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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)

 

Guest post by Mr. Wanderlust

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.

We are pleased to donate 20% of the sale of each item from our Sea Turtle Collection to Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

I usually work in the evenings after my 9-5 job, karate lessons, clean-up at home, and the Wanderlust Juniors’ bedtime, so there is not much time left before I myself have to head to bed. Still, I make the most of every spare minute.

 

Day 1:

Once I know what design I want, I choose the wood. I have a variety of wood in my collection, in all shapes and sizes. While some of the lumber I use is already cut to a specific suitable thickness, other wood comes in logs or blocks that have to be sliced (or ripped) with a bandsaw to achieve a workable thickness. For this particular piece, I chose to use Yellowheart.

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So many choices! Black Limba; Cocobolo; Wenge; Purpleheart, and Yellowheart. All our wood is obtained from sustainable sources. For every item sold, a tree is planted. We believe in giving back to the earth more than we take away.

This piece of wood was larger than I needed it to be, so I cut it into a workable piece slightly bigger than the final piece. The remaining wood was reserved for another project. No waste here!

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Seven holes were drilled and then it’s off to the scroll saw.

The thin blades of the scroll saw reciprocate up and down. I guided the wood onto a very thin blade and maneuvered it around to cut out the design. The blade I use is very thin (0.008 inches thick) and can break easily if the wood is pushed too hard or too fast against it. For each of the holes, the blade has to be dismounted, looped through the hole and remounted onto the scroll saw. The cutting here takes time, as the walls between the cut segments are thin and can break if one is not careful.

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Once the holes are cut out, the turtle shell starts to take place. Next, it’s time to glue on a backing and let it dry overnight.

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Day 2:

Once the backing is dry, I return to the scroll saw once more to cut the outside shape of the turtle.

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Next, I choose the inlay. Anything can be used as inlay, but I like to work with crushed stone, metal, glow-in-the-dark material, and crushed shell. For this pendant, I used crushed shell of different colours. I temporary blocked all the holes, leaving one exposed, and then carefully filled it with the inlay material. This process was repeated for the remaining holes, working one at a time. I then filled everything with a low-viscosity epoxy. Once the inlay is in, it’s time to let the inlay cure overnight.

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Day 3:

Once the inlay is solid, it’s time for the next stage: sanding, sanding, sanding and more sanding. For this, I used a variety of files, sanding pads and power sanding tools. Starting with 80 or 150 grit (depending on the density of the wood) and working up to up to 1500 grit makes the pendant smoother and smoother as it takes the final shape.

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In the middle of sanding at about 400 to 600 grit, I drilled the hole for the eye in which I placed the finding to which to attach the necklace chain or cord.

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Once the hole had been cut, I continued hand-sanding and shaping until the pendant was ready for the next step. Once satisfied with the sanding, I applied the first layer of natural oil onto the pendant. The oil slowly penetrates the wood and adds luster. I wiped off the excess after about an hour and left the rest to sit overnight.

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Days 4, 5, 6

Each day, I applied a coat of natural oils onto the surface and wiped the excess after letting it rest for at least an hour. This process is necessary to allow the oil to build up for a long and lasting shine. I need to wait about a day between layers, so this process adds time to the work. I do not coat my pendants with lacquers or any hard curing top-surface treatment because such treatments can wear off after the piece has been worn and handled. I like to keep the wood natural. I have noticed that the more I rub or handle the pendants coated with multiple layers of oil, the shinier they become over time.

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Patience! The pieces are awaiting the next layer of oil.

 

Day 7

Almost ready!

After about four (oh yes!) layers of natural oil, the pendant was buffed using a high-speed linen buffing wheel.

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I added the hardware and took a few photos of the finished piece before adding it to our website

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So there you have it. This is how a piece of wood is turned into a beautiful pendant in one week. I hope I have answered any questions you might have about how each piece is created.

If you have additional questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading,

Mr. Wanderlust (Pawel)

 

 

 

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Welcome to a bonus edition of Dharma Wanderlust Musings, with Mr. Wanderlust himself. You often hear about me, but not directly from me. Mrs. Wanderlust has kindly allowed me to borrow this space to tell you in my own words about a new project about which we are very excited: Sea Turtle Conservancy Collection.

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When we launched the Dharma Wanderlust shop several years ago, the primary goal was always to use our craft to give back to and enrich the community in any way possible. For me, this is done through woodworking. We not only obtain our wood from sustainable sources but also ensure that a tree is planted for every item sold. With that, we give back more to the planet than we take, thus ensuring the continuity of the beautiful trees that are so vital for the health of the earth.

As I observe our kids play in the sand on the beach in the summer, I remember how I used to frolic in the ocean waves as a child, watching fish and jellyfish float by. I would not want that beauty do disappear in the future. As I visit the seaside more and more with my family, I get influenced by what I see and am exposed to. Many of our recently created wooden items incorporate nautical elements or were influenced by water in one way or another.

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About 70% of our planet is water and we should try our best to keep it clean, not to over-exploit its resources and protect the creatures that live in the waters around the world, as we are all connected. We as humans might be at the top of the food chain but ultimately we rely on the tiniest phytoplankton and zooplankton at the bottom of the food chain for our ultimate survival as a species. Once the bottom falls out, there might be trouble ahead. We believe that all humans should become the shepherds of both land and sea and do what we can to keep Earth healthy and clean.

That’s why we are thrilled to be a cause-related partner of Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

For this partnership, we have created a special line of handmade sea turtle-themed items. For every sale of an item from the Sea Turtle collection, 20% will be donated directly to STC.

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We thank you in advance for your support.

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I started knitting a honeycomb stitch cowl neck (the pattern is free over here) in early December, using beautiful three-ply chunky wool yarn in a gorgeous raspberry shade that I purchased from a charming farm-based shop called The Philosopher’s Wool, located in Inverhuron, Ontario. We chanced upon the store while cruising around the countryside during our stay at a nearby cottage last summer. I love knitting cowls and have a small collection of them in my wardrobe. I keep coming back to them because a) they are quick to knit, b) fun, and c) can really showcase the yarn and the stitch used.

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I used to knit larger pieces and have a few favourite sweaters in my wardrobe that I made for myself. However, these days I prefer to knit accessories. The reasons for this are: a) a sweater would take me probably about a year to complete, since I don’t currently have enough time to dedicate to the activity and b) I’m working on making my wardrobe more minimal. From a practical perspective, I don’t need many hand-knitted sweaters, but I love to play up an otherwise grey, brown, and black outdoor winter wardrobe with splashes of colour and pretty accessories.

Since early December when I first started working on the cowl, having spent those 30-60 minutes per week on the project and completed it on March 8th, I would estimate that the project took me a total of eight hours to complete. This estimation is solely done for entertainment purposes, as I don’t usually count the number of hours a project requires. Instead, I choose interesting projects on which I enjoy working, and for which I can use gorgeous yarn.

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You may notice the pattern is for a longer cowl that can be wrapped around the neck twice. I chose to make it shorter, simply because I prefer shorter cowls that showcase the stitches. Since I used chunky three-ply wool, the stitch on my cowl is more open than in the original photo. I also used a cable needle to knit this piece, but you can get away with a third straight knitting needle, if you wish.

I’m curious… Do you have a project (and it doesn’t have to relate to knitting) to which you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate, yet you persist to work it into your schedule whenever possible? How do you stay motivated?

In other news…

Now that the weather is a bit warmer and spring is trying to make its way over the threshold, Pawel has been working in the garage workshop again, creating new pendants. This is the latest piece, to be added to our website within the next few days:

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Over the winter, Pawel has been daydreaming of sandy beaches, but since we haven’t had a chance to travel, he has been living vicariously through our travelling family members and friends. In lieu of the usual souvenirs — and sometimes alongside a few treats — they have been bringing back small samples of sand for us. Pawel has been taking macro photographs of the sand and creating a map of the sand’s origins.

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The sand project is a work-in-progress, so check back to see various new photographs of samples that Pawel will add to the site as he receives them from generous world travelers.

The early-morning darkness greets me as I rise and stretch into another day. It’s 5 a.m. and I slip quietly downstairs to feed the cats, swish some coconut oil in my mouth, and drink a tall glass of warm water with lemon before stepping onto my mat to say hello to the new day with yoga.

A few hours later, I am finally able to see the trees outside as the daylight makes its mellow appearance, becoming lazier with each passing day and deciding to sleep in. Some days, I follow suit, but I prefer to get to bed earlier. I have never been a night owl, unlike my partner in life and business.

Each day, with the illusive appearance of the sun somewhere behind the grey clouds, I notice the colourful leaves on the trees start to become sparse, with the strong northern wind whisking the fragile leaves right off the branches and with a mesmerizing, swirling, aggressive dance, leading them around on the dance floor, mid-air, before finally allowing them to land on the cold ground. Laying them to rest. Just like that. The grand finale. It’s a dramatic prelude to the dull, grey month of November that inevitably follows. It’s not a favourite of mine.

Too many goodbyes have been said in the recent weeks, and not all of them bittersweet. We continue to watch the world around us change, as some of the personal and private sinks deeper into a secret hideaway, while other hidden stories come to light. Can we retreat into our own quiet sanctuary while continuing to remind others of all the gifts we have to offer? It’s a delicate balance I’m trying to find, learning to trust, to acquiesce to the unknown while laying low, like the fallen leaves, trying to create warmth on the cold ground.

Acquiesce. Let go. Allow nature to take its course, as it inevitably will every time. For now, we say goodbye and look for the nuggets of joy in the transformational seasons of our lives. They’re in there. We just have to mine for them and continue to create warmth, leading with the heart, and digging a little deeper to invite the sunshine in from behind the clouds.

***

We have created beautiful autumn mementos for you:

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The maple leaves are made of Yellowheart (photo below) and Padauk (pictured above). We also have Purpleheart leaves available, but those are not shown here. The pieces are approximately 1 1/4 inches in height and 1.5 inches in width.

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We will add these items to our website within the next couple of days. So, check back soon and follow us on Facebook  or Twitter for frequent updates.

Stay warm and go with the flow,

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

 

“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life and activity; it affords protection to all beings.” – Buddhist Sutra

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What makes you feel alive? What brings out in you the vibrant spirit of innocence, inspiring you to leap in pure joy, to dance? The forest has always felt like home to me. I’ve been known to joke about having been born in the forest and magically teleported into my mom’s arms at the birthing centre. I remember the exact moment, in early childhood, when I first felt the calming effects of the trees, the mossy ground, the shimmering sunlight whispering down to me through the rustle of the leaves on the giant tress. I was about four or five years of age and, while enjoying a picnic under tall fir trees, my dad used a thick crown of moss nestled on the ripe earth to build a few houses that resembled The Shire. My imagination ran wild with images of witches and fairies peeking out from behind the doorways of the cozy inch-tall houses. Yet, I felt rooted, strong, peaceful and calm amidst my daydreams. To this day, I feel grounded in the forest like nowhere else. It literally is my happy place, my home.

I’m fortunate to have been born into a family that adores nature. Every weekend, until I was well into my teenage years, my parents would plan a family picnic for us, driving out to explore new hiking paths, trails, and lakes. It’s natural for children to love being outside, exploring freely, and I refuse to let it go. I don’t ever want to lose that love, and I strive to continue to cultivate the same passion for the outdoors in my children.

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Safety, comfort, and freedom. Child-like freedom that flickers from the soles of my feet, rising up within me, bringing out an indescribable enthusiasm. Bring me into a forest and I break out in dance, or get some yoga on, all with a melodic giggle born from the depth of my heart and a bright smile on my face.

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See what I mean?

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Yes!

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Nothing else makes me feel this rooted and at once, this fairy-light. The forest is my playground, and I don’t ever want to leave.

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And forest hikes make for a perfect date!

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Pawel and I most often bring the kids along on picnics, walks and other outdoor activities. But it’s important, especially to those who are sensitive to noise, to enjoy some silence (and fellow introvert parents will understand this well). Restaurant conversation with the background noise of music and the chatter of other diners just isn’t the same as a comforting hike among the wise trees, with the soothing whispers of the golden leaves atop their regal Autumn crowns. It had been too long since our last date just before my birthday in early August. Instead of our usual dinner-and-movie-style dates, we escaped to the woods yesterday. While I danced, practised a few poses, threw leaves, and giggled, giggled, giggled, Pawel laughed along with me (and probably at me) while experimenting with a fancy new lens he recently acquired for his Nikon.

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I’m grateful for my naturally talented photographer husband and creative partner, for my parents’ offer to babysit, and for the stunning late-autumn colours. I’m grateful for yoga, for October, for the magic of nature, moss, maple leaves, birch trees, abundant bird houses, and fairies.

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The beautiful maple leaves in and around our neighbourhood, as well as in the lush forests around us, inspired the creation of a few new maple leaf wooden pendants…

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We will add the new necklaces to our web store within the next week. Pawel used a few different types of wood to make these beauties.

Also, the third knitting video is on its way. We will post it within a few days.

Until then, leave a comment, subscribe, and share this blog with anyone you know who might enjoy following our creative adventures.

Wishing you a bright, kaleidoscopic last week of October,

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

I promised to teach you to knit. So, allow me to begin by sharing our first instructional knitting video in a series of three. In this week’s video, I provide you with a quick tip for choosing the perfect yarn for your first project, show you my favourite cast-on method and teach you the basic knit stitch using the Continental method of knitting. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment below.

In the second video, to be released on Oct. 17th, I will show you the purl stitch, the lovely sister of the knit stitch. In the first video of the series, to be released on Oct. 24th, I will show you a few variations with the knit and purl stitches, to allow you to play and practice, and teach you how to cast off your first project. To be the first to receive an update in your email inbox as soon as the video is released, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Over the past weekend, unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to spend much time on my knitting projects. That was the case for a couple of reasons: (1) Thanksgiving dinner and (2) preparing for an upcoming craft show.

We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Usually, Pawel’s parents host the dinner at their home, but I decided to take on the pleasure this year. I realized this weekend that it was a good decision, as our younger child was feeling under the weather and we wanted to stay close to home, instead of having to drive for 45 minutes there and back.

In any case, our family in Canada is small, and since my parents had a prior commitment and my sister celebrated Thanksgiving with her partner’s family, it was just the four of us, Pawel’s parents, and Pawel’s sister.

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We had a lovely dinner for seven people, if I do say so myself. 😉 Here are the photos of the dishes I prepared:

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Butternut squash, pumpkin and cranberry soup. The cranberries were an intuitive last-minute addition to the soup and I must say, the tart fresh cranberries mingled well with the sweet taste of the pumpkin and squash.

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Field greens salad with apples and fennel, with a dressing that I whipped up intuitively. The secret ingredient was raw honey.

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Roasted harvest vegetables.

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Roasted brussel sprouts. These are a favourite of mine and I could eat them as a snack anyday! If you have never tried roasting brussel sprouts, simply toss washed and halved brussel sprouts (with the core trimmed and the outer leaves removed) with EVOO or coconut oil and sea salt. Spread them evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F, turning them once after the first 15 minutes. If you are a fan of kale chips, you will probably like this dish.

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Slow-cooked lamb roast with cranberry sauce on the side. My mother-in-law always prepares turkey for Thanksgiving, and although we love it, I wasn’t in the mood for turkey this year. Lamb is a big favourite of ours and the cranberry sauce paired beautifully with it.

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And of course, apple and cranberry pie for dessert. Although I love pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, and make great pumpkin spice muffins, I have never enjoyed pumpkin pie. It’s just not my favourite. Instead, we go for apples and cranberries in this delicate flaky pastry.

You may be wondering about whether I followed my usual Ayurvedic eating and food combination rules with this meal. The answer is no, because I do believe that it’s okay to venture off our usual path every once in a while. Instead, I focused on cooking and baking with love and chose the best ingredients while allowing my intuition to guide me to play with a few flavour combinations. The result was a good one for our taste buds and for our bellies.

And now, we’re back to preparing for the Made by Hand Show, to be held next weekend in Mississauga. We will showcase several items that have never been featured on our website.

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We have new inlaid pendants for you.

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And earrings!

Come see us on Oct. 18th and 19th at booth 110.

Wishing you a great week!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

 

 

It all started with a creative writing exercise during which I was asked to write a vignette about my hair. Sitting at my sewing machine table that doubles as a writing desk, I smiled to myself as I typed the first words of my personal hair story. Here was a Pandora’s box, opened wide. At the time of writing the story, I was determined to let my hair grow. I wasn’t going to touch it until mid-December, when I was planning to return to a salon for a simple trim that would keep me looking presentable and avoid the awkward in-between stage that is inevitable with the growing out of hair. For a reminder of how my hair looked a week ago, refer back to last week’s post.

My hair and I have been the best of friends and we have been sworn enemies. A few times, I painstakingly grew my hair long only to get bored with it, walk into a salon and confidently say to a stunned hairstylist standing behind me and facing me in the mirror, “Just chop it off!” Okay, maybe my words weren’t as bold. Instead, I would sigh and say, demurely, “I think I want to go short again.” It feels liberating to have the old hair drift onto the sleek hardwood floor. There is something akin to a feeling of true pleasure as I would take a deep breath, look at my reflection in the mirror and realize how fantastic my hair looks. After each dramatic transformation, it looked — and felt — like a different person was gazing back at me. I would walk out of the salon, standing a bit taller, and catch myself constantly bringing my hand up to my freshly cut hair to play with my new short style.

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The last time my hair was long, in September 2011. This photo was taken in San Francisco.

And then, I would get bored with it. Suddenly, everywhere around me were images of gorgeous women with luscious long locks. Long hair envy. That’s what it is. Likewise, after years of growing my hair, I would get that old familiar pang upon seeing a pretty gamine pixie cut on someone who looks perfectly chic. I would turn to the person next to me (usually Pawel) and say, “Oh, I really want to get my hair cut short again.”

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This is what my hair looked like on most days, as I would wear it tied back in a bun. Nothing to write home about.

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And one more photo from that SF trip, just because I’m feeling nostalgic. See what I mean? Boring, pulled-back hair.

Each journey to growing my hair has been long and arduous, taking years. My first short haircut, in 2004, was inspired by Meg Ryan’s hair in You’ve Got Mail. In 2008, I decided to get a chin-length cut on a whim. Unfortunately, I went to a terrible new salon and the hairstylist was a bit over-enthusiastic when I told her I’m comfortable with having my hair cut short, so I ended up with a shorter style than I had expected to see. Nevertheless, I loved it. And in 2011, I did it again with an inverted bob, donating 10 inches of my hair to be made into a wig. Since then, I have been attempting to grow it, only to get bored with it once my hair reached a shoulder-length bob style.

Long hair is easy to hide on a bad day when we don’t have much time to style it. On most days, I would wear my hair in a ponytail or wrapped in a bun. Short hair is practically impossible to hide, especially on a humid summer day when I leave the yoga studio following a sweaty class looking every bit like a mad scientist, with curls sticking out in every direction. And yet, short hair is easier to style and looks fabulous with a great cut. So, what to choose? That was my embarrassing inner dialogue, and yes, I will confess — blushing all the while — to thinking about my hair too frequently, obsessively.

So, I decided to step into my grown-up shoes and make a decision about my in-between hair. I called the salon and booked an appointment.

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Et voila! The result is a pixie cut that I personally am very happy with.

So, I will keep my hair short for the next while and enjoy it to a hilt (an expression that I will shamelessly confess to have adopted from Audrey Hepburn). Thankfully, Pawel has gotten accustomed to my hair antics and is no longer shocked by my inch-long hair. At the end of the day, it’s just hair and I love to feel great.

***

Last week, we shared with you a recipe for our butternut squash and apple soup. This week, the apple theme continues…

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While I was growing up, my mom, who is an excellent chef but doesn’t enjoy baking all that much, would sometimes get the baking bug and make a rustic apple cake. She passed on the recipe to me, and it’s actually a simple traditional Russian recipe for an apple cake that goes beautifully with tea on a chilly Autumn evening. We made a few substitutions to the original ingredients.

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APPLE CAKE

Ingredients:

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2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup coconut sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk (almond milk would also be great in this recipe)

1/2 cup butter, melted (feel free to use coconut oil)

3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (be sure to use tart apples that will remain firm while baking)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Melt the butter in a saucepan and use a small amount of the butter to grease a baking pan (we used a pan that is 8 by 10 inches in size).

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2. Whisk the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon in a bowl.

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3. Whisk the eggs, milk and melted butter together in a separate bowl.

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4. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then, stir in the chopped apples.

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5. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake on the middle rack for approximately 30 minutes or until the cake appears golden-brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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6. Allow the cake to cool. Slice and serve with a cup of your favourite tea.

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Enjoy!

***

Over the past weekend, Pawel finished this beautiful piece, inspired by the goddess Pele.

Pele

Both Pawel and I are big fans of mythology from different places around the world. The story of the Volcano goddess Pele is truly fascinating. And really, who isn’t interested in the magic of volcanoes? Right?

Do you have a story about your hair that you would like to share with us? How about a favourite recipe that features apples? Or, you can simply let us know what you think of the Pele piece, or any other material from this week’s blog post.

Have a great week!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

In Southern Ontario, Autumn is in full swing. And we love it. Unfortunately, like many of our friends, we have also been affected by the cold virus. That’s something that can happen with the changing of the seasons.

Now that we are mostly feeling better, we have been going outside every day to enjoy the changing landscape and enjoy the crisp chill in the air. Apple-picking is a favourite fall activity for our family. The boys always get a thrill out of running through the orchard and choosing the juiciest apples they can find. So, on Sunday, we dressed warmly and headed to our favourite organic orchard to pick apples.

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Upon returning home with our delicious bounty, I was filled with inspiration to get in the kitchen and cook something seasonal and heart-warming. More on that below.

In Ayurveda, the fall season is governed by Vata, which is composed of ether and air. It’s no surprise that for many of us, this season also signifies the start of the cold virus. The lazy, lingering summer days are rarely strictly structured, keeping us up late at night and encouraging us to take cat naps in the hot and hazy afternoons. The following fall season signifies a complete change in energy. Suddenly, everything moves faster as we try to get back to our regular routine, sometimes anxiously struggling to keep up. This sudden change in routine can be incredibly stressful for the body and the mind.

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As someone with a dominant Vata dosha and a bit of Pitta, I love the fall season for the relief it provides from the humid and hot summer days. However, I get cold very quickly and when it seems to me like most people around me are walking around in September with short-sleeved t-shirts on, I can be seen wearing a cozy sweater. I no longer feel self-conscious about this. I do what I need to do to take care of myself.

What else do I do to take care of myself, following the lessons of Ayurveda for the Vata season? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll share with you what I do, and please feel free to borrow these ideas for your own self-care, particularly if your constitution is mostly Vata.

I go to sleep between 9 and 10 p.m. every night and wake up at 5 a.m. This ensures that I get 7-8 hours of sleep on most nights. In the morning, after oil pulling and brushing my teeth, I drink a tall glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice and then exercise for an hour (yoga, cardio, pilates, or weights). After I shower, I do an oil massage before sitting down to have breakfast.

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I eat at approximately the same times every day: breakfast at 7:30 a.m.; lunch at 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.; dinner at 5-5:30 p.m. I consume a lot of healthy oils (avocado, coconut oil, EVOO) and hot, unctuous, mostly liquid foods such as steel-cut oats with cooked apples and cinnamon, soup, vegetable stews, etc. I still eat my greens (kale and spinach are great), but I either sprinkle the leaves on a hot bowl of stew/soup or consume a salad massaged with a lot of oil (see above) immediately prior to eating my soup/stew. I eat cooked/roasted root vegetables with — again — lots of oil. Why is oil consumption so important? The air and ether qualities of Vata mean that during this season, we have a tendency to feel dryness. We need the moisture, both on the surface of the skin and on the inside of the body.

If you, like I do, eat meat occasionally, I would suggest eating salad (at room temperature), followed by lean meat at lunchtime. Our digestion is strongest from 10 a.m. to 1-2 p.m. As such, my substantial meals are breakfast and lunch. Dinner for me is small and simple. Usually, I will have a bowl of soup with a toast of sprouted grains topped with avocado and sea salt. Eating dinner before the sun sets is also ideal, because our digestive system slows down after sundown. Of course, since the sun starts to set earlier these days, it’s best to try to eat dinner at around 5 p.m., if possible.

Interested in additional information on self-care during this season? I love this website and use it frequently as a great resource.

So, to summarize, this is a time to sloooooow down and get grounded, luxuriate under warm blankets, eat grounding food with healthy oil, and get plenty of rest. What about exercise? That, too, should be more grounding at this time. Long walks are excellent, as is a yoga practice with slow, deliberate Vinyasa and standing/balance postures held for a few long breaths. Restorative yoga is excellent right now.

A couple of years ago, shortly after our younger son was born, I felt I needed to get outside and move, but I also craved rest and relaxation to get me through the long days of taking care of our two children. And no, that pattern has not changed. Here is a video I made during that time, a how-to of one of my favourite restorative yoga postures, Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose):

Feel free to use a few blankets and cushions in lieu of the bolsters and blocks, if you do not have those at home. Relax and breathe in the pose for about 10-15 minutes.

So, back to the weekend… Here is what I cooked using butternut squash and the beautiful apples we picked on Sunday:

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP

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We started with a few basic ingredients:

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Then, we chopped the onion and sauteed it with ghee while continuing with the preparation of our apples and butternut squash…

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We reserved the butternut squash seeds and roasted them later on a baking sheet at 300F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t add any oil or sea salt to the seeds this time, but that’s a great option, if it’s the way you like your pumpkin/squash seeds.

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Cook the squash and onions in a large soup pot, and then add the apples, a teaspoon of sea salt, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground turmeric.

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Add enough distilled water to cover the chopped squash and apple, and then top with another 3-4 inches of water. You can use vegetable stock in lieu of the water.

Bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is completely tender. Allow to cool a bit before using a blender to create a smooth consistency:

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Yes, our soup was steaming hot while we blended it, simply because we were hungry and our children kept asking when dinner was going to be served. I would highly recommend allowing the soup to cool before blending it.

To serve, we sprinkled the soup with cinnamon, but those roasted seeds were also great. We garnished the soup with the seeds for dinner the following day.

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The ingredients:

1 tbsp ghee (coconut oil or butter can also be used)

1 medium-sized white or yellow onion

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped, with the seeds reserved for roasting

2 apples (choose firm, tart apples that will hold well together during the cooking process)

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Enough water to cover the chopped squash and apples, plus 3-4 inches on top. An alternative is to add vegetable stock.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

***

Our final update is regarding our latest product finishes. We are preparing for the Made by Hand Show and creating new, unique, interesting pendants for you.

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Knitting-inspired pendant, made of Purpleheart wood and crushed shell inlay.

sup red amboyna burl

SUP-inspired pendant, made of Red Amboyna Burl, with turquoise inlay.

mantis purple heart

We do like insects! Praying mantis pendant, made of Purpleheart wood with crushed shell inlay.

As always, please leave a comment to let us know what you think of our new products, this week’s recipe, yoga pose, or about whether you enjoy the fall season as much as we do. If you did take the Dosha quiz (link above), let us know what your Dosha is and how you cope with weather changes.

Until next time, enjoy the week!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

 

 

July and August are our favourite months of the summer season. Yet, there is that certain something about August, specifically. Perhaps it’s the reminder that the warm, lazy weeks of summer are numbered before the autumn breeze starts to make its appearance, with the turning leaves, inspiring us all to run out and buy new pencils, notebooks, and start new projects. Until then, we remind ourselves to cherish these fast-moving days and make special memories with the people we love.

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We recently returned from a week-long getaway with the kids to Kincardine, Ontario. We spent our days visiting a few other small towns and the beaches along the shore of Lake Huron. And of course, we loved the countless hours of playing on the waves, some outdoor yoga, and evenings spent by the firepit.

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Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become one of our favourite summer activities. Although we are still working to keep a steady balance on the waves, we prefer calm waters for now. Thanks to Pawel’s parents, who stayed with us for the first couple of days and generously offered to watch the kids, we didn’t miss our chance to get on the boards to enjoy the spectacular sunset, as well as the sunrise the following morning.

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Now that we are back (and missing the beach immensely), we have been stirred by views of the charming lighthouses and beautiful seashells to create nautical-themed jewellery pieces.

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Here are the first few designs:

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We will add these pieces to our website within the next few weeks. So, stay tuned for updates! We will publish our blog once a week, on Tuesdays. To ensure that you do not miss any updates, please take a moment to subscribe to our blog. Also, ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for additional updates. In the meantime, we hope you also will have a chance to get outside and enjoy these precious days, regardless of the weather.

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