October Wrap-Up

Hello November and goodbye October! October was a beautiful month with gorgeous autumn foliage everywhere I looked, an extra-special Thanksgiving, a trip to Sault Ste Marie and Agawa Canyon, and plenty of leisure activities. Let me share my highlights and I invite you to tell me yours.

October 2019

Arts

I viewed many interesting artworks at the Community Film and Art Festival, Nuit Blanche event, and Toronto Biennial of Art event. However, my favourite artwork in October was Mother Nature’s autumn foliage palette, from various shades of green to light yellow, to golden, to orange, red, and stunning crimson.

Red maple trees
Red maple trees

Blogging

I wrote five blog posts in October and used my phone to take all the blog photos which turned out better than I expected:

Books

I enjoyed reading six books in different genres. I had read The Old Man and the Sea a long time ago and re-read it. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. It’s an impressive novella to me because the writer packed a powerful story with vivid descriptions in under 100 pages.

  • The Endless Beach – a romance novel by Jenny Colgan.
  • All Things Consoled – a memoir by Elizabeth Hay.
  • The Old Man and the Sea – a novella by Ernest Hemingway.
  • Elevation – a science fiction novel by Stephen King.
  • Happy People Read & Drink Coffee – a romance novel by Agnès Martin Lugand, translated from the French by Sandra Smith.
  • Kingdom of the Blind – a crime fiction novel by Louise Penny.

Concerts

I attended seven amazing classical concerts, some with my friends. The performers are all award winners at international competitions. They played wonderful music composed by Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Edgar, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, and more:

  • David Potvin, piano.
  • The Bedford Trio: Alessia Disimino (violin), Andrew Ascenzo (cello), and Jialiang Zhu (piano).
  • Tristan Savella, piano.
  • Peter Stoll, bass clarinet, and string quartet.
  • Younggun Kim, piano.
  • Timothy Ying, violin and Lydia Wong, piano.
  • The Ezra Duo: Jacob Clewell, viola and Sasha Bult-Ito, piano.

Family

My family had an extra-special Thanksgiving dinner this year as my uncle and aunt came to visit us from Montreal. Aside from a delicious meal, I enjoyed every bit of the pumpkin pies that we had for dessert. Pumpkins are another sure sign of autumn here.

Pumpkins

Friendship

I met my friends at some of the concerts mentioned above. On a nice autumn day, we went for a walk to check out the newly opened Garrison Crossing bridge. It’s the first stainless steel bridge in Canada.

Spanning over two rail corridors within the core of downtown, the full bridge required two separate installations. The first and north end of the bridge is 52-metres-long. The second and south end of the bridge is 29-metres-long. I like that the bridge is for pedestrians and cyclists only.

Garrison Crossing bridge
Garrison Crossing bridge

Health

I completed twelve strengthening workouts in the gym, four swimming sessions, and nine yoga classes. I also meditated and walked outdoors 5 to 8 km (or 3 to 5 miles) every day. October was the perfect time for outdoor walks as temperatures were cooler and autumn foliage provided gorgeous scenery.

Autumn foliage

Learning

Some of what I learned include my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo, Garrison Crossing bridge construction, the history of Sault Ste Marie Canal, how the locks work at the Canal, and Agawa Canyon.

Movies

I watched four movies and liked Red Joan and Toy Story 4 the most:

  • Alladin
  • Toy Story 4 – surprisingly good for a sequel.
  • Stuber
  • Red Joan – based on a true story of Joan Stanley, who was exposed as the KGB’s longest-serving British spy.

Travel

My family and I travelled to Sault Ste Marie, a city located in northern Ontario. We did a few hikes in Sault Ste Marie, and took the train from Sault Ste Marie to Agawa Canyon where we did more hiking.

When we exited Sault Ste Marie airport, we saw a green Welcome sign on the left and a glimpse of colourful autumn foliage on the right. I’ll share more details in a future post.

Welcome to Sault Ste Marie
Welcome to Sault Ste Marie
Autumn splendour
Autumn splendour

Overall

Every day in October was amazing. I look forward to enjoying November with my family and friends, continuing my health and leisure activities, and plotting new adventures.

How was your October? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

September Wrap-Up

Hello October and goodbye September! September was abnormal in a good way. First, there was one week of hosting our relatives who visited us from Germany and the USA. Then another week of travelling to Vancouver Island, meeting friends, and sightseeing. The rest of September was about catching up, enjoying local events, and chipping away at home projects. Let me share my highlights and I invite you to tell me yours.

September 2019

Arts

I revisited some of my favourite outdoor public artworks while showing my relatives around Toronto. I also saw amazing Canadian Native artworks on Vancouver Island. Since September was full of fun times with our extended family, I chose to feature the Immigrant Family bronze sculpture by Tom Otterness in this post.

Immigrant Family sculpture by Tom Otterness

Blogging

I wrote four blog posts to wrap up August and to share some of my fun experiences in Toronto and Kingston:

Just before I traveled to Vancouver Island, I received a message from Bree (3sistersabroad) who nominated my blog for the Leibster Award and the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thank you, Bree, for the nominations.

While on Vancouver Island, I met up with four blogger friends in Victoria and Parksville: Donna (Retirement Reflections), Sue (Sizzling towards Sixty and Beyond), Jude (Dr Sock Writes Here), and Ann (TheUnretired.life).

Beautiful smiles, stimulating conversations, good food, fun outdoor boardwalk, a tour of Qualicum Beach and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, and more. Thanks, Donna, Sue, Jude, Ann, Richard (Donna’s husband) and Mike (Sue’s husband) for a wonderful weekend!

Books

I read just three books due to being “on the go” half of the month:

  • The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown
  • The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

Concert

I attended one wonderful concert titled Beginnings and performed by the Gryphon Trio (violin, cello, and piano). I cancelled a few concerts to spend more time with my relatives.

Family

Since it was my relatives’ first time to Toronto, at their request, the week was full with visits to the main attractions in Toronto, including one of my favourite go-to spots and the Island. The weather was good so we had BBQs a few times and took them to a winery in the Niagara region and the mighty Niagara Falls as well.

Toronto skyline
Toronto skyline

Friendship

My friends and I did our catch-ups while we attended the Toronto Dragon Festival and the 35th annual Veg Food Festival. Who can resist a festival that says “Make Friends. Eat Food.”? It’s North America’s largest plant-based food festival with over 160 vendors and full programs for three consecutive days.

When I was in Victoria, I met up with a former colleague for lunch at the Flying Otter Grill restaurant. It was great to catch up with her while enjoying local fish and chips right by the waterfront.

Health

When I was at home, I completed my meditation and walk every day. Also got in three swimming sessions, four yoga classes, and ten strengthening workouts in the gym.

When I traveled to Vancouver Island, I was able to keep up my fitness routine except swimming. In Victoria, for example, Beacon Hill Park is a beautiful place for walking. I actually walked more every day when I was out sightseeing. For strengthening exercises, I used my resistance band and my body weight. For meditation and yoga, I practiced in the quiet space where I stayed.

Beacon Hill Park

Learning

I continued my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo. I learned about the new-to-me artists, book authors, and their work. I learned new things from the four blogger friends and the international travelers I met on my trip.

Movies

I watched only one movie (Rocketman). The annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was on from September 5 to 15. I took my relatives to King Street where the red carpet for film celebrities and celebration zone was located. It was great to feel the energy and the buzz in the city from the festival attendees.

TIFF sign

Travel

I travelled to Vancouver Island on Canada’s West Coast, about five hours by plane from Toronto. My itinerary included Victoria, Parksville, and Tofino. It was a wonderful trip. More details with photos to follow 🙂

Overall

September was full of fun activities and movements. I look forward to October when autumn colours are at their peak and we celebrate our Thanksgiving on October 12-14th long weekend.

How was your September? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

August Wrap-Up

Butterfly on flowers

Hello September and goodbye August! August was a lot of fun with family, friends, and enriching leisure activities. The weather was pleasant so I spent more time outdoors in August than in July. Let me share my highlights and I invite you to tell me yours.

AUGUST 2019

Arts

I went to see five art exhibitions in Toronto and visited one new-to-me art gallery in Kingston:

  • The Museum of Broken Relationships exhibition caught my attention because I had passed by the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia. The exhibition was more interesting and less sad than I thought.
  • The Brain Project 2019 showcased fifty brain sculptures designed by artists, celebrities, and researchers to raise brain health awareness and to advance research on dementia and aging #noblankbrains.
  • The Art of Zhen (Truth) Shan (Compassion) Ren (Tolerance) International Exhibition is a collection of over 60 paintings. It has toured about 300 cities in over 50 countries.
  • The 17th Annual Canada International Children’s Art Festival showcased many colourful and impressive artworks. Most of them were created by 7 or 8-year old artists.
  • The Into The Clouds installation by FriendsWithYou displayed the adorable Little Cloud and three friends. I liked both the installation and its location in the beautiful Allen Lambert Galleria.
Embrace the Earth painting by Xiao Yu Ren
Embrace the Earth by Xiao Yu Ren, age 7
Into The Clouds art installation by FriendsWithYou
Little Cloud and three friends are spending the lazy days of summer hanging out in the Allen Lambert Galleria at Brookfield Place.”

Blogging

I wrote four blog posts to document my fun experiences at home, in Heidelberg (Germany), and in Regina (Saskatchewan, Canada):

Books

I enjoyed reading seven good novels. The authors’ biographies are also interesting in case you want to look them up:

  • The Moroccan Girl by Charles Cumming
  • The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen
  • Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer
  • The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  • And Then You Were Gone by R. J. Jacobs
  • Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare

Concerts

I attended nine outdoor concerts. The music and vocals were fantastic, especially the first four artists listed below:

  • Ammoye
  • Alana Bridgewater
  • Jordan John
  • Avery Raquel
  • The Arsenals at Island Soul festival
  • The Recipee band at Island Soul festival
  • Susie Vinnick Trio
  • Elinor Frey & Phoebe Carrai: Duoletto violoncello
  • Toronto’s All-Star Big Band: Dance music from the 50s
Ammoye
Ammoye

Family

We had two big family gatherings in August, one was to celebrate my nephew’s new home and the other was to celebrate a few birthdays in my family clan. We were glad to see family members visiting us from the USA. It was so nice to share meals, talk, and do fun activities together in person. Some of our good eats came from the weekly farmer’s market. How lucky we were to have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables! They were as delicious as they looked.

August harvest

Friendship

I went out six times with my friends for coffee and some of the concerts I mentioned above. My family and I also met and dined out with our friends in Kingston when we were there for a few days.

Health

I completed 14 strength workouts in the gym, 8 yoga classes, and 4 swimming sessions. I also meditated and walked every day. One of the very enjoyable walks was on the beautiful Toronto Islands.

Toronto Islands

Learning

I enjoyed learning new words from my daily French and Spanish lessons. I learned about the artists and/ or the projects from the art exhibitions that I viewed, the authors of the books I read, the actors and musicians at the shows I attended, popular songs in the 50s, and the history behind some of the places that I visited this month.

Movies

I watched only three movies because it was more fun to be outdoors:

  • Long Shot (comedy)
  • Stockholm (drama)
  • Idiocracy (comedy)

Travel

My family took a six-day trip to Kingston which is located about 2.5 hours by train east of Toronto. In typical Natalie the Explorer style, I walked to explore some of the historic sights in Kingston. For arts, I visited the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University. I’ll share some of my discoveries in a later post.

Kingston Sign

OVERALL

August was incredibly fun and enriching. I look forward to September when I’m expecting more relatives visiting us, a trip to Vancouver Island, and lots of leisure activities.

How was your August? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

July Wrap-Up

Sunflowers in Regina

Hello August and goodbye July! July was a fun summer month filled with warm days, plenty of leisure activities, a family trip to Regina, and a blogger meeting. Let me share my July highlights with you and I invite you to tell me yours.

JULY 2019

ARTS

I visited the 58th Toronto Outdoor Art Fair where over 300 artists participated and displayed their arts for sale over three days. It’s a wonderful annual event to see so much artistic talent in one location.

On one of my outdoor walks, I saw the Ordinary Men sculpture exhibit by Thomas J. Price who lives and works in London, UK. This is his first solo exhibition in Canada. His sculpture ranges in size from small busts to monumental bronze statues.

Thomas Price's Ordinary Men art exhibition
Clockwise left to right: Cover Up, and Numen 1, 2, 3 by Thomas J Price

BLOGGING

I had a fun walk along Toronto’s waterfront with my new blogger friend Joanne (My Life Lived Full). I wrote about where we explored and what we had for lunch here. We saw a number of interesting public art installations during our 5 km walk.

Totem pole in Little Norway Park
Totem pole at Little Norway Park

BOOKS

I read five fine books in July. Although there is a lot of human suffering, especially in the first three novels, all of them show human resilience, love, and all have a hopeful or happy ending:

  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  • The Kite Runner also by Khaled Hosseini.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman).
  • Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan.

CONCERTS

I attended five outdoor concerts in July. Simply great music of different genres and powerful vocals heard in an urban setting on warm summer days. I always feel so fortunate to have easy access to these free events:

  • Jordan John & Denis Keldie
  • Sara Dell
  • The Métis Fiddler Quartet
  • Tyler Yarema & Allison Young
  • Joanna Majoko

FAMILY

My family clan held a get-together in July. It took place on the weekend that we had a heat wave so we were all thankful for air-conditioning. As usual, we enjoyed good food and fun conversations. I love chatting with my siblings, nieces, and nephews. Our next gathering will be in August.

FRIENDS

I did a gym workout with one of my friends and met two other friends by the farmer’s market for coffee catch-ups in Toronto. I also had fun catching up with our family friends in Regina when we were there.

Summer in the city

HEALTH

In July, I meditated and walked daily. I also completed seven yoga classes, fourteen workouts in the gym, and four swimming sessions. On warm and humid days I tried to do my physical activities early in the morning before it became too hot. I missed two instructor-led yoga classes when I was away and made up for them by practicing the yoga poses by myself.

LEARNING

I did my French and Spanish lessons every day in July. There is always something new to learn, from the daily language lessons that I take on Duolingo, to what I learn from my health and leisure pursuits.

MOVIES

I enjoyed watching the new Spider-man Far from Home movie in the theatre, and two in-flight movies The Mule and How To Train The Dragon II.

TRAVEL

My family went on a trip to Regina in Saskatchewan. Regina is about 3 to 3.5 hours west of Toronto by plane. We spent some time catching up with our friends and enjoyed our visit to the beautifully landscaped Wascana Park surrounding a 120-hectare lake located in the heart of Regina. More on this trip in a future post.

Wascana Lake in Regina
Wascana Lake and Park in Regina, Saskatchewan

OVERALL

I enjoyed July very much. It was a summer month packed with fun activities with family and friends. If anything, it went by a bit too fast for a month of thirty-one days.

How was your July? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

June Wrap-Up

June yellow flowers

JUNE 2019

Hello July and goodbye June! June was an enriching month in so many ways. I spent half of the month in Canada and the other half in Malta and Germany. Let me share my June highlights with you and I invite you to tell me yours.

ARTS

At home, I viewed various art exhibits at the Luminato festival. Admission was free. Here’s a sample of Kristian Spreen’s Compositions exhibit with her pretty glass and underglaze art work. The vases were displayed behind enclosed glass windows with spot lighting so my photo had shadows in it.

Kristian Spreen art work

When I was in Valletta, there was a show of beautiful (and likely very expensive) cars in St. George’s Square, to mark the 90th anniversary of auto sales in the city. I enjoy examining the car designs as I think they are another form of art.

The quantity of high quality visual arts that I saw really skyrocketed in June, thanks to my trip to Malta and Germany. I’ve shared my Malta highlights here, and plan to write about my time in Germany soon.

BLOGGING

My gradual transition from Blogger to WordPress has been good so far. I wrote four posts in June, two of them were on Blogger, and two on WordPress. I’m also redirecting readers from my blog on Blogger to WordPress.

I hope my change of blogging platform gives my blog readers a ‘like or better’ experience. If you’re following my blog, thank you. If you have my blog on your blog roll, please update it with its new URL. I greatly appreciate your support and patience.

A friendly reminder that the next Wellness Wednesday link up is on July 10. The optional prompt is Family. Please feel free to join in on the fun.

BOOKS

In June, I finished two books (Persepolis, and Oversharing) before going to Malta and Germany. That brought the total number of books that I’ve enjoyed reading to thirty-two so far for this year. I’ve picked up a few more books from the library for my summer reading.

CONCERTS

I attended four terrific outdoor concerts performed by Jordan John, Sandra Bouza, Denis Keldie, and Montreal’s Les Voix Humaines viol quartet. Admissions to these events were free. Toronto has an amazing number of free concerts in the summer. I try to make time to attend at least one every week.

The concerts I go to are casual where the audience can see the musicians up close. They are not the high-end productions in big arenas that cost a lot of money. Nevertheless, the music and vocals are superb.

Sandra Bouza music

When I was in Munich, coincidentally the outdoor Stadtgründungfest was on at Marienplatz, the main square in Munich, to celebrate the city’s 861st birthday. Marienplatz was packed with people enjoying the dancing, live music, and food and drinks at the on-site beer garden.

Stadtgründungfest in Munich

FAMILY

My family clan got together at the end of June to celebrate various good news in the family (birthdays, school graduation, new home, and new summer jobs). A lot of fun conversations and good food. We’ve arranged to meet again in July.

FRIENDS

I managed to have two meet-ups with my friends in June. One of them took place in Stuttgart, Germany, and the other was in Toronto. Both are longtime friends. I’m grateful to have enduring friendships regardless of the distance or time lapse.

HEALTH

In June, I did my daily meditation and walked outdoors every day. While at home, I worked out in the gym seven times, attended five yoga classes, and got in three swimming sessions.

I brought my resistance band with me for my strengthening exercises when I was away from home. I also used local ‘fitness amenities’ in Malta and Germany. Some are man-made like the stairs in Valletta, the swimming pool in my hostel, and some are natural resources great for swimming like the Blue Lagoon in Comino, and the lakes in Bavaria region in Germany. They were good reminders for me to continue my exercises to stay fit, and that one can do exercises without a gym membership! You know the saying ‘When in Rome…’.

LEARNING

I completed my daily online French and Spanish lessons in June even when I was in Malta and Germany. I spend about 15 minutes on each language and have been consistent with my learning activities. I view them as my brain exercises and they’re fun to do.

One other obvious learning source is from my travel. A new destination awakes my senses and provides ample of practical learning opportunities. For example, I learned to book a shared shuttle service from and to Malta airport, to take public buses and ferries in Malta, to ride regional trains and intercity trains in Germany, and to learn about the history of the various sights that I visit.

MOVIES

I saw five movies (one at home and four in-flight). In order of preference, they are Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Captain Marvel, Spider-man Into the Spider-verse, and Isn’t It Romantic.

TRAVEL

My trip to Malta and Germany went smoothly from beginning to end. It was great catching up with my cousins and longtime friend in person. The weather was sunny and warm every day that I was there. This is another enriching and fulfilling trip that I treasure very much.

OVERALL

June was a wonderful month for me. I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. I’m enjoying July and the summer fun that comes with it. July has started off with a bang, thanks to Canada Day celebrations and fireworks on July 1st.

How was your June? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.