Coffee Share #3 | The Princes’ Gates

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #3! I’m glad you are here. Please come on in and help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station. I’m eager to share my news and photos with you.

1. Awesome Coffee Share Party #2

  • At closing time this past Sunday, Coffee Share party #2 had 30 participants, a new high! Several blogger friends accepted my direct invitations and joined the link up for the first time. Thank you, everyone, for coming.
  • I’m liking the diversity of the blogs that we have so far. I hope you enjoy the party. Please continue to link back or ping back, and leave a comment on my blog and the blogs you visit so we know you’ve dropped by.

2. Winter Cycling

The weather here was good this past week, cloudy with some sunny breaks and scattered flurries with no significant snow accumulation. I was happy to cycle outside to exercise most days. I choose quiet places to keep a safe distance from everyone else.

One example of a quiet public space is the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The buildings in this huge area sit empty since all events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At normal times, they’d be filled with conference or exhibition organizers and attendees.

The main entrance to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds is the Princes’ Gates.

3. The Princes’ Gates

The Princes' Gates central arch.
The Princes’ Gates central arch.

This entrance was built in 1927 to commemorate 60 years of Canadian Confederation. The stone and concrete gates were designed by the Toronto firm of Chapman and Oxley and are a fine example of monumental architecture in the Beaux-Arts mode.

The Princes' Gates.
The Princes’ Gates.

A Roman arch forms the centre gate and is flanked on each side by a colonnade of nine Ionic columns.  The nine columns represent the participating provinces of Confederation (Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949). At each extremity of the Gates are curved pylons with fountains at their bases. 

The Winged Victory atop the central arch at the Princes' Gates.
The Winged Victory atop the central arch at the Princes’ Gates.

Sculptor Charles D. McKechnie created the statues. The Winged Victory atop the central arch is flanked by figures representing the CNE’s commitment to progress through industry, education, and the arts. In the lowered hand of the Winged Victory is a single maple leaf, a symbol of Canadian independence and autonomy.

Black iron gates and columns.
Black iron gates and columns.

The gates were opened officially on August 30, 1927 by Edward, Prince of Wales, and Prince George. They have been known ever since as the “Princes’ Gates“.

Piazza Princes' Gates.
Seating blocks at the Piazza Princes’ Gates.

In front of the Princes’ Gates is the Piazza Princes’ Gates designed by firms from Milano and Toronto. The landscape elements of this piazza celebrate the Princes’ Gates and the Canada-Italy connection. Ten long bands of Canadian granite interpret the original symbolism of the Gates’ columns into the surface of the piazza – each is engraved with the motto of a Canadian province.

Seating blocks at the end of the granite bands are marked with the name of the corresponding province or a territory. The blocks are crafted of twinned pieces of granite – representing Milano and Toronto – joined together by light. Piazza Princes’ Gates was officially opened on July 19, 2006.

I enjoyed cycling in the sunshine on a gorgeous winter day. The rest of my week went well. Your turn:

  1. How did your week go?
  2. What do you think of the Princes’ Gates design?
  3. Any fun plan for the weekend?

I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking up with Thursday Doors.

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.

Coffee Share #2 | Words and Photos

Welcome to Weekend Coffee Share 2021

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #2! Please come on in and help yourself with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station. I can hardly wait to share my news and photos with you.

1. Awesome Coffee Share Party #1

  • By closing time on Sunday, 25 bloggers from 5 continents have participated. Countries include Canada, Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States. Isn’t that amazing?
  • About 50% of the participants joined the Weekend Coffee Share link up for the first time. This is a great opportunity for all participants to make new blogging connections. Thank you, everyone, for coming.
  • I added the InLinkz link to make it easier for participants to see all the links in one place. At any time that the InLinkz link doesn’t work, plan B is to use the Comments section.

I read all participants’ blogs and appreciate what you’re sharing in words and photos. Either via InLinkz or Comments, I read what you have to say.

Overall, Weekend Coffee Share party #1 exceeded my expectations. I hope you also had a positive experience. If so, please spread the word. My InLinkz link can accommodate up to 50 participants.

2. A Promised Land

My library let me skip the line to borrow A Promised Land, Barack Obama’s latest book and presidential memoirs. The e-book version shows 1177 pages on my iPad. Normal loans allow 21 days before the book is due. The Skip the Line loans are for 7 days only. I set a target to read close to 200 pages each day for six days, and used the 7th day to review selected chapters.

The timing of this book loan is perfect. Given the recent US presidential election and the upcoming inauguration, the book content is more relevant to me now than any other time. It’s interesting to read history and watch live US presidential events that are going to be part of history.

At 1177 pages, there are thousands of words, and yes, there are 81 photos at the end.

3. Thursday Doors

Speaking of photos, I went through the digital images on my phone to delete those I don’t want to keep and to free up the memory space for new photos. From this exercise, I chose four photos for the Thursday Doors photo challenge. Here’s my entry this week.

Kwagu’t ceremonial house in Victoria, BC, Canada.

This Kwagu’t ceremonial house is part of the hereditary cultural property of Chief David Knox of Tsaxis (Fort Rupert). Go up the few steps in front of the house, and if you zoom in, you see the door handle in the centre.

Front entrance of Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino, BC, Canada.
Doors to enter Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino, BC, Canada.

Two black doors framed with painted cedar planks mark the entrance to Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino. If you haven’t heard of this Canadian artist, I encourage you to visit his web site for his biography and amazing art. I do not earn any commission for mentioning the artist’s name or his web site.

Beautiful wood carvings at the doors inside Roy Henry Vickers Gallery.
Beautiful wood carvings at the doors inside Roy Henry Vickers Gallery.
Art displays inside Roy Henry Vickers Gallery.
Art displays on the walls and on the door framed by two big wood carvings in the gallery.

The rest of my week went well. Your turn:

  1. How did your week go?
  2. Are you looking forward to joining the Weekend Coffee Share blog party?
  3. What do you think of the above doors?

I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking with #lifethisweek, #senisal, #weeklysmile.

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.

Welcome | Two in One

Welcome to Weekend Coffee Share 2021.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to the new location for Weekend Coffee Share! I’m glad you are here. Please help yourself with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my “coffee station”.

Alli at Eclectic Alli used to host the party for years until last weekend. I’m your host with the following guidelines for this weekly Coffee Share blog feature:

  • 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?
  • Use the Inlinkz link provided to join the party or leave the link to your Weekend Coffee Share post in a comment below my Coffee Share post.
  • You can link to your post any time between 8 a.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday (both Toronto time).
  • I will 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’m trying to build a fun, positive, social, and supportive blogging community here. So, as the owner of the blog and the host of the link-up, posts that I deem to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include ads, “drop and run” links, promotions, and any that are offensive in nature, overly political or religious.

Two in One excursion

This past week, the weather was typical for winter here with the average temperatures slightly above freezing point. I went cycling a few times on the Waterfront Trail which is reserved for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians and is cleared of ice and snow.

I made a stop at a building complex that would be a fabulous place for us to virtually celebrate our first Weekend Coffee Share in 2021. It has a grand entrance, red carpet, and total floor area 9,300 square meters (100,000 square feet).

The Ontario Government Building and Liberty Grand entrance.
The Ontario Government and Liberty Grand main entrance.

I call this excursion a Two in One because the building has two names (Ontario Government and Liberty Grand) and my trip serves me two purposes (Health and Leisure). By visiting the building complex, I get my exercise from cycling outdoors and have fun examining the building architecture and taking photos.

Main entrance with two names.
Close up look of the main entrance with two names.

Name #1 Above the arch – The Ontario Government Building, in Beaux-Arts style, is a heritage building, designed by the architectural firm of Chapman and Oxley in 1926. It was built to display Government of Ontario exhibits during the Canadian National Exhibition.

Name #2 Below the arch – Since 2001, the Liberty Entertainment Group has a long term lease to use the building for private events. The Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex has several areas for banquets and balls, including three grand ballrooms, and one contemporary open-concept room.

Side view of the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex.
Side view of the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex.
Door to the Centennial, one of the grand ballrooms.
Door to the Centennial, one of the grand ballrooms.

There you have it. A Two in One highlight from my first week of 2021. The rest of my week went very well.

Weekend Coffee Share is now underway from Natalie the Explorer blog. I hope that together we make this a fun social event for every weekend in 2021. 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=a3325ea8d75a7b860d96

Linking with Thursday Doors, Life This Week, Senior Salon, The Weekly Smile, Lovin’ Life.

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

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.

Linking here.

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

Wrapping Up 2020

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Today is the last Wellness Weekend link up in 2020. The optional prompt is Wrapping Up. I hope you join in on the fun right here.

We’ve all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020. Personally, it started in mid-March for me. Since March, I’ve lived through two waves of the pandemic and two lockdowns in Toronto: The first lockdown from March to June and the second lockdown from November 23 to January 4, 2021 at least.

To wrap up the year, I reflect on what I’ve accomplished and how I spent my days in 2020. Here’s the ten things that stand out for me.

Cycling on the Waterfront Trail.
Cycling on the Waterfront Trail.
  1. Self-care – On the Health front, I’ve done well in 2020. I practice the 3Ws (wash my hands, watch my distance, and wear my mask) to keep myself and others safe from COVID-19. I meditate daily, cycle, exercise, practice yoga, and walk most days. The physical activities and being outside close to nature keep me in good spirits.
Kayaking around Toronto Islands in summer 2020.
Kayaking around Toronto Islands in summer 2020.
  1. Trying new and healthy things – When the gym and swimming pool are closed, I find several body weight training videos on YouTube. I learn new exercises and do workouts at home. In the summer, I go canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddling. I focus my time and energy more on healthy or useful activities and less on news and social media.
Baking banana bread.
Baking banana bread.
  1. Enjoying home comforts – For the first time in many years, I stay home the entire year without traveling. I keep my home tidy and designate space for my workouts and my leisure activities. I embrace the quietude, stock up on essential items, bake new recipes, and make all meals at home.
Keeping a distance of 2m or the length of 3 geese from others.
Keeping a distance of 2m or the length of three geese from others.
  1. Socializing outside – In the summer when the first lockdown is lifted, I meet with my family and friends outdoors. We practice physical distancing, stay at least 2m (6 feet) apart, and bring our own drinks and snacks to our coffee dates.
Nice park for socializing outside.
Nice park for socializing outside.
  1. Using technology – The second lockdown requires Torontonians to limit contacts to the people we live with and the cold weather makes meeting outdoors less inviting so I rely on my phone, email, and FaceTime to stay connected with my family and friends. The important thing is we are all well.
Visiting the Our Game bronze sculpture.
Visiting the Our Game bronze sculpture.
  1. Continuing cultural fun – During the pandemic, I go almost 100% digital with my cultural activities. I learn French and Spanish on Duolingo, listen to concerts online as opposed to at indoor venues, visit outdoor public art installations as opposed to indoor art galleries, and watch virtual shows or movies at home as opposed to in the theatres.
Toronto's skyline from Toronto Islands.
Toronto’s skyline from Toronto Islands.
  1. Exploring – 2020 is the year when all my trip reservations are cancelled with full refunds. Since I’ve been to many countries, some several times, I feel fine to wait until it’s safe to travel again. The pause of travel this year is an opportunity for me to explore wonderful places in Toronto, and to prioritize my international travel in the future.
Switching from books to e-books in 2020.
Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Pexels.com
  1. Reading – I read a lot of books in 2020. My current count is 111 fiction novels and memoirs from more than 70 authors. This is my best annual reading record to date. A tough one for me to repeat. I switch from books to e-books in the summer. To my surprise, I love this change.
My first entry in the Thursday Doors photo challenge in 2020.
My first entry in the Thursday Doors photo challenge in 2020.
  1. Writing – I enjoy writing 55 blog posts and one guest post in 2020. I’m still having fun after four years of blogging. I’m thrilled when my blog readers find my story and photos interesting or inspiring. The best is when I make you smile.
Grateful for the great outdoors in 2020.
Grateful for the great outdoors in 2020.
  1. Gratitude – I feel grateful every day for many things, such as a new day, my good health, my family and friends, comfortable home, good food, amazing technology, excellent library system, well-maintained city parks, beautiful Lake Ontario, fantastic Waterfront Trail, and more.

I’d like to thank all of you who read my blog and share your thoughts. Your blogging friendships and comments are my awards. I wish everyone a healthy holiday season and a happy New Year 2021.

I’d love to hear your summary for 2020.

Linking here.

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

Seeing the Lights

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you have a few minutes for a quick chat over a cup of coffee or tea. Our days are getting shorter as we move towards the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, known as the Winter Solstice. So, I welcome daylight and the holiday lights at night.

The first few days of this past week, it was sunny, perfect for my cycling and walking to different parks during the day and seeing the lights in the city centre in the evening. I took a number of photos of various landmarks on my walk, all outdoors, except the last one. Let me show you in pictures.

Toronto Inukshuk Park

Natural daylight is my favourite type of light. Here’s the magnificent Toronto Inukshuk standing tall in full daylight on a sunny day at the Toronto Inukshuk Park.

The Toronto Inukshuk
The Toronto Inukshuk made by Inuit artist Kellypalik Qimirpik from Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

Inukshuk is an Inuit stone structure often found in the arctic landscape. It serves as a guide to travellers on land and sea, providing comfort, advice and spatial orientation. The Toronto Inukshuk, one of the largest of its kind in North America, was made from about 50 tonnes of mountain rose granite. It stands 30 feet high with an arm span of 15 feet.

The Toronto Inukshuk is a legacy project to commemorate World Youth Day in 2002 that brings an important symbol of Canada’s Aboriginal people to the people of Toronto. On one of the rocks on the left of the structure, part of the inscription reads:

The Toronto Inukshuk invites each one of us to become beacons of light and hope, striving for justice and peace in this world.”

Coronation Park

Soft daylight.
Beautiful trees and soft daylight in Coronation Park.

East of the small Toronto Inukshuk Park is the much larger Coronation Park. In the above photo, the clouds and the tall trees filter the sun light and cast soft shadows of the trees on the grass and the trail.

Night Lighting at the CN Tower

The CN Tower and Toronto Union Station.
The CN Tower lit up in blue and a bright Christmas tree in front of Toronto Union Station.

The CN Tower is Canada’s most recognizable and celebrated icon, defining the Toronto skyline at 553.33m (1,815 ft 5 in). The Tower’s lighting begins at sunset and concludes at sunrise the next morning, except during spring and fall bird migration periods during which time lighting concludes at midnight.

The night time illumination from bottom to top of the CN Tower changes on a specific schedule and occasion. On the evening that I took this photo, the blue lights were for Toronto Miracle Community Food Drive.

Christmas Trees at the TD Centre

Three beautiful Christmas trees with twinkling lights at the TD Centre.
Three beautiful Christmas trees with twinkling lights at the TD Centre.

The Toronto-Dominion Centre, or TD Centre, is a prestigious office complex in the Financial District of downtown Toronto. These Christmas trees look stunning with simple twinkling lights for the holidays.

Hudson’s Bay Queen Street Store

Masked nutcracker
Masked nutcracker
Masked nutcracker
Masked nutcracker social distancing

Every year, thousands of holiday-loving Torontonians gather outside the windows of the Hudson’s Bay Queen Street store to catch a glimpse of the beloved Christmas display. The tradition has marked the start of the holiday season in Toronto for over 100 years. This year, of course, is different — with a much more low-key unveiling and signs reminding observers to social distance. 

The five displays all follow a “Santa’s Secret Workshop” theme. Please click on the slide show to see a snow-making department, a candy cane department, a gift-wrapping department, an ornament-making department and a mail-room department. 

Christmas Tree in the Eaton Centre

Christmas tree in the Eaton Centre
The Christmas tree at Toronto’s Eaton Centre.

The glittering 108-foot tall tree in the Eaton Centre is Canada’s largest Christmas tree. It covers three levels of Toronto’s downtown shopping centre. My photo is from 2019 for the same tree this year.

Finally

On December 9, 2020 Health Canada authorized the first Pfizer vaccine in Canada for the prevention of COVID-19. Ontario started administering its first COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare professionals on December 14, 2020 at two hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa. We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Bits of Joy

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you have a few minutes for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. We had a mixed bag of weather this past week: Sun, rain, snow, and sun again. As I type this, Toronto is under lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus so I limit my in-person contacts and continue to go outside only for exercise or groceries.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, there are still many small pleasures and fun moments to enjoy every day. Here’s my bits of joy and photos to share with you:

Going for a Beach Walk

Sunnyside Beach

Sunday was sunny and beautiful. It was perfect for my bike ride to Sunnyside Beach and a walk along the sandy beach. I enjoyed views of Lake Ontario, blue sky, fresh air, bird life, trees, with very few people around at the time of my visit. This may be the last “warm” day of Autumn 2020. Two days after I took this beach photo, we got snow!

Baking

Monday was a rainy day. Having three ripe bananas on my kitchen counter prompted me to bake. I haven’t baked for a few months because it was too hot to think of baking in the summer. I used Jean Paré’s Banana Bread recipe and the loaf turned out really good. It was a tasty homemade snack to go with a cuppa while staying dry and warm indoor.

Loving the First Snow

Tuesday was snow day. First snow accumulation on the first day of December 2020! Just a thin layer by the lake and more snow elsewhere in Ontario. The snow flurries and snow flakes looked so pretty when I sat inside sipping my hot coffee. I love to go for a walk after the first snowfall when everything still looks pristine.

Cycling to a Park

Wednesday was sunny again so I went cycling and enjoyed a beautiful wintry day. I was glad to have my sunglasses with me as the reflections from the snow were blinding. How many Canada geese do you see in the above photo? There were many more of them by the lake than those I captured here. When we get more snow in the parks, it will be fun to go snowshoeing.

Speaking of blinding, on Wednesday around noon, while cycling, I saw a flash of blinding light then a fireball in the clear blue sky. It appeared and disappeared in seconds. The local news reported it was a falling meteor travelling an estimated 100,000 kilometers an hour. The American Meteor Society also received reports on this daylight fireball event occurred over Central New York. That was unexpected and pretty cool to see.

Hill without snow.
The thin layer of snow was gone by Thursday.

Joining a Challenge

Dan at No Facilities blog has taken over hosting the Thursday Doors photography challenge. I decided to participate for the first time. My debut Thursday Doors entry in Beaux-Arts style is here. I look forward to sharing my selection of door images and meeting other bloggers who participate in the challenge.

Reading

I enjoyed reading a few e-books this week. One of them was Jill Weatherholt’s Second Chance Romance novel. It’s an easy read and a heartwarming story with happy endings. In addition to reading Jill’s book, I also read and agreed with the Second Chance Romance book review by Annika Perry, another blogger and writer that I follow. Both Jill and Annika have my admiration for their wonderful writing.

Selecting a Tree

I browsed and found a handsome evergreen tree for the holidays. No, I don’t plan to bring one home. I like the natural look of the first snow landed on the tree and its symmetrical shape. This is my digital tree all decorated and ready to go as my e-greeting card to my family and friends.

How did your week go? Any fun plans for the coming week? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

November Smiles

Hello blog friends! After a few cloudy weekdays with occasional showers, the sun returns 100% this weekend. The daytime high temperature reaches 9C (48F) which is good for this time of the year where I live. The clear blue sky and beautiful tree branches make me smile.

Today I share my monthly review for November and three outdoor sculptures in downtown Toronto. I did an art walk to visit about a dozen outdoor art installations. I include three of them in this post and hope you find them interesting.

Health

Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor
Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor

The Mountains aluminum sculpture by Anish Kapoor is located at Front and Simcoe streets. It reminds me of strength, base, mountain ranges, height, the Canadian Rockies…In yoga the Mountain pose (Tadasana) is one of the foundational poses. To me, good health is the foundation or prerequisite to enjoy life.

Throughout November, I meditate daily, cycle and walk outdoors most mornings, and alternate body weight workouts and yoga at home. I use Lunden Sousa’s videos for my targeted workouts on different muscle groups. New instructor and new exercises require focus to learn the correct forms and create new mind-muscle connections. I get to make incremental changes and do a range of motions. It’s all good.

The regular fitness activities help me feel stable and strong like the mountains. Here’s my numbers for November:

  • 30 meditation sessions
  • 21 targeted workouts
  • 19 cycling trips
  • 19 walks
  • 13 full body workouts
  • 12 yoga sessions

Home

Our Game bronze sculpture by Edie Parker
Our Game bronze sculpture by Edie Parker

The Our Game sculpture by Edie Parker shows five excited young hockey players climbing over the boards ready for action. It’s located outside the Hockey Hall of Fame building at the northwest corner of Yonge and Front streets.

The exuberant looks and smiles of the young hockey players make me think of happy times with my family and friends, and hockey reminds me of Canada where my home is. With COVID-19 still around, it will be a while before I meet my family and friends face-to-face or attend a hockey game in person.

Starting on November 23, the Ontario government prohibits indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household, for 28 days. I’m grateful for technology to stay connected and share laughs with my family and friends while being apart.

Leisure

Dream Ballet stainless steel sculpture by Harvey Valentine
Dream Ballet stainless steel sculpture by Harvey Valentine

The Dream Ballet sculpture by Harvey Valentine consists of three stainless steel statues polished to a mirrored finish. They’re installed next to Meridian Hall, a major performing art venue, at the southeast corner of Yonge and Front streets.

In November, I got to enjoy interesting public art installations, blogs, books, films, and language lessons:

  • 30 French and Spanish sessions
  • 12 outdoor public art sculptures
  • 11 books (see list below)
  • 5 blog posts
  • 1 film: Still Alice (Academy Award and Golden Globe winner)

November Reading

The e-books that I read in November range from 305 to 460 pages each. They are all very good with detailed plots and many twists and turns. The first three books are Baldacci’s detective Amos Decker series. Once I started reading book #1, I wanted to read the next two books in the series. Mission accomplished! The remaining books are well written by authors that I’ve read before and two new-to-me authors (Giffin and Miller).

  1. Memory Man by David Baldacci.
  2. The Fix by David Baldacci.
  3. The Last Mile by David Baldacci.
  4. Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert.
  5. You Say It First by Katie Cotugno.
  6. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.
  7. Paper Towns by John Green.
  8. The Sight of You by Holly Miller.
  9. Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng.
  10. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  11. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

Book Review

A shout out to my blogger friend, Liesbet Collaert at Roaming About blog who just launched her debut travel memoir Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of A Life Less Ordinary. I’ve connected with Liesbet for a few years via blogging. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog and the Advance Reader Copy of her travel memoir.

Plunge book cover

Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary is a captivating and candid book where Liesbet shares her life events and travel adventures when she was in her 30s. Her overland and sailing adventures with her husband, Mark, and their two dogs, take her readers to many exotic locations such as Central America, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, and more.

Life at sea is not always easy. Liesbet shares the challenges they faced, not only the logistics of nomadic living but also their relationship and well-being over the years while sharing a small space and being far away from their families. Liesbet’s choice to live a life less ordinary requires her to be flexible, resilient, and resourceful. I highly recommend this memoir.

Looking forward

I’m looking forward to December when the city centre is beautifully decorated. It’s a wonderful sensory experience to walk around and take it all in. My holiday plan is simple, especially this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to share it with you in the next couple of blog posts before the year ends.

How did November go for you? Which of the three sculptures do you like? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Along Humber Bay Shores

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have a few minutes for a quick chat over a cup of coffee or tea. The weather was up and down in Toronto this past week. The first half of the week was cool and windy. The second half of the week was better with sunshine and warmer temperatures.

On one of the sunny mornings, with daytime high around 16C (60F), I went for a long bike ride and stopped at Humber Bay shores for a nature walk. Humber Bay is about 10 km (6.2 miles) west of Toronto’s city centre. A string of beautiful parks with many inviting trails and nice views of Lake Ontario await in this area. Let me show you in pictures.

The Trails

Trail at Humber Bay Park East

A network of sixteen flat and well-maintained biking and hiking trails weave through Humber Bay Park East and Humber Bay Park West. Autumn foliage provides pleasant colours and intermittent shades on a sunny day.

Stream at Humber Bay Park East

I saw and heard many small birds among the trees but they were too quick for me to take a good photo. I also passed a few small water streams when I explored the trails. They all feed into Lake Ontario.

The Views

Looking west from Humber Bay Park East
Looking west from Humber Bay Park East

For unobstructed views of Lake Ontario, I walked the outer trails at the south end of Humber Bay Parks. Rock boulders and benches along the shorelines offer excellent spots for bird watchers hoping to find interesting shorebirds and waterfowl, or for park visitors to sit down and enjoy the panoramic views.

View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

Located along the Humber Bay Shores, the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat (HBBH) is an ecological restoration project that provides critical habitat for a variety of native butterfly species. It opened in 2002 and is about four acres in size.

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

I took a self-guided tour following informative interpretive signs located throughout the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat. The HBBH is comprised of many different plant communities, including wildflower meadow, short grass prairie, woodland, and wetland. It also has a Home Garden that incorporates butterfly-friendly plants and physical features that turn a garden into a haven for butterflies.

Sunflowers

Metal sunflowers

Upon leaving Humber Bay Parks, I saw these big and beautiful sunflowers. They are made of metal and should last all four seasons! I love the details on the flowers, the curved stems, and the veins on the leaves.

Gratitude

It was delightful to be outside cycling, walking in the sunshine, and enjoying seasonal scenery along the shores of Humber Bay. I’m thankful for these parks and all the sunny and warm days that we’ve had this autumn, especially in November when it’s typically overcast and unpredictable here.

The local weather forecast calls for rain or a mix of rain and snow on Sunday, followed by a mix of sun and clouds and normal temperatures on Monday. I’m enjoying the comforts of home on Sunday and will head outside again on Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving on November 26 to my family, friends, and blog readers who live in the USA! Stay safe and well, everyone.

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

Linking here.

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

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have time for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. This past week, the weather started off on the cool side on Monday and Tuesday, then from Wednesday to the weekend, the high temperatures reached 20C (68F) with sunny skies.

The nice weather brought a big smile to my face. I decided to cycle to Tommy Thompson Park where I know there is a lot of open space and nature trails for cycling and walking. I had visited this park a few times during the summer.

About Tommy Thompson Park

Aerial view of Tommy Thompson Park
Source: Tommy Thompson Park web site

Park Location: Tommy Thompson Park is located at 1 Leslie Street, near Unwin Avenue, on a man-made peninsula, known as the Leslie Street Spit, which extends five kilometres (3.1 miles) into Lake Ontario.

Park Name: The name “Leslie Street Spit” was coined by local residents and remains the unofficial popular name. In 1985, the Spit was officially named Tommy Thompson Park to honour Toronto’s former Parks Commissioner.

Park Special Features:

  • The land on which the park lies is completely man-made using the sand/ silt dredged from Toronto Outer and Inner Harbours and the Keating Channel.
  • Tommy Thompson Park features a trail system that spans 18 kilometres (11.1 miles) with three types of trails that were designed for various user groups: Multi-use trail (7.4 km), Nature trails (3.3 km), and Pedestrian trails (7.3 km).
  • Tommy Thompson Park is considered one of the best places for bird watching in the city with more than 300 recorded species and a good spot for fishing.
  • Tommy Thompson Park has a Nature Centre and Bird Research Station. Unfortunately they are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic so guided interpretive tours and educational programs are unavailable at this time.

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Multi-use trail in Tommy Thompson Park
The multi-use and main trail in Tommy Thompson Park

From the park entrance, I followed the main trail that runs through the centre of the park. This flat paved, multi-use trail accommodates leisure cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, rollerbladers, and strollers.

The main trail has intermittent speed bumps and is approximately 5 km (3.1 miles) long from the park entrance to the Lighthouse. Wildflower meadows and cottonwood forests appear on both sides of the trail. I noticed a unique Please Brake For Snakes sign, a reminder that this park is Toronto’s urban wilderness.

In previous visits to the park, I walked the nature trails to see wildlife such as birds, butterflies, toads, etc. The Nature trails are narrow trails, only half a metre wide, are not graded and may be uneven. They’re intended for walking or hiking and target user groups such as nature watchers and photographers.

Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park
Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park

About half way through the park, the main trail crosses the small Pedestrian Bridge. The views on both sides of the bridge are amazing.

View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings

Continue on to the end of the main trail, there are rock boulders to sit on and gaze out to beautiful Lake Ontario. The water along the cobble beaches is clear with several rock formations that may have been built by previous visitors. It’s a nice spot for a break or a picnic.

One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park
One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park

From the main trail, I followed one of the Nature trails to reach one of the coastal marshes that provide critical habitat for wildlife. There are a wide variety of turtles and fish species found in and around Tommy Thompson Park, including Northern pike, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and lake trout.

Heading home....Love a curvy trail
Heading home…Love a curvy trail

It was delightful to be outside cycling and walking in the sunshine. Exploring Tommy Thompson Park was an excellent way to spend a morning. As I headed home, I was grateful once again for the wonderful places we have around here to enjoy.

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

Linking here.

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