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2014/05/02 / Shanan


We tend to not take Mother’s Day too seriously in these parts; not that I don’t welcome an excuse to fête and be fêted, of course.  We just don’t usually do gifts, especially of the typical tea, apron, or fancy scarf persuasion.  I always feel that if I’m going to get something for my mum, it should be tailored to her in particular — not based on some trope of what mothers are ‘supposed’ to like.

So, here’s my virtual gift guide just for you, Marms.  Maybe the rest of you might find something here that strikes a chord, too?

Image above:  Why wait ’til 5pm? This couldn’t be more spot-on if it tried: Notes of Chardonnay eau de parfum by Kelly & Jones, via Brika.

mean girls pencils carbon crusader regina's mom

Hot pink Mean Girls-inspired pencils from The Carbon Crusader.  Because she’s not like a regular mom, she’s a cool mom <wink>.  Oh, and also because none of her damn pens ever work.

good wife dvd set

We LOVE this show.  Superb acting, great writing, and my mother only watches a TV series if it’s available on DVD, so she doesn’t even know the insane plot thing that happened this season (no spoilers here)!!

vintage gold locket mother's day gift

A vintage gold locket, because she wears delicate jewelry and you could personalize it by tucking a tiny childhood photo of yourself inside (or one of her beloved cat…).

windows htc smartphone

For the love of god, please get rid of that ridiculous Blackberry that you can’t operate and get a phone that’s easy to use.  Consider this a Mother’s Day intervention!  The Windows Phone by HTC fits the bill.

Are you doing anything special for your mum this year?

xx Shanan

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2014/03/24 / Shanan


My baby turned three last week and we celebrated with a mermaid birthday party.  Theo’s original request was to “fill up the whole house with water” but she eventually settled for helium balloons and cupcakes.  Three year olds, man – they’re nothing if not easy to please (except when they’re not…).

I wanted to put something together that Theo would love, without seeming like a Pinterest-crazed party mom.  It felt like we got it right because I got to craft up fun little details, but the whole affair remained pretty loose and messy in absolutely the best way.  I hope you don’t mind me sharing some photos from the day…

mermaid party bead necklace

What to do if you want to have a mermaid-themed party but don’t want to bring Disney into the equation? We skirted the Ariel thing by making mermaid necklaces out of ‘sea treasures’ (blue and green beads, faux pearls, enamel stars, and easter grass for seaweed) to give to her friends.

mermaid party balloons fringe garland

Theodora and Wyn, comrades in arms and uncombed hair.

mermaid party gifts

Yes, apparently I got pretty excited when the birthday girl opened that DVD copy of Frozen.  Do you want to build a snowman??

mermaid party bathtub fishing game

Fishing in the bathtub!  This turned out to be a huge hit.


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2014/03/20 / Shanan


Spring, you say?  Not around these parts.  We are still raging with cabin fever, so let’s sneak in another instalment of The Symmetric’s Dystopian Book Club before we get all, ahem, happy again.  If you missed the first one, we’re reading contemporary dystopian fiction and pairing it with a stiff drink.  Because if ever there was an excuse to get shit-faced, it’s with a book club (or, you know, while reading depressing stories about future societal downfall).

THE BOOK:  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage International, 2005) is a subtle but disturbing favourite.  It tells the story of three friends who meet at a private school in England, and follows them from childhood through to their ultimate fated ends.  The novel unfolds slowly, and I wouldn’t want to give away too many details — we gradually learn that the story is taking place in a dystopian society in the 1990s, and that it involves the breeding of human clones.  It’s a heartbreaker.

THE DRINK:  I’ve paired it with a spiked punch recipe suitable for sharing with friends. ‘Mother’s ruin’ is the old British slang for ‘gin.’  Here’s the original from Food and Wine.

Mother’s Ruin Punch (makes 8 servings)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup chilled club soda

1 1/2 cups gin

1 1/2 cups fresh grapefruit juice, plus 3 thinly sliced grapefruit wheels, for garnish

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup sweet vermouth

2 1/4 cups chilled Champagne or sparkling wine

In a large pitcher, stir sugar with club soda until dissolved. Stir in the gin, grapefruit and lemon juices and sweet vermouth and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Transfer the punch to a large bowl. Gently stir in the Champagne and float the grapefruit wheels on top. Serve in punch glasses over ice.

Just a note: the movie version of Never Let Me Go, with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley, was actually okay but if ever there was a time to skip the Coles’ Notes and go for the real thing, this is it. I love this book.  Have you read it?

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2014/03/13 / Shanan


HEY. HO.  Oh geez, really?

You know how time goes by and, say, you want to phone up one of your old friends but it feels daunting because you haven’t spoken in awhile and so you put it off, and more time passes and then it seems like if you were to call, you’d have to have an absolutely epic and thus exhausting conversation because there is just so much to catch up on? And then you put it off, for yet another night?

That’s kind of what’s happened here, and the reason why you’ve been subjected to that same weird photo of a chicken wishbone at the top of the page for the last month.  I’m sorry, and I have missed you.

What the hell’s been happening, you ask?  A lot, and a little.  We quietly hosted another lovely trunk show of vintage clothing and jewelry. We’ve both been dealing with increased workloads at our ‘regular’ jobs (Gillian has taken on a third day at hers, and I have had some super stressful situations to handle at mine).  I’ve felt the urge to turn inward lately, reading novels, tackling small house projects… gazing balefully at the snow.  Gillian got bangs. And now it’s March!

So. I’m going to take the reins on the blog for awhile, since Gillian is managing our Etsy shop.  We’re excited to get back into the thick of things and really hope you’ll keep visiting.  xx Shanan

Image above: Poster with photography and gold foil stamping, Congo Studio, via Creature Comforts.

ps. I’ve received some private emails asking about my Tanny, since the last post I did was down in Maine where I was helping to care for her.  She is doing okay – it’s been a pretty difficult recovery but she has just been able to return home (now with around-the-clock care) and is caustic as ever.  Like, she still REALLY wants her Stoli martini with a twist of lime every day at 5pm.  Thanks so much for your concern and sweet words.

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2014/02/11 / Shanan


Hi guys, it’s Shanan. Just wanted to let you know that the blog’s going to be a little quiet this week… I’m down in Maine tending to my grandmother, who broke her hip and had to have surgery.

It’s been an emotional trip so far but it feels good to be here, looking out at the ocean amidst the sparkling snow, surrounded by my Tanny’s things – her family photos, her vast collection of sea-glass, and the creepy drinking bear I was fascinated by as a little kid (seen here).

Gillian’s busy saving the world back in Collingwood, so, sit tight and we’ll see you next Monday.  Hope everyone has a very schmoopy Valentine’s Day. xx

Image above: still-life arrangement on my Tanny’s kitchen windowsill.