Archive | February, 2011

The Oscars, Magazines and More

28 Feb

Writing a blog post while watching the pre-Oscars show with my Co-Toque, Christina, is difficult. I’m supposed to be writing about magazines right now. But, since we’re on the Oscars, here’s what we’ve deduced so far:

  • Hilary Swank should wear her hair down to soften herself up a little.
  • Christina’s dream is to be adopted by Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.
  • Giuliana Rancic looks like a leather toothpick.
  • Sharon Stone is hot.
  • Matthew McConaughey’s wife is even hotter. The hottest, actually. (Except for Javier and Penelope, of course, says Christina.)

Now, back to magazines. I’m addicted to them, and one of my favourite spots to stock up is the Daily Globe Newshop on 17th Ave. I stopped in the other day and was overwhelmed by the selection:

In the end, I selected this stack. It was not a cheap stack. (Is it wrong to spend $50.32 on magazines? No, I don’t think so, either.)

A tip: If you’ve never checked out Zoo Magazine, an edgy German magazine, pick it up sometime. Bryan Adams is a co-owner and often photographs celebrities for the mag. He does an incredible job. In fact, he’s the only photographer who’s ever made me look at Renee Zellweger and think, “Hot damn. She looks amazing.”

On that note, I’ll sign off. The pre-show is coming to an end and Christina’s distracting me with comments like, “Ooh, look at that horrible dress in the background!” and “Have you ever noticed that bump on the inside of Christian Bale’s nose?” Obviously, we have important things to discuss.

~Michelle

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Friday Night Dinner Club

25 Feb

Ah, Friday, lovely Friday, so nice to see you again. I’m hoping that you bring an end to the -30 lockdown over the city.

I’m giddy about dinner this evening with three of my girlfriends. We’re staying in from the cold, drinking wine and eating homemade pear-and-gorgonzola pizza.

These girls are stylish group. Our gracious host was recently style-spotted at New York Fashion Week for the UK’s Telegraph newspaper. My co-Toque Michelle will be there, as well as our friend Kelly, who makes a living generally being the coolest person in town.

I’m willing to bet money we’ve all thought about our outfits already — after all, no one wants to be the style dud in this lot.

So, here’s my plan. I’ll start with wide-leg jeans from J-Brand, which will be comfy even with a belly full of pizza.

Then, this Victorian lace top from Tibi that I can’t get enough of:

Obviously, I need a sweater. My elbows aren’t coming out until we’re solidly on the plus side of Celsius. So I’m pulling out this cardigan which I scored for $20 in the Old Navy maternity section. Now, before you all freak out, I am not pregnant. My sister made me go with her into the maternity section. I saw this sweater and wanted. I wanted it more when I saw it was on sale for $20. I get scores of compliments on it but, a warning, you’ve got to wear it without the belt or you do look pregnant.

And my Frye engineer boots over warm socks:

See you later, girls. To the rest, have a great and safe weekend, dears!

~Chris

Treasured Jewelry

24 Feb

Twenty-five years ago, my grandma Adaliane and grandpa Don were vacationing in Hong Kong. While visiting Stanley Market, they picked up souvenirs. I’ve always adored the necklace they bought for me — a simple silver chain with an evil eye pendant.

Last month, my treasured souvenir received some long-overdue TLC from Andy, the shopkeeper at Hot Fusion Metal & Glass Works in Calgary’s Art Central. He polished the chain and set the evil eye in a simple silver loop:

Now, I wear my necklace all the time. And every time I do, I think of my grandparents. Ada and Don were inseparable from the day they first met — in elementary school. When she was deathly ill in high school, he delivered her homework until she recovered. They rode motorcycles together. They married, raised three kids and ran thriving businesses. And, adventurers they were, they traveled.

My grandpa Don died years ago, but my grandma Ada is still an explorer. When I emailed her last week, she wrote back from a cruise ship that had just sailed, coincidentally, from Hong Kong. She and my aunt had visited Stanley Market during the stopover. “It is much more developed now,” she wrote, “but I guess twenty-five years makes a difference.”

Treasured people pass along treasured jewelry.

Along with my evil eye, I have pendants from three great-grandmothers I often miss.

The pendant on the left is from my great-grandmother Lindy, who made delicious homemade donuts and was known to express her affection for you with a quick slap to the cheek.

The middle pendant is from my great-grandmother Ruby, who was the first woman in her town to learn to drive and likely one of the last women of her time left standing – she died on her 99th birthday.

The pendant on the right is from my great-grandmother Alma, who, upon every visit, offered smiles and — important to a chocolate-loving kid — macaroons. She was married to my great-grandfather, Wilfrid, for 71 years. Incredible.

Beautiful women, beautiful jewelry.

~Michelle

A Winter Peptalk

23 Feb

Remember my plan for a fun outfit for the Heritage Classic? That went out the window as soon as people began tossing around words like “wind chill” and “minus 20.”

This was the reality:

Sure, you laugh. But I was warm. Er, let me rephrase: I didn’t freeze.

And, it’s getting colder. I feel we need a winter pep talk post. I do, anyway, because if I don’t adapt soon, I’ll be at the airport with my passport and a bikini before the boy gets home from work.

Let’s come up with a list of ways to make this week survivable. I’ll start.

1. Ray’s Station Wine

Best enjoyed wearing drawstring pants and watching TV from under a blanket. (Shooting this photo was a good idea. It gave me an excuse to bust out the wine and the Ghiarardelli Sea Salt Soiree chocolate. Okay, maybe I sneaked in the chocolate just so I could eat some.)
2. Not feeling badly about hiding inside and watching far too many movies in a pre-Oscar movie binge:

 

3. Slippers, like these cute ballet ones from Jenster 76 Designs Etsy shop. You could pull off killer kitchen pirouettes in these lovelies.

4.  Trips home to Fernie because there’s a base of 284 cm and it’s always warmer there:

5. Pond hockey and happy dogs with three shoes:

*Photos by Gerald Cole

6. Snowshoeing with a thermos of hot chocolate tucked into your pack:


See, it’s not so bad!

~Chris

Curried Yellow Pepper Soup

22 Feb

Dinner Saturday night — a curried yellow pepper soup — happened like this.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Now, the backstory. Saturday was very, very cold, so I wanted to eat something very, very warm.

I pulled out The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health cookbook, an oft-neglected book in my cookbook collection, and found the recipe for Curried Yellow Pepper Soup. I’m so glad I did. The end result was a savoury soup with a hint of sweet and a kick of spice. With a couple of multigrain rolls for dipping, it was a satisfying meal to keep the cold at bay.

Curried Yellow Pepper Soup

  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots or peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 3 yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped (4 to 5 cups)
  • 1 tbsp grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a soup pot on medium heat, cook the onions in the oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and apples and continue to cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers, salt, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne, and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add the water or broth and stir well. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. In a blender, puree in batches until silky smooth. Add salt to taste.

Enjoy.

~Michelle

Advice For Girls

18 Feb

My little sister went away to boarding school when she was 14. My other sister and I, then in our ’20s, put together a “how-to” guide on surviving away from home. We emailed hundreds of women what they would say to their little sister. We asked our relatives, our friends, women I’d interviewed, even Oprah (who did not, by the way, reply). It could have to do with anything, we said. Boys, drugs, clothes, food. It was all relevant.

Then, we bought a pink leather journal and wrote it all out for her (while we drank wine on a balcony in Cyprus, as I recall).

I came across some of the old emails the other day. Here are some of my faves:

  • Life always moves. All the bad stuff, it passes.
  • Some people are assholes. That’s it. There’s a great Indian proverb that goes: The cobra will bite you whether you call it Cobra, or Mr Cobra.
  • Humans have deep need to be liked. This helped me understand the weird things people do.
  • You can eat cereal for every meal.
  • Stand up straight. It makes you look prettier, skinnier, smarter and more confident. All of which attracts boys. I didn’t know this until I was 25.
  • Eat vegetables. If you don’t, you turn pasty and a shade of green. Also did not know this one until I was 25.
  • Boys who like you will call. If they don’t, it’s their loss.
  • Boys who like you will wait. They’ll wait for you to pick a movie … to change your shoes because they don’t go with your last-minute outfit … to pick which dessert you really want… to decide how far you want to go. The good ones will wait.
  • Stay focused on your goals in life and always maintain your integrity. One never regrets a decision if you know in our heart you are “doing the right thing.”
  • Clear nail polish stops runs in your tights.
  • Hummus, chickpeas, black beans and tofu will make you fart.
  • Be nice to everyone…that pimply faced geek may one day be your plastic surgeon.
  • Take breaks from work to hang out with your friends, eat oreos and watch TV.
  • A pickle only has nine calories.
  • When working out, only buy the best workout pants. Most cheap ones give you butt crack sweat — not a pretty site when scoping the scene in the weight room.
  • Buy the cheap trail mix at the bulk bins, but top it up with a spoonful of smarties from the smartie bin. Label it trail mix.
  • Remember what your parents taught you. (Editorial note: That was from my mom.)
  • Shoes matter.

Have a great long weekend!

~Chris

Glazed Lemon Bread

17 Feb

I have a thing for lemon. Which is funny, because I could’ve lived without it for my first 25 years or so.

The turning point came when I was living in Toronto and was introduced to Liberte yogurt. The Quebec-based company’s Mediterranee line of yogurts is, I’m not exaggerating, exquisite — thick, creamy and delicious. I enjoy all flavours, but eating the lemon yogurt is like eating a piece of lemon cheesecake. Without as much guilt. (However, when you eat a whole container of the stuff, as I have been known to do, it is not so guilt-free.)

To satisfy my lemon cravings, I sometimes bake this Glazed Lemon Bread. The recipe comes from Barbara Fairchild’s The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook, which I’ve written about before.

Glazed Lemon Bread

  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • **There is a note that “if you want more tartness in the bread, add a little lemon juice (about 2 tbsp) to the batter and increase the lemon peel to 1 tbsp.” I do this, but add even more lemon juice, roughly 3 to 4 tbsp, because, as per above, I dig lemon.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in lemon peel. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with milk in 3 additions each. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into centre of bread comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Transfer bread in pan to rack. Pierce top of bread all over with wooden skewer. Gradually spoon lemon glaze over hot bread, adding more as glaze is absorbed. Cool lemon bread completely in pan on rack.

And there you have a loaf filled with lemon-y goodness. Check out how the glaze seeps into the top of it:

You could serve this as a breakfast treat, an afternoon snack or as dessert, with whipped cream and berries.

Or — I’m just thinking of this now —  you could top a piece of the lemon bread with Liberte’s lemon yogurt. It may be too much lemon or it very well may be lemon utopia. I’m willing to give it a try.

~Michelle

Aritzia Arrives in the Big Apple

16 Feb

G’ morning, lovelies.

Aritzia — the Vancouver-based boutique which is the closest thing I have to a vacation property — just opened a pop-up shop on the corner of Broadway and Spring in NYC. It’s a preview for their new flagship set to open this spring.

This weekend, Aritzia showed off their spring/summer 2011 collection with a fashion show (check out the highlights here) and now I’m craving picnics, boat rides and breakfasts on balconies. See what I mean?


This dress makes me want a glass of white wine, which I’d like to sip while sitting at the harbour of a Greek island:

Or a Saturday of browsing flea markets:

And, this one,   a good outfit for wandering around Victoria the day before my brother’s wedding:

Finally, these cropped pants deserve special mention because I’d wear them a lot. Too much.  I’ve been waiting for them to arrive in the shops:

Have a good one! Maybe you’re somewhere fun right now?

~Chris

Toques for Babies

15 Feb

When I went to L.A. last month, I was thrilled to visit with my good friend Kelly, her fantastic hubby, Mac, and their adorable twin girls, Christina and Allie.

Before heading to California, I stopped by Steeling Home, the Calgary shop that’s become my go-to for gifts, to grab something for the girls. My browsing stopped when I happened upon a bin of — you guessed it — toques for babies.

The Monkeez Baby Collection Toques are too cute. They’re like sock monkey toys, but for your head. Here they are on disgruntled Christina and Allie:

I believe it’s never too young to become a Toque Girl.

Now, you may be asking yourself why this fine-looking family looks familiar.

The lovely twins, Christina and Allie, have already appeared in shows such as Mad Men, House and Bold and the Beautiful. (In House, they appeared as Jennifer Grey’s baby. Remember that episode?)

And Kelly and Mac are no strangers to TV, either. They were featured in a House Hunters episode, as they searched for, and eventually bought, a beautiful home in Costa Mesa.

We had a wonderful visit last month and I can’t wait for the next one. And if that visit happens to be when the family comes to Calgary, I’m happy that Allie and Christina will have appropriate toque-wear.

~Michelle

Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Happy romantic Monday! Do you have big plans for the day?

Our first married Valentine’s is going to be quite sedate. The boy worked an overnight shift at the hospital yesterday. (I considered making these cinnamon buns for when he gets home Monday morning but I was too lazy. It’s the thought that counts, right?) He’ll spend today napping and trying to remember what time zone he’s in. Tonight we’re staying in. The menu remains unknown but I’m leaning towards bison steaks, a kale salad (love this one), something chocolatey to finish and a bottle of Goats Do Roam (here’s a old piece about the cheeky name).

Anyone still looking for ideas for tonight? Very cool coffee house Kawa is offering an excellent vegetarian dinner. If you didn’t already know, it has — in my mind — one of the best beer selections is town, and a superb selection of wines by the glass.

Feel like staying in but not cooking? The Main Dish has a takeaway meal for two at $39.99. I love their healthy take on great food. I especially love that they’re only a few blocks from my house.

If it’s dessert you’re looking for, pick up a heart-shaped cake or a cute marzipan bear from Manuel Latruwe Patisserie. How cute is this?

Buy a Valentine’s cake from this much-loved bakery today and you’re entered in a draw to win a diamond. Sign me up.

Or try this easy dessert, which I saw in a wonderful Spanish restaurant somewhere on my travels — take few thin squares of dark chocolate, sprinkle a bit of sea salt, and top with thin layer of fruity olive oil. So easy, so good.

Have a great one!

~Chris

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