Quote: Autumn is in full blast!

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
George Eliot 

Paris, Ontario

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Savory Saturday – Welcome Fall!

I’m in autumn mode, and I’m craving a nice fall dish that will help me celebrate my favorite season. And I sure love me a good chili in the fall…

Welcome to pumpkin AND chili heaven!

Pumpkin Chili:

Ingredients:

4 cups water
1 (15-ounce) can canned crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup chopped Serrano chili pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan, stir well to combine, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-low and simmer, covered, 35 minutes. Serve warm.

Fantasy Friday: Vibrant Vermont

It’s officially fall, and has been for a few weeks now. The leaves are changing colour, of course, and this year I am finding the colours particularly vibrant. And this leaves me to wonder how gorgeous Vermont is as it is famous for it’s autumn landscapes.

Here’s my daydream for the day, with a little help from Fodors:

Vermont Fall Foliage Drive

Eighty percent of Vermont is forested, and since cities are few and far between, the interior of Vermont is a rural playground for leaf peepers and widely considered to have the most intense range of foliage colors anywhere on the continent. The few distractions from the dark reds and yellow, oranges and russets—the tiny towns and hamlets—are as pristine as nature itself.

Manchester Villiage

Begin this drive in Manchester Village, along the old-fashioned, well-to-do homes lining Main Street, and drive south to Arlington, North Bennington, and Old Bennington. Stop first just a mile south along 7A at Hildene, the Lincoln family home. The 412 acres of explorable grounds here are ablaze with color, and the views over the Battenkill Valley are as good as any you can find anywhere. Continue south another mile along 7A to Equinox Nursery, where you can pick your own pumpkin from a huge patch, try delicious apple cider and cider doughnuts, and take in the stunning countryside. A few more miles south along 7A is the small town of Arlington.

Best Time to Go

Late September and early October are the times to go, with the southern area peaking about a week later than the north. Remember to book hotels in advance. The state has a Fall Foliage Hotline and an online interactive map (800/VERMONTwww.foliage-vermont.com).

From 7A in Arlington, you can take two adventurous and stunning detours. One is pure foliage: follow 313 west a few miles to the New York state border for more beautiful views. Or head east a mile to East Arlington where delightful shops await you, including Grist Mill Antiques, which is set right above a wonderfully cascading brook. (You can continue even farther east from this spot to Kelly Stand Road leading into the Green Mountains; this is a little-known route that can’t be beat.) Back on 7A South in Arlington, stop at the Cheese House, the delightfully cheesy roadside attraction.

Clearbrook Farm

Farther south into Shaftsbury is Clearbrook Farm, a brilliant place for cider and fresh produce and pumpkins. Robert Frost spent much of his life in South Shaftsbury, and you can learn about his life at his former home, the Stone House. From South Shaftsbury take Route 67 through North Bennington and continue on to Route 67A in Old Bennington. Go up the 306-foot-high Bennington Battle Monument to survey the seasonal views across four states. Back down from the clouds, walk a few serene blocks to the cemetery of the Old First Church, where Robert Frost is buried, and contemplate his autumnal poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

Planning Your Time

The drive from Manchester to Bennington outlined here is just 30 minutes, but a relaxed day is best to take in all the sights. You’ll want to allot one to two hours for Hildene, and less than an hour for each of the other stops.

Need a Break?

Equinox Valley Nursery. This nursery carries fresh produce, seasonal snacks, and is full of family-friendly fall activities—a corn maze, pumpkin golf (mini golf played with small pumpkins and croquet mallets), hay rides, and pumpkin carving. 1158 Main St., (7A), Manchester, VT, 05254. 802/362-2610.www.equinoxvalleynursery.com. Free. Apr.-Dec., Mon.-Sat. 8:30-5, Sun. 9-4.

Clear Brook Farm. Set on more than 20 acres, Clear Brook Farm sells their own organic produce, in addition to baked goods and other seasonal treats. 47 Hidden Valley Rd.,Manchester, VT, 05262. 802/442-4273.www.clearbrookfarm.com. May-Aug., daily 9-6; Sept.-Oct., daily 10-6.

The Cheese House. Get your Vermont cheddar fix at the The Cheese House, which also sells maple syrup and other local products and gifts. 5187 Vermont Rte. 7A, Arlington, VT, 05250.802/375-9033. www.thevermontcheesehouse.com. Free. Wed.-Mon. 10-5. Closed Tues.

Quote for a Sunday – It’s a comin!

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

I feel it coming today, the clouds have that darker look to them, the air seems a tiny bit crisper and less humid, and I have a sore throat. All signs that fall is a comin!

 

Fantasy Friday – Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca

My favorite time of the year – Halloween. I love celebrating this spooky holiday every year. Beautiful autumn leaves, bright orange pumpkins, and crisp cool air all appeal to me.

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So why not daydream today about heading down to Mexico to celebrate with them, their most important holiday! They know how to do this the right way – that’s for sure!

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From the article “Day of the Dead or El Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca” by Maria Diaz, I discovered what I might expect when I visit Oaxaca myself (hopefully some day!)

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During the last week in October, voyeurs come to observe and to photograph the “picturesque” practices of “quaint” indigenous Mexicans. The idea of reunions at family gravesites, complete with music, food and gaiety strike foreigners as strange, to say the least. They stare in wonder at shops filled with candy skulls and calaveras (skeletons) made of wood, paper mache, clay, wax and sugar. Dressed as doctors, judges, teachers, tennis players and prostitutes, the calaveras engage in all kinds of activities from dancing and drinking to hair styling and singing. Every conceivable profession and pastime is burlesqued. Their human-like antics draw smiles from passersby. And indeed, Mexicans view skeletons as funny and friendly rather than spooky and scary.

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Today, far from an occasion for curious onlookers, traditions associated with the Day of the Dead reflect the Mexican belief in the duality of life and death. While they mourn and miss their dead loved ones, they also believe that death is just an extension of life. It’s part of a natural progression, not an end. The dead continue to exist and return annually to visit their loved ones. Many of the customs, such as home altars and cemetery vigils, are to help them find their way and to welcome them home.

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Important dates for Day of the Dead:

  • October 31 evening – Xoxocotlan, later that night – Santa María Atzompa
  • November 1 – San Miguel (Panteón General) in the city all day and evening.
  • November 2 late afternoon – San Antonino (sometimes this date changes depending on day of week – all travel agencies and tourist information centers should know of any changes).
  • November 2, evening and night – San Felipe del Agua
  • The City of Oaxaca also arranges events at the San Miguel Cemetery, such as exhibition/competition of altars, music, etc.

Hmmm, sounds spook-tacular! For more ideas on where to go and what to see in Oaxaca, visit Oaxaca’s Tourist Guide, where I disovered a town full of lagoons, caves, and majestic waterfalls.

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Fantasy Friday…

Listen to this excerpt from Fodors, and guess where it is:

Eighty percent of ‘this place’ is forested, and since cities are few and far between, the interior of ‘this place’ is a rural playground for leaf peepers and widely considered to have the most intense range of foliage colors anywhere on the continent. The few distractions from the dark reds and yellow, oranges and russets—the tiny towns and hamlets—are as pristine as nature itself.

Sounds delightful, right? And autumn is my favorite time of the year, so this place would be perfect to visit.

Where is it?

Vermont!

Guess what else, for those of you in Toronto? Porter Airlines now flies out of Toronto.

Now to wait for a deal from Porter again…..

Around the corner

There’s that chill in the air today. My favorite month is sneaking up on me in Toronto. The leaves haven’t started to change their colour yet, but I can sense that it is coming in the next few weeks.

I’m going to go out today, buy me some apples and pumpkins and start baking!

Here is what is on my agenda this evening, yum yum!: