Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rocking my World 2014: Week 48

I have had a busy day today, so there is no way this will be ready to post by mid-night. I have a very poor internet connection tonight so I may have to wait until tomorrow to post it anyway, but I will get it written just in case it works.
I had an idea ready to post for my Friday smiles but I need to get the OK from someone to use the photos, and I haven´t had time, so I will keep it for next week.

In the meantime here are a couple of my lovely dogs, showing of their good manners at mealtimes. Because the path at the back of the house is narrow, and I don´t want to be bowled over by them, I make them sit at the gate while I walk around to the kitchen door where I feed them, and then I call them. (I think I showed this photo last week, but I can´t open my blog to check right now). Once they are round, I dish up their food and then tell them to sit in their places. They always go to the same spots, and sit and wait while I put all three dishes down. They don´t touch it until all three are served, but look how Kim´s eyes are fixed on his, just in case it disappears if he looks away. Miki´s much more laid back and she is just looking at me as much as to say, "How long do we have to wait?".

Once I give the word, "Good girls", (Kim´s a boy but he doesn´t mind!), they all dive in and there are soon three empty dishes. Kim finishes way before the other two but he never bothers them, or tries to take their´s. 
They aren´t the best trained dogs, and don´t always pay much attention to me, but they know not to mess with me at food time unless they want to go hungry!

So what has kept me smiling this week. 
Good friends for a start. I´ve had a few issues to mull over just lately and I´m grateful for good friends to talk them through with me.
Last week I told you I was able to help a friend by translating for her at the medical centre. Well a few days later she surprised me with this lovely rose. Isn´t it pretty?
Some of you will think I´ve lost the plot a bit, but I am grateful for the arrival of Winter - Spanish winter that is! We have had just enough rain to make everything grow, and turn the county side green.
We still have lots of sunny days, but it is nice to change over to my ´mid-season´wardrobe and wear something other than a flimsy sun-dress all day. 
It is nice to finally need a douvet on the bed, even if it is only a tog 4.5 rating. Most of the year we only have a sheet over us, but it is somehow comforting to have a douvet back for a few months.
It is good to enjoy warming casseroles and soup. We mostly live of ´something and salad´, but there are limits to how many ´somethings´you can come up with. I love soups and my super blender makes lovely ones.
This one, that we enjoyed this week, was based on chicken stock from boiling up a chicken carcass, but the rest of the ingredients were  raw vegetables, a couple of carrots, the stem from some brocolli, half a red pepper, a small hot pepper, some chopped up cabbage  and the leaves from some  celery, plus some lightly sauted mushrooms and leeks, a cooked potato, half a tin of baked beans, and a little rice from the day before´s curry. So it is a great way to use up the bits that might otherwise be wasted, and it is bursting with goodness. I am rather lazy about food and I could live off soup like that quite happily.
At my sewing group this week, several people were finishing off the lace decorations that they started last week. As promised I sat with my friend and talked her through doing hers. She wanted to give up the first day but I have told her we are going to do it, but I am not doing it for her, so I watch her all the time and stop her if she makes a wrong move. She is struggling a bit, and I can see that she is hampered by being left handed, but she will finish it!
She is sitting at the end of this table, just out of the photo, and I am sitting beside her knitting. The bag with the red and white wool in it is mine. The lady standing up in the orange top is Pam. She is the expert at lace-making and is leading the workshop.
Further down the table the people who chose not to make a decoration, are knitting, sewing and chatting!
And over on the other table there are more knitters and sewers. Look at the lovely Christmas quilt that Elzabeth is making. She is a very talented lady.
So you can see we are a busy little group. We all have our own speciality, but we share ideas and patterns, and help one another when someone wants to learn a new skill. They are a great bunch of friends and I am so grateful for our times together.
This morning Chris and I went to a Christmas Fair at the camping site just outside our village. It was organised by the Vera Town Lions Club, and I try to support them as they have been very helpful to families in this area. It was well supported and there were some lovely hand-crafted items on sale. Needless to say I was tempted by the baking stall, and bought two nice meat pies for our dinner, and a big slab of carrot cake.
Some friends of ours were there with their jewelry stall, and there was a lovely necklace on display. Chris knew that I liked it and he bought it for me. He let me take a photo of it to put on here, but now it is all wrapped up and will be hanging under the Christmas tree in a week or two.
This photo doesn´t do it justice. The little beads are a much brighter turquoise than they look here, but it was very hard to photograph it against black card, in artificial light. The silver chains are in fact all tiny sterling silver beads. They must have taken for ever to thread. Apparently they are know as liquid silver.
Before we left the camp site we called in at the little shop on the site and bought tickets for a concert there on the Saturday before Christmas. We will have just finished two weeks of entertaining other folk with the choir concerts, so it will be nice to sit back and be entertained ourselves. And there is a full Christmas buffet meal before the concert, so that is something to look forward to.
Then, when we got back home we went up to our town hall and booked our seats for the village pensioners Christmas dinner. We pay a little for this but it is well subsidised by the town hall. They take us in a convoy of coaches to a venue just off the motorway towards Almeria, and we have a lovely five course meal with as much drink as we want, and some sort of entertainment too. Because it is meant only for the pensioners in the village, it is at midday, and we will be back in the village by early evening. We went last year and had a lovely time.
After dinner I decided to go and do the monthly food shop. It is not my favourite outing, but I knew it would be quiet mid-afternoon, so it is a good time to go. Once a month I do the rounds of Lidls, Mercadona, and Iceland, and for the rest of the month I just need bread and milk, and fruit and vegetables from the market. One of the things I bought today was this bag of big oranges. The orange season has well and truly arrived and I got this bag of five and a half kilos of oranges for just 2.75€, (that´s around 18p a pound for my UK friends). They look really nice ones, so there is plenty of vitamin C for us there.
When I was taking Kim for a walk the other day I was really pleased to find this branch down under a pine tree. It is fairly straight and has so many cones still on it, so I brought it home. I shall do something with it before Christmas. I kept it outside at first, and sprayed it well to make sure it doesn´t have any livestock hiding in the cones, but I have brought it into the garage now so that it is properly dry before I spray it with snow.
It has been quite a difficult week, I have shared three lots of sad news. Not sad for me personally, but sad for people I am fond of, so I have shared their sadness too. But I am glad that I have still found plenty to be grateful for.
Now before I do my linking up with Annie´s Friday Smiles, and Virginia at Celtic House, I will just show you this week´s sky pictures. I can´t help myself can I? I could sit and watch the sky for hours, though these are all taken between about 5.30 and 6.30. The colours change while you watch them, and a few minutes later they are gone. It has been quite windy some days, especially up high, so the clouds have broken into fanciful shapes, that each catch the rays of the setting sun. I love that short time when the sky is still blue, but the sun  is setting. Some of these are so peaceful. A couple of others are more stormy, and of course, there is the inevitable fiery face peeping over the hills at us! Enjoy!

I forgot to add last night, how grateful I am that you take time to visit me and leave a lovely comment. I do enjoy hearing from you all. I apologise that I only managed to get back to a few of you. I had major issues with my new computer. As you may remember, I only had it new back in October and I love it. But in good faith I bought some down-loaded files from a firm I have used before, that is widely recommended among my Silhouette cameo group, and along with the files I imported a load of malware/viruses. They scrambled my internet and made it almost impossible to use, and seemed to be multiplying by the hour. My poor long-suffering husband spent days working on it, trying to clean it up, and hopefully everything is back to normal now. Where would I be without him!! So this week I will do my best to visit you all. Thanks again for following me.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rocking Your World 2014: Week 47

My word! What happened to my Friday morning posts? I´m lucky if I get this done before bedtime these days. Yes life does seem to be rushing by, but it is only for a few weeks. I have another craft fair on 6th December and am busy making things for that. I also need about thirty more Christmas cards, (130 made so far!), and in a week or two I need all the International ones written and posted. Plus, of course, we have six choir concerts in the first two weeks of December, but after that it all goes quite quiet. Christmas is a fairly low key affair out here, and the one time when I really miss having all the family around me. Thank heavens for Skype and mobiles. No-one is ever that far away these days.
But still, another week has gone, so I guess I must have done something worthy of mention in it! It got off to a slow start as I was confined to the house at the weekend with a tummy bug that seems to be doing the rounds. Luckily it only lasted for a couple of days.

We had a long choir practice on Tuesday so that was one day gone with little else achieved. But on Wednesday, at our sewing group, one of the ladies did a workshop to make a bobbin lace Christmas decoration. I have done these before, a couple of years ago, but she had made a new pattern for us, and as it is over a year since I got my pillow and bobbins out, I thought it would be a good refresher course for me. I am glad to say I soon picked it up again, and here is what we made.

Most of the learners only got half-way with theirs, and as it requires a very fine crochet hook, it is not something they could take home to do, but I put the finishing touches to mine last night, so I will be able to help some of the others next week. It is hard for Pam to get around to everyone, so she´ll be glad of another pair of hands.
Today I thought I´d make another one in different colours, so I used a silver bangle and thread, with a fine blue thread for the workers, and white and blue beads. It was a nice warm day even though the sky was not clear blue, so I sat outside in the fly-free porch as the light was so much better than indoors. Note I had a cup of tea to sustain me, and my tablet beside me to provide ´music while you work´. 

Chris came out to see how I was getting on and I asked him to take a couple of photos. He stood on the box behind me to get a close up of the work, and Kim, who was sitting with me, was looking up at him somewhat anxiously, so he took a quick picture of him too. If I sit out there, he is never far away.

This is a very straight-forward piece of work and I finished it by tea-time, all except for the horrible job of sewing all the ends in! I enjoyed getting back into lace making, so after the Christmas crafting is done, I hope to have another go at the somewhat more complicated project that is ready on my other pillow.

This morning we had a nice little trip down to Mojacar. It was the end of the Photo Club Exhibition yesterday, so today we had to retrieve our photos, ready for another exhibition there at the weekend. We then went on to a glazier to order a glass panel for the top of Chris´office table. (He asked me to do this for his Christmas present). I was pleased that I could explain to the lady what I wanted, and even managed to ask for beveled edges, and rounded corners! When we collect it on Monday, we will know whether she really understood me! I went there to have mounts cut for my exhibition photos, so I knew she didn´t speak any English, so I had a quick look in my Spanish dictionary before we went.
After that we drove to Vera to try to find someone to fix our fitted gas fire, but it turned out we were in the wrong place, so we will have to try again on Monday.
By the time we got home it was  quite late for preparing our dinner, (we eat our main meal at lunch time whenever possible), so my lovely husband took me down the road to our local for some food. Fish and Chips is their speciality, and they do it English style´which we like. The Spanish eat a lot of fish, but it is not at all what we are used to and neither of us are really ´fish people´. One of us had chips and beans with their fish, and one of us just had some salad. No prizes for guessing which was mine! It was cooked fresh for us, and we really enjoyed it.

There is a big plot of land near us that was designated for a building project, but for some reason it never happened, and at present it is used for growing salad vegetables. I just love the way they cover huge areas with the neatest rows of ridges and troughs, and they have tractors with narrow wheels, or caterpillar treads that they can drive between the ridges to spray the plants etc.

When I drove passed the other day, the lettuces had just been harvested and they were preparing the ground for the next lot to be planted. As we passed it this morning there was a whole bus load of workers there planting out the seedlings. It must be back-breaking work, but they soon get it done. I had my phone camera ready, and the window wound down, so I could get a photo of them on the way home, but they were all gone except for this one man, finishing his row. They may have been sitting under the nearby trees to eat their packed lunches, because there are still several trays of seedlings on the tractor to be planted. 
There is another field on the other side of the road so maybe they were over there this afternoon. Either way, I just love their neatness and efficiency. In a few weeks the bus will be back with a load of workers to harvest these, ready for your Christmas salad! Most of it goes to the supermarkets in UK.

Yesterday morning I went with a friend to her Spanish doctor. She had asked me to go to translate for her, and I was a bit worried, because although I can usually say what I need to now, I still have difficulty understanding what they say to me. But this was a successful visit and I was able to sort her problems out, and organise the hospital appointment that she needed. It is always nice to be able to help someone else, especially when you get the result you wanted. I am glad it is not my doctor though. The surgery was up in Bédar, the little white village up in the hills behind us, and the streets were hardly wide enough to take a car. It would be a nightmare drive if you were really poorly.

Other things that have made my week good:
A long chat on Skype with my sister Jean. I love the video chat. It is almost like sitting in the room with someone. We had time for a real catch-up so that was nice.

Toasted tea-cakes for our tea tonight! When I was still at school my sister Dorothy sometimes took me out to the cinema, or just into the big town for the shops, and our outing nearly always included a trip to the café in the back of the baker´s, for toasted teacakes, and ever since then, they have been synonymous with a treat. We have them fairly regularly now, and I still love them.

Ordering a new gadget for my craft room - sort of a Christmas present, that needed to be ordered while it was on a very good special offer. I shall be telling more about this and reviewing it, when I it had arrived and I have tried it out.

Finding a couple of evening hours to play with a new cutting die that I particularly liked. In fact I liked it so much that I made a dozen Christmas cards with it. Here are just a few of them.
All twelve were different and you can see the rest of them on my craft blog by clicking HERE.

New slippers that I picked up for a couple of euros at the todo shop in the week. It is really unusual for me to have cold feet. In fact I take a lot of stick from folk because I go all through the winter with just a pair of sandals on, but this year I seem to be feeling the cold in them more. But they are as warm as toast in my nice new slippers.

Well I think that´s enough ramblings from me for today, so I´ll end with my usual sky photos for you. Just four today! Firstly an evening when it was very windy high up, and the clouds were shredded into strands going every which-way!
Secondly one of my much loved silhouette photos. The sky was so pretty, and there is a flash of light like a comet, which is actually a plane´s vapour-trail just catching the sun rays.
I had to include this one because to me it is another face. Can you see those big round eyes? It is either a very frightened or a rather vicious bat swooping down on us!
And last, but not least, a sky on fire again. Love it!!
Is it another face? We won´t go there. You´ll start to think I am obsessed!

I am now off to link up with Virginia at Celtic House. It is nice to see there are another couple of ´rockettes´posting there today, so come on over and enjoy their weekly happy moments too.
There is no specific smile here today, but I shall still link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles. She knows my whole life makes me smile - most of the time anyway. How blessed am I to be able to say that. It´s worth a smile on its own! I hope you are feeling blessed too. See you next week.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rocking my World 2014. Week 46

We all know the old adage, "Never work with children or animals". Well here is Chris helping me prove why! I wanted a decent photo of each of our dogs, but they are hopeless with the camera. They either refuse to look at it, or else they walk right up to it. So I gave Chris their grooming box, (I had just been brushing their coats), with a bag of treats in it, and the idea was for him to keep two occupied while I photographed the third. Big Failure! Not his fault of course. They just know there are treats around, and none of them are prepared to miss out.

It looks as though a corner of these pictures has been cut out, but it is actually our newly-painted white wall, merging with the white of the page!

I think little Foxy must have done quite well out of it from the way she is licking her chops! But it doesn´t stop her watching in case there are some more.

Eventually I did get a few half-decent pictures and from them I managed to make these portraits.
I had really wanted to take them against a plain, light wall, but I know when to recognise that this is as good as it gets! So that evening I used photoshop and some Christmas scrapbook masks to prepare this card. I like to have an animal one to give to our vet, who is so good with all our pets, and to one or two family members who particularly like the dogs. (I´m the only cat lady in the family!). It is useable but I am not all that pleased with it so maybe I´ll have another go, perhaps using brighter colours for the backing layers.

And just to prove that the dogs can behave nicely, here they are sitting while I open the gate for them at tea-time. So that I  don´t get bowled over in the rush, they have to sit and wait until I have walked round the back and called them, and they are very good at that now. You can tell that Kim is ´top dog´. He always has the front position, and Miki, who is stubborn about sitting, is always at the back. Little Foxy, is smaller and still quite nervous, but she can hold her own when she needs to.
Here is an idea I saw on the internet this week. It is probably a bit soon to be thinking about next year´s resolutions, but I thought this was an excellent idea, and very much in the ethos of these Rocking Your World posts.

In the comments, someone suggested keeping one for a friend and adding a note each time they did something nice for/with you. Then at the end of the year you can give it to them along with a little `Thank-you´ gift for being a good friend.

I was pleased to find that, this year especially, Remembrance Day was taken just as seriously out here, among the British ex-pats, as it was back in UK. I got out my ´poppy dress´to wear to church for our service of Remembrance on Sunday, and I wore it again for Armistice Day on Tuesday. There are several quite strong British Legion Groups around here, and a week tomorrow our choir, Cantante, are singing part of our programme at their Christmas Fair.

A couple of weeks ago I planted up a few pansies in two pots that sit on our front step, and now they are giving us a lovely show of flowers. I just love their colours and their little smiling faces. I should have dead-headed them before I took this. I do do it most days as it makes them keep producing more flowers. They have appreciated the rain we have had this week.

This week my house group met at the home of a friend who lives up at the Parata, which is an area on the hillside between Mojacar Pueblo and Mojacar Playa. I don´t like driving up there as it is a narrow, winding road, that climbs steeply, but at least there are barriers on some of the tightest bends now. I am glad that I don´t live up there and have to make that journey every time I leave the house, but my friend says you soon get used to it. Driving back down the views over the sea are fabulous, but it is not a road you can stop on to take pictures. However, after the descent, I then drive up around the Pueblo to get onto the road for home, and along there I did stop to take a few photos. I have a newer smart phone - thanks to my youngest son who changes his techno toys more often than I change my clothes - and he gave me first offer on the discarded phone. I wanted to try out the camera on it, and I have to say I was very impressed with the quality of the views I took. Here are just a few of them. It was late afternoon and the sun was about to go down.
Then, as I drove on around the next bend, the sky was covered in broken cloud and the setting sun was trying to shine through the gaps. It was very beautiful, so I pulled over and took one more shot. (And Yes, I can see a face in it. Can you?)

There have been quite a few clouds around this week, so  the sky has been more interesting than it is on a really clear, blue-sky day. I took this one evening. It is the reflection of the sunset on the clouds at the front of the house. I feel you should be able to see the turrets of a fairy castle peeping out from the mist!
And finally, here is one taken at twilight. I love the colours in this and I think I will try to use it as the background for a silhouette card. So watch this space.
I had the same allergic reaction as last week, this morning and I have no idea why. It certainly wasn´t cucumbers this time. The reaction was identical to last time, but I had only had a couple of weetabix for breakfast and a cup of tea, so I can´t imagine what triggered it. I had no choice but to take a piriton again, which quickly eased the itching, and I then went out and did some shopping. But I was feeling tired when I got home so I quickly made our dinner and then I found myself sleeping in my chair for most of the afternoon. But I am still quite sleepy so hopefully a good night´s rest will get it out of my system.
So now I shall link this up with Annie´s Friday Smiles and Virginia at Celtic House, and then I shall fall into bed on the right side of mid-night for once. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Rocking Your World 2014: Week 45

Here is a little newspaper clip a friend of mine posted on Facebook this morning, that I think will make you smile.

I´ll be linking that up later to Annie´s Friday Smiles.

But here is something that made me smile too.
This picture shows most of the items I have made over the past few weeks, ready for a coffee morning at a friend´s house, to raise money for our church. She asked me whether I would like to do a craft table there, and I decided to go for it. I made quite a variety of things, from knitted and crocheted items, (I have shown some of these in previous weeks), to decorated candles, vinyl cut on my silhouette cameo to decorate plates and baubles, my local photos used to create calendars, and of course, jams and pickles and mince-pies. Need I say that the mince-pies were the first thing to sell out! 
The coffee morning was yesterday, and there was a good crowd of folk coming and going throughout the morning. I sold a lot of my things, and have taken orders for more knitted chocolate covers, calendars and plates. So I was able to give a good donation to the church as well as adding some to my Knit for Africa project, and keeping a little to replenish my stocks - more mincemeat! I have done a post on my craft blog, explaining more about how all of these were made, and you can read it by clicking here.
My friend´s house is just outside a little village called Santa Maria de Nieve, (Saint Mary of the snow), and although you don´t really feel as though you are climbing as you drive there, they are quite a bit higher than us, and they do get a sprinkling of snow in the Winter. It is often noticeably colder there than at home, but yesterday we were blessed with a lovely day, so some of the stalls could be outside. Because it was a bit windy I opted for inside, and had a good position right by the door.
On my way home I stopped to enjoy the view. It is quite different in that area, with wide open spaces dotted with scrubby trees, and a lovely backdrop of distant mountains. It hasn´t improved with the rain there much, so  the ground was still brown. Where I parked there was a small dip and then a wall of rocks and mud. I love all the shadows.

Across the road behind me it was more open, and you could see for miles.
To my left, on top of the hills, these gentle giants were slowly turning. They get a lot of criticism, but I think they are quite beautiful, and if anything, they add interest to the scenery rather than spoil it. And I am all in favour of harnessing the natural elements to produce more power. 
On my right there were more muddy hills and despite the barren looking soil, the little trees were doing their best to add patches of green.
So it was a nice morning out, with plenty of time to chat with friends, some of whom I hadn´t seen for ages, and a good result money wise too.

Not every day has been so bright and sunny this week. On Monday our local weather forecast, which we both have on our computers, was giving red and orange alerts which were warnings of high winds to come and possible rain, and sure enough, as darkness fell, it started to blow hard. Then there was some rain so we had to bring the dogs into the porch, and make them comfy there. We would bring them indoors, but they are not used to being inside and they don´t settle down. They are happier outside, though they are quite willing to lie down together in the porch instead of their house, on nights like that. As we lay in bed we could here things moving and creaking, and the dogs stainless steel dishes flew off the outside sink and clattered down the side-way. In the morning we went out to inspect the damage. As expected, our big palm had gone over.
It is very heavy but we managed to right it again without too much damage. We are hoping to get it planted in the ground instead of a pot this year, in the hope that it will be more stable.
The little palm by the pool was over as well, even though it was tied to the wall. Oranges from next door´s trees were scattered in our yard and I had to collect them up as they are not good for the dogs to chew.
Chris had spent a lot of time last week making sure the pool was clean and shut down for the next few months, but sadly it is again covered in leaves, and some lengths of white plastic cable boxing that we had been using, are now on the bottom, so there is more work to do there.

Fortunately the rest of the week has been nice, and it is still lovely and warm in the sunshine, but there is more rain and lower temperatures forecast for next week.

I was pleased when I went for my monthly diabetic check this morning, because my sugar level is still low. This is the first check since the doctor agreed to cut my medication by half, so I was not sure what to expect. While I was there, I was also able to have my flu vaccine, so that another good thing out of the way.

I have had some nice long chats with my boys on the phone this week. That is always a positive for me. One shared the good news that his partner has just secured her first job after graduating as an Occupational Therapist. They had to scrimp and save while she did her training so I am very happy for her now. She is a lovely girl and will be very good at her work. I am sure they will pleased to have employed her.

Tonight, just as I went to the kitchen to prepare our tea, Chris suggested we walk down the road for a drink first. It is so good to do things spontaneously sometimes. We met up with some friends there and enjoyed a couple of drinks, and then wandered back for a late tea. (So I can blame him this week for me posting this so late again).

I had a parcel of craft supplies delivered on Wednesday and one of the items was badly damaged. I e-mailed the company and I am happy to say that a replacement is already on its way to me. I do appreciate good service from the companies I deal with, so Thank You Crafter´s Companion.

I am closing today with not one, but a whole series of sky photos. They were all taken on Tuesday night within about half an hour. The wind had broken up the clouds and they picked up the setting sun in a very interesting way. And it never stayed still. The changing colours and shapes were like a kaleidoscope. I just took picture after picture, and suddenly it was gone, and it was dark. They were too lovely to  share just one, so I have picked out ´six of the best´. Believe it or not, I am showing them in the order in which they were taken. I started at the back of the house for the first two. The next two were taken in front of the house, where there is only a weaker reflection of the sunset, and then I went back round to the green zone for the last two. Enjoy them, and I´ll see you again next week.
I will just go and link up with Annie´s blog and with Virginia at Celtic House. Then I think an early night is in order.