Hi all. This has made me smile this week. With some very chilly evenings, I have been happy to leave my crafting den and go down to the sitting room which is warm and cosy, so I have managed to add quite a few more rounds to my 'Sophie's Universe' blanket. This is how she looked earlier this week.
She has more flowers in her garden, and now there is a band of butterflies flying round it too.
I have done another three rows since I took the photo and there are around seven more to go to complete the main pattern, and then there is a nine row, quite complex border. However I want this to cover the top of our king-sized bed, so I still don't think it will be quite big enough. The pattern designer, Dedri Ulys, also provided the pattern for two squares that are suitable to add as a row on either end for anyone who wants a rectangular blanket rather than a square one, and I am thinking I may do a row of them all the way around, (I want mine to be square), before I add the border. It is getting heavy and hangs on my shoulders, so I can only do one or two rounds at a time, but I can manage the squares just fine. I like the way it is coming along, and am pleased that I may reach my goal of finishing it this winter, before it is once again too hot to have on my lap as I work. Right now I am glad of the warmth, and it is Tango's favourite place to lay each evening, despite me keep moving him every time I want to turn a corner!
So, Yes, we have had some very chilly nights, and some cold winds during the day, but we have also had some beautiful days, and as long as you find a sheltered spot, out of the wind, there is real warmth in the sun. The thermometer on the Farmacia has shown between 16 and 20 degrees most days, so we have made the most of it, and spent a lot of time outside. One day when we wanted to go to do some special shopping, we decided to travel on down to Mojacar Playa to find some lunch, and we ended up at a nice little oriental place where we always have a good meal. It was warm enough to sit out on their patio and Chris is looking very eager as he samples his wine while we waited for our food.
We didn't have to wait long, and I think we did it justice when it came! We didn't leave much, did we?
The warm days have worked their magic in the garden. We have a succulent plant just beyond our back railings, that almost died when the mimosa trees and oleander overgrew it. But when we cut them right back, it started to perk up and two years ago it flowered for the first time since we came here. Last year I was sad to see there were no flowers again. But this year it has at least seven heads on it. I like cone shaped flowers, and this plant has lovely rosettes of glossy green leaves, and big cones of yellow daisy flowers. It is looking the best I have ever seen it this year.
After my sewing group this week, a friend said to me "Isn't it lovely to see those yellow flowers out again. It shows Spring is on the way". She was pointing at some yellow oxalis flowers. They grow like weeds along the road side out here, and the flowers are a bright acid yellow. They are usually one of the first flowers we see but I hadn't noticed any were in bloom. The first year we were in this house, the orange grove next door was carpeted with oxalis, so I wondered whether all the rain would make it the same this year. I know the seeds can lie dormant in the ground for many years if there is not enough rain to germinate them. So I went out to look, and sure enough, just around the edge I saw a few of the flowers. Whether they will cover the centre ground soon or not, I can't tell, but certainly we have a few now.
They are very delicate so we may lose them again. This weekend, we are due to get the tail end of the cold front that has hit UK this week, with the snow-line as low as 200 metres. We are lower than that, so we shouldn't be affected too much, but it could get a lot colder, and some of the plants and birds that think it is Spring, may be in for a shock!
Something that is much more in line with Winter in Spain, is the bumper crop of oranges that we see everywhere. The trees are laden down with fruit. A friend has offered me the bitter oranges from her tree to make marmalade, so I am waiting for a phone call to tell me when it is convenient for me to go and pick them. (She is the assistant at our vet, and she has seven rescued dogs that I have not met, so I don't want to go there unless I know she will be there too!). But in the meantime, a friend at church was given a bag of ten bitter oranges that she passed on to me, so today I decided to get on and use them while they are nice and fresh. I got them all prepared this morning. I like to juice them first and pressure cook the skins before I shred them. It makes it so much easier to do. So I got that done this morning and then Chris said we would go to our usual Friday haunt for fish and chips. I was happy not to have to stop what I was doing to cook dinner, and as usual the food was excellent. Again we were able to sit out in the sun to eat. Then when I came home I found all my washing had dried out on the line so that was another big 'grateful' as I have very limited space for drying clothes indoors.
Then it was time to get the marmalade boiled up and bottled. I have bought a new long-handled spoon, specially to use with my big preserving pan. It keeps my hands away from any hot splashes, but when I had added the sugar to the fruit it was really hard work to stir it and I had to use two hands. I felt I should be chanting spells like the old witch stirring her cauldron.
But it didn't take too long to get it up to temperature, and I think it will have a 'good set'. I made fourteen jars today, and they were soon cleaned, filled and labelled, ready to sell next week at church and at my sewing group. Hopefully I will soon have more oranges so I can make the rest of my supply for this year. I have a good market for it and I reckon to make between 100 and 150 jars each year. I love the smell in the kitchen when I am making marmalade. Much nicer than when I do the picallili!
I have spent some time in my craft-room this week because I am busy making invitations for our son's wedding in July. The front is cut from gold vinyl and transferred onto black card - their choice, not mine. Unfortunately I ran out of gold vinyl and when I went on the site where I bought it last time (back in Feb. 2014), I had no idea which one to buy. I had to guess, and when it arrived it was completely different so I wrote to the company. They couldn't have been more helpful. They traced my order from three years ago, and sent me details within a day, along with a personal letter. So this afternoon I re-ordered, hopefully the right one this time, and within an hour they had dispatched it. Brilliant. It will be here by the middle of next week. I wish more companies had customer service of that standard. Meanwhile I can get on with printing out the inserts for the invitations, as I need to get them made as soon as possible. Of course I can't show one here until they have sent them out, but one day I will.
Now I just have some pretty skies to end with. Mostly they have either been very bland and golden, or else a mass of grey clouds, but on a couple of days we had a good mixture that gave us these skies. I love the contrasting light and dark patches.
As you can see, this was taken on a windy day and you can see how the wind was whipping the tops of all the clouds. You can just see the vapour trail of a plane on the left. I couldn't help but think that they may be having a rather bumpy ride.
And finally this one. I just thought it was so pretty.
So now I will link with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll see you all again next week.