Southern Alberta Charm

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Cypress Club in Down town Medicine Hat

Recently, I have been travelling a bit more for my job. It has taken me to a few southern Alberta towns to visit local branches and to discuss my role in helping them with local media relations. And while Alberta has many charming towns, I also always thought our small Alberta towns had nothing on the charm of small east coast towns. East coast towns are generally quite quaint and more historic and I always thought I liked them much better. But, after spending a little more time in some of them I am finding quite the contrary, especially in Medicine Hat.

Before this year, I hadn’t been to Medicine Hat much, except for when I was a young child and about the only thing that I remember is the pool at the Medicine Hat lodge. But, now I have a good friend from University who lives there and recently I have travelled there for work. I never expected to be charmed by Medicine Hat but, in fact, I was.

The quaint down town has lovely brick buildings and old heritage homes, including this old school that was turned into a private residence. The core is surrounded by coulees, dotted with trees and other bushes. Medicine Hat is surrounded by Cypress County which consists of green rolling hills and miles of farm land. On my last visit in early May, everything was in bloom. In the summertime, Medicine Hat is generally quite warm and has a longer growing season compared to central Alberta, which makes it the perfect place for growing delicious vegetables too.

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View looking over down town Medicine Hat

Spending a little while in the city, I found that Medicine Hat has a lot more interesting things to offer than I thought it might. There is definitely a great underlying arts scene and the Esplanade offers up a lot of culture. As with any smaller city, the shopping may not be what you are accustomed to if you come from a larger centre but, there are a few awesome boutiques in the city with my favourite one being Shut Up N Wear It. 

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The store is trendy and offers cute options for a variety of price points as well as occasions. I love popping in every time I am in the city and it is always so hard to not buy something. They recently held their Spring 2015 fashion show, you can check out the photos here. 

I was also pleasantly surprised with what Medicine Hat had to offer in terms of dining options. Across the street from Shut Up N Wear It, I spent a solid six hours at the Station Coffee House doing work and enjoying the delicious coffee and some great food! P.S. when they have cupcakes,  get them – they are to die for!

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Another great cafe in Medicine Hat, located just North of down town is called Zucchini Blossom. They have some great fresh made to order food and delicious coffee as and a huge variety of freshly baked goods and fresh soups and salads.

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Medicine Hat is also known for being in the heart of the clay industry in Alberta. There is a historic clay district in Medicine Hat and a cool clay history museum at the Medalta Industrial Museum at the historic Medalta Pottery Factory, which was once one of the largest clay pottery factories in Canada. Here, you can take pottery classes, learn more about the history of the clay industry in Medicine Hat, and I am also told it is a beautiful wedding venue.

So there you go, some interesting information about a charming southern Alberta city. Definitely a great place for a weekend trip this summer!

Crazy for Cupcakes!

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A bit of a silly post for the start of the week but, I love cupcakes!

Although I am a fan of super clean eating and I try to limit my sugar intake, the reality is, I always make an exception for cupcakes. I am not much of a baker, so making my own isn’t always the best option, although my university roommates often remind me that I would make late night runs to the convenient store down the street to buy who knows how old cupcake mix and icing. These runs were not without a few stumbles – I’m super clumsy and old Halifax streets are quite uneven – anyway long story short, I always found a way to get cupcakes.

For me, cupcakes are way better than cake. Cake is great too, don’t get me wrong but there’s something about the icing on top of your personal little cake and when the ratio of icing to cake is perfect…oh man, that’s the best.

At home, and when I travel I always like to try cupcake spots. Since cupcake stores started popping up in the early to mid 2000s, the trend hasn’t slowed down from what I can see. Every city has at least one cupcake place to try. And while they’re not exactly cheap they’re a great treat or good options for special occasions.

If you love cupcakes as much as I do, here are some of my reviews of cupcakes that I have tried locally and otherwise.

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1. Crave Cupcakes

A staple cupcake brand in Calgary and one that has also made its way to Edmonton and Saskatoon. I have a few go-to cupcakes here but my favourite is the Dirty Blonde which is pictured here. It is simply a vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream. These cupcakes are really good but quite sweet so sometimes the mini-cupcakes are the better option.

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Photo courtesy of kasiaflicker/flickr.com

2. Susie’s Shortbread & Cupcakes 

These are seriously the best cupcakes. This little shop makes delectable shortbread and their cupcakes are simply to die for and they have a super extensive cupcake menu. If you are ever visiting Haliax or if you live there, you will be addicted.

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Photo courtesy of syume/flickr.com

3. Cupcakes (the original) 

This cupcake shop is located on the West Coast of Canada. They started in Vancouver and have branched off onto Vancouver Island. I found these cupcakes to have super sweet icing and the cake was kind of flat tasting and not necessarily what I was expecting. They were good, but not my absolute favourite.

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Photo courtesy of andreelau/flickr.com

4. Bliss & CO Cupcakes 

Another local shop, these cupcakes are different than crave but not necessarily better. They have some different flavours and they are kind of heavy but still quite good. Their icing is the right amount of sweet too.

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5. Georgetown Cupcake

On a recent trip to DC, I had to try these cupcakes! Made famous by the TLC show DC Cupcakes, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try these. I was told that there are better local shops in the area but based on their fame I was adamant. They were smaller than I thought but they had the most variety of flavours. I tried a couple and though they were really good and just the right amount and there wasn’t too much icing either. I would definitely recommend trying these if you are ever in the DC area.