Hot Summer Nights with Salsa Music

 

Summer is in full swing with plenty to do and events to attend. Although it feels like I’ve done nothing in the summer with many days where I just want to rest, it has been filled with picnics, socializing, events, festivals……. and music. Given that most events do include music, I signed up to learn samba music a few months ago. It’s a very casual environment with a leader who is full of smiles, laughter and charisma. I look forward to the end of (or start of) every week with classes. It takes place every Sunday evening. It allows everyone enough time to do what they want for the weekend before coming in. It is very non-committal also since we pay for drop in classes. So flexible. And it fills my soul to be able to play the music I love.

One of my favourite places is Mississauga’s Celebration Square.

Since it’s inception on June 22, 2011, it has played host to several events including many cultural festivals, ribfests, movie nights, fitness Wednesdays, streamed many sporting events including World Soccer, opening ceremony of Pan Am Games (Toronto) as well as NBA 2019 Finals (Jurassic Park West). Events often include many local performers, including my capoeira group on at least a couple of occasions for Canada Day. On it’s first Canada Day Celebration, Shawn Desman and Fefe Dobson performed. A councilor pitched to have the street between the square and city hall closed for the summer to be used as a pedestrian walk. It was so successful that it has now become a tradition to close this street every year.

It is a fantastic venue. It is centralized in the downtown core with access by car or transit. It’s the best option to those who don’t want to have to commute to Toronto for events and outings.

Here is a look at three videos captured from Friday, August 2nd. It continues all weekend until Sunday evening.

 

 

 

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Lighting Up the Days & Nights

I look forward to brighter days and spending more time outdoors and connecting with people. One of the things I can’t wait to attend is a waterfront light festival. I love lights and lanterns and as a tribute, here are many of the images I captured on my travels. Some of my favourite scenes are light festivals, holiday lights and lanterns.

 

Buenos Aires Skyline at Night

 

Downtown Hamilton, Ontario

 

Dundurn Castle

 

Toronto

 

Koryo Korean Restaurant and Bar

 

Soul Sessions

 

Holiday Lights

 

Distillery District, Toronto

Lights and Lanterns

 

Lumina Borealis

Winter in Cootes Paradise

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I haven’t been out much to do walks the last few years. I’d like to get to it eventually and make it a regular thing, even if it’s as short as 20 minutes a day. Any walk is better than none. I usually don’t like to create New Year’s resolutions because they end up as big fails. I learned to create goals for weekends where I can commit more time to doing things. Creating an unofficial list of things to do, I feel I achieve more. There will be days of course where things just need to be attended to, i.e. my needy cats who want attention. Today for example, I think I spent the first five waking hours of canoodling my cats all the while trying to get breakfast together. This weekend being a long weekend (Family Day on Monday), I think it’s excusable. Other days, I just put them in a room and get to my list of things to do.

Some of the more simple things I can do on a weekday where my spare time is short and I’m tired is do stretches while watching t.v. and cook as little as possible to be able to spend more time with cats (cook on weekends and store).

Without much further ado, aside from snow tubing, I managed to get to the waterfront in the city and photograph the frozen lake. It has been on my hit list for the last few years since I noticed people walking on the lake every winter. I’ve even seen a wind surfer.

Winter in Cootes Paradise//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Winter in Cootes Paradise//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Hello 2019!

Winter at Port Credit Waterfront, Mississauga//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

While posts have been few and far in between, this year and the years to follow will be more about self care and focusing on what’s important to me. While 2017 was fantastic with opportunities to travel places within Ontario and connecting with family, 2018 was not so easy at all. It was a surprise to even be able to fit in some joyful moments as I look through my social media accounts and see what I captured. Having Screen Time on my iPhone shows me how distracted I am with social media and it brings awareness to where my time is going.

Initially when I started this blog, it was more about the photographs I took. That quickly fell away as I became busy.  Before, I used to loosely plan what I’d like to spend time on (i.e. edit photos that may take an entire weekend or more), life was a bit off kilter as I didn’t do much connecting at all, not even paying much attention to my needy cats.

Yes, I had goals, ideas of what my life would be like five years, ten years down the road. Now I think to myself, how much closer am I to these goals? Did I even attempt to take steps towards these goals? Even with the photos I took, as enjoyable as they were to take because I had to go out to take them (mostly landscapes), it was partly for show like posting on Instagram. It was actually time consuming and Instagram was and is very fickle if you’re not posting every few days. I watched as I gained and lost followers so easily.

Now, it’s about committing to the things that make me happy and letting go of things that are not working for me. It’s also creating a balance. That includes any and all things that relate to connecting with people, creating memories, travel and all things that brings happiness and relaxation. While I will still continue to go out and take photographs, it will be with a sense of purpose instead of just feeding social media just for show. I can’t deny I will still be using social media. I will still be posting for sure. This time it will be with more soul and purpose.

So I begin with backtracking just a bit to Christmas that just past. Yes, I know, it has been almost two months now. Who cares? I like it and it makes me happy to get together with people that matter and having our Sunday best. I also like these photos because it shows how we can celebrate by creating that kind of atmosphere to make it special.

 

For Christmas, I had also put together photo books for family members. What joy it created since each were curated specifically for each recipient. What fun it was to look at these photo books as family members sat around. The stories, the memories, the comments, the likes and dislikes. It made each person feel special as they saw themselves in print, not just digital images on a phone or social media. These photo books are physical items they can pull out anytime, even many years down the road and recall all these memories. Descriptions that include places, dates, and names help jog memories young and old. For my niece and nephews, since they are that age of learning to read, it also helps them see these things written down.

 

**First image: winter, Port Credit, Mississauga waterfront

Autumn Equinox

For the first day of fall, here are images from past years covering some of Ontario’s nature trails, some of which are a part of the Bruce Trail that spans 890km.

 

Dundas Peak

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Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation AreaDevil's Punch Bowl, Hamilton//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Devil's Punch Bowl, Hamilton//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Tiffany Falls
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Cootes Paradise

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Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

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Upper King’s Forest Park
Autumn in Upper King's Forest Park//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Toronto, Ontario

A time lapse video of the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square and a view of the Toronto skyline at dawn set to a song called Investigative Medium.

World Travel

In retrospect, I look back as to why I picked up a camera in the first place – it was to capture the best moments in my life. These include travel, events and people. The truth is… I’ve always been jealous of those who could capture a moment in a single photo and make it look amazing. As in the case while flipping through many National Geographic magazines. While there were many amazing images, one struck me as memorable – the vibrant green moss growing on vastly tall trees of a forest. I have also been in awe of those I knew personally who took photos of landscapes and family. They looked so professional.

This is when I decided to buy a DSLR and learn. Here are some of my travel photos put together in a short video clip.

Locations in this video:

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse and Welcome Centre, Nova Scotia
Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, Hamilton, Ontario
Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina
Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, Ontario
Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
Beagle Channel, Patagonia, South America
Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park, Ontario
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Crack, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario
Anne of Green Gables, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

I look forward to creating more memories and capturing them on camera.

A Waterfall of Turqouise and Sun

Well, okay….I took that title from a game one of my publishing classmates put on Facebook where you fill in the blanks to create a title – place, birthstone and weather.

This said, I made a few visits to Niagara Falls to capture the Wonder of the World in winter. I have been eyeing photographs posted on a photography group’s Facebook page and wanted to capture the same. I came in after the deep freeze and did not have the same effect – frozen waterfalls and icy river. I still managed to capture some beautiful scenery. And so, here it is:

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Winter at Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Sunrise at Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Winter at Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Winter at Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Sunrise at Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Sunrise Time Lapse

Cloudy Sunrise Time Lapse

Chocolate Covered Apples

Just the other week, I was out with friends in Dundas, Ontario. While it’s minutes away from where I live, I haven’t actually stopped by to check the area out. So when I saw the opportunity to eat at Bangkok Spoon Deluxe with friends, I thought it would be a great way to stop by and check out the area.

Afterwards, we stop by Beanermunky Chocolate. Celebrating their 5th year anniversary in Dundas, Ontario, they gave out chocolate covered apple samples. Best ever! While I plan on returning to the shop to buy more treats, I decided to try making these treats on my own. While not perfect, they were pretty good for a first try.

I went to Bulk Barn to buy these items. While I didn’t have to buy Belgian chocolates, I decided to do something different. Last time I made frozen chocolate dipped bananas, I used dark chocolate. While okay for the most part, I made it only once. Belgian chocolates sounded amazing. They were also twice the price of other chocolates. The result was that it gave a rich, creamier taste. I would do it again. Just a note – you don’t need a lot of chocolate if you have only a couple of apples. I didn’t even use all of the chocolate I bought.

Ingredients:

Apples
Belgian Dark Chocolates
Christmas nonpareils
3 TBS Canola Oil
Candy Sticks

Chocolate Covered Apples

Chocolate Covered Apples

Chocolate Covered Apples

To melt the chocolate, I melted it on a double boiler. (I took a truffle making workshop a while ago.) If you melt chocolate directly on a pan over heat, it will burn easily. Also, once melted, it won’t take long before it will start to clump. I’m not sure if it’s because I had the pot on low fire or if it’s the Belgian chocolates, but it didn’t clump as fast.

Melting Chocolate on a double boiler

Once I melted the chocolate, I lower the heat to keep the chocolate melted without clumping. This will allow me to cut the apples and put in the candy sticks. Being my first time, it was a bit messy. Once the stick was on, I can easily just dip the cut apples into the melted chocolate and then the sprinkles. I had the wax paper all ready to put the chocolate dipped apples onto. I put a few onto a plate and the chocolate stuck onto the plate. I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to freeze quicker. Afterwards, it can be kept in the fridge.

Note – probably best to serve it the same day it’s made.

Result
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Chocolate Covered Apples//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Chocolate Covered Apples//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I would definitely do this as a treat at the family Christmas party.

Ghost Tour at Fort George, Niagara on the Lake

Ghost Tour at Fort George, Niagara on the Lake//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

For the first time, I attend a Ghost Tour and it’s at Fort George. While I do not know what to expect, there’s a bit of excitement growing as groups of people gather in the gift shop. Tours run every 30 minutes and each tour is approximately 1.5 – 2.0 hours long. This tour does run throughout the year, but it is seemingly more special as Samhain approaches.

Kyle, our tour guide, has been working at Fort George for over 20 year. He wears a period cape coat/Victorian cloak similar to what Sherlock Holmes would wear except in black. He lights a candle in a lantern which would guide us through the darkness.

Aside from the basic warnings of staying on the path since it’s so dark and we could trip and fall, he asks us not to call attention to group from the spirit world when it’s so close to Hallowe’en. The group is seemingly in agreement since we probably don’t want to be put in a vulnerable spot if something were to really happen. Or at the very least, I don’t want anything to happen to me and therefore would never dare to call attention from the spirit world. Kyle mentions that he doesn’t know if anything will be seen that night. It really is unpredictable if, when or how something will show up.

According to Kyle, all the stories told during that evening are true. Before its inception, they had to research and ask those who have lived and worked there. Of the many stories that come through, only a few were worthwhile to tell. As the tours began, stories also started coming from those who worked there as well as from visitors who have taken the tours. Many years later since its inception, they have a good collection of stories to tell.

As the tour begins, I could tell from the way Kyle speaks that it’s going to be good. Because it’s not like the amusement parks Hallowe’en themed events, Kyle has to rely on how he tells the stories to entertain everyone. Honestly, he did a very good job of it. The intonations, the pauses, the humour and honesty of having to think on the spot as we stop at one point for the tour group ahead of us to finish.

At the end of the evening, I personally didn’t see anything. This said, I did feel a pressure on my head that I know for sure wasn’t a headache. It comes and goes real quickly. This was just before Kyle mentions that a few psychics refuse to go beyond a certain point. While I don’t want to give too much away (you must go to find out for yourself), there’s this uneasiness as we head down the hill towards the tunnel and into the tunnel. While I tell myself not to go inside, I start taking small steps. I tell myself to stay near the back or outside. But no….being vertically challenged, I stay ahead of the pack because I want to see and hear better. I’m worried nothing of the spiritual world would be behind me but I still continue moving forward to stay near the tour guide, Kyle. I keep my back against the wall to….you know….be sure no one else or thing is behind me. I’m scared at this point. As soon as we’re out of the tunnel, I feel better. While Kyle mentions that the tunnel is nothing really significant aside from the fact that it’s a lookout point, he does tell a few stories that sends shivers to everyone (or to me at the very least). Kyle gauges how well the tour is going from how reactive we have been to the stories throughout the tour.

By the end of the tour, I am satisfied I attended. I wasn’t able to get many photos since it was held in the dark except for the lanterns that helped guide us. I recommend this tour.

Inside the tunnel

Ghost Tour at Fort George, Niagara on the Lake//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

A lantern in the barracks

Ghost Tour at Fort George, Niagara on the Lake//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

An electric lantern in an officer’s home

Ghost Tour at Fort George, Niagara on the Lake//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js