06/30/11

Happy Canada Day

Hooray! The long weekend is (almost) here.

To me, Canada Day long weekends are all about spending time at our family’s cabin.

Growing up, we spent most of our summers at Clear Lake, which is about 4 ½ hours away from Calgary and just outside of Wainwright. It’s a beautiful spot:

I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow to meet up with family and friends, to read some books (I’m finally going to start The Hunger Games) and to spend some time in the sun.

This weekend will be the kickoff to many weekends at the lake, which will be sure to involve:

  • Waterskiing. My brother and all our friends out there are fantastic wakeboarders, but I’m still into slalom skiing. Call me old fashioned.
  • Naps on the pier.
  • Running around the lake in the morning. It only takes about 35 or 40 minutes, but it has lots of hills to keep things interesting. If I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll tackle some pushups, lunges and squats. And then I’ll jump in the lake.
  • Floating in the bay, a calm spot where the boats congregate on a hot day. We dive, we float, we swim. It’s heaven.
  • Nighttime cruises on Troy’s boat. (He of the Macho Nacho fame.)
  • Ice cream sandwiches.

Just writing that list makes me excited for summer. I’m so happy Canada Day is here!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend. We’ll see you Monday.

~Michelle

06/29/11

Healthy High-Protein Breakfast

I bought a dozen organic eggs on Saturday while I was checking out the new wonderful Market 17. On Sunday, I bought TWO dozen organic eggs from Community Natural Foods. I’d completely forgotten that I bought eggs the day before.

Clearly, my subconscious was staging a revolt against carbs.

Or maybe my subconscious was hankering for these mini-frittatas which I spotted sometime ago.

I made them Sunday night and have been raving about them ever since, yet I haven’t offered to share. I’m selfish like that.

I keep them in the fridge and eat one or two every morning. It’s much easier on my early-morning brain than fussing with frying pans to make eggs. They also work well for lunch. I’m planning an afternoon picnic with a checked blanket, lemonade and mini-frittatas.

I made a few modifications from the original based on what I had in the kitchen, including some leftover quinoa. As a test, I threw a spoonful of quinoa into three of the frittatas just before I put them in the oven. Mucho fabulouso.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups vegetables of your choice (I used 1 1/2 cups of steamed green beans, cut into one-inch pieces, and 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 10 egg whites and two whole eggs
  • 2 tsp herbs (I used fresh basil) and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using one regular sized muffin tin (or a 6-cup jumbo muffin tray like Sarah does on The Joy of Clean Eating), spray muffin cups with olive oil.
  2. Divide your vegetables and cheese among the muffin cups.
  3. Crack egg whites and eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork.
  4. Add herbs and pepper to eggs and mix well.
  5. Pour egg mixture into muffin cups.  (Throw in leftover quinoa at this point if you want!)
  6. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake for about 20-35 minutes or until the eggs are firm and the tops slightly brown.

(Recipe adapted from The Joy of Clean Eating. Love this site! Check it out.)

I’ve thought of plenty of variations: roasted garlic, pesto and sauteed red pepper; sundried tomatoes, olives and feta cheese; goat cheese and spinach; salmon, tomatoes and capers.

You should try some new versions and invite me if you need a taste-tester.

~Chris

06/28/11

5 Questions with Rachel Mielke of Hillberg & Berk

Rachel Mielke is a cool chick.

Celebs like Carrie Underwood and Sarah McLachlan wear her Hillberg & Berk jewelry. She’s been featured on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, convinced Calgary businessman and then-dragon, Brett Wilson, to become her business partner and has even won awards for being an outstanding entrepreneur. She’s also a fantastic contributor to a cause I’m passionate about — the Wings of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation.

As someone who loves jewelry, I can say that her jewelry is gorgeous. And as someone who volunteers on the Wings of Hope board, I can say that we really, really love having her involved in our annual fundraiser, which will be held this year on October 19 at the Hyatt. With Rachel’s jewelry raising funds for the cause — she’s making a unique necklace and bracelet just for the Wings of Hope lunch — and singer/breast cancer survivor Bif Naked as our guest speaker, the event will be fantastic. (If you’re interested in tickets, act fast! We’re almost sold out.)

Here are just a few of her designs:

Now, let’s get to the five questions!

What was the inspiration behind your summer collection?

I pulled inspiration from the French Riviera for this collection as it is a little softer, ocean-y and very luxurious!

How often do you come to Calgary and, when you’re here, what spots do you like to hit? 

I am in Calgary once every couple of months and my favourite spots to shop are Crabapple Clothing and Modern Country Interiors. My style is part luxury part country so I get my fix at they great stores.

What do you think of Coco Chanel’s rule that you should always take one piece of jewelry off before leaving the house?

Ha ha this is cute, one of my favourite quotes of hers is that “women should be two things: classy and fabulous.” Every woman’s definition of fabulous is different. I love to see how some women wear H&B jewellery with 6 pieces on at once and others choose that one piece they love and just wear it. We all have our own definition of fabulous and as long as that is how we feel when we get dressed, who’s to judge.

Fill in the blanks, please: My dream vacation would involve going to Bali, so I can surf and spa it up! And I would definitely pack my H&B jewels, Jessica Jensen purses and about 20 pairs of shoes!

Toques – love ‘em or hate ‘em? What about in summer?

Love toques! My grandma knits me custom ones with all kinds of beautiful yarn and I have started to decorate them with buttons and Swarovski crystal. I probably have 20 toques but I only wear them in fall and winter.

You can find Rachel’s designs in Calgary at Crabapple Clothing, Mariah’s Clothing, O’Connors and Modern Country Interiors.
~Michelle
06/27/11

Bug Bites and Boot Camps

I’m covered in mosquito bites this morning. My feet, my legs, my elbows, my back — the mosquitoes went to town on me this weekend.

I even have three on my face. I’m in my office this morning, covered in vinegar to make the itching stop. The vinegar works but I’m not convinced it’s worth the smell. Here’s my itchy, vinegary foot:

(Hmmm…I should’ve thought about that photo a little bit more before I took it. Note to self: makeup required before blog photos.)

I’m looking for tips — any recommendations for natural mosquito repellants/itch remedies that work?

I’ve yet to find a natural repellant that’s effective. I’ve read that eating a clove or two of garlic daily deters mosquitoes, and quite possibly deters husbands, friends and co-workers.

I got all these mosquito bites from new workout I tried and highly recommend, as long as you’re wearing mosquito repellant. Remember when we talked about tabata training and I thought my arms would fall off? Until now, I haven’t really been able to do a tabata workout properly without a trainer. The 20-seconds-on are too intense for me to monitor the timer properly. I end up cheating a lot.

The team at MotionTraxx came out with a new and free boot camp workout that’s based on tabata. It’s the first of three planned boot camp workouts. This one mixes squats, burpees, push-ups, planks and other forms of torture for a 45-minute workout.

It is a sponsored podcast so they do plug Gatorade G Series but that’s fine with me. It’s far cheaper than a trainer and almost as good.

The workout in itself isn’t super-intense so I kicked it off with six rounds of the stairs at Crescent Heights. That was overkill. I recommend combining the boot camp with easy to moderate cardio.

And, of course, bug spray.

~Chris

06/24/11

Things We Like

What time is it?

It’s Vegas time! Michelle flies out tonight and is excited to have nights that lead to pictures like the one above. The photo is from a girls’ trip a few years ago, when the girls spent all night dancing, watched the sun come up and then dragged themselves to the Flamingo for breakfast. If you don’t see blog posts from Michelle next week, please send a search party.

Enough Vegas talk. Here’s our hot list for the week:

  • The summer issue of Hers magazine. Chris has stories on how local Olympians train in the summer and summer health help and Michelle has stories on summer makeup and hair, spa deals and book picks from 10 fantastic Calgarians.
  • Butter bean salad from Lina’s Italian Market. Spectacular and simple. Chris experiencing major addiction. She could eat it every day.
  • Have you seen Midnight in Paris? Go. Run. Then spend the rest of the week trying on sequins and dancing around the house like you’re in a 1920s nightclub in Paris, along with Hemmingway, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald and a host of others.
  • Double Zero Pizza, which we’d mentioned before but hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing. Michelle ate lunch there this week with her friend, a girl known in the oil and gas world as JHO, and they both thought it was fantastic. The space is cool — big, open, welcoming — and the salama pizza and caprese salad they shared were delicious. Big thumbs up for this new eatery.
  • We’re super-hooked on the latest summer lip products from Canmore’s Rocky Mountain Soap Company. They’re natural, local and keep lips soft without drying them out. The hands-down favourite: lemon-lime lip butter.
  • The only downside about heading to Vegas is Michelle will miss watching her awesome personal trainer, Kevin Lim, race in the Canadian Track and Field Championships, which are on now and run through tomorrow. More than 600 athletes will be competing at Foothills Athletic Park, and the winners will head to the world championships in August. If you can make it, head down to catch some amazing athleticism. And please cheer for Kevin on Michelle’s behalf!

See you Monday!

~The Toque Girls