Sunday, December 22, 2013

Some Seasonal Smiles!

It's only a few more days till Christmas.

Is your holiday shopping done? Are you ready for the big guy to make his rounds? Are you up for more holiday gatherings with family and friends?

Hate me if you must, but I've been done the decorating, cards, gifts, wrapping and baking since December 1! The gifts have been sent and most of the baking has been delivered. I'll see more friends and family after the holidays or early in the new year. I did the last of the pre-Christmas grocery shopping this past Friday morning. Now I can pretty much hibernate for the next week! I'll check the post-Christmas sales online but I won't be venturing to the malls till the new year!

I'm quite content to hibernate this time of year. The malls are packed and the weather here in "Winterpeg" is truly frightful!

So, for those of you who are also all tucked in for the season and especially for those in these last days of pre-Christmas frenzy, here is a little humour to keep you somewhat sane!

cartoon by John Baynham

For some of my past holiday humour, you can check these posts:

You will find more laughs at these sites and many more!
Aunty Acid
Off The Mark

Merry Humbug!

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

This Recipe MAY Be Addictive!!

The recipe I want to share today may well be one of my BEST creations EVER!!

The idea came to me while I was making buns for a family gathering on our Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada but I didn't have time to play with the idea till the following week.

There are tons of recipes online for pull-apart breads which are also known as monkey breads. Small balls of dough are dipped in melted butter/margarine then in a coating mix. They are then layered in a Bundt pan - usually with some kind of cheese in between the layers - then baked. When they are done, you invert the baked bread onto a serving plate and place a container with a complimentary flavoured liquid in the center to dip the baked bread pieces into.

So, what's my idea?

Well, what "IF" you could make a pull-apart bread that tasted like stuffing???

I did a search for such a recipe but didn't come up with anything close to what I had in mind so I decided to try and create it!

The idea of using a pre-made dough only briefly crossed my mind. I dismissed the idea, as I knew I wanted to add a few flavourful ingredients to the dough to make it taste like stuffing. Adding additional ingredients to a pre-made dough isn't always easy as recipes vary greatly. Some dough's are more forgiving than others. It would be much easier to make my dough from scratch.

The French Bread recipe on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook site is simple and very versatile. It can be readily adapted for many different versions. I've made a half recipe (one loaf) of it a couple of times and enjoyed the flavour. It would be the basis of my dough - with a few additional ingredients of course.

I have always LOVED my mom's bread stuffing! I could (and admittedly have) eat it uncooked and cooked by the handful! It is a simple recipe of bread cubes, rolled oats, onion, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and margarine. Mom always made enough to stuff a bird plus do an extra side-dish of it to satisfy our stuffing loving family! When she did it as a side-dish, she'd add chicken bouillon powder to some hot water for the required moisture and additional flavour.

Okay, I had the concept and my base recipes as a rough guide. All I had to do was play with the quantities and hope that the result would be as mouth wateringly delicious as I imagined it could be!

The first attempt actually turned out surprisingly well. The only major glitch in my prep was my guess of how much coating mix to make. I was way off! I had to stop half way through the dipping process and mix another batch of coating!!

It smelled amazing as it baked!  As for the taste test?  It was about 3/4 of the way to what I imagined. I had added some seasoning to the dough itself, but it needed more. The poultry seasoning flavour had always saturated without overwhelming my mom's stuffing and I wanted that same effect for the dough - not just plain bread dipped in a seasoning mix. The coating mix needed a bit of tweaking - mostly in the quantity.

The second time I made it, I upped the seasoning in the dough with much better results! The coating mix was slightly more than doubled. I also switched from Monterey Jack cheese to Havarti in between the layers. Both cheeses worked well as they are quite mild and thus add to, rather than distract from the seasonings.

I didn't bother making gravy for dipping the first time I made this. Frankly, I'm not a big gravy fan - a bit on my turkey/chicken is enough for me - rather than covering my stuffing and/or potatoes as well. However, the second time I made this, I did prepare a package of low sodium gravy mix to give it a more thorough test and also to serve to a couple of taste testers.

The results? The taste testers thought it was amazing and that it tasted EXACTLY like stuffing!!


So now I'm sharing this recipe with you! You should allow about two hours from start to serving. It will take far less time for this to be devoured!! 

Be forewarned however, that this may well be very addictive! Once you and your guests start eating this, you probably won't want to stop! Even when your stomach says it is stuffed, you may find yourself reaching for just one more piece!!!

OMG! Lovin' Stuffin' Pull Aparts
Bread Dough:
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 Tablespoon cooking oil (I use Canola oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups hot tap water
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups flour, divided (I used a combo of all purpose and whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 Tablespoon oat bran OR 1/4 cup oat flour (both are available at bulk food stores)
1 Tablespoon instant yeast

3/4 cup quick rolled oats
4 teaspoons low sodium chicken bouillon powder*
2 1/4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
pinch black pepper
2/3 cup finely chopped onion (divided)

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
1 1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack or Havarti cheese
1 or 2 packages of low sodium turkey or chicken gravy mix*
Dough - Combine the sugar, oil, salt and water. Add the onion and stir. Add 1 cup of flour and mix to combine. Mix the poultry seasoning, oat (bran OR flour - NOT BOTH) and yeast with 1/2 cup flour and add that while dough is still very soft. Add enough flour to make a soft dough that is not sticky if you handle it with lightly floured hands. Form into a ball in the mixing bowl then cover with a tea towel and set in a draft free area to rise. Let the dough rise until double in size, about 30-45 minutes.

While the dough is rising, combine the coating ingredients - except the onions - in a small bowl and set aside. Melt the margarine so it is ready for dipping. Grate the cheese and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375F Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray such as Pam. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of the onions and about 1 - 2 tablespoons of the cheese evenly in the bottom of the Bundt pan. Add the rest of the onions to the coating mix and stir to combine. Pour about 1/3 of the coating mix onto a small plate for dipping. (Add more to the plate as needed - this way the coating mix doesn't get saturated with the melted margarine that is on the dough balls.)

Punch down the dough. Place on a lightly floured surface. Tear small pieces of dough and roll into balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Note: Try to keep the pieces uniform in size to avoid over or undercooked pieces in the baking process. Roll all the balls first. (I generally get between 40 and 45 when I make this. That makes for a nice sized piece for dipping when baked)

Then separately, dip each ball - first in the melted butter - then in the coating mix. (Note: I dip the balls in the melted margarine with one hand then drop it in the coating. I role it in the coating with the other hand. That way you aren't getting coating mix in the margarine or too much margarine in the coating!) Place each coated ball in the prepared Bundt pan until you have a single layer. Don't overcrowd the balls as they need room to rise and spread while baking. Sprinkle first layer with about 1/3 of the grated cheese. Then proceed with second layer, staggering the balls (as in brick layers). Pour any remaining butter and coating over the balls. Sprinkle the top with remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Set pan on cooling rack.

While the bread is cooling in the pan on the rack (about 5 - 10 minutes), prepare a package of gravy mix per package instructions. You may want to prepare two packages of gravy mix, depending on how much you love gravy! Invert the bread to a serving plate. Transfer some of the hot gravy to a small round bowl/glass (I used an old fashioned glass) that I bought at the Dollar Store) and place the gravy bowl/glass in the middle of the bread for dipping. Refill the gravy as needed.

Servings? That will vary greatly, but probably as little as 4 to as many as 8 depending on how addictive this is to those eating it! In the unlikely event that there is some bread left over, cover and store in the fridge. It is great cold or you can pull off chunks and heat for a few seconds in the microwave.

*Note: You could switch out the chicken bouillon powder and the chicken/turkey gravy mixes for vegetarian versions.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

dn's Sweet Potato Hummus

Last month, during our Canadian Thanksgiving, I sampled a store bought "Sweet Potato Hummus" at a family gathering. I was surprised at how delicious it was and decided to try and duplicate the recipe.

As usual, I found numerous versions online. Most were quite similar with slight variations in the spices and quantities. The recipe that I finally decided to use as a base starter for my version is from Betty Crocker

I adjusted the tahini and spice quantities downwards. Tahini can make a recipe bitter if you add to much. I also felt that the spices called for would be a little too overpowering and I didn't want something quite as spicy as this sounded. I also added more garlic and the zest of the lemon as it brings extra flavour.

The first time I made this recipe, I used Tahini. I always have cumin in the spice cupboard and had recently bought some of the spices - smoked paprika, coriander and sea salt at a local bulk food store to try in some other recipes, so I was pretty much ready to give it a test.

It smelled delicious but the taste was even better! The flavour was smoky and not overpoweringly hot or spicy. I only gave it a quick taste that first day as many recipes suggested that the flavours needed time to blend and recommended refrigerating overnight before serving. They were right! It was even better the second day!

I took some to a couple of friends for sampling - along with some of my homemadepita chips and a few celery sticks. I received this message later that day: " OMG that dip should be served at restaurants!"

I tried the recipe again this past week. This time, I used cashews rather than tahini. I wasn't sure about the quantity of cashews but guessed at 1/2 cup. It worked perfectly! The other thing I did differently this second time, was saving the liquid from the baked sweet potatoes to re-add in place of any additional water needed at the end of the processing. I measured the liquid that I added to the raw sweet potatoes so that whatever liquid was left over would be concentrated and loaded with the flavour from the sweet potatoes. It would therefore add to the overall flavour - not dilute it like plain water would.

I gave samples of the dip (along with some homemade pita chips) to several people to try. They all thought it was YUMMY!! One of the people admitted they really weren't a fan of sweet potatoes but was willing to give it a try given that they liked the other ingredients. I talked with them a couple days later and they said they were surprised at how delicious this was! They really liked it and wouldn't have known it was sweet potato if I hadn't told them!

Sweet Potatoes and Yams are readily available at very reasonable prices during the autumn and winter months, so why not take advantage and try a new recipe!? Sweet Potato Hummus is a great addition to your holiday gathering or any time of year!

So here is my version of "Sweet Potato Hummus" You choose whether to use tahini or cashews!

dn's Sweet Potato Hummus   
1 orange-fleshed sweet potato (about 1 lb/454g)
1 lemon
1 can (19 oz/540 ml) chick peas, drained, rinsed
1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini OR 1/2 cup cashews
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 - 4 Tablespoons water - as needed
 Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in an oven proof dish and add 1/4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bake in 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool slightly. 

Drain the excess liquid into a small bowl and reserve. If you pre-weighed the sweet potato you don't have to bother measuring by cup - otherwise mash and measure to know how much you really have. You should get approx 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups.

Zest the lemon then juice, removing seeds. You should get about 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Add the cooled sweet potatoes, zest, lemon juice, chick peas, tahini/cashews (either or - NOT both!) garlic, sea salt, smoked paprika, coriander and cumin to a food processor. Cover and pulse a few times then blend till smooth (about 2-3 minutes), stopping to wipe down the sides a couple times. Add reserved cooking liquid, 1 Tablespoon at a time - processing in between each to thoroughly combine till desired consistency. (Note that the amount of liquid/water needed will vary depending on the amount of sweet potato and lemon juice added.)  
Transfer to a sealable container and chill several hours or overnight before serving to allow the flavours to blend. Serve with pita chips and raw veggies. Makes about 3 cups.

- When I made this, I used part of a sweet potato as the ones I had were well over a pound. The piece I cut off, was about 19 oz/540g so I ended up with a bit over 1 1/2 cups when mashed.
- Baking the sweet potato in a covered dish gives it a nicer richer flavour than boiling or microwaving it. Well worth the extra time to do it in the oven!
- If your sweet potato weighs less or measures less once mashed, you may want to reduce the spices just a smidgen - i.e. scant measures rather than the full ones listed, This of course, depends on how spicy you like things! You can always add more spice but you can't take it out once it is in so give it a taste to make sure before adding more!
- When I zest a lemon, I go pretty much to the white flesh with my zester so get quite a bit more zest than most people do.
- Cut back a bit on the salt if you use salted cashews.
- Also, I believe something would be lost in the flavour if you used sweet paprika rather than the smoky variety.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Will NOT Play This Game!

If you have any type of online presence on social media sites, you've no doubt seen some of the crazy games that are spreading. These aren't the same as game invites that have you using special game apps or boards to play games with your friends. Those can be annoying all on their own!

What I am referring to are the "status" type games.

One that I've seen a fair bit of is the "Giraffe" A rather ridiculous riddle is posted which is specifically designed to confuse the reader into submitting a wrong answer. You are asked to "private message" your answer to the poster. If you get it wrong (majority do) then you have to change your profile pic to a giraffe for 3 days and repost the question to your friends/followers. In other words, you have to spread the humiliation.

At least with that game you are aware that it is a "game" and have the option to take your chances of becoming a giraffe.

There are however, far more embarrassing games out there just waiting for you and your friends to fall into.

Case in point: An online friend who is known for posting some rather interesting updates and rants recently posted this status: "I am gonna confess, support me!"

Hmm, was this a joke? I wasn't sure, but given their past comments, I wondered if something they had said had gotten them in some kind of trouble. So, I responded: "What did you do now?" There were a couple responses from others, but nothing from the poster. Odd. Later that day, I received the following private message:

"You should have never commented HAHAHA! You fell into the trap. This is a game. The person who likes/comments has to choose one of the following to post on his/her timeline.
1. I've been in 42 relationships
2. I think I like someone, what should I do?
3. My mom arranged me for a blind date
4. Someone invited me to be a prostitute, what should I do?
5. I forgotten to wear my underwear today
6. I am gonna confess, support me
7. I still love my ex
8. I just got me some good good
9. I think I'm going gay
10. I'm pregnant
11. I want another baby
Note: you should not explain anything, just post and leave it for at least a day. Im also a victim lol"

Seriously?? I knew my friend had not created this joke and was just following along with the "rules" as they had been given. Trying to be a "good sport" and laugh at their own naivety to fall for the trap. Get it over with and move on.

What was I supposed to do now?

I knew in my heart that I could not play this game and that I needed to explain my reasoning to my friend. I took some time to think about how to express my opinions. I sent this response (slightly edited to protect privacy on both sides) the next morning:

"Good morning – Given your comments of late, I assumed this was some kind of reference to that and further comment was to follow. It NEVER occurred to me that this was a game.

One of the things I pride myself on is a great sense of humour and can enjoy a good joke or knowingly choose to participate (or not) in things such as the giraffe thing that was going around.

BUT to be honest, I don’t find these type of blindside games funny at all. The possible status updates are suggestive, humiliating and some are in very poor taste.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this. As someone who has been teased, and humiliated by people (some who knew me and some who didn’t) my entire life, I can not in good conscience subject myself or the valued friends I do have here to this game – especially those that are minors and those who have stuck by me through some very difficult times. Good natured teasing and jokes are one thing but I will not knowingly participate in someone else being humiliate/embarrassed.

If you feel this makes me a party pooper/poor sport so be it but I will not play this game. I do value your friendship, Hopefully, you will not hold this against me and our friendship can continue as it has."

My friend messaged back that all was good and that they totally agreed with what I said and the post had been removed. Our friendship was solid.

That meant a lot to me to know that they understood and recognized the potential problems with these kind of games.

What consenting adults do to tease or prank each other among themselves is one thing - but it throws it into a whole other world to bring those games into public view via the internet. Personally, I've never been a fan of the blindside type humour that has become so prevalent in our society. It is nothing new of course, but this type of humour has become more rampant in recent years. A sad commentary on our society that people must be humiliated to empower others.

Social media has lowered this "humour" to a whole new level with the blindside style posts/games. These posts are deliberately designed to reel you, your friends, family and followers into their cesspool of humiliation, If they got caught, then so should you! Let's all jump in the quicksand! No one gets hurt right?


By participating in these games, we are demeaning not only ourselves but potentially our friends and loved ones who also care about us. We are not required to stoop to the low brow humour of the depraved minds who create these humiliating games. We have the right and the responsibility to stand up for ourselves and our friends. If the people who do choose to participate in these games are not understanding in our desire to step away, then we are far better off without them in our lives.

Standing up for ourselves and saying no isn't easy. It takes a lot of courage. Sometimes you lose friends in the process but you regain and maintain your self respect. You become a stronger person.

I've proudly hung this "pyramid people" poster in my home since I bought it back in the late 80's: 
From this image it may be hard to tell, but there is a look of fear and disbelief on the purple guys face that is priceless! It is as if the person is saying "How dare someone walk away from the crowd! We need the strength of the minions to survive!"

The look of pure joy on the little red guys face as he walks away from the pyramid gives me strength to face whatever comes my way! It reminds me that I am a unique person who is capable of making my own decisions and I will not be drawn into group mentality.

I found this image online a couple years ago
For me, it is a symbol of unity. We are standing together - side by side - all on the same level. A hope that someday we will all find a way to get along as equals - regardless of our gender, orientation. race, religion or beliefs. A time when there is no bullying, or a need for humiliating other living beings.

May all of us find that peace.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Chill Is In The Air

Winter is practically knocking at the door. It has been lurking nearby for a while now - dropping little white hints (or in some areas of Southern Manitoba BIG white hints) of what will be covering the landscape all too soon.

With the exception of the last couple of weeks, we'd actually been having a lovely Autumn. The temps had been mostly seasonal or a bit higher. Not a lot of rain and winds more or less behaved, Many of the leaves tried to stay on the trees till our Canadian Thanksgiving on October 14 - then promptly began to fall en mass.

The weather had been so nice, that I'd only had to pull out my mid season jacket a couple weeks ago. Until then, I'd been layering with a hooded fleece and a lightly lined wind breaker. Granted, there were a couple mornings that I did add a very light pair of stretchy gloves but only because it was a long wait at the bus stop! This past week, I had to pull out my heavy autumn jacket and slightly warmer gloves.

I know that these chillier days will seem downright balmy compared to the temps we will be experiencing in a month or so, but at the moment, it feels darn cold! Adjusting to the cooler temps sure doesn't get any easier as we age!

On the plus side, the nights have been cool and perfect for sleeping with the window open. Okay, I admit I sleep with the window open at least a little bit almost year round - even in the dead of winter unless there is a really brutal north wind. On those nights, I close the window and turn on the ceiling fan so the air keeps moving.

Over the last few years, I've been leaving my down blanket on the bed later into fall and saving the warmer down duvet for the real dips in temp. I'd rather throw a light fleece blanket on top than pull out the duvet sooner than necessary. That way, if I get too warm in the night I can throw one layer off.

This year, I'd also been able to resist turning on the heat in my apartment far later than usual. Even though the cost of heating is included in my rent, I tend to leave it off until I really need it. I'll put on a sweater or better yet, bake something or cook an oven meal! The warmth of the oven heats up my little apartment quite nicely!

Until about 10 days ago, I'd actually been able to leave my windows open 24/7. That may sound like a lot of cool air coming in, but in reality the air flow is somewhat limited as our windows are the crank style that only open a few inches. Not nearly as much "fresh" as I'd prefer!

A week ago Friday night was cool and even with the down blanket and the fleece throw, I wasn't as cozy as I'd like. Sure I could have gotten up and closed the window, but I knew I wouldn't have slept nearly as well.

When I got up on the Saturday morning (October 19), the apartment felt almost nippy. Perfect for my morning workout but the high for the day was only 6C and even with the windows shut, I knew I'd feel the chill after a shower. So, after my workout was done, I switched the heat from off to low and raised the thermostat from its lowest setting up to 65F. I heard the heat click on as I hit about 60F so the place hadn't been too bad.

I haven't actually kept a written record of how late I've turned on the heat over the years, but I suspect this is the latest I've ever waited! If memory serves, I think I usually give in around the first week of October!

I also relented to the down duvet last weekend, though I suspect I may have switched to the duvet a bit prematurely. I've thrown off the duvet and grabbed a fleece throw to cover me a coupe nights since! I'll leave the duvet on but I may have to turn the ceiling fan on some nights even with the window open!

The summer clothes have been moved to the back of the closet and the warmer winter clothes are now at the front. I haven't pulled out the winter coat and boots but have a sinking feeling those may be needed sooner rather than later.

My annual "squirreling" of various supplies to fill my pantry, freezer and household needs over the coming wintery months is more or less complete. I've defrosted the deep freezer and reorganized its contents. The Christmas baking is already in progress.

So, the cycle of preparing for changing seasonscontinues. Some of us are being dragged reluctantly towards it and its limitations to our lives while others are anxiously dreaming of what is to come.

A close friend continues to try and lure me to the wintery side of life but their zest for winter is bordering on the White Witch love of the snowy season. Admittedly, a promise of making a snow person (a la "Calvin and Hobbs" style), mirth and hot cocoa does sound tempting. I may take them up on that offer depending on the weather conditions of the day. I certainly won't be hibernating all winter - though a part of me would love to! I will still be running errands, doing some grocery shopping and hopefully some walking for pleasure if the sidewalks aren't too icy and I don't have to traverse snow-banks at intersections and bus stops.

We all know that winter "officially" begins on December 21, but those of us here in Manitoba know all too well that winter tends to arrive much sooner! As it is now, we are currently in what I like to call "Post Leaf - Pre-Snowbank Season". Snow will be arriving before we know it. When the snow stays on the ground for more than a few days, you might as well accept that it will be there till spring!

CBC Manitoba weather forecaster John Sauder has generously passed this information along to me. The data was gathered by Environment Canada. As you can see from #4 in the info below, the first autumn snowfall of 2 cm (almost 1 inch) or more which stays on ground for 7 days or more is roughly defined as the start of the snow-cover season.
Oh joy! Given how long and never-ending this past winter was, let's hope that Mother Nature will go gently on us this year. If we are really lucky, this will be one of those later years for our first real snow-covers! Yeah, yeah, I know - but I can dream!    


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thankful For Autumn

The season of Autumn may last three months on the calendar, but in reality it's true duration is much shorter - especially here on the Canadian prairies.

Our first frost may come in late August and there is often snow on the ground before Halloween. The frost and the inevitable advent of snow make the season all too short.

So with that in mind. we should appreciate and partake in as many of the traditions of Autumn as we can while we are able.

Autumn isn't just harvesting crops, cleaning up the garden, raking the leaves and stocking the pantry for winter.

It is also about the tastes, the scents and the beauty of the fleeting season.

The seemingly endless possibilities for preparing and serving squash, pumpkins and apples. The sumptuous tastes of fresh tomatoes. Fresh potatoes, carrots and onions just waiting to add flavour to so many recipes!

Fragrant aromas and flavours emerging from kitchens as breads and baked goods come out of hot ovens!

The cool crisp air, accentuated by a wood burning fire - if not from your own home, then hopefully the scent of a neighbours wood fireplace wafting nearby!

Even shorter, is the beauty of the fall colours!

Some of our leaves were starting to turn in early September. By late September, the changing colours of the leaves was switching into high gear.

I wanted to go for at least one long fall walk in my tree lined neighbourhood and a nearby park!

There were a few days that I had other commitments and couldn't go for more than a short walk. The weather wasn't exactly cooperating for a picture taking walk either. It seemed to be cloudy, windy or both most of the week. Then there was the day of rain on Saturday (Sept 28). I thought about going on the Sunday, but after all of the rain and fallen leaves, I was concerned that the ground may be slippery in places and I really didn't want to take a fall in the fall. (or anytime for that matter!)

So, I waited till Monday morning (Sept 30). A few clouds to start, but skies were clearing. The sun was shining, temp was about 16C and the wind was light. The battery in the camera was charged and I was heading out the door a little before 10AM. I headed towards a nearby park on Wellington Crescent - taking pics along the way.

There is something about Munson Park that just draws me in - especially in the fall.

Munson Park is a long narrow strip of land that runs east/west between Wellington Crescent to the south and the Assiniboine River to the north. The park was named after J H Munson, a lawyer, who was the first to build a home on that strip of land.
Wellington can be quite busy and noisy, but the many trees and bushes along the street side of the park help to reduce the sound greatly. Yes, you can still hear some traffic sounds - especially the buses and any horns or sirens - but for the most part, I am able to block them from my senses and imagine that I am walking in a country wood. I try to focus on the natural sounds. The leaves fluttering in the breeze. The water lapping the shore. The birds singing - and yes, the sounds of the Canada Geese as they make their long journey south.

It isn't a large park as far as parks go. And it isn't as manicured or landscaped as many of our city parks. That may well be a large part of what draws me there - especially in autumn. As beautiful and picturesque as the stately homes in the area can be, the beauty within the park is more reminiscent of a walk in the country or through wooded grounds of a rustic estate.

Various packed dirt paths meander along the riverbank and occasionally veer off to meet the paved paths nearer to the Crescent.

The paved paths are okay, but my favourite ones are the packed dirt trails near the river. They are slightly uneven, but if I - as a legally blind gal with no depth perception - can navigate them, then most other people can as well. Admittedly, I haven't tried to do it in the winter or when they are wet and slippery, but in decent weather they are pretty easy to navigate! The dirt paths are also more likely to be semi covered with fallen leaves so you really get to hear that "crunch" under your feet as you walk!

I walk slowly through the park, surveying my surroundings. Admiring the beauty of the colourful foliage. I stop frequently to take pictures from various angles - trying to frame the vast contrasts in colours of the trees, shrubs, bushes, plants and grasses.

I allow myself to get lost in its' beauty, its' sounds and the scent of fall. I breath in the autumn air. My surroundings draw me into its embrace and takes me back to the days growing up on the farm or going for walks in the woods at my favourite camp of youth. Sweet memories from the past merge with the present as I roam the park.

A temporary escape from the hustle of a hurried city.

I took many photos in my 2 1/4 hour walk. Most were taken in duplicate but that way I am assured of getting the shot I wanted. I was so glad that I went when I did, because the next day (Tuesday, October 1), we had incredibly strong winds that blew a great many leaves off the trees.

Thankfully, I have my memories and my pictures of a September Morning.
I returned to the park this past Wednesday morning (Oct 9). Many more leaves had changed colours and fallen but there was still so much beauty to behold! I just had to put another slideshow/montage together to showcase the Beauty Of Autumn!
Alas, the weather is changing with cooler weather, strong winds and rain.

Mother Nature's colourful landscape is quickly fading from our outdoor surroundings now as only the heartiest of leaves remain aloft. If we are lucky, we have taken a few moments to commit the scenic views to our cameras - or at least to our memory.

Yes, the external beauty may be all but gone, but there is still much to be thankful for as we savour the scents, aromas and flavours of all this short but bountiful season has to offer.

Happy Thanksgiving!