Silence is golden (22K Indian gold in fact)

India has been said to take your breath away, but Dhula took my voice away.

Those who know me, and even some I’ve only just met were “shocked”. Much like India itself, I like any entourage to expect the unexpected from me. Hailing from The 6ix as was dubbed by our widely adored Drake, I firmly subscribe to YOLO (you only live once). While Hinduism teaches us about reincarnation, I want to outdo and outlive each of the lives I’ll be graciously handed throughout my many transcendences.

There is literally not a single thing I would change about the Essential India tour. You’ll appreciate the juxtaposition of chaotic city life in sharp contrast to the serene countryside on your adventure.

As a journalist, I make connections and conversation with others immensely easily but the bonds made on buses, trains, planes, tuk tuks, etc surpass friendships I’ve made while travelling elsewhere.

Rather than calling them my tour group, I’ve taken to calling them my team. We are all in this together – Delhi belly and all. (Sidenote: my cousin Cassy made sure to purchase traveler probiotics ahead of our departure and it has saved us from any, um.. diarrhea). Do yourself a favour and nab a bottle before heading out on your excursion.

A stepwell of knowledge, our CEO Anurag is one of the rarest gems the country has in its possession.  His charisma and passion are contagious. From one storyteller to another, it takes one to know one.

Enough about him – As you will come to see this trip isn’t about the CEO, it is aboutyou. CEOs facilitate your trip. If there is something you’d like to do (like get the symbol for OM tattooed on your hand while in Delhi), he’ll hook you up.

Back to the vow of silence. I thought when quieting my voice, my mind would increase in noise and volume. This was not the case. Everything felt clear. After struggling through depression in the past year, this trip truly has awakened my senses. It has sharpened and allowed me to realign with me. I am beyond grateful to myself – my own built in travel buddy. Do not hesitate when contemplating touring India solo or with some pals, you’ll have the time of your life.

Following in the footsteps of one brilliant Bryan Cranston, I am going to dedicate one day a week to silence.

Leave a comment if you think you would join in solidarity for #SpeechlessSunday. I would suggest selecting a weekend, otherwise your boss may notify HR of your reluctance to partake in your Monday morning meeting.

Namaste,
Kim

Kimberly Lamontagne is a freelance writer and social media marketer with an unwavering need for paneer. Stay tuned for the book she is currently penning about Usher Syndrome.

Marshmallow snowman cupcakes

CUPCAKES THAT MAKE A GREAT CENTREPIECE

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again, and it’s only made better by these tasty snowmen. Sculpting an edible version of Frosty is super easy with this recipe.

Marshmallow snowman cupcakes | Sheknows.ca

Marshmallow Snowman Cupcakes

Serving size varies depending on cake mix used

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla cake mix
  • Vanilla icing
  • Marshmallows
  • Carrots
  • Icing scribblers

Directions:

  1. Bake the cupcakes, and allow them to cool completely.
  2. Cut the carrots into thin slabs; these will serve as the noses.
  3. Using a piping bag (or resealable bag), form concentric icing circles. Picture the base of a snowman, and create circles accordingly, with a larger circle at the bottom and smaller ones toward the top.
  4. Place a piece of carrot in the centres of the marshmallows, and use the scribblers to make the faces.
  5. Secure the marshmallow heads into the icing by pressing gently downward.

More holiday recipes

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Nuts and bolts: A simple and tasty holiday appetizer
Blogger traditions: Christmas cookies

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http://www.sheknows.ca/food/articles/960867/marshmallow-snowman-cupcake-recipe

Personalized Christmas gift bags

Personalized Christmas gift bag | Sheknows.ca

SIGNATURE SACKS,  STITCH BY STITCH

Show you care by personalizing your gifts this Christmas with monograms, names and festive wishes on pretty purses.

Great gifts can be made even more exciting with fun wrapping options.Plus, if the wrapping doubles as a gift too, what’s not to love?

Create carryalls for the people on your gift-giving list. The dollar store or arts and crafts supply store has everything you need to make the perfect purse. Here’s how to do it:

Directions:

  1. Begin by cutting two pieces of material into the same size.
  2. Sew the pieces together. If you have a sewing machine, this will be a breeze, but if not, sew them by hand.
  3. Add the embellishments of your choosing, and secure them onto the fabric with your trusty needle and thread.
  4. Fasten the handles, and you’re on your way.

If sewing leaves you tied up in knots, outsource your handbag needs. Plenty of personalized gift-making services are at your disposal:

Thirty-one knows totes

Utility tote | Sheknows.ca

Thirty-one is a trusted source for your embroidery needs. The company has a wonderful selection of fun and functional items — like this snowman utility tote (thirtyonegifts.com, $30) — just waiting for you to make your mark.

Sailor- and tailor-made

Wine bottle tote | Sheknows.ca

Lands’ End has an incredible history steeped in stylish durability that goes hand in hand with excellent price points. The bottle bag(landsend.com, $20) is a lovely selection for the wine connoisseur in your group.

Eco-friendly and ultra chic

Map totes | Sheknows.ca

The Wedding Shop, brought to you by the good people at The Knot, carries a bevy of beautiful bags for you to choose from. You might be thinking, “The Knot? Isn’t that solely a bridal website?” Yes, but anyone can appreciate the variety and reasonable prices The Wedding Shop has to offer. The map totes(weddingshop.theknot.com, $15) are a must-see!

Pop culture perfection

Wedding date totes | Sheknows.ca

One should not forget the mecca of unique merchandise: Etsy. You might just stumble upon the holy grail of gifts when perusing the site’s many vendors. Aside from this adorable wedding date tote (etsy.com, $16) that would suit a blushing bride, Rachel Walter has a whole bunch of pretty bags — many with hilarious pop culture references — to choose from.

More on holiday shopping

Budgeting for the holidays 365 days a year
5 Ways to save money on your Christmas dinner
Best free Christmas apps to get you ready and excited

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http://www.sheknows.ca/home-and-living/articles/960885/personalized-christmas-gift-bags

Dawn of the Dead nail art

DRESS UP YOUR DIGITS
THIS HALLOWEEN

Whether your manicure is an extension of your disguise or nail art is your costume, get into the spooky spirit with Halloween nails.

Halloween nail art | Sheknows.ca - final product

What you’ll need:

  • Nail polish
  • Toothpicks
  • Q-tips
  • Polish remover

There are no set rules for these designs, so be creative with your colour palette. Begin with a base coat of your choosing. White really stands out and is perfect for making your skull pop.

Ghostly delight pattern

Halloween nail art ghostly delight | Sheknows.ca - final product

Directions:

  1. The figures are nothing more than primary shapes. Dip one end of a toothpick into a black polish, and make oval eye sockets.
  2. Dip your toothpick into the polish again, and scrape off any excess to ensure a large amount doesn’t drop onto the nail. Make slits for the nose.
  3. Finally, draw a line near the tip of your fingernail. Using the same short-stroke technique as before, incorporate lines to give the illusion of stitches.
  4. Painting the blood is really simple. Grab another toothpick, and splash red nail polish onto the fingernail. The drip effect is what you’re going for.

Jack-o’-pattern

Jack o'pattern halloween nail art | Sheknows.ca - final product

Directions:

  1. Paint a nail or two in an orange hue, and then paint black triangles for the eyes. Throw in a mini-triangular nose if you can afford the real estate. The smile or lack thereof is at your discretion. A toothy grin or a zigzag — it’s your call.
  2. To make a Frankenstein face, paint the whole nail a shade of green. Add some hair by blotting the black polish brush along the cuticle. With a toothpick, dot a set of black eyes. And as with the skull above, draw a line across your nail and create the stitches effect to make the mouth.
  3. You can create a family of Frankensteins or an entire pumpkin patch per hand. Making a monster manicure can get messy, so have polish remover and Q-tips on hand to fine-tune your Halloween nail art.

More on Halloween

Halloween nail tutorial
Halloween makeup tips
Top homemade Halloween getups for groups

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http://www.sheknows.ca/beauty-and-love/articles/960391/halloween-nail-art

Digital party planning for all occasions

SAVE TIME AND MONEY
BY GOING ONLINE

With the multitude of options out there, planning a party has never been easier. Whether you’re getting married, hosting a shower or celebrating a mitzvah, let the internet be your guide.
woman-planning-party-online

Electronic invites

First things first: You need to get the word out there. Invitations set the tone for your get-together, so choose wisely. Protect Mother Earth (and your pocketbook) by going paperless. Websites like Evite provide a wide range of invitations. Paperless Post is another great option. Paperless Post prides itself on their unique invitations that reflect your personal style in an innovative way. To borrow their own words: “Beautiful design meets seamless technology”. Perhaps best of all, it’s free! Plus, think of all the money you’ll save on stamps. And, if you’re really feeling low-key about your impending fête, there’s always Facebook to connect your invitees to your event.

Digital disc jockey

A laptop can make a digital DJ come to life. Songzaand its extensive genres can satisfy even the biggest of music snobs at no cost. Grooveshark is great for artists or albums, but Songza casts a much wider net and supplies a variety of sounds all within one playlist. Connect to the venue’s sound system, and you’re in broadcasting business.

Online printing services

Worried about your great aunt’s lack of wireless service? Then you might want to check out services like Vistaprint for your paper needs. Customize everything from itineraries to thank-you cards for your special day. Etsy is another easy alternative to personalizing your paper needs. Templates are available for purchase (reasonably priced at that), and then print your pretty little heart out. Bonus: the nice people atWedding Chicks have templates you can customize at no cost.

Check out stress-free party planning >>

Photography technology

Your crafty cousin will be clicking away with her Canon camera (as well as nearly every other attendee), so why pay for a professional photographer for your child’s birthday party? Create a personalized hashtag on Instagram so that guests can check out all the photos from the big event. If you’re not on Instagram, websites likePixlr allow you to edit pictures painlessly. Plus, once you’re done there’s a ton of online photobook options; Shutterfly anyone?

Party invite | Sheknows.ca

Pinterest party planner

Pinterest revolutionized the way we prepare for major life moments, from decorating a child’s room to unique ways to say “I do.” The collection of your design and decor inspiration all grouped together in one place facilitates event planning.

Need more inspiration?

Party planning blogs are a great source of ideas and inspiration. In addition, many of them even offer free printables that you can use to customize your own party. Consider them your very own virtual event stylists! Our favourites include:

More on party planning

Perfect party favours
Hosting a chocolate tasting
Hosting tips for perfect backyard parties

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