Tuesday, January 28, 2014


When writing goals for 2014 I decided spending more time collaborating with others was going to be at the forefront of what I do with the majority of my free time. There is something so magical about collaborating with people—the way inspiration and creativity feed off the ideas being formed in your head and let loose into the world without inhibition, the way a simple sketch can be envisioned as the grandiose image already in your head and the involved parties not only understand, but are anxious to see it brought to life, and how bonding during the process is viewed to be just as valuable as the end result.

This, my friends, is magic. This is like glitter raining down on a sunshiny day where a warm breeze tousles your hair and someone catches the moment on film… no filter required.

I haven’t participated in much collaboration in the past—one absolutely lovely session with Lani Elias Fine Art Photography and Bloom Petals& Gifts (check it out here) was all I needed to know I wanted to do it again…. It was like eating a slice of the most amazing pie and knowing you just had to have another slice…or two… (or in my case, the recipe).

In Winkler I had friends who were doing things. Lani is one of my closest friends and Meg from Bloom is our go-to florist who is just as awesome as her floral arrangements. It was a simple collaboration—it worked well, was easy to arrange, and went beautifully.

Enter the move to Hamilton.
I arrived in Hamilton and realized I didn’t really know anyone—no local florist to visit, no hidden gems of creative talent I could tap into for easy experimental fun. Little did I know the lovely lady we ended up living with is a photographer who wants to, get this, get into food photography! *Insert harps and hallelujah choir here.*

As an individual who is pretty much down to be involved in anything creative I jumped at the chance to help her brainstorm and execute ideas for a course she was taking and, since then, have taken almost any opportunity to make something delicious and then get pictures of it.

Aside from a recent mini-shoot of Birthday Crepes, the most recent shoot consisted of process shots and a few final shots of cupcakes Meag hired me to make for a baby shower. It’s fun to live with someone who enjoys sharing the magic during the process.

As the year is only beginning, I am looking forward to the collaborations that will arise and where they will take me. It’s always humbling and inspiring to work with individuals who have talent and are willing to share it with you for a collaborative vision. I look forward to those photographers, florists, stylists and all other creative beings I will be honoured to work with this year. Know that I am grateful for the opportunity, educated through the experience, and inspired for the future by the simple act of collaboration.


Process shots by Meagan Tutti.
Final shots by me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Human Trafficking Prevention

Image found on Pinterest
I’ve heard January be referred to as Human Trafficking Awareness month.
As the beginning of research generally starts, I opened up Google and typed in ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Month.’ Upon skimming through the top few headlines one link in particular caught my eye. Posted by the White House, it was a letter that President Obama wrote announcing January 2014 to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Every part of me was filled with excitement.
This is exactly what we need.
Awareness is one thing, and a good thing, but prevention is where we should be focused after awareness has been reached. Once you are aware, there needs to be another step involved-- something practical and tangible and that, my friends, is Prevention.

I know, I know. You might be thinking ‘How can I prevent slavery?’
You may not be actively involved in the sex trade, which is where most of the attention on human trafficking tends to go, so you don’t think you are involved and actively growing the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world. Think about it, if human trafficking and modern-day slavery were only about sex, would it be the fastest growing criminal industry in the world? While some may answer yes, I would guess probably not.

Human Trafficking and Slavery exists in every area of our lives—from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to the electronics we use. What we use for entertainment and enjoyment, someone is paying the ultimate price with their life for its creation—and often we don’t think about it.

If you read my blog, you’re probably already aware. I’ve written numerous posts regarding human trafficking and modern day slavery; I documented my time in Thailand working in a Children’s Home with those who have been either exploited or at risk for exploitation, I’ve written about my life changing experience with Not For Sale, I’ve challenged you to end slavery in your life by participating in ethical holidays and being a conscious consumer. Awareness is all around us—from activists to slacktivists, organizations like IJM, Not For Sale, Love 146 and World Vision and even campaigns like MTV Exit and the A21 Campaign.

Time for prevention.

As I was reading Mr. Obama’s letter, I fell in love with this paragraph that is a call to both action and duty.

“As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate jobs, build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, and empower our daughters and sons with the same chances to pursue their dreams. This month, I call on every nation, every community, and every individual to fight human trafficking wherever it exists. Let us declare as one that slavery has no place in our world, and let us finally restore to all people the most basic rights of freedom, dignity, and justice.”

That is prevention—changing the way we have lived our lives up until this point. Ethical business practices, a sense of world community, knowing the basic rights of freedom, dignity and justice are the foundation for a world that can thrive.

Below are what I think of when I contemplate prevention and steps we can take, as every day individuals who understand the value of the human life, to no longer see any more innocent victims to something that is preventable.

1 – Make sure you know the facts
Awareness is the first step to prevention. Do you know what human trafficking is? When someone asks do you find yourself stumbling upon what the exact definition is? Spreading basic awareness is as simple as knowing the definition and having some examples of what it is.
Image taken from Not For Sale

2 – Educate yourself on your personal contribution to the continuation of modern-day slavery.
Take just one hour out of your day and search out information on the companies of the clothing you happen to be wearing. Free2Work is a great place to learn about companies. Think of what you are planning on eating for dinner—research what kind of slavery exists in the growing, harvesting and production of what you are planning to eat. Did you know people work in factories peeling shrimp? There are documented cases of exploitation (unfair wages and working conditions to name two of the issues) to those workers peeling shrimp. Are you using a laptop to do your research? Labor issues around Apple have been documented and are easy to find upon doing a google search. And check out Slavery Footprint to see a rough estimate of how many slaves are working for you.  This isn’t meant to make you feel bad—but to make you aware of your personal contribution.

Screen Shot from the Slavery Footprint Questionnaire

There are 30 slaves working for me-- my personal Slavery Footprint results!

3 – Research alternatives to your current lifestyle contributions.
Instead of shopping at Forever 21, shop at H&M. Buy second hand clothing where the money goes to a charity instead of the company who originally made the garment. Instead of buying chocolate from Hershey or Nestle, buy from Divine or AlterEco. Try to buy locally made products (even if they are a little more pricey). While it may be impossible to cut out slavery from your entire life, your purchasing power says a lot and changing a few basic parts of your shopping habits can make a difference in the long run. Check out Free2Work.org for company ratings to see how your favourite brands compare to others.

4 – Be the change.
Ethical leaders are needed for real change to happen. Planning on starting a business? Do it right from the start. Be a person who is committed, in whatever they set out to do, to do it in such a way that doesn’t allow the exploitation of some for the your own personal gain. Find out you’re surprisingly passionate about the cause? Start a blog, share your story of justice-seeking, speak to others. Combine your current passions with a goal to end slavery.

David Batstone, founder of Not For Sale, posted a quote on his Twitter feed that was retweeted by MTV Exit where I happened to stumble upon it. It goes like this:

I encourage you, not only during Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month but also throughout the year, to do just that-- change your view of slavery where your current life finds you and design creative ways to come against it. Be pro-love  and be the change that is needed to end modern-day slavery.

What are some creative ways you have found to raise awareness or prevent human trafficking?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Would You Like Some Birthday Cake?

What is more appropriate for a birthday than cake?
Classic yet inspired, designed yet delicious, trendy yet rustic—Oh how I enjoy cake and the many varieties I can find!

I’ve decided my little slice of the blogging world should really begin documenting the baking adventures I embark on.  This conclusion was reached after I considered my current pursuit of a career as a pastry chef and the world-changing dreams that come along with the new title.  Like I tend to frequently say, it’s best to use your passions to change the world and that is what I intend to do!

The journey to accomplishing every dream starts with a step. My first step was to acquire employment in a bakery. Being an individual whose only experience baking were moments in the welcoming kitchens of friends and family, I was a little hesitant on my ‘hire-ability’ in this new field. To amp up my resume I planned to hand in to prospects in our new city of Hamilton I decided to add in a portfolio.  What better way to show ‘hey, I might not have professionally learned anything, but I enjoy doing this a lot and sometimes things look nice and sometimes other people really enjoy eating the creations!’ With the decision of a portfolio underway I dug up a Pin on Pinterest regarding a potential baked goods photo shoot idea the lovely and incredible talented Lani Elias and I said we would do together. She was in and we were both excited.

During a weekend cabin getaway with my wonderful husband, Lani and her husband, and another couple inspiration in the form of wine, Baileys, Pinterest and our own personal tastes combined to a rough sketch on how we wanted the shoot to look! The only thing we needed, aside from the goodies to be shot, was a table scape worthy of Pinterest itself! Enter the marvelous Meg from Bloom. Such a lovely gem to work with who believed in the vision for the shoot and brought her own amazing creative flair—ripping full, lush heads of perfect peonies off just so we could scatter the petals! Heartbreaking for anyone who appreciates the rich look of the incredible flowers.
Since the date of this shoot my fellow collaborators and myself have been truly blessed to see where this shoot has gone. First off, the portfolio came together in free time over the summer spent in Dominican Republic and landed me a position as a pastry chef in the bakery I had my eyes (and heart) set on. Next came an instant moment of joy when the shoot was featured on Best Friends For Frosting! It was surreal to see something I was personally invested in be featured on a site where so many people visit and appreciate the time and heart that go into creating such a spread. Even Pottery Barn pinned a picture from the shoot!!!!

It’s truly amazing to see how one basic idea turned from a simple spark to a dazzling firework. And while to some this accomplishment may seem small, I believe the simplest accomplishments are worth celebrating and every moment to count a blessing is a step towards living life the way we are intended to—thankful, gracious, spreading love and extending our blessings with all those along our path. So today, on my 26th Birthday, instead of a “life so far” post, I figured it’s best to look forward and share with you some dreams over cake.

Edibles by myself

Friday, January 3, 2014

Positive Goal Setting

Image from Justina Blakeney
Oh, hey 2014.
I saw you sauntering towards us as we were nearing the end of our time hanging out with 2013. You were kindly waiting for us to finish our epic session before you took your turn with us—I appreciate that, you’re so kind.

So, what’s up? Are you happy to be here? I am sure glad you showed up. I enjoyed 2013 quite a bit—a lot of changes, opportunities, challenges resulting in growth and a lot to be thankful for. Many blessings are worth reflecting on, and I fondly look back at the wonderful moments of 2013. But, 2014, I am excited you’re here.

I’m not sure what 2014 will hold, but I do know it is in my hands with how I am going to shape it. I could leave it is as is, no ideas on how to shape it, leaving it flat—with no desires, goals, or excitement mixed with moments of calm and contentment changing it to mountains on my palms…

But I want those mountains.

While my wonderful husband and I were casually discussing 2014 on the last day of 2013 over Thai food, I asked what he is most looking forward to in 2013. I love asking questions like these. It’s probably a combination of my radio-dj-interviewer background, mixed with my genuine interest in my significant other and how I always thought being a counselor would be nifty. I like asking questions that make people think and examine themselves. My answer to the question returned to me is simply that I am looking forward to ‘overcoming the challenges’. An answer such as mine requires at least a bit of an explanation—I think it’s safe to say enjoying an actual challenge is difficult. I welcome a new challenge knowing I will overcome it and will have learned lessons, grown personally, and come out better for it. So it’s not the challenge itself I am looking forward to (or, let’s be honest, challenges—since I know there will be many), but I am looking forward to what happens after you overcome—the other side, which is accomplishment and further knowledge, gained.

I don’t know if I necessarily think the idea of ‘New Years Resolutions’ work—especially if they are decided on a whim and are not planned out. (That being said, I have totally made resolutions in the past where the end of the year is the first time I look at them again and I really have accomplished some.) I do believe in having goals. Goals for 2014 are great to have—and although I won’t be sharing my “how-to achieve your goals” guide on here (as it varies by individual), I am going to share with you a few of my general goals for the what is sure to be a remarkable 2014.

This is how I start my goal setting for the year.
These may seem generic to you, but I have visions of where I want to see them go and a few steps for how to see those made real in the present. One thing I truly believe is how a positive view is always more effective than a negative view. Example; I have on my list ‘Give More’. That is a positive statement. That is more uplifting and inspiring than reading ‘Work on Being Less-Selfish’ or flat out ‘Stop Being Selfish’. When you read those more negative statements, your mind automatically draws ideas of what the negative is like—You think of how you are being selfish, the way being selfish makes you feel, and generally all other negative emotions. When you read ‘Give More’ you are automatically brought into a positive mindset—it motivates you, gives you ideas and uplifts you to feeling the potential the statement holds.

As Mother Teresa said;
“I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”

I challenge you to write your goals, resolutions, or dreams in a positive manner. You’ll feel encouraged, ready for the challenge, and your mind will already be thinking of the amazing ways you can accomplish what you have written down. Believe me, it is amazing what being ‘pro’ instead of ‘anti’ can do.

Goals for 2014
- Give More
- Love More
- Serve More
- Gain Self-Confidence and, within that, 
Achieve a Realistic View-Point on Physical Wellness
- More God
- Blog Regularly
- Collaborate
- Strengthen My Marriage

This is just the beginning of the year and as the minutes turn into hours, hours to days, days to weeks and weeks to months, it is guaranteed these general goals will become refined, defined and challenged. I welcome all of those. As I get older, and as time passing arrives with mixed feelings, this year I will welcome the change of seasons and availability of the time I find myself blessed with. I will accept how not everything happens ‘over-night’ and my goals for 2014 are truly that—goals set for the course of the year, designed to be accomplished only as the time passes and brings us closer to 2015.

Be brave, display courage, seek guidance from God, love without abandon and know you have the ability to accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

**Other things I will be doing to set up my year in a positive mindset will be shared later on the blog so keep checking back!**