The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break

IMG_0586wm IMG_0590wmIn America we’re always rushing. Rush to and from work. Hurry to the store. Make it to an appointment on time. There’s always something else to do and before you know it we’re living one task until the next, and not appreciating the lovely moments. I find this terrible. All these busy tasks can be wonderful and fulfilling, but if we don’t also take simple moments to relax and enjoy we won’t be able to appreciate either of these very special blessings.

I find beauty in Fika [fee-ka] the Swedish coffee break. Americans love their coffee, however the Swedes not only enjoy the pick-me-up but also love making a truly good cup of coffee. They’ll have a cup of coffee or tea with breakfast, but what they really enjoy is fika, a twice daily coffee break. Whether they are at home, work, or traveling they make time for fika every day. Fika is not only about the coffee, although they’ll sometimes enjoy tea, rhubarb cordial, or glögg as well. There are two other essentials: traditional Swedish food and using the time to relax and enjoy.

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“To truly fika requires a commitment to making time for a break in your day, the creation of a magical moment in the midst of the routine and the mundane. Fika is the time when everything else is put on hold.” -Fika by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall

With modern conveniences it’s rare to find Americans who do most of their own cooking and baking. However, in Sweden it’s looked down upon to not take a little time to at least make your own rye bread or cookies from scratch. With a more formal fika, known as konditori, it can even be the expectation for there to be tortes and seven different types of cookies! The food is so important to fika that it’s commonplace to keep cookie dough in the freezer or butter cookies in tins for unexpected visitors.

IMG_0570wm IMG_0577wmFika is filled with delicious recipes. The apelsinsnittar (orange almond slices) have been an absolute hit around here, with everyone raving about them. When I see someone go into the kitchen they typically come back out with either a cookie or crumbs. The kladdkaka (sticky chocolate cake) is also rather delicious, and reminiscent of America’s brownies. Made with almond flour it has a nice chew and bite to it, and is also gluten-free. The recipes are pretty simple with few ingredients, yet are filled with delicious flavor and variety. I can hardly wait to try out the recipes for cardamom cake, fig squares, sliced chocolate cookies, finnish sticks, almond potato cake, almond tarts, and the list goes on and on!

I’m incredibly happy with the Fika cookbook! It’s filled with adorable illustrations, amazing traditional recipes, the history of fika, and details about living in Sweden. It just filled me with wanderlust. I would love to travel up there someday. Spend the spring and summer outside picking strawberries or making elderflower cordial. Or the winter with all the gorgeous snow, good food, Christmas celebrations, and some hot glögg. I absolutely love this book. Taking a few moments out of my day to enjoy good coffee, food, and relaxation helps make the rest of the day better. Fika is something wonderful and I’ve enjoyed learning about it.

This book was provided to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All reviews expressed here are solely my own and always will be.

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The Healthy Mind Cookbook

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Welcome back to Lavender & Honey, lovely people! I’ve missed this place, but thankfully I should be able to start posting more now that I have wifi access at times. Since April 1st we’ve been living with my grandmother in the Shreveport/Bossier area in Louisiana. We now own a house, which has wifi, however we’re unable to move in until we get further along in the remodel process. Hopefully that will be soon.

Before we moved up here I ordered The Healthy Mind cookbook from Blogging for Books. I’m incredibly excited about this book! Many people could benefit from a healthier mind, whether they struggle with depression, anxiety, or have problems focusing. However with my Lyme disease it’s especially important, because being in the late stage the Lyme spirochete attacks my brain which affects me in many difficult ways.

Something I love about this book is that it’s not only a cookbook. Aside from recipes the authors’ also talk about how food can impact the brain; the book has a “culinary pharmacy”, where it has a list of 70+ ingredients and lists some ways each ingredient can help the brain; resources; and a chapter on how to create wonderful flavors. The recipe chapters include: soups, vegetables, meat and seafood, anytime foods (snacks, yay!), dollops (sauces, vinaigrettes, etc. to increase flavor), tonics and elixirs, and sweet bites.

Since I don’t have my own kitchen I decided to try out a few simple dishes that required few ingredients, instead of an entire meal. I decided on the coconut ginger lime kale, coconut curry cashews, and chamomile lavender lemonade. I love the way the food turned out! Not only is it healthy, but it’s full of delicious flavors that complement one another.

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It was extremely relaxing to make the kale. I love to cook, but due to our living arrangements I’ve been unable to do much of it recently. Washing and tearing the kale into bite sized pieces while thinking about the following steps was therapeutic, especially since I knew it would be healthy. It had a lot of flavor from sauteing ginger and garlic, and adding coconut milk and lime.

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The coconut curry cashews are delicious! My family and I love them. They remind me of Chex mix, with the buttery and nutty flavor, crunch, and all the delicious spices with a hint of sweetness. But of course they are a lot healthier! According to the culinary pharmacy cashews are wonderful for better sleep, learning, memory, mental energy, and mood. The various spices from the curry also have amazing health benefits.

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I can easily imagine myself lounging on our new back patio, watching and listening to the birds, while sipping on the chamomile lavender lemonade. It’s incredibly refreshing and relaxing. It would be wonderful when you want a refreshment, or if you have a cold (which I currently have). Another wonderful thing about this is that lemons, lavender, and chamomile all help with mood and anxiety, so if you’re feeling tense it might really help you.

I’m looking forward to using more recipes from this book, and using it to inspire more of my own recipes. Hopefully in the near future I’ll even be able to have my own garden to use produce from. I’d definitely give this book five stars, and highly recommend it! It’s a new favorite on my shelf.

I was given this book in exchange of an honest review by Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed here are, and forever will be, my own.

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How to Pack Books for Traveling + a Vlog!

The last time I moved was thirteen years ago when I moved from my home town in Baton Rouge to Texas. It feels wonderful to be going back to my home state! However, packing is crazier than I remember it being. More things are getting in the way and preventing us from packing, and it takes a lot more boxes than I expected! 

Another difficulty is trying to decide what not to pack in boxes, but to keep with me. This is more difficult because we don’t know how long we’ll be living with my grandmother, it could be two weeks or it could be a month. Books, as always, will be my friend, especially since I don’t know how often I’ll be able to find a wifi hotspot. 

When trying to decide what books to pack I tried to find a good mix of non-fiction and novels, that way I can be productive and do some studying or enjoy a marvelous story if my brain is too fried for studying or I just want a pick-me-up.

If you’re planning on taking a trip try to decide how quickly you can read a book, that way you can take enough, but not weigh yourself down too much. Back in January I read seven or eight books, so I’m taking one mostly read book, plus eight others. I’m also taking my Kindle, which I have multiple Bible editions on, classics, and a few of my favorite series and stand-alones. I’m taking three non-fiction/studying books and six novels/short story collections. I find this is a good mix, because the studying books take a lot longer to work through.

How do you decide what books to travel with? What’s your favorite type of travel book? Suspense? Romance? Theology? Please comment and let me know! If you enjoyed my vlog please consider subscribing here.

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Moving Preparations

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Things have been crazy around here with preparing for the move. Only eight days left until I’m back in Louisiana! Packing has been slow, but since we have to put anything in storage that we’re not taking to my grandmother’s house it helps make decisions easier. There’s not much choice in what we need for the next month and what we can do without.

Last night I was able to pack up almost everything of mine, except what I’ll be keeping with me until we move into our own house. When we first get there we’ll stay with my grandmother while we go through the buying process, and making any flooring or paining changes to the house. My bedroom wall looks so sad now! I love having things around that are pretty or remind me of friends, so I’ll miss those while they’re in storage. However, it’s all worth it! 

I’ve been trying to use up food from the freezer, so that we’ll waste as little as possible. The timing was rather perfect, because I thought I’d miss out on making a St. Patrick’s day meal this year, but I found a wonderful brisket and thawed it just in time. I ended up making a beef pie which I served with mashed potatoes and gravy. All of it completely homemade. I also made several dozen each of blueberry muffins and sugar-free raspberry muffins to use up some frozen fruit.  The brownies were just because with all the chaos around I’ve been craving chocolate. Serious cravings.

Wednesday was an exciting day around here. A very sweet family came by to see the house, and they loved it! They are officially buying it and will sign papers next week. We were all happy to see them get it, because not only are we getting the house sold, but they were desperate to get into this neighborhood. They’d been living in a small apartment and really needed something bigger, in a safe area, with a yard for their children. While my dad was showing them the house the rest of us went out and picked up mine and Caroline’s new glasses from Target! I’m really happy with mine, I feel as if they’re a good mix of classic and nerd style.

Sarah’s handling the move well, I think. While she is unsure of the change she seems to be less worried as it approaches, thankfully. She’s also been enjoying playing along with more movies lately. This morning she was playing along with battle scenes on The Two Towers! I was able to take a sweet video of her playing along with one of her favorite My Little Pony scenes yesterday, video here.

One week until we start loading up the truck! 

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Happy Birthday, Hannah & Caroline!

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This week is Hannah’s (22nd) and Caroline’s (19th) birthdays! I’m so very thankful to have the two of them in my life. People often ask if we’re triplets, and while that may not be the case, we certainly have the mentality. 

I have fond memories of growing up with them in south Louisiana. Running around the backyard, catching caterpillars and inchworms, finding blackberries, climbing persimmon trees, attempting to catch songbirds, picking figs, and pretending to be triplet alien sisters based off the character Mira Nova.

Hannah is always there to help us stay strong, and remind us of what’s important. She pushes through any limitations like it’s a challenge, and even if she’s severely sick she’ll lend a hand in whatever way she is able. She researches like a pro, and if someone needs help with something she’ll spend hours researching for information that might help them.

Caroline is always there to cheer someone up when they’re down and help them laugh. If someone is being treated unfairly or unkindly she will speak up and defend the person(s) with passion and reason. She can see what needs to be done and take charge, getting it done both efficiently and quickly.

I love my sisters, and Hannah and Caroline feel like another part of myself. I can’t imagine not having them by my side nearly every day. 

Happy birthday, Hannah and Caroline; I love you both dearly! <3

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