Recent Reads and Golden Finds

Sunflower and bees.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #37! 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 was a week of mostly sunny days with thunders, lightning and rain on Tuesday night. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 22C to 27C (72F to 81F) although cooler in the morning and evening. The parks are still full of green trees and beautiful flowers like the flowers I feature in this post.

It was also the week before Canada’s Federal Election. Election day is on September 20. I went to cast my vote first thing in the morning on one of the advance poll days. There was no line-up. It felt good to get this important action item done.

One of my neighbours called and asked me to go for a walk with her. At 80+ years of age and living alone, B is active and sharp as a tack. She talked, I listened and we did a 3.2 km (2 miles) walk. She’d like to walk with me again next week.

The rest of the week went well. I cycled most mornings, saw herons at a conservation area, took several walks, played disc golf twice, completed my mind and body exercises, chatted with my family and friends, and did house chores, reading and writing.

Recent Reads

I’m pleased to contribute to the #WhatsOnYourBookShelf challenge, co-hosted by four lovely bloggers Donna, Sue, Jo and Debbie.

I use the Toronto Public Library 2021 Reading Challenge categories to read widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. You can see the full list of books I’ve read and the categories I’ve met so far this year on my Books in 2021 page at the top of my blog.

My recent reads by author’s last name include:

  1. The Outlander – Gil Adamson
  2. Lock & Key – Sarah Dessen
  3. The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes
  4. Lily and the Octopus – Steven Rowley
  5. Peace by Chocolate – Jon Tattrie (non-fiction)
  6. The One We Fell In Love With – Paige Toon

I was pleased to discover Jon Tattrie and Paige Toon who were new to me. If I were to rate this batch of books, on a 5-star scale, I’d give 5 stars to Peace By Chocolate, 4.5 stars to The Giver of Stars and 4 stars to the other books. I linked the book titles to GoodReads.

While both The Giver of Stars and Peace by Chocolate are excellent stories of human resilience, compassion, kindness, love, family, friendship and community, I give an extra 0.5 point to Peace By Chocolate because it’s a true story of a family of Syrian refugees who settled in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The book is an easy read at about 200 pages. Does chocolate play a role in the story? Yes, Peace by Chocolate ships worldwide (this is not an affiliated link).

Golden Finds

Inspired by Cee’s Photographing Public Art Challenge (PPAC#14) and Terri’s Sunday Stills Colour Challenge – Harvest Gold or Citrine, I took photos of a few golden bronze art objects and flowers that are in the gardens.

Mural by unknown artist.
Mural by unknown artist.
Marlin sculpture by Andrew Posa, 1987.
Marlin sculpture by Andrew Posa, 1987.
U.V. Ceti by Andrew Posa.
U.V. Ceti sculpture by Andrew Posa, “Dedicated to Edward Isaac Richmond, architect, 1908-1982. A kind man who shared his love of beauty.”
'Cherokee Sunset' Back-eyed Susan flowers.
Black-eyed Susan flowers.
Citrine Coreopsis flower.
Marigolds.
Marigolds.
An Autumn Beauty sunflower.
An ‘Autumn Beauty’ Sunflower is a showy mixture of colours including golden yellow, bronze, brown, and burgundy.

Shared with #LifeThisWeek.

So how did your week go? What’s on your bookshelf?

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

Laneway Art and Recent Reads

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #33! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a week of sunny, warm and humid days. I had fun cycling, walking, kayaking, canoeing, and playing disc golf. Today I’m sharing wonderful art in a laneway, my recent reads, and a friendly reminder.

Laneway Art

I cycled to Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood then walked a quiet Euclid-Palmerston laneway. This laneway is a vast display of seventy five colourful garage doors painted by an amazing array of Toronto’s mural and street artists.

In 2018 and 2019, Jieun June Kim and Erika James (also known as KJ Bit Collective) partnered with the city’s StreetARToronto program to transform this community laneway into a giant canvas of graffiti and mural art. KJ Bit organized seventy five artists to paint garages in two live-paint jams. The initiatives were well supported by local residents who now enjoy their revitalized laneway.

Jieu June Kim art
208P – Painted doors by Jieu June Kim

I’m sharing twenty two images of the painted garage doors in today’s post, and the remaining garage door images in future posts. 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. Sharing for #ThursdayDoors, #PPAC10, Monday Murals and #LifeThisWeek.

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

Recent Reads

I’m pleased to contribute to the first #WhatsOnYourBookShelf challenge, co-hosted by four lovely bloggers Donna, Sue, Jo and Debbie.

I use the Toronto Public Library 2021 Reading Challenge categories to read widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. You can see the full list of books I’ve read and the categories I’ve met so far this year on my Books in 2021 page at the top of my blog.

My recent reads in July and August by author’s last name include:

  1. The Noise of Time – Julian Barnes
  2. Love At First – Kate Clayborn
  3. Dreamland – Sarah Dessen
  4. The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green
  5. The Good Sister – Sally Hepworth
  6. Life’s Too Short – Abby Jimenez
  7. The Editor – Steven Rowley
  8. From My Mother’s Back – Njoki Wane

Five of the eight authors were new to me. I was pleased to discover them. I linked the book title to the author’s web site or GoodReads. If I were to rate this batch of books, on a 5-star scale, I’d give 4.5 stars to The Good Sister and The Anthropocene Reviewed. The other six books got 4 stars.

What’s on your bookshelf?

Friendly Reminder

I’m delighted to be hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge on August 22 while host Terri is on blogging break. The theme is ‘In The Garden‘. I look forward to seeing all your entries for this week’s Sunday Stills photography challenge.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a8b40ada7693d64e5923

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

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=a3325ea8d75a7b860d96

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

September Smiles and 2020 Reading Update #3

Greetings blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your week is going well. October is off to a great start chez Natalie. We had rain and thunderstorms on the last day of September then the sun returned to welcome the first day of October.

Autumn leaves have been showing off their yellow, orange, and red colours in downtown Toronto. On a sunny day, they look brilliant. The air is cool, especially in the morning, just right for cycling and walking.

Red maple.

There are still a lot of late summer flowers, berries, and monarch butterflies around. The variety of colours in parks and gardens now is astounding and makes me want to paint.

Monarch butterfly.

I love that when I cycle along the Waterfront trail, the lake views are always changing. On calm days, I can see what’s beneath the clear water. On windy days, the waves roar and splash as they hit the breakwater walls or the rocks along the shore line. The familiar landscape includes water, open space, rock boulders, and trees.

Anyway, today I’m reflecting on my month of September and summarizing the books that I read in the third quarter of 2020.

September Smiles

September was a wonderful month when I enjoyed a mix of health-related activities, i.e. cycling, exercising, meditation, stand up paddling, walking, and yoga. I wrote my weekly blog posts, completed daily language lessons on Duolingo, listened to digital concerts, and read many novels.

Here’s my September in numbers:

  • 1 family meet-up with my sister and nieces.
  • 1 stand up paddling excursion.
  • 3 digital concerts.
  • 4 blog posts.
  • 4 rest days.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 14 yoga sessions.
  • 18 books (see list below).
  • 18 walks.
  • 22 cycling trips.
  • 30 meditation sessions.
  • 30 French and Spanish sessions.

2020 Reading Update #3

Back in March this year, I wrote a post to share my Reading First Update for the first quarter of the year. Once I started that, it feels logical to continue with Reading Update #2 for the second quarter, and today’s Reading Update #3 for the third quarter.

At a glance, I read 15 books in July, 20 books in August, and 18 books in September. Social distancing due to COVID-19 pandemic means more staying at home than normal and this gives me time to read.

The list of the novels that I read in July is here, in August is here, and in September is below by author’s last name:

  1. Woman On The Edge by Samantha M. Bailey.
  2. The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister.
  3. The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely.
  4. 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan.
  5. Fireworks by Katie Cotugno.
  6. How To Love by Katie Cotugno.
  7. Top Ten by Katie Cotugno.
  8. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.
  9. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella.
  10. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul.
  11. The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda.
  12. The Switch by Beth O’Leary.
  13. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.
  14. He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker.
  15. In Her Wake by K.A. Tucker.
  16. Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker.
  17. One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker.
  18. Wild At Heart (sequel to The Simple Wild) by K.A. Tucker.

I lucked out again with the fiction novels I borrowed to read in September. They’re all really good books written by authors from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I look forward to reading more novels from the same authors again.

Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, October 10 to 12, is coming up. I know I have a lot to be grateful for. If you’re celebrating the holidays, Happy Thanksgiving to you! Stay safe and well.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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