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2013/09/09 / Shanan


I have zero in the way of exploratory travel plans on my radar at the moment, but I do enjoy imagining a night in any of these rentals via Air BnB.  Would you ever stay somewhere, er, unconventional?  I don’t know if my camp would go for it, ultimately, but these properties caught my eye…

treehouse andalucia spain interior

Images above, below, and up top: Just some gorgeous treehouse with a private pool in a natural park in Andalucia, Spain.  NBD.

treehouse andalucia spain private pool

Cubehouse Rotterdam rental weird architecture

Image above and below: If the jetlag doesn’t get you, the vertigo will. Weird architecture in the form of the ‘CubeHouse‘ in Rotterdam.


Houseboat rental Amsterdam

Would you ever stay on a houseboat? One of my fondest childhood travel memories involves my parents renting a houseboat with another family… Picture all the Vacation movies rolled into one and set on water for a week.


I assure you that our rental did not resemble this one in any way.  Isn’t this amazing?

Pittsburgh mirrored art house rental

And finally, welcome to Crazytown (aka Pittsburgh).  I want to go to there, and get to know these people.

mirrored house exterior pittsburgh rental

It looks a little more unassuming from the outside (save for the fact that it’s mirrored and all).

I’ve tended to play it pretty safe when it comes to accommodations, but I do feel lacking in the adventure department after seeing a glimpse of the possibilities out there.  Would you stay in any of these??

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2013/09/03 / Shanan


Sorry for the silent treatment, but my head’s been elsewhere these last few days.  I won’t get too deep into it, but I’ve been extremely anxious about Theo starting school (especially vis à vis her seemingly-forever-in-progress toilet-training) and my first in-car driving lesson, which is booked for this afternoon.  I consider myself lucky that I have, in my daily life in general, very little that truly stresses me out.  I mean I still get tired, and can feel overwhelmed, and I have my bi-monthly personal crisis about work and money, but those things don’t provoke the deep-down visceral reaction I’ve been experiencing lately that I just can’t shake.  I don’t really feel like myself.

My defence mechanism has been to retreat into harvesting and canning and preserving the ridiculous bounty that our garden has been giving up.  It’s something that has to be done right now, which turns out to be good timing. And, it temporarily mellows me out a LOT.  Have I told you my theory about the internet morphing into a space that exists for the sole purpose of posting photos of your food and your kids?

home canning dill pickles jalapeños

Image up top: Pickled green beans and corn. Above: Just a few of the many jars of garlic dill pickles and jalapeños I’ve canned.  Oh yeah no biggie, but I’ve been told I make the best pickles ever.

blanching freezing green beans garden

Blanched garden green beans cooling off in an ice-water-bath before going into the freezer.

dill flowers

We could fill our entire kitchen with dill flowers if we so choose it.  Oh, it smells amazing.

huge garden tomato

The biggest tomato so far generously sacrificed itself in a delicious caprese salad.

jar preserved lemons

I even made a jar of preserved lemons.  I don’t even know what preserved lemons are, or what they taste like.

twisted heirloom carrots

The heirloom carrots are caught in a compromising position.  Oy, that’s all I got today.  Coach, I promise I’ll be back in the game shortly. With 110%.  Thanks for listening.  xx Shanan

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2013/08/28 / Shanan


Do you know My New Roots?  If you’re not familiar with holistic nutritionist Sarah Britton’s recipe site, then I’m not kidding – you should surf over there right now, get really inspired to make all kinds of amazing healthy food, then come back and read this post so you can fully appreciate my excitement upon getting the opportunity to meet her.  Or hell, just stay on her site and forget about me.  I’d understand.

Sarah currently lives in Denmark but is originally from my hometown of Toronto.  She’s spent the summer here and hosted an early evening potluck picnic in Trinity Bellwoods park last week.  I’m usually eagerly dorky but shy about this type of thing, so I was thrilled when Kristin asked if I was interested in going together and taking the kids along.  Theo and I were spending a few days in the city so it worked out perfectly.

My New Roots vegan potluck picnic Toronto Trinity Bellwoods

Guests brought all different kinds of great vegan dishes; every girl was wearing a cute summer dress, and it was all very welcoming and relaxed.  We were the only ones with littles in tow so we spread out our own blanket adjacent to the action and tried not to draw too much attention to ourselves.  “But mummy, I don’t WANNA eat the kale salad!” Ummm…

Sarah Britton My New Roots potluck picnic toronto

Sarah couldn’t have been nicer, and I told her that our favourite My New Roots recipe in current rotation was her Spring Samosas.  She is pregnant with her first baby and planning a home birth, which always excites me to hear (someday maybe I’ll write about our birth experience?).  I’m so glad I went to the picnic and major props go out to Kristin for bringing extra food, plates, and blankets for Theo and I to enjoy.

vegan potluck picnic


Me, dressing up like a proper city girl again.


Gorgeous boys Misa and Paavo.


Theo taking her Life-Changing Loaf of Bread very, very seriously.


All photos by The Symmetric/Shanan Kurtz, except for the group picnic and shot of Sarah, by Kristin Somborac. Don’t even ask me what’s up with the blue dots.

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2013/08/23 / Shanan


Isn’t it funny how just a week after returning from a vacation, it almost feels like it never happened?  Here’s the last of our trip highlights – it’s kind of a salt-water-taffy-esque grab-bag (hardly the Maine attraction, har har).

Image above: You can’t be a true ‘Maine-ah’ unless you have a lobster roll.  This one was from the Portland Lobster Company.

portland love locks harbour

Portland now has its very own set of love locks.  I mean it’s kind of romantic, right?


portland maine children's museum

We visited the Children’s Museum of Maine which was fantastic, not the least of which because I remember going when I was little.  The displays have obviously all been updated since the Cambrian period (or whenever it was that I was a kid) but they still had many of the same type of attractions that were so vivid to me: a play supermarket, pirate ship, dress-up space, etc.


Theo’s favourite was the room where you collected plastic coloured balls in buckets and got to drop them down different ramps and slides.  There were some crazy hyper kids in that room but she was laser-focused.



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2013/08/20 / Shanan


Last weekend Leticia and her little boy came up to stay, and after the kids were in bed and we’d made elderflower liqueur cocktails and settled into the deep leather couch that’s nearly impossible to get up from, she brought out the most gorgeous set of tarot cards I’d ever seen.

California artist Kim Krans is The Wild Unknown, and her interpretive illustrations feel like ancient engravings as rendered through the filter of hippie/hipster iconography (which I say as a compliment).  Every one of the 78 cards is lovingly detailed, yet still possess a certain mystery – a darkness, if you will.

The Wild Unknown tarot cards Kim Krans

I’ve always had an interest in the forms of arcane knowledge that go along with reading palms, deciphering dreams, drawing up astrological charts.  I mean, colour me surprised if you were once a teenage girl and you weren’t into these things.  But I’d never really done tarot cards, maybe they always felt a bit scary?


Leticia is still learning, as reading the tarot is something of an art.  I visualized my question and pulled out three cards (future, present, and past).  I asked about my creative path and where to focus my energies, and these were my cards.  She read to me from the tarot book and we talked about what the messages might mean to me.  It was a very positive reading and an opportunity to reflect on how I’ve been feeling about this inspired shift which has occurred over the past few months.

The Wild Unknown tarot reading book

The Wild Unknown Kim Krans tarot card strength lion

The whole experience was so intriguing that I think I might have to get a deck for myself. Leticia bought hers at Far Away Eyes in Toronto.  The set can also be purchased through The Wild Unknown website (Kim sells beautiful posters as well) and online at Bona Drag (also featuring ‘The Tarot Collection‘, an amazingly cool collaboration of silver rings and pendants with jewelry line Unearthen).

Have you had your tarot cards ‘read’ before?  Any secret tips?