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WASSAIL

This recipe has made its way through several generations and I’ve passed it on to my own children. My oldest daughter said she’s already gone through three (maybe more) batches this holiday season. I’ve also given it as gifts to friends and neighbors.

Just smelling it as you walk into the house is enough to put you in a holiday frame of mind!

Wassail Recipe

Juice 2 oranges and 2 lemons. Set juice aside to add later

Slice rinds and boil in 6 cups of water with 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 T of cloves, 1 cup sugar (for alternate, see note below). Simmer for an hour.

Add citrus juice and 1 gallon of cider or apple juice. Warm it – don’t boil.

Note: In place of sugar, I use Monk Fruit or Erythritol. You might want to use maple syrup or honey, too.

Enjoy!

A hui hou!

Ginger-Limeade

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love to drink Ginger Beer. It’s non-alcoholic, sharp, and refreshing. Even more that that, my very favorite drink (similar to Ginger Beer) is Ginger Limeade.

You can buy this drink in a bottle in many of our Hawaiian stores. It is made locally, and it’s very similar to Ginger Beer, but it will never surpass the taste of freshly made in your own kitchen.

I can only give you the approximate proportions I use, and you may need to experiment for your own tastes. If you wish, lemons could probably be substituted for limes, but I have never tried it. I have limes, and I prefer limes, so that’s what I use.

The piece of ginger I use is about 3/4 the size of the one in the picture above. Peel it, then slice it into thin circles.

Put these in a saucepan, add about 1 cup of sugar, more or less to taste (I use only Splenda for this), fill to about an inch from the top with water. Simmer until it has reduced by about half.

Let it cool while you squeeze the juice from about 8-10 limes. Add the juice to the ginger syrup. I add either a liter of seltzer water or (my preference) diet tonic.

Serve over ice for one of the most delightful drinks you’ll find anywhere. There is almost always a pitcher of it waiting in my fridge!

A hui hou!

Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa

Like many people, I view the entire year as a grilling season that never ends. I even remember grilling in the garage when we lived on Kodiak Island in Alaska!

What better complement to your grilled veggies or meats than a tasty, easy to make, salsa?

This recipe was given to me by my daughter, Inga. I’m not sure where she got it.  I tasted it at her home one year and I knew I had to make it soon! I bought the tomatillos and got to work. I already had all the other ingredients. I’ve eaten some every day since then!

If you are a gardener, you might want to try growing your own tomatillos. Inga has great luck with them, but I haven’t. I may try again this year, but they are so easy to find in my local grocery stores.

I know you’ll look for any excuse to make this – and eat it, too! For those of us who watch our waist, this recipe contains almost no calories or carbs and no fat!

Roasted Tomatillo-Chile Salsa

10 ounces tomatillos, husks removed, tomatillos rinsed and dried
(The number would depend on the size of tomatillos, but generally about 12-15)
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 chipotle chiles (canned in adobo sauce)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1pinch sugar
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat broiler. Place tomatillos and garlic on a baking sheet. (I sprayed it with a light coating of canola oil spray)

Broil, turning occasionally, until charred, about 8-10 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic from skins into a blender. Add chipotles and tomatillos to blender. Process until combined. Add salt, sugar and cilantro. Pulse until smooth.

Notes from Inga: I don’t cut the tomatillos. They get very soft after cooling down from the broiling and you can throw them in the blender whole. I buy the smallish can of chipotles and it will usually make 3-4 batches. I get a few baggies opened up and ready to fill. Once I open the can, I put 3-4 in each baggie, plus the ones in the blender for the current batch, then split the sauce between each baggie. I keep the baggies in the freezer for the next batches. Some chiles are bigger than the others, so that’s why some baggies get 3 chiles and others 4. Just eyeball it.

A hui hou!

COMING SOON TO A WEBSITE NEAR YOU

Some of you know that three years ago, I went on an extended road trip for my sabbatical as Associate Professor at Hawaii Community College. I flew from Hawaii to Portland OR, drove down the West Coast, then across the South until I reached Florida, where I spent a month at this little cottage on the Gulf of Mexico before flying back to Hawaii. During that trip, I interviewed more than 100 women between the ages of 60 and 104.

The purpose of that project was to research women who redefine the conventional archetype of later adulthood in order to demonstrate that what was once considered the “washed up” years actually can be a rebirth of opportunity, creativity, and the ideal time for self-actualization. I wanted to find out why and how these women remained lively, engaged in world affairs, and were still out there “rockin’ it” at an age when others decide to sit at home and withdraw from the world.

My original intention was to write a book that extolled these “perennials” and to provide inspiration to other women, and to encourage younger women who either look forward to or worry about becoming “older.”

The long-awaited results of what I call “The Perennial Project” will be revealed within the next few months, not necessarily in a book, but in an online workshop for women of all ages.

What I need from you and your friends are ideas for what you would like to learn, hear about, or discuss about aging. Do you know young women who are concerned about what life will hold for them as they reach 60 and above? What would you like to know about how other women handle getting older? What specifics would you be looking for if you signed up for this workshop?

As loyal readers of my blog, I want you to be part of this process – and please invite your friends to comment. Please send your thoughts to me here on my blog or send an email to me at lavagarden at gmail dot com with your ideas.

A hui hou!

More About NaNoWriMo

Ever since I was a “winner” on NaNoWriMo (several years ago), I have been editing and adding to the words I continue to write.

Editing isn’t always fun, but it can be fun when I find a section of the writing that needs a little propping up. It is too easy for me to get so lost in the “story” that I forget to add all the other surrounding aspects of a particular section. Editing for me is when I take a paragraph and expand it into several more, maybe even several pages.

When I write, I seem to hear the conversations first. After that, I look around and check out the place where this is taking place. There is so much to see, and I want the reader to see it all, too. Other writers say they do a lot of description first, then go back to include the conversations, or dialogues.

Another area where writers differ is in their approach. Some are strictly “seat of the pants” writers (“pantsers”) and just let the story go where it will once they begin. Others have a lengthy detailed outline of where they want the story to go.

I suppose I’m a combination of those (“plantser”). I write a vague outline that is sparse and general. Within that, I let the characters tell the story they want to tell and I go along for the ride.

No matter which kind of writer you are, I encourage you to set aside a time each day to write. This is something I need to keep reminding myself, too. I find it is too easy to get caught up in all the requirements of “Life” and not take time to do what nourishes my soul – writing.

TIP: It’s time (past time?) to plan for the 2022 NaNoWriMo! Begin thinking and planning today! It begins in only two more days!

My long-deceased Kaimana Kat (above) wishes you a “Happy Halloween!”

A hui hou!

Opportunity Coming Up!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just around the corner for 2022! I invite anyone who is interested in writing fiction of any sort (romance, fantasy, Western, mystery, etc) to take part.

If you’ve been meaning to start writing, this is a good way. I entered for quite a few years before I actually finished the required 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Once I did that, I found that words came easier and easier.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have to struggle! No matter how many times I start a new book, I worry that this time I won’t make it. Once I begin writing, however, the story seems to take form.

My suggestion, whether a new writer or a seasoned one, is to make an outline before NaNoWriMo starts. Have some vague idea of what you want to write about, perhaps even write a few character sketches. Then when you finally start writing on November 1, you’ll be more prepared. The first time I entered, I waited until November 1 to even think about what I wanted to write. Big mistake!

I’ll see you in November in NaNoWriMo. If you want a virtual writing companion, let me know. We can give each other encouragement! But you need to register early. That can’t wait until November 1, either.

Love Cycles

From childhood until today, I have written poetry. Thoughts and visuals come to me that seem to attract an assortment of word combinations. This happens in joyful times as well as sad and lonely times.

Many people think poetry needs to rhyme in specific patterns, but this is not necessarily true. I like writing in free verse, which is what you’ll find in Love Cycles.  

I also write a lot of Haiku (originally a Japanese form), and perhaps I’ll put those in a book someday. And I love writing lyrics for my brother’s compositions and arrangements (more about that in another post).

I encourage you to explore your own thoughts this way and see what words call to you. When I taught this as part of a college level “Psychology and the Expressive Arts” class, I led the students through various exercises to show how easy it is to write poetry.

Please leave a comment about how you’ve experienced your own “love cycles” and perhaps how you write poetry for yourself.

A hui hou!

Lucy

Becoming Who We Are!

Retirement is an odd concept. In fact, in Okinawa, Japan there is no word for retirement and yet they have one of the longest lifespans in the world. They know how to live.

August 31, 2021 was my last day of being a full-time faculty member. It was the second career I had officially retired from, although I had “retired” from several other careers. I had been working at some sort of job or career since I was a junior in high school. Many of you can say the same thing.

My 87th birthday took place one month after I retired, so I suppose it was time. I was still healing from back surgery and although I continued to teach, it seemed that my energy level was waning. I’ve been a hyperactive person since birth, so this “slowing down” process was not a welcome experience.

The first six months of retirement were not happy times for me. For the first time in my life, I found I had no identity to grab onto. Being retired wasn’t a designation I had looked forward to with joy. What would I call myself now if not “pastor” or “professor” or “counselor” or any number of other labels? “Retired” wasn’t a pigeon-hole that I fit into easily.

One morning I was looking for something in my old journals that I had kept over the years, and one comment kept popping up repeatedly.

“All I really want to do is stay home and write.”

Of course! Why had it taken me so long to remember that? With retirement, I finally could “stay home and write.” I began looking through old Word docs in my computer and discovered that in my spare time over the years, I actually had written several books. I never did anything with these manuscripts except give them a tentative title and close the file until the next time I had a few extra minutes to write.

Since that day, I have published three books; all had been on my computer just waiting for me to do some editing and give them life. One is a self-help book (Feral Fables) and two are the first in a mystery series – a community saga. Shadowy Tales is the first in the series and Washboard Tales is the second. I am half-way through writing the third in the series (Bayou Tales), which will be out in spring 2023.

At last, I have an identity again – I’m an author!

People are living longer and healthier today than ever before, so we can continue to be productive longer – if we want to. There are some who can play golf or cards every day and never get tired of it. Others enjoy not having to be somewhere or do anything, so they read or watch TV or get involved in some other activity they’ve looked forward to in retirement.

If you are anticipating retirement, please think carefully about what it is you’ve always wanted to do, and make sure that whatever it is will fulfill your need to remain an active member of society. We are enough without that identity, of course, but it’s gratifying to know that we can remain engaged in life and be whoever or whatever we want to be for as long as we are able.

A hui hou!

All three of these books are available at BookBaby BookStore.

Look Up!

Years ago, I was a member of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I recently discovered the original group had ceased, and that a new group has formed on Facebook in an effort to revive the old group, or at least what the old group had been created for in the first place. In keeping with my current primary theme of writing, below is a re-post of my original blog for NaBloPoMo in 2010.

(May 2010) As a member of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), I occasionally decide to do a post each day during the month. Since school is (almost) out, I decided May would be a good month to get my mind around something besides grading assignments. The theme for NaBloPoMo changes each month, and the theme for May is “Look Up.”

This can mean many things, of course, but one of the meanings is to “look up” reference materials. I’ve shown only one of my many bookcases here, to give you an idea of just how much “looking up” I can do!

Yes, I’ve read all these books, and I still refer to them when I’m preparing for a class, or when I’m writing an article. I have gardening books, cookbooks, music books, history books, books on theology and psychology, books on sailing and horsemanship, even fiction – and on and on. So many books, so little time to re-read them all!

This is the end of a semester, and some of my students are graduating. I know, however, that many of you who read this blog are past your school years. May I suggest that you not stop learning, but continue to “look up” anything that you either aren’t sure about, or whatever you’d like to learn more about.

It’s fun, and the best way to keep from aging is to keep your mind active. Go “look up” something this week!

A hui hou!

Lucy