Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Growing On

Sometimes, you can think of life as being divided into two parts: childhood and adulthood. As clear as day from night. In truth, there are many phases we go through in our life journey. Some are abrupt or monumental and will always be a pivotal point of change: graduation, marriage, move to a new city, loss of a loved one.

Other phases start or end more gradually. Those might be along the lines of lifestyle changes. Over time, you might transition from spending time with college friends to professional colleagues. After becoming a parent, your circle of friends and choice of activities might change to more kid-friendly events.

Retirement is one of those lifestyle changes that is both gradual and sudden. The moment of your farewell party, or packing a box of belongings on your last day of work might signal the sudden moment of retirement. The first few weeks might be an adjustment of schedule as you work to create a new routine. For some, there's a flurry of activity - finally able to do all those projects and finish the to-do list.  Others find the time on their hands weighs heavy and they start to feel fear. What to do with all that free time looms large.

 I recently read a Facebook post that can be applied to this idea:

       In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author 
      and ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond - and his response 
      is magnificent: “Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, 
      McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta: I thank you for your friendly letters. You
      sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make 
      public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
      What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, 
      music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, 
      fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get 
      money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside 
      you, to make your soul grow.
      Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art, and do it for the rest of your lives. 
      Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home 
      after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed 
      potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula. ... You have experienced becoming, 
      learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your
      soul grow. God bless you all!"                                      -Kurt Vonnegut 

Retirement is not the loss of your identity or the demise of your usefulness. It is not the end of your purpose, it's simply the beginning of the next phase. As a child, it was about Growing Up and becoming an adult. Now that your income-focused days are behind you, think of this stage as Growing On. Mr Vonnegut said it well and I'd like to take it one step further - every day, focus on the practice of living life. Not a routine to earn money or care for children - those days are likely behind you in retirement. Now is the time to find new purpose and activity. You may choose to work, for a number of reasons, or volunteer, learn, travel, relax, or play.

The advice to a high school senior can apply just as well to a chronological senior - Practice any art...no matter how well or badly..to experience becoming [and] find out what's inside you. Welcome today and the new experiences it can bring you. Life is no longer about growing up and becoming an adult, your focus is now about growing on to learn more and do more in life. It may be small things that you've always wanted to do, like learn to bake or plant a garden, or big dreams like travel Europe or finish your college degree. If you're not sure, that can be even more exciting - you can try a little bit of everything. Why can't life be like an endless buffet? Try a little of this, a little of that, and be sure to include a few things you're nearly certain you won't like. Why? Life's all about experiences and getting outside your comfort zone can have surprising results.

So, take on the day. Go out and have fun!

Need some inspiration or ideas?
On With the Butter! Spread More Living onto Everyday Life
Heidi Herman
Hekla Publishing LLC
ISBN: 978-1-947233-03-4
Release Date: 08/14/2020

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Strawberry Shortcake

If you read my last blog, you know it's strawberry season and I scored 48 pounds from the local grower. I made several batches of strawberry filling and have been finding all sorts of yummy ways to use it. I had planned on canning most of it so I would have strawberry filling all year. At the rate we're eating it in my house, I'm not sure I'll have much to preserve.

But there are so many wonderful recipes to try! When I came across a recipe on Facebook for white cake from I Am Baker, I immediately thought of strawberry shortcake. It was perfect!

I make a white cake following the recipes exactly and stopped short of frosting it. When it was cooled, I cut it into 9 squares. Each square would be one serving.

I cut each slice horizontally, and to be extra decadent, I spread a layer of white chocolate pudding and topped it with the strawberry filling. I replaced the top of the cake, added more strawberry filling and a dollop of whipping cream. Voilà! Strawberry shortcake!

Check out the cake recipe from IamBaker:

Originally from iambaker.net
From I Am Baker
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 38 minutes
Total 53 minutes


  • 1/2 cup (113g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (123g) whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 (120g or 4 ounces) egg whites, room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 8x8 square pan with butter and flour or baking spray.
  2. Beat butter at medium speed with a hand-held mixer until creamy, roughly 3-4 minutes.
  3. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir together milk and vanilla. (If you are adding almond extract, add it here)
  5. Sift together flour and baking powder; add to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.
  6. Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form; gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  7. Bake at 350° for 35-38 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.
  9. Optional: Cover with white frosting.

Strawberry Picking!

I love strawberries. 

They’re a summertime treat that for many years I just enjoyed when they were in stock at the grocery store. Now, I have more free time and look for new activities and try new things. When I saw a post on Facebook from a local farm that strawberries were in season and I could come to pick my own, I thought, “this is something I must do.”

I called a few friends and arranged for a day of berry-picking. I drove forty miles to the farm and then realized I probably should have called ahead to confirm.  The fruit wasn’t quite ripe, and we were unable to pick, so we settled on a girls’ lunch out instead. Over the next several weeks, schedules were busy, days of pelting rains happened, and other events conflicted, making it impossible to make it back to the farm. We knew mid-July was coming, and the strawberries would be out of season, so we had to make time. 

2 20# buckets and a flat.
But, the day came in early July when the farm announced it was the last week of the season. I no longer had time for my berry-picking experience, so I settled on buying a quantity of pre-picked strawberries instead. I came home happy, with my haul of 48 pounds of strawberries.

I planned some for strawberry-rhubarb jam. The rhubarb was picked, prepped, and frozen, ready to be used. Some would be used in pie, and some processed and packaged for baking. I took the stems off, cleaned them, and packaged them in one-pound bags, using my food-saver to seal them for extended storage. Once I had 18 pounds safely tucked away, I pulled out some new recipes to try.
One pound packages frozen.
My first one was strawberry filling that promised to be thick enough for cake fillings and topping. Fruit-filled sweet rolls are one of my favorites, so it seemed like an excellent recipe to test. 

A nice filling should be suitable for sweet rolls, but if the consistency was right, it would make great ice cream topping, strawberry shortcake filling, and a few other tasty treats. I got to work on the first batch. 

It was very easy, but took longer to then that I expected. The result was worth it. The flavor and consistency was everything I had hoped. It smelled heavenly as it simmered away and I couldn't wait to try it in a few recipes. 

The mandatory taste-testing we performed along the way got better with each spoonful.
Strawberries start off whole, then cook down into a thick sauce.

 Here’s the recipe:


  • 4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Cups Water - DIVIDED
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Put 1 cup of water in a large saucepan, adding the sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Mix to blend then add the strawberries.
  2. Heat the fruit on low to medium until sugar is dissolved, stirring until it begins to bubble.
  3. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with the remaining 1 cup water to dissolve completely.
  4. Add the cornstarch water to the saucepan and continue to cook on low for about 30 minutes.
  5. Cook until it thickens and has a deep red glossy color. Test on the back of a wooden spoon. When it coats, it’s done.
  6. Store in refrigerator to use within a few days or seal in jars.
I used about half my first batch in strawberry cream cheese sweet rolls. I have a wonderful recipe for sweet rolls and cinnamon rolls that is made-from-scratch but only takes an hour, so it’s my go-to favorite. 

The yeast dough is mixed then rests only five minutes before you roll it out and add the filling. The first filling layer is cream cheese, which is followed by fruit, then you carefully roll it up and slice to bake.

Dough covered in cream cheese filling, ready for the strawberry topping.

The finished product, fresh from the oven and drizzled with icing.

Here’s my full recipe:

Makes 10-12


  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast {2 1/2 packages} FOR BEST RESULTS USE 1 1/2 PACKAGE ACTIVE DRY AND 1 PACKAGE FAST-ACTING.
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4-4 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, (softened)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, (softened)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, apples or other fruit
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup butter, (softened)
  • 1 ounce cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup


  1. Making the Dough- In a large liquid measuring cup, stir warm milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar together to dissolve.
  2. Stir and proof 5 minutes.
  3. Into a larbe bowl, measure out 4 cups of flour, the remaining sugar, and salt. Once yeast mixture looks bubbly and frothy, pour in with dry ingredients. Start to stir on low with mixer or by hand.
  4. Add in the egg and the oil. Scrape edges of bowl to stir flour in evenly. Knead 5 minutes on low. If dough seems a bit sticky, stir in 2 tablespoons of flour at a time until it starts pulling away from the bowl.
  5. Rest dough 5 minutes.
  6. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 
  7. MAKE CREAM CHEESE FILLING - Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
  8. PREPARE FRUIT FILLING: Toss the FRUIT in the cornstarch, evenly coating, if you're using fresh raspberries or blueberries. For apples, I toss in cinnamon sugar and for the strawberry, I used the prepared filling.
  9. Sprinkle counter with flour and roll dough to be about 18x24.
  10. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough. Sprinkle with the raspberries and Lightly press the FRUIT/cream cheese into the butter using a rolling pin. Roll up tightly starting on the long edge. Pinch edges to seal together.
  11. Slice into rolls into about ten 1 1/2 inch rounds and place on prepared pan. Cover and let rise 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until tops start to brown lightly.
  13. Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes.

  1. While the rolls cool, mix the glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add more milk if necessary to thin the glaze.
  2. Pour the glaze over the warm rolls and serve.
Good Morning!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Exciting New Directions

Isn't it exciting when you feel invigorated and motivated in a new direction? Especially when you feel like it's been a tough road getting there.
I’ve been absent from this blog for quite a while, but now I’m ready to start sharing again. Sometimes there are events in life that take us by surprise, and we must readjust. Other times, it’s a matter of choosing a path and direction for life. I had been struggling with that some last year, and then had one of the most difficult experiences to overcome - the passing of a loved one.

I treasure my Icelandic heritage and love writing children’s stories based on Icelandic folklore. I’ve had a wonderful time traveling with my mother to Scandinavian festivals and sharing the Icelandic culture through our books. But I wanted to explore new challenges as a writer. My greatest desire was to focus on novels, specifically women’s fiction. My first book blended my Icelandic heritage with a modern-day storyline based in America.

I was searching for a way to balance these loves, trying to decide if I had to choose one path of writing - novels or Icelandic folklore - or whether I could continue with both. I started working on a series of four novels based in the American West but introduce aspects of Iceland into each. While working on those, I also spent time with Mom, helping her with a new memoir-style book she was writing. Her story followed one year from her 93rd to 94th birthdays, where she set a goal to have 93 new life experiences. It was a fun year for her and those that followed her adventures on social media. So much so, that when the year was finished, people asked, “what now?” So, I suggested she put the experiences together into a book so that her message could reach more people. It was a simple message, but powerful - Just keep moving.
That year of new experiences finished up with her birthday in May 2019. We started working on the book a few months later. We weren’t in a rush to finish and enjoyed reliving the memories as I helped her organized the book. She continued to travel and always welcomed new experiences, relishing each day. In September, we spent several days together and made great progress on the book. We were optimistic that it would be complete by Thanksgiving. But life is fragile. On October 9th, after returning home from a long weekend trip visiting family, she suffered a massive stroke which proved fatal.

It was difficult for me to continue on and complete the work without her, but I had made a promise. A promise to Mom that we would finish her book, but also a commitment to myself that I would follow her example and be a second-generation life adventurer.  I wanted to share her philosophy, one that had become part of my own life outlook, and keep encouraging people to keep moving and continue enjoying life no matter what their age. I enlisted the help of an expert developmental editor who helped me create a motivational book to share that idea.

Next month, Hekla Publishing will be releasing two new titles and both are available today for pre-orders:


Never Too Late, a journal-style memoir following the year-long adventure of 93 new experiences of Ieda Jonasdottir Herman between her 93rd and 94th birthdays.

On With the Butter! Spread More Living onto Everday Life, a motivational gift book that offers a wide variety of activities and challenges, along with inspiring and heartwarming stories.

I chose the unusual title based on an Icelandic expression Áfram með Smjöri - on with the butter - which means to ‘carry on, keep doing what you’re doing, forge ahead, or keep moving.’ It seemed perfect for the idea I wanted to share. Mom would have loved it.

I’m excited about these new books and have created a Facebook group of the same name, On With The Butter, (https://www.facebook.com/onwiththebutter/) for people to join and share their own stories of life adventure, movement, and encouragement.

I’m still working on that new series of novels, but I’m also going to be posting more of my personal adventures - large and small - to encourage everyone to live life to the fullest. Let’s adventure together!

On With the Butter!