Category Archives: Arty Crafty Stuff

Arts and Craft projects, Paintings, DIY, inspiration and anything else that takes my fancy!

El Donkey Shedo – just a bit of fun


My friends have had a lovely covered recreation area built at their villa.  It comes complete with tiled seats (topped with the infamous cushions), dart board, eating area and lighting – including the mandatory candle in a wine bottle.  It has walls on two sides and a sloping roof complete with beam like “vegas,” and originally it had 3 windows on one side.  I say windows, but really they were just openings.  Sadly the windows had to go as Spanish planning laws are just weird.  They could have built an 8 foot wall.  They could have built a 2 foot wall.  No problema.  Unfortunately, the openings counted as windows and the owner of the almond grove next door didn’t like it.  As it turns out, he’s done them a favour because now the “windows” have been bricked up and morcemed over, they add a nice feature to the room as they are slightly recessed and the red bricks used to form the window sills are still there.

It really is a lovely use of space and I for one can’t wait for the weather to warm up so we can all pile round there and use it.  When my friends shared some pictures of said space with their family, their grandson piped up and said “why have you built a donkey shed?!”  Of course a legend was born.  Especially now since the “windows” have gone and the recesses look even more like stable doors.

My friend’s wanted a sign for their new donkey shed.  I know them well enough that a completely traditional sign wouldn’t be their thing, so I created something a bit different for them.  I used a old roofing tile to add a hint of “rustico” to the proceedings and set to work with my acrylics.  The “official” opening is in a few weeks time, but here’s my contribution.  Literal translation reads “The Donkey Shed.” Hope you like it.

Sew many memories


The weekend just gone saw me celebrate my 32nd birthday.  Not being 21 any more and proving that we really are the sophicates we profess to be there was no late night raving.  Instead I had a weekend full of lovely meals out with friends and a few Cacique con Coca-Cola Lites to wash it all down with.

Saturday night was the official celebration and was spent with a group of friends at our local hostal/restaurant in Albanchez.  The food was brilliant – I opted for an Ox steak, but I think something may be lost in translation because I’m sure it’s just a traditional fillet steak.  Either way it was completely yummy.  The company was even better than the food and a good time (I think) was had by all.

Desert was provided in the form of a birthday cake made by friend Melissa.  As you can see, given the theme, I think she knows me too well!  Under all that fantastic icing was a beautiful Madeira cake.

I realise this is not the best picture I’ve ever taken, but apart from my onesie/monkey suit (which is truly an awesome present) this is one of the best presents I’ve ever had.  It is just a plain table cloth, but the idea is to use it to remember special occasions.  You bring it out on high days and holidays and get your friends and family to write messages on it.  Then you embroider over the writing in different colours for different events.  It can go on and on and each time you lay it out on your table you are reminded of good times past.  A brilliant idea from my friend Sam and something I intend to treasure forever.  I can’t wait to fill it up with memories – as you can see, I’ve already started embroidering the messages from last weekend.  Good times.

So there you have it – if you’re stuck for an imaginative present, give a table cloth and help preserve precious memories

Dance the Bright Flamenco


“Dance the bright flamenco.   Let the music ring.   Dance around with graceful steps and move to the Spanish beat.  Red silk roses pinned in precious hair and glossy gowns fly as you throw your hands up and dance, just dance the bright flamenco.”

Here’s the final installation of my Flamenco triptych.  I must admit to feeling a bit sorry that the project is finished.  I have other ideas in the pipeline, but nothing to start straight away…. Hmmm.  What to do! What to do!

Anyway, I digress – I hope you like it?  Feel free to look at the others in the series here.


Flamenco 3, completed in watercolour January 2012



Play it again Sam – more arty inspiration


I finally finished the second picture in my Flamenco series (there will be three).  Again, I’ve taken inspiration from my new home and the painting was completed in watercolour.  I hope you like it!

Flamenco 2 in watercolour

Tis the season…. for oranges!


Christmas wreath - seed pods, berries and grasses and dried oranges

When we think of Christmas, most of us conjure up a nostalgic image of “White Christmas,” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and dream of open fires and snow all around.  I often wonder how many of us have actually had a Christmas like that?  I certainly haven’t!  I suppose there’s always the chance of snow here – we do live pretty high up in the Los Filabres, but its probably unlikely.  We do have a wood burner though, so I guess we’re half way there!

At this time of year, I tend to turn my hand to a few home made Christmas arrangements.  They’re the usual thing; holly and ferns and berries.  This year, despite my friend Steve swearing blind he’s seen a holly tree complete with berries “somewhere,” in the village, I’ve had to rethink.   We couldn’t find the holly tree despite hours of searching, so I settled for some local greenery instead.  I’m no botanist, so I’m not entirely sure what I ended up with.  Suffice to say it was  mostly grasses, a few ferns, something that looked a bit like laurel, something else with big seed pods on it and some small red berries.  Oh and some fir cones.   I did pick some Lavender, but it was a bit delicate and didn’t really appreciate being stuffed in a bag with all my other selections.  Will have to try again on that score.

It’s also orange season at the moment.  Although there’s a definite chill in the air, we’ve been blessed with some glorious sunshine and with orange groves round every corner, it really is a sight to behold.  Now, you don’t have to have your own orchard to take advantage of the crop.  Everyone always has more oranges than they know what to do with, so you can always find someone trying to off load their harvest or you can make use of the windfall by the side of the roads.  I’ve already had several bag fulls from obliging neighbours.  Waste not want not thought I.  I’m going to make use of some of them around the house.  The smell is wonderful and they really brighten the place up.

As well as fresh oranges, I’ve had a go at drying some slices for decoration too.  Thinly sliced and placed in the oven on a low heat for a few hours and they’ve turned out well – well not bad for a first attempt anyway.  If I get enough time, I think I’m going to try making marmalade.  I’ve used both fresh and dried in my arrangements around the house to bring some seasonal cheer – along with my hard won greenery from the rambla.  Hope you like them!

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Deck the Halls!


It’s that time of year again when we dig around in our lofts or spare bedrooms or wherever it is we stashed the Christmas stuff after last year.   Mine were in a box cunningly labeled “Xmas Stuff.”  It came as a bit of a surprise to be honest, because most years I spend days hunting for boxes that are never where I thought they were and are usually in a box labeled something stupid like “dog toys,” or “duvet covers,” or even less helpful, in a box that isn’t labeled at all, at the back of the shed.  I’m not sure what’s happened.  Maybe I was hit on the head and got organised for the nano second it took me to chuck everything in the box?  Who knows.  Anyhow.  As you can see, I’ve decorated our tree, and very nice it looks too.

I am without a craft project at the moment and since it’s orange season here, I’m going to have a go at drying some oranges and lemons to add to the wreath I usually make.  I’ve googled it.  How hard can it be?  Right?  That’s what I thought.  Since we don’t have the usual holly and other British evergreens within easy reach, I’m also going to have to substitute most of what I usually use for something with a more Spanish flavour.  Olive and Almond maybe?  We’ll have to see.  Failing all, I’ll end up with some vases full of oranges and lemons to make the house smell nice.  One things for sure, since we have a bigger home now, my little tree looks a bit lost, so I need some more festive inspiration.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

In the meantime, whilst digging around in said “Xmas Stuff,” box I came across a Christmas Stocking I made for my Mum a few years ago.  It stays with us since she always spends Christmas with us and I get to play Santa and fill it up for her every year.  It really was a labour of love, and to make sure she didn’t feel left out, I made my mother-in-law one too.  I’ll leave it with you whilst I go on the hunt for some greenery.

Christmas Stocking in Cross-Stitch

A week in Blighty and Lady Lipman makes it to the ball!


I’ve been in the UK for a week for work.  Although that allows me to catch up with colleagues and family, I’ve felt strangely cut off with the lack of facebook, goodreads, skype and so on.  It’s surprising since the connection in the UK is about a million times better than what we have here, but I didn’t have the time to check anything online whilst I was there.  It was a strange feeling.  There I was, surrounded by some of the people I speak to online nearly every day, yet I felt I was missing out on the usual rants that make the day go by so much more quickly.  Maybe it’s a sign of the times that we feel more comfortable telling the anonymous world about our day rather than popping round to a friend’s house or picking up the phone, but I for one really missed knowing what everyone in my circle was up to.  Ho hum.  Never mind – as you can see I’m back and merrily telling you all what I’ve been up to.

The journey to the UK was, for once without all it’s usual dramas.  The flight arrived ahead of schedule, I picked up the hire car (the reason I even need a hire car is another, much more irate story) and was in my home town shopping and stuffing my face full of Burger King in no time.  I did however find it a little disconcerting that there were several hundred more people in the shopping centre that there were at our local “international” airport.  I watched smugly as my fellow Brits ran around like headless chickens, scrabbling for the best bargains in Primark and thought to myself “God I’m glad I don’t live here.”  Now don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely brilliant to see everyone, but people were almost maniacal in their determination to grab their shopping with “sod you Jack,” written all over their faces.  I much prefer the slow meander of life over here.  Yes it can be frustrating when deliveries don’t turn up when you thought they would and sometimes the process of things just doesn’t make sense, but it’s all so much more relaxed.  Manana isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life.

So my shopping trip over I made my way down to Devon to the in-laws and the office for the rest of the week.  I am very lucky in that I actually get on with my in-laws and I can use their house as a base when I’m back in the office.  I have to say though that getting up in the dark, having to wear office attire and proper shoes and everything soon lost it’s novelty.  Driving to work leaves something to be desired too!  When I’m at home, my commute takes all of 30 seconds, and I can sit here in my pj’s and slippers if I really want to.  It was great to be back in the office but I wish the makers of Star Trek would hurry up and making tele-porting available to the masses.  It would be much better than having to fit all my make up into one of the stupid zip-lock bags at the airport and then hanging around for hours eating tasteless sandwiches at a fiver a go. I’d also forgotten that with office life comes the office illnesses.  Everyone was coughing and spluttering.  I spent the week holed up in a corner covered in alcoholic bacterial rub hoping I wouldn’t catch anything.  So far so good, but it’s early days.

Whilst I was in Devon it was my father-in-law Reg’s 81st birthday so needless to say there was much merriment, enough food to feed an army and gin and tonics flowing till the wee hours of the morning.  I felt like the guest of honour since everyone wanted to catch up and hear about our life in Spain and waxing lyrical about the Spanish weather.  It was a great night and I know Reg enjoyed having his friends and family around him.  He is impossible to buy for so i settled for a good bottle of Barolo.  I went to Asda to purchase said bottle – an experience I hope not to repeat.  It was bun fight of epic proportions.  Christmas certainly brings  out the worst in shoppers.  Everyone also seems to think they must stock up for a siege because the shops will be closed for 2 days over the holidays.  I’d forgotten all about the madness that is Christmas food shopping.  The woman in front of me at the checkout spend nearly £300 on a trolley full of booze and turkey.  And there I was feeling faint about the price of wine in England!

Lady Lipman

Finally the week drew to a close and it was time for the “End of Year Bash.”  As I’ve said before, it is always fancy dress and you are considered a completely loser if you don’t at least make some sort of effort – even if that effort means you get all Blue Peter and make yourself something out of sticky-back-plastic and an empty Fairy bottle.  This year’s theme was “Medieval Banquet,” and seeing as though they don’t really do fancy dress in Spain, I laboured lovingly over my sewing machine to come up with my Medieval Princess creation.  I have to say, especially as I didn’t have a pattern, I was really rather pleased with my outfit.  It looked the part and didn’t make me look like an idiot, so all in all, I’d say it was a winner.  Lady Lipman finally made it to the ball!  Hurrah!

Sadly all good things must come to an end, so I left the party and made my way back up to Gatwick, stopping en-route in Basingstoke to pick up some pals who were also back visiting.  When I booked this trip, the plan of going to work, setting up for a party, going to a party and then driving to Gatwick for a 6am flight sounded like a genius plan.  It wasn’t.  It was dark and miserable and not fun.  To add to my misery, I got to sit in front of the token idiot on the plane – you know that one you spot at the boarding gate and want to avoid at all costs?  Yeah.  That’s the one.  Added to that, the plane had more ill people on it than a doctor’s waiting room.  Not surprisingly, I slept for the whole flight, but was squished into the window, desperately trying not to touch any of the great unwashed who were sharing my air.  Unfortunately, this included my 2 friends, who are also full of snot, but I’m hoping they were breathing over the people in front of them instead of me.  If I get a cold I won’t be happy.

Back home now, wood burner on, tapas eaten, drinks drunk; Happy Days!

“Dance is music made visible.”


When I started this blog, I promised to include some of my artwork.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and discovered that I’ve given the pieces I’m most proud of away.  After all, art is designed to be seen, and I am grateful that some of it hangs on the walls and friends and family.  (I am pretty sure they’re there all the time – not just when I come round!)  So this left me with a bit of a dilemma.  What can I share on here?

Well, given that I’m now in Spain, I decided to look to my new home for inspiration.  Here’s my latest creation in watercolour inspired by Flamenco dancing.  I hope you like it!

There will be more to follow I promise – I just can’t promise when.

Flamenco Dancer in watercolour

Ye Olde Fancy Dress outfit


I may live in Spain but I still work for a UK company.  I should explain, briefly, that it is a company full of nutcases.  They are a great bunch, but completely bonkers all the same.  Every year the company “End of Year” do (we’re not allowed to call it a Christmas party, though nobody seems to know why) is a themed event.  Fancy dress is compulsory and you are deemed to be a complete loser if you do not participate.  Some put more effort in than others, but secretly everyone is trying to outdo everyone else on the brilliance of their costume.  This year the theme is “Medieval Banquet.”

Now, the Spanish don’t really do fancy dress, (well they might, but the rural Andalusians certainly don’t), so I am stuck with a dilemma.  Either I wait till I fly back to the UK, a mere six days before the party and run around like a lunatic trying to find something suitable, I order something online and hope that the post office in Albanchez actually bothers to open so I can collect my parcel,  or I make something.  I have a sewing machine, so I thought to myself “how difficult can it be?”  I am making an outfit.

I’ve been trawling t’interweb for a suitable pattern (same post restrictions apply on ordering a pattern) and have somehow become immersed traditional patterns for “Kirtles,” “Surcotes,” and “Houppelands.”  Let me tell you, there are some real fanatics out there, each professing to be an expert and admonishing others for their “fantasy” and “historically incorrect” creations.  Whilst I admit there is merit to the immense amount of research that has gone into some of these sites, quite frankly I’m just looking for an outfit that doesn’t make me look like some medieval troll.   I’m no Kate Moss, but I really don’t want to turn up looking like a poor copy of Princess Fiona.  Not a good look.

Whilst researching my outfit, I have come to the conclusion that what most of us think of as typically medieval is in fact complete fantasy.  Do I care?  No.  Not a damn.  I’ve always wanted to be a Fairy Princess anyway, so I don’t care if I’m wearing some make-believe outfit, just “please God,” let me look half decent in the thing!

So without a pattern, I got all Blue Peter and made one out of newspaper and sellotape.

I am only about half way through my master plan.   So far disasters (it is me after all) include, forgetting that my bust measurement is considerably larger than my shoulder measurements so that I had gaping holes at the sides, a sewing machine meltdown, my “pattern” accidentally ending up as kindling for our log-burner and a dog that ate my pin cushion – twice!

If I don’t win some sort of award for brilliance and general sewing savvy by the end of this, I’m gonna be right annoyed.