Sunday 29 June 2014

Animo Manoli!

I am not going to lie. the last six months have been some of the busiest time in a while. Not full on working mode, a lot of traveling both for professional and personal reasons. In six months, I have been to 8 different countries and flown to 12 different destinations. While I have enjoyed them very much, now I am contemplating the next couple of months without taking airplanes, and the prospect is looking good.

But today I want to share something else, something that it is not about me. Something that it is about our craft community, albeit the spanish craft community.

I met Manoli Picatua early this year in one of my trips to Portugal. I went there to demonstrate and teach Sizzix at Tubo d'Ensaio, the Portuguese distributor of Sizzix, Teresa Collins, Basic Grey and Stix2 among other fantastic brands. Manoli is a "tallerista de scrap", a fulltime workshop teacher of all things related to paper and scrap. I loved her. She is so sweet and talented that you can not not love her.

I met her again on my second trip to Portugal this year, where I took this pictures of her between workshops, and again I felt she is one really sweet girl. Manoli talked a bit about her youngest daughter's illness, one of those rare conditions that is so rare that there is no funding or clear treatment for it.

Spanish free health care is the best I have first hand knowledge of, and with a family and close friends that are or have been spread across Canada, USA, UK, France, Switzerland, Germany... that is saying something. But as much as it is free, rare conditions are that, rare, and, not only funding is nearly impossible, specialists are non existent. That means that when there is an acute situation the stays in hospital are long just because doctors do not know what to do or how to do it. Trial and error is needed, which is not only devastating for the patient and for the family, but it also means an extra lengthy stay in hospital, which is exhausting in more ways than one.

Manoli is her family's sole provider and as much she is one very hardworking person, being full time freelance, as she is, means that she can either make a living to provide for her family or be by the side of her very ill daughter. While she is making the best she can, it is extremely hard on her own. 

Patricia Villa Boas (Tubo de Ensaio's owner and all round Superwoman) and I were chatting about what could be done to help. Patricia had already in mind doing an event fundraiser for Manoli but soon developed the idea of setting an online fundraiser was mentioned, as another friend of mine in need did recently,  as well as a Workshops for Manoli, which means that all the money people pay to attend and materials goes to Manoli.

You can read more about it herehere and here.

In less than 24hrs many shops and "talleristas" have organised their own "Talleres para Manoli" and donations have started. Considering how much Spanish people are struggling with money, this has warmed my heart. I am grateful to be part of this wonderful close knit community that is scrapbooking in Spain. I am proud.

This is not an abstract donation to find a cure for some rare disease. This is to help, here and now, someone who needs it here and now.

Ánimo Manoli!

Thursday 12 June 2014

Primera "Gira" por España

Este sábado empieza mi primera Gira por España: Salamanca 14 de junio, Zaragoza 18 de junio y Barcelona 21 de junio. Que ilusión!

14 de Junio


18 de junio

Mini Album
Taller unico por la tarde (17:00)


21 de junio

Mañana: Mini Album

24 fotos en total (Tamaños aproximados):
 5 x 7 cm (4) 
6 x 7 cm (2) 
5 x 7 4.5 x 7 cm (3) 
Horizontal 4.5 x 7 cm vertical

Todas mis fotos son en blanco y negro pero pueden ser en color.

Tarde: Mini Album

9 Fotos (Tamaños máximos)

6 x 8 Horizontal
9 x 10 cm (2)
9 x 10 cm Horizontal (2)
7 x 10 cm (2)

7 x 10 cm Horizontal (2)

Todas mis fotos son en blanco y negro pero pueden ser en color.

Más información aquí.

Craft Asylum website!

Have you seen the new website by Craft Asylum? I love what my Design Team colleagues have been doing, so inspiring!

You can see my entries for their blog here.

Friday 6 June 2014

Two days in Cordoba

Easter monday was a rainy day but still lovely. We made our way from Sevilla to Cordoba in our rental car.

On our way we passed by this amazing castle in Almodovar del Rio (largely reconstructed in the 20th century by an spanish aristocrat) but it was very beautiful and romantic non the less. Can you spot Omar on the right photo?

We arrived to Cordoba in the evening and we walked through the beautiful streets to the roman bridge. What a beautiful sight!

Next morning, the Mosque/Cathedral had to be the first stop. What an amazing place it is!

I remember reading something about how unique Spain is. And it is true. Aside from the obvious, what other european country has a thousand year old mosque, a thousand year old cathedrals and almost one thousand year old synagogue? Yes, that is Spain only.

The narrow white streets of Cordoba are charming and beautiful, as are the people.

Little places like a hundreds of years old houses are converted in private little museums, or the beautiful - even if run down - old synagogue (on the right) make Cordoba a very special city.

Cordoba also has a Alcazar, a fortress that has beautiful gardens and views.

I am not lying about the views, am I?

The roman bridge is a fantastic walk.

I fell in love with Cordoba. So beautiful, so clean, so well taken care off...

Just behind our hotel there is this square which is well known in Spain, El Cristo de los Faroles. There was a very special atmosphere. Something I will treasure for a long time.

Beside there was the Cuesta del Bailio, beautiful steps with very charming white painted walls part of which are

The hotel where we stayed needs to be mentioned. One of the best hotels I have ever been to. So beautiful! It was an old private palace (Casas del Bailio) which has been restored to moorish rooms and gardens as well as a restaurant patio with a glass floor over a roman mosaic. A pity I didn't have a better camera to captured it perfectly.

The thing about Cordoba is that no matter how many churches you have seen, there is always one more surprise around the corner. Like this little mudejar chapel.

On our last day in Andalusia, we visited the Medina Azahara centre. We wanted to stop and see the whole ruins but the main rooms were closed so we decided to leave it for another time and enjoy a mini road trip through the andalusian small roads with a rental car.

The views were stunning.

I booked the cheapest and smallest car possible. This is the car they gave us. Not bad, Hertz!

Selfie time while driving through the olive tree countryside. We do love road trips anyway, but on a convertible mini with the sun shining... cant be beaten!

A quick stop in Antequera to see the Alcazaba, Colegiata and the stunning views.

On the airport, Omar was rather pleased that our bag was exactly the maximum 20 kilos. After that, he relaxed (euphemism for deep sleep) on the comfy sofas. 

What an amazing week we had. Full of great sights, history lessons, good food and spending time with my dear cousin, could not have asked for anything more.

PS: Someone was very happy to see us after a whole week. Loads of cuddles!

Thursday 5 June 2014

Easter in Sevilla 2014

Life has been kind of busy lately. Usually, the months of April and May used to be quite quiet in terms of a paper crafter freelancer. So we booked a little holiday in Easter to visit Sevilla and Cordoba to coincide with my cousin, her boyfriend and my uncle visit to Sevilla.
(Note aside: I always use the Spanish spelling for Spanish cities, I know this is not the correct way linguistically, but I am just too lazy to look up the English spelling.)

We flew to Malaga on Easter Wednesday and rented a car for a few hours to drive ourselves to Sevilla. It was the best value option and allowed us to make one stop on the way: Ronda.

This town is amazing, famous for its dramatic views, and for the deep gorge that carries a river through its centre. The new bridge is quite impressive specially if you look down. The photo above is taken standing in the middle of the bridge.

The buildings are beautiful too. From old islamic architecture that still remains barely, to beautiful white streets and old churches. We really enjoyed walking around for a n hour or so before we continued our journey to Sevilla.

Easter in Sevilla is one of those unique things. Generally Easter in Spain is a rather moving event, no matter what city, but Sevilla's is the most famous as there are many many processions and famous Pasos. Pasos are floats like the ones above, usually one that depicts a scene from the Passion of Christ and a second one of a statue of the Virgin Mary, which is a Dolorosa (she is weeping). Most pasos weigh over a metric tonne and require between twenty-four and fifty-four costaleros (men from the brotherhood) to move.

As we arrived to our Hotel, beside it there was a Procesion, with hundreds of cofrades and a beautiful float with an image of the Virgin Mary. We heard a beautiful saeta which is a song of love and prayer to the Virgin sung by a spectator (who can be a professional singer) in a very special flamenco like style. It was extremely moving. Then we walked around the city. By then it was around midnight and still more processions like the one on the right. A massive float that had to be manoeuvred to turn around the small corners of the medieval streets of Sevilla.

The Sevilla cathedral at night. And yes, that was wednesday at midnight. Loads of people. Thursday was hot and beautiful. We enjoyed walking beside the river.

As it was Easter Thursday, most women from Sevilla dressed all in black with their Mantillas, a traditional lace head dress which is particular popular in the South of Spain though is wearable for all special occassions all over Spain. I always joke that if I was ever invited to Royal Ascot, that would be my head piece.

I loved the Sevilla patios. Most of them, like the one pictured on the right, are particulars houses.

Bares de tapas are something that you can not avoid in Sevilla. That afternoon my cousin Angela and her boyfriend arrived. It is so nice to spend time with them and in a new place! Angela is to me like a sister and often features in my layouts.

And then there was the Madruga. That is the most important and famous event of the Sevilla Easter. It starts at around midnight or early hours of Friday and finishes around Friday afternoon, so 14 hours. Basically it is a all nighter Procession wich features the most famous Pasos: The Macarena, La Esperanza de Triana and el Cristo de los Gitanos. We went to a balcony of a friend of a friend and saw the Esperanza de Triana from an advantage point which was fantastic. Even though it was at 4 am in the morning there masses of people and children, yes children. The atmosphere is a rather typical uniquely spanish mix of religious and family party spirit. Very special and unique!

After a late start to friday, we walked some more around the city and we made our way to Triana which is the other side of the river.

There we saw some more processions from the same balcony. Again thousands of people flocked to see the floats.

After that we made our way to the Plaza de España, which is to Sevilla the equivalent of Alexandra Palace, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.

Even though the Plaza is a bit of a new decorative stuff, the light and situation is lovely. On the Saturday morning we visited the Cathedral, which houses the beautiful Patio de los Naranjos, amazing late gothic art pieces as well as the resting place of Cristobal Colon.

The views from the Giralda (the bell tower, a nine hundred year old repurposed minaret) were amazing.

The cathedral is enormous. Well, it is recognised as the largest cathedral in the world!

Can we talk about food? The food is delicious, usually is not that fancy, but always tasty. On the saturday though we went to nice restaurant called Albarama. I strongly recomended, fancy tasty food and not that expensive.

Saturday afternoon was allocated to visit one of the most famous particular palaces in Sevilla, Casa de Pilatos. A very impressive renaissance palace in the middle of the city with Roman statues, traditional arabesque work and italian renaissance logias. Somehow it works!

Saturday was party time Sevilla style, which means friends and family and flamenco. I loved it. Love seeing everyone dancing, no matter how old or young they were or male or female, from the very start without the need of  vast quantities of alcohol like in other places! I love to dance, so even without a single drop of wine or beer I was happy to dance faux new age flamenco.

Sunday was a late start, as requiered after going to bed at 5 am the day before. And it rained. Yes, it does rain in Sevilla. Still we managed to see the Real Alcazar. Built by christian kings using the local muslims artisans, it has a distinctive islamic feel.

It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, as the upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence.
The tile work is exquisite and it was quite emotional for me to see in person as one of the wall tiles (the one on the right photo) was the motives I used as or our wedding invites and stationery. I had never been to Sevilla before but I had a postcard someone sent of the tiles and I thought it would be a perfect motif for our wedding. I made a handmade template and painted every single invite by hand with a paint that was incredibly sticky. I know now so many ways I could have made them better, but at the time in Spain (early 2002) there was not what there is nowadays available to crafters.

On the monday we went to collect a renta car to make our way to Cordoba. Tomorrow part two!

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