#ShopRAOPDear Diary

I’m a big dreamer, and one of my most constant life dreams has been to create a custom scent of some sort. As someone with no experience in the olfactory world outside of being an admirer, it seemed a bit far fetched to make a full career pivot, but I always hope the right scent collaboration would come along, and shout out to the universe, it did!

I’ve been a huge fan of Toronto-based LOHN candles for years now. A women owned and operated company, the ladies behind LOHN hand pour their coconut wax candles right around the corner from my old High Park apartment! Every product they create is swoon worthy, from the packaging design and scent notes to the custom risograph printing on their labels. I couldn’t have imagined a better pair to create a candle of my own with, and when they approached me it was seriously a dream come true!

We were originally in talks about this project last Spring, but I was so overwhelmed with newborn life that we decided it was best to push it, and so here we are, launching our limited run of perfect pink candles just in time for Mother’s Day 2020!

Tasked with creating a candle that captured the warmth and love of motherhood, I came up with “Penny“, named for my mom’s maiden name Pennykid. With top notes of black tea and bergamot, middle notes of honey and chamomile, and bottom notes of garden rose, this candle is sweet, delicate, floral and yet so complex. When I sniff it, I can almost feel sunshine on my face and taste a hot cup of Earl Grey tea on my tongue. Growing up, my mom, sister and I would all gather around my great grandmother’s table and share stories, while “Nanny Pennykid” popped spoonfuls of honey into our mouths and topped up our china teacups with Twinings Earl Grey. This candle is dedicated to those sweet afternoons.

The women behind LOHN translated my somewhat vague scent memory so perfectly, and my good friend / fellow mama Paige of Studio Bicyclette took over interpreting my design vision. The final result is a blush pink candle that delights all of the senses, complete with custom printed glass votive that can be used for fresh blooms, makeup brushes or odds and ends long after your Penny candle has burned through.

We’ve only poured 100 of these incredibly special candles, and they’re already selling quickly, so get your order in here! $2 of every candle sold will go to help families at Nellie’s Shelter, and LOHN is even offering contact-free drop offs within Toronto to ensure you get your Mother’s Day gifts on time!

Special thanks to Paige for the photos, and Bille Flower Co. for supplying the photoshoot blooms!

Dear Diary

Let’s get the obvious out of the way – planning for your own untimely demise is not a fun, easy, or approachable task. When you’re young and healthy (/healthyish), it’s easy to push writing a will and investing in life insurance to the bottom of your to-do list, or even out of mind entirely. I know I never gave it a second thought. 

It wasn’t until I had Summer early last year that I realized I hadn’t put any thought into where she, my pets, and my belongings would end up if something happened to me. How would my assets be divided? How could I ensure Summer would be well taken care of well into adulthood. It’s a heartbreaking thought process to have to walk yourself though, but I’ve witnessed firsthand friends and family fighting over the estate’s of loved ones when they are no longer living, and I wouldn’t wish that pain and drama on my worst enemy, never mind my child.

Initially I asked my parents about how to make a will, but they immediately lost me between lawyers, executors, and fireproof file storage. The whole process seemed daunting and outdated, so I figured I’d just write a note with my wishes, sign it, and stash it somewhere safe, just in case. 

Life insurance was just as complex, and looked very expensive at a glance. For someone with a young child and no second parent in the picture, like me, the amount of money I’d need from a life insurance policy to keep Summer comfortable for the next 20 years was formidable. Was it really worth it to add yet another expense to my monthly bill total? 

And then COVID-19 happened.

The current pandemic has put so much into perspective for me, including how unprepared I am if something unexpected were to happen to me. It’s so crucial to have a plan in place, especially as a parent, if only for peace of mind, but when it finally sunk in that I needed to take action, I had no idea where to start! 

That’s where Willful and PolicyAdvisor come in. Both of these platforms are geared specifically toward making afterlife planning as quick, affordable, and painless as possible. If you like doing internet quizzes to pass the time, it’s almost as easy as that. Both operate online, and both are social-distancing compliant – Willful requires two witness signatures on all printed documents, which can be difficult if you’re in self isolation. Fortunately, Willful put together a list of helpful tips here to navigate how to make your new will official. PolicyAdvisor offers digital signatures and several life insurance options that can be arranged entirely over the phone, with the policy delivered by email to you.

I had some concerns I hadn’t acted quickly enough with life insurance, and that a death related to COVID-19 may not be covered, but Policy Advisor had already addressed all of my questions in a handy post here. Basically unless you’ve already been diagnosed with COVID-19, you’re totally covered by life insurance, even a new policy, in the event you do become fatally ill. 

I know this is a departure from my typical optimistic content, but it was such a massive weight off of my shoulders to get my estate in order for the future, so I could get back to appreciating the now. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s important to have something in place to help your loved ones navigate life without you, from your wishes about a funeral and remains, to leaving money to take care of your pets. It’s a weird process, but both Willful and Policy Advisor make it as simple as possible, and when all of the documents are signed, I promise you’ll feel a lot better, pandemic or no pandemic. 

Here’s a snapshot of what happens when you login to Willful:

One of my favourite things about this platform is how easy it is to make edits to your will as things change in your life (for example, the founder joked about how important it is to edit after a divorce or breakup, otherwise your ex could end up with everything!) Just remember – only a printed and signed will is valid, so make sure any new versions are printed, signed, and stored in a safe place as soon as possible!

Fun Fact: They also made a handy little card game (available here) to help you discuss your wishes and ask those tough questions with friends and family. I highly suggest playing a round over a glass of wine next time you’re all together (or via Facetime right now!)

And the same for PolicyAdvisor:

Any kind of insurance can be intimidating to set up (and set up properly), but PolicyAdvisor.com uses an online quote calculator system that couldn’t be simpler! I was surprised how little information was needed to get an initial quote, and how easy it was to setup a call with an actual person to make sure the plan I chose was right for me. The option to sign digitally was also a huge perk (how many of us have in-home printers there days?!)

In the end I went with higher coverage because Summer is so young, but chose a 10 year term to save money now, and allow me to make changes as she grows and my needs shift.

Ready to get your estate in order? Use code “PASTEL15” for $15 off any Willful plan (no expiry!), and then visit PolicyAdvisor.com to try out their hassle-free insurance calculator.

This post was a paid partnership with Willful and Policy Advisor, but all opinions are my own, based on personal experience with each platform. 

Dear Diary

Here at RAOP, we love all things colourful and cute, but we also care about the environment/world/greater good. Just a couple of weeks ago we passed “Earth Overshoot Day”, which means that humanity has used up more resources than the earth can regenerate this year (you can read more about it here). Basically we’re using up resources beyond our year until the end of 2019, creating a debt in the eco-system!

As citizens of this world I think it’s our duty to try and make up for that debt in any way that we possibly can, and hey, it doesn’t hurt if the little daily solutions to over-consumption are also cute, right?

Here are a few of our (eco-friendly) favourite things! //

Abeego Beeswax Food Wraps // I was intimidated at first by bee’s wrap products, especially when it comes to keeping them clean, but honestly they work SO well and a quick wipe-down after use seems to totally do the trick!

Ten & Co Sponge Cloths // Say goodbye to paper towel for good with these adorable printed sponge cloths! Designed in Toronto and printed in Sweden, this woman-owned local company even ships in zero waste envelopes!

Hannahpad Washable Organic Cotton Cloth Pads // I’ll be honest: I’m not a regular pad user. For the most part I was already fairly sustainable in this department because I’ve used a menstrual cup in the daytime for the past couple years. That said, I still used panty liners at times for extra confidence, plus night pads for heavy nights, and I used up SO many pads in my postpartum period (I bled for 8 solid weeks). I seriously wish that I had know about these amazing eco-friendly pads sooner – they’re compact, cute, so well designed, and last about 2-5 years, after which you can compost them. I really look forward to giving my body a break by using them nightly when I return to my usual post-baby cycle. The extra long design is also going to be my new favourite postpartum gift for pregnant friends!

Saalt Menstrual Cup // in the past I used a Diva cup but I’m totally making the switch to Saalt when I need a new one! They also donate 2% of their revenue to improve period care around the globe.

Cotton Mesh shopping bags + produce bags // I’m always shocked to see how many people are still using plastic at the grocery store! These bag options are lightweight and the shopping bags both look adorable with any outfit and hold so much! I take these bags with me everywhere.

Metal straws // I was a BIG straw user before the plastic straw bans came into play, and I’m really happy I made the switch to metal sooner rather than later – I save so many straws! If you want to feel fancy (like me) they’re also available in gold!

Blueland Cleaning Tabs // Sadly this company doesn’t ship to Canada (yet!) but you best believe when they do I will be the first customer in line. You order a starter pack with your forever bottles and from there you simply refill with the cleaning solution tablets and water from the sink! Such an innovative, well designed solution for a typically wasteful product category.

Stasher Silicone Storage Bags // These are the best little bags for stashing snacks (I keep one in the diaper bag with cashews for days when I forget to feed myself properly). You can also use them to COOK veggies, right in the bag!

We love Wild Minimalist package free shop, especially this Zero Waste Mama Kit!

Dear DiarySips, Sweets & Snacks

I have always loved honey. Growing up my Great Grandmother would always put a heaping spoonful into my cup of earl grey tea, and then she’d sneak a spoonful right into my mouth too if my mom wasn’t looking. Smiling at her as the honey melted on my tongue will forever remain one of my very favourite childhood memories.

Flash forward, and I still consume SO MUCH honey as an adult: in tea, on toast, and when I’m sick or have a cough a spoonful of raw honey mixed with cinnamon always does the trick. I’m always looking for new local honey companies to support with my sweet habit (it’s a LOT of support haha) and I was so excited to find The Heritage Bee Co. at the One of a Kind Show last Christmas!

The Heritage Bee Co. is owned by the most adorable couple ever, Debbie and Jeff. Together they left the world of finance in Toronto to do something good for the world instead – beekeeping! They bought a beautiful farm a couple hours outside of Toronto, studied everything they could about honeybees , and eventually launched The Heritage Bee Co.

I took an immediate liking to this sweet pair and their beautiful brand, and we became Instagram friends over the months to follow. When I returned to the Spring One of a Kind show and they met Summer Honey Rose they invited us up to their farm for dinner, a bee lesson, and a tour of their apiary!

A couple of months later we packed up the car and made our way to the bees. It’s no wonder The Heritage Bee’s Apiary Tours are almost always fully booked – Johanna and I learned SO much about the bees, and Jeff and Debbie’s passion for the industry and the environment was seriously contagious! Did you know that bees can be rented out to pollinate huge fields of mono crops en-mass, and that’s where most of the honey industry’s money comes from… not honey? This often leads to bee illness and cross-contamination, just like any other large-scale factory farming. The best way to avoid supporting this is to purchase both diverse, heirloom, local fruits and veggies, and to support small, local honey producers whose bees are free to pollinate on their own terms!

My favourite bee facts of the day were all about the hive hierarchy and the queen. Basically the boys have very little value and are often sent to the edges of the hive to die off first in case of a cold front or an attack. The queen bees are chosen when a replacement queen is needed, and fed a diet of royal jelly over a very specific time frame to become a queen (aka develop ovaries!) The new queen then takes a flight on a warm sunny day and mates with as many male bees as possible, saving the semen in her body to self inseminate over her lifetime! There are no dad bees in hive society, and the daughters essentially run the whole operation. Like Debbie said, Summer’s name including “Honey” had a lot more meaning than I had planned!

We were so inspired by our time with The Heritage Bee Co. that we went home and made a honey-sweetened popsicle recipe with their Vanilla Honey to share here. Think golden latte meets summer popsicle goodness!

Scroll down for the recipe!

Golden Vanilla Honey Popsicles //

Ingredients //
half can of full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup regular coconut milk
1 tablespoon Golden Milk latte mix, or try making your own honey chai syrup with turmeric
2 tablespoons vanilla honey

makes 6 popsicles

Blend all ingredients together in a high power blender or food processor.

Spray your popsicle mould with a non-stick spray if it is not made of silicone.

Pour into popsicle moulds and place in the freezer, set a timer for 35 minutes.

When the timer goes off, place popsicle sticks in the centre of each mould, leaving halfway out. We use this method to ensure the sticks don’t ‘bob’ out of place or sink too far into the popsicles.

Wait at least 24 hours for popsicles to fully freeze, and serve immediately!

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!


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!



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.



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!