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2014/09/11 / Shanan


I’ve been looking through the documentaries section on Netflix lately (on a side note, I’ve become convinced that the time we all spend Netflix-browsing amounts to no less, and possibly way more, than the many, many torturous hours we racked up in our ‘old,’  pre-internet-streaming lives, circling the crammed shelves in the video store on a Friday evening, trying to figure out what to rent – it’s just become that bad.  But I digress…) and it compelled me to mentally catalogue the films I’ve watched over the years that have really managed to stick with me.

I tend to gravitate towards biographical accounts of creative people (no real surprise there) so this short list is pretty heavy on that front.  I can just as easily get sucked into docs about crime or politics or all the poisonous food we consume, but then I spend the aftermath obsessing about whether or not it was ‘true’ or horribly biased or what have you.

These are in no particular order:

1.   Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (dir: Freida Lee Mock, 1994, Ocean Releasing)

This is one of the first contemporary art-related documentaries I was shown as a young adult, in my undergrad Visual Studies class.  It focuses on then-21-year-old Yale architecture student Maya Lin, who won the design competition for the Vietnam Veteran’s War Memorial in the early ’80s.  She weathered a ton of backlash and controversy and I remember it seemed so overwhelming to imagine someone just a little older than I was at the time, dealing with these harsh critics and making art on such a large, public scale.  Lin seemed so brave.  And, everyone ate their words – when it was finally completed, the memorial was considered hugely successful, and still stands as one of the most introspective and emotional public art tributes in the USA.


2.  Surfwise (dir. Doug Pray, 2007, Magnolia Pictures)

The story of a doctor in the 1960s who left his job, packed up his wife and nine kids (yes, nine), and went to surf and live out of an RV.  Sometimes their nomadic existence seemed idyllic, sometimes borderline abusive.  The family’s nonconformist lifestyle was both really inspiring and… also pretty f*cked up.  This was one of those engrossing films that I finished watching and immediately burst into confused yet oddly cathartic tears.  I do that sometimes. You should see this.


3.  I am Trying to Break your Heart: A Film About Wilco (dir. Sam Jones, 2002, FusionFilms)

Once upon a time there was a girl who pretty much worshipped at the altar of Wilco, and who somehow managed to fly to their hometown of Chicago over the weekend where they not only performed but also premiered the film, and it was like, the most ridiculously awesome thing ever.  And I she still loves watching this documentary.  True story.


4.  The Devil and Daniel Johnston (dir. Jeff Feuerzeig, 2005, Sony Pictures)

God, this one’s an actual heartbreaker.  Daniel Johnston, cult musician and artist, has been called the “greatest singer-songwriter alive today.”  He also suffers from mental illness and lives at home with his parents, where he obsesses over demonic possession and a former childhood sweetheart.  This doc could have been an exploitative mess, but manages to be respectful and tender, yet unflinching.


5.  7 Up series (dir. Michael Apted, 1964-2012 and ongoing, Granada Television)

“Give me a boy until he is 7 and I will give you the man.”  An attempt to succinctly describe this documentary series while still doing it justice feels like an exercise in futility, as I’m sure there have been full-blown academic theses written about it over the last 40 years.  In 1964, 14 seven year olds from different upbringings in London were chosen to participate in interviews where they were asked about school, their families, and what they wanted to do when they grew up.  The experiment was predicated on the assumption that social class basically pre-destined all their futures, but the series has become so much more than that.

The children were charming, arrogant, shy, and funny.  Seven years later, at age 14, they were interviewed again — and so on, every seven years, up until the latest instalment at age 56.  It’s absolutely fascinating to get glimpses of these people and how they’ve grown up and changed; from childhood through adolescence, careers, marriage and their own kids, divorce, aging, and also self-awareness about their participation (or lack thereof) in the ongoing films.  Masterful, compelling, the whole thing.  Great binge-watching material.

tom ford

6.  Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind of Tom Ford (OWN productions, 2011)

My friend Kristin had me watch this (she’s always sending me interesting and amusing fashion sites and video links, including this classic) and although I tended to be somewhat neutral on Tom Ford the brand, I became really intrigued by Tom Ford the man.   He’s exacting, obsessive, obviously hugely talented and creative, surprisingly (?) self-reflexive, and he bathes about three times a day, sometimes five.  Tom Ford, you have seduced me.

There are SO many great biographical documentaries out there — do you have any to recommend?

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2014/09/05 / Shanan


Praise be to the late-summer harvest and behold the bounty that we have reaped.


homemade jarred pickles

More homemade pickles than any one household really needs! (In the interest of full disclosure, our cucumbers didn’t do too well this year so Chris bought a bushel from our favourite farm market up the road, Currie’s, to use as raw material)

garden large zucchini

Zucchinis attack!

Have a fantastic weekend, everybody.

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2014/09/03 / Shanan


I haven’t been shopping for clothes in a long while (frugality and pregnancy combine to create the perfect anti-retail storm) but was inspired to do a little virtual wardrobe scouting when Warby Parker reached out to me about their beautiful new Fall collection.

In case you don’t know about Warby Parker, their ethos is great – for every pair of glasses purchased they distribute a pair to someone in need.  Through their partnership with VisionSpring they have, to date, distributed over 500,000 pairs around the world.

I don’t actually need glasses, but you have to admit that the right pair can be a pretty chic building block to base an outfit off of…  Here are three Autumn outfit interpretations for girls with glasses (guaranteed to get you passes, natch).

(above) GIRL ONE: quirky + chic

1.  Nash glasses in crystal by Warby Parker (I especially love these frames!).

2.  Dotted fox print dress by Tsumori Chisato, via La Garconne.

3.  Ovid faux fur vest by Sunday Best, via Aritzia.

4.  Slate blue oxfords by MM6 by Maison Martin Margiela, via La Garconne.

Warby Parker fall 2014 inspired outfit

GIRL TWO: laid-back + mysterious

1.  Chandler Ti glasses in newsprint grey by Warby Parker.

2.  Boxy pocket top in navy map by Steven Alan.

3.  Antique sterling silver tiger locket, via Erie Basin.

4.  High Riser skinny cut-edge jeans in black sea by Madewell.

5.  Eye print scarf by Kenzo, via SSense.

6.  Classic Newbury boots in slate by Rag & Bone.


GIRL THREE: bookish + bad-ass

1.  Annette glasses in petal tortoise by Warby Parker.

2.  Trouble sweatshirt by Sea, via Moda Operandi.

3.  Colorblock space dye skirt by M Missoni, via Shopbop.

4.  Pebble T-bar cuff in amethyst lace by Lizzie Fortunato.

5.  Studded Bibi bag by Mayle, via Club Monaco.

6.  Coal Chelsea ankle boot by Marni, via Totokaelo.

Check out the rest of the styles from the new Fall 2014 collection at the Warby Parker website.  See ya!

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2014/09/01 / Shanan


I know.  I KNOW.  Hi, it’s been awhile.

I’ve kind of had a month-long unexplained absence from The Symmetric and I’ve been wrestling with guilt and crappy feelings over it all.

It’s been a weird time for me.  This second pregnancy has, to be honest, been wreaking havoc with my body and emotions a lot more than I was expecting.  Physical blah-blah-woman-stuff has forced me to be off my feet quite a bit, which has meant limited time to do all the regular household things and take care of my design work, and also lots of mom guilt (“Sure, you can watch another Caillou…”).  I’ve realized that I just need to let go of trying to do everything, and focus on taking better care of myself.  At least for the next few months.

That being said, there have been plenty of great things that have happened through this last gasp of summer…

I finally got my m*therf*cking driver’s license.

My dearest friend Natalia came up to visit from NYC and we got to be single gals in the city for a couple of days.

I threw a really lovely baby shower brunch for my sister, who is due in just under a month (!).

We finished renovating our basement – photos to come, if I ever get it together to pick up my camera again.

And, despite the woeful neglect happening in our garden, we are now harvesting buckets upon buckets of heirloom tomatoes, which could safely be classified as my favourite food on earth.

I have a TON to be thankful for; I guess I just feel a little lost right now.

I have missed this space, though — writing, taking photos, collecting ideas… it’s felt like there’s an important piece of me missing.  I need to start flexing that creative muscle again.  I hope you’ll come back my way — I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading.  Missed ya.

xx Shanan

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2014/07/21 / Shanan


I’m aware that anybody who knows me is going to think I’ve gone nuts.

I’ve put up a couple posts recently wherein I’ve jokingly drawn attention to this old paint-splattered puffy vest of my husband’s, and people are coming out of the woodwork in support of the utilitarian wardrobe item whose very existence is my bane.  All the popular sporty girls in my high school wore Mountain Equipment Co-op puffy vests every day and I pretty much vowed one would never slip over my shoulders.

It actually gets pretty chilly at night here in the summer, so if we’re sitting around the bonfire or what have you, dressing warm is still key.  So I guess it made me wonder if, hypothetically of course, it were even possible to pull off a puffer vest and look relatively cool.  Well it kind of turns out you can?

Image above: Just Cavalli floral down puffer vest, via Nordstrom.  Because you may as well go crazy with a print.


Keep the rest of the outfit cut slim and simple.  Maybe add a belt?  Citizens of Humanity quilted denim vest, from Anthropologie via Svpply.


Buffalo plaid ups the classic factor: Madewell fireside vest (this one’s a bit light on the puff).


Love the high-end modern sporty feel of this Peter Pilotto sleeveless print puffer vest in grey, via Lyst.


Complete your beautiful hipster lumberjack look with a navy hoodie puffer vest, via Ali Express.

Which would you choose?  I mean, if you were absolutely forced to wear one of these, in public…