I have a weakness for men in custom-tailored suits, so it was for not-entirely unselfish reasons that my Alberta Venture Lifestyle Essentials column for May 2013, “The Elements of Style,” looked at going made-to-measure. I talked to Sam Abouhassan, master tailor and owner of Edmonton’s Sam Abouhassan Custom Clothiers, who’s been in the trade since he was a teen in Lebanon. He’s built his reputation on outfitting Champion City’s sports stars and high-profile figures, including Wayne Gretzky’s wedding party, and he shared with me some of the things he’s learned in 30-plus years of tailoring.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend KnowShow, a biannual three-day trade show that brings wholesalers of lifestyle, action sports and fashion brands together with top retailers and media. Although I’m basically clueless when it comes to snowboarding and skateboarding, there were other aspects of the show I was excited to see: namely, previewing some of the fashions we’ll be seeing in stores for Fall/Winter 2013. Here’s a quick rundown of some highlights:
Ever since Levi’s came out with their high-waisted skinny jeans, I’ve been reluctant to even take them off for long enough to wash them. Thankfully, many more versions of this perfect cut are on their way. Yes, there are still some over-the-top colours, but they’re also providing good regular denim washes and an ash black version for those of us who aren’t into marbelled black and seafoam green. I’ve been a Levi’s loyalist since I was a little kid, so I’m really glad to be able to come back to this brand instead of searching for a similar fit elsewhere.
I actually could not stop touching the beautiful wool shirts seen at the back of this photo. Pendleton Woolen Mills has been pumping out products since 1909 and milling wool since even earlier, making it one of the oldest names in American textiles.
Pendleton’s socks are also pretty dreamy, nice and thick and woven with their bright, iconic patterns. Def. on my want list.
I’m someone who is rarely pleased when it comes to modern shoes and boots, but BB Dakota’s take on a desert boot is seriously adorable. Waxed leather, and perfect heel. Even the stripe of colour on the sole is charming. These were onsite courtesy of Vancouver’s Brunette Showroom.
Eventually I wandered into the Vans booth hoping to score tickets for their shoe release party that night where The Spits were gonna be playing for free. I bought my first Spits LP in 2003 and, not realizing they’ve grown into an actually popular band, I slept on picking up tix at the local skate shops. All my hopes for attending the hottest party in town were pinned on the Vans reps, but they must have sensed that my interest was not due to the Mike Hill “S” Shoe because they shot me down. Luckily, the folks at the Electric Owl Social Club took pity on me and were kind enough to hold a pair of tickets for me at the door.
I’m eternally grateful, because the band was really, really good. It was the first show I was excited about in a long time, and they didn’t let me down. According to friends who’ve seen ‘em before, it was pretty tame, but I’m not complaining.
Have a listen to The Spits below.
The next Knowshow takes place in August at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Biscuits aren’t really a “thing” in Canada, unless you count those pale little lumps made with Bisquick powder. So it was with much joy and interest that I tried a North Carolina-style biscuit restaurant for breakfast while in Portland, Oregon.
The spot in question? Pine State Biscuits, known far and wide for its appearance on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. We walked in, ordered at the counter, and snagged a spot at the side bar.
A few minutes later, I had a steaming, softball-sized biscuit in front of me, accompanied by a little bowl of marionberry jam. My dining partner, Josh, had ordered a biscuit with sausage gravy, and I wish I had a photo because it arrived looking like someone had barfed on his plate. He gave it rave reviews. The biscuits were at once perfectly flaky, chewy and layered, and if there had been room in my stomach for more I would’ve ordered another. The marionberry was a mystery to me; it tasted sort of like saskatoon, but I later learned it’s a type of blackberry grown locally.
In addition to biscuits, the menu had all sorts of other southern delights rarely seen by this northern gal: black-eyed peas, collard greens, hushpuppies, hot apples, fried green tomatoes, grit cakes, sweet tea, butternut squash bread and hot ginger ale. Next time I’ll have a side with that biscuit.
It’s no secret that I love Fort Edmonton Park and think it’s the greatest attraction in Edmonton – besides the river valley, of course. This past Saturday, Ben and I snagged a bunch of $5 entry tickets from the Alberta Federation of Labour for the union’s centennial celebration, being held at the living history park, and brought along our friend Jeff and his two little girls. This time around, I got my fill of old-fashioned games, rides, and treats, but will be paying another visit soon to spend more time in the historic buildings.
It was a lot of fun, but Fort Edmonton is a little different when you’re there with children. Now that I have firsthand experience on the subject, I’ve got a few suggestions:
How to visit Fort Edmonton Park with kids
Jeff & Scarlett on the Ferris wheel
1. Go backwards. And not backwards in time like they suggest; I’m talking go backwards around the park. Fort Edmonton is really an all-day affair and the highlight for most kids is the 1920s midway, complete with games and rides. If you hit it first, they won’t be too tired and cranky to have fun. And you can always go again on the way out.
2. Time it right. A steam train comes along to the entrance and takes you to the old Fort, the furthest section of the park. However, it doesn’t run as often as one might think. Check the schedule on the map and time it right so you aren’t standing around waiting. Also, get there early so everything’s open, the bakery is filled with treats, and most importantly, there is bannock on the fire.
3. Bring healthy snacks. There are a few places to get food in the park, including the Selkirk Hotel, Jasper House Hotel and the Masonic Hall, but there can still be long walks between and a low selection of non-candy items, especially if you’re there late. Hungry whining kids when you’re trying to explore the Fort is bad enough, then you find out the First Nations camp has already wrapped up its bannock service and you’re in trouble.
4. Talk to strangers. The ones in period costume, anyway. They can share a ton of information on life back in the olden days, such as how to play dominoes and the technique you use to spin wool. They might even try to hire you as their new maid, or make wisecracks about the local police officer behind his back. The role-playing adds a new dimension you can’t get from just looking at old buildings and old stuff.
5. Take a wagon. If you have one, that is. That way, you can pull crabby, tired kids around and let them save their energy for climbing stairs to see the second storey of buildings.
I’ll leave you with a few shots from our fun day.
View from the top: train station and platform
Rolling game: good prizes. I went home with one of those cute Chinese fans
Ben has his eyes on the prize
Carousel. Even the 7-year-old made fun of me for wanting to go on this, but in the end everyone had fun
SPIDORO the human-headed spider! Ahh
Vegetable garden and old fort
Faux barrels of goods inside the Fort Edmonton trading post
Sleepy 1905 Street. Way down at the end, blocked by some trees, is Sandy’s childhood home
Brand-new, beautiful Capitol Theatre! Too bad I missed the film. Next time
Hotel Selkirk. Can’t wait to spend a night here
Once the kids left, our first stop was naturally the Hotel Selkirk bar