Summer Week 6: July Smiles


Hello blog friends! How are you? Hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space, make yourself at home with a coffee or tea, hot or iced, and let’s chat.

Summer Week 6

Summer week 6, from July 26 to August 1 inclusive, was sunny and warm. The high temperatures ranged from 28C to 33C (82F to 91F). We had heat warning on Sunday and Monday, brief showers on Wednesday, and the rest of the week was beautiful.

I enjoyed plenty of outdoor time cycling and walking on the waterfront trail or in parks by the lake. The flowers in the gardens continue to be amazing. So many colours, shapes, textures, and lovely fragrance that keep bees and butterflies busy.

My new activity of the week was Stand Up Paddling (SUP). I did SUP for about three hours on Toronto islands with my small ‘social bubble’. We paddled and had so much fun. The water was calm and warm. I saw a great blue heron, dragonflies, Eastern kingbirds, pretty water lilies, idyllic sailboats, and more.


July Smiles

Since we’ve just finished July and are now at the beginning of August, I thought of summarizing my fun in July in simple numbers:

  • 1 stand up paddling trip
  • 2 movies (see titles below)
  • 4 blog posts
  • 6 digital concerts (see performers below)
  • 6 kayaking trips
  • 13 yoga sessions
  • 14 strengthening workouts
  • 15 books (see list below)
  • 24 cycling trips
  • 26 walks
  • 31 online French and Spanish sessions
  • 31 meditation sessions

The two movies were both based on true stories and great performances. I gave each movie 4 stars out of 5:

  • The Big Short (Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling).
  • The Whole Wide World (Renée Zellweger and Vincent D’Onofrio).

The six concerts were performed beautifully by:

On the COVID-19 front, case numbers in Toronto have been on the downward trends so as of July 31, the City allows more businesses to re-open, now including indoor gyms, dine-in restaurants, and movie theatres that meet public health guidelines. Masks are required in indoor public spaces and people are advised to continue social distancing.

July Beach Reads

Glorious books and e-books! I was in the mood for reading and set a new personal best reading record in a month: 15 books. I enjoyed every single one of them, about half were e-books and the other half physical books. I re-read some of the chapters in each of the books. They were that good!

15 books read in July 2020

All of the authors were new to me, except Jenny Colgan and John Grisham. Although I read Neil Pasricha‘s articles and listened to him on TED Talks before, this was the first time I read one of his books. I’m glad to discover K.A. Tucker who lives in a small town outside of Toronto.

Most of the 15 books are contemporary romance, with adventures, suspense, or thriller twists. Most, not all, have happy endings. They transported me to faraway places such as Bora Bora, England, Israel, Italy, Scotland, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and various states in the USA.

I group the books into my Top 5 Picks, Next 5 Picks, and Last 5 Picks, based on how much I liked the story and the writing style. They are in alpha order by author’s last name below.

My Top 5 Picks:
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
  • The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.
  • The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker.
My Next 5 Picks:
  • The Place We Met by Isabelle Broom.
  • Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks.
  • Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman.
  • Burying Water by K. A. Tucker.
  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker.
My Last 5 Picks:
  • The Cafe by The Sea by Jenny Colgan.
  • Gray Mountain by John Grisham.
  • The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo.
  • Be The Girl by K. A. Tucker.
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.


July was an enriching and fabulous month with fitness, family, friends, and fun while social distancing. I look forward to making the most of August.

How was your July? What are you reading? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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79 thoughts on “Summer Week 6: July Smiles

  1. Jill Weatherholt August 2, 2020 / 7:23 am

    It sounds like July was a great month, Natalie. The stand up paddling sounds like fun. Your photographs of the flowers are gorgeous…they make me smile. The month of July flew by in a blur. I’m looking forward to the month of August as that’s typically when our hummingbird action at the feeders gets crazy! Have a great week ahead.


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 8:58 am

      Hi Jill, I find stand up paddling fun and easier than kayaking. I love watching hummingbirds in action. You must be busy working and finishing your book in July for the August launch. I hope you have time for a summer break this month. Have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill Weatherholt August 2, 2020 / 10:31 am

        Thanks, Natalie! That book is done…I have another due at the end of August. It’s a busy month! Your lovely photos help to ease the stress. ❤


        • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 10:35 am

          OMG, Jill, I’m in awe of your writing power. I can barely write up a weekly blog post. Glad I can help a tiny bit with my photos 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jill Weatherholt August 2, 2020 / 10:39 am

            LOL! You do a wonderful job with your blog posts. Writing happy endings help me to escape the craziness in the world. 🙂


  2. Joanne August 2, 2020 / 8:48 am

    I’ve been wanting to try stand up paddling but wasn’t sure I’d want to stand up the whole time we’re usually out kayaking.


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 9:03 am

      Joanne, No need to stand up the whole time. I alternated standing up with kneeling or sitting down paddling. When I want to relax, I just sit down on the board and let my feet hang on the sides of the board and dip them in the water.


  3. Retirement Reflections August 2, 2020 / 10:14 am

    Hi, Natalie – Your flower photography is stunning. You are very talented. Congratulations on a very full and active July. Your SUP sounds wonderful!


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 10:32 am

      OMG, Donna, you made me blush! I’m glad that you liked my flower photos. It’s the phone and luck with lighting, no talent there. SUP was fun and I love the Toronto islands.


  4. Gary A Wilson August 2, 2020 / 11:56 am

    Hi Natalie,

    Wow – what a list of accomplishments. I thought i had a great July until I read about yours.

    My story blog had it’s best month ever of folks reading my story collection and among them was my newest piece of fiction, which, at 3000 words, is also the longest essay in my collection to date. I’m trying to keep the word count down because it helps me write tight and not ramble.

    But I love the story that resulted. If you’re up for a complex and thoughtful tale with a multiple surprise endings, I’d love to hear your opinion of:

    To your question: what am I reading? I’m actually reading the 3rd novel of a series from one of the members of our coffee share group. Thomas Fenske is about to release volume 4 of his first series and so far they have been wonderful. Here’s the link to his Coffee Share for this week where you can begin to check him and his work out.

    I hope you continue this trajectory of experiencing so much of life around you. Oh, and yes, please continue to keep that camera handy. I love your photos.



    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 1:25 pm

      Congrats, Gary, on your newest piece of fiction and readership. Thanks for the links to your story and Thomas Fenske. So many stories or books to read and so little time. Have a good week ahead!


  5. Sagittarius Viking August 2, 2020 / 12:15 pm

    Such sweet beautiful summer photos. It made me smile reading about all the wonderful summer activities you’ve been enjoying! Wonderful!


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 1:32 pm

      Thank you, Maria, for your nice comment. Glad you liked my photos and that my post made you smile. Life is here for us to enjoy while it lasts so I try to make the most of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ally Bean August 2, 2020 / 1:09 pm

    Once again you did so much! Thanks for the movie suggestions. I don’t watch many movies, usually because I can’t find even one that sounds interesting. Your flower are perfectly July-ish.


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 1:38 pm

      Ally, sometimes I can’t find a movie that I want to watch either. I aim to watch 3 movies per month, and only watched two in July.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy August 2, 2020 / 1:10 pm

    Your July certainly sounds more productive than mine! I like your idea of cataloging the end of the month my counting up all you’ve done. I may try that for August. “Where the Crawdads Sing” was one of my favorite Book Club reads. Thanks for posting your other reads. It will give me some ideas of what to read next. Enjoy your week!


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 1:43 pm

      Nancy, keeping track of my numbers is super easy. Give it a go for August and see what happens. Hope you find some good reads. Have a wonderful week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lydia C. Lee August 2, 2020 / 5:17 pm

    I loved The Big Short. Great movie – tho a little depressing. We humans continually make a mess of things with our greed…


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 7:53 pm

      Yes, sometimes we need to see the bad and the ugly to love the good more.


  9. Jennifer Jones August 2, 2020 / 6:10 pm

    I love your summer photos Natalie. They cheer up a dreamers wintry day here


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 7:55 pm

      Glad you liked my photos, Jennifer. Summer is beautiful here. I take many photos as I know they’ll cheer me up when winter comes.


  10. dprastka August 2, 2020 / 6:25 pm

    What a beautiful butterfly! 🦋 and all your flower photos make me SMILE! 🙂 You had a busy, fulfilling month and it’s inspiring how you get so much out of your days. I’ve never done stand up paddling, sounds like FUN! Thank you for sharing July with us and I can’t believe it’s August! ❤️❤️❤️


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 7:58 pm

      Diana, I can’t believe it’s August either. I had a lot of fun with stand up paddling and love my time on Toronto islands.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jo August 2, 2020 / 6:52 pm

    A great wrap-up. I think I must be the only person on earth who hasn’t read Crawdads…I really must rectify that. Great images of nature and stand up paddling – I am impressed, that takes serious core strength!


    • Natalie August 2, 2020 / 8:03 pm

      I found stand up paddling easier than kayaking because I can stand up or sit down or kneel on the board and paddle. It’s not so easy to do those movements in a kayak while being in a lake. Both are fun. I’d love to know your thoughts after you read Crawdads.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Erica/Erika August 2, 2020 / 9:34 pm

    You likely hear this often, Natalie, how your posts are like a breath of fresh air. You had a fun event filled July. I recognize some of the books on your list and some are new to me. Lots around here this past July. I visited some of my family in the Lower Mainland, stayed outside on our lawn chairs and slept in our camper. It felt safe and good. Thank you for sharing an enjoyable post!


    • Natalie August 3, 2020 / 8:05 am

      Hi Erica/ Erika, Sounds like you had a very good July with family visits and time outside to relax. I’ve been meeting my sister outdoors and keeping my social bubble small while this covid-19 virus is still around. I hope you have a fun August with lots of light, love, and laughter.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sanch @ Sanch Writes August 3, 2020 / 1:44 am

    Sounds like a wonderful July Natalie! The weather looks amazing. I love SUP though I don’t do it often enough! Those are some great reads. I’ve been eyeing Beach Read on bookstagram a fair bit and have been hearing good things about it. Must get my hands on it! 15 books is epic! I thought I did well this month reading 11 🙂 Hope August is fantastic for you!


    • Natalie August 3, 2020 / 8:10 am

      Hi Sanch, The weather has been pretty good this summer so I spend a lot of time outside while keeping a safe distance from other people. I’ll go see your book list soon as I’m always on the lookout for good books to read. Have a wonderful week ahead!


  14. trentpmcd August 3, 2020 / 8:36 am

    Sounds like a great month! i hope your August is just as good 🙂


    • Natalie August 3, 2020 / 11:13 am

      Thanks, Trent. July was great. August is off to a good start. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. patwdoyle11 August 3, 2020 / 1:26 pm

    I’m putting Beach Read on my must read list. I just found out she’s a local author (to me), too! I’ve never kept close track of my numbers (yoga, walks, books) by the month… I’m contemplating the idea as your numbers always inspire me.


    • Natalie August 3, 2020 / 2:13 pm

      Pat, I’m flattered that my numbers always inspire you. Keeping track of the numbers is easy and it’s fun for me to review them at month’s end. I hope you enjoy Beach Read and if nothing else, you support a local author.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid August 3, 2020 / 4:54 pm

    So much joy in your July! As always your post is a riot of colour – summer in Toronto looks fabulous! Jenny Colgan is one of my favourite authors, I know her book was in your last pick but do give some of her books another go. She’s so worth it! Hope your August is just as awesome!


    • Natalie August 3, 2020 / 6:02 pm

      No worries Sammie. I read and enjoyed a few other books from J Colgan. I’ll continue reading her work 🙂 Hope your August is amazing, too.


  17. Suger August 3, 2020 / 9:34 pm

    What an adventure your July was! My partner Kel and I have talked about stand up paddleboarding in the past. He’s given it a shot once and wants to try again. I’m intimidated by the board but will try. One day. Haha. Thanks for sharing with us all.


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 9:35 am

      Suger, You’re stronger than the board. Give it a go and have fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Debbie August 4, 2020 / 7:13 am

    I always enjoy your monthly roundups Natalie and July was particularly good for you. The SUP sounds like fun and your book reviews give me some new titles to look out for. I also enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing. Enjoy the warm weather, we have snow forecast here for tomorrow! #lifethisweek


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 9:45 am

      Debbie, I had a lot of fun and laughter on this SUP excursion. If you read some of the books on my list, I’d love to know your reviews. Stay safe and warm!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. 3sistersabroad August 4, 2020 / 8:12 am

    wow such a busy month again…I love the pictures of the flowers they always bring a smile to my face. Paddle boarding and standing…are not two things I would try at the same time lol…koodos to you for doing it. would take a lot of strength to keep standing wouldn’t it? I would be in the drink. I have a few books to read I just cant pick them up. We are in stage 4 of lockdown in our area. 1 hour of exercise no more than 5kms from home and only once a day to the shops. and only one person at a time can go shopping. This started on Sunday night and will go for 6 weeks. So that has got me down a bit. Maybe if I pick up the books I can engross myself into the storytelling and get away from all the misery thats happening here. #SeniSal


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 9:56 am

      Bree, Sorry to hear about your city lockdown. We were in strict lockdown for about 4 months then gradual and staged re-openings starting in June. Reading something light or funny is good to let your mind get away to a happier place. About SUP, if you’re tired from standing, you can sit down or kneel on the board. SUP is a good workout for the legs and core muscles as we balance ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Antoinette Truglio Martin August 4, 2020 / 9:10 am

    My sister bought a paddle board. I struggled to get on, stood up, fell in the water within 20 seconds. It was too embarrassing to climb back on. I need arm and core work before I return.


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 10:06 am

      Antoinette, Sorry to hear that one fall stopped you from climbing back on the board. Let me share a secret with you: Even experienced paddlers fall into the water sometimes. I approach SUP from the lens of having fun in the water. If I fall into the water, it’s ok. Hope you’ll give SUP a second chance.


  21. msomerville2014 August 4, 2020 / 12:39 pm

    As always I love your pictures Natalie, and am impressed with your numbers. i listen to a few audio books a month while I travel from place to place, and usually read or try to get through a few books. Some of my reading though is blog posts (not complaining, it is enriching and I consider important and some of my reading is sermon prep, doing due diligence. And in between I write! Blessings, Michele


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 1:44 pm

      Michele, Writing would take time away from book reading for sure. It’s one of the reasons I choose to write one blog per week and usually under 700 words 🙂 I think the main thing is our enjoyment while doing the activity. Whenever possible, spend more time on what brings us joy.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. msomerville2014 August 4, 2020 / 12:40 pm

    I do take vacations and when I do reading real books and as many as I can is one of the most relaxing pursuits. Hoping to do some reading in the next few weeks for a short getaway and a long break after Christmas.


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 1:47 pm

      Reading is a wonderful pursuit. I think it’s a gift that we have so many authors and books to read. Have a great week, Michele!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 August 4, 2020 / 7:42 pm

    Hi Natalie another lovely week for you and I think that is because you have such a zest for life. I’ve just finished ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ which I enjoyed. I have a friend who wants me to go kayaking with her so that and also paddle boarding are on my list to try before the end of 2020. Thanks for sharing another lovely week with us at #MLSTL. xx


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 7:54 pm

      Hi Sue, You’re right that I have a zest for life. I’m glad you consider paddle boarding and kayaking. Going with a friend who loves the activities is a big plus. Thank you for hosting MLSTL. Have a wonderful week!


  24. Patrick Weseman August 4, 2020 / 7:44 pm

    Wow, so very nice. I survived July, it is hard on me because I am so use to doing many things like street festivals, going to museums and going to the ballpark as I have a little family there. It is what it is.

    Thanks for sharing your July.


    • Natalie August 4, 2020 / 8:05 pm

      Patrick, This year sure has been very different and challenging with all the big events cancelled. Stay safe and have a good week!


  25. leannelc August 5, 2020 / 7:16 am

    Hi Natalie – wow 15 books in 31 days is quite an achievement! I’m glad the Crawdads made it into your top 5 – I loved that book and it would be my number 1 favourite for this year so far.


    • Natalie August 5, 2020 / 8:09 am

      Hi Leanne, I enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing very much, too. I lucked out with my book selection in July as each of the 15 books on my list is a good read. Happy reading in August 🙂


  26. Nancy Andres August 5, 2020 / 3:15 pm

    Wonderful all-inclusive July post. I will pin for a reading resource. I’m reading “All Adults Here” by Emma Straub and have “Light Changes Everything” by Nancy E. Turner in the wings. LOVE the colors flowers and butterfly! Visiting you at #MLSTL.


    • Natalie August 5, 2020 / 5:43 pm

      Nancy, I heard about “All Adults Here” and consider adding it to my to read list. Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful week!


  27. Min Write of the Middle August 5, 2020 / 7:44 pm

    Another great month for you Natalie. I’ve never tried SUP but I think it would be great fun! I’m so pleased to hear that Covid numbers are on the decline in Toronto. Enjoy the rest of your week! xo


    • Natalie August 5, 2020 / 8:23 pm

      Hi Min, I like SUP and am hoping to go again later this month. Even though our covid numbers are on the decline, we still need to be careful. Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful week!


  28. Vanessa August 5, 2020 / 11:30 pm

    I’d love to try SUP and I live in a perfect area for it. Hoping one day my physio will say I’m ok to try it. Maybe by this summer… maybe 🙂 Gotta work on that fitness and rehab before I can do fun stuff.


    • Natalie August 6, 2020 / 7:30 am

      Vanessa: Yes, follow your doctor’s advice before you try a new sport activity. You can do it.


  29. What a wonderful variety of activities for fun, exercise, relaxing and learning. Your posts are very inspiring.
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek #200. Next week, the optional prompt is 32/51 Why Did I? 10.8.2020. I look forward to seeing you then too. Denyse.


    • Natalie August 6, 2020 / 7:32 am

      Thanks, Denyse, for your kind comment. Congrats on your 200th LTW link-up. I look forward to the next one.


  30. Sydney Shop Girl August 6, 2020 / 4:59 am

    I’d love to try stand up paddling one day, Natalie! The weather is getting warmer here.. Who knows? Maybe this summer will be my time!

    SSG xxx


    • Natalie August 6, 2020 / 7:34 am

      SSG, I hope you try SUP in the summer and let me know what you think of it. It’s a good workout for our core and leg muscles.


  31. Frank Hubeny August 10, 2020 / 7:30 am

    That’s an unusually shaped orange butterfly in the top photo. At least I haven’t seen one like that.


    • Natalie August 10, 2020 / 9:51 am

      Yes, it’s different from a monarch butterfly. August is butterfly month where I live so I hope to take more photos of various butterflies. Thank you, Frank, for stopping by. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Colline August 10, 2020 / 11:22 am

    Just finished reading Music For Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman – an excellent middle grade novel that explores the Tasmanian environment and the extinction of the Tasmanian Tigers.


    • Natalie August 10, 2020 / 2:27 pm

      That sounds like an interesting book. Thank you, Colline, for stopping by. Have a wonderful week!


  33. August 10, 2020 / 4:08 pm

    What a wildly successful 7th month of the year!! I am watching Little Fires Everywhere and wish so badly I had read the book first. Thought Beach Read was a good story and Crawdads, too. Need to check out your other 2 top picks.

    I imagine SUP-ing is fabulous exercise. Three hours? Good gravy, woman. You are so impressive. And you filled your month with so many other wonderful exercise options. I think – I hope – I am back on track as of this week. We shall see.

    Your photos are always lovely and this month’s captures are no exception. El Paso has been a wonderful home but I do miss green and flowers and trees.


    • Natalie August 10, 2020 / 6:06 pm

      Yes, I think reading the book (e.g. Little Fires Everywhere) before the movie would be a good approach. I had a lot of fun doing SUP and time just flew by. With SUP, you don’t have to stand the whole time, you can sit down or kneel down or just float on the board or jump into the water.
      Thanks, Leslie, for stopping by. I know you’ll be back on track with your wellness plan. Have fun!


    • Natalie August 12, 2020 / 4:30 pm

      The day was beautiful, the company was fun, the water was calm, yup, three hours flew by.


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