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.

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

 

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

Does it not feel as though this year is just zooming right past us? Here we are, in October, and just this evening, as I was putting my summer clothes away for the colder months, I realized how quickly the seasons appear to be transitioning this year. Thankfully, Pawel and I were able to make the most of the summer months, starting with backyard barbecue dinners in early May, camping during the last weekend in May, and many other interesting daytrips and getaways all through until the end of August. And although the month of October is my favourite month of the fall season, I know that it, too, will make a swift grand exit. Hey, at least we’ll get to say goodbye while dressed in costume!

Since this is one of my favourite months of the year, I am determined to make the most of it. I will continue to explore all the luxuries of this beautiful golden month; I will continue to create; and I will seek to be inspired every day in order to inspire others. It feels as though this year has been a roller coaster ride for many, and we all deal with challenges. Yet, I want to make life sweeter. Every day. Who’s coming with me?

To go along with the above theme, I will share with you a recipe for a fantastic sweet and heart-warming soup. I first experimented with this soup two winters ago and its simple and delicious flavour brought me home to comfort.

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Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

2 medium-large sweet potatoes or yams

1 tbsp butter or ghee (to make the soup vegan, you may use EVOO or coconut oil)

1 large white or yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 medium carrots, chopped

7 cups vegetable stock or water

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 bay leaves

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

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Method:

1. Wash and bake the sweet potatoes for about an hour at 350F (preheated oven). Using a fork, pierce the potatoes to ensure that they are soft enough. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool before peeling them and chopping into 1-inch cubes.

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2. In a heavy-bottom cooking pot, melt the butter / ghee / oil on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook for a few minutes on medium heat, until golden and soft.

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3. Add the chopped sweet potato and carrots to the pot and continue cooking for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in the salt, turmeric, bay leaves, and cinnamon (if using). Continue cooking for another minute, stirring constantly.

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5. Add the vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil. Then, cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

6. Allow the soup to cool. Then, discard the bay leaves, and puree in batches in a standing blender or use an immersion blender. The consistency should be completely smooth.

7. Serve and enjoy!

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I served this soup for lunch last week with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. On the side are two mini pitas with avocado and sea salt on top, with baby spinach, homemade sour cabbage and carrot slaw, and a drizzle of EVOO.


 

Come visit us!

Pawel and I are thrilled to have a booth at the Fall Made by Hand Show on October 18th and 19th at the International Centre, Mississauga. We will showcase our wooden jewellery, wine bottle stoppers, and belt buckles.

If you are in the Toronto area, visit this wonderful show to purchase unique handmade products. It’s a great opportunity to start your Christmas shopping early. We will be at booth 110 and look forward to meeting many of our clients there.

Best wishes for a colourful and sweet first week of October,

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.

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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

 

 

We invited you to send in your questions to us about anything related to our work. So, allow us to answer…

Question: “I saw that you are now making malas. They are stunning! When can I buy one?”

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We have been planning for a while now to start making malas, and we are thrilled to introduce them soon. We are currently working on full-length malas, as well as stacks. Each item will feature one of our unique pendants.

We will officially introduce the malas at the Toronto Yoga Conference and Show, to be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from March 28th to the 30th. We are very excited about joining the show this year and look forward to meeting you there!

Question: “Where do you get the great ideas for the shapes of the wood pendants?”

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Our yoga-and-meditation-inspired pieces are in the shape of a lotus blossom. We love the image of the lotus and its symbolism of purity and clear focus. Other collections were inspired by nature: water, landscapes, sand, canyons, and of course, the bees! Many of our designs are created from the natural shapes and grooves within the pieces of wood we choose to use. We enjoy working with natural ‘imperfections’ of the wood, inlaying the grooves with turquoise or crushed shell. Some pieces of wood we use already look intriguing, so we do not do much to change the original shape of the piece. For example:

Surrender to Dance

The above piece, Surrender to Dance, was simply sanded and polished. And it happens to be available on our site right now!

All these factors contribute to the unique nature of our work. We enjoy one-of-a-kind pieces, and even the ones we reproduce will always be unique in some way, as there are always going to be colour variations in the wood and inlay we use.

Question: “What is it like to be working together as a married couple?”

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Great question! 🙂 To avoid stepping on each other’s toes, we allow each other plenty of space to work separately and then meet to exchange ideas. Because our schedules do not always match, with Pawel working out of the house during the day and with me teaching yoga classes in the evenings, we email each other throughout the day to stay in the loop. While some couples spend their Saturday nights out at dinner-and-movie dates, we wait until the kids are in bed and then sit in the living room, stringing malas! Pawel and I have very different personalities, but we complement each other perfectly, which allows us to work well together.

Question: “What do you eat for breakfast?”

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Chocolate, of course! No, just kidding, though, we have experimented with chocolate making in the past. Hence the photo above. We love to make things with our hands, in case you were wondering. 🙂 Back to the question… Pawel is a cereal-and-milk guy who loves organic cereal by Nature’s Path. I usually have quinoa or steel-cut oats with dried fruit, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds, as well as coconut oil, lots of cinnamon, and hemp seeds or cacao nibs. As a Vata girl, I need my wholesome, heavier breakfast. In the summer, I enjoy smoothies for breakfast. We love our lattes and I alternate coffee with Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and honey.

That’s it for now. Thank you to everyone who sent in their questions! We hope you have enjoyed getting to know us better.

Love,

Katia (Dharma Wanderlust)