Time To Switch Up

Greetings blog friends! Autumn officially arrived here on September 22 as per my wall calendar. The weather from September 20 to 26 inclusive was good, with mainly sunny skies and some rain on one of the afternoons. Daily high temperatures ranged from 16C to 26C (62F to 79F). A nice transition from summer to autumn.

Autumn arrival

When I go cycling and walking around my neighbourhood, the grassy fields and many trees are still green. Some of the late summer flowers are in full bloom. Look at these pink cosmos and dahlias. Aren’t they gorgeous?

The maple trees are changing colours though. Every morning I see more and more of the yellow, orange, and red hues that are part of the Canadian autumn splendour. It’s like Mother Nature has done her painting overnight and touched a dab of red here and a dab of orange there.

More signs of autumn are at the grocery stores: Potted mums in assorted colours and pumpkins in orange and white. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten white pumpkin yet, have you?

Potted mums and pumpkins.

I love having four seasons. Every time a new season arrives, it’s a reminder for me to review and switch things up in my daily routine. Each season lasts about 13 weeks. That’s a nice period of time to try something new and see results.

Haircut

I started making changes at the top, literally, my head. I went for a haircut. First time since COVID-19 pandemic started here in mid-March. Same hair salon, same hairstylist, new procedures: Temperature check, hand sanitizer, masks, bigger space between chairs, contact tracing sign-in sheet, and less talking.

I was the only customer in the salon at the time. After having a few inches of my hair cut off, I feel lighter and ready for the new season. My hair length is now the same as in my profile photo.

Fitness

  • Swimming: The long range forecast is calling for a nice autumn season so I anticipate to continue my cycling and walking outdoors. Paddling on the water is going to end soon. I may resume indoor swimming as a substitute for paddling since the pools are open.
  • Resistance bands: My resistance band broke after I’ve got so much good use out of it. I replaced it with a 4-pack resistance band set that comes with a door anchor and different resistance levels: Light, Medium, Heavy, and X-Heavy. I love that resistance bands are light, portable, inexpensive, and good tools for home workouts or when I travel.
  • Boxing: I’m going to add no-equipment boxing workouts to my fitness routine to spice it up. I tried boxing before and liked it so this autumn is time for me to bring boxing back into my life. I’ve seen some good boxing workout videos on YouTube. I’m saying Yes to jab, cross, hook, keep moving, stay focused, and have fun while doing it.

Reading

It’s a coincidence that while I’m thinking about switching things up, I received a Skip the Line notification that one of the e-books I put on hold became available. This novel is titled The Switch, written by Beth O’Leary. The Skip the Line option lets me jump the queue and borrow the book for 7 days only, as opposed to the usual 21 days.

The Switch book cover.

The Switch is a story of generational location swapping. It showcases how it’s never too late to change your life and pursue your dreams.

The Switch is funny, positive, warm, an easy and enjoyable read from beginning to end.

I had read O’Leary’s debut novel, The Flatshare, and enjoyed it a lot, too.

Overall a good first week of Autumn. It’s time to switch up a few things in my daily routine to keep me active and happy. No drastic changes, just a dash of spices here and there to challenge my mind and body.

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

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 7: Coronation Park

Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space, feel free to have a coffee or tea, hot or cold, and let’s catch up on our news.

Summer week 7, from August 2 to 8 inclusive, means we just passed the half point of summer here. We had heavy rainfall on Sunday, rain on Monday afternoon and Tuesday then sunny weather the rest of the week. The high temperatures ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 85F).

Cycling

I cycled along the Waterfront trail from one to two hours most mornings this week. One of the parks that I stopped by is Coronation Park. Coronation Park was built in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI. It’s located at Lake Shore Blvd West & Fort York Blvd, just east of Ontario Place or Trillium Park.

Coronation Park highlights

Beautiful oak and maple trees: The park design consisted of grouping trees around a central Royal Oak, symbolizing the King. An inner ring of oak trees, known as the “Empire Circle”, represents the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and the Crown Colonies.

To the north, the Imperial Service triangle of trees represented the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army. On either side of the ring are separate groves of maple trees representing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian divisions, Siberian troops, and Corp Troops to the east and west.

Royal Oak in the centre of the Empire Circle of oak trees.
Royal Oak in the centre of the Empire Circle of oak trees

Lake view: The south side of Coronation Park offers stunning views of Lake Ontario and the marina. It is a beautiful spot to sit along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and enjoy a picnic on a warm summer day. Coronation Park also has three softball diamonds on the north side and a nice-sized dog off-leash area on the east side.

Lake view from Coronation Park.
Lake view from Coronation Park

Victory-Peace Monument: It’s a permanent war memorial built in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. There are two sets of bronze walls, arranged like ship prows. Between the walls are maple leaves. One is engraved “Sacrifice” and the other “Hope”. The walls surrounding it has artwork depicting information about Canada’s involvement in World War II.

Victory-Peace Monument designed by artist John McEwan at Coronation Park.
Victory-Peace Monument designed by artist John McEwan at Coronation Park

Reading

Coronation Park is also a perfect spot for reading. There are benches, Muskoka chairs, grassy field, and picnic tables. The lake views, however, may be a distraction. I finished five books this week and really liked the funny dialogues and heart-breaking love story in Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.

Walking

I got to see so many beautiful flowers on my morning walks. Some of them attract more bees and butterflies than others. The colour choices are amazing and they brighten my day. I’m sharing two photos here even though I took many more.

Pink thistle
Pink thistle
A monarch butterfly
A monarch butterfly

Considering everything, it was a beautiful and enjoyable week.

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

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 6: July Smiles

Butterfly

Hello blog friends! How are you? Hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space, make yourself at home with a coffee or tea, hot or iced, and let’s chat.

Summer Week 6

Summer week 6, from July 26 to August 1 inclusive, was sunny and warm. The high temperatures ranged from 28C to 33C (82F to 91F). We had heat warning on Sunday and Monday, brief showers on Wednesday, and the rest of the week was beautiful.

I enjoyed plenty of outdoor time cycling and walking on the waterfront trail or in parks by the lake. The flowers in the gardens continue to be amazing. So many colours, shapes, textures, and lovely fragrance that keep bees and butterflies busy.

My new activity of the week was Stand Up Paddling (SUP). I did SUP for about three hours on Toronto islands with my small ‘social bubble’. We paddled and had so much fun. The water was calm and warm. I saw a great blue heron, dragonflies, Eastern kingbirds, pretty water lilies, idyllic sailboats, and more.

Sailboat

July Smiles

Since we’ve just finished July and are now at the beginning of August, I thought of summarizing my fun in July in simple numbers:

  • 1 stand up paddling trip
  • 2 movies (see titles below)
  • 4 blog posts
  • 6 digital concerts (see performers below)
  • 6 kayaking trips
  • 13 yoga sessions
  • 14 strengthening workouts
  • 15 books (see list below)
  • 24 cycling trips
  • 26 walks
  • 31 online French and Spanish sessions
  • 31 meditation sessions

The two movies were both based on true stories and great performances. I gave each movie 4 stars out of 5:

  • The Big Short (Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling).
  • The Whole Wide World (Renée Zellweger and Vincent D’Onofrio).

The six concerts were performed beautifully by:

On the COVID-19 front, case numbers in Toronto have been on the downward trends so as of July 31, the City allows more businesses to re-open, now including indoor gyms, dine-in restaurants, and movie theatres that meet public health guidelines. Masks are required in indoor public spaces and people are advised to continue social distancing.

July Beach Reads

Glorious books and e-books! I was in the mood for reading and set a new personal best reading record in a month: 15 books. I enjoyed every single one of them, about half were e-books and the other half physical books. I re-read some of the chapters in each of the books. They were that good!

15 books read in July 2020

All of the authors were new to me, except Jenny Colgan and John Grisham. Although I read Neil Pasricha‘s articles and listened to him on TED Talks before, this was the first time I read one of his books. I’m glad to discover K.A. Tucker who lives in a small town outside of Toronto.

Most of the 15 books are contemporary romance, with adventures, suspense, or thriller twists. Most, not all, have happy endings. They transported me to faraway places such as Bora Bora, England, Israel, Italy, Scotland, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and various states in the USA.

I group the books into my Top 5 Picks, Next 5 Picks, and Last 5 Picks, based on how much I liked the story and the writing style. They are in alpha order by author’s last name below.

My Top 5 Picks:
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
  • The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.
  • The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker.
My Next 5 Picks:
  • The Place We Met by Isabelle Broom.
  • Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks.
  • Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman.
  • Burying Water by K. A. Tucker.
  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker.
My Last 5 Picks:
  • The Cafe by The Sea by Jenny Colgan.
  • Gray Mountain by John Grisham.
  • The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo.
  • Be The Girl by K. A. Tucker.
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.

Conclusion

July was an enriching and fabulous month with fitness, family, friends, and fun while social distancing. I look forward to making the most of August.

How was your July? What are you reading? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 4: Trillium Park

Hello blog friends! Glad to see you. Come on in to my blog space, make yourself comfortable with a coffee or tea, and let’s chat.

Summer Week 4

Summer week 4, from July 12 to 18 inclusive, was warm with the high temperatures ranged from 27C to 32C (80F to 90F). The humidity returned from Tuesday on, making it felt like 32C to 40C (90F to 104F). The rain on Thursday provided some relief from the heat.

Similar to Summer Week 3, I cycled, walked, exercised, went kayaking twice, meditated, practiced yoga, took language lessons, read four novels, listened to online concerts, and watched one movie. Also had picnic lunches by the lake, ate lots of summer fruit, and enjoyed cold drinks.

I visited several beautiful parks and gardens along the lake shore by bike and on foot. On my kayaking trips to Toronto Islands, a few duck families swam right next to my kayak and the cormorants showed off their perfect dives. In the gardens, lovely hydrangeas and lily flowers are dominant this week.

Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail

Today is the 7th monthly Wellness Weekend link-up. The optional prompt is A Fun Activity. So I choose to walk along the scenic William G. Davis Trail in Trillium Park at Ontario Place as my fun activity. I hope you join me on this virtual walk.

About The Trail

  • Trail name: William G. Davis Trail, in honour of Bill Davis, who was the Premier when Ontario Place first opened in 1971.
  • Trail entrance: 955 Lake Shore Boulevard West, in Trillium Park, at Ontario Place East entrance.
  • Trail length: 1.3 km. It’s in the green area from the top right to bottom right of the map below.
  • Trail surface: asphalt/ concrete.
  • Trail rating: Easy.
Source: Ontario Place
Source: Ontario Place

Trail Highlights

The Ravine walls with Moccasin Identifier: Once we enter Trillium Park, two beautiful stone walls connected by a bridge frame our first glimpse of Lake Ontario. Developed in collaboration with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Ravine walls celebrate First Nations’ heritage and culture with the moccasin identifier engraved into the stone, a visual reminder to recognize and honour the past.

The Lake views from the trail: On one side, the trail hugs the spectacular waterfront. The vistas around the bends are amazing.

View from William G. Davis Trail
View from William G. Davis Trail
View towards Toronto's city centre
View towards Toronto’s city centre
Around the bend on William G. Davis Trail
Around the bend on William G. Davis Trail
View from William G. Davis Trail
View from William G. Davis Trail

The Park views on the trail: On the other side, the trail is surrounded by thousands of native trees, plants, flowers and beautiful sedimentary rocks and boulders.

The Bluff, Trillium Park, William G. Davis Trail
The Bluff, made up of stacked boulders and rocks, replicates the natural landscape throughout the province, and also offers a long communal sitting area to enjoy the beautiful views out over the lake.
Hough's Glade: This hidden gathering place is a tribute the original Ontario Place landscape architect, Michael Hough.
Hough’s Glade: This hidden gathering place is a tribute the original Ontario Place landscape architect, Michael Hough. Four rocks are arranged in a circle and surrounded by medicinal plants, butterfly bushes and a wild flower meadow. It’s a wonderful place to sit and share stories with friends.

There is also a Fire Pit to hold bonfires when permitted, and the Summit located at the southern tip of the park provides gentle slopes and lush rolling hills to sit on and look out to the lake. Vista Eatery is open with outdoor seating for a quick snack or a leisure meal while gazing at sailboats.

Even though the William G. Davis Trail is only 1.3 km long, it’s a trail that invites a few laps. The rest of the Trillium Park is on 7.5 acres of public green space on a spectacular part of Toronto’s waterfront so there’s much more to explore and enjoy.

View towards Humber Bay
View towards Humber Bay

Conclusion

Summer week 4 was fun and wonderful. I’ve cycled and walked in Trillium Park and on the William G. Davis Trail a few times this summer. I hope you enjoy the virtual walk with me. The weather forecast for week 5 is hot and humid. I look forward to making the most of week 5.

How did your week go? What fun activity did you do? I’d love to hear your comments.

I’m linking up this post to Wellness Weekends 2020 and other link-ups as listed here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 3: The Heat Is On

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space for a chat, make yourself comfortable, and let’s catch up on our news.

From where I am, the heat continued during the third week of summer, from July 5 to 11 inclusive. The high temperatures ranged from 30C to 38C. With humidity, it felt like 36C to 42C (97F to 108F). We had some relief from a flash thunderstorm on Wednesday afternoon and short showers on Saturday.

Similar to my Summer Week 2, I got all my exercises, yoga, meditation, and language lessons done, plus a lot of fun and sun in week 3. I’m sharing a few of my favourite moments from my outdoor activities below.

Cycling

I cycled on the Waterfront trail five mornings this past week. The trail hugs the shoreline of Lake Ontario and passes by many parks so I’m never far from the lake and green space, as well as local landmarks.

One favourite section of the trail is the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, a 130-metre long, pedestrian and bicycle through arch bridge over the mouth of the Humber River. The view from the Sheldon Lookout, steps from the bridge, is amazing.

Humber Bay Arch Bridge built in 1994, 130 metres long (430 feet).
Humber Bay Arch Bridge built in 1994, 130 metres long (430 feet)
Lake view at Sheldon Lookout.
Lake view from Sheldon Lookout

Kayaking

I enjoyed two kayaking trips to Toronto Islands on Tuesday and Thursday. The paddling from the city side to the Toronto Islands was challenging due to boat traffic, i.e. Ferries, water taxis, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, etc. but I made it safely across the harbour and stayed paddling within the islands for about three hours each trip.

The water within the islands was calm. I was happy to see more egrets, cormorants, ducks, birds, and new sightings this week: A beaver and a few very cute baby swans. On my way back, the sunset over Toronto’s skyline created beautiful reflections. These moments made me pause paddling and just take it all in.

A great egret on Toronto Islands.
A great egret on Toronto Islands
Great egret flew away.
And then s/he flew away…
Toronto skyline at sunset.
Toronto skyline at sunset

Walking

I walked every day this past week, except Saturday. It’s wonderful to walk along the waterfront boardwalk while listening to the sound of water touching the edge of the boardwalk, the sound of my steps on the wooden planks, watching the birds take off and land, and viewing the vast body of water spread out as far as the eyes can see.

Lake Ontario.
Lake Ontario

Aside from the lake, a few favourite sightings in the local gardens were the tall spires of violet delphiniums, black-eyed susans, and purple coneflowers. Their bright colours and happy faces made me smile. I couldn’t resist taking photos.

What Else?

I wrapped up the week with blogging, listening to one online jazz concert, reading four books, and watching two movies. The four books were three romance novels and one book on Happiness. The two movies, The Whole Wide World and The Big Short, were based on true stories. Also enjoyed ice cream, locally-grown peaches and strawberries. Yum!

Conclusion

I was a happy camper in summer week 3. The weather forecast for week 4 is warm with chance of showers on Thursday or Friday. The rain will be very good for the thirsty-looking grass in the parks. I look forward to making the most of week 4.

How did your week go? What were your favourite moments? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 1 and 2020 Reading Update #2

Hello blog friends! How are you? I hope your day is going well. Come on in to my blog space so we can share a coffee or tea and catch up on our news.

If we were having coffee, I would share my first week of summer 2020 in pictures and what I’ve been reading in the second quarter of 2020. How have your reading habits been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Did you find yourself unable to finish a book or did you read more than usual?

Summer Week 1

The first week of summer brought warm temperatures, mostly sunny, brief periods of rain, heat and humidity. I got all my exercises done (meditation, language lessons, strengthening workouts, yoga) and enjoyed my walks by the lake or in a park.

My sister met me for another coffee date on Friday. We sat outside chatting, sipping coffee, listening to bird songs, smelling the light fragrance of flowers in the air, and relaxing on a beautiful sunny day with some clouds and a light breeze.

Here’s a look at my Summer 2020 Week 1 in pictures:

Gull by Lake Ontario.
Hello gull! It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away.
Sailboats, lake view and maple trees.
Watching the sailboats in the harbour from under shades of maple trees.
Bright and showy daisy.
Bright and showy daisy.
Mother duck and two young ducks.
Mother duck and two young (teenager) ducks. Did the other 4 to 6 ducklings survive?
Beautiful green space, perfect for a picnic by the lake.
Beautiful green space, perfect for a picnic by the lake.
Fragrant rose bushes.
Fragrant rose bushes attract many bees. Watch out for the bees and the thorns.
Lake view with clouds and sailboats in the distance.
Lake view with clouds and sailboats in the distance.
Bright red flower.
Bright red flower.
A patch of pretty white daisies.
A patch of pretty white daisies.
Another beautiful day with white clouds and a light breeze.
Another beautiful day with white clouds and a light breeze.
These pretty peachy roses brighten up any day.
These pretty peachy roses brighten up any day.

Library Curb-side Pickup

In my 2020 Reading First Update in March, I mentioned that Toronto library branches have been closed since March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The library has been offering excellent digital services during the lockdown. Fast forward 12 weeks later, starting on June 8, Toronto Public Library re-opened for curb-side pickups by appointment.

My first curb-side pickup appointment went well. I was the only person there. The library staff wore a mask and asked me to place my library card on a table then step back to maintain a safe distance. He verified my account, delivered two brown bags of books to the table and stepped away. I picked up my library card and the book bags to go. All in less than one minute. Nice!

Books Read in 2nd Quarter of 2020

Books read in second quarter of 2020.

Here’s what I read from April to June 2020 by author’s last name:

  1. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.
  2. Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J. Fox.
  3. The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory.
  4. An Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson.
  5. Angela’s Ashes a memoir by Frank McCourt.
  6. How To Be A Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green.
  7. Dear Life by Alice Munro.
  8. Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker.
  9. Embers One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese.
  • Number of books read: 9 books in the second quarter of 2020. This brings my Year-to-date total to 27 books from January to June 2020. My goal for 2020 is 36 books in various genres. I’m getting there.
  • A book by an Indigenous author: Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese is an excellent book to celebrate June which marks National Indigenous History Month. The book is full of wisdom packed in 176 pages.
  • A book that made me laugh: An Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. Two totally different novels, each with brilliant comedic moments.
  • A book by a Canadian writer and Nobel Prize winner: Dear Life by Alice Munro who illumines the moment a life is shaped in this collection of short stories.
  • A book about a real person: Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J. Fox who has been living with Parkinson’s Disease since his diagnosis in 1991, and Angela’s Ashes a memoir by Frank McCourt, a Pulitzer Prize winner.
  • A book I picked because I liked the cover: How To Be A Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery and nice illustrations by Rebecca Green.
  • A book about romance with strong-willed female lead character: Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker and The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory. Both authors are new to me even though they’ve each written several novels.

Other readings

  • In addition to physical books, I also listened to actors’ readings of Chapters 1 to 11 of Harry Potter The Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling on Wizarding World web site.
  • May was Short Story month so I switched gear and read the first ten of the 73 short stories available free online. I hope to find time to read more of these short stories. I like the variety of writing styles and the stories themselves.

Week 1 of summer 2020 was beautiful. The weather forecast for the coming week is sunny and warm. I look forward to spending more time outdoors and doing something fun to celebrate Canada Day on July 1st.

How did your week go? What book(s) are you reading? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Life with Flower Plants

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your week is going well. Come on into my blog space for a coffee or tea. We’ll catch up on what’s new since we last talked about May.

On Friday, Toronto Public Library announced that beginning on Monday, June 8, library users can start reserving times for curbside pick-up of holds at most branches where the service can be safely provided. I’m looking forward to scheduling time to pick up a few books. My default branch is still closed so the library has redirected my holds to another branch. I plan to bike or walk there with my backpack for my book haul.

The weather was great for the first week of June. Daily high temperatures were in the range of 23C to 30C (73F to 86F) with sun, clouds, and some rain. I’ve had several nice walks to local parks and by the lake. So grateful for the beautiful flowers, trees, birds, public art sculpture, and stunning lake views.

On one of my walks, I went on a photo hunt to find and take photos of ten different plants, ideally with flowers in different colours. I’m sharing the results of my photo hunt below. I hope the flowers brighten your day and bring you a smile like they did for me.

Allium

Allium 'Purple Sensation' flowers
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ with deep purple and rounded blooms atop tall stems.

Anemone

Snowdrop anemone
Snowdrop anemone clusters are fragrant and festive.

Apple blossoms

Apple blossoms
Creamy and light pink apple blossoms at their peak are gorgeous.

Azalea

Pink azaleas
Bright pink azaleas offer a colour burst and flamboyant flowers.

Lady’s Mantle plants

Lady's Mantle plants with rain drops on green leaves.
Simple beauty to my eyes: Clear rain drops on green leaves.

Pasque flowers

Purple Pasque flowers
Pasque flowers with violet petals, yellow centre and feathery foliage are attractive.

Scilla Siberica (or Siberian Squill)

Blue Siberian squill flowers
Siberian squill blue star-shaped flowers form a carpet and beautify the ground.

Spurge Fireglow (Euphorbia griffithii)

Spurge Fireglow orange-red flowers.
These plants offer clusters of pretty orange-red flowers and deserve the name “Fireglow”.

Tulips

Deep burgundy tulips
‘Queen of the Night’ tulips present dramatic deep burgundy blossoms.

Wild Tulips

Yellow wild tulips
Wild tulips provide bright yellow flowers and a sweet fragrance.

Here’s my photo hunt in numbers: 10 photos, 10 plants, 10 colours (purple, white, cream, pink, green, violet, blue, orange, burgundy, and yellow). Proof that plant life has been wonderful here this spring. The blooms beckon bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

I look forward to walking around, exploring what else is blooming, examining the plants from the root to the tip, and taking photos. When I see the beautiful flowers, they make me feel happy and positive. They expand my interests in garden designs and plants as well.

I’m linking up this post with Terri’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge, Cee’s Flower of The Day, and other link-ups as listed here.

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

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Life with Moments of Beauty

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in my blog space for a coffee or tea and let’s catch up on our news since last week when we chatted about staying fit and having fun.

Life This Week

Lake view with white clouds
The essentials of life: Air, light, water

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the Government of Ontario allowed more businesses to re-open starting May 19. All public schools in Ontario remain closed for the remainder of the current school year and online learning continues until the end of June.

The business re-openings have made no difference to my daily routine. We still need to maintain physical and social distancing. Canada’s public health officials now say Canadians should wear a mask whenever physical distancing is not possible.

I continue to stay home most of the time, except going out for short walks to exercise or to buy groceries. During the day I’m active and in the evening I have plenty of digital media to keep me entertained. I go for walks 5 or 6 times per week. While out in nature, I experience many moments of beauty that make me feel positive and grateful.

Moments of Beauty

If we were having coffee, I’d share the moments of beauty that came from the fresh spring flower blossoms on one of my walks. Every day new flowers appear and the trees become more lush with green leaves. The variety and individuality of the flowers are ideal for my virtual bouquet. Let’s see how many of them are familiar to you.

Trillium flowers
White trillium flowers
White trillium flower is the official provincial emblem of Ontario, Canada and is featured on the province’s official flag. The name itself derives from the fact that nearly all parts of the plant come in threes – three leaves, three flower petals, three blooming characteristics (upright, nodding, or drooping) and three-sectioned seedpods.

Pasque flowers
Pasque flowers
Pasque is the Old French word for Easter. The lavender colour of the flowers fits right into an Easter colour scheme. But happily, the Easter bunny will leave them alone because rabbits dislike leaves that are fuzzy. 

Little Beauty tulips
Mystery pretty flowers
These Little Beauty tulips (tulipa humilis) are lovely tulips that make a striking impact. I was excited to find out their name after some searching. Initially I called them Mystery pretty flowers.

Cushion spurge flowers
Cushion spurge flowers
Cushion spurge grows in an attractive dome (cushion) and the combination of neon yellow flowers on green leaves is eye-catchy when you see them in real life.

Grape hyacinths
Grape hyacinths
These grape hyacinths have clustered flowers hang from sturdy stalks, resembling bundles of grapes. They look luscious in the sunshine.

I’ll pause here since my virtual bouquet is getting big with all the flowers. There are more to see. Maybe in a future post. For now, another enjoyable walk done in my book. I come home with a smile and feel positive.

I call these flower blooms “moments of beauty” because the time period when they look their best is brief. I feel grateful to be around to witness these moments. Thank you for coming along with me. I hope my virtual bouquet brings you a smile.

If you’d like to extend the virtual walk, continue to my blogger friend Erica/ Erika’s Behind The Scenery Photo blog for stunning tulips and more.

How did your week go? What are the common spring flowers where you live? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Life and Advice From A Tree

Trees

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. Last Sunday it was sunny here with the high temperature reached 21C (70F). Then during the week, it was cooler than normal which made my walks relaxing. Cooler weather and walking in non-peak hours mean less effort required to keep physical distancing from people.

Life This Week

If we were having coffee, I’d share that Ontario, my province, started allowing a few seasonal businesses to reopen on May 4. All other non-essential business closures continue so my mostly stay-at-home routine continues. Every day is full of simple pleasures that make me feel positive and grateful.

I take time to appreciate sunrise, deep breathing, quiet meditation, a bowl of warm oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon for breakfast, ripe-just-right fruit, a good cup of coffee, OK two cups of coffee, birds chirping outside, cheerful spring flowers, lots of daylight, moving at my own pace, a walk to the lake, a hot lunch, getting things done, a cup of tea, hand clapping with neighbours for carers, dinner at home, sunset, relaxation, and rest.

Cherry blossoms

Some of the things that I got done this week made me smile:

  • Congratulated my nephew who graduated from university with honours this month and promptly accepted a very good full-time job offer in his field of study.
  • Completed my daily meditation, 5 outdoor walks, 4 yoga sessions, and 3 workouts.
  • Tried a dance workout on YouTube to spice up my fitness routine and had fun.
  • Walked to the Toronto Music Garden and saw many beautiful spring flowers, including cherry blossoms and trillium.
  • Did my grocery shopping in non-peak hours and got most items on my list.

Advice From A Tree

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the trees that I’ve seen on my walk this week inspired me to think about Ilan Shamir’s poem Advice From A Tree and the Tree pose in my yoga practice. I’m sharing the poem (text in italic) and some of my photos below:

Dear Friend,

Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings

Willow trees

Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter

Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures

Trees with yellow flowers

Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!

Lake view on a sunny day

I enjoy my walk so much. I always come home with a smile and feel renewed. Nature inspires me to think about the Advice From A Tree poem and the Tree pose in my yoga practice. If you practice yoga, you know the Tree pose requires and improves our focus, balance, and strength.

During these uncertain times, I choose to focus on the positives, work on finding a balance in my day, be flexible, and stay strong. Once in a while, when anxious thoughts occur, I take a few deep breaths and think about the trees. This week is another good week. Thank you for coming along with me. I hope you enjoy our virtual walk.

Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

Tulips

How did your week go? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

April Smiles

Orange tulips and daffodils

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope you’re well. Come on in so we can share a coffee or tea and our news. If we were having coffee, I’d share with you what made me feel positive and gave me five big smiles since I mentioned my Gratitude list. Heads up that there are lots of spring flowers in this post.

Smile #1 – Family and Friends

My family and friends are well. We stay in touch by phone, text, email, and the occasional virtual meetings. Most of my family members who are working are essential workers so they’re actually busier and under more stress than usual. Knowing that everyone in my circle is safe and in good health makes me smile.

Smile #2 – Health

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I was diligent about my health routine in April. I meditated every day, practiced deep breathing and yoga three times per week, and did strengthening workouts three times per week. I also walked outdoors five or six times per week, about one hour each time.

I’m mindful of keeping a safe distance from everyone else. Most of the time, it’s easy to do physical distancing because there is no one in my path when I go. My 5K walks let me see Lake Ontario, beautiful spring flowers, wildlife, and interesting murals and sculptures. They keep me in good spirits.

Smile #3 – Home

If we were having coffee, I’d share that in April, I baked my first Blueberry Coffee Cake. It would go well with our coffee or tea. I used Jean Paré’s easy-to-follow recipe from her Muffins and More book. She’s a Canadian and author of the Company’s Coming cookbook series that has sold over 30 million copies since 1981.

The cake was a success so I’d make it again in the future. The topping has cinnamon which smells very nice when I bake the cake. I included the recipe. Note that I used blueberries instead of cranberries. Raspberries work, too.

Smile #4 – Leisure

During this global pandemic, there is a huge amount of arts and entertainment available online 24/7 without extra cost. With my library card, I have access to more leisure materials than time to explore them all. In April, here’s some of what I enjoyed:

  • Books: I was happy to spend time away from the screen and read over 1,000 pages from three compelling books, Dear Life by Alice Munro who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, Angela’s Ashes, a memoir and Pulitzer Prize winner by Frank McCourt and The Sisters Brothers, finalist of several literary prizes in 2011, by Patrick deWitt.
  • Films: My library card gives me access to a great collection of films and documentaries. I chose to watch three films in April: The Gold Rush, Modern Times, and Call Me by Your Name. The first two are Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterworks. The third film won several awards in 2018 and its location reminded me of my wonderful time in Italy.
  • Languages: French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo are my fun brain exercises, 30 minutes/ day. I chose two languages that have similarities to challenge myself. They also remind me of my many trips to France and Spain. The happy memories make me smile.
  • Music: I listened to Andrea Bocelli: Music for Hope, One World: Together At Home, and Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble concerts, plus numerous classical concerts online at the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall, and music played by professional DJs on the radio.
  • Shows: The Cirque du Soleil Premier show on CirqueConnect and The Nutcracker ballet at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre were incredible to watch. Pre-pandemic I wouldn’t be able to watch them from front row seats. In April I could watch them in close details from home for free.

Smile #5 – Blogs

I wrote five blog posts in April and the “Oscar” goes to Life is Like A Box of Chocolates with the highest number of comments I received to date. Your comments brighten my day, thank you! Please keep them coming. I have fun reading your blogs and leaving my comments, too. Check out this page to see where I link up.

Tulips

Stay Safe and Healthy

So I had many good reasons to smile and feel grateful for in April. The recipe for me to be well emotionally, mentally, and physically is to stick to my health routine and spice up my day with a variety of leisure activities.

I expect to continue staying at home most of the time in May, except to go out for exercise walks and groceries. I hope this 3-geese sign brings you a smile. Stay safe and healthy everyone!

How was your April? What makes you smile? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.