Friday, April 27, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 17

Once again, Friday being one of my busiest days, I am running around trying to get everything done. I have been busy baking cakes this morning ready for the church Spring Fair down on the Playa tomorrow morning, so while my date cake is in the oven (it needs an hour), I am making a start on my  blog post.
First of all, here as promised is my Ta-da! photo. My Arizona blanket is done. I am really pleased with it. The designer's use of colour and texture has made an unusual blanket. It received lots of nice comments when I posted this photo on Facebook, just because it is a bit different from my normal ones. I have seen completed ones in all sorts of colours, but the ones that have chosen shades of one colour, as I did, are much more pleasing (in my opinion), than those made with multi-colours.
I made mine with one extra diamond in the centre row, and the finished blanket is a good size, and would just about fit a standard double bed.

We had a nice start to the week when we followed the church service with a community meal at a local bar/restaurant. We were served a lovely dinner, and then we sat around listening to our friend Sharon Reagan, who is also a member of our church congregation, while she sang for a three hour gig. She is very talented and we really enjoyed it.
I am short, and Sharon only comes up to my shoulders, so she very rightly advertises herself as "The little girl with a big voice".

On Monday we decided to make a start on the garage sort out. I moved as much as I could to one end to give us some space to work in, so it was all precariously piled up. This is how it started!
Chris unwrapped the first set of shelves and faced the mystery of any flat-packed furniture!
But eventually we got the first set assembled. Realising how much space it needed we changed our minds about using two sets in front of each other to make deeper shelves, and instead we thought we would try them as two sets of half-height ones under the windows on the next wall. The third set would go alongside the first one as originally intended. I helped Chris assemble the first set, but I think he decided he was better off without me because he made the other two sets on his own while I was out! (I had an arthritis flare up in my neck on Monday afternoon after the first lot, so it was probably for the best that I kept out of the way). So this is where we are at now.
The next task is to move all the piled up items onto the shelves for now, to clear the wall on the left where we will be moving the shelving from the larder, initially to house the food and baking equipment that are on them now, just until the kitchen is done. Then they will have a new home and we can sort the garage shelves out properly. The fourth wall of the garage is a floor to ceiling built in cupboard which needs a good clear out. Many things were put in there when we arrived ten years again, and they haven't been out again since. There are some very useful items in there as well, but it is definitely time to be really  ruthless and throw lots away, and then utilise all the space much more efficiently.

On Monday night, the nice warm sun we have enjoyed came to an abrupt halt. I was working in my craft room and suddenly realised that it was getting dark earlier than usual, and there was a very eerie light outside. I called Chris to look at the sky. It was still quite bright behind us, but out in front of us the sky was a dirty purple that turned an orangey red. It looked quite ominous. It is known locally as a 'Sahara sky'. The colour comes from the amount of desert sad that is in it. 

Gradually it came towards us, and later that night, the rain started, and with it came the sand.
I felt sorry for Chris who had cleaned the pool out the day before, because it now needs to be done again. All the patio furniture was red and so were our cars.
I needed to go out on Tuesday morning, so I was preparing to clean the car windows so I could see where I was going, only to find that Chris had got there before me and they were sparkling again. What a nice man!
It was the church AGM on Tuesday, which is not my favourite meeting, but a necessary one all the same. And yes; you've guessed it; we followed it with a lunch together. (Food is an important social event out here!) So by the time I got home, Tuesday was almost over. I spent the evening finishing off my blanket border, so now I can get on with a new project.
I have had some lovely parcels this week. One was a pale green sundress that I am very pleased with. But the parcels I really like getting are soft and squidgy ones, and two of those came together this week.
These came for a company called Wool warehouse which is based in UK. I am very impressed with their service. The items were ordered on Wednesday and Thursday last week, and they arrived together on Tuesday this week. That is much faster than most of my parcels, and they are always wrapped so well, with the wool in a drawstring organza bag, and then a plastic wrapper. The first parcel contained the wool I will need for my Cosmic blanket, though I have nearly finished part one and then it will be packed away until the Autumn. But I can download each part of the pattern as it is published, so with the wool in my stash, I will be ready to work on it again whenever I feel ready.
The second parcel contained some wool in lovely variegated Autumn colours with a gold lurex thread running through it. I knew I needed a smaller project to be working on for now, so I am going to try knitting again and make a cardigan for myself ready for when the cooler weather comes round again. 
I also bought a gadget called a Wool Jeanie, which holds a ball of wool on a spindle that hangs by a magnet, and slowly revolves as you use the wool. I have tried it out and it is a great idea. The two drawbacks for me are that it needs to be at work height and for knitting needs to be on my right, and my table is on my left! So it will be fine for when I am crocheting and need the wool to feed from my left. But last night I managed to balance it on the arm of Chris' chair while I was knitting and that worked OK. Also this particular wool is wound in big loose balls, so layers of it keep falling off before they unwind, which is not ideal, but the Jeanie still prevents my ball from falling on the floor, and rolling under my chair.

Yesterday we woke up to heavy rain which persisted on and off all day, but at least it was 'clean rain' this time so the rest of my car got washed too! In the afternoon I collect a friend from the choir, and we went to the house of another friend who has had around six months away from singing for health reasons. So we went through all the newer music with her, singing along to the practice CDs provided by our Musical Director. In the evening I went with another friend to a choir concert by another choir in our area. They are quite different in style from us, and it was nice to hear what they are doing. We are singing at the same venue in a month's time, and some of them are coming to listen to us.

Now I am back from our usual Fish & Chip lunch that we go for every Friday, a big tray of flapjack is in the oven, the washing is dry and retrieved from the line as it was in danger of blowing away, and now it is almost time to get ready for choir practice. Friday's have a way of disappearing on me. But we have the weekend to look forward to. Here's hoping it is a relaxing time for everyone.
Before I go it is time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 16

Well we have had a lovely week, with lots of sunshine that not even a cool wind could spoil. As it was a nice day, when I got home from church on Sunday, we drove over to Vera for the Lions Club "Party in the Park". We knew there was a good crowd there because we had to hunt to find a parking space. As we entered the park, we saw the main stage which at that time had some very small school children doing a dance routine.
We walked around the spectators and over to the other side of the park where we found a wide variety of stalls, some market traders, and others local crafts -people eager to sell their wares.
We bought a few cakes and some pickle and headed over to the white wall you can see in the background which was the entrance to the 'Irish' bar.
Here we met up with friends, and sat to listen to live musicians while the men indulged in several glasses of Guinness! 
These two singers were people we know. Derek, on the left, is a friend from our village, whose claim to fame is that he once played his saxophone in a backing group for Ben E King. His co-singer on the right is Clive Sarstedt, older brother of Peter Sarstedt who had a big hit back in the sixties with "Where do you go to my lovely?". They also have another brother, older again, who sang under the name Eden Kane, and he was one of my favourites. I saw him on stage in Bournemouth on several occasions back in my student days! Clive now lives near here so he turns up at various music functions to sing.
After them, there were more musicians who have enjoyed performing through the years and are now retired in 'Sunny Spain', and they are all still good entertainers. 
The last act was  a younger man called Jack Law and he was very good.
With youth on his side, he had more energy and volume to his singing and he did an excellent set.
Fortunately for the performers, they had a small corner stage with a roof so they had some shade from the sun. I think it was the hottest day we have had so far. The audience were all seated or standing around the courtyard, and it did get very warm indeed. The heat took us all by surprise, and few had thought to bring sun cream or a hat with them.
You can see Chris sitting in the centre (in a yellow T-shirt), with our friends Eileen and Tony. His nose and forehead are peeling today! I had moved to the side to sit in the shade by this time, but even so, the cross straps on my dress are now etched into my back!
After Jack's set we wandered back over to the main stage, and we were happy to sit and relax in the shade of the very tall palm trees that give the park its name - El Palmeral Parque.
We left around 6.00 to go home and feed the dogs, but the music went on until 11.00pm. It was a really good event and cleared almost 6,000€ profit for the Lions Club, who do so much to help people in need in the area.

I have been looking out for a hydrangea plant. We had such a pretty one a few years back, but sadly the dogs started to eat it! We don't know why as they generally do not harm any of our plants. Anyway, I popped over to Lidls on Monday and they happened to have some on their plants stall, so I bought two - a pink one like we had lost, and a deep blue one. 
They need to be planted in large, heavy pots. As their name suggests, they are water plants and get very thirsty, so a small pot will dry out too quickly. So yesterday we decided to go to a local garden centre
On the way, we stopped at the big ferreteria and bought some 'dexion-style' shelving for the garage. I am about to tackle the garage which is a general dumping ground for anything that doesn't have a specific home, and need an easier way of storing everything, so that I can make space for the contents of the kitchen until the work is done. They are still flat packed in the hall for now, but on Monday we are going to make a start.

We then moved on to the garden centre and it was ablaze with colour. In front of the 'shop' were rows and rows of bedding plants all in full bloom.
I believe the back row was geraniums, which do very well out here and seem to cope with the hot, dry summer. In front of those were petunias in every colour you can think of.
They look lovely, but the flowers don't last long out here, and as you dead-head them they bloom further and further out on long stems,and can get a bit untidy. They are another plant that needs constant watering. We did buy just a couple of them to go in with the hydrangeas while they are growing, to save the pots looking too empty.
The last row were these amazing succulents, which bloom profusely in the sun, and close up at night. We have one in our front yard that was in the hanging baskets last year. We had to give up on the baskets because it is just too windy here, and they are difficult for me to keep watered. But I left the remains of one resting on a pot under the outside tap, which dripped on it just enough for it to survive the winter. Now it is a mass of red flowers, and looks much better than it ever did hanging up.
The journey was worth while, and we came home with our two big, terracotta pots, and four petunias. Now I have to find the time to get them planted up.

Most days this week I have sat out on the patio to eat my lunch, and then ended up staying there and doing some crochet. One day it was too hot with a woolen blanket bundled on my lap, and I had to abandon it and read a book instead, which made a nice change. But I did get part seven of my blanket finished in plenty of time. The design is based on Navajo symbols, so here are the arrows from part six, and last week's Apache tears that I mentioned in my previous blog. It is not a difficult stitch once you have done the first row and set the stitches, and it can be a bit tedious to do too much of, but I love it and think the result was well worth the work.
I have just downloaded the final part, which is the border. It is fairly plain and simple so as not to distract from the main pattern, so I am hoping that will get done this week. Maybe next week will be the full reveal, or the 'Ta-da' moment as Lucy of Attic 24 calls it.
Now I know I said I would have to put it away for the summer once this was finished, but I have been sorely tempted by a new Crochet-along (CAL) project that had its first part released this week. Every time I saw a photo of it on Facebook, I liked it a bit more,so I gave in and ordered the wool. The first task was to chose a colour palette. I am finding I prefer the ones that have a limited choice of colours in them, so this is what I ended up with.
The CAL is called Cosmic blanket, and this sort of colour way is Harmony. I have used the designers suggestions as a starting point, and just tweaked it a bit. The last two colours are extras that I may use to replace the first two sometimes, if I think it needs a bit of extra colour depth.
As I was waiting for the final part of my Arizona blanket, and I don't like sitting around with nothing to do, I made a start on Cosmic. I keep a stash of one ball in each colour so I didn't have to wait for my order to arrive. I know it is shipped and on its way, so I have squishy parcels to look forward to next week, but in the meanwhile I used what I had in my stash. It is a much more challenging pattern than Arizona, more in line with Sophie that I finished last year, but I like the challenge, and I have already done a couple of new stitches in the little bit I have done.
I think it will be lovely, and I shall keep going with it if I can, but I know it will soon have to be packed away.
I needed a few cards this week, so I have done some paper crafting as well, but I think you can see that my main obsession is yarn at the minute. So when I saw this on the web, I just knew it was meant for me. I bet I am not the only one who can relate to most of these. (STABLE - Not me surely?!)
So ending with a smile, I will now link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking your World, and then get ready for choir. 
Our practices start half an hour earlier than they did when they were on Wednesdays, so I am usually home by 9.00. So tonight Chris and I are going round to our local to raise a glass in celebration of 39 years of marriage. How time flies when you are having fun!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 15

I am starting with this picture which will always make me smile!

It is so nice to get a photo of all five of our boys, all looking at the camera and all smiling! Numbered by age from left to right they are 1, 5, 4, 2, 3.
This was taken last Saturday when, I quote, "There were some Perry Shenanigans going on". Every now and then Jim, (our oldest), and his wife, host a family day for all the boys, their partners, children and even the animals, so their little house was bursting at the seams with 15 people, three dogs and four cats (who were mostly hiding in the bedroom away from the dogs!). In the middle of the afternoon they called me on Skype and I had a chat with each of them, and a good laugh all together. It was nearly as good as being there with them, but not quite. It is lovely to know they are still keeping in touch, now I am not there to 'hold the reins'.

I had spent Saturday morning in the kitchen, cooking all those sour-dough cakes I mentioned last week. They were very successful and were very well received after church on Sunday. Of course I forgot to take a photo before they all disappeared!

On Tuesday our house group met at Sue and Keith's house, but it was my turn to lead, and my theme came from a book recommended by my son, called "Our Everyday God". We started by talking about the word ordinary, and how we feel when our life seems to be very 'ordinary', in between the busy highs and lows. We discussed how we could keep it relevant and meaningful at these times, and also how it was important to have the 'ordinary times' so that we can recognise the extraordinary when it happens. But we also talked about how even the most ordinary times have special moments in them, and we should remain alert to see them. Which is really the whole idea behind this blog and the ones I link it to, so I was able to share how we look each week for the silver linings, and the moments that make us smile in an otherwise 'ordinary' week.

Well I have to say that this has been one of those 'ordinary' weeks, when very little actually happened. But I did have my chat with the boys, and I did enjoy a good baking session and the chance to share what I had made with friends.

There have been other moments as well. Thursday was haircut day, firstly for Arwen. She has to be completely sedated twice a year to have her thick coat shaved off, and I decided it is just about warm enough for her summer cut. I always ask them to try to leave her face, boots, and tail uncut so once again she is like a little lion. She is still not keen to pose for a photo though.
Chris also wanted his hair cut. I have done his for as far back as I can remember, just as I cut all the boys' hair until they left home. His had grown quite long for him, and it proved to be a tough challenge for our clippers which decided to die half way through the proceedings! Despite all our efforts we could not put them together again, but fortunately I still had our old ones that I had kept for just such an emergency, and I was able to finish off with those. Some new ones have been ordered and are now on their way.

So it seemed after that, that it was probably time for my summer hair cut too. I had been putting it off while it was cold as I can no longer manage my hairdressers backward sinks, so I needed to wash it at home and walk round to her little salon with wet hair. But I made the appointment for yesterday afternoon, so now we are all shorn!
It always makes me smile that she can give me a typically Spanish hairstyle, when it is only a couple of inches long all over. It only lasts a day and is soon back to its usual easy-care, wash, shake and leave to dry style! I cannot lift my arms high enough, for long enough, to do any more than give it a quick brush in the mornings, but once we are in and out of the pool every day in the summer, there is no point in doing anything more with it.

One thing I have managed to do this week is to finish off my Ireland scrapbook at last. Although I make it all digitally, I still like to print off the pages and have them in a proper album. I told you a while ago about the saga of ordering book-binding cloth, but with the help of my sister Jean, I did eventually manage to get some. I waited until I was "in the mood" to cover it, as the cloth was just enough, and I have just one small strip, a couple of centimetres wide, left over.
It is not a very good photo because I found when it was covered, that I could still just get it into the plastic sleeve it was in before, which protects it from finger marks etc, but it reflects the light and made it hard to photograph, even when I took it outside for a better light.
I added a sheet of irish scrapbook paper to the inside cover and designed a front page to start the album.
I love being able to look through it now and again and relive what was a very happy holiday.

Now I have to decide on a theme for my next one.

It has been a rather windy week, with one day when patio furniture and small branches were blown around outside. Added to this the fact that across the road from us there is a big building project to extend a house, so the air is filled with dust, and you will understand that I spent a fair bit of time either in my craft room or in the sitting room with my crochet. So I did manage to finish part six of my blanket, just before I went to bed last night, and an hour or so ago I downloaded part 7. There is just one more part for the border next week, so I am thinking I may just manage to finish it before I pack it all away until next Autumn. This week's part is several rows on each side of the Apache's tears stitch, which I love and have always wanted to try. It will need some concentration but I am looking forward to giving it a go. If I get it done, I'll show you next week.

I popped out to the shops this morning for 'bread and milk' as I usually do on Fridays, and this week I went to Lidls. They had a household week for some of their specials and I bought a few bits for my new kitchen which hopefully I will be getting in a month's time. I bought a wall clock, a frying pan to replace my old one and a saucepan, as I will have a ceramic hob like I had in UK, and it will be nice to have new pans to put on it, and also a few other bits. I popped in to the kitchen shop who are doing the work for us, as the lady there had asked to buy some of my strawberry jam, and she showed my 'new toy' which had just arrived. I am going to have a waste disposal unit again. I had one for many years in UK but I don't know anyone out here who has one. It will be a tremendous help, especially in the summer when the last thing you want is left over food and veggie trimmings in the bin. So that is something else I am excited about.

And now as usual it is time to get ready for choir practice, so I will quickly link up with Rocking Your World , and Annie's Friday Smiles, and go and find my music folders.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 14

First a big apology because it took me until yesterday to visit everyone from last week. Sometimes life just gets in the way, but I made it in the end, and I will try to do better this week.
My first picture today is one of me, which doesn't happen very often. We were encouraged to wear our 'Easter bonnets' to church on Sunday. Now I don't wear hats - not even for my son's wedding - but at a push I will clip in a fascinator. So, in an effort to show willing, that is what I did on Sunday, and my dear friend Margie took photos of us all, and posted them on the church facebook page. So here I am with a typical big cheesy grin on my face!
As you can see, it was a lovely sunny day, and we had a joyful Easter celebration, and we were able to share a time of tea, cakes and fellowship, sitting outside on the patio for the first time this year.

Monday was our grandson's last day here. He and Bethan were flying home at 8.00 in the evening, so in the morning they wanted to go up to Mojacar Pueblo to do some shopping for friends and family. The Pueblo is a little white village with strong Moorish influences, that is set on a hill overlooking Mojacar Playa. It has a wide range of small shops selling tourist souvenirs, as well as clothing and of course plenty of bars and restaurants. I showed the youngsters where my favourite bar is and arranged to meet them there for lunch, and then I left them to poke around in the shops while I wandered away from the centre. This photo was taken from near the top and gives you some idea of high above the sea it is.
And this is a typical view of one of the streets. The whole village is a rabbit warren of narrow, steep, pedestrian streets, often linked by steps, with higgledy-piggledy buildings on every level, and the ever present ugly electricity cables, as very little power is fed underground. In this case, the pueblo was there was long before the electricity!
We met up for lunch as planned, and sat in a courtyard behind the ancient church on the plaza. It was not quite as sunny as they had all last week, but we were able to eat our lunch outside all the same. They were happy with all their purchases and I didn't go home empty handed either as I bought this handsome fellow to go on one of the walls by the pool. We already have butterflies, geckos and owls, so I thought a dragonfly would be a nice addition.
I had quite a long conversation with the elderly Spanish man running the shop. It turned out we have some mutual friends in my village. I asked him for the Spanish word for dragonfly and he said it is libélula, which I liked the sound of. Butterfly is mariposa and I like that too.
We saw Marcus and Bethan safely to the airport that evening, and were pleased to hear they had made it home with no breakages. Their case had several bottles in it, and some jars of my jam and marmalade, so I gave them a lot of bubble-wrap and hoped for the best.
Not a lot has happened since then. I have been working on my crochet blanket and so far I have managed to keep up with the designer's posts - just. I did say I would give an update after part four, but that didn't happen, so now I have finished part five, and it looks like this.
I like the way it is working up. Part six was published an hour or so ago and it looks as though it could be a bit more challenging. The main part so far has been worked in a very attractive textured stitch which I have not done before.
I am used to it now though, so I am happy to have something new to think about in this week's part. I think there is quite a lot to do, so I may not be able to finish before part seven is published next Friday, but I'll do my best.
I was interested to see Lisca's post last week where she was talking about a book she had been reading called Sourdough, because this week I have been growing a Sourdough plant. It takes ten days from when you start it, and every few days you have to 'feed it' with flour, sugar and milk, and on the ninth day, which happens to be today, you feed it once more and divide it into four portions. The recipe is called "Herman the German sourdough friendship cake", and the idea is to use three portions to bake three big cakes for sharing, and the fourth portion you give away to a friend to start the process all over again. It says in the instructions "Do not put me in a fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling I am dead!" Here are my four portions and they don't look very lively, but that is because I had just fed them and stirred the bubbles down. By tonight they will be all frothy again.
I shall actually bake with all four of mine tomorrow because it is my turn to make refreshments for after church. I am thinking Apple and sultana, Date and walnut, Cherry and almond, and maybe Ginger and marmalade, but I haven't made that one before so I am not sure whether it will work. Each portion makes quite a big slab cake, but fortunately it freezes very well, so it won't matter if it doesn't all get eaten. If anyone is interested in the recipe I am happy to share it.
Today I have been busy making more strawberry jam. Two batches a year is usually enough, but I realised this week that I have sold well over half of it already. So when I went shopping yesterday, I looked at the fruit and strawberries were right down in price to just 2€ a kilo, so I bought enough for one more lot of jam which is bottled and cooling nicely in the kitchen.
I started with a photo of me, so I may as well end with one as well. Marcus has just sent me this one which he took by the fountain in Turre when we were waiting for the Good Friday procession to start. He was pleased with it so I should make use of it. He says Bethan is still sorting out all her photos but she has some good ones of the dogs she will send to me soon. So I may have those to show next week. They never cooperate for me, and turn away as soon as they see the camera.
Now I must get ready for choir practice, but first I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and when I come home I will start visiting you all.