Namaste from Sweetpea’s Home

The whole idea of yoga really draws me in. It’s such a natural and peaceful approach to life, which I think we could all use in one way or another. I’m obviously not the only one who feels this way, since yoga studios are popping up everywhere. I’ve tried a few different yoga classes in the past and while I enjoyed them, I just haven’t found one that has stuck. They can be a bit pricey, the class schedules don’t always work with mine, and a bad experience with hot yoga definitely turned me off for a few months. Anything that makes me feel that ill can’t possibly be good for me. Still, the benefits of a calm mind, a strong body, and that sense of inner balance are really appealing to me. Enter Yoga with Adriene, a YouTube channel full of really inspirational (and free!) yoga videos. I first stumbled across this channel last week while looking for a gentle, relaxing yoga practice to do at bedtime. Since then, I’ve done at least one of her videos every day. In fact, I think I’ll go do one right now. Back in a bit…

…Ok, so I just did the Morning Yoga and it’s a great way to wake up for the day. I know it’s lunchtime. Whatever.

Yoga with Adriene is by far the best series of yoga videos I have found on YouTube. The videos are well-produced (love the music) without being overly fancy and are really down to earth. Adriene is friendly and positive and extremely encouraging of just enjoying your own personal yoga experience. Most importantly, she explains each movement clearly which, for a beginner like me, is key. It’s like having your own personal yoga instructor right at home. The best part is that there are tons of different videos, from an easy introductory practice geared towards beginners to more challenging videos that really get your heart pumping and your muscles burning. Just in the span of a week, I’ve already sampled her sequences for morning, bedtime, complete beginners, and weight loss. It really couldn’t be easier – just throw on the video whenever it works for you and follow along. All you need is a mat – if that. I’m sure a towel would work in a pinch. From what I’ve seen so far, there’s enough variety in the videos to challenge me as I get stronger and more flexible without getting bored. Plus, she adds new content regularly.

It’s only been a few days but I’m already seeing some positive changes. I’m more aware of my posture. I’m more conscious of areas of my body that feel tight or in need of attention. My arms are maybe a teensy bit more toned. Or that might be wishful thinking. Either way, I feel happy. The message of being kind to yourself and kind to your body is a good one, and is one I’d like to incorporate more often into the way I live my life.

Life’s Better at the Cottage

We all need time away from the hectic pace of our busy lives to feel refreshed and recharged. While I love to travel, big vacations require a lot of planning and usually come with a hefty price tag. And if you’re anything like me, you try to cram so much sightseeing into such a short amount of time that your whirlwind trip can leave you feeling in need of another vacation. Sometimes a quick, local getaway is the best and easiest way to unwind.

Last week, I spent four days at a rented cottage in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. I’ve visited this region countless times, but generally during the summer. Visiting in late September was a completely different experience. It was so quiet and peaceful, without the throngs of tourists typical of July and August. Every morning, we woke to the sight of mist rising off the lake. We spent our days canoeing and hiking. Evenings were passed curled up around the fire (and playing Trivial Pursuit, which we found in some old dusty cabinet. Turns out I’m terrible at Trivial Pursuit).

Looking out over the end of the dock on a misty morning

Looking out over the end of the dock on a misty morning

We arrived in Muskoka just a few days shy of the peak autumn colour change in the trees. The leaves were absolutely spectacular; blazing shades of yellow, red, and orange. With easy access to two provincial parks, there were tons of opportunities for reconnecting with the outdoors and taking in all the glorious beauty that fall has to offer.

Beautiful fall colours!

Beautiful fall colours!

Algonquin Provincial Park

Fall colour change along Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park. Complete with iconic  image of a truck carrying a canoe and pulling a camper

Fall colour change along Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park. Complete with iconic image of a truck carrying a canoe and pulling a camper

I spent many childhood summers camping at Algonquin, and it’s a place I will never tire of. There are several excellent hiking trails ranging from easy (as in, a boardwalk) to difficult (steep climbs, rugged, lots of wheezing) and a vast network of lakes and rivers to be explored by canoe. Just driving through the park along Highway 60 provides beautiful vistas of shining lakes and forested hills, and lots of chances to spot wildlife. If you’re lucky. We weren’t. The biggest thing we saw was a squirrel. For a short hike that offers a great autumn view, I recommend the Hardwood Lookout trail. Minimum effort, maximum payoff.

View from the Hardwood Lookout hiking trail, Algonquin Provincial Park

View from the Hardwood Lookout hiking trail, Algonquin Provincial Park

Oxtongue River – Ragged Falls Provincial Park

Ragged Falls

Ragged Falls

Until last week, I’d never been to the Oxtongue River – Ragged Falls park, which is located just outside of the west end of Algonquin. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it is – the falls have actually been named one of the top 10 waterfalls in Ontario. I got to see the falls twice last week. The first time was by canoe, when we paddled up the Oxtongue River from the cottage to the base of the waterfall. We spent about half an hour clambering on the rocks at the bottom before deciding it was impossible to reach the top that way. Later that afternoon, we returned to the park by car. A short, easy trail leads to amazing views of the thundering waterfall below. It’s no Niagara Falls, but it’s still pretty awesome when you stop and think about the sheer amount of water gushing over that cliff. In the words of my dad, “24/7. 365.”

For me, the best part of the entire trip was just the limitless amount of time. When you’re living the cottage life, the days seem to pass more slowly. There’s time to read. Time to think. Time to gaze at the stars. Time to just be.

For more information about the parks we visited, check out the Ontario Parks website at www.ontarioparks.com.

Late afternoon sunlight through the trees Ragged Falls Provincial Park

Late afternoon sunlight through the trees
Ragged Falls Provincial Park

Welcome to Sweetpea’s Home!

Hello and welcome! I'm Sweetpea

Hello and welcome! I’m Sweetpea

Even though I’m no longer in school, for me September still brings with it promises of fresh starts and new beginnings. As we put the long, lazy days of summer behind us, September is the perfect time to recharge and get back into our old routines. It’s also a great opportunity to set goals, discover new interests, and make some positive changes in our lives.

Welcome to Sweetpea’s Home, my new beginning this September. Sweetpea’s Home is a lifestyle blog where I’ll be sharing easy inspiration to live each day beautifully. I’m ‘Sweetpea,’ a childhood nickname given to me by my older sister. As a self-proclaimed undomestic goddess, I’m a big believer that simple can still be beautiful. I’m not afraid to try new things and fail (sometimes my biggest mistakes turn out to be delicious, or at least hilarious). And while I may not always have perfectly pressed linens, there really is no place like home. As the nights get cooler and I spend more time indoors, there’s no better time to hone my domestic skills. On this blog, you’ll find simple ideas for a beautiful home and a happy spirit – recipes, décor, my favourite finds, and all the little things that make a house a home and life a little bit sweeter.

Thanks for stopping by! Your comments, suggestions, and questions are much appreciated as I learn the ropes of both blogging and domestic bliss. Stay tuned!