Dear Diary

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And just like that, 102 web pages later, it’s been 5 years of RAOP here on the blog. I have poured myself into these pages, whether I’m just musing about a cute outfit combination or spilling tears over a recent heartbreak.

It’s not often I take the time to look back on what I’ve published over the years, but this past long weekend I decided to take a trip down memory lane, back to page 102 where I published my very first introduction post. It’s funny how much has changed since July 3, 2013: I lived with a partner I fully intended to marry in a house just around the corner from where I live now, I’d just finished school, and I had no idea how to edit a photo (see the hazy nature of my photography for the first chunk of posts!) Even with all the changes, so much of what I set out to make RAOP into has remained true.

The last sentence of my intro post reads, “May I ask, do you like glitter? Ballet slipper pink? Baking cakes from scratch? fresh cut flowers? If you answered yes to any of the above, stick around: I think we might just be friends already.” I want to take this moment to thank all of you, whether you just stopped in for the first time today or you’ve been here from the start, thank you. Without your support, my magical pastel world would stop turning, and I can’t wait to show you what the next 5 years will bring.

Below I’ve listed some favourite posts from over the past five years! Let me know your RAOP favourites in the comments below.

Vegan Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches Recipe

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Rainbow Magic Outfits for World Pride

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Pastel Pool Party

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Fiesta Burrito Bowls (still one of my favourite lunches to this day)

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One of many Disneyland posts

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DIY Bejewelled Tights

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Las Vegas City Guide

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Cut From The Same Cloth

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Disco Ice Cream Social

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Gingerbread Cookie Cocktails

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Pastel Christmas Par-tea

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The Madonna Inn

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City Guide to Nice, France

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Apricot Jam Recipe with Kitten and the Bear

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Hound Collection and Honey (this one makes me tear up now)

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Pink Moon Party

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#EatYourPastels Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

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Dear Diary

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After seemingly endless celebrations and special treats (with more still to come- hello One Direction!), the big day is finally here. Today is my 25th birthday, and to be honest it feels altogether different than I ever imagined it would.

Last year I remember reading Kelly from Studio DIY’s post about turning 25, her “goal age”, and feeling like there was no way I’d be able to accomplish everything I wanted the way she had in only a year’s time. Last August I was totally broke, in denial about being in a relationship that was very obviously coming to an end, and really lost as a person in general. I knew that I had dreams of starting a family, of owning a home, of building a career that I could actually live off of, but I had no idea how those things would ever materialize on the path I found myself heading down.

For the first time in a long time, I couldn’t really visualize what my future would hold, and it absolutely terrified me.

The past year, it turns out, has been my most challenging, exciting, and intense year ever, and though it came with a lot of very high highs, I’m pretty excited to be turning the page onto a very promising new chapter. It feels like the past 12 months have been on fast forward, with so many massive changes: I ended a very long-term relationship, started living alone after relying on my partner for support and company for 3 years, and got to the point where I was so depressed and penniless that I started to make plans to move back to Vancouver. I was eating terribly, barely making it to workouts, and things I had always loved, like snowstorms and Christmas started to lose their lustre. I tried to get back into dating, and after 6 years I opened myself up to the possibility that I might have interest in cisgender men, but the whole idea seemed really scary and out of reach. I went on a few dates, signed up for Tinder, and even asked my friends to set me up, but every disappointment left me feeling more lonely and unwanted than ever. Essentially, I let my self-worth, my confidence, and the amazing life I’d built slip away. I almost completely gave up.

But then something shifted, and it all turned around.

As a last ditch attempt to save everything I had built here in Toronto, I started freelancing anywhere I could, signed up to work with an agency to help me get blog-related jobs and partnerships, and pitched myself to a tea company as their new social media manager (a position that didn’t exist until I came along.) Once I had successfully done one partnership on my blog, more and more inquiries started to show up in my inbox, and after only two months I graduated from my job running one social media account for the the tea company to my current job at Deck Agency where I get to run accounts for some of the most followed bars and restaurants in the city. As I became a little bit more comfortable with my life in Toronto again and started to pay off the massive debt I had created trying to stay afloat, I fixed up my apartment, started going out on more dates, and forced myself out into social situations to make friends.

Somewhere around January things started to pick up speed at a rate that I never could’ve imagined, and since then I feel like I’ve been running nonstop on a hamster wheel trying to keep up. I’m an energetic person at my core, but I just have so many ideas and plans and dreams, and being the most impatient person I know, slowing down has yet to really seem like a valid option… that said, I really wouldn’t have it any other way! I have the most incredible girl gang of friends behind me, my first RAOP “employee” (who also happens to be one of my very best friends) helping me keep this colourful world turning, and most importantly, I get to do what I truly love every single day. I get to live in a magical, sparkly, pastel world where dreams come true, love can last forever, and anything is possible. Sure, there’s still a lot on my to-do list, but those plans and dreams keep me going full speed ahead, and if this much can happen in 1 year, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 3/4 of my life.

Thank you all so much again for your love and support- I couldn’t do any of this without you, and I’m so excited to kick off another colourful year!

Dear DiaryParty Time

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I’d be lying if I didn’t say this “blogiversary” totally snuck up on me. RAOP has become such a part of everything I do that it’s sometimes strange to think there was a time when it didn’t exist. Just like a love that feels so right from the moment you find it, RAOP feels like it’s been part of me for a lifetime, even if the date stamps on my posts prove otherwise.

For two years I’ve poured my heart, soul, dreams, spare time, spending money, sweat, and sparkles into these pages, and though it was a slow start, these days I get back so much more than I ever could’ve imagined. In the past 6 months alone I’ve had the chance to work with some of my favourite brands and designers, my audience has almost doubled, and each morning I wake up, look around me and think “I am so lucky to have this life”. On top of getting to play dress up in pink outfits and eat sugary treats for a living, I also have the most amazing community behind me, both online and off, and the love and support I receive on a daily basis truly is beyond my wildest expectations.

I don’t have much time (I’m setting up a very special blog birthday party for this afternoon, so be sure to follow along on Instagram), but I guess what I really wanted to say is thank you. Thank you to all you dreamers out there who believe in what I do, who read my posts and comment on my photos, and who don’t think it’s unreasonable to live a bright, glittery life. Without you, none of this would exist, and my colourful world would be so much darker.

One last thing! I’ve been thinking for awhile how fun it would be if I could see all of your random acts of pastel out there in the world, and what better time to start than now? If you’re up for it, hashtag your pastel pics (on Instagram, Twitter, wherever!) with #randomactsofpastel and I promise I’ll find them, like them, and share my favourites on my feed!

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Sweater by Wildfox via. High Street Fashion

Photos by Johanna Martin

Dear Diary

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I’m not going to sugar coat the truth for you guys on this one: I’m a total birthday princess.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been totally insane about my birthday. As a kid, I’d make plans and send out invitations months in advance, and I even started making birthday wish lists with links, images, and level of priority (what a brat huh?)

My traditions have grown and developed as the years have gone by, and I don’t plan and obsess quite as much as I used to (or make lists at all for that matter), but my level of excitement hasn’t dulled much, and there are a few birthday traditions that I still hold near and dear. I love getting together with my friends and picking out a special dress just for the big day (usually the more glitter the better!) I always open my presents first thing in the morning in bed just like I always did with my parents back home, and I eat exactly what I want, all day, no matter how inappropriate my cravings (and yes, this usually means cake and ice cream for breakfast!)

But today, I’m 24, and for the first time, the joy I usually feel about my birthday is altered ever so slightly by the creeping in of anxiety and pressure. I’ve had a life changing year since last August: I jumped into my career with both feet, and I feel so lucky that I’ve been happy and successful in it so far. I’ve worked on so many incredible projects, had all sorts of magical adventures, and made so many wonderful new friends. I fostered dogs and helped them find homes, moved into a new apartment, learned a lot of information about beauty products and lipstick application, went vegan and then went back again (still struggling with that one), and dyed my hair about 15 different colours, all in the span of 365 days.

So why all the negativity?

The problem is, though I’m still really young, I get anxious that I’m running out of time. There are so many things I want to do, feel, see and hear during this short blur that is my one shot at life, and lately I’ve been feeling worried I’ll never be able to get it all done. I want to get married and start a family by 27 (I know, I’m crazy), but I also want to visit South East Asia in the next couple of years, and build my career and maybe even buy a house: is it even possible to do all of that in such a short period of time?

The answer is no, It probably isn’t possible, but looking back, that’s sort of the beauty of life isn’t it? I have done so many things I’ve expected and planned to do, but so many of my best memories have been built from spontaneity, from magical surprises and shocking heartbreaks. Whether I check off my little mental 20-something checklist, I think I need to remind myself that every year, in fact every minute of every day, is a gift, and all I can do is make the most of every second, and appreciate every passing moment.

At the end of the day, I really have no idea what 24 has in store for me, but if it’s even half as glittery and fun as 23 was, I can’t wait to find out.

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Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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In case you didn’t already know, last Friday RAOP turned 1! To celebrate I launched a super special giveaway (enter before Friday!) but it wouldn’t really be a birthday without some cake too right?

I really wanted to make a teeny tiny cake this time around, but I wasn’t really sure how, so there was a lot of trial and error involved, and a lot of icing ended up on my hands, clothing, and floor by the time I had figured it out! All complications aside though, I think they turned out pretty darn adorable.

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To get started, I turned to one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Ive been using this genius little guide so intensely for so many years that almost every single page is all marked up and stained! for this creation, I used the basic golden vanilla cupcakes recipe, but took out the cornstarch and added three kinds of lemon flavour. For the icing, I used the vegan fluffy buttercream icing recipe from the same book, but I made a special strawberry milk to make it pink and give it a sweet strawberry flavour.

Ingredients:

For the Cake

1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 Earth Balance Margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp lemon extract (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

For the Icing

1/2 cup Earth Balance shortening
1/2 cup Earth Balance whipped buttery spread
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup strawberries, chopped

Method:

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a muffin pan. Combine almond milk with apple cider vinegar in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or more to curdle. Mix all of the dry cake ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl with a mixer (standing or hand), cream margarine and sugar until fluffy, then beat in vanilla, almond extract, all lemon ingredients, soy milk mixture, and dry ingredients.

Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, separate the batter into three bowls, and use natural red food colouring to make a pink gradient (I left one bowl white, one light pink, and one darker pink). Once satisfied with the colour, pour the batter into the muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating once. When the cupcakes are fully baked, remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.

For the Icing

Cream the shortening and butter together with a mixer, than gradually add in 3 of the 4 cups of icing sugar. Using a blender, puree the chopped strawberries with the almond milk, then gradually add that mixture to your icing. If the icing is too runny after adding the strawberry milk, add more icing sugar until thick and creamy!

Prep

Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and cut the tops off (you can save them and eat them later dipped in the extra icing!) Carefully cut each cake into two parts, then stack them up in the order you desire. Using icing, stick them together like you would a regular layer cake, and ice the top when you’re done. You can leave them just like that, or decorate with sprinkles, candles, flags, rainbow coconut shreds, or whatever suits your fancy!

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