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2014/10/15 / Shanan

FEELING FALL IN OUR BELLIES

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…

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

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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.

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

Photos by The Symmetric / Shanan Kurtz.

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2014/09/19 / Shanan

INTO THE WILD

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve made it a point to pick up my camera again after what feels like too long of a hiatus.  I know that documenting one’s every move can seem like the most tedious thing in the world these days, but taking photos when I’m out and about is refreshing once again.  I’m viewing our everyday activities in a new, special light.  And, apparently I blinked and my daughter has become a full-fledged little girl.  When did that happen?  We spent some time being intrepid explorers in the backyard and this is what I captured of my little beauty…

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Telling stories on her ‘mountain house’ in the ‘forest.’

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The classic look of skepticism (my sister and I make this exact same face).

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More and more and more stories.

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“Isn’t it a beautiful day, Mum?” / “It’s a pretty nice temperature out here!” / “What’s yogurt made from?” / “Watch this!!” / “Why doesn’t Daddy wear pyjamas?”

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Picking flowers, always.

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Discovering milkweed pods and their contents.

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Tumbles in the grass (or, the Nottawa version of Christina’s World ? Apologies to Andrew Wyeth <or not>).  Did I really have a hand in creating this imaginative, sensitive, joyous person? Unbelievable.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody.  We plan to hit up the Great Northern Exhibition in Collingwood to see the prize-winning animals and maybe have some pie. Hey, it works for us these days…

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2014/09/15 / Shanan

SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE MAD MAPLE INN

Chris and I haven’t been out on a date in, oh, sixty years or so? I mean, give or take.  It was clearly time to bust out of that rut with some ye olde romantic country brunch action.

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting lovely Miriam, who runs the Mad Maple Inn with her husband (he’s in the photo above!) near the town of Creemore.  It’s the most gorgeous little bed + breakfast spot and I was dying to try their food – which was both delicious and charming and exceeded all expectations.

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We feasted on farm-fresh egg frittata, homemade sausage patties, yogurt with plum crumble parfait, just-pressed apple cider, mini scones with strawberry jam, potatoes sautéed in more butter than might be actually legal… I could go on.  Clearly we tucked in quicker than I could whip out my camera.

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Everything was served on beautiful vintage dishware and wooden boards, with herbs and edible flowers and the whole nine yards.  We had the most perfect, relaxing meal.

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Afterwards we took a little walk around the property to see their chickens and vegetable garden and wildflowers. Note that at this stage in the pregnancy I can only be shot from a distance of 100 yards (much like a wild game animal).

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Mutual admiration society: I coveted the chicken’s hairdo’s while they checked out my vintage boots.  Caramel brown for fall, folks.

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No really — how’s my hair?

Thank you, Miriam and Neil, for such a fantastic morning.  Marriage.  Saved.  Visit the Mad Maple Country Inn at their website and on Instagram.

xx Shanan

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2014/06/26 / Shanan

SUGARED FLOWERS

Since it’s now (officially!) summer and the days of pretending that I’m this cool, unencumbered babe who spends her days swanning around parks armed with nothing more than a pretentious novel and a tall iced coffee are long gone, I’m kind of embracing the twee.

As in: patterned paper straws, cute miniature food, and gleeful hand-holding of a twirling three year old wherever I go.  Because that’s what parenthood on the internet is all about these days, no?  It was with this in mind that Theo and I decided, a few weeks back, to spend our afternoon making sugared flowers.  You know, for a lark.

The lilacs were in full bloom and I was informed that they were in fact edible.  Off to the Martha Stewart site we skipped, and a ton of adorable little flowers did we sugar.

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Have you ever done this?  The process is about as ridiculous as it sounds — you use a teeny tiny brush to paint egg whites onto the individual blooms and then dip them in superfine sugar and let them dry.  It was quite messy and labour-intensive but the results were VERY cute and quite tasty (a subtle crunch and a sweet floral flavour). And sometimes cute is just what you’re looking for.

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Here’s the sugared flower recipe we used, courtesy of Martha (natch).  Be sure that the flowers you are using are edible (!!!) and either grown in your own garden or harvested wild where they won’t be covered in pesticides or car exhaust.

We decorated a Victoria sponge cake, the recipe for which I dug up from Nigella Lawson’s near-classic How To Be a Domestic Goddess.  I think this was the first baking book I ever bought?  We filled it with lemon cream (the recipe is here) and store-bought raspberry jam.

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Can I say cute just one more time?  Let’s hear it.  Bye bye, “street cred.”  All photos by The Symmetric / Shanan Kurtz.

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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.