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2014/11/21 / Shanan

DUE DATE

Today was our baby’s due date, but it doesn’t look like s/he is in any hurry to make an appearance. I realized that we have exactly ZERO pictures of my big belly this time around, so Chris obliged with the camera while Theo and I hammed it up a little (we’re standing in front of one of his gorgeous paintings). The countdown is on!

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2014/11/11 / Shanan

THE HOME STRETCH

I haven’t written much about this second pregnancy on the blog; although not for any particular reason that I can think of. It seems like babies are good for business (so to speak) but I just couldn’t get it together to document or share, and didn’t want to beat myself up for that.

Now this mysterious creature is due in 10 days, and I’m finally winding down with my design work and random nesting projects, and am finding that my mornings (while Theo is in school) are becoming pretty quiet. So, now I’ve started to reflect on the time ahead more and more.

I think you can kind of ignore being pregnant for the majority of the gestation (especially when it’s not your first baby) and then all of a sudden the prospect of actually giving birth and meeting and caring for this new little person begins to feel real and tangible, and you freak out a bit. Or maybe that’s just me? Our household is kind of baby-crazy at the moment and we are all so excited to finally have the baby in our lives. I’ve been looking back at pictures of Theo when she was just a few days old and it seems miraculous and impossible how teeny she was. But in those quiet moments alone, I wonder, “will I really be able do this again?”

Will I be strong enough to have another natural birth? Can I cope with having a newborn and a three year old, together, and still retain some semblance of my own identity? Will I be a good mother? What will happen with my work (and what do I want my work to actually be, moving forward? That’s a big one)? Will anybody still want to hang out with us?

And most of the time, I know the answer is hell YES I can pull off all of this. But I need to be my own cheerleader and champion and remind myself in a daily-affirmation type of way, in order to really keep it together. Admittedly, it’s not the route I generally take, but sometimes you just have to embrace the Ina-May-Gaskin-rock-star-goddess-within and go with it. And I’m in the home stretch.

Image above: It is clearly illogical to covet a baby spoon as much as I do this one. Silver seahorse and oyster spoon by Flotsam & Jetsam, available from Catbird.

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2014/10/29 / Shanan

MY NATURAL SKINCARE REGIME

Let’s talk about beauty products! Because, well, I mean why not.

I’m always somewhat fascinated to hear what other people use on their skin so here I shall assume that said fascination flows both ways (otherwise I’m just going to look really narcissistic).

A few years ago I started phasing out all the chemical junk I’d been using and I’ve become very particular about the products I now buy. So particular that walking down the aisles in a typical drugstore these days makes me feel like I’m breaking out in hives or something.

I discovered my absolute favourite source for organic beauty, Saffron Rouge, and that’s where I do much of my (online) shopping. I really can’t say enough good things about this company – their product selection, customer service, free samples, etc are truly excellent (nobody’s paying me to write any of this, by the way). And I think if you’re willing to spend a little money on truly natural, top quality brands, they will do the job. Of course everybody has their own particular skincare regime that works, but behold the splendour in the grass and see what I’m using right now:

1.  Suki Exfoliate Foaming Facial Cleanser – I’m a big fan of many Suki products and this is one of their best-sellers. I use it at night and it gently exfoliates my skin while smelling like fresh lemons.

2. Living Nature Vitalising Cleanser – this is my face-wash for the morning, when I can get it together to do the whole skincare routine (sometimes it’s just jump outta bed and listen to the rantings of a three year old and make breakfast and pack the school lunch and then whoops it’s noon). Living Nature products tend to be quite gentle and have a particular ‘natural’ scent that’s not for everyone, but I love them.  The brand is slowly being phased out from Saffron Rouge, which is a shame (the company is based in New Zealand and there’s some sort of change afoot re: their North American distribution) but you can find their full range of products here.

3.  Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum – my sister turned me on to this line and I’m hooked although I will admit upfront that the products are the most expensive I’ve used, so I try to have just one in rotation at a time. This anti-aging serum is more like a light lotion that smells divine and blends into your skin so creamy and smooth. I actually smile a little whenever I put it on. Probably because I look so young again? I have no idea. Available in Canada at Good Gosh Beauty.

4.  Burt’s Bees Anti-Blemish Spot Treatment – it’s just occurred to me that perhaps I should have photographed these products going clockwise in the order I actually use them…*  BB’s is owned by Clorox which doesn’t thrill me but I roll this tea tree-based oil onto any pimples and it does its thing.

5.  John Masters Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 – please tell me you are applying a facial sunscreen every day. My fear of looking like a brown dried prune in the near future scares me into wearing this, which is very highly rated by EWG and doesn’t leave a weird white residue like many other non-chemical sunscreens.

6.  Living Nature Illuminating Foundation – this falls more into the category of makeup, but I do use it every day as my last skincare regime step. It doesn’t actually offer much coverage like a foundation, but rather just adds a really lovely subtle glow to your skin. I’m convinced that whenever I get compliments on my complexion, it’s largely because of this product.

7.  Elabloom Nourishing Facial Oil – I was initially skeptical of the whole ‘oil as moisturizer’ concept that has become a recent trend but let me assure you I am full-on converted. This is a wonderful product and made in Toronto to boot.

8. Suki Clarifying Toner – another great Suki product, with just the right amount of astringency and their signature lemony scent.

On the hunt for: a good eye cream.

And there you have it. This is apparently what takes up so much of my time – applying skincare products. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Next time – natural makeup?

* In order of application: Suki exfoliating cleanser or Living Nature cleanser (P.M. and A.M.), Suki toner, Tata Harper serum, Burt’s Bee’s spot treatment, Elabloom oil, John Masters sunscreen (A.M.), Living Nature foundation (A.M.).

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2014/10/15 / Shanan

FEELING FALL IN OUR BELLIES

We’ve started to embrace the season here at The Orchard, and it seems to be all about food this year. I decorated the dinner table for Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend with dried flowers and local gourds… (cool bunny vase from Anthropologie; similar one here)

apple peeler homemade cider

We gleefully used this miraculous gizmo to peel and core apples for making cider…

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(Seriously, homesteader-type or not, you should get one)

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chocolate layer cake candied kumquats berries

… and of course baking, baking, and more baking.  I may be 200 pounds before this pregnancy is over. This was a decadent confection I made for my niece Hayley’s 16th birthday… four layers of chocolate cake (this recipe is my tried and true and it’s well worth the effort) with raspberry jam and whipped cream, topped with berries and candied kumquats. You’re welcome.

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Oh, and I hear the leaves are spectacular this time of year, too… ;)

Photos by The Symmetric / Shanan Kurtz.

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2014/10/07 / Shanan

HELLO, I MUST BE GOING…

This is going to be a ‘circle of life’ type post wherein both events deserve top billing… but, I have to start somewhere, with one, so this is where it shall be.

It’s been a long, sad time coming, but we had to put down our beloved Pally dog last week.  She had been Chris’ constant companion since long before I met him, and probably the sweetest, most gentle and intelligent dog I’ve known.

I like to think that Pally and I shared many intense moments of mutual understanding over the years; we would cuddle and gaze at each other and connect on a true, rare human-canine wavelength. When I first met Chris, he referred to Pally as his best friend. I never would have thought that seven years later our daughter would be declaring the same thing, with her long skinny arms wrapped around Pally’s fuzzy neck.

We had the local vet come to our house and Pally went calmly into the great unknown lying beneath an apple tree. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day.  She had lived a full border-collie life – first on a farm, then trotting around the city, then back in the country for her last few years. It’s a relief to know that she’s no longer in any discomfort, and that her spirit is likely chasing rabbits in some big field in perpetuity. But we’re also still at the stage where we hear a thump in the next room and think it’s her, or feel like we’re forgetting something when packing up for a car trip. I know if you’ve ever lost a pet that you know this exact feeling.

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So, as with death comes thankfully, this time, a new birth and a really cute baby. My sister and her partner recently welcomed this amazing creature into the world, after a long and difficult labour. This baby boy is currently nameless (!) but he’s already grabbed hold of my family’s heart and likely won’t let go til he becomes a petulant teenager. He’s just so teeny and perfect and I’m so proud of Lauren and Peter. I think I’m going to like being an aunt.

Shortly after Theo was born, Lauren came to live with us for a few months at our place in Toronto. She was going through a rough patch but I remember she was so loving with baby Theo; I guess it’s times like these where I do wish we lived closer together again so that I could get to know her little one really well. But, all in time.

Whooo – this was a tough post to get through. The rest of the week the blog will be back to our regularly-scheduled frivolity, I promise. Thanks for reading xx Shanan