Category Archives: personal growth

WIP: Kanata Kerchief Tank



The glass table on my deck is my favourite place to photograph WIPs and FOs right now because the light out there is good, especially in the mornings before the sun comes around and makes it too bright and hot.

The Kanata Kerchief Tank is made up of four squares of lacy crochet which are then joined and added to to make the shoulder straps. So far I have just crocheted up the balls of yarn until they are done and then started another one. The squares aren’t big enough yet – they need to be 20″ square after blocking. This linen blend yarn really will need a good blocking. It’s looking pretty crumpled, having been stuffed into my Wool Warehouse organza bag.

I had a lovely parcel from a fellow Ravelry member this week. I had admired her project in a group I moderate (Crafternoon Treats) and she said she didn’t like working with the yarn and was unlikely to use the last skein. When I said how much I loved the colours she offered to mail me the yarn all the way from England. How lovely of her! It came with a pretty card and a stitch/placemarker too.

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There was an extra little bit of yarn enclosed so I had a play with it last night, following a C2C (corner to corner) tutorial on You Tube.


We had a beautiful visitor to our backyard this week.

He spent hours just sitting in the shade at the bottom of the garden, had a little walk around under the apricot tree and found some fallen fruit, then nibbled on some wild rose leaves and the juniper. Even though he headed right towards our potatoes he left them alone. After another rest, something spooked him and he trotted off around the side of the house and across the road. I hope he found his family safely.

It’s been mid-30s Celsius this week and there’s talk of it hitting 40. Eeek! There have been more fires – one on a small mountain in the north end of town (the official story is that it was started deliberately) and more right on the side of the highway through the city caused by a nutcase walking along with a blowtorch setting light to the landscaping in front of the stores. It’s bad enough when fires start accidentally, but when crazy people with blowtorches, illegal campfires and carelessly discarded cigarettes are added in, it’s even more worrying.

I’m having a home day today and have lots to keep me busy. I did start the day with a one hour meditation, and that is my goal for every day now. As usual, I found that after a bunch of brain activity, I was starting to settle into a quiet period and the timer went off! I had so much going on in my head the other night that I couldn’t go to sleep so I got up again and grabbed a notebook and pen and made lists of all the things that I wanted to pay attention to. This includes things like

  • blogging (two blogs)
  • friends who I want to meet up with regularly
  • sewing projects I want to make
  • yarny projects
  • working on my Wholistic Nutrition slideshow and presentation
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • learning French and German
  • checking in to Ravelry every day, not just for my own benefit but to moderate the Crafternoon Treats group and post Kathryn’s latest podcast info to the group
  • and an item added by my husband which I shall coyly refer to as “paying him more attention” ūüėÄ

Talking of my presentation, two friends of mine are leading a class for seniors in the fall all about food and health. They did the same course last year and this time have more sessions and I have been asked to fill one of those sessions by doing my slideshow and talk. I have decided to be more proactive in sharing the benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet so this is the perfect opportunity. I will also be open  to talking to other small groups. It should get easier the more I do it.

It’s time to get off this couch and hang out some towels to dry. Have an awesome week and talk to you again soon. Remember, I love to receive your comments and I appreciate all Likes and Shares too.



Day 9/100-Day Self-Connection Experiment



The meditation continues. The last couple of days’ sessions have frankly been full of thoughts. I gave a presentation on Wholistic Nutrition on Saturday and since then I have been mentally rewriting or adding to it, but it would probably have been good to actually spend time updating the slideshow so that I can stop the ideas from running around in my head.

I am currently sticking with 45 minutes a day. Anything less was too short to get my mind clear.

I haven’t watched more than a few of Kyle Cease’s own videos. Everyone is going to have a different experience, and he talks about his own, and I need to focus on my own without expectation or judgment.

So today, after 8 days of really getting nothing, I had a bit of a breakthrough. A question arose which I was able to sit with.

“Where am I?”

In other words, where is the “I” that is running the show? Am I in my brain, where I hear my daily narrative, my thoughts? Am I in my heart, where I feel love and compassion? Am I in my dan tien, the belly, where I feel honesty and integrity, or am I in some other place? My big toe? The air around my head? Some other “place” altogether?

Where does the life force come from that animates the cells after conception and the fetus’s heart starts beating?

Am I Nicola? Well, no, because that persona is a temporary me for this particular lifetime. This body is a temporary one. It is a vehicle. But where is the driver? There is no visible driving seat!

Who is behind the thoughts?

From “Where am I” to Who, How, What, Which, Why. Huge questions to which I have no answers but by keeping the mind curious and open maybe some answers will come.

I chose the image above because I spent part of my meditation time in outer space today! “I” went above the clouds, to the blue sky beyond, then it was nighttime and I could see stars, I looked at the earth which got smaller and smaller, I touched the Space Station and dodged a piece of space junk, and I held hands with millions of other consciousnesses who were out there too.

A good start to the day!

(Image from Pixabay. I am using this site all the time for my other blog. Creative Commons pictures, no attribution required.)

Fabulous Friday


Let’s see, what do I have to share with you today? I probably should have got out of bed earlier this morning. I was up at about 7, and had to be at work by 9.15. So the first thing was to grab my lemon water and cup of tea, and then get on with making a pot of chili. It took about an hour to get everything going in the pressure cooker but it was a great way to use up the beans in the fridge and freezer, some spinach, Swiss chard, a couple of mushrooms, some grated carrot, a partial can of diced tomatoes and so on.

We used to have “refrigerator soup” most Fridays before I started working at Fabricland, because we always did our weekly shop on Saturdays and it was nice to clear out the wilting vegetables. Our routine is not so set in stone any more, because my shifts are all over the place. This week my only shifts were a five hour stretch last night plus an eight hour one today. I had a busy morning but because we are open until 9pm on Fridays we have more staff arriving at lunchtime to see us through to closing, and a couple of us were able to leave early today. So I’ve only actually earned ten hours worth of pay this week.

So to get back to the chili, and the fact that I put in a couple of loads of laundry and hung one load outside on the line, and had to eat breakfast and make a lunch, I didn’t have time to meditate this morning. And I actually missed it! It’s only Day 4 but I already feel it’s something I want to keep doing. So when I was told I could go home early if I wanted, I jumped at the chance (as usual) and fitted in my 35 minute session before dinner.


I also had time to review the slideshow that I have put together for a presentation I’m making tomorrow night. This presentation, which I’m calling Wholistic Nutrition, has been scheduled for months and I had started writing things down and mulling over how it was all going to come together back in May or June. With the deadline looming, I discovered Google Slides, which is a free Powerpoint type tool which is easy to use. Using the material I wrote weeks ago, plus some text from my blog posts on Grains, Greens, Berries and Beans (my whole-food plant-based blog), plus some nifty photos from Pixabay (free Creative Commons pictures), I found that doing a slideshow was a better way to get my thoughts in order and present everything attractively.

I sound like an advertisement, don’t I!

I ended up putting the whole thing together in a day, with a couple of tweaks since, and I even had to get a bit of advice from my techie sons about changing my display to incorporate two screens, as my laptop will hook up to a projector. I feel a bit nervous about relying heavily on technology, and just in case my speaker notes aren’t visible while the slideshow is playing I will be printing them out.

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I do actually have two WIPs to show you. I have finished and joined Parts 1 to 5 of the Everything is Cool and Groovyghan CAL 2016. Part 6 is a long strip that attaches to this piece, and I had to wonder why it was made separately when I could just work it straight onto the piece I already had. So what I did was crochet a row of sc along the edge of the joined blocks (after I took this photo) instead of making a row of foundation sc, and whilst I have a few extra stitches I think it will be okay (famous last words) as I think the pattern repeat for part 6 is a multiple of 5 plus 2, and I have 172 stitches. This is only five more than the pattern calls for so I think I’m good.

Good grief, that photo makes the blocks look so wonky. There’s going to have to be some serious blocking when all the parts are joined.


This is my other WIP. It’s the Kanata Kerchief Tank, available as a free Ravelry download. It’s a pretty top, made quite simply with four large squares, partially joined and finished to make the shoulder straps. It calls for a DK yarn so I’m using a new yarn to me, Scheepjes Linen Soft, and a 6mm hook.

I figured that this top should be the priority, so that I can wear it this summer, and then I’ll probably follow that up with the toddler dress with the pink Linen Soft. I’m really looking forward to making that.

I also managed to binge watch Season Six of ‘Suits’ on Netflix this week. There are only 10 episodes and I’m 99% sure there won’t be another season, considering how it ended, but I could be wrong. (Who, me?)

Wishing you all a happy sunny weekend. Have fun, stay healthy, be happy!



100 days self-connection experiment


Something a bit different today. I recently came across a video by Kyle Cease, who I’d never heard of before, that inspired me to make some changes in myself. I can’t remember which video it was – it was shared on Facebook by a friend – but he talked about being a people-pleaser and it really resonated with me.

I tend to only speak my mind with my close family, and even then I often feel I have to rein it in for fear of upsetting people. Yes, it’s good that I don’t want to go off on a rant and get all worked up, because that tends to alienate people, but even when I speak emphatically while keeping my cool I often feel guilty afterwards. Like when I was staying with my mum when I visited in June and a couple of times I ended up talking about veganism and how I felt vegans were misunderstood.

Going back to the video, Kyle mentioned an affirmation that we can use to help us move away from being people-pleasers. I was really struck by a comment he made about being inauthentic and bland when we are sitting there being passive, and I thought Yes, it’s true. I was six years in the Tao, studying religious teachings from many religions and while I found it very helpful in becoming a calmer, more accepting, person, I also found it dampened down my personality.

The affirmation is this:

I am independent of the good or the bad opinions of others.

Hoo-wee, that is a big one for me. I have spent my life seeking approval from others, being self-conscious because I was wondering how others saw me, having this image of myself that I have tried to maintain as a nice, caring person.

I am now trying to bust out of this shell of self-limitation. It might seem small, but I have worn a bikini at the beach and at my friend’s pool because I wanted to work on my tan despite not having a “perfect” body, by the standards of the media.

I have decided to speak up more instead of letting it slide when people say something that sparks a reaction in me. My friends seem to have no problems setting boundaries and saying what they think, so why don’t I?

Kyle Cease has a segment on his website called the 100 Day Self-Connection Experiment. Back in 2015, he decided to meditate for two hours a day for 100 days and make a short video about his discoveries about himself every day.

I have never been a meditator so I decided to start small. The last three mornings I have got out of bed, drunk my glass of lemon water and taken a cup of tea back to bed to do my sitting. He does not use any special techniques, and neither do I. I started with 20 minutes the first day, and have increased the time by five minutes each day. I just sit there with my eyes closed and when the thoughts come up I try not to attach to them or follow them down the rabbithole but come back into myself and the present moment. I find a good way to bring myself back is to focus on my breath, or the feeling of my hands touching each other, or the sounds coming in the window.

I have enjoyed these sessions though there haven’t been any breakthrough moments yet. It’s probably too early. And I am trying not to have any expectations or attachments. I have watched the first few of Kyle’s videos though I am not using them as a guide or something to compare myself to.

I’m sharing here because this is something I wanted to write about and this blog is not just about yarn, believe it or not! It’s about my life too. And I felt that talking about this might help someone else.

Awesome weekend


Just a quick post to say Hi. I’ve been out of town this weekend. There was a group of seven women in two vehicles and I was one of the drivers. I didn’t set the trip meter but there were many hours of driving. From here to the coast on Friday, around the city every day, and back home today. I am converted to the use of a GPS as I couldn’t have done it without one! Well, my fellow passengers could have used a paper map but it would have probably taken longer to get around.

The weekend was full of spiritual and physical food, new friends, great experiences. We were welcomed by so many people, entertained, accommodated and fed.  Highlights include sushi making class, learning the Chinese tea ceremony, yoga, visiting Steveston Landing in Richmond, BC, and a high wind that blew through Vancouver with such a force that many tree branches and leaves ended up on the road and the power went out in many places.

Not only did our group of seven have a great bonding experience, with lots of laughs and hugs, but we met new people who just flowed out love, generosity, selflessness. It was a true life lesson and I want to keep that feeling and draw on it in my daily life.

Now that I’m back, I need to make a list of a few priorities, like getting my middle son registered for courses at the local college, preparing a talk for next weekend, and deciding what scrap projects I want to crochet with my stash of acrylics! I have a lot of greens, blues and pinks in older acrylic, and my plan is to combine them with black somehow to make another blanket. I welcome any ideas for colourful stained-glass type afghans.

I ordered myself some birthday yarn from Deramores. They had a 25% off deal and I have invested in some more Stylecraft yarn. This time, it’s the Special DK and the Harlequin. Plus some Aran weight in black. I think one can combine more colours in an attractive way if one borders the motifs with a single neutral. Having said that, I was browsing through people’s Ravelry projects just now and saw a gorgeous Groovyghan which was VERY bright. I had to Favourite it with a click on the Heart. Maybe I’ll make another Groovyghan with the stash. But first, I know, I should get on with the current WIP. I didn’t get a stitch of crochet done over the weekend – one of the downsides of being the driver.

I think it’s time to write down my priorities and actually attend to them each day. Now that the weather has cooled down, there are fewer excuses for things like daily walks. I will leave you with this from my weekend of spiritual sustenance:


Christmas Eve

Our Somewhat Wonky Christmas Tree!

Our Somewhat Wonky Christmas Tree!

Hello everyone. I hope you are all having a peaceful, joyful, non-stressful Christmas experience so far.

Christmas has become so commercialized, with too many people just spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need. This isn’t a rant, honest! For years, we didn’t really “do” Christmas. Well, we kept the traditions we liked, and shed parts we didn’t.

When the boys were younger…I think ds1 was about 12, so the younger ones would have been 9 and 6…it got to the stage where having “Santa” come to our house on Christmas Eve and leave presents on the bottom of their beds became too difficult. It was the oldest who used to get so excited that he couldn’t sleep, and I was having to stay up later every year to get the presents delivered to their rooms so I could go to bed. That year that ds1 was about 12, I said to him that if he couldn’t get to sleep then Santa would just leave his gifts downstairs by the fireplace instead. And that’s what happened.

Afterwards, I rehashed Christmas entirely. Santa no longer came to the house. I broke it to them that Santa wasn’t real (they didn’t seem too surprised!) and that we were going to celebrate by giving each other gifts. From that year on, Santa was persona non grata and we called it Yule! We started having our main dinner on the Solstice, the 21st, I no longer sent Christmas cards, we kept the tradition of the tree and lights and explored other pagan roots of the season. For a few years, we went wassailing around the garden, leaving donations of bread and apple juice for future fertility. The boys made a huge effort to give each other numerous small gifts so that the base of the tree was loaded with fun stuff to open, and we didn’t miss Santa at all.

Gradually, we settled into a tradition that felt right for us. A small family gathering (because all of our extended family are on the other side of the Atlantic), a big vegan dinner, gifts with a reasonable budget. Baking which might include fruit cake, gingerbread cookies, mince pies. A couple of years running, we delivered gingerbread cookies to the neighbours…that was lovely. And of course a real tree.

As the boys have grown, things have changed slightly. Ds1 is now 22 and living with room-mates. We work around his festivities with friends. Tai Chi Man has only certain days off over Christmas and New Year. And now I have work hours too – I worked on the Solstice and will also be working New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

This year, the plan is to actually have our big dinner on Christmas Day and give gifts then. (When Tai Chi Man and I first met, I adopted the Swiss way of giving gifts on Christmas Eve. Then it became the Solstice. Now it’s any time that works for everyone.)

Now I am flexible. Have you noticed that the less rigid you are about something, the less stress you have? It’s taken me a long time to realize that I have less control than I think, and that trying to control everything invariably leads to stress. Best to relax and go with the flow. If that means having Christmas dinner on a different day, then so be it. I think the important thing is to enjoy being with family and be grateful for the abundance of good food. This year, of course, Tai Chi Man is thousands of miles away – his mum’s funeral was Monday and he will be spending Christmas with his dad and two brothers. My plan is to have a second Christmas when he gets back.

The fewer attachments we have to the outcome of things, the easier it is to accept what happens.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it (or not), and a healthy, happy, peaceful and joyful New Year.

apologies may be necessary


I am in the process of resizing the images from my blog, possibly even deleting old photos completely. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that my subscribers will get a slew of old posts coming up in their feeds, but I need to do this so that I can free up space for new blog posts.

Bear with me for a while!

Edited to add:

Wow, what an experience, reading the stuff I wrote in 2008. I was still using Blogger at the time rather than WordPress, and I had recently set up my own blog, having separated from a group of friends with whom I used to blog. There’s a lot of negativity about various aspects of my life – I obviously wasn’t in a good place emotionally. But then I re-read this (below) and I felt so relieved and grateful that the old me found this book and was actually able to put the advice into practice and become a better person as a result. And I feel that the blog posts I write now are so much more upbeat, reflecting the person I am today.


I have just re-read this book, Radical Forgiveness, by Colin C Tipping. I read it a few years ago, then was reminded of it when Amanda mentioned it. I believe in synchronicity. I put the book on hold at the library and have enjoyed reading it a second time.

I don’t subscribe to any organised religion. My beliefs are an eclectic mix, and I have respect for some of the beliefs from various cultures including Buddhism, Wicca and Native American. Having an open mind is important while reading this book.

The book talks about people as being spiritual beings having a human experience. It says that we decide on the learning experience that we will have on earth before we are born into our physical bodies. If we are upset by someone, we are being given the chance to heal past hurts. We need to get away from the victim mentality and recognise that everything that happens to us is created by us for a reason.

Towards the end of the book, the author gives a worksheet to enable the reader to work through a specific problem. Long before I reached that worksheet, I had already found myself at a place where I was able to see that the strife with my friends a few months ago was meant to happen – I created it, even though I didn’t see it at the time. I have played the victim role, complaining about what happened, and my internal dialogue was making me miserable.

I have now moved on to a state of radical forgiveness, which is unlike traditional forgiveness. Radical Forgiveness involves realising that there is nothing to forgive – my friends and I played our roles as we were meant to. If for some reason I do not learn my life lesson this time, then I will continue to attract similar situations until I succeed.

I have no doubt that anger and resentment can cause disease in the body. I have had to visit the doctor recently and, whilst he treated the symptoms, he made no indication of knowing the real cause of my problem. But I do. It was emotional stress and tension. Now that I have dealt with the real cause, my physical problem is going away.

I don’t know what will happen to the relationships that were affected by all this “personal growth”, but I am feeling better in myself, I feel happy again, and I am no longer dwelling on the past or making assumptions about the future. I definitely recommend this book!

on to more serious topics


I have minimal energy today and have to assume it’s the 34 degree weather outside. The house is hot and stuffy and I feel like I’m moving through molasses. We have to keep the windows, at least on the south side, closed all day. The UV film is doing a grand job of reflecting much of the heat and glare, but these days I feel quite claustrophobic if I can’t have a window open and feel air passing over my skin.

I suppose we could go down to the beach and cool off in the lake, like we did last night, but we all seem to be satisfied to be indoors doing as little as possible. If we get the promised thunderstorm tonight, I will be out there getting wet!

I have some topics I’d like to write seriously about, to make a change from small talk and knitting. If I can get my brain cells to co-operate, I’ll tackle one today and the others later. (I even fell asleep on the sofa at lunchtime, I felt so tired.) I’ll start with the easiest for now.

One of the things I often wonder about is why women put on weight in different places. What I mean is, one of my friends has put on weight over the last couple of years, but it’s all around her middle. She’s an “apple” – her legs are as slim as ever. I, however, put on weight/keep it on around my thigh area – I’m a “pear.” Now why would there be two such different body types? Are we descended from two very different genetic types? Why wouldn’t we just put on weight evenly all over? Actually, since I continued to put on weight, it has distributed itself all over my body eventually, working its way up and down from the aforementioned thigh area. Now that I am making a concerted effort to eat less, it will be interesting to see what shrinks first! If only it would NOT be my boobs!!

Another thing I have been curious about is how our bodies change as we age. I have a senior friend who writes a column for the local newspaper and she thinks that someone should write a book called, “What to Expect when You’re Aging,” similar to the format of “What to Expect when You’re Expecting!”

I will be celebrating my 50th birthday this month – yes, really celebrating, I have actually organised a party on the beach and invited a ton of friends. In the summer, we tend to show off more skin and notice what’s going on with our bodies when the winter sweaters come off. Being on the beach, surrounded by people in varying states of undress, gives you a chance to see the immense range of human bodies. The skin of a 20 year old, smooth and peachy, is so different from mine with its age spots and cellulite, which again is so different from the 80 year old grandmother with all her saggy lumpy bits. But it’s all good.

It’s taken me nearly 50 years, but I am finally learning that the body that we inhabit in this lifetime is just our “earthsuit.” Yes, it’s important to feed it well, keep it healthy and strong, because it is the vehicle for our soul, but the way it looks is nowhere near as important as the movies and magazines would have us think.

Most of the time now, I look at my body, or check in with how it feels, and feel comfortable and happy. It’s ironic that my butt is 1.5 times the size it was when I was 20 but I don’t have a problem with it any more! Occasionally I’ll catch sight of my upper arm, looking a little dangly (what is it with that upper arm thing that suddenly hits in our forties?), or look down at my legs that look like the surface of the moon, and as soon as the old negative thought starts to form I’ll nip it in the bud. It really doesn’t matter. It’s what’s inside that counts.





miscellaneous update #532


I don’t know how many “miscellaneous updates” I have written over the last few years. It probably isn’t 532, though I believe I have written over 800 posts in total (WordPress will tell me when I publish this).

Firstly, dad’s health. Not sure how much I’ve revealed on the blog so far, but if you’ve been reading for a while you know my dad has lung cancer. Well, since my trip to the UK in April and May, his health has declined. He had a CT scan last Friday and is due to meet with the oncologist tomorrow. My family knows the scan results, but he doesn’t, so I will reveal more in a day or two.

Second, a very healthy dessert recipe, which I made for a potluck baby shower at the weekend. Triple Almond Cherry Crumble Squares. I forgot to prebake the base before adding the cherry jam and topping. My squares were quite delicate, but nice all the same. Not overly sweet.

The blanket is now about 22.5 inches long and getting quite heavy. It’s a bit lumpy and bumpy at the moment because of the different weights of yarn. Not sure how I will wash/block it yet.

And as for my beach knitting, I have reached the end of the first ball of Knitpicks Comfy and have Russian-joined the next ball on. The scarf is now about 25 inches long, so obviously I’m anticipating a scarf that is about 50 inches when finished, plus a possible extra bit after blocking.

This yarn is very soft and I am loving to knit with it. My friend oohed and aahed over it yesterday.

The 12 row repeat is very simple to follow. This would be an excellent first lace project.

And yet more miscellaneousness – I mean, miscellany. I haven’t shampooed my hair all week. No, it’s not icky at all. Instead I have been using conditioner only in the shower, massaging it into my scalp and all the way through to the ends. It feels very soft and looks clean. I do still add a little mousse if I want some curl definition. I know many people have stopped using shampoo and I have tried it before, experimenting with baking soda and vinegar, but the conditioner-only thing seems to be working well for now.

And finally…the Fifty Percent Plan. For the last month, I have been applying a new principle. Eating 50% of what I was eating before. Half size smoothies; muesli in a really small bowl with only a quarter cup of oats and half a banana (plus some other stuff); one sandwich; one bagel; one serving of dinner and salad on a small plate. You know you’ve been eating too much when you can cut it in half and don’t feel hungry.

My motivation was that (a) I knew I was eating too much – it was a bad habit, (b) I didn’t want to get any bigger, and (c) I didn’t like feeling overstuffed and uncomfortable after I’d eaten. I haven’t weighed or measured myself but I do feel more comfortable in my clothes. On the occasions that I’ve allowed myself to have an extra bagel, or whatever, I’ve done it consciously, in the full awareness that I don’t need it and I’ll probably regret it later!

Eating mindfully is an important part of this effort. Feeling thankful for the food, not multi-tasking, and eating more slowly all contribute to making it easier to eat less.

So I think that’s us all up to speed. Have a great day!