Slipping, bailing and swallowing pride on Calgary’s icy sidewalks and slick lobbies

One day a couple of weeks ago, I wore my favourite pair of heels to work. They’re high and grey. That same day, Mother Nature decided to wear white; she dumped loads of snow. Heading to work, I navigated the slick sidewalks just fine. Trouble struck, however, later that morning in the lobby of the Suncor building.

On my way to meet someone for coffee, my right heel hit a wet patch on the floor. I bailed hard. The best part? All 20 people in line at Starbucks witnessed the fall.

Sitting in a pile on the floor, the only thing I could think of was Dane Cook‘s skit about watching a guy get hit by a car. The guy is too embarrassed to accept help or even admit anything happened. As Dane says, “He’s trying to play it off like he didn’t just get hit by a car!”

Back to me sitting there. I didn’t want to be trying to play it off like I didn’t just bail. So, I looked at the lineup of people behind me and said something along the lines of, “Wow, that was smooth.”

No one asked if I was alright, aside from the security guard who was sitting at a nearby booth. But, that’s his job, right? Our convo went like this:

Him: Miss, are you okay?

Me: Yes, I’m fine, thanks.

My pride: OUCH!

Since then, I’ve been witness to a handful of wipeouts. There was the girl who fell while crossing the street in front of Classic Jack’s on 17th Ave. There was the guy who spilled his Tim Horton’s coffee…as soon as he walked out the door. And then there was Sam, who fell while running from the hot tub to our hotel room in Banff. (Hers was the most spectacular, as it was minus 30, she was wearing a bikini and winter boots, and she went skidding down a hill.)

I have to say, I reacted differently to every fall. I said “oooohhhhh,” “that sucks!” and “hahahahahahahahaha,” respectively.

My question is: how do you react when you see someone wipeout on our city streets? Let’s have a poll and see what the masses say:


p.s. Any tips on how to recover if you’re the one who bailed?


Dear Santa, from Christina

Dear Santa,

I saw you Friday night at the Movember gala. You were dancing in a creepy way that made me feel uncomfortable. If you’d like to redeem yourself by giving me any of the following presents, I’d be cool with that. As always, I’ve been a very good girl. That high moral standard is exactly why I wouldn’t dance with you.

First and foremost, I’d like to have two fat, healthy, happy nieces and/or nephews born later this winter/spring. That’d be awesome, thanks. I know they aren’t really Christmas presents but that’s what I want. Ideally, I’d like one each from the niece and nephew category but you can divvy it up  however you see fit.

Now, my mom always likes to give presents that are really functional. If you — like her — are looking for functional presents with major wow potential, you could always wrap up these:

  • Wide plank flooring for my flat to make the kitchen look like this one pictured in House Beautiful in April 2008. I’d prefer it in charcoal colour, however. And, Mr. C, if you could arrange to have the flooring installed, I’d be over the moon. You see, we often work weekends and I’d hate to give up my rare spare weekend for renovations.
  • Santa, have you tried on a pair of the Citizens of Humanity Avedon jeggings? I’ll admit, I wasn’t easily sold on the idea of jeggings. But, these look just like regular denim and feel like leggings. Pyjamas that look like jeans? Sold. Nab yourself a pair, too, Santa. They’re available at Aritzia.

*Photo courtesy of luckymag.com

  • I’m always pretty tickled to receive a Massage & Organic Facial combo from Inner Balance Spa. It’s quite a foolproof way to go. And at $135, it’s a bargain for you, too.

  • Last but not least, I love the work of Fernie-based photographer Henri Gorgi. Whenever I visit my much-loved, second-home of Fernie, I stop in at the Arts Co-op and gawk at Gorgi’s work. A large framed print one of these beauties hanging in my bedroom guarantees that I’ll maintain my moral standards throughout 2011.

*Photos by Henri Gorgi



PS – I’d also like karate lessons, triathlon training at the Talisman Centre or Tri-It and the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook. xo

PPS – A last minute addition this morning, I need a new iPod shuffle. I put mine through the washing machine last night.



I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. I’ve been working on a story about happiness and part of my research involved asking people “what makes you happy?”

In this week of record low temperatures, little sleep and many bills, I decided it’s a wise time to focus on what makes me happy. When I gave it some thought, I realized that the things that make me happiest are things that I can control, things I decide to do. I’ll remember that next time I’m grouchy about a gray day of -39 and poor night’s sleep.

My happy list consists of things like:

  • laughing with my family over crosswords and crazy notes to Santa;
  • a fantastic run;
  • days spent doing yoga and reading in Cyprus;
  • meeting my mom for lunch;
  • getaway weekends in Fernie;
  • catching up with my girlfriends, especially my annual Tulalip escape;
  • staying in on a Friday with the boy and eating homemade pizzas while we sit cross-legged in front of the TV;
  • and this little blog project, which started out as a series of funny emails Michelle and I sent back and forth. It’s now grown to hundreds of daily readers. A big thank you to all who check in here daily!

Someone asked me once to describe my perfect day. It’s so simple, really. It involves waking to good coffee and going on an all-day outdoor athletic adventure — hiking, skiing, snowshoeing — ideally, in sunny conditions.

There’s an picnic lunch involving sandwiches. I LOVE picnic sandwiches (I got engaged over a snowy picnic lunch.).

Okay, this isn’t a picture of a snowy lunch. But it was a very good sandwich.

The day ends with celebratory beer on a patio or wine in a lodge, followed by a delicious but not-fussy meal, surrounded by lots of friends, laughing and talking.

On that note, I’m looking for a cross-country ski date tomorrow. Any takers? I’ll bring sandwiches.


Dear Santa, from Michelle

Santa, Christmas is one month away, as I’m sure you’re well aware. I’m also pretty certain I’ve landed a spot on your “Nice” list, because I have not been naughty this year. (Aside from that time in Rio de Janeiro, but I read your code of conduct, which states, “Naughtiness does not count if you’re on vacation in another continent. Especially if you’re single.”)

You’ve been very good to me in years past. For that, I send you much love. (Please pass that on to the Mrs. and the rest of the crew, as well.)

But, right now I’m also sending you something else: my 2010 Christmas wish list.

I won’t bother listing the regular items you so thoughtfully include every year, things like Toffifee candy and socks. No, this year I’m cutting right to the chase. Without further ado, here are the five things I’m dreaming of most: (Of course, these are aside from my standard dreams, which include a white Christmas, world peace and a date with Ryan Gosling.)

A KitchenAid stand mixer from the Custom Metallic Series. Should you deliver this to my Christmas tree, I promise to use the mixer next Christmas to whip up a batch of those milk chocolate chip cookies you adore.

This first-layer thermal underwear from Burton, called the Luxury Midweight Crew and Pant, will keep me warm when I’m downhill or cross-country skiing.

Long underwear seems like a practical request, doesn’t it, Santa? Good. Because next up on my ultimate wish list is something that falls more on the “want” than the “need” side of things. This David Yurman beauty, called the Moonlight Ice Ring with a prasiolite stone, blows my mind. If you shimmy down the chimney with this ring in your pocket, I promise to be a good girl for the rest of my life. Even when I’m single and visiting another continent.

I know you don’t like buying clothes for people, Santa. I get it — sizing is tricky. But I’m going to make this easy for you. Rich and Skinny Jeans, my favourite denim brand, has a cargo legging pant that I need, I can’t live without. So, here’s what you need to know about the pants: They’re called the Cargo Legging by Rich and Skinny. Holt Renfrew carries them. I like them in Dark Olive or Dark Moss. I’m size 26. And every time I wear them, I’ll think fondly of the Clauses.

Last but not least, I’m moving into a new apartment in December and could really use some help stocking my shelves with essentials. Like wine. If you were to wrap up a bottle or two — or *fingers crossed* a whole case — of my favourite white, Evolution, I’d be thrilled. And I’d certainly open a bottle up stat and make a toast in your honour.

That about covers my ultimate Christmas wish list, Santa, so thanks for your time and attention. I’m sure you’ll make some stellar choices this year.

But really, as long as I don’t wake up to this stocking on Christmas morning, I’ll be one happy girl:


Michelle xo


A Kitchen Scraps pasta recipe to combat the Calgary cold

Pierre Lamielle is a man of many talents, and he’s using them to make us hungry. Pierre’s the Calgary chef, illustrator and writer behind the funky (and funny) cookbook, Kitchen Scraps.

We used to work together at the Calgary Herald; he’d come up with fantastic illustrations to bring my stories to life. Until running into him at Shelley Boettcher’s book launch for Uncorked! The Definitive Guide to Alberta’s Best Wines under $25, I hadn’t picked up his amazing cookbook. (Sorry, Pierre, but I was just waiting for the opportunity to have you sign one for me.)

When the temperature dipped to “This cold makes me want to die” last night, I decided to make some comfort food. And I could think of nothing better than pasta.

I discussed this idea with my lovely friend Sam, who was also into the idea of curling up with a bowl of pasta goodness. She offered to pick up the groceries; I offered to cook. We were on our way. The only thing left was to choose from Pierre’s hearty recipe collection.

Flipping through Kitchen Scraps, which is divided into sections based on how the food should be consumed (with a spoon, fork, “forkenknife” or “a hand”), I came across a recipe for angel hair pasta. He had me at, “Making dinner is fast and easy with this recipe, which turns light delicate pasta into something rich and luxurious with just a few simple ingredients.” Um, yes please.

Here’s how you make it, taken straight from the “Food you eat with a fork” section.

Angel Hair Conditioner Pasta

  • salt for the pasta water
  • 1/2 lb dried vermicelli pasta
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt
  • loads of fresh-cracked pepper

Make sure you have all your ingredients in place before you cook the pasta, because you will need to work quickly once the pasta is drained.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, using lots of water so the pasta doesn’t get tangled up — you want to avoid a bad hair day. Salt it heavily. Cook the pasta, and taste for doneness after 4 minutes. If it isn’t al dente, check frequently until it is.

Drain the pasta in a colander, setting aside some fo the cooking water. Get the pasta right back into the same pot.

Return the pot to the same element, but turn it off. (The remaining heat will cook everything through.) Now quickly add the yogurt, garlic and olive oil, tossing gently until the hair is evenly coated and luxurious. Add some of the cooking water if you think the sauce needs it. Finally, toss in the Asiago and lemon juice (*plus any other ingredients he suggests, such as lemon zest, thin strips of prosciutto or arugula) and stir until just the cheese is incorporated and starting to melt. Salt if needed.

Get a big tong full of hair into a big bowl, then top with loads of fresh-cracked pepper.


I followed Pierre’s recipe and added some thin strips of prosciutto because I have a mild obsession with the stuff. The result? Very, very tasty. The pasta was creamy without being unhealthy and the lemon, cheese and prosciutto gave it yummy flavours.

There was, however, one problem with this recipe. It smelled so damn good that we devoured our two heaping bowls of pasta in a hurry — long before I remembered that I was supposed to be taking pictures of the cooking process. Oops.

I wish I could show you pictures of the finely grated Asiago cheese, the meaty strips of prosciutto and the pot full of pasta when it all came together. Instead, I offer you this — one measly shot of the paltry leftovers. I’ll do better next time.