Friday, February 22, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 8

I have to start this week with a collage of photos of our youngest son Ben as today is his 32nd birthday. Thirty-two years gone in the blink of an eye. It doesn't seem possible.

He was such a contented baby, and still has a big smile for everyone. Happy Birthday Ben.

I have had another steady week with no big events, but plenty of little things to make me smile and be grateful for my life.
Little things like opening a new jar of Marmite! I can't explain why, but taking the top of new jar and seeing that smooth brown surface that I am about to disturb with my knife, always gives me a good feeling, and makes breakfast special. (For non UK friends, Marmite is very similar to Vegemite and most folk either love or hate it.). I love Marmite and brought all my babes up on it too, but I understand it is not for everyone.
Another smile came when I went to the utility room and found Charlie asleep in a bed that he is really too big for. He has been with us for almost a year now and it is lovely to see him so relaxed and at home with us.
Meanwhile, Tango prefers to do his snoozing on a bench out in the sunshine.

An unplanned lunch out was a nice treat. On a spur of the moment decision we set off for one of our favourite restaurants, only to find it was closed - for the day or a vacation we don't know. So we drove on a bit further to another one we used to go to until it closed down. I heard it had new owners and did a good meal and we were not disappointed. The starter of grilled goat's cheese, home-made paté, red fruit jam and toast was delicious, as was the main  course of grilled meat and chips, and I had  a lovely cheesecake while Chris had his usual ice-cream.

Another thing to celebrate is that on April 20th it is our ruby wedding anniversary. We decided that we would have a few days away but as 20th is Easter Saturday, we are going the following week. We are visiting a place called Ronda near Granada that has been on my list of places to see, ever since we came out here. This week we confirmed our hotel booking, and our son Tom confirmed his flights so he can come and house/dog sit for us, and we will get to spend a few days with him on either side of our trip too, so that is something nice to look forward to.

Our choir concert last week was a great success. I was hoping to have a photo but no-one managed a good one as there were too many folk milling around. But we had a much better audience than last time we performed at that venue, and we managed to raise the wonderful sum of 930€ for the charity Paws-Patas that we were doing it for.

Coming home from my sewing group on Wednesday I stopped at a field of wild flowers. I mentioned the yellow daisies that grow abundantly here a few weeks ago, and this is what a field of them looks like.
Aren't they stunning? This is what the individual flowers look like.
I think I am right in saying they are Garland Chrysanthemums. They last well in water so I picked a small bunch of them to brighten up my table at home.
The field next to this is the one where I took the photo of daisies and poppies that I used as my header last year. This year it seemed to be all daisies which didn't surprise me as poppies like the soil to be disturbed and this field has been left to its own devices for a long time. But when I looked closer I found there were a few poppies bravely showing their faces, though they were few and far between.
Poppies will always be one of my favourites. They are such a 'happy' colour, and their petals are delicate like silk, yet they withstand fierce winds, and just wave around on their fine stems looking lovely.
I also noticed some patches of pink in the field and these turned out to be a form of wild peas. They were not as flamboyant as the poppies, but still very pretty.

And still on the subject of flowers, I took a walk around the garden this morning, enjoying the perfume from the jasmine which is rapidly opening its buds in the sunshine. I noticed that this plant had fought its way up through the jasmine, and was in full flower.
It is considered a weed by some people, because it drops baby plants from the flowers and leaf edges, so it spreads rapidly, but it is easy to pull them up so I let it stay and just keep it under control. It is so beautiful.
I was pleased to see my that hydrangeas are waking up. They lie dormant all winter and look almost dead, but there is lots of new growth now.
When a friend moved back to UK he gave me a baby tree that had self-seeded from his silk tree. It needs to be planted somewhere soon but I left it in the pot he gave it to me in over the winter. The tree looks like a dead stick, but I am optimistic that it will come to life again soon, and in the meantime I have a bonus of several freesias that were in the pot with it, that are all in bud and will be open by next week if this nice weather continues.

And that's about it for this week so I will link up with Rocking Your World and Annie's Friday Smiles and then leave you with a picture I spotted this week that really made me smile. It had the caption "Cantata".

Friday, February 15, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 7

Last week I started with a picture of my great-grandson Isaac scoring a hat-trick for his club. (For the friend who didn't know that expression, a hat-trick means when one person scores three goals in one match). In that post I mentioned that his little brother Alfie, although only four, is already a promising footballer, and this week he won his group's Star player of the week. He looks so pleased with himself. These little awards boost their self esteem and mean a lot to them, especially while they are so young. You can see by his face how chuffed he is.

My week got off to a good start with one of our brilliant bring-and-share lunches at church. We were celebrating a year since our 'new' vicar arrived. Here is Father Vincent with his wife Robyn-Ann. It doesn't seem possible that they have been with us for a year already.
We are all asked to take a dish of something to go on the table, and as usual there was enough for everyone and plenty left over too. There was a chilly wind that day so we set the tables up inside. 
Afterwards some of us helped to clear the food tables and wash the dishes, while the men folk stacked the tables and chairs away. In an effort to show care for our environment we no longer use plastic plates and cutlery so there is more washing up to do, but 'many hands make light work' etc. Here I am with my friends Margie, Janice and Jackie, and we are all still smiling at the end!

It has been another busy week in the kitchen, making my last batch of bitter orange marmalade. I was given some lovely oranges but they don't keep well, so I had to get them used quickly. I still have enough for one more lot which will be a darker spread with brown sugar and treacle added, and the orange peel will be cut into thicker pieces. I don't sell a lot of it, but a few friends prefer it. In England that style of marmalade used to be called Dundee marmalade, but maybe that is no longer acceptable unless it is made in the Dundee area.
Anyway, I shall tackle that tomorrow or next week. In the meanwhile I fancied a change so I spent an afternoon chopping up vegetables for Piccalilli, and leaving them in salt overnight. The next day I rinsed the salt off and weighed out a large quantity of spices for the sauce. Soon it was bubbling away. I always think it looks pretty, but I must confess I prefer the smell of the marmalade!
My kitchen table was getting a bit overcrowded, so I printed off some more labels and soon both sets were labelled and priced so I could add them to my shelves in the garage. Not too bad for a week's work.

It was unseasonably warm some days this week, and one afternoon, Chris and I sat out at the back of the house which is real sun trap, and I spotted these two beetles.
They were quite big, about 2cm in length so I took a photo so I could look them up later. It turns out they go by the classy name of 'Black beetle'! That made me smile. It is black ground beetle to be more precise, part of a large family of ground beetles. It said that although they can bite they rarely do, and are considered beneficial in agriculture, eating pests etc. so I am glad I left them to amble away.
Today I needed to drive down to Mojacar Playa to post a rather large envelope at the main post office there. We heard earlier that the coast of Andalucia is on yellow alert right through the weekend for high winds and big waves, but when I got there the beach was deserted.
There were some clouds gathering so the sea was a bit grey, and it was 'lively' but not really rough.
(Not a very good quality shot; sorry. I only had my phone with me, and not my camera). The waves were strong enough to make spray as they hit the rocks, which are usually standing clear of the water with a group of cormorants on them.
I stood there for a while just listening to the flow and ebb of water on the shingle. I love the sea when it is like that.
Now I have to rush away as tonight we have a concert with my choir, Incognito Singers. It is the only one we do each year in my area, so lots of my friends will be there. I need to have some lunch and then iron my dress!
So I will quickly link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and leave you with a windy sunset picture.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 6

My smile today comes from these two little lads who are dear to my heart. They are my great-grandsons, and last weekend seven year old Isaac went to Liverpool Academy with his football team, Oswestry Dragons, and he scored a hat-trick. I don't know what the final score was, but proud mummy sent me this photo. He is getting a congratulatory hug from little brother Alfie, who although he is only four, is already in an under-fives training group, and is pretty good at kicking the ball himself.
Silly blogger wouldn't let me put these side by side, but we'll see what happens when I publish it!
This is another photo of them out walking through the woods with a friend, (and parents of course). It is so lovely to see little ones enjoying themselves. Of course they have their share of technology time, but they still choose to go out and play whatever the weather.

And so on to my week, which again has been a quiet but busy one, by which I mean I have not been to any special events etc, but my days have been filled with cooking, crochet, card making and sorting out my very extensive craft stash.
Cooking: more orange, and grapefruit marmalade made, and I have enough fruit to make one more lot of my usual orange, and one batch of a darker marmalade with thicker pieces of peel. Today I also bought the vegetables to make some more piccalilli as I have run out and folks keep asking for it.
Crochet: I continue to work on the wide border of my blanket. I am excited to see the pattern taking shape and can't wait to finish it so I can show it on here and Facebook. Hopefully the yarn for the next one will be on its way to me next week.
Card making: I am sure I am not the only one who looks at the cards they receive at Christmas, and thinks "I could use that image to make a new card". Every year, before I put my cards in the recycling bin, I collect all the pictures, frames, sentiments etc that I think I might use, but of course I hardly ever do. So this year I was much more selective about what I kept, and then I set about using them straight away, and I made a dozen cards for next year, that bear no resemblance to the originals, and with added stamping, die-cutting etc, I feel they are genuinely my handiwork, and I am pleased with them. I won't show them on here, as I shall be using them for the Christmas card challenge I enter at the end of each month.
Sorting my Stash: Now that is a different matter altogether. A long time ago, when a local 'todo' shop closed down, (todo means 'everything' here, so todo shops are a bit like UK pound shops), I had the opportunity to buy mirri-card in a wide range of colours, for silly money - and I mean really silly money. It meant buying whole packs of each colour, and each pack had ten enormous sheets in it. They have been in an equally huge carrier bag, stuffed into the gap between two cupboards, and they are always falling down, and getting dog-eared corners etc. So this week I set about cutting each sheet into more manageable pieces. Each sheet made two 12"x12" sheets, two a little larger than A4 and two narrow strips. It took me two afternoons and evenings to finish it, but it is now stored in a box, and will be easy when I need to search for a specific piece.
My next job was to take about twenty half-used pads of Lidl's card, tear out all the pages, and organise them into colours. I then did the same with the paper pads, and again it is much easier for me to use now. Hopefully when my new cupboards arrive, there will be boxes to take them.
I am now sorting through my A4 card and then the filing cupboard will be empty, and can be moved down to Chris' office, and I can start on the next cupboard which also needs some extensive organisation.
Meanwhile the sun has continued to shine, and the wind has become a gentle breeze. It is a lovely time of year, and it feels like an early spring day, but I am not taking it for granted as February and March can be quite unpleasant, even here in Spain. But the garden is loving it, especially after I got the hose out and watered all my pots, so let's take a walk around. Starting at the back, the bright pink bougainvillea is waking up, and lots of new buds are opening. It is such a lovely splash of colour in a darkish corner.
Also, a couple of weeks ago I showed a few blossoms on an old almond tree that I thought was more or less dead. But this week it is covered in blossom, so there is life in the old tree yet!

Round in the front of the house I had a lovely surprise when I found a tiny daffodil and a blue hyacinth in flower. I always give my bulbs a second chance, but I don't really expect them to flower a second year, as this is not their natural habitat at all. So it was lovely to see these two trying their best.
There is a tiny pink hyacinth coming up in the pot too.
Next to them the baby kalenchoe are still flowering. They are a great, hardy plant that provides colour for most of the year.
Moving around to the corner bed, where we can actually plant a few things in the ground instead of in pots, the jasmine is again ready to open. It forms a dense 'hedge' against the wall dividing the front and side yards, and just look at the way the buds fill every available space. It will be beautiful again in a week or two's time, and the whole house will be filled with its fragrance.
I am ashamed to say that the corner plot is very overgrown right now, and needs some serious attention, but despite that the roses planted around the edge continue to thrive. Most are fairly low shrubs, but one always shoots up a lot taller than me, which actually means its flowers are right outside the sitting room window. This year it has been taken over by rampant strands of the jasmine which have twined around its stems, and also by a 'weed' that fascinates me so we have let it grow for now. It has small leaves like a columbine but the flowers are a deep red-purple pitcher. (Not a very good photo because I took it into the sun).

When the flower dies, the seeds form in a large pod and they are hanging from the rose branches. I expect I should gather them before they ripen and pop, or I could find myself with more of them than I bargained for.
And pushing out of the top of them are these lovely pink freckled roses.
And before we leave the garden I must show you the front porch where one of our Christmas poinsettias is still blooming, and making me smile each time I leave the house. They did well this year. The big yellow one and the other red one died very suddenly last week, so they have all given us a good few weeks of joy.
So now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Then it is off to our last choir practice before our concert next week. It will be nice to have a good sing.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 5

Well I thought it was March that 'comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb', but here we are on the first day of February, and that old lion is roaring away outside my window. I have had to tie up my lovely wind chimes, and there is dust and debris blowing everywhere. So I am very grateful for my warm, secure house, where I can sit at my desk, and write this post, with Arwen curled up beside me for company.
The week didn't get off to a great start because on Saturday Chris had to cut my wedding ring off for me! It is our ruby anniversary in April, and during those forty years I have only taken it off on a couple of occasions, when I had my hand and shoulder operations, and the hospital insisted. But as my arthritis has got worse, my fingers have days when they are swollen, and my ring finger had got so fat that I couldn't bend it and it was almost always painful. When I needed it off before, it was also a bit tight so it had to be cut off then too. The hospital told me a jeweler would do it, and the jeweler told me the hospital should do it, and in the end Chris did it for me. After that I had it made quite a bit bigger, but it has gradually got tighter again, and none of the alternative methods would help me get it off. So in the end I just asked Chris to cut it again. My finger remained puffy and sore for a few days, but it is gradually going down and I can now bend it, as much as I can any of my fingers anyway.
And the happy side of this, is that I can now wear my ring on the little finger of my right hand. Not the right place for it I know, but it is the only finger it could be made to fit, and at least I can still wear it.

The afternoon sun is quite low in the sky at this time of year, and as it hits the crystals that hang in my kitchen window, it sends rainbows all around the room.
I don't know why, but it always makes me happy to see this. Little rainbows dance all over the kitchen cupboards, ceiling and floor, and it is fun to watch the cats trying to catch them!
They always remind me of a film I loved when I saw it as a child, and I still watch it when they show it on TV - The film Pollyanna, where the little girl charmed a crotchety old lady by hanging crystals from an old chandelier in her window. (Perhaps I'm the crotchety old lady now allowing myself to be charmed by the same magic).

Last week I said I was trying to make the second test piece for a new technique in crochet - new to me anyway. I did manage it and only had to undo a row once, so it was easier than the first one for me. And here it is , a little snail.
I now feel ready to tackle the full size blanket so I have ordered the wool for it. The colour I want is out of stock, but they are expecting some more next week, so I won't have to wait to long. It will give me time to finish the one I am doing now, which is a good thing. I did the last row of the blanket last night and now have to attempt a wide, and complicated border. One lady in the Facebook group said the border took her a month to do, but finished the piece off beautifully so it will be worth it if I can do it.

On Thursday I had a parcel from Amazon which came in one of its usual cardboard boxes. I opened it in the kitchen - it was a new bread bin, and left the box on the floor. Within minutes Tango and Charlie were playing with it, both trying to get into it. Tango won and by the look on his face you know he is not letting Charlie force him out.
Being a contrary creature, as most cats are, as soon as Charlie gave up and walked away, Tango got out and wandered off too.
That night I pushed the flaps of the box inside, to strengthen it, and placed a blanket in the bottom, and all the cats have had a doze in it. This morning I heard a scuffle and found Charlie again trying to have a turn but this time Paco had got there first, and the way he was hissing, Charlie decided to take a step back. 
Paco and Charlie are both ten years old now, and we have seen a real change in Paco this year. He spends a lot of time curled up in a warm place, whereas Charlie is still very 'kittenish'. He is never still for long, and is the only one who likes to play with toys, bits of paper, or anything else that he can move to make a noise.

I had a problem with my car on Sunday which luckily has a warning panel on the dashboard so I knew it was best not to drive it.  Fortunately we still have our old car which Chris occasionally takes out for a spin, and I was grateful to be able to use that and still get to church on time. It was a bit like driving a tank after my blue one, but I did drive it all the time until a year or so ago, and I soon got used to it again. Our mechanic friend was delayed in UK due to the weather, but he has just sent us a message to take it down at lunch time, so hopefully I will have it back to use soon. I will have to use 'the tank' to get to choir practice tonight, but at least it is heavier so maybe I won't be blown across the lanes on the motorway. I am hoping it will have died down a bit by then, but it is not showing much sign of that yet.
There haven't been many big, bold sunsets this week, but I did get one picture earlier in the week.
And last night's sky was quite interesting too. 
I liked the way these funnels of cloud picked up the sun down their sides. I waited to see if it developed into anything more, but it soon got dark, so this was my last shot.

And with that I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and then I will print off the church news letter for Sunday. That means I can spend tomorrow morning back at the jam factory. I have been given another bag of lovely bitter oranges, so another batch of marmalade is on the cards. Then I will get ready to take the car down.
Say safe everyone, and don't venture out into the cold, wild weather unless you have to.