Kate's adventures

Friday, March 16, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 11

It is once again time to highlight some 'Happy moments' from the past week, and what better way to start than with a 30+ year old photo, taken when little Ben was just a couple of days old. Fortunately his big brothers all look quite happy about his arrival!

And now here they are 'all grown up' along with hubby and I.
As one might expect, they have all followed different paths through life, but I am proud of the men they have become, and love them all to bits. And it was a joy to have video calls and messages from them for Mothering Sunday.

It has been a quiet but fairly productive week, and much of it was spent getting the garden ready for a new season. We set off on Monday for a big garden centre in Mojacar, and came home with the car boot filled with plants. I can't do too much at a time, so each day I tackled another bit and now we have a lovely pot of osteospermums to add immediate colour. They close up and go to sleep at night, but by day they look lovely, and they have quite a long flowering season.
When we moved in we inherited some lovely plants in tubs in the front garden, and among them was a standard gardenia. Sadly it was one of my failures and it died. This year we have also got rid of an old oleander that was past its best, so I have now replaced it with a new gardenia.
It is covered in buds, and the one flower that is open, smells heavenly.
Other plants in the front tubs are doing quite well without too much help from me. Look at all the flower buds on my little mandarin tree. It was new last year and only had two fruit on it, but I am hopeful for more this year, even if the winds do blow most of the blossom away! It is a rather weedy little tree, but I have cut the thinnest branches off, and I'm hoping it will get stronger with time.
You may remember I got excited last year when my Elephant foot palm had a flower for the first time. After watching it develop from a tight bud over several weeks, I was a bit disappointed by the rather nondescript flower. However, when the flower died, a new rosette of tiny leaves grew from the same leaf, and that is now a big head of leaves,and this week we have noticed it is again about to flower. A second head of leaves also grew from lower down, but that one isn't flowering. So now I am watching again to see how it grows. Unfortunately, our cats, especially Paco, have decided the trunk is a good place to sharpen their claws, so the bark has gone, but apart from its looks, it doesn't seem to have harmed the plant.
Those sweet little tiny daffodils I had in a pot, sadly only lasted a about a week, as we had some very warm days. So I cut off the dead heads and left the leaves to die off and 'feed' the bulbs, just in case they survive until next year. I have tried this before, but the summer is too hot for them and they dry out and just disintegrate. So I was really surprised to find this in one of my tubs. I didn't have any last year, so it is one from two years ago, that has managed to push through again this year, and give me a delightful surprise.

Next I turned my attention to the side yard, and more specifically to my tiny water garden in the corner of the fly-free area. This had been neglected all winter, and was looking rather sad. Now I have replaced the hydrangea with a new shrub. I don't know its name but it is smothered in buds, and has a small pink flower, and dark green leaves.
On and around the water feature there are some pretty pink and white verbena, a pink petunia, one more osteospermum, and two different ivy plants, and on top I have replaced the pot-bound fern with a tradescantia (spider plant). So it is looking a lot better now.

We have had a fair bit of rain again this week, gentle enough to do the plants some good, and settle them in without washing all the soil out of the pots. But it is still cold enough in the evenings to settle down in front of the TV, though there have been some nights when we haven't needed to light the fire. But that has given me time to crack on with my new crochet project, and by Wednesday I had completed part 2, and had to wait until today for part 3 to be published. I have just downloaded it now, so I am raring to go again. I am loving the pattern which is called Arizona Blanket and is based on a Navajo design. This is what it is like so far.
It started with the pattern for eight squares which were then joined together, and they run down the centre of the blanket. So now I am working in long rows on either side of the squares. I actually decided to use nine squares, so my rows are even longer, and it is too long to lay along the settee for a photo. It looks rather wavy so far, but I am confident a lot of that will sort itself out as I go along.
The pattern is in eight parts altogether, so maybe when I have finished part 4 I will show you again.
Now I have just got time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and then I am off to choir practice. When I get home this evening I shall make a start on part 3 of my blanket. I want to get as much done as I can, before it gets too hot to have it on my lap.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Rocking Your world 2018; Week 10

It has been a mixed week here, with days of sunshine, lots of rain and some very fierce winds. This is the season for the Levante wind which whips up big waves along the coast, and makes stepping outside an uncomfortable experience. We have had to do a lot of sweeping up of debris, but nothing has been damaged so all is well. I prefer not to drive along the motorway when it is so windy as parts of it are very exposed, so I have been home quite a lot.

We had just finished our lunch on Sunday when Chris said "It is raining hard again", and looking out the side door, it was indeed coming down thick and fast. But when I opened the front door to make sure none of my flower pots were getting washed out, it was bright sunshine at that side of the house, and there was a beautiful double rainbow spanning from the dark grey clouds into the bright blue sky. Isn't it strange?
Another day, I left the house to go shopping and the sky at the front was black, and in the distance I could see a sheet of rain falling, but at our house it was still sunny as you can see in my picture.
But fortunately, when it does rain, it doesn't usually last for long, and we have had some lovely warm and sunny days when it is much warmer outside than in the house. So we have been sitting out most afternoons. Our porch is fairly sheltered from the wind, and is nice and sunny until the corner of the roof casts a shadow on us.
I took the opportunity to sit out there to sew my squares together for my blanket and to work on the border. Tango is quick to spot a sunny place to lay, and he has been keeping me company.
The blanket is finished now and I am very happy with it. The colours were carefully planned by the designer Lucy, to travel through the shades diagonally across the blanket. You can see what I mean here. The best way I can get a complete photo of a blanket is to hang it from the washing line!
We have two matching sofas in the sitting room, one cream and one navy. My seaside blanket is draped along the back of the cream one, so I decided to put this one along the navy sofa. It goes quite well with my odd mix of coloured cushions. Paco seems to approve anyway.
I have made good progress with my next project, though not enough to show it off yet. I again sat outside today because I needed to do a couple of rows in very dark brown, and I was glad of the sunlight to help me see what I was doing. I think I might have done too much because this evening my hands are so stiff I can hardly use my fingers to work the computer keys.
The sunshine and rain are bringing the garden on a treat. I have fat buds ready to open on the freesias and the osteospermums, and our pink jasmine is now in full bloom.
I was hoping my picture would show some of the bees that are all over it, but unfortunately I can't see them, but there were loads of them flitting from flower to flower  today. It is absolutely smothered in flowers again and it is so pretty. And despite the rain, this year it has stayed up on the wall. Sometimes the weight of it when it is wet, pulls it down. The buds are deep pink but the flowers are almost white.
People walking up the street always stop to look at it and comment on its very powerful perfume that is again wafting through the open window and filling the house.
Today we have had the sitting room window, which is right by the jasmine, open all day. That is the first time this year it has been warm enough. I also went to the market this morning in just a tee-shirt, and at tea-time it was the first time this year I could spread the butter without warming it in the microwave first. All signs that we are turning the corner and moving rapidly into more the weather we expect to have by March.
Today there was no rain forecast so I got up early and stripped the bed, and the sheets etc were washed before I went shopping and blowing out on the line. By the time I got home they were dry and ready to go back on the bed. Dorothy and Jean, can't you just hear our mum turning in her grave at the thought of sheets going back on the bed without a good stint in the airing cupboard first! But I think these got a good airing just on the line today. The sun had just crept around the corner by my line and there was a stiff breeze so they were flapping around all morning. (We don't have an airing cupboard anyway!)
I treated myself to a little azalea plant in Lidls this week, to sit on my front room table. I always chose plants with lots of buds, because none of them last for very long here, and already most of them have opened up. Doesn't it look pretty? Hopefully I will be able to plant it outside later, but I am not very clever at keeping them. We shall see. But for now I will enjoy it in the house.
I haven't only been busy with my crochet this week. I have also made a couple of cards which may make it onto my craft blog later. I have been busy in the kitchen too, making jam. Several friends have asked me when I will have strawberry jam to sell, and I always tell them that I will not make jam until the strawberries drop down to 3€ a kilo. When they first come in they can be as much as 5€ and I hadn't seen any below 4€ yet. However, when I was in Lidls last weekend, they had a one day special of strawberries for 2.70€ a kilo, so I bought enough to do a batch of jam. They were lovely fruit, and it almost seemed wrong to be using them for jam.
Strawberries are very big out here. This one on its own weighed 100g!
Sometimes they can be a bit 'solid' and lack the flavour and sweetness of the smaller English ones, but these were really ripe and smelled and tasted delicious. 
As they were so ripe I made the jam straight away and soon there were seventeen jars labelled and priced and ready for me to sell. I took a few jars to my sewing group on Wednesday and they sold straight away.
Today I went to the market and this time I bought two, 2 kg boxes of them for 5€ each, so that was even cheaper, and this evening I made another batch of jam. So now my cupboard is well stocked. I probably won't make any more of it this year. The folk out here don't eat much bread and jam/marmalade once the weather warms up, and I don't like to keep it for too long.
And that is about it for this week. I have had long video chats with three of my five boys which is always good. The plans for the kitchen are moving along. We are provisionally booked in for the work to start on 22nd May, so my next job will be to clear the garage so I have somewhere to store everything while the work is being done! 
Thank you to those who visited me last week. I am sorry I was so late getting round to each of you but I hope I didn't miss anyone out. I will try to do better this week.
So now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll be back with more, next week.