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2014/10/29 / Shanan

MY NATURAL SKINCARE REGIME

Let’s talk about beauty products! Because, well, I mean why not.

I’m always somewhat fascinated to hear what other people use on their skin so here I shall assume that said fascination flows both ways (otherwise I’m just going to look really narcissistic).

A few years ago I started phasing out all the chemical junk I’d been using and I’ve become very particular about the products I now buy. So particular that walking down the aisles in a typical drugstore these days makes me feel like I’m breaking out in hives or something.

I discovered my absolute favourite source for organic beauty, Saffron Rouge, and that’s where I do much of my (online) shopping. I really can’t say enough good things about this company – their product selection, customer service, free samples, etc are truly excellent (nobody’s paying me to write any of this, by the way). And I think if you’re willing to spend a little money on truly natural, top quality brands, they will do the job. Of course everybody has their own particular skincare regime that works, but behold the splendour in the grass and see what I’m using right now:

1.  Suki Exfoliate Foaming Facial Cleanser – I’m a big fan of many Suki products and this is one of their best-sellers. I use it at night and it gently exfoliates my skin while smelling like fresh lemons.

2. Living Nature Vitalising Cleanser – this is my face-wash for the morning, when I can get it together to do the whole skincare routine (sometimes it’s just jump outta bed and listen to the rantings of a three year old and make breakfast and pack the school lunch and then whoops it’s noon). Living Nature products tend to be quite gentle and have a particular ‘natural’ scent that’s not for everyone, but I love them.  The brand is slowly being phased out from Saffron Rouge, which is a shame (the company is based in New Zealand and there’s some sort of change afoot re: their North American distribution) but you can find their full range of products here.

3.  Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum – my sister turned me on to this line and I’m hooked although I will admit upfront that the products are the most expensive I’ve used, so I try to have just one in rotation at a time. This anti-aging serum is more like a light lotion that smells divine and blends into your skin so creamy and smooth. I actually smile a little whenever I put it on. Probably because I look so young again? I have no idea. Available in Canada at Good Gosh Beauty.

4.  Burt’s Bees Anti-Blemish Spot Treatment – it’s just occurred to me that perhaps I should have photographed these products going clockwise in the order I actually use them…*  BB’s is owned by Clorox which doesn’t thrill me but I roll this tea tree-based oil onto any pimples and it does its thing.

5.  John Masters Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 – please tell me you are applying a facial sunscreen every day. My fear of looking like a brown dried prune in the near future scares me into wearing this, which is very highly rated by EWG and doesn’t leave a weird white residue like many other non-chemical sunscreens.

6.  Living Nature Illuminating Foundation – this falls more into the category of makeup, but I do use it every day as my last skincare regime step. It doesn’t actually offer much coverage like a foundation, but rather just adds a really lovely subtle glow to your skin. I’m convinced that whenever I get compliments on my complexion, it’s largely because of this product.

7.  Elabloom Nourishing Facial Oil – I was initially skeptical of the whole ‘oil as moisturizer’ concept that has become a recent trend but let me assure you I am full-on converted. This is a wonderful product and made in Toronto to boot.

8. Suki Clarifying Toner – another great Suki product, with just the right amount of astringency and their signature lemony scent.

On the hunt for: a good eye cream.

And there you have it. This is apparently what takes up so much of my time – applying skincare products. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Next time – natural makeup?

* In order of application: Suki exfoliating cleanser or Living Nature cleanser (P.M. and A.M.), Suki toner, Tata Harper serum, Burt’s Bee’s spot treatment, Elabloom oil, John Masters sunscreen (A.M.), Living Nature foundation (A.M.).

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2014/10/07 / Shanan

HELLO, I MUST BE GOING…

This is going to be a ‘circle of life’ type post wherein both events deserve top billing… but, I have to start somewhere, with one, so this is where it shall be.

It’s been a long, sad time coming, but we had to put down our beloved Pally dog last week.  She had been Chris’ constant companion since long before I met him, and probably the sweetest, most gentle and intelligent dog I’ve known.

I like to think that Pally and I shared many intense moments of mutual understanding over the years; we would cuddle and gaze at each other and connect on a true, rare human-canine wavelength. When I first met Chris, he referred to Pally as his best friend. I never would have thought that seven years later our daughter would be declaring the same thing, with her long skinny arms wrapped around Pally’s fuzzy neck.

We had the local vet come to our house and Pally went calmly into the great unknown lying beneath an apple tree. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day.  She had lived a full border-collie life – first on a farm, then trotting around the city, then back in the country for her last few years. It’s a relief to know that she’s no longer in any discomfort, and that her spirit is likely chasing rabbits in some big field in perpetuity. But we’re also still at the stage where we hear a thump in the next room and think it’s her, or feel like we’re forgetting something when packing up for a car trip. I know if you’ve ever lost a pet that you know this exact feeling.

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So, as with death comes thankfully, this time, a new birth and a really cute baby. My sister and her partner recently welcomed this amazing creature into the world, after a long and difficult labour. This baby boy is currently nameless (!) but he’s already grabbed hold of my family’s heart and likely won’t let go til he becomes a petulant teenager. He’s just so teeny and perfect and I’m so proud of Lauren and Peter. I think I’m going to like being an aunt.

Shortly after Theo was born, Lauren came to live with us for a few months at our place in Toronto. She was going through a rough patch but I remember she was so loving with baby Theo; I guess it’s times like these where I do wish we lived closer together again so that I could get to know her little one really well. But, all in time.

Whooo – this was a tough post to get through. The rest of the week the blog will be back to our regularly-scheduled frivolity, I promise. Thanks for reading xx Shanan

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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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2014/04/22 / Shanan

FOXFIRE MAGAZINE

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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2014/03/13 / Shanan

MAKING TIME

HEY. HO.  Oh geez, really?

You know how time goes by and, say, you want to phone up one of your old friends but it feels daunting because you haven’t spoken in awhile and so you put it off, and more time passes and then it seems like if you were to call, you’d have to have an absolutely epic and thus exhausting conversation because there is just so much to catch up on? And then you put it off, for yet another night?

That’s kind of what’s happened here, and the reason why you’ve been subjected to that same weird photo of a chicken wishbone at the top of the page for the last month.  I’m sorry, and I have missed you.

What the hell’s been happening, you ask?  A lot, and a little.  We quietly hosted another lovely trunk show of vintage clothing and jewelry. We’ve both been dealing with increased workloads at our ‘regular’ jobs (Gillian has taken on a third day at hers, and I have had some super stressful situations to handle at mine).  I’ve felt the urge to turn inward lately, reading novels, tackling small house projects… gazing balefully at the snow.  Gillian got bangs. And now it’s March!

So. I’m going to take the reins on the blog for awhile, since Gillian is managing our Etsy shop.  We’re excited to get back into the thick of things and really hope you’ll keep visiting.  xx Shanan

Image above: Poster with photography and gold foil stamping, Congo Studio, via Creature Comforts.

ps. I’ve received some private emails asking about my Tanny, since the last post I did was down in Maine where I was helping to care for her.  She is doing okay – it’s been a pretty difficult recovery but she has just been able to return home (now with around-the-clock care) and is caustic as ever.  Like, she still REALLY wants her Stoli martini with a twist of lime every day at 5pm.  Thanks so much for your concern and sweet words.