November Smiles

Hello blog friends! After a few cloudy weekdays with occasional showers, the sun returns 100% this weekend. The daytime high temperature reaches 9C (48F) which is good for this time of the year where I live. The clear blue sky and beautiful tree branches make me smile.

Today I share my monthly review for November and three outdoor sculptures in downtown Toronto. I did an art walk to visit about a dozen outdoor art installations. I include three of them in this post and hope you find them interesting.

Health

Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor
Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor

The Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor is located at Front and Simcoe streets. It reminds me of strength, base, mountain ranges, height, the Canadian Rockies…In yoga the Mountain pose (Tadasana) is one of the foundational poses. To me, good health is the foundation or prerequisite to enjoy life.

Throughout November, I meditate daily, cycle and walk outdoors most mornings, and alternate body weight workouts and yoga at home. I use Lunden Sousa’s videos for my targeted workouts on different muscle groups. New instructor and new exercises require focus to learn the correct forms and create new mind-muscle connections. I get to make incremental changes and do a range of motions. It’s all good.

The regular fitness activities help me feel stable and strong like the mountains. Here’s my numbers for November:

  • 30 meditation sessions
  • 21 targeted workouts
  • 19 cycling trips
  • 19 walks
  • 13 full body workouts
  • 12 yoga sessions

Home

Our Game bronze sculpture by Edie Parker
Our Game bronze sculpture by Edie Parker

The Our Game sculpture by Edie Parker shows five excited young hockey players climbing over the boards ready for action. It’s located outside the Hockey Hall of Fame building at the northwest corner of Yonge and Front streets.

The exuberant looks and smiles of the young hockey players make me think of happy times with my family and friends, and hockey reminds me of Canada where my home is. With COVID-19 still around, it will be a while before I meet my family and friends face-to-face or attend a hockey game in person.

Starting on November 23, the Ontario government prohibits indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household, for 28 days. I’m grateful for technology to stay connected and share laughs with my family and friends while being apart.

Leisure

Dream Ballet stainless steel sculpture by Harvey Valentine
Dream Ballet stainless steel sculpture by Harvey Valentine

The Dream Ballet sculpture by Harvey Valentine consists of three stainless steel statues polished to a mirrored finish. They’re installed next to Meridian Hall, a major performing art venue, at the southeast corner of Yonge and Front streets.

In November, I got to enjoy interesting public art installations, blogs, books, films, and language lessons:

  • 30 French and Spanish sessions
  • 12 outdoor public art sculptures
  • 11 books (see list below)
  • 5 blog posts
  • 1 film: Still Alice (Academy Award and Golden Globe winner)

November Reading

  1. Memory Man by David Baldacci.
  2. The Fix by David Baldacci.
  3. The Last Mile by David Baldacci.
  4. Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert.
  5. You Say It First by Katie Cotugno.
  6. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.
  7. Paper Towns by John Green.
  8. The Sight of You by Holly Miller.
  9. Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng.
  10. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  11. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

The e-books that I read in November range from 305 to 460 pages. They are all very good with detailed plots and many twists and turns. The first three books are Baldacci’s detective Amos Decker series. Once I started reading book #1, I wanted to read the other two books to complete the series. Mission accomplished! The remaining books are well written by authors that I’ve read before and two new-to-me authors (Giffin and Miller).

Book Review

A shout out to my blogger friend, Liesbet Collaert at Roaming About blog who just launched her debut travel memoir Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary. I’ve connected with Liesbet for a few years via blogging. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog and the Advance Reader Copy of her travel memoir.

Plunge book cover

Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary is a captivating and candid book where Liesbet shares her life events and travel adventures when she was in her 30s. Her overland and sailing adventures with her husband, Mark, and their two dogs, take her readers to many exotic locations such as Central America, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, and more.

Life at sea is not always easy. Liesbet shares the challenges they faced, not only the logistics of nomadic living but also their relationship and well-being over the years while sharing a small space and being far away from their families. Liesbet’s choice to live a life less ordinary requires her to be flexible, resilient, and resourceful. I highly recommend this memoir.

Looking forward

I’m looking forward to December when the city centre is beautifully decorated. It’s a wonderful sensory experience to walk around and take it all in. My holiday plan is simple, especially this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to share it with you in the next couple of blog posts before the year ends.

How did November go for you? Which of the three sculptures do you like? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Along Humber Bay Shores

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have a few minutes for a quick chat over a cup of coffee or tea. The weather was up and down in Toronto this past week. The first half of the week was cool and windy. The second half of the week was better with sunshine and warmer temperatures.

On one of the sunny mornings, with daytime high around 16C (60F), I went for a long bike ride and stopped at Humber Bay shores for a nature walk. Humber Bay is about 10 km (6.2 miles) west of Toronto’s city centre. A string of beautiful parks with many inviting trails and nice views of Lake Ontario await in this area. Let me show you in pictures.

The Trails

Trail at Humber Bay Park East

A network of sixteen flat and well-maintained biking and hiking trails weave through Humber Bay Park East and Humber Bay Park West. Autumn foliage provides pleasant colours and intermittent shades on a sunny day.

Stream at Humber Bay Park East

I saw and heard many small birds among the trees but they were too quick for me to take a good photo. I also passed a few small water streams when I explored the trails. They all feed into Lake Ontario.

The Views

Looking west from Humber Bay Park East
Looking west from Humber Bay Park East

For unobstructed views of Lake Ontario, I walked the outer trails at the south end of Humber Bay Parks. Rock boulders and benches along the shorelines offer excellent spots for bird watchers hoping to find interesting shorebirds and waterfowl, or for park visitors to sit down and enjoy the panoramic views.

View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

Located along the Humber Bay Shores, the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat (HBBH) is an ecological restoration project that provides critical habitat for a variety of native butterfly species. It opened in 2002 and is about four acres in size.

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

I took a self-guided tour following informative interpretive signs located throughout the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat. The HBBH is comprised of many different plant communities, including wildflower meadow, short grass prairie, woodland, and wetland. It also has a Home Garden that incorporates butterfly-friendly plants and physical features that turn a garden into a haven for butterflies.

Sunflowers

Metal sunflowers

Upon leaving Humber Bay Parks, I saw these big and beautiful sunflowers. They are made of metal and should last all four seasons! I love the details on the flowers, the curved stems, and the veins on the leaves.

Gratitude

It was delightful to be outside cycling, walking in the sunshine, and enjoying seasonal scenery along the shores of Humber Bay. I’m thankful for these parks and all the sunny and warm days that we’ve had this autumn, especially in November when it’s typically overcast and unpredictable here.

The local weather forecast calls for rain or a mix of rain and snow on Sunday, followed by a mix of sun and clouds and normal temperatures on Monday. I’m enjoying the comforts of home on Sunday and will head outside again on Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving on November 26 to my family, friends, and blog readers who live in the USA! Stay safe and well, everyone.

How did your week go? I’d like to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Peace by Grenadier Pond

Hello blog friends! Over here, the good weather continued this past week. We had plenty of sunshine and warm daytime high temperatures that ranged from 18C to 24C (66F to 75F). We broke record on Tuesday and are now back to about 12C (54F) this weekend.

It was a pleasant week. I went cycling and walking every morning, except Saturday. I got all my fitness-at-home sessions done. I had long phone conversations with my friends who live abroad. My order for grocery home delivery came on time with everything in good condition. I did my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo, read and enjoyed two fiction novels, which bring my year-to-date total of books read to ninety seven (97).

Today is the 11th Wellness Weekend link-up of 2020. The optional prompt is Peace. I think we all yearn for a more peaceful time after what’s been happening around the world this year. Feel free to join in the link up here and visit other blogs.

Grenadier Pond in Autumn
Grenadier Pond in Autumn

With Peace in mind, on one of the sunny mornings this past week, I cycled to Grenadier Pond, located in the south west end of the city. It is named after the local Town of York garrison of the 1800s and their use of the pond for fishing. Grenadier Pond is about 1 kilometre long and 0.5 kilometre wide. It’s a calm natural body of water and provides lovely vistas.

Trail along the shoreline of Grenadier Pond

A beautiful trail follows its shoreline leading to occasional lookouts and finally to a marsh at the northern end of the pond. The views are stunning especially on a sunny day.

Views of Grenadier Pond
Views of Grenadier Pond

Interpretive signs are available along the trail to provide more information about the wildlife and plants at the pond. Several notable wetland plant species are present, including sweetflag, broad-leaved cattail, common arrowhead and blue-flag iris.

Ducks in Grenadier Pond
Ducks in Grenadier Pond

Grenadier Pond and its restored shoreline provides habitat to a wide assortment of water birds, fish, turtles, dragonflies, damselflies, and other wildlife. I saw several groups of ducks that paid no attention to me even when I got close to the water’s edge.

Fishing is permitted along a designated section of the Grenadier Pond shoreline. Common fish found here include largemouth bass, Northern pike, sunfish, brown bullhead, and carp.

Views of Grenadier Pond
Views of Grenadier Pond

It was peaceful to walk along the trail while listening to the soft sounds of water and rustling leaves. I found it pleasant to have the pond pretty much to myself on a weekday morning.

Hillside trails by Grenadier Pond
Hillside trails by Grenadier Pond

On the east side of Grenadier Pond, hillside trails lead into High Park, an amazing, beautiful, and large park in Toronto, that deserves a separate blog post.

During the week and on Remembrance Day, I visited the Victory-Peace Monument at Coronation Park. The City of Toronto commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Second World War in Coronation Park as part of Remembrance Week (November 5 -11, 2020). I remembered our veterans and those who have served and continue to serve our country in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as those who help maintain peace.

Canadian flags at Victory-Peace Monument on Remembrance Day 11.11.2020
Canadian flags at the Victory-Peace Monument on Remembrance Day 11.11.2020

Canadian flags were planted around the Victory-Peace Monument by the Mayor, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion and Youth to memorialize the 3,452 Torontonians who fell during the War. November 11, 2020 marks 100 years of Remembrance in Toronto.

After a lovely bicycle ride and walk, on my way home I was rewarded with a mirrored view of the clouds on Lake Ontario on a calm day. I continue to be grateful for all the pristine areas around the city that I have to choose from.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have time for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. This past week, the weather started off on the cool side on Monday and Tuesday, then from Wednesday to the weekend, the high temperatures reached 20C (68F) with sunny skies.

The nice weather brought a big smile to my face. I decided to cycle to Tommy Thompson Park where I know there is a lot of open space and nature trails for cycling and walking. I had visited this park a few times during the summer.

About Tommy Thompson Park

Aerial view of Tommy Thompson Park
Source: Tommy Thompson Park web site

Park Location: Tommy Thompson Park is located at 1 Leslie Street, near Unwin Avenue, on a man-made peninsula, known as the Leslie Street Spit, which extends five kilometres (3.1 miles) into Lake Ontario.

Park Name: The name “Leslie Street Spit” was coined by local residents and remains the unofficial popular name. In 1985, the Spit was officially named Tommy Thompson Park to honour Toronto’s former Parks Commissioner.

Park Special Features:

  • The land on which the park lies is completely man-made using the sand/ silt dredged from Toronto Outer and Inner Harbours and the Keating Channel.
  • Tommy Thompson Park features a trail system that spans 18 kilometres (11.1 miles) with three types of trails that were designed for various user groups: Multi-use trail (7.4 km), Nature trails (3.3 km), and Pedestrian trails (7.3 km).
  • Tommy Thompson Park is considered one of the best places for bird watching in the city with more than 300 recorded species and a good spot for fishing.
  • Tommy Thompson Park has a Nature Centre and Bird Research Station. Unfortunately they are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic so guided interpretive tours and educational programs are unavailable at this time.

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Multi-use trail in Tommy Thompson Park
The multi-use and main trail in Tommy Thompson Park

From the park entrance, I followed the main trail that runs through the centre of the park. This flat paved, multi-use trail accommodates leisure cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, rollerbladers, and strollers.

The main trail has intermittent speed bumps and is approximately 5 km (3.1 miles) long from the park entrance to the Lighthouse. Wildflower meadows and cottonwood forests appear on both sides of the trail. I noticed a unique Please Brake For Snakes sign, a reminder that this park is Toronto’s urban wilderness.

In previous visits to the park, I walked the nature trails to see wildlife such as birds, butterflies, toads, etc. The Nature trails are narrow trails, only half a metre wide, are not graded and may be uneven. They’re intended for walking or hiking and target user groups such as nature watchers and photographers.

Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park
Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park

About half way through the park, the main trail crosses the small Pedestrian Bridge. The views on both sides of the bridge are amazing.

View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings

Continue on to the end of the main trail, there are rock boulders to sit on and gaze out to beautiful Lake Ontario. The water along the cobble beaches is clear with several rock formations that may have been built by previous visitors. It’s a nice spot for a break or a picnic.

One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park
One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park

From the main trail, I followed one of the Nature trails to reach one of the coastal marshes that provide critical habitat for wildlife. There are a wide variety of turtles and fish species found in and around Tommy Thompson Park, including Northern pike, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and lake trout.

Heading home....Love a curvy trail
Heading home…Love a curvy trail

It was delightful to be outside cycling and walking in the sunshine. Exploring Tommy Thompson Park was an excellent way to spend a morning. As I headed home, I was grateful once again for the wonderful places we have around here to enjoy.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

October Smiles

Waterfront Trail

Hello blog friends! Over here, Daylight saving time ended on Sunday November 1, at 2 o’clock in the morning. Clocks are turned backward one hour. Today I’m writing my monthly review for October. I hope you have a few minutes to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let’s chat.

Family and Friends

As I type this, Toronto currently sits in Modified Stage 2 of Ontario’s Covid-19 restrictions. This means indoor dining, gyms, and movie theatres that were allowed to re-open in the summer are closed again. We are advised to limit close contact to people living in our household and maintain 2 metres physical distance from everyone else.

Park in autumn

I continue to connect with my family and friends by phone, text, and email. The main thing I’m grateful for is that no one in my circle of family and friends has contracted Covid-19. We are all well. We are able to stay in touch and to meet in person outside.

Health

Trail in autumn

I took advantage of nice weather conditions in October and did a lot of cycling and walking to lovely parks as shown in my photos. Beautiful Fall foliage is everywhere. I continue to do my meditation, full body workouts, and yoga at home. A consistent fitness routine is the best strategy for me to stay healthy mentally and physically during this pandemic.

Here’s my numbers in October:

  • 31 meditation sessions
  • 22 new targeted workouts (see below)
  • 18 cycling trips
  • 16 walks
  • 15 yoga sessions
  • 13 full body workouts
  • 5 rest days

New Targeted Workouts

To keep my fitness routine fresh, fun, and challenging, I make some changes to it every month. YouTube has been a good resource for fitness videos during this pandemic. I added two series to my workout routine: Chloe Bent’s Fit Class series in October and Lunden Souza’s Runtastic series in November.

In both series, on weekdays, I complete 20 minutes of exercises that target a variety of muscle groups. These exercises use body weight and require no equipment. I enjoy both series and may either alternate them weekly in December or find a new series to try.

Home

Fruits and Vegetables

I go to the supermarkets once or twice a week for fruits and vegetables. Most of them are from Ontario, Canada, except bananas are usually from Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Honduras, red and green grapes from Chile, Peru or California, USA, and clementines from Morocco, South Africa, or Spain. I’m thankful to be able to buy and enjoy fruits from other countries.

In the supermarkets here, prices are displayed both in imperial and metric units. I’m sharing a sample of items at regular price in the table below, with the last column showing the price equivalent in US dollars. The local supermarkets have weekly sales on selected items so with some planning, one can spend less on groceries.

ItemPrice in Canadian dollarsPrice in US dollars
Bananas$1.52/ kg or $0.69/ lb$0.52/ lb
Green grapes, Plum tomatoes, Golden delicious apples, and Barlett pears$4.39/ kg or $1.99/ lb$1.51/ lb
Red grapes, Green peppers, Red peppers, Broccoli crowns, and Clementines$6.59/ kg or $2.99/ lb$2.27/ lb

Grocery Home Delivery

I experimented with grocery home delivery service for the first time in October, just in case I need it in the future. For comparison purposes, I ordered dry food items and household products from two local service providers. Overall, both offered satisfactory services on my first order so I’d use them again. I’m glad to have the home delivery option for a small fee.

Leisure

Boardwalk on a sunny day

I keep myself entertained by observing nature, visiting outdoor public art installations, blogging, reading novels, listening to music, and completing my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo. I’m thankful to have access to excellent digital services. Here’s my numbers in October:

  • 31 French and Spanish sessions
  • 13 e-books (see list below)
  • 10 public art installations
  • 4 blog posts
  • 2 digital concerts and many playlists

October Reading

I read thirteen e-books that I’d rate 3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars. Most of the authors were new to me. Here’s the list in alphabetical order of author’s last name:

  1. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen.
  2. The Guest List by Lucy Foley.
  3. Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory.
  4. 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand.
  5. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.
  6. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren.
  7. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren.
  8. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord.
  9. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.
  10. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid.
  11. Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
  12. One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London.
  13. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne.

Your Turn

  1. How was your October?
  2. How do my grocery regular prices compare to those in your location?
  3. What book(s) have you read recently?

I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Fun Ride | My Walktober

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your day is going well and you have a few minutes to stay and chat with me over a cup of coffee or tea.

This past week, we had some cloudy days and periods of rain. On Friday, the day started with fog, then the sun came out with a blast of summer-like high temperature of 23C (73F). By Friday evening, a cold front passed through the city bringing strong winds, severe thunderstorms, and showers. It all cleared up and cool temperatures returned the next morning.

I went cycling and walking five days in a row during the week. More than once, when I left home for my bike ride and a long walk, it looked cloudy at first, then the sun came out, and the rest of the day was beautiful. Let me show you my wanderings in pictures.

Gorgeous trees and leaves

Heritage sites

Scadding Cabin.
Scadding Cabin: This log cabin, Toronto’s oldest known surviving house, was built for John Scadding in 1794 during the first years of British settlement.
Fort Rouillé.
Fort Rouillé, more commonly known as Fort Toronto, was the last French post built in present-day Southern Ontario in 1750. The concrete walkways in this area delineate the walls of Fort Rouillé, a fortification with four bastions and five main buildings. Fort Rouillé was destroyed by its garrison in July 1759.

Inviting trails

I’m grateful to have easy access to the Waterfront trail, which is part of the Great Trail of Canada. At 27,000 kilometres (16,777 miles) in length, the Great Trail of Canada is the longest recreational trail in the world.

Waterfront Trail.
A small section of the Waterfront trail with Lake Ontario on the left of the photo.
Exhibition Place Trail.

Reflections

Every outing reminds me that:

  • It’s a good “move” to start my day with physical activities outdoors. I always feel great by the time I return home.
  • Preparing for an enjoyable bicycle ride is similar to preparing for an enjoyable walk, with the addition of my bike helmet.
  • Warm up, cool down, and stretch exercises help maintain or increase my body’s mobility, they help prevent some injuries, and they make me feel great. They are not to be missed.
  • There are many local gems to discover. Just when I think I know my city, a wandering leads me to new experience and new learning. Both cycling and walking allow me the freedom to turn to wherever my curiosity takes me.
  • The cool air, open space, blue skies, the trail, the lake, and nature make me smile and feel happy. They’re my go-to antidote to social isolation during this COVID-19 pandemic.

I usually choose a scenic spot for a picnic before finding my way home. With cooler weather, people tend to stay inside and that leaves me with a lot of open space when I’m outside. The views, either towards the city or the lake, are amazing.

I’m thankful to have experienced so much seasonal beauty in October, and for the joy and health benefits that cycling and walking give me every time I head outdoors.

How did your week go? What outdoor activity have you enjoyed recently? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Fun Walk | Autumn Colours

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your day is going well and you have a few minutes to stay for a chat with me over a cup of coffee or tea.

Today is the 10th Wellness Weekend link up. The optional prompt is Walking, which is one of my favourite activities. If you’ve recently gone for a walk, feel free to join in, meet new friends, and share your walk here.

For those who are new to my blog, I’ve been living without a car for many years. I walk to exercise and to get from A to B in all four seasons. I’m sharing one of my recent walks and some photos of autumn scenery along the way.

Preparing for an enjoyable walk

I check the weather before I head outside. Whenever I see a sunny forecast, I smile and do my happy dance. I wear comfortable clothes, sun protection, and sturdy shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles, to cushion my feet and absorb shock.

Waterfront trail

Since I walk outdoors, in cooler weather I wear layers that I can take off when I get warm. For my 5K walks, I bring water and snacks in my day pack. I also choose to walk where the path surface is fairly even, and during the day when visibility is good.

Walking a scenic route

I do many of my walks along the scenic shore of Lake Ontario and the Waterfront trail which is reserved for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. I walk different routes for variety. I usually walk without listening to music or an audio book or a podcast because I want all my senses to focus on what’s in nature.

Yellow leaves
Yellow leaves

This month, for example, I see plenty of beautiful trees showing off their yellow, orange, red and even deep eggplant hues. There are evergreen trees as well which provide a nice backdrop for the autumn colours. Birds, butterflies, squirrels, sea gulls, and Canada geese are common sights.

Orange to red leaves
Orange to red leaves

Autumnal themes continue in gardens, parks, and planters in the neighbourhood. Examples: Light purple asters, potted mums, ornamental cabbage or kale plants, and a lot of pumpkins. I bet there will be a lot of pumpkin carvings to decorate for Halloween on October 31.

Warm up, Cool down, and Stretch

I start my walk slowly for five to ten minutes to warm up my muscles and prepare my body for exercise. Then I pick up my pace for a brisk walk to make it count. At the end of my walk, I walk slowly for five to ten minutes to help my muscles cool down. After I cool down, I pick a scenic spot for a view while gently stretch my muscles.

Stretching after a long walk with a view

Keeping track

Even though I walk year-round, I keep track of how many walks I do in a month as part of my Health maintenance routine. I don’t use an app or an electronic device, just a simple spreadsheet where I keep track of all my key activities. This helps me see where I started from, how many walks I’ve made, and serve as a source of motivation.

Knowing the benefits

I’m grateful for easy access to the lake shore and many parks and gardens. After breakfast, I usually go outside to explore nature, open space, fresh air, the lake, plants, and animals. I come home feeling good and ready for the rest of the day.

I know my regular brisk walking helps me:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Strengthen my bones and muscles
  • Boost my energy and immune function
  • Improve my balance and coordination
  • Improve my mood and keep me mentally healthy
  • Let my creative thinking flow

There is no need to complicate physical activity. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help us live a healthier life. We can really walk our way to fitness.

How did your week go? Do you do brisk walks regularly? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

4 Years of Blogging | Thanksgiving Musings

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space for a coffee or tea and let’s chat. The weather was typical autumn this past week, mainly sunny and cool, with some showers and strong winds mid-week.

I had a good week with my usual cycling, walking, workouts, yoga, meditation, house work, language lessons, blogging, and reading. I also got in touch with my family and friends by phone and text. This weekend I’m celebrating my blog anniversary and Thanksgiving holiday.

4 Years of Blogging: Some Thoughts

  • A milestone: I reached a blogging milestone, 4 years of blogging, on October 10th. I started my blog with Blogger in October 2016 and then switched to WordPress in June 2019. Same blog name Natalie the Explorer on both platforms. I didn’t move my old Blogger blog posts over to WordPress yet and probably won’t.
  • A good habit: I like the rhythm and habit of thinking and writing. This year I’ve been posting once a week. My blog is where I record some of what I’ve been up to, write down some thoughts, share some of my photos, and interact with my blog readers and other bloggers.
  • Friendships: I had the pleasure to meet several blogger friends IRL on Vancouver Island last September. I hope to meet them again and meet new blogger friends in the future.
  • Ongoing learning: One of the reasons for my platform switch was to learn something new. I jumped “cannonball” style into using WordPress block editor right away. I think all bloggers would agree with me that there’s always something new to learn from blogging, whether it’s new technology or general blog improvements or from readers’ comments.
  • Thank You: I want to thank everyone who reads my blog and everyone who takes the time to leave a comment. Blogging has been a fun ride for me. Your comments and friendship make it more fun and they motivate me to continue blogging. I hope you continue sharing your thoughts here.

Thanksgiving Musings: 10 Personal Gains

Currently, Canada is in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toronto public health officials have urged residents not to invite anyone over for Thanksgiving dinner this year, and to mark the holiday with only members of their immediate household. So it’s a quiet Thanksgiving at my place.

I made donations to the local food drive. I contacted my family and friends to chat and wish them a happy Thanksgiving. I spent some time thinking about what I’ve personally gained in the last seven months since COVID-19 restrictions started in mid-March.

Ten personal gains in no particular order:

  1. Health Focus: I’ve always been active, however, this pandemic brings a laser focus for me to continue being physically active, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and stay mentally healthy.
  1. Time: I gain time from not getting ready to go somewhere, not commuting, not attending cultural and social events, and not traveling. This allows me to spend more time outdoors, linger when and where I want to, and read a lot more books.
  1. Money: I save more, mainly from not traveling. I’ve redirected some of my travel budget to recreation which is still a fraction of my usual travel budget. At this rate of saving, I may be able to upgrade or extend my trip next time I travel.
  1. Childhood Favourite: I resume and enjoy one of my favourite childhood activities, i.e. Cycling. When I was a child, I taught myself how to ride a bicycle using my mom’s adult bike. No training wheels for this kid. I’ve been cycling a lot more this year than previous year.
  1. A Quiet City: Toronto is the largest city in Canada. With event cancellations, business closures, online schools, and working from home arrangements, the city centre has been much quieter than normal. Less car and people traffic makes it relaxing and easier for me to maintain physical distancing when I go outside.
  1. Local Beauty: I’m grateful to have easy access to the Waterfront trail, Lake Ontario, local beaches, parks, gardens, Toronto Harbour, and the Toronto islands. This year I have more time to explore my home city by bike or on foot, and did a lot of paddling around the beautiful Toronto islands.
  1. New Discoveries: The more flexible and resourceful I am, the more fun and less stress I bring to myself. Examples: Closures of indoor gym, art galleries, concert halls, library branches? Do workouts at home, go digital, and switch to e-books. Jasmine rice unavailable? Buy Basmati rice. In the process of substitution, I discovered new videos, web sites, authors, brands, etc. Some substitutes have met or exceeded my expectations.
  1. New Skills: I use some of the extra time on hand to learn how to bake. I’ve baked several recipes and they all turned out well. I approached this as a learning experiment and proved to myself that yes, I can bake. I also improved my paddling skills by canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddling this summer.
  1. Simple Living: The pandemic restrictions simplify life down to the essentials like staying at home and going out for exercises, groceries or medicine only. So my typical day involves going outside for fitness activities, grocery shopping, making meals at home, doing house chores, keeping in touch with family and friends by phone or text, and relaxing with books, films, and music.
  1. Life Experience: Even though I wish the pandemic would be over right now, it’s still part of our reality. Living through COVID-19 Wave 1 has given me the experience to prepare for Wave 2. Unlike Wave 1 which occurred during Spring and Summer here, Wave 2 is in Autumn and possibly Winter when it’s darker and colder. I know I need to step up my game and ride this out.

How did your week go? What personal gains have you experienced during the pandemic? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

September Smiles and 2020 Reading Update #3

Greetings blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your week is going well. October is off to a great start chez Natalie. We had rain and thunderstorms on the last day of September then the sun returned to welcome the first day of October.

Autumn leaves have been showing off their yellow, orange, and red colours in downtown Toronto. On a sunny day, they look brilliant. The air is cool, especially in the morning, just right for cycling and walking.

Red maple.

There are still a lot of late summer flowers, berries, and monarch butterflies around. The variety of colours in parks and gardens now is astounding and makes me want to paint.

Monarch butterfly.

I love that when I cycle along the Waterfront trail, the lake views are always changing. On calm days, I can see what’s beneath the clear water. On windy days, the waves roar and splash as they hit the breakwater walls or the rocks along the shore line. The familiar landscape includes water, open space, rock boulders, and trees.

Anyway, today I’m reflecting on my month of September and summarizing the books that I read in the third quarter of 2020.

September Smiles

September was a wonderful month when I enjoyed a mix of health-related activities, i.e. cycling, exercising, meditation, stand up paddling, walking, and yoga. I wrote my weekly blog posts, completed daily language lessons on Duolingo, listened to digital concerts, and read many novels.

Here’s my September in numbers:

  • 1 family meet-up with my sister and nieces.
  • 1 stand up paddling excursion.
  • 3 digital concerts.
  • 4 blog posts.
  • 4 rest days.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 14 yoga sessions.
  • 18 books (see list below).
  • 18 walks.
  • 22 cycling trips.
  • 30 meditation sessions.
  • 30 French and Spanish sessions.

2020 Reading Update #3

Back in March this year, I wrote a post to share my Reading First Update for the first quarter of the year. Once I started that, it feels logical to continue with Reading Update #2 for the second quarter, and today’s Reading Update #3 for the third quarter.

At a glance, I read 15 books in July, 20 books in August, and 18 books in September. Social distancing due to COVID-19 pandemic means more staying at home than normal and this gives me time to read.

The list of the novels that I read in July is here, in August is here, and in September is below in alpha order of author’s last name:

  1. Woman On The Edge by Samantha M. Bailey.
  2. The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister.
  3. The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely.
  4. 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan.
  5. Fireworks by Katie Cotugno.
  6. How To Love by Katie Cotugno.
  7. Top Ten by Katie Cotugno.
  8. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.
  9. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella.
  10. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul.
  11. The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda.
  12. The Switch by Beth O’Leary.
  13. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.
  14. He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker.
  15. In Her Wake by K.A. Tucker.
  16. Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker.
  17. One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker.
  18. Wild At Heart (sequel to The Simple Wild) by K.A. Tucker.

I lucked out again with the fiction novels I borrowed to read in September. They’re all really good books written by authors from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I look forward to reading more novels from the same authors again.

Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, October 10 to 12, is coming up. I know I have a lot to be grateful for. If you’re celebrating the holidays, Happy Thanksgiving to you! Stay safe and well.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Time To Switch Up

Greetings blog friends! Autumn officially arrived here on September 22 as per my wall calendar. The weather from September 20 to 26 inclusive was good, with mainly sunny skies and some rain on one of the afternoons. Daily high temperatures ranged from 16C to 26C (62F to 79F). A nice transition from summer to autumn.

Autumn arrival

When I go cycling and walking around my neighbourhood, the grassy fields and many trees are still green. Some of the late summer flowers are in full bloom. Look at these pink cosmos and dahlias. Aren’t they gorgeous?

The maple trees are changing colours though. Every morning I see more and more of the yellow, orange, and red hues that are part of the Canadian autumn splendour. It’s like Mother Nature has done her painting overnight and touched a dab of red here and a dab of orange there.

More signs of autumn are at the grocery stores: Potted mums in assorted colours and pumpkins in orange and white. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten white pumpkin yet, have you?

Potted mums and pumpkins.

I love having four seasons. Every time a new season arrives, it’s a reminder for me to review and switch things up in my daily routine. Each season lasts about 13 weeks. That’s a nice period of time to try something new and see results.

Haircut

I started making changes at the top, literally, my head. I went for a haircut. First time since COVID-19 pandemic started here in mid-March. Same hair salon, same hairstylist, new procedures: Temperature check, hand sanitizer, masks, bigger space between chairs, contact tracing sign-in sheet, and less talking.

I was the only customer in the salon at the time. After having a few inches of my hair cut off, I feel lighter and ready for the new season. My hair length is now the same as in my profile photo.

Fitness

  • Swimming: The long range forecast is calling for a nice autumn season so I anticipate to continue my cycling and walking outdoors. Paddling on the water is going to end soon. I may resume indoor swimming as a substitute for paddling since the pools are open.
  • Resistance bands: My resistance band broke after I’ve got so much good use out of it. I replaced it with a 4-pack resistance band set that comes with a door anchor and different resistance levels: Light, Medium, Heavy, and X-Heavy. I love that resistance bands are light, portable, inexpensive, and good tools for home workouts or when I travel.
  • Boxing: I’m going to add no-equipment boxing workouts to my fitness routine to spice it up. I tried boxing before and liked it so this autumn is time for me to bring boxing back into my life. I’ve seen some good boxing workout videos on YouTube. I’m saying Yes to jab, cross, hook, keep moving, stay focused, and have fun while doing it.

Reading

It’s a coincidence that while I’m thinking about switching things up, I received a Skip the Line notification that one of the e-books I put on hold became available. This novel is titled The Switch, written by Beth O’Leary. The Skip the Line option lets me jump the queue and borrow the book for 7 days only, as opposed to the usual 21 days.

The Switch book cover.

The Switch is a story of generational location swapping. It showcases how it’s never too late to change your life and pursue your dreams.

The Switch is funny, positive, warm, an easy and enjoyable read from beginning to end.

I had read O’Leary’s debut novel, The Flatshare, and enjoyed it a lot, too.

Overall a good first week of Autumn. It’s time to switch up a few things in my daily routine to keep me active and happy. No drastic changes, just a dash of spices here and there to challenge my mind and body.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.