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2014/04/22 / Shanan


I love looking through old books and have especially always had a thing for the hippie-ish publications of my parent’s era.  Their basement is still home to Whole Earth catalogs, Ina May Gaskin books, and slim, hand-illustrated guides to building your own saunas – and thank the lord for that. Now that our family is out of the city and doing the odd quaint country thing like making maple syrup and pickling home-grown vegetables, I find that these books (many out of print) actually contain practical information relevant to aspects of our lives as they are now.  I mean we’re not constructing any saunas yet, but… give us time. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover another fantastic old magazine series that I’d never heard of before, carried at our local library.  It’s called Foxfire.


Started in 1966 by Eliot “Wig” Wigginton and his high school students in Georgia, the class conducted interviews and wrote articles about the lifestyles, traditions, and knowledge of local citizens.  The magazines were gathered into Foxfire anthologies and now, I’m reading about making wagon wheels and moonshine from elderly Appalachian gentlemen.

foxfire-journal-2 foxfire-journal-6

The mixture of practical skills and oral histories on beekeeping, weaving, midwifery, community gatherings, and “more affairs of plain living” feels quite far removed from the majority of my life experience… and yet it speaks to me in a way that’s so refreshing and inspiring, and utterly without airs.  I’m certainly a fan of Kinfolk and all that, but this sh*t is the real deal.


Turns out that Foxfire has continued to thrive and lives on not only as a bi-annual publication, but as a teaching philosophy, museum, and foundation.  You can find more information here.  And if you can’t find any issues at your library, there are quite a few floating around on ebay (I’m going to start collecting them, so… please hold off on the hippie lit bidding wars).

Images in this post taken by The Symmetric in some lovely natural morning light. Just as it was meant to be, no?

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2014/04/16 / Shanan


Sometimes I use Pinterest for collecting ideas and images and objects that feel fitting of a particular theme… it’s not practical, just more about conjuring up a mood from disparate things and seeing where, from a visual vantage point, it may lead.

I was reminded of a few boards I have going and thought I’d do a little virtual collaging (a process which is surprisingly therapeutic…).  The theme today is…


1.  Nomad necklace by Djurdjica Kesic, made from recycled timber, 18K gold, linen thread.

2.  Hunter perfume by MCMC Fragrances, via Cisthene.

3.  Marcel Dzama, You Gotta Make Room for the New Ones, 2005. Ink and watercolour on paper. Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery.

4.  Kate MacDowellCasualty, 2009. Hand built porcelain, glaze.

5.  Calf-hair Chelsea boot in warm caramel from Madewell (last season).

6.  Furniture combining cast aluminium and wood by Hilla Shamia.

7.  “You are Going to Die” article by Tim Kreider for the NYT. Illustration by Daehyun Kim.

8.  Tiny colour block Legacy bag by J.W. Hulme.

9.  Encyclopedia of Flowers, Flower Works by Makoto Azuma, photographed by Shunsuke Shiinoki, published by Lars Müller.

10.  Natural gift wrap ideas from Artifact Uprising.

11.  Katherine Wolkoff, Deer Beds, 2009. Photograph.

(oh ps, are you following The Symmetric on Pinterest?)

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2014/02/03 / Shanan


F*ck you, polar vortex. A few days ago we returned to your icy clutches, but we’ve got the tan-lines to prove that for 10 glorious days, we were free.

Our Barbados trip was by no means perfect (Theo got the stomach flu, and there were the usual complex dynamics at play when one vacations with one’s spouse, child, parents, sister and brother-in-law) but it sure was pretty.  I’ll let the photos do the talking…




I promise I’m not trying to make you insanely jealous, but there’s more…


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2014/01/20 / Shanan


This morning Chris, Theo and I are escaping the big chill and heading to Barbados for a little sun, surf, and family time with my parents (who we’ll be meeting down there). I’m looking forward to tearing into some novels, and my dad can’t stop talking about taking Theo for walks on the beach to pick shells.  CANNOT. WAIT.

I’ve still got blog posts scheduled and Gillian will be here to keep the homestead safe (and take care of our dog). I see lots of duty-free rum in her future. You can keep up with us on Instagram where I’ll undoubtedly be posting a ton of bikini selfless (ha, no). See you soon! xx Shanan

Image above: Theo in Barbados last year, standing at the beach gate in the early morning. Photo by Shanan Kurtz/The Symmetric.

ps. How to travel on an airplane with a toddler.

pps. Total classic.

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2014/01/03 / Shanan


And now, the best of the rest of The Symmetric in 2013!  You can see the first part of our year-end post recap here. Gillian will be back in the (virtual) house next week and we’ll get down to some really. serious. business.  By which I mean, probably not actually very serious at all.


[UPDATED:  The Symmetric reconfigured some of our category titles in 2014, so the following three don’t exist as such anymore – but all the posts still do and have just been recategorized under different headings! S.]


Do these things come with instruction manuals?  Tips for taking your toddler on an airplane. My favourite book to give to little kids. How to plan a little girl’s wardrobe.

We had some fun family outings (and firsts): visiting the zoo, getting ice cream cones, and dyeing Theo’s hair with Kool-Aid (!!).  We pontificated on growing a garden, artistic evolution, home education (or maybe that was just our kids going crazy in the kitchen), and just plain old everyday outdoor magic.

berry aperol float recipe bon appetit vanilla ice cream


There were foodie field trips:  French treats at Nadège Patisserie, a potluck park picnic with Sarah Britton of My New Roots, and most recently a visit to the lovely Creemore Kitchen.

I tried my hand at some recipes… apparently if not juicing, I’m only consuming desserts.  It’s a paradox, my friends: lemon coconut loaf, chocolate ‘terrarium’ cake, aperol floats, lemon cream tart, and apple cinnamon cake.  Detox begins tomorrow.

And, it wouldn’t be a life in the country if we weren’t harvesting apples, canning vegetables, and tapping trees to make our own maple syrup.



I love this category.  It’s the catch-all, really. I took a trip to Nashville with my girlfriends (part 1 and 2), went to Maine with my family (part 1, 2, and 3), reminisced about Chris and I traveling in Iceland, and dreamed about staying in one of these weird abodes.

I took driver’s ed (oh my god and f*ck me), tried a little life-coaching, and started a business with Gillian!  We collected vintage clothing and jewelry and held a trunk show and opened an Etsy shop.

And, I got all nostalgic thinking about summer parties, mix tapes, and the late great Jeff Buckley.  C’est ca.  xx Shanan