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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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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A walk in the forest: one of our favourite ‘quiet’ activities. This was my ‘artist date’ for the weekend that has passed.

If spring is known as the time of growth and renewal, summer is for basking in the sunshine while enjoying the fruits of our labour. To me, this transition time offers a good opportunity for personal growth and exploration of new ideas, new interests and plenty of ‘quiet time.’

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We planted our vegetable garden over the weekend. Growing in our garden are eggplant, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, swiss chard, and sweet peppers. We also have rhubarb, chives, and blackberry bushes from the previous years.

The garden has been planted – both literally and figurative – and now is the time to tend to it, to promote growth by providing the essentials of sunshine, water and nutrients. The months between early May to late August tend to be very hectic for many people; sure, they are fun-busy, but they are fleeting, not always in a productive way. So, I am changing my routine this summer. Instead of filling my schedule to the brim with various summer-appropriate outings, I am clearing extra time in my schedule to dedicate to silence and personal growth.

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One of Pawel’s favourite ‘quiet’ activities.

Here are a few highlights from the month of May:

I don’t watch TV. I don’t miss it. – Giving up TV proved to be a non-event for me but has been essential to my personal growth.

Flirty Spring – I have been embracing my feminine nature more and more over the past few years, balancing out the masculine and feminine energies, allowing myself to receive life’s gifts amidst providing good care for my family.

Renew to Retreat – Minimalism does not mean life becomes boring. We can create big changes in our mental and emotional states simply by rearranging just one item to which we have become accustomed.

Magical Catharsis – On the practice of journaling as a ritual of emotional purging.

My Lifelong Experiment with Nutrition – Sharing my experience with this year’s spring cleanse. I have been reminded of our ever-changing nature and the importance of letting go of rigid ideas. Life is more enjoyable when we allow ourselves to be carried along with the ebb and flow.

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The sale continues in our online store until the end of the month, which means you only have a few more days to take advantage of the 30% off offer. We are also offering free worldwide shipping of every sale of a minimum of $100. Use the code ‘HappyBDay’ at checkout to receive your discount.

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What have been your traditional spring/summer self-care rituals? Are you doing anything differently this year to take better care of yourself?

THANK YOU for sharing this blog with a friend!

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My friend and I sat at a restaurant on a recent Friday evening, catching up over dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in four months, we realized, and a friend date was long overdue. As we perused the dessert menu, the chatty waitress approached us and, seeing my friend’s iPhone case, gushed, “I love your phone case!”

 

I looked over at the back of my friend’s phone, at the words written in gothic letters and an image I immediately recognized from the ubiquitous Game of Thrones series.

 

“I love Game of Thrones! The new season is starting on Sunday, and I can’t wait,” my friend excitedly replied.

 

“I’m going to have a marathon Game of Thrones weekend,” the waitress continued. “I need to catch up on all the previous episodes before I start watching the new season.”

 

The animated exchange continued and very quickly, I started to feel out of the proverbial loop. The waitress must have noticed the tentative smirk on my face.

 

“You don’t watch the show?”

 

I believe I saw her take half a step backward in surprise.

 

“You have to watch it! You have to catch up.”

 

“I wouldn’t have the time to watch it,” I replied demurely, looking down at the dark-wood table.

 

What I didn’t mention is that, these days, I don’t watch anything on TV. Until very recently, I used to be an avid Once Upon a Time fan, drawn to the show’s fantasy element (a favourite genre). I confess, I was more than a bit obsessed with the story. The passion suddenly dwindled a few months ago. I used to watch one hour of TV per week. Now, I don’t watch it at all. And I don’t miss it.

 

When Pawel and I had first moved in together, all those years ago, we chose to not have a TV in our home. If we wanted to watch movies, we would watch them on DVD, using one of our computers. That was also the one and only time when, in-between studying for undergrad exams or writing essays, I binge-watched Sex and the City seasons on borrowed DVDs on my laptop. Even when I did not watch DVDs, I found that I liked not having a TV in my home, that no one felt inclined to turn it on to create ‘background noise.’ Without a TV, I could reclaim my time. I could focus my attention on one task at a time, instead of multitasking by studying while watching a show.

 

To simply state that I currently don’t have the time to watch TV shows might sound holier-than-thou. Of course, I have the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. I choose to not make the time for television. The idea of binge-watching a show no longer appeals to me. No, it doesn’t just not appeal to me; it sounds kind of torturous. Likewise, Pawel doesn’t watch TV because he doesn’t want to direct his attention to it when he could be spending time woodworking.

 

Of course, Pawel and I do sometimes go out to watch a movie — probably about once every two or three months — but we are very selective in our film choices. I also have a small collection of favourite films that I like to watch at home from time to time.

 

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. There have been times, in a distant past, when I would stay up late to watch a show in spite of feeling tired.

 

It’s a choice. This choice suits my quest to living more mindfully while embracing the minimalism lifestyle. So, perhaps, I shouldn’t be as demure about it.

 

Do you watch TV on a regular basis? Would you be willing to give it up for a week, as an experiment? Feel free to leave a comment. 

In Canada, we are preparing for the Victoria Day long weekend, also known as the unofficial start of summer. Like many others, we are looking forward to barbecues, de-cluttering our crawl space, and making some time to sit back and read.

Speaking of reading, Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy, who has the impeccable taste in books of Kathleen Kelly of You’ve Got Mail, has just released her 2015 Summer Reading Guide. This is *the* comprehensive guide for excellent books appropriate for a beach and/or cottage vacation, as well as for bringing along on a trip anywhere in the world. I trust Anne’s book recommendations and after consulting this guide, my list of Books to Read has grown a little longer. I’m currently reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin — also one of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recommended books — and enjoying it immensely.

À propos Kathleen Kelly, there have been many times when, after an annual viewing of You’ve Got Mail, I wished that she were a real person. We are kindred spirits, what with our mutual adoration of words, Jane Austen and literature, in general, as well as a love of independent book stores, Joni Mitchell, and butterflies… I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about Kathleen Kelly. Right?

And finally, here is our big announcement!

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Today, on May 15th, we are celebrating the birthday of our Chief Woodworker and creative mastermind. In honour of Pawel’s birthday, we would like to offer you a 30% discount on all items in our online store. In addition, every order of over $100 will be shipped to you anywhere in the world for FREE. That’s right, a sale and free shipping! We are also introducing loyalty points, which you will receive with every purchase, to be applied toward any future purchases.

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To take advantage of this offer, head to our online store and use the coupon code ‘HappyBDAY’ at checkout. We will extend the celebration for a few days, but the offer is only available for a limited time.

Thank you for your support! Please continue to share our blog with your friends and feel free to subscribe to all our updates by entering your email address in the box to the right.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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This is a candid account of how meditation sometimes feels, even after many years of semi-consistent practice. I wrote this piece for a writing course that I took last fall, and it has become a favourite. I wanted to share it with you as a reminder that we all deal with the chattering monkey mind. Whenever I feel impatience and frustration start to arise, I remind myself to approach my practice with a sense of humour. Who said meditation has to always be taken seriously? Be patient with yourself and perhaps, for just a quick but important moment, you can step into the temple and live fully in it.

Stillness. One of the doors into the temple. And how illusive it is!

“Ooh, I just sat for a few minutes without thinking a single thought!”

Inhale. Exhale.

“Sssshhh! Quiet! That was a thought.”

Inhale. Exhale. “Continue to focus on your breath.”

Inhale. Exhale. “It will lead you to stillness.”

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

“What should I make for dinner?”

“Thinking.”

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Silence. There’s suddenly nothing but silence and the sound of my breath, travelling. My thoughts continue to circulate, but I’ll keep them in that perpetual vortex, allowing them to spin without escaping through the door into the temple. Oh no, this temple deserves peace. This temple only welcomes silence, but it tolerates the hum that continues to buzz just outside its front door. Accept it, but keep it on the other side.

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New from the workshop:

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This is a Maori-style Hei Matau (fish-hook) design, made of beautiful chocolate-brown Cocobolo. The inlay is made of pale yellow crushed shell. 

Although this piece is so new it has yet to be added to our online store, there are other pieces in the shop that might appeal to you. Pawel has been working on custom orders recently and would be thrilled with an opportunity to create a special piece for you. So, drop us a line to let us know what you have in mind.

Favourite links:

Here are a few interesting articles I read over the past week and would like to share with you:

Skills in Flux

A New York Times article about the skills we need to develop to succeed — socially and professionally — in ‘today’s loosely networked world.’ This article resonates with me — an INFP with a small circle of friends whom I hold very dear and work hard to keep the connection alive. I often have to negotiate extroverted social networking, followed by periods of relaxing a bit more when I have a chance to get to know a person better and build a true connection. It’s a lifelong learning process that demands evolution of various communication and social skills.

Bare essentials: Learning to live mindfully with objects that ‘spark joy’

This article almost made me want to take a 2.5-hour road trip to London to check out this exhibit. However, having recently been on such a road trip for a work-related meeting, and given that I don’t enjoy driving for longer than an hour at the most, I am reluctant to make the time for the trek. In any case, I wanted to share this article with you because it brings focus to a mindful lifestyle in a tiny home, living with the bare essentials, which is a fascination of mine. We are currently living with as few possessions as possible, though I know we can downsize further. I found it interesting to read the comments of other readers about what possessions they would keep if they had to leave almost everything they own behind. What would you keep if you were to downsize and move into a (tidy and uncluttered) tiny home?

Minimalist Living: When a Lot Less Is More

An article on why the current generation of 30-something adults is embracing the minimalism trend. This is a fun read and even features a quiz to help you find out whether you just might be the owner of too much stuff or if like me, your results will be, “You’re a minimalist. Live a little.’

If you are enjoying this blog and would like to read more about our journey along the path of mindfulness, please feel free to subscribe to be the first to receive our updates in your inbox once (sometimes twice) per week. Please also feel free to SHARE this post with your friends via email or a social media platform.

Thank you for you support!

Wishing you a fantastic weekend!

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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.

I have been meditating, off and on, for the past 17 years. I would love to be able to say that throughout those years, my practice hasn’t wavered, that it has stayed consistent. But as with the myriad other fluctuations that come with life’s events, my practice has waxed and waned, stagnated, and at times did not happen for months at a time.

Early in November, I made the decision to deepen my practice and make it to my meditation cushion on a daily basis, for 15 minutes each day. I could write about the profound ways in which meditation continues to transform my experience, and the ways in which my view of my inner and outer world continues to evolve. Those words would either be received with enthusiastic ‘YES’ nods from those who share my experience, or might not make much sense to others. I do encourage you to give this meditation ‘thing’ a try and see what you make of it. Like me, you might find it a bit frustrating at first and leave it for a short — or a long — while. I do encourage you to stick with the practice, because that’s exactly what it is, a practice. As with any other practice in life, your meditation will not always be flowery and light, but the roots we plant by sitting each day continue to deepen, inviting us to delve further into the raw honesty of our experience. That experience itself is not perfect or pretty, but that is precisely the magic of being here. Everything else falls away as we recognize the answers that have been before us all along.

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I also encourage you to try different forms of meditation. I tend to practise mindfulness meditation, but another form to which I come back when I feel some anxiety about a situation is japa, the repetition of mantra. For japa, I use a mala with 108 beads. As I allow each bead to slide between my fingers, I repeat a mantra, for a total of 108 times. We started making malas a few months ago and have added them to our webstore over the past weekend, after previously only showcasing them at craft shows.

The beautiful mala pictured above is made of Bayong, Whitewood and Sandalwood beads, and the pendant is made of Orangeheart, with turquoise inlay. The image in the centre is of the elephant deity Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.

My Reiki teacher introduced me to the Ganesha mantra in 2008, and that chant has led me to further explore japa meditation. While giving birth to our second child, as Pawel held my hand and our two midwives worked at the foot of the bed in our bedroom, I silently continued to chant, Om gam ganapataye namaha, over and over again. As the pain I felt due to the baby’s posterior positioning intensified with each contraction, I continued to chant and trust that all was going to be well. Our Ganesha malas were inspired by this and other incredible, honest, deep experiences we have been fortunate to live through.

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Each of our malas is unique and was designed and assembled by yours truly. As with all our other pendants, the ones on the malas were crafted by Pawel. We hope you will enjoy them.

We’ve even made our jewellery easier for you to enjoy with our special big holiday sale. For the next two weeks, any item in our webstore is 25% off, and we will cover the shipping anywhere in the world when you place an order of a minimum of $100. This is the perfect time to purchase unique gifts for the special people on your list.

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Wishing you a great week,

Katia