The story of “Indian Horse”

A novel written by Richard Wagamese.

One of the final events or projects of this course was a reconili-ACTION event in which we would invite friends, family & strangers to an evening of engaging conversations that aimed to mend, repair and speak truths of our collective Canadian history and identity. One of the ways I chose to do this, was through the novel Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. I chose to focus on challenging the “single story” of the Indigenous peoples of Saskatchewan through literature. Unfortunately we live in a systemically racist society, and in Saskatchewan, some of that racist is aimed towards Indigenous groups. This may be because we (not personally but societally) have made a generalization of who we think these people are, rather than spending the time to listen to them share their story. I am a firm believer in education through literature. Books written by Indigenous authors provide the most authentic and truthful accounts of culture and experience. It is crucial to provide space for contrasting stories to be shared, that challenge the single story narrative. When we read books that are accurate and written first hand, we can gain a deeper understanding of who someone is. In addition, providing a book to someone who adheres to this single story narrative is a way of challenging that belief and allows the reader to keep an open mind whilst reading. By not approaching someone and immediately begin preaching to them, I believe that people remain more receptive and open-minded to what they are reading and being told if it is being presented in a non-threatening way. 
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The story in Indian Horsewhile it is a fictional story about a young boy in a residential school & how his life is affected by it; many of the elements of tragedy and hardship echo real-life experiences for the children who were placed in an Indian residential school. The children of these schools were deeply affected, and are still feelings the effects of the abuse and stripping of culture through inter-generational trauma. As a way to heal, we can be creating safe spaces, free of judgement to have their stories heard and understood. Stories, such as Indian Horse, open up my eyes to the atrocities that these children had to endure & I believe that, though uncomfortable, everyone needs to be made aware of these atrocities.

A film has been made about this book, and the author was heavily involved throughout the whole process to ensure that the producers brought Wagamese’s vision of this story to life. The film is being released on Wednesday, April 11 and I would highly recommend for you to check it out! The story is absolutely gripping and is told through a raw, realistic lens.

What are some other ways that we can challenge this single story that is present in Saskatchewan?

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

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Rethinking everyone’s favourite subject!

This week in ECS 210, we had another guest speaker come and speak to us, Dr. Gale Russell. In lecture, we were talking about everyone’s favourite subject! Can you guess what it is? If you were thinking math, you are correct! After the lecture, I was prompted to reflect on my own experience with mathematical education. As a student, I never really had any extremely strong, negative feelings toward math. It certainly was not a class I was super excited to go to, but because I never really struggled with math, so it was never something I completely dreaded either. As I compared my education to the Western Ideologies that Dr. Russell outlined, I came to realize that they were pretty similar. I always had rigid instruction in my math classes, with only one right way of completing a question. Sometimes, teachers provided an easier option to solve a problem only AFTER the “correct” way was taught. I do not recall any personal exploration of numerical concepts in my education, everything was presented as fact in a lecture format of through questions in a textbook.

However, in my grade seven year, my teacher decided that we were going to work at our own pace. We each received textbook and went through it as we pleased. There was very little formal instruction during these classes and unfortunately for grade seven students, “work at your own pace” can sometimes mean, “do as little as you possibly can…” I am still baffled at how my teacher managed to do this, but I suppose that she trusted us enough to complete the work at a pace that suited us. For some of my peers who really struggled with math, this was an excuse to do very little math throughout that year. In the following years, I think most of us began to regret the little work we did that year because we found ourselves quite behind in grade 8 and 9 math. (Live and learn, I guess)

At the beginning of the first reading, we come across this quote from Leroy Little Bear, “colonialism tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77) (2000). Although this quote is directly talking about colonialism, I think it is also very applicable to mathematics. As Dr. Russell pointed out, mathematics are typically presented to students with only one method to solve problems. For example, if a student did not understand how to cross-multiply while solving for X, but that was the only method given, that student would struggle immensely. The force and law that is in place to ensure this “single method” method stays in place would be teachers and assessment. I have experienced teachers penalizing students for not using the methods that they were taught, even if the students are able to understand the mathematical concept better when they approach it differently. This suppresses learner diversity within the classroom significantly. Not all students learn the same way. Our brains function and process information in different ways, so why is it that we are only presenting students with one way to approach mathematics? We should be providing space for children to explore mathematical concepts from different viewpoints. We don’t all fit into the same mold, so stop forcing us to do so.

Do you think that math instruction in schools should be re-evaluated? How might we go about creating an environment where all learners and learning styles are valued and represented?


Little Bear, L. (2000). Jagged Worldviews Colliding. Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision (p. 77-85). Vancouver, BC. ProQuest.


Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Injustice in our Justice System.

MMIWG — What does it mean and who does it affect? So for those of you who aren’t aware, MMIWG stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It is an issue affecting many people in Canada and the United States. Many of these disappearances and murders remain open and unsolved, providing very little closure for grieving loved ones.

This week, one of the presentations was on this issue. During the presentation, we were provided with the link to the CBC News Missing and Murdered page. I spent an extensive amount of time scrolling through the profiles and reading the stories of some women who have gone missing or have been murdered. One case that really made me shake my head was the case of Nicole Daniels.

This 16 year old girl was found lying face down in the snow on April 1, 2009. Initially, the police thought her death was suspicious but foul play was eventually ruled out. Her cause of death was hypothermia with acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing factor. I find it really quite interesting that the police were so quick to rule out foul play, despite knowing the following facts about the case:

  • she left the house around 10pm and entered a truck with a middle-aged man
  • presumably, she met the man on a telephone chat line
  • she was underage and did not have money to spend on alcohol so someone needed to supply it in order for that amount to be found in her bloodstream
  • there were bruises and cuts found an various parts of her body including inner thigh, legs, wrists, face & arms
  • her jacket was removed and blouse was unbuttoned; remember, hypothermia was her cause of death…why was she removing her coat if she was freezing??

Although I am NO expert, these details do seem to suggest a bit of foul play. The Winnipeg Police thought differently however, and no further investigation or charges were laid. The family is not happy with how this case was handled, as it still remains unresolved. As a final thought for this case, I would like to leave you with this quote by Nicole’s cousin,

“If you are going to do it, you may as well do it to an Aboriginal girl, because nothing is going to happen to you if you do,” she said. “They’re not held accountable for even the bare minimum of the destruction they cause in people’s lives.”

Unfortunately, I think this quote rings true for our criminal justice system here in Canada, just look at the amount of cases that remain unresolved or receive delayed responses by authorities.

As a class, we came up with some ways that we can create change to see issues such as these being resolved:

  1. Call police out and demand that they do their jobs as thoroughly as possible.
  2. Post more photos and their stories of these women, so these cases become closer to home, rather that statistics.
  3. Creating more public awareness through schools, social media etc.
  4. We need to create a better representation of Indigenous peoples in the media.
  5. Create urgency to have these cases solved and to provide closure for families.

As a closing thought, I would like to leave you with one of the opening quotes from the 2015 Highways of Tears documentary as I think it provides an excellent link from this issue to the bigger picture of the poor treatment of the Indigenous population in Canada:

“The Highway of tears is the nucleus of a much larger problem of how the Indigenous population has been treated since colonialism. These murders aren’t just the work of serial killers but the sad result of systemic and socio-economic issues that have plagued  the First Nations communities for generations.”

Knowing what you now know, what are you going to do to help create change? How are you create awareness of this issue?

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Our Sincerest Apologies

Earlier in February, the 15th to be exact, I had the privilege to attend the 2018 Woodrow Lloyd lecture where Pam Palmater was presenting. Her lecture was entitled “If It Feels Good, It’s Not Reconciliation.” It was really quite incredible to listen to her speak, very inspirational — her passion is infectious. I have to admit, at some points, sitting through the lecture made me a bit uncomfortable because some of the topics she spoke about were quite troubling and hard to hear. I left the lecture with many thoughts and questions buzzing around in my brain. One thing that really stuck out to me was the need for genuine apologies to occur.

Reconciliation CANNOT occur without a sincere apology first. The apologies need to be genuine and then action needs to be taken to make amends. The apologies that are needed are NOT just a quick, formal blanket statement made for the media. No fluff. No dancing around details. “Not those well-crafted apologies by lawyers, where you don’t really admit to doing anything and you’re sorry that the other person took offence” (Palmater, 2018) Pam talks about the need for “old school apologies,” apologies that were required of us when we hurt someone else  when we were younger (Palmater, 2018). As she puts it, “the apology wasn’t just a word. It was a series of actions,” the first being admitting to the wrong you committed and taking responsibility for your actions. Secondly, listening is in order. You need to listen to the person that you hurt and hear how your actions affected them. Listening respectfully without any interruptions or defences.  That person deserves respect to share their story and what they are sharing is valid. Then you actually say sorry  and promise to NEVER do it again. After that, you need to rectify the problem and make amends (Palmater, 2018).

What I took from this was that apologies require a change of action. No more saying sorry and forgetting about it. As Pam was speaking about this, I was reminded of the kids from the Daycare I work at. As you can imagine, there are many apologies required within a day. Our children do not get off the hook just by saying sorry. As staff, we say that the child who did the harm needs to fix the child who they harmed. Whether it be by a hug, including them in a game, returning the toy they took and so on. Although the actions requiring apologies in these two situations are quite different; there is certainly something to be said about a child’s ability to fix their peer. I think that we, as Canadians, need to start fixing our Indigenous neighbours. As Pam put it,  “Anything less than a radical departure from what is happening now; anything less is not going to cut it” (Palmater, 2018). We need truth (owning up to our actions), justice (make it better & fix the harm) & only then can we have reconciliation.  If you are interested in watching the lecture (I would highly recommend it), then here it is:

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Personal Land Acknowledgement

This place is my home. I live in the Qu’Appelle valley and this has become home to me. I was raised here. I live on this land and it has played a role in who I have become. I have made countless memories here. This place brings me an abundance of joy. (especially in the autumn when the valley comes alive with colours of red, orange and yellow 😍 )

It is troubling to know that on this very spot, many years ago, the beginnings of  tragic, continued injustices occurred. The land that I have grown to love, and is a huge part of my life, is not even mine to begin with. This is why land acknowledgement is so important.

Honestly, I always thought that people included a land acknowledgement at the beginning of their presentations because it was polite and expected to do so. I thought is was politically correct, so I adopted the practice for that reason. For fear of being offensive. There was no personal connection to the land I was acknowledging, at least I didn’t think there was.  I was just mindlessly reciting a few words that included “Treaty four territory” and I continued on with the presentation I was giving. I wanted to do what was right, even if I didn’t know why it was right. Recently, I have been challenged in my way of thinking about land acknowledgment. This acknowledgement can have a personal connection to my life and this land. I have been fortunate to grow up on Treaty four territory, home of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Lakota and Dakota peoples, and the Métis people. I have made a life for myself here and none of that would have been possible without wîtaskêwin and the graciousness of these peoples , sharing their homes with us, white setters. I would not have a home if it weren’t for this land, so I feel that it is imperative that now that I know better, it is my responsibility to acknowledge this land as belonging to someone else.

This acknowledgement recognizes the relationship between Indigenous peoples, their territory, the settlers & their descendants (ME). Being aware of such relationships and being willing to acknowledge them on a regular basis is one step towards reconciliation. For some, taking this action can be a conversation starter, to share Canada’s history with others.

In class, we were challenged to create our own land acknowledgement and to make it person. Here is my take on it:

“The land that I am currently on is Treaty four land. I want to acknowledge that this land does not belong to me, but has become a part of who I am. It belongs to the original inhabitants of this land. The Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota, Lakota  & the Métis peoples have shared their home with us and we are fortunate enough to continue living together and build our lives on this land. Our past does not define our future, and together we can move forward in reconciliation and to uphold kihci-asotamâtowin (sacred promises to one another)”

Until next time,

Emily Grace

The Ultimate Test

Well here it is folks, the ultimate test of my skills… Cake decorating skills that is. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, BUT if not; I was asked to make a wedding cake for a friend’s wedding at the beginning of September. Now that it is all said and done, I am proud of the work that I did but man oh man; I was really stressed before-hand.

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I had never made a 2-tiered cake before so the task was a bit daunting. (jk, EXTREMELY daunting.) But I watched plenty of videos, asked for lots of advice from my crazy talented cousin and practiced lots. But I ‘m not convinced I’d ever do it again.

But let’s get into this cake already!! So it was a 2-tier vanilla cake with raspberry lemon filling. I did not actually have a piece on the day of the wedding but I received plenty of compliments so I assume it was good! I did try some scraps after I trimmed the layers and those tasted good. I was WAAAYYYYY too stressed to take any process pictures but in short: IT. WAS. MESSY. Remember how I learned my lesson when using fruit fillings in cake? (reminder: here) So imagine that, on a larger scale, so clearly I had NOT learnt my lesson yet. I overfilled both of the cakes. TIP: when/if that happens to you, don’t be afraid to get a little messy. Remove the top layer of cake, scoop out some filling and try again. No one will see the mess anyway, it will be covered with icing.

Frosting the cakes were fairly easy, however; top coats are one of those things that I can fiddle with forever and never be satisfied so eventually I have to say enough is enough and move on. Piping the purple details was fairly easy, I had been practicing that a lot. I think that was the step I was most nervous for, and while it certainly wasn’t perfect, I also wasn’t mad at it. I had watched a ton of piping videos so I had a good idea of what I wanted.

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A close-up of the practice piping 

The pearl border was my favourite (and EASIEST) part of it all. I just dotted the pearls all around the circumference of the cake and there you have it! All done! To finish it off, I added the bride’s cake topper and some purple roses and baby’s breath.

And here is it! (so sorry it took literally FOREVER to get this post up) (student life…)

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PS- Sorry that the lighting is awful 

 

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

The Perfect Summer Cake

Hello, my friends! Long time no talk!

I have not been baking very much recently, but a couple weeks ago was my mom’s birthday so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get back into baking cakes!

My go-to recipe book lately has certainly been the Layered book by Tessa Huff. I absolutely adore that book. The cakes are beautifully decorated, the directions explain all the steps very easily and there are many tips provided for troubleshooting. It is certainly a wonderful book if you are looking for something to help you get into baking cakes. The book is fabulous for beginners but certainly, provides some challenges for the more experienced baker.

I handed my mom the book and told her to pick a cake, any cake! She gave it a look through and came up with what I believe is the perfect summer cake! She chose a coconut, mojito cake! YUM. This cake was super light and refreshing, it wasn’t too sweet thanks to the mint and rum flavours.

The process was relatively simple. This cake consisted of a lime cake, coconut rum buttercream, rum, mint & lime syrup, lime filling and a minty sugar to garnish with. The cake batter was really simple, especially thanks to my stellar helper, zesting all the limes 🙂 (I learned that zesting limes is one of my least favourite tasks) The lime filling and simple syrup were little side tasks that I completed while the cake was baking. The lime filling is certainly not essential to this cake and if you try out this cake and are looking to cut out extra steps, the lime filling would be easy enough to go without. However, I must warn you that without the filling, you would be seriously missingout. The filling gives this cake an extra punch of flavour that my whole family really enjoyed! Making the sugar mixture was the easiest part– just mash some mint leaves, zest ANOTHER lime and mix it with some sugar and set it out to dry. Once all the components were made, it was time to put it all together!

First up, drown the cake in the simple syrup to keep it moist! Then begin to stack the cakes, adding the lime filling in the layers. Slap on a crumb coat and let it chill. After 10 or so minutes, begin the final coat. The best part about this cake is its rustic finish. I just ran my palette knife around the cake a few times and played with the icing until I was happy with the result. To finish it off, I sprinkled the sugar around the edge and stuck in a few mint leaves to give the cake a little extra something! And there you have it!

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The PERFECT summer cake!! Happy baking friends!

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Summary of Learning

Here is my Summary of Learning project, I made a trailer and a full video. The trailer doesn’t really relate to the full video. I just wanted to have a bit of fun with iMovie and make a silly, little video. Enjoy!!

Trailer:

Full Video:

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Contributing to the learning of others…

Good morning everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely Easter weekend!

So we have come to the end of my ECMP355 journey and it has been lovely! I have really enjoyed learning from everyone! For our final blog post, we were asked to reflect on how we have contributed to other people’s learning this semester! I think this is a really cool idea, especially considering a lot of the other university classes I have been in have had a “fend for yourself” mentality. So this class was a refreshing change!

Immediately after the course began, I recognised that I have pretty limited knowledge about Ed Tech and teaching considering I am only in my second year, and I very quickly learned that the lots of my classmates were in their final semester of their degree. But I was not going to let that discourage me or get me down! I believe that everyone has something to give and contribute, whether it be big or small. We all can contribute to one another’s learning.

So the first way I contributed to the learning of others was through Twitter. (follow me 😉 ) Admittedly, I was not as active as I could have been on twitter. I was a bit nervous of tweeting things and interacting with people, but by the end of the semester, I do think that I started to gain a bit more confidence and interacted a bit more! I shared some various resources and ideas that I found on Feedly (a fabulous tool, by the way. I used it constantly throughout the semester!) I also retweeted and liked tweets that peers and other educators had shared. Here are some examples:

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Quoting tweets is a favourite of mine

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Discussing the Learning Project and CAKE!

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Resources that I have shared

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Resources that I have shared

Another way I contributed to the learning of others was through my blog posts and commenting on other blog posts. A lot of my comments I left on other blogs were encouragements, to spur one another in our ECMP 355 journey! When classmates commented on my blogs, I made sure to respond and encourage them in that way as well.

One example of this was: I received a pingback from Taylor in her post about Powtoon. She had read my blog post about Animoto and incorporated that into her post.

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Snippet of Taylor’s post

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Taylor’s comment on my post.

Throughout my Learning project, I found I was able to help others and encourage them with their Learning projects as well. I received a pingback from Kanchan Mankotia as well, in regards to my cakes I have made.

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My comment on her post about her cake.

Here are some additional examples of blog interactions:

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Comment on my Code post

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Comment on my Carrot Cake

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Comment on my Black Forest cake

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Giving suggestions to Taylor !

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Giving tips about cakes!

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Encouragement left on Amy‘s blog!

The last medium on interaction for ECMP355 was our google plus community. I don’t really have much to say about this one as I did not really interact much with the group. I am not very tech-y so answering classmate’s questions about tech help would not be beneficial to them. I did appreciate it when others asked these questions though and when they were answered because I often found the answers helpful to me! Overall, the google plus community was not the place for me to be interacting and contributing to the learning of others.

Overall, the google plus community was not the place for me to be interacting and contributing to the learning of others. I found commenting on blogs and replying to people on twitter to be exponentially more engaging and helpful.

Thank you very much to each person who took time out of their day to contribute to my learning. Your contributions have made my learning in this class so much richer and I have come out of this class with a lot more knowledge thanks to my classmates. I hope that I was able to encourage others and support their learning along this journey! Good luck to all of you starting your teaching careers in the fall — you will do great! A big CONGRATS to each of us for completing the next step towards becoming teachers! WOOHOO!

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

All good things must come to an end…

Hello, everyone!

I’ve got some sad news… 😦 This week I made the final cake for my learning project. This cake was requested by my sister for her birthday which was on April 7. I’ve got to say, my sister has a fabulous taste in cakes because she picked a delicious cake for us to end with! IMG_0525

About midway through the semester, I ordered a cake recipe book and that is what I used to learn how to make this cake. Granted a book is not an online source BUT before I bought the book, I found the author, Tessa Huff,  on Instagram and did some research online about her cook book and decided that I NEEDED it! I ordered it on amazon and I was ready to bake! So technically, this book was an online source because of how I found it.. (yeah??)

So my sister chose the black forest cake for her birthday cake…YUM! (As you can see, I have lots of cakes already marked and I’m pumped to try them out! Seriously, if you like cakes, check this book out!!!) IMG_0524

The author is incredibly thorough when writing directions and ingredients. She spells EVERYTHING out so clearly! She provides a detailed list of every single ingredient you will need to bake AND decorate this cake, as well as quantities in metric and imperial measurements. So good!

I tried a couple new things to make this cake. First of all, I filled the cake with whipped cream and cherries, I made a more complicated icing and I used a texture comb for the icing. So let’s see how it turned out:

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All my ingredients ready to go!

I was very pleased with how the whipped cream performed as a little dam to keep the cherries contained. It also helped keep the cake moist!

Making the swiss meringue buttercream was the part I was most nervous about. I really did not want to mess it up, considering I was making this cake the day of her birthday and I did not have time to re-make anything. I followed the recipe SO carefully during these steps. I used a thermometer to ensure the egg mixture was the right temperature before whipping it up and it went fairly smoothly! Once I had the majority of the butter added, it looked liked the mixture had curdled and this is where the troubleshooting tips came in handy! Each recipe includes some troubleshooting tips to help ensure your cake is a success, how marvellous! I just kept whipping the mixture, as the book said and viola! All better!

I was so pleased with the final result, this icing is so incredibly smooth and light. To quote my sister when she tried it, “On the scale of smoothness, it beats a baby’s bottom!” (Thanks for that Jess…) But she wasn’t wrong, this icing blew my mind. And the hint of chocolate in it was really delicious! Thanks Layered!

I used this video to get an idea of how to use the comb, she explains everything very clearly and the video enhances her explanation a lot.

The next step was to frost the cake. I learned when using a texture comb, you need to pile LOTS of icing on the side of the cake, or else it will not work. I skimped on the frosting IMG_0539the first couple of tries and then I decided to load up the side of the cakes and I discovered that was the key! (sorry I don’t have a picture of the process of “combing,” I was very focused and covered in icing.) Once I was satisfied with how my cake looked, I could breathe again because the hard part was over! I piped some icing dollops along the top, stuck some sour cherries in the top of each and pressed some chopped chocolate into the bottom of the icing to act as a border.

And here is the finished product:

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So seeing as this is my final blog post about my learning project, I feel I need to share some of my final thoughts with you!

I really really enjoyed this project and the opportunity that I had to push myself beyond my comfort zone and improve my cake decorating skills. I can tell that I have grown significantly since my first cake back in January. I am very proud of how far I have come and I have learned that I love presenting my hard work to my friends and family. I love being able to see people enjoy my hard work! It makes me feel very proud when they enjoy my cakes.

Throughout this project, I used various mediums to learn how to decorate cakes including Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest and a cookbook. I think my favourite way to learn how to decorate cakes was on Pinterest. It was very easy to sort through different ideas and pick out exactly what I wanted. There is also a ton of variety on Pinterest so I was always able to find exactly what I was looking for.

I am also a visual learner so I found that following a video or at the very least, lots of pictures were super helpful when figuring out how to do something. My first thought when trying a new technique was to look up a tutorial on YouTube. My two favourite channels for finding cake recipes and how-to’s are A Spoonful of Frosting and Rosie’s Dessert Spot. Later in the semester, I discovered a channel called Man About Cake. I really enjoyed watching his tutorials and learning different techniques from him. However, he made really elaborate cakes with multiple tiers and that was something that realistically I just couldn’t do.

Overall, I am very pleased with the resources that are available for someone who is wanting to learn how to decorate cakes. There are so many different options to choose from, and these options all suit different learning styles as well.

Thank you for following along with me as I embarked on the learning journey, it was plenty of fun! I do plan on continuing my learning and perhaps I will blog more about my cake adventures in the future!

Until next time,

Emily Grace.