Pink Flowers, Pets and Fun List

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #16! 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.

A quick glance at my phone shows that in April I’ve seen gorgeous daffodils, dandelions, magnolias, forsythias, pansies, ranunculus, tulips, and many more pretty flowers. I’ve also taken photos of birds, the lake shore, historic buildings and public art displays. It’s been a colourful month.

On Wednesday winter’s last hurrah brought spring snow. By Friday, it’s 15C (59F) with sunshine. My coffee share today: Pink flowers, Outdoor pets, and Spring fun list update.

1. Pink Flowers

I chose the following images to contribute to Jude’s Pink colour challenge, Becky’s Bright Square and Cee’s Flower of the Day photo challenges.

Pink ranunculus.
Pink ranunculus (or Persian buttercup).
Pink tulips.
Pink tulips.

Here are four more from my photo archives in alphabetical order.

2. Outdoor Pets

Terri’s prompt for her Sunday Stills photo challenge this weekend is Pets or Kids and improvisations are accepted. So I’m improvising and introducing my outdoor “pets” that are nesting and expecting “kids”.

The first pair is Gucy and Lucy, two Canada geese. Lucy is nesting under a small tree by the waterfront. Her nest is made of mulch-like materials. Their babies (goslings) are expected after 25-28 days of incubation.

Canada geese
Canada geese
Geese nesting sign.

The second pair is Cob and Pen, two Mute swans. Pen is nesting on a small island. Her nest is a soft bed of round balls of grey fibres. Their babies (cygnets) are expected after 34-41 days of incubation.

Mute swans
Mute swans
Swan nest.

I visit my outdoor “pets” often and hope to see their “kids” soon.

3. Spring Fun List Update

Back in March, I wrote a Spring Fun List of things to do while in COVID-19 lockdown. Most of my activities are outdoors or online and follow public health protocols so I’ve been checking off a few items. I’m contributing this update to Leslie’s Spring link-up.

  1. Cycle to explore parks, the lake shore, and the city centre: Yes, I’ve been cycling on different routes and they bring me many bits of joy.
  1. Take walks to enjoy nature in Spring and free outdoor public art: Yes, I take walks most days. Examples: My walk in Yorkville and the above walks to see spring flowers and bird nests.
  1. View Toronto’s Cherry Blossoms and the annual Canadian Tulip Festival: In progress. I’ve been watching Toronto’s cherry blossoms virtually with #BloomAtHome, a 24-hour 4K BloomCam livestream during the peak bloom period. The Canadian Tulip Festival is coming up May 14-24.
  1. Meet my family and friends outside: Pending. Currently, we are not allowed to gather indoors or outdoors with anyone we do not live with, until at least May 20.
  1. Play 9-hole disc golf in a public park: Yes, here’s my intro to how to play disc golf.
  1. Paddle around Toronto Islands: Pending.
  1. Plant a small herb garden: Pending.
  1. Read 1 book per week and add to my Books in 2021: Yes, average 2 books per week.
  1. Take photos and share my explorations on my blog: Yes, every post so far.
  1. Try a new restaurant take-out: Yes, the Pad Thai and curry dishes from Salad King were good.
Azalea flowers.
Azalea flowers with a hint of pink last spring.

I look forward to more cycling, walking, watching spring flower blooms and welcoming warmer weather in May. I hope the lockdown will be lifted after May 20 so I can meet up with my family and friends.

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

Linking to: #BrightSquare, #Colour2021, #FOTD, #LifeThisWeek, #SpringList, #SundayStills.

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Violet Flowers and Disc Golf Intro

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #15! 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.

Spring Flowers

First, it’s been delightful to see Spring flower blooms around here. I went for a walk in the Toronto Music Garden and took tons of photos. I’m sharing a few in violet colour below.

Violet croci.
Croci
Pasque flowers.
Pasque flowers

Here are a few more from my photo archives in alphabetical order.

Next, let me introduce you to how to play disc golf at a beautiful 9-hole disc golf course. If you have never played or heard of disc golf before, read on.

How To Play Disc Golf

  1. Review the map of the golf course posted at the entrance. Note the direction to throw. We’re at a 9-hole course so the numbers go from 1 to 9. At a 18-hole disc golf course, the numbers go from 1 to 18.
Disc golf course map.
  1. Here’s the game objective, how to play, and course courtesy.
Disc golf instructions.
  1. The tee pad is rectangular with soft padding. Next to it is a post that shows the tee number, par number, and the distance from the tee to the corresponding basket. Par is the number of throws a disc golfer is expected to need to complete an individual hole. Par 3 is common.
Disc golf tee.
  1. Start at tee #1. Stand in the tee and throw your disc towards the corresponding basket (hole). The varying distance at each hole and obstacles such as trees or hills make the game fun and challenging.
Disc golf obstacles.
  1. The basket for each tee is also numbered. Once your disc lands in the basket, pick it up, and follow the directional red arrow at the bottom of the basket to go to the next tee.
Disc golf basket.
  1. Continue playing until the last hole. Have fun and remember the course courtesy. The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) Disc Golfers Code is posted at each tee.
Disc golfers code.

About The Discs

  • Below is a sample of 3 discs, each has a name, an image and 4 numbers on it. The yellow disc is the Driver for maximum distance, the white disc is Mid-range for a wide range of distances, and the blue disc is the Putter for short distance and putting into the basket.
Disc golf discs.
  • The discs have fancy names and come in different colours. When you’re new to disc golf, the variety of discs can be overwhelming. Start with an inexpensive set of bright coloured discs (not green or brown). The bright colours make it easy to locate the discs on the course. I also label the back of my discs with a sharpie.
  • The 4 numbers on a disc golf disc are a flight ratings system to indicate how a disc is supposed to fly. For first time players, I’d suggest to have fun playing and not be concerned about these numbers yet.

Why Disc Golf?

  • It’s a fun sport that I can play with others or alone (safer in COVID-19 times).
  • It’s outdoors, usually in a park where I can play any time, weather permitting.
  • It involves mental estimates, body movements, and walking.
  • I like the calm and meditative feels when I play and walk the course.
  • Like any sport, part of the fun is to keep playing to improve.
  • The discs are light and easy to carry. Each of my discs weighs about 150g.
  • The initial cost is minimal. A set of 3 discs costs about US$20.
  • A disc golf bag to carry the discs is nice to have but not required (about US$20).
  • The ongoing cost to play is $0 in Toronto where disc golf courses are in public parks.
Disc golf course.
A lovely view.

I hope my introduction to how to play disc golf is good. Consult with your doctor before starting any new sport activity. For more information, check out the Professional Disc Golf Association web site and YouTube.

What’s your favourite violet flower? Is my introduction to disc golf helpful? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking to #BrightSquare, #FOTD, #LifeThisWeek, #SundayStills.

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Lakeside Birdwatching

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #7! 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.

1. Link-Up News

Last weekend, we had a new high: 42 participants at Weekend Coffee Share #6 (41 in InLinkz and 1 did a ping back to my blog but didn’t enter the InLinkz party). Thank you, everyone, for your participation.

We have new participants and some returned from a blogging break at each link-up. So, a gentle reminder of my guidelines to join the Weekend Coffee Share link-up:

  1. Link one post.
  2. Read the host’s post and two posts from other Coffee Share participants and leave a comment so they know you’ve dropped by.
  3. Spread the Weekend Coffee Share word and link back. The hashtag is #WeekendCoffeeShare.

The guidelines are also posted in the InLinkz dashboard.

2. This Past Week

I had a good week, enjoyed many activities, and chatted with my family and friends more than normal. Downtown Toronto got some snow overnight on Monday and part of Tuesday, a lot less than other areas in Ontario. During the week, my brisk and long walks boosted my mood and the birds by the lake kept me entertained.

3. Birdwatching

I got into birdwatching about two years ago. When my sister and I went to Ecuador, the biodiversity there, including species of birds were amazing and noticeable. We spent time watching colourful birds and had a memorable overnight stay in the Amazon rainforest.

After that trip, I pay more attention to birds. Lucky me, Toronto is the home of the Blue Jays and over 350 other incredible species of birds. Toronto Blue Jays are a Canadian professional baseball team based in Toronto. They won the World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

When I walk by Lake Ontario, I enjoy watching birds in the harbour. They make my walk more fun and interesting. In this post, I focus on birds by the lake even though I’ve seen many more bird species in land. Let me show you in photos.

Common Birds

Common birds that are at the lake year-round include gulls, ducks, geese, rock pigeons, and swans. The ring-billed gulls have a black band encircling the yellow bill that distinguish them from other gulls.

A ring-billed gull.
A ring-billed gull.

Canada geese have the signature white chinstrap on their black necks. There are many of them along the lake shore, both on land and in the water.

2 Canada geese.
2 Canada geese.
Winter Birds

In the winter, attractive bufflehead ducks, long-tailed ducks, and common mergansers arrive here and stay for a few months. The cormorants with aquamarine eyes show up in the Spring.

Bufflehead ducks: The male duck has a large white patch on the head, the female duck has a small white patch on the cheek.

2 Bufflehead ducks.
2 Bufflehead ducks.

Long-tailed ducks: The males have mostly white, rich brown, black and grey on the face and long, slender tail feathers. Females are smudgy brown and white without the long tail.

4 male and 1 female long-tailed ducks.
4 male and 1 female long-tailed ducks.

Common Mergansers: They are large ducks with long, slender bills. The males are striking with clean white bodies, dark green heads, and a slender, serrated red bill. The gray-bodied females have rich, cinnamon heads with a short crest.

3 female mergansers.
3 female mergansers.
Summer Birds

Last summer, I was thrilled to see many birds when I went paddling in the wetlands on Toronto Islands. My favourites were the great egrets and grey herons.

Great egret.
Great egret.
Grey heron.
Grey heron.

I refer to the Birds of Toronto guide to identify these birds.

What birds are common in your neighbourhood?

Linking with Sunday Stills, Life This Week, The Weekly Smile.

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Coffee Share #3 | The Princes’ Gates

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

1. Awesome Coffee Share Party #2

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

2. Winter Cycling

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

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

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

3. The Princes’ Gates

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

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

The Princes' Gates.
The Princes’ Gates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to hear your comments.

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

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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 until last weekend. I’m your host with the following guidelines for this weekly Coffee Share blog feature:

  • Everyone is welcome to join in the Weekend Coffee Share in any and every week.
  • Topics are open – e.g. What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?
  • Use the Inlinkz link provided to join the party or leave the link to your Weekend Coffee Share post in a comment below my Coffee Share post.
  • You can link to your post any time between 8 a.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday (both Toronto time).
  • I will be flexible in the way I title my Weekend Coffee Share posts.
  • I’d ask that participants be social. Read my post and two posts from other Coffee Share participants and leave a comment so we know you’ve dropped by.

I’m trying to build a fun, positive, social, and supportive blogging community here. So, as the owner of the blog and the host of the link-up, posts that I deem to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include ads, “drop and run” links, promotions, and any that are offensive in nature, overly political or religious.

Two in One excursion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Coffee Share is now underway from Natalie the Explorer blog. I hope that together we make this a fun social event for every weekend in 2021. I’d love to hear your comments.

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

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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.

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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.

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November Smiles

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

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

Health

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

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

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

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

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

Home

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

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

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

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

Leisure

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

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

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

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

November Reading

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

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

Book Review

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

Plunge book cover

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

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

Looking forward

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

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

Linking here.

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

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.

Linking here.

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

June Smiles and Summer Week 2

Pink poppies.

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space for a coffee (or tea) chat and catch up on our news.

If we were having coffee (or tea), I would share that Toronto had a full week of sunny and warm days. We said goodbye to June and the first half of 2020. We welcomed July with a Happy birthday to Canada on July 1. Life in Ontario continues to evolve with some good news on the COVID-19 front.

June was a month full of stunning sights and fragrance from flower blooms. Birds continued to be active and they filled my mornings with beautiful sounds. The lake shone like diamonds in the sun. I took many photos and included some samples in this post.

June in Numbers

I feel grateful to wake up every day with a new set of 24 hours to live. We all had 30 full days or 720 hours in June. Of the 720 hours, I spent about 240 hours for Sleep, another 240 hours for Home Life, and 240 hours for Fun.

I kept track some of my fun activities in simple numbers. Every one of the following items made me smile:

  • 1 new baking success: Banana blueberry loaf. Recipe below. I used blueberries instead of cranberries.
  • 2 coffee dates with my sister.
  • 3 bicycle rides.
  • 3 online jazz and piano concerts: Miles Davis jazz at Lincoln Centre, Diana Krall on YouTube, and John Legend’s live streaming from his home studio.
  • 4 blog posts.
  • 4 movies: Election, Margot at the Wedding, Keep the Change, and One Week. All four were good although I liked One Week the most.
  • 6 books: They were included in my Reading Update #2.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 13 yoga sessions.
  • 26 walks to where I could see beautiful flower plants and fish-themed art.
  • 30 online French and Spanish sessions.
  • 30 meditation sessions.

Some good news on the COVID-19 front, mainly easing of restrictions and re-opening of businesses. Here’s what’s of interest to me:

  • up to 10 people allowed for social gathering.
  • up to 10 people allowed in social bubbles.
  • library curb-side pickup by appointment.
  • dental clinics, hair salons, farmers’ markets, ferry service to Toronto Islands, malls, and restaurant patios although I’m in no rush to go to these places yet.

Summer Week 2 in Pictures

The second week of summer continued to be sunny and hot with a heat wave that lasted several days. The high temperatures ranged from 27C to 33C (81F to 95F) plus humidity so it felt a few degrees hotter. Not a drop of rain the entire week.

My day went something like this:

  • Morning: Breakfast, meditation, cycling, walking, and strengthening workouts or yoga. I usually take photos during my walk.
  • Afternoon: Lunch, checking in with family and friends, home maintenance, and language lessons. Kayaking in the late afternoon if lake is calm.
  • Evening: Dinner, reading, writing, movie or music, and sleep.

A sample of what filled up my senses one morning last week:

Another sample to show more water, some Canada geese and aquatic plants, with a pop of red colour from my kayak:

On July 1, to do something special on Canada Day, I went kayaking with my best friend within the Toronto Islands for about three hours. It was a beautiful time while being in peaceful company with cormorants, egrets, ducks, fish, swans, turtles, lots of green plants, and fresh water.

Great egret within Toronto Islands.
Great egret within Toronto Islands

Conclusion

I was so happy and grateful for how June turned out for me. Week 2 of summer 2020 was amazing. Words are not adequate to describe the beauty that I see every day. The weather forecast for the coming week is sunny and warm again. I look forward to making the most of it.

How was June for you? How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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