Kanilsnúðar and kaffi (and koeksisters)

My sweet tooth is baring its fang(s) again, so we’re going on another round-the-world-tour to satisfy my cravings.

Icelandic kanilsnúðar, or cinnamon swirls, are available all over Scandinavia in one shape or another. They differ from cinnamon rolls in that they’re small, about two-bite sized, and not drenched in icing. Most recipes involve dry yeast, but it’s just too darn fussy for me, so my recipe uses baking powder for an equally delicious result (click on the recipe to see a bigger version to read/print).

#Cinnamon Swirls #buns #kanil

Heading south of the equator on our tour, let me introduce you to another delicious South African treat: the koeksister. The rough English translation is cake sister, which really doesn’t paint a picture of plaited dough, deep-fried & drenched in sugar syrup. So wrong, and yet, so right! We had them at our wedding, which may have been a mistake alongside the carrot cake with the thick, thick fondant icing. Our guests weren’t shaking for joy, they were shaking with sugar! Koeksisters are best eaten fresh, with a palate-cleansing cup of coffee, but can be stored in the fridge for a few days (they never last that long, in my experience).

I have been lucky enough to either have my friend, Hayley, make them for me, or just buy them from one of the zillion South African shops in London, but if I were to follow a recipe, I’d probably use this one for its simplicity: Tannie’s Koeksisters. The key is to make the syrup first, and have it really cool before you soak the koeksisters. And beware, prep and eating are both very messy. Persevere. The sugar rush will be worth it!

Expat holidays

Expats are experts at the little traditions we have to weave into life abroad to remind us of home. In ours, we have the 13 Icelandic jólasveinar, who make an appearance every year from 12 December (not sure who gets more excited about the little gifts they leave, daughter or husband). And our family birthday rituals, which include cake and hot chocolate for breakfast; yes, Icelanders love sugar!

This year, I turned the tradition on its head. We had not one, but two, cakes, for the 9 year old! An Icelandic marengsterta filled with salted caramel & cream, and a peppermint fridge tart, from South Africa. My darling daughter dutifully had a few bites of each before sweetly reminding me that she does not have a sweet tooth, and could she just have a cup of tea with some plain biscuits? Next year, I’m going back to the regular cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Why mess with success?

Birthday Collage

Living on the Edge

So, I’ve had two songs running through my head today: Living on the Edge and The Edge of Glory – I really can’t help myself!

Other thoughts this morning:

  • The knife-edge of pain in my hips is gone, which means I can roll over, sleep on my stomach and start running again with two whole hip flexors! Psoas major, I’m glad we’re friends again ❤
  • Nine years ago today, I was on the knife-edge of motherhood, chugging through labour with pizza, an exercise ball and the Friends boxset
  • The terrifying anxiety about working with another bad set of people has faded, and I am excited about putting myself ‘out there’ again. I love being my own boss and I am good at what I do, and I need to get back on the horse.

Edge Collage

International Day of Happiness (& Landscape)

Right, people, today is International Day of Happiness. The solar eclipse left me feeling underwhelmed because of the cloud cover, so I’m focused on the sunshine that has burnt through, and the fact that I get not one, but TWO, surprise visits from the Icelandic besties this week. One lives in Iceland and the other in Scotland, so real facetime is precious. Busting out with happy today. The hills are alive….

Landscape Collage

Do you think Maria would have enjoyed yodelling here?

Another Liebster Nomination!

Lordy, people, you’re making me blush! This one came from Amy at Shirley’s Heaven, and here are my answers to her questions.

  1. What is one lesson you’ve learned in life that you want to pass on to others? Forgiveness. Forgiving myself and forgiving others. It’s harder than it sounds. I’m still struggling with it, but it seems to be a key factor in recovery.
  2. How has blogging affected your daily life? I feel like I’m more observant, I’m discovering more, my world has opened & expanded!
  3. Where is your happy place? Anywhere that has good coffee, a comfortable seat & the possibility to read uninterrupted.
  4. Where is your least favourite place? My memory.
  5. Do you express anger inwardly or outwardly? I let people know calmly that I’m not happy with their behaviour. I don’t rage. Raging makes me ill.
  6. Do you prefer the mountains or ocean? Mountains by the ocean. Scotland, Iceland & Cape Town, South Africa.
  7. Do you learn by watching, listening, or doing? Watching & doing. YouTube revolutionised my life!
  8. What historical figure would you most want to talk to if you could go back in time? Jane Austen.
  9. Would you be better at doing a crossword puzzle or bowling? Crossword puzzle. Just the thought of all those sweaty shoes is enough to make me shudder. Repeatedly.
  10. What was the last movie you watched? Little Women, I think.
  11. Showers or baths? Showers. I’m too fidgety to sit around stewing myself.

My blog recommendations still stand from last week, and I’d like to add Crafting While Anxious and All Out of Ducks to the list.

Awesome followers & visitors, could you please leave me a comment with your recommendations? ❤

Architecture & Monochrome

Completely off topic, did you know there are a billion quick tutorials on YouTube to help edit your WP dashboard to make it more personal & user-friendly? Amazing!

And now for another shot of Harpa Concert Hall, possibly my second-favourite building after anything Gaudi-designed.

Harpa, Reykjavik, Iceland

I didn’t notice the reflection of the windows behind me on the glass in front of me. Eagle-eyed daughter to the rescue! I tweaked the contrast to hide the cables holding the birds.

I’m stretching the topic and calling the next shot Natural Architecture….mmmmmph!


My dancing trees, now in B&W

All this B&W photography is making me feel very arty-farty indeed! Heaven help us if I ever get a real camera.

Warmth & Light

Beetroot juice

The dregs of my beetroot juice, backlit in this morning’s sunshine

Þjóðminjasafnið, Reykjavík, Iceland

Window at Þjóðminjasafnið, Reykjavík, Iceland – it was a very grey day, so I was surprised to see how warm the colours glowed! It’s true what they say about the light in Iceland.

Strawberry laces

Quick snooze on the Embankment, in the first of the spring sunshine. Yes, that’s a strawberry lace hanging out her mouth.

Big & Point of View

I was temporarily stumped this morning until I trawled through the phone, and found three photos to share for today’s topic. Enjoy!

Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland

I had to lie on the floor to get this shot of the inside of the Harpa Concert Hall in Iceland. The handblown glass seagulls were an added bonus!

London, UK

The London Eye or a giant bicycle wheel? It’s fun playing tourist on the wrong side of the river!

South London, UK

The Shard, soon to be joined by Baby & Mini Shards