Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly

Remember back in November when I wrote about how much I looove winter? Scratch that. We’ve been in this deep freeze far too long. Enough with the Polar Vortex already.

In an effort to will spring into making an early appearance, I’ve decided to get a head start on some gardening. I’ve been dreaming about lavender all winter so I wanted to try growing it indoors. Lavender is one of my favourite plants. It’s so beautiful – I love scenes of lavender fields, row upon gorgeous row of that vivid purple-blue. It has a lovely, calming fragrance – just smelling it makes me feel like I’ve stepped into some country-chic French spa. The scent is believed to help relieve headaches, promote relaxation, and bring on a nice, sweet slumber. Plus, lavender adds an amazing flavour to baking – I had a lavender crème brûlée a couple years ago that was to die for, and I’d love to try to recreate it using my own, home-grown lavender. I figure that late winter is the perfect time of year to try growing it, since I can get it started indoors and then replant it in the garden once it’s warm enough outside.

Maybe this is a good time to admit that I don’t have much of a green thumb. So I opted for the easiest approach I could find. I bought this Lavender Ecocube from Indigo for $10. According to the instructions, you just add water and the lavender should start growing in something like 12-16 days. That’s my kind of gardening! Then, when the lavender gets too big for the planter, you put the whole wooden cube in a larger pot and the cube is supposed to compost and act as fertilizer for the plant. Sounds too good to be true!

Lavender Ecocube from Indigo. $10

Lavender Ecocube from Indigo. $10

Just add water!

Just add water!

Well, it was. It’s been about 6 weeks now and nothing has happened. I followed all the directions – I’ve kept the soil moist but not wet and kept the cube in full sun. Looks like I’m going to have to cut my losses. So I bought a packet of seeds from the garden centre and this week I’ll give these a shot. Stay tuned for an update!

Warm Up to Winter: 10 essentials to keep the chill out

Daylight breaking on the first snowfall of the season

Daylight breaking on the first snowfall of the season

Yesterday morning I woke up to our first snowfall of the season  – just a dusting, but it’s undeniable that winter is on its way. I have a strong love-hate relationship with winter. There are so many things I look forward to at the start of each winter season – cozy knits, skating, log fires, the way the snow sparkles under the streetlights…the list goes on. By the middle of February, though, those warm fuzzy feelings have usually been replaced by sheer desperation for the sub-zero temperatures to come to an end. Luckily, as a Canadian, I’ve had my fair share of practice with snow and ice and I’m learning to make the most of the season. The right gear is all it takes to make the cold months not only bearable, but enjoyable. This is in no way an earth-shattering list – just eight basic essentials for embracing the winter season and bringing a little cheer to those blustery days and long, cold nights.

Cozy slippers

Sometimes it really is the simple things in life that make us happy. Like warm feet. Slippers for me are an absolute must, and there are so many styles out there to choose from that keeping your tootsies warm has never been easier. No grandpa slippers for me! These cable knit ones are especially cute.

Cozy Knit slippers. UGG. $155

Cozy Knit slippers. UGG. $155

A Dutch oven

Falling temperatures call for warm, hearty meals. I think a Dutch oven is a great addition to any kitchen arsenal and winter is the perfect time to invest in one. I don’t actually have one, but this Cuisinart enameled cast iron dish is on my wish list. Just think of all the delicious braises and stews I’d be able to whip up! I’ve even seen recipes for baking bread in them.

Cuisinart Round Covered Casserole Dish. Available at Canadian Tire. $59.99

Cuisinart Round Covered Casserole Dish. Available at Canadian Tire. $59.99

A huge knit cowl neck scarf

Everyone who knows me knows I love scarves. I can usually find a way to incorporate them into my wardrobe from about September to May. Come winter though, I ditch my lightweight printed scarves for an oversized infinity scarf. The bigger the better, I say. They’re super warm, chic, and you never have to worry about the ends dragging in the slush.

Wilfred Brume scarf. Aritzia. $85

Wilfred Brume scarf. Aritzia. $85

 Hot cocoa

Who doesn’t have memories of spending hours playing outside in the snow and coming in, with numb cheeks and a runny nose, to a steaming cup of hot cocoa? Hot chocolate just isn’t the same during any other season, so drink it up while you can! I’m sure there are plenty of high-quality, gourmet options out there but I’ll stick with the tried and true Carnation brand. Tastes like home.

Nestle Carnation Hot Chocolate.

Nestle Carnation Hot Chocolate.

Even better, spiked hot cocoa.

A huge mug to warm your hands

If you’re going to be having all of that hot cocoa (or coffee, tea, cider, hot toddies, whatever), you better have a big festive mug to drink it from. It just tastes better that way. I love the nordic look of this one. Don’t forget to leave room for marshmallows.

Red Sweater Latte Mug. David's Tea. $14.50

Red Sweater Latte Mug. David’s Tea. $14.50

 An entire library at your fingertips

Winter is a great opportunity to catch up on some reading, especially during the downtime after the holidays. I’ll admit it took me awhile to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. I really love the feel of a book in hand and turning actual pages. Plus, between work, smartphones, and watching TV,  I feel like I spend more than enough time each day staring at a screen. But I’ve had an e-reader for a couple years now and I really love it. There are so many benefits: (1) it’s small enough to throw in my purse and carry everywhere I go; (2) it can store hundreds of books without taking up any shelf space – this is key since I live in a small house with limited storage space; and (3) it connects to the internet so I can buy/borrow books instantly, 24/7, without even stepping outside. Bonus: I never lose my page anymore.

Kobo Glo. Available at Indigo. $129.99

Kobo Glo. Available at Indigo. $129.99

A wool blanket

Happiness is a warm blanket, Charlie Brown. Nothing beats snuggling up on the couch under a lovely wool throw. I just love this 100% alpaca throw from Crate & Barrel. It’s a bit pricey, but it looks like it would last for years and the colour is beautiful.  

Alpaca Plaid Throw. Crate and Barrel $224

Alpaca Plaid Throw. Crate and Barrel $224

Winter getaways

I’m not talking about hopping on a plane and heading for a tropical beach. If you live in the Great White North you can’t avoid winter, so get out there and enjoy it while it’s here! Snow and ice can actually be a lot of fun – skating, sledding, skiing, snowshoeing (okay, I’ve never tried snowshoeing but it sounds like a charming way to spend an afternoon). You’d be amazed at how much you can enjoy winter when you’re actually out there living it rather than dashing between buildings trying to escape it. So why not book a long weekend away from the city to take in some winter wonderland? Even if you don’t ski (which I don’t), I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy the apres-ski socializing. There are tons of great winter festivals in Canada, like Carnaval in Quebec City, Winterlude in Ottawa, and the Niagara Icewine Festival. Why not give one a try this year? 

See? Doesn't that look magical?  Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City. Photo from the official Quebec City Tourism website.

See? Doesn’t that look magical?
Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City. Photo from the official Quebec City Tourism website.

Teal Appeal

Without a doubt, one of the hottest colours of the summer was turquoise. Fresh and vibrant, it’s reminiscent of ocean waters and blue skies, so it’s a perfect hue to use to bring summer cheer into your home. It also pairs well with almost any neutral shade, making it extremely versatile and easy to incorporate into any decor.  Luckily, this colour is rich and bold enough to carry into the fall season too, so there’s no need to say goodbye to it just yet.

I took the plunge and painted an accent wall in my dining room using Behr’s Beach Towel.  I was definitely hesitant at first but I think it turned out pretty well, and I love the bold contrast of the white chairs against the bright teal wall.

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint in Beach Towel

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint in Beach Towel

Teal accent wall using Behr's Beach Towel

Teal accent wall using Behr’s Beach Towel

Simple summer centerpiece using small vases and aqua stones (Florera, Ikea)

Simple summer centerpiece using small vases and aqua stones (Florera, Ikea)

Even if you aren’t willing to make that kind of commitment to teal, there are tons of options out there for smaller splashes of the colour around your home. Here are a few of my recent favourites…

1.  Tessa pleated pillow, Teal. Urban Barn. $39.99 2.  Jaden Hurricane Vase. Crate and Barrel. $39.11 3.  Tandem occasional chair. Sears Whole Home. $899.99 4.  Riley table lamp, Aqua. Urban Barn. $99.99  5.  Round French Oven, Caribbean. Le Creuset. $336.00

1. Tessa pleated pillow, Teal. Urban Barn. $39.99
2. Jaden Hurricane Vase. Crate and Barrel. $39.11
3. Tandem occasional chair. Sears Whole Home. $899.99
4. Riley table lamp, Aqua. Urban Barn. $99.99
5. Round French Oven, Caribbean. Le Creuset. $336.00

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!