Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had some rest and relaxation leading up to and including New Year’s Day. I celebrated New Year’s Eve virtually with the City of Toronto’s live Celebration of Light & Sound at the CN Tower. It was beautiful and safe fun.

In the last two weeks, I enjoyed a quiet holiday at home. I baked a batch of tasty Parmesan shortbread biscuits, a Magical Coconut Pie, had phone chats with my family and friends, made online donations to charities, finalized my Books in 2020, and organized new files for 2021.

Mother Nature delivered snow for a white Christmas and clouds on New Year’s Day. While cycling and walking outside, I enjoyed watching many birds, especially hawks, red cardinals, and flocks of long-tailed ducks. Their antics made me smile.

Blog News

During the holiday break, I cleaned up my blog and media library behind the scene and did a back-up. I keep most things the same. Here’s a short list of what’s updated on my blog and what’s new.

What’s updated?

  • The Menu bar and the content of the Pages at the top of my blog.
  • My Copyright statement on the bottom right widget and at the end of each post.

What’s new?

On January 1, 2021, Alli at Eclectic Alli blog decided to step away from hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share. I volunteered to continue hosting it.

My guidelines starting on January 8:

  • 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? Mid-life musings? Wellness goals? etc.
  • Leave the link to your Weekend Coffee Share post in a comment below my Coffee Share post. No InLinkz button or code required at this time.
  • You can link to your post any time between 8 a.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday (both Toronto time).
  • I’ll 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’ll merge the monthly Wellness series that I hosted in the last 2-3 years with the weekly Coffee Share.

Life Focus

In 2021 I continue to focus my energy on three main areas, Health, Home, and Leisure, to live a healthy and enriched life. In lieu of a Word of The Year or a list of resolutions, I choose to allocate time for at least one activity in each of the three areas every day. My typical day is generally spent on Health (morning), Home (afternoon), and Leisure (evening).

Health

I continue my self-care routine to maintain good mental and physical health. It includes meditation, yoga, cycling, walking, body weight training, rest days, and health check-ups. I add seasonal sports when possible (e.g. paddling in the summer). I like to keep my fitness routine fun and I’m open to try new things.

Home

Home to me is about the physical space where I live and the relationships with my family, friends, and community. I continue to practice the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to keep my home tidy and low maintenance. I use technology to stay connected with my family and friends who live in different time zones.

In 2021 with the rollout of vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, I anticipate adjustments to gradually return to pre-pandemic level of activities. I intend to give back to my community and contribute to the recovery.

Leisure

This area is about fun activities that satisfy or expand my curiosity and interests. Examples include arts, languages, movies, music, nature, photography, reading, writing, travel, wandering, etc. There is no shortage of activities or topics that I’d like to explore. The main challenge has been time.

Looking Forward

At present, the lockdown in Toronto that started on November 23, 2020 remains in place until at least January 23, 2021. I continue to follow public health measures to stay safe and well. During a lockdown, life is simplified because only the essentials are available and everything else is either closed or available online.

I feel organized going into this year with new days waiting to be filled with explorations and enrichment. I look forward to 2021 with gratitude and optimism. I hope to see you at my Weekend Coffee Share starting January 8.

How did you celebrate New Year’s Day? What’s the top priority for you in 2021? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Wrapping Up 2020

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Today is the last Wellness Weekend link up in 2020. The optional prompt is Wrapping Up. I hope you join in on the fun right here.

We’ve all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020. Personally, it started in mid-March for me. Since March, I’ve lived through two waves of the pandemic and two lockdowns in Toronto: The first lockdown from March to June and the second lockdown from November 23 to January 4, 2021 at least.

To wrap up the year, I reflect on what I’ve accomplished and how I spent my days in 2020. Here’s the ten things that stand out for me.

Cycling on the Waterfront Trail.
Cycling on the Waterfront Trail.
  1. Self-care – On the Health front, I’ve done well in 2020. I practice the 3Ws (wash my hands, watch my distance, and wear my mask) to keep myself and others safe from COVID-19. I meditate daily, cycle, exercise, practice yoga, and walk most days. The physical activities and being outside close to nature keep me in good spirits.
Kayaking around Toronto Islands in summer 2020.
Kayaking around Toronto Islands in summer 2020.
  1. Trying new and healthy things – When the gym and swimming pool are closed, I find several body weight training videos on YouTube. I learn new exercises and do workouts at home. In the summer, I go canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddling. I focus my time and energy more on healthy or useful activities and less on news and social media.
Baking banana bread.
Baking banana bread.
  1. Enjoying home comforts – For the first time in many years, I stay home the entire year without traveling. I keep my home tidy and designate space for my workouts and my leisure activities. I embrace the quietude, stock up on essential items, bake new recipes, and make all meals at home.
Keeping a distance of 2m or the length of 3 geese from others.
Keeping a distance of 2m or the length of three geese from others.
  1. Socializing outside – In the summer when the first lockdown is lifted, I meet with my family and friends outdoors. We practice physical distancing, stay at least 2m (6 feet) apart, and bring our own drinks and snacks to our coffee dates.
Nice park for socializing outside.
Nice park for socializing outside.
  1. Using technology – The second lockdown requires Torontonians to limit contacts to the people we live with and the cold weather makes meeting outdoors less inviting so I rely on my phone, email, and FaceTime to stay connected with my family and friends. The important thing is we are all well.
Visiting the Our Game bronze sculpture.
Visiting the Our Game bronze sculpture.
  1. Continuing cultural fun – During the pandemic, I go almost 100% digital with my cultural activities. I learn French and Spanish on Duolingo, listen to concerts online as opposed to at indoor venues, visit outdoor public art installations as opposed to indoor art galleries, and watch virtual shows or movies at home as opposed to in the theatres.
Toronto's skyline from Toronto Islands.
Toronto’s skyline from Toronto Islands.
  1. Exploring – 2020 is the year when all my trip reservations are cancelled with full refunds. Since I’ve been to many countries, some several times, I feel fine to wait until it’s safe to travel again. The pause of travel this year is an opportunity for me to explore wonderful places in Toronto, and to prioritize my international travel in the future.
Switching from books to e-books in 2020.
Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Pexels.com
  1. Reading – I read a lot of books in 2020. My current count is 111 fiction novels and memoirs from more than 70 authors. This is my best annual reading record to date. A tough one for me to repeat. I switch from books to e-books in the summer. To my surprise, I love this change.
My first entry in the Thursday Doors photo challenge in 2020.
My first entry in the Thursday Doors photo challenge in 2020.
  1. Writing – I enjoy writing 55 blog posts and one guest post in 2020. I’m still having fun after four years of blogging. I’m thrilled when my blog readers find my story and photos interesting or inspiring. The best is when I make you smile.
Grateful for the great outdoors in 2020.
Grateful for the great outdoors in 2020.
  1. Gratitude – I feel grateful every day for many things, such as a new day, my good health, my family and friends, comfortable home, good food, amazing technology, excellent library system, well-maintained city parks, beautiful Lake Ontario, fantastic Waterfront Trail, and more.

I’d like to thank all of you who read my blog and share your thoughts. Your blogging friendships and comments are my awards. I wish everyone a healthy holiday season and a happy New Year 2021.

I’d love to hear your summary for 2020.

Linking here.

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

Seeing the Lights

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you have a few minutes for a quick chat over a cup of coffee or tea. Our days are getting shorter as we move towards the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, known as the Winter Solstice. So, I welcome daylight and the holiday lights at night.

The first few days of this past week, it was sunny, perfect for my cycling and walking to different parks during the day and seeing the lights in the city centre in the evening. I took a number of photos of various landmarks on my walk, all outdoors, except the last one. Let me show you in pictures.

Toronto Inukshuk Park

Natural daylight is my favourite type of light. Here’s the magnificent Toronto Inukshuk standing tall in full daylight on a sunny day at the Toronto Inukshuk Park.

The Toronto Inukshuk
The Toronto Inukshuk made by Inuit artist Kellypalik Qimirpik from Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

Inukshuk is an Inuit stone structure often found in the arctic landscape. It serves as a guide to travellers on land and sea, providing comfort, advice and spatial orientation. The Toronto Inukshuk, one of the largest of its kind in North America, was made from about 50 tonnes of mountain rose granite. It stands 30 feet high with an arm span of 15 feet.

The Toronto Inukshuk is a legacy project to commemorate World Youth Day in 2002 that brings an important symbol of Canada’s Aboriginal people to the people of Toronto. On one of the rocks on the left of the structure, part of the inscription reads:

The Toronto Inukshuk invites each one of us to become beacons of light and hope, striving for justice and peace in this world.”

Coronation Park

Soft daylight.
Beautiful trees and soft daylight in Coronation Park.

East of the small Toronto Inukshuk Park is the much larger Coronation Park. In the above photo, the clouds and the tall trees filter the sun light and cast soft shadows of the trees on the grass and the trail.

Night Lighting at the CN Tower

The CN Tower and Toronto Union Station.
The CN Tower lit up in blue and a bright Christmas tree in front of Toronto Union Station.

The CN Tower is Canada’s most recognizable and celebrated icon, defining the Toronto skyline at 553.33m (1,815 ft 5 in). The Tower’s lighting begins at sunset and concludes at sunrise the next morning, except during spring and fall bird migration periods during which time lighting concludes at midnight.

The night time illumination from bottom to top of the CN Tower changes on a specific schedule and occasion. On the evening that I took this photo, the blue lights were for Toronto Miracle Community Food Drive.

Christmas Trees at the TD Centre

Three beautiful Christmas trees with twinkling lights at the TD Centre.
Three beautiful Christmas trees with twinkling lights at the TD Centre.

The Toronto-Dominion Centre, or TD Centre, is a prestigious office complex in the Financial District of downtown Toronto. These Christmas trees look stunning with simple twinkling lights for the holidays.

Hudson’s Bay Queen Street Store

Masked nutcracker
Masked nutcracker
Masked nutcracker
Masked nutcracker social distancing

Every year, thousands of holiday-loving Torontonians gather outside the windows of the Hudson’s Bay Queen Street store to catch a glimpse of the beloved Christmas display. The tradition has marked the start of the holiday season in Toronto for over 100 years. This year, of course, is different — with a much more low-key unveiling and signs reminding observers to social distance. 

The five displays all follow a “Santa’s Secret Workshop” theme. Please click on the slide show to see a snow-making department, a candy cane department, a gift-wrapping department, an ornament-making department and a mail-room department. 

Christmas Tree in the Eaton Centre

Christmas tree in the Eaton Centre
The Christmas tree at Toronto’s Eaton Centre.

The glittering 108-foot tall tree in the Eaton Centre is Canada’s largest Christmas tree. It covers three levels of Toronto’s downtown shopping centre. My photo is from 2019 for the same tree this year.

Finally

On December 9, 2020 Health Canada authorized the first Pfizer vaccine in Canada for the prevention of COVID-19. Ontario started administering its first COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare professionals on December 14, 2020 at two hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa. We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

Bits of Joy

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you have a few minutes for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. We had a mixed bag of weather this past week: Sun, rain, snow, and sun again. As I type this, Toronto is under lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus so I limit my in-person contacts and continue to go outside only for exercise or groceries.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, there are still many small pleasures and fun moments to enjoy every day. Here’s my bits of joy and photos to share with you:

Going for a Beach Walk

Sunnyside Beach

Sunday was sunny and beautiful. It was perfect for my bike ride to Sunnyside Beach and a walk along the sandy beach. I enjoyed views of Lake Ontario, blue sky, fresh air, bird life, trees, with very few people around at the time of my visit. This may be the last “warm” day of Autumn 2020. Two days after I took this beach photo, we got snow!

Baking

Monday was a rainy day. Having three ripe bananas on my kitchen counter prompted me to bake. I haven’t baked for a few months because it was too hot to think of baking in the summer. I used Jean Paré’s Banana Bread recipe and the loaf turned out really good. It was a tasty homemade snack to go with a cuppa while staying dry and warm indoor.

Loving the First Snow

Tuesday was snow day. First snow accumulation on the first day of December 2020! Just a thin layer by the lake and more snow elsewhere in Ontario. The snow flurries and snow flakes looked so pretty when I sat inside sipping my hot coffee. I love to go for a walk after the first snowfall when everything still looks pristine.

Cycling to a Park

Wednesday was sunny again so I went cycling and enjoyed a beautiful wintry day. I was glad to have my sunglasses with me as the reflections from the snow were blinding. How many Canada geese do you see in the above photo? There were many more of them by the lake than those I captured here. When we get more snow in the parks, it will be fun to go snowshoeing.

Speaking of blinding, on Wednesday around noon, while cycling, I saw a flash of blinding light then a fireball in the clear blue sky. It appeared and disappeared in seconds. The local news reported it was a falling meteor travelling an estimated 100,000 kilometers an hour. The American Meteor Society also received reports on this daylight fireball event occurred over Central New York. That was unexpected and pretty cool to see.

Hill without snow.
The thin layer of snow was gone by Thursday.

Joining a Challenge

Dan at No Facilities blog has taken over hosting the Thursday Doors photography challenge. I decided to participate for the first time. My debut Thursday Doors entry in Beaux-Arts style is here. I look forward to sharing my selection of door images and meeting other bloggers who participate in the challenge.

Reading

I enjoyed reading a few e-books this week. One of them was Jill Weatherholt’s Second Chance Romance novel. It’s an easy read and a heartwarming story with happy endings. In addition to reading Jill’s book, I also read and agreed with the Second Chance Romance book review by Annika Perry, another blogger and writer that I follow. Both Jill and Annika have my admiration for their wonderful writing.

Selecting a Tree

I browsed and found a handsome evergreen tree for the holidays. No, I don’t plan to bring one home. I like the natural look of the first snow landed on the tree and its symmetrical shape. This is my digital tree all decorated and ready to go as my e-greeting card to my family and friends.

How did your week go? Any fun plans for the coming week? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

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.

Along Humber Bay Shores

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have a few minutes for a quick chat over a cup of coffee or tea. The weather was up and down in Toronto this past week. The first half of the week was cool and windy. The second half of the week was better with sunshine and warmer temperatures.

On one of the sunny mornings, with daytime high around 16C (60F), I went for a long bike ride and stopped at Humber Bay shores for a nature walk. Humber Bay is about 10 km (6.2 miles) west of Toronto’s city centre. A string of beautiful parks with many inviting trails and nice views of Lake Ontario await in this area. Let me show you in pictures.

The Trails

Trail at Humber Bay Park East

A network of sixteen flat and well-maintained biking and hiking trails weave through Humber Bay Park East and Humber Bay Park West. Autumn foliage provides pleasant colours and intermittent shades on a sunny day.

Stream at Humber Bay Park East

I saw and heard many small birds among the trees but they were too quick for me to take a good photo. I also passed a few small water streams when I explored the trails. They all feed into Lake Ontario.

The Views

Looking west from Humber Bay Park East
Looking west from Humber Bay Park East

For unobstructed views of Lake Ontario, I walked the outer trails at the south end of Humber Bay Parks. Rock boulders and benches along the shorelines offer excellent spots for bird watchers hoping to find interesting shorebirds and waterfowl, or for park visitors to sit down and enjoy the panoramic views.

View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
View of the Toronto skyline at Humber Bay Park East
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West
The Toronto skyline and peninsula at Humber Bay Park West

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

Located along the Humber Bay Shores, the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat (HBBH) is an ecological restoration project that provides critical habitat for a variety of native butterfly species. It opened in 2002 and is about four acres in size.

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

I took a self-guided tour following informative interpretive signs located throughout the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat. The HBBH is comprised of many different plant communities, including wildflower meadow, short grass prairie, woodland, and wetland. It also has a Home Garden that incorporates butterfly-friendly plants and physical features that turn a garden into a haven for butterflies.

Sunflowers

Metal sunflowers

Upon leaving Humber Bay Parks, I saw these big and beautiful sunflowers. They are made of metal and should last all four seasons! I love the details on the flowers, the curved stems, and the veins on the leaves.

Gratitude

It was delightful to be outside cycling, walking in the sunshine, and enjoying seasonal scenery along the shores of Humber Bay. I’m thankful for these parks and all the sunny and warm days that we’ve had this autumn, especially in November when it’s typically overcast and unpredictable here.

The local weather forecast calls for rain or a mix of rain and snow on Sunday, followed by a mix of sun and clouds and normal temperatures on Monday. I’m enjoying the comforts of home on Sunday and will head outside again on Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving on November 26 to my family, friends, and blog readers who live in the USA! Stay safe and well, everyone.

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

Linking here.

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

Peace by Grenadier Pond

Hello blog friends! Over here, the good weather continued this past week. We had plenty of sunshine and warm daytime high temperatures that ranged from 18C to 24C (66F to 75F). We broke record on Tuesday and are now back to about 12C (54F) this weekend.

It was a pleasant week. I went cycling and walking every morning, except Saturday. I got all my fitness-at-home sessions done. I had long phone conversations with my friends who live abroad. My order for grocery home delivery came on time with everything in good condition. I did my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo, read and enjoyed two fiction novels, which bring my year-to-date total of books read to ninety seven (97).

Today is the 11th Wellness Weekend link-up of 2020. The optional prompt is Peace. I think we all yearn for a more peaceful time after what’s been happening around the world this year. Feel free to join in the link up here and visit other blogs.

Grenadier Pond in Autumn
Grenadier Pond in Autumn

With Peace in mind, on one of the sunny mornings this past week, I cycled to Grenadier Pond, located in the south west end of the city. It is named after the local Town of York garrison of the 1800s and their use of the pond for fishing. Grenadier Pond is about 1 kilometre long and 0.5 kilometre wide. It’s a calm natural body of water and provides lovely vistas.

Trail along the shoreline of Grenadier Pond

A beautiful trail follows its shoreline leading to occasional lookouts and finally to a marsh at the northern end of the pond. The views are stunning especially on a sunny day.

Views of Grenadier Pond
Views of Grenadier Pond

Interpretive signs are available along the trail to provide more information about the wildlife and plants at the pond. Several notable wetland plant species are present, including sweetflag, broad-leaved cattail, common arrowhead and blue-flag iris.

Ducks in Grenadier Pond
Ducks in Grenadier Pond

Grenadier Pond and its restored shoreline provides habitat to a wide assortment of water birds, fish, turtles, dragonflies, damselflies, and other wildlife. I saw several groups of ducks that paid no attention to me even when I got close to the water’s edge.

Fishing is permitted along a designated section of the Grenadier Pond shoreline. Common fish found here include largemouth bass, Northern pike, sunfish, brown bullhead, and carp.

Views of Grenadier Pond
Views of Grenadier Pond

It was peaceful to walk along the trail while listening to the soft sounds of water and rustling leaves. I found it pleasant to have the pond pretty much to myself on a weekday morning.

Hillside trails by Grenadier Pond
Hillside trails by Grenadier Pond

On the east side of Grenadier Pond, hillside trails lead into High Park, an amazing, beautiful, and large park in Toronto, that deserves a separate blog post.

During the week and on Remembrance Day, I visited the Victory-Peace Monument at Coronation Park. The City of Toronto commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Second World War in Coronation Park as part of Remembrance Week (November 5 -11, 2020). I remembered our veterans and those who have served and continue to serve our country in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as those who help maintain peace.

Canadian flags at Victory-Peace Monument on Remembrance Day 11.11.2020
Canadian flags at the Victory-Peace Monument on Remembrance Day 11.11.2020

Canadian flags were planted around the Victory-Peace Monument by the Mayor, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion and Youth to memorialize the 3,452 Torontonians who fell during the War. November 11, 2020 marks 100 years of Remembrance in Toronto.

After a lovely bicycle ride and walk, on my way home I was rewarded with a mirrored view of the clouds on Lake Ontario on a calm day. I continue to be grateful for all the pristine areas around the city that I have to choose from.

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

Linking here.

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

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Hello blog friends! I’m glad you are here. I hope you have time for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. This past week, the weather started off on the cool side on Monday and Tuesday, then from Wednesday to the weekend, the high temperatures reached 20C (68F) with sunny skies.

The nice weather brought a big smile to my face. I decided to cycle to Tommy Thompson Park where I know there is a lot of open space and nature trails for cycling and walking. I had visited this park a few times during the summer.

About Tommy Thompson Park

Aerial view of Tommy Thompson Park
Source: Tommy Thompson Park web site

Park Location: Tommy Thompson Park is located at 1 Leslie Street, near Unwin Avenue, on a man-made peninsula, known as the Leslie Street Spit, which extends five kilometres (3.1 miles) into Lake Ontario.

Park Name: The name “Leslie Street Spit” was coined by local residents and remains the unofficial popular name. In 1985, the Spit was officially named Tommy Thompson Park to honour Toronto’s former Parks Commissioner.

Park Special Features:

  • The land on which the park lies is completely man-made using the sand/ silt dredged from Toronto Outer and Inner Harbours and the Keating Channel.
  • Tommy Thompson Park features a trail system that spans 18 kilometres (11.1 miles) with three types of trails that were designed for various user groups: Multi-use trail (7.4 km), Nature trails (3.3 km), and Pedestrian trails (7.3 km).
  • Tommy Thompson Park is considered one of the best places for bird watching in the city with more than 300 recorded species and a good spot for fishing.
  • Tommy Thompson Park has a Nature Centre and Bird Research Station. Unfortunately they are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic so guided interpretive tours and educational programs are unavailable at this time.

Exploring Tommy Thompson Park

Multi-use trail in Tommy Thompson Park
The multi-use and main trail in Tommy Thompson Park

From the park entrance, I followed the main trail that runs through the centre of the park. This flat paved, multi-use trail accommodates leisure cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, rollerbladers, and strollers.

The main trail has intermittent speed bumps and is approximately 5 km (3.1 miles) long from the park entrance to the Lighthouse. Wildflower meadows and cottonwood forests appear on both sides of the trail. I noticed a unique Please Brake For Snakes sign, a reminder that this park is Toronto’s urban wilderness.

In previous visits to the park, I walked the nature trails to see wildlife such as birds, butterflies, toads, etc. The Nature trails are narrow trails, only half a metre wide, are not graded and may be uneven. They’re intended for walking or hiking and target user groups such as nature watchers and photographers.

Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park
Pedestrian Bridge at Tommy Thompson Park

About half way through the park, the main trail crosses the small Pedestrian Bridge. The views on both sides of the bridge are amazing.

View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
View of the Toronto skyline from Pedestrian Bridge
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings
Unobstructed view of Lake Ontario and some rock stackings

Continue on to the end of the main trail, there are rock boulders to sit on and gaze out to beautiful Lake Ontario. The water along the cobble beaches is clear with several rock formations that may have been built by previous visitors. It’s a nice spot for a break or a picnic.

One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park
One of many Nature trails in Tommy Thompson Park

From the main trail, I followed one of the Nature trails to reach one of the coastal marshes that provide critical habitat for wildlife. There are a wide variety of turtles and fish species found in and around Tommy Thompson Park, including Northern pike, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and lake trout.

Heading home....Love a curvy trail
Heading home…Love a curvy trail

It was delightful to be outside cycling and walking in the sunshine. Exploring Tommy Thompson Park was an excellent way to spend a morning. As I headed home, I was grateful once again for the wonderful places we have around here to enjoy.

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

Linking here.

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

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.