Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February 2017 review

Old City Hall, Toronto
At the start of February, I intended to continue what I was doing in January.  February turned out to be a stressful month due to a number of elder care activities that I had to take on. I’m thankful that I have a close knit family, and that we have a good health care system.

Without going into the details to maintain privacy for my family members, I’ll just say that I hope for a much more stable and peaceful time in the coming weeks.

When I reflect on my own goals, I realize that I’ve accomplished quite a few in February even though I had to try harder to stay focused. Here’s my list:

  • For the mind: Learn Spanish 15 minutes daily - Check!
  • For the body: Exercise one hour daily - Check!
  • I feel that I need to take good care of myself before I can take care of others.

  • Stay within budget - Check!
  • Meet saving target - Check!
  • Bonus: I received cash back rewards and points for purchases made in February.

  • Post on this blog once a week: Check! I posted four times in February. Writing about my trips to Quebec and Prince Edward Island brought back nice memories.
  • Go for free or low cost entertainment: Check! I re-watched a few movies on DVD. I walked on the Great Trail and saw free public art installations.
  • Start planning for trips this summer: In progress!
  • Declutter my paper stuff: In progress! I met my target in February. I’ll need to keep it up in March.

I hope February has been good to you. How are you doing with your goals?

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Prince Edward Island (PEI)

I wrote about my trip to Quebec, the largest province in Canada. To continue my own celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, in this post, I’ll write about our family vacation on Prince Edward Island (PEI) a few summers ago. Prince Edward Island is known as the “Birthplace of Confederation”. It is the smallest province in Canada, on the Atlantic coast. Its capital is Charlottetown.

My favourite experiences on Prince Edward Island:

1. Exploring Prince Edward Island National Park and the seashore. We rented a few cottages within walking distance to the PEI National Park. A stroll from our cottages to the sea to watch sunrise and sunset every day was wonderful.
Aerial view of Prince Edward Island
2. Sun and swim at the wide open, red sand beaches. The water was clear. The sand dunes were big. We spent hours building sand castles, walking along the beach, looking for beautiful shells, and simply relaxing.
Brackley Beach, PEI
Protected sand dunes, PEI
Brackley Beach, PEI

3. Riding the Confederation Trail. There was hardly any traffic, the ride was scenic, and the terrain was fairly easy.

4. Enjoying fresh seafood such as lobsters and mussels. We walked to the local seafood store which had fresh catch of the day.
Fishing boats and lobster traps, PEI

5. Checking out the lighthouses and their history.
Lighthouse, PEI
Signage about the Gale of 1851, PEI

6. Taking a tour of the Province House in Charlottetown, the birthplace of Confederation.
Welcome to Province House, PEI
Inside Province House, PEI
7. Enjoying an outdoor performance at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown.
Confederation Centre of the Arts, PEI
8. Visiting the historic houses on the island, such as Dalvay-by-the Sea or Beaconsfield Historic House.
Dalvay-by-the Sea, PEI

Beaconsfield Historic House, PEI
9. Visiting the site of Lucy M. Montgomery’s home in Cavendish. Fans of Anne of Green Gables would love to do this.

10. Taking a free, self-guided tour at Cow’s Creamery and enjoying a scoop or more of ice cream on a fresh waffle cone.

Direct flights from Toronto to Charlottetown take about two hours. Charlottetown International Airport is easy to navigate. PEI is the place to kick back and relax! We came home feeling rejuvenated and had fond memories of our island vacation.

Happy Islander Day (February 20) to residents of PEI!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Mid-February 2017 review

Happy Valentine’s day!
Muskoka chairs on a sunny day
It’s mid-February so I’m reflecting on my personal goals and events in the past two weeks to see how I am doing. I feel that in the Fitness, Finance and Fun categories, I’m doing well. Here’s the list of goals that I accomplished in the last two weeks:

  • I exercised one hour per day. I alternated walking, working out in the gym, and yoga.
  • I met my savings target by sticking to mandatory expenses only. I prepared all meals at home. I stayed away from stores, except for grocery shopping, and only took part in out-of-home fun activities that are free.
  • I start reading travel information online to plan for my upcoming trips and family vacation. Aside from preparing myself for the trips, this also motivates me to keep saving. 
  • I am learning Spanish every day. I’ve done mostly more than 15 minutes per day and have not missed any day since February 1.
  • I am posting on this blog weekly. I posted about Quebec last week.
  • I re-watched two action movies from my own DVD collection.
  • I organized my paper records. I filed the records I need to keep, and shredded or recycled those that I no longer need. This requires regular maintenance so it is work but the result is satisfying. I watch every paper document that comes in and deal with it as soon as possible.
  • I walked part of the Great Trail and went to see the free Ice Breakers public art installations which are on until February 26. The picture below shows Leeward Fleet, one of the five installations. 
Leeward Fleet
I hope February has been good to you. How are you doing with your goals?

Sunday, 5 February 2017


I read an article in a local newspaper about 150 ways to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation this year. I thought about my various trips across Canada in the past and how unique each destination was.

In this post, I’ll write about my experiences in Quebec city which is the capital of the province of Quebec, the largest province in Canada.

Quebec was founded by the French explorer Champlain in the early 17th century.  With 400 years of history, Quebec is a great city to explore. When I am in Quebec, the French language, food, historic architecture, and joie de vivre make me feel like I am in Europe without the transatlantic flight.

My favourite experiences in Quebec City:

1. Walking in the Upper Town of Old Quebec, up to the Plains of Abraham to get a great view of the Citadel and the famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel.

View of Chateau Frontenac, Quebec

Sign at Plains of Abraham, Quebec
2. A stroll along the Dufferin Terrace overlooking the St Lawrence river and the surrounding area.
St Lawrence River from the Dufferin Terrace
3. Exploring the fortifications of Quebec, including the Citadel, a National Historic Site, and watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony in the summer. Quebec is the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, with close to 4.6 km of walls and gates.

4. Wandering in the Lower Town of Old Quebec and Place Royale with stone buildings and narrow streets, or taking a horse carriage ride.

5. Exploring the Petit Champlain’s district where cobblestone streets are lined with bistros and boutiques.

6. Enjoying a coffee or meal at one of the outdoor cafes, and watching the world go by.

7. Attending an outdoor performance on a summer evening right outside Chateau Frontenac.

8. Browsing for antiques at rue St Paul, or visiting the Marche du Vieux-Port.

9. Visiting the Aquarium du Quebec.
Sandcastle at the Aquarium du Quebec
Aquarium du Quebec grounds
10. Taking a side trip to see Montmorency waterfalls.

Montmorency waterfalls, Quebec

Quebec is located about 800 km (500 miles) from Toronto. I have travelled to Quebec city by train, by car and by plane. VIA Rail has regular train service between the two cities, with connections in Montreal. Non-stop flights from Toronto to Quebec city take about 1.5 hours.

Have you been to Quebec city? What were your favourite experiences when you were there?