RnR Interview: Allison

Ever met someone who is just awesome over all? No, no, like really. Funny, smart, witty, creative, artistic, a baker, a cook, a jewelry maker, a teacher- the list goes on! This is Allison, she is the creative genius behind handmademtl, Savoury Sweet Bakery and food & jewels and to top that off she also recently released her very own e-book! I told you, she can do it all! I met Allison in high school, but it’s only been in adulthood that I can truly say she became a friend, I trust her opinion, her creativity and her baking/cooking 🤩! But most of all, she has become a wealth of knowledge and a major support for me recently when I began a petition here in Montreal, she has not only become a source of knowledge and support, but also a major inspiration. I have been itching to share her awesomeness with you guys! Please do us the favour of reading on and meeting Allison!

Light Questions

Q: What is the tone/sound of your alarm clock?
A: Bird noises and soft increasing music. I have one of those Philips Sunlight alarms, so I’m woken more by the increase in brightness than the actual sounds. That said, I haven’t needed to use it at all lately because I’m naturally an early riser when the sun rises early too!

Q: Morning person or night owl?
A: Definitely morning person! I am at my most productive between 7am and 2pm. After that, I just want to chill. 

Q: What’s your fave quote?
A: This is a hard one because I’m not much of a quote person. I have a terrible memory for these things. I recently watched the Lord of the Rings, and I just really liked it when he said, “Never toss a dwarf.” For some reason, of everything in that movie, it’s that line that made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t forget it. I do have a quote that I dislike though, I’m really not into the “Live, Love, Laugh” word wall-art. Is it just me? Something about it grinds on me like a candy that’s too sweet. 

Q: Sandals or Sneakers?
A: Depends what I’m doing! Sneakers for walking, sandals for lounging.

Q: Your word for the year?
A: Anti-Racist

Q: What’s the last picture you took?
A: The sourdough bread I baked yesterday that I cut into at lunchtime. 

Q: What book would you recommend?
A: Factfulness, by Hans Rosling.

Q: Countryside or beach?
A: Beach. Definitely beach.

Q: One fun fact about you.
A: As a kid, I used to write full letters to the PJs on YTV, and I would wait by the TV to see if they would air my artwork. (They never did.)

Q: Electronic or paper calendar?
A: Paper. Always paper.

Q: Fave flower.
A: Peonies for the aesthetics, lavender for the scent.

Q: Savoury or sweet?
A: Sweet.

Q: Fave artists.
A: Andy Warhol, Elton John

Q: Fave season.
A: Summer

Q: Coffee or Tea?
A: Tea, hands down

Q: What’s your favourite dessert to eat?
A: Rice pudding (am I 95?)

Q: What’s your favourite dessert to make? 
A: Ouuf, that’s a hard one. I guess decorating with buttercream onto cakes.

Q: Describe your fashion style.
A: Miss Frizzle

Q: How would your best friend describe you?
A: Loud & weird & unique

Q: What do you do to relax?
A: Binge-watch comedy shows from the 90s & early 2000s.

Deep Conversations

Q: Of the books, you read this year, which was your favourite and why?
A: Factfulness, because I read it just before the pandemic hit, and it helped me to see the world from a different angle. 

Q: Current role model?
A: My husband (is that cheesy?)

Q: What is “home” to you?
A: Wherever my family is.

Q: What are you most grateful for?
A: My grandfather still being around & having a great relationship with him.

Q: If you could change one event in history, what would it be?
A: I’m too paranoid of the butterfly effect, so I’m not sure. I want to be cliché and say the holocaust, but then my family would have never come over to Canada, and my parents would have never met, and I would not exist. 

Q: What causes you anxiety?
A: Literally everything, but mostly any minor pain or discomfort in my body. Oh, and global pandemics. 

Q: How has opening up about living with hypochondria helped you?
A: It helped by bringing others to me that I didn’t know had it too, it helped knowing that I’m not alone. 

Q: What made you take the leap and share this part of yourself?
A: A long time coming, seeing the word OCD thrown around like it’s nothing. It started to grate on me, and I wanted people to know that it is a very real thing, and doesn’t always manifest in hand washing and obsessions with locking the door or turning off the stove. Hypochondria is a type of OCD. I wanted people to be aware that I had it also, so maybe they would be more thoughtful in their word choices or their actions. When someone would tell me to “relax,” or “get over it,” I wanted them to know that that’s not always possible. It was a mix of wanting people to understand that it isn’t a joke, and also to let others who are suffering know that they are not alone.  

Q: If I could grant you one wish, what would it be?
A: Right at this moment, would love it if both the pandemic and systemic racism went away. Can that be classified as one wish? 

Q: What 3 things brings you joy?
A: Good food, good company & making art. 

Q: What steps do you take to ensure you take time out for yourself?
A: I’m pretty organized and though I don’t rigorously schedule my days, I do make it part of my routine to start with Yoga in the mornings and to end with a meditation, reading or watching something light at the end of the day. 

Q: When was the last time you meditated/prayed?
A: I don’t pray, and I meditate for a few minutes each morning during my Yoga practice. I would like to meditate more, so I’ve just signed up for an online group meditation practice that I’ll be starting on Monday. 

Q: Would you say religion is central in your life?
A: I identify with the Jewish community as my culture, but not as much as religion – does that make sense? I feel a strong attachment to Jewish foods. 

Q: If it changed over time, when did that change for you?
A: When I was very young, I believed in God and prayed regularly. In about grade 2 or 3 I started questioning things, after my Grandpa died. I didn’t understand why God would take people away, and I didn’t understand why war existed. I got really mad at first, and then I asked for scientific answers, which couldn’t be provided. My parents were never very religious either, so it didn’t cause any rifts or anything like that. 

Q: Can you recall a pivotal moment when your faith/belief helped you deal with something in your life?
A: Having not ever been that religious, no, not really. 

Q: What would you like your legacy to be?
A: I just want people to remember me as someone who always helped others & made a difference in some lives. Also, after I die, I want people to be like, “oh man, my cookies will never taste as good as hers,” kinda thing.

Q: Describe yourself in one word.
A: Creative.

Q: If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be?
A: I’ve never really thought about this, but probably my grandparents from my mother’s side. They died before I was born. 

Q: What do you see when you look in the mirror?
A: Wrinkles forming.

Q: What do you love most about yourself? 
A: My energy & my spirit. I’ve got decent hair, too. 

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling with loving themselves?
A: People will love you more the more you love yourself. 

Q: What advice would you give young Allison?
A: You’re going to develop an allergy to shrimp one day, so eat as many as you can now.

Q: When did you first discover you were creative?
A: I can’t put my finger on when. I was always interested in art. I gravitated toward arts and crafts as a kid. I was always drawing, sculpting and creating. Making crafts out of found objects, making little journals and writing in them. It almost feels as if it was inherent.

Q: How did you become a blogger?
A: Years ago, I read the book Julie & Julia (before the movie came out!) and I decided that I wanted to try it out. I was always passionate about food and cooking, so I thought it would be a fun project, if only for myself to keep track of my own recipes. I never really expected a following, so to know that I’ve managed to start a business related to it is really humbling. 

Q: What were some of the biggest lessons you learnt as a blogger?
A: That there are a LOT of bots out there. So many bots. So much engagement isn’t real, and it made me often question if I was just writing this for nobody. Eventually, I got over that, and decided that I was writing it for me. An audience is a bonus.

Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes and cakes?
A: Ouuf, all over the place! I used to subscribe to a lot of different food magazines (print versions) until I started to adopt a slightly more minimalist lifestyle. I really like the app flipboard, and it’s helped me to find some great food inspo. I’m also subscribed to quite a few different cooking channels on YouTube and they’re all quite inspiring. As for cakes, the inspiration comes from all over. Sometimes it can come from a painting, sometimes, the cake design just happens as I go along. Sometimes, a client will have a theme and I’ll work with that. Most of the designs come out of my head, which is weird because in all other art forms I’ve always had to copy or mimic someone else’s work. With buttercream, with cakes, it just comes naturally.

Q: What was the most challenging thing for you this year? Or the last few years?
A: Living through what has always been a nightmare scenario (a pandemic) and then coming to realize that there are people who have been living an even worse nightmare than I could ever imagine (systemic racism) and feeling rather helpless about it. Not that I didn’t know about it, but it was more of a lightbulb moment of, “this shit never goes away,” and realizing that I am privileged for not having to think about it on the daily. 

Q: What event in your life most shaped the way you are now?
A: This, again, is hard to pinpoint just ONE thing. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I definitely changed a lot when I travelled on my own at 24. I just sorta took off with no plan, flew to Australia, and stayed there for a few months, pretty much until I ran out of money. I became significantly more independent than I was before. 

Q: What 3 most important things have you learned this year?
A: Three completely unrelated things: 

1) I learned that there is always more to learn, about anything and everything, but especially about history and race.

2) I learned that SO many things can be done online, and that we could probably run a significant part of the world working from home, but that likely won’t happen because bosses don’t trust people enough to be productive without standing over their shoulders. 

3) I learned that Josh and I could spend every single day together and never get sick of each other. I mean, I already sort of knew this, but being confined definitely made some people stray from each other, whereas for us, it only made us closer.

Q: What’s your most important goal for next year?
A: Survive. Seriously. I just want to get through this pandemic. It’s at the forefront of my mind every single day. 

Q: How do you plan on achieving them?
A: Keeping up my social distancing, not entering stores, relying on my balcony garden, farm baskets & online grocery deliveries. I will refuse invites to enter anyone’s house until the virus is gone. Also, daily exercise to be in the best possible shape in hopes of being able to fight anything off that might come by.

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