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2014/11/19 / Shanan

BORING WEATHER CHATTER

Yeah, so it seems like we went from jumping in massive autumn leaf piles, to this…

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… moderately snow squall-ish, what one might refer to as “Hollywood snow” and all that. And now we’re here:

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Like, full-on deck-the-halls deep mid-winter snow, with a pretty substantial blizzard raging all night last night and the giant snow-plow making the neighbourhood rounds this morning.

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Good thing we’re staying cozy by the (fake coal-burning) fireplace. This is the new one in our basement living room and I love the cast-iron front, which reminds me of one of those old-fashioned fireplaces in a Brooklyn brownstone. We’re trying to find a great piece of unfinished wood for the mantel top and then I can get all into a mantel-decorating hormonal tizzy for the holidays.

(Um… most boring post ever? Can you tell I’m just hanging out here… waiting for a baby…)

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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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2014/10/17 / Shanan

DREAM BUSINESS: FLOWERKRAUT

I’m rounding out the week here with another floral and food-related post – and why the hell not?

I just discovered this inspiring studio, Flowerkraut, located in the heart of now-trendy Hudson, New York. Mairead Rhona Travins and her husband Seth Benjamin Travins run the shop, which bills itself as “where floral design holds hand with lacto-fermentation.” She does the flowers, he sells his famous sauerkraut.  Brilliant. Dream business in my next life, perhaps.

Here’s another peek at their local flower arrangements (I love their wild, undone feel) and great branding (by the inimitable twin sisters known as The Weaver House). Flower studio photographs by Floortje Robertson. Have a beautiful weekend!

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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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2014/09/19 / Shanan

INTO THE WILD

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve made it a point to pick up my camera again after what feels like too long of a hiatus.  I know that documenting one’s every move can seem like the most tedious thing in the world these days, but taking photos when I’m out and about is refreshing once again.  I’m viewing our everyday activities in a new, special light.  And, apparently I blinked and my daughter has become a full-fledged little girl.  When did that happen?  We spent some time being intrepid explorers in the backyard and this is what I captured of my little beauty…

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Telling stories on her ‘mountain house’ in the ‘forest.’

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The classic look of skepticism (my sister and I make this exact same face).

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More and more and more stories.

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“Isn’t it a beautiful day, Mum?” / “It’s a pretty nice temperature out here!” / “What’s yogurt made from?” / “Watch this!!” / “Why doesn’t Daddy wear pyjamas?”

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Picking flowers, always.

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Discovering milkweed pods and their contents.

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Tumbles in the grass (or, the Nottawa version of Christina’s World ? Apologies to Andrew Wyeth <or not>).  Did I really have a hand in creating this imaginative, sensitive, joyous person? Unbelievable.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody.  We plan to hit up the Great Northern Exhibition in Collingwood to see the prize-winning animals and maybe have some pie. Hey, it works for us these days…