Friday, August 28, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015; Week 35

I am trying to write a quick post this afternoon as I am going out for a while this evening. The reason? Our son Tom arrived in the early hours of this morning. So another little holiday time has begun. A swim and a beer for this afternoon, and that´s a good enough reason for me to be smiling.

In preparation for Tom´s arrival, I was determined to finish my wall clock that I previewed a couple of week ago, so when the frames were delivered last weekend, I set to and printed out the photos I had prepared. All our sons, grand-children, and great-grand-children are there. The frames are light weight, so, for now, they are just attached with blu-tak, which makes it very easy to change and update the photos.
Then I measured the available space more carefully and adjusted the cutting file I had made for the script. I cut it from vinyl, and attached it straight onto the wall. This is a trial run so I could see whether the vinyl would stick well to our painted wall, and more importantly, whether it would stay stuck! So far so good. The second, (lower) section of the script is not quite straight. It was very difficult to tell when I was working close up to the wall. But we are hoping to decorate this room in the Autumn, so I will be re-doing it then, and I will have to be even more careful when I position it. But I am really pleased with the end result. It is how I had imagined it would be.
The whole clock, including the photos, is about 80 cm in diameter.

We also tried to get the front garden tidied up this week, so we cut a lot of untidy branches from the shrubs, and emptied the pots of dead pansies etc. Then we went to the garden centre and bought some petunias, Bizzy-Lizzies and verbenas to put in their place.
They make a nice patch of colour on the front step.

We also bought a red ´crown of thorns´and two geraniums for our tall stand by the front door. Hopefully these will keep giving us some flowers until it is time to replace them with poinsettias for Christmas!

Back at the beginning of June I showed you a baby tree in a pot that I had bought at the market. I was sad to see that it was not flourishing. It dried out very quickly, and even watering it most days did not stop it dying off. However I trimmed the dead branches off, and a few weeks ago, Chris managed to dig a small hole in our hard ground to plant it in. It immediately picked up and now it is a healthy little shrub. It has grown a lot since we planted it, and hopefully it will now go on to be the tree we wanted.
And one last gardening photo - our stephanotis on the back fence, has been lovely this year. It flowers quite early on, and then has a rest. But now it has lots of flowers again. They are stiff, waxy flowers and their scent is heavenly. As you can see, new buds are still forming, so we will have flowers for some time to come.

When Tom was in the pool just now, I sat on the edge with my legs dangling in the water to cool my feet down. Our cat Paco came and rubbed around me, then he held on to the side and started lapping the water. I have seen him do this before. I am not sure clorinated water is very good for him, but it doesn´t seem to have harmed him so far. Goodness knows why he choses to drink it when he has bowls of clean tap water all over the house, but that´s cats for you. So I´ll leave you with this photo of his little pink tongue lapping twenty to the dozen, and I´ll be back next week.
I am linking this up to Rocking your World over at Celtic House, and Annie´s Friday Smiles.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015; Week 34

Another week has whizzed by and I blinked and nearly missed it. Did you? But I still  have some things to be grateful for, but first here is something that really made me smile! A while ago we moved our rather large dining table into the main room, because in the dining room it was always covered with my knitting for Africa etc, and it was never used as a table. It is much better in its new home, but now we very rarely even go in the little dining room, so when I did go in for something this week and I found this, it really made me smile!

Many times during this long, hot summer, I have said "I think I am melting", but my candles have taken that to whole new level. I shall be linking that up with Annie´s Friday Smiles when I finish this post, but first let´s go over to Virginia´s blog and share what else has lifted my spirits this week, and see who else has shared their happy thoughts too.

I was determined to achieve something this week, so I set myself the task of tidying my craft room. It had reached the point where I couldn´t find anything, and I had no space left to work in, so I spent a couple of days putting things away, and cleaning all the surfaces. I am actually fairly organised in here, and there is a labelled drawer for most things, so IF I tidy away after a project is finished, I should be able to find things again, but it doesn´t always work that way. However I now have a cleared and cleaned computer table...
space to work at my desk .....
(even the box of ´sticky stuff´has been cleared out, and tidied), and there is also space under the window, between my desks, for boxes of pens, files of dies, or whatever it is am using at the time. I don´t usually sit at that bit because there are sets of drawers underneath so there is no leg space, but it is still a useful area for putting materials, or my silhouette machine on. (For most of the year, Arwen makes her bed on there, but she is still camping in the cooler bathroom at the minute).
It is strange how things work out sometimes, At church on Sunday there was request from the vicar for someone who could print out our newsletter each week, 30-50 copies depending on the time of year. I knew this was something that I could do so I said I would give it a go. The man who puts it together, and does the printing for our sister church, agreed to e-mail it to me towards the end of the week. Well on Monday, my husband helped me set up a template for it (booklet style), and I did a trial run with the copy from last week, which was successful, so I was all ready to go, but later that day, when I tried to print a scrapbook page, my printer refused to work. It came up with all sorts of error messages, but none of their suggestions worked. I bought a new cartridge as I knew the black was very low on ink, and they said that might be the problem, but it wasn´t. The next day we dug out a previous printer that is almost new, but has never been very good, but that one also refused to work. Chris spent a whole morning working on it, cleaning it and even trying out a new printhead, but to no avail. 
He is a very patient man, much more patient than me, when it comes to anything to do with computers anyway, and he kept trying even though I knew he would rather have been doing whatever it is he does, on his own computer.
Unfortunately, we know from past experience, that these things are not built to last, nor designed to be repaired, so in the end he gave up, and being the lovely man that he is, he straight away ordered a new one for me. It is identical to my previous one which I really liked because it is a wide-format printer so I can print out 12"x 12" scrapbook pages, and also has a photocopier and scanner (+a fax which I don´t use). Because it is the same one again, I can use the new cartridges I had just bought for the old one too.
The new one was ordered Tuesday afternoon, and last night, at around 9.00 (our delivery men stop for a siesta and start again at tea-time), this was delivered.
Within half an hour, it was unpacked, connected up, and I was printing out my scrapbook. Hooray!
I have made good progress with my scrapbook about our holiday in Ireland, adding about seven new pages this week. But, before I put a page together, I always spend quite a lot of time editing the photos. Although I do the actual pages in Adobe photo shop, I much prefer Corel for editing, but I was getting increasingly frustrated with it, as lately it has been running very slowly, and just not working very efficiently. I bought this program around ten years ago, although it was another three years before I got to grips with using it. But it is, of course, very out of date now, and I am unable to find any updates for it. So I went online to look at the recent version and found it is now Corel PSP x8. Mine is x1! So I downloaded a free trial of the current version and spent an afternoon working through some tutorials. I was delighted to find it does everything I want and more, and the system has not changed too much. I also understand the terminology much better now, mainly because I have done a lot of tutorials with Adobe, so I can use it better too. So when my free trial comes to an end, I shall be buying the full version. I am very grateful that I made myself try it out.
With my photos edited, I started designing some layouts. Here are five of the new ones. First there is one designed using a blending mask,
and than I made three pages about Kilarney using photo tray templates.

And finally this one, which I made just using papers and elements from several digital scrapbook kits.
I am pleased with the way they are turning out, but I am only about four days into our two-week holiday, so there are a lot more pages to do yet!
We had some sad news this week, that Chris´s best friend in UK has died, so he will be going back for the funeral. It is not entirely sad, except for those left behind, as it was a blessed release for him, so I feel it is right to include it in this ´positive´post.  The flights were a real problem as it is just after the bank Holiday weekend, and every option he looked at was fully booked, except for one, which cost an arm and a leg for the fare one way! But eventually he found that he could fly out to Dublin one evening, and get an early morning flight on to Manchester, where one of our sons will meet him and drive him down to Shrewsbury. How mad is that? But we are glad that he can manage it, as it is important for him to be there.

Today we have heard from another son to say that he has been able to arrange some days off work and is coming over to stay with us for almost two weeks. He arrives next Thursday. That also means he will be here while Chris is away which is nice for me. This is Tom who we visited at his home in Denmark in July. It will be nice to see him again, and he is looking forward to dipping in the pool and catching some sun. They have not had a very good summer this year in Denmark.
At this time of year we have a sudden and rapid night-fall, with little or no dusk time, so you have to be very quick to catch the sun setting, but tonight I was in the kitchen at just the right moment to see this sky, so I dropped everything and grabbed my camera. Within ten minutes it was gone.

Lovely while it lasted!
Now I will go and link up with A Stitch in Time and Celtic House, and I´ll see you all next week.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015: Week 33

I nearly always feature my sons when it is their birthday, so this week I smiling for our fourth son Jonathan, who hit the big 3-0 this week. Here he is with his lovely partner Ella.
Jonathan was the smallest of my babies, but by far the most active. He was a very solemn little fellow, but he was walking before he was ten months old, and there was never a dull moment with him. He had a few problems as a child but I was always there in his corner to support him, and that partly shaped the close relationship I have with him now. His main problem stemmed from more energy than he knew what to do with, so he was always outside, climbing, riding, playing football or skateboarding, and sitting still was not one of his finest accomplishments, hence the problems at school! Later we channeled some of his energy into drum lessons, and he has never looked back. Having chatted to him on his birthday, I found myself going back through the scrapbook I made for him a few years ago. (He has the book of course, but I have a photo of each page in my files). So I thought I´d share some of my favourite layouts with you today. You should be able to click on them to enlarge them, so you can see them in more detail.


He´s going to love me for putting that one on isn´t he?!
These were done before I got into digital scrapbooking, so all the photos were sized in Publisher and cut by hand. I did use my old Craft-Robo, the predecessor to Silhouette cameo, to cut many of the headers and some frames, but it was a lot of work at the time, though I enjoyed doing it.They are not the best photos, but I have improved with photography skills since I took these, but they evoked so many tears and smiles. Precious memories!

It has been quite a fun week after a very quiet one last week, starting off with Sunday night which was the last day of Theatre Week in our village. They usually finish this week with some sort of street entertainment, and this years it was what they just call ´Pasacalles´which literally means ´passing in the streets´. It was a small team of folk in very strange costumes, some on stilts, who walked around the village, pushing a small cart from which issued very loud music, and every now and then they lit a firework or flare, which they held in their hands, waving it over our heads, and then they either dropped the still burning end, or left it in the gully of someone´s roof! It was quite bizarre, like so many of the celebrations out here, but there was a great atmosphere, and everyone enjoyed it. (Even the local guadia who were running around extinguishing any remnants of fireworks, had smiles on their faces!) This didn´t kick off until 11.00 at night, but there were loads of families out with really young children, to join in the fun. Here are just a few of the photos. I am not very good at night time photography so I borrowed some of these from the Town Hall Facebook page, but others are mine.

Then we had a nice evening out on Wednesday when we went over towards Albox for a meal with my choir. We have not had any practices through the summer so it was nice to meet up again for a social night. There were about forty of us, singers and partners, and we sat in a horseshoe arrangements for a lovely three-course meal.

Note how many big bottles of water are on the tables among the wine bottles. You can probably see how hot we were. Most of the ladies had a fan too. We get used to carrying one in each bag for the summer. But we enjoyed it even if we were a bit damp and shiny!

Yesterday we were very grateful for the nice weather. It was no cooler, and just to prove I am not exaggerating, here is our thermometer yesterday afternoon, and it hangs where it never gets any direct sunshine. But although it was still very hot, the humidity had gone. It was the dry heat that we are more used to, and it is so much pleasanter, and easier to cope with. The clouds had gone, and the sky was clear again. But today it is even more comfortable because the temperature has dropped almost ten degrees, and looks like staying down for this week. (I had a quick look at the thermometer at teatime and it was showing 32ยบ. Much more civilized!)

One thing I was grateful for yesterday, was getting a lot of washing done. As well as our clothes, I washed bedding and big swimming towels. I did four loads and each one was hung out on the line, dried and brought back in before the next load had finished washing! Today I did the dogs blankets which they won´t need now until the Autumn, so they smell nice and fresh for storing.

I was waiting for a little order to arrive which was just a couple of embossing folders so I assumed it would come in a padded envelope, sometime next week. So when the door bell rang at lunch time today I was surprised but happy because I thought my order must have come earlier than expected. So I was a bit taken back when the post lady handed me a big box!

What was inside? A lot of air-bags, and hidden among them, my two embossing folders! Why do they do it? Perhaps it is to justify the huge postage charges they add on to anything I order! Still I have something else to play with now, so I am a happy bunny.

As you are mostly aware, my white fluff-ball Arwen lives mainly in my craft room and doesn´t ever leave the house. During these hot weeks, she has spent a lot of time in our bathroom! She tends to do this in the summer. It must be cooler in there I guess. But that is as far as she goes. So I generally close the door that separates our living rooms from the bedrooms, just so she doesn´t stray into the kitchen, as I leave the other cats food in their dishes and they graze during the day. Arwen has a urinary tract condition and is on a special diet, so if I leave the centre door open, when the other cats´dishes are empty, they will sometimes come down to see if there is anything in her dish. Arwen does not like this at all and she starts to growl before they even get here, and if she sees Paco anywhere nearby, then fur is bound to fly. So I was really surprised to go into the hall this week and find that Arwen had not only ventured down to our end of the house, but she was sitting near Tango, and they were both quite happy about it!
I don´t know what it is about Tango, but none of the other animals see anything threatening or confrontational about him. He is almost invisible to them, and they all leave him in peace. If Arwen does, he really has got something special!

Well that is just about it for this week. I have just one sky photo for you. There were no dramatic colours in it, but I like the way the rays are coming from behind the cloud, and there is something up there. Is it a baby elephant, or a long-nosed dog? Either way, I think it is quite friendly!
And on that note, I will go and link with Annie´s Friday Smiles, and Rocking your World, at Celtic House, and I´ll see you all again next week.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015: Week 32

Well I guess week thirty-two of this year will go down as one of the most uneventful weeks since I came out here! The main reason is this continuous heat which makes the idea of doing anything, seem like one too many mountains to climb. Of course if I had something that I needed to do, or an event I committed to a while ago, then I would find the energy to do it, but right now I have no commitments so I am making the most of some time to relax, and being very grateful for that.
I have to say that this week has been reminiscent of my holiday in Thailand, because it is so very humid, but I much prefer the usual dry heat we have in Spain.
This week although there have been periods of sunshine, most days have been partially overcast, and several times I have looked forward to a refreshing storm, only for it to rumble around the mountains in the distance, but never quite reach us.
According to a local weather station this was the hottest July since they started keeping records thirty years ago, and especially the hottest nights.
So I am truly grateful that I am able to sleep at night despite the heat. Many of our friends struggle with it, but as long as I cool the bedroom down for half an hour before bedtime, and have a late night dip in the pool, then, as long as I drop off to sleep quickly, I usually sleep right through until the morning.

Once again I have done a lot of reading. I am right into a trilogy about a family of Irish immigrants living in post-war Liverpool, and I love following all their lives through the years. I am just coming to the end of the second book and I know I will go straight into book three. I just have to make sure I have done any urgent chores before I pick it up each day, because once I start reading, nothing else gets done. I spotted a little poem about this on the internet this week, and it certainly struck a chord with me, and I daresay you can relate to it too.

But I haven´t only been reading. I have started to sort through all the new craft stash that I have accumulated, I made a birthday card for later this month, and today I made two Christmas cards. How bizarre is that when it is the middle of a heat-wave?!

I also made some of my now-famous piccalilli. Thanks to my blogland friend Di who provided the original recipe, though I have ´doctored´ it a bit. My kitchen faces west, so by the afternoon, the sun is streaming in, and even with the blinds down and the shutters closed, it is too hot in there to consider cooking. So we have our main meal at lunch-time, and I knew I would need to get up early one morning to boil up the pickle. We don´t actually eat a lot of pickles ourselves, especially not piccalilli, but it has proved one of my best sellers, second only to bitter orange marmalade, and several people had ordered it in advance, so I thought I should really make the effort, and get it done. The vegetables need to be prepared the night before, and sprinkled with salt until the next day, so on Tuesday evening I loaded up a tray with knives, cutting mats, bowls, and a damp cloth for sticky fingers, plus a bag of veggies and one for the rubbish, and I took myself out into the fly-free porch. I had my swimsuit on so I could dip in  and out of the pool every time I needed a break, and a glass of tinto verano for refreshment, and so around midnight, my piccalilli was prepared. The next morning it was soon rinsed and cooked, and bottled up and quite a lot of it has sold already.
I had to smile as the dogs prowled around me hoping I´d drop a little morsel for them, but when I only dropped some raw onion, they went away in disgust!

I thought I had lost my beautiful friend Tango this
week. He is nearly always somewhere around the house, or on a bench just outside, and he always comes in at night, but one evening he failed to come when I called him in for his supper. I kept trying, but in the end I had to go to bed, confident that he would be there next morning, but he wasn´t. Altogether he was missing for thirty-six hours, then suddenly he just turned up again, and I was so happy to see him. He is so laid back, and has such a gentle nature, and I would be so very sad to lose him.

One other thing to be very grateful for this week was a trip to the doctor for the results of my annual blood test. She was very pleased with me and said my blood-sugar control was much better than last year, so I can stay on just half a tablet twice a day, and I am off the statins altogether which I am very happy about. My aim is to get completely off the diabetic tablets too, but little steps....

I am afraid I don´t even have a pretty sky for you this week. Overcast skies each day don´t lend themselves to lovely sunsets.
So that is it from me this week. Do join in with your happy pictures/events, at Annie´s Friday Smiles, or pop over to Virginia´s blog and tell us what you are grateful for this week. Share the love!