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Things We Like Fridays

12 Aug

Where are you off to this weekend? Anywhere fun?

As you read this, Chris is packing her bags for a train trip to Kingston. When she gets on the train, she’s going to surprise S. with a picnic of treats from Murray’s Market. It’s the cutest shop with locally produced meats, cheese and bread. She’s thinking elk salami, Niagara prosciutto, a mix of cheese and veggies, along with fresh bread.

Have a great one!

~The Toque Girls


Airport Manicures

8 Aug

I hate leaving on a trip without a fresh manicure. But a pre-trip manicure rarely happens. More often than not, I leave for the airport with my nails in a state of disgrace. That’s the way I roll.

On our trip to Ottawa last weekend, I tried out a new-to-me concept: the airport manicure. Usually, my poorly-cared-for nails and I just sprint by the airport spas without a glance. But with a long unplanned delay in Toronto, I headed over for a manicure at 10 Minute Manicure.

Consider me sold. The staff are great about asking when your flight boards and where your gate is so you’re not late. They take into account whether you’re wearing flipflops before considering a pedicure. They made sure my id and boarding pass were in a wet-nail-accessible place. And the prices are great for an airport. A 10-minute mani starts at $15.

I’m done stressing about pre-trip manicures. From now on, I’m all about the airport spa. Check out all their airport locations here.

Now, we just need a nail bar beyond the security barrier in the Calgary airport. If they can build a tunnel to the airport, surely a decent manicure spot is a reasonable request?


Things We Like Fridays

5 Aug

Yo-ho, Friday! The workweek always feels so tough after a long weekend, don’t you think?

And when you move halfway across the country over the long weekend and the first morning back at work comes two hours earlier than normal, the workweek happens on a whole different level of horror.

Chris plans to spend the weekend setting a PB for hours spent on patios, offset by some geeky touristing on bikes. Michelle’s weekend will involve a girls’ night out, good workouts and some freelance work, too.

On our list for the week:

  • Our jaws dropped at this photo essay called “Where Children Sleep“.
  • And we loved this piece by Joanna Goddard on how to talk to little girls. It’ll forever change what we say to little girls. (Hmmm, there’s a kid theme this week. Someone misses their nephews terribly.)
  • Skype works well for cooing at nephews from a distance. But the best tool for making free long distance calls to a land line is Google Talk. It’s a lifesaver for freelancers working away from home.
  • Our limbs thanked us for purchasing exfoliating gloves from Quorra. We are now smooth from head to toe.
  • Burgers at The Trop. Michelle ate there for the first time this week and was impressed. She was even more impressed when she discovered The Trop allows you to choose two side sishes. Yum.
  • Paddywax candles, made with recycled wine bottles, make for a beautiful hostess or housewarming gift. The collection, found recently at Steeling Home, features fantastic scent combos like Bordeaux Fig and Vetiver.

~The Toque Girls

Life In Ottawa

3 Aug

I’m here in Ottawa, my home for the next month. The boy is completing a month of training in Ottawa and I came along for the adventure.

I spent five years here as an undergrad eons ago. We didn’t have blogs back in my time. Between then and now, I forgot what a wonderful city this is in the summer. Warm weather, great restaurants with reams of patio space, countless pubs, history, architecture, art, and running and biking paths galore.

We found a one-bedroom apartment to sublet in Lower Town. Depending on which direction you walk, we’re in a beautiful neighbourhood with grand old homes and a view of the Gatineau Hills or a super-dodgy urban hood where eye contact with strangers is ill-advised. We also have a view of Parliament Hill. See? (Look closely. We took this photo with my phone because I forgot my camera back in Alberta.)

The boy bikes to work along the canal every morning at 5:45. I sleep in for a bit and then do a home yoga practice. We both work all day and I finish off with a run along one of the great pathways. Tonight, for instance, I cruised by the Prime Minister’s residence.

Almost every evening so far, we’ve walked to Byward Market for dinner al fresco. Stella Osteria is my favourite so far. Check out this fig pizza:

Our kitchen is pretty small and poorly equipped. We have no spices, one cooking pot and two flimsy knives that bend on impact with a tomato. Still, I’m intent on cooking here if only to justify buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. Who could resist?

                                                                                   Photo by Brandon Senior

After all that eating, our plan is to rent road bikes one weekend and go riding in Gatineau Park. It’s an ambitious plan, which will involve a steep climb. But I think this looks pretty irresistible, don’t you?

                                                                                Photo from


Sharp Corners, Bad Owies

2 Aug

A few months ago, I banged my shin on the corner of my bed frame as I was making the bed. My skin split open and eventually bruised. Now, I have a lovely little scar as a reminder.

You’d think I’d be able to navigate the sharp corners of my own bed frame. It’s not new. It’s not in a different spot in my room. All this considered, I blame my clumsiness that day on my lack of caffeine.

However, maybe I should start blaming it on my genes.

Look closely at these three shins and see if you notice anything in particular:

That’s my shin on the left, my grandmother’s in the middle and my mom’s on the right — and we all have scars from sharp bed frame corners. My mom landed hers on my parents’ frame at home; my grandmother’s scar is more exotic and hails from a bed frame on a cruise ship.

Discovering that we’ve all cut ourselves up like this made me feel better. And I have a sneaking suspicion that we three ladies are not the only people to have lost a fight with the corner of our beds.

Regardless, next time I buy a bed, I might look for a rounded frame. And padded corners.


Things We Like

29 Jul

Hello friends.

Are you as excited about the long weekend as we are?

Michelle is off to her family’s cabin for some sun and relaxation, and Chris is off to Ottawa for a month-long working vacation — more work than vacation, likely. Do send your Ottawa recommendations, please! She needs running routes, shops, sushi spots, delicious pizza and sandwiches.

We’ll be back blogging on Tuesday. Till then, here’s what we’re digging this week:

  • Long summer weekends = many summer cocktails. Keep ’em healthy with these delicious recipes.
  • Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Spray. On the days Michelle has used it to pump up her post-workout hair, she’s received more compliments than when her hair is squeaky clean. She may never wash her hair again.
  • So here’s the problem with our yoga poses at that time of the month.
  • Philosophy Hope In a Jar moisturizer. So lightweight and luxurious.
  • Did you know that you can make your own Crave Cupcakes at home? They’ve posted their favourite recipes.
  • With a float down the Bow River, a lunch catered by the Main Dish and all proceeds going to the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, the inaugural Float To End Cancer on August 21 sounds like a blasty blast. Michelle’s friends, Shawna and Murray Heber — married chiropractors and owners of Elite Sports Therapy — are the wonderful people behind the cause.
We leave you with this picture, which was taken on the August long weekend last year. We were at Michelle’s cabin and coerced all our girlfriends to wear toques for some blog-friendly shots. Good sports, they were.
Happy long weekend!

~The Toque Girls

Going To The Sun Road

26 Jul

Have you ever heard of the Going To The Sun Road? It’s a 50-mile road that winds up through the mountains of Glacier National Park with incredible scenes of waterfalls, glaciers and forests on either side. Completed in 1933, the road is edged by an old masonry wall — a wall which is undeniably low for anyone with a fear of heights.

It’s one of my favourite road trips from Calgary. It’s too far for a day trip although it’s a comfortable day trip from Fernie.

Two summers ago, we hiked from the peak down to Hidden Lake where we ate lunch with mountain goats and cooled our feet in the water.

This weekend, we went back. And horror of horrors, look what we found!

I wanted to turn around immediately and scurry back down to summer. Unfortunately, the boy — who grew up at the base of a ski hill and believes snow makes everything better — still wanted to hike into the lake.

There are times in marriage you just have to suck it up and compromise. So off I went, slipping across the snow, glowering at the boy’s back and sending telepathic messages that I deserve diamond earrings from Tiffany’s for this one.

Note the lack of a toque and pants. I did, however, have a bikini in my bag.

We saw plenty of winter fiends who were prepared for the day. Skiers, snowshoers and this creative family who brought ski pants and garbage bags relished the snow.

And we saw this guy on our way down!

We’ll definitely go back. Next time, though, I will check the snow conditions.


Happy Birthday To Us

22 Jul

One year ago today, we started a blog. We thought we’d try it out, explore a few designs and writing schedules, get input from a few friends and then decide on a format. Somewhere between step 3 and step 4, we found ourselves with a daily blog and hundreds of supporters. Thank you, all, for your encouragement. We’ve both been surprised at how happy this blog has made us over the last year.

We’re finally getting onto that last step — settling on a format that we’re happy with. Expect a few changes at Toque Girls over the coming weeks. We’ll be updating the design and blogroll, and adding a few user-friendly features. We’ll continue to update every day. Do let us know if you have any suggestions.

Here’s to an even better Year Two!

~The Toque Girls

What to Pack for Folk Fest

20 Jul

Subtitle: Ways To Procrastinate Yet Appear Constructively Engaged

Sub-Subtitled: I’m excited for Calgary folk fest to start!

The boy and I are going to tomorrow evening’s show to see City and Colour and Joel Plaskett. Huzzah! And our littlest nephew is coming, too. More huzzahs!

Plus, there’s the whole food thing. I expect to find hundreds of new good things to eat from local vendors, restaurants and farmers. I’m readying now by drinking loads of water and expanding the stomach. (That’s how speed eaters train. I’m serious. I read a book about it once.)

Want to waste some time with me today and get our folk fest kit together?

Packing for folk fest is a delicate balance, you know. Bring too much and you’re stuck in one spot, don’t bring enough and you could be stuck standing. In the rain.

Here’s my folk fest collection 2011:

Includes sunglasses (not pictured), rain jacket, bug spray, camera, sunscreen, an old suede bag from Mexico and giant blanket originally bought somewhere on the California coast.

Note the water bottle.  CFMF and its vendors will not be selling any bottled water on the island but will have free H2O refilling stations for reusable water bottles.

I’ll be wearing my Birkenstocks, my hippie top from a tailor in a mountain village in Cyprus and my old comfy jeans. They’re perfectly worn in and good for things like dancing in mud and dripping baba ghanooj onto.

Who else is there Thursday? Come see me!


PS- Tickets are sold out for Saturday and Sunday but are still available for Friday night. It’s a great show with City and Colour, local stars The BRAIDS and Matt Anderson.

Miso-Glazed Trout and Other Favourite Things

18 Jul

Hi! Chris here.

I just walked in from a wonderful weekend. I’m walking a bit straight-legged, as my quadriceps are attempting to mutiny from my body after all the hiking. Otherwise, all systems perfect.

This weekend, we did all those things that make Alberta wonderful on a sunny summer weekend — a combination of patios, friends, mountains and muddy legs that require major scrubbing.

Friday kicked off with a dinner with dear friends on the patio at my favourite restaurant, The Living Room.

We burned off those calories Saturday with a leg-burning hike up and down Mount Lady Macdonald, and drinks on the patio at the Iron Goat. Then, Sunday was my nephew’s baptism, a great family brunch (along with margaritas) and a recovery road bike ride in the mountains. We hobbled into Canmore’s Grizzly Paw Brewery for quesadillas and sandwiches for dinner.

Now I’m home, trying to write a blog post before my eyes slam shut on me. So how’s this? I’ll give you one of my go-to dinners — very good for girls who have been out of the house all weekend long and are in need of a dinner at home — and then I’m hitting the hay.

Miso-Glazed Trout

From Alive Magazine, April 2011

  • 4 rainbow or steelhead trout
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp white miso
  • 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 Tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 sheets nori, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
  • Black sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Rise trout filets and pay dry with paper towel. In bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, miso, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and chili flakes.

Place trout on 4 pieces of parchment paper; brush with miso mixture, and top each with an equal amount of nori slices. Place fish packets on baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before opening and garnish with sesame seeds if desired.

Serves 4.

PS – A few photos from our hike…

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