MONSTER JAM!

Imagine a car subculture that involves building an incredible beast of a vehicle, only to put it to the ultimate rough-and-tumble test; driving it through an intense and dusty obstacle course, popping wheelies and doing backflips. Yep, it isn’t just any car subculture – it is Monster Jam.

Monster Jam is rolling through town for a spectacular return to Calgary on September 8-9, 2018! You’ll get to see some of the world-famous trucks like Grave Digger®, Max-DTM, El Toro Loco®, Monster Mutt® and more race and perform in freestyle competitions. There is really nothing quite like it!

I still remember seeing Monster Jam once as a kid with my family; it was loud as can be and on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of action. It was really cool to go check out the trucks up close and personal after the show. The drivers have some serious skill and put those monster trucks through a lot!  I can’t wait to take Jack there this weekend with my parents and brother to relive the experience through his eyes!

Tickets are still available for September 8 + 9th at the Stampede Grandstand. Get them here now or see below for a chance to win tickets from The Archives of Cool!

Lucky for my readers – I have a great opportunity for my followers to take their family to see the show as well! If you want to win a 4-pack of tickets for this weekend’s show, head over to Twitter, follow me (@kaitkucy) and share this tweet:

Hey @kaitkucy! I want four tickets to see GRAVE DIGGER at @MonsterJam this weekend in #yyc! Details here: https://bit.ly/2wMy9e0

Contest ends on Thursday September 6th at 9pm PST and winner must be able to attend Monster Jam in Calgary on September 8 or 9th. I will be doing a random draw of entries and contacting the winner directly on Twitter. Thanks so much for entering and good luck!

SWAPPING SCREEN TIME FOR GREEN TIME

With the start of the school year rapidly approaching now is the time to get your children’s eyes examined by a doctor of optometry.  A comprehensive eye exam from a doctor of optometry is essential for all kids to make sure they are ready (and able) to start the year seeing clearly. Going for a regular eye exam is the best way to ensure that your child’s eyes are healthy. The doctor of optometry will work with you  to tackle any vision problems that may arise. I have partnered with the Alberta Association of Optometrists to help spread awareness of the importance of your child visiting the optometrist each year, how important (and awesome) sunglasses are and ways you can reduce the risk for myopia in your child’s eyes. Myopia, otherwise known as nearsightedness, is a common eye condition where close objects look clear but distant objects appear blurred.

As someone with eye sensitivity, I’ve always worn sunglasses religiously – they are my favourite accessory. Jack has been wearing sunglasses since he was a wee babe – and luckily thanks to my diligence so early in his life, he actually never leaves the house without grabbing a pair of them. One thing that is super important when shopping for sunglasses for your kids (and yourself) is to make sure that they have 100% UV filter protection. Sunglasses should block out 99-100% of both UVA and UVB light.

Here is a crazy statistic that I just learned: researchers estimate more than 80% of our lifetime exposure to UV rays happens before age 18. That is pretty unreal and really drives home the point that children should be wearing protective eyewear since birth!

Did you know that sun protection should be worn year-round when eyes are exposed to the sun? I find that Alberta is especially bright and sunny during the winter with the glare off the white snow; it is super important to keep those eyes protected. Sunglasses aren’t just for summertime! If your child is an avid outdoor swimmer in the summertime, you can also purchase 100% UV filter goggles to help protect their eyes as they enjoy swimming.

The Alberta Association of Optometrists is promoting something that I truly love; swapping screen time for green time. The Association is encouraging families to spend more time outdoors rather than on screens. There have been direct correlations made between an increase in access to advanced technology (phones and tablets) and an increase in cases of myopia in children.

In today’s day and age, we can rely on technology a lot throughout our days – sometimes a lot more than we should. Getting out into the great outdoors, exploring or taking a walk through the neighbourhood is an excellent way to give those eyes a break. Especially with young children, we should all try swapping the screen time for more green time. Myopia typically gets worse with age – so it is key to start paying attention to how much screen time your child is getting as early as possible.

Jack was due for his annual appointment and he did great – but we did discover that he has an astigmatism and may require glasses this fall. He is scheduled in for further testing later this month to confirm that he needs glasses. He starts school in September so finding this out now is such a relief as I want him to be able to focus on learning and not worrying about being able to see things properly. We’ll be shopping for prescription glasses and sunglasses for him soon!         

**This is a sponsored post written by me in partnership with the Alberta Association of Optometrists. All writing is my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Archives of Cool!

EVERYTHING I WANT BUT DON’T NEED

Like many Canadians, I’ve long been a disciple of the Chapters Indigo world. As much as I love shopping from independent book stores, those big bookstores also have a place in my heart; a place where you can wander for hours, finding new and interesting things. Over the years, I’ve also really fell in love with their lifestyle product lineup. I’ve purchased things you’d never have guessed were from a “bookstore”. I really appreciate how they keep up on trends and give Canadians a wide variety of beautiful things to fill their lives with – alongside the most important part: literature.

Anyways, I was updating my book wish list the other day and realized that they have a FULL BLOWN home section now. It appears that most items are available only online but I’m seriously so impressed with the selection. The colours, the materials, the styles; well done Indigo! I’ve pulled together a selection of my favourite pieces I’ve come across so far – some serious gems and a lot are currently on sale. Bonus.

A perfect example of the items you’ll find is this adorable little compact toaster oven! Who wouldn’t want to tell everyone they bought this from a bookseller?!

Chapters Indigo has proven to me that design is IMPORTANT to them – this Cloudnola Flipping Out Clock is pure loveliness and would look great perched on a bedside or desk.

This Wild & Wolf English Mustard desk lamp is the perfect accent colour for any workspace. I love the matte powder-coated finish and the minimalist design.

I want a nice big stack of these adorable floor pillows for my living room. They kind of remind me of elementary school – something you’d grab for story time. Except now I picture my pals coming over for wine and snacks and pulling one of these up for some good chats.

This Neon Eye Wall Light is such a good price point – and adds a bit of mystical fun to any space. Ideal for the up and coming tarot card reader to put in their front window.

Beautiful chairs from….a bookstore. I’m obsessed. The Kvell Kaptain Chair is gorgeous and at $170.00 it will give you the designer look for your space without an outrageous price tag!

Love this Monbento Square Bento Box! I picture packing Jack and I delicious things for a picnic in the park – while simultaneously looking so stylish and effortless. Haha!

BACK TO SCHOOL!

Ah, the whiff of freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebooks, the cooler morning air and the feeling of excitement mixed with a slight uncertainty; I’m talking about back-to-school. This time-honoured September tradition is probably the most nostalgic for me; to this day I can remember the first day of school so clearly. That anticipation of seeing all of your friends after the long summer, wearing a brand-new outfit you’ve been saving for weeks and gearing up a new year of learning.

Now, as a mother, I’ve got the same feeling of uncertain excitement for my child as he starts school (pre-school!) for the very first time. I am so excited for all of the learning Jack will do, the friends he will make and the experiences he will have. I just know that he will love it!

To prep for the busy month ahead, I’ve been checking off our list of all the important back-to-school stuff that we’ve had to get done. First things first was getting a real hair cut for Jack. Jack has been rocking his super sweet surfer guy hair for a while now, but I wanted to get something a bit more cleaned up for the fall. We brought in an inspiration photo (which is recommended if you are looking for something specific) and our stylist did a fantastic job.

Heading into Great Clips, I was really impressed with their service before we even got there. In case you weren’t aware, they have an awesome Online Check-In and App service that make things even easier for parents and busy schedules. First off you don’t need to make an appointment – the Great Clips App makes it super simple for getting your children in last-minute to the salon closest to you.

The App will show you the salon locations closest to you and all you have to do is enter your name, phone number and how many people will be with you. Then, just head on over and you’ll be all set up for getting a great haircut.

Clip Notes are another great feature that all locations have access to; basically, it is all of the information about the customer’s haircut that the stylist took note of for future reference. That means that the next time you head in for an appointment, everything from style, shape, type of hair is available to the stylist so that you don’t feel like you are starting from scratch again.

Another really great thing that Great Clips is doing this year is running a promotion in support of Kids Cancer Care. Spearheaded by Lisa Inman and Jennifer Mooney here in Calgary, this initiative is a really great way to teach your kids about giving back to the community. From August 22nd through to September 30th, Calgary customers have the opportunity to purchase a Kindle Bug for $3. With each sale of a Kindle Bug, $3 will go directly to Kids Cancer Care and with each donation customers will receive a $5 off coupon (expires November 16) for their next haircut at Great Clips!

I am so happy with how Jack’s haircut turned out. Our Great Clips stylist did a great job keeping the laid-back shaggy surfer vibe while cleaning it up into something much tidier for starting school. Now that we’ve got the haircut checked off of our to-do list, we can now focus on making sure we’ve got everything else ready for back-to-school!

**This is a sponsored post written by me in partnership with Great Clips. All writing is my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Archives of Cool!

MY SUMMER BEAUTY FAVOURITES

For me July was all about trying new things! This month was fairly boring in terms of what I bought – it was a lot of drugstore purchases; I mostly just needed to switch up some of my skincare to combat some of the summer elements we’ve been experiencing here in Calgary.

As mentioned before almost all of the products listed here were purchased by me (I’ve noted it below if they were gifted) but I will definitely let you guys know in future posts if it is a gifted product or contains an affiliate link. Also, if you have any suggestions for new products I should check out please let me know!

HAIR

I cannot get enough VERB products. I am 100% sold on their gluten-free formula now and swear by all of the products that I’ve tried so far. First up is the VERB Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair which is such a total revelation. FINALLY a dry shampoo for dark hair that doesn’t have an off-putting chalky, chocolatey scent. The formula is light and fresh – and actually works really well for refreshing my hair quickly – especially during these hot, sweaty days/nights.

The other product I tried out this month was the VERB Ghost Prep (*this product was gifted to me by Chatters Hair Salon). It says it is for weightless moisture, heat protection and frizz control – all things I need during this awesome summer heat wave we are having. The Ghost line is typically for finer hair but the Ghost Prep worked great on my thick hair for maintaining flyaways and other frizz.

SKIN

I needed a new skin cleanser and had read really good reviews on the CeraVe lineup so I figured I would give it a shot. I picked up the  CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin. First off, I love washing face – nothing feels better than really cleansing my skin and going to bed feeling fresh. This cleanser is great for that – the formula is light and doesn’t dry out my skin. I think that the value is also great – it was $15.99 for quite a large pump bottle; I only use one pump per session and I feel like I’ve barely used it!

This was an impulse as I had a random breakout and nothing seemed to be working on it. The Neutrogena Rapid Clear Spot Gel actually did the trick! I usually have clear skin and don’t often need something so intense like this so I am glad that it is quite a small little tube.

Next up I was excited to try a couple new products from The Ordinary and my excitement was completely warranted. As I type, I’ve got a re-order on its way to me full of my favourite products from their line. Probably the most anticipated product of the summer for me personally was The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants. I am always looking to try out high SPF in a natural format so I was pleased to see that The Ordinary was releasing something in that range. I found the SPF formula to be very nice and smooth (make sure you shake it up before applying) with great coverage – though you will definitely have to blend it in quite a bit as with any mineral based SPF the formula is quite white. I have used it both on myself and on Jack – we didn’t get any adverse skin reactions to it and no sunburns to be seen so I am quite happy with this purchase.

I also picked up The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer which I would like to SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS RIGHT NOW AS MY NEW FAVOURITE PRODUCT. In the past, I’ve never been much of a primer user but this one changed everything. My makeup stays on SO much better than without it. And with all The Ordinary products, you cannot go wrong with the pricepoint.

MAKEUP

I’m constantly perfecting my daily lip so I picked up a few new things this past month. I tend to stick with blush nude tones for the most part. In an effort to try a new type of product, I bought the NYX Powder Puff Lippie in Squad Goals. I really love the lip colour and the product goes on nicely – my only criticism is that the “powder puff” makes it a bit harder to achieve a clean lip line.

This was part of my order from Deciem: the Abnomaly Petrowhat?  Lip + Skin Ointment in Coconut Milk. it is a nice smooth lip treatment with a mild scent – it is really moisturizing. Moisturizing enough to use it on my cuticles and other dry skin areas! Not bad for $7. A little bit goes a long way.

More lip stuff! I was given the da lish lipgloss in G02 from my friend Alli at Beach Beauty here in Calgary. It is a vegan line and I have to say – as someone who NEVER buys lipgloss for fear of stickiness – I was beyond surprised at what a great product this is. The colour is perfectly neutral and goes well with all of my other lipsticks.

I usually use NYX Lip Liner in Natural but decided to try out a darker colour for a more defined lip. I tried out Mauve and really love the colour.

I’ve been using the same eye liner for 100 years that I totally swear by but I had heard that Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black was a godsend so bit bullet (it is double the price of my regular drugstore fave). I think it is a really amazing product but definitely need a lot more practice to perfect my cat eye. Also, I find that the tip runs out of liquid pretty fast – not sure if that is common or not.

I am an Anastasia Beverly Hills fanatic but this NYX Micro Brow Pencil in Espresso is really great when you want to get a really defined clean brow. It is the perfect pencil to keep in your purse for daytime touch-ups!

ESSENTIAL OILS

Lastly, my allergies have been OUT OF CONTROL this summer and I was willing to try anything for a bit of relief. Luckily, Saje came out with a lovely kit just for me: Saje Natural Wellness Clear Skies Allergy Relief Kit. The kit comes with an allergy release mist which I misted over myself and on my pillows before bedtime. It was really soothing and helped me do some deep breathing despite my congestion. The allergy rollerball is great for on the go – just a dab under my nose or behind my ears seems to soothe my irritated nose/eyes. The inhaler is such a great addition to this kit – anytime I felt like I couldn’t breathe or was on the verge of a sneezing attack I used it. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a natural remedy for allergy season.

SUMMER FUN IN THE CITY

**This is a sponsored post written by me in partnership with Kijiji. All writing is my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Archives of Cool.

One of my New Year’s resolutions (which was definitely prompted by the harsh and long winter we had this year here in Calgary) was to truly enjoy every single day of summer in the city. We don’t have any plans to leave town, so this summer is all about exploring our favourite parks, hitting up outdoor pools and splash parks and just being active and enjoying nature. So far, so good; Jack and I have been on the go almost everyday and we’ve got a lot more fun ahead of us!

One of my main summer plans was to upgrade Jack from the tricycle that he has totally mastered over the past two years. I’ve heard from plenty of bike-enthusiast parents that a strider/balance bike is a great introduction to getting on an ol’ two-wheeler and learning about balance sans training wheels. For anyone who doesn’t know, a strider bike is a two-wheeler without pedals, simply put it is a self-propelled bike that encourages coordination and balance much earlier than kids typically learn those skills. It must have been my lucky day when I decided to search on Kijiji for a strider bike because amongst the flame-emblazoned kiddie bikes there was the most perfect PUBLIC strider in a retro-inspired pale blue.  

PUBLIC bikes have always had a great reputation – I remember when I was bike shopping years ago for myself I was considering PUBLIC bikes but ended up going with another brand. Anyways, the bike brand-new is only available online from the U.S. for about $200 CAD – it was listed on Kijiji for $50. Definitely one of my best second-hand scores in recent history. It just shows you that you can find really high-quality items, for less, on Kijiji if you keep your eyes out, know your brands and check back often. In fact – according to a recent Kijiji Report, in 2017, Canadians saved an average of $825 from acquiring second-hand goods instead of new.

Jack has been loving the bike so far – he’s really starting to get the hang of it and each day can go a bit further on it. He’s actually inspired me to get my bicycle (which has a Yepp kids seat on the back for him – I bought that second-hand a couple of years ago as well) repaired so we can hit the bike paths ASAP.

Another great thing about shopping second-hand for good quality products like this balance bike is that if you take good care of them, they totally retain their value – meaning once you are done with them there is an opportunity for resell. I’ll be putting his much-loved classic red trike on Kijiji very soon – I love the cycle of the second-hand economy.

One of the other functions of the Kijiji app that I love so much is that I can save my favourite searches and setup alerts for when new items are added. Jack’s interests are constantly changing and there is no point in buying brand-new products at this stage because who knows what will stick and what will be abandoned. It is not surprising considering how quickly children move from one interest to another! Luckily, games, toys and video games are one of the top five most-exchanged items in the second-hand economy,  according to Kijiji’s 2017 Second-Hand Economy Index Report, so I’ll have some good options to choose from.

That being said, there is endless summer fun to be had so I’ve set up a couple new alerts for some sports equipment. One of those being a life jacket in his size. Brand-new life jackets are VERY expensive which is something I had no idea about before becoming a parent. New, they seem to range from $40-$100 but according to my research I’ve done on Kijiji, you can get a second-hand one for about $25, which means you can save nearly 75% from buying used versus new! Once we get one, I will feel much more comfortable about hanging out at my parent’s community lake or down by the river this summer.

Earlier this year, when we were stranded inside the mall during the depths of winter, Jack got inspired by a cool and friendly teenager showing him skateboard tricks at the skater shop and I ended up purchasing a Fish Cruiser Skateboard (complete with a clear deck, pink light-up wheels and embossed skulls) for him. Later in the spring, we hit up the House of Vans skateboarding event and Jack got even more interested in skateboarding. Now that we’ve reached ideal skateboarding conditions, I’ve set up an alert for a full set of skateboarding protective pads because I feel that is a good compromise between full-on bubble wrapping my kid or going without. What is on your summer bucket list? Are your kids trying any new sports or activities this summer? I highly recommend purchasing second-hand for new toys, games and entertainment for your kids this summer. To learn more about the second-hand economy and how you can get involved check out secondhandeconomy.kijiji.ca for more information!    

INSTANT TEEN WITCH KIT

It is a severe understatement when I share that I am beyond thrilled for the new Netflix show, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This modern day take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch is produced by the same people behind Riverdale and stars my fave teenager Kiernan Shipka – so you know it is going to dark, moody and glorious – and probably a bit kitschy. It comes out on October 26th and I cannot wait.

Lately, I’ve been spotting the teen witch vibe all over the place – it is totally in the air, riding a broomstick and looking cute. Here are some great finds from Etsy! Just an FYI, this post contains affiliate links.

know your power pin from glitterpunkjewellery

witch hand patch from lunalotusuk

black cat backpack from theshedoutlet

bulgarian rose lip balm from anitako organics

spirit speak tarot deck from spiritspeak

moon child candle from velvetcocos

gold moon bowl from liquoricemoonstudios

vintage candle holder by heartofthehunter

lunar calendar from durido

little witch zine from spiritspeak

TOP 5 INNER-CITY CALGARY PARKS + PLAYGROUNDS

Summer is in full swing and all Jack and I are doing is planning our next inner-city adventure. From natural playgrounds to outdoor pools to the perfect picnic spots, there are endless opportunities to enjoy these beautiful summer days right here in the middle of the city. I’ve partnered with Alberta Blue Cross to share our favourite parks and playgrounds to inspire you to get out and be active with your family this summer. We walk everywhere (and are getting our bike repaired shortly) and love exploring the city by foot. All of these fantastic parks are in easy walking distance of each other so you can make a day of it or come back time and time again for some fun adventures with your family.

A really exciting aspect of Alberta Blue Cross is how they get involved in their local communities by encouraging people to be active and take preventative measures towards a healthier lifestyle. One avenue that they explore this through is the Healthy Communities Grant Program, which is an annual grant program that supports and promotes active living across the province. Five $50,000 grants are awarded each year to support community amenities and facilities that promote active living. That is a LOT of money that could go a long way to impact an entire community.

So, you are probably wondering what is a valid entry for projects that can be entered into the grant program. Some examples include construction or replacement of children’s playgrounds, outdoor adult gyms, cycling paths and recreational facility improvements, but if you have a really great idea for your community there is a good chance you can make a good proposal for their consideration. The deadline for applications is August 31st so you still have plenty of time to get your great ideas into Alberta Blue Cross! Grants will be awarded in December. Apply now or check out their website for more details.

Like I mentioned, one of my favourite ways to keep active in the city is to explore all of the amazing public parks that we have. Jack and I have such an amazing time heading out on little adventures; the further the park, the more exercise we get and the more fun we have together. It is a win-win.

I’ve rounded up my favourite parks in the city to visit, in no particular order. Perhaps you’ll make them part of your summer or perhaps they will inspire you for your own Healthy Communities Grant Program application—with fresh and innovative ways to improve your neighbourhood parks.

Central Memorial Park is definitely one of my favourite parks in the city—not just because it is absolutely beautiful. While it doesn’t have a playground on site, it makes up for it in sprawling lawns, pathways, flowering gardens and beautiful fountains—including sidewalk fountains that kids can wade in —and is home to the oldest Calgary Public Library location in the city, Memorial Park Library. We love visiting this park thanks to its close proximity to home but also for the heritage aspect, which I feel is another important element to maintain. Many days we will come here for a picnic, to play in the sidewalk fountains and visit the library. With stunning vistas of downtown and the Calgary Tower, it is easily the most picturesque park in the city.

1221 2nd Street SW

Haultain Park, which is conveniently located across the street from Central Memorial Park is a really great recreational park in the Beltline with a huge playground, tennis courts and a field for kicking a ball around. It is located right around the corner from the City of Calgary Beltline Fitness Centre, which is another great resource in the community for active living. It is also home to the historic Haultain School which is Calgary’s oldest sandstone school and the first public school to have electricity and running water. It is now one of the Parks Foundation Calgary offices.

225 13th Ave SW

St. Patrick’s Island is one of the most popular parks in the city, located just over the St. Patrick’s Island bridge from the East Village and just a stone’s throw from the Calgary Zoo. The Island re-opened in 2015 and quickly became an imaginative home-away-from-home for kids and families of all ages. One of the most magical aspects of the park is their commitment to public art with a beautiful sculpture called Bloom. There is also a seasonal “beach” area for wading and fishing, endless meandering pathways and  the amazing Rise which is a hill built into the park that’s perfect for tobogganing or a carefree roll down. Endless fun can be had at St. Patrick’s Island—there is always something new to discover.

1300 Zoo Road NE

Thomson Family Park is located just a quick walk from the bustling 17th Avenue SW. With a super fun playground complete with a giant slide (that can be accessed by climbing a staircase or a hill) this is a great spot to bring your kids for an afternoon picnic. In the summer, they have sidewalk fountains that are an absolute blast for the kids (and dogs) not to mention they cool everyone right down. There is an open green space for play, which actually used to be home to the Calgary Lawn Bowling Club. It is transformed into an outdoor skating rink in the winter—such a great spot all year round!

1236 16th Ave SW

Riley Park is the absolute best park if you want to feel like you’re on vacation right in the middle of the city. Their wading pool waterpark is the best place to hang out on a hot sunny day with some friends—it is complete with a gorgeous little island in the middle with huge trees that provide ample shade for those of us who want to enjoy the warm weather but stay out of the sun. Riley Park is also home to a huge field for getting active and playing sports in.  The amazing playground on site will certainly spark some imaginative play in your child. One of the secret hidden gem parts of the park is the tiny fairy home that some creative soul installed into the base of one of the older trees on the path leading out of the park; it truly makes you slow down and appreciate the small things.

800 12th Street NW

**This is a sponsored post written by me in partnership with Alberta Blue Cross for their Healthy Communities Grant Program. All writing is my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Archives of Cool.

 

I’M IN THE BUSH OUTSIDE AND I REALLY LOVE YOU

I recently came across Babak Ganjei‘s work somewhere on the internet (probably spiraling down a late night rabbit hole of Instagram and Pinterest) and was immediately hooked by his scrawled messages that are simultaneously poignant and bizarre.  Every poster is made to order (in small editions) and is handwritten – not printed. No two poster is alike which is something I’m very into – who wants replicas – I only want originals.

Of course, I instantly fell in love with the “I’m in the bush outside and I really love you” poster because of its perfect combination of desperation, romance and total lack of self awareness.

His online shop is full of gems inspired by real heartfelt messages that maybe everyone feels deep inside but doesn’t really ever say outloud but instead they will frame them and put them on their walls for everyone to see and then all have a good laugh about it.

Beyond the online shop (support artists plz) his website catalogues all of his past shows, installation work and projects – it is all incredibly inspiring. Take a peek – I especially love his YOU ARE ALONE series.

You can even get him to send you or someone else who needs it an “Everything is going to be ok” text message for a small fee.

And of course, he has apparel and of course, it is perfect. I feel like a shirt like this will help the greater good make solid relationship choices moving forward. Yup, let’s all make good choices, folks.

All images via Babak Ganjei.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE WEST BELTLINE

Breakfasts with endless hashbrowns, parks with public art sculptures, an entire basement filled with crystals and gems; yup, I’m talking about my neighbourhood — the Beltline. This summer I’m partnering with Battistella Developments to showcase the best parts about living in Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhoods — notably the West Beltline where they are building their newest condo development: Nude. Keep an eye out for more posts here on the blog as well as sharing some of my favourite spots on Instagram.

I love living in the Beltline, where I’m so close to the action and able to get anywhere I want to go quickly, so today, I’m sharing my Ultimate Guide to the West Beltline, I’m talking spots you cannot pass up!

WHERE TO EAT

Donna Mac: If you love delicious yet inventive comfort food combined with a fresh, flavourful cocktails, a gorgeous interior (designed by my friend Sarah Ward!) and a record player stocked with sweet tunes, then I’m pretty certain you’ll love Donna Mac. They have a fantastic neighbour program for their housemade sourdough and they are very accommodating for vegans and people who eat gluten-free. 1002 9th Street SW

Kona Poke: One of my favourite hit-the-spot eateries, Kona specializes in delicious poke bowls topped with delicious ingredients like ahi tuna, spicy poke or even octopus. My go-to bowl consists of brown rice with mixed greens, cucumber, red cabbage, sweet onion, ahi tuna with the gluten-free Maple Miso dressing and topped off with masago, avocado and furikake. The Hawaiian vibe of the fast casual restaurant is anchored by a kitschy but swoon-worthy framed photo of Tom Selleck. Pop in on Mondays for free 5-cent candies; just one of the cute things this tasty little spot dreamt up. 939 10th Avenue SW

Paros Souvla: I am all about riding this wave of great take-out spots popping up in the West Beltline. Paros Souvla is one of my favourite additions with their incredible Greek food. If you’re going to try anything, may I recommend the Greek Fries which are topped with fresh feta and are dippable in the tasty house tzatziki. The Village salad is the perfect compliment to the fries with delicious Kalamata olives, cucumber, tomatoes and a savoury slab of feta on top. Their menu is also very accomodating for special diets; they are able to make almost everything gluten-free or dairy-free. 1436 8th Street SW

Sucre Patisserie & Cafe: I love to explore and try new places all of the time. I recently popped into Sucre which has a plethora of luxurious pastries and treats as well as fantastic coffee. The interior is so beautiful — you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to Paris for your coffee and croissant. 1007 8th Street SW

Galaxie Diner: If you love a good greasy spoon, look no further than the perfectly vintage Galaxie Diner. With bottomless hashbrowns, legendary milkshakes and a certain retro charm that cannot be replicated, this is the best place to meet your pals for breakfast. Be warned that it is a small place so there will be lineups on weekends. Luckily, they give you coffee while you wait in line! 1413 11 Street SW

Calgary Midtown Co-op: Every neighbourhood worth its salt has a great grocery store. Calgary Co-op is a fantastic destination to do your weekly shop but their grab-and-go and pre-prepped meal options really take the cake. It is also one of my favourite spots to pick up house plants and fresh flowers for a great price. 1130 11th Ave SW

WHERE TO SHOP

Nine Times Skate Shop: One of the freshest additions to the Beltline, this cool AF skateshop is my new go-to spot to pick up a new pair of Vans and scope out their awesome selection of cozy sweatshirts and perfect dad caps. This skater-owned shop is super involved in the city’s skate scene and often host events and workshops in store. 1409 11th Street SW

gravitypope + Blackbyrd Music: If you love brutalist architecture as much as I do, there is a good chance you’ve ogled the gravitypope building on 17th Avenue. But what is inside is even better — gravitypope has the BEST selection of shoes in all of the uptown/downtown area and carries amazing garment brands like Commes des Garcons PLAY, WANT Les Essentiels among others. In the basement you’ll find Blackbyrd Music, another Edmonton-offshoot which just happens to be my favourite spot to pick up the latest vinyl releases. 1126 17th Ave SW

Heritage Music: If you love crate-digging as much as I do, you’ll be able to spend an entire afternoon at Heritage Music fleshing out your record collection. They’ve got vintage gems to rival your dad’s collection and often do something extra special for Record Store Day. 1316 11th Ave SW

Peaseblossoms Flowers: I’m a big believer in having lots of plants and fresh flowers in our home — it just makes every day more beautiful! Peaseblossoms Flowers is the most darling little shop that carries a gorgeous selection of flora as well as some amazing lifestyle products like notebooks, small objects and decor. 1417 11th Street SW

Earth Gems: My crystal obsession is real and Earth Gems does not disappoint. I could literally spend hours (and hundreds of dollars) in there. Pro-tip: as much as my little guy loves crystals and rocks, I would not recommend bringing your little one there as there is some very expensive pieces all over the place — not worth the risk! #100, 1022 17th Ave SW

Pomp + Circumstance: If you’re looking for beautiful home decor, Pomp & Circumstance is one of the best interior design shops in the West Beltline. With product lines from Norm Architects and Barter, you’ll be sure to find something covetable for your modern, minimalist home. 1204 12th Ave SW

Wild Rose Cleaners: If you need alterations and dry cleaning, Wild Rose is an excellent option. Their attention to detail is impeccable and they actually design and make men’s dress shirts in-house if you are looking for a bespoke option. 1330 15th Ave SW

Hedkandi: My go-to spot for hair is definitely Hedkandi on 8th Street. Not only do they have some of the most talented stylists in the city but they also carry an amazing selection of hair and beauty products from lines such as Bumble & Bumble, Oribe and even their own coffee blend with local coffee company Monogram! #105, 1301 8th Street SW

WHERE TO GO

Beltline Urban Mural Project: One of my favourite local initiatives in the Beltline Urban Mural Project which was started by the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association (Battistella is actually a big sponsor of the  2018 Project) to promote local artists, increase tourism for the neighbourhood (hello, Instagram mecca) and beautify buildings in the area. They are just kicking off year two of the project and I cannot wait to see the finished murals later this year! For more information about the upcoming festival and mural tours check out their website.

Barb Scott Park: Grab a coffee and your frisbee and hit up Barb Scott Park for some sunshine. Artist team Creative Machines created the interactive public art piece Chinook Arch that is best viewed at night. The building located adjacent to the park was the former Central High School and is still a beautiful heritage landmark in the West Beltline. 1219 11th Street SW

Color Me Mine Uptown: Jack and I love getting crafty together and Color Me Mine is the perfect place for us to spend an afternoon creating some ceramic masterpieces for our home. They also host kids birthday parties there! 1504 11th Street SW

Commonwealth Bar & Stage: If you love live music, one of the best venues is located right on the edge of the West Beltline. Commonwealth  Bar & Stage has regular programming featuring local DJs and bands but also brings in some of the best shows (think bands like Whitney, Suuns and Tokyo Police Club) every year. You are guaranteed to have a good time at this music scene staple. 731 10th Avenue SW

Thomson Family Park: We love popping by the Thomson Family Park, most notably for their awesome giant slide. With picnic tables, a fantastic playground and fountains it is a great place to spend an afternoon with friends and family. 1236 16th Ave SW

If you want to find out more about Nude by Battistella and keep up to date on news about the project, go to battistella.ca/nude to register!

**This is a sponsored post written by me in partnership with Nude by Battistella. All writing is my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Archives of Cool.