Monday, February 23, 2015

Chase Your White Rabbit

We all have interests. Things we find enough worth in spending our time doing that they acquire the title of something we are ‘interested’ in. Interests are a little…well… interesting, when you really take the time to think about them (which I obviously have, hence, this post!). I’ve discovered, from the time you become interested in something, it can go a couple of different ways…

1) You can find it interesting—but not interesting enough that you want to pursue it further. It’s a fleeting interest which will soon be replaced by something else on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.

2) You take action! You explore this interest further, actually investing some time into research.

If you find yourself in the second point, it can then go two different ways…

1) You find it’s not actually as interesting as you originally thought. 

2) (And this is where it gets good) You find yourself genuinely captivated by your interest… You venture down the rabbit hole of continued intrigue set before you and you end up with a hobby and perhaps, even a new passion. 

Lately I found myself as Alice with my head poking down the rabbit hole into a wonderland of Food Styling.

Instagram post from 2 years ago!
It’s been a natural progression—so much so that I didn’t really realize it was a real thing to be interested in until a teacher mentioned it to me. As someone who has enjoyed the art of baking for a number of years now, I have documented the various baked goods I’ve made and posted a good handful onto Instagram for my friends to see. Generally unintentionally posted as a teaser of what my friends would soon get to tantalize their taste buds with, these images allowed me to follow through with the creative energy that was already flowing through the baking process. It was fun to use whatever I could find at home to try to take a fun picture—from wooden stumps to jars, and anything laying around the apartment.

As I moved into professional baking I found myself following bakers and bakeries more closely on social media. I became captivated by how gorgeously a baked good can be presented. Showing a beautifully hand crafted baked good was one thing, showcasing a baked good with perfect lighting and interesting composition with raw ingredients and tools included as supporting actors in the shot made an incredible difference in how enticing the item became. Seeing these images literally captivated me—I could look at them for hours. I began exploring with these same techniques. I had to take pictures for my employers Instagram feed which provided me the perfect opportunity to play around with literally every tool needed at my fingertips.

More recent food styling from Christmas 2014! Mmmm
Egg Nog Donuts *drool*
During the explanation of an assignment at school one day, a teacher said the words ‘food styling’ and it all just clicked. That’s what I have been so intrigued with the past few months! This is the topic I can now type into Pinterest to then spend hours upon hours staring at the images, all while being fully engaged by what is being presented!

I had to complete a project in school where we reached out to someone in the industry, preferably in a specific job we would like to see ourselves in one day or something that intrigues us, and ask them a few questions about their job as well as what they look for in an apprentice and what professionalism means to them. I realized this was my opportunity to learn more about food styling from someone who actually does it! I began to research stylists and found that most of the people I found whose images really spoke to me were of those who were actual chefs in their past. They were the folks creating food for so long and documenting it, that the transition to becoming a stylist was a natural progression.

Even though those I emailed said they would get back to me, and never did, it was still an amazing opportunity to research and gain knowledge on this little piece of the industry I had uncovered. There are food styling workshops you can attend, food styling books, online courses and more.

Recent shot from this week!
Putting the book to use at a shoot you'll see more of soon!
See some sneak peaks on Instagram!
Ar Christmas, my Secret Santa at my previous place of employment was someone I worked closely with. She saw my interest develop and got me a book called Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling. I just had a week off where I committed myself to reading the book and implementing the techniques with the foods I love to create—cakes and cupcakes!

It’s so wonderful to find encouragement and learning opportunities—these opportunities become more evident the more you explore your passions and allow others to come along on the journey with you. Exploring this book more depth will only guide me to other paths to journey along. They will lead me to new teachers to share ideas and learn from, new worlds, and hopefully a helpful array of Cheshire cats to keep me in line and inspire me while I chase this new interest across Wonderland. Who knows, when I find myself peaking up into reality I could take this new interest and apply it in ways I never before thought I could!

I challenge you to allow yourself to get pulled away by an interest to see where it takes you! Baking used to be a random hobby and now it’s my career. Anything can happen and it can lead you to unimaginable places. Be Alice. Chase your White Rabbit. Explore Wonderland. You can do it. It will be worth it. 

Pinterest-- always good for finding any image ever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Home Is Where...

Finish the following sentence; Home is where...

Here are some of the more common responses (according to the cleverly designed images on Pinterest):
Home is where…
… the heart is.
… your husband is.
… your cat is.
… the pants aren’t.
… the wine is.
… the wifi connects automatically.

My husband and I had lived in Winkler, Manitoba for about three years. It made sense to live there—my husband is the owner of an amazing café, which was founded and still stands in Winkler. After a while we decided Winkler just wasn’t the place for us. We decided to try our hand at not only a different city, but also a difference province. A year and a half ago we took the plunge, packed up our car with anything and everything that would fit, and hit the road for the journey to Hamilton, Ontario. Leaving behind family, friends, and a business was an interesting decision to make, but we felt it was time to get away and explore.

Hamilton, often referred to as ‘the armpit of Canada’, is where we hung our hats, with frequent trips to Toronto in our regular routines. I wanted to leave behind my radio past and pursue a career baking sweet things for even sweeter folks. My wonderful husband wanted to go to school and explore interests he had. It was a time for growth, for change, for adventure—we thrive on adventure.

A year a half of adventure in Hamilton came and went, and just over a week ago, we hopped into a loaded up U-Haul, cat in cab, and drove the over 2,000 km journey back to Manitoba.

Manitoba is where my husbands business is, it’s where both of our families are, where long lasting bonds were formed and still exist, and where we would generally refer to as ‘home’ for the sake of easy reference to where we originated from before our cross-province move. As we journeyed through snowstorms and hours passed in a vehicle that wasn’t our own, I had very mixed feelings about returning to Manitoba—returning ‘home’. It doesn’t feel exciting, it doesn’t feel like returning somewhere filled with epic memories of even more epic past-times, a specific place, specific time, specific smell or taste that ‘takes me back’. It leads me to wonder, what really defines a place as ‘home’?

Insert generic cheesy dictionary definition of home here:

As we can see from the definition above, 'home' is really just a place we reside. To contrast the definition, the saying ‘home is where…’ evokes in us a sense of warmth, love, comfort and acceptance. The idea is home is one permanent places where all the good things are—where life is what you want it to be. Where life is simple and friendly and perfect. It’s a sentiment in the most sentimental of ways involving both imagery and feelings. As time has flown by, and as we have travelled to unknown places, we realized we don’t really plan to remain stationary in life. Never wanting to ‘settle down’ somewhere can greatly affect the anchored ideals of ‘home’.

Pinterest-- thanks for the perfect image.

When I ponder the ideals we expect to find in one place alone, I can find the attributes defining the feeling of home in each place I’ve been—welcoming faces, hugs, delicious homemade food, late night conversations, gatherings... These attributes aren't confined to the places I have resided. They are found in every place I've ever been—even Dominican Republic and especially Thailand.

The more I think about home the more I appreciate finding the feelings of home in all the places I visit. Whether I am visiting my parents at their house, my in-laws at theirs, friends in Winnipeg, or acquaintances across the ocean, I can more easily feel the sentiments of ‘home’ in smiles, warm welcomes, and saddened goodbyes, then in physical spaces and places. 
This makes sense. 
This is what home is meant to be. 
Home is where... you feel welcome and special, you are challenged to grow, encouraged to be who you are meant to be, and leave with well wishes at your back and reassurance to pursue the new adventures at your feet.

Oh... and in my world, let's be honest... Home is where the baking happens.