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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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2014/09/24 / Shanan

SHARING IS CARING

Chris came across this article last week and I thought it was such a novel (and dead simple) idea: Pumpipumpe, a community project based in Switzerland, is offering free stickers to people to display on their mailboxes which show illustrations of household items they’re willing to lend out to neighbours.  These range from power tools to a pasta machine, snowshoes to ping-pong sets — in other words, the sorts of things that you store in your basement and probably only use once in a blue moon.

I can already think of a ton of stuff I’d be willing to get rid of lend out, like golf clubs or our sous-vide cooker or fabric steamer.  And surprise surprise, I have to say that I’m also a fan of the analog nature of the enterprise.  You’d think we would have gotten to know more of our neighbours here by now, but the truth is we have not.  Nothing like knocking on a (potential) stranger’s door to ask to borrow their disco ball.  Maybe they can join your party, too?

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2014/09/11 / Shanan

REALITY BITES: FAVOURITE DOCUMENTARIES

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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2014/05/08 / Shanan

AN AMAZING GIANT PAPER FLOWER INSTALLATION

So this wedding has been making the online rounds this week but I just had to share it, too, because I think the decor is so spectacular (okay yes, the bride’s dress is unbelievable, too).

Caitlin Watson and Tanner Boyes were married in San Clemente, California and she designed and constructed the giant paper flowers for their backyard reception over a number of months with the help of her family.

Bright. Magical. I’m in awe.

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Photos by Jessica Peterson. Paper flowers by Caitlin Watson Boyes and her mother, Kim Watson.  Styling by Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House that Lars Built.

Many more beautiful photos and details over on THTLB and Martha Stewart Weddings.

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2014/01/17 / Shanan

THE WES ANDERSON COLLECTION

Collector’s item, the ultimate film geek-out, an obsessive’s wet dream – all of the above?

I received The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz as a surprise post-Christmas gift from Chris, and I felt compelled to share a glimpse inside this coffee table book with you cast of characters, really because it’s just so damn fun.  I rarely watch movies anymore (weird? but true) and Wes Anderson has kind of been off my radar lately, but it’s been totally compelling to thumb through this volume that so meticulously details each title in his filmography (many of which I adore).  A mélange of previously unseen photos, production stills, storyboards, illustrations, notes, interviews and essays, the collection drew me right back in to Anderson’s idiosyncratic worlds – of private schools, rambling family mansions, submarines, foreign train travel, summer camp.

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I love seeing all the varied pop-culture references that inspired a specific shot, or the way a character was dressed – from novels, other films, music, etc.  There are times when I’ve gushed about the usual suspects: the brilliant melancholy of Bill Murray, the sheer perfection of the soundtracks… that iconic zebra wallpaper in The Royal Tenenbaums. And, there are times when I’ve railed against the intentional artifice, feeling like style had overshadowed substance and storytelling to such a ridiculous degree that I couldn’t bear to watch. Like the films had become parodies of themselves, if that makes any sense.

But ultimately that’s the push and pull of a filmmaker with a strong point of view, a true auteur. And while reading this book, I’ve come away feeling like every title is worth revisiting for different reasons… which I greatly look forward to doing.

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LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

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I will admit to having inadvertently eaten a pot brownie just before seeing The Life Aquatic in the theatre (don’t ask), so this one definitely warrants a repeat viewing.

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Chris and I saw The Darjeeling Limited together on our second date.  “Say yes to everything, even if it’s shocking and painful.”

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The Wes Anderson Collection is available from Abrams Books.  Do you have a favourite WA movie? Have you ever felt compelled to dress up as Margot Tenenbaum (I won’t judge)?

Photos and styling by Shanan Kurtz/The Symmetric.