Hawk, Heron and Kayaking Fun

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #30! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a fantastic week with a mix of sunny days and some showers. I enjoyed cycling, walking, playing disc golf, strength training, meditation, yoga, learning French and Spanish, watching Olympic highlights, photography, reading and writing. I went canoeing and kayaking. I had a few nice surprises.

1. A Red-Tailed Hawk

One morning as I cycled to Ontario Place to go kayaking, I spotted a hawk on a fence post. I turned my bike around to get a good look. I’ve seen hawks in Toronto before but this was the first time I was about 2m (6 ft) from a calm red-tailed hawk. What a thrill to observe this beauty up close!

Red-tailed hawk.
A magnificent red-tailed hawk.

2. Dr. Duke Redbird

I continued cycling to the South Marina. Dr. Duke Redbird was at the Big House Canoe (Wigwam Chi-Chemung) that I wrote about here. I said hello and we chatted. As a few ducks swam towards us, he mentioned that they like oatmeal. It was an unexpected and nice encounter with Dr. Redbird at his houseboat.

Dr. Redbird at his Wigwam Chi-Chemung (Big House Canoe).
Dr. Redbird on his houseboat.

3. A Great Blue Heron

I picked up my kayak rental and paddled for about two hours. I saw many colourful fish amid green aquatic plants. Blue and red dragonflies flitted around me and some of them landed on my kayak.

Blue kayak.

At the Fish Habitat, I saw a Great Blue Heron! This stately heron with its subtle blue-gray plumage stood motionless as it scanned for prey. I paddled quietly to get closer and we watched each other in silence.

A Great Blue Heron – What a majestic sight!

I paddled away and when I circled back, the Great Blue Heron was still there. It moved from the tree log to the river bank, to the rock, and flew to a small island in the Habitat before I left.

Great blue heron.
“I’m over here”
Great blue heron.
Wait, I see something!

4. Other Aquatic Life

I saw cormorants, a variety of ducks, and a muted swan. The cormorants are swift divers. The ducks and the swan were less shy and let me take their photos. Some of the ducks swam merrily alongside my kayak. I love it when they do that.

The water was so calm and clear, I could see the bottom of the lagoon. I also got a close-up view of green floating mats and white water crowfoot flowers.

Aquatic plants and flowers.
Aquatic plants and flowers.

5. Over Floe by John Notten

My kayaking fun continued as I paddled to Over Floe, a floating art creation by John Notten. He also designed the Plant It Forward urban garden sculpture that I shared in my previous post. I was glad to see this interesting art exhibit first on the water.

Truck, School
Bank, House and Factory

Then from land after I finished kayaking. Here are two views of Over Floe and what Notten says about each view. Click on each image to enlarge it.

It was a wonderful outing. I had a blast!

Linked to #LifeThisWeek, #PPAC7, #TreeSquare30, #WWE90.

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

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Violet Flowers and Disc Golf Intro

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #15! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Spring Flowers

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

Violet croci.
Croci
Pasque flowers.
Pasque flowers

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

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

How To Play Disc Golf

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

About The Discs

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

Why Disc Golf?

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

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

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

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

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The 9 Gifts of February

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #8! 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.

In spite of the lockdown in Toronto until at least March 8 and wintry days, there were gifts in February. These 9 are mine:

1. Natural Light

We have some bright sunny days and longer daylight time this month. When I walk on the fantastic Waterfront Trail to the shores of Lake Ontario, the sunshine gives me our best natural source of vitamin D and boost my mood.

Sunny day with white clouds, ice and snow.
Sunny day with white clouds, ice and snow.

2. Beautiful Scenery

February delivers more cold days and snow than January. Still, downtown Toronto hasn’t had as much snow as other areas in Ontario. I embrace the quiet beauty of winter, perfect to practice mindfulness outside.

Snow on evergreen trees and the ground.
Snow on evergreen trees and the ground.

3. Personal Trainers

The snow-covered steps at the Toronto Music Garden reminds me of the Mountain Climber exercise. This month I use a different fitness instructor’s video series to refresh my body weight training at home. I also keep up with my meditation and yoga practice.

It’s fantastic to have access to workout videos on YouTube. I like how my intense body weight workouts and my relaxing yoga flow compliment each other. The instructors are my virtual personal trainers and fitness motivational coaches.

Snow-covered steps at Toronto Music Garden.
Snow-covered steps at Toronto Music Garden.

4. Happy Celebrations

Mid-February, my family had virtual celebrations on Lunar New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Family Day. Two family members had their happy birthdays. I had several phone chats with my longtime friends. Everyone is in good health and that is well worth celebrating.

Family Day fun: Build a snow fort.
Family fun activity: Build a snow fort.

5. Colourful Arts

Textile artist Amanda McCavour creates a colourful collage within the treetops with hundreds of pieces of hand-cut fabric for her Sketch, Sample, Sew exhibit. This creative display makes me look up and appreciate various colours including white.

Colourful Sketch, Sample, Sew art exhibit.
Colourful Sketch, Sample, Sew art exhibit against white clouds and snow.

6. Thoughtful Comments

This month I enjoy writing 4 blog posts, 1 guest post here, and host 4 Weekend Coffee Share blog link-ups.

While I receive many thoughtful comments from my blog readers every week, those left for this post stood out. Thank you, everyone, who took the time to write and share your thoughts.

Winter birds in the harbour.
Winter birds dotted the harbour with white clouds, ice and snow in the horizon.

7. Good Books

I use the Toronto Public Library Reading Challenge 2021 categories to read more widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. I read 9 good books in February:

  • Daylight – David Baldacci.
  • Minute to Midnight – David Baldacci.
  • Older, But Better, But Older – Caroline De Maigret. *
  • Saint Everything – Sarah Dessen.
  • The Rest of The Story – Sarah Dessen.
  • Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline. *
  • The Searcher – Tana French. *
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan.
  • The Summer Book – Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal. *

Asterisk indicates new-to-me author. I keep track of what I’ve read on my Books in 2021 page. Year-To-Date Reading Totals: 16 new books, 6 new authors, and 9 categories.

White Muskoka chairs with a view.
White Muskoka chairs: My book nook with a view.

8. Fun Challenges

Aside from the Reading Challenge, I enjoy entering photography challenges weekly: Thursday Doors, Rosy Red, Birds and all things that are white in this post are for Terri’s #SundayStills photography challenge this weekend.

Samples of my February photo challenge entries.

9. New Learning

I learned from Trent at Trent’s World blog and a few longtime Weekend Coffee Share participants that the Weekend Coffee Share link up started in 2014. It had four hosts in the six years before I started being the 5th host this year.

I continued French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo daily in February. I learned more about plants and birds in my area. I look forward to seeing Spring flowers soon.

White trillium flower.
White trillium is Ontario’s provincial flower.

I’m grateful for the gifts of February.

What stood out to you in February? I’d love to hear your comments.

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Why My January Is Great

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #4! 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.

The lockdown in Ontario continues until at least February 10. Still, good things do happen. I’m grateful for them all. Here’s 9 reasons why my January is great.

1. Awesome Parties

It’s my pleasure to host the awesome Weekend Coffee Share parties this month: 25 bloggers at party #1, 30 bloggers at party #2, 35 bloggers at party #3, and here we are at party #4. Thank you, everyone, for your participation.

I adjusted the InLinkz setting to display all thumbnails on one page. Plus, as requested, I’m now closing the weekly party on Sunday at midnight Toronto time.

2. Cool Arts

The Sonic Runway and Iceberg art installations are cool to see at night. Their modern designs, lights, and music enrich my senses.

Eastbound entrance to the Sonic Runway light structure.

The Sonic Runway converts audio signals into patterns of light, shooting up and down a corridor of LED-lined arches more than 100-metres long at the speed of sound.

3. Fun Challenges

My 3 square photos of the Sonic Runway and Iceberg arch entrances are my entries to Becky’s Square Up (my first time) and Dan’s Thursday Doors. These photography challenges stretch my creativity.

Westbound entrance to the Sonic Runway light structure.
Westbound entrance to the Sonic Runway arches. Upon leaving the Sonic Runway, turn right to reach the Iceberg light structure.
Iceberg light structure.

The Iceberg is made up of a series of illuminated metallic arches that tell the story of an iceberg. The CN Tower lights up the night sky.

4. The Great Outdoors

In January, I cycle and walk outdoors most days to keep me mentally and physically healthy. It’s my first time cycling in a winter month and I enjoy every outing. I love the Waterfront Trail and Lake Ontario.

5. Self-Care

At home, I meditate every morning for 15 minutes, followed by either body weight workouts (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or Hatha yoga (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) for an hour. I complete all sessions in January and feel fit.

6. Happy News

This month one of my nieces got a new job. Three family members and a longtime friend had their happy birthdays. Another niece and two friends of my family, who are front-line healthcare professionals, received their COVID-19 vaccines.

7. Global Connections

I changed my blog posting day from Sunday to Friday and wrote five posts. January 8, 2021 was my first time hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share blog party using InLinkz.

I enjoy reading all participants’ blogs from five continents and provide comments. I greatly appreciate bloggers who take the time to read my blog and share their comments.

8. New Learning

I continue my French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo daily in January. For my Host role, I did a quick self-study to familiarize myself with InLinkz. I learn new information from blogs and books.

9. Good Reads

I read 7 books this month. It’s the first time I read Barack Obama’s book and finished his first presidential memoirs, 1177 pages in e-book format, in 7 days. Here’s my book list by author’s last name:

  • Long Road to Mercy – David Baldacci.
  • Redemption – David Baldacci.
  • Walk The Wire – David Baldacci.
  • Once and For All – Sarah Dessen.
  • An Abundance of Katherines – John Green.
  • You Had Me At Hello – Mhairi McFarlane.
  • A Promised Land – Barack Obama.

What word(s) would best describe your January? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking with Life This Week, The Weekly Smile, The Changing Seasons, Sentence A Day.

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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.

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Wrapping Up 2020

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to hear your summary for 2020.

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November Smiles

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

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

Health

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

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

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

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

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

Home

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

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

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

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

Leisure

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

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

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

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

November Reading

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

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

Book Review

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

Plunge book cover

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

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

Looking forward

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

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

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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.

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.

Gratitude and Balance

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s catch up on our news over a cup of coffee or tea. Before I get to the topics of Gratitude and Balance, let me share one of my fun outings this week.

Stand Up Paddling

Summer week 13, from September 13 to 19 inclusive, was mainly sunny and cool. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 14C to 26C (57F to 79F). I enjoyed cycling and walking every weekday morning and squeezed in my third Stand Up Paddling (SUP) excursion of summer 2020 yesterday.

Swan in Toronto harbour.

It was a gorgeous morning to be on the water with swans swimming ahead of my SUP board. I checked out a number of floating houses, some are nicely decorated, and talked to people who live on a boat full-time. One of the sailboat captains offered to take me sailing around Toronto Islands so I may take up that offer on another day.

Gratitude

When I reflect on the thirteen weeks of summer 2020, every week exceeds my expectations. Let’s see how I did with my summer fun plan that I posted on June 21:

Eat a lot of summer fruits: Yes, especially blueberries, strawberries, and peaches from farms in Ontario.

Enjoy ice cream: Yes, I stayed with classic chocolate and natural vanilla flavours and enjoyed them on hot and humid days.

Explore local gardens or parks: Yes, I explored several local parks and gardens. Some of my favourites include Coronation Park, Trillium Park, Marilyn Bell Park, and the Toronto Music Garden.

Go cycling on the Waterfront trail: Yes, during the thirteen weeks of summer, I cycled 5 or 6 trips per week. The Waterfront trail is scenic and it’s for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians so I feel safe cycling on it.

A section of the Waterfront Trail.
A section of the Waterfront Trail

Have a picnic by the lake: Yes, every time I went cycling, I had a picnic by the lake. I also had coffee chats by the lake when my siblings and nieces visited this summer.

Look for wildlife in the city: Yes, I saw many birds, butterflies, dragonflies, cormorants, ducks, fish, geese, swans, toads, terns, turtles, beavers, minks, squirrels, etc. My favourites are the grey herons, snowy egrets, and monarch butterflies.

Paddle within Toronto Islands: Yes, I went canoeing twice, stand up paddling three times, and kayaking six times in thirteen weeks. Way better than I expected and I loved every paddling trip that I took.

Read light novels: I read 55 novels from June 1 to September 20 and love reading every day! This is what I can do when COVID-19 prevents me from going to movie theatres, concerts, restaurants, or shopping centres.

A quiet beach
A quiet beach

Relax at a lake beach: Yes, I spent lots of relaxing time at the beaches on Toronto Islands, Cherry Beach, and Ontario Place.

Walk on the boardwalk: Yes, I walked along the board walks at Marilyn Bell Park, Gibraltar Point, and Harbourfront.

I’m grateful that I’m in good health and I’m free to explore and enjoy life even with restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. My family and friends are all well. I wake up every morning with gratitude and intend to make the most of every day. I look forward to enjoying Autumn 2020!

Balance

Today is the 9th Wellness Weekend link up and the optional prompt is Balance. I hope you join in and share your thoughts in the Comments on how you achieve your life balance.

I take actions to stay balanced and I work at it. Here’s my list of actions:

Emotional health: Make time for fun every day. Treat myself to whatever that makes me laugh or smile.

Intellectual health: Expand my awareness and explore the world via arts, blogs, books, language lessons, music, movies, nature, travel, etc. I choose the activities I like and mix them up.

Mental health: Focus on relationships that matter. Have some solitude time to reflect and relax every day. Minimize toxicity from negative people, news, and social media. I scan the news for my awareness but don’t spend hours on it.

Physical health: Include balance exercises to strengthen the muscles that keep us balanced (e.g. Tree pose in yoga, single leg dead lifts in workout session). Alternate high intensity workout day with a less intense activity the next day. Alternate the side that I start at each workout (Left, Right). Try to eat a balanced diet with grains, lean meat, fruit, and vegetables. Drink water for hydration. Get enough sleep (for me 7-8 hours per night).

How did your week go? How do you find your balance? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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