Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Back to School

Original image by the talented Meagan. We like to style
things and she likes to take pictures.
While I have no need to prove to my dad I’m not a fool, and I really really don’t intend on getting in any fights, I am most definitely heading back to school!

My “back to school” journey really began a couple years ago…

During my stint with Not For Sale I had really become sold on the idea of Open Source Activism—the idea of using your own skill set and talents to create positive world change. Everyone is good at something, and normally everyone is good at quite a few things. The goal is to take those things you are good at, and use them for good. Using your talents for good could be anything from playing music with a positive message, making crafts you sell for fundraising purposes, sewing clothes or knitting warm scarves and mitts to give to shelters, cooking meals for families with new babies, the list really does go on and on…

While with NFS I had a few ideas on how I wanted to pursue and implement in my life the ideals of open source activism. One idea was to become a career counselor— when survivors of human trafficking would be going through their rehabilitation programs, I would be there to provide career assistance. This would be everything from assessing their current skill sets and passions to working on interview skills, interview outfit shopping and bringing confidence to the forefront. It was an awesome idea and combined my love for helping others succeed and flourish with my passion of ending human trafficking. While it was a great idea, and while I’m sure I would have enjoyed it immensely, there was another passion I knew I needed to feed.

My "I'm going to school" announcement on Instagram.
Follow me: @LoveInspiresChange
I had (and still have) this growing love for baking. It’s amazing the joy that comes from creating something delicious, attractive and shareable. Baking had been a past time and hobby for me for quite a while—especially once moving to Winkler, Manitoba. After being creative on my own time with baking basics and ambitious decorating adventures, I thought it was time to perhaps take this passion to a new level and pursue it as a career. You see, open source activism can really accommodate any skill or passion you have. For myself, baking is going to be how I positively influence and change the world.

Upon the decision of my wonderful husband and I to move to Ontario was also the decision that I was going to actively pursue baking as a career. I was leaving broadcasting behind trading the microphone for the spatula. My goal was to work in the field for one year. If during that year I liked it as much as I thought I would, I would plan to attend school at the year mark to really learn about what I was doing!

We are now entering August of 2014 with my first job in a bakery having started in September of 2013. Needless to say, I still love it. Ontario does this awesome Apprenticeship program. You spend four months of the year receiving in school training and the rest of the year working in a bakery that sponsors you and ensures you are putting your newly gained skills from school to use in a professional setting. It’s a great way to get the best of both worlds—school and work.

My "For the Love of Cake" board on Pinterest. Just the first few pins...
slightly cake obsessed. Follow me: Pinterest.com/aeleas
September 2nd is my first day of school and I don’t know if I could be more excited. It’s been seven years since I graduated from college and I am looking forward to the challenges I will face, the knowledge I will gain, the frustrations I am sure I will face and overcoming those frustrations to be able to do things I could only image doing after pinning flawless images on Pinterest for the past few years. The Baker-Patissier Apprenticeship program at George Brown College in Toronto is about to receive a student who is not only excited to learn, but who is eager to apply and partner those learned skills with her dreams to be a force of positive change. Piping bag in hand, I can change the world.

How can you take your passions and use them to create positive world change?

Thursday, July 10, 2014


This past week I have taken quite the drive down memory lane and I absolutely love it.

The 'magic of nostalgia' is how you can’t quite put your finger on the exact photograph, song, taste or smell that does it, but it’s where you can close your ends and it’s like you’re back in the exact moment with those exact same feelings of quickened heart-beat excitement, looking ridiculous smiles, and pure untainted joy.

Nostalgia this past week came in the form of Warped Tour. Although my wonderful husband and I didn’t attend the Toronto date, the idea of going sparked an epic week of relishing in the sweet memories of ‘the glory days’.

When my wonderful husband and I read the lineup of the then upcoming Toronto date of Warped Tour we met each other with immediate thoughts of how incredible the line up was—so many old school bands we used to LOVE! I’m talking Anberlin, Cute is What We Aim For, Bayside, Finch, Yellowcard, The Maine and, for JP, mostly just Terror. This sparked memories of previous Warped Tour years, seeing artists like Cute Is What We Aim For and Anberlin, and I wanted to be back in those moments, at those shows, experiencing the almost now untouchable simple joys that came from seeing your favourite artist at a show with hundreds of other people just like you—perhaps a little bit awkward of a teenager, dehydrated and hungry, hot and sweaty, all while having the best day of your life because they are playing and you are singing along and life couldn’t get better.

From the moment we decided we would entertain the idea of attending all I wanted to do was chat about my past experiences. I went to work and to my enjoyment, one of my co-workers hopped on board with reminiscing about Warped Tours of the past with me. I can remember the very first year I went to warped tour with three amazing friends and my dad. For the record, my dad is awesome. He sat in the air-conditioned parents day-care tent and had the highly coveted position of the ‘merch keeper’. Every girl whose closet was made up purely of band t-shirts of artists she had seen live needs a merch keeper—especially at an event as big as Warped Tour in 2005.

Classic Myspace over-photoshopped picture. <3

My awesome friends and I separated ways while at Warped Tour to take in the many bands we liked—all our tastes were a little different and we would enjoy meeting up at random sets to be all “Hey!!!!!” and do a nice little check-in. Getting to see so many amazing bands, meet so many of those bands randomly at merch booths, and especially hear of new artists was an incredible experience unparalleled to any other. My favourites to see my very first warped experience who left an impact bigger than you can imagine were Thrice, Billy Idol (oh yea), Saosin, My Chemical Romance, Roses are Red, Underøath…—oh my, this list could go on and on. At that point in my life, and for a solid chunk of the years to come, Bleed The Dream was my favourite band. Conveniently, they were a smaller band which made it was easy to hang out with them at their booth, get pictures, buy merch directly from them and just hang out. It was a known fact to my friends that if you wanted to find me, just stop by the bTd merch booth. 

**I truly feel honoured to have had such an amazing ‘favourite band’. Almost like brothers, these dudes were awesome. I could reminisce for hours about their kindness, talent, willingness to just chat and hangout, and how they always put their fans first (as a fan, I would know).  I don’t think I can even count on my hands the amount of times I had seen them live, even flying to Toronto to meet a friend from Myspace so we could see Bleed The Dream play live together—something we had always thought would be awesome since our initial bonding moments on Myspace due to our massive crushes on the bass player and devotion to their music.**

Paramore. You know it's old-- hello Flip Phone!
The following two Warped experiences, while still awesome, could never compare to that first year. Unfortunate events (flat tires, dying cars) were unable to steal joy from the day, knowing your way around after being an experienced Warped attendee made the experience more chill, and, as should be the focus, seeing the artists I was committed to was always amazing. The following experience had seeing Paramore live at the top of my ‘epic list’. As the lone Paramore fan in a sea of friends at home who didn’t care, it was simply astounding. It was only after the epic experience I had friends finally listen to Paramore and kick themselves for not taking advantage of their extraordinary set at Warped. The last year I attended was incredible for a handful of reasons—artists and their crew were now friendly faces I looked forward to connecting with where the transition from fan to friend occurred. Top of my artist list though was hands down Story of the Year as well as Anberlin’s acoustic set.

It’s quite amazing how hearing a simple song or two can take you back for a week of quiet moments allowing the excitement of days passed to be relived while scrolling through photographs, and day dreams about the past. I’ve always referred to my time being heavily involved and influenced by the music scene as ‘the glory days’ as they allowed and encouraged me to fearlessly be myself, shaped me into the person I wanted to become, grew my creativity, stripped away some of my shyness, opened up doors to meeting amazing people (some who are still in my life today) and, best of all, have led me to moments like today—where I can look back with no regrets as I relive in my memories of the days I would never change.

I want to encourage you to take a trip down memory lane of one of your favourite past-times and allow the excitement, happiness and care-free memories infiltrate your day and share with those your favourite moments from your days past. Who knows, you may strike up an amazing conversation and bond over similarities of ‘the glory days’.

 *Note - Since writing this I've been addicted to a Songza playlist called “Alt Pop Wine O’clock”. This playlist is littered with artists like Paramore, The Maine, Cute Is What We Aim For, Something Corporate as well as some newer artists. I can't help but smile and feel heart-happy when listening to music I used to live for.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Live Different-- Eat a Cupcake

Cupcakes-- they are just the best.
Seriously, they are deliciousness just for you in a cute wrapper, sky high frosting, and decorated to be the cutest edible thing you've laid your eyes on. Part of the cuteness obviously comes from their size—they are just handheld and adorable. Can you imagine how much I would be gushing over mini cupcakes?!!? Let’s not get started on that one!

If you follow my blog, or have ever had even a single conversation with me, you know that my wonderful husband and I absolutely love, support, and are involved with the organization Live Different. Based out of our now home Hamilton, Ontario, Live Different is a youth empowerment organization who strives to teach the upcoming generation that life is about people, not stuff. They teach those in high school they can make a difference, they should strive to show kindness, and they truly can be the change they wish to see in the world.

Live Different has a program called the Live DifferentAcademy. The Live Different Academy is a program designed for students during their gap year (the year between finishing high school and starting their post secondary education). Most of the students who take part in the Academy have either seen the Live Different Motivational presentations at their high school, have participated in a Hero Holiday, or have been looking for a fun, educational, and life changing opportunity to take part in before they head back to school for the new few years of their lives.

The Live Different Academy has the students follow a Social Justice curriculum while spending half of their year ‘on the road’ performing the motivational presentations to high school students, and the other half of the year living in Mexico at Live Different’s base where they will build houses in the community they live, work alongside local individuals and participate in ‘the shack’ where they will live like most of the world lives—on less than $2 a day. Needless to say, the Live Different Academy is a program unlike any other an individual can take part in.

The individuals taking part in the program are exceptional students who have overcome their own adversity in life and willingly take the opportunity to share their struggles and new-found positive attitude on living life with their peers during the high school presentations. These students are brave, honest, and truly will change the world.

Live Different asked me to bake something delicious for their Academy graduation event and I took the opportunity to combine my love for Live Different and cupcakes into one. For their event I baked up over a hundred cupcakes in a few fun flavors. Those who attended the event enjoyed the following from-scratch creations:
Vanilla Funfetti cupcake with Coconut Lime Frosting
Classic Chocolate cupcake with Nutella Cloud Frosting
Fresh Strawberry cupcake with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream
Each cupcake was topped with a hand-painted fondant heart showcasing the Live Different heart logo.

Both the graduates and the other individuals in attendance enjoyed the cupcakes and I was so honored to be able to contribute to this momentous occasion in a way that also shares with them both my passion for baking and the appreciation I have for them as individuals who are committed to a living a life focusing on others before themselves.

Cupcake tower at grad.

*Special thanks to Meagan Tuttu-Peters for some of the lovely shots! Check out her blog!
*Note: This was the final year of the program with both living in Mexico and going 'on the road' as part of one program. Starting this fall, individuals will have the opportunity to apply for each portion separately--depending which part suits their skills, learning goals and future plans.