Category Archives: Personal Life

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: An Average Day in My Life

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

My answer to this prompt certainly isn’t what I was expecting it to be when I first saw it about eleven months ago, but I’m sure you all can say the same thing.

Most of my time is spent at home or outdoors.

I’m lucky to live in a walkable, safe neighbourhood. Practically all of errands I need to run can be accomplished without using public transit, a cab, or a private vehicle. My biggest hurdle there is only buying what I can comfortably carry.

I add things to my shopping list before they run out, and I consolidate trips as much as possible. If paper towels are on sale and I know I’ll need them next week, I’ll pick up a package of them during a normal grocery store run. For heavy items, I buy what I can and try to remember I’m not superwoman.

This has been a good way to develop my muscles! My arms do a lot of lugging stuff around for my household, and I’m grateful for my ability to act like a human pack mule when necessary.

Much of my time at home is spent typing up blog posts and stories. The gentle clicks of a keyboard is one of the most common sounds you’ll hear here. it’s so common that sometimes I dream about it.

woman doing yoga. stretching head down into lap.
Someday I’ll be this flexible!

Home workouts are another way I pass the time. Lately, I’ve been doing lots of yoga while a knee injury heals and trying not laugh too much when my spouse tries to distract me during  the most pretzel-like moves. He likes to poke gentle fun at the instructor.

This is beginning of the coldest months in Ontario. When the weather allows for it, I love going for long walks at the park and seeing the first signs of winter and the last signs of autumn in the land.

On freezing days, I stay home and watch television instead. I enjoy sitcoms like Kim’s Convenience, science fiction like Star Trek: Discovery, and nonfiction science/history shows like Cosmos.

A Photo Essay of Toronto in November

Each month I share photos from one of the parks in Toronto to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is the tenth instalment of this series and will be a bit longer than usual.an autumn tree covered in bright yellow leaves

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune July, August, September, and October to read the earlier posts.

Welcome to November in Toronto! It was between 16 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) and 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) on my visits this month. Temperatures are traditionally supposed to reach highs of 7 Celsius (45 Fahrenheit) at most now, so these numbers are quite out of the ordinary for us. Climate change is quickly altering our seasonal weather patterns.

This month is generally one of our rainiest ones. Nearly half of the days in the average November are rainy ones here. Sometimes it snows, too, although such early snow melts within a day or two.

The sunshine you’ll see in most of these photos is unusual, too. Our more typically overcast days were also pretty stormy this month, or I would have included examples of them as well.

Landscape photograph of a World War I memorial at an urban park.

It was raining heavily when the leaves were at their peak, but the rain luckily stopped in time for me to get some nice shots of the autumn foliage.

Close-up photo of World War I monument at a park. the monument is on a series of stone steps and surrounded by evergreen bushes.

The evergreen bushes are still looking good. They must not go dormant until December or January. I’ll check back again with them then.

Snapshot of a yellow autumn tree next to a dirt running trail at a park.

The running trail always shows signs of recent rainfall now, but it’s still firm enough to jog or walk on. This particular tree has such a nice rustle of leaves when you pass it. I wish I could stand there all day and listen to it’s melodic little song.

A canopy of autumn leaves still clinging to their trees.

We saw the canopy of leaves thin last month, and that pattern continues this month. There are still green leaves to see if you look closely.

A friendly hole in the trunk of a tree.

Who will nestle up here this winter, I wonder? It looks cozy.

A mostly green autumn tree a reddish yellow autumn tree, and a bare tree.

These are the three faces of November. Some trees are mostly to partially still green. Most trees are at or just past their peak of colour. Some trees have lost most to all of their leaves and are prepared for winter.

Lower half of a person standing in a pile of autumn leaves. Their shoes are totally covered with leaves.

And these are the two legs of November.

It’s a marvellous feeling to walk through so many leaves that you can no longer see your feet. Every step makes delightful crunching noises. I always have to fight the urge to dive into the leaves and do whatever the equivalent to swimming in them might be.

A tree who had lost half of its branches and part of its trunk during a winter storm. It is now covered in autumn leaves.

Our tree friend who lost half of its branches in that storm last winter is quickly shedding leaves.

A photo of a tree that lost a third of its branches in a storm last winter. It's leaves are quickly turning colours and falling off.

As is our tree friend who lost about a third of its branches and has been droopy and strangely damp in its trunk this autumn.

The trunk of this one looks a little less damp now, but I see no other obvious changes in it for better or for worse. May both of these trees do well this winter.

A tree filled with yellow autumn leaves that are glowing in the sunlight as they slowly drop to the ground.

It’s hard to know when to stop sharing photos with you. The landscape is filled with beauty now in every direction you look. This tree looked like it was glowing when I snapped a photo of it.

Trees filled with gorgeous red autumn leaves.

Don’t you want to go run into the centre of the park and twirl around with joy? I sure do.

There’s something remarkable about being surrounded by so many picturesque scenes.

A large, bare autumn tree flanked by trees that still have some leaves attached to them.

As hinted above, November is one of those months that changes rapidly. Some trees are bare while the ones next to them still have some to most of their leaves attached.

A shot of a plaza in a park that is lined by trees who have lost about half of their leaves.

I don’t know about all of you, but I still find beauty in trees that are past their peak autumn colours.

There’s something marvellous about watching autumn leaves dance on the ground when a stiff breeze hits them, too. I tried to film them to share on social media, but they stopped every time I hit the record button on my phone.

Mostly bare autumn tree with three birds nests in it

We’re also just begun to reach the time of year when the trees reveal their secrets.

I hope to share more photos like this next month. It’s fascinating to see where the bird nests were last summer when you couldn’t directly see the nests for yourself.

If we were walking through this park together, I’d stop and show you many nests like these. I think we should admire the birds’ hard work over the summer. The park, and the ecosystem in general, wouldn’t be the same without them. My ears sure appreciate their songs as well.

A cobbled path in a park that is lined by bright yellow trees in their full autumn splendour.

As always, I’ll end this post with the famous bench-lined walkway in the park. Isn’t it beautiful in autumn?

Stay safe, friends. Winter is right around the corner.

Thankful for What We Have: A Review of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Poster for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Image shows Charlie Brown and Snoopy standing next to table with a turkey and pie on it.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a 1973 animated Thanksgiving film about Charlie Brown, the famous animated character from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, throwing an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner for all of his friends.

The other films in this holiday trilogy in it include A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965 and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown from 1966.

They all work as standalone stories. There is no need to watch them in a specific order.

I decided to review A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving because it’s the least well known part of this trilogy. It wasn’t something I was aware of growing up even though I knew about and liked the other films.

This review won’t contain a list of characters for spoiler reasons. The run time was only 25 minutes for this film, so I don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to discussing the plot without giving away what happens in it.

My Review

The premise was one of the other reasons why I wanted to review this film. I can’t imagine throwing together a Thanksgiving dinner on the same day I discovered such a thing was expected of me. Ugh!

Charlie Brown (who is pictured in the film poster above) didn’t even have the advantage of knowing how to roast a turkey or make all of the traditional side dishes for this holiday. He was a child who was just beginning to learn to make simple dishes like toast and popcorn, so his predicament was even worse than I originally assumed it would be.

I was intrigued by what a Thanksgiving dinner cooked by a kid his age would be like and if he’d figure out how to get everything warm and on the table at the same time. Seeing what that process was like for him was a great deal of fun.

One of the other unexpected twists in this film had to do with what happens when Thanksgiving doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. That message is just as relevant now as it was nearly fifty years ago. Honestly, it’s even more relevant now in some ways than it was when it first came out!

I loved the way the filmmakers approached the concept of feeling disappointment about the holiday festivities you’d planned and how to handle that emotion.

There are so many more things I want to say about the expectation of having a “perfect” Thanksgiving…but they’ll quickly wander into spoiler territory if I’m not careful.

It was also interesting to note how the culture of Thanksgiving has evolved since 1973. The ways the characters talked about the first Thanksgiving and this holiday in general weren’t exactly the same as they’re often discussed these days, although they did remind me of how these topics were handled when I was a kid.

I wonder what kids today would think of this tale?

Do note that the preview I included below for this short film is an original one from 1973 and does include some spoilers.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is available on Apple TV.

Thanksgiving Dishes I Can’t Cook

American Thanksgiving is only a few days away, so I thought I’d go a little off-topic and share something that wouldn’t normally fit into the scope of this blog.

I’m a perfectly serviceable baker and cook. The food I whip up isn’t fancy and it won’t appear on the cover of any magazine, but it tastes good and gets the job done 99% of the time.

As far as that other 1% goes, keep reading.

 The Pie Mystery

close-up photo of a fruit pie with a lattice crustI grew up in a family filled with people who made amazing pies.

Sometimes I’d help them work the dough or put the filling into the pie before baking.

Shortly after I got married, I decided to start making pies on my own. They’re such a delicious end to Thanksgiving dinner.

Unfortunately, the crust on my first pie burned. This trend has continued with every pie I’ve attempted to make since then no matter which tips and tricks I use to protect the crust while the filling firms up.

It’s gotten to the point where I will buy a nice pie for Thanksgiving without an ounce of remorse for not serving something homemade for dessert.

The Revenge of the Cornish Game Hens

close-up shot of roasted birdI live in a small household, so roasting a full turkey would create far more leftovers than our stomachs or our freezer could hope to handle.

One year I thought I might roast some Cornish game hens for Thanksgiving instead of a too-large turkey.

I followed the instructions of the recipe I found online perfectly. I even set timers to baste the birds so they’d be nice and juicy.

When the buzzer sounded on our oven, I opened it and checked the internal temperature of one of them. It was a little lower than the recipe said it should be, so I left it in a while longer.

When I took them out, they seemed to be hot enough to safely consume according to our meat thermometer.

It only took a few bites for my spouse and I to realize they weren’t fully cooked. We weren’t sure what the rules were about reheating half-cooked birds and so didn’t eat any more of them.

We were lucky not to get sick from that experience! Ever since then, I’ve shied away from roasting full birds of any size. It feels safer to only roast pieces of them instead.

Now that you know my two deepest Thanksgiving secrets, which Thanksgiving foods do you have trouble making?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: How I Decide What to Read Next

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A black and white sketch of an owl wearing glasses and reading a novel by candlelight Figuring out what to read next is pretty simple for me.

The Toronto Public Library allows patrons to place holds on up to 30 ebooks at a time.

Their hold limit used to be capped at 20, but I wrote them a friendly email and they soon changed that policy. This might be a story future generations tell about me to explain what Aunt Lydia was like. Ha!

I don’t always digitally queue up for that many books, but I almost always have holds placed on at least a dozen or two of them.

Some books are more popular than others, especially if they’re new releases, and therefore have much longer waitlists. I might wait a few days for one title but a few months or longer for something highly anticipated that just came out.

I keep track of roughly when books should arrive and request new ones to fill the holes when I notice that a future month looks like it won’t have a lot of arriving ebooks for me. Let’s just say that my to-read list is a long one.

This system has been especially helpful this year when socializing in person and going to my favourite places hasn’t always been advisable or even possible.

What I read depends on which books have arrived lately. Everything I request is something I’m looking forward to reading, so their order of arrival doesn’t matter too much in most cases.

Occasionally, I buy ebooks as well. There are some authors and stories that I’m too excited to possibly wait months for!

A Photo Essay of Toronto in October

Each month I share photos from one of the parks in Toronto to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is the ninth instalment of this series. Click on February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September  to read the earlier posts. October’s photos were taken on multiple visits to the park… Read More

A Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Recipe for Halloween and Thanksgiving

I’m veering a little off-topic today and sharing one of my favourite autumn recipes.This is something I found on a vegan blog many years ago. If that site still existed, I’d link to it and give credit. Not only is this cake dairy-free, it can be soy, egg, and nut-free as well as long as… Read More

6 Toronto Urban Legends for Halloween

Since most of the people who read this site don’t live in Toronto and Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year by far, this seemed like the perfect time to share some of our spooky local urban legends. The Lady in Red Lower Bay subway station was built in 1966 and shut down six… Read More

A Photo Essay of Toronto in September

Each month I share photos from one of the parks in Toronto to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is the eighth instalment of this series. Click on February, March, April, May, June, July, and August to read the earlier posts. It was  13 Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) and slightly cloudy during this… Read More

Why I’m Starting My Light Therapy Sessions Earlier This Year

I am not a doctor, and this post is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider to see if light therapy lamps are right for you. Last winter I talked about how much light therapy helps me with my winter blues. When I stopped using it during our… Read More