My grandmother is and always has been a talented knitter. She also used to crochet, cook marvelous meals and bake desserts from scratch while conserving every last little morsel of each ingredient and putting it to good use in feeding our family. Seated in the living room and reading books or watching a favourite cartoon, I used to observe in fascination her long fingers as they moved elegantly on the two needles that clicked almost melodically, all the while producing an intricate pattern out of a mere strand of woolen yarn, creating sweaters to keep us warm through the winter season. Enchanted with this magical, alchemical process, I begged her to teach me to knit. And so, on a cold afternoon in early January, my grandmother sat down with impatient five-year-old me, attempting to teach me the knit stitch using the Continental method. That episode ended in tears, but I never gave up.

DSCN3586

Necklace handcrafted by Mr. Wanderlust.

Two years later, after moving to live in a different country with my parents and sister, I walked into a local stationery store that also stocked a small selection of needles and yarn on a demure shelf. Immediately, I was seized with longing memories of my Babushka, and my mom purchased the materials for me: red acrylic yarn and golden metallic 8 mm needles. I continued to practise every day, or whenever I missed my dear grandmother. When she visited us, three years later, I was ready for her to teach me the purl stitch and continued to make and unravel simple scarves for the next few years, whenever Nostalgia paid a visit to me. Those scarves were peppered with missed stitches and other blatant errors in spots where I should have purled instead of knitting. Having tried numerous times and become frustrated with the cast-on method Babushka taught me, I created my own cast-on technique; although it wasn’t the easiest technique, at the time, it served its purpose and allowed me to start making yet another red acrylic scarf.

DSCN5251

We moved once more since then, and many years later, while in undergrad, I discovered that knitting had somehow become a chic hobby. I became a bit bolder in telling my peers that knitting is one of my hobbies. With a skip in my step, I returned home from several shopping trips to the bookstore, giddy about learning new techniques from the ‘how to’ books, ready to move beyond making scarves using dollar store acrylic yarn. I continue to refer to those books for tips on stitches and techniques that remind me that, although I may be an intermediate-level knitter, I’m still a beginner in some respect. I’m comfortable with that notion.

Today, in-between work and family responsibilities, I am fortunate to spend just 30 minutes per week with my yarn and needles, usually while watching a family movie with Wanderlust Juniors. I hope that for my children, the scarves and hats I make for them will continue to keep them not only warm in the snowy winter months but will also remind them that love often shows up in the smallest details, in the finest stitches. Love is spherical, moving beyond time and generations, knitting together stories and memories that culminate in one special piece gifted selflessly to someone special. To me, that is the definition of magic.

Do you knit? How did you learn? Please share your story by leaving a comment, below. Thank you, also, for sharing this blog with a friend! 

DSCN4019

Keeping: Lego. Please read the text for an explanation.

Last year, we launched a minimalism project in our home. It’s still going strong today. I am not a proponent of labels of any kind, and I would not be quick to describe myself as a minimalist. My definition of minimalism might be different from the definition of someone who lives in a white-walled studio apartment with three pieces of sleek modern furniture in the living room and two pieces of cookware in his kitchen. Our home is far from looking like Bea Johnson’s, though I admire her style and will continue to borrow tips from her. To me, minimalism is a concept that is as unique as the person who chooses to subscribe to its lifestyle. Does our home look empty? No. Wanderlust Juniors’ Lego collection continues to grow with each birthday and Christmas, to my chagrin. I continue to remind myself that sometimes, simplifying doesn’t only mean detoxifying our home of material objects; more often, detoxifying means cultivating an attitude of equanimity toward the clutter of my loved ones.

We continue to work toward detoxifying our home and have found that, although it becomes a natural process after the first big cleanup operation, it is a constant work in progress to discern what we want to keep in our home and what must go. I created a list of items that we have discarded and those that we have kept following our big cleanup:

 

What we discarded:

Books and magazines

I used to collect yoga, fitness and nutrition magazines, keeping them for the myriad articles to which I was sure I would refer over and over again. In truth, there were a few useful recipes and tips in the magazines, but not enough to warrant holding onto the growing stacks that took up space in the basement. I took photographs of interesting articles or recipes and saved them on my computer’s hard drive. I also used to purchase cookbooks. Although I did enjoy perusing the books in search of tips and recipe ideas, overtime, I created my own repertoire of recipes to which I continue to return. If I do need to find a new recipe, I use good old Google. I have donated or gifted the cookbooks. With regard to fiction and non-fiction books, I have kept the classics, as well as other favourite books that I enjoy re-reading. I choose to keep the books that I look forward to sharing with my children. For those of you wondering, I do read on the Kindle sometimes, but prefer printed books. Mr. Wanderlust’s library mainly consists of non-fiction books on geography, history, philosophy, and comparative mythology.

Children’s art work

I’m one of the millions of moms who feel a pang in their chests at the mere thought of throwing out their children’s art work. I still feel that pang from time to time, but have learned to deal with it in a pragmatic yet sentimental way that suits our family. I choose a few art pieces that are special to my children and/or to me and Mr. Wanderlust, and we keep those in a box. I take photographs of the majority of the artwork and email them to an address I have set up for Wanderlust Juniors. In those emails, I also provide updates for the boys on their latest interests and challenges. It’s my hope that when they will be older, my children will enjoy the trip down memory lane with this extensive documentation, and will cherish the several ‘favourite’ original works of art that we keep carefully tucked away.

Clothing, makeup and skin care products

I have a simple rule: Whenever I purchase an item of clothing, I discard a similar worn item. This means that I only purchase shoes when the current pair I have starts to look shabby. This rule applies not only to my wardrobe but to the wardrobes of Mr. Wanderlust and Wanderlust Juniors. I purchase clothes for the children twice a year, on average, and replenish their clothes as they outgrow them. I should also mention that I only purchase makeup items or my basic skin care products (if you’re wondering, those skin care products are sweet almond oil, cocoa or shea butter, baby lotion, and J.R. Watkins hand cream) when the tube or bottle is almost empty.

Single-use kitchen gadgets

Several years ago, I purchased a cake pop maker. I used it a handful of times before tossing it into the back of a cupboard. I used to bake our own bread in a bread machine until I realized that I prefer a special type of bread that I purchase at the local grocery store and haven’t been able to recreate at home. We have donated the bread machine and sold the cake pop maker via a local buy-and-sell Facebook group to a father who wanted to spend some time baking with his daughter. If I want to bake bread at home, I can always spend some time kneading it by hand and bake it in the oven. Or, I could use our stand mixer.

What we kept:

Favourite mixer

I enjoy baking. Immensely. Although I could stand in the kitchen while furiously working out the forearm muscles of my right arm while whisking batter, I choose instead to use that time helping Wanderlust Juniors crack eggs or grease the baking sheet for the cookies. Our orange Kitchen Aid mixer is lovely and we use it for everything, including kneading dough for bread and cinnamon buns. For now, we have no plans to discard it.

Photo albums and journals

I do not enjoy looking at photographs on the computer. In my old-fashioned way, I love scrapbooking and documenting our family adventures with little notes and (yes) stickers. Wanderlust Juniors and I spend a long time studying the photographs while seated on the living room sofa, laughing together while sharing stories, learning about one another’s unique perspective of the memories we built together. For that reason, I continue to print photographs, and although this contributes to the growing number of photo albums in our home, those albums are worth all the moments of bonding that they allow us to create.

I have kept a journal since I was in my early teens and started to discover a love of writing. I use my journal for everything from recording insights, inspiring quotes, stories, planning vacations, and planning weekly menus. My journal is my personal, private version of a Pinterest board.

Pretty dishes

I will preface this paragraph by explaining that I do not have many fancy dishes that I keep for the special times when we have company for dinner. However, I do keep an extra set of dishes for those occasions. I’m referring here to a special set of cappuccino cups and saucers, espresso cups and saucers, a set of fine tea china, and cut crystal glasses that we have inherited from our families. We enjoy this small collection and it’s special to us. Most importantly, it brings us joy. Will we buy additional items to contribute to the existing ones? No way.

Travel souvenirs and gifts

Before we settled down and had Wanderlust Juniors, Mr. Wanderlust and I used to collect travel souvenirs everywhere we went. We have acquired enough of them to fill a few small shelves. Those shelves are also occupied by gift souvenirs brought to us by friends and family members upon returning from their world travels. The items themselves are meaningless, but the stories they contain allow our house to feel like our home, reminding us of our journeys and values. These days when we travel, we abstain from purchasing souvenirs, or buy only the ones that we truly want to have, and preferably ones we can use, instead of admiring them on a shelf.

Knitting yarn and needlework projects

DSCN4016

Also keeping: a few favourite items that I knit for Wanderlust Juniors.

I will confess that I used to collect yarn. Knitters tend to be notorious collectors, and it’s logical. We know the great value of good-quality yarn and we search for bargains that we refuse to pass up. However, when I realized that my yarn collection – a relatively small one when compared to the collections of many fellow knitters – had to be cramped into the small cabinet in which it’s stored, I knew something had to change. I stopped buying yarn. Just. Like. That. These days, I use the yarn I have for the projects on which I’m working. I no longer rush to finish a project in order to start another one, nor do I have several projects on the go at any one time. I knit fast, but in short increments of time. This is due both to my work schedule and commitments at home. If I pass by a pretty yarn shop into which an invisible and undeniable force lures me, I walk into it as I would into a museum. Oh, it’s difficult to resist reaching out to touch the soft, candy-coloured fibres, and sometimes I give in. Then, acknowledging that I don’t need to buy new yarn, I walk out of the store. In case you’re wondering, I also avoid walking into clothing stores in order to browse. It helps that I don’t enjoy shopping and despise the mere idea of walking into the typical mall.

The bottom line:

I don’t believe that the goal of minimalism is to discard every trinket in our homes until we are left with the bare necessities. I do believe in creating a home that feels comfortable and reflects the lifestyle of the family that occupies its space. A lifestyle of minimalism is the opposite of a lifestyle of over-consumption of food, technology, and various other resources. Minimalism is about practising awareness with each decision, with the ultimate goal of creating a lifestyle of ease and simplicity.

Would you like to leave a comment regarding your own interpretation of minimalism, or your criteria for what you choose to keep or discard? Please do so in the space below.

Do you know someone who might enjoy reading this blog? Please share it with a friend via email or social media!

NY1

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.”

NY5

 

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.”

NY4

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.”

NY6

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.”

NY2

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.”

NY7

See you in 2016!

Warmly,

Katia and Pawel (Mr. and Mrs. Wanderlust)

 

DSCN0085

Interesting Links:

The Power of Empathetic Thought (Goop.com)

“On a more personal level, I think we need to move beyond the emotionally illiterate world of online “like” buttons. If you see, via Facebook or other platforms, that a friend has done something interesting or has gone through something tough, like a family death, don’t just “like” their post or write a one-line comment. Phone them or Skype them and have a real human interaction.”

On personality, emotional labor, and surviving the holidays (Modern Mrs. Darcy)

In the podcast, Cain explains that introverts can be extremely, genuinely social—even for long periods of time—and enjoy being so. But for true introverts, putting on this extroverted front over a period of days or weeks is exhausting.

This phenomenon has a name: it’s called “emotional labor,” and it’s what you experience any time you project (or, to put it not-so-nicely, fake) an emotion or attitude that doesn’t come easily.”

Brene Brown: The Anatomy of Trust (Supersoul.tv)

“Trust is built in the smallest of moments.”

A very powerful talk about cultivating self-love and self-respect in order to build trusting connections with others.

Another quote from the speech that truly struck me: “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves but say ‘I love you.'” (Maya Angelou)

Nov29a

My most recent quick knitting project, completed in about an hour yesterday, enjoying a cozy spot on the small Christmas tree decorated by Wanderlust Juniors.

Current Listening Material:

Enya – Dark Sky Island

I have been a big fan of Enya’s music since I first heard The Celts in the early 90s. Enya’s music continues to accompany me through joyful times and difficult situations. Most recently, while saying goodbye to our cat Meeshu, the veterinary clinic played The Celts album in the room where Meeshu and I shared a few final moments together. I am delighted with the new album and glad to find the music consistent with Enya’s previous material.

Enya – And Winter Came

This is a Christmas season staple for me.

Loreena McKennitt is another of my favourite musicians and this is a beautiful collection of older, traditional Christmas songs.
Nov29b
Currently on My Nightstand:
DSCN0016

Enjoying the beautiful Christmas Market in Toronto last weekend.

Not at my desk, not with my quill, and not really writing; while visiting a museum three months ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pretend to write in this cozy spot.

It had been a while since I wrote in my journal. I’m not referring to simply writing about what is new and exciting in my life at the given moment but about delving deeper, digging beneath the layers, stripping away the building blocks. The stream-of-consciousness style of writing taught by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way is the type of exercise that can send many running for the hills. Yet, once we start, without weaving any drama around the exercise itself and the potential results, the experience can be surprisingly enjoyable and possibly even transforming.

In Paris Letters, Janice MacLeod shares her own experience with journalling as inspired by The Artist’s Way, leading to a big question and a resulting breakthrough. I’m not one for spoilers; to learn more about the breakthrough, you’ll have to read the book.

And so, without expectations or a specific agenda, I return to stream-of-consciousness journalling. The results surprise me as I read back. Some pages are filled with gratitude notes. On other days, the ramblings are banal and choppy. None of that matters. The practice itself is therapeutic, healing, meditative. More and more, I infuse my daily life with the same energy that accompanies me on the yoga mat at 5:30 in the morning. It comes without surprise to find that my hobbies in and of themselves undulate and weave, allowing me to stay curious while focusing my mind, connecting with my thoughts and watching the stories unfold. Knitting, journalling, lunchtime walks, and reading to Wanderlust Juniors have become to me another form of yoga, reminding me to keep just enough control to stay present, but at the same moment, reminding me to release into the experience, to allow someone else to hold the anchor and steer.

Journalling for analysis used to be my focus. My ego shaped my interpretation of the story. In as much as it can be highly enjoyable to analyze, to investigate the various points of view, and to deduce conclusions, these days, I prefer to experience by witnessing the story unfold. I cherish the reminder to let go of judgment, to allow myself to sit with my feelings, whatever they may be, to soften and keep going with the flow. I hear the voices of my teachers asking me, Where can you let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? The stories will continue to unfold, and I permit them to do just that.

What about you? Where can YOU let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? Do you have a regular journalling practice? I would love to read about your evolving experience with this exercise.

Are you enjoying this blog? Please share it with a friend. 

DSCN6679

My turn to share! Here are two articles I read and enjoyed last week:

This Column Will Change Your Life: Morning Pages 

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at how powerful Morning Pages proved, from day one, at calming anxieties, producing insights and resolving dilemmas. After all, the psychological benefits of externalising thoughts via journalling are well-established. And that bleary-eyed morning time has been shown to be associated with more creative thinking: with the brain’s inhibitory processes still weak, “A-ha!” moments come more readily.’

How to Get Better at Expressing Emotions

‘Emotional intelligence is a skill, and some people are better at recognizing and communicating emotions than others. Among the Big Five personality traits—openness, extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism—several studies have found that people high in extroversion tend to have higher emotional expressiveness, while people high in neuroticism tend to be less expressive.

Like other skills, the ability to communicate feelings can be strengthened through practice, and a big part of it is first recognizing the emotions you’re having, as well as what’s causing them.’

DSCN8852

Outfit version No. 1 of many. The possibilities are (almost) limitless.

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.

Here is my core office wardrobe for October-December:

–       1 pair of black leggings

–       2 pairs of boot-cut black trousers

–       1 black pencil skirt

–       1 tweed pencil skirt

–       4 ¾-length sweaters

–       1 green sparkly vest that I finished knitting two years ago

–       1 grey chunky vest that I finished knitting three years ago

–       1 white button-down shirt

–       1 white button-down tunic shirt

–       1 dark fabric tunic shirt

–       1 black knit tunic vest

–       5 short-sleeved cotton / knit sleeveless and short-sleeved t-shirts: blue; white/blue; pale green; navy knit top; navy cotton t-shirt with crochet detail

–       1 long blue, open-front cardigan

–       1 black bolero open-front cardigan

–       1 beige boyfriend cardigan

–       1 beige sparkly open-front cardigan

Footwear:

–       3 pairs of flat black shoes

–       1 pair black pumps

–       1 pair black wedge pumps

–       1 pair low-heeled black boots

Outerwear:

–       1 waist-length brown leather jacket that I have had for the past seven years

–       1 knee-length brown leather coat that I purchased three years ago

Altogether, these 32 items will continue to comprise my work wardrobe until mid-December.

DSCN8850

NOTE: I do love my black shoes and black and beige cardigans, for several reasons. I love to have fun with clothes, but I’m also practical. This is because I don’t enjoy shopping. When I do spend money, I pay for timeless, quality pieces that I can wear for many years to come. Black shoes pair easily with any outfit. It’s not as easy to match brown shoes to an outfit, and I end up wearing brown shoes very seldom; the rest of the time, they take up space in my closet. I also like cardigans because they are comfortable and allow me to easily change my outfit, depending on the t-shirt, blouse, belt, and/or scarf with which I choose to pair the cardigan. Notwithstanding my love of bright colours, I would not spend money on a pair of bright pink shoes. However, I get a kick out of pairing bright colours with neutrals. Oh, and I do own a pink leather belt that I love, but it was a gift from my mom.

Here are a few details to keep in mind:

I purchased several new items to renew my wardrobe for the season. My No. 1 golden rule when it comes to shopping while keeping my wardrobe under control is the ‘one in, one out’ rule. If and when I acquire a new piece of clothing (and this includes items gifted to me), I give away an equivalent older piece. This allows me to ensure that I never have too many clothes.

Items not included in the list but worn on a regular basis are yoga clothes (worn to the studio for teaching and practising), undergarments, socks, hosiery, sleepwear, and clothes worn at home. I also did not include in the list casual outfits that I wear on weekends. These are comprised of my two favourite pairs of jeans; casual sweaters and t-shirts; a cozy vest for layering over sweaters; and casual boots, of which I have two pairs – black rubber rain boots and brown calf boots.

Jewellery: In addition to my favourite Dharma Wanderlust jewellery, I have a collection of favourite sterling silver and amber that have been gifted to me by Mr. Wanderlust and / or his parents after trips to Poland. I enjoy pairing my outfits with favourite timeless pieces of jewellery and this does not change much from one season to the next.

Scarves: Over the past 10 years, I have acquired a collection of as many scarves and cowls. I have a bit of a mania for cowls and enjoy knitting them. In fact, I finished knitting a new one just two days ago! I recently put an end to scarf-collecting in an effort to eliminate decision fatigue. The scarves I have kept are my favourites and I enjoy wearing them to accessorize my work outfits, as well as to keep my neck and chest warm in the autumn breeze.

DSCN8859

The cowl I made a two nights ago, fresh off the needles. It’s currently being blocked into its permanent shape.

Purses: I have several purses that I use seasonally. Generally, I use one larger purse for work and a small cross-body purse on weekends. I have two evening purses that I use on special occasions. My total purse count is seven. As usual, I do not plan to purchase a new purse until one of my current ones begins to look shabby.

Special pieces: As a knitter, I look forward to the opportunity autumn provides for wearing the sweaters, mittens, scarves, and hats that I have made for myself. I don’t count these items in my core wardrobe. Instead, I think of them as special occasion pieces that I wear to dress up an outfit from time to time, depending on the occasion.

The creation of a capsule wardrobe also encourages us to re-evaluate our style. In the process of evaluating my clothes and choosing the items I want to wear this season, I encountered several pieces that I haven’t worn in a year or longer. I started to think about my style, asking myself about the colours to which I’m drawn: neutrals; turquoise and blue; purple, and several red and burnt orange pieces that I like to wear on the darker winter days. I enjoy clean lines and clothes that fit well while allowing me to move and feel comfortable.

To build my capsule wardrobe, I did not start out with an ideal number of pieces that I kept in mind. Instead, I simply went through my closet and pulled out all the pieces that I felt that I want to wear this season – pieces that bring me joy and allow me to feel comfortable while experimenting with different creative combinations. In the fall, I have more versatility with clothing that I can wear in several combinations, especially if taking into account accessories such as scarves (note: a scarf or cowl can change an outfit drastically). I love to maximize. By working with key pieces and playing with accessories, I am able to wear a ‘new’ outfit every day of the month.

I used to think that a capsule wardrobe might feel limiting to me after some time, that I would want to have more variety from which to choose. On the contrary! Having a specific number of quality items to work with gives me the freedom to use what I have while planning creatively, combining several pieces together for a complete outfit. And of course, I save myself a lot of time in the morning by having a specific number of items from which to choose.

Some capsule wardrobe enthusiasts pack away the clothes that they don’t need during that season. However, I chose forego that step. My closet is fairly small, and although I could pack away my summer clothes, storing them in a plastic bin until next year, I don’t feel the need to empty out my closet. My strategy is to reshuffle my clothes, keeping the ones I wear this season in one spot while ignoring everything else. So far, this has been working well for me, but it might prove distracting for someone else. The other day, I noticed a favourite sweater and briefly thought about putting it on, but then reminded myself that I can include it in my January-March wardrobe.

unnamed

Do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What rules do you follow when planning your outfits for the next few months? 

DSCN8752

Here we are, at the end of September, and it feels like autumn has truly arrived. I am reminded of everything I admire about this vibrant, intriguing, fleeting season. The crisp, cooler, shorter days whisper quiet hints to us as the sunshine beckons outside to enjoy the earthy, damp smell of the beautiful leaves. And after a delicious morning spent in an apple orchard, picking favourite varieties and those of which we’ve never heard before, we are grateful to return to tend to the hearth. Autumn inspires me to decorate our home with bright gourds and leaves that we collect on a hike in the nearby forest, then dry to flat perfection between the pages of a favourite book in preparation for making garlands and various abstract ikebana creations.

DSCN8742

The hazy, humid, air-conditioned days have made way for the in-between season. It’s not chilly enough for the fireplace, but I feel a tingle of excitement when I open the drawer containing my knitted accessories. Soon. Soon, my feet will luxuriate in the softness of the funky bright-coloured wool socks I enjoyed knitting in the warmer months. I will slip into them upon returning home in the evening, wrap myself in blankets after Wanderlust Juniors will have gone to bed, and spend a lovely date with myself on the living room sofa, drinking tea while journeying through the Scottish Highlands or North Carolina (I’m continuing to breeze through the Outlander books and am currently reading book No. 5 in the series).

DSCN8750

The late summer harvest Ratatouille was delicious. Now is the time for deep-dish apple crumble, apple cake, and cranberry-apple pie that I will serve to friends and family when entertaining. Butternut squash has returned to our kitchen as a guest of honour featured in soups, risotto, and pizza. Pumpkin spice muffins are a weekly menu staple. Having grown up in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, pumpkin was not featured on my list of autumn favourites, but once I discovered its beauty, in my mid-20s, I learned to appreciate autumn even more than I ever before thought possible. It just wouldn’t be the same without the pumpkin, the squash, and the gourds. It also wouldn’t be the same without the rainy days, and apples, the cranberries, the soft scarves, hats, mittens and socks hand-knit by a loved one. It wouldn’t be the same without the memories that transport us back to the autumns of our childhood. Never am I more aware of the fleeting nature of time than during the bright and joyful and the rainy and cool days of October.

DSCN4016

Is the world rushing someplace, or is it that we need to slow down our own pace? May we harness our favourite moments of Autumns past and direct the nostalgia toward the creation of new memories.

What is on your list of autumn favourites? Please leave a comment below.

ThisFall

 

This fall I want to colour in my fancy adult colouring book, creating a chaotic yet somehow comforting piece of art that no one else might ever appreciate but one that would speak for itself, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that I am the one who created it.

 

I want to let go and make art the way children make art, with complete abandon, and preferably while humming a silly tune to myself. My children will ask what song I’m singing, then likely join in.

 

I want to gather nature’s treasures – acorns, leaves, and twigs – and then glue them, tape them, plaster them all over my tiny writing corner currently covered in journals, colourful pencils, and yarn.

 

I want my fingers to move on their own while I decipher a new-to-me knitting pattern without ever thinking of it as complicated. Instead, I want to open my mind, open my heart, and allow the creativity that resides within me to flow right out of my fingertips, extending through the bamboo needles and weaving, weaving, weaving magic.

 

I want to knit. I want to knit many comfortable pieces that might never be worn but are created from my heart.

 

I want to work with colour. I want to fill my world with colour, never thinking about old favourite hues or seeking to narrow down what does and does not appeal to me or to someone else. One day, I might like blood orange; the next, I will be drawn to ocean blue. Then, I’ll spin them together into a swirl of emerald.

 

I want to give. I want to give more to my children, to my partner, to my parents.

 

I want to tour my favourite museum in the forest, admiring the new works on display, already perfect in their raw, unfinished form.

 

Nature wants, but is never wanting.

 

How about you? What do you want to do this fall? Please leave a comment.

Door

My front door needs to be repainted. Lest you think that I am writing in metaphors, allow me to assure you: I am contented with my appearance these days, after many years of nitpicking; no, I am referring to the wooden front door of our home. I know that the chipped white paint can be simply sanded off, allowing for a blank canvas for me to paint. As my son’s friend’s mom drops off her child at our home for a play date, we briefly discuss home repairs and I bring up the dreaded door project. She waves away the concern, letting me know that the project can be completed quickly, with minimal spending on the tools and paint. It might even be fun. It might be, for some.

I admire people who repair items in their homes on their own, who come up with inexpensive décor solutions. Unless absolutely necessary, I refuse to spend money on home renovations. However, the thought of choosing paint for my front door and setting aside a Saturday for such a renovation makes me shudder. I tried to love DIY home décor. In fact, because I enjoy knitting and admire art, some people assume that hands-on home décor is a natural interest of mine. In as much as it feels rewarding for me to restore something in my home, I have never enjoyed the process of sanding, painting, and using a screw driver to hang up art work. Can I do it? Yes. Do I want to do it? Hell no, and I’m starting to accept this about myself. I am starting to understand that although I have more interests than the average person, I simply cannot be interested in everything that I wish I could enjoy.

In an exercise of developing better self-acceptance, I made a list of what else I am not and might never be.

  • I am fascinated by dedicated runners. I attempted to become a runner twice and although I get excited about putting on a pair of sneakers, grabbing my iPod and enjoying the fresh air, each time I have started to get into the swing of a regular running routine, I have had to stop due to painful knee injuries.
  • To continue along the running topic, I hold in high regard entrepreneurs who appear to have a healthy sense of balance in their lives. I ran a business for two years, during which time I realized how much I dislike cold calling and attempting to sell anything – regardless of how much I may enjoy the product or service. I’m also terrified of accounting, but I’m working to conquer that fear.
  • In as much as I love snow, after 15 minutes of walking outside in the middle of January, my feet freeze inside my thick insulated winter boots and two pairs of woolen socks, and although I keep a (frozen) smile on my face the entire time and enjoy the fresh cold air, I also love returning home to the warmth of the fireplace and a giant mug of tea.
  • I would like to be able to commit to a vegan diet, but it has not been feasible for me. I eat vegan or vegetarian food most of the time, but my family does not, and for the sake of simplicity (read: avoiding spending time cooking two dinners every day), I tend to eat meat.

The acknowledgement of who I am not is helping me to fine-tune who I am, to focus on my true passions, my natural dispositions, and hone the skills that I value. It also helps me to appreciate myself and cultivate gratitude for what I do enjoy practising.

 I may not have an interest in repairing things at home, but I do love experimenting with recipes in the kitchen. 

I may not be able to run without pain, but I love dance, kickboxing and HIIT workouts at home, and I run with Wanderlust Juniors on the grass in the park.

I do not enjoy being at the helm of a venture, but I am a pretty good sidekick, if I do say so myself.

In the winter, I layer warm sweaters to insulate my bones and ignore the discomfort, because even a homebody needs fresh air. 

I do eat plant-based food at least 70-80 per cent of the time. 

We all are working toward finding balance between what comes to us naturally and that toward which we have to cultivate our will power for all it’s worth. So, I believe I may harness my will power and direct it toward the entrance to our home. The result will be rewarding and I will probably take even greater pleasure in returning home at the end of the day.

Is there something you have always wanted to be in spite of different natural interests? How do you cultivate self-acceptance?

Whoosh! Almost six months have flown since the start of 2015. If you’re like me, you might enjoy taking inventory at the start, the end of the year, its midway point, and on your birthday. The past Sunday’s Summer Solstice marks the year’s midway point, so here is a brief update on what we have been into:

Running

june6

I never thought I would enjoy running. Several years ago, I decided to embark on a training schedule akin to a typical 0 to 5K program. However, I quickly became bored, experienced joint issues, and probably came up with myriad other excuses that I can no longer recall. This summer, however, I found that I was becoming bored with my indoor HIIT cardio. I wanted to start moving out of doors, in the fresh air. I felt called to explore various routes in our neighbourhood. I have been spending the majority of my days in an office and have not had a chance to take daily walks with my kids to and from school. I miss being outside.

I’m still at the point of training that requires me to alternate running with walking, gradually increasing my running time, but I must say that I have fallen in love with running. Some days feel more challenging than others, but I am excited at the prospect of maybe, possibly, one day soon becoming a dedicated runner. Summer is a perfect time to reconnect to our passions and to try something new, like running. It’s still out of my comfort zone but continues to become increasingly familiar.

Reading

june7

Image courtesy of Starz.

At the recommendation of a good friend who knows all about my admiration of all-things Celtic (as in Ireland and Scotland, fairies, the Highlands, folk music, etc.), for Mother’s Day in May, Mr. Wanderlust gave me a box of the first four books of the Outlander series. I know the books may be dubbed literary candy, but I am shamelessly obsessed with the story and its characters. I am in awe of Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant character development and have joined the millions of readers who can’t get enough of the story of Jamie and Claire. I wrote recently that I do not watch television, making an exception for the rare good movie or short TV series. Having heard incredible reviews of the Outlander TV series, I borrowed the BluRay first half of the first season from my friend. Mr. Wanderlust was coaxed into watching the first two episodes of the show with me, after which he also was hooked. And now we both want to learn Gaelic. Maybe that’s a future project.

Writing

june5

 

Toasting marshmallows by the fire in the backyard. A summer favourite.

The memoir writing continues. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me last week with words of advice, as well as the reminder that there are others who second-guess their writing motives and plans. For now, I have decided to stop overthinking. I’m following my heart and curiously watching the story unfold from the tips of my fingers.

Knitting

june2

I am working on this delicious pair of watermelon-patterned socks, using Zauberwolle. Some knitters take a break from working with wool in the summer, but I’m not one of them. Besides, look at these colours! Do they not whisper ‘SUMMER’, in a giggly sing-song voice? Thus far, the summer weather in the Toronto area has been warm and breezy, and I happily spend my evenings with this yummy project.

Celtic Harp

june 4

 

This picture is not recent, but we like it.

I’m currently learning to play Scotland the Brave. My favourite place to play in the summer is on our back patio. The wind carries the notes with it through the trees and I feel I can serenade along with the birds. Running and yoga at 5:30 a.m. provide me with the right jolt of energy, but reading, knitting and playing the Celtic harp allow me to slow down at 8 p.m.

Woodworking

june3

 

Double-dyed stabilized maple burl. We think it’s gorgeous.

Mr. Wanderlust has been at work on new goodies, to be revealed soon. He has also been experimenting with a laser etcher, which translates into wonderful possibilities.

Article Recommendation

I will leave you with this article: No Guilt Allowed! Why Parents Need Time for Themselves. As a working parent, I often find it challenging to be away from my children for long hours on weekdays. However, having also been a stay-at-home parent, I know how exhausting that role can be for an introvert. As an INFP, I cherish my quiet time, my alone time. With two very spirited young boys, that quiet time is often tough to come by. The noises at work tend of very different nature from the ones I hear at home. Both present their challenges and both leave me with the need to spend some time, every evening, alone, unwinding from the day that has passed. And that is why I make the time for reading, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. That’s why Pawel makes the time for woodworking. When we feel calmer, recharged and relaxed, we are better people, better parents.

june1

Your turn! What have you been reading, crafting, playing, learning, or exploring? Are you an introvert parent? How do you make time for yourself?