Mung Kavum

What is a delicious dessert that comes from Sri Lanka that is gluten-free and dairy-free? It’s Mung Kavum.

What is Mung Kavum? It is a dessert usually made around the Sinhala Tamil New Year and other special occasions. Sinhala Tamil New Year is in April, but the owner’s of Red Pepper Diner shared it with me after the American New Year.

What are the ingredients? Some of the ingredients include: Mung Bean flour, rice flour, sugar, coconut milk and spices. It is deep fried. It is slightly sweet, but not overly sweet. It is very delicious. How it is made may vary between recipes and restaurants of course.

Where can you get this? One location is Red Pepper Diner on Route 9D in Wappingers very close to Beacon. It is worth a visit if you are travelling on I-84 near Beacon or visiting Beacon for the many shops and galleries or for DIA Beacon.

Screech Owl Holiday

Which owl is a year round NY resident is tiny, and it is well camouflaged and hard to spot in the wild? It’s the Eastern Screech Owl.

This is one owl I have yet to come across in the woods and would like to see. However, I know it will be difficult, so when given the opportunity to see one up close I jumped on it.

Yes, this one is real.

These owls are short and stocky with almost no neck. They can be mostly gray or mostly a reddish brown colour. Notice the one above is about the size of a pine cone.

They camouflage well against tree bark. Their size and colouring make them difficult to spot. People have been able to sight them at the hole in the tree they reside in. They tend to block the tree hole and blend in well with the bark.

Diet

According to Birdfeederhub.com their diet includes songbirds, mice, rats, moles, squirrels, insects, earthworms, and lizards. The ability to take down a squirrel or rat surprised me given their size.

Greenburgh Nature Center

I viewed this owl at the Greenburgh Nature Center. This nature center has a variety of trails, programs, and events on a 33 acre nature preserve. They take care of some birds of prey. They currently have eagles, hawks, a screech owl, and a great horned owl. These birds cannot be released into the wild due to an event such as a collision with a car. Sites such as the Greenburgh Nature Center receive birds determined to be non-releasable from wildlife rehabbers who cared for them right after the event in which they were injured.

No, I did not put a hat on this owl. I photoshopped this one in with my very limited skills.

The Greenburgh Nature Center is located at 99 Dromore Road in Scarsdale, NY. It is a short drive north of New York City in Westchester County. To learn more click on the link below:

It is the season of giving. Support your local wildlife rehabbers and places like the Greenburgh Nature Center. These places help us learn more about wildlife, provide us an opportunity in some cases to see wildlife up close, and help animals in need. Happy holidays!

Loon Lake

There is more than one Loon Lake in New York. One is north of the Saranac Lake/ Lake Placid area, but does not have public access. The second Loon Lake, which I visited, is in Warren County northwest of Lake George and it has public access.

How to Get There

You can get to Loon Lake by taking 87, the Adirondack Northway north from Lake George. Take the exit for Chestertown/Highway 8. Travel west past Chestertown. There are two access points on the southern end of the lake. The first one charges a fee, but it also has a free boat wash you can use without paying to put your kayak in. The second location is very closeby. This location is a town recreation area with a beach and parking right along highway 8.

This is the boat launch that charges a fee.

Loon Lake is 525 acres in size. The length of the shoreline is just under 12 miles. It has many houses on the southern end. I was told many of these are summer homes or rentals. The majority of houses have dock and motorboats.

There was more activity on this lake than I am used to, but I will say the boaters kept a safe distance from this kayaker. People were very friendly on and off the lake.

I could hear thunder the entire time I was on the lake, so I may have done less than half the lake. The thunder was in the distance, but always think of safety first.
The dogs seemed to enjoy riding on a stand up paddleboard.
This man zoned back and forth on the lake on a hoverboard.
Arriving back at the beach. The beach is next to highway 8. The parking is right next to the road.

Overall I would say this is a nice place to paddle. It is not as busy as Lake George, but you are not totally isolated. There are also several other lakes within a short drive of this lake. If you want to paddle a lake in an areas with a friendly, small town feel go to Loon Lake in Warren County, New York. It is another great Adirondack paddle.

Hay Bale Halloween

What do farmer’s do this time of year when they are bored? Some make hay bale art. What is hay bale art? When someone gets a bales of hay, arranges them to make an object, and paints them. The hay bales used can be cylindrical, cube, or rectangular prism-shaped. This art is more popular in farming states like Montana, but it is also popular in parts of Australia. Here are some examples I found in the Hudson Valley of New York. Happy Halloween!

This one appears to be made of rectangular prism shaped hay bales.
The rest of these are formed using rolled up or cylinder-shaped hay bales.

Clayton Murals

Do you need a vacation location this summer? Are you planning on trips closer to home? If you live in the Northeast one option is a visit to the Thousand Islands area of New York. One beautiful town right on the St. Lawrence River is Clayton, NY.

Besides a really nice walkway along the river in town, this town has some interesting murals to view. Below are the ones I found.

A modern ship mural by Kelly Curry.
Back in the day the railroads brought many tourists up to Clayton. This was a long mural close to another building so I had to take photos in sections. Mural by Kelly Curry.
Picture two- Kelly Curry Mural
Picture 3 Kelly Curry Mural

The back of the same building.
Another modern ship by Kelly Curry

By the end of June, Clayton was in phase four ahead of areas in New York City, the Hudson Valley , and Long Island in opening up. Museums were about to open in the area in June. Most places are open for business including boat tours.

If you visit the Thousand Islands or plan to take a tour or fishing boat out of Clayton, wander around the town. They have wonderful shops, nice restaurants, a walkway on the river, and beautiful murals depicted the area.

#ClaytonNewYork #streetart #murals #ThousandIslands #NewYork

Bryant Park in Winter

Where can you skate for free in NYC if you bring your own skates? What rink has a holiday market around it? Which rink has several food choices close by? Bryant Park in Manhattan has all of these.

Bryant Park borders 42nd Street and 41st Street behind the main branch of the NYC Public Library. It is about two blocks from Grand Central Station. Between Thanksgiving and the beginning of January the park also hosts a Holiday Market. There are a booths outside carrying a variety of items from clothing to food and gifts.

Yes, if you bring your own skates it is free. They have a changing area. Skating starts early in the morning. There is food available in the lodge, an indoor area near the rink. There is also a Whole Foods across one of the streets it borders and other restaurants and shopping nearby. There are also permanent food kiosks in the park.

Bryant Park- behind the fountain is the ice skating rink. The park is behind the main branch if the NY Public Library. You can see some of the vendor booths for the Holiday Market on the left.
The fountain in the park
The Zamboni smoothing the ice on the rink. The rink clears for about 15 minutes when it is time to resurface the ice.

It is a rink with some nice views of Midtown Manhattan. It does not get the crowds that the rink at Rockefeller Center gets. I recommend this rink over the others because of that and the close proximity to food and shopping.

One of the permanent food kiosks at the park.

Whether you ice skate or not, it is worth visiting Bryant Park in winter. Watch the action or catch a bite to eat and enjoy the scenery of Midtown Manhattan.

Lobster Trap Christmas Trees

Many towns put up a large Christmas tree somewhere central and have a tree lighting to mark the start of the Christmas season. Some towns in New England have a tree lighting, but the tree may not be pine or spruce. These trees are made of lobster traps in homage to the local fishermen.

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plymouth started their lobster trap tree tradition in 2013. This one is on the town wharf.

Gloucester, Massachusetts

Some say Gloucester started the lobster trap Christmas tree tradition. They have the oldest tradition in New England. Their tree is stacked with 350 lobster traps. The tree has buoys hand painted by local youth.

Newport, Rhode Island

This tree is next to the harbor. It had buoys, lights and garland.

More New England towns are starting to put these up instead of traditional Christmas trees. There are others in Maine and elsewhere. If you are in New England in December, see which towns nearby have one. These towns put a local flair to Christmas.

Beauport Hotel

What hotel near Boston has a lot of Christmas spirit? Are you looking to plan a trip to the Boston area or North Shore in December? I highly recommend the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Downstairs near the front entrance
Another tree in the lobby area outside the bar.
The tree near the fireplace in the bar area.

The Beauport has a nice location. Its on the beach in Gloucester. Its a short drive to Rockport, an artsy town on the sea. Marvelous sunrises and sunsets are to be had in their rooms facing the water. It is really a great location all year long.

The Beauport had numerous holiday displays. They had multiple Christmas trees up stairs and down. The seating around the two fireplaces, one in the bar area and one outside the restaurant is grand. The mantles are decorated beautifully for the season.

Nautical theme- trees in a boat
It was hard to capture these fireplaces. They were popular sitting spots.

The Beauport is about the only gig in town on Christmas Day for food. I was told the only other option was Chinese. They had the choice between a four course meal or something off their menu. They were booked at the restaurant in advance, but no worries. I was able to order food at the bar which included the four course dinner if that is what you fancied.

The service at this hotel is top notch. They have doormen that will assist you. They have a van service. The drivers will take you to where you want to go locally for free. I used them twice since I messed up my foot prior to my trip and wanted to walk as little a possible. It also helped me get to know the area from a local before I tried to drive around and explore. You woke up Christmas morning to a large candy cane hanging on your door and they came around at night offering chocolates. They had a nice store within the hotel that was open even on Christmas selling snacks, lovely gift items, clothing, etc.

This trip was last minute so to speak. I am trying to finish some photo projects for a class. I may have booked the room a day or two in advance. What I paid was much less than their regular rates in the warmer months.

If you want a quiet vacation with lovely decor, great service, delicious food, and marvelous views, stay at the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I highly recommend it.

Newport Doors

Where can you see some great doors leading up to Christmas? Head to Newport, Rhode Island. On the streets intersecting Thames Street in the historic waterfront area you will see some nice old houses and buildings. Some date back to the early 1700s.

Trinity Church

The doors are perfect paintings; a relief from the picture world I’ve created for myself. Gary Hume

I am partial to doors and windows. I enjoy seeing unique ones on my travels. Are you partial to doors?

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