Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween folks! I must admit I’m not a huge fan of Halloween – I don’t mean that I don’t enjoy the fun of it, but since I don’t have kids, I don’t really have any reason to get involved in it. Back home in the UK, Halloween is mostly just a time for kids – at least it used to be when I lived there. It’s changing by the year though, and becoming more Americanized in many ways, so it’s possible that by now, adults get into the Halloween haunting spirit much more too.

But having never been into Halloween as an adult over there, I never really got into the whole costume party thing here for adults either. It’s fun seeing the kids dress up in their outfits though! And even the pets now, I suppose, hehe!

I did catch some fun Halloween exhibits on display last weekend when I visited Mount Greylock across in western Massachusetts. Naturally I had to take some photos, so I thought I’d share them with you today.

I came across the display quite randomly – it was in a big grassy area at the base of the mountain.

I have no idea what it was all about – it kind of looked as if it was a competition, I could see numbers and markers on the back of each exhibit, but there was no sign anywhere about the display. I even did some creative Googling when I returned home, hoping to find some information about it. But to no avail.

So if anyone lives in that region and knows anything about it – please let me know, I’d love to hear more.

Happy haunting tonight folks!


Trick Or Treat For Pets


I can’t believe it’s Halloween already – how did this year fly by so fast without my permission? The months whizz by so ridiculously fast these days……

But anyway, as the resident, blogging veterinarian, I feel compelled to remind you all to keep an eye on those pets of yours this weekend – we all love the holiday festivities, and the fun that goes along with Halloween, and it’s becoming more and more common for our pets to be dragged into the fun too. So I thought I’d share a post that I wrote for my freelance writing site, sharing some tips on keeping your pets safe at this time.

And special thanks to my cat, Tiddles, for “allowing” me to dress her up for the occasion! No cats were harmed in the taking of this photograph……

Treats To Avoid

  • Chocolate: Whether your dog has a penchant for raiding the bags of treats, or you have a penchant for feeding them to him – beware! Chocolate can be toxic to your dog, and eating too much can result in anything from vomiting and diarrhea to fatality. Thankfully fatalities are uncommon because owners are becoming increasingly aware that chocolate can poison their dog, but nevertheless, it pays to be extra-vigilant this time of year.
  • Raisins and Grapes: Many owners mistakenly feed these to their dog, thinking of them as a healthy alternative to chocolates. These too, however, can be poisonous to cats and dogs even in small doses, so should be avoided at all costs. They can cause kidney damage, and can also lead to fatalities. So beware those cute little boxes of raisins that kids leave around the house.
  • Xylitol: Maybe you’ve never heard of this compound, but more than likely you’ve ingested it!. Xylitol is a commonly used artificial sweetener that is often found in sugar-free chewing gum, as well as many other seemingly “healthy” low-calorie food products. Your Halloween candy bag is likely to contain something sweetened with xylitol.
  • High Sugar/High Salt/High Fat/High Calorie Treats: It’s not uncommon for us to over-indulge during the holidays, and this privilege is often extended to our pets! Avoid the urge to splurge though – obesity is the number one health problem in US pets, so don’t be tempted to overdo things with your pet with respect to high calorie foods, or even just excessive amounts of food. High fat foods in particular can also lead to problems such as pancreatitis. So choose be health-conscious on behalf of your pet!

Additional Safety Tips

  • Escaped Pets: If your cat or dog just loves to escape whenever the door is opened, Halloween is a particularly important time to be vigilant about this. If necessary, confine your pet to one room while the festivities are ongoing. And if you’re outdoors with your pet, don’t forget to keep him safe by taking him on a leash. This is a good time to ensure that his identity tag is up to date too. Just in case he does a disappearing act. The best advice though, is to keep your pet at home, safe and sound, during the witching hours!
  • Costume Issues: Although your pet might look cute dressed as Yoda, think twice before you send him outdoors in his new outfit! I’d advise not to dress up pets that are anxious, or even those who appear to be anxious in their new outfit. And avoid sending him outside in the costume. If you absolutely can’t resist the neighbors seeing him dressed-up though, be sure to accompany him. Be sure also that his costume doesn’t restrict his movement – make sure it’s not too long, too tight, and that nothing is covering his eyes. Long dangling threads or cords can also cause your pet to become entangled, so these should definitely be avoided. And don’t forget that your pet can easily be frightened by kids (or you!) in costume, so be gentle with him! If he seems anxious, keep him away from kids – you don’t want anyone getting bitten. Halloween bites are very common when pets become scared and anxious.
  • Electrical Cords: There are decorations galore this time of year, so take care if you’ve acquired any with electrical cords – in addition to posing a risk of entanglement if they’re too long, many pets love to chew through cords. Take precautions to keep pets away from such decorations, and certainly make sure that all electrical cords are stowed away.
  • Candles and All Types of Naked Flames: As festive as those Halloween candles or Jack-o-Lanterns can be, they’re an accident waiting to happen when it comes to curious pets. If you must have them on display for Halloween, be sure to keep them in a room that your pet cannot access. The last thing you need is an injured pet, or even a fire.

These are just a handful of tips to help your pet have a safe Halloween. Above all, remember to avoid giving your treats to your pet – that little Hershey’s kiss might be fine if your Great Dane gets his paws on it, but it could be harmful to your tiny Chihuahua. The Pet Poison Hotline reports that the average cost of treating a pet with chocolate poisoning is almost $1000. They also report that Halloween is the most dangerous time for pets, with their calls apparently increasing by 12% at this time of year.

If you are in any doubt at all about your pet’s health over the Halloween festivities, call your veterinarian immediately for advice. And if you are concerned that your pet may have eaten something potentially harmful, you can always contact the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center on 888-426-4435, or the Pet Poison Helpline on 800-213-6680.

Mount Greylock

Last weekend we were forecast a bright, sunny Saturday with temperatures in the low 60s. Having the weekend all to myself, I decided to head west with my camera gear! “West” meaning western Massachusetts – I’d decided to head to Mount Greylock, about a couple of hours away from me.

I’ve never been to that region before, so I was looking forward to seeing the scenery from the top of the mountain, especially with all the beautiful fall colors we have right now.

Well it seems that the weather forecasters fibbed massively to me – it was, in fact, cloudy, overcast, 41 degrees, and quite foggy at the top of the mountain – couldn’t see anything at the summit! It was downright cold – I was glad I’d thrown my fleece jacket in the car, and was even more pleased to find an old pair of gloves kicking around in the back too.

But despite the cold weather, I really enjoyed my little road trip. And I still managed to see some lovely colors from various vantage points en-route to the summit along the state-designated Scenic Byway. I’m glad I went, even though the weather wasn’t great – the Scenic Byway is only open from late May until November 1st, so at least I managed a viewing before it closes for the season.

Mount Greylock occupies the highest point in Massachusetts, standing at 3,491 feet. It’s in Lanesborough, in the Berkshires region, where the scenery aroundabout is beautiful – even without sunshine!

At the summit it really was just a white-out, but I loved how dramatic it looked as a result of the dense fog. I caught this image of the Massachusetts Veterans War  Memorial Tower, with the top just disappearing into the fog.

The tower was built in 1992, and later dedicated in June 1933 as a tribute to the state’s military servicemembers.

Another thing I enjoyed at the summit was seeing all the berry trees – their reds were beautiful, and really contrasted nicely with the white of the fog. Very seasonal!

So all in all, a fun day trip, for sure. I’m looking forward to visiting the area again – I think it’ll be beautiful in all seasons, and would make for great scenic comparisons. If you’re ever in the western Massachusetts region, I highly recommend you taking a jaunt along the Scenic Byway.

Pumpkins Galore!

Continuing with the pumpkin theme, here are some more recipes that I’ve enjoyed recently. I tell you, I have so many pumpkin recipes that I could bore you for another year with them!

I dare you to resist these Halloween Pumpkin Mini Cheesecakes though – not so healthy, but it’s only Halloween once a year! How could you resist them? Maybe you could even make them to give out to the kids as they come around for tricks and treats? Although me, I’d rather keep them to myself!

Pumpkin & Potato Breakfast Hash

Pumpkin Goulash

Halloween Pumpkin Mini Cheesecakes


Fall In New Hampshire

Last Sunday I took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed north, venturing into New Hampshire! I realized it’s been a year since I was last up there – can’t believe the time has flown by so quickly. I also can’t believe that I don’t get up there more often – I’m relatively close to the MA-NH border, it really only takes me about 40 minutes to cross into the state.

But I did at least make up for lost time with my day-long road trip last weekend. The weather was lovely – blue skies and bright sunshine, even if a little cool. Thankfully there were enough coffee-stop opportunities to keep me warmed up!

I did a little circular drive around Mount Monadnock and managed to get some fun photos that captured some quintessential New England scenes.

One of my favorite towns that I visited was Greenfield – a tiny village, really, but I just loved their Covenant Congregational Church in the middle of town on the main road. It was surrounded by beautiful fall colors and just looked amazing in the sunshine.

Even their little cemetery behind the church looked very scenic!

Traveling on, I came into Marlow, and managed to find some beautiful reflections of the fall colors in their lake.

Stoddard was next up – another tiny town, and I think I was the only person out walking! I was quite taken by their lovely Congregational Church too, with its war memorial out front.

Just across the road from the church they also had a peaceful Memorial Garden.

I finished up the afternoon in Jaffrey, the town where Mount Monadnock is located. This is a bigger town with more amenities than the others I’d visited earlier on (allowing me to get ice cream!), and I certainly enjoyed wandering around the place for a while, it was very photogenic.

Right in the center of town they have a grassy area with a gazebo in the middle. Next to it is an eagle monument, although I couldn’t find any specific information about this. Very colorful though.

Close to the gazebo is a beautiful and touching war memorial, “Boys of WWI”.

Just a little further on from the gazebo is Jaffrey’s Clay Library, with another (huge) War Memorial in front. Such a beautiful library building, and it looked amazing with the bright blue sky for contrast against its red brick.

All around the town they had various Halloween exhibits. I loved their “Mr and Mrs” scarecrows!

All in all, a great day’s road trip!

You just can’t fail to love New England in the fall.


Newport, RI: My Favorite Haven

Over the past couple of months I’ve made quite a few trips down to Newport, RI. I just adore that town. It’s only about an hour and a half away from me, but every time I’m there, I feel like I’m on vacation. It has a little bit of everything – the shore, culture, history, great restaurants, sports, wonderful architecture, numerous memorials, cool shops… name it, I can probably point to it for you.

I especially love it there when the sun is shining, but to be honest, even in the snowy winter, it’s a wonderful place to see. One of my favorite places to hang out there is Fort Adams State Park. It’s a great place to take your picnic and read, walk, watch the boats on the water, or just do some people-watching. I always see folk trying to catch fish near the harbor!

Another of my favorite places is Castle Hill Lighthouse. You access it via the grounds of Castle Hill Inn, a beautiful hotel on its own 40 acre peninsula off Ocean Drive. After parking in the parking lot, you just walk a little way up the track to the shore to get to the lighthouse. I’m quite a lighthouse fan, I just love the things, so I’m always hanging out there, as well as at Newport’s other lighthouses. Castle Hill’s lighthouse is so picturesque, though, and it’s usually quite a peaceful place to be at, since it’s not exactly a hub of tourist activity. I think this is one of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken in Newport – it was just an amazingly beautiful day.

Just “next door” to Newport, across the bay, is the lovely Jamestown. A few weeks ago I finally managed to make it to see the Jamestown Windmill while it was open – previously I’ve only ever seen it from behind the wall since it’s only open for a few months of the year.

The windmill was built in 1787 to grind corn, operated until 1896, and is actually still maintained in working condition. It’s currently owned by the Jamestown Historical Society & is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Amazing to see it and to be able to go inside. And I was lucky enough to be able to capture it on yet another gorgeous day.

One of my promises to myself over the past couple of years is that I’ll live there one day! God knows if it’ll ever happen – I’ll certainly have to be a telecommute worker if I do live there, since there isn’t any kind of industry based there that corresponds to what I do for a living. I’ll just keep working on it though!

Do you have any favorite havens?


Fall Recipes

The fall is my favorite season, and I’m fortunate enough to live in New England where the colors just can’t be beaten this time of year. I love the weather in September and October too, although I have to admit it’s been a tad more rainy than usual this year (but I’ll take that over excessive humidity any day!).

I also love the fall flavors when they emerge – a couple of weeks ago we visited the Burrvill Cider Mill in Watertown, NY – they open on Labor Day each year. It was a very rainy day, but the place was hopping with people stocking up on their apple cider. We did the same, and additionally couldn’t resist some of their spiced apple cider donuts. Very tasty!

They had lots of decorated pumpkins outside, including the guy in the photo below! Although I love all the apple dishes out now, pumpkin is definitely my favorite fall flavor, & I have a particular soft spot for pumpkin spiced lattes this time of year, or even just having pumpkin syrup added to my coffee (Dunkin Donuts do a great variety).

Lately I’ve come across so many tasty pumpkin-based recipes, so I thought I’d share some with you too.

Here are some of my current favorites – hope you enjoy them too!

Pumpkin Bread With Almonds

Pumpkin & Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles