08/3/10

Bicycle Diaries

 

Evelyn Stevens, photo courtesy of triplecrankset.com

Evelyn Stevens, photo courtesy of triplecrankset.com

Anyone else infatuated with the Tour de France this year? We couldn’t get enough, and for two reasons: first, Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal raced to Canada’s first top 10 finish since 1998 (read about his unique training in this great Globe and Mail article); and, two, we started road biking this summer. We’ve fallen hard for the sport but not, thankfully, literally fallen. Yet.

What makes this strange sport so great? You are, after all, racing along the side of the highway at speeds upwards of city speed laws, balanced precariously on two skinny tires, with nothing but a helmet and gloves for protection. To add to the terror, your feet are clipped — LOCKED! — into the pedals. Supposedly, a quick twist of the foot and you’re free. In reality, it takes several wrenching jerks of the entire leg and a whole heck of curse words to bust the foot loose.

Getting back to the point, what makes this such a great sport?

  1. It’s an amazing workout. Just check out the legs on the Tour de France cyclists. Our hearts be still.
  2. You travel much further and see much more than you do when running. Plus, it’s easier on the knees.
  3. What a great way to spend an hour or two with a friend or significant O. There is something incredibly sexy about watching your spandex-clad main squeeze pedaling in front of you. We know that the fashion Gods would frown on this statement. Yet oddly, the padded spandex shorts work. Kind of like when Kate Moss introduced the world to rubber boots with short shorts. Weird but sexy.

Stay tuned for future posts on how to get into road biking. Until then, we suggest hitting spinning classes.

PS — We’re not the only ones on the biking bandwagon. This month’s Vogue has an article about an Evelyn Stevens, an American investment banker turned cycling superstar (we can’t find it online but it’s on page 150 of the August edition).

08/3/10

I Do. Now where’s my drink?

Hester Creek Pinot Gris

Hester Creek Pinot Gris

We’ve some exciting news for you, dear readers. One of the Toques — Christina, a.k.a. Curly  Toque — is getting married next month, in a lovely mountain wedding just outside Fernie, BC.  Things are pretty exciting over here in Toque-ville these days and we’ll fill you in on wedding details in the weeks to come.

For now, let’s discuss priorities. Numero Uno is wedding vino. Christina and the Boy feel it’s very important that their BC wedding features BC wines. (And BC microbeers, too, but that’s another post.) The Okanagan Valley of BC is Canada’s answer to Napa Valley, and is increasing known for its ice wines, pinot noirs and Germanic whites. In other words: perfect for wedding wines.

After a happy weekend of tastings, we’ve selected the Hester Creek Cabernet/Merlot for the dinner red – a wonderful complement to the main course, a Sumac-spiced elk tenderloin (Shhh….I’m not supposed to tell anyone that.) Now we’re trying to settle on a white. The only requirements are that it’s from BC and under $20 a bottle. Front-runners include Hector Creek’s Pinot Gris and Opogoo’s Lair Pinot Grigio by Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery.

What about you, friends? Any BC wines to recommend?

08/3/10

Hat Tricks

Gucci Toque, image courtesy of Gucci.com

Gucci Toque, image courtesy of Gucci.com

We recently attended the 2010 Holt Renfrew Fall Fashion Launch. Always a fun affair, this event involves drinking champagne while watching the sexiest employees of Calgary Holt’s walk down a makeshift runway wearing the “must haves” for the upcoming season.

Now, should you ever get invited to one of these events, it’s key to comport yourself appropriately. By that, we mean dress fashionably (without looking like you’re trying to hard), drink champagne gracefully while taking notes and photos, and display interest in the clothes while maintaining a certain air of haughtiness. It’s a tough act.

And we failed miserably. Here’s why: Barb Atkin, the vice-president of fashion direction for Holt Renfrew, called toques the absolute “must have” accessory for men and women in all seasons. At that point, we started nudging each other like two junior high girls who just got winked at by a high school quarterback. Yep, we were pretty chuffed.

According to the always stylishly dressed Ms. Atkin (who stole the show in her blue python print Stella McCartney dress), toques have been popping up everywhere all summer. She’s seen them on stylish lids in airports and in downtown Toronto on 30-plus days.

Ahhh.. Music to our ears.  Check out this little Gucci number that’ll be in Holt Renfrew stores this fall.

08/3/10

A Quasi-Healthy Morning Shake

We like to eat. That’s no secret. And breakfast is one of our favourite meals. Eggs, toast, pancakes, waffles, cereal, oatmeal. We love it all.

Sometimes, though, our best-laid breakfast plans don’t pan out. Maybe we slept in. Or our hair refuses to cooperate. Whatever the case, those are the days we turn to protein shakes. They’re quick to make, healthy and can be consumed while blowdrying our hair.

Here’s one of our favourites. Really, it tastes like blueberry pie in a glass. Now, doesn’t that sound tasty?

 

Blueberry Pie Protein Shake:

  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • ¼ cup large flake oats
  • ¼ cup graham wafer crumbs
  • ¼ cup vanilla yogurt
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • Milk or green tea as needed (We prefer milk because it adds to the creaminess. If you’d like to be healthier, opt for the green tea.)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Mix. Drink. Marvel at how this shake really does taste like blueberry pie. And vow to get up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow, for the sake of your hair.

08/3/10

Weekend Getaway Essentials

On Friday afternoon, we Toque Girls hit the highway. Our destination? Clear Lake, a lovely, deep and, yes, clear lake roughly 4.5 hours northeast of Calgary. Michelle’s family has a lakefront cabin – the perfect location to escape from the city, to soak up some sun and to catch up on our reading.

In preparation for our weekend away, we exchanged many emails, text messages and phone calls about what to pack. (Style must not be sacrificed, even while on vacation.) In the end, we came up with a list of don’t-leave-home-without-these essentials.

Here’s what the Toque Girls bring for a weekend away:

  • Iced coffee from Tim Hortons. This is key for the road trip portion of the weekend away.
  • Caramel Baileys. You need this stuff for your coffee. For real. Pour it in your coffee in the morning and then taste heaven. (Regular Baileys will also work in a pinch, but it’s the caramel that really seals the deal.)

  • Lots and lots of bikinis.
  • Lots and lots of veggies, meat, eggs, Caesars (see our post about a great Caesar recipe), fruit, snacks and ice cream sandwiches. Did we mention ice cream sandwiches?
  • A good pair of flip flops.
  • A great group of friends.
  • Blistex with SPF 15.
  • A stack of the latest intellectually stimulating magazines. We like People Style Watch, In Style and Us Weekly. For meatier reading, we turn to The Walrus and Vogue.
  • Oversized men’s shirts to wear as cover-ups.
  • Running shoes and yoga mats. Running in the morning – before the coffee and Caramel Baileys, ideally – is what keeps us sane and fit while we’re away. If we’re feeling extra ambitious, we might even tackle some downward dogs.
  • A selection of hats and toques, of course.

And that, friends, is our recipe for weekend success.