Recent Reads and Golden Finds

Sunflower and bees.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #37! 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.

It was a week of mostly sunny days with thunders, lightning and rain on Tuesday night. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 22C to 27C (72F to 81F) although cooler in the morning and evening. The parks are still full of green trees and beautiful flowers like the flowers I feature in this post.

It was also the week before Canada’s Federal Election. Election day is on September 20. I went to cast my vote first thing in the morning on one of the advance poll days. There was no line-up. It felt good to get this important action item done.

One of my neighbours called and asked me to go for a walk with her. At 80+ years of age and living alone, B is active and sharp as a tack. She talked, I listened and we did a 3.2 km (2 miles) walk. She’d like to walk with me again next week.

The rest of the week went well. I cycled most mornings, saw herons at a conservation area, took several walks, played disc golf twice, completed my mind and body exercises, chatted with my family and friends, and did house chores, reading and writing.

Recent Reads

I’m pleased to contribute to the #WhatsOnYourBookShelf challenge, co-hosted by four lovely bloggers Donna, Sue, Jo and Debbie.

I use the Toronto Public Library 2021 Reading Challenge categories to read widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. You can see the full list of books I’ve read and the categories I’ve met so far this year on my Books in 2021 page at the top of my blog.

My recent reads by author’s last name include:

  1. The Outlander – Gil Adamson
  2. Lock & Key – Sarah Dessen
  3. The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes
  4. Lily and the Octopus – Steven Rowley
  5. Peace by Chocolate – Jon Tattrie (non-fiction)
  6. The One We Fell In Love With – Paige Toon

I was pleased to discover Jon Tattrie and Paige Toon who were new to me. If I were to rate this batch of books, on a 5-star scale, I’d give 5 stars to Peace By Chocolate, 4.5 stars to The Giver of Stars and 4 stars to the other books. I linked the book titles to GoodReads.

While both The Giver of Stars and Peace by Chocolate are excellent stories of human resilience, compassion, kindness, love, family, friendship and community, I give an extra 0.5 point to Peace By Chocolate because it’s a true story of a family of Syrian refugees who settled in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The book is an easy read at about 200 pages. Does chocolate play a role in the story? Yes, Peace by Chocolate ships worldwide (this is not an affiliated link).

Golden Finds

Inspired by Cee’s Photographing Public Art Challenge (PPAC#14) and Terri’s Sunday Stills Colour Challenge – Harvest Gold or Citrine, I took photos of a few golden bronze art objects and flowers that are in the gardens.

Mural by unknown artist.
Mural by unknown artist.
Marlin sculpture by Andrew Posa, 1987.
Marlin sculpture by Andrew Posa, 1987.
U.V. Ceti by Andrew Posa.
U.V. Ceti sculpture by Andrew Posa, “Dedicated to Edward Isaac Richmond, architect, 1908-1982. A kind man who shared his love of beauty.”
'Cherokee Sunset' Back-eyed Susan flowers.
Black-eyed Susan flowers.
Citrine Coreopsis flower.
Marigolds.
Marigolds.
An Autumn Beauty sunflower.
An ‘Autumn Beauty’ Sunflower is a showy mixture of colours including golden yellow, bronze, brown, and burgundy.

Shared with #LifeThisWeek.

So how did your week go? What’s on your bookshelf?

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Laneway Art and Recent Reads

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #33! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a week of sunny, warm and humid days. I had fun cycling, walking, kayaking, canoeing, and playing disc golf. Today I’m sharing wonderful art in a laneway, my recent reads, and a friendly reminder.

Laneway Art

I cycled to Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood then walked a quiet Euclid-Palmerston laneway. This laneway is a vast display of seventy five colourful garage doors painted by an amazing array of Toronto’s mural and street artists.

In 2018 and 2019, Jieun June Kim and Erika James (also known as KJ Bit Collective) partnered with the city’s StreetARToronto program to transform this community laneway into a giant canvas of graffiti and mural art. KJ Bit organized seventy five artists to paint garages in two live-paint jams. The initiatives were well supported by local residents who now enjoy their revitalized laneway.

Jieu June Kim art
208P – Painted doors by Jieu June Kim

I’m sharing twenty two images of the painted garage doors in today’s post, and the remaining garage door images in future posts. I’ve noted the street number, artist’s name and year based on my look-up.

Remember to click on any image in the gallery to see it in full view and use the arrow to move to the next image. Sharing for #ThursdayDoors, #PPAC10, Monday Murals and #LifeThisWeek.

Which door(s) in the gallery do you like?

Recent Reads

I’m pleased to contribute to the first #WhatsOnYourBookShelf challenge, co-hosted by four lovely bloggers Donna, Sue, Jo and Debbie.

I use the Toronto Public Library 2021 Reading Challenge categories to read widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. You can see the full list of books I’ve read and the categories I’ve met so far this year on my Books in 2021 page at the top of my blog.

My recent reads in July and August by author’s last name include:

  1. The Noise of Time – Julian Barnes
  2. Love At First – Kate Clayborn
  3. Dreamland – Sarah Dessen
  4. The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green
  5. The Good Sister – Sally Hepworth
  6. Life’s Too Short – Abby Jimenez
  7. The Editor – Steven Rowley
  8. From My Mother’s Back – Njoki Wane

Five of the eight authors were new to me. I was pleased to discover them. I linked the book title to the author’s web site or GoodReads. If I were to rate this batch of books, on a 5-star scale, I’d give 4.5 stars to The Good Sister and The Anthropocene Reviewed. The other six books got 4 stars.

What’s on your bookshelf?

Friendly Reminder

I’m delighted to be hosting the Sunday Stills photography challenge on August 22 while host Terri is on blogging break. The theme is ‘In The Garden‘. I look forward to seeing all your entries for this week’s Sunday Stills photography challenge.

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Coffee Share #2 | Words and Photos

Welcome to Weekend Coffee Share 2021

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #2! Please come on in and help yourself with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station. I can hardly wait to share my news and photos with you.

1. Awesome Coffee Share Party #1

  • By closing time on Sunday, 25 bloggers from 5 continents have participated. Countries include Canada, Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States. Isn’t that amazing?
  • About 50% of the participants joined the Weekend Coffee Share link up for the first time. This is a great opportunity for all participants to make new blogging connections. Thank you, everyone, for coming.
  • I added the InLinkz link to make it easier for participants to see all the links in one place. At any time that the InLinkz link doesn’t work, plan B is to use the Comments section.

I read all participants’ blogs and appreciate what you’re sharing in words and photos. Either via InLinkz or Comments, I read what you have to say.

Overall, Weekend Coffee Share party #1 exceeded my expectations. I hope you also had a positive experience. If so, please spread the word. My InLinkz link can accommodate up to 50 participants.

2. A Promised Land

My library let me skip the line to borrow A Promised Land, Barack Obama’s latest book and presidential memoirs. The e-book version shows 1177 pages on my iPad. Normal loans allow 21 days before the book is due. The Skip the Line loans are for 7 days only. I set a target to read close to 200 pages each day for six days, and used the 7th day to review selected chapters.

The timing of this book loan is perfect. Given the recent US presidential election and the upcoming inauguration, the book content is more relevant to me now than any other time. It’s interesting to read history and watch live US presidential events that are going to be part of history.

At 1177 pages, there are thousands of words, and yes, there are 81 photos at the end.

3. Thursday Doors

Speaking of photos, I went through the digital images on my phone to delete those I don’t want to keep and to free up the memory space for new photos. From this exercise, I chose four photos for the Thursday Doors photo challenge. Here’s my entry this week.

Kwagu’t ceremonial house in Victoria, BC, Canada.

This Kwagu’t ceremonial house is part of the hereditary cultural property of Chief David Knox of Tsaxis (Fort Rupert). Go up the few steps in front of the house, and if you zoom in, you see the door handle in the centre.

Front entrance of Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino, BC, Canada.
Doors to enter Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino, BC, Canada.

Two black doors framed with painted cedar planks mark the entrance to Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino. If you haven’t heard of this Canadian artist, I encourage you to visit his web site for his biography and amazing art. I do not earn any commission for mentioning the artist’s name or his web site.

Beautiful wood carvings at the doors inside Roy Henry Vickers Gallery.
Beautiful wood carvings at the doors inside Roy Henry Vickers Gallery.
Art displays inside Roy Henry Vickers Gallery.
Art displays on the walls and on the door framed by two big wood carvings in the gallery.

The rest of my week went well. Your turn:

  1. How did your week go?
  2. Are you looking forward to joining the Weekend Coffee Share blog party?
  3. What do you think of the above doors?

I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking with #lifethisweek, #senisal, #weeklysmile.

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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.

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

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.

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October Smiles

Waterfront Trail

Hello blog friends! Over here, Daylight saving time ended on Sunday November 1, at 2 o’clock in the morning. Clocks are turned backward one hour. Today I’m writing my monthly review for October. I hope you have a few minutes to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let’s chat.

Family and Friends

As I type this, Toronto currently sits in Modified Stage 2 of Ontario’s Covid-19 restrictions. This means indoor dining, gyms, and movie theatres that were allowed to re-open in the summer are closed again. We are advised to limit close contact to people living in our household and maintain 2 metres physical distance from everyone else.

Park in autumn

I continue to connect with my family and friends by phone, text, and email. The main thing I’m grateful for is that no one in my circle of family and friends has contracted Covid-19. We are all well. We are able to stay in touch and to meet in person outside.

Health

Trail in autumn

I took advantage of nice weather conditions in October and did a lot of cycling and walking to lovely parks as shown in my photos. Beautiful Fall foliage is everywhere. I continue to do my meditation, full body workouts, and yoga at home. A consistent fitness routine is the best strategy for me to stay healthy mentally and physically during this pandemic.

Here’s my numbers in October:

  • 31 meditation sessions
  • 22 new targeted workouts (see below)
  • 18 cycling trips
  • 16 walks
  • 15 yoga sessions
  • 13 full body workouts
  • 5 rest days

New Targeted Workouts

To keep my fitness routine fresh, fun, and challenging, I make some changes to it every month. YouTube has been a good resource for fitness videos during this pandemic. I added two series to my workout routine: Chloe Bent’s Fit Class series in October and Lunden Souza’s Runtastic series in November.

In both series, on weekdays, I complete 20 minutes of exercises that target a variety of muscle groups. These exercises use body weight and require no equipment. I enjoy both series and may either alternate them weekly in December or find a new series to try.

Home

Fruits and Vegetables

I go to the supermarkets once or twice a week for fruits and vegetables. Most of them are from Ontario, Canada, except bananas are usually from Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Honduras, red and green grapes from Chile, Peru or California, USA, and clementines from Morocco, South Africa, or Spain. I’m thankful to be able to buy and enjoy fruits from other countries.

In the supermarkets here, prices are displayed both in imperial and metric units. I’m sharing a sample of items at regular price in the table below, with the last column showing the price equivalent in US dollars. The local supermarkets have weekly sales on selected items so with some planning, one can spend less on groceries.

ItemPrice in Canadian dollarsPrice in US dollars
Bananas$1.52/ kg or $0.69/ lb$0.52/ lb
Green grapes, Plum tomatoes, Golden delicious apples, and Barlett pears$4.39/ kg or $1.99/ lb$1.51/ lb
Red grapes, Green peppers, Red peppers, Broccoli crowns, and Clementines$6.59/ kg or $2.99/ lb$2.27/ lb

Grocery Home Delivery

I experimented with grocery home delivery service for the first time in October, just in case I need it in the future. For comparison purposes, I ordered dry food items and household products from two local service providers. Overall, both offered satisfactory services on my first order so I’d use them again. I’m glad to have the home delivery option for a small fee.

Leisure

Boardwalk on a sunny day

I keep myself entertained by observing nature, visiting outdoor public art installations, blogging, reading novels, listening to music, and completing my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo. I’m thankful to have access to excellent digital services. Here’s my numbers in October:

  • 31 French and Spanish sessions
  • 13 e-books (see list below)
  • 10 public art installations
  • 4 blog posts
  • 2 digital concerts and many playlists

October Reading

I read thirteen e-books that I’d rate 3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars. Most of the authors were new to me. Here’s the list by author’s last name:

  1. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen.
  2. The Guest List by Lucy Foley.
  3. Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory.
  4. 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand.
  5. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.
  6. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren.
  7. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren.
  8. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord.
  9. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.
  10. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid.
  11. Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
  12. One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London.
  13. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne.

Your Turn

  1. How was your October?
  2. How do my grocery regular prices compare to those in your location?
  3. What book(s) have you read recently?

I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

September Smiles and 2020 Reading Update #3

Greetings blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your week is going well. October is off to a great start chez Natalie. We had rain and thunderstorms on the last day of September then the sun returned to welcome the first day of October.

Autumn leaves have been showing off their yellow, orange, and red colours in downtown Toronto. On a sunny day, they look brilliant. The air is cool, especially in the morning, just right for cycling and walking.

Red maple.

There are still a lot of late summer flowers, berries, and monarch butterflies around. The variety of colours in parks and gardens now is astounding and makes me want to paint.

Monarch butterfly.

I love that when I cycle along the Waterfront trail, the lake views are always changing. On calm days, I can see what’s beneath the clear water. On windy days, the waves roar and splash as they hit the breakwater walls or the rocks along the shore line. The familiar landscape includes water, open space, rock boulders, and trees.

Anyway, today I’m reflecting on my month of September and summarizing the books that I read in the third quarter of 2020.

September Smiles

September was a wonderful month when I enjoyed a mix of health-related activities, i.e. cycling, exercising, meditation, stand up paddling, walking, and yoga. I wrote my weekly blog posts, completed daily language lessons on Duolingo, listened to digital concerts, and read many novels.

Here’s my September in numbers:

  • 1 family meet-up with my sister and nieces.
  • 1 stand up paddling excursion.
  • 3 digital concerts.
  • 4 blog posts.
  • 4 rest days.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 14 yoga sessions.
  • 18 books (see list below).
  • 18 walks.
  • 22 cycling trips.
  • 30 meditation sessions.
  • 30 French and Spanish sessions.

2020 Reading Update #3

Back in March this year, I wrote a post to share my Reading First Update for the first quarter of the year. Once I started that, it feels logical to continue with Reading Update #2 for the second quarter, and today’s Reading Update #3 for the third quarter.

At a glance, I read 15 books in July, 20 books in August, and 18 books in September. Social distancing due to COVID-19 pandemic means more staying at home than normal and this gives me time to read.

The list of the novels that I read in July is here, in August is here, and in September is below by author’s last name:

  1. Woman On The Edge by Samantha M. Bailey.
  2. The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister.
  3. The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely.
  4. 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan.
  5. Fireworks by Katie Cotugno.
  6. How To Love by Katie Cotugno.
  7. Top Ten by Katie Cotugno.
  8. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.
  9. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella.
  10. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul.
  11. The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda.
  12. The Switch by Beth O’Leary.
  13. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.
  14. He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker.
  15. In Her Wake by K.A. Tucker.
  16. Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker.
  17. One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker.
  18. Wild At Heart (sequel to The Simple Wild) by K.A. Tucker.

I lucked out again with the fiction novels I borrowed to read in September. They’re all really good books written by authors from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I look forward to reading more novels from the same authors again.

Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, October 10 to 12, is coming up. I know I have a lot to be grateful for. If you’re celebrating the holidays, Happy Thanksgiving to you! Stay safe and well.

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

Linking here.

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

Time To Switch Up

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

Autumn arrival

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

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

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

Potted mums and pumpkins.

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

Haircut

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

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

Fitness

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

Reading

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

The Switch book cover.

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

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

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

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

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

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 11: August Smiles

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

Summer Week 11

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

Beach Visit

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

Cherry Beach.
Cherry Beach

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

Cherry Beach picnic site.
Cherry Beach picnic site

Family Visit

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

Lake view.

Park Visit

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

Larry Sefton Park

August in Numbers

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

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

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

Reading in August

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

Here’s my list in order of preference:

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Linking here.

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

Summer Week 9: Spontaneous Outings

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

Summer week 9, from August 16 to 22 inclusive, delivered a beautiful stretch of good weather, sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Daytime high ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 84F).

I received a couple of quick messages and phone calls from my friends. My spontaneous response “Yes, let’s do this!” rounded my week with two in-person coffee chats and one Stand Up Paddling afternoon on Toronto islands.

Coffee Chat #1

Friend #1 who lives in the suburb and who has been working from home had to go into the city centre for business on Tuesday. I was flexible with my time so we met up for coffee and catch up. I walked to our meeting place and back home, got 5K done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone.

We sat outside on a beautiful day, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, and in a nice public square with plants and flowers. Our chat was non-stop with laughs and smiles. After our meeting was over, I got a photo of this pretty monarch butterfly. Not bad for a cell phone!

Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower
Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower

Coffee Chat #2

Friend #2 who lives in the west end of the city and who has been busy taking care of an elderly parent was available on Thursday. So we agreed to meet at Humber Bay Arch Bridge. I rode my bike there and back, enjoyed my ride on the scenic waterfront trail, got 20 kilometers done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone again.

Humber Bay Arch Bridge
Humber Bay Arch Bridge

We sat outside at Sheldon Lookout, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, on another gorgeous day, with stunning views of Humber Bay. Part of the bay, where the sun light hit the water, sparkled like a million diamonds.

The view from Sheldon Lookout
The view from Sheldon Lookout

Our chat was full of news exchange, laughs, and smiles. On this sunny day by the lake and with nice green space around us, we focused on the present and the good things in life.

A view from Sheldon Lookout
A view from Sheldon Lookout

Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

Friend #3 was asking me about my Stand Up Paddling excursion in July. So we booked to rent two SUP boards. Each rental includes a return trip on a pontoon boat to where the SUP boards are stored on the islands, a board, a paddle, a life jacket, and a flexible leash with Velcro straps to keep the board attached to our ankles. We did stand up paddling on Toronto islands for about 2.5 hours.

My cherry red SUP board...Love the starfish!
My cherry red SUP board…Love the starfish!

The lake water will be cooler in September and SUP season will be over soon so I was glad to squeeze in this SUP outing. The photos from this trip are a bit unclear because I took them while my phone was secured in a clear waterproof case!

We saw many swans and ducks during our paddling. The cherry-on-top for me was a great blue heron that stood quietly by the water as we left the islands to head home, and the fiery sunset over Toronto Harbour, signaling the end of another stunning day.

Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Sunset over Toronto Harbour
Sunset over Toronto Harbour

Spontaneity and Flexibility

These outings came together on different days with different people and minimal planning. They gave me many joyful moments. One ordinary week became extra-ordinary. I’m glad I have the flexibility in my day to say Yes, let’s do this!

After all the physical activities, I’m ready to sink into one of these big comfy Muskoka chairs and read a good book. Care to join me? I’m about half way through The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Muskoka chairs and lake view
Muskoka chairs and lake view

Once again, nature, sunshine, exercises, friendship, and good books are my not-so secrets to a healthy and enriched life. Summer week 9 was fantastic. I look forward to making the most of summer week 10.

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

Linking here.

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