events, Health & Wellness, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

Genius of Spirit – 2nd Book Launch – All About Dreams – You’re Invited!

 Book CoverI decided to post about this exciting occasion as it is packed with memories from my past. I ran into one of my high school teachers about a year and half ago while at work. I haven’t seen her since Grade 13! (a long time ago) She looked exactly like I remembered.

We chatted about what has happened since then and I talked about my travels and my life experiences and she had filled me with what had happened after she completed her Ph.d. She was one of my favourite teachers because her class taught me a little more than what I needed to get into university.

She introduced me to a metaphysical world beyond religion, politics and life expectations. She was doing her Ph.d in the study of dreams and dream interpretation at the time. We had to start a journal in September and taught how to remember our dreams and record what happened in them.-Some pretty powerful stuff. So let’s fast forward to right now; she’s written two books one of which is a follow up to the book written back then and based off of some of her findings with the journals that she kept from my graduating class!

I love showcasing what people do and accomplishments they’ve made at shine! Marina Quattrochi is having a second launch event of her book Genius of Spirit at 45 Winnipeg Road, Monday July 7th from 7 pm until 9 pm. Please feel free to drop by for five minutes or stay to relax in the garden. There will be tables, chairs, and canopies set up, music and refreshments. Parking is available on both sides of Winnipeg Road. If you’d like a sneak preview of her book, available at the launch for $22 please go to; After July 7th, autographed copies of her book can be purchased by contacting her to set up an appointment.

She’s also started doing a free online Twitter course on my previous book Dreamwork Uncovered. She’steaching the entire book over the next several months. Short sweet tweets that convey important information about living life wisely and well and understanding the messages contained in dreams.

She’s posting some of her photos, and information in the media that she feels is worth reading.
If you know anyone who is interested in dreams—please feel free to let them know. Her twitter address is:

If you happen to be reading this at night-like right NOW….see if you can challenge yourself to remember your dreams when you wake up! Write it down. It all starts now! 🙂


Happy Canada Day!



Beauty, Biography, Fashion & Beauty, Product Reviews, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

After 18 years it was all worth it!!

I found out about her after seeing the work she had done on a photo shoot! I could see how swiftly she applied make up on the model-like she’d be doing it for years.

I met up with Dionne Lafond and was immediately floored at how long she worked at MAC cosmetics. She started her career at MAC 18 years ago in Ottawa, Canada at a time when the company was a young, innovative addition to retail and beauty industries in this country. She wasn’t necessarily keen on make up artistry- but was able to pick up skills quickly through her general curiosity to learn. When I asked her to tell me about her career she closes her eyes and said, ‘Let me think…….there’s so much-I can’t remember’. She looks incredibly young for a lady whose career spanned 20 years at the ‘trend-setting organization’.

Dionne Lafond

A friend who worked for MAC who thought she had style + solid retail work experience recommended she apply for a job there. Once she applied she got the job with an aim to watch, practice and learn. She embraced the different opportunities outside of the retail floor to practice skills discovered from being at MAC.

She embraced many opportunities to take part in so many ‘fashion meets charity’ causes affiliated with MAC. She worked at the very first Fashion Cares fashion show, the MAC AIDS fund show, L’Oreal Fashion Week-And in the late 90’s she did quite a few notable music videos!

It’s through her love of creating  and learning that she’s realized she loves to teach. She prefers to teach skills and techniques to students. After so many years of learning and building her expertise it became less interesting. With her love of teaching, she explains ‘I gain customer/client trust with trust I can show them how to make visual changes’. i.e. eyebrows, lip colour, blush

So what’s in store for Ms. Lafond MUA? She is currently participating in a  hair styling for make up artists program at George Brown College in Toronto and looks so excitedly forward to embrace this change. She had a general energy about her and any client would be excited to get dolled up! She continues to freelance for new and longtime clients.

So of course, I took the chance to ask her what was trending in make up this year and her are some trends she mentioned from runway, fashion spread to client requests:

kim kardashian contour            nicki minaj







Lafond says ‘All women regardless of look or ethnicity enjoy the contouring and exaggerated fully made face it’s great for the camera’.

peachy tones, complementary for eyes and lips almost natural
Another spring trend is the peachy almost nude tone complementary to one’s skin tone

nude black girl look

nude_makeupmuted asian make up

funky cat eye 2                      funky cat eye


The funky cat eye as seen on the runway and on singer Lorde


Her sound advice for those trying to get and stay in the game:

  • Times have changed things aren’t the way they were. The competition is stiff. Keep this in mind.
  • Get stuff published or at least ensure the projects you’re working  on get published-to get published means it’s decent work!
  • Always work on your craft, never stop learning.
  • Find other artists who inspire you-you don’t have to copy them per se but you can learn skills and techniques that they use (her inspirations are Sir John, Francesca Tolot, Lucia Pieroni and Pat McGrath).
  • About make up application for clients or for yourself-remember to keep it simple….it’s okay to pare it down and keep it clean!

She does make-up for all occasions and can be contacted at!


Establishments, Food, women & entrepreneurship

Cake Opera – Not Your Average Cake Boss

With the holidays here, I thought that a feature blog post on Cake Opera Co. would be an amazing  way to share the pleasure of cakes and goodies for office parties, potlucks and family dinners. Cake Opera has made incredible strides and is taking their expertise on the road! Head over there while they’re still around in 2013!



It was something like September or October 2011,I was walking along Eglinton West Village. There was some sort of customer appreciation weekend where all establishments pull their wares outdoors and give samples or sell items and services at discount. Fairly standard in Toronto. I strolled along the area and stumbled on a gem of a shop and I was offered a mini cupcake. There are so many notable pastry and cupcake shops in Toronto but this one was quite unique……


I walked in-looked around, asked for the owner. I spoke to the owner’s mother-asked if I can interview her about this ‘Victorian Era Opera-styled’ boutique cake shop and returned a few days later!

I went in and had a more in depth look at the place-the cakes on the shelves were pieces of art! I had tons of questions about where and how this was all created…..I might add that Cake Opera made the cake for Nicole Ritchie’s wedding and that a gorgeous ‘ hobby’ cake model project featured on the Spring/Summer 2006 cover edition of a very well-known wedding magazine!


When did this all click for her?

She was an OCAD art major with a concentration on painting and drawing. She also enjoyed horror films.Her love of art was more selfish in nature. She wanted to make things she didn’t have. Her drawings often reflected things she coveted more than what she actually had. She also loved cooking. Alexandria says ‘I played around with fondant and bread….I made installations and incorporated string and shapes….I love making sickening pretty things’

Looking at you cake models on display in the shop, you’ve got a style or theme-please explain:

I’m very comfortable cooking, I love the Parisienne esthetic, I wanted a strong background in cake making so I attended Le Cordon Bleu…..I moved to Italy for 8 months, they take pastries and baking seriously there’

Her journey to Cake Opera wasn’t an easy one-true pastry and baking artistry takes many years of training and experience in Europe.

At Cordon Bleu she met Jessica. Jessica and Alexandria became co-owners in 2010 after working from an industrial kitchen created by her parents at home! Business picked up where they were constructing 1 cake a week with maximum time spent at 150 hours per cake!

At one point I ask her about the in between time-the time she returned from schooling in Italy to the time span she started actually building a career she recalls, ‘There was a gap of time where NOTHING was happening…I would be at home making cake models and sketching….not finding a job’. She smiles and says ‘I have massive balls, I’m highly confident, I feel strongly about my aesthetic…these cakes aren’t for everybody…the people who want these kinds of caked found me-their desire for what I make; made me do it’

Who are her clients?

  • Word-of-mouth clients
  • People who trust her expertise
  • People who want food to imitate art

How does she create the work?

She daydreams for inspiration, she used to watch Fashion Television to tap into subtle trends on the runway, the feeling of a movie or song…..

How has the economy affected business?

The decorative cake and pastry industry is a very particular one. We are not a cake business for regular people with regular cake/dessert tastes. People budget for cakes-business hasn’t slowed down at all. We now make 5-6 cakes a week!

Alexandria’s advice for entrepreneurs trying to break into the market:

  • Just do it!
  • It’s a business not a hobby; it isn’t play time!
  • Take it (what you choose to do) seriously
  • Believe in yourself
  • Treat it like a job
  • The initial trade-off will not always be rewarding
  • Start small and slow, feel out the direction you’d like to take it….you’ll grow from that
  • Push yourself while being patient, it’s the only way you’ll grow

cake 4


cake 2

And yes, I ate two cupcakes out of the box! They were pretty tasty!



Holistic Health, women & entrepreneurship

Chakras to Shock Ya…..!

Owner, Crystal Visions- Crystal Stokes
Owner, Crystal Visions- Crystal Stokes

What IF someone could tell you about your future…..or read you tarot cards that could give you advice about ‘what to do’? What if someone could ‘cast a spell’?In modern society all these remedies, answers and problem-solvers may seem like a quick solution……but truly understanding your self through study of the body/mind/spiritual soul connection is priceless! Navigating those parts of yourself with an awesome ‘Life Coach‘ who can show you how….is ideal-if you want….

Crystal Stokes owner and healer of Crystal Visions in (Kensington Market) has a very different concept of what ‘holistic’ means….I was introduced to Ms.Stokes a few years ago and I previously had a huge understanding of ‘holistic health‘. She showed me all types of things about holistic health that bolstered the nutritional concepts with the spiritual practices. What Stokes does is combine all disciplines together to offer multi dimensional services so it’s not a basic pay-for-service ‘tarot card reading’ experience.

How does she do it? Everything is connected right? In the physical and spiritual realm too? Holistic Practitioner and Psychic Crystal Stokes can show you all of that.

She uses readings and texts i.e.(The Artist’s Way-Julia Cameron, The Four AgreementsDon Miguel Ruiz, The Secret- Rhonda Byrne, Good, Better, Blessed-Joel Osten) that have very specific concepts to zero in on what one needs to learn. For faith-based clients she recommends holy texts(Bible, Koran, Torah) containing lessons and knowledge to widen one’s focus…..If there isn’t an underlying ‘faith’ she chooses what is best fit for the situation…something to assist your meditation. She teaches you to meditate. To focus on the issue/s or energy at hand and see beyond the surface.

When we hear the term holistic-we think of green tea, yoga,meditation wheatgrass juice and maybe-cleansing? For people not readily inclined to understand or follow these personal pursuits; it may seem confusing or redundant but she’s not there to force ideas-she’s showing you what you need to see.

Crystal is a psychic healer. Seven generations in. She began reading cards at 10 yrs old and would help people with real life problems at an early age. She says ‘at a young age, I wouldn’t really react about a death in the family the way most family members did-I already somehow understood where people were when they passed-it took until my late teens to understand how the spiritual part of things worked’.

As a teenager she started studying meditation, yoga, holistic healing, auras (chakras), colour therapy, aromatherapy and nutrition where she brought the mind and body connection together. When I first walked in there a few years ago I was a little weary….I pictured something out of Harry Potter with bats, owls and magic wands…it was so far from that! What you will find is a peaceful space (and Enya playing in the background) with precious stones, incense, essential oil, posters of chakras and various figures and photos of symbols from religions all over the world! About religious belief she says ‘I was raised Christian only to find out that even though I studied the Bible for personal clarity-I started reading everything to help all kinds of people to understand what I wanted them to learn-we are all the same….we are HUMAN’.

In the lounge

She encounters all types of issues on a regular basis:

  • The inability to identify character (friendship, relationships,business, life)
  • Stagnancy (environmental or in daily life) (lack of motivation, procrastination)
  • The search for your life’s (self) purpose
  • Difficulties achieving goals, students (Fear of failure)
  • Habits – Breaking those habits (Anything)
  • Achieving a peace of mind (busy people, career people)

And of course the most popular topics involve matters of the heart! She’ll talk to you about ANYTHING! I asked her why she felt it necessary to help people this way…she says ‘In my great grandmother’s day women were often persecuted for what they knew about the spiritual world and how to help people…..there weren’t doctors to fix things the way we do today-in the modern world you can’t always give a pill to fix something to change with one’s mind….sometimes clarity is achieved through study and understanding of the body, mind and soul, this is what I’m here for’. If you dare, go check her out!