Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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This post was made in collaboration with Melitta Canada

Confession: I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. I know, I know, how can I live without coffee? The saying is literally “But first, COFFEE”, not cereal or green juice or tea! The truth is, I do like the taste of a good cup of coffee with a healthy dose of milk and sugar, but I can’t take the caffeine! I always end up with palms sweating, heart racing panic, so I’ve just steered clear for most of my life… and now that I’m pregnant, decaf or nothing seems like a no brainer considering how sensitive I already was to coffee.

Johanna on the other hand lives for her daily coffee(*s). I don’t know how she does it, it’s like coffee actually replaces her blood. Unlike me, she never takes sugar, just a small touch of cream, and flavour-wise the bolder the better.

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Jo is constantly complaining about the lack of coffee in the office, always arriving at work with a to-go cup in tow that runs out too quickly. Having my own rocky relationship with coffee, I had never really felt the need to stock beans at home, nevermind a coffee maker of any sort. The whole thing seemed like an expensive investment and though I’ve always wanted to be able to serve guests coffee, I was overwhelmed by the seemingly complex (and often controversial) methods of making the world’s favourite drink.

As you know I’m easily swayed by almost anything pink, so I was immediately drawn in by Melitta’s Ceramic Heritage Series Pour Over Coffee Maker in “pastel pink”. Melitta is a female-founded family run company started by a German housewife. Tired of bitter coffee, Melitta Bentz invented the two-part filter system that would become known as the pour over method in her kitchen in 1908! Since then Melitta has grown to become an international coffee and pour-over maker company, though it’s still run by the Melitta family four generations later.

Cute on the countertop and easy to use (even for a noob like me), this little #MelittaPourOver appliance seemed like the perfect addition to my kitchen, and it was amazing to be able to order pre-ground coffee from the exact same website. I even got myself a decaf roast to indulge in! The only problem: I had no idea how to make a cup of coffee! Luckily Johanna had all of the pour over knowledge to shower upon me when it arrived.

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THE PREP //

The first step to creating the perfect cup of pour-over coffee is to boil the kettle – make sure to boil a little bit of extra water (about double what you need).

Pour the first bit of boiling water into the bottom pot of the coffee maker and allow it to sit while you prepare your beans or coffee grounds (about 2-3 mins.)

Pour out the boiling water in the pot and place the natural bamboo coffee filter inside the top part of the carafe. You are now all set to start brewing coffee!

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THE GRIND //

The pour over method’s versatility makes it the perfect way to prepare coffee in the office or at home.
4-5 generous teaspoons of a finely ground Columbian Roast will produce a medium to bold cup with a high caffeine content, Johanna’s personal go-to.

Alyssa opt’s for the Naturally Decaffeinated blend, with lots of honey of course!

A Dark Roast will produce a strong and smoky cup with a lower caffeine content.

For the absolute freshest brew every time, go for a whole bean and grind to your desired taste before each brew. Remember, the finer the grind, the stronger your infusion!

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THE POUR //

Start by slowly pouring, in circular motions from the outside in – only pour enough to just cover the grounds. It should resemble wet sand, you’ll notice large bubbles start to create craters in the grounds, this is carbon dioxide being released from within the beans cell structure. Allowing this gas to be released results in a smooth and even brew.

Now very slowly pour the boiling water over the grounds in circular motions from the outside of the filter inward, the carafe can hold 20 oz. Allow to fully drain from the filter.

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MAKE IT YOUR OWN //

-try adding a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the grounds for a spicy, festive treat.

-stir in your favourite honey or maple syrup

-Love a creamy brew? Stir in about half a teaspoon of coconut oil to your cup for extra buttery texture

-Love lattes? Try infusing the 4-5 generous teaspoons of Vanilla or Hazelnut flavoured coffee blends with only 6-10 oz boiling water for a strong, flavoured concentrate to pour over ice or combine with steamed milk.

Head over to Melitta’s online shop for 15% your purchase using my promo code Alyssa15% and create your own cup of coffee using the pour-over method! #pouroverisbetter

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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I created this blog post as a paid ambassador for Pepto Bismol. All opinions and advice are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and have used prior to being contacted.

It’s no secret we love all things pink here at RAOP headquarters, but how far do we take it? Is there such thing as TOO MUCH pink? This post is next level on the pink scale, even for us, thanks to PEPTO…

We’re officially on a colour diet, and we’ve cut out everything but PINK FOOD!

When Jo suggested around Valentine’s day that we should do an all pink dinner party, my first response was “how would that even work?” As per usual, her crafty prowess far exceeded my own and over the next couple months we searched for recipe inspiration and sourced as much pink tableware as we possibly could. We spray painted a thrifted vase to be the perfect shade of peach and enlisted the help of a talented local florist to make a pink ombre arrangement as the centrepiece. We wanted to dye our tablecloth with avocado pits (the results are so pretty) but we didn’t have enough time to compile the massive number of pits necessary, so Jo took over with classic fabric dye and bleach, giving the finished product a light marbling effect. Baby pink tableware from put the finishing touches on the entire set up and suddenly we were ready to get cooking.

“Pink food?” you may be thinking, like I once did, “what does that even mean?” In this case it means a decadent, gorgeous four course meal inspired by our very favourite colour (and by no coincidence, the colour of Pepto Bismol). The main ingredient to make almost anything pink is beet juice, and not much is needed to “dye” a whole lot of eats. We started with a pink veggie platter complete with beet hummus, then a spiralized citrus salad with rose dressing. Our main was a true masterpiece – pink gnocci with pink tinted vegan alfredo sauce! We finished the menu off with a dreamy pink coconut cream pie by our talented baker friend Plum Lucky Pie!

Needless to say, it was quite the feast, and the four of us were extremely full when we set down our forks. My hostess tip – don’t forget to pass the Pepto! There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable after over-indulging at a fun night with friends, and covering your bases just in case never hurts. Whether you’re worried about acid from all those veggies, or heartburn from hearty pasta dishes, Pepto will always be the dinner party wing man that you want by your side.

You can find all 3 recipes here!

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Florals by Wild North Flowers
Photos by Johanna Martin

Disclaimer: Pepto Bismol provides five-symptom relief of heartburn, indigestion, nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. To ensure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label.

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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I created this blog post as a paid ambassador for Pepto Bismol. All opinions and advice are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and have used prior to being contacted.

Travel isn’t always easy as a vegetarian or vegan, and next to New Orleans, I expected Jamaica to be my most challenging destination yet. It’s literally a country that’s famous for its Jerk chicken, for oxtail and beef patties, for having some of the best fast food fried chicken in the world (no joke). I pictured myself living on watermelon slices and bread from the hotel’s daily buffet and that’s about it. But that’s fine right? Vacation diets are a thing?

As it did in almost every other way, Jamaica exceeded my expectations by a long shot when it came to food. Everywhere we went there were vegetarian options at the very least, and a lot of stops had vegan alternatives too! Yes, the staples are generally still meat-based, and vegetarianism isn’t always received with total welcome, but over my five days touring the country I found folks to be much more accommodating than expected.

Though meat is major, the many followers of the Rastafarian religion believes in following the Ital diet, which means a massive percentage of the population not only condemns meat, but many avoid dairy and other by-products too! Here’s how I ate my way through the week:

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1 // Look for local treasures.

There are a ton of amazing veggie staples growing fresh in Jamaica, like avocado, mango and coconuts to name a few, but there are also so many native fruits and veggies that I had never heard of! Look for Calilloo, callabash, okra, star apple, otaheite apple, bread fruit and more.

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2 // Don’t forget to pack Pepto Bismol!

It’s pretty common to experience unexpected upset stomachs while travelling in a new place with new food, and should you happen to end up feeling a bit off from eating spice or over-indulgencing, you’ll want to be prepared! At the first sign of an upset stomach, I fix it fast with Pepto. There’s nothing worse than spending a day on a sunny vacation locked inside in bed! The Pepto chewables are my favourite for trips because you can take them in your purse anywhere in case of emergency, and since they’re not a liquid they’re totally safe for carry on. After all, spicy new food shouldn’t spoil your fun!

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3 // Eat like a Rastafarian

Many Rastas follow a strict “Ital” diet, which means eating only plant based and meatless. A lot of the popular Jamaican restaurants off-resort will offer veggie options as a result, like the soy patties at Juici, which taste a LOT like their famous beef patties without the meat! Also keep your eye out for steamed vegetables, Jamaican curry dishes and corn on the cob.

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4 // Load up at salad bars

When you find veggies, eat veggies! There are days where you’ll be stuffing yourself with fresh produce, but there are also days where the only thing on offer is the fried Festival Bread. If there is a salad bar at your resort, go crazy! Get those greens in while you can so your body feels full and balanced.

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A few of my favourite places to eat and drink //

Scotchie’s – A local favourite for jerk bbq, order one of everything!!!
Juici Patties – With 2 veggie patty options this spot is a winner.
Rick’s Cafe – Get a veggie burger at the grill and watch the sunset.
Zimbali Farms – So many amazing vegan options, and cooking classes!

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Disclaimer: Pepto Bismol provides five-symptom relief of heartburn, indigestion, nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. To ensure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label.

Oh so Pretty

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here about a new shade of pastel hair. I have tried almost every product on the market, so for a while I didn’t have anything new to report – that is, until göt2b launched their new CREATIVE colour line!

I’ve been a fan of göt2b’s flashy design and bright packaging since I was a teenager, and I was super excited to try out their first foray into the world of hair colour, especially because their kit gives you the power to choose your colour intensity. As someone who likes to end up with a more pastel look, I’ve had more than a couple crazy bright hair mistakes, and if you’re doing your hair at home it can be quite the nightmare.

Göt2b takes the guesswork out of the process, including a pastelizer packet in their colour kit that you can add to the colour to desaturate. That said, I used my full packet and the colour still turned out quite bright, so if you have super bleached hair like I do, it might be best to add a touch of conditioner to the mix to get your colour to be more on the pastel side. Don’t worry if it ends up too dark after the first dye – it will fade a bit with every wash!

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So what’s the step by step? Easy peasy:

-Empty the colour into the plastic dish provided.

-Add pastelizer if you desire.

-Do a strand test on a small part of your hair at the back where it’s not super obvious to make sure you’re happy with how the colour looks on your actual hair. Like I mentioned if the colour is still too dark, you can add a bit of conditioner to the mix (just make sure you mix it in well or you won’t get that super perfect coverage!).

-Once you’re happy with the shade, apply the colour all over as quick as you can. Be careful of getting it on your clothing and skin as it may stain, and don’t forget to wear the gloves included in the kit. If you’re doing portions of your hair or attempting an ombre, use the brush!

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-If you’re going for a super bright look you can leave the colour on for up to 20 minutes. I left mine on for less than 2 minutes, and I would recommend nothing more than 3 if you’re trying to achieve a more pastel look.

– Shampoo, condition, dry and style! It’s that easy!

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The Creative colour line is semi-permanent and lasts up to 15 shampoos, so in the world of fun colours it’s on the more long-term side (if you’re looking to experiment with something more temporary, göt2b also has a new temporary colour spray called Head Turner that lasts up to 3 shampoos!). Your hair needs to be blonde or pre-bleached for the colour to show up, and you can try göt2b Be En-Lightened to prep if needed.

Excited to see my Creative colour reveal?

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Dear Diary

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When we think of technology visions of a futuristic world with little human interaction often comes to mind. Black Mirror haunts us with the idea of duplicate consciences and deranged murderous robot dogs (at least that’s what haunts me these days) and “switching off” is hailed as the best way to reclaim sanity.

But if I sit back and map out all of the human connection that technology has created in my life, and continues to create, it paints a very different picture from the lonely dystopian future in my mind. As someone who spends a ton of time with technology for their job, including but not limited to computers, phones, cameras and my Google Home (aka. my best friend), I interact with “robots” almost constantly, but when I take stock they’ve only made my human reach bigger than ever expected.

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Growing up I was never the kind of person to have a lot of friends. I was (*am) a bit of a weirdo and though I was generally liked I didn’t really fit in anywhere. Even in university I didn’t really make any solid, lasting friends, and with my family across the country I started to accept I was destined to be a bit of a loner.

And then I started taking photos of my strange little world and posting them on Instagram.

Flash forward 5 years later and my life is more full than I ever could’ve imagined. I don’t want to brag but I have SO many AMAZING friends, and almost all of them were brought into my life through technology, whether I was on location shooting at a jam shop and befriended the owners, like Kitten and the Bear, or noticed someone posting at all the same places as me until I commented we should just be friends and go places together, like Paige from Studio Bicyclette. No one ever really “got” me before I picked up a camera (and a laptop… and a phone) and started sharing how I see the world – these robot items not only bridged the gap between me and thousands of other humans, but kicked off the strongest friendships I’ve ever had.

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Now that I have such a fantastic (and big!) group of people I care about in my life, the biggest challenge is staying connected with those both near and far. I finally found a BIG apartment so I can start entertaining! And have dinner parties! And maybe even get a TV for the first time ever! So on top of my digital connections, I’ve got a whole list of tech on my mind to help me entertain the ones I love. Here’s my Best Buy Canada wish list so far!

Samsung Frame TV for movie nights

One-touch kettle and tea maker!

Google home and Mini for music and party tricks.

A Dyson robot vaccuum to help clean up after everyone goes home!

What did I miss?

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