Dear Diary

We’ve already been over my personal 2016 resolutions, most of which are going quite well actually, but this post is all about those dollars. That’s right, RAOP is finally making bank (sort of), and this year our tiny team has some pretty big plans for the pastel empire. The only problem? We really need to get on top of proper money management.

A few months ago I was able to get myself out of credit card debt with the help of Mogo (aka my financial superhero), but now it’s time to move on to bigger financial woes. We finally set up RAOP as an actual business and got ourselves an accountant, but that doesn’t mean our personal money struggles aren’t still coming into play.

Making the move from working at a cushy full time job to working for ourselves here at The Pastel Palace was a tough call for Johanna and I, and though the payoff (not to mention the FUN) has been more than worth it, we’ve definitely got a lot to learn when it comes to budgeting and running a business. Freelance life can be difficult to navigate no matter what field you’re in, and we’re just starting to grasp basic concepts like knowing our worth, charging appropriately for projects, and keeping track of what we’re spending. On top of that, we’ve come up with a few key goals and money saving tips to keep us in the green this year, and we’re sharing them below!

Keep scrolling for our favourite tips and tricks



Don’t Spend on small stuff // I am really bad for spending all of my money on pretty little things, and though a lot of them end up as props in shoots etc. I still can’t help but feel the need to scale down and rethink my approach a bit. Weekly fresh flowers and paper clips shaped like flamingos might look nice in the studio, but saving those pennies to invest in new photo backdrops makes a lot more sense (cents?)

What’s Old is New Again // Johanna is the queen of DIY, and she’s been doing a great job of repurposing and reinventing around the house lately. Old band t-shirt? Let’s make it a crop top and use the extra fabric to make macrame plant hangers! Backpack too stained from pen ink? Give it new life with a quick dye in the bath tub!

Plan ahead // One of our biggest shortcomings is budgeting and keeping track of what we spend, so the prepaid Mogo card is sort of a lifesaver. All you do is load the card with your spending money (ex. our entire budget for a shoot), and whether you’re shopping online or irl you can never overspend! It’s a really clever way to stay on top of budgeting, and the card designs are really pretty to boot.



Don’t get Screwed by CC Debt // I may have gotten my credit card under control, but Johanna still has a handful of debt and student loans to pay off. We’re trying to work out a plan to help her get on top of it, and Mogo’s Liquid Loan is definitely a contender, but in the meantime she’s just saving whenever she can. As for me, I’ll be keeping a very close watch on our new business account visa- there’s something extra scary about falling off the wagon with that card!

Back to Basics // Since leaving our 9-5 life we’ve had to make a lot of little lifestyle adjustments, including but not limited to making tea at home instead of splurging at coffee shops, getting creative with cocktail recipes instead of overspending at the bar, and making more home cooked meals with friends.

Swap Meet // We love the idea of trading what you don’t need for something you do, and we try to do so as much as possible. We’ll often trade social media consultation for business advice and locally-made goods, and we’re really into Toronto’s trading group Bunz Trading Zone. Offering goods and services is a great way to get what you need for less, and it also helps build a really wonderful sense of community, even in the big city.

Dear Diary

After almost a week of rest and regeneration, I’m finally feeling up to facing 2016 with everything I’ve got. January is practically made for self-improvement and new goals, and though 2015 wasn’t my favourite year on record it certainly taught me a lot about myself and where I’d like to be next.

Protect your magic // I’ve been hesitant about this one for awhile, but I think it’s finally time to embrace it based on recent life lessons. I’ve always loved how easily I trust, how strongly I love, and how much I throw myself into new experiences, but sadly I think the best thing I could do moving forward is to learn to be a bit more guarded. Giving away your magic feels wonderful until you have nothing but a few specks of glitter left for yourself, and I think I need to teach myself to only give what I receive back. To read more about the art movement that’s inspired me, click here.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover // For a long time I was too busy to make time for one of my favourite things: learning. From watching documentaries to devouring books, I used to love to soak up new information like a sponge, and I’m really seriously invested in bringing that hunger back to my life. Also, podcasts! Any recommendations?

Go green // I don’t know what happened, but I used to eat so much healthier not long ago. These days I survive on a diet of mostly cheese, simple carbs, and sugar, which may look cute in photos but honestly, it does NOT feel good. Effective immediately I’m going to cut back on the diary and sugar, and work towards a mainly plant-based diet. I’ll be sure to share any new favourite recipes here!


Snuff out the smoke // Very few of you know this because I never ever bring it up online, but I’ve smoked on and off for years. It always used to be just a casual social thing, but recently it’s become much more of a habit than I care to admit. I’m hoping to stop completely by the end of February, and in the meantime I’d love any tips you might have!

Run for it // Nothing in the world makes me feel more strong and totally free than a good run, in fact I always joke I run my best when I’m dealing with some form of emotional trauma. I want to work morning jogs into my daily routine instead of just sporadically when I’m feeling too sad to function.

Dear Diary

It’s a little late in the game for a resolutions post, but I’m working hard to better my life in whatever little ways I possibly can, and I thought some of those improvements and goals might be worth sharing before the month is through!

Cook at least one new recipe per week


I love to cook, but I always seem to fall into the habit of making the same dishes over and over again out of convenience. With a pin board full of recipe ideas and inspiration, and a fully stocked kitchen, I really have no excuse not to get a little more experimental with my culinary skills. First up: this yummy fall kale salad with butternut squash!

Go Exploring


It’s been a long time since I took a trip somewhere new, and I’m feeling a fair bit of wanderlust to say the least. I’d love to go somewhere on my own, and for the first time ever I actually get vacation time at my job, so I’ve been going a bit insane imagining all the places I could go. Right now my top contenders are Australia, Thailand, and Hawaii!

Revamp your living space


I’ve been feeling the need to change up my space (aka the Pastel Palace) for months now, and I’m finally starting to put aside time and money to do something about it. Over the next year I plan to paint, add art and furniture, and I’ve even started to turn my old home office into a walk-in closet! I think the end result is going to be pretty dreamy, and I hope you follow along using the hashtag #pastelpalaceproject

Keep it Peachy


t’s easy to get sucked into a hole of negativity, especially during Toronto winters. Everywhere you turn people are complaining, gossiping, and scowling, and that sort of thing can become awfully contagious. This year I want to do my absolute best to skip out on all of that toxic downer behaviour, instead focusing on celebrating each day and respecting those around me. A little bit of kindness goes a long way, and I’m hoping my positive outlook will prove just as contagious as that of the downers.

Read more, watch less


I’ve always been a huge reader, but lately I find myself turning toward the glowing light of my computer screen for old episodes of Sex and The City much more than I care to admit. In an effort to curb this bad habit, I’ve just joined a feminist book club, and who knows, I might even go pay my library fees and start taking out stacks of books again!

Mix it up


Though it may seem like I’m always out and about exploring the city’s cutest restaurants, cafes and shops, I’m actually a total homebody at heart, and getting outside can be a serious struggle for me. This year, I want to mix it up: master new hobbies! Explore a new corner of the city! Try a new sport! So far rock climbing and knitting are major priorities, but I’m definitely open to suggestions…

All photos via. Pinterest