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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Why My January Is Great

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #4! 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.

The lockdown in Ontario continues until at least February 10. Still, good things do happen. I’m grateful for them all. Here’s 9 reasons why my January is great.

1. Awesome Parties

It’s my pleasure to host the awesome Weekend Coffee Share parties this month: 25 bloggers at party #1, 30 bloggers at party #2, 35 bloggers at party #3, and here we are at party #4. Thank you, everyone, for your participation.

I adjusted the InLinkz setting to display all thumbnails on one page. Plus, as requested, I’m now closing the weekly party on Sunday at midnight Toronto time.

2. Cool Arts

The Sonic Runway and Iceberg art installations are cool to see at night. Their modern designs, lights, and music enrich my senses.

Eastbound entrance to the Sonic Runway light structure.

The Sonic Runway converts audio signals into patterns of light, shooting up and down a corridor of LED-lined arches more than 100-metres long at the speed of sound.

3. Fun Challenges

My 3 square photos of the Sonic Runway and Iceberg arch entrances are my entries to Becky’s Square Up (my first time) and Dan’s Thursday Doors. These photography challenges stretch my creativity.

Westbound entrance to the Sonic Runway light structure.
Westbound entrance to the Sonic Runway arches. Upon leaving the Sonic Runway, turn right to reach the Iceberg light structure.
Iceberg light structure.

The Iceberg is made up of a series of illuminated metallic arches that tell the story of an iceberg. The CN Tower lights up the night sky.

4. The Great Outdoors

In January, I cycle and walk outdoors most days to keep me mentally and physically healthy. It’s my first time cycling in a winter month and I enjoy every outing. I love the Waterfront Trail and Lake Ontario.

5. Self-Care

At home, I meditate every morning for 15 minutes, followed by either body weight workouts (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or Hatha yoga (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) for an hour. I complete all sessions in January and feel fit.

6. Happy News

This month one of my nieces got a new job. Three family members and a longtime friend had their happy birthdays. Another niece and two friends of my family, who are front-line healthcare professionals, received their COVID-19 vaccines.

7. Global Connections

I changed my blog posting day from Sunday to Friday and wrote five posts. January 8, 2021 was my first time hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share blog party using InLinkz.

I enjoy reading all participants’ blogs from five continents and provide comments. I greatly appreciate bloggers who take the time to read my blog and share their comments.

8. New Learning

I continue my French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo daily in January. For my Host role, I did a quick self-study to familiarize myself with InLinkz. I learn new information from blogs and books.

9. Good Reads

I read 7 books this month. It’s the first time I read Barack Obama’s book and finished his first presidential memoirs, 1177 pages in e-book format, in 7 days. Here’s my book list by author’s last name:

  • Long Road to Mercy – David Baldacci.
  • Redemption – David Baldacci.
  • Walk The Wire – David Baldacci.
  • Once and For All – Sarah Dessen.
  • An Abundance of Katherines – John Green.
  • You Had Me At Hello – Mhairi McFarlane.
  • A Promised Land – Barack Obama.

What word(s) would best describe your January? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking with Life This Week, The Weekly Smile, The Changing Seasons, Sentence A Day.

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Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had some rest and relaxation leading up to and including New Year’s Day. I celebrated New Year’s Eve virtually with the City of Toronto’s live Celebration of Light & Sound at the CN Tower. It was beautiful and safe fun.

In the last two weeks, I enjoyed a quiet holiday at home. I baked a batch of tasty Parmesan shortbread biscuits, a Magical Coconut Pie, had phone chats with my family and friends, made online donations to charities, finalized my Books in 2020, and organized new files for 2021.

Mother Nature delivered snow for a white Christmas and clouds on New Year’s Day. While cycling and walking outside, I enjoyed watching many birds, especially hawks, red cardinals, and flocks of long-tailed ducks. Their antics made me smile.

Blog News

During the holiday break, I cleaned up my blog and media library behind the scene and did a back-up. I keep most things the same. Here’s a short list of what’s updated on my blog and what’s new.

What’s updated?

  • The Menu bar and the content of the Pages at the top of my blog.
  • My Copyright statement on the bottom right widget and at the end of each post.

What’s new?

On January 1, 2021, Alli at Eclectic Alli blog decided to step away from hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share. I volunteered to continue hosting it.

My guidelines starting on January 8:

  • Everyone is welcome to join in the Weekend Coffee Share in any and every week.
  • Topics are open – e.g. What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about? Mid-life musings? Wellness goals? etc.
  • Leave the link to your Weekend Coffee Share post in a comment below my Coffee Share post. No InLinkz button or code required at this time.
  • You can link to your post any time between 8 a.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday (both Toronto time).
  • I’ll be flexible in the way I title my Weekend Coffee Share posts.
  • I’d ask that participants be social. Read my post and two posts from other Coffee Share participants and leave a comment so we know you’ve dropped by.
  • I’ll merge the monthly Wellness series that I hosted in the last 2-3 years with the weekly Coffee Share.

Life Focus

In 2021 I continue to focus my energy on three main areas, Health, Home, and Leisure, to live a healthy and enriched life. In lieu of a Word of The Year or a list of resolutions, I choose to allocate time for at least one activity in each of the three areas every day. My typical day is generally spent on Health (morning), Home (afternoon), and Leisure (evening).

Health

I continue my self-care routine to maintain good mental and physical health. It includes meditation, yoga, cycling, walking, body weight training, rest days, and health check-ups. I add seasonal sports when possible (e.g. paddling in the summer). I like to keep my fitness routine fun and I’m open to try new things.

Home

Home to me is about the physical space where I live and the relationships with my family, friends, and community. I continue to practice the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to keep my home tidy and low maintenance. I use technology to stay connected with my family and friends who live in different time zones.

In 2021 with the rollout of vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, I anticipate adjustments to gradually return to pre-pandemic level of activities. I intend to give back to my community and contribute to the recovery.

Leisure

This area is about fun activities that satisfy or expand my curiosity and interests. Examples include arts, languages, movies, music, nature, photography, reading, writing, travel, wandering, etc. There is no shortage of activities or topics that I’d like to explore. The main challenge has been time.

Looking Forward

At present, the lockdown in Toronto that started on November 23, 2020 remains in place until at least January 23, 2021. I continue to follow public health measures to stay safe and well. During a lockdown, life is simplified because only the essentials are available and everything else is either closed or available online.

I feel organized going into this year with new days waiting to be filled with explorations and enrichment. I look forward to 2021 with gratitude and optimism. I hope to see you at my Weekend Coffee Share starting January 8.

How did you celebrate New Year’s Day? What’s the top priority for you in 2021? I’d love to hear your comments.

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4 Years of Blogging | Thanksgiving Musings

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

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

4 Years of Blogging: Some Thoughts

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

Thanksgiving Musings: 10 Personal Gains

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

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

Ten personal gains in no particular order:

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

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

Linking here.

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How Would You Answer These 5 Questions?

Tulips

I am delighted to be a guest on Denyse Whelan’s blog, as part of her Women of Courage Series. I answered these questions in March 2020. We agreed to set a publishing date for May 13, 2020. Denyse is in Australia and I am in Canada so we are really connecting across the continents.

In my post I am sharing three of my life experiences where I have had to be courageous. I have drawn on them again and again whenever I need to be resilient and strong. The near death health-related experience gives me a greater appreciation for life in general.

Click here to read the interview. I would be delighted if you could drop by, read the interview, and leave a comment. I look forward to meeting you there!

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Happy 3 Years of Blogging

I’m co-hosting the Wellness Wednesday October 9th link up with my blogger friend, Leslie. The optional prompt is Gratitude. October 10th marks my 3rd full year of blogging so this is a 2-in-1 post to say happy three years of blogging to me and to express my blogging-related gratitude in no particular order 🙂

I’m Grateful For…

  • Free templates on Blogger and WordPress: I can try something new without spending money up front. Without the free templates, I probably wouldn’t start blogging in the first place. I started on Blogger in October 2016 and moved to WordPress in June 2019.
  • Easy-to-use blogging tools: I find both Blogger and WordPress easy to use. The move from Blogger to WordPress is simple. I’ve been using the WordPress block editor (Gutenberg) for all my blog posts from June to date without any issue so far.
  • The digital nature of a blog: It allows me to write and keep a digital record which is a lot lighter in weight than a paper journal. Less paper used, less physical storage needed, less to dust. Win, win, win.
  • The first comment that I received on my blog: It came from a blogger in February 2017, four months after I started blogging. We’re both still blogging and linking up. Do you remember the first comment you received on your blog?
This group of totem poles made me think of the blogging community: unique and together
  • Friends who blog: I started reaching out to meet up with bloggers in my third year of blogging. It was a pleasure to meet Ann, Joanne, Donna, Sue, and Jude in real life. Have you met a blogger and started a new friendship?
  • The link-up hosts: Especially the hosts who reply to comments on their blog and visit linked-up participant’s blog to comment. I appreciate your time and efforts. You’re building a blogging community and I think that’s cool.
  • The readers who leave comments on my blog: I appreciate your time and thoughtful comments. If you have a blog, I try to visit it and leave a comment, too. Your kind comments brighten my day and enrich the blog conversation.
  • The time to blog for leisure: Every blogger knows that blogging is time-consuming and time is one of our most precious resources. I’m grateful to have a small chunk of time to blog for leisure and at my own pace.
  • The freedom to blog: How wonderful is it that I’m free to type and publish my thoughts? My blog is a canvas where I create, edit, save, share, and connect with people across the miles. I’m enjoying the journey!

I hope you have a wonderful week. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my Canadian friends and readers!

Click here to join in on the Wellness Wednesday link-up.

Copyright © 2021 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.