Art · food blog · Inspiration · jamaica · Life · Literature · Uncategorized

#GasThemUP – Cakes N’ Bakes By Mel

I’ve been sitting on this blog for quite a while, partially because I couldn’t quite figure out how to do this in an original, but still interesting enough way, in that it wasn’t like a typical interview. Then the idea came to me to merge my love of storytelling along with the captivating interview, so that’s what I did!


I interviewed my friend and amazing pastry chef Melissa Cunningham about her business “Cakes N’ Bakes by Melissa”. This is a part of an ongoing series called “Gas Them Up” where I interview my friends who are entrepreneurs. The answers to the questions are 100% theirs but the setting of the interview is completely from my imagination. Enjoy!

Please follow CakesNBakesByMelissa on Instagram!


The Life

Starting the weekend right is the perfect remedy for ensuring your Monday doesn’t suck. This was the thought that went through Ali’s mind on Friday evening as she sat and glanced around, completely surrounded by friends she considered family, with amazing food and wine at her fingertips. Ali, Rach, Ash, Mel and Yan all grew up in the same neighbourhood, and while life had been wonderful to them, they no longer lived in close proximity to each other. It had since become a tradition for these five ladies to meet and de-stress at least once a month, and she had to admit it was one of their best ideas yet.

She scanned the table filled with a pastry junkie’s dream – key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, Bailey’s cheesecake and a chocolate Ganache Drip Cake, and whispered to herself as she swirled her wine, “This is the life.”

“Right?” Her friend, Rach agreed. Ali nodded and smiled. She hadn’t realised anyone would have heard her.

“I’m going leave here fat but totally satisfied, so I don’t care.” Ash, chimed in.

Mel joined them on the deck, carrying a bottle of Moscato.

“Girl, I must ask what would you be wasting your amazing talent on if you weren’t a pastry chef?” Ali asked, as she bit into another slice her key lime pie. She closed her eyes savouring the incredible taste and the flavours that made her taste buds dance.

Mel unscrewed the bottle and poured herself a glass. “While I always loved being in the kitchen, I actually thought about dentistry then I got braces and considered becoming Orthodontist.” She laughed as the memory resurfaced. “Then I realized the sciences weren’t for me and focused on what I thought would just be a hobby: cooking. I began pursuing an Executive Chef future but along the way it still didn’t feel right. I guess it came to me one night that I was in the right place doing the wrong job. Then I went fully into baking after I graduated University.”

She took a small sip of the wine and reached for the strawberry shortcake. She took special care to ensure she caught a slice that was filled with actual strawberries in the middle.

“The world would seriously be missing out.” Yan agreed, while cutting into the cheesecake.

The ladies all nodded in agreement.

Ash sat back in her chair and pondered. “Was your family always supportive of your career choice?”

Mel licked strawberry frosting from her index finger before replying. “More or less. They encouraged me to do what I loved always, but also saw the downside: long hours, underpaid et cetera and so they encouraged me to keep my options open, in terms of maybe not working in the kitchen, but in the food & beverage department. I’d still be in the food service industry but not doing the physical work.”

“Oh, understandable,” Ash replied.

“What has been your proudest moment thus far?” Rach asked.

Mel smiled as she reached for her phone and pulled up her Instagram page to show her friends. “Having my work photographed by Dwayne Watkins and having a feature in Indulge magazine.”

“Oh my gosh, yaaaas girl!” Ali exclaimed.

Yan reached for her wine glass. “I think this is a perfect opportunity to toast.”

“You just want a reason to get more wine.” Ash rolled her eyes and laughed at her friend.

“I never need a reason.” Yan replied, topping up her glass.

They all laughed and clinked their glasses together. “To Mel.” They said in unison.

“Tell me something though, what’s your secret ingredient?” Rach inquired.

“If I tell you it won’t be a secret.” Mel swirled her wine and winked.

“True, true.” Rach agreed.

Ali leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest as she watched Ash pull a game of Taboo from her bag.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” She said.

They all laughed together. This was truly The Life.

Art · Class Assignment · CS3 · film making · school · Videography

CS3 Blog 5: R-E-C-C-E — can you even pronounce this?


Believe it or not it took me nearly the entire class to be able to pronounce this word. Is it even English? Well whether or not it is English is highly unimportant. It’s relevance speaks to the preparation of a videographer, production manager, producer, and director before a shoot.

A recce (Pronounced Re-ck-eh in case you were wondering) – in layman’s terms – is pretty much a checklist which coincides with your equipment AND shooting location before a shoot. It is important to remember that your Recce should be done on the same day (not date) that you will do your shoot. Before you ask why let me give you a scenario.

So, we have a producer – let’s call him Tom,  and a director – let’s call her Jane. Tom and Jane decide to do a Recce on a Tuesday. They have their checklist (Which should include the equipment you will need, power supply, food, trailers or comfortable areas for talents, food, closest hospital and or police station, food, any written legalities or signed permission forms,food, first aid kits and did I mention FOOD? and other necessities- which includes food.) and they want to find out what the traffic is like on a Tuesday afternoon. Tom and Jane’s shoot isn’t until the following Saturday evening. Tuesday afternoon traffic is bad but not terrible, and they get to the set location within 45 minutes.

By now I hope you see where I am going with this. Tuesday afternoon traffic and Saturday afternoon traffic is not the same even if you take the same route. Simple things like this is why your recce and your shoot should be properly coordinated.

That being said are recces important? ABSOLUTELY! And I bold caps that to say NEVER and I mean (spell it with me) N-E-V-E-R do a shoot without having done a thorough recce and scout of your location and all contributing factors.

Having considered blogs 1-5 you are almost on your way to shooting day! (whoot!) Just a few more important steps to go then you can get cracking! Until my next blog, stay eager, stay creative and stay focused.

Art · Class Assignment · CS3 · film making · school · Videography

CS3 Blog 3 – Lighting: Who needs LEDs anyway?

Sound is to microphone as light is to lens. Pretty basic common sense in filming, so why is it necessary to teach this stuff anyway?

Firstly, just because it is basic common sense, let’s not assume that everybody knows it. One of the first things I was taught when doing photography was that the lens of the camera was like your iris. Your iris (equivalent to the ISO on the camera) will expand to let in as much light as is needed in order for you to see. And while this is so your iris cannot create light that does not already exist. Similarly, your camera’s exposure can be set to the lowest or highest point in order to determine how much light is let into the lens. This is why lighting is so important in photography and videography.

Secondly, How much lighting and the type of lighting you have on a shoot can make a world of a difference with how your footage comes out. Aside from the obvious – low lighting equals dark footage – the lighting also affects the mood of the footage.

For example, a low light can sometimes mean suspense or horror and soft light can mean romance. Lighting helps set the mood of each scene and therefore is of vital importance when filming.

Finally, a great way to add light to your set without a bunch of expensive LED lights is by using props for lighting. So, in a romantic scene instead of adding light, simply use a bedside table lamp with just enough light to set the mood and light the actors. Or an even better way to save on both electricity and money is to film during daylight. The sun is still free…for now.

Art · CS3 · school

CS3 Blog 2 – Shots, Angles and compositions ooze emotion

So I already told you what happened at my first videography class. By week two I was learning shots, angles and compositions and feeling like a full blown camera woman. Well, not exactly, but I did learn enough to know when a video or picture is not properly composed.

The types of shots you take will influence how your viewer interprets the story you are trying to tell. Though the final interpretation is clearly up to the viewers themselves, the videographer’s composition can make storytelling a whole lot clearer and effective. The emotion you portray with a medium shot is different from that done with an extreme close up shot.

I won’t lie to you, when I was finished with that class I began watching my TV shows through a completely different type of lens (if you may). My understanding and appreciation for certain scenes became more evident and I felt as if I finally “got it.” It was as if all along I had been watching television knowing that different shots and angles create a certain mood or emotion but the difference now is I know why they were used in the first place. I know now that when the camera zooms in on a tear as it slowly falls from a woman’s eye as she gradually loses consciousness after being shot (Castle), it isn’t a mere coincidence.

I take great care now in the way I compose my videos and the emotion I will evoke with each shot.

Art · Inspiration · Life · Literature · Music

My Writing Playlist

Music plays a major role in how focused in am when i write and how certain scenes play out. Typically I’m Listening to Enya’s Greatest Hits album when I’m writing. She just calms my soul to the point where i can block everything and everybody else out and focus on the scene I’m writing.

When I need a little more inspiration, depending on the mood of the scene and what the characters are feeling at a certain point in time I always jump back to this playlist:

1. Bizness – tUnE yArDs

2. Breath of Life – Florence + the machine

3. Undisclosed Desires – Muse (+ pretty much anything Muse sings)

4. Cameo Lover – Kimbra

5. Talkin’ bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman

6. Mountains of Things – Tracy Chapman

7. Aniron – Enya

8. Trains and Winter Rains – Enya

9. Mercy – One Republic

10. Say When – The Fray

11. Science and Faith – The Script

12. Hall of Fame – The Script

13. Walk Away – The Script

14. The Great Escape – Pink

15. Redemption Song – Bob Marley

16. No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley

The list is ultimately over 200 songs long but these are the songs that are the most played of the list. I hope by posting this I’ve introduced/reintroduced some inspirational music to someone out there. Even if you don’t listen to it for inspiration they’re all really great songs to have on your phone/ipod/listening device. 🙂

xo Alee.

Art · Life

Every Piece Tells a Story

Sometimes to escape the madness and the constant busyness of life, I lock myself in my room with Enya’s Greatest Hits album down low and I write. I write poetry, short stories and even start plots for novels. Sometimes I even sing. Some people take refuge in music or dance, some like me in writing, while others find the calm in visual arts.

Visual arts over the centuries have been a way of expression. Caribbean art expresses the culture and history of the people. The fact that some artists paint, draw and sculpt aspects of the Caribbean culture, some without even giving it a second thought, just proves how deep our history has been etched in our brains that it reflects in our thoughts and actions.

A field trip to the National Gallery here in Jamaica opened my eyes to this. The Gallery was divided into separate centuries, with each art piece being represented by a century. Each piece told a story of what was happening in Jamaica during those years.

A particular piece that I found quite interesting was one done by Edna Manley during the twentieth century. The sculpture represents the black community pushing down with strong hands on negativity and oppression and the head is turned up, which is interpreted as “looking up in order to better ones self.” This piece reflects what living in Jamaica was like at a time when we were getting ready for independence and the effects afterwards.


Visual art isn’t just a drawing on paper or a painting on a canvas, it tells a story and sometimes tells history.

Reference: (2010) (Retrieved March 29, 2012)