Do Something That Scares You

Du se inte? Jag får inte. - Don't you see? I can't.

Du se inte? Jag får inte. – Don’t you see? I can’t.

When I was little I hated trying anything new. I was always too worried about failure to even try. My mom would encourage me to try without pushing my limits, and because of that I’d slowly come around. Two of the things I love, art and cooking, I was absolutely against trying when I was little. Yet now they are my passions. I still remember the shock on my grandmother’s face when I said I wanted a cookbook for Christmas when I was nine. 

All too often we let our fear get the best of us. We let the fear keep us from even trying something. This is something I’m still working to overcome. I started vlogging because it terrified me, and now it’s a lot of fun. For many years I’ve wanted to learn another language, but I always put it off. Whenever I would think about it, or even begin to attempt to learn, I would remember how much I hated speech therapy. I have auditory processing disorder, which means my brain does not process sounds properly. Due to this I had to go to speech therapy to help me learn how to properly pronounce and spell words since I couldn’t properly “hear” them. While it was something very important and I’m thankful I had the opportunity, it was something very discouraging. 

Due to my past with speech therapy I would tell myself that I couldn’t learn another language–I had a difficult enough time with English! That I wouldn’t be able to learn the subtleties of different sounds. That I wouldn’t be able to pronounce the words. That if I tried speaking with a native speaker I would just embarrass myself. I let my fear get in the way for many years. However, when I recently read a Swedish book about fika I realized I wanted to learn Swedish. I decided not to let my fear get in the way of me this time. It might not be the most common of languages, but it’s something I’ve been excited about for months now, and the excitement keeps growing.

kärlek kan tina en frusen själ

Kärlek kan tina en frusen själ – Love can thaw a frozen heart.

I make mistakes, but instead of letting them control me I’m trying to use them to help me improve. The other day I made a mistake in a phrase on Tumblr. I felt terrible about it all day, especially since other people had reblogged it so I couldn’t correct the mistake everywhere, only on my personal Tumblr page. However, I went and researched how I made the mistake and how to properly phrase what I was saying, and after that and correcting myself I was able to let go of the anxiety.

I may still only be in the early stages of learning Swedish, but it’s already worth it! Not only did I find something else I’m passionate about, but I’ve made progress in overcoming my fear. 

What is a fear you want to overcome?

Home Sweet Home

IMG_0106editblogWe are finally all in our own home together! After four months living in my grandmother’s house, living out of boxes and bags, sleeping in recliners and on air mattresses, five weeks ago Hannah and I joined the rest of our family in our new home. They moved in a couple of weeks prior to us to work on renovations that caused fumes. While there are still many renovations left, we didn’t want to wait another day to join them.

I absolutely love living in our new home. When the realtor first showed us the house the feel reminded my sisters and me of our home back in south Louisiana growing up. The feeling of home has only grown. I love the cozy safe feel. Watching birds and squirrels frolicking among the trees in the backyard. Having conversations while one person cooks in the kitchen and another watches on. Going on walks through our neighborhood and being greeted by kind people and dogs. Enjoying the view of the tall trees overlooking the small lake. The wait for this home might have been long and difficult, but it was worth it.

Things have been crazy since moving in. After four months being stuck in my grandmother’s house I find the adjustment back to whatever my normal is wonderful, but difficult. I’m trying to figure out how to fit everything in. Once I fit one thing in I accidentally neglect another area I need to focus on as well. That is why, until now, I’ve yet to resume blogging. However, I think writing out and sharing a list of my goals will help. 

  • Lyme treatment
  • Bible/prayer time
  • Light exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Regular blogging
  • Continue to learn Swedish
  • Pick back up studying programming
  • Reading
  • Art practice
  • Keep in contact with friends
  • Spend more time in the kitchen
  • Business studies

Well there you have it, that’s what I’m hoping to focus on for the foreseeable future. Hopefully writing it all out will help me better be able to focus on what I need to, when my health allows. What helps you keep on track? Do you make lists of your goals, or schedules? 

Thank you for visiting Lavender and Honey! I’m thankful to be back to writing here, and welcome if you’re new here and welcome back if you’ve not been in a while! I look forward to sharing with you, getting to know you (you can comment bellow!), and experiencing the upcoming holiday season together. <3

Girls can be Engineers and Boys can Like Ponies

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I can vividly remember shopping with my mom and stopping for lunch at McDonald’s when I was little. She was ordering me a Happy Meal while I took caution of the “wet floor” sign and gingerly walked over to look at the toy selection. The girls selection was once again something frilly or colorful, which is fine, but not what I was interested in that day. I noticed something cool “for boys'” and walked over to my mom, tapped her, and whispered that I’d prefer that toy. It always annoyed me that boys got the cool toys while girls were always told they had to play with dolls. I had dolls I liked, but on average I much more preferred to play spies or aliens. I preferred sword fights over tea parties. I wanted a zip line. Yet society repeatedly tells children that certain toys are for boys and certain toys are for girls.

Friday Target announced that they will be removing gender stereotyped signs and arbitrary color gender stereotypes to classify toys, entertainment, and bedding as either “for boys” or “for girls”.  When I learned this yesterday I was overjoyed. Sadly there has been much backlash. Many think it’s some “gay agenda”, or worry about how they’ll pick out a toy for a child without signs to direct them to toys for the “appropriate gender’s toys”. 

Saying both boys and girls can enjoy aliens is not gay. Saying they can both enjoy My Little Pony is not gay. A girl loving mechanics and wanting to become an engineer is not gay. A boy wanting to become a ballet dancer is not gay. There is nothing about swords inherently male, and nothing about baby dolls inherently female.  

There’s a taboo that boys shouldn’t play with baby dolls. Girls are allowed to play with them and practice being mommy, but boys are told that’s only for girls. What about practicing to be a loving and caring parent or sibling is only for girls? Shouldn’t every parent be kind and nurturing? 

There is no reason for girls to not play with swords as well. We shouldn’t perpetrate that girls shouldn’t know how to handle a weapon and fend for themselves, that they just have to wait for a man to come around and save them. We should help everyone be able to defend themselves. 

Instead of arbitrarily choosing a toy for a child based on gender, why not ask the child or their parents what the child’s interested in? Maybe they love science, unicorns, books, sewing, cooking, or building. If you learn what that child’s interests are and buy them a toy in that area they are more likely to appreciate it and use it. You will also be nurturing an interest of their’s which can help shape their passions and talents as adults. You might not be able to see what use a unicorn toy is, but maybe it will help them discover they have a passion for animals, or art. If for some reason you are unable to ask, why not pick out something that can help them learn? Puzzles, building supplies, and art supplies are all great options.

As a child I saw arbitrary rules that boys can like certain toys and girls can like certain toys, but it wasn’t often acknowledged that both girls and boys can like the same toys. I remember flipping through magazine pages and seeing doll after doll for girls, but the boy’s section had zip lines, tepees (which I had as a child), swords, and so much more stuff that I was interested in! It greatly upset me at the time, and still does to this day. Why must we tell girls that they can’t be interested in those things? Why tell boys that a pony, a type of animal, is only for girls?

I’m thankful that Target is making this decisions and hope other stores will follow the example. 

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.

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.