Darlene Foster's Blog

I was invited to share my mom’s pierogi recipe over at Bernadette’s New Classic Recipe blog. A great blog filled with fabulous recipes and stories to go along with them. I love recipes with a story connected to them. Check out the blog post and let me know if you try the pierogi recipe.

Mom’s Pierogi by Darlene Foster

One of my favourite memories about growing up on the farm is when Mom would make pierogi. It’s my ultimate comfort food. After mom passed away last year, I was determined to make them in her memory. Mine are never quite as good as hers were, though. As you mentioned, mothers seem to have a secret ingredient. I think that the ingredient must be love. 

Pierogi are from Eastern Europe and are called by a number of different names. In Russia and Ukraine, they are called varenyky and in our German Canadian home we called them case knoephla, but they are mostly known by their Polish name of pierogi. Here is mom’s recipe. I’m so glad I got it from her. Whenever I start to miss her, I make a batch.

Click here for the rest of the article and the recipe.

What is your comfort food?

PS I had some pierogi last night!

Caravaca de la Cruz

I love horses and enjoy equestrian events. I was delighted to spend a day in the town of Caravaca de la Cruz during the annual Caballos del Vino Fiesta. The horses were proudly paraded around town in all their splendour, the streets teamed with local families wearing black, white and red outfits, Knights Templar, Moors and Christians mingled and various bands played. The air was filled with excitement.

Moors
Christians
Knights Templar
All ages take part in the festivities. This little caballero is so cute.
One of the many bands

At one point I became stuck in the middle of a parade on a narrow side street. I had no choice but to join in and dance along with everyone else as we followed the band. So much fun.

The main event is held later in the day when the wine horses race up the side of the mountain accompanied by four horsemen on foot. The horse with horsemen that arrives at the top in the fastest time, is declared the winner. Should one of the horsemen let go before reaching the top, the horse is disqualified.

Why do they do this? Like most things in Spain, it is based on a legend. Legend has it that during the time the Castle of Caravaca was besieged by Muslim troops, the Knights Templar went in search of water for the starving citizens. They only found wine. Dodging the enemy, they raced up the mountain beside their horses loaded with filled wineskins. They were considered heroes and their horses were decorated in appreciation. This tradition is now carried on as a competition once a year at the beginning of May.

The horses and their elaborate silk mantles, embroidered with fine gold thread, are the central focus of the festival. Each mantle can take a whole year to make and cost thousands of euros. There are prizes for the best-decorated horses as well. It was hard to pick which one was my favourite.

Decorated from head to tail
Pretty in pink
Interesting mantle with pictures of famous people.
The castle that had been under siege
The path the horses have to run up. There are many more spectators at the time of the race.

We did not stay to watch the race as it can be dangerous for spectators, but I did watch part of it on a big screen TV at the restaurant where we enjoyed a paella lunch.

What an amazing event. One I was glad to have attended and will not forget.

There are some great YouTube videos of the event. Here’s one:

I have a giveaway to tell you about that you absolutely do not want to miss. Angela and Becca, the co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their book’s 10th anniversary with a massive giveaway!

They’ve scoured the internet for the best tools to help a writer strengthen their storytelling and give their career a boost – I’m talking software licences, subscriptions, course bundles, and even a full set of the Writers Helping Writers thesaurus guides. And some lucky writer is going to WIN IT ALL.

I would love for one of you to win, so head over to this post and enter by May 13th. And good luck!

Ten years ago, a good friend gave me a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression for Christmas and it changed my writing life. I use it every day I write. I would suggest looking into The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression if you struggle with how to show your character’s emotion. This book has 130 different emotions and gives you lists of ways to describe them through body language, thoughts, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and more. It’s helped me, and maybe it will help you!

(You can find a few sample entries here if you want to see what these lists look like.)

Congratulations Angela and Becca and thanks for making writing easier for those of us who call ourselves writers!

I am part of an excellent series on Sally Cronin’s blog called, I Wish I knew Then What I Know Now. There are many things I wish I had known when I was younger, but I chose to talk about unnecessary worrying. If you haven’t already read it on Sally’s popular blog, check it out and let me know what you think about the subject.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

I wish I knew then what I know now! by Darlene Foster

I believe we learn as we go, and specific knowledge appears when we need it. If we knew everything at birth, there would be nothing to live for. But one thing I wish I had learned earlier in life is that worrying is futile.

I come from a long line of worriers; my mother and grandmother were masters of the art of worrying. I’m sure the women who came before them…

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Amanda is a guest on Marcia Meara’s blog where she talks about herself and her travels. Pop over for a short read and check out Marcia’s wonderful books while you’re there. Have a super day!

The Write Stuff

Good Morning, Everyone. I’m very happy to share a wonderful post with you today, featuring Darlene Foster’s beloved character, Amanda.  I know you are going to thoroughly enjoy the things Amanda shares with you, so let’s get right to it. Amanda, it’s your turn, now!


Hi! This is Amanda Jane Ross.
            Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Marcia. You probably already know that I love travelling to interesting places. My curiosity gets me into trouble sometimes, but I always meet interesting people and learn fascinating new things. What you maybe didn’t know is that I enjoy collecting recipes from the places I visit. I’m an only kid and my parents work a lot. So I do much of the cooking. They are happy to eat whatever I make them.
            I like to read, and I read a lot. Can you believe, I even read…

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Today I am a guest on Karen Sanderson’s blog where I talk about reading children’s books, at any age.

Are Children’s Books Just for Children?

by Darlene Foster

I write children’s books. Actually, I should correct that. I write books suitable for children. But they are books any age can read and enjoy.

            Recently I listened to an interview with Lawrence Hill, author of the award-winning novel, The Book of Negroes.He discussed his latest release, Beatrice and Croc Harry, which he describes as a story for children and adults. He mentioned there should be no separation between children’s and adults’ books. He mentioned that as authors, we should not shy away from including serious and painful issues in children’s stories as they can handle them. He also mentioned, and I agree, many adults enjoy reading from a child’s point of view.  

Read more of the article here

Photo by Andy Kuzma on Pexels.com

I am pleased to be featured on a wonderful blog called Canadian Writers Abroad

In our ongoing tenth anniversary series, Darlene Foster answers three questions. Foster is the author of the Amanda Ross travel adventures series for children. (The cover of Amanda in Holland is perfect for spring.) She hails from Alberta, and divides her time between British Columbia and Orihuela Costa in Spain. Darlene Foster first appeared in Canadian Writers Abroad in 2017, with a guest post from Spain, “Foster’s Dream Life.” -DM

CWA: Where were you ten years ago?

read my answers here

Check out the interesting blog where Debra Martens interviews other Canadian Writers who have made their home abroad.

Writer D. L. Finn posted an awesome review of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady along with reviews of two other amazing books. Check out her blog and learn about her own wonderful books.

Embrace your inner child with a huge hug by reading a great book! D. L. Finn

The attention to detail was amazing, and it was like I had gone on tour with Amanda. Read more here

On April 13th, 2010, my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, was published by Central Avenue Publishing. An auspicious day for me and a dream come true! That was twelve years ago, and what a fabulous twelve years it has been.

On my visit to the UAE where I fell in love with the desert.

The story is loosely based on a trip I took to the United Arab Emirates to visit a friend. I was so amazed at this part of the world, I felt compelled to write about it. After a few failed attempts, a twelve-year-old girl entered my mind and wanted to tell the story from her point of view. I named her Amanda and, well, the rest is history.

The book has had three different covers over the years.

Cover #1
Cover #2
Cover #3

Although Amanda in Arabia is twelve years old, I am happy to say it is still being read. Recently, I was delighted to read a review by James Cudney.

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask is the first middle-grade book in Darlene Foster’s Amanda Travels series, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Amanda yearns to travel the world, and first up is the United Arab Emirates, but call it UAE or the Emirates as one of her new local friends wisely cautions her upon arrival. One of Amanda’s birthday wishes, this smart young girl finds herself visiting an aunt and uncle who live in the far-away country. Whether she’s magically or realistically transported is a question you’ll have to find out for yourself!

Readers will learn all about camels, the Persian Gulf, a princess who was almost forced to marry an older man, and many more culturally significant items of relevance. Both an educational and charming tale, the book offers a variety of themes and good old-fashioned fairy tale fun. Amanda makes several more international trips in future books (there are 8 to date in the series) and I’m keen to find out what she’s going to explore. You’ll enjoy her witty intelligence, and I’m sure if the shenanigans in this book are a sense of things to come, it will be a delightful collection of books that will appeal to a wide variety of personalities. Great job! – James J Cudney

James is a prolific reader and a great writer himself. Check out his blog where he writes honest reviews of a variety of books. He especially enjoys books in a series. https://thisismytruthnow.com/category/general-blog/

His own entertaining books can be found on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-J-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

A huge thank you to everyone who, over the years, has assisted and encouraged me, bought my books, told others about them and written reviews. You have made these past twelve years an incredible part of my life!

Amanda in Arabia is available on all Amazon sites as well as at other booksellers.

A few years ago I visited Valencia and loved it. I realized I hadn’t written a blog post about this marvellous city located halfway between Alicante and Barcelona. It is often overlooked in favour of places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Toledo and Granada. All great cities, but I would also highly recommend a visit to this, the third-largest city in Spain. It’s a wonderful example of the old and the new blended together perfectly. Valencia is rich in history, amazing architecture, an oasis of art, culture and leisure, and the home of paella! It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

After a few devasting floods, the city planners diverted the river Turia three kilometres south of downtown and turned the former river bed into a pleasant ten-kilometre green space enjoyed by all. Parks, gardens, sports facilities, children’s play areas and walking paths fill this fifteen-hectare space.

Turia Gardens in the old riverbed
Turia Gardens
Sporting events held in the former riverbed

I took a hop-on hop-off bus tour which enabled me to see most of the city. The architecture is amazing. Here are a few samples. Some of my pictures were taken from the bus so are not as good as could be, but you’ll get the idea.

At each end of the bridge called, Puente del Real, stand religious statues.
The Tower of Santa Catalina
The Bank of Valencia building
The Micalet belltower, part of the Valencia Cathedral built on the site of a former mosque, and before that a Roman temple.
The Serranos Towers once guarded an important entrance to the city.

I remember enjoying the 1961 film, El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophie Loren. (Yes, I loved historic movies way back then already) I was excited to find a statue of the popular 11th-century warrior who fought to free Spain from invaders. He is a popular Spanish folk hero and has been called The Prince of Valencia.

The famous Spanish warrior, El Cid
Plaza de la Virgin with a fountain representing the river Turia
Front of the Church of Los Santos Juanes

There are so many wonderful museums to visit, but I didn’t have much time so chose the Ceramics Museum housed in the Palace of Marquis de Don Aguas. The splendid facade of the building is worth the visit alone. Inside are fabulous pieces of ceramics dating from pre-historic times to the present day as well as tapestries, jewellery and furniture. This visit requires a post of its own.

Palace of the Marquis de Don Aguas, home of the Ceramics Museum

In my previous post, I mentioned the troupe of traditional dancers I came across. I love when this happens! They were so delighted with my interest in them, that they gave me a front-row seat to watch their performance. The children were adorable.

The men’s traditional Valencian costume
The dancing was terrific. It made my day!

Valencia also has Art Nouveau buildings as well as modern structures including a world-class music hall, an art centre, a group of buildings that make up the futuristic City of Arts and Science and a Science Museum. Something to check out on another visit.

I had such a wonderful time and certainly plan to return to this incredible city.

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