The Velcro Wall

velcro wall at harvest festival
A couple of boys experiencing the "sticky side of life" but in a fun way, known as playing on the notorious Velcro Wall!

run and jump at the fun zone
Our grandson didn't want to leave this fun event. He would throw the velcro patch to the wall and then from the back would run towards the marker while being attached to a bungee cord.
grandson down the slide
You can see pure joy on Ryan's face. Guaranteed to have a good night's rest after participating on the slide, over and over again!
cake walk at the harvest festival
So many wonderful families contributed delicious cakes for the famous cake-walk event. Ryan was a winner and selected the "M&M" one, of course!

pumpkins and scarecrows

hoop-a-scarecrow game

rock my hat off game

photo editing
Photo Edit: CrossPreference, Lomo Effect, Space Texture

                                   Photos for Blue Monday and Mandarin Orange Monday

Our church provided an outreach ministry for the community. It was a huge event, the Harvest Festival and a successful one at that. Providing inexpensive rides and good food for the entire family, everyone sure had a real nice time. It was so special for the children because it was a safe place for them to play and show off their costumes, plus as you can see from the photos, kids had a blast with the games and rides. I took tons of pictures but I just wanted to share a few with you for todays wonderful memes.

Towards the end of the day, our grandson who wanted to be a cop this year, participated in the cake walk and proudly shared his winnings with his dad! Will you have trick-or-treators in your neighborhood? Some of the homes here are nicely decorated with corn husks and pumpkins.

Whatever you have planned for your Halloween celebration, I hope you experience warm together-times with laughter and nice surprises!

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

Balloons and Blessings

blue birthday balloons touching the ceiling

grandchildren gathering for family birthday party

Birthday blues everywhere in these two photos. All the children love these multiple balloons because they know it symbolizes "party time!" For this event, the party gal turned "31" and she was surrounded by loadss of love, food and family. It was a busy time making delicious fried rice for an army, while the men barbecued hundreds of chicken and beef kebobs with all those marvelous vegetables. Don't you feel the excitement in the air when friends and family gather to bless one another with friendship and good times?! These photos are for Blue Monday

family photo with grandchildren

First step for me in photo editing, is cropping! I wanted to focus on 4 people and get rid of stuff.

tinted photo of people

I added a simple mandarin orange tint and kept focusing on my grandkids' eyes.

focus on portrait smiles

This red-orange tint really brings out the decorative balls, the couch and my grandson's striped shirt.

radiant light for photo background

The radiant light shows how proud I am of family, while my older grandson looks like he's keeping a secret, while the other one (at nine months) is thinking... "huh?" These tinted photos are for Mandarin Orange Monday

Yes, there was music, flowers, games and cake, too. Have you recently celebrated a birthday or hosted a party?

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

Nick the Greek's Baklava

 beautiful blue shutters

hotel shutters on Crete

Beautiful blue shutters adorn the lovely white-washed walls and they're also displayed on the hotel window from the island of Crete. For more beautiful blues, visit Blue Monday

Homemade Baklava from my kitchen
Homemade Baklava
                It was my turn to bring some sweets for our ladies Wed. morning Bible study.

A very popular Phyllo Pastry served for dessert is known as Baklava, pronounced bahk-lah-VAH. Commonly called the aristocrat of pastry desserts, it is of Byzantine origin, made in all countries of the Near East, and each one claims it for its own. In fact I would even say that each Greek Family has their variation of the recipe.

Although Baklava is a dessert, Greeks refer to it as “sweets” and generally would not eat Baklava after a meal as perhaps other western countries would. I remember many times seeing my mother serve Greek coffee and Baklava during the day especially when a visitor arrived.

Now the history of Baklava is not well documented but it can be traced back to the 12th century. This sweet dessert was popular in Syria and Lebanon and then adopted by the Turks. My thinking is that the nuts and honey mixture was combined with ground sesame seeds to make a type of halva because phyllo dough was not available back then.

Phyllo dough was introduced in the kitchens of the palace and the Greeks' major contribution to the development of this pastry is the creation of a dough technique that made it possible to roll it as thin as a leaf, compared to the rough, bread-like texture of the Assyrian dough. In fact, the word phyllo, coined by the Greeks, means "leaf" in the Greek language.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina baklava is generally rich in nuts and filling and is only eaten on special occasions, mostly during in the holy months of Ramadan and Eid.

In Iran, a drier version of Baklava is cooked and presented in smaller diamond-shaped cuts flavored with rose water.

In Afghanistan and Cyprus, baklava is prepared into triangle-shaped pieces and is lightly covered in crushed pistachio nuts.

Perhaps you are one of many that recognizes this fabulous pastry by its layers of nuts and many sheets of filo, of which you will need twenty to forty of them to make this fabulous pastry. This unique dessert is usually bathed in syrup, flavored with rose and brandy.

It’s no surprise to see Greeks using nuts in their dessert since almonds, walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts grow in abundance there.

  • Baklava Nutrition

Baklava has many health benefits as a pastry, it's not just full of empty calories like so many other desserts.    Nuts are filled with nutrition, and they're naturally cholesterol free.  Although nuts are high in fat, the fat is mostly unsaturated fat which has a beneficial effect on health.  Honey consumption raises antioxidant levels.

    * Various studies have shown that both walnuts and almonds have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels.
    * Walnuts in particular (followed by pecans and hazelnuts/filberts), are high in Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for you.  This fat has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
    * Nuts are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, folic acid, and vitamin E.
    * Phyllo pastry has no trans fat, saturated fat or cholesterol and is low in calories.
    * Baklava has a remarkable shelf-life and can last for many months depending on how you store the pastries.

Baklava is a spectacular dessert with simple ingredients.  Honeyed walnuts, however, make it absolutely delicious. Baklava is quite easy to make and suitable for a large gathering. My father would add that you need a master to handle the ready-made paper-thin Greek phyllo pastry. I’ll be sure and let you in on my father’s tips. He has some good ones!

  • Ingredients:
1 pound of phyllo pastry

  • Filling:
3 cups chopped walnuts (or more). You can use pecans, almonds, pistachios or any combination but I prefer walnuts.
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 pound melted sweet butter or salted butter
Whole Cloves

  • Syrup Topping
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup honey or 2 teaspoons rose or brandy flavoring. I just use honey.
Some add 1 large cinnamon stick. I don’t because I prefer to put whole cloves in between the cut diamond squares that will be removed later.

Defrost frozen filo to room temperature.

  • Tip #1 from Nick the Greek:

Keep it covered with a damp-cloth as it dries out quickly.

Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter and keep it in the pan to reheat if it cools and doesn’t flow easily while you are working with the filo. Use pastry brush to oil generously the bottom and sides of a large rectangular baking pan (approximately 13 in x 9 in).

Place 5-6 sheets of filo in the pan and sprinkle lightly with warm butter. Place another sheet of filo on top of the first sheet, and brush each layer lightly with melted butter. Fold in excess length of each sheet at alternative ends. Some use a scissors and cut away the excess filo dough but I don’t because it isn’t an exact science and you can’t do anything wrong at this point.

  • Tip #2 from Nick the Greek

Instead of a pastry brush, my father uses a squirt bottle to spray the layers with.

Continue until you have spread 6 or more sheets. Spread half of the filing, including the corners. Cover with 6 or more sheets of filo remaining sheets, oiling between each one. Roll edges and tuck with remaining butter. Before baking, cut through the top layers only, into the traditional diamond shapes. Use a small sharp knife with a ruler to guide you if you want. We do this in order to facilitate serving once it has been cooked.

To Make Diamond-Shaped Pieces:

Make vertical cuts, 1 inch apart. Turn pan horizontally and make cuts at an angle, 1 inch apart. Stick a whole clove in the center of each diamond. Besides adding flavor, it keeps the layers together. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Check it during the last 20 minutes to see if it is browning evenly.

Begin boiling the syrup except for the honey for 10 minutes before taking the baklava immediately out of the oven. Add honey and simmer for another 5 minutes until slightly thickened. You never really want to boil honey because it changes the flavor immensely.

Pour hot syrup over hot baklava immediately after removing it from the oven. Use ladle or large spoon to distribute syrup evenly over all of it. Set aside to cool, at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. Keep in pan overnight or at least 4 hours before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

photo edit of pastry dessert
Baklava on Fire

photo shop editing of phyllo dough
Cross Process CP4

green ceramic platter of Greek pastry
Baklava Overlay

photo editing of a platter of baklava

Sweet pastry photo edits for Mandarin Orange Monday


“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis

First Fire and Fire Plugs

blue fire hydrant over in Europe

red and blue fire hydrant in the city

yellow fire hydrant in the country

  • Fire Hydrants
fire hydrant is an active fire protection measure, and a source of water provided in most urban, suburban and rural areas with municipal water service to enable firefighters to tap into the municipal water supply to assist in extinguishing a fire... The concept of fire plugs dates to at least the 17th century. This was a time when firefighters responding to a call would dig down to the wooden water mains and hastily bore a hole to secure water to fight fires. The water would fill the hole creating a temporary well, and be transported from the well to the fire by bucket brigades or, later, by hand-pumped fire engines. The holes were then plugged with stoppers, normally redwood, which over time came to be known as fire plugs. The location of the plug would often be recorded or marked so that it could be reused in future fires. This is the source of the colloquial term fire plug still used for fire hydrants today. For more, visit Fire Hydrant.

What color are the fire hydrants in your area? Ours are mostly all yellow but I have seen some red and blue ones in the city. The first one is most unusual and I'm assuming it's over in Europe, since I took this photo online from free source images. Anyways, they are most important and very imperative when fighting fires occurs. Have you had a fire in your area recently?

Photos for Blue Monday

  • First Fire
Camp Pendleton Fire

Camp Pendleton Fire nearby

fire all contained

On Camp Pendleton we experienced our first Fall fire of the season. 250 acres or so were burned. Thankfully, no one was hurt or injured. 3 buildings received some destruction (including a hospital) but all in all, we were lucky this time around. Conditions remain hot and dry in SoCal. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

  • Fire Contained
sunset on Camp Pendleton fire
Original Photo
Fortunately, the fire is totally out! I happened to grab this shot as the sun was setting. Now we all can rest peacefully.

  • Photo Editing

fire photo edit
Photo Edit: Dark Paint Texture

sunset photo edit
Photo Edit: Burst Multiply Texture

sunset glow in space
Photo Edit: Space Overlay

Fire can be so destructive and deadly. It just takes a little spark to explode into an out-of-control situation. We are so very thankful all is well now.

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C. S. Lewis