Loving Life in September 2022

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 39 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #89. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

It’s the last day of September and a good time for me to reflect on my 2022 focus on Health, Home and Leisure. Here’s my monthly update for a social and adventurous September.

Health

I maintained my wellness routine and enjoyed a lot of cycling and walking throughout September. There is always something beautiful and colourful to see along the way.

Home

Family – My sister and I had a nice evening out together. We enjoyed good conversation, tasty dinner at a new-to-us pub and a walk along the waterfront. The Redpath Waterfront Festival was on that weekend so we saw the For A Better Planet floating installation by Bonterra and Theodore TOO Tugboat, the 65-foot working replica of the original TV character.

Community – I was up early on two Sunday mornings to volunteer for the annual Terry Fox Run and the 40th Longboat Roadrunners Toronto Island Run. The Terry Fox Run raises funds for cancer research. Longboat Roadrunners partner with SchoolBOX North, an organization whose mission is to make education possible for kids in Indigenous communities across Canada. It felt good to contribute to these events.

Friends – A friend and I went for a two-hour walk on a beautiful morning, followed by a break at Dark Horse Café where we got delicious coffee, quick service and nice outdoor seating. This is the last stop of my Tour of Indie Cafés for 2022 which I started in April.

Four friends and I rented a sailboat to go sailing in Toronto Harbour. We lucked out with the weather and enjoyed a glorious, sunny afternoon. It was a fabulous farewell to summer 2022. In the image gallery below, our boat is the closest to the dock on the right.

Leisure

Blogging – I’ve included the links for September’s posts in case you missed any and want to catch up.

Traveling – My adventure of the month was to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I started and ended my tour in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia.

An adventure from beginning to end, around and across the Bay of Fundy

After I arrived in Halifax, I met with Dar (An Exacting Life blog) for dinner. I greatly enjoyed our first meet-up and conversation. In hindsight I’m glad that we met before hurricane Fiona hit Eastern Canada.

I had a wonderful trip, visiting two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nova Scotia and exploring the Bay of Fundy and surrounding cities and towns in New Brunswick. Now I have loads to write about, but it will have to join the queue.

I was in Saint John, New Brunswick when hurricane Fiona hit east of Nova Scotia on Saturday September 24. By the time I returned to Halifax on Sunday September 25 afternoon, the sun came out and downtown Halifax was lively.

While I was safe and didn’t experience any hardship, many people in Atlantic Canada experienced devastation caused by the hurricane. I found ways to help. Here’s how to donate to Fiona relief for Atlantic Canada.

Gratitude

When I think about my 100 days of summer this year, I’m grateful for a summer of health and happiness. I’ve explored and enjoyed Toronto’s beautiful beaches, islands, parks and Lake Ontario. I’ve supported local businesses and volunteered for community events when I could.

At the beginning of 2022, I hoped to resume travel to see family, friends and explore new-to-me places. I’m grateful to have an amazing adventure to Newfoundland and Labrador in June, joyful time with family in Hamilton in July and in Calgary in August, and a wonderful tour in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in September.

Happy October!

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Loving Life in August 2022

Trumpet vine flowers

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 34 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #84. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

The last weekend in August is a good time for me to reflect on my 2022 focus on Health, Home and Leisure. I was in two cities, Calgary and Toronto, this month. Here’s my monthly update for August.

Health

I continue my wellness routine throughout a hot August. To manage the heat waves in Toronto and Calgary, I drink a lot of water, wear sun protection, and go out earlier in the morning when it’s less hot. While I was in Calgary, I took daily walks on a trail near where I stayed.

In Toronto, most mornings I cycle along the shore of Lake Ontario, stop by a park and enjoy nature. I also go to the beautiful Toronto Islands to kayak and explore the many waterways. I love being enveloped by nature and seeing aquatic plants, waterbirds and turtles from my kayak.

Click on any image in the gallery to see its bigger version and caption.

Home

Family – Home in August is with my family in Calgary and Toronto. Calgary is in the western Canadian province of Alberta, about four hours by plane from Toronto. My flights to and from Calgary were both on time. I traveled with a carry-on so there was no waiting for baggage. It was my first time back in Calgary since the COVID-19 pandemic started and it was joyful to be with my family there.

Friends – After my trip to Calgary, I had some catching up to do in Toronto. My friends and I continued our Tour of Indie Cafés of 2022 and met up at Fahrenheit Coffee. Fahrenheit Coffee is within walking distance to St. James Park so we took our cappuccinos there and enjoyed our coffee chat in the lovely gardens. We hope to meet again in September and will end the tour once the weather gets too cool to sit outside.

Community – In August I volunteered for two events:

  • The SuperPower race: Funds raised through the SuperPower race go directly to the Holland Bloorview hospital to help kids with disabilities.
  • The Terry Fox Run: Funds raised through the annual Terry Fox Run support cancer research. Even though the Terry Fox Run is in September, there is work to do before race day. I’m happy to be sharing Terry’s message of hope, courage and determination and giving back to my community.

Leisure

Photography – I discovered many amazing artworks on my walks. Here’s a sampling of some of the colourful murals that I’ve seen. They depict Toronto’s urban wildlife with remarkable details and realism.

Which mural is your favourite?

Another source of joy is summer blooms in public gardens. August blooms include different varieties of bougainvillea, coneflowers, daylilies, dahlias, daisies, hibiscus, hydrangeas, marigolds, moss roses, sunflowers and more. The flowers in my header photo are Trumpet vine flowers. I’m sharing a sampling of some of the gorgeous daylilies below.

Which daylily would you choose for your garden?

Reading – In August, I read four books. Here’s my list by author’s last name:

Writing – Before today’s post, I wrote three posts about my experiences in Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve included the links for August’s posts in case you missed any and want to catch up.

Overall

Similar to July, August has been a beautiful and joyful summer month. I’m grateful for time with family and friends in Calgary and Toronto and all the good things that happened in August. Happy September!

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Loving Life in July 2022

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 30 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #80. Come on in for a coffee or tea and let’s chat.

It’s the last weekend in July and a good time for me to reflect on my 2022 focus. The month started with Canada’s 155th birthday on July 1st and finished with me having lived in two cities (Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario). Here’s my monthly update for July.

Health

July has been a mainly sunny and very warm month. I maintain my wellness routine and pay extra attention to hydration and sun protection when outdoors. The lakefront, tree shades and iced drinks help. When I stayed in Hamilton, I was within walking distance to the Dundurn Stairs (326 steel steps) which lead to nature trails and waterfalls. So I included the stairs to my walks.

Home

Family – I went to Hamilton and stayed for ten days to assist with a family project. Hamilton is 58 kilometers (36 miles) southwest of Toronto. It was joyful to finish the project with my family despite an unexpected full-day Internet service outage and a heat wave.

Friends – It was also joyful to catch up with friends in Hamilton. I haven’t seen them in person since the pandemic began. We met outdoors and took walks several times for iced coffee and conversation. When I returned to Toronto, I continued my Tour of Indie Cafés for 2022 and met up with my friends at Dineen café.

Dineen café is located in the historic Dineen Building, once home to W. and F. Dineen Co., who originally made fur clothing. The building is one of the oldest structures in Toronto, and is listed as a Toronto Heritage Property. This café is on busy Yonge Street and is usually full. We were pleased to get quick service, good coffee and comfortable seats at their outdoor patio.

Leisure

Outings – The rest of July was relaxing summer living with visits to farmers’ markets, music festivals, beaches and parks along the shore of Lake Ontario. I took a self-guided tour on Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship HMCS Glace Bay 701, a Royal Canadian Navy coastal patrol vessel, when she docked in Toronto.

Photography – At this time of year, it is easy for me to spend hours in public gardens to photograph an array of colourful flowers, including different varieties of bee balms, coneflowers, daylilies, roses and more. Bees and butterflies hover to nectar or flit and flutter everywhere. Plenty of berries to pick, too.

Aside from summer’s beautiful bounty, it was delightful to discover new public art. Here’s a sampling in July:

Indigenous Hoop Dance Gathering Place

Reading – Before this weekend, in July, I read many blogs (more than 110 Weekend Coffee Share blogs alone) and four books. Here’s my book list by author’s last name:

Writing – I’ve been documenting my experiences in Newfoundland and Labrador for me. It’s the icing on the cake when my blog readers enjoy my travel posts and pictures. I’ve included the links for July’s posts in case you missed any and want to catch up.

I used to be able to leave comments on all blogs. Recently, I’m unable to leave comments on Blogger blogs that set Sign in with Google as the only option. Some blogs let me comment with Name/ URL or Anonymous. I haven’t been able to resolve this issue with Google yet.

Overall

July has been beautiful and joyful. I’m grateful for time with family and friends in Hamilton and Toronto, and all the good things that happened in July.

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Why My June Was Wonderful

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 26 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #76. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

July 1, 2022 is Canada’s 155th birthday and the start of a long weekend in Canada. It’s a good time for me to reflect on my 2022 focus and last month. Here’s my monthly update for June.

Travel

June 2022 was an extraordinary month as I traveled to Newfoundland and Labrador (abbreviated as NL). NL is the easternmost province of Canada, in the country’s Atlantic region. It was my first time visiting the province and my first air travel since the pandemic started.

Despite recent negative news about Toronto’s Pearson International airport delays and flight cancellations, I experienced excellent service at the airport and with Air Canada. Security lines were quick and my flights were on time.

Left: Red box marks Toronto. Right: Blue line marks my itinerary in NL.

I flew from Toronto to Deer Lake in NL (Flight distance = 1785 kilometers or 1110 miles). On my way home, I flew from St. John’s to Toronto (Flight distance = 2109 kilometers or 1311 miles). Newfoundland Daylight Time is 1 hour 30 minutes ahead of Toronto.

I had an AMAZING trip and experienced many wonders in NL in two weeks. Highlights include iceberg viewing, hiking in two magnificent national parks (Gros Morne and Terra Nova), whale watching, bird watching (bald eagles, puffins and other seabirds), enjoying delicious food and warm hospitality, visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, National Historic Sites, several coastal fishing villages, lighthouses, and St. John’s, North America’s oldest city.

This was one of the trips that was cancelled in 2020 when the pandemic started. I’m glad to complete it in June. As a result of my adventures in NL, I have a backlog of things to write and pictures to share.

Health

Last month, I continued my wellness routine to stay healthy. It’s a pleasure to go cycling and walking along the waterfront. I look forward to paddling around Toronto Islands.

Home

Family – This summer I’m assisting my family with two projects that involve out-of-town stays. The first project is in July in Hamilton, Ontario. I look forward to helping out.

Friends – I continued my Tour of Indie Cafés of 2022 and enjoyed meeting with my friends at two Dark Horse coffee shops (Queen Street East and Canary District locations) in downtown Toronto.

I preferred Dark Horse Café in the Canary District. This café is below a George Brown College residence so they have plenty of loyal customers (students). Its location is close to Corktown Common, with interesting public art and a beautiful green space for a stroll before or after coffee.

Community – I supported my international community by volunteering at two events:

Toronto Corporate Run: Before the race started, we had a heavy downpour. It cleared up in time for the race and turned into a pleasant evening with a lovely sunset. I got a photo of two police officers on horseback as they patrolled the area. The event successfully raised funds to support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation to help Ukraine in their struggle.

Toronto Biennial of Art: The weather was beautiful on the day of the one-of-a-kind “A Tribute to Toronto” smoke sculpture by American pyrotechnic artist Judy Chicago. A five-tiered scaffold on a barge was put in place at Sugar Beach with the help of the red Radium Yellowknife tugboat. The artist and her team directed from shore.

The show started with a row of flares igniting along the bottom tier of the scaffold. Then the environmentally friendly and non-toxic smoke started billowing from the stage in sequence of purple, blue, green, yellow, and white. It ended with volleys of fireworks and applause from hundreds of attendees.

Leisure

Reading – I read eight books. Here’s the list by author’s last name:

  1. Birds of California by Katie Cotugno
  2. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
  3. The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede
  4. Book Lovers by Emily Henry
  5. The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
  6. Wait For It by Jenn McKinlay
  7. Around the World (Dora the Explorer) by Suzanne D. Nimm
  8. Dora’s World Adventure by Suzanne D. Nimm

Writing – I wrote four blog posts with lots of pictures in each:

  1. 5 Easy Walks To Cool Off
  2. Corktown Common and Don River (and gorgeous peonies)
  3. 5 Colourful Murals To See
  4. Toronto Music Garden in Spring

Overall

June has been adventurous, extraordinary and fun. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel to Newfoundland and Labrador and all the good things that happened in June.

Happy July!

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Loving Life in May 2022

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 21 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #71. Come on in for a coffee or tea and let’s chat.

May is almost over and we’ve had a few warm days that felt more like Summer than Spring. The last weekend of May is a good time for me to reflect on my 2022 focus on Health, Home and Leisure to live a healthy and enriched life. Here’s my monthly update.

Health

In May, I continued my indoor exercises (meditation, language lessons, strength training and yoga) and outdoor activities (cycling, walking and playing disc golf). I’ve been cycling more often and longer distance.

I also took many walks to enjoy sunny spring days and May flowers. They make my heart sing and delight me with their beauty, colours, scents, shapes, textures and varieties.

Home

Family: I took the regional GO train to visit my sister. We had a good time together. It was my first time taking public transit since the pandemic started. I traveled during non-peak time and had the clean and comfortable car to myself. Currently, mask is mandatory and hand sanitizer is provided on the GO trains.

Friends: I continued my Tour of Indie Cafés in downtown Toronto. In May, my friends joined me at Boxcar Social at Harbourfront and Café 23 on Queen Street West. Both locations are wonderful for a stroll before or after coffee.

Boxcar Social: Cool interior designs and nice outdoor patio overlooking the skating rink/ pond and Lake Ontario beyond that. Quick service, delicious cappuccino. They use Subtext coffee roasters. In the area where the skating rink usually is during the winter, there’s a huge mural on the ground by artist Amanda McCavour based on her “Spirograph” art, consisting of joyful, colourful, and circular images.

Café 23: Behind the simple exterior is a stylish, Parisian-style café with chandeliers, artworks, books, mirrors, reading/ coffee nooks, and a charming two-level garden patio. Parisian-born owner Vanessa Sansonetti’s background in architecture, eye for design and love for plants influenced her choice of decor. Friendly, quick service, good selection of pastries sourced from local bakeries and delicious cappuccino. They use De Mello and Hale coffee roasters.

Leisure

Photography – I love exploring and photographing Toronto’s neighbourhoods, parks and the waterfront. Nature shows that changes are constant. I experience delightful moments and something new every outing. One example is this Canada geese family with fourteen fuzzy goslings!

Canada geese family
Let’s go for a walk
Canada geese family
Then a swim

Reading – I read six books (five easy and engrossing fiction books and one children’s book in the Dora the Explorer series). Here’s my list by author’s last name:

  1. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  2. The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves
  3. The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
  4. The No-Show by Beth O’Leary
  5. The Layover by Lacie Waldon
  6. Dora’s Camping Trip by Wendy Wax

Writing – I wrote three blogs and hosted three weekly Weekend Coffee Share linkups before today’s post:

  1. Weekday Walk: Exhibition Place
  2. Sakuras and Fleurs de Villes 2022
  3. What Stories Do These Trains Tell?

Overall

May has been an outdoorsy and social month. Most pandemic restrictions have been lifted and the nice weather continues. I’m grateful for all the good things that happened in May. It’s also the month to firm up my summer plans. I’ll probably have less time to blog. I’m looking forward to enjoying June.

How has your May been?

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Loving Life in April 2022

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #67! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 17/ 52

On January 2, 2022, I wrote that this year, I continue to focus my energy on Health, Home, and Leisure to live a healthy and enriched life. The last weekend of April is a good time for me to reflect on how I’ve aligned my actions with my intentions in April. There were a few fun ‘firsts’.

Pasque flowers
First Pasque flowers of 2022

Health

In April, aside from my regular exercises at home, I started a new season of playing disc golf. I’m loving it for two main reasons:

  1. On days when I play disc golf, I get to do three of my favourite activities in one go: Cycling to and from the golf course, walking on the course to play, and playing disc golf. It’s a fantastic three-in-one combo.
  2. I play on weekday mornings. There is no queue, just a beautiful and peaceful golf course, birds, squirrels, geese, lake views and sounds of nature. By noon, I’ve got plenty of fresh air, my nature ‘fix’, and good exercises for my mind and body.
View from Tee 5.
Lovely view from Tee 5

I also did many walks in parks and gardens. Since spring arrival, it’s been delightful to see and photograph emerging blooms every week. I created a slideshow of pretty flowers that carpet the ground beneath trees and shrubs in April. Click on the arrows or swipe to see the slides.

Home

Spring inspired me to start my Tour of Indie Cafés of 2022 and invited my family and friends to join me when they’re available. The plan is to visit up to two indie cafés per month, from April to September, in downtown Toronto. We’ll sit outdoors to enjoy the nice weather and a coffee or tea.

My intentions are three-fold:

  1. To enjoy social time with my family and friends
  2. To support small indie cafés and coffee roasters
  3. To refresh my knowledge of the indie café scene

To start out strong, in April, we met at Arvo and Balzac’s. Both are located in the Distillery District, a National Historic Site and a wonderful place to stroll before or after coffee. Both cafés offered friendly and quick service, interesting and unique interior designs, and delicious cappuccinos.

Arvo: Good vibes. Interiors display Become A Legend light art. They primarily use Phil and Sebastian coffee, roasters from Calgary.

Balzac’s: Beautiful building. Grand Parisian style interior with a chandelier and interesting displays. The company was founded in Stratford, Ontario in 1996. They’re proudly Canadian coffee roasters.

Leisure

Birding – Two Canada geese are back to nest in the same spot that they used last spring. I’ve been checking in on them and other bird nests.

Nesting geese
First sighting of nesting geese of 2022

Reading – I read one inspiring biography and five entertaining fiction books. Here’s the list by author’s last name:

  1. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan
  2. Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins
  3. Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years by Sarah Delany, A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (biography)
  4. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
  5. Gathering Dark by Candice Fox
  6. Running Wild by K.A. Tucker

Writing – I wrote four blogs and hosted four Weekend Coffee Share linkups before today’s post:

  1. How I Enjoyed March 2022
  2. What’s Blooming at Allan Gardens?
  3. Happy Easter Weekend
  4. Painted Ladies and Buildings

Overall

April has been amazing with a few fun ‘Firsts of 2022′: First disc golf game, first cappuccino at Arvo, first signs of spring, and first time reading Anna Collins’ debut book and the Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.

I look forward to enjoying May. As always, I’m thankful for my good health, my family, my friends, all good experiences and joyful moments.

How has your April been?

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How I Enjoyed March 2022

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #63! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 13/ 52

On January 2, 2022, I wrote that this year, I continue to focus my energy on Health, Home, and Leisure to live a healthy and enriched life. April 1 is a good time for me to reflect on how well I’ve aligned my actions with my intentions in March.

Waterfront Trail
The Waterfront Trail, March 2022

Health

In March, I continued my wellness routine. Indoor practice includes meditation, language lessons, strength training and yoga. Outdoor fitness includes cycling and walking; both have increased in frequency as the weather improves.

When I cycle or walk on a nature trail, it’s a time for heightened sensory awareness and health booster – the colors around me, the variety of birds, the sounds of birdsong, the views of Lake Ontario, and the sight of new buds on trees in spring along my route.

Home

Family – As we moved into spring, outdoor social events gradually returned. I celebrated two family birthdays with an outing to see five Winter Stations at Woodbine Beach. Spring inspired me to bake before the summer heat arrives. The banana muffins and blueberry muffins turned out yummy and were devoured.

Friends – A lovely evening out to celebrate a longtime friend’s birthday gave us the opportunity to admire three beautiful art installations. A coffee date with another longtime friend included a visit to see six amazing black and white murals.

Community – On March 21, Ontario lifted masking requirements in most indoor settings. Toronto welcomes back major in-person events and festivals this spring and summer. I intend to volunteer at selected events to support my city.

On March 20, I volunteered to help at the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race, awarding participants medals at the end of the race. The event successfully raised money towards supporting athletes with physical and mental disabilities and the Red Cross Humanitarian Relief Funds For Ukraine.

Leisure

Bird watching – The common birds in spring have returned in good numbers: American robins, European starlings, red cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, red-breasted nuthatches, to name a few.

I was pleased to see about twenty Trumpeter swans by Toronto Outer Harbour. Their black bills distinguish them from other swan species. The bright yellow numbered wing tags mean the re-introduced Trumpeters are from Ontario.

Blogging – I wrote four blogs and hosted four Weekend Coffee Share linkups:

  1. Cycling The Lower Don Trail
  2. Visoleil, moonGARDEN and Dreaming
  3. These B/W Murals Revive History
  4. Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring 2022

Reading – I read seven engaging books; listed below by author’s last name:

  1. Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (family grief)
  2. The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (detective)
  3. The High Road by Terry Fallis (humour)
  4. Operation Angus by Terry Fallis (humour)
  5. Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls (fantasy)
  6. Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (time travel)
  7. Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles (memories, essays)

Overall

March was a fulfilling month that ended my first quarter of 2022 on a positive note. Throughout winter 2022, I maintained a good fitness level with regular exercises, stayed connected with my family and friends, contributed what I could to my community, and enjoyed several leisure activities.

I’m grateful for my good health, joyful moments and fun experiences in March. April is off to a beautiful start.

Pink cyclamens with water droplets

How was your March?

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How I Enjoyed February 2022

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #58! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 8/ 52

On January 2, 2022, I wrote that this year, I continue to focus my energy on Health, Home, and Leisure to live a healthy and enriched life. The last weekend of February is a good time for me to reflect on February happenings.

A snow-covered park on February 1, 2022

Health

In February, I continued my wellness routine with small changes. I welcomed more cycling and walking thanks to having less extreme cold days than in January. Winter is Nature’s rest time so I adjusted my yoga practice to do restorative poses and gentle stretches.

The month started off with a beautiful morning. I cycled to Ontario Place to look for a unique feature of winter: Ice formations. I was rewarded with fascinating ice-encased plants, ice-covered boulders, ice pebbles along the shore of Lake Ontario, and flocks of attractive redheads and long-tailed ducks in the marina.

Click on the arrows to see the slides.

How cold was it? It was balmy at 5 Celsius degrees (42F) when I was on this trip. The sun was out, the lake was restless, sending small waves to the shore and splashing water on the boulders.

Some other fun outings included walks in the Toronto Music Garden where I admired nature and colourful artwork amid the winter landscape, and a tour of Toronto’s neighbourhoods to see the three pet murals that I adore.

Home

For a short month, February was full of virtual celebrations with my extended family and friends on Lunar New Year’s Day, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Family Day holiday. In the kitchen, I used the oven regularly since comfort and warmth are appealing in the winter.

My family and I had a good time at the outdoor Nordic Lights festival. The dazzling light art installations by Canadian and Nordic artists filled up our senses with colours, images, lights, patterns, shapes, sounds, and textures.

Leisure

I balanced my leisure time outdoors with relaxing time indoors, mainly listening to music, blogging, reading and writing. Blogs, books and music take me to faraway places without leaving home.

On the blog, I added the 2022 Weekend Coffee Share badge to my sidebar. I joined Dan at No Facilities blog for a fun bloggers’ conversation. I hosted four Weekend Coffee Share linkups and contributed to a few photography challenges and blog parties.

Blogging – I wrote one blog per week:

  1. January 2022 Reflections
  2. Toronto Music Garden in Winter
  3. Nordic Lights: 6 Dazzling Displays
  4. Which Pet Is Your Favourite?

Reading – I enjoyed six thought-provoking books in February:

  1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  2. Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
  3. The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey
  4. Sula by Toni Morrison
  5. Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
  6. The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Overall

That wraps up my fun and fulfilling February. I’m enjoying life at my pace. I’m thankful for my good health, family, friends, cozy home, and all the good experiences and joyful moments in February.

How has your February been?

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January 2022 Reflections

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #54! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 4/ 52

On January 2, 2022, I wrote that this year, I continue to focus my energy on Health, Home, and Leisure to live a healthy and enriched life. The last weekend of January is a good time for me to reflect on January happenings.

White birch trees and a clear blue sky on January 4, 2022
White birch trees and a clear blue sky on January 4, 2022

Health

In January, I consistently completed my wellness routine: Some outdoors (cycling, walking) and some indoors (practicing meditation, language lessons, strength training, and yoga). Taking care of my health every day is second nature to me. What I’m mindful about is to keep my exercises fresh by making small changes to them at least monthly.

On extreme cold or snow days, I use a new-to-me dance cardio workout at home as a substitute for cycling outdoors. The workout with upbeat music is fun. It keeps my brain and body engaged, improves my coordination, boosts my mood, and is good for overall toning.

On normal winter days, I continue exploring my corner of the world, enjoying Lake Ontario, cycling or walking on recreational trails, and visiting Toronto’s parks and neighbourhoods. The trails are quiet on weekdays in winter, allowing me to savour the beauty of the season.

Ice and snow in Toronto Harbour on January 25, 2022
Ice and snow in Toronto Harbour on January 25, 2022

Home

The new year started on a bright note. I finished my first community food drive on January 4 with 350 food items collected and delivered to a fire hall. It was rewarding to see the donations lifted and placed in a big Daily Bread truck to go to the food bank.

I had four virtual happy birthday celebrations with my family and a dear friend. We’re geographically dispersed so virtual gatherings work. I also took friendly walks with a senior neighbour.

I worked on purging, recycling and improving my physical and digital space. As a result, my home is more organized and I regain some space. I feel satisfied with the progress I’ve made in January.

Leisure

Similar to my Health activities, I take a balanced approach to leisure: Some outdoors and some indoors. In January, my outdoor time included exploring beautiful nature, discovering amazing park murals, watching birds, and listening to bird sounds along the shore of Lake Ontario.

My indoor leisure time was spent on listening to music, reading articles, books and blogs, writing blog posts, hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link-ups, and sharing my stories, photos and comments with my blogging community.

Blogs I wrote:

Books I read: Listed by author’s last name; asterisk indicates new-to-me authors.

  1. The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis *
  2. The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
  3. A Separation by Katie Kitamura *
  4. Heart Berries A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot *
  5. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill *
  6. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto *
  7. We the Animals by Justin Torres *
  8. Navigate Your Stars by Jesmyn Ward, illustrations by Gina Triplett *

Overall

January has been a calm and fulfilling month for me. I’m thankful for my good health, my cozy home, and all the good experiences and joyful moments in January.

How has your January been?

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Running My First Food Drive

Hello and welcome back to Weekend Coffee Share #51! I hope you’ve had an enjoyable holiday and a great start to the new year. Let’s catch up while we enjoy our hot coffee or tea.

If you’re new to my blog or the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link-up, welcome! Please check my guidelines before linking up.

Week 1/ 52

I had a wonderful blogging break and returned with my Happy New Year 2022 blog post last Sunday. On Tuesday I finished my first Community Food Drive. In previous years, I donated food items and money to food banks. A few events compelled me to take a more hands-on approach.

Heart
Heart display at the Distillery District

My First Food Drive

Here are 5 things I’d like to share about my first Community Food Drive:

1. It started with an e-mail

In early December 2021, I got an email from the office of my community centre advising that during COVID-19, food banks will not pick up donations from our traditional collection boxes at the community centre. They pick up from fire halls or participating grocery stores. In the same week, I read articles about increasing food insecurity, food prices, and use of food banks.

Both the community centre and a local fire hall are on my walking route. They’re about 800m (0.5 mile) apart. For pedestrians, it’s easy. For drivers, it’s a nightmare due to the street layout and no public parking at the fire hall. Without the convenient pick up from collection boxes, food banks may get less donations. I saw a service gap that I could bridge.

2. It was easy to set up

I contacted Daily Bread food bank and the community centre to inquire about having a collection box to run a food drive. I volunteered to pick up food donations from the collection box and walk to deliver them to a local fire hall.

After a few emails, the community centre agreed to set up two collection boxes with Daily Bread’s list of Most Needed Food Items posted, and a message out to residents in my neighbourhood.

3. It was a contactless project

Following public health COVID-19 guidelines, I had no contact with the donors or staff. Pick-up and drop-off locations were unattended and outdoors. I specified a start date and an end date for the food drive: From December 13th to 31st.

I took a blogging break in the last two weeks of December to work on the food drive. It was a good decision. I picked up the food donations, sorted them to balance the weights, and walked to drop them off.

Samples of food donations
Samples of food donations

4. It was heartwarming

Since it was my first food drive, I had no idea what to expect. The donations were heartwarming. One neighbour left me a message to say my generosity has inspired other residents and they offered help if I needed assistance moving the donations.

The donations and that message affirmed my faith in humanity. Good people are out there and we care about our community.

5. It ended with excellent results

My food drive collected three hundred fifty (350) non-perishable and most needed food items, or about $1500 in cash equivalent. I shared the results with my neighbours and thanked the donors for their generosity.

Together, we contributed to help those in need and make our community a better place. It was an excellent way to start the new year.

How has your week been?

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