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2014/10/15 / Shanan


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…


(Seriously, homesteader-type or not, you should get one)


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.


Oh, and I hear the leaves are spectacular this time of year, too… ;)

Photos by The Symmetric / Shanan Kurtz.

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2014/09/03 / 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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2013/11/20 / Gillian


Now that we have rallied from our PPD (I’ve hidden the BBQ chips), it’s time to dish a little about our trunk show.

We wanted to have a proper in vivo launch for the new incarnation of The Symmetric.  Part cocktail party, part art opening, part pop-up shop, part dream (according to one lovely guest), it was just the concoction we were looking for to fête our new venture and to show our wares to friends in our community.

vintage clothing holiday collection trunk show

Featured at the trunk show Saturday evening was our selection of vintage and antique fine and costume jewelry, as well as vintage holiday clothing and accessories.  In addition to the wardrobe pieces, we displayed limited-edition book art prints, custom shadow boxes with hand-gilded milkweed and thorns, and large-format nature photographs. Shanan’s home (Symmetric HQ and fondly dubbed “The Orchard”) provided a perfect backdrop for the soiree. Filled with so many wonderful women and friends, we were truly tickled pink with the evening. And yes, the rumours are true: we are already whispering ideas for the next one!

Would you like to see some more photos?  Of course you would.


vintage book art prints gallery wall

Vintage book art prints (soon to be available in our upcoming online shop).


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2013/10/14 / Shanan


For mischievous smiles, wooly sweaters, silly dancing, loud get-togethers, boots in tall grass, afternoon sunshine, knowing glances, dumb jokes, brewing cider, mutual understanding, wandering minds, endless baking, light-bulb moments, garden vegetables, changing leaves, moody skies, spontaneous emotions, prospective adventures.

Happy Thanksgiving.  xx Shanan

Image above: Three generations out for a walk before dinner; Theo, Jeannine (my mother-in-law) and I.

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2013/10/09 / Shanan


Keeping promises isn’t really my forté at the moment – after our apple-picking party I may have mentioned that I’d post some recipes for the desserts later that week.  And then I didn’t.  Sigh.  Next thing you know we’ll be forced to endure trust-fall exercises together.

This Apple Cinnamon Cake was the most requested recipe from the day; I used muffin tins here but they will bake up just as beautifully in a loaf pan.  It’s also vegan, if you do so happen to care about that type of thing.

apple cinnamon cake ingredients

apple cinnamon cake whole apples

APPLE CINNAMON CAKE (adapted from this recipe)


1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup kamut flour (you could also use spelt, etc)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup coconut sugar

a pinch of salt

3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup applesauce (despite the million trees in our backyard, I got lazy and used the jarred stuff)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice


Make It

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F and grease a loaf pan or place liners into a muffin tin (will make 10-12 little cakes).

2.  Whisk all dry ingredients (the first nine on the list) together in a large bowl.

3.  Add the chopped apples and stir to combine, then add all the wet ingredients save for the lemon juice.

4.  Stir everything well, then add lemon and blend it through the batter.

5.  Pour batter into your baking receptacle of choice and bake til a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.  It will be about 45-50 minutes for the loaf and closer to 30 minutes for the cupcakes.

6.  Cool cake(s) on a rack.  Can be stored covered at room temperature for a couple of days, or wrapped and frozen.





ps. If you’re looking for more desserts, you may also like the Lemon Cream Tart and the Aperol Float.  I swear I actually do way more savoury cooking than I do baking, although you certainly wouldn’t know it by the blog’s recipe track-record.