Author Archives: marlenedotterer
Come join the fun on Facebook or post something here about your favorite holiday activity. Here’s my post about eggnog:
Eggnog! It’s great stuff, even if it’s bad for us. A leeetle bit won’t hurt much, right? My Rick has the most awesome recipe for eggnog. The full recipe fills a punch bowl. We put the recipe into a spreadsheet where we just plug in the number of servings we want and presto! Out pops the correct measurements of everything. Here’s the full thing, which makes about 34 5 oz servings. We also make a non-alcoholic version for the non-drinkers.
18 eggs, separated
2 cups fine, granulated sugar
2 fifths Bourbon
1/2 cup Jamaican rum
2 cups light cream (half and half)
6 cups heavy cream, whipped
Beat egg yolks until light. Gradually add sugar and beat until yolks are thick and light in color. Slowly stir in bourbon and rum. Add the chilled light cream. Lightly fold in the whipped heavy cream. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture. Pour into punch bowl and sprinkle with grated nutmeg.
Wish I had a picture to show you, but I haven’t made it yet this year. Sorry!
The party is on! Leave a post and tell us about your holiday activities. Talk to each other. Give us links, recipes, and pictures. You can do it here on the blog, or over at the event on Facebook. Here’s the link for that:
I grew up celebrating Christmas and we still do, although we’ve dropped the religious significance. But it’s the Big Holiday in these parts, so we join in. So many of the Christmas rituals are taken from ancient Pagan practices, and I feel perfectly fine practicing them. The decorated tree, a Yule log, presents and decorations in the house, and the general singing and merriment are all things humans have done for centuries, to brighten up the long winter darkness. I love the cold weather and the smell of evergreens. I’m not a snow person, but I like it in pictures with lights and red ribbons on the fireplace mantel.
The best part for me is always the family. Not all the kids can make it every year, but that’s okay. We all do our best. I love my house to be crowded and loud and cheerful, with everyone catching up, and little kids running around all excited and trying to handle ornaments from the tree. And of course the food. But that’s a separate post.
Let me assure you that I have been quiet on purpose. I know I should be posting something at least 2 or 3 times a week, but the time has not been right for it. Trust me, you’re happy about it. You don’t need banal posts and I know you all have enough to read without me.
For today, I will bring to your attention a Facebook event that I’ve set up. I’m happy to have it spill over onto the blog, too.
My Welcome Yule Party will take place on December 10. The idea is for everyone to hop on (here or on Facebook) and tell us what you are doing to celebrate whatever-it-is-you-celebrate-in-December.
Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or something I’ve forgotten…, this time of year is happily awash with holidays. I don’t care which one you celebrate. Tell us about it. What activity gets you smiling and feeling good will toward the people around you? What makes you hopeful? What is just downright fun to do? I want events (go ahead and link to something in your area), recipes (yes, please), and pictures of your decorations, holiday table, or celebrations.
I’ll post a reminder on the 10th to get it all started. It goes on all day and you can post here, on Facebook, or both places, if you want. I will try to respond to everyone who posts, and I’d love it if there’s a lot of back-and-forth between everyone. It’s a party after all. Pour yourself a drink and mingle!
And if you want to know what to give an author for a holiday gift: buy her books! Give them to friends. Fill up your reader or library shelves.
Of course, I bet you knew that already!
We are home at last, but what a great trip it was. After 9 busy days in Barcelona, we boarded our Royal Caribbean ship on October 30, beginning five more days of an intense and full schedule. We had four ports of call: Alicante, Malaga, and Tenerife, all in Spain, and Madeira, Portugal. These days we were up early with a quick breakfast, then out the door for adventures in new places. I was ready for those long days at sea as we crossed the Atlantic to Florida. I needed the rest!
There were sights of beauty in Alicante:
Old castles and famous people (Picasso) in Malaga:
Madeira’s impressive city on a hill and a little village nestled in a valley amid steep crags:
Square pyramids and volcanic peaks in Tenerife:
Our days crossing the Atlantic were made especially happy due to new friends, thanks to an online forum I joined before the cruise. I got to chat with others who would be on the cruise with us and arrange to meet them in person once we were on board, or earlier in Barcelona. We had a blast losing grandly at trivia every day. At least we never came in last!
These are great people and I already miss them. Thank goodness for Facebook!
Rick and I did our best to stay healthy by shunning the elevators and putting in three miles on the track as often as possible. We managed to log six or more miles every day, carefully balanced with too much rich food, ice cream, and daily shots from the bar. (We got to keep the glasses). Flush from our second place finish at ping pong doubles, we decided to tackle the rock wall:
I rang the bell! This was fun, and I’ll probably do it again, but one thing is for sure: I’m never doing this without a halter. No way, folks.
I also hosted a book discussion about Worlds Apart. The discussion meandered to my other books, as well. This was a fun group. Most of them don’t usually read SF or fantasy, but they were good sports about it, and some of them may even read it more often!
I could go on all day, but I’ll be merciful. Now it’s onto laundry, emails, and groceries. I’m happy to be back in my kitchen and happy to be eating my own food again. I didn’t gain any weight, thank goodness, but it’s time to return to restricted calories and good, simple food.
Except for the upcoming holidays, of course.
Today is a our last day in Barcelona. It’s a day of chores: laundry and packing, and presenting our tired selves at the pier to board our ship for home. Yes, you read that right – we are sailing home, across the Atlantic, just like days of yore. Very civilized with respect to time changes across the planet. We have a few excursions in and around Spain, then we set off for several days at sea until our arrival in Florida. Then it’s back to modern transportation as we fly to the west coast. We’ve already met a few of our shipmates, thanks to the good offices of the internet and cruise forums. We had a great time at Montserrat, but I don’t seem to have many pictures of the group. There were six of us. Here’s me and Rick with Nita:
and here’s me at the end of this day:
Who’s a tired traveler, hmmm? In my defense, this was our third day in a row of over ten-mile walks/hikes. Whew!
Yesterday we had an awesome guided tour with another couple, Dare and Philip.
Dare arranged a guided tour with Gregorio Arribas, who took us to a church built around a cave in Monserr, where the founder of the Jesuit order had his inspiration. I thought the cave part was really cool. After that, Gregory took us to Oller Winery, where they produce organic (yay!) wine in a thousand-year old castle. They gave us the most amazing wine-and-tapas tasting. Our tasting included the last bottle of a 1000-bottle production. We bought a bottle of their most popular wine, a 2007 Merlot blend, with the intent of saving it for our 20th wedding anniversary. That’s in eight years, folks. Someone remind me! Here’s a picture of the tasting:
After the tasting, Gregory took us to lunch at La Vinya Nova, a farmhouse restaurant nestled at the foot of Montserrat. For about five hundred years, this farm provided most of the food for the monastery, but about a hundred years ago they converted to a public restaurant. They are out in the middle of nowhere, but serve up to 150 people a day, and about 600 on weekends. Wow! It was delicious food and I ate all of it despite being full from the tapas tasting. I paid for it later, but you have to splurge sometimes,right?
Rick and Gregory at La Vinya Nova
After this, Gregory graciously dropped us off at a tapas bar back in Barcelona, where we met up with a “bonus grandchild” we haven’t seen for about seven years. Lauren is studying in Barcelona for a semester. She’s grown into a beautiful, confident woman. So good to see!
I did NOT eat any more food! Rick and I shared a bottle of water. It’s all we could manage by this point.
Internet will be scarce while we’re on the ship, so I don’t guarantee any posts or pictures while we’re at sea. Maybe a Facebook posting now and then. I’ll see you all on the other side!
I’m having a heck of a time uploading pictures. I’ve begun this post about six times – maybe tonight will be the charm. We are in Barcelona, and I am loving this city. It’s huge and crowded and busy, but not in a New York kind of way. That’s probably based on my misperception of New York, which kind of scares me. Probably based on lots of TV shows. Anyway, Barcelona streets are always filled with people scrambling to their various destinations and always talking, and in general looking and sounding pretty happy. There are lots of people on scooters, a few on bicycles and the occasional skate board. The streets in our area are dotted nearly every block with sidewalk cafes serving tapas with beer or wine, and pastry shops loaded with decadent sweets or sandwiches. And coffee. Everywhere, there is coffee. There are also lots of fountains. I like fountains.
I thought I would show you, a la John Scalzi, the view from our apartment window:
Impressed? No? Oh well, we don’t spend much time here. That’s a parking garage across the very narrow street. And look what’s below us most days:
There’s construction going on next door. This truck is about two feet from my face when open the door to leave the building. I’m going to miss that truck when we leave. The rest of the street looks like this:
It’s kind of cute. We are one block from a main street, which takes us to a metro station in about ten minutes. Often we walk all the way to where we are going – Rick brought his fitbit, which is giving us all kinds of high fives and smiley faces because of the miles we are putting on it everyday. Ow, my feet, but my clothes keep getting looser!
This is all I’m going to attempt today. I’ve got about a thousand pictures and I can’t figure out which ones to show you! Tomorrow we hit Montserrat, a monastery and museum about an hour’s train ride from town. We’re meeting up with a few people who are going to be on our upcoming cruise. It should be a fun day!
Francisco is an official United States Marine. We missed his graduation, but a lot of family members were there, including my son, Francisco’s Uncle Jon, who is a nurse and a captain in the reserves:
They really look alike. They even share a birthday, 15 years apart.
We’re proud of this kid. He wanted to do this and he made it through. My grandma’s heart will continue to hope that he makes it through his entire enlistment. Love and success, Francisco!