I'll Follow You Anywhere

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When I first booked a trip to California with no concept of when I’d be back, I really didn’t have much of a plan. I had someone to stay with of course, and there were loose talks of visits with friends and family, but the truth is when I boarded that plane I had no idea where my travels would lead me.

In the end, no plans could’ve covered everything that I managed to see. I didn’t just go to California, I went all over California, from horse riding on the beach in Sonoma to driving through the Red Woods of Big Sur. I went to an 80s’ dance party that’s hidden inside a vending machine, I met some of my Instagram idols for a casual brunch, and I saw more parts of the state than most people who actually live there full time.

I was feeling pretty satisfied with my adventures by the time the last leg of my time in the sunshine rolled around, but then Kelsie came to visit and introduced me to the magic of Hotwire.com. Full disclosure: I am AWFUL at bargain hunting, but even I got into this site. You can basically play hotel roulette! We downloaded their app on a sleepy night in LA and before we knew it we’d scored a room at The Ace in DTLA for a night! It was the ultimate staycation, and after a night of dancing at a local disco bar (please go to Honeycut next time you’re in town!) we decided to try our hand at finding a few more hot rates.

We ended up booking a crazy spontaneous trip to San Diego, a city neither of us knew ANYTHING about, and in the morning we were off in our Hotwire car rental to find out what we’d been missing. It turns out the answer was a lot – so much in fact that one night was nowhere near enough. San Diego is lush, right on the water and filled with adorable local gems and swoon-worthy spaces. I wish we’d had more time to see everything on our list, but there’s always time to book another last-minute vacation with Hotwire, right?

Special thanks to @ellistracy for all the amazing local tips! Best Instagram tour guide ever!

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Where we went:

Pigment // Kelly from Studio DIY told me this is the best store in the world, so I went in with ridiculously high expectations, and I was still totally blown away. Just go, save up a lot of spending money, and go!
Communal Coffee // This is a coffee shop that sells floral drinks, floral toasts, and actual flowers! It’s incredibly well decorated, the staff is lovely, and the back patio may be actual nirvana.
Native Poppy // Nestled within communal coffee, this place knows their blooms! They also sell a curated collection of stationary etc.
La Puerta // A great spot for cheap margaritas and delicious guac in the heart of downtown. Make sure you time your visit around their numerous “happy hour” times.
Taco Surf // cheap, simple, and delicious. We highly recommend taking your food to the beach for a picnic, regardless of the weather.
Balboa Park // Perfect for a sunny stroll, this park has incredible flowering trees, an epic cactus garden, and SO many gorgeous museums.
Cafe Gratitude // One of my favourite vegan spots in California, this was actually the most gorgeous location I’ve visited yet, and the food was divine as always.
Seal Beach // We saw tiny baby seal pups lazing on the beach! This is reason enough to make this spot a stop in our books.

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For Next Time:
Fairweather
Pendry
Kindred
Ironside
The Madison
Bracero Cocina
Fleet Science Centre
San Diego Natural History Museum
Holy Matcha (not quite open yet!)

Special thanks to Hotwire for making all of our spontaneous vacay dreams come true!

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Party TimeSips, Sweets & Snacks

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Alyssa: We firmly believe that all Canadians deserve a sunny vacation when the cold weather rolls around, but it’s not always an option for everyone between finances, busy jobs, and well, life in general really. I was lucky enough to escape most of the winter chill this year, but the rest of #TeamRAOP back home had to get a little more creative. Queue Couch Island, our go to strategy for winter survival:

Jo: It’s a rough time here in Canada – we’re right in the middle of the coldest time, Christmas is long gone behind us and ‘the most depressing day of the year’ just breezed by. The obvious answer is to get away; Mexico, The Bahamas, Costa Rica, LA (in Alyssa’s case) but we know it’s not always that simple, so we’ve created an oasis inside our own home, and you can too!

This ultimate stay-cation themed lounge fest always helps us fight off those winter blues, and it’s inspired by one of my favourite places to visit: couch island (a close second to bed island). Inexpensive, close to home, safe, warm and filled with friends and loved ones, there’s really no better place to be when the temperature drops. Our version includes Malibu Rum Frozen Pina Coladas served in pineapples, tropical snacks, colourful decor and of course RAOP’s go-to in the ultimate guide to staying at home: a selection of our current favourite music and reads via Playster. Through the glow of the pink flamingo neon light and the sounds of our favourite tunes we can hardly tell we’re not actually in a beach cabana…

You can find our custom RAOP playlists here:
RAOP’s Sunshine Station
RAOP’s Couch Island Book Club

Looking to make your own perfect Malibu Rum Frozen Pina Colada? Scroll down for the recipe!

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Malibu Rum Frozen Pina Coladas

What you’ll need //

2 oz malibu original
3 oz pineapple juice
1.5 oz coconut cream
1/4 oz lime juice
1 dash simple syrup
1 cup ice cubes
coconut flakes
fresh pineapple

We used a core-er to hollow out pineapples as cups. Simply blend on high until smooth and garnish with coconut flakes, fresh pineapple and a cute straw. Now grab some snacks BFF’s and strand yourself on your very own Couch Island!

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A special thanks to Society 6, Sunnylife & ShopRAOP for providing our comfy-tropical decorations.
And thanks to our models Meghan Yuri Young and TeamRAOP members Kelsie & Olivia

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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As post-vday February drags on and the days slowly start to get a tiny bit longer it’s important to keep spirits up – with spirits! If you’ve already burned through your countless boxes of Valentine’s chocolate, plus the extras you bought on sale at the drugstore on the 15th, this cocktail is for you. Inspired by the sweet fruity flavours found in red heart boxes, this month’s Zevia creation is a blend of bold berry flavours, plus a touch of chocolate of course!

Scroll down for the full recipe

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What you’ll need //

Zevia Black Cherry sugar free soda
Dillon’s Strawberry Gin
Fresh strawberries
Dark chocolate

In a cocktail shaker, combine 3oz strawberry gin with one can of Zevia Black cherry soda and shake with ice. Pour through the strainer into coupes and garnish with fresh chocolate dipped strawberries. Make a small incision on the side of the strawberry to rest over the lip of the glass. You’re ready to enjoy all the flavours of a box of chocolates without all the sugar!

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Get Creative

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First off happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! Do you have any special plans? We’re big fans of Vday at RAOP – after all, it is the most pink holiday of them all! We love the day of love so much in fact that this year we’re going to be rolling out a whole month of fairytale-inspired, lovey dovey content.

But with our own twist.

There are so many kinds of love in this world – friendship, family, love of food and feasting, pet love (which many argue falls into the family category) and most importantly, self love. I know, I know, it’s cheesy as can be, but if the last few years of adulthood have taught me anything, it’s that there’s nothing more dazzling then giving yourself a constant supply of love, compassion, patience, and care.

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When HP asked us to put together a Valentine DIY project for someone we love using the HP Deskjet 3755 printer, I automatically racked my brain for someone who needed the love… and in the end, I decided that was simply ourselves. Our in-house craft expert Jo got to work creating some different ways to frame your HP photo prints, and each of us submitted a handful of images that make us feel happy, or in other words, feel the love. Together, they create a gallery wall designed to put a smile on everyone on our team’s faces.

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Here’s a little bit about why we each chose what we did:

Alyssa //

We’re only a month into 2017, but oh have I ever learned a lot. In so many ways my trip has been amazing, life-changing even, but it’s also shown me my weak spots with glaring clarity. Though I used to be a very happy introvert, somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten how to be by myself. I’ve jumped from relationship to relationship, breakfast event to evening soiree and back again, and looking back I haven’t really truly spent time with myself in years.

My picture picks all celebrate things that make me happy, regardless of how many people are around – bubble baths, tea, sweet treats, inspiring women in my community (even if that means just keeping up with their blogs) and long walks with my pup Honey are just a few of the things I can do almost anytime, anywhere to make myself feel positive. They’re simple, but they work every time, and sometimes when it feels like the world is falling apart, finding stability in yourself is all you really need to get through.

Kelsie //

When I think of self care I think about the things that make me happy no matter how bad I’m feeling, even when I have a jam packed schedule and $5 in my bank account.

The one constant in my life is the need to travel. Literally nothing in this world can make me happier than a hotel booking or a flight confirmation, and so many spontaneous trips (and a fair amount of debt) have all come from the comfort of booking a new adventure.

When I’m not able to fly far away, I usually make an appointment to get my hair done. It truly is the ultimate pick-me-up (shoutout to Jaymi @ Good Day Hairshop for making it happen.)

Most importantly, spending time with my closest friends is the ultimate self care, because I wouldn’t be myself if it weren’t for the incredible people I surround myself with. They are truly my Valentines!

Johanna //

My favourite way to take care of myself is to keep my hands and brain busy making things. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I pretty much always have my hands busy painting and drawing, but over the last couple years working here at RAOP I’ve been able to hone skills I never thought I would.

Since the job is ever-changing, the skills I’m learning closely mirror the landscape; from coding, marbling, cake decorating and wreath building… the list is always growing. The best part? Sometimes I get to share the fun things I make with you! Like this pastel gallery wall DIY.

Speaking of, scroll down for the full DIY!

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This HP Deskjet 3755 is the perfect addition to the RAOP office space. We’re all about minimizing clutter this year so the fact that the printer itself is only the height of an iphone is pretty convenient! It’s ideal for quick and easy print jobs and especially photos, the paper tray clearly marks out and accepts sheet sizes of 8.5” x 11”, 5” x 7” and 4” x 6” – all your standard photo sizes. So while my Valentines (TeamRAOP) are away I’m relaxing on the couch, wirelessly printing and putting together a wall of our favourite moments.

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What you’ll need //

Old Frames
Acrylic craft paint
Spray paint (if your frames are metal)
Coloured and/or patterned craft paper
Glue
Painters tape
Paint brushes
Ruler
Scissors or a paper cutter

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First decide on a colour scheme, I chose pink, rose gold and gold, and a little pink glitter for extra Valentines spirit. You’ll want to pick up a couple different colours of acrylic craft paint to use as well as some different corresponding paper colours to use as mattes.

Then you’re off on a vintage frame treasure hunt. Value Village, or other thrift stores are the best place to find inexpensive but fun and unique frames to DIY, I got a bag of 4 for $1.00 and some larger ones for under $5. Look for frames that are wood as opposed to plastic if you’re planning on painting it and keep an eye out for ones with mattes inside you can also paint and repurpose.

Once you have your frames and supplies plan out which photo you’d like in which frames. Measure each frame and print your photos accordingly. If you’re adding a coloured matte behind leave an inch all the way around the photo and the frame. You can use the backings from the frames to trace around your coloured or patterned paper to use as backgrounds. Try a double matte with a solid colour and a glitter paper! The options are pretty endless

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Make sure you’re frames are clean and sand off and finishes that may be on them, start painting! It may take 3 or 4 coats to get even coverage. If you’re frames are metal I recommend spray paint instead. Your frames should be fully dry before you start adding photos.

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If one of the frames came with a matte you can create this half and half look below.

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Take apart the frame, carefully remove the glass and set aside somewhere safe. Place the matte back inside the frame and tape in place, turn the frame over and measure the middle. Draw a line across and remove the matte. Use a piece of painters tape to block off one half and give the frame and the matte a few coats. Once it’s dry carefully remove the tape and put your frame back together.

Hang up all your masterpieces together paying attention to shape and size, it’s easiest to build out from the middle. You’ve made yourself a monument to good memories! The best part is with our HP Instant Ink subscription we can print and re-print new memories each season with brand new ink cartridges delivered to our door each month!

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Get CreativeRandom

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It’s a well known fact that us RAOP girls are obsessed with all things floral – from treats and tea to candles and perfume, we seriously cant get enough.

DIY queen Johanna wanted to carry the the obsession over into skincare, and of course she added a bit of crystal magic to the mix in modern witch style. Here’s how she did it:

Harnessing the powers of roses and rose quartz I decided to try my hand at creating one of my favourite beauty go-to’s: Rosewater skin tonic! Since it’s Valentines month, a time of year when we could all use a little more self-love, I decided to infuse my potion with the love-drawing power of rose quartz.

What you’ll need //

1 cup Distilled water
Rose essential oil
Witch Hazel
1/4 c dried food-grade rose buds or petals
Small piece of raw rose quartz
Empty glass spray bottles

Start by boiling the rose buds or petals in distilled water in a saucepan on the stove for about 20 minutes, remove from heat and strain. Set this aside to cool completely.

*The darker the dried rose and the boiling time will effect the colouring of your final spray

Now, break up your rose quartz specimen into small pieces, place it in a plastic bag, on a hard surface use a hammer to break it up.

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Place 3 or 4 pieces at the bottom of each spray bottle.

In the bowl of cooled rose water add about 4 teaspoons of witch hazel and 3-4 drops of rose essential oil and whisk. Carefully pour into the spray bottles and shake, you’ve made yourself a rosey skin soothing magic potion! Spray all over your face and neck after cleansing and before moisturizing.

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Here’s some of our other favourite self-care potions:

Province Apothecary’s Lovers Oil
Witch in the Wild’s Amethyst Face Serum
Herbivore’s Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist
Tata Harper’s Hydrating Floral Essence