What do you and Teddy like to do together? Teddy and I end up doing a lot of pretend play together. Lately that has been pretending we are performing at a rock concert, Teddy playing guitar and me playing the drums with an assortment of stuffies as the audience. Or we are playing monster truck race or "dirt bike jam" where I'm the announcer, or clocking his "kilometres per hour." I also always try to do pretend restaurant of some kind because I love food, hehe..."Jav Raf"is our made up coffee shop/restaurant ( we play drive through or regular, serving up his wooden hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshake toys, etc). I personally love to read him books, because he sits on me and we snuggle. Other things we do together: play actual music, dance to the Ramones in the kitchen...
What's your best advice for someone starting to bake? I would say don't give up too quickly. Baking, like any skill, takes time to get the hang of it; approach it from a positive angle, it's a learning process and accept that there will be failures - even though I have baked a lot of cakes and desserts in the last several years, I still mess up. For instance, teaching myself to make macarons, I went through four batches in a row before I finally got the ruffly "feet." It was a hallelujah moment. Then a few months later I tried again and they were all cracked. Rage factor high - but I tried AGAIN and succeeded.
How did you keep up your motivation to bake and blog while going
through your cancer treatments? I didn't really have much motivation actually. But I guess blogging and sharing on my Instagram (weirdly, happily, I feel close to my Instagram community!) helped me process a lot of what I was going through, and helped lift me up - there was so much support from my friends, followers and readers. People sent me cards, presents from all over the world. It was quite amazing and it just would make my entire day, getting something in the mail. In a way I feel like my physical self was hiding away for a year; I've only just emerged and have been feeling slightly more social again, though there is a lot of anxiety. It's weird, because in some ways I feel like I can pick up back where I left off (making cakes, blogging, work projects) but then I get tired very easily, my concentration is terrible and my mood can get the best of me and I remember - oh shit, I just had cancer. Of course there's always the fear that it will recur.
How has your perspective on parenting changed if at all since before
your diagnosis? I just want to set in bronze every moment with my son. I mean I felt that before too but while I was sick from chemo and in bed a lot, I felt pretty sad to be missing out on that time with Teddy. He took it all in stride. He knows I get "special medication" in my chest(I still have to go for IV treatments every three weeks) and I was sick a lot. He still talks about when I had "no hair" and he used to call me an egghead. I also feel so so lucky to have had a child before my breast cancer treatments. We want to have another child, we froze embryos prior to my chemotherapy to try and preserve my fertility. We'll get to try implanting one of our embryos in the future. My fingers are crossed that we get to have another one, one day.
Have you always been a fan of Kawaii things? When did this love start
for you? I have always loved kawaii! But I never knew that's what it was. Growing up, my sisters and I were obsessed with Sanrio. Hello Kitty, My Melody, Little Twin Stars, Tuxedo Sam, Kero Keroppi... I also grew up drawing pictures, always drawing stories. I think my love of illustration and growing up Sanrio contributes to my love of kawaii.
How do you take such great photos of all your baked goods? Hey thank you! My Instagram photos are mostly taken on my iPhone. I also have a fancy digital Canon SLR camera which I bought a few years ago which I use for my blog. I was so scared of it at first but now I'm used to it, just from practicing with it. I use natural light from my kitchen window to shoot my photos, never a flash. I'm a fan of "colourful artfully messy minimalism" if that makes sense, ha. I've tried to branch out in my styling but it never feels authentic so I just roll with what I like visually.
How did you build your brand and blog? People started telling me they liked my "brand" and then I realized I had one - before, I never consciously went about building my blog or brand, but now that the words exist in my mind, I work on it a little more - my blog started simply as a vehicle to document the many many cakes I was making here in Vancouver. I started it on Blogger back in 2008 so it had a goofy blogspot URL for the longest time - I finally switched to my own domain name in 2014, hehe. I would say my brand sort of organically happened over the years as I streamlined my cake designs and figured how I wanted them to look through repetition and personal preference, and my photography and styling all has a similar feel - as described above - colourful artfully messy minimal - with a healthy love of kawaii cute and illustration. I also share fairly readily on my blog and social media, and I am sometimes pretty up close and personal - which I suppose is part of what people like about Coco Cake Land, too. I think people appreciate real talk, it's more connected, genuine, open to community, friendship. I've met so many great people through my blog and from social media!