A Pastel Baby

Almost everyone can agree that shopping for baby and creating registries is one of the most exciting and fun parts of prepping for your little one’s arrival. The only problem? There is almost TOO MUCH to shop for.

I put so many hours into curating the perfect baby registry for my shower back in October, but the problem is I put so much energy into accumulating a collection of cute things, like knit hats with bunny ears and tiny ceramic rainbow wall art, that I didn’t spend any time thinking about the things my baby would actually need. Let’s face it: cute and sparkly is more fun than practical, but the problem is when baby Summer actually arrived earlier this year I was missing so many of the key basics I needed from day one. Believe it or not, tiny fuzzy bunny slippers were not an actual newborn essential!

A couple weeks after Summer was born my mom and I sat down and made a list of practical items that I had failed to predict I’d need, and from there we created a registry on BuyBuy BABY’s website. So many people wanted to bring Summer gifts after she was born, and this registry was both a place to keep track of the items we still needed and an easy link to share if someone asked for gift ideas. But why Buy Buy BABY? For starters, it’s surprisingly hard to find newborn essentials in small local shops – we searched for days around my neighbourhood, but most smaller stores only stock 0-3 months and up, which was way too big for Summer (and still is in some brands!) They also have really affordable pricing, which is crucial when it comes to items that baby might not fit for very long, and they offer a price match promise on registry items in case you see the item you want listed elsewhere for less. BuyBuy BABY also offers free personal shopping appointments with registry consultants, which I honestly wish I did before my shower so I could have had a more realistic list of needs for friends and family to help out with sooner rather than later!

Scroll down to find out what our essentials were in the first three months, and why!

Zipper Footies // I love a onesie with lots of cute buttons as much as the next mama, but they make diaper changes way more complicated, especially in the middle of the night. I quickly learned that sleepers with zippers are much more convenient for bedtime – we love these rainbow and shell designs!

Tiny Socks // It became an obsession for my entire family to find socks that would actually stay on Summer’s tiny toes. We searched everywhere and nothing would work! These little Gerber socks are the only thing that worked for us in the end – they’re crucial in the cold winter months and also help shoes stay on her feet!

Simple Undershirts // I had stocked up on so many cute outfits for Summer before she was born, but when it came time to put them on I realized how key simple layering bases were too. I got a pack of long sleeve onesies and short sleeves onesies and it made a big difference when getting her dressed.

Nail Scissors // Cutting a baby’s nails is a terrifying experience and proper newborn scissors designed for safely cutting their papery nails are key. I love these simple and effective Piyo Piyo scissors to get the job done.

More below!

Snotsucker //  So many moms told me this was a must have but I didn’t get it until I had Summer and needed to help her clear out her nose! I chose this kit because it comes with saline spray and extra filters for the sucker too.

Musical Toys // I fought pretty hard against the idea of any sort of loud or obnoxious toys, but watching how Summer reacts to music made me a believer quick. I love this soft sunny pull toy so much – it’s colourful and fun but also beautifully designed.

A Place to Play // I spent hours setting up Summer’s room as the perfect place for her to play, but I didn’t plan for how much time we would spend together downstairs in the main floor. I wanted to create a safe place for her to hang out with me while I work, but since we have a big dog a traditional play mat setup wasn’t going to work for us. My solution was to order soft play tiles and playpen fencing to create a sectioned off area in my office just for her. For now it’s a secure spot to set up a swing and work on tummy time, but as she grows it will be filled with toys and books for independent play.

Tiny Cloths // My mom insisted I needed as many tiny cloths as possible when I was pregnant and preparing, and she was absolutely right! These cute cloths are great for burping, spit up, and any other little (or big) messes along the way.

More below!

Other items you might need //

Bath Thermometer

Electric Nail File (if safety scissors still scare you)

Forehead Thermometer

Dear Diary

I’ve always strived to be the kind of person that has an ongoing, dedicated vitamin regimen, but I was never able to stick to a routine… that is, until pregnancy kicked my adulting skills into high gear. Suddenly I was excited to load up on all of the vitamins that I could, to set myself up with the best start each day. As soon as I committed to actually taking my vitamins daily I gained so much energy and strength, even all throughout my pregnancy – sort of like I had a new superpower! Even as a vegetarian, I never once had a blood test with low levels in anything, which I think is quite the 9 month accomplishment.

Since becoming a new mom a few weeks ago I’ve been expanding my vitamin lineup from just the bare minimum to include more winter defence and immune boosting ingredients, to protect both baby and me. I’m so determined to keep myself healthy and in high spirits as I heal and wait for the weather to warm up!

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So what’s in my medicine cabinet these days?

Well first off, getting sick is not high on my wish list this winter, especially now that I have a fragile new baby around and a lot of healing to do. I am seriously dreading that familiar tickle in my throat or stuffy nose, and with so many visitors coming by and a short stay in the hospital not far behind us, it seems like the odds of staying well aren’t in my favour. If I even have an inkling a sickness of any sort might be coming on I’ve started taking Jamieson Vitamins Cold Fighter Soft gels to protect myself from whatever is brewing. Loaded with Echinacea, ginger, vitamin C and Zinc, these small but mighty pills can help keep a cold at bay if you take just one a day! They also help to relieve sore throat, cough and congestion if you’re not able to fight off the virus altogether and find yourself under the weather. I have a feeling I’ll be needing a lot more of these when playgrounds and kid germs start to become a part of the picture around here too!

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What else?

Usually it’s around about this time of year that I take off in search of as much sunlight as possible, but that hasn’t been a realistic option for me with a brand new baby on board (yet!) To help give myself a bit of a boost, I’ve started taking vitamin D, which not only supports healthy bones and muscles, but helps support a healthy immune system too! It’s like a tiny dose of sunshine until the real thing comes back around. Now if only there was a magic pill to get Spring started early!

Vitamin C and Echinacea are always essentials when facing the Canadian cold, but this is the first time I’ve ever actually taken them regularly to prevent getting sick, and I honestly haven’t fallen ill a single time yet this season! Plus, I can’t help but love the childlike charm of Jamieson’s chewable tangy orange Vitamin C tablets.

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Last but not least, we’re all about the honey lemon Zinc Lozenges at RAOP headquarters. Johanna hasn’t been quite so lucky when it comes to complete immunity this winter, but these vitamin-infused cough candies have been her best friend when it comes to feeling better faster, and a have a pack in my medicine cabinet ready to go in case I join the cold club anytime soon.

What do you take to ward off winter sicknesses? How do you avoid falling under the weather? I’d love to hear your tricks!

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Sips, Sweets & Snacks

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

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

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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Special thank you to Fido for their amazing #FidoRoam plan – it makes daily travel data rates so easy with no hidden fees!

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.