November 28th, 2013
The birthplace of Canada’s national park system is the place for a luxury winter getaway with world-renowned skiing, grand hotels, award-winning spas and decadent cuisine.
This one’s easy. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is the place to stay when you stop into town —just ask past royalty and celebrity guests (including Marilyn Monroe!). The hotel is stunning, with an abundance of dining options, an award-winning spa, indoor/outdoor pools and a bowling alley (a hidden gem). From $340/night, www.fairmont.com/banff-springs
Find your way to the town’s ski hills including Sunshine Village, with the areas longest ski season and Canada’s highest altitude, family-friendly Mount Norquay and the Canadian Rockies’ largest hill, the Lake Louise Ski Area just 40 minutes down the road. Also on offer: tubing, snowshoeing and, our favourite part, the best après’ around. www.skibanff.com
There's lots of European-inspired cuisine in Banff but our favourite is Swiss-Italian style, Ticino Restaurant. A local favourite for almost 40 years and the fondue is hard to beat. We go all out with the Swiss cheese fondue ($36/for two), followed by the Fonduta Mar-E-Mont with Alberta beef and shrimp ($28.50 per person) and finish the feast with the traditional Swiss chocolate fondue ($9.50 per person). www.ticinorestaurant.com
The Red Earth Spa in Banff Caribou Lodge provides a huge variety of healing treatments. We like the organic body treatments that soothes our whole body and face with a scrub, wrap, massage and mini-facial, all while under a Vichy Hydrotherapy Shower (from $149). www.bestofbanff.com/redearthspa
November 27th, 2013
Picking out the perfect wine for a holiday dinner party from the stacks of bottles can be daunting, not to mention the sticker shock when we think we’ve found a match.
Lucky for us, Calgary wine experts Darren Oleksyn and Shelley Boettcher have taken the guesswork out of finding the right varietal and vintage with the fourth edition of Uncorked! The Definitive Guide to Alberta’s Best Wines Under $25. This newest edition found the two journalist friends teaming up to tackle the dozens of new wines that have entered the Alberta market including a larger section on wines under $15.
So go on, serve delicious wines that don’t break the bank.
Who’s the hot hostess now? —Laura Lushington
$14.40 at Amazon.ca
November 26th, 2013
It’s that time of the year when you can shamelessly douse yourself in sparkles and glitter.
But in order to keep the trend cool (and avoid looking like we got ready with a five-year-old's craft station), the right products are key.We love the Joe Fresh Beauty holiday collections featuring metallic sheen and rich jewel tones - it satiates our sparkle obsession without being over-the-top. And, as always, the price point fits into the holiday budget with items ranging from $4 for nail polish to $10 for an eyeshadow quad.
So go ahead and play dress up. —Sara Samson
November 25th, 2013
With the season of primping, parties and Prosecco upon us, switching up your hair style with some fun curls is the easiest way to pump up your party look.
And that's why we love the Infiniti Pro by Conair Curl Secret, which makes curling tresses a breeze (read: no kinks and no tangles). Put a small section of hair in the clamp and the curl chamber wraps it around the ceramic wand. Release and voila, perfectly curled hair.
With your 'do done so quickly, you’ll have more time to change your outfit. —Sara Samson
From $100 at drugstores and department stores, www.curlsecret.com
November 25th, 2013
Net-a-Porter: A trailblazer in luxury online shopping, the Net-a-Porter app is like having a luxury department store in the palm of your hand. Stocked with the newest designer offerings from hundreds of labels ranging from couture to contemporary (Isabel Marant, Alexander McQueen, 3.1 Phillip Lim, to name a few), each item gives a detailed fit description and spot-on styling recommendations.
Beyond the Rack: When it comes to shopping flash designer discount sales, timeliness is key. With bold-name designers like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, the Beyond the Rack app has plenty of real-time perks, like instant notifications, tons of visuals (so you can ogle that It bag from every angle), flick-finger browsing and a streamlined check-out process.
Etsy: The handmade revolution is in full swing and Etsy is no doubt the hub of all things artisanal. Shop thousands of bespoke gifts, like personalized jewellery and stationery, made-to-order knits and cool one-of-a-kind vintage wares.
Victoria’s Secret: You have the perfect cocktail dress for the big office holiday party, but forgot to pick-up a strapless bra. Victoria’s Secret to the rescue! Shop the lingerie empire’s sexy and accessible bras and panties (along with their growing swimsuit and fashion collections). Nude strap crisis averted.
Zara: On-trend and affordable: have sweeter words ever been spoken? Ever since Zara launched Canadian online shopping, we’ve been hooked on perusing the perfectly styled outfits online (and buying everything in sight). Shoes from right off the runway, prints that look deceptively expensive and coats so perfectly cut you’ll wonder how many you can fit in your closet, Zara is the go to for, well, everything.
Best Buy Mobile offers the best choice of phones and networks, informed and impartial advice, and a free upgrade check. You can now find Best Buy Mobile at all Best Buy stores and as standalone stores in malls across the country. Learn more at BestBuyMobile.ca
November 23rd, 2013
Mini Mioche's made-in-Canada and largely unisex line has long been our cure for cartoon clothing phobia.
And its collaboration with The Drake General Store and Shared History is an extra shot of cool (without trying to hard). We love the Eye Heart You eye print (how Kenzo!) and Good Luck horseshoe print (sure to inspire tantrum-free behaviour, right?).
Long sleeve dresses ($45), onsies ($34), Tees ($30) and snug pants ($29, pictured) in sizes 0-6 years will keep 'em covered head-to-toe in organic cotton pieces that stand up to wear and tear remarkably well.
Sorry Dora, this closet is full. —Maria Tallarico
November 22nd, 2013
From cherry to spiced, the city’s local breweries are offering up some new brews for the season
Big Rock Brewery is putting out a limited edition Lumber Jack Pack with a trio of Canadian inspired beers for the outdoorsy type. Included is the Spruce Goose Strong Ale with a citrusy and slight spruce taste, Hibernation Strong Ale with a woody and slightly fruity taste and the full-bodied Twisted Antler Strong Dark Ale
Out for a limited time this winter is the Village Monk: Chai Winter Porter, the perfect swap out for other wintery drinks like eggnog. This full-body chai beer has hints of caramel and chocolate malts and we can’t think of anything more perfect for the holiday season.
While we usually associate cherries with the summer, Wild Rose’s Cherry Porter uses ripe B.C. cherries for a lush flavour that’s creamy with sweet chocolate notes - think Black Forest cake.
Bottom's up. —Sara Samson
November 21st, 2013
When rest, relaxation and renewal is in order, there's no better place than Arizona.
Listing the amenities of The Phoenician would take a long time (we would start with its nine swimming pools, three golf courses, and amazing spa) so trust us when we say it is a great place to stay. At the foot of Camelback mountain, this resort boasts an abundance of great dining, spacious rooms or suites, and stunning desert views. Try a morning hike (see below) or a yoga walk of the property, with breaks for downward dogs. And if you aren't into golf, tennis, hiking, or spa-ing, then their top notch poolside service will ensure you are cocktail-hydrated and comfortable in the shade, or sun, all day. The Phoenician, 6000 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona, 480-941-8200, www.thephoenician.com
Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden has one of the largest collections of desert plants, featuring over 50,000 species. The options are endless in this beautiful space: enjoy a tour of the gardens, book a healthy cooking class (we loved ours with Rachel Albert, see more below), learn some gardening tips from an expert, visit the butterfly pavilion, watch a concert, practice sundown yoga in the wildflower atrium, or attend one of their luminaries events, where you can stroll around the candlelight gardens with a drink. From November 10 to May 18, there is a Chihuly exhibition, where you’ll be able to check out his spectacular glass sculptures amongst ancient cacti. These gardens are a must-see while in Arizona. Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway Phoenix, Arizona, 480-941-1225, www.dbg.org
The Gladly is a new restaurant that specializes in a mix of comfort food, southern favourites and modern cuisine. We loved the grilled Brussels sprouts served over corn grits, and their coffee charred short ribs come highly recommended. They also boast a fantastic cocktail list featuring new takes on the classics, and an enormous whiskey menu that you can drink served over a purified ice ball that they will prepare for you at the table. Mains start at $20. The Gladly, 2201 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona, 602-759-8132, www.thegladly.com
The perfect early morning or evening workout, Camelback mountain features a 1.5 mile hike up the side of the mountain. Access the Cholla trail via Cholla lane and pack lots of water. Don’t try this midday, the heat is unbearable. The locals call this a difficult hike, but if you're a grouse grinder, you’ll breeze through in 70 minutes return. www.phoenix.gov
Head out towards Mesa and Gilbert are suburbs of Phoenix is located a 20 drive from Phoenix. Try a paddle board lesson with No Snow Stand Up Paddle at Saguaro Lake (yes, there are lakes in Arizona), have lunch at the trendy Joyride Taco, buy some chocolate flavoured olive oil or handmade, natural beauty products from the Queen Creek Olive Mill, and finish with an award-winning cupcake at The Coffee Shop at Agritopia (pictured), an urban farm oasis where people live in beautiful homes between vegetable fields, orchards, and a 24 hour honour-system farmers market (sigh).
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
November 20th, 2013
For the first time the Calgary Underground Film Festival is presenting a three day documentary film festival to showcase the works of storytellers from around the world including Russia, the UK and Canada.
Not to be missed is Pussy Riot- A Punk Prayer that tells the story of the three young women who made international headlines by standing up to President Vladimir Putin and hen landed themselves in prison - it was an official selection by Sundance and the London film festivals.
We love a story of girls behaving awesomely. —Sara Samson
November 21-23 at The Globe Cinema.
November 19th, 2013
Soon enough, our schedule will be packed with cocktail parties, gift-wrapping and cookie-eating.
Translation? Better get those workouts in now while we still can. And because nothing inspires us quite like new gym-going outfits, we’re heading straight to Reitmans.com to get our hands on Hyba, the brand’s all-new athletic line.
Our favourite piece? These fun patterned leggings ($30) because really, nobody needs another pair of black bottoms.
Consider this a sneak peek: The full line debuts in store this January just in time for – you guessed it! – New Year’s resolutions. —Christine Laroche