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There was so much color, festivity and livelihood at the Lions Square in Heraklion on the Island of Crete, Greece.  I loved watching the two boys play in the street as though there were no one else around to see them. They sparred and danced around the square for over 15 minutes. I’m sure big brother was letting the younger excel at the game as it continued on and on.  Take a look off to the left, sitting on the edge of the Lions Fountain is a young street entertainer playing the accordion while another on looker further up is a woman carrying the large bundle of colorful balloons for sale.  Inexpensive and colorful entertainment was in abundance.

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I once saw a vivid piece of photo art that captured the Venice canals in all their color and history.  Since then I wanted to visit there myself and look for the same spot.  I didn’t find where the picture was taken but that didn’t stop me from shutter bugging over 100 images in Venice alone.  Even though the days were cloudy the colors still shown through.

Reflections on Venice Canal
Reflections on Venice Canal

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This is the Year of the Horse for the Chinese New Year celebrated on January 31.  Earlier this year I was in Las Vegas at the Bellagio and each year they feature a elaborate display of the Chinese New Year in their Conservatory and Botanical Garden inside the hotel lobby area.  It attract large crowds and is well worth a viewing.

I’ve found the Chinese New Year and their signs fun.  I’m quite fond of my own Chinese New Year sign which is the dragon.  I don’t think of it as the dragon lady, but as a bright and brilliantly colored sometimes fire breathing dragon.

FROM THE INDEPENDENT ONLINE:
It’s the Lunar New Year and the Chinese Year of the Horse. The horse is part of a 12-year-cycle of animals that make up the Chinese zodiac. These interact with the five elements: wood, metal, fire, water, earth. 2014 is the year of the wood horse, taking over from the year of the water snake.
Click on these images to enlarge:

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Horse Statue along with Fiori di Como by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly
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A Sample from the Flora Displays
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Chinese Gardens
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Chinese Gardens
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Year of the Hose Display

From the same trip to Hippie Town in Tucson Arizona there is a Goodwill store where the store front breezeway provides a perfect vanishing point perspective.

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People in Perspective – Vanishing Point
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Goodwill Store – Hippie Town

My definition of Curb Art:  Any specific object that you can capture from the curb or street with a camera that is not a complete building, landscape, portrait or group of people.

While walking down a new and unexplored street, or back alley there are often works of art waiting to be captured on camera.  For me, that’s Curb Art.  One of those rare finds while strolling about is when you come along an unusual or rustic door.  I thought that no one stopped to take pictures of doors but in spending time in WordPress, Pinterest and other social media it was surprising to find that it’s not that unusual.  There are some impressive doors out there just waiting to be personified.

Here are a few taken during the Christmas Season in Bisbee Arizona.

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Enter Here

I was particularly fond of the blue door as the frame was an aging rustic wood set into a wall of larger stones and rocks.

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No Entry Allowed

This one was not quite as unusual but the old peeling paint and original oak peeking through was interesting enough for me to take the shot.

For a refreshing summertime appetizer, fill bite-size cherry tomatoes, round or pear shaped, with a savory mixture of cream cheese flavored with basil. Minced tarragon or chervil can be used in place of the basil.

Original Yield: 24  Main Ingredient: Cream Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes
Ingredients:

24 Cherry tomatoes
1/2 pound Cream cheese; regular in tub
2 tablespoons Half-and-half cream
1/4 cup Fresh basil; minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper; freshly ground
1 package Fresh parsley
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Instructions:

Chop or mince basil into small pieces especially if you are going to use an icing tube to fill the tomatoes with the cream cheese mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, 1 tablespoon half-n-half, basil, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork or spatula until well blended. Continue to add last tablespoon of half-n-half slowly until desired consistency is met. Allow to come to room temperature as you prepare the tomatoes. This will allow for an easier time when filling the tomato shells with the icing tube as the cream cheese comes to room temperature.

Remove the top of each tomato with a serrated knife and trim if necessary to flatten the bottom. While having tomato still in hand, attempt to remove as much pulp as possible and discard. Save tomato tops for garnish.   Turn  tomato upside down on an paper towel to help in absorbing the juices. After all tops have been removed and this first step is complete then move on to the next step. The messy part is mostly over.

Using a small spoon or small mellon baller scoop out any remaining inside pulp to make a hollow yet sturdy shell. Set each shell open side up on serving dish. Garnish with parsley sprigs to help keep tomatoes in place.

Using the small spoon, fill each tomato with about 1 tsp. of the cheese mixture.

If you can use a cake decorating tube, then you can also use this to fill the tomatoes and create a pleasant swirl. You will need to add enough half-n-half so that the consistency is like frosting. Pick a large enough tube end so that the basil does not get stuck.

To finish off the platter, fill a center dish with extra or leftover basil cream cheese.  Place tomato trim tops around the inside of the bowl and add additional parsley for garnish.  If you have leftover room on you platter, fill it with cucumber slices, crackers, sweet garden peas or any other food that would go great with the cream cheese.    I used the tomato tops around the inside of the center bowl that contained extra filling.  If you do not use an icing tube to fill the tomatoes, you can use the little tops to garnish each filled tomato.   Sprinkle a little parsley over the entire platter for a final finish.