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We hope you have been enjoying the holidays with your loved ones, in your favourite ways. For that reason, we are keeping this post short. If you do happen to have a few quiet moments and wish to do some quiet reading over a cup of coffee, we invite you to catch up with our posts that you may have missed, or ones that you might wish to re-read. Please also feel free to share this blog with a friend who might enjoy following our stories.

Wishing you a wonderful remainder of 2015 and here’s to more reading, writing, and mindful living (infused with moments of creative daydreaming) in 2016!

The following are the nine most popular posts of 2015, listed in random order, based on page views and the number of shares:

1. Better than yesterday

Disappointments happen sometimes, especially in circumstances beyond our apparent control. We could have. We should have. We would have. Empty words. Hurtful words. Sugar-coating for children only results in stifled anger. We may not have handled the situation with grace or even maturity, but we can always work to be better people today than we were yesterday.”

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2. The Dharma Wanderlust creative method

Several years ago, we wrote a post to explain the process behind our wooden creations. Since the recent unveiling of our Sea Turtle Collection, we have been pleased to welcome new clients to our website. In addition to our earlier post, we would like to walk you through the process of making each wooden turtle pendant.”

3. Marriage lessons from the past  nine years

Sixteen years ago, on July 17th, we went on our first date. I was 16; he was 19. By our second date, four days later, it was clear to us both that we were quickly falling for each other as we strolled through a west-end neighbourhood. Seven years later, on July 22nd, we exchanged our official vows in a landmark Toronto wedding location just down the street from where we first enjoyed getting to know each other, listening to each other’s stories, fascinated by our differences and wondering about common personality traits. Now, 16 years later, we celebrate nine years of marriage and 16 years of deep connection.”

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4. Happy loner

I have always enjoyed my own company. I sometimes wonder whether it’s selfish to admit this fact. The truth is, spending time alone helps to nourish my soul in an honest manner that allows me to take better care of my loved ones.”

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5. Project house detox

This impromptu de-cluttering session led to a change of perspective. For the remainder of that day, whenever I stepped into another room in our house, I asked myself whether we need all the material items we managed to acquire over the past 7.5 years after moving into our current home. Pawel and I have never had a fear of letting go of material objects. Neither are we serious collectors of random tchotchkes. Yet, there seemed to be too much stuff that we do not need. I grew tired of seeing busy kitchen counters. I spoke with Pawel and explained to him that I wanted to edit our home and throw out, sell, or give away various pieces that we do not need to keep and/or do not enjoy. To my relief, he told me he’s on board.”

6. Choosing love over a tidy home

I do my best to keep a balance between working diligently to uphold my highest standards and choosing to ignore a less-than-perfect home from time to time. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand: when I feel calmer and able to overlook the mess of toys strewn around the living room, I am a better mother to my children and partner to Pawel, better able to uphold those high standards. Some days, I feel exhausted after an hour of nagging my children in agitation about tidying up their rooms. Inevitably, 15 minutes after they reluctantly put away their toys, the living room once again looks less than ideal. Interestingly, when I make a choice to be a bit softer in my approach, more willing to overlook the mess until bedtime, I have more energy to be a kind, fun mom.”

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7. Skipping the small talk

Small talk has never been my forte. When bumping into a person I don’t know well, my mind often goes blank after the polite greeting of, “Hello, how are you?” On a good day, I remind myself to ask about my conversation partner’s interests and use one of those as a jumping point into more interesting territory. The problem arises when I meet a person who, like me, keeps his cards close to his chest and doesn’t enjoy divulging any information about himself to someone he just met for the first time. Talk about an introvert’s nightmare!’

8. I don’t watch TV. I don’t miss it.

Not watching TV allows me to make time for mindful activities that I truly enjoy. I do make time for reading, writing, yoga, meditation, crafting, and (yes) sleep.”

9. The capsule wardrobe experiment: Autumn 2015

When I first heard of the idea of the capsule wardrobe, approximately two years ago, my curiosity peaked. I know that there are many great reasons to create a capsule wardrobe – namely, to save money; to eliminate the need to decide what to wear in the morning; and of course, to practise better discernment of what items we enjoy wearing, what we need, and what we no longer need but to which we have been holding on. It’s a great method of redefining our style. After flirting with the idea for many months, I finally took a deep breath and spent some time choosing my favourite pieces for my autumn capsule wardrobe.”

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See you in 2016!

Warmly,

Katia and Pawel (Mr. and Mrs. Wanderlust)

 

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Chocolate No. 24 inside the Star Wars and Kinder advent calendars has been eaten.

Latté, our Elf-on-the-Shelf, has written his ‘adieu’ letter to Wanderlust Juniors. He tells us that after Christmas with his famous busy family in the North Pole, he will be off on a surfing vacation in the South Pacific before returning to resume his duties for 2016. We all will miss Latté, for various reasons that relate to the magic of traditions old and new.

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The annual Christmas cookies have been baked with the help of our two little elves, and packaged to be enjoyed with our loved ones. A separate plate of cookies, along with a glass of organic milk and a locally grown carrot (for the reindeer), will be set for our special guests tonight.

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The exquisite festive centre piece gifted to me generously by my boss adorns our dining table. Last year, on this day, I received a job offer. This year, I am grateful for abundant opportunities in the year that has passed.

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The Christmas trees — the main fresh tree and a smaller artificial tree that is the children’s own — have been redecorated several times to perfection by the youngest Wanderlust Junior. I particularly appreciate the new ornaments that the boys crafted to add to the collection.

Mr. Wanderlust and the eldest Wanderlust Junior are still buzzing with inspiration after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens two days ago. This has inevitably translated into countless hours of Star Wars Lego creations and the related pretend play.

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I feel lighter, sassier, and more playful, as I always do after some pampering at the hair salon.

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I was overdue for a haircut but had to wait for the front layers to grow in order to accomplish the asymmetrical pixie cut that I was coveting.

In blustery but unbelievably warm 14˚C weather in southwestern Ontario, we share the warmth with our loved ones close to home and send it to those in other parts of the world. We miss them dearly every day, and particularly during the holidays.

From our family to yours, wishing you the merriest Christmas!

Warmly,

Mrs. and Mr. Wanderlust

 

As promised last week, I wanted to share with you my quick go-to recipe for an all-purpose disinfectant spray. I use this spray on everything: my yoga mats; bathroom mirrors; wiping sticky hand prints and dust from surfaces; door handles; kitchen counters, and so on. I will confess sheepishly that the pleasant, clean scent of the spray alone makes me want to pick it up and clean everything around me. All you need is a few minutes and a few basic, clean ingredients to create this magical product.

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DHARMA WANDERLUST YOGA MAT CLEANER AND ALL-PURPOSE DISINFECTANT SPRAY

Ingredients:

  • Small spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Pure white vinegar
  • A few drops of essential oil (I recommend tea tree oil for its disinfecting properties, but I also enjoy calming lavender; eucalyptus or fir needle have a clean, fresh scent)

Method:

  1. Fill about 2/3 of the bottle with water.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with vinegar.
  3. Add a few drops of essential oil. I like to add about 3 drops of tea tree oil and then one or two drops of lavender and/or other oils. I don’t recommend mixing more than two oils at a time.
  4. Screw on the lid, shake well, spray your mat or any other surface in your home, and enjoy a chemical-free cleaning experience!

Do you have a favourite DIY cleaning recipe? Please share it in the comments below. 

Do you know someone who would enjoy this blog post and the recipe? Please share it with them via social media or email. 

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In the colder months of the year, I am susceptible to very dry, itchy skin and chapped lips. After years of trying the different specially formulated lotions and lip balms available on the market and ending up with disappointment (at the best) and a bad allergic reaction (at the worst), I started using natural, pure moisturizing ingredients. I enjoy playing with my collection, creating my own skin care products. Here are my go-to items:

  • Sweet almond oil: An excellent overall moisturizer. I use it as a massage oil, eye makeup remover, and facial moisturizer. We recently discovered that our cat also is a big fan of sweet almond oil and I often find her on the bathroom counter, licking the bottle. Since the bottle is usually hidden inside the cupboard, she goes to great lengths to try to lick the oil off my face!
  • Shea butter: The richest moisturizer of which I know. I slather it on my hands and feet at bedtime and wake up with incredibly soft skin.
  • Castor oil: I have to confess. I haven’t had a ‘real’ haircut in a salon in the past six months. I’m in the process of growing out a pixie cut and my hair is finally starting to resemble a short, layered bob. To keep those pesky short layers healthy in the process of patiently growing out my hair, I turn to castor oil for a deep conditioning treatment. After brushing my hair before bedtime, I work a small amount of the oil into my hair and massage my scalp. It’s not an attractive look, but I leave the oil on overnight and wash it off in the morning shower. Castor oil is not only a great ingredient for soft hair but also for soft skin. Instead of washing my hands after applying the hair treatment, I simply let it absorb. I have also, under the direction of my Naturopath, used castor oil in conjunction with a heat pad to relieve muscle cramps and other aches.
  • Essential oils: I love aromatherapy and the wonderful effect essential oils have on the nervous system. My favourite soothing oils are lavender and/or lavandin. I have a tiny bottle of pure lavender oil that Mr. Wanderlust and I purchased during a tour of a lavender factory in Provence more than nine years ago while on our honeymoon in the region. I use it sparingly, as just a drop of the oil goes a long way. I also enjoy fir needle oil, eucalyptus, peppermint, patchouli, sandalwood, geranium, and tea tree oil. I use these oils in conjunction with shea butter or sweet almond oil, adding them to my DIY scented moisturizer, massaging them into the soles of my feet at night, adding them to my bath, or simply using them as perfume. I stopped using conventional perfume years ago, replacing it with essential oils.

I use essential oils and a couple of basic kitchen ingredients to make a ‘universal cleaning spray’ for disinfecting everything from my yoga mat to the bathroom counter. I promise to share the simple recipe with you in an upcoming blog post.

A combination of coconut oil and shea butter makes an excellent moisturizer for the lips. About a year ago, I started to concoct my own lip balm using a few of my favourite clean and natural ingredients. I use it myself on a daily basis and gift it to others at Christmas to help us enjoy the winter season with healthy skin.

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DIY LIP BALM 

Ingredients:

  • 200 mL pure shea butter
  • 100 mL pure coconut oil
  • approximately 100 g pure beeswax
  • 5-6 drops of pure peppermint essential oil

Method:

1. Chop the beeswax and allow it to melt over a double boiler, stirring constantly using a metal spoon.

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2. When the beeswax is almost completely melted, add the shea butter and coconut oil. Continue to stir.

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3. Add the peppermint oil. Stir. Remove from heat.

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4. While the mixture is still hot, pour into small plastic containers, filling them about 3/4. I use plastic containers purchased at the local dollar store.

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5. Allow to cool completely before twisting on the lids. The balm should be solid.

6. Enjoy, and pop a few containers into Christmas stockings! One batch is enough to fill 10 containers.

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What are your favourite DIY skin care recipes? Have you found innovative ways to use oils? Please share them in the comments below.

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

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Necklace by Dharma Wanderlust. Click for more unique handmade jewellery by Mr. Wanderlust.

As I sat down at my computer to write this edition, I hesitated. How will this post be perceived? Will those who know me judge me harshly after reading the post? Will people understand? Then, I came across Joshua Rothman’s article Virginia Woolf’s Idea of Privacy in The New Yorker, and felt a jolt of confidence at the reminder that I’m not alone with the status of a loner. It also reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading Mrs. Dalloway in English 101 in the first year of undergrad, inspiring me to pick up the book again, soon.

A week ago, I drove alone to listen to Kate Morton speak and to meet her briefly while she signed my copy of The Lake House. I had invited my mother-in-law to join me, given that we both are devoted fans of Morton’s work. Since my mother-in-law was not available to join me at the event, to attend which she would have had to drive for over an hour, I went alone. Driving along dark rural roads, I listened to the new album by Enya while heeding the directions of the GPS. When I entered the charmingly decorated hall of the golf club, with Christmas lights and poinsettia sparkling festively, I snagged a solitary spot close to the front of the room at a round table full of women who arrived as a group. I learned many years ago that one advantage of attending events alone is that a solitary seat can almost always be found if not in the front row then in the second row of a crowded theatre or hall.

The lady beside whom I sat down asked me bluntly, “Did you come alone?”

“Yes,” I replied with a smile while removing my coat and draping it on the back of the chair.

“You must really like Kate Morton,” she said.

“I do.” Small smile. Simple. No unnecessary explanations or additional small talk.

I have always enjoyed my own company. I sometimes wonder whether it’s selfish to admit this fact. The truth is, spending time alone helps to nourish my soul in an honest manner that allows me to take better care of my loved ones.

At about five or six years of age, I started going to see children’s movies alone at the theatre across the street from the apartment building in which my parents and I lived. Sometimes, at the behest of my mom, I would reluctantly invite along my friend Pavlik, our neighbour from the fourth floor. I felt mildly annoyed every time he would turn to me during the movie to ask me a question or make a comment.

I remember getting puzzled looks from my friends’ parents who would offer me a ride home from school on a rainy day only to hear my answer: “Thanks, but I like walking alone in the rain.”

I enjoy eating alone in restaurants or hiding with a book in the cozy corner of a quaint cafe. I love visiting art galleries and museums alone. I need to be with my thoughts, to process certain experiences by myself and for myself, without feeling the need to speak with the people next to me or worry about whether they are enjoying the experience as much as I am. Of course, these days, I rarely have the opportunity to do the above, given my family and work schedule, but whenever possible, I do steal away a few hours for myself.

As Rothman quotes Woolf in The New Yorker, “There is a dignity in people; a solitude; even between husband and wife a gulf; and that one must respect … for one would not part with it oneself, or take it, against his will, from one’s husband, without losing one’s independence, one’s self-respect—something, after all, priceless.”

I love spending precious time with my family and friends. It’s healing to sit down with a person with whom I connect on an intimate level and have a real, honest, deep conversation that flows easily, devoid of banal gossip. I prefer to spend one-on-one time with my husband and close friends in a quiet environment that allows us to hear one another, rather than in a loud, crowded venue. Sometimes, it can feel great to attend a play together and discuss it at length afterward over a cup of tea. At other times, it feels just as great to attend a play alone.

Society expects us to want to be with others all the time, and when we deviate from that expectation, we are seen as odd. I’m not immune from that judgment. I still sometimes second-guess my confidence. Yet, it’s possible to be a happy loner and I’m convinced that there are many of us out here, quietly lurking in a café, scribbling contentedly in a notebook, relishing the experience of our own company.

Would you openly admit that you are at least a wee bit of a loner? How can we change the stigma that surrounds introverts and private people in today’s society? Please feel free to leave a comment below to add to the discussion.

If you know someone who would enjoy reading this blog, please share it with a friend.