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2013/07/31 / Shanan


I am VERY excited today to bring you the first installment in a new series on The Symmetric, which I am calling ‘Natural Habitat.’  I mentioned last week that one of my goals for the site was to profile creative, interesting women.  It started with wanting to do my own brand of the ubiquitous house tour but it’s starting to come together as something a little more intimate, I think, than I was expecting.  I tend to get transfixed by the overall ‘vibe’ of a home and then, all the little details that make it so.  I never tire of looking at all the glossies but here I wanted to focus on something a bit more real, on spaces that are more or less unstyled and truly lived in.

I am also endlessly fascinated by routines and the quirks that emerge from a glimpse into where someone lives. This time, the conversation usually starts with the mundane, the small steps that take a person through the motions of the everyday and subtly mould and propel them towards the biggies –  their personal philosophies, their careers, their sense of self.  Whew.  Do you need some air?  Let’s pace ourselves here.

Kristin Somborac is my first subject, the guinea pig if you will.  She is an old friend of Chris’ and we connected when she was pregnant with her first baby; we were neighbours in Toronto at the time and I helped her paint a mural in the nursery.  I find Kristin disarming because she is exceedingly easy to talk to and has a subtle, sweet naiveté about her, while at the same time being a very direct person and actually quite tough.  She doesn’t take sh*t from anyone.  To wit, she may also be the only individual I’ve seen in real life who can pull off harem pants.

Kristin, her husband Rob and their two boys, Miša (4) and Paavo (1) live in downtown Toronto’s west end neighbourhood of Parkdale.  Their place is nestled inside an amazing little courtyard of historical townhouses, complete with antique gas lanterns and climbing ivy.  When I visited Kristin she was home for the morning with Paavo.

parkdale historic townhouse courtyard

“Rob is in film, he’s a focus puller. I was in film for about 15 years but I really changed things in order to have children and now I’m embarking on my latest venture, which is working as a creative director/fashion consultant and stylist.  I really wanted to have a job which would allow me more time with my family, instead of being on set 14 hours a day!  Being a stylist feels so natural in terms of a next step that I don’t really worry about the fact that I am starting a new career at this stage of life with two kids.

I knew that I needed to have a job which was driven by creativity but at the same time I love the organizational aspect in work.  I think it gives me a feeling of control.  Once you have children there is so much you can’t control and you have to let go.  And I have really been craving the feeling of accomplishment which comes from finishing a project, which has been a big part of motivating me to move forward.”

eames lounger mid century modern living room park dale


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2013/07/30 / Shanan


It’s such a simple thing, really.  Dirt, seeds, water, sun, plants.

Our vegetable garden is in full swing at this time of the summer and I’ve come to consider growing food for ourselves both a privilege and a spiritual necessity.  Doing so with a child in tow makes the experience all the sweeter.  Every day we go outside and Theo says, “let’s check out the garden,” and then she runs all knock-kneed over to the entrance of our little fenced-in enclosure.  She walks through the rows of onions and says the long green stalks brushing against her are like “going through a carwash.”  She examines and gently pets the green tomatoes, and digs in the dirt at the edge of a bed with her little spade.  Sometimes she ‘plants’ things she’s already picked, patting them down with great concentration.  She can identify dill, and mint, and swiss chard.  I am a proud mum.

garden child nature vegetables outdoors

The initial planting of the garden only held Theo’s interest for a little while; Chris prepared the beds and I dug little holes for her to drop the seeds into.  I don’t know for sure that she fully grasps the connection between what we did months ago and what the garden looks like now, soft and leafy and very green.  We pick zucchinis and she puts them into a big bowl; I carry them inside and chop them up and use them to make pasta primavera. When we all sit down to eat, Chris and I talk about how amazing it is that we grew the zucchini we’re eating right at this moment!  Sometimes she responds with an enthusiastic, “yah!” …and sometimes she’s fishing her fork out of her milk.  That’s fine.

She does understand that when we pick all the berries, we then have to wait til the next day for more berries to ripen in their place.  She also knows that plants need water, and she loves using the watering can for the herb pots on our deck.  We read stories about the seasons, and giggle at the Frog and Toad story where Toad sings to his seeds because he thinks they are afraid to grow.

garden child nature vegetables outdoors zucchini

I don’t want to get all woo-woo earth-mother on you here, but I think that all of this should be essential for a kid to experience, in some form, from a very young age.  Getting their hands dirty is fun and tactile, learning about where food really comes from is so important, and seeing the results, the little miracles that ensue, is so gratifying.  I’m still pretty in awe of it all.

Here’s an interesting article I read in The Atlantic, it’s titled, “How Nature Resets our Minds and Bodies.” And here are some websites offering tips for starting a kid’s garden (even if you don’t have a big backyard) and ways to get them interested in the process. I’ll leave you with that food for thought, and about a zillion more pictures of us in the garden,  from both this year and last.  Thank you for reading (now go outside!).  xx Shanan

garden child nature vegetables outdoors


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2013/07/26 / Shanan


Hey you… I’d planned to put together a proper post for today but I’m pretty sick with this downer of a summer cold.  Can I issue a rain-check?  I’ve got lots planned for next week, when I’ll be featuring my first mini profile/house tour, issuing a challenge to temporarily suspend TV hate-watching (this is a true problem in my life), and showing a ton of gratuitous photos of our garden.  And more!  Baited breath, my friends.  Baited breath.

Image above: Theo’s first time on the trampoline at our buddy’s insane cottage retreat.  Not pictured: the private lake and infinity pool.

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2013/07/24 / Shanan


I’m feeling a little bit under the weather, so I’m going to let the photos do most of the talking today.  Plus I cannot for the life of me think of a more engaging title for this post.  I believe it is Raffi who is responsible for this.

We are lucky enough to live just a few minutes from a stretch of coastline along Georgian Bay, where there are little inlets of rocky beach and water to lap at your toes.

People swim there (though it’s usually cold!) and set up picnics and buy french fries from the one concession, ‘The Chipper.’  It can get very busy in the summertime and because we seem to exhibit odd homebody hermit tendencies, we usually opt just not to bother.  I would call that an embarrassment of riches, which is indeed embarrassing if you don’t actually take advantage of it.  Well, thank god for house guests!  No, I mean it. Leaving their downtown Toronto abode for the weekend, Lisa and Nick wanted to SWIM.  And so we went, and so we did (okay, Chris and I stayed on dry land and threw the kid in).  And it was a genuinely perfect morning.

georgian bay collingwood swim weekend summer

georgian bay collingwood swim weekend summer



georgian bay collingwood swim weekend summer

Jean shorts yet again.  How the mighty have fallen.


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2013/07/19 / Shanan


We are getting a bit antsy around here.  It’s hot as hell so we’re trying to keep activities confined to the shade as much as possible.  After building a ‘train’ with milk crates, reading every book we own three times over, and consuming eight thousand blackberries (give or take a few), something had to give.  I somehow got it in my head that it would be fun to dye our hair with Kool-Aid in the backyard, like I used to do as a teenager.

And by ‘fun,’ I guess what I meant to say was ‘actually really messy and weird.’  I doubt I’ll win any parenting awards for dyeing my toddler’s flaxen locks with artificial tropical punch product.

kool aid packets hair dye

I requested a ‘few’ packets of red and orange… Chris returned from the grocery store with an assortment of 12.  OHHHH YEAHHHH!  We went with the blue packet (hello, baby seapunk) which… actually turned out to be red inside.


Creepy gloved hands, innocent awaiting face.


We kind of winged it on the process.  I mixed a few packets of Kool-Aid with warm water to dissolve the sugar crystals and added some hair conditioner because I remember reading something on the internet about that? The chemistry gets a bit fuzzy here.



More photos and the all-important ‘before and after’ reveal, after the jump…