Colourful Laneway Murals #SundayStills

I’m delighted to be hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge while host Terri Webster Schrandt continues her blogging break.

Thank you to everyone who joined me for the Sunday Stills photography challenge for the last two weeks. I appreciate your beautiful photography and interesting stories related to the photos. I’ve compiled the list of Afloat Bloggers’ Links at the end of this post for easy reference.

This week’s theme: Colourful Murals

Mural by Julii McMillo, 2020.
Mural by Julii McMillo, 2020.

Since 2012, the City of Toronto has organized nine programs under the StreetARToronto umbrella to encourage artists to showcase their talent. One example under this umbrella is the Laneways of Toronto project that transformed the Euclid- Palmerston laneway into a giant canvas of colourful garages and wall spaces.

The Euclid-Palmerston laneway showcases forty garages and wall spaces painted in 2018 and thirty five garages and wall spaces painted in 2019 by seventy five different mural and graffiti artists. I discovered a garage painted in 2020 during my recent visit to the laneway. It’s my header photo.

I’ve posted two batches of Euclid-Palmerston painted garages and wall spaces (links below):

Today, I’m sharing the third batch of twenty four garage images with my blog readers, Monday Murals and PPAC#12. I’ve noted the street number, artist’s name and year based on my look-up. Remember to click on any image in the gallery to see it in full view and use the arrow to move to the next image.

Which door(s) in the gallery do you like?

I’m looking forward to seeing all your entries for this week’s Sunday Stills photography challenge. Joining me are:

How to participate in the Sunday Stills photography challenge

  • Please create a new post for the theme.
  • Title the post a little differently than mine.
  • Enter the link party by clicking on the InLinkz button below and follow the prompt.
  • If you’re on WordPress, remember to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week (not just on a Sunday).
  • Use the hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

Next week’s theme: Going Back…

Terri will be back to host Sunday Stills on September 12 with a new theme ‘Going Back’. Here are a few tips to get your creative thinking flowing:

“Going Back…” implies going back to something, whether a place you’ve visited before, going back “in time” as you viewed your photo archives or how about going back “to the future?” Use any preposition to add to going back that suits you…like going back …in, on, to, out, under, over, through, between, by, as far as, across, etc. 

Afloat Bloggers’ Links

Below are the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their beautiful Afloat photos:

Have a great week!

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My 10 Favourites This Summer

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #35! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a week of sunny days with less heat and humidity. There were thunderstorms, lightning and rain last weekend although the rain volume was less than what I expected. I had a good week doing health activities in the morning, house chores in the afternoon, and reading and writing in the evening.

September, a new month, just began. After sharing what made June joyful, I intentionally skipped a July wrap-up and waited until August is over to write a two-in-one wrap-up post. Here are my ten favourites in July and August:

1. Family Celebrations

After a long lockdown, Ontario re-opened in three phases that allow social gatherings with increasing capacity limits. I enjoyed a tasty pasta in July and mostly meatless meals in August while celebrating family birthdays and graduations.

2. Health

I give myself the gift of health by doing strength training three times per week and yoga three times per week. I also continue my daily meditation and online French and Spanish lessons.

Mixed fresh fruit.
Eating healthy is easy in the summer with many fresh fruit and vegetable choices.

3. Paddling

Canoes and kayaks.
Weekly canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddling and wildlife sightings exceeded my expectations.

4. Cycling

Cyclist painting by Ghazaraza, 2019.
I had so much fun cycling most mornings to explore various neighbourhoods…
Clear lake water.
…and take in nature’s beauty.

5. Disc Golf

Disc golf course and lake views.
I played disc golf twice weekly, partly because I love walking on the grass and the views.

6. Walking

Purple hibiscus.
I took many walks and stopped for the gorgeous flowers in various parks and gardens such as Berczy Park, St. James Park, the Rose garden, and Toronto Music Garden.

7. Photography

I was pleased to photograph and catalogue the garage door murals at Euclid-Palmerston laneway (first batch here, second batch here), the stunning Fleurs de Villes Rosé floral designs and these five eye-catching art stations.

Princess Margaret fountain.
Princess Margaret fountain on a gorgeous summer day was one of the many objects and moments that I captured.

8. Music

Concert in St. James Park.
The sounds of live music in public parks brought me joy.

9. Reading

10. Blogging

I had fun writing five blog posts in July and four posts in August for my weekly Weekend Coffee Shares. I also did something new, i.e. Guest hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge while host Terri is on a blogging break.

Thank you to everyone who shared their in the garden and afloat-themed photos. I’ll be hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge on September 5. The theme is ‘Colourful Murals’. I look forward to seeing your beautiful photos.

Gratitude

July and August were enjoyable and wonderful. I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. While I’m aware of COVID-19 surge, natural disasters, and other bad craziness that’s happening, I choose to focus on what’s good and continue taking steps to live a healthy and enriched life with gratitude every day.

How was August for you?

Shared with #LifeThisWeek, #TheChangingSeasons.

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Afloat On Water #SundayStills

I’m delighted to be hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge while host Terri Webster Schrandt continues her blogging break.

Thank you to everyone who joined me for the Sunday Stills photography challenge last week. I appreciate your beautiful photography and fun conversations. I’ve compiled the list of In The Garden Bloggers’ Links at the end of this post for easy reference.

This week’s theme: Afloat

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Afloat’? I think of floating art, aquatic plants, water birds, and boats that I’ve seen this summer. Let me share a few photos with you.

The Peacemaker’s Canoe

This temporary art exhibit is floating in Toronto’s Harbour. It’s a geometric, reflective shape that forms into a mirrored crescent bobbing on the water like a canoe.

The Peacemaker's Canoe.
The Peacemaker’s Canoe by Jay Havens.
The Peacemaker's Canoe info board.
The Peacemaker’s Canoe information board.

Island Life

I love observing aquatic life and floating houses when I’m out paddling within Toronto Islands. There are people living in houses on Ward’s Island and a number of floating homes and houseboats in various marinas.

This floating house has a nice painting on the side and pretty potted flowers at the front ‘porch’ and the upper deck. It also has a red kayak ready to go.

A floating house and kayak.
A floating house and kayak.
Aquatic plants and lily pad.
Aquatic plants and lily pad.
A sailboat floating on idyllic water.
A sailboat floating on idyllic water.
A muted swan and ducks.
A muted swan and ducks.

The Waterfront

Toronto’s waterfront has several marinas and piers for all kinds of boats, tall ships, and yachts. The marinas are full in the summer. There are also places where I can rent a kayak or a paddle board and go paddling.

Kayaking towards Humber Bay.
I’m kayaking west towards Humber Bay. That’s a wind turbine on the right.
Sailboats in a marina.
Sailboats stay afloat in a marina.

Visitors can book boat tours to sail in Toronto Harbour or take the ferry or water taxis to go to Toronto Islands. In the following photo, see how many things are afloat on the water.

A sunset cruise on the tall ship Kajama.
A sunset cruise on the tall ship Kajama.

Those are a few interesting things that I saw afloat. I captured all of the above photos with my cell phone. Shared for #CellpicSunday.

I’m looking forward to seeing all your entries for this week’s Sunday Stills photography challenge. I’m hosting Sunday Stills again next week when the theme is ‘Colourful Murals’.

How to participate in the Sunday Still photography challenge

  • Please create a new post for the theme.
  • Title the post a little differently than mine.
  • Enter the link party by clicking on the InLinkz button below and follow the prompt.
  • If you’re on WordPress, remember to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week (not just on a Sunday).
  • Use the hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

In The Garden Bloggers’ Links

Below are the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their gardens or garden visits with their beautiful photos:

Have a great week!

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What’s In The Garden? #SundayStills

I’m delighted to be hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge while host Terri Webster Schrandt is away.

This week’s theme: In The Garden

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘In the garden’? I think of beautiful living things that I saw in the public gardens and my small herb garden. Let me share a few photos, all captured with my cell phone, with you and #CellpicSunday.

Butterflies

Bees and butterflies are buzzing in the gardens in August here. Photographing butterflies has taught me to be patient. I received a few rewards for my patience.

A Red Admiral butterfly.
A Red Admiral butterfly with black and orange wings and white spots.
Camberwell Beauty or Mourning Cloak butterfly.
A Mourning Cloak butterfly with dark maroon and yellow wings and iridescent blue spots.
Monarch butterfly.
A Monarch butterfly with orange and black wings and white spots.
A Cabbage White butterfly.
A Cabbage White butterfly with creamy white wings and single black dot.

Birdhouses

It’s a delight to find painted birdhouses in the gardens. Art and nature together.

Roses

In the summer, I like to visit the Rose garden at Exhibition Place. The staff take good care of rose varieties and other flowering plants here. At peak blossom time, the roses are beautiful and their scent is lovely. This year, I was happy to see the Shrine Peace Memorial fountain and smaller fountains in the Rose garden turned back on after a long lockdown.

Fountains at Shrine Peace Memorial.
Fountains at Shrine Peace Memorial.

Tomatoes

This spring I grew a small herb garden of sweet basil, chives, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme. There was space left in the centre of the planter box so I added cherry and plum tomato plants. Here come the tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes.
Plum tomatoes.
Plum tomatoes.

Those are a few lovely things I saw in the gardens. I’m looking forward to seeing all your entries for this week’s Sunday Stills photography challenge.

I’ll be hosting Sunday Stills again in the next two weeks. Next week’s theme is ‘Afloat’. Have a wonderful week!

How to participate in the Sunday Stills photography challenge

  • Please create a new post for the theme.
  • Title the post a little differently than mine.
  • Enter the link party by clicking on the blue InLinkz button below.
  • If you’re on WordPress, remember to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week (not just on a Sunday).
  • Use the hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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What Made June Joyful

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #26! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a warm and humid week with thunderstorms. I had a reflective Thursday July 1. It was Canada Day and the beginning of a new month. As usual, I look back at the previous month (June) and look forward to fun activities in July. Let me share what made June joyful with my nature-inspired photos.

Nature

Nature gave wonderful gifts in June: Sunny days, blue skies, green trees in parks, beautiful flowers in the gardens, sparkling water by the lake, fluffy white clouds, warmer temperatures, and some rain. Summer arrived on June 20 evening. I’ve been spending more time outdoors to savour all the good things that summer brings.

A crabapple tree.
Crabapple tree: A pretty obstacle on the golf course.

Health

In June, I continued to keep myself healthy with regular cycling, walking, playing disc golf, body weight training, meditation and yoga. I’m fully vaccinated and feel good to do my part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

It helps that vaccination uptake has been phenomenal in Toronto and the city’s mask mandate in all indoor public spaces continues to September. On Sunday June 27, Toronto set a world record after 26,771 doses were administered in a single day in one clinic.

Redbud trees.
Redbud trees brighten up a nice walking trail.

Home

On June 2, Ontario ended the province-wide lockdown and allowed the province to gradually reopen in three steps. We started Step 1 on June 11 and Step 2 on June 30. This means I can do things such as outdoor dining with my family and friends and get a haircut.

I love exploring my home city by bike and on foot. I can easily stop when I see something interesting and go when I’m ready. Here are three public art displays that I stopped to photograph impromptu.

A Runaway Forest by Jaakko Pernu.
A Runaway Forest, 2015 by Finnish sculptor and environmental artist Jaakko Pernu.
Garden Court sculptures by Scott Burton.
Garden Court (furniture sculptures in granite), 1992 by American sculptor Scott Burton.
1942 Ford fire truck known as "Little Red".
1942 Ford Fire Truck known as Little Red with Pride flag.

Leisure

What I enjoyed

  • Cycling on the Waterfront trail and Toronto’s bike network.
  • Walking on green grass in parks.
  • Smelling floral scents and identifying new plants in the gardens.
  • Watching young goslings by the lake and listening to bird songs.
  • Savouring summer fruits and the occasional ice cream.
  • Viewing public art and learning about the artists.
  • Visiting Heritage buildings and tracing Toronto’s history.
  • Taking photographs of places and things that I like.
  • Blogging and hosting Weekend Coffee Share link-ups.
  • Learning French and Spanish on Duolingo.

June was a month with many beautiful flowers in the gardens.

What I read

I read five novels and brought my total of Books in 2021 to forty five. Here’s my list with asterisk indicating new-to-me author:

  • The Only Story – Julian Barnes.
  • The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah. *
  • People We Meet On Vacation – Emily Henry.
  • War Horse – Michael Morpurgo. *
  • The Refugees – Viet Thanh Nguyen. *

What I wrote

I’m grateful for all the good things that happened in June. My July Fun calendar is looking fabulous. Happy weekend, everyone!

Linked to #TreeSquares, #TheChangingSeasons, #PPAC, #LifeThisWeek.

How was June for you? What do you look forward to in July? I’d love to hear your comments.

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What Made May Marvellous

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #22! 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.

I know we are a few days into June already. In the first week of every new month, I usually look back at the month that was and plan fun activities for the new month. So what made May marvellous for me?

Nature

Temperatures quickly warmed up in May and it was like the switch flipped. Vegetation just go from buds on a tree to full leaf, and all of that happened within about 10 days. There were many beautiful blooms in the gardens in May as my photos show below. Click on any image to see it bigger.

Health

I continued my health routine in May with cycling, walking, playing disc golf, body weight training, meditation and yoga. I’ve enjoyed more cycling on weekends in May thanks to 2 conditions: 1) Good weather and 2) Weekend road closures when a few routes are closed to vehicles and open to cyclists and pedestrians.

Home

My family and friends are well. Most of us have received our first COVID-19 vaccine dose, some of us are fully vaccinated. Starting May 22, outdoor social gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed so I met my sister for a walk on a beautiful day.

On May 20, Ontario announced a three-step plan to gradually reopen the province through June, July and August based on vaccination rates and key public health and health care indicators. Things are looking up after a long lockdown. Hurrah!

Leisure

What I did for fun in May

  • Explored the city by bike and on foot.
  • Walked in public gardens and smelled the scents of flowers.
  • Played disc golf in a beautiful park.
  • Watched bird families and listened to bird songs.
  • Visited Heritage buildings, art murals and sculptures.
  • Took photographs.
  • Hosted 4 Weekend Coffee Share link-ups.
  • Started a small herb garden.
  • Learned French and Spanish on Duolingo.

What I read in May

I enjoyed reading 8 fiction novels in May and increased my Books in 2021 total to 40. Here’s my list of books with asterisk indicating new-to-me author:

  • Keeping The Moon – Sarah Dessen.
  • The Trespasser – Tana French.
  • Force of Nature – Jane Harper.
  • The Dry – Jane Harper.
  • The Survivors – Jane Harper.
  • Naïve. Super – Erlend Loe. *
  • Camp – L. C. Rosen. *
  • The Burning Girls – C.J. Tudor.

I’m now caught up with C.J. Tudor’s and Jane Harper’s published books, 4 from each author. This includes The Burning Girls and The Survivors, both were released in 2021.

What I wrote in May

Looking forward

May was marvellous! I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. I hope you had a good May, too. I’ve blocked time for my health, home, and leisure activities in June. I look forward to making the most of every day.

What do you look forward to in June? Let me know in the Comments.

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The Upside of April

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #17! 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.

It’s been a good week with my eclectic cycling and walking excursions. It’s also month end when I reflect on what’s been happening during the month. I’d like to share some of my photos on my blog and link to a few photography challenges.

1. Spring Flowers

This week is the peak bloom period of the Japanese Sakura or cherry blossoms in Toronto. The people of Tokyo gifted 2000 Sakura trees to the people of Toronto in 1959 and we’ve been enjoying the gorgeous cherry blossoms every spring since.

Cherry blossoms.

Magnolia trees are also blooming. It’s amazing to see the trees full of flowers.

Linked to Jude’s Pink colour challenge, Becky’s Bright Square and Cee’s Flower of The Day photo challenges.

2. Architecture

I visited the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, the oldest school still standing in Toronto and the first free school in the city. It was built in 1848 when it was known as the Ward Street School for immigrants’ children to attend. It is now a historic site and museum.

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 1848.
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 1848.

The school was a one-storey, red-brick building in the simple Gothic Revival style. The narrow peaked windows were trimmed with stone. The doors and window frames were painted green. Yellow bricks were inserted at the corners of the structure, around the main doorway, and in a solid multi-brick row near the roof line.

Click on any image in the following gallery to enlarge it.

Linked to Dan’s Thursday Doors photo challenge.

3. Sculpture

A trip downtown gave me the opportunity to revisit and photograph bronze sculptures that I like. Why photograph them again? Different time of day, different lighting, and different angles yield new results. Sometimes the art object is the same but its surroundings have changed.

Today’s picks: Immigrant Family honoring immigrant population in North America and The Anonymity of Prevention showing a worker working with a chisel and hammer with safety goggles.

Immigrant Family by Tom Otterness, 2007.
Immigrant Family, by Tom Otterness.
The Anonymity of Prevention, by Derek Lo and Lana Winkler, 2000.
The Anonymity of Prevention, by Derek Lo and Lana Winkler.

Linked to Sandy’s Friendly Friday: Hands & Feet photo challenge.

4. The Waterfront

One morning, on my way to Cherry Beach, I saw Toronto’s coolest new bridge over the Keating Channel. This area is under major developments and a few new bridges will be added in the next three years.

The Keating Channel is a 1 km long waterway in Toronto. It connects the Don River to inner Toronto Harbour on Lake Ontario. The channel is named after Edward Henry Keating, a city engineer who proposed the creation of the channel in 1893.

Cherry Street North Bridge.
Cherry Street North Bridge.

Toronto Harbour is where I take the ferry or kayak across the harbour to reach Toronto Islands for a good time and great views of Toronto skyline.

Lake Ontario shore line is 1,146 km or 712 miles long. I’m grateful for the many beaches that I can go to for fresh air and relaxation.

Linked to Terri’s Sunday Stills: Water photo challenge.

5. April Highlights

April started off with a province-wide lockdown until at least May 20. By April 29, vaccination has accelerated. Ontario anticipates all adults over 18 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by end of May. Here are my April highlights:

Health

  • I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • I feel fit from regular cycling, walking, body weight workouts, meditation, and yoga.
  • I stay optimistic in spite of the long lockdown.

Home

  • My sisters received their COVID-19 vaccines.
  • One niece got accepted into her first choice University with financial awards for her excellent grades.
  • Another niece and her boyfriend bought their first home and gave everyone in our family a virtual tour.

Leisure

In April I have…

Here’s the list of books I read this month with asterisk indicates new-to-me authors:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. *
  2. Cathedral – Raymond Carver. *
  3. Along for the Ride – Sarah Dessen.
  4. Someone Like You – Sarah Dessen.
  5. That Summer – Sarah Dessen.
  6. The Lost Man – Jane Harper. *
  7. The Other People – C.J. Tudor.

April was amazing. I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. I look forward to enjoying new explorations in May.

Linked to Denyse’s #LifeThisWeek.

How was your April? What are you looking forward to in May? I’d love to hear your comments.

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Bits of Joy in March

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #13! 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.

My coffee share today includes two recent walks and a monthly review:

  1. Early spring flowers – Shared with Becky’s #BrightSquare, Cee’s FOTD.
  2. St. Andrew’s church – Shared with Dan’s #ThursdayDoors, Patti’s #Lens-Artists 141.
  3. March at a glance – Shared with Denyse’s #LifeThisWeek.

1. Early Spring Flowers

Tuesday March 30, 2021 was sunny with daytime high 17C (63F) and ideal for my walk in the Toronto Music Garden. A variety of bright and cheerful early spring flowers made me smile. Here’s my selection.

Croci

2. St. Andrew’s Church

A second walk was to St. Andrew’s Church, a large and historic Presbyterian church in downtown Toronto. St. Andrew’s was founded in 1830 as the first Church of Scotland congregation in the Town of York. It was first located at the southwest corner of Church and Adelaide Streets but this building was abandoned when it became too small for the expanding congregation.

William George Storm was chosen to be the architect for a larger building. The present building at King and Simcoe Streets was opened for worship in 1876 and is built in the Romanesque Revival style. The geometry of the church’s facade is amazing.

St. Andrew's Church.
St. Andrew’s Church

St. Andrew’s today is a living church. The church interior includes rich and handsomely carved wood, the Gallery Organ and choir loft, and beautiful stained glass windows.

St. Andrew’s manse, located south of the church, is in the Second Empire style with a Mansard roof. Again, the geometry of this building makes it attractive.

St. Andrew’s Manse

3. March At A Glance

We had a mild March with plenty of sunny days and warmer than normal temperatures. Daylight saving started on March 14. Spring arrived on March 20 with clear blue skies and sunshine. The nice weather was ideal for my outdoor explorations.

Health

In March, I cycled, walked, did body weight workouts, practiced meditation and yoga regularly. I started playing disc golf as the weather warmed up.

March was also the month when Ontario entered Wave 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic while the vaccination rollout made small progress. Toronto has been in lockdown since November 2020. I continue the 3Ws to stay safe and healthy: Wash my hands, wear my mask, and watch my distance.

Home

In March, I celebrated virtually with two family members and one longtime friend on their birthdays. I baked a blueberry banana loaf, first of 2021.

To support local businesses, I ordered Pad Thai and curry dishes from Salad King, a new-to-me eatery. The delivery was quick. The food arrived hot and tasty. I got a break from cooking. Win-win-win!

Leisure

Architecture – I visited Campbell House and Osgoode Hall, before St. Andrew’s Church, to satisfy my interest in architecture and history.

Art – I saw amazing ice sculptures at the IceFest 21 A Trip Around The World event, colourful portraits at Femme de Fleur exhibit and attractive art items outside the Gardiner Museum.

Blogs – I hosted four Weekend Coffee Share blog link-ups and participated in several other fun link-ups in March. Great turnout each weekend kept me actively reading blogs and writing comments.

Books – I enjoyed reading 9 books from 5 authors. I’d definitely read more of their books:

  1. Ridgerunner – Gil Adamson. *
  2. Just Listen – Sarah Dessen.
  3. The Moon & More – Sarah Dessen.
  4. This Lullaby – Sarah Dessen.
  5. What Happened To Goodbye – Sarah Dessen.
  6. An Ocean of Minutes – Thea Lim. *
  7. The Suspect – Michael Robotham. *
  8. The Chalk Man – C.J. Tudor. *
  9. The Hiding Place – C.J. Tudor.

Asterisk indicates new-to-me author. I keep track of what I’ve read on my Books in 2021 page. Year-To-Date Reading Totals: 25 books, 10 new authors, and 10 categories.

Languages – I continued taking French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo. They’re fun exercises.

I’m grateful for the bits of joy in March. I look forward to exploring more local places in April.

Happy Easter to those of you celebrating. Enjoy the weekend and keep safe. I’d love to hear your comments.

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The 9 Gifts of February

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #8! 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.

In spite of the lockdown in Toronto until at least March 8 and wintry days, there were gifts in February. These 9 are mine:

1. Natural Light

We have some bright sunny days and longer daylight time this month. When I walk on the fantastic Waterfront Trail to the shores of Lake Ontario, the sunshine gives me our best natural source of vitamin D and boost my mood.

Sunny day with white clouds, ice and snow.
Sunny day with white clouds, ice and snow.

2. Beautiful Scenery

February delivers more cold days and snow than January. Still, downtown Toronto hasn’t had as much snow as other areas in Ontario. I embrace the quiet beauty of winter, perfect to practice mindfulness outside.

Snow on evergreen trees and the ground.
Snow on evergreen trees and the ground.

3. Personal Trainers

The snow-covered steps at the Toronto Music Garden reminds me of the Mountain Climber exercise. This month I use a different fitness instructor’s video series to refresh my body weight training at home. I also keep up with my meditation and yoga practice.

It’s fantastic to have access to workout videos on YouTube. I like how my intense body weight workouts and my relaxing yoga flow compliment each other. The instructors are my virtual personal trainers and fitness motivational coaches.

Snow-covered steps at Toronto Music Garden.
Snow-covered steps at Toronto Music Garden.

4. Happy Celebrations

Mid-February, my family had virtual celebrations on Lunar New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Family Day. Two family members had their happy birthdays. I had several phone chats with my longtime friends. Everyone is in good health and that is well worth celebrating.

Family Day fun: Build a snow fort.
Family fun activity: Build a snow fort.

5. Colourful Arts

Textile artist Amanda McCavour creates a colourful collage within the treetops with hundreds of pieces of hand-cut fabric for her Sketch, Sample, Sew exhibit. This creative display makes me look up and appreciate various colours including white.

Colourful Sketch, Sample, Sew art exhibit.
Colourful Sketch, Sample, Sew art exhibit against white clouds and snow.

6. Thoughtful Comments

This month I enjoy writing 4 blog posts, 1 guest post here, and host 4 Weekend Coffee Share blog link-ups.

While I receive many thoughtful comments from my blog readers every week, those left for this post stood out. Thank you, everyone, who took the time to write and share your thoughts.

Winter birds in the harbour.
Winter birds dotted the harbour with white clouds, ice and snow in the horizon.

7. Good Books

I use the Toronto Public Library Reading Challenge 2021 categories to read more widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. I read 9 good books in February:

  • Daylight – David Baldacci.
  • Minute to Midnight – David Baldacci.
  • Older, But Better, But Older – Caroline De Maigret. *
  • Saint Everything – Sarah Dessen.
  • The Rest of The Story – Sarah Dessen.
  • Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline. *
  • The Searcher – Tana French. *
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan.
  • The Summer Book – Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal. *

Asterisk indicates new-to-me author. I keep track of what I’ve read on my Books in 2021 page. Year-To-Date Reading Totals: 16 new books, 6 new authors, and 9 categories.

White Muskoka chairs with a view.
White Muskoka chairs: My book nook with a view.

8. Fun Challenges

Aside from the Reading Challenge, I enjoy entering photography challenges weekly: Thursday Doors, Rosy Red, Birds and all things that are white in this post are for Terri’s #SundayStills photography challenge this weekend.

Samples of my February photo challenge entries.

9. New Learning

I learned from Trent at Trent’s World blog and a few longtime Weekend Coffee Share participants that the Weekend Coffee Share link up started in 2014. It had four hosts in the six years before I started being the 5th host this year.

I continued French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo daily in February. I learned more about plants and birds in my area. I look forward to seeing Spring flowers soon.

White trillium flower.
White trillium is Ontario’s provincial flower.

I’m grateful for the gifts of February.

What stood out to you in February? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking with Life This Week.

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The Best Markets and Blog Parties

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #5! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself with a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station, and let’s chat.

1. The Best Indoor Food Markets

One of my recent bicycle rides was to St. Lawrence Market, which was constructed in 1803, and was named the best food market in the world by National Geographic in 2012.

The St. Lawrence Market Complex consists of the South Market (Main market), the North Market (Saturday Farmers’ market), and St. Lawrence Hall (Offices and rental venue).

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, Canada since 1803.
St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, Canada since 1803.
St. Lawrence Market doors.
St. Lawrence Market doors.

St. Lawrence Market reminds me of the Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, Hungary, built in 1897.

Great Market Hall, Budapest, Hungary since 1897.
Great Market Hall, Budapest, Hungary since 1897.

Both markets have similar interior layouts. St. Lawrence South Market has two levels: The main and lower levels of St. Lawrence South Market contain over 120 specialty vendors, known for the variety and freshness of their fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, grains, baked goods and dairy products, as well as for the uniqueness of the non-food items for sale.

Side view of the South Market two levels.
Side view of the 2-storey St. Lawrence South Market.

The Great Market Hall has three levels: Most of the stalls on the ground floor offer produce, meats, pastries, candies, spices, and spirits. The second mezzanine floor has eateries and tourist souvenirs. The basement contains fishmongers, vegetables stalls, and a few specialized butcher shops.

Inside the Great Market Hall.
Inside the Great Market Hall.

Both St. Lawrence Market and the Great Market Hall are amazing indoor markets to explore, browse or buy and savour fresh food.

Now that we’ve got our fresh pastries from the market, let me tell you about my upcoming guest post and my blog party wondering.

2. Guest Post

I’m excited to share my guest post titled 21 Quick Ideas To Find Calm in 2021 on Min’s Write of the Middle blog on February 8, Brisbane time, in Australia. Min is passionate about health and well-being, self-investment, and mindfulness. Her Gems of Zen series is about lifestyle choices to achieve a sense of Zen.

I’ve known Min in the blog world for some time now as we both link up with some of the same blog parties. I’d like to thank Min for the opportunity to share my ideas on her blog. It’s cool that my blogging voice gets to travel to Australia before I visit the country IRL. See how blog parties open doors to new adventures?

3. What Attracts You to A Blog Party?

Coffee Share party #4 was well-attended with 35 bloggers. Thank you for your participation! Now that we’ve had four blog parties in January, I wonder what attracts bloggers to a blog link-up. Is it simply a nice place to hang out with other bloggers or is there more that attracts you to it? Such as:

  • The blogs at the link-up.
  • The dates and time when the link-up is open.
  • The new visitors and comments that you receive.
  • The reciprocity among participants: You visit a blog, leave a comment, and the blogger visits your blog.
  • By word of mouth from a blogger you follow.
  • The host’s responsiveness to reply to comments on his/ her blog and leave comments on your blog.

Perhaps the best blog parties are those that keep bringing you back.

Your turn

I’d love to hear your comments on:

  1. The best indoor markets.
  2. Writing guest post.
  3. What attracts you to a blog link-up/ party.

Linking with Life This Week, The Weekly Smile, Thursday Doors.

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