Sunday, 31 December 2017

December in a sentence a day

Greetings! I enjoyed a very festive December without stress as we stayed with the five simple pleasures that I listed here. On Christmas Eve, we had significant snowfall overnight and the next day got a beautiful white Christmas which seemed to make the holiday lights brighter and the family gathering cozier. We've also had an extreme cold alert since Christmas Day. This means bundling up when we go outside and not staying too long outside in the cold either (no frostbite please). It's a perfect time to enjoy the warm comfort of home, reading, writing, listening to music, travel planning, baking, drinking hot chocolate or coffee, talking to family and friends on the phone, and blogging.

I’m writing my December in a sentence a day on the last day of 2017 just because I have time to do it while waiting for the New Year to arrive. I'll link up with several fellow bloggers on January 4, 2018. Be sure to visit the linked up blogs next week for more inspiration.
December in a sentence a day:

1. Happy Friday with yoga at home and made a donation to our local community centre.

2. Swam 45 minutes in the morning, did light reading during the day, attended the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol event in the evening, and made cash donation to the Out of the Cold program.

3. A fun Sunday with a 5K run and guest blogging on Donna’s Retirement Reflections blog about me living a car-free lifestyle.

4. Enjoyed a beautiful evening and my 5K walk to view the holiday light displays in the city centre.

5. A great Tuesday with gym time and family time.

6. Stayed indoor on this cold Wednesday to do yoga, blogging, and writing holiday cards.

7. A great Thursday with gym time and family time.

8. Happy Friday with yoga and a fun evening at the Holiday Fair in the Square.

9. Enjoyed my Saturday morning swim, mailed our holiday cards, did grocery shopping, laundry, and booked our family trip to Ottawa in January.

10. Ran 5K in the morning then relaxed at home for the rest of the day.

11. I loved the winter scenery after our first significant snow fall of the season.

12. One hour in the gym inspired me to suggest a new Wellness link-up in 2018 to my blogger friends (suggestion accepted!).

13. Enjoyed yoga, lunch with two girlfriends, a therapeutic massage, and my thanks to Karen at Profound Journey blog for including my blog on her list of favourite blogs and channels of 2017.

14. Extreme cold alert Thursday! Exercised in the gym before heading out in my winter gear to meet my friends for coffee because a date is a date.

15. A snowy Friday made indoor yoga and travel reading perfect activities for me.

16. Enjoyed my Saturday morning swim, did grocery shopping, laundry, and light reading.

17. Reviewed and booked a hotel for our family out-of-town stay in February while my husband baked cookies.

18. Happy Monday after an hour in the gym, and writing to my friends.

19. A relaxing Tuesday with 3K walk, yoga, travel reading, and writing.

20. Worked out in the gym with my friend, and wrote my Winter fun list.

21. A fun-filled Thursday with yoga at home before heading out to view the window displays at the Bay (a department store), attended Christmas Concert at City Hall,  browsed at the Toronto Christmas Market, and watched Home Again movie before bed time.

Christmas Concert at Toronto City Hall

22. Walked 3K in winter wonderland, exercised one hour in the gym, read Chile travel information, listened to holiday music, and sent holiday greetings to my friends and relatives overseas.

23. Enjoyed my Saturday morning swim, did grocery shopping, and read more on Chile travel.

24. Ran 5K in the morning, then relaxed at home to write my Best of 2017, while my husband baked shortbread cookies.

25. We’ve got a white Christmas with significant snowfall overnight and an extreme cold alert! 

26. Celebrated Boxing day with yoga at home in the morning, and the rest of the day at my extended family's gathering with delicious food, good wine, and great catching up with everyone.

27. Exercised in the gym, did housework, and scored a few good discounts for my trip to Chile in March.

28. The extreme cold alert continued so other than a short walk outdoors, I practiced yoga at home, and drafted my upcoming blog posts.

29. Exercised in the gym, relaxed at home with my family, and did more travel planning.

30. Felt great after my Saturday swim, did grocery shopping, and had a lovely chat on the phone with one of my close friends from grade six.

31. Marked this New Year's Eve with my usual Sunday 5K run, watched Star Wars The Last Jedi movie in the theatre, and enjoyed dinner at home with my family.

Happy New Year 2018 to you and your loved ones!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Fun family time

We were at our extended family gathering yesterday for our holiday meet up and dinner. There were twenty two of us in attendance. Each family unit came with some food contribution. My sister and her husband, the hosts, cooked a perfect turkey.

We spent time nibbling on appetizers, having wine or soft drinks, playing board games, and catching up on family news. Then came the big festive dinner with turkey and side dishes, followed by desserts. It was a lot of food, a lot of laughter with several conversations going on, and a whole lot of family love. The best is that everyone is healthy. The children each got a gift from our secret Santa exchange. The adults just enjoyed watching the gift openings and the children’s reactions.

It was freezing outside as we had an extreme cold spell this week. We came home happy after sharing a delicious meal with our loved ones, and having some leftover for today (bonus!). Looking forward to our next get-together tentatively planned for February.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Best of 2017

As we are approaching the end of 2017, I'm taking a moment to write down the best bits of the year. I'm grateful every day that I have: 
  1. My good health to enjoy life with my family and friends.
  2. A happy home where I feel relaxed and renewed.
  3. The ability to live my life my way. 
Below are the best fun bits that I've experienced in 2017:


I maintained a daily fitness routine and enjoyed the associated health benefits. One of the tougher goals that I set for myself was to run the final Island Girl 5K race in September. Running is a challenge for my mind and body. I finished the 5K with slightly better time than last year. I was happy to be able to run without injury, to share a common sport with my family, and to support a good cause.


Wonderful experiences in 2017! I attended numerous cultural events both at home and abroad. They varied from art exhibitions, to festivals, to recitals, to movie nights, to new food establishments, and more. Each event made me feel enriched and energized.


My visits to beaches, gardens, parks, walking trails, and a rain forest were so rewarding. Mother Nature continued to show me her beauty and nurture me in 2017.


I've been learning Spanish on my own throughout 2017. With 15 minutes of learning daily, I've gained enough vocabulary to have basic conversations with local residents in Costa Rica and Spain. I can also read and understand materials written at the basic level in Spanish. It's a fun brain teaser with practical value so I'm interested in continuing.


Absolutely fantastic in 2017 with trips to Costa Rica in June-July, Spain and Gibraltar in August, Ireland in October, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Czechia in November. I loved all of the new experiences and treasured the time I shared with my family and friends.


It's been a fun ride. I enjoyed writing more than ninety posts in 2017 on my blog, with who knows how many pictures attached to them. The best part is the support that I received from the blogging community. I truly appreciate the fellow bloggers who have read and commented on my blog, welcomed me to join their link ups, or let me and my blog name appear on their blogs in 2017. Thank you for reading, commenting, making me feel welcomed, and supporting me.

All in all, 2017 has been great. I look forward to enjoying 2018, and making the present a great present wherever I am with whatever I have.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Winter fun list

Dear friends and readers,

Today's post has two parts:
  1) An update on my list of 5 simple pleasures for the holidays.
  2) My Winter fun list for the period of December 21, 2017 to March 20, 2018.

Two birds one stone means the post is a little bit longer than usual so grab your coffee or tea before you read on.

PART 1 - Update on my five simple pleasures for the holidays

1. Make donations to help those in need: Yes, we donated cash to a local community centre, and the Out of the Cold program which serves hot meals to those in need. We also donated non-perishable food items to a local food drive.

2. View the various light displays in the city centre: Yes, some of my favourites are the 100-feet tall and sparkly red Christmas tree, the life-sized silvery reindeer at Eaton Centre, and the festive lights at Nathan Phillips Square.

Christmas tree in Eaton Centre
Christmas reindeer in Eaton Centre
Nathan Phillips Square

3. Listen to choirs singing joyous seasonal music: Sure did. We were at St Andrew's church for the dramatic readings of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and choir singing.

4. Taste freshly baked goods with chocolate or ginger or cinnamon flavour: My husband baked a batch of delicious and cute-as-a-button cookies with cinnamon flavour. We've been eating them this week. I think we he'll bake again next week :)

5. Enjoy a big family gathering and dinner on Boxing Day (December 26): Coming soon. I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone, and enjoying dinner with my extended family.

PART 2 - My Winter Fun List

My winter fun list is shorter than the previous three seasonal lists (spring, summer, and fall) because I'd like to spend some time working towards my goal of living light by reducing my material possessions. I made some progress on this goal in 2017 and will continue until I'm satisfied.

For each item on my winter fun list, I have a time frame or a numeric count for me to track my rate of completion. I plan to report my progress on the 21st day of each month.

1. Exercise one hour daily: From December 21 to March 20, my target count of exercise sessions is 11 in December, 31 in January, 28 in February, and 20 in March. I'll vary my exercises with yoga, walking, swimming, strength training in the gym, stretching, and running short distances.

2. Continue learning Spanish 15 minutes daily: I've been doing online Spanish lessons throughout 2017. From December 21 to March 20, my target count of online sessions is 11 in December, 31 in January, 28 in February, and 20 in March. Knowing basic Spanish was useful when I visited Costa Rica and Spain. It will be useful again for my upcoming trip (see below).

3. Enjoy three fun family outings: We have one big family gathering confirmed for December 26, one long weekend family trip booked in January, and another long weekend family trip booked in February.

4. Go on five coffee or lunch dates with my friends: I'll wait until after New Year's to book the dates and will aim to go to some or all of my five favourite coffee shops.

5. Attend seven cultural events: I'm excited to have a series of art and entertainment events lined up throughout the winter so I can get out there and experience new sights and sounds.

6. Start a new blog link-up: I've proposed a new monthly Wellness Wednesday link-up with fellow bloggers in the New Year. The first link up is on Wednesday January 10, with Wellness goals as the topic. Easy, right? I hope you'll join in on the fun. The more the merrier, so we can share, inspire, and support each other.

7. Plan an independent trip to Chile: This includes activities such as reading travel guides, designing my itinerary, booking the essentials, etc. Having had wonderful experiences in Argentina and Peru, I look forward to exploring another country in South America.

8. Explore Chile in March: A new adventure awaits! If you've been to Chile, I'd love to hear your comments.

I look forward to enjoying the holidays with my family and friends, and completing my winter fun list with much enthusiasm. Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Winter beauty

We had our first significant snow fall this past week, and an extreme cold alert at mid-week. When the sun came out, I went for a walk and was mindful of the beauty of the season. I loved...

The sights of:
  • Green pine trees with fresh snow on the branches, on a clear blue sky, sunny day.
  • The lake with a thin layer of ice, and the cold mist floating in the air.
The sounds of:
  • Birds chirping while they're enjoying the sunshine like me.
  • Snow crunching as I walked on a quiet morning.
The feelings of:
  • Warmth from dressing in layers and walking briskly.
  • Relaxation after I arrived home.
Will you be outside enjoying nature today?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Holiday Fair in the Square

After attending the Swedish Christmas Fair about two weeks ago, I visited the Holiday Fair in the Square on Friday evening. Now in its 2nd year, Holiday Fair is held from December 1st to 23rd at Nathan Phillips Square in the heart of Toronto. I'm happy to share some of my pictures with you.

1. Lots of festive holiday lights lit up the City’s Christmas tree in the north-east corner, the arches above the skating rink, and the Toronto sign in the centre of the square. I had fun browsing about fifty vendor booths filled with unique gifts and special treats.

2. There were food trucks offering from light snacks, to hearty foods like poutine, to more gourmet meals:

3. Jackson-Triggs Polar Point outdoor bar served mulled wine and other alcoholic beverages:

4. Two fireside seating areas with red Muskoka chairs were available for a break and warm-up:

5. The brightly lit classic carousel brought back happy memories:

6. Visitors can bring their own skates or rent them on site and join in on the skating fun:

Holiday Fair runs until 10 p.m. so plenty of time to shop, skate, eat, drink, play, and enjoy the season.

P.S. Santa will be stopping by Holiday Fair on weekends for photos. Guests can take their own photos with the Jolly Old Elf and are invited to make a small donation to Epilepsy Toronto. All for a good cause!

What makes you loving life this week? Please share your thoughts.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

November in a sentence a day

Greetings! I chose my picture of a red maple tree as the header picture for this post as it looked like a beautiful, vibrant, and giant bouquet that mother nature handed to me during one of my morning walks. This alone made me love life.

November, for me, is usually a quieter month sandwiched between our Thanksgiving in October and the Christmas holidays in December. This year it became a memorable month thanks to a fantastic trip to Central Europe with my sister. I plan to write more detailed posts on my visits to Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague because they are really four great cities.

Today I'm sharing my November in a sentence a day, and linking up with several fabulous bloggers. Please be sure to visit the linked up blogs and find out what they've been up to as well.

For those who are new to my blog, I've been capturing my months in a sentence a day since April 2017. You can search using the key words "sentence a day" to see them all. When I re-read my previous monthly reviews, my posts and pictures reflect how much fun I've been having throughout this year. I'm thankful for what I have.

November in a sentence a day:

1. Welcomed November with an hour in the gym, and completed house chores that made me feel good by the time I went to bed.

2. Yoga and blogging at home kept me dry and warm while it rained outside.

3. Felt happy this Friday after one hour in the gym, fun coffee time with a friend, and an amazing one-hour recital by Jordan Klapman (piano) and John McMurchy (reeds).

J. Klapman and J. McMurchy

4. It's a feel-good Saturday when I got in some fitness (45-minute swim in the morning), some family activities (stocking up our fridge with fresh groceries, finishing laundry), and remembering my dear friend at the Day of the Dead festival which I wrote about here.

5. Relaxed at home with my family after my morning 5K run, and adjusted our clocks as our daylight saving ended today.

6. Monday is great after one hour in the gym and a lunch date with two of my girlfriends to share our "what's good".

7. Buying Hungarian forint and Czech koruna means I'm getting close to my departure date.

Hungarian forint (HUF)
Czech koruna (CZK)

8. One hour in the gym and coffee time with another friend made a wonderful Wednesday.

9. Stayed warm with indoor yoga and felt excited to pack for my trip while we got a winter blast of cold temperatures outside.

10. Felt happy this Friday with one hour in the gym, and an uplifting piano recital by Agnes Wan who expertly played music composed by Domenico Scarlatti, Joseph Haydn, Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann and Sergei Prokofiev.

Agnes Wan

11. Enjoyed every minute of my morning swim as I knew the pool will be closed for maintenance for two weeks and I'll be flying with my sister to Budapest tonight (i.e. sitting upright in small space for several hours)!

12. Arrived safely in Budapest, settled in our hotel room, took a nap, and kicked off our new adventure in Central Europe with champagne and a delicious three-course Hungarian dinner.

13. Had a great breakfast to start our day, visited the beautiful landmarks in Budapest in the morning, lunched and shopped at the Great Market in the afternoon, and soaked in the thermal baths at Gellert in the evening before savouring Hungarian wine, goulash soup, and an entree.

Hungarian Parliament

14. A wonderful day with breakfast in Budapest, a comfortable coach ride to Vienna, a walking break, a guided visit to Schonbrunn Summer Palace, and a delicious Viennese dinner with wine.

Schonbrunn Summer Palace in Vienna

15. A perfect sunny day exploring the historic sites in Bratislava and Vienna, tasting local snacks, taking a break at a traditional coffee house, and savouring another delicious Viennese dinner with wine.
Bratislava Castle, Slovakia

16. An amazing day with breakfast in Vienna, arriving in beautiful Prague to explore the Old Town on foot, using the tram, enjoying dinner, and sleeping well in our comfortable beds in the hotel.

Prague Castle Hill, Czechia

17. Explored the historic sites in Prague, loved so many discoveries throughout the day, and wrapped up our tour with a farewell Czech dinner, live music, and wine.

18. Left Prague for our flights back to Toronto, watched 3 or 4 in-flight movies, and arrived home safely tonight with treats for my family.

19. Happy Sunday with my usual 5K run, post-trip unpacking, laundry, and catching up.

20. Worked out in the gym for an hour in the morning and admired unique, hand made items at a local art exhibition in the afternoon.

21. Reached two simple goals today: Yoga and making dinner that was devoured in minutes.

22. Enjoyed Wednesday with one hour in the gym, seeing the first snow flurries of the season during my walk, and a Mexican lunch with a friend (her treat!).

23. Reached three simple goals of the day: Yoga, making soup from our vegetable odds and ends, and sending in my second guest post.

24. Felt fantastic after spending one hour at the gym, and attending an amazing piano and violin recital by Mai Tategami (violin) and Jean-Luc Therrien (piano), so young yet so accomplished musicians.

M. Tategami and J-L. Therrien

25. Ran 5K this morning as the pool is still closed, did grocery shopping, and got a nice haircut before my hairdresser goes on vacation.

26. It's a great Sunday when I got in some fitness (one hour in the gym in the morning), some family activities (finishing laundry, preparing dinner), and some fun at the Swedish Christmas Fair which I wrote about here.

Handicraft at Swedish Christmas Fair

27. Made it a relaxing day with walking, yoga, and leisure reading.

28. Gym time was quite fun with my fitness friend.

29. Rinse and repeat day #27 because I loved it.

30. Wrapped up November with gratitude and looking forward to December.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

5 huge benefits of living car-free

What are the Top 5 huge benefits that I’ve gained from living car-free for the past twenty five years?

You’ll find my answer in my second guest post appearing on Donna Connolly’s fabulous blog Retirement Reflections as part of her Sunday Guest Post Series. Please hop on over, check it out, and leave a comment.

While you’re visiting her site, treat yourself to Donna’s articles about her trek on the Camino Trail. It looks like we both enjoy walking.

I hope to see you there!