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Dashing Through the Gift List

Posted on December 10, 2015 by

I love shopping. I love gifts. I love Christmas. I love shopping for gifts at Christmas! So, just in time for the holiday season, I am sharing with you some of my holiday tips and tricks for checking off everyone on your list, regardless of if they have been naughty or nice.

  1. Write down everyone on your list that you need to buy for. I keep my list on my phone so I always have it on hand. Avoid the last minute trip to 7-11 on Christmas Day to pick up a gift card for your long lost cousin that you just found out is coming for Christmas this year. I add/edit my list throughout the full year so when someone casually says they would like something, I write it down. It definitely makes Christmas a little easier and people will be surprised that you remembered exactly what they wanted without asking.
  2. Shop online. Around Christmas, tons of suppliers offer free shipping so take advantage! If there is a minimum spend to apply for free shipping, look at your list and see if you can check more people off at one retailer. Beware of the USD if you are shopping at stores in the States – it will be quite a surprise when you look at your credit card bill. Trust me, I made the mistake this year already.
  3. Whenever you find yourself at a store whether it a full mall or just the grocery store, pull out your list quickly to see if there is anything you can quickly pick up to cross someone off. You are already out and about so you might as well make it a productive trip.
  4. If you save money on a gift, don’t feel pressured to spend more money to make up for the savings. That totally defeats the purpose of savings.
  5. If you have a tricky someone on your list and the best option is a gift card – pair it with something small and thoughtful as that instantly makes it a more personal gift. Don’t stress out about the small something – think their favorite chocolate bar, a mini bottle of booze, or a pair of cozy socks, etc.
  6. Shop in small quick batches when you have time here and there. Drop by the mall on the way home from work or at lunch to pick something up. When driving by a store that you know you need to stop at and you are early for your next event, zip in quickly rather than drive by. Not only does this make Christmas less stressful, it balances out your spending so you don’t take a huge hit in one weekend.
  7. As you complete gifts, cross them off your list or mark them as completed on your phone. This is also a great place to keep track of what you bought and how much money you spent. It keeps everything in one spot and is always up to date.

Lastly, if you have no idea what to buy or where to even start, might I suggest my go-to-gift-buying locations – Winners/HomeSense, Chapters/Indigo & Rafters. They have so many unique gifts at these stores and you are sure to find the perfect gift or at the very least, you will be inspired and walk away knowing exactly what to get.

Happy Shopping!

How to Survive University and Pretend Everything’s Fine

Posted on December 4, 2015 by

For the last month, all you had to do was remind me that I would be more less done university in a few weeks and I’d be reduced to a pile of emotions. Sure, there’s good things about being done my undergraduate degree: no more midterms, no more finals, no more pretending to pay attention in class, no more starting and finishing a term paper the day it’s due, etc. There’s a lot I’m going to miss though, and it’s really weird to think back four years ago to my first term at MacEwan and look at how much I (and everything around me) has changed.

It’s even weirder to think that somehow I survived it. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself an expert at life, but if I had to give a first-year student seven tips on how to make the most of the next four (or more) years of their life, here’s what I’d say.

  1. Learn How to Learn:
    Everyone has a different way to study efficiently and get decent grades. Figure out what works for you, whether that’s reading the entire textbook and making cue cards (unlikely) to skimming chapter summaries the night before the exam (more likely), find the right vibe that works for you.
  2. Have a FOMO:
    One of the truest pieces of advice I’ve ever been told is you’re going to regret more what you didn’t do than what you did. There’s nothing wrong with a fear of missing out so take risks and have new experiences. You’re only young once and university is supposed to be a time to take risks and find yourself, so take that whatever way you want and get out there, champ.
  3. Try to Build a Resume:
    One day, you’re probably going to want a job and you don’t have to be as crazy as me, and work four jobs while taking four classes, but try to get some experience. Work a job, volunteer, and get some training in a relevant area. Getting involved and having something to show for it goes a long way.
  4. Lists for your Lists:
    The first thing I do every term is make a list of everything I have due for marks in all of my classes chronologically, with how much it’s worth. Seeing what I have to do and how much I should put into it might look overwhelming originally, but knowing what to focus on one week at a time, puts the entire term into perspective.
  5. Don’t Forget To Do What You Love:
    In the midst of the emotional hurricane that is university, don’t forget who you are and what makes you happy. For me, there’s nothing I spend more money on than concerts and music and so regardless of how early I have to be up the next day, I’ll usually never turn down a night of live music. Don’t forget to see your friends too; if that means going all out at a keg party on Saturday and having to write two entire papers on a Sunday, sometimes it’s worth it.
  6. Be Recklessly Optimistic:
    My cover photo on Facebook for the longest time has been a banner saying “Everything Will Probably Be Alright” and to be honest, it probably will be. Even if you fail that exam or have no idea how you’re going to find a job when you graduate, you’re human and you’re a pretty great human at that. Change your perspective and look on the bright side. A little positivity goes a long way.
  7. Never Choose What’s Comfortable:
    Don’t settle for what’s easy because after all, life isn’t easy. Choosing the simple path now will just lead to a life of emptiness and pain. University is going to be hard and there’s going to be so many times you’re going to want to drop out and just do something easier, but keep pushing yourself and following your dreams.

Being more less done my Bachelor of Commerce is a weird feeling, but the last four and a half years have been without a doubt the most amazing years of my life. I’m so insanely thankful for all of the absolutely stellar people I’ve met and every crazy experience I’ve had with them. I’ve met some of the most amazing people, and learned so much both inside and outside of the classroom in the last four years. Overall, work hard, love lots, and just live because everything will probably be alright.

5 Tips For Edmontonians This Winter

Posted on November 24, 2015 by

Anyone who says they like winter is liar. It’s dry, depressing, dark, and let’s be honest, downright dangerous (alliteration intended). Most of us live here because we were born here, found work here, or foolishly fell in love with someone who lives or works here. I mean, sure there’s something existentially beautiful about a freshly fallen snow that covers our whole city in white, but give it a few hours and it will become the dirty, congested, ice-trap we all experience for six months of the year, every year.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t have any immediate escape plans, so the following is a list of 5 tips that will help you not only survive, but also maybe even make the most of this barren wasteland we call home.

1. Accept that you’re going to be late
Everyone gets a little extra wiggle room, especially after a snowfall, and stressing out about being late is only going to make you cranky/crankier and more likely to get into an accident. Then you’d REALLY be late. Skip the drive-thru and give yourself some extra time, but if you’re late, that’s just one of the costs of living in Edmonton.

2. Trust no one
Did you overhear your coworker say it’s supposed to warm up on Friday? It’s not. And even if it does, it’s better to be pleasantly surprised than utterly disappointed.

3. Have perspective
Try to focus on being grateful that even in this cold and crappy season, we’re lucky enough to live in one of the best countries in the world. One flip through the news solidifies that bearing the cold is well worth the perks that we get for being lucky enough to live in the true north, wild and free.

4. Online shop
There’s a Norwegian saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. While I don’t completely agree, they may be on to something. Cyber Monday is this Monday, so why not stock up on some cozy vests and scarves from the comfort of your warm bed? It definitely couldn’t hurt.

5. Don’t be afraid
Although tempting, trying to hibernate all winter will probably just make it go by slower. Try to get out there (wearing your new gear from Tip #4 of course), and make the most of some great activities Edmonton does have to offer in the winter!

Bonus adorable puppy pictures can be found here!

Good Gourd, It’s Pumpkin Season

Posted on November 5, 2015 by

It’s that golden time of year, the time when the stores and our gardens are filled with the warm hues of pumpkins and squashes. My appreciation for pumpkins began at a young age, when every year I would look forward to the fall and winter when my grandma would bake pumpkin pie. As I grew, my affection for pumpkins matured and I found myself appreciating all sorts of squash delights. My healthy obsession (literally healthy) has inspired me this autumn to fully embrace these somewhat strange fruits in a variety of ways. So if you’re looking to add more gourds into your life, let me help you out:

1. Pumpkin Carving
Get creative with it, seriously, go all out. This doesn’t just need to be for Halloween, use these ideas to have carved pumpkins for decorating throughout the whole season.

2. Butternut Squash Soup
Use this recipe to warm yourself on a cold day.

3. Butternut Squash Loaf
All the spices of a pumpkin spice latte in this loaf, do I need to say more?

4. Pumpkin Pie
I can’t share my recipe for this one; it’s a family secret.

5. Gourd Crafts
This blog shows you how to turn your new obsession into candleholders.

6. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Not only are these seeds tasty, but they also can help in your production of serotonin, giving you a nice mood boost.

If you still need convincing of the magic of pumpkins, just remember, Cinderella had a pumpkin that was a carriage, proving that pumpkins can really do anything.

Fall School Fundraisers

Posted on October 15, 2015 by

Back to school means fall fundraisers for anyone with kids and anyone who knows anyone with kids. They are getting more creative about it though. It’s more than just chocolate covered almonds. Although really fundraising Gods, why not bring that back? I could go for some right now. Even though it’s 7:25 am.

I haven’t received my package from school yet but it’s coming any day now. On Facebook I’ve seen friends promoting a variety of coupon books, jam, chocolate, popcorn, fruit (anyone else getting hungry?), but the most unique one so far has been the pizza kit from Little Caesar’s. That one was kind of cool.

We, as people with kids and people who know people with kids, get hit up for this stuff continually. Sure there’s stuff some of us look forward to every year (who doesn’t like Girl Guide cookies??) but it’s the new or unique ideas that I look forward to seeing or hearing about. Doesn’t mean I’m buying, but I’m at least appreciating.

Beyond the food and the items, I think some of the best fundraisers are the ones that teach kids something. When they need to be actively involved and can feel a sense of accomplishment, then I think the effort is worth it. Having their parents hawk pizzas to co-workers, while delicious, teaches very little in my opinion.

Grow On

Posted on September 24, 2015 by

I have always been someone who appreciates creativity; it inspires and excites me. What continually blows my mind is knowing that the end result started from a simple idea. Add in a lot of passion and hard work and it blossoms into something extraordinary.

I often catch myself thinking “Wow, someone thought of that!” I suppose it is because I understand what it takes to get there. Brilliance certainly takes time.

I was recently reminded of that again as we attended our twins graduation from the 3D Animation and Visual Effects program at the Vancouver Film School. As part of the graduation, we finally got to see the results of the last 6 months worth of blood, sweat and tears.

These 38 students shared their demo reels with us as we sat in a movie theatre for an hour and 20 minutes. It was incredible. I was surrounded by all of these young brilliant minds that are about to be released into the industry and I found myself blown away once again. Watch out world, here they come.

Our sons have far surpassed any ounce of creativity I may have and we could not be more proud. I want them to “grow on”.  We are just so excited for them as this is simply the beginning of what will be an awe-inspiring journey and career for them.

I could not resist sharing some of their work. Here are the links to the twins’ videos (make sure you watch till the end after the credits with Nathan’s) and some other awesome ones! Sit back, grab a small bag of popcorn and enjoy!

Nathan Dorfer 

Daniel Dorfer

Rodrigo Janz

Michael Cabrera

Vinicius Carneiro


You Butthurt, Bruh?

Posted on September 3, 2015 by

Oxford Dictionaries recently added a smorgasbord of new words to its online dictionary of current English. The guys over at this branch of the Oxford Family (I can’t help but think they’re like the Prince Harry of the Royals) keep track of modern lingo usage reflected in our ever-changing cultural, political and social norms.

There’s no arguing that the latest inclusions showcase just how clever our vernacular has become. Take wine o’clock for example, n: an appropriate time of day for starting to drink wine – something everybody at zag is very familiar with. Or cat café, n: café or similar establishment where people pay to interact with cats housed on the premises. Note that just because this word has been legitimized, doesn’t mean it’s socially acceptable to partake.

See below for more slang now recognized by the world at large via Oxford Dictionaries’ blog:


awesomesauce, adj: extremely good; excellent

brain fart, n: a temporary mental lapse or failure to reason correctly

bruh, n: a male friend (often used as a form of address)

butt dial, v: inadvertently call (someone) on a mobile phone in one’s rear trouser pocket

butthurt, adj: overly or unjustifiably offended or resentful

cakeage, n: a charge made by a restaurant for serving a cake they have not supplied themselves

deradicalization, n: the action or process of causing a person with extreme views to adopt more moderate positions on political or social issues

fast-casual, adj: denoting or relating to a type of high-quality self-service restaurant offering dishes that are prepared to order and more expensive than those available in a typical fast-food restaurant

fat-shame, v: cause (someone judged to be fat or overweight) to feel humiliated by making mocking or critical comments about their size

fur baby, n: a person’s dog, cat, or other furry pet animal

glanceable, adj: denoting or relating to information, especially as displayed on an electronic screen, that can be read or understood very quickly and easily

hangry, adj: bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger

manspreading, n: the practice whereby a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats

mic drop, n: an instance of deliberately dropping or tossing aside one’s microphone at the end of a performance or speech one considers to have been particularly impressive

Mx, n: a title used before a person’s surname or full name by those who wish to avoid specifying their gender or by those who prefer not to identify themselves as male or female

rando, n: a person one does now know, especially one regarded as odd, suspicious, or engaging in socially inappropriate behaviour

skippable, adj: (of a part or feature of something) able to be omitted or passed over so as to get to the next part or feature

social justice warrior, n: a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views

snackable, adj: (of online content) designed to be read, viewed, or otherwise engaged with briefly and easily

weak sauce, n: something that is of a poor or disappointing standard or quality

Purple is the New Black

Posted on August 20, 2015 by

A new colour will hopefully soon cover the 104th District Area downtown: purple. zag creative has proudly sponsored this awesome initiative to get our neighbourhood Purple Flag accredited by the Association of Town and City Management. What this accreditation means for our vibrant street is recognition as a safe and diverse community that demonstrates excellence in nightlife and security.

Spanning from 102nd to 106th Street and 104th to 98th Avenue, this area is different from many others in Edmonton. The historical buildings and warehouses of our community are filled with exciting art galleries, restaurants, bars, small businesses, and more! There’s something exciting every day on 104th Street from the Farmer’s Market to Al Fresco this weekend, and other celebrations that bring this urban community together.

The process of getting accredited requires demonstrating, using facts and statistics, that our community is setting exemplary standards in well-being & safety, transportation, collaboration, has a diverse nightlife and appeals to a variety of tastes. There’s certainly no shortage of initiatives and committees downtown that have been working together to develop an exciting and fun community!

If accepted, the 104th District Area will be the first area in North America to be Purple Flag accredited — currently there are 56 Purple Flag communities in the United Kingdom. There have never been more cranes working in downtown Edmonton, as Rogers Place, the Ice District, and other towers are being built. As downtown Edmonton continues to grow at breakneck speeds, this accreditation will help to increase the image of downtown and 104th Street as an exemplary area of Edmonton.

We’re so excited to be part of this really cool opportunity to put our community on the map and further the perception of our downtown as an urban community that is vibrant with a variety of businesses and residences! Stay tuned for more as we go through the accreditation process and chase the Purple Flag.

Being a zag Intern

Posted on August 7, 2015 by

IMG_2015-08-07 10:23:05Movies and TV shows often portray interns as young, decent looking students who specialize in making coffee, asking redundant questions, and being the target of verbal abuse from everyone in the company. Jas and I both agree though that as interns, aside from the decent looking part, we’ve experienced none of these things.

I’ve been with zag since the beginning of June as their first ever social media intern and from the interview I knew that being an intern here was going to be nothing like the movies. Things at zag are different, and not different like when your mom would say it, but different like a breath of fresh air after walking through a forest fire. To demonstrate, here’s my list of my 5 favourite things about being an intern at zag:

  1. The coffee machine. Coffee and I go way back; it’s a pretty serious relationship. Working as an intern here has only brought me and coffee closer together with zag’s incredible and complex coffee machine that, just like a relationship, originally intimidated me but now we’re going steady.
  2. The downtown lifestyle. On my first day, I played “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton the entire ride downtown specifically for the line “Making my way downtown…” I live east of Sherwood Park, and even though I go to school downtown, working on 104th street has been really neat. It’s awesome to be around so many cool restaurants and shops!
  3. The company. I promise I’m not getting paid to say this, but zag creative is actually a really rad place to work. They have some really awesome projects on the go and it’s incredible to see the unique stuff they do. The people that work here have such a unique set of skills that come together like rum and coke, getting the world drunk on creative ideas and killing it everyday. They also have a really cool looking office and I have a lovely view from my desk of a whiteboard window drawn by Kat, where it’s always raining.
  4. The experience. I’m graduating from university in December and getting this type of hands-on experience has so much value. I have learnt so much about how to actually do interactive marketing online and also how to work in an agency setting. It’s been incredible to have the opportunity to get my hands dirty in different projects and learn lots of new things.
  5. The people. The people I’ve met at zag are stellar. They’re not only so incredible at what they do, but also hilarious, hip, so stylish, and really fun to be around. They love sangria, animals, and have the most hilarious stories. From day one, being part of a really strange lunch conversation, I knew that these people were the type of people I’d want to work with. Coming into work early summer mornings was made so bearable knowing that I’d be around such positive and interesting people, and probably laugh at least once.

Being an intern at zag creative this summer has taught me so much about the industry that I want to work in. Every chance I get, I brag to my friends about my awesome internship at one of the coolest companies there is. It all feels kind of surreal to be here. I’ve met some amazing people, been part of some amazing things, and couldn’t have asked for a better way internship. #inTurndownforwhat

Annual Summer Checklist

Posted on July 30, 2015 by



The sun is sinking faster every day and there are only 147 days until Christmas – honestly, how does summer come and go so fast?! I always have grand plans for how I am going to spend my summers but every year before I know it, the leaves are gone and W I N T E R is here. Not cool. To make the most of our short summers, there are a few annual activities that I always try to check off my list and I thought I would share them with you in case you are looking for things to do:

  • Float a river hot day
  • Eat an ice cream cone that is so big I can’t finish it before it melts
  • Hit up the Stampede in Calgary for as long as your liver can handle
  • Attend an outdoor concert
  • Go camping and pretend to enjoy the unbearably overheated tent for a weekend
  • Drink as many patio beers as possible before the sun disappears
  • Swim in an outdoor city pool
  • Head to the lake for a day trip

Now you know just exactly what my little summer heart desires every year. So far, I have checked off 5 of these items. Here’s hoping I can complete the rest of the list before the frost bites……

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