Dear DiaryDress Up

Warning- this month’s editor picks is seriously special! For the first time ever I get to choose my favourites from my very own STORE. That’s right, you’re about to get an exclusive close up look at some of the treasures we’ll be selling this Monday on the #ShopRAOP site!

I’ve been talking about curating a shop for most of my life, and watching this dream come true has been seriously surreal. I honestly feel like to luckiest girl in the world to have had this incredible opportunity, and now that all of the product is in I’m *so* excited to share it with all of you! Of course everything in the shop is deeply and completely adored, but I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the items that are currently catching my attention.

Without further ado, my (Shop) RAOP picks!!!

*note: you won’t be able to access links until the shop opens tomorrow morning!*


Trust Fund Beauty x RAOP Nail Polishes //

The perfect nail polish is hard to find, especially when it comes to milky pastels with great coverage. We worked with Trust Fund Beauty, a vegan cruelty-free brand based on Montreal, to craft two custom shades, and they really made all of our nail polish dreams come true. “Peach Please” is a magical sparkling peach champagne inspired colour, and “RAOP Pink” is our ideal shade of pastel bubblegum pink. Are you ready to paint your paws pastel?


Ballet Slipper Necktie //

Crafted from the softest Japanese vegan suede and finished with 24k gold hardware, these elegant neckties were made by our friends at CONVEY and really complete every FW/16 outfit. We especially love layering them with delicate gold necklaces, and rumour has it a baby pink colour is coming soon as well…


Rosy In Reykjavik Sweater //

I fell hard and fast for Iceland when I visited a few years ago, and ever since I’ve had a weak spot for Icelandic knits and patterns. This vintage one of a kind sweater caught my eye immediately because of it’s Nordic style, and I’m seriously considering just keeping it for myself…


Bergamot Rose Black Tea //

I had the pleasure of working for Sloane Fine Tea Merchants a couple years ago, and in that time I learned so much about the fine art of tea blending, tasting, and more. A unique combination of Earl Grey, rose and lavender, this black tea is bursting with floral flavour. Enjoy it with milk, honey, and your favourite sugar cookies!


Daisy Chain Denim //

Is anyone else obsessed with dressed-up denim these days? My amazing friend Mari hand embellished four unique pairs of vintage denim, and each one turned out more special than the last. My favourite of the moment is this pink daisy pair, but I change my mind almost daily.

Want to see everything in person?! We’re hosting a surprise pop up at CONVEY on Queen Street from Friday November 4th to Sunday November 6th!

Get CreativeSips, Sweets & Snacks

Tea and #RAOPxStudioB (wow that’s a mouthful) go way back- in fact we almost always work together over cups of piping hot tea! A few years ago I had the pleasure of taking a job at Sloane Fine Tea Merchants, a local company with a lot of heart and SO much knowledge about tea.

If you think tea is simply those little squished bags of Red Rose hanging out in your grandmother’s cupboard, you’ve got a lot to learn. Working in the world of tea constantly surprised and enchanted me, and as I shared my newfound facts with Paige she only found herself more and more interested as well. That said, both of our knowledge combined doesn’t even come close to more than the tip of the iceberg. If you want real tea expertise, you have to turn to Hoda Paripoush, founder of Sloane Tea.

Hoda has experience in perfumery, which makes her uniquely suited to create the most magical teas in all the land. After travelling the world visiting tea estates, she launched Sloane right here in Toronto. One of the few tea companies that blends on Canadian soil and directly trades with ancient tea estates, I’ve never met anyone who “gets” tea quite like Hoda.

So if you’re ready to learn about proper tea steeping times, the difference between Oolong and Green Tea, the definition of Camellia sinensis chinensis and more, cozy up with a cup of your favourite blend and keep reading!

Scroll down for Hoda’s tea 101 and tips!



Where does tea come from //

All tea, be it black, green, oolong, or white tea (and even some other types) come from the same plant: camellia sinensis. The plant was originally discovered growing in China, and was later cultivated in other parts of Asia. There are two subspecies of this plant: the Assam varietal (Camellis sinensis assamica) and the China varietal (Camellia sinensis chinensis). Grown in India, Sri Lanka and in other parts of the world, the Assam varietal produces larges, bold tasting leaves. The China varietal, cultivated in China, Taiwan, Japan and in parts of Darjeeling produces smaller leaves with a more delicate flavour profile.

What makes different types of tea //

The difference between types of tea is the state of oxidation. A black tea, for example, is fully-oxidized and undergoes a complete firing/baking process- hence why it is darker in colour. That being said, each tea type has a most unique and distinct flavour, with a variety of differences within each tea type. I highly encourage people to try tea types that they may not have tried previously, or even teas that they may have tasted before but were not fond of. Just as your palate changes with time, your experience will change as well, especially if you had a tea that was not properly prepared the first time. There is no end to the types of tea flavours available, so the more you explore, the larger your repertoire of fine and favourite teas will be!

Black Tea = fully oxidized

Oolong Tea = partially oxidized

White Tea = un-oxidized

Green Tea = un-oxidized

How to properly prepare each type

No matter what type of tea you are purchasing, you need to become very clear on the proper preparation methods. I say this because even if someone purchases one of the worlds most exquisite teas, if the crucial factors of water temperature and steeping time are ignored, then you can take an extremely high quality tea and ruin it very quickly.

Some teas require boiling water (such as black and herbal teas), some less than boiling water, and all need to be steeped for a different length of time.

When preparing a traditional black tea, the process is as such:

1. Warm the teapot with hot water.

2. Fill the kettle with freshly drawn water and bring it to a boil. Water that has been double-boiled will affect the taste of the tea.

3. Measure one rounded teaspoon of tea into the teapot for each person, and one extra spoonful of tealeaves “for the pot”.

4. Remove the kettle as soon as it boils and allow it to come off the boil for a minute or two.

5. Pour the not-quite-boiling water onto the leaves and leave to steep for 4-5 minutes.

6. Serve in fine bone china cups as the delicacy of the cup does seem to enhance the delicacy of the tea within.

7. Add a splash of milk or a slice of lemon to taste.

As green tea is un-oxidized, caution must be taken when steeping it as over-steeping the tea produces a bitter cup. As well, green tea is not to be steeped in fully boiled water, as too hot a temperature will also produce a bitter cup. Less than boiling water is what is ideal when preparing green tea, as it is with white and oolong teas.

Proper storage of tea is also of crucial importance, as it helps to maximize the shelf-life and freshness of tea. The oils in tea are highly volatile, and as such, they easily absorb surrounding odours. Hence, you need to store your tea in a space that is separate from your spices and items heavy in scent. In addition, the tea should be stored at room temperature in a low humidity environment, and away from direct light.




Perfect pairings //

When it comes to pairings, it’s often a matter of preference. However, with milk specifically there is good reason for adding the milk last. If you are drinking an unfamiliar tea, it is easier to judge the correct amount of milk to add once you have seen the strength and colour of the tea. On the other hand, pouring the milk in first means that the fat in the milk emulsifies in a different manner when the tea is poured, which alters the flavour of the tea, providing for an even more creamier flavour. It also cools the tea slightly to a more acceptable drinking temperature.

However, milk is really only to be added in black tea, but not in all black teas. Darjeeling black teas, specifically, should never be paired with milk as it’s the equivalent of adding ice in your wine. Darjeeling tea is so delicate and refined in flavour that the addition of milk washes out the nuances of what makes it unique.
Green, oolong and white teas should always be savoured straight- without the addition of any milk products. Herbal teas, though they should be enjoyed without the addition of milk can often be paired with honey and other natural sweeteners (depending on preference). Personally, I don’t add sugar into my tea but I can never resist the pairing of a sweet biscuit or scone with the trimmings.

The difference between tea bags and whole leaf/loose leaf //

The world of tea has come a very, very long way since it’s discovery, as have teabags. Though the charm of loose leaf tea will always remain, the innovation of the pyramid tea bag has made it so you can still enjoy the beauty of exceptional loose leaf teas with an incredible amount of convenience. Quality does not have to be compromised for convenience. At Sloane Tea, we use the exact same tea in our whole leaf sachets as you experience in our loose leaf tea caddies. The pyramid shape of the tea bag allows us to fill it with a fine variety of full premium tea leaves and exotic ingredients such as herbs, flowers and real fruit pieces. It’s innovative design allows for optimal flow of the ingredients into your cup, creating a consistent infusion every single time.

Fun tea facts //

The origin of tea is infused with a fine blend of fact, myth, and ancient concepts of spirituality and philosophy. According to an ancient Chinese legend, the story of tea was born over 4700 years ago when a fortuitous blunder caused a few dry leaves to accidentally fall into a pot of boiling water that was being prepared for emperor Shen Nong in the hills of China. The emperor enjoyed drinking the infused water as it had a most unusual and delicious flavour. He felt so immensely invigorated and refreshed, and as he was a skilled scientist and ruler he set out to further research the plant whereby he discovered tea to possess medicinal properties.

Since that time, through exploration, discovery and experimentation, tea has exploded into the most widely consumed beverage in the world, second to water. It is a world that has become so very vast and specialized- just like that of fine wine.



Party Time

It’s officially December, which means sparkle season is finally upon us! Though the final shoot release date is still up in the air, I decided I could’t help but share some behind the scenes snaps in the meantime to get you in the pastel Christmas state of mind.

From the floral arrangements, to the cocktails, to the gold flakes atop each buttermilk scone, no detail escaped our elf-like festive magic, and these glittery scenes are just a taste of what we have in store…

Stay tuned for more DIY projects, recipes, and the final photos coming soon!









Dear Diary

Random Acts of Pastel and Bicyclette are always dreaming up new adventures, and social media is a massive part of what we do on a daily basis. We love snapping Instagram photos and updating our Pinterest feeds, and over the past year or so we’ve worked together to grow our brands, both on the personal blogging front, and the business promotion front. After the success of our first Get Social Workshop in October, we’ve decided to share our knowledge about this fun way to promote yourself again. In case you haven’t guessed already, we’re hosting our second Social Media Workshop next month!


As small business owners, freelancers, creatives, and makers, we use social media tools on a daily basis to share what we’re up to and communicate with our followers. It’s a way for us to connect, to offer a peek behind the scenes, and share our personal style and aesthetic, which in turn helps build a brand- all the while inspiring ourselves and others through the process of doing so.


Each different platform holds value in its own way, and when you bring all of them together to build a cohesive online presence, you’ll really start to see them working for you. Because social media varies so much from person to person, It’s really about finding the balance that works best for you and allows you to be authentic and genuine, while still getting your brand out there.

We’ll be offering a 2 hour seminar led by Alyssa (Random Acts of Pastel) and Paige (Bicyclette) mid-March that goes over each of these platforms and provides tips and tools to manage each one effectively to make them work for you and/or your business, all while establishing your brand in the online world.

We will be covering pre-planned key topics and points, but we also want the workshop to feel collaborative and open, so we invite you to bring any specific questions you may have with you, and we’ll be sure to cover them in our discussion. We’ll also be offering scones and jam from Kitten and the Bear, treats from Bake Shoppe and hot beverages from Sloane Tea, a photo booth where you can get your ‘gram on, and special swag bags with all sorts of amazing surprise goodies from favourite companies like Ban.doFresh TangerineLoveFresh, and more!

When //
Saturday, March 21st from 10 am – 12 pm

Where //
Studio B, 882A Queen St. West

Cost //

What //We’ll go over key social media platforms – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest – how to optimize content (including sizing guidelines, etc), and what the pros and cons of each are; the process of taking photos on your phone (including editing and captioning); tools and tricks; telling stories and building a lifestyle brand through photos. And that’s just the beginning!

Interested? Sign up here!

Please note, tickets are non-refundable.

Dear Diary

So I know it’s the New Year and everyone is supposed to be hopeful and excited, but I’m going through a really strange, confusing, uncertain time, and though I don’t really treat my blog as a personal diary, there’s something about putting my most important thoughts down here that makes me feel less overwhelmed and alone, so here they are:

2014 was a huge year for me, with lots of success and growth, and equally as much loss and heartbreak. Simply put, It was one of the most defining and important years of my life so far.

I learned so much working for myself and watching my dreams grow, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. RAOP started as a crazy idea, a desire to add more colour and magic to the world around me, and it somehow grew into something I never could’ve imagined it would. Its taken me to California, to the front of a workshop full of incredibly talented women, to the offices of some of the most inspiring people I can imagine, and beyond. I’ve had the chance to learn, to collaborate and watch dreams I didn’t even know I was capable of dreaming come to life. It has truly been an enchanted experience.

That being said, I also have a lot of regrets surrounding 2014. Though things may have seemed sparkly, colourful, and exciting almost constantly on Instagram, I had quite a few dark days (more than I care to admit), and to be frank, I sort of lost myself.

It was only a few weeks ago now that I started to really realize how far from myself I had drifted- how detached and unsure I’d let myself become. I’m someone who without any hesitation will insist she knows exactly who she is and what she wants, yet here I was facing myself in the mirror unsure of how I’d arrived in that moment feeling nothing like the girl I actually am. I’m ashamed to admit I neglected and mistreated people I love dearly, and it hurts to say out loud that some of them are still lost to me to this day. My politics, moral code, self awareness… all of it had somehow slipped through my fingers, and I found myself wondering how I’d let so much of who I am dissolve, lost in a cloud of self-doubt and confusion.

With the big 2014 fading into the distance behind me, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. Instead of biting my tongue to avoid conflict, I’m working up the confidence to get back to defending what I believe in at all costs. Tomorrow, I’m buying a new desk and spending my day putting together a fresh new work space that I hope will help me get back to the that warm glow of inspiration that used to follow me around like my own personal ball of sunshine. I’m also working on re-building the friendships that suffered during my absence, and fighting to re-establish my identity, to reconcile what it means to continue identifying as queer, but also explore dating straight cisgender men for the first time in over six years.

On top of all of these shifts (I call it my “life improvement list), I’m very sad to admit that I’ve decided to leave my job at Sloane Tea. Though I loved working somewhere so steeped in passion and beauty, I was offered the opportunity to join the social team at Deck, a local marketing agency that works with some of my favourite spots in the city, and I just couldn’t pass up the chance to see where that opportunity could lead. Don’t worry though, you’ll still be seeing lots of Sloane around here! I’ll never stop loving (and sipping) Hoda’s fantastic blends and supporting the incredible brand she’s built, and I feel very lucky that I was able to play a part in Sloane’s growth, even if it was only for a short time.

To sum it up, I’m dealing with a whole lot of change, and none of it is particularly easy. That said, nothing worth fighting for is ever easy, is it? I don’t know what 2015 holds, but I do know one thing: I think I’m finally on my way back .

photo by me via the Sloane Blog