Cultural curators Amanda Blakely and Ashleigh Dempster, founders of The Society -- a cheeky member's club for the creative class -- love the arctic months. "Fondue by the fireside, an afternoon snowshoe followed by hot apple cider," are Dempster's favourite. On weekends, Blakely hits the slopes. The best part? "Après ski scrabble by the fire and staying in with friends at cozy dinner parties." No winter ruts for these girls about town.
The ice queen cometh
At Toronto's tony Granite Club, socialites take to the rink for Morning Glories, a class where stretches and basic figure skating movements (pushes, backwards strides and using the inside and outside edges) are practiced on ice. "It's an innovative exercise program that borrows from yoga and skating with the benefits of a cardio work out," says instructor and elite figure skater Richard Guy. "Yoga postures are practiced while in motion which intensifies the balancing act. Medicine balls provide an abdominal workout as participants skate to uplifting music," explains Guy, "The idea is to get people out of the gym and into an alternative form of fitness." Not a star on ice? "Skaters of every level can benefit."
It's party season and while your little YSL number is just begging to be taken out on the town, the need to stay warm is overriding the need to stay chic. Ashley Rowe, the bright young designer behind eponymous label Miss Rowe says you can still bundle up without losing your sense of style. "I love to throw on one of my chic Miss Rowe oversized black coats, add a belt, a pair of dark black hose and a great pair of stacked heels - that way I am warm en route to the event but look chic once inside." She also recommends her leather leggings, an edgy and wind-resistant alternative to stockings. (www.missrowe.com)
Harley Pasternak is a top Hollywood trainer who has tweaked the physiques of Natalie Portman, Eva Mendes, Halle Berry and Alicia Keys with his 5-Factor Fitness regime, a program that breaks down meals, cardio and strength training exercises into series of fives. (www.fivefactorfitness.com) Originally from Ontario, Pasternak says winter is no excuse for letting fitness slack. "In the winter, shovel the snow for a great workout." It works your core and biceps while clearing the walkway. Expect to burn 563 calories for every hour of snow shoveling. Other outdoorsy ideas include horseback riding (291 calories/hour), cross-country skiing (423 calories/hour) and snowmobiling (246 calories/hour) "The idea of being in an unstructured environment and taking advantage of fresh air is really beneficial," says Pasternak. So get outside! (Statistics are based on the average 155 lbs person)
A surefire way to melt your chilly mood? Warm up your wardrobe with a few sumptuous gems. Designer Richard Booth, of Richard Booth Fine Jewelry, specializes in gold and platinum stunners that provide the perfect LBD pick-me-up. "Fabulous jewels are wonderful this time of year because we have so little sunshine," explains the designer. "So the tropical colours of Aqua and Citrine can feel very Caribbean. The warm green of Peridot, the many shades of green Tourmaline are like memories of a rain forest. The flame-like tones of Spessertite garnet are great on cold day." Booth's preferred way to frost yourself? "Suspended below the ear. This way they can create a very feminine exotic glow on either side of her face." He insists it will instantly glamorize your look. "Even if you're sporting a parka!"
Best face forward
Alexandra Weston and Suzanne Cohon are busy PR co-presidents who always exude freshness. When inquired for their secrets about how they stay perky and pretty, Weston offered, "Getting re-energized at 889 Yonge, Yoga & Holistic Lifestyle, would be my number one tip. The Detox 'Trio -- a yoga class, massage and facial -- will keep you smiling though winter." (www.889yonge.com) Cohon fights the desire to hunker down. "Skin needs extra care when it's cold. I go to GEE Beauty. A light peel and their oxygen boost has my skin fresh and glowing." (www.geebeauty.com) Winnipeg's finest de-thaw and re-energize at Ten Spa, which features a Turkish Hammam. Visiting stars like Renee Zellweger and Chantal Kreviziuk love to rejuvenate using this ancient method. "A room with ambient steam infused with essential oils creates a special environment. It's not too hot, 42 to 45 degrees, but there is a lot of humidity," attests Elena Zinchenko, Spa Director. "It is very detoxifying. As your body sweats, you release toxins and naturally exfoliate. And it is great for your sinuses." The perfect winter cure-all. (www.tenspa.ca)
Treat yourself to gastronomic comfort food. At George Restaurant, a favourite of media mavens, Executive Sous-Chef Fiona Lim whips up Macaroni & Cheese. "It's quite the home-style classic. We put bacon and leeks in ours. People love food that they grew up with, like mom used to make. As for dessert, "Our apple is made individually with a base of puff pastry with a caramelized apple." (www.georgeonqueen.com) Make their haute hunker-down specialties at home with these recipes…
Mac and Cheese (serves 4)
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 16 oz Macaroni (cooked)
- 8 tbl 2 year old cheddar
- 2 tbl parmeggiano
- 2 tbl garlic (sliced)
- 2 tbl leeks –
- 1 pinch basil
- 1 tsp lemon
- 4 tbl bacon
- 8 oz chicken stock
- 1 pinch chives
- Salt/pepper to taste
- White wine
- 8 tbl whipped cream
Sauté bacon until golden brown. Add garlic. And leek and sauté for 1 minute. Deglaze white wine, reduced by ½. Add stock, bring to boil. Add macaroni, bring to boil. Add cheddar and parmeggiano, wait to do this just before boiling (otherwise it will curdle!). Add cream, basil, chives and lemon.
Apple Pie (9 inches)
- 12 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 tbl lemon juice
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- 1 tbl toppioccia starch
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- ½ tsp cloves?
- ½ cup of chopped dry fruit
- ½ cup of butter
Blind bake bottom of pie shell until golden. Sauce apples with half the butter until tender.
Mix apples with all other ingredients and fill shell. Except other half of butter. Cover with top of pie shell, brush with butter and bake at 350 until golden.Home sweet home
Instead of traipsing through the slush to shop, order-in online. Hoakon/Helga is a Canadian accessories line by Andrea Strand. Think the sweetest bow handbags made with 100% recycled materials and dangly feather necklaces. (www. hoakonhelga.com) Or try shoprubysky.com for pretty skirts for party season. Brown's Shoes offers free shipping if you spend more than $198 -- not hard to do with their selection of designer footwear. Or check out the online outpost of Western Canada's best-kept secret in shoes, Gravity Pope (www.gravitypope.com) for exclusive brands like Repetto and Modern Vintage. Unique hostess gifts can be found at www.teatroverde.com. We love the ceramic "paper cup" mug and wall clock that looks like a Swiss wristwatch.
At boutique fragrance emporium Noor in Toronto, fragrance sampling is the treated like wine tasting. Scent sommelier Nahla will guide you through niche brands like L'Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon's. She breaks down each scent note for note. (www.noorboutique.com) In Vancouver, discerning noses visit The Perfume Shoppe (www.theperfumeshoppe.com) Ottawa is getting their fragrance fix at the splashy new Murale -- a new fragrance and cosmetic emporium. Montréalers can expect their own location by December 4th. Whiff away the winter blues.
There is nothing worse than cold feet. Cozy boots are a must, but must they be so unattractive? Enter Julie Pedersen. A Winnipeg-based designer and model -- think a young Nicole Kidman -- who designs beautiful Canadian winter-proof Muckies. When not strutting down the runway in stilettos, she tucks her toes into the chicest mukluks we've ever seen. Pedersen offers handmade boots in a variety of furs and suede. Each pair features unique embellishments like appliqués, fringe and lace. She will even custom-make your dream pair. What a brilliant idea: bespoke booties! (www.juliepedersen.com)