Loving Life in April 2022

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #67! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 17/ 52

On January 2, 2022, I wrote that this year, I continue to focus my energy on Health, Home, and Leisure to live a healthy and enriched life. The last weekend of April is a good time for me to reflect on how I’ve aligned my actions with my intentions in April. There were a few fun ‘firsts’.

Pasque flowers
First Pasque flowers of 2022

Health

In April, aside from my regular exercises at home, I started a new season of playing disc golf. I’m loving it for two main reasons:

  1. On days when I play disc golf, I get to do three of my favourite activities in one go: Cycling to and from the golf course, walking on the course to play, and playing disc golf. It’s a fantastic three-in-one combo.
  2. I play on weekday mornings. There is no queue, just a beautiful and peaceful golf course, birds, squirrels, geese, lake views and sounds of nature. By noon, I’ve got plenty of fresh air, my nature ‘fix’, and good exercises for my mind and body.
View from Tee 5.
Lovely view from Tee 5

I also did many walks in parks and gardens. Since spring arrival, it’s been delightful to see and photograph emerging blooms every week. I created a slideshow of pretty flowers that carpet the ground beneath trees and shrubs in April. Click on the arrows or swipe to see the slides.

Home

Spring inspired me to start my Tour of Indie Cafés of 2022 and invited my family and friends to join me when they’re available. The plan is to visit up to two indie cafés per month, from April to September, in downtown Toronto. We’ll sit outdoors to enjoy the nice weather and a coffee or tea.

My intentions are three-fold:

  1. To enjoy social time with my family and friends
  2. To support small indie cafés and coffee roasters
  3. To refresh my knowledge of the indie café scene

To start out strong, in April, we met at Arvo and Balzac’s. Both are located in the Distillery District, a National Historic Site and a wonderful place to stroll before or after coffee. Both cafés offered friendly and quick service, interesting and unique interior designs, and delicious cappuccinos.

Arvo: Good vibes. Interiors display Become A Legend light art. They primarily use Phil and Sebastian coffee, roasters from Calgary.

Balzac’s: Beautiful building. Grand Parisian style interior with a chandelier and interesting displays. The company was founded in Stratford, Ontario in 1996. They’re proudly Canadian coffee roasters.

Leisure

Birding – Two Canada geese are back to nest in the same spot that they used last spring. I’ve been checking in on them and other bird nests.

Nesting geese
First sighting of nesting geese of 2022

Reading – I read one inspiring biography and five entertaining fiction books. Here’s the list by author’s last name:

  1. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan
  2. Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins
  3. Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years by Sarah Delany, A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (biography)
  4. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
  5. Gathering Dark by Candice Fox
  6. Running Wild by K.A. Tucker

Writing – I wrote four blogs and hosted four Weekend Coffee Share linkups before today’s post:

  1. How I Enjoyed March 2022
  2. What’s Blooming at Allan Gardens?
  3. Happy Easter Weekend
  4. Painted Ladies and Buildings

Overall

April has been amazing with a few fun ‘Firsts of 2022′: First disc golf game, first cappuccino at Arvo, first signs of spring, and first time reading Anna Collins’ debut book and the Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.

I look forward to enjoying May. As always, I’m thankful for my good health, my family, my friends, all good experiences and joyful moments.

How has your April been?

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Painted Ladies and Historic Buildings

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #66! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 16/ 52

When I cycle or walk in downtown Toronto, I’m drawn to study buildings. Most building exteriors are in neutral colours so those that are painted in non-neutral colours with unique architectural designs stand out to me. Here are a few painted buildings that I found interesting:

Painted Ladies

The first two images show six private homes in ‘painted ladies’ style. They’re located in a neighbourhood known as The Beaches in Toronto. I love that although these houses are side by side, each is unique in their architectural details and exterior colour schemes.

In American architecture, painted ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings repainted, starting in the 1960s, in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details. The term was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book Painted Ladies: San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians.

Wikipedia
 'Painted ladies' trio.
First ‘Painted ladies’ trio
 'Painted ladies' trio
Second ‘Painted ladies’ trio
Close up of one of the Painted Ladies.
Close up of one of the Painted Ladies

P.J. O’Brien Irish Pub

P.J. O’Brien Pub is noticeable for the bright yellow and blue colour scheme on its exterior. Though the name of the place is P.J. O’Brien, it’s owned by the Quinn family. The building was completed in 1854.

P.J. O'Brien pub.

Many people come to the pub for Irish food served with pints of Guinness, and to have their photos taken beside the Guinness clock at the side of the pub.

Guinness clock at the side of P.J. O'Brien pub.
Guinness clock, P.J. O’Brien pub

Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse

The Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse, designed by the architect Kivas Tully, is a wooden 11-metre (36-foot) octagonal lighthouse. It projected red light, and along with a second, larger white light lighthouse, marked the entrance to the Toronto Harbour from 1861. It was deactivated in 1912.

Queen's Wharf lighthouse.
Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse

Today, the Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse is one of two surviving lighthouses in Toronto; the other being the stone Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Islands that I last mentioned here.

Gibraltar Point lighthouse.
Gibraltar Point lighthouse

Royal Alexandra Theatre

The Royal Alexandra Theatre, commonly known as the Royal Alex, is a theatre located near King and Simcoe Street in Toronto. Built in 1907 by the architect John M. Lyle, the 1,244-seat Royal Alex was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1986.

Royal Alexandra Theatre.
The Royal Alexandra Theatre

Constructed in 1906-07, this theatre is an intimate but lavish version of the traditional 19th century theatre, with two balconies as well as side boxes. John M. Lyle (1872-1945), one of Canada’s most distinguished architects of the 20th century, designed the Royal Alexandra Theatre following the Beaux-Arts style, thus providing an elegant setting for Toronto’s sophisticated theatrical and musical events. Since its rescue and rejuvenation by Ed Mirvish in 1963, when it was to be demolished for a parking lot, this theatre again plays a central role in the social and cultural life of the city.

Royal Alexandra Theatre plaque, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Royal Alexandra Theatre main doors.
Royal Alexandra Theatre main doors

The Royal Alexandra Theatre web site provides a virtual tour of its gorgeous suites, lounges and seating map. Attending a show at the Royal Alex is a special experience.

Have you heard of ‘Painted Ladies’? What do you think of the above buildings?

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Happy Easter Weekend

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #65! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 15/ 52

It was a week of sunny days, periods of showers, and above normal temperatures that reached 18C (64F) on Wednesday afternoon. I’m thinking of good things that happened this week.

1. Friendship

One of my longtime friends lives in the suburbs, about an hour drive from me. She had appointments downtown yesterday so we arranged to meet for coffee. It was a happy reunion because even though we’ve been in touch, we haven’t seen each other for over two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winter aconites – Yellow is often seen as the universal colour of friendship

2. Garden walks

I took several lovely garden walks this week. In any garden, especially in spring, a walk is a sensory and therapeutic experience. At least, I see flowers, hear bird songs, smell the freshly churned soil, and feel the coolness in the air and the warmth of sunlight.

My neighbourhood looks more and more beautiful every day as we get further into spring. Sunlight, rain, and warmer temperatures have sped up plant growth. I enjoy looking out for early spring flowers in gardens. They are emerging and showing off their cheerful colours.

3. Birding

I saw beautiful red cardinals, American robins, European starlings, and red-winged blackbirds. They were all singing their wonderful bird songs. Toronto is on one of the major bird migration paths so we have many bird species year-round. I feel fortunate to hear the sounds of nature so clearly while living in a big city. I also found four new cute birdhouses.

4. Photography

I went through my pictures taken at Allan Gardens Conservatory and had fun creating an Orchid slideshow. I’ve seen most of these orchid varieties in stores, except the Bell orchid tree from tropical Africa. Their beauty brightens my day and transports me to faraway places. Click on the arrows or swipe to see the images.

5. Books

Three e-books that I requested from the library arrived. They were new releases in January and February 2022. Two of the books are from familiar authors, and one is a debut novel from a new-to-me author. I’m excited to read new books and discover new authors. I love my library’s digital services and the convenience of e-books. I keep track of what I’ve read here.

***

That wraps up Week 15 of 2022. In spite of mixed weather, it was a lovely week. Trees are in bloom, birds are singing, good coffee and new books are waiting. I look forward to a relaxing weekend with my family and Week 16 coming up. I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.

How has your week been?

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What’s Blooming at Allan Gardens?

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #64! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 14/ 52

While waiting for more spring flowers to show up outdoors, I cycled to Allan Gardens Conservatory, located in downtown Toronto, to see what’s blooming. I had so much fun exploring the Conservatory. The first two pictures in this post are from my archive. The remaining pictures are new from the visit.

Allan Gardens Conservatory

The domed Allan Gardens Conservatory was initially built in 1909 by Robert McCallum in a neo-Classical and Edwardian style. It was expanded several times during the 1920s, in 1956, 1957, and in 2004 with the addition of six greenhouses.

Allan Gardens Conservatory.
Allan Gardens Conservatory

Behind the ordinary white doors, in total, the Conservatory’s six greenhouses cover approximately 1,500 square metres (16,000 sq ft). Each with its own distinct climate and associated plant collection:

  1. Arid House for cacti and succulents such as barrel cactus, jade plant, agave and aloe.
  2. Orchid House for a stunning collection of orchids and bromeliads mixed with a variety of flowering tropical plants and vines.
  3. Palm House also known as ‘The Dome’ contains palms, bananas and other tall plants.
  4. Temperate House for citrus, olive trees, and seasonal floral displays.
  5. Tropical Landscape House for plants like cycads, gingers, hibiscus and a jade vine.
  6. Children’s Conservatory is closed to the public but offers horticultural programs for children.
Looking up the dome of Allan Gardens Conservatory.
Looking up the 16-sided dome of Allan Gardens Conservatory

Inside the Conservatory, from floor to ceiling and on both sides of the pathways, are numerous plants, some with stunning flowers and some with fruits.

Inside Allan Gardens.
Inside Allan Gardens Conservatory

Two small ponds with soft sounds of water and distinct features add to the charms of the gardens.

Koi fish pond.
At the Koi pond, bright koi fish swim around Leda and the Swan sculpture
Turtle pond.
At the Turtle pond, turtles pile up to warm themselves in the sun

Below is a sample of what’s blooming during my visit. I save the cacti and orchids for future posts. Click on the arrows or swipe to see the slides.

It was a wonderful visit to see so many gorgeous plants and landscape designs in a charming setting. Allan Gardens once again gave me warmth and a mood booster. I’m thankful for nature’s leafy beauty worlds away yet close to home.

Allan Gardens Conservatory is open year round. Admission is free. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Conservatory provides a few spectacular flower shows annually. I hope the flower shows resume this year as I look forward to revisiting the Conservatory.

Was any of the flowers in my slideshow new to you? How has your week been?

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How I Enjoyed March 2022

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #63! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 13/ 52

On January 2, 2022, I wrote that this year, I continue to focus my energy on Health, Home, and Leisure to live a healthy and enriched life. April 1 is a good time for me to reflect on how well I’ve aligned my actions with my intentions in March.

Waterfront Trail
The Waterfront Trail, March 2022

Health

In March, I continued my wellness routine. Indoor practice includes meditation, language lessons, strength training and yoga. Outdoor fitness includes cycling and walking; both have increased in frequency as the weather improves.

When I cycle or walk on a nature trail, it’s a time for heightened sensory awareness and health booster – the colors around me, the variety of birds, the sounds of birdsong, the views of Lake Ontario, and the sight of new buds on trees in spring along my route.

Home

Family – As we moved into spring, outdoor social events gradually returned. I celebrated two family birthdays with an outing to see five Winter Stations at Woodbine Beach. Spring inspired me to bake before the summer heat arrives. The banana muffins and blueberry muffins turned out yummy and were devoured.

Friends – A lovely evening out to celebrate a longtime friend’s birthday gave us the opportunity to admire three beautiful art installations. A coffee date with another longtime friend included a visit to see six amazing black and white murals.

Community – On March 21, Ontario lifted masking requirements in most indoor settings. Toronto welcomes back major in-person events and festivals this spring and summer. I intend to volunteer at selected events to support my city.

On March 20, I volunteered to help at the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race, awarding participants medals at the end of the race. The event successfully raised money towards supporting athletes with physical and mental disabilities and the Red Cross Humanitarian Relief Funds For Ukraine.

Leisure

Bird watching – The common birds in spring have returned in good numbers: American robins, European starlings, red cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, red-breasted nuthatches, to name a few.

I was pleased to see about twenty Trumpeter swans by Toronto Outer Harbour. Their black bills distinguish them from other swan species. The bright yellow numbered wing tags mean the re-introduced Trumpeters are from Ontario.

Blogging – I wrote four blogs and hosted four Weekend Coffee Share linkups:

  1. Cycling The Lower Don Trail
  2. Visoleil, moonGARDEN and Dreaming
  3. These B/W Murals Revive History
  4. Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring 2022

Reading – I read seven engaging books; listed below by author’s last name:

  1. Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (family grief)
  2. The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (detective)
  3. The High Road by Terry Fallis (humour)
  4. Operation Angus by Terry Fallis (humour)
  5. Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls (fantasy)
  6. Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (time travel)
  7. Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles (memories, essays)

Overall

March was a fulfilling month that ended my first quarter of 2022 on a positive note. Throughout winter 2022, I maintained a good fitness level with regular exercises, stayed connected with my family and friends, contributed what I could to my community, and enjoyed several leisure activities.

I’m grateful for my good health, joyful moments and fun experiences in March. April is off to a beautiful start.

Pink cyclamens with water droplets

How was your March?

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