iTunes Gift Card Discount Coupon

Safeway iTunes Coupon valid until January 1, 2012

This week there are a couple of great deals for iTunes Gift Cards. At Future Shop you can get a $50 iTunes Card for $39. That’s 22% off. Awesome.

But Safeway is doing things one step better. The $50 iTunes Gift Card at Safeway is on sale for $37, (if you use your Safeway Club Card) and you can print off another coupon to get the card for $2 off. So that’s a $50 iTunes Gift Card on sale for 30% off!

There’s no limit to the number you can buy at $13 off, but you can only use the $2 discount coupon once per transaction.

Still, these are the best deals I’ve ever seen for iTunes Gift Cards (that usually go only 20% off) so stock up on a bunch to use as gifts or download music and apps all year long.

What Are You Drinking New Year’s Eve?

I absolutely love that video of 500 Days of Summer co-stars Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? They’re not a real couple, but they should be.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve and the question “what are you drinking?”, chances are it will be bubble.

I had a chance to chat with Natalie MacLean, the world’s best drink writer, about her picks for New Year’s Eve:

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When it comes to a < $20 pick, Natalie is a fan of Santa Margherita:

Wonderful bubbly, packed with peach and pear notes! Want to service bubbly at your wedding or large reception but not break the bank? This is your go-to sparkler. Can’t beat the value/taste/price ratio. Yum!

Natalie is a fan of both prosecco (Italy) and cava (Spain) as great affordable alternatives to traditional Champagne. It’s the same festive spirit you get from a sparkling wine, they just can’t be called “champagne” because of copyright issues. Only French wines can be called “Champagne.”

I’ll toss a plug for my wife’s portfolio here, she represents both a cava and a prosecco. Villa Teresa from Italy, is a beautiful organic prosecco while Spain’s Freixenet is always a top bargain wine pick.

If you win the $50M Lotto Max tonight then she suggests you splurge on some Bollinger (James Bond‘s choice).

A rich, smoky Champagne, with hints of marzipan and fennel seed accenting honeyed malt, bread dough, baked apple and gingersnap flavors. It’s all focused by intense acidity, which meshes beautifully into the layers of flavor and refined texture, with a lingering finish.

If bubbles aren’t your thing, then try pouring a little cassis into your glass to make a sweeter Kir Royale or grab a bottle of Riesling. MacLean recommends those from the Okanagan as a crisp drink to have while wandering the tapas tray.

I should add that Natalie MacLean‘s smartphone app is a must. It’s easy one of the best online to help you not only manage your wine library and tasting notes, but it has a barcode scanner to get you access to her reviews and each wine comes with a list of 6 or more recipes to create the perfect menu.

Calgary Kid Friendly Hikes – The Weaselhead

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I have no idea what exactly a weaselhead is.

In Calgary, The Weaselhead, is the western end of the Glenmore Reservoir where the Elbow River meanders amongst a swampy marsh.

In fact, this is the only delta in the city. Weaselhead Flats also contain one of the largest stands of coniferous forest in the city.

The dominant White Spruce forest is on the south shore but very impressive individual trees are found interspersed in the predominantly deciduous forest on the flats and valley walls. The more moist deciduous forest areas are primarily Balsam Poplar while dryer areas are Trembling Aspen. Also on the flats is an extensive tall shrub community consisting mainly of Sandbar Willows and Water Birch.

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The diverse habitats allows for a correspondingly wide range of birds and other wildlife. In the open waters, look for Common Loons and Tundra Swans, species you are unlikely to see in other parks. The mud and sandbars are the haunts for shorebirds such as Lesser Yellowlegs and American Avocet.

With the warm winter weather we’ve been experiencing in Calgary this year (another +5 December day), I took the chance to take my two boys for our first exploring of The Weaselhead and do some geocaching. There’s easily a dozen caches in the area, we scooped three and saved the rest for a mandatory return visit (hopefully with my running shoes to tackle a gorgeous outdoor running venue).

My First Ever Geocache Hide

Yellow park

Santa was very good to me this year. He skipped the underwear and socks and silly trinkets that hold no value, instead he gave me three official geocaching containers.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt that is a brilliant way to explore new places. If you have younger kids, or just have a yearning for exploring, geocaching is the perfect addition of adventure to any hike.

DadCAMP is the handle we use for geocaching and my DadCAMP site has a great primer for first time geocachers. Basically all you need is a GPS device (or the geocaching iPhone app) and some time to wander.

Make sure you bring some small trinkets too. Yknow, the sort of things you’d find in a dollar store loot bag. There’s a reason Zacharie was introduced to geocaching with the code name of “treaure hunting”. You bring some toys with you on each hunt to trade with those inside the cache. Zacharie loves to trade pins, action figures and stickers. I keep a bag of our treasures in my glove compartment in case we run into a spontaneous urge to cache on one of our dad-ventures.

Since moving to Calgary, Zacharie and I have used geocaching as a way to explore new parks and neighborhoods. It’s given us great bearings in our new home and has exposed many new places to explore.

So now we have a chance to give back. We’ve placed our cache near our favorite neighborhood park. If you’re up for a visit to Cougar Ridge, come to our Yellow Park and look for GC39TNP, DadCAMP Cache #1!

Kids In Calgary: Heritage Park Winter CARnival

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Heritage Park Winter CARnival at Gasoline Alley Museum
1900 Heritage Drive SW [map]
Admission: $9.75 [Adults] $4.75 [Kids 3-17]

It’s a catch-22 this holiday season in Calgary. The snow is melting in these +9 temps, meaning our usual outdoor toboggan run is a strip of grass. So thanks to Family Fun Calgary for suggesting a trip to Heritage Park‘s Winter CARnival for my day of daddysitting.

There was boatloads for my 2 boys (2 and 4) to do celebrating Canadian winter sports – indoors.

Heritage Park’s Winter CARnival takes place in the gorgeous Gasoline Alley Museum amongst the vintage cars and gas pumps and displays celebrating Calgary’s heritage. Tossed around the museum are all sorts of games like milk jug curling, table hockey, shootouts, zamboni colouring and crafts, snow castle building, snow man stacking and more.

If you go during a World Junior Hockey Game, a big screen has been set up on the main floor to show the games.

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Outside there’s a chance to skate on the only outdoor rink in Calgary guaranteed not to melt during this heat wave. Heritage Park’s free skating rink in Heritage Town Square is open along with a chance to warm up with a hot drink and fresh baking or lunch at the Railway Café and do a little post Christmas shopping in the unique shops in the Haskayne Mercantile Block.

How do you know the day of daddysitting was a success? Both were passed out before we got home.

For other things to do with your family in Calgary, check out the entire Kids In Calgary series.

Link Bait

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Every Tuesday I toss up a series of links to stories I’ve written or found interesting the past week.

The World Junior Hockey Championships are less than a week away. I took Zacharie to the Finland-Canada exhibition game. Zambonis and popcorn, what more could a 4 year old want? You can follow the tournament on Twitter, @HC_WJC and use the hashtag #IWasThere for the games.

If you tell your kids about Santa, are you a liar? Justin Bieber‘s mom never did the Santa thing for fear her son would think she was lying about Jesus when he found out the secret. Regardless of her motives, Bieber’s headlines are once again touching off the “am I lying to my kids” debate in parenting circles.

How do you discover your new music? Now that I’m working for a 60s, 70s, 80s radio station, my consumption of new music has been cut considerably. This weekend I punched up BBC Radio 1 to hear Reggie Yates and the Official Chart. I immediately downloaded Lloyd‘s Dedication To My Ex and Avicii‘s Levels. Both are killer, I recommend you do the same.

Are high school reunions obsolete? In 2008 I wrote an article about how Facebook was being used as a way to gather students to attend the reunion and hypothesized they might eventually be pointless. This week the New York Times is on the bandwagon. “Social networking has robbed us of our nostalgia,” said Michael Fox, who attended his 20-year high school reunion in November. He was disappointed to find there was little he didn’t already know because of Facebook. Still, others are saying Facebook makes the reunions better, you can cut the “what have you been up to?” small talk and get right to the old school hookups.

If you’re not crazy enough for the holidays and want a couple of recipes to toss into the last-minute mix, here are 3 worth trying. Coconut Cardamom Burfi is an exotic twist on your traditional snowball. Condensed milk, chai spices and coconut make this easy treat delicious. Dinner with Julie had a meat and baking challenge from her CBC friends last week and she found a way to mix bacon with shortbread. Her recipe? Bacon Shortbread with Salted Stout Caramel. Wow. And finally, since Glo MacNeill‘s Luscious Lemon Pudding Cake has been sold out ever since she won the $250 000 Grand Prize on Recipes to Riches, make it yourself!

I could not go 5 minutes without being exposed to Michael Buble last week. I heard his #1 album on the BBC Official Chart. I saw 2 unauthorized biographies at WalMart. He was on SNL and his Christmas Special has been on more than twice. Back in the day, when he was little more than a cigar lounge singer fronting a band called the Bubble Jets, I was his emcee.

What have been your favorite reads of the past week?

Michael Buble and the Bubble Jets

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Buzz Bishop, Michael Buble at The Junos – Edmonton, 2004

Michael Buble was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this week. It’s odd to watch someone you knew “back in the day” take off and make it big. It’s odd, and awesome.

Before he was on Oprah, Ellen, 60 Minutes and SNL, Michael Buble was just a lounge act performing with his band, The Bubblejets, at Babalu, I was his emcee.

It was the late 90s and swing dancing was the thing. Buble was the Sunday night act at Babalu, a Vancouver cigar lounge. In between sets from his band, local dance instructors would come out and give swing dance lessons to the audience. My job was to intro Buble, dance with some pretty girls, and then hang with the DJ (Jason Manning).

You knew Buble had talent back then. The club was no bigger than the kitchen he poses in on the cover of November 2011’s House and Home, but he performed with an energy like it was Madison Square Garden.

I got swept into his world a little bit because my girlfriend at the time, Tammy Weis, was a jazz singing diva-in-waiting. She was to be the “next Diana Krall” to his “next Harry Connick Jr.” They would duet at each other’s gigs and cheer each other on.

Later, when Weis and I broke up, it was Buble who dragged me for a boys’ night on the town to cheer me up.

Michael Buble – Babalu

In those days at Babalu, Michael often wondered why he hadn’t made it yet. Vegas was the big time and he was haunted by a local rival, Brian Evans, who had paid his way to Las Vegas and was performing there and bragging about it back in Vancouver papers.

Buble may have been a bit jealous, but he didn’t get sidetracked. His manager at the time, Beverly Delich, busted her ass for the boy. The Red Rock Diner gig let to more musical stage performances and a move to Toronto. It was there where he became a wedding singer at Brian Mulroney‘s daughter’s wedding where David Foster saw him and, well .. the rest is history.

In 2004, I was in Edmonton to watch that boy bounce on the stage and accept his first Juno. I gave him a standing ovation from the press gallery and a hug on the interview stage.

Now, 35 million albums and an Argentinian model wife later, Buble is big time. Big. Time. It’s cool to watch someone you know hit that pitch out of the park and make their dreams come true. Especially when you know how badly they wanted it.

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