimacy that is rare in my life here. It comes in part from having grown up together, then watching each other’s lives unfold from afar. I know and love these people, and have for a long time.

The tub overlooks a pond on a golf course, frozen solid, lined with bare trees silhouetted against the clouded sky, perfectly still. For a moment, the moon passed out from under the clouds, glowing white, round and huge through the veils of cloud and we all looked up at it in silence. There was the gurgling of the water around us, the crackle and ping of the ice, the gentle flutter of the snow settling over the ground and steam rising up around our faces, turned up towards the sky.

“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” -Scandinavian Proverb

For a few weeks, I tried to make do with second hand boots in a Minnesota winter. Two sizes too big meant swinging them along like leaden anchors and my hips quickly felt the toll. Wearing ordinary shoes is a terrible option as well, leaving your socks soaked and toes instantly turned icy, red and numb.

I decided to invest in a pair of Sorel boots. Thanks to a coupon code from Piperlime, I paid $75 for them. What a wonderful pleasure my walk to work has become! If it’s snow and ice, the grippers dig in and give me sure footing. If it’s slush and puddles, my feet arrive at their destination dry and toasty.

Though these boots aren’t exactly fashion forward, they have the sort of ugly cute quality that seems to be in vogue right now, and have the added benefit of being enormously practical. (How I pity the fools I see in their tennis shoes or ballet flats full of ice!) Between the right gear, the necessity of a daily walk and my strict policy of not complaining, my time outside each day has become a true joy. I look forward to my walk, knowing it will clear my head, invigorate my body and connect me with this place I call home.

P.S) This original illustration is available for $20 if you’re having a love affair with galoshes as well! It will easily fit in a standard 8×10 frame. Email me at thefabulousmissbATgmailDOTcom if you’d like to purchase it for your house!

I’ve been taking daily walks in the neighborhood around my Mum’s house. The other day I brought along my camera so I could share some of the lovely things I admire along the way.

Of course there are lots of things I couldn’t or didn’t photograph- cars and pavement, barking dogs, big tufts of cottonwood seeds floating lazily through the air, sprinklers and the whir of lawn mowers, babies in strollers and the sounds of their siblings playing tag in the yard. Summer in the suburbs can be quite idyllic. Here’s what mine looks like this year:

What does summer look like where you are?

This is a greatly belated post, but we had so much fun ice skating with Katie and Lou while we were back in the frosty north for Christmas I just had to share. See the rest of our photos right here. What are you doing for fun this winter?

The green baby shower was a smashing success. See more images from the shower here, and if you have others to add, please e-mail me (thefabulousmissb(at)gmail.com)!

Sarah and I hit the Minneapolis Farmers Market for these gorgeous blooms. Zinnias, lavender, sunflowers, thistles and snapdragons- all for twenty bucks. We filled ordinary terracotta pots with floral foam, soaked them in the kitchen sink for about 45 minutes and arranged the blooms that way, with a few hosta leaves from the backyard. We watered them again the morning of the shower so they would look fresh.

Katie and Lou arrived early to help decorate and set up. (Lou’s umbrella just happened to go with everything perfectly!)

Eric tries to figure out paper lantern assembly…My mom had quite a stash of Chinese lanterns, kites and fun paper daisies- aside from the fresh flowers I didn’t buy any decorations at all.

The lady of the hour shows off her hint of a bump. She’s definitely got the glow!

My talented mother planned the menu. We had a glamorous Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad, Alphabet Pasta Salad (this link isn’t quite the same version we did, but the Alphabet pasta looked so sweet for a baby shower. Add some veggies to the version I linked to), a cheese plate a la Katie, shrimp cocktail and a Bean Salad. For dessert we had Lemon Cupcakes (sour cream is the secret to the moist, flavorful cake), White Chocolate Pretzels(in a fit of inspiration Sarah and I added white sprinkles and they looked like really baby rattles without being too literal) Key Lime Pie topped with fresh whipped cream and raspberries, Almond Pound Cake and my famous Coconut Macaroons. We poured home made lemonade, iced tea and Martha, (the grandma to be!) donated her wonderful wine collection from Sarah’s favorite Oregon vineyard, Sweet Cheeks which ensured that everyone had a lovely afternoon.

Sarah’s beloved dog Bishop got into the spirit of the day too- after lunch, with much coaxing, he jumped into the pool to cool off. Lou was madly in love with him.

Sarah’s friends Lori and Abigail drove all the way from Eau Claire Wisconsin to celebrate with us.

Amy sent a selection of her gorgeous new hand-painted organic baby clothes all the way from Hong Kong. (The new line is called “GreenSeam” and its right up Sarah’s alley.)You should have heard the squeals of delight!

Sarah’s dear friend Jen (who also drove in from Wisconsin for the occasion) made this adorable Veggie Blanket. The gifts were all so thoughtfully chosen; many of them handmade. I know Sarah and Baby felt honored and loved.

Last week Sarah and I paid a visit to the Minnesota Historical Society to check out their exhibit of photographs from Ellis Island. Augustus Frederick Sherman was a humble clerk, but when new arrivals were detained for further questioning, he often made photographs of them. The results are a stunning cross section of people who came to this country in search of a better life.

I was taken with the details of their clothing, at a time when every garment was made by hand by someone you knew. Silver bullets sewn into the costumes of the Cossack soldiers, their heads adorned with wooly caps. Protestant Finnish women in elaborate wimples seeking religious freedom away from their Catholic homeland. A gentleman decked out in lederhosen complete with woolen socks, a jaunty hat and beautifully embroidered vest.

The exhibit was small and very little is known about most of those pictured. That lent an air of intrigue and possibility. I found myself wondering what these people were thinking on the day they arrived here- exhausted from an agonizing sea voyage that probably took months.

For many, the stop at Ellis Island marked only a halfway point in the journey as they carried farther west. (This certainly makes me re-consider my moaning and groaning about flying coach!) Since those in these portraits were detained for further questioning, anxiety and worry are apparent.

I was also struck by the individuality of each portrait. Each person brought a unique experience with which to forge a new identity for themselves in a strange land. Our is truly a nation of disparate people drawn together by freedom. I think we can all use reminders of that.

My best girl Katie Marshall is kicking off a west coast tour with Skirt this week (If you are in Minneapolis tomorrow night, give ’em a nice send off at the Uptown Bar!). We got a chance to see them open for Sarah Borges. It was a wonderfully energetic show and I went home and downloaded all their tunes right away. They’ve obviously been playing together a long time and had great chemistry and stage presence. Their country/rock sound is right up my alley. Here they are recording at the legendary Sun Studio.