01/31/12

Guest Post: The Girl’s Guide To Super Bowl

So, I’ll be honest. I wasn’t entirely sober when I agreed to be a guest blogger. When my brother-in-law and Michelle came to visit over the holidays, my wife and I sat across from them at a small sushi spot in the West Village one night.

Leigh and Dan at the Vancouver Olympics

Michelle started describing “The Toque Girls” site and suggested that, given my love of football, I should write a Super Bowl guest blog.

Well, here’s the thing…. Get a few drinks in me and I’ll tell you that I’m capable of anything. I work in sports marketing, but if Michelle was a cardiologist and suggested she needed a guest surgeon on an upcoming procedure…. “SURE! Scrub me in!”

“Oh, you’re an architect?? Yeah, let me take a look at those blueprints in the morning.”

Part of me was hoping Michelle would forget our conversation in the morning. Maybe she regretted the suggestion as much as I regretted taking the bait! But, if this is some sick game of journalistic chicken, I’m about to win. Here we go….

What’s special about the Super Bowl? Well, here are some facts and figures that demonstrate why this one football game has become an unofficial American holiday:

* Super Bowl Sunday is consistently the second largest day for U.S. food consumption every year, after Thanksgiving Day (Yup, Americans are fat).

* Last year’s Super Bowl became the most watched American television program in history, averaging an audience of 111 million viewers.

* Ever wondered why Super Bowl commercials are entertaining? Well, the average cost of a 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl is $3.5 million. That’s a lot of pressure to create something memorable.

* Want to actually purchase a ticket to the game this year? No problem! That’ll be around $4,000, please.

Michelle suggested that I outline some key things that girls should know before attending or hosting a Super Bowl get-together. I could put together a list of pointers to avoid potentially insensitive moves like “don’t talk during key plays,” but I’m going to take a different angle….

Don’t know much about football and want to impress someone who you will be watching the game with? Well, keep reading…. Here are some reasons why this year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants is so intriguing (full discloser: I’m a Patriots fan):

* RE-MATCH! – The Patriots and the Giants faced each other in the Super Bowl just four years ago. The Patriots were undefeated and HUGE favorites to win the game, which would’ve made them the first Super Bowl Champions ever to go 19-0. The Giants pulled off the upset, thanks to an absurd catch by a Giants player no one had even heard of. If you watch any pre-game coverage, you’ll see this clip played 3 to 4 thousand times. So, the key takeaway here is that the Patriots are seeking payback for the Giants wrecking their perfect season.

* Quarterback Love Triangle! – Well, not really. The Patriots’ quarterback is Tom Brady. You probably know who he is because even heterosexual men think he’s hot, and he’s married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Tom has won 3 Super Bowls and is in the discussion for “Best QB ever.” His arch nemesis over the last decade is the equally talented QB of the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning. Peyton’s younger brother, Eli Manning, is the QB of the Giants. So Peyton is going to watch his nemesis battle his little brother in the Super Bowl, and to make things even crazier, this year’s game is being played at Peyton’s home stadium in Indianapolis!

* Other Storylines:

o The Patriots’ last loss was 10 games ago against… The Giants.

o If the Giants win, Eli will have 2 Super Bowl victories… one more than his older brother.

o If the Patriots win, Brady will have his fourth Super Bowl ring, which will tie him for most in NFL history.

But, I’ll leave you with this…

Everyone has their own favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday, and for some, it has nothing to do with what actually happens on the field. Pay attention during the National Anthem on Sunday. As the camera pans to players and coaches on the sideline, you’ll see the prideful faces of people realizing their childhood dreams. They all come from different walks of life and have their own stories of perseverance. Collectively, they wrote a script that earned them right to play on one of the world’s largest stages. They have no idea how the story ends, but as the last note of the national anthem fades into the swelling roar of the crowd, they know they’ll never forget the next 3 hours of their lives.

That’s my favorite part.

~Dan Parise

 

01/30/12

Applesauce Chocolate Cupcakes

Phew! I’m pooped. We just walked in from a fun day of skiing at Lake Louise. There’s a Giardino special from Roma’s Pizzeria on its way here right now and a glass of Black Cloud in front of me. I’m going to eat, bathe and go to bed. I might not wake up until Wednesday.

We kicked off the weekend Friday night with a fun little dinner party with my sister’s family. I decided at the last minute to make chocolate cupcakes for my nephew. (Remember him? Oh, so cute. He loves to be pushed around in a laundry basket.) I know he is probably too young for cupcakes but I’m his auntie — it’s my job to please. I needed something egg-free and preservative-free for the little boy and something that worked with whatever I could find in the cupboards.

I originally planned to make a vegan version with almond milk. But I upgraded to chocolate milk when I couldn’t find any brown sugar. You could certainly use an almond milk, flavoured or not. I’d recommend increasing the sugar in the recipe if you use unsweetened milk.

I was loosely working off a recipe that I found at this great site.

Ah! Pizza’s here now. I’m going to gobble and crash. But try these. They’ll make Monday easier.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chocolate milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard muffin tin.

In a small bowl, stir together chocolate milk and vinegar.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, combine sucanat, applesauce, and vanilla. Pour in the milk and mix all ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips and stir.

Divide it evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for about 18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing to cool completely.

~Chris

PS – I almost forgot! Tara is the winner of the Stella & Dot bracelet. Tara, we’ve sent you an email and your bracelet should be on its way shortly. Congrats!

01/27/12

Things We Like Fridays

Friday at last! We hope you have happy plans for the weekend. We sure do.

Although we’ll both be in the mountains (again), we have different plans of attack. Chris will be skiing her heart out, while Michelle will be nursing a sore knee. She plans to nurse it back to health by doing things like dining at The Bison in Banff and sitting in the hot springs. Bring on the weekend!

First, here are the things we’ve been liking this week:

  • The Vietnamese fare at ko3 in Kensington. Michelle ate there for the first time this week and was blown away. The ‘crepes,’ as pictured below, are made with rice flour, coconut milk and a couple of other ingredients, and they’re light and totally delicious. She tried the traditional version with chicken and will certainly be back for more.

  • Scott Feschuk’s column about people who can’t go more than 30 seconds without checking their smartphones, called ‘I see you think I’m not very interesting,’ made Michelle laugh out loud at her desk. She may start toting crocodiles around to deal with similar situations.
  • Several months ago, we were driving in the car and discussing bras. We both feel that Elle Macpherson Intimates are the best. We thought you might find that information useful.
  • Another nugget of info for you: we like Jacob for its cute, affordable undergarments.
  • Michelle’s story about rocker Bif Naked is out in the February issue of Chatelaine. Interviewing Bif — a wickedly cool, intelligent and witty woman — was one of her favourite moments of 2011!
  • Speaking of cool people, at Wurst’s fantastic preview of its new menu for local media folk on Wednesday night (more on that next week), Michelle made a new friend: Ryan, ie. Mr. Fabulous. We’ve added his blog, which just won Best New Blog in Canada and Best Humour Blog, to our list at right. Ryan, great meeting you and your gorgeous friend, Jasmine! We will see you again soon.
  • Coco & Violet is running a program for the Women In Need Society. Until Jan. 31, bring in your gently used clothing and  get 10% off your next purchase.
  • Need a wine for the weekend? We recommend Nk’Mip Cellars, very good wines from North America’s first aboriginal owned and operated winery.
That’s it and that’s all. See you Monday.

~The Toque Girls

01/26/12

Stella & Dot Bracelet Giveaway

Mornin’, yee ol’ boots! How’s it shaking?

Can you tell I’m excited today? I’ve got a sweet, sweet treat for someone — this little beaut of a bracelet from Stella & Dot.

 

It’ll cheer up your day, I promise you. It certainly improved mine yesterday.

I was having a terrible day with too much to do, not enough time to do it and zilch on motivational front. Grumpy as can be, I went down to get the mail, sporting my XXL Roots sweatpants and a crazy head of curls. That’s how I roll on days like yesterday.

Underneath all the bills, I discovered little box with a note. It’s from Raina Brown McKinnon, who used to live down the street from me when we were growing up. Now, she’s a mom and a stylist for Stella & Dot, a great line of jewellery and accessories based out of San Francisco. It’s sold online or through trunk shows.

Raina has kindly offered one of our readers a gift of the limited edition tribute bracelet shown above, which was developed in honour of breast cancer survivors. It’s a beautiful rose gold, great for layering with other pieces or on its own.

You know the drill: to enter, check out Stella & Dot and leave a comment here. We’ll choose a random winner on Sunday and announce the winner Monday. Winners must live in Canada. (Sorry! We don’t want to leave you with customs charges. And how Canadian of me to apologize for that!)

Feel free to contact Raina here if you’re interested in any other pieces or hosting a trunk show. Here are a few of my favourites:

 

~ Chris

Tara is our winner. Tara, your bracelet is on its way. Thanks for playing, everyone!

01/25/12

Cranky is me

It’s been one of those days. As I sit to write this on Tuesday night, my brain cells are kaput and my eyes are strained from staring at a computer for much longer than usual. I’m a tired girl. (Can you tell? I’m usually all “Hi friends!” Not so much right now.) I’m particularly bummed because I’m missing The Walrus Talks: The Art of the City, a fantastic High Performance Rodeo event that I’d been looking forward to for ages.

Aside from hanging out at Theatre Junction with my girls, Malwina, Kelly and Co-Toque Chris, I’m missing the opportunity to hear some incredibly talented people speak at the event, like Douglas Coupland, Aritha van Herk, Noah Richler and — it pains me to even write her name — Lisa Moore.

I adore Lisa’s writing and have read every one of her books, namely Degrees of Nakedness, Open, Alligator and February. She has an incredible way of writing scenes and dialogue that stick in your brain (or my brain, anyway) forever. I was introduced to her writing in my first year of journalism school — a time when I was especially eager to read fantastic work and to soak it all in — and she remains one of my favourite writers. Whenever I need inspiration, I pick up one of her books, even if only to re-read a few pages. For that, I thank you, Lisa.

And to my friends who I ditched at the last second, it was wonderful to see you for those few minutes! You inspire me every day. Let’s plan brunch soon. xo

~Michelle

{Photo via here.}