• What she really thinks of your female friends

    Having close females friends doesn't have to be a strain on your relationship with your girlfriend or wife. (Thinkstock)Whether your female co-worker gets all your “Simpsons” references or your best bud from kindergarten happens to be a woman, navigating an opposite-sex friendship can be a challenge if you have a girlfriend or spouse.

    There’s always a bit of trepidation surrounding a guy and girl who enjoy each other’s company when they’re partnered up with others. And that’s due to centuries of cultural baggage.

    As William Deresiewicz notes in a New York Times op-ed, “Friendship between the sexes was more or less unknown in traditional society. Men and women occupied different spheres and… cross-sex friendship was as unthinkable in Western society as it still is in many cultures.”

    So if your partner is wary that the woman on your trivia night team has an eye for you, just realize that this is a fairly common knee-jerk reaction.

    Ask Men breaks down some of the rules that govern these platonic relationships. If your girlfriend is grumbling about a female friend you had before meeting her,

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  • How to work out on the cheap

    Parks aren't just for runners and joggers, some even have workout spaces. (Thinkstock)Sometimes healthy choices end up being expensive choices. That burger and fries combo often costs a fraction of the organic quinoa salad with grilled vegetables.

    And when it comes to keeping active, the long-term gym membership, hockey league fees or pricey treadmill might only inspire you to stay on the couch.

    But there are a number of ways to stay fit on the cheap. Check out these suggestions on what you should invest in, what not to buy and the best ways to work up a sweat for free.

    Take it to the park

    City green spaces tend to be traversed by joggers, runners and cyclists. But there are ways to work out in parks that don’t involve hitting the paved pathways. If you live in Calgary, Alberta, Coral Springs Park is full of fitness equipment such as a vault bar, chin-up bars, parallel bars and a pushup station. Other city parks in Calgary are similarly stocked and urban centres such as San Antonio, Texas, Fort McMurray, Alberta and even smaller towns like

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  • The dumb ways you’re losing money

    Blowing too much money having drinks out with the boys? Consider inviting them over to watch the game instead. (Thinkstock)You just visited an ATM and – surprise! Your wallet is already empty. Even if you avoid extravagant purchases, there are a number of ways you can be throwing away your hard-earned cash without even realizing it.

    A look at some of the ways a guy can lose some serious coin:

    You booze too much

    Becoming a hermit isn’t an option for a lot of people, but heading to bar or club every weekend can do some serious damage. Ask Men notes that this seems to be a particular problem for guys as men “spend almost twice as much per year on alcohol than women -- $552 versus $233.”

    Think about how much a draught costs at your favourite pub in comparison to how much that same beer would cost at a liquor store.

    Consider hosting a few friends for a BYOB hang out. Or if you’re keen on getting out of the house, stay away from mixed drinks at the bar or see if you can get your buds to split a pitcher with you.

    You’re over paying for services

    Always keep track of whether you’re actually

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  • Fashion’s latest hits for spring 2013

    As temperatures rise and April showers start, there’s another spring forecast you should be keeping in mind: the upcoming fashion trends for 2013.

    Fortunately for Matte Babel, Natasha Koifman has distilled the top five spring and summer trends for the upcoming year and matched the different styles to the stars who wore them best.

    Check out the list below:

    1. White pants

    Popularized by fashion-forward celebs like Kanye West, white pants aren’t just for the summer anymore. Koifman says that to make the look work, you have to bulk up your top half: try wearing white pants with a heavier sweater layered on top of a textured shirt. Just be mindful of your own shape – the look is best pulled off by those with trim figures.

    2. Primary colours

    Basic, solid colours are seen as very All-American. Or if you’re considering Ryan Reynold’s clothes: uber-Canadian. To check it out, Babel tries a red shirt under a blue blazer. The pairing is a perfect date night look according to

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  • Dressing casual for the office doesn't mean shorts and sandals or tattered jeans and Converse. (Thinkstock)Decades ago, a man wouldn’t be caught dead coming into the office without a button-up shirt and a tie. These days, it seems like anything goes. Casual clothes have become the uniform for a number of white-collar workers to the point where some companies are organizing “Formal Fridays” to shake things up.

    But there are a number of ways to navigate an informal office dress code while still looking professional.

    First off, pay attention to what those around you are wearing. That doesn’t mean you should introduce novelty T-shirts into your wardrobe because the IT guy seems to favour them. But you don’t want to be the guy in cuff links when your colleagues are in chinos.

    Plus, if your boss is wearing a polo shirt and jeans and you show up in a blazer and pocket square, he might not be thrilled. As Bestylish.org points out, “dressing more formally than him might put him in a bad light.”

    Another fashion statement to avoid? Shorts are out, even in humid weather. Ask Men says it

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  • There are all sorts of sophisticated, yet uncomplicated, ways to cook with booze. Here are a few tips. (Thinkstock)Most people enjoy a tipple with their dinner every now and then. But before you sit down to a meal, you might want to think of integrating a shot of your favourite spirit or beer into the dish itself.

    That’s not to say you should pour a 50-year old scotch over your scrambled eggs. But if you have a bit of vodka, whiskey or beer left at the bottom of the bottle, consider adding a hint of hooch to your dishes to take them to the next level.

    Here’s a look at what a bit of booze can do for your taste buds:

    Vodka

    Popular in martinis and other mixed drinks, vodka didn’t make much a splash in North America until the mid-twentieth century. Though it frequently comes in orange, raspberry and even a Fruit Loops-like flavour, stick to the regular stuff while in the kitchen. Why cook with the clear spirit? As Chowhound points out, cooking with vodka “gives depth to recipes without adding the extra flavors that wine or other liquors would.” It’s great for deglazing, boosting

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  • Speaking to Matte Babel about Toronto’s eating options, chef Susur Lee calls Toronto a “buffet of the world.”

    Lee’s culinary chops have been showcased on programs such as Top Chef Canada, and he has been a big part of Toronto’s diverse restaurant scene for years. His most recent hotspot, Bent, at 777 Dundas St. W features European, Japanese, Peruvian and Chinese influences.

    But today, Lee and Babel will eat their way across Toronto – and the world. Their trek across the multicultural city is a crash course in what to look for in the countless international flavours available.          
    Also see: The Casanova Myth: Guys want relationships too

    Indian Food
    Udupi Palace, 1460 Gerrard St E

    Susur schools Babel in what to look for in great Indian food: spice, fresh herbs such as ginger and cilantro, and colour since in Indian culture they celebrate life with their food. A great dish to try is Masala Dosa, a crepe made from rice and lentils. It’s a balance of textures, flavours and spices

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  • The gentleman's guide for breaking up

    There are rules for navigating matters of the heart and a number of courtesies that can make a break up more graceful. (Thinkstock)Whether you’ve signed a lease together or it’s date number five, pulling the chord on a relationship can be a tricky, awkward and painful act.

    But there are rules for navigating matters of the heart and a number of courtesies that can make the process more graceful and you more gracious. A look at how to call it off, regardless of what stage you’re at in coupledom.

    Date number one

    You went for coffee with your friend’s co-worker’s cousin’s sister that everyone thought you would be just perfect for – but there wasn’t even a hint of a spark between the two of you. If you know for certain you’re not interested, there’s no need to commit to a second date just to be nice and get her hopes up. Conversely, dropping off the face of the earth is a jerk move, especially if she shows interest you can’t reciprocate. At this point, an email or text explaining you had a lovely time but don’t see things progressing is acceptable.

    The “getting-serious” mark

    The L-word has been dropped,

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  • The shape of your face determines the type of glasses you should be wearing. (Thinkstock)Mild-mannered, bespectacled Clark Kent could never quite compete with his cape-wearing alter ego. But thanks to shifts in taste and style, Lois Lane might not have been so quick to overlook him today.

    Glasses have become a super-hot accessory for guys who want to show both smarts and sophistication. A poll of 2,500 of British women revealed that eyewear is a significant turn-on, cracking their top ten preferences for guys.

    Thicker frames, once associated with nerdom, have become a style mainstay. Black plastic, tortoise-shell or horned rims: they’re frames that announce themselves and the fact that the wearer is comfortable wearing glasses. Perhaps it’s that show of confidence that’s winning fans or the fact that spectacles can make for a great accessory to show off your personality.

    Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Kanye West have all flaunted their four eyes. But how do you know whether to pick up a pair of frames that James Joyce would have worn or if you

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  • Why modern men should still wear watches

    Watches may seem obsolete because of the rise of smartphones, but there are a still a few good reasons to wear them. (Thinkstock)Thanks to smartphones and other digital devices that automatically keep time, there’s less of a pressing need to wear a watch. Yet watches are one of the best ways for guys to show their personal style. And let’s face it – it’s one of the few pieces of jewelry that men feel comfortable wearing.

    And despite the ubiquity of smartphones in the past few years, some classic watches have seen a noted revival. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported a 40 per cent surge in Swiss watch exports.

    So here’s to hoping that a watch will never seem as out-of-date as a monocle, and a couple reasons why you should keep wearing one:

    Discreetness

    If you need to check the time in a setting that requires a bit more sensitivity – a blind date that’s going nowhere, a one-on-one with your boss that’s cutting into another meeting – there’s nothing discreet about scrolling through your phone. If you wear the face of the watch on the inside of your wrist, it’s much easier to look at the time

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