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, visit at least two other blogs in the link up, and leave a comment.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Summer Week 12: Marilyn Bell Park

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space for a chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

Summer week 12, from September 6 to 12 inclusive, was half cloudy and half sunny. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 19C to 24C (66F to 76F). It certainly feels like the end of summer is near and autumn is on her way.

I took advantage of the fair weather to be outside cycling and walking as much as possible. One of my fun destinations was Marilyn Bell Park. Let me share with you a brief history and what I like about this park.

Park location and history

Marilyn Bell Park is located at 1095 Lake Shore Blvd. West at British Columbia Road. It’s west of Ontario Place, along the lake shore, and includes part of the Waterfront Trail.

Marilyn Bell Park history.

The park is named after Marilyn Bell, a local Toronto girl who was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario on September 9, 1954. She was only sixteen at the time and she made the 51.5 km (32 miles) swim in 20 hours and 59 minutes. The park was dedicated to her on the 30th anniversary of her swim in 1984.

Park features

At a glance, Marilyn Bell Park may look like a simple park until visitors take time to explore and pay attention to what it offers. Below are my favourites at this park.

Beautiful green space with lots of trees, grassy fields, picnic tables, and benches.
Beautiful green space with lots of trees, grassy fields, picnic tables, and benches.
Stunning lake view from the Lookout and along the boardwalk.
Stunning lake view from the Lookout and along the boardwalk.
Biking and walking trails with view of the breakwater wall and cormorants.
Biking and walking trails with view of the breakwater wall and cormorants.
One of the disc golf baskets at Marilyn Bell Park disc golf course.
Disc golf course: Here’s one of the baskets. Play a game with a view!
Outdoor gym using the three benches. Tennis courts on the right of the photo.
Outdoor gym using the three benches. Tennis courts on the right of the photo.

I welcome the Bench fit exercises displayed at the three benches in the park. Some of the exercises are part of my strengthening workouts at home. These benches form a triangle and are numbered from 1 to 3. All three face the lake so I do my workout, move from one bench to the next, while enjoying a great view.

Each bench has four exercises. Total 12 exercises. The information panel at each bench displays pictures and instructions for the exercises:

  • Bench 1: Step up, Incline frontal plank, Incline push up, and Lunge with front foot on bench.
  • Bench 2: Incline frontal plank, Touch squat, Bench toe tap, and V-Up abs.
  • Bench 3: Calf raise, Isometric squat, Mountain climber, and Bench dip.
Working out at Marilyn Bell Park with a great view!
Working out at Marilyn Bell Park with a great view!

If I had my yoga mat with me, I could practice yoga on the grassy field, or bring a book and sit in one of the big comfy chairs to read. I’m grateful for this open green space and clean air. My thoughts are with my relatives, friends, and everyone else, who have been affected by the devastating fires and the poor air quality on the West Coast in the USA.

I love that for a simple park, one can enjoy a number of activities here. On this excursion, I cycled to Marilyn Bell Park, locked my bike, walked the lengths of the park, did the twelve Bench Fit exercises, and had a picnic by the lake before cycling home. It was a beautiful morning and I came home smiling and feeling energized for my afternoon activities.

How did your week go? Which local park is your favourite and why? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 11: August Smiles

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space so we can share our news over a cup of coffee or tea.

Summer Week 11

Summer week 11, from August 30 to September 5 inclusive, delivered another stretch of good weather. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 22C to 27C (72F to 82F) with mainly sunny days and some rain mid-week.

Beach Visit

I cycled to Cherry Beach early one morning to get my quiet beach time. Cherry Beach typically achieves annual Blue Flag certification where water quality is safe for swimming. It was nice to walk along the beach and listen to the sounds of water and birds.

Cherry Beach.
Cherry Beach

There are picnic sites, restroom facility, parking lots, and dogs off-leash area outside the beach entrance which make this beach popular, especially on summer weekends.

Cherry Beach picnic site.
Cherry Beach picnic site

Family Visit

My sister and nieces came to visit on Tuesday. We sat outside 2 meters apart by the lake to chat and catch up on our news. My nieces resume their university studies next week so I was glad to see them before they get busy with school.

Lake view.

Park Visit

On another beautiful day, I went for a long walk and paused at Larry Sefton Park. The United Steel Workers of America funded this park creation in 1977 to honor the memory of their director, Larry Sefton. I liked how the deep terra cotta wall provides a nice backdrop to the steel sculpture.

Larry Sefton Park

August in Numbers

August ended a few days ago so this week I completed my usual monthly review and month-end digital file back-ups. How did I do in August? Let’s see what the numbers have to say:

  • 1 family visit (and a repeat baking success: a coconut loaf).
  • 1 stand up paddling excursion.
  • 2 canoe excursions here and here.
  • 2 coffee meet-ups with friends.
  • 2 movies: Cake and The Boy Downstairs.
  • 3 digital concerts.
  • 5 blog posts.
  • 12 yoga sessions.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 20 books (see list below).
  • 21 cycling trips.
  • 24 walks.
  • 31 French and Spanish online sessions.
  • 31 meditations sessions.

Overall August was an excellent month for me. I enjoyed the good weather, had coffee chats with my siblings and friends outdoors, did a lot of cycling, paddling, walking, exercising, learning, reading, and writing.

Reading in August

By switching to e-books and not visiting the library, I gained time to read and enjoyed twenty fiction novels in August. These novels are all really good page-turners and once I start, I want to read to the end. During the day, I’m active and on my feet a lot so by evening time, I’m happy to sit down and get lost in a book.

Here’s my list in order of preference:

  1. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes.
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
  4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
  5. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson.
  6. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.
  7. 9 Days and 9 Nights (sequel to 99 Days) by Katie Cotugno.
  8. After You (sequel to Me Before You) by Jojo Moyes.
  9. Still Me (sequel to After You) by Jojo Moyes.
  10. One Day in December by Josie Silver.
  11. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.
  12. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.
  13. Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker.
  14. Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker.
  15. Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker.
  16. Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker.
  17. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.
  18. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.
  19. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory.
  20. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Novel #1: The Sense of An Ending blew my mind. I read this e-book in one evening as the story is engaging and it’s just 160 pages long. When I finished, my reaction was “Whoa, I didn’t see it coming“.

Novels #1 to #5: Even though love shines in all the novels I read, the deaths of bright and young people in my top five novels made me feel really sad after I finished the books. I had to do long bicycle rides and long walks to clear my head of thoughts about grief and unnatural deaths.

Novels #6 to #16: I usually don’t read sequels or multiple books from the same author in one month. Breaking my own rule, I read and enjoyed the young adult fiction sequel by Katie Cotugno, the trilogy by Jojo Moyes, and the series by K.A. Tucker. Novels #11 and 12 are good thrillers.

Novels #17 to #20: Just because I place the books last on my list, it doesn’t mean #17 to #20 are not good reads. I like all the 20 novels that I read in August. I’m glad to discover new-to-me authors and appreciate all the hard work that these authors put in to write their books. I hope my reading contributes to the overall encouragement for them to write more.

Conclusion

I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. My family and friends are safe and well. I continue to follow public health measures to stay safe and well, too. I look forward to making the most of September.

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

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 10: I Did It Again

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s share our news over a cup of tea or coffee.

Summer week 10, from August 23 to 29, delivered a mix of sunny days and brief showers. The daytime high ranged from 22C to 33C (70F to 92F). The week started off with my second canoe trip to the beautiful 13 Toronto Islands. Yes, I did it again! I was so happy to pull it off before this summer ends.

Canoe Excursion #2

After the fun canoe excursion in summer week 8, my friend and I wanted a repeat so we quickly booked our canoes and kept our fingers crossed for good weather. The stars aligned and we got a sunny day with high temperature around 30C.

Island scenery

The water on the Toronto Islands was calm and clear. We paddled, swam, explored secluded beaches, bird sanctuaries, many waterways, and played canoe rescues while enjoying beautiful nature around us. Around mid-day, we pulled our canoes on a wooden dock and relaxed to have lunch in the shade.

Canoe docked for lunch

I saw ducks, Canada geese, fish, a snowy egret, swans, and turtles in the water, plus nice flower plants on the islands, like black-eyed Susan and cone flowers.

A splash of bright colours: Black-eyed Susan.

It was a fun-filled day. On our way back to the city side, we got to see a beautiful panoramic view of the city’s skyline. It always takes my breath away.

City's skyline seen from Toronto Islands

My Waterproof Gear

My friends and other people have asked me about my waterproof gear when I go on my paddling excursions so I thought I’d share my gear here. You can get them in sports stores or on Amazon web site.

My AiRun Tech set of four waterproof items comes with a lifetime warranty:

  • one 10L roll top compression sack with removable shoulder straps.
  • one 20L roll top compression sack with removable shoulder straps.
  • one clear waterproof waist pouch with adjustable strap.
  • one clear waterproof phone case with lanyard.

The 10L and 20L dry sacks come with an inner pocket designed for cell phone and tablet to avoid getting wet and screen scratching. I can operate my phone or tablet through the clear window during my trips. These bags float in water. I leave a small amount of extra room for air in my dry bag, and it will stay above water.

The 10L dry bag is perfect for small personal items I’d like to protect from the elements: cell phone, wallet, keys, mask, small first aid kit, lunch, snacks, toiletries, small towel, water bottles, etc. Even after I put all of these items in the bag, I still have lots of room to roll the top and snap it close.

The 20L dry bag is big enough to carry everything I need for a longer trip. The shoulder straps make it easy to carry this bag like a backpack.

The waterproof waist pouch is useful when I want to carry just a few small items with me. It keeps my hands free while I can easily retrieve my items from the pouch.

The waterproof phone case locks my phone inside and comes with a lanyard to wear on my neck. When I’m on the water, I can take photos without taking my phone out of the case.

My 10L dry bag on the SUP board. I took this photo with my phone in the waterproof case.

I’ve seen stand up paddlers suddenly fall into the water and soak their phones many times, or a big wave splashes water all over the paddle board, kayak, or canoe. If you plan to be outdoors in wet conditions or ponder a gift for outdoor lovers, consider getting waterproof gear.

Aside from the full day canoe trip, I did a bit of cycling, walking, exercising, yoga, meditation, language lessons, and a lot of reading during the week.

Summer week 10 was fantastic. I look forward to making the most of summer week 11.

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

Linking here.

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