6 Things To Know About Kwanzaa

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


Screen Shot of the first US Stamp to Celebrate Kwanzaa

1. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first African-American holiday. It is observed throughout the USA, Canada and in parts of Brazil. 

2. It is a week long celebration that runs from December 26 – January 1.

3. Kwanzaa does not replace other seasonal holidays, and many celebrate it alongside Christmas and New Years.

4. The point of the holiday is to celebrate African history, culture and unity which is done through lighting candles, decorating the home with traditional art, wearing traditional clothing, performance, and feasting with family and friends.

5. There are 7 Principles of African Heritage that are meditated on during the week. They include; unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

6. People commonly greet each other with "Joyous Kwanzaa!"


Last, Last, Last Minute Gift Idea

by Lindsay Shapka in


The stores are closing (or closed). You forgot to mail your gift to your favourite aunt. You pre-ordered everything online and NOTHING has arrived. What do you do?

Check out this awesome website!

Called Wantful, this site allows you to pick out a selection of twelve fantastic gifts from a predetermined price range, and then custom print a personalized book for the recipient. The book is then mailed out (or if you need it for tomorrow you can access it online) and the giftee gets to pick which gift they want. Once they have chosen, the gift gets shipped directly to their door! 

If (like me) you have some very picky people OR people who don't live anywhere near you that you want to send gifts too, this is ideal. Not only that, the site features some FANTASTIC products at a wide range of prices.

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Unfortunately they do not ship outside of the United States, but that doesn't mean you can't adapt this idea for yourself!

Head to Amazon.com or your giftee's favourite online store and print out a selection of gift images that are in your price range. Glue the images on blank pages, throw on a front and back cover (hint: rip a graphic image out of a magazine, cut it to size and then glue a message on the front written on white paper), and voila! Let the giftee know that whatever they choose will arrive by mail a few weeks after Christmas — giving them something special to look forward to in the dark, cold days ahead — and you, my friend, are covered!


Book List: Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Do you stay awake at night, your brain swimming with ideas and dreams? Are you willing to do whatever it takes for the chance to live entirely on your own terms?
— from Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

Though written almost four years ago (in 2009) this bestselling book on how to 'cash in on your passion' by Gary Vaynerchuk is still relevant, inspiring and bound to get you started on creating opportunities for yourself rather than waiting for them to come along! (It worked for me!)

If you have ever toyed with the idea of starting your own blog, business, or social media strategy — or been told that in order to be successful in your field you need a personal 'brand' or platform —  Vaynerchuck shows you how to use the Internet to turn your real interests into real opportunities. 

What makes him such an expert you ask? He did it himself! See his success store here

Why do I recommend this book over all other 'social media how-to manuals'? It is a basic, easy, step-by-step guide that gives even the most technologically inept a chance to create something that is all their own.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and CRUSH IT!


The Difference Between Complete and Finished

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


No dictionary has been able to adequately explain the difference between the words complete and finished. However, at a linguistic conference attended by some of the best linguists in the world, a single man changed that.

The director of the conference issued this challenge: "Some say there is no difference between the words complete and finished. Please explain the difference between complete and finished in a way that is easy to understand."

This was the man's astute answer: "When you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE. But, when you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED. And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are COMPLETELY FINISHED!"

His answer was received with a standing ovation lasting over five minutes!

This story — taken from an e-mail that I received from a colleague — makes a very important point: Sometimes language can not be defined, explained or translated in a way that makes academic sense. Sometimes you understand the meaning only by the context of a word or the way that it is said.

Some of the most beautiful poems lose their beauty when translated, and texts translated from a different tongue to English lose their meaning.

Language transmits culture as much as a dance, music, or art does. And like these other mediums, trying to define, or understand often causes meaning to be lost. Or, the general public has moved on to a new word, painting, or instrument leaving what scholars were trying to define obsolete.

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In The News: Amsterdam Will Soon Glow In The Dark!

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


Tulips, wooden shoes, a certain legal drug that we shall not name, cafe culture that rivals Paris, outdoor music festivals... just when you thought the country was as hip as it could possibly get, the Netherlands has gone ahead and upped its cool factor. 

Cafe Overlooking a Canal          Amsterdam, Netherlands 

According to Discovery News, by the middle of next year (2013), a glow-in-the-dark road design will be rolled out across the country. 

No, this is not a joke — apparently, a design team has come up with a photo luminescent powder that will be mixed into paint used for road markings. The markings will gather energy from the sun throughout the day — basically like a solar panel — and will last for 10 hours once night falls. 

To up the cool factor even more, the paint is also going to be used to show drivers when the roads might be icy or slippery, showing glow-in-the-dark snowflakes to alert the driver!  

The head of the design team Daan Roosegaarde has already got interest from India, and hopes to bring this innovative technology to North America as well.

Be prepared! If this product is as awesome as it sounds, some glow-in-the-dark action may be coming your way soon! 


6 Things To Know About Life In Frozen Climates

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


1. You will have to plug your car in... like a toaster. Yup, it’s true! It gets SO cold that if you do not plug your block heater into an electrical source so that it keeps your anti-freeze warm, your engine will not start. Don't worry though; many outdoor parking lots have electrical outlets. 

2. People who live in cities that are located far to the north (or south depending on the time of year) get SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a medically diagnosed condition for the 'winter blues' that many people get because of how short the days become. The lack of exposure to sunlight can result in a deep depression. Don't worry though! There are solar lights that you can buy to sit under that are sure to cheer you up! 

3. You will need to learn how to layer! Just because it’s cold doesn't mean that people stay inside. It just means that you will have to wear long underwear, sweaters, snowpants, a neck-warmer, toque, mittens, wool socks, a jacket, winter boots... you get the idea.

4. If you are going to be walking around outside, leave your expensive, stylish, or trendy shoes at home. Because of ice, the sidewalks get covered in sand and salt so that pedestrians don't slip. This can seriously damage leather or suede shoes. Need another reason? It's freaking cold! You need socks and good grip to keep safe and warm! 

5. Wind-chill plays a HUGE part in how cold it feels like outside. It may be –25 degrees Celsius (–13 degrees Fahrenheit), but with the wind-chill it could feel like –40 (–40 degrees Fahrenheit). When the temperature is forecasted, meteorologists will usually tell you how long it will take for exposed skin to get frostbitten so you know how covered you need to be to walk safely outside. TIP: If you are doing any sport or activities in this chilly weather, cover exposed skin — like cheeks or your forehead — with Vaseline to keep a protective barrier between it and the wind. 

6. Nobody lives in an igloo! Though ice is celebrated through ice sculpture competitions and festivals, nobody actually makes an igloo their permanent home anymore. Houses are extremely well insulated however, and have to be built a certain way to ensure that any pipe with water running through it will not freeze, burst and cause flooding. 


An American President Decided

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


Obama Poster            San Francisco, California

if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it... if you’re willing to try
— Obama during his victory speech 2012