Last Days of Summer Bucket List

I am still coming to grips with the sheer reality that the end of summer is merely two weeks away – where did the time go! It feels like yesterday I was packing my backpack and escaping to Europe for a month and a half. With that being said, summer of 2016 has been sheer bliss mixed with a magnitude of memories and it’s going take a heck of a lot more adventuring to top it.

With pumpkin spice lattes and warm comfy sweaters just around the corner, I want to do my best to relish the last two weeks that we have of this beautiful season. Here is my bucket list of things I hope to do and experience within the next two weeks, to put the cherry on an already fabulous summer and transition into my favorite season of the year!

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Get active and spend time outdoors

Although Calgary has not had a record hot summer, the past couple of weeks haven’t been too bad! I love being able to sit on my patio as I write this article or do things that I would normally do inside, outside – banking on the premonition that it stays above 15 degrees and doesn’t begin raining daily, or worse snow.

This is also around the time when everyone seems to want to knock off those extra summer pounds they gained indulging in Stampede deep fried goodies or a few too many patio beers. In my case, it’s a situation of months of consuming Italian pasta, French crepes, Belgium waffles and British Cream Tea, none of which I regret in the slightest. However, instead of hitting the gym I want to spend the time being more active outside exploring Calgary, while I still can. Lucky for all of us Calgary has a plethora of free and/or relatively cheap activities happening all around the city within the next two weeks that are easy on the budget and a fun, healthy way to spend an afternoon.

  • Flow by the Bow: for $10 flow through a Yoga class and celebrate afterward with food trucks and a live DJ held at the RiverWalk Plaza in East Village, hosted by Lululemon.
  • Outsiders Run Club: meet up with Joanna Magik, of The Sweat Style, in the East Village for a FREE 5-8km run every Tuesday night beginning at 6:30pm.
  • Barre in the Village: join Barre Body Studio in the East Village Experience Centre on Thursday, August 25th for a lunchtime 60-minute full body workout, beginning at 12pm.
  • Explore Canada Olympic Park’s fun summer activities: for a bit of a higher price try out the Skyline Luge, Summer Bobsled or 500 meter Zipline, or test your luck at Mini Golf.
  • Patrick’s Island Games Station: on Sunday, August 28th grab a group of friends and head down to St. Patrick’s Island for outdoor activities such as Bocce, ladder golf and more between 11am-5pm!
  • Pokemon Go sesh: Yes I said it! I am not normally one to conform to popular fads, but I have to admit I am glad I inquired about this one, because it’s actually a lot of fun! Find a spot in Calgary where there is lots of Poke action happening and spend an hour or two catching rare Pokémon, fighting a few battles and hatching an egg or two, all while reaping the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors – win win!
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Pic via: @Trolley5

Explore Calgary’s newfound culinary scene

The landscape of Calgary’s foodie industry has changed drastically over the past summer months, especially due to the upgraded laws around microbreweries. As a result, there has been a significant growth in new restaurants, patios, concept bars, bakeries, coffee shops and game cafes all over the city. This makes my inner adventurous self so happy, because there is nothing I love more than trying out new local hot spots and finding new places to fall in love with in Calgary. If you haven’t already, make it your mission to try out a new spot every so often and contribute to Calgary’s growing local culture!

  • Restaurants: Ten Foot Henry, Posto Pizzeria and Bar, Una Takeaway, The Guild, Full Circle Pizza, Royale and Flipp’n Burgers & Breakfast
  • Pubs: Trolley 5 Resurant & Brewery and Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey
  • Coffee Shops/ Bakeries: Little Henry, Wow Bakery, Alforno Bakery & Café, Philosafy Coffee, Vintage Caffeine, Framboise Bakery and Made by Marcus Microcreamery
  • Game Cafés: Hexagon Café
  • Cocktail Bars: SS106 Aperitif Bar and Frenchie Wine Bar
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Pic via: @capturecalgary

Annual pre-fall shopping spree

If you know me even the slightest you won’t be surprised to hear that this is probably one of my favorite parts of this time of year! It’s when summer styles go on sale and fall fashion begins to sneak it’s way in, replacing the crop tops and daisy dukes with turtlenecks, blanket scarfs and baggy knits. The next two weeks are the perfect opportunity to wear your summer looks one last time and do a little pre-fall shopping to get your wardrobe ready for the upcoming season. Some of my favorite local shops I will be checking out for fall are Adorn Boutique, Kit & Ace and The Livery – nothing says fall like a comfy Camp crewneck fleece!

Also, check out the Buttercream Clothing Popup Shop at Greater Goods on Saturday, August 27th and the Little Modern Market on September 1st at Starbelly restaurant.

Lastly, even if you aren’t going back-to-school, like myself, it doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the frenzy of beautiful notebooks, agendas and supplies to prepare yourself for fall. Indigo’s new back-to-school line is out and my Visa is already not pleased about it!

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Pic via: Dote Magazine – book cover by Art and Alexander.

Dive into a good book

Summer is all about adventure and there is nothing like immersing yourself into a story and traveling to a world different than your own, without having to actually pay for a plane ticket. Take some time over the next two weeks to relax and read a good book even if it’s a short story and breathe in the last few moments of summer.

Joining a book club is always a good way to force yourself to sit down and actually finish reading a book you have started. I am incredibly guilty for beginning multiple novels at once and getting too busy to pick them back up again. If you don’t have a group of friends who share the same love for books as you do, Dote Magazine has officially launched their new interactive Dote Book Club – check out their first book, Mansfield Park by Jane Austin, for the month of August and stay tuned to their social media for book club updates!

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Escape to the mountains

There is nothing like ending the summer by taking a day trip or even spending a weekend basking in our beautiful mountainous backyard. Alberta has some beautiful hikes to offer that are great for experienced hikers or those people like myself who are just looking for a casual stroll with stunning views in the wilderness. Check out Alberta’s 25 best hikes here, according to Explore Magazine!

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Campfire + s’mores

Nothing says summer more than a causal evening with friends cozied around a campfire, sharing stories and toasting the perfect golden marshmallow. Unfortunately, due to the lack of nice evenings that Calgary has had this summer this has not been a common weekend activity, which is incredibly disappointing to me. If Mother Nature permits it, plan a night with friends, have a potluck and a couple drinks around the campfire and end the summer of 2016 with a bang!

Events happening around the city:

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The tan will fade, but memories last forever! ❤

xoxo Kristy

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Homestyle Lobster Boil in YYC

Being from the Atlantic, naturally my family just had to bring a few east coast traditions with them. For most of my childhood, I didn’t care for the taste of underwater creatures, which was surprising because my family was always indulging in various types of seafood as I grew up – I generally stuck to the classic chicken fingers and fries combo. I think it was through my many travels that I learned to open up to new and different foods and finally, I embraced my Nova Scotian roots, and I am so glad that I did!

It’s always been a yearly tradition in my household to have a couple lobster boils throughout the summer, particularly between the months of May-August, as this is when lobster season is at it’s peak. It’s an event that always creates a ton of memories that are full of laughter, flying lobster shell and feisty + cantankerous shellfish. I can even recall as a child, my dad putting them in the bathtub and I would go up and play some sort of game with them (their claws were still shut tight with elastics of course), I think I may have even named a few!

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Having a lobster boil in your home is nothing like being outdoors and close to the ocean, but it’s a makeshift way of bringing a bit of the east coast here to the prairies!

First of all, I would like to note that this is not a quick and easy dinner. It generally takes approximately 2 or 3 hours from start to finish (seriously!) and it can even prove to be a bit of a workout, but that’s what makes it fun!

Where to get your lobster!

We have tried a few places around Calgary, but the place we have found you get the best bang for your buck is Superstore. Try going on either a Tuesday or a Thursday to get your lobster, as these are the days that they get a fresh shipment in from the east. We have also tried going to a few specialty shops around Calgary, but they tend to be pricier for the exact same quality of lobster – they do technically all come from the same ocean.

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Steps to cooking a fresh lobster

  1. Fill a large pot with water until it is approximately ¾ full
  2. Heavily salt the water
  3. Bring the water to a boil
  4. Grab lobster from the top of the body, this can be a challenge if he’s feisty and cut off the elastics around the claws thumb_IMG_4572_1024
  5. Ensure the tail is tucked in and go in head first, making sure he doesn’t kick – the key here is speed
  6. Make sure that the water stays at a boil the entire time the lobster is cooking, but you need to watch that it doesn’t boil over!
  7. Once your time is up, remove your lobster from the pot immediately, as you don’t want it to continue to cook – drain well

Cooking Times

1 lb. 8 min
1 lb. – 1¼ lb. 10 min
1¼ lb.   – 1½ lb. 12 min
1½ lb. – 2 lb. 14 min
2 lb. 16 min

**If you have more than one lobster in the pot you will need to increase the time by 2/3 minutes!

The Feast

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Set two bowls beside your plate, one for your meat and the other for the empty shells. This way your meat is not getting mixed up with the gross parts you don’t want to eat.

It’s inevitable that you will have meat, shell pieces and salt water flying around, especially if you are with a group of people. It is ideal to clean out your lobster outside to prevent the mess, but if not put down garbage bags so the clean-up is a bit easier. You may also want to wear an old set of clothing, as the chances are high that they will have a lovely seafood smell on them as the night goes on – I am generally covered in lobster bits by the time I am done!

There is definitely an art to getting the lobster meat gracefully out of the shell and it can take a couple tries to get the hang of the strategy. It can help to use a lobster cracker and seafood forks, as they will come in handy when cleaning the smaller areas in the claws and legs – a regular fork and nutcracker will also work just as efficiently.

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You will find the majority of the good tender meat in the claws and tail, but if you’re willing to really work for it the legs can sometimes prove to be worth the sweat. One thing that I have learned the hard way over the years is that it is extremely important to get the tail out in one-fell-swoop – trust me!

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Once you have fully de-shelled your lobster it’s time to dig in! Personally, I love to melt butter and dip my meat in it as I find it makes it melt in your mouth without masking the taste of the lobster. There are also a variety of other dipping sauces out there that you can try, or you can just eat it on its own – your choice! Another thing that goes amazing with lobster meat is hollandaise sauce. If you have the time, prep this before hand so it is ready and once you are done drizzle it over your meat, it will give it a delicious gourmet buttery texture.

Enjoy!

Left over options

If you are anything like me, there is no way you will ever eat an entire lobster in one sitting, but that’s ok! This just means you will have leftovers for a second or even third helping – win win!

I always try and use my meat in a new recipe or add it to one of my favorite comfort foods. Here are a few ideas that I have experimented with in the past and have all come out as a success!

  • Lobster Salad Sandwich or a Lobster Roll
  • Lobster Grilled Cheese
  • Lobster Mac and Cheese – a personal favorite of mine!
  • Lobster Scrambled Eggs
  • Lobster Breakfast Sandwich

OR you can just eat it plain like you did the night before. Either way, I can guarantee you it will be amazing!

Having a lobster boil is no easy task, as it takes work and can be a bit messy. However, the experience and the delicious meal that you get out of it is well worth the blood, sweat and tears. If you add a little wine and a few good friends and family, I can assure you that it will be a night that no one will forget!thumb_IMG_0462_1024

xoxo Kristy

Add A Zest Of Flavour To Your Spring Party

When life gives you lemons – make cupcakes!

photo-1454944338482-a69bb95894afCupcakes are so fun and one of my favorite things to bake! I love experimenting with different cakes and icings and also finding new ways to decorate and present them, depending on the occasion. They are incredibly versatile, as they are a great way to sweeten up any event or even satisfy your daily sweet tooth indulgence.

Many people can tell you, I probably have enough recipe books to fill an entire library and I continue to covet them! One of my favorites is a cupcake cookbook from the Primrose Bakery in London, England. Its pages are full of a variety of delicious cupcakes, perfect for any season, celebration, life event or just everyday occasion. Why I love this recipe book, over others, is their focus on the different ways to style and assemble simple, yet delicious recipes, rather than complicating the matter  with hard-to-find ingredients and troublesome process.

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Primrose Bakery was started by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas in 2004 in Primrose Hill, Northern London! It was their goal to create treats that suit the interest of every type of person regardless of their age, gender and background, for every type of occasion, whether it is for an extravagant party or a simple everyday celebration. They strive to create sweet treats that “look different and taste different – it’s about food that smells delicious and that you want to eat.” Since their humble beginnings on Primrose Hill they have now expanded into 3 different bakery locations around London and have provided their treats for designers at Fashion Week, Elton John’s 60th Birthday Party, the Brits Music Awards and more!

This beautiful bakery is definitely on my list of places to visit when I go to London this summer!

One recipe that I tried a few weeks ago for my family’s Easter Dinner celebration, that was a huge hit, was Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting – the key: freshly squeezed lemon and lots of it! I think I tripled the amount of lemon that I put in both the cake and in the frosting. Excessive I know, but they had such a sweet pungent zing that it was well worth the extra squeeze.

thumb_IMG_9703_1024Check out the recipe here:

Lemon Cupcakes

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter – room temperature

1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup self-rising flour

¾ + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/3 cup milk

2 (more like 5!) tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon

1 tablespoon sour cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, until mixture is pale and smooth.
  3. Add eggs to the mixture, one at a time allowing for some time in between each egg.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the flours together.
  5. In a separate bowl mix the milk, lemon juice and sour cream together.
  6. Alternating between the flour and the milk add both to the creamed mixture, 1/3 of each mixture at a time.
  7. If the mixture begins to curdle, simply add a spoonful of flour and beat well.
  8. Spoon the mixture into muffin pan, lined with cupcake liners – fill them approx. 2/3 full.
  9. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and let completely cool before icing.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter

2-3 (or 5-6) tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon

4 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

  1. Beat the butter, half of your lemon juice and half the confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl, until smooth.
  2. Gradually add the rest of the lemon juice and confectioners sugar.
  3. Continue adding confectioners sugar until it is your desired consistency for icing – the extra lemon juice will cause the icing to be more liquid than it is supposed to, so the extra sugar will make up for this.
  4. DECORATE!

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xoxo Kristy

Note: both recipes and background research is from the cookbook “Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery.” Learn more about the adorable Primrose Bakery here!

6 Brunch Hot Spots in #yyc

Brunch, the genius collaboration of breakfast + lunch and the highlight of the weekend. As a hot cup of coffee in a tiny bistro, or diner on a Sunday morning is simply irresistible. The casual, comfortable laid back setting is the perfect place to catch up with friends + family, go on a date with that cute guy you met last weekend, nurse a hangover or experience part of Calgary’s growing foodie culture.

It seems that every couple of months a new unique, fantastic brunch hotspot pops up in Calgary and is flooded by people from all quadrants of the city. I for one am one of these people, as weekend brunch is something I look forward to at the end of a busy work week. Here are 5 of my favourite brunch spots in the city where you can usually find me on a Sunday morning – devouring an eggs benny of course!

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Monki Breakfast Club + Bistro 

Nestled in a rustic brick building on the corner of 10th ave and 12the St. SW, this little bistro provides great food and a bright + cosy atmosphere. Generally if you get there after 9:30 on the weekend you will be looking at a decent sized wait, as the space does not hold many people. However, the menu proves to be well worth it! My personal favourite is the Chorizo, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Benedict. If that doesn’t tingle your taste buds, they are famous for their Banana & Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast Topped with Nutella & condensed milk, along with a variety of creative dishes you won’t find anywhere else in the city.

The Beltliner 

Fun Fact: This restaurant was named after an old street car that used to run down 12th avenue!

This is a classy upscale diner adds a 50’s twist to a modern and spacious atmosphere, perfect for groups or last minute brunch dates. Their menu is the epitome of comfort food, as most of their dishes are their own spinoff of the well known classics. As you can probably guess, my favourite menu item is a benny, but not just any benny! The Lobster Benedict is by far one of my favourites in the city, the lobster is fresh and done perfectly, taking me back to my east coast roots. This is a more pricer option on the menu, but defiantly worth trying at least once!

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Vendome Cafe 

This european inspired cafe is situated in the heart of Kensington, in the historic “Vendome” building and offers a unique charm that has customers, like myself, continually coming back. This cafe usually has a line around the block of hungry Calgarians antsy for their daily brunch and coffee. However, the line moves quickly as it mimics the flow of a Parisian cafe. Their menu brings a cultural diversity to Calgary’s brunch scene, while maintaining their support of local farmers and food suppliers. My go-to is a Classic Benedict or one of their decadent pastries. These pastries are placed in their display window right before the counter where you place you order, making them hard to miss and even harder to resist!

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Blue Star Diner 

Home of the white brick wall with the Instagram famous blue star. This diner is located in the trendy yyc neighbourhood of Bridgeland and is a strong supporter of the local scene here in Calgary, in both their food and their practices. You can anticipate a wait, but again the food is well worth it. The wait also gives you the opportunity to browse through all of the local shops that Bridgeland has to offer. I highly suggest their pulled pork menu items such as the Pulled Pork Benny or Chipotle Pulled Pork Hash, both equally delicious and satisfying!

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Chef Bar 

A cocktail bar by night and a local weekend brunch hotspot by day. New to the Calgary scene in 2015, this restaurant offers a range of food from early morning breakfast to delicious late night snacks. Their upper scale menu offers a rich selection of mouthwatering exquisite breakfast options and the best part – a benny bar! Yes, you read that correctly! Choose from a variety of options that are served on a toasted english muffin and their signature chervil champagne hollandaise sauce. I would seriously be here for a new type of benny every morning if I could!

The Fine Diner 

Last but not least! Another favourite, situated in beautiful historic Inglewood along 9th avenue. This diner is all about the atmosphere and their overall guest experience. While you wait, sip on fresh Frattello coffee and take in the stunning local artwork that encompasses the space. One of the things I love about this diner is that most of their ingredients are sourced from local suppliers, making the quality of their food unreal. If you have a sweet tooth I suggest trying their Stuffed French Toast. If your feeling a savoury option my go-to is the Pulled Pork Hash or Spicy Bacon Frittata!

xoxo Kristy

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A Snack You Won’t Regret

The golden rule when I bake is generally, “the sweeter the better.” However, one of my New Year’s goals is to try and discover healthier alternatives to my sweet and salty binges. Snacking in between meals is something that I am terribly guilty of, so I decided the first step in accomplishing my goal would be to find a snack that was both tasty, yet nutritious to munch on.

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I decided to start with these Homemade Granola Bars. They are incredibly easy to make, with little to no clean up and they only take about 10 minutes to prepare! Check out the recipe here:

Ingredients

1 cup oats

1/2 cup trail mix – I used a super fruit trail mix for added nutritional benefits (Read more below)

1/2 cup peanut butter – the more the better!

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/4 cup water

Organic Traditions Ultimate Superfood Trail Mix: This is a great product that I bought at Planet Organic. It’s a little pricey, but the bag makes approximately 4 batches of granola bars and it contains pure + raw ingredients, unlike other supermarket brands – plus it’s delicious! This blend contains organic chia, hemp hearts, almonds, golden berries, black mulberries, coconut, cacao nibs and vanilla. You can also use it as in other ways, such as a dessert topping or mixed into your yogurt.

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper
  3. Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir until blended – this will not be a smooth mixture
  4. Spread onto cookie sheet in a thin layer – put a little elbow grease into it! The mixture is thick and can be a little harder to spread.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes
  6. Remove from oven, cut into squares
  7. Return to oven for another 12 minutes
  8. Remove from oven, let cool and ENJOY!

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All of the ingredients that I used for this recipe were organic from either Community Natural Foods or Planet Organic – support local!

xoxo Kristy