Top Moments of 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wow 2013, you've been quite a year! I can hardly believe that another 365 days have passed as I lived the year of serendipity. And serendipitous it has been, in so many ways. Here are some of my favourite things that happened this year. 

I started off the year with a super fun trip to Ottawa to visit my bestie, Mel. I'm so thankful that Mel and I both work hard to keep our relationship strong and it was such a blast to visit her in snowy Ottawa. I can't wait to go back - hopefully sometime this year! 

This year included being on the cover of The Grid, being auctioned off for charity, being on the cover of a magazine highlight women in the arts and co-hosting a cooking show in my home. Really neat and a whole lot of serendipity to make it all happen. 

I discovered the Lovebot and have since become an unofficial ambassador of sorts to this incredible project. 

It's so lovely to see them all over the city and great to get into conversations with people that start with "So what's the deal with these Lovebots?!" I've since gotten to meet Matthew Del Degan who created the Lovebot and am thrilled for what's in store in the land of love for 2014!

In other love news, my sweet friend Lindsay got married in June and her wedding was absolutely one of my favourite moments of the year (if not my life!) It was so special to be a part of their day and all of the festivities leading up to it. I'm thankful that our friendship strengthened as a result. I will also never look at fuchsia the same way. 

I got to interview two of my favourite bands from my childhood - New Kids of the Block and Hanson!! Also got to see both of them in concert. 8 year old me and 13 year old me would have died (or at least started screaming their faces off) if only they knew what was to come 15+ years in the future. I also saw a slew of other great concerts including the Joni Mitchell tribute at Massey Hall, James Blake, Natalie Weiss, Jason Robert Brown and Rich Aucoin x2. 

I sold out my first solo cabaret, raised $1000 for CAMH and was asked to revamp the show for 2014 to be performed at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. 

Putting the first Life is Sweet show and blog series together was an incredible experience and I'm so proud that I get to do it again this year as a result. 

I also had an amazing time with my second solo cabaret I Know it's Today where I talked about boys, dating, relationships and everything that has happened since that time I was engaged. 

Speaking of boys, 2013 brought some ups and downs in my love life (hence the cabaret) but was so lucky to connect with my incredible boyfriend, Corbin, towards the end of the summer. I've fallen so head over heels in love with that man and am so excited to be heading into 2014 with him next to me!

In addition to performing in a bunch of shows, I saw 32 shows, which will become 33 after I see Les Miserables this afternoon. From plays at Fringe to cabarets by friends to huge musicals, I've seen a bit of everything and continue to love supporting the theatre community in Toronto and being inspired by shows in New York. I can't wait to see what's in store for 2014!

Oh yah, I went to New York. It was pretty magical. I still need to blog about all the wonderful things that happened. It's coming, I promise! 

Today I'm celebrating the end of 2013 and new beginnings for 2014 with a lovely friend date this morning and a sweet Corbin date to see Les Mis this afternoon. I think I'll have a quiet evening, but I'm looking forward to what's in store for this new year. 

Happy New Year - see you in 2014!

Five Things I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ohai friends. Happy Friday the 13th! It’s been awhile. I've been busy. It’s the holiday season, so who isn't, really? Here are my reasons (I think they’re pretty good…)

1. I've been rehearsing for The Wedding Singer

I was thrilled to be cast as Julia in Hart House’s upcoming production of The Wedding Singer (January 10-25th) and I've been running around the theatre having a blast. I love the movie and the musical is even more fun. My Robbie is adorable and the whole cast is mega talented. This will continue to keep me extra busy until we open, but I couldn't be happier to be doing this show.

2. I've been working on The Life is Sweet Project

I’m lucky to have two shows opening in the next two months and similar to this past February, there are a number of elements to coordinate for this project. I've been writing the show, discussing the show, rehearsing music and looking for contributors to the blog projects (wanna write for me? Send me an email!) It’s a lot of work, but incredibly rewarding and tickets are selling away. It’s exciting and terrifying.

3. I was frolicking in New York City

NYC Ashley Gibson Corbin Smith

It’s rather apparent that NYC is pretty much my favourite place on the planet and I was so happy to spend five days there in November. There is a blog post coming next week about my magical adventures of food, theatre and being in love.

4. I've been doing neat things like shooting tv shows and posing for magazine covers

Apparently my life is glamorous sometimes, who knew? In October I shot an episode of Home Cookin’ for Rogers TV where I made some delicious sweet potato quinoa chili, kale salad and apple crumble parfaits with the lovely Emanuela Pires. You can see a clip from the episode here. I also had the pleasure of doing an interview for rouse magazine about The Life is Sweet Project and ended up on their cover. They did an amazing job with the article and I was so honoured to be their first cover girl!

5. Eating / Sleeping / Living

I've always said that life comes first, blogging comes second. I’m really hoping to write more in 2014 and determine a way to make that happen. I think once the chaos of two shows + work + commuting calms down, it should leave me some of this ‘free time’ people speak of. Last week life included an amazing steampunk goth wedding and next week will include more rehearsal, HoHoTO, singing at Ryan Hinds’ Holiday Comedy Cabaret Coffee Talk, finishing my Christmas shopping and making festive treats. And sleeping. I'm not exactly sure when, but it will happen.

How are you surviving the holiday season? What's been keeping you busy of late?

Birds of Bellwoods

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Toronto is lucky to be home to to so many fantastic bands and music venues, and a few weeks ago I got to visit a new-to-me place to see a band with a brand new name. Habits Gastropub played host to the newly coined Birds of Bellwoods, featuring Stevie Joffe on mandolin and vocals, Adrian Morningstar on guitar and vocals, Kintaro Akiyama on Upright Bass and Backup Vocals, and Chris Blades on Banjo and Backup Vocals.

The night opened up with a trio of opening acts with the standout being Kenisha Humber. The gal has an incredible set of pipes and wowed the crowd with her vocal abilities and awesome vibe. I was so impressed and look forward to making a point to see her perform again.

The Birds of Bellwoods' set did not disappoint. There have been some changes in the band and I was stoked to see the addition of the banjo and upright bass; The dynamic of the four-piece certainly suits the folk sound that they've been honing. The four of them are solid musicians and bring great energy and talent to the group. Joffe's lyrics are heartfelt and often heartbreaking, giving you the sense that he is an old soul who has seen a lot in his time. Their harmonies are stellar and Adrian and Stevie do a good job at keeping the crowd engaged and appear to be having a ball whilst doing so. Their songs are charming and enjoyable and the crowd was with them every step of the way.

The boys have a gig coming up tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern at 9pm along with some residencies at Round Venue and Habits and are currently in the midst of recording an EP. I'm stoked to see how the band evolves now that they're a four piece and look forward to attending more of their shows in the future.

You can find Birds of Bellwoods all over the internet to keep up with their music and upcoming shows

Another November 11th

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today is November 11th. This means it is another birthday that my mom is not here to celebrate; another birthday that I am left to reflect on her life and how much I miss her. 

As I've worked on getting my new show together, I've been thinking a lot about my mom. I did an interview about the show a couple of weeks ago and the interviewer asked me what my mom was like. I hate the fact that as time goes on, I find it more and more difficult to answer this question. In the years that she's been gone, I've worked hard to hold on for dear life to the memories I do have of her, but realize that they're assembled more like an abstract painting than a photograph; Some things about her are blurry and others are fading entirely. I try desperately to hold on to the sound of her voice or her laugh, but worry that as time goes on they will disappear completely. 

I often think about what she would be like now if she were still around. Would she still wear high-waisted jeans and have epic hair? What kind of music would she like? I think my mom would have liked some of the incredible female artists that I listen to including Feist, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Florence and the Machine which is how Cosmic Love found its way into the set list. I think the epic hair may have stuck around too. 

I recently found myself thinking that my mom would have really liked my boyfriend (which was later solidified when my aunts met him and expressed how much they liked him). It was a pretty emotional moment that completely caught me by surprise. I don't know that I've ever really thought that about a person previously and it's hard to come to terms with the fact that my mom will never get to meet so many of the people who are important to me in my life now. 

I'm thankful to be doing the new version of my show in three months as it's an opportunity for so many others to learn about my mom and her story. When I set out to do the show last February, I didn't realize what a profound experience it would be for me or the effect it would have on others. In her time here, my mom touched a lot of people, but the show and the blog is an opportunity for her life to have an impact on even more people. It's also a chance for me to keep the memories that I do have top of mind and close to my heart. That's incredibly important to me. 

Today is November 11th. While my mom may not be here to celebrate her day, I'm here to reflect on her life and celebrate the time that we did have together. She was such a special woman. Happy birthday. 


I'm currently working to put together another month of blog posts for February to run in conjunction with my show, The Life is Sweet Project with Angelwalk Theatre. If you'd be interested in sharing your story of mental health or loss, please check out last February's posts and then send me an email through the contact me link. This year was a moving experience for me, and I'm looking forward to having even more people be a part of it for February 2014. 

I Know It's (Not) Today

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

You know what certainly wasn't today?
My latest show. 
Because that was July 26. 
It's now November. 
I Know It's Today, Ashley Gibson
I'll blame a crazy couple of months, commuting to Mississauga for work and a month of hummus, but better late than never, right?!

Ashley Gibson, I Know it's Today

Putting together a show about the trials and tribulations (and hilarity) of my dating life ever since that time I was engaged was a ton of fun. The crowd was into it, and I had so much fun with them during the crowd participation bits, starting at the very beginning:

"How many of you knew me when I was engaged?"
A few hands were raised
"How many of you met me after I had been engaged?"
Many hands were raised
"How many of you have no idea who the f*$! I am?"
A whole table raises their hands
"Oh boy, you're about to learn a lot about me and we're going to have an awesome night"

I Know It's Today, Ashley Gibson, Corbin Smith, cabaret, Toronto

Tara did an amazing job arranging the tunes, including a version of Adele's Rolling in the Deep which was prefaced with a discussion about break up songs. The conversation had been sparked on Twitter over the days leading up to the show and culminated in a bar-wide singalong of Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" after the show. Ah-mazing.

My own Jewish Yente even made an unexpected appearance during the show to talk about what SHE thought I should be looking for in a man. Unfortunately she seemed to have missed the mark a little bit, bringing up men who I had already dated and broke my heart, slept with a friend or were just kind of terrible. Nevertheless, it was sweet that she paid us a visit, even if her suggestions were kind of the worst. No hard feelings.

I talked about being the Grid's Dating Diaries cover girl (and the aftermath), being auctioned off for charity and how my shoes should have actually made an appearance at my wedding that never happened (and how symbolic it was that I decided to take them off two songs into the show).
Betsey Johnson shoes

We talked about nicknames for the people I've dated that my friends had made up and the audience had some great contributions of their own on that topic! It was fun and therapeutic to share some of the silly tales of my dating history and also realize the learnings that I've come to along the way:

1. Relax
2. Have fun
3. It's okay to stand on the precipice and dive right it. Just choose love, right?

I Know It's Today. Ashley Gibson. Corbin Smith

I think the show had the potential to be bitter and angry, but that just wouldn't have been me. I have had some ridiculous things happen to me in my dating life, but I've also met some really neat people and learned a lot about myself and what I'm looking for (also, NOT looking for). I'm such an optimist and deep down a romantic at heart, so in spite of a handful of less than stellar experiences, some heartbreak and encounters with complete assholes, I've still continued to say yes to life and let serendipity run its course. And I've gotta say, I wouldn't have it any other way. Especially now.

As for the rest? At least I've got some great stories to keep friends (and strangers) entertained.

Ashley Gibson, cabaret, Toronto

And I'm still smiling 3+ months later. Thanks to everyone who came to the show and for the Flying Beaver Pubaret for hosting Tara and I once again!

And special thanks to Corbin Smith for the photos from the show

A (Lovebot) Heart Full of Love

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

After my blog post went up about our Lovebot hunting adventure, I was contacted by some of the sweet folks at Lovebot HQ. Rodger, who has been working on the project for about a year, was lovely and thanked me for writing the post and for my enthusiasm about the project. He encouraged us to keep searching for Lovebots, but said he would love to make the hunt easier by inviting us to Lovebot HQ! The email totally made my day and I couldn't wait until we could go for a visit.

Lovebots Toronto
I finally got my chance a few weeks ago. Corbin and I trekked up to the magical home of the Lovebots, where we met Ryan, who has also been on the project for about a year. Ryan has been doing a lot of the pouring for the Lovebots and came into the project quite serendipitously. He was working as a contractor, when one day a guy showed up with a paper in his hand, asking about concrete. He began to tell Ryan his story and plans for the Lovebot project. Ryan was intrigued and inspired and asked if there was any way he could help, and the man with the paper (Lovebot creator, Matthew Del Degan) said "I thought you'd never ask". They've been working together ever since and it was wonderful to hear Ryan's perspective on the project and how the experience has enhanced his life.

Lovebots Toronto

Lovebot HQ was just wonderful. It was so neat to see so many little Lovebots and hear about how they're created.

Lovebots Toronto

We even got to see the very first Lovebot cast in concrete! #001 has certainly seen a lot of love.

Lovebots Toronto

Lovebots Toronto

We also got to spend some quality time with the 6 and a half foot Lovebot that the team has been taking to events. So tall!

Lovebots Toronto Ashley Gibson Corbin Smith

It sounds like there are some incredible things in store for the Lovebot Invasion and I'm stoked to see what happens next. I am so happy to have discovered this project and love that I've been able to share the love with my friends, blog readers and followers.

Before we left, I asked Corbin to take a photo of me with all the Lovebots. He arranged me, and I chose the fuchsia heart to hold in the photo. After the photos were taken, Ryan asked if that was my favourite heart, to which I enthusiastically responded "yes". He then asked me if I wanted to keep it and I just about died.

Lovebots Toronto Corbin Smith

I've fallen in love with this project and it has brought me so much happiness; To be the owner of a Lovebot heart is just so special and I felt so honored. I hugged my heart the whole ride home and couldn't stop smiling. I also received some Lovebot stickers, which I've been giving out to friends and fun people. I've since been in touch with Matt as well and am looking forward to connecting with him in person very soon. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy my Lovebot heart and the thrill I have each time I see a new Lovebot in the city.


Friday, October 11, 2013

This morning I was stuck in a subway tunnel for quite an extended stay, was then body checked by a man on the street who didn't even acknowledge that I flew across the sidewalk and then watched as my bus left while I was still across the street. Did anyone say long weekend? In spite of my more ridiculous than normal commute (and the remaining hour it took me to get to Mississauga) I was still left smiling.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to express our thanks for everything that makes up our world, but gratitude is something I try to practice regularly. I'm incredibly lucky to be enjoying a life where I wake up each morning and go to bed smiling each day and enjoy most things that happen throughout. Here are some things that I'm grateful for today:

The most wonderful group of incredible friends and family. They help keep me sane and happy and having all sorts of fun.

Being in love. My heart is so full. It's the best.

Serendipity. It's so funny how life works.

Having the opportunity to perform Life is Sweet again, this time at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. It's still surreal to see the poster and see our names up there.

Being Crohn's free. 5 years ago I hoped this would eventually be the reality, but here I am. I think at year 7, I too will declare myself cured.

8 weeks ago I took a big risk and accepted a new job. Every day I am validated for taking this leap and I couldn't be happier (except for when our office is downtown and I'm done commuting every day. Then I'll be basically floating)

So much to be thankful for. I hope you have a beautiful weekend filled with love and gratitude too.

ashley gibson belmonte raw

Treats and Taste Tests at the Vegetarian Food Fair

Monday, October 7, 2013

Last month, the 29th Annual Vegetarian Food Fair came to the Harborfront Centre and I was stoked to be attending for my fifth year in a row! (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 posts) It was also the first year that I wasn't actually working at the show, but solely attending as a guest. With a snazzy media badge.

Vegetarian Food Fair - media

The TVA did an awesome job of organizing an agenda of great speakers and events throughout the weekend. Sadly, the rain on Saturday put a damper on some of the outdoor events, but that did not stop thousands of people from visiting everything else the festival had to offer over the course of the weekend! There were speakers on all kinds of topics relating to vegetarianism, delectable food demos and interesting panels covering a wide variety of perspectives.

Toronto, vegetarian

I've previously expressed my frustration in lack of options for vegetables and healthier food choices at the Food Fair. One would think that an event of this nature, I would be surrounded by an abundance of Ashley-friendly options, but this has not always been the case. However much I enjoyed all the sweets and special treats, I just think there's more to vegan / vegetarian cuisine than what is often depicted by the food vendors that are represented. We have so many AMAZING vegan-friendly restaurants in the city and I'd love to see them better represented at the Fair. That being said, it seems that the options are getting a bit better and I was super stoked to see that Green Zebra was back with lots of gluten free, vegan eats. I opted for the mac and cheese with a side of kale salad.

Green Zebra, gluten free vegan
It was pretty delicious and I was certainly pleased to be having some kale at the Food Fair. It provided me with some great nourishment before sampling quite a few desserts. There certainly were a lot of treats!! I got to sample a new gluten free vegan cupcake from my friends at Sweets from the Earth. I didn't manage to snap a photo before it went into my mouth. Super chocolately and pretty delicious, Ilana continues to do great things with gluten free and vegan baking. I also enjoyed some treats from Bunner's (always so brilliant) and picked up some salted caramel (!!) marshmallows from APieCalypse Now to take home.

APieCalypse Now! vegan marshmallows
One of my favourite moments of the night came whilst wandering around the various booths. Corbin and I happened upon the awesome folks at Peanut Butter & Co. and a hilarious blind taste test ensued, all in the name of science.
Peanut Butter & Co

Peanut Butter & Co

We declared Mighty Maple the ultimate winner, but really it was us who won, making new friends in the people at the booth (and those around us who saw the whole thing) and buying enough peanut butter to pretty much start our own pb sandwich shop. So good.

It was great to attend the festival for another year and it makes me happy to see continuing to get bigger and better. Looking forward to what's in store for the 30th festival next year!

Lovebot Hunting Success

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Robots need love too, they want to be loved by you......

Dan Mangan has solidified my adoration for robots + love, so it was pretty certain that I was destined to fall in love with the idea of the Lovebots.. I sent my boyfriend an article about them with a note that said "I WANT TO GO FIND THEM" and it was decided that a Lovebot hunting date was in our future. Cute, right?

Lovebot Invasion, Toronto, love

Created by Matthew Del Degan, Lovebots are popping up all over Toronto as a symbol of love, kindness and positivity. Corbin and I definitely did a lot of smiling and laughing as we hunted down 10 of the 2 feet tall little guys, located everywhere from the Junction to the Danforth and many places in between. 

Lovebots Toronto

Each Lovebot is created by hand and numbered. Most follow the standard grey with red heart model, but there are a handful of rainbow-hued Lovebots and some with special coloured hearts. (I just found out that the one at Nadege has a pink heart!)
Lovebots Toronto

Each Lovebot is being given a special home somewhere across the city. Torontonians can also submit their own Lovebot Invasion story of kindness, love and compassion to inspire potential locations for the Lovebots. It's really neat to see where they're popping up and following the #lovebotinvasion on Twitter and Instagram

Lovebot Invasion

Since we were out a few weeks ago, more and more Lovebots and stickers have been popping up all over the city, as well as more media coverage and awareness of the project. 

Lovebot Invasion Toronto

I've clearly been hit with Lovebot fever, having made some sartorial choices based on my grey and red friends. Lovebot tights? Oh yes.

Having seen only about a dozen in person, I'm certainly planning to do some more Lovebot hunting over the next few months as all 100 invade the city. Their presence has definitely made me smile and I hope they're doing the same for people across Toronto!

Have you spotted any Lovebots?

Five Things I've Learned About Hummus

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

1. Hummus has infinite possibilities
It's been just over two weeks and we've made ten different types of hümmi for Hummus Month. And we've still got a whole Pinterest board of hummus recipes and inspiration. (Hummus cupcakes? Sounds weird, but I'm so into it!) Hummus month is gonna go strong until the end of September and I'm stoked.

2. Other people really like hummus 
Linz and I have been bogged down in hummus, but we've happily shared with our esteemed group of taste testers. Our readers, commenters, Twitter followers and Facebook friends are also really into this hummus domination, which is super cool.

3. Have no fear, hummus is really easy to make
I too have fallen prey to buying hummus in the store with an excuse of "convenience" or lack of time. But really, basic hummus takes about five minutes to make. You could really just go throw some chickpeas, tahini, a couple cloves of garlic, lemon, salt and oil into a food processor, turn on some Robyn and have super delicious, easy peasy hummus in about 5 minutes. (The Robyn is so that you can have a mega fun dance party in your kitchen while your hummus essentially makes itself) In talking about this month of hümmi, I've been surprised by the number of people who ask "how do you make hummus?". It's the easiest. And you'll feel awesome and virtuous. Give it a go. 

hummus month, vegan mofo, butternut squash

4. Linz and I make great collaborators 
We're having far too much fun with hummus. We talk, text and tweet about it daily, and our weekly yoga/hummus dates are the best. We're really silly and giggle about the most ridiculous things, but I think our hümmi recipes are continuing to get better.

hummus, Kitchen Operas

5. There is such a thing as too much hummus
Not gonna lie, I was really sick of hummus after week one. We had both made hummus during the week, then collaborated on more hummus on the weekend and sampled one another's. There was hummus everywhere and it was actually too much. And this coming from a gal who LOVES the stuff! This week was a lot better, with only choice hummus opportunities and eating. It also helps that the recipes we made over the weekend are divine!!

In honor of our hummus love, Linz and I are gonna talk about all things hummus at our #hummuschat this Thursday September 19 at 8pm EST! Some of our favourite people are going to be joining in for this chickpea celebration and we'd love for you to be there too. Follow us on the Twitter (@ashleydtl and @kitchenoperas) and check out the #hummuschat hashtag to join in the fun!

Vegan Mofo - Why Hummus?

Monday, September 2, 2013

It all started with a conversation about peeling chickpeas.

Linz and I were at brunch way back in March and started chatting about a blog post I had seen relating to peeling chickpeas prior to making hummus. We both agreed that it would be a fun way to spend an afternoon and that we would have to try it (this is how you know we're meant to be friends).

This led to more talks of hummus and our mutual love of hummus. As vegetarians, hummus is a pretty normal staple for both of us and something we both really adore. We suddenly found ourselves coming up with all sorts of ideas for delicious, creative and magical variations of hummus. We realized that:
a) chickpea sales were going to go up in our neighborhoods
b) we were gonna need more food processors
c) a month of hummus would be a perfect way to celebrate Vegan Mofo

So I guess the question really is, why NOT hummus?!

We couldn't determine any reasons why hummus was a bad idea, so Lindsay is going to be hosting our month of hummus over on her lovely blog in honor of Vegan Mofo. Expect all sorts of chickpeas, tips and tricks, stellar recipes, some extra special guests and all kinds of fun. Get ready, its going to be 'hummazing' with all the hümmi* that we're going dream up!

*we have decided that hümmi is the appropriate plural of hummus

Vegan Mofo, Vegan Month of Food

Bakerbots. Finally.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I've been hearing about this magical land called Bakerbots.

I was told it was a wondrous place near Ossington and Bloor where cookies were filled with ice cream in exquisite flavors like burnt marshmallow and lemon meringue. I had also heard that not only did they offer these fantastical creations, but they also carried extra special gluten free and vegan treats too. On Friday night, I finally went to experience the wonder that is Bakerbots. And now I just want to go there every day

Bakerbots gluten free cookie sandwich

Dani and wandered down Bloor giggling and skipping after a delicious dinner at Live to have our first Bakerbots experience. There was a line up out the door when we arrived (after 10pm) but thankfully it moved quickly. It smelled like heaven inside the shop and we were thrilled at the Ash & Dani friendly options that presented themselves. We opted for a gluten free oatmeal cookie filled with dairy free chocolate ice cream. 

gluten free vegan cookie sandwich Toronto

It was divine. 

The cookie was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and filled with decadent chocolatey goodness. I was probably making omnomnomnomnomnom sounds whilst enjoying every single bite. It got a little messy, but it was entirely worth it. I've managed to stay away since Friday and continue reminding myself that moderation is probably a really good thing. That being said, I'm really looking forward to another special treat day. 

Go run to Bakerbots. What are you waiting for?

A Beautiful Mess - 30 Day Self Portrait Challenge

Monday, August 26, 2013

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed the increase in selfies over the last few weeks. That's because I was taking place in the A Beautiful Mess 30 Day Self Portrait Challenge

@ashleydtl selfie challenge

While I post selfies on a regular basis, I had a lot of fun coming up with different ideas and backgrounds and ways to take selfies for this challenge! I also loved following along with the #abeautifulmess and #30dayselfportraitchallenge hashtags on instagram and discovered some lovely new folks to follow. It was fun compiling them tonight and thinking about what/where/when I took each of these photos over that 30 day period; there were certainly a lot of great memories. 

All of my photos were taken on my iphone and edited in the A Beautiful Mess app, which I'm still loving! I'm also really looking forward to picking up a copy of Emma and Elsie's book for more photo inspiration and know-how! 

Selfies - yay or nay? 

choose love

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

ashley gibson, choose love, dancing through life

I'm often asked about the positive, open attitude that I carry in life.

"Have you always been this way?" someone recently inquired.

And the answer is pretty much yes.

Growing up, I was a happy, bubbly, open child. It was something that my mum recognized at a very young age and as a result hoped that I would be someone she could confide in later on in life. "[Ashley] is such an open child and I feel very close to her, maybe she'll be the one I open my whole heart to. Time will tell".

Following my mother's death, I made a conscious effort to maintain my positive outlook. Her death was a tragedy, but I didn't care to wallow in my grief. It wasn't easy, but I knew that my mother would have wanted me to continue to fully live, learn from my experiences and embrace all that life has to offer.

I believe that every single event in life that happens is an opportunity to choose love over fear.” ~Oprah Winfrey

During savasana in a yoga class over the weekend, I found myself thinking "in with love, out with fear" and I was overcome with a wave of calm and acceptance. I've realized that my positive attitude and my perspective on life comes from my decision to choose love. 

ashley gibson, dancing through life

Over the last two weeks I've had to make some big decisions. I've had moments of being overwhelmed by the choices at hand and how they would impact my life. While maybe a little frightening at times, making a conscious shift to positivity and love has had a profound impact. My decision to choose love over fear has allowed me to feel excited and rejuvenated by these choices, trust my intuition and recognize the abundance of awesomeness and potential in my life.

When we choose love instead of fear, doors open, serendipitous opportunities present themselves and we are empowered to live the life of our dreams. Isn't that what we're all striving for?

Today (and every day) I encourage you to choose love.

Looking for more? Check out my sweet friend Meghan's creed and Gabrielle Bernstein's May Cause Miracles.

All the fun in Fuchsia (The Wedding of Lindsay and Krishna)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

After a wonderful week of wedding festivities, Saturday June 29 was certainly a day to remember (I told Lindsay over the weekend that it was probably one of the best days of my life). I woke up at 5:30am, filled with excitement and joy like a child on Christmas. It seemed that I wasn't the only one feeling this way as Linz and I started imessaging one another with many a silly wedding emoji around 6am. The anticipation was building and we still had 4 hours before we were due to get our hair done and 10 hours before Lindsay and Krish were scheduled to get married!

The team at Evoke was amazing. I had been there once before to get a haircut and was really looking forward to the experience. They paired me up with Chris and the two of us just clicked. He immediately was on board with my rockabilly updo aspirations. The end result was a mega fun morning spent laughing and talking about musical theatre and an incredible updo, complete with a custom made fascinator from my sweet friend at Elizabeth Victoria.

Trashy Diva bridesmaid dress, Elizabeth Victoria fascinator

Lindsay's vision for the bridesmaids included fuchsia dresses, black shoes and black & silver accessories. She gave us a lot of flexibility on dress style as long as we stayed within a range of fuchsia (which we've discovered is the colour that men cannot see). I found an incredible dress by Trashy Diva that was the perfect colour, fit and interpretation of my personal style. Elizabeth did an amazing job with my custom fascinator and somehow matched the fuchsia perfectly!I chose a pair of black sparkly peep toe heels that I had bought a couple years ago for a show, and found a stellar bracelet and ring from my sweet friends at Damzels. I was so happy with how everything came together and it was a lot of fun to be in a bridal party where we were encouraged to express our individuality.

We headed back to Linz's parents house to continue getting dolled up. I had stopped by Belmonte Raw the day before the wedding for fresh juice and yummy lunches for Linz and I to make sure that we were happily nourished in a gluten free, vegetarian fashion for the big day. Carol did an amazing job hooking us up with incredibly food and fresh green juices to make sure we were well fueled and ready to go.

Belmote Raw, raw food, wedding fuel

Belmonte Raw, cashew mylk

Watching Linz get ready and seeing her in her dress for the first time was truly magical. The bridesmaids' had had a sneak peek at the dress at one of our gatherings in the months leading up to the wedding, but that did not diminish the feelings I had that day. Thank god for waterproof mascara.

bride, Lindsay's wedding, Toronto
She was stunning.
And glowing.
And radiant.
And exuding so much joy.

bride, Toronto, Lindsay's wedding
It was such a beautiful thing to experience and many times over the course of the day I reflected on how thankful I was for her friendship and what it meant to be able to stand beside her as she married her love.

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day - the sun was shining, traffic was easy and we arrived at the venue with the sounds of Pride happening two streets over. We hurried into the bridal suite and waited for our time.

The room for the ceremony was full of people from all over the world who had come to see Linz and Krish tie the knot, and the love in the room was palpable as soon as we walked in. I think I probably started crying around the time I started walking down the aisle. Seeing Krish waiting for Lindsay was so moving, and all of us bridesmaids were doing a terrible job of keeping our emotions in check. Being at the front and having a perfect view of Lindsay walking down the aisle with her dad was another really special moment that I'm going to cherish for a long time.

father daughter, aisle, wedding
The ceremony was beautiful and very reflective of the couple. They incorporated great readings (including a sweet Ogden Nash poem that Shaun, the best man and I got to read), beautiful music, and handfasting into the ceremony.

bridesmaids, fuchsia, Toronto, wedding
Toronto wedding, bride, groom
handfasting, wedding, Toronto

With the ceremony over, we were whisked away for many fun photos with the bridal party and familias. 

Lindsay & Krishna, Wedding, Toronto

Lindsay's wedding, bouquet, Toronto

Lindsay's wedding, Toronto, bridesmaids
bridesmaids, Toronto, fuchsia

Following the photos, we made our entrances to the reception for an incredibly delicious gluten free & vegetarian friendly Indian buffet feast from Bombay Palace (why doesn't everyone have Indian buffet at their wedding?), great speeches, a kransekage wreath cake and a whole lot of dancing and shenanigans. 

Lindsay's wedding, bridesmaids, Maid of Honour

Aside from briefly setting the head table on fire(!) and having to sew the bustle back onto Lindsay's dress on my hands and knees in the rest room, the evening went off without a hitch. Everyone was thrilled to be celebrating Lindsay and Krish's union and were ready for a great night of merriment. It was truly a spectacular day, and I'm incredibly grateful that I was asked to be a part of it. Congratulations to Lindsay and Krishna - I wish them nothing but happiness as they enter this new chapter of their life together!!

bridesmaids Toronto

Lindsay's wedding, bridesmaid Toronto

Photos from my iphone, Instagram feed & Wedpics - an amazing app for weddings!

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