February Wrap-Up

February started off with a fun girls’ night-in at my place with my sister and nieces, followed by a wine and cheese party with my neighbours, several coffee dates and movie nights with my friends, and ended with a nice family getaway.

For our February girls’ night in, I prepared a three-course meal. My nieces played a few piano songs. We chatted and played Scrabble after dinner. We all had a lovely time and agreed to have the next get-together in April. I used to host big family parties. Now dinner for eight feels just right and I’m thankful to have a dishwasher!

In between the social gatherings, I completed all my health goals and enjoyed plenty of leisure activities. I keep track of the numbers for my own benefit. Details are below.

Arts

Mermaid ice sculpture

I viewed six visually interesting art exhibits:

  • IceFest 2020: An exhibit of about 35 amazing ice sculptures, with the theme Awesome 80s. I’ve shared some photos in my previous post and am sharing a few more of the ice sculptures in this post.
  • Speculative Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli. See Languages section below.
  • Building Black: Amorphia by Ekow Nimako. The exhibit comprised of eight West African masks made by over 50,000 black Lego pieces.
  • Colin Kaepernick Wants You to Know Your Rights exhibit: An exclusive Canadian debut public art installation, courtesy of Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, featuring freedom fighters representing the organization’s beliefs, from athletes to activists to lawyers, scholars and actors.
  • Making of A Legend – Works by D’Wayne Edwards: This exhibit is made up of Edwards’ signature footwear designs for athletic companies such as Nike and Air Jordan and memorabilia.
  • Ascension Tech exhibit by Yung Yemi: A multimedia exhibition that explores ancient ancestral teachings and pays homage to African history.

Blogs

I did my monthly blog and media back-up, wrote four posts, and hosted the 2nd Wellness Weekend link-up of 2020:

The next Wellness Weekend link-up is on March 15. Optional prompt: Spring Forward. I hope you join in on the fun.

Books

Books I read in February

I enjoyed reading six fictional books which took me from the rock and roll scenes in Hollywood, to crime near Chicago, dramatic family life in Afghanistan, brave Kazakh eagle hunters in Mongolia, to adventures during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon, and how comics break a couple of young adults’ hearts in Nova Scotia. Love is beautifully woven throughout each story:

  • Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  • Wherever She Goes by K.L. Armstrong.
  • And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.
  • Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.
  • At The Mountain’s Edge by Genevieve Graham.
  • Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks.

Health

Nike shoe ice sculpture

I completed all my health goals, slept well, and feel great:

  • Greeted every new day with a smile.
  • Meditated 15 minutes daily, 29 times in February.
  • Made 25 walks outdoors, average 8 km (5 miles) each walk.
  • Did 12 strength workouts in the gym, one hour each.
  • Attended 8 yoga classes, one hour each. Our regular yoga teacher was on vacation for two weeks. We got a substitute teacher and it was refreshing to practice a new combination of yoga poses with her.
  • Went swimming 4 times, one hour each.
  • Had 4 full rest days.

Languages

Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli
Speculative Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli

One of the art exhibits that I viewed was the Speculative Characters for Visual Inflection by Mia Cinelli. I found the characters interesting. From top left of the above photo and clockwise: Exaspericon, Snark marks, Shrug sign, Disinterest mark, Worried quotes, Awkward pause, Disgust mark, Skeptical quotes, Affecticon, Elaticon, and Angry quotes.

I continue to learn French and Spanish daily on Duolingo, 30 minutes each time. In addition, I learned a few new fun words from assorted online articles, such as kakeibo, a Japanese budgeting method, and clafoutis, a French dessert that I’d like to add to my baking repertoire.

Movies

E.T. ice sculpture

February was the month of Oscar awards so my neighbours and I enjoyed watching four good movie picks:

  • The Good Liar starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen.
  • Ford v Ferrari starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon.
  • Parasite starring Kang-ho Song and Sun-kyun Lee.
  • Knives Out starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas.

Music

Elton John and Madonna ice sculptures

Aside from listening to music from the 80s played by live DJs at the Icefest 2020 event, I attended three jazz and piano concerts with my friends:

  • The Tanya Wills Jazz Quartet played an hour of beautiful jazz songs from great musicians such as Miles Davis, Ray Charles, and Edith Piaf.
  • Emily Chiang and Megan Chang played an hour of piano for four hands from Beethoven, Schumann and Gabriel Faurรฉ.
  • The Bedford Trio: Alessia Disimino (violin), Andrew Ascenzo (cello), and Jialiang Zhu (piano) played an hour of music composed by Beethoven and Frank Bridge.

Travel

My family and I took a three-day getaway about an hour west of the city. We stayed in a hotel, ate out, and met up with our friends who live in the area. The weather was cool and sunny, without ice or snow on the ground so we enjoyed walking outdoors. Even though we didn’t go far, the change of routine was great. Relaxation replaced grocery shopping, home cleaning, meal prepping, etc.

Love & Peace ice sculpture

So that was my February. I’m grateful for another enriching month. How was yours? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright ยฉ 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog โ€“ All rights reserved.

70 thoughts on “February Wrap-Up

  1. Jill Weatherholt March 1, 2020 / 6:55 am

    It’s a good thing we had that extra day in February, Natalie. You sure had a productive month! I like that you had four days of rest…that’s something I need to do. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos. The Icefest looks spectacular!

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 9:29 am

      Jill, I have a full rest day with nothing planned once a week. I hope you get some rest when your body is telling you to do so. Thank you for reading my ramblings ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Erica/Erika March 1, 2020 / 10:21 am

    Hi Natalie, Your February night- in sounds wonderful. You remind me of the concept of โ€œcocooningโ€ when the weather is still brisk outside. I am curious about your phrase โ€œmedia back-up?โ€ Do you have a system in place? I am also curious about your book โ€œComics will break your heart.โ€ My daughter just published a book containing all comics (The Chronic Pain Comic โ€œENDOtheLINEโ€)bringing humour and awareness to invisible illnesses. In her case, Endometriosis. I will share more in future.

    I enjoy reading about your life, Natalie, and the positive spin to all parts of it. I understand how it is a way for you to keep a summary for yourself. I appreciate you sharing and you often inspire me in many ways. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lots around here for me, with the highlight and privilege of being at the birth of my grandson last week. Grateful and a blessing! Have a great Sunday and rest of your week!๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 11:12 am

      Hi Erica/Erika, Congratulations on the birth of your grandson and your daughter’s book. Wonderful news for your family. A healthy childbirth is never to be taken for granted. A book that brings humour and awareness to invisible illnesses is a great resource for all of us.

      I do a monthly back-up of my blog and the media (photos, videos, etc) that I post on my blog. It’s easy to do under Tools/ Export tabs in WordPress. I recommend to have a blog back-up to prevent losing all of its contents. The Comics will break your heart novel is a well-written Young adult fiction, by a Canadian author. It’s nominated for the White Pine award this year.

      Thank you for reading my monthly wrap-up posts and as always, I greatly appreciate your thoughtful comments. Have a wonderful Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erica/Erika March 2, 2020 / 9:36 am

        Hi Natalie, I briefly did look up Tools/Export tabs. Do you click export on the 2 parts “Export your content” and “Export your Media Library?” Do you export it directly to your computer or to a separate hard drive. I also place some content in the Cloud. I think I often make things out to be harder than they are. If this takes too long to respond, don’t worry about it. I think you have a special trip coming up soon and you are likely getting prepared. Have a great day!

        Like

        • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 10:28 am

          Yes, I do two separate exports to be extra careful (Export your content, then Export your Media Library). I export both directly to my computer, and remove the older back-up versions to save disk space and to keep only the latest. My computer is backed up regularly separately. I don’t keep my blog content in the Cloud yet. The back-up files that I keep on my computer are easily imported in the event my blog contents are lost. Hope this answers your questions. I travel light and have been to my upcoming destination so minimal prep this time ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great day, Erica/ Erika!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Erica/Erika March 3, 2020 / 10:53 am

            I greatly appreciate you taking the time out to respond to me, Natalie. You have built a beautiful blog and I appreciate you sharing. I look forward to reading about your next adventures. Especially, one of them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Safe travels!

            Like

            • Natalie March 3, 2020 / 5:04 pm

              I’m happy to share WordPress how-to’s and to hear you think my blog is beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you Erica/ Erika, for your kind comment.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Erica/Erika March 4, 2020 / 10:00 pm

                Visiting again, Natalie and sharing on SM #MLSTL. I rechecked your books and movies. Some I have seen and read and some new to me and I added to a list.๐Ÿ™‚

                Like

                • Natalie March 5, 2020 / 7:54 am

                  Thank you, Erica/ Erika. Happy reading books and watching movies ๐Ÿ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

  3. Retirement Reflections March 1, 2020 / 12:02 pm

    I’ve said this here before, but it bears repeating! I have no idea how you fit this all in. You should write a book about your secret!

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 12:22 pm

      Oh Donna, you’re so kind. You just gave me an idea to write, maybe a blog post, not a book. I think when we met and you mentioned that I should write a book, I said that no one will read it ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  4. Debbie from Deb's World March 1, 2020 / 4:54 pm

    An enriching month – I love that description Natalie! Your month sounds amazing and I love your photos too ๐Ÿ™‚ #lifethisweek

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 5:13 pm

      Thank you, Debbie, for your comment. I enjoyed the variety of events in February.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Natalie March 5, 2020 / 7:56 am

          Thank you, Debbie, for returning. Hope you’re enjoying lots of family time and cuddles with your grandson.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Katherine March 1, 2020 / 5:23 pm

    Ooh, we saw Knives Out for my birthday and actually just re-watched it again last night. It’s such a great movie!
    The last time I was in Canada (early 2018 I think), I went to a few ice sculpture festivals (exhibitions?) and apart from being absolutely freezing, I loved them! Thanks for the great photos.

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 5:29 pm

      Knives Out was entertaining and kept us guessing. Such a big cast of actors, too. Thanks, Katherine, for stopping by.

      Like

  6. Deborah March 1, 2020 / 7:07 pm

    Oh wow, those ice sculptures are amazing! I’ve never seen anything like them!!! Not sure I will unless I travel out of Oz!!!

    I’ve heard wonderful things about Daisy Jones and the Six so must make sure I read it as I think it’s being made for TV / film and would much prefer to read the book first!

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 7:11 pm

      I enjoyed reading Daisy Jones and The Six more than I thought I would. I also heard that it’s being made for TV. I’d be interested in hearing what you think of the book after you read it.

      Like

  7. Jo March 1, 2020 / 7:14 pm

    Again a fabulously balanced and rounded month from you. There are some great recipes out there for clafoutis & I await the photographic results. I have Daisy Jones on my TBR pile at the moment (I should get to it in March) & a friend gave me her copy of the Hosseini book…it’s a tad further down the TBR pile lol.

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 7:23 pm

      I made my first blueberry clafoutis today. I liked it and plan to do it again with some adjustments to the temperature and duration (ovens vary) for a solid result. I still need to improve on taking better food photos ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo March 1, 2020 / 7:25 pm

        The problem I find with photographing puddings is you make them to eat in the evening when the light is artificial and bad. Heavy sighs.

        Like

        • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 7:27 pm

          True. Plus I find the depth of the pie is more challenging to take a good photo than a cake.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jo March 1, 2020 / 7:37 pm

            absolutely.

            Like

  8. Sydney Shop Girl March 1, 2020 / 8:21 pm

    I’m inspired by your regular swimming and yoga during February, Natalie!

    SSG xxx

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 8:56 pm

      I enjoy both yoga and swimming and don’t want to miss any of it. Thank you, SSG, for stopping by.

      Like

  9. Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com March 1, 2020 / 8:57 pm

    Wow, you’ve been busy! I don’t know whether to be envious, or just take a nap. Even though it doesn’t get too cold here, my activity level in the winter months takes a bit of a dive. Apparently that doesn’t apply to you… and you get snow! I read And The Mountains Echoed for my book club this month. It got mixed reviews from the members, but I loved it.

    Like

    • Natalie March 1, 2020 / 9:10 pm

      Janis, Your comment made me smile. Today is my PJ day at home, total relaxation. I enjoyed And The Mountains Echoed very much. However, I’d give Hosseini’s two other books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns more points if I were to rate them. I also read Sea Prayer which is a much smaller book but poetic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tamara R March 5, 2020 / 2:12 pm

        I concur with your thoughts on Hosseiniโ€™s three books, Natalie. I found A Thousand Splendid Suns particularly poignant. It broke my heart.

        Like

        • Natalie March 5, 2020 / 2:21 pm

          Thank you, Tamara, for your visit and comment. I found both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns heartbreaking. So much suffering. I hope you arrived home safe and sound.

          Like

  10. Vanessa March 1, 2020 / 11:37 pm

    Days of rest – love to see this included. I feel like rest doesn’t get the respect it needs sometimes. Also, I’m really bad at it!

    Like

    • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 7:52 am

      Rest is so important for our health. I hope you make time for it. Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

  11. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid March 2, 2020 / 1:49 am

    What a busy month! I loved Daisy Jones and the Six and can’t wait to read “And the Mountains Echoed,” it’s his only book I haven’t read. Hope your March is just as full and just as fabulous!

    Like

    • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 7:56 am

      I love how TJ Reid structured Daisy Jones and the Six, a different way of writing a novel. I hope you have a fabulous March, too.

      Like

    • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 7:58 am

      We have plenty of ice and snow in the winter here and turn them into something fun. Now I’m looking forward to spring. Thank you, Georgina, for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Darlene March 2, 2020 / 8:59 am

    Wow! You had a great February. Well done. #SeniSal

    Like

    • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 1:07 pm

      Thank you, Darlene. Hope you had a good February and are enjoying March.

      Like

  13. Laurie March 2, 2020 / 12:08 pm

    Your girls’night sounds like so much fun! I love hanging out with my sister and nieces. I have only sons (no daughters) so I am especially close to my nieces.

    I love those little 3-day getaways. So much fun with none of the stress that can sometimes come with travel!

    Like

    • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 1:09 pm

      Girls’ nights are fun and give us time to chat and catch up. The 3-day getaway was relaxing and we took the train so no driving stress. Thanks, Laurie, for stopping by.

      Like

  14. Annika Perry March 2, 2020 / 12:20 pm

    Natalie, wow! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you for sharing your super busy February. The ice sculptures look stunning and I like the new language art! A great selection of books and films for your mental exercise and love the idea of such walks every day … do you head out in the worst of weathers? Wishing you a wonderful March … and look forward to reading about your adventures. xx

    Like

    • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 1:14 pm

      I head out 6 days/ week, Annika. The 7th day is my full rest and PJ day ๐Ÿ™‚ This winter has been mild for us, not too much snow or ice. I live close to the city centre and the sidewalks are cleared quickly so no problem getting around. I’m used to walking and enjoy it very much. Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. restlessjo March 2, 2020 / 2:49 pm

    Life’s for living, isn’t it? Enjoy March! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie March 2, 2020 / 4:52 pm

      It is. Have a wonderful March, Jo! Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Sagittarius Viking March 3, 2020 / 3:33 am

    Wow Natalie, what a fabulous month that sounds like!! I bet you feel like a million bucks! It is wonderful to take care of ones mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health. It seems like you have a very balanced life. I’m impressed. May March be as wonderful.

    Like

    • Natalie March 3, 2020 / 7:19 am

      Thank you, Maria, for your visit and comment. I feel healthy and that’s worth the efforts I put in ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you have a wonderful March, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Nanchi.blog March 3, 2020 / 1:45 pm

    That was one productive and inspirational month. I too wish to follow some discipline. Thank you for the post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    • Natalie March 3, 2020 / 5:05 pm

      Thank you, Nanchi, for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      Like

  18. 3sistersabroad March 3, 2020 / 4:27 pm

    Was it the extra day that allowed you to do so much? Kidding, I read what you have got up to and I think wow thats quadruple what I got up to. Just getting up in the morning is an achievement for me. #SeniSal

    Like

    • Natalie March 3, 2020 / 5:10 pm

      Haha, yep, I did a lot on Leap day since it only comes once every four years ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re unique individuals so our days should be different.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. csuhpat1 March 3, 2020 / 10:29 pm

    Looks like someone had a wonderful month. Very nice recap. Thanks for sharing it with us. #MLSTL

    Like

    • Natalie March 4, 2020 / 8:09 am

      Thank you, Patrick, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it. I hope you had a nice February.

      Like

  20. Deb March 4, 2020 / 3:39 am

    Those ice sculptures are amazing – I’m in awe of someone who can be so artistic with a block of ice!
    As always, you had a full and productive month – so interesting to read your day by day account.

    Like

    • Natalie March 4, 2020 / 8:10 am

      Thank you, Deb, for your comment. I’m glad you liked the ice sculptures. I look forward to attending this ice festival every winter. They have interesting themes and the sculptures are beautiful to see.

      Like

  21. leannelc March 4, 2020 / 7:19 am

    Gosh I love ice sculptures Natalie! The more I see of them the more I like them – maybe it’s the novelty for me because we don’t have the temperatures for them in Western Australia, but it’s also the talent that goes into them that grabs me every time.

    Like

    • Natalie March 4, 2020 / 8:16 am

      It’s amazing to see the ice carving artists in action, Leanne. They start out with big blocks of ice, with or without a photo of their design and end up with beautiful artwork. They work outdoors and this year, on the first day of the festival, it was really cold so their hands must be frozen quickly but the ice sculptures lasted longer.

      Like

  22. Michele @michelevosberg.com March 4, 2020 / 11:43 am

    Your February was amazing. You did a lot in a short winter month. I am especially impressed that you got to see 6 art exhibits. I did 0, which makes me sad.

    Like

    • Natalie March 4, 2020 / 12:35 pm

      This winter has been mostly mild so I try to take advantage of that and make time for art at least once/ week. The art exhibits that I saw are free to the public. Thank you, Michele, for stopping by.

      Like

  23. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond March 4, 2020 / 3:39 pm

    Another packed month for you Natalie and congratulations on once again achieving a life that is full of variety and fun. I wish I lived closer so I could enjoy some time with you especially the travelling. Have a wonderful March, although I can’t believe we are into the third month of the year! Thanks for sharing and linking up at #MLSTL. Enjoy your week xx

    Like

    • Natalie March 4, 2020 / 4:52 pm

      Thank you, Sue, for hosting another great MLSTL party. It would be so much fun if we could have more time together to travel and share our thoughts about various life topics. Have a wonderful week!

      Like

  24. Denyse Whelan March 5, 2020 / 1:43 am

    Your consistency in meeting your goals via a variety of activities and more is commendable. Looked like a great month…29 days of it!

    Thank you for joining in Life This Week. Next week’s optional prompt is Share Your Snaps. Hope to see you linking up too. Denyse.

    Like

    • Natalie March 5, 2020 / 7:58 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for hosting and for your kind comment. I look forward to seeing your snaps next week.

      Like

  25. Nancy March 5, 2020 / 8:49 am

    Hi Natalie,
    I love reading posts like this one…catching up on everything you’ve been up to this month. I loved what Jill said, it’s a good thing you had an extra day as you sure were busy!
    Dan and I have be anxious to see Ford vs Ferrari so I was interested to see it on your list as well…think we’ll try to get to that this week.
    I’ve been more consistent with my medition as well, 15 minutes a day for me, too, first thing to start my morning. But I’m intrigued with the language-learning, 30 minutes daily for each language? Not sure I could be regular with that…what is your routine? I know learning a language is so helpful for brain health.
    Lovely, newsy post. #MLSTL

    Like

    • Natalie March 5, 2020 / 10:14 am

      Thank you, Nancy, for your comment. I usually do my language lessons in the morning. I use the free Duolingo app. I started a couple of years ago with 5-10 minutes each language and increased the duration over time. It naturally takes longer as the lessons become more complex. Duolingo also adds new lessons in French and Spanish over time. I do the lessons as a form of mind exercise. As a side benefit, the vocabulary helps me a lot when I travel abroad.

      Like

  26. OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com March 6, 2020 / 1:23 pm

    So glad to see more of your lovely photos from the ice sculpture exhibit. The tennis shoe is so fun.

    Your posts always remind me that I am losing my Spanish language and have not done my practice in months. You’re so faithful to practice your languages. I really need to make that happen. As long as I was working with my students, my Spanish speaking continued to grow and expand. But I rarely say anything in Spanish now, in retirement.

    We saw Parasite, too. I was okay with it til the end. Then just blown away by the violence. Not sure if it was best picture of the year quality, in my opinon.

    Of the books you read, I have only read Daisy. Which I very much enjoyed. We are beginning to read The German Girl by Correa in our online book club. I need to pick up my library copy today.

    Glad you enjoyed a weekend getaway as did we. Works wonders for refreshing you. I even enjoyed sleeping in a different bed!!

    Like

    • Natalie March 6, 2020 / 3:28 pm

      One of the reasons I keep up my language lessons is not to lose what I learned. I do a small amount of time every day so it’s not a big time burden and easier to absorb the lessons. Duolingo makes it fun by having Streak Free and Gem awards, etc.

      I found Parasite thought-provoking and yes, the violence at the end was shocking. So many lives shattered.

      Glad you had a nice weekend getaway, Leslie. I look forward to reading your updates. See you at the #WW2020 link-up. Thank you for sending the codes out in advance. Have a wonderful week!

      Like

  27. Dr Sock March 28, 2020 / 2:32 pm

    Hi Natalie. I have read โ€œAnd the Mountains Echoedโ€ by Khaled Hosseini, but none of the other books, and I have seen Parasite, but none of the other movies. I know how to make clafoutis, although I havenโ€™t made it recently.

    I hope you are well. I would guess you are missing going out to concerts and art galleries since we have been practicing physical distancing.

    Jude

    Like

    • Natalie March 28, 2020 / 2:40 pm

      Hi Jude, I’m well, thank you. Hope you and your family are well, too. Since the pandemic, I substitute art galleries with nature and public art when I go out for a walk. There are many free wonderful concerts online and free virtual tours of world class museums so no shortage of fun things to explore yet.

      Like

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