Of the three ski resorts in Banff, Sunshine is my favorite. Although since I’ve only been to Lake Louise twice and I’ve never skied Norquay, I have to admit I’m not really qualified to make this statement. But isn’t that the beauty of having a blog? The gondola takes you from the parking lot to the base of three hills. But at the end of the day, there’s more than enough snow to ride Banff Ave trail back to your car. In fact, today’s a huge powder day.Even though the clouds are obscuring the mega magnificent view usually to be had up here, Cookie’s got me covered. In Alberta, the sun always comes out at some point.Mix it up at the top of Mount Standish Express high speed quad. Do a few turns in British Columbia.Here comes the sun – I see some semblance of a shadow. And a white gourd — no, wait, that’s my Helli Hansen ski jacket. I am not down with this non-svelte silhouette. I gotta get a new jacket. But I’ve been saying that for years. Just avert your eyes and look at the B-Pro instead. Mmm… Gnu… Or that view of the Rockies! Meanwhile, you might notice there’s not much of a downward grade on this particular stretch of snow. At Sunshine, it’s good to bring a skier along so you can catch a ride by hanging onto one of their poles when you hit a flat spot. There’s a few of them here.Here’s another view to look out for at Mad Trapper’s Saloon. Just don’t let it startle you as you tilt your head up to take a swig of that midday beer. Built in 1928 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, you have to stop by this log cabin for lunch. Trappers makes a mean burger and it’s old-school ski vibe all the way. On the final day of the season (May 20 this year), the balcony is the best place to watch the Slush Cup. I didn’t fall! I was taking a break… … to take this photo. I can’t get enough of these Skittle-colored gondies. Luckily there’s still a month and a half left in the season. Next up: apres ski.
The mountains bring out the carnivore in me. It starts with the clothes. Suede boots, made in Italy. I paid a lot of money for them at an intriguing little boutique in San Francisco, but I can’t even brag about them because they have no designer name… anywhere. Who does that? However, I remember the shop’s name. Paolo Shoes in Hayes Valley. Check it out next time you’re there. Suede handbag, Gucci. Dress, Max Studio. Coat, Armani Exchange. Shearling hat, A Vintage Affair in Calgary. Because a hat like this makes sense when you’re surrounded by snow. You can’t hear my grumbling tummy, but I’m smiling through the hunger pangs. Luckily downtown Banff has a number of incredible restaurants less than a five minute drive from the Juniper Hotel.So many places in Banff are all about using natural recovered local materials, like the Maple Leaf Grille. I dig this wall.More than that, I dig their Game Platter. With a selection of bison, elk, beef and duck sausage and charcuterie, it’s a carnivore’s cult list. There might have been some bunny in there too. With local cheeses and tomatoes thrown in, I was pretty much in edible heaven while eating this. Which is good, because tomorrow I’ll need the calories. Come back manana for a little boarding, Banff style.
Perched above Highway 1, the Juniper Hotel has one of the most incredible views in Banff.Tucked into the side of the hill at the base of Mount Norquay, it’s not an automatic association when the ski vacation thought bubble starts forming above my head. But it should be.The vista from Room 210. The second floor here is the top floor. Mount Rundle is mesmerizing in late afternoon, its color palette changing from moment to moment. However, if you manage to tear yourself away, there are lessons to be learned and libations to be had downstairs. The hotel has an extensive art collection, inspired by Banff history. Here, in the Heritage Hallway, is a first nations saddle circa 1880, made from leather, fur and rawhide. Even if you’re not the museum type, you still have an incentive to visit, because the hallway leads to the bar.Called the Timberline Hotel when it was built in 1955, the sleek low-rise structure is different from the typical gingerbread house chalet you find in ski towns. Modernist design mingles with materials native to the Bow Valley, like Rundle stone and recycled fir timbers. If you’re going to indulge in a guilty pleasure like drinking, it’s nice to offset it with the eco-design of the Juniper Bistro Lounge.Normally I’m a wine drinker. Maybe it’s the name of the hotel, maybe it’s the Mad-Men-meets-apres-ski vibe, but there’s something about this lounge that inspires a martini. Perfectly chilled with my favorite and hard-to-find Victoria Gin, it hit the spot. Then so did another.During the second martini I stopped caring about my hat-head and allowed the paparazzi a moment full access, even though momentarily I did not have access to a brush. Luckily they lost interest before I hit the hot tub. No photographic evidence. But one of the best jacuzzi views of all time. Umm… not of me. The mountains!
It may be April, but our local Alps are still piled with snow. No foolin! The Canadian Rockies are less than an hour’s drive from Calgary. Home to several ski areas, Banff Alberta starts inspiring awe from the Trans-Canada Highway. Established in 1885, Banff National Park is the birthplace of Canada’s national park system. The name Banff comes from Banffshire, Scotland, birthplace of one of the big money boys who backed the Canadian Pacific Railway. CP Rail constructed fabulous, castle-like hotels in each major city across Canada. And in the occasional park.Built in 1888, the Banff Springs Hotel brought tourists to Canada’s Wild West. One of this country’s original luxury hotels, it is still a grand dame of glam.The Rundle Lounge may have incredible views, but settle into a divan away from the window’s glare and enjoy the gothic vibe of the ceiling’s stone arches — and the Worcestershired vodka of a Caesar, the drink invented in Alberta. As a courtesy translation for Americans, the menu also listed it as a Bloody Mary , but FYI it’s not quite the same. Up north we use a blend of clam and tomato juice instead of pure tomato juice. Motts actually sells it in stores: Motts Clamato. Sounds super gross but, just like escargot, it’s actually very yummy.Surrounded by nature on all sides, the hotel is a great starting point for fresh air exploration, in your most glamorous hiking outfit. Alongside the glacier-fed Bow River, it was almost too warm for my Italian fox fur hat, but it still seemed totally appropriate.By the way, this is the product I’m using this week to cover up the ever-evolving skin graft on my nose. The Lancome is very nice, but not made for super scar duty. However, it could be my application. I get better at blending with more practice (check the pics tomorrow) and the SPF is a plus for protecting my new epidermis patch.In the meantime, up river are the Bow Falls. Probably the most underwhelming view in Banff, but they were made famous by Marilyn Monroe in the River of No Return, so you gotta check ‘em out. When Ms. Monroe stayed at the Banff Springs (now owned by Fairmont) in 1953, it was the height of luxury. When I stayed there a few years ago, the room I was in seemed like it hadn’t been updated since Marilyn’s trip. Maybe they’ve made some changes. I don’t know, because I decided this time I would stay somewhere completely different. Stay tuned … Blue Besos is in Banff all week!
Get that John Mayer song out of your head, I’m about to talk about art.Back in October, I was driving through downtown Calgary and I saw this. It’s not that unusual to see construction crews working 24/7 here, but blowtorching a giant head is a tad uncommon, so I pulled over. This sculpture reminded me of one I’d seen at Sunset Beach in Vancouver. And another holding court on a corner of Marine Drive in West Van. So I looked it up. Yes, Calgary is the latest city to welcome one of Jaume Plensa’s giant heads to our public space. The Barcelona sculptor is obsessed with heads. Our version is a 12 meter tall bent-wire portrait of a young girl, placed in the curve at the foot of Encana’s new Bow Tower. Besides engaging a wide audience, the panel who chose Jaume wanted a sculptor whose work could withstand our wicked winds and wild weather changes.A few days ago, driving by the Bow again, I realized it’s finished. I love it! My red-eye fix-resistant eyes glow with the inspiration Jaume was going for when he said, “My vision for Wonderland is to inspire everyone who experiences the sculpture: I believe the architecture of our bodies is the palace for our dreams.”
He did another sculpture for the Bow, a bronze called Alberta’s Dream, which will be unveiled later this year. In the meantime, did you notice? Almost impossible to tell with the graininess of this shot and the rays of light coming from my crazy flash eyes, but … no bandaid! I’m wearing Lancome concealer and foundation. Next time I’ll brave a close-up. Boots, Michael Kors.
It’s almost time for me to get rid of my security
blanket bandage. Curious George has helped me to blow off curious inquiries with good humor.Bert has been a pal when I just wanted to geek out with a fellow nose-challenged… muppet. Oscar talked trash so I didn’t have to. Elastoplast has endless options.Grover has taken me from day into night… … for a run along my favorite path in Calgary. The pedestrian suspension bridge across the Elbow River is like a bouncy castle for adults — a brief break from our Serious Workouts. If you could be serious with Grover on your nose.
However, muppet jokes aside, the reason he’s there is serious. After Mohs cancer surgery to remove a basal cell carcinoma and a skin graft to fill up the ensuing hole, I have diligently protected the new skin. They tell me a scar takes a year to mature. Soon I’ll write about the whole process here on the blog. I’ve documented it every step of the way, along with all the
gory exciting pictures. It might not be the height of fashion, but it’s definitely Love Life.
If you’re on the hunt for Mid Century Modern furniture or art, the mecca must be Palm Springs. The fifties Hollywood getaway of the Sinatra set is now the departure lounge for that big stage in the sky, which means the torch of fine Scandinavian design is passed along daily in estate sales and vintage shops. However, if the recent mad upsurge in airline prices is keeping you away from Callie this winter (in Calgary the seasons pay no heed to the calendar) you can make this pilgrimage closer to home.Mid Century Dweller in Inglewood is chock full of sleek Nordic timber…… from super groovy lamps to teak everything. You never know when you might need some Danish rosewood speakers for the ol’ hi fi.In the tradition of quirky furniture shops, the hours are a little finicky. Mid Century Dweller is only open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to five. But there’s free parking in the back and – bonus of the Blue Besos kind – the owner speaks Spanish.
Once you go Mac you never go back. Ever since my ruby red iMac, I’ve been hooked. The love affair continued with my iBook, my pre-Intel Inside G5, my MacBook and my iPhone. But the $30+ charge for a teensy little plastic cell phone case or bumper? Not so much. And not so much so much that I just said not so much, an expression I loathe. Yes, strong words for a colloquialism but I feel strongly about it. Where was I? Aah yes.
My iPhone bumper was getting old. But I postponed a new purchase, thinking there had to be another option. Then a tipsy talk with a girl in a restaurant restroom (dontcha love those) led to a Tmart endorsement. So I ordered. Then my bumper broke. I got worried – my little phone seemed so naked without some type of protection. The order was taking weeks. Shipping from the US and all. I wondered if I should break down from my Apple Store bumper boycott and cough up serious cash money for a new one. But I held out. Then this happened: Bummer. Guess what arrived the next day?I can’t blame Tmart for the cross-border penalty of residing in Canada. Especially not rhinestone-bedazzled-pink-for-$3.81 I can’t! But where were the other two I ordered? For $3.13 and $5.98 (splurged on that one) I was willing to be patient.Turns out they were in Hong Kong! I don’t know if Tmart made a profit on this sale, but they definitely made a devoted customer.At these prices it doesn’t matter if I lose a few sparkly things to purse trauma, but apparently Tmart doesn’t agree: Glue and extra rhinestones! Love it! Try it out for yourself: Tmart.com. Just plan for a delay if you’re a true north strong and free type.
Spring is officially just a few days away but the Calgary Polo Club is still under a blanket of snow. The JC Palmer field is beautiful. And a little lonely. No horses anywhere. Good thing I brought my own.It’s pink and purple. And nuzzling my muzzle. When you’re in the equestrian mood, a My Little Pony bandage by Elastoplast fits the bill. Or the nose. Those purple unicorns kinda remind me of my snowboard.Wait a minute… I think I see something down there. Hi guys! Only a couple more months til your vacation is over. With that in mind, I should hit the hitting cage. Compared to the arena in the background, the cage seems weather proof. However, it turns out I should have brought some orange snow polo balls… To negotiate the drifts inside the cage.They’d probably get stuck in the snow as well, but at least you could see them better while you have a good laugh. And I dream of summer.
Even with three pilot stores finally open in Ontario, Target is still being coy. They refuse to give the exact dates for the rest of their much-anticipated 124 store openings across Canada. They have to be setting some type of retail record with their massive big box rollout. Canucks can thank Zellers for the cheap real estate that brought the bullseye view north of the 49th parallel. I don’t think anyone is lamenting the loss of Club Zed.
Meanwhile, the American retailer is finally fulfilling the destiny of its red and white logo. Not only is Target (pronounced the French way, “tahr-jhay,” even in the USA) coming to Canada, the products we love south of the border are coming here too.Sonia Kashuk was the supermodel’s go-to makeup artist in the eighties and nineties, culminating in her Cindy Crawford book collaboration, Basic Face. Then Target scooped her up and made SK a household name in 1999. When other celeb makeup artists were becoming prestige brands, she was the first make-up artist to take luxury quality to the masses in an affordable package. High-end brushes were one of her main focuses and still are today. Pictured here is one of her latest: the limited edition Kabuki Brush along with a back-from-the-beach bronzer.Of course, being a Sonia Kashuk compact, it has a handy hidden compartment that opens up underneath the bronzer to reveal…… a mirror! A vital component for any chica.Pixi is another great product we can look forward to seeing on store shelves here in Canada. The primer gets rave reviews as a pore reducer before makeup application. And the provocatively named Succulent Lip Twin continues in the Target tradition of multi-purpose function.Not only is it a lipstick, the moisturizing creme can be used for cheeks as well. Meanwhile, in the tube, multi-purpose lip balm to soothe and heal dry lips. It will come in handy in our desert air in Alberta!We’ll also be seeing Target’s in-house everyday essential brand called Up & Up, spanning more than 40 categories including household, healthcare, beauty, baby and personal care. Seen here – makeup removal wipes so you can take it all off… before you put it all back on again.