November 14th PM P.S.

Here's my "must reads" for this Monday, November 14, 2011 Culinary: It's a special occasion, a night on the town, and you decide to go to an upscale steak house.  Before you go, watch this video to see what the restaurants don't want  you to know!

Culture: The Live of Evelyn Lauder, Breast cancer advocate and Pink Ribbon Creator.

Fashion: With the Olsen twins on the cover of an upcoming Vogue and the Fanning sisters gracing the cover of December's W Magazine, is there a such thing as sibling rivelry? And more importantly, is it common in families or just in fashion?

Fitness: There are days when motivation seems to escape you.  Check out these easy ways to get in a workout when it's the furthest thing from your mind!

Veterans Day PM P.S.

Happy Veterans Day and a heartfelt "Thank You" to the families of service men and women, and of course, to all those who have served our country, to preserve and protect our freedom. Today's PM P.S. brings one piece from Culture, Food, Fashion and Fitness. Let's take a look:

Culinary: The New York Times brings us an article from culinary creator Mark Bittman, on the multitude of uses for brown rice, claiming "it's not just for hippies."  Filled with recipes and detailing the difference in various types of brown rice, this piece is a win-win for a girl who could live on this grain.

Culture: Giorgio Armani opens a new hotel in Milan, with 95 rooms decked out in chic decor. Vogue Magazine calls it "a grown-up space, that bucks the traditional baroque theme, found throughout Milan.

Fashion: "Reading Between the Lines, This is a Big Day for Corduroy Fans" shares with the reader the excitement of the corduroy fan club for today's date: 11/11/11, as it most closely represents the look of the pant.

Fitness: With holiday season knocking on our door, eating is sure to take center stage in the next few weeks and through the New Year.  Take a look at 58 ways to burn 100 calories, so we can still enjoy all the deliciousness the Holidays have to offer.

The Questions and Answers behind Kwanzaa

So, I have to admit that while I enjoy all things holiday,  I know nothing of the holiday called Kwanzaa.  I find authenticity in being well-rounded, so I wanted to find out more, skim the surface to uncover who celebrates Kwanzaa, the traditions included and what the holiday means to those who celebrate.

Kwanzaa was created by Ron Karenga and first celebrated December 26, 1966 - January 1, 1967.  Since the first celebration, the holiday has taken place over those same 7 days each year.  Festivities include the lighting of a kinara and ending with a feast and gift giving.  A kinara, a Swahili word for candle holder, holds seven candles and represents the roots that African Americans have in continental Africa.  There are three red on the left representing the African blood shed, three green on the right representing the land of Africa, and a single black candle in the center symbolizing the African race.

Kwanzaa, derived from the Swahili phase "matunda ya kwanza" meaning first fruit of the harvest, was created as the first specifically African American holiday, as a way for African Americans to celebrate their roots and as a way to reconnect with the African culture and history.  Over the course of seven days, seven principles are honored and celebrated. These principles include:

  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race and represented by the black candle.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves and represented by a red candle.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together  and represented by a green candle.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together and represented by a red candle.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness and represented by a green candle.
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it  and represented by a red candle.
  7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle and represented by a green candle.

Kwanzaa was originally created as an alternative celebration, denouncing Christmas. However, as the holiday grew in popularity, individuals who celebrate Kwanzaa chose to also celebrate the Christmas holiday.