04/29/11

Things We Like Fridays

Photo by f8 photography

What a difference a year makes! One year ago this weekend, Chris’ sister Nicole and then boyfriend Martin married. Congrats N&M on your first anniversary.

On the list this week:

  • Hungry? Head over to Holt Renfrew Calgary where Crave has a pop-up shop today from 12:00-4:00. Whoopie pies and cupcakes!
  • We loved this article in the NY Times on What’s the best exercise? Turns out this horrible workout is good for us.
  • Holy smokes, Calgary has changed! Check out this photo of the downtown skyline in 1943.
  • Looking for recipe ideas? Sweetspot.ca put together a great list of food blogs.
  • The Victoria’s Secret Grand Opening in Calgary will be May 5, with supermodels Candice Swanepoel and Doutzen Kroes representing the angels.
  • Wine Wednesdays at Sociale. How can you go wrong with $5 glasses of wine? That’s right. You can’t.
  • Friends who offer to make scones and PVR the royal wedding — and invite us over to share in the fun.
  • Have you checked out this great piece in Elle on international street styles? Let’s hear it for Vancouver girls.

Have a great weekend of royal wedding watching and whatever else you get up to!

~The Toque Girls

PS – I had to add some funny wedding highlights that you might not have seen. Have you seen the vicar who did cartwheels in the abbey after the ceremony? Check it out here. And the grimacing flower girl?

04/28/11

Recommended Reads

I’m coming home from Seattle today. This week kicked off a two-month travel binge for me. Between now and June 20, I’ll be in Seattle, Chicago, Victoria, Vancouver, England, Cyprus and Florida. I’m very excited for my trips, especially Cyprus — which is both a homecoming and a honeymoon of sorts.

I’m a very nerdy traveler (surprise, surprise). I board airplanes with a backpack full of magazines and books, and still grab all the newspapers from the front of the plane. A man once said to me as we waited to get to our seats, “You look like you just came from the library.”

Yep. That’s me.

For fellow nerdy travelers out there, my favourite reads of the last six months:

1. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I’m not going to tell you what this book is about. The book jacket says not to. Broadly speaking, it’s about how one bizarre episode on a Nigerian beach changes lives. It’s a story of colourful characters, a little boy you’ll fall in love with and an event that will make you wake your husband up in the middle of the night to tell him what just happened in your book. (Although, if your husband is like mine, he will scowl and tell you that he doesn’t really like you and you should go away.)

2. Incendiary, by Chris Cleave

Again, you’ll want to wake your husband up in the middle of the night. Only read it on weeks you can afford to be sleep-deprived because you won’t be able to put it down. It’s an incredible story, a beguiling lead character, a story that mixes raw grief and true humor.

3. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

I’m a big history geek — two degrees to prove it. But I think even non-history nerds will be stunned with this true story. Louie Zamperini was an Olympic runner and one of the people pegged to be the first to break the four-minute mile when WWII turned everything upside down. During a routine mission over the Pacific, his plane crashed into the ocean, leading to an unbelievable series of events over the next five years. Here’s how good this book is: even at 500 pages, the husband and I read it both read it within the first week it was in the house.

4. One Day, by David Nicholls

It’s a funny and sad story about two confused friends who fall in love. Sort of. And they don’t. Then they do. Sort of. You will laugh and cry.

5. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain

You fall in love. You’re head-over-heels. Your friends say that your relationship is what they aspire to, it’s so incredible. And, then, for some reason, you’re not.

Ernest Hemingway and his first wife had one of those relationships. This novel recreates their relationship, told from the point of view of his wife, Hadley Richardson.

~Chris

04/27/11

Please Don’t Call Me Mitch

Let’s have a random discussion about names.

With my family in town last weekend, I was reminded that, to them, I have a few names:

  • Shell
  • Shelly Welly
  • Michelle Michelle Comes From Hell

That last rhyme — it’s not really a name, I know– came as a joke from my brother, Brent. He came up with it years ago, along with a more flattering one for himself, which goes like this: Brent Brent Heaven Sent. Lately, though, he just calls me “Boo.” I get the feeling that he uses that one widely. At least Michelle Michelle Comes From Hell has a personal touch.

Behold, the angel (you also saw him in Monday’s post) and the devil child:

I always thought it would be cool to have a name that could be shortened to a guy’s name, like Sam for Samantha. I blame Alyssa Milano. *Lame alert* I thought her character on Who’s the Boss?, Samantha Micelli, was ultra cool.

The thing is, whenever someone calls me “Mitch” for short, I cringe. Mitch just does not sound good. It rhymes with a bad word and it seems so, I don’t know, butch. (I’m just putting two and two together and realizing that the worst nickname I can imagine might be Butchy Mitch. Or Bitchy Butch.)

I am, however, fond of some of the nicknames my friends have come up with, including but not limited to:

  • M&M
  • M Squared
  • Filet

That last one comes from my friend Sarah. One of the first times we hung out, I attempted to explain how to pronounce my last name.

“It’s like how you’d say ‘filet mignon’ but with a’s.”

The ‘mignon’ part was too much, so she went with ‘filet.’ I dig it.

And that concludes my portion of this random discussion. Do you have a nickname you love or hate and would like to share? I’m all ears.

~Michelle “Filet” Magnan

04/26/11

Seattle! And Outfits for Travel

Hello duckies!

I’m in Seattle, hanging out with my dearest long-time friend, Birdling (Nichola to everyone else). We met in high school and have been incredible friends ever since. Other than a few wild summers spent together, we’ve always had a long-distance friendship. Almost a decade ago, when we realized we were unlikely to live in the same city anytime soon, we made a pact:  every year, we’d take a trip together, just the two of us.  Over the last 10 years, those trips have ranged from crazy 10-day drinking-dancing-carousing adventures across Cuba (my head hurts just thinking of it!) to quick weekend yoga retreats on Galiano Island in Birdlings’ first year of motherhood.

Our adventures — which we call Tulalip — have several key elements: great meals, spa treatments, bookstores, some element of athletics and enough shopping to make American Express question my credit card spending. Most importantly, Tulalip is about building onto an amazing friendship.

Here’s a pic from an Oregon Tulalip a few years ago:

To kick off Tulalip 2011, I’ve picked out a few favourite travel pieces from Vancouver’s Obakki. (I wrote about it for the Herald here.) The collection is flowy, comfortable and classic. The pieces work just as well for dinner out on the town as they do on an airplane. That’s exactly what a girl needs for a three-day trip.

For sunny days, I want this:

For dinners, this:

And for evenings out and travel days, this:

I’m envious of the model’s braid in the first two photos. Why won’t my hair do that?

~ Chris

PS – Do send any Seattle suggestions my way. I’m always looking for great meals and unusual boutiques!

04/25/11

Adventures at the new Calgary Farmers’ Market

On Saturday, my brother and I ventured to the new Calgary Farmers’ Market. As predicted, the market’s opening weekend was busy and fun.

We taste-tested our way through the aisles and found lots to love. Well, Brent was on tasting duty. I was still full from a big breakfast, so I ate only one sample that I couldn’t pass up: chocolate peanut butter fudge from Sweets by Nancy. Incredible. Nancy, you deserve a pat on the back.

I also grabbed some strawberry rhubarb jam from MacFarlane’s. I’d tell you how it tastes, but I’m not sure — I gave the jar to my parents to take back to Edmonton. (My dad loves jam on toast.) I’ll head back to the market next weekend to grab another.

Brent’s eating adventures were more extensive, and included a spicy chicken pie from Simple Simon Pies:

And a design-your-own donut from the Sweet Spot Donut Shop. The shop is onto something good. First, you take a plain donut. Next, you pick your icing (he chose pistachio). Last, you pick a topping (peanuts). They do it up for you on the spot. Brent’s looked fantastic:

He also grabbed a bag of nuts from a Calgary Farmers’ Market staple, Going Nuts:

The mix of vendors — familiar faces from the old location and a bunch of new faces, too — was great. My only complaint was the parking situation. The one-way traffic flow in front of the building made for slow parking and an even slower exit. I’m not sure if that will change, but fingers are crossed it improves.

All in all, I’m impressed and can’t wait to go back, because there are many more things I need to eat. Which is why I’ll make sure to go with an empty stomach.

~Michelle