Posts in Living

The Anti-Cinnamon Roll And Your New Brunch Favorite

Cinnamon rolls are fine. Great even. But sometimes you just gotta try something new, right?

So be cool and go against the cinnamon rolls flow and bring sticky lemon rolls with lemon cream cheese glaze to your next brunch date, people will love it (I think, unless they lied, which I hope they didn’t. No, I thought they were really good, too).

I followed Kitchn’s recipe (great food blog btw) and it turned out great. Only thing I will say is you have to plan ahead to have enough time as the steps where you’re supposed to let the dough rise are quite time-consuming. So top tip, prepare the dough the evening before you want to serve them and  baked the next morning they will be warm when you put them on the breakfast table. The smell of freshly baked goods, not much can beat that, right?

What you’ll need

For the dough:
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope or 1/4 ounce) active yeast
3/4 cup milk (for my European friends this would equal to about 180g)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour (115g)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup white sugar (50g, I want to add to this point that you might want to add a tiiiiiiny little bit more of sugar as they were – I would’t say healthy – but more on the not so sugary side).
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (630g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the sticky lemon filling:
1 cup sugar (200g)
1 lemon, zested
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
lemon juice, from 2 lemons

For the lemon cream cheese glaze: 1 lemon, zested and juiced, 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1 cup powdered sugar

The dough

Sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir the softened butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and 1 cup of the flour into the milk and yeast mixture. Stir in the salt and nutmeg. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough and keep on stirring until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy. Lightly grease the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

The sticky lemon filling

While the dough is rising, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with the tips of your fingers until well combined. Add the butter and beat together until it is thick, whipped, and creamy. Add the ginger and nutmeg, then the lemon juice. It should be a thin yet still creamy mixture of butter and sugar. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour, or until you are ready to assemble the rolls. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish (ca. 33 x 48 cm) with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface, pat the risen dough into a large yet still thick rectangle — about 10 x 15 inches (aka 25 x 38 cm).

Spread the dough evenly with the sticky lemon filling. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Stretch and pull the dough taut as you roll, to keep the lemon filling inside. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls and place each in the prepared baking dish. Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for 1 hour or until puffy and doubled.

→ You can refrigerate the rolls at this point like I did. Cover the pan tightly with a towel, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them rise for an hour before proceeding with baking.

Yes, I know, It takes time. But it’s so worth it.

Bake the rolls

Heat the oven to 350°F (arrrrrrggghh, those measurements are SO confusing. For my European crowd this means 177°C) and bake the rolls for about 35-45 minutes or until they’re nice and browned.

The glazing extravaganza

While the rolls are baking, you prepare the glaze. Whip the lemon juice and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy. When the rolls are done, DROWN them with the cream cheese glaze, and sprinkle the reserved lemon zest over top to garnish. Let them cool for a bit but do serve them while still warm. Delicious!

Let me know if you’ve tried it, have a lovely day!

Getting Into The Hygge Spirit

Friends,

you probably might not want to hear yet another person talk about the whole Hygge thing.

In case you don’t know what Hygge is, where have you been? The very short answer is: It’s the Danish concept and obsession with getting cozy (if you’d like to know more, read this article here). It can take on many different facets and mean different things to everyone but I thought it might be nice to share some of the things that have been getting me in the Hygge spirit, now that days have been getting colder and darker.

#1 Roasting chestnuts

The sweet an comforting scent of roasted chestnuts must just get a super high score on the Hygge scale, don’t you think? I’ve never roasted chestnuts at home and thought why not try it this autumn. It is much easier than I thought, so why not try it this weekend? See the recipe I used here.

#2 Glazing Walnuts

Can you sense a theme here? I discovered the easiest ever recipe for glazed walnuts a few days ago and OMG this might have been one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Try it!

Bonus: It fills the house with a great autumny smell and makes for a great treat or snack. You’ll only need walnuts and maple syrup and a bit of salt. Just preheat a dry skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the walnuts, maple syrup and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until syrup is caramelized and nuts are toasted, about 3 minutes. Let cool. ENJOY!

#3 Hot Beverages

Hand me over a hot apple cider, a tasty coffee or a fragrant cup of Earl Grey and I’ll be happy instantly. Do you know the feeling of coming home after a few hours spent outside in the cold and just wanting to get cozy on your sofa with said hot drink? Best feeling, once you hold that warm cup in your hand. What are your favorite hot drinks?

tea

Bonus if you drink your favorite drink out of a beautiful mug. Yes.

#4 Candles

Probably one of the most hygge things ever are candles. They will just instantly make you feel homey and good. My favorite candles are the ones by Neom Organics, do you know them? Do you have any other favorite candles you could recommend?

#5 Meeting Friends in Cafés

Spending time with friends and celebrating “Togetherness” as they would call it in the Hygge Manifesto is also very high up on my list of fall essentials. There’s just nothing better than grabbing a good friend, going to one of your favorite cafés and indulging in that walnut coffee cake you’ve been eyeing up on for a couple of minutes, while talking with your friend. Best!

#6 Raiding The Library

Living a couple minutes away from the largest public library of the US is definitely veeeeery tempting. To all my local friends: Go and get yourself a library card (see more info here). It’s just the best thing to get comfy on the couch with either some roasted chestnuts or maple glazed walnuts, a hot beverage, my candles and a good book (currently reading Maya Angelou’s ‘Why The Caged Bird Sings’). Maximum level of Hygge achieved I think.

Let me know what your ideas and tips are for getting cozy in autumn?

My Favorite Netflix Documentaries #FallEdition

Friends!

The weather has been getting colder and you know what that means in my book, right? Watching lots of Netflix documentaries all cozied up on the sofa with a glass of wine and lots of popcorn. So without further ado, here comes my selection of Netflix documentaries I’ve been enjoying lately. Disclaimer: I just realized that they are mostly pretty dramatic and dark (with exception of the beautiful Maya Angelou documentary). Still, they are made so well and you’ll learn so much that they are definitely worth a watch. Let me know what you thought!

#1 Under the Sun

Wow. What a story. What a country. The film follows a year in the life of a family in Pyongyang, as their daughter Zin-mi prepares to join the Korean Children’s Union. However, what you’ll find out soon enough is that the Ministry of Culture pretty much gave the filmmakers a final script. They selected all of the characters, film locations and scenes to be used in the film.  Realizing that the North Korean government intended to make a propaganda film, the director Mansky decided to keep the cameras rolling between shots. What you’ll see will just be so unbelievable you’ll think this isn’t real. And I don’t know if it was only me but there were definitely scenes where I thought I could see people’s sadness in their eyes. Definitely a great documentary, check it out!

#2 Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

What a legend. What an elegant and wise woman. No more words needed. If you want to learn about this huge American culture icon then definitely watch this film. And order some of her beautiful poetry books while you’re at it.

#3 Casting JoBenet

This documentary is just so incredibly well made, you’ll want to watch it until the end even though the story itself is very sad and upsetting. In 1996, Boulder, Colorado a six-year-old pageant queen, JonBenet Ramsey was found dead under mysterious circumstances. 20 years later, director Kitty Green returns to audition local actors, unpacking how each remembers and relates to the Ramsey case. You’ll hear the actor’s points of view on the case and it will really show you how differently everyone perceives a murder case.

#4 Welcome to Leith

It is painful to watch, yet so important as it still seems to be a reality that there is so much hate in this country towards everything and everyone that is different from you. Welcome to Leith tells us the story of an attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar, and the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. It is stunning how accessible both the residents and white supremacists are and it is incredibly interesting to see how a small community tries to fight against an extremist vision.

#5 The Imposter

This documentary is centered around  a young French guy who convinces a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who went missing for 3 years. Yes I know. This sounds absolutely crazy. Even though the film feels slow at times it is just incredible to see how the different parties involved think and feel about this whole situation.

My September Favorites

Long time no Favorites post.

So without further ado, here come the things that made it on my September favorites list. What things have you been loving lately?

#GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO

Seriously guys, watch this Netflix documentary! I NEVER was a fan of hers, I found all those costumes and wigs to be too much to be honest. BUT. This documentary changed my opinion on her  (my friends can attest that I have been harassing them to watch it over the last couple of days). You’ll get a glimpse into her life, her views on women in the entertainment business and on living with chronic pain. I don’t know if I was already feeling emotional but I definitely had to cry. Let me know what you thought!

#2 Everything lululemon

Buying lululemon work out gear seriously was a gamechanger. The quality is beyond amazing and worth the investment. I’m most willing to spend money on leggings and sports bras because I feel like that’s were the good quality is most important. What do you like investing in when it comes to work out gear?

#3 Everything Meyer’s Clean Day

Can you tell that I’m old? I’m including cleaning products in my favorites. Seriously though, the products by Meyer’s Clean Day are amazing. And that’s something that I really think Americans got down better than us Europeans. There’s so much choice in the cleaning section here. Bonus: They’re not full of nasty chemicals but smell delicious AND get the job done. WIN-WIN!

#4 American Fall Traditions

I’m looking forward to go apple picking, to having hot apple cider and cider donuts, basically everything apple related. Or pumpkin related (more on that to come soon). I hope to be able to go apple picking soon with friends, in case you’re a local and interested in some suggestions on where to go, check out this helpful map.

#5 Breakfast LOVE

I’ve just recently realized that breakfast really is my favorite meal of the day. Especially now the days get to be a little colder again I am all into my porridge with freshly chopped up fruit. A new favorite of ours is to put a liiiiittttleee tiny bit of maple syrup on it. It gives the whole thing a great and delicate little flavor, love it! What’s your favorite meal of the day?

 

Come To The Farmer’s Market With Me

Friends,

how are you today? Do you love Farmer’s Markets as much as I do?

It’s something I’ve really been getting into during the last few months and I really enjoy getting to see the people behind the produce and foods I buy. I love discovering all the colors and shapes (look at those tomatoes!) of all the vegetables and fruits that you definitely don’t get to see at the supermarket.

Last Saturday I went to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in Somerville. It’s a beautiful market with cute live music band playing and with lots of interesting and friendly market stalls. Come and join me on my walk through the market!

30 Thoughts on Being 30

Dear all,

The year you become 30, when you enter a new decade of your life….what happens then? Well. You turn 30. I’ve never been one to attach a great deal of attention to that age, still I think that by then you’ll (hopefully) have acquired some life experience and so I thought it might be interesting to share 30 thoughts/lessons (if you want to call them that) on turning/being 30. I’d love to know what your thoughts are. Let us know in the comments below.

  1. One that I like because I hear it pretty often around here: YOU DO YOU. Especially at 30, you’ve got this:You (hopefully) will have understood by now that you simply CANNOT please everyone.
  2. Your parents are cool and can also be your best friends.
  3. I would have never guessed that I would be celebrating my 30th birthday in a new country, let alone be living in another country at 30. So you see, life is an adventure, be open for all its opportunities.
  4. But, I’m perfectly okay with where I’m at. It’s funny to see how life unfolds.
  5. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Life is meant to be lived and fully experienced. Live, laugh, love.
  6. Trust your gut! Forreals. It usually knows what it’s doing. Especially at 30 you’re gut has been trained and tested maaaaany times, it knows what’s going on, ok? Trust you feelings.
  7. You believe that you deserve everything you set your heart and mind to.
  8. Sending hand-written thank you notes is just beautiful and it makes me really happy receiving them.
  9. All physical change begins internally.
  10. Set goals, reach them, and enjoy the success. Also, enjoy the ride along the way. 
  11. As a woman your girlfriends are very important. They will be your support system through thick and thin. When you find them, hold on to them. Be nice to them (see #12).
  12. Being kind never goes out of style, be a good friend, a good daughter a good work colleague. It will make you and everyone else around you just feel better.
  13. Happiness is not an achievement. It is a state-of-being and an active choice. You’re not always going to feel it and that’s okay too.
  14. A healthy lifestyle really brings you enjoyment.
  15. Also, it’s all about that balance y’all. It works when you couple healthy choices with the things that might not be so healthy but that do bring you joy.
  16. That said cookies, brownies and other chocolatey stuff is equally as amazing at 30 as at 3. 
  17. Living a simple life with clear focus based on meaningful values is where it’s at girls and boys. Slow down, be present, and be good to yourself.
  18. Sometimes all it takes is literally a change of perspective or talking to someone about it.
  19. Surround yourself with people that make you feel alive, curious, positive and allow you to be you.
  20. Life doesn’t work as a linear cycle; it’s a series of highs and lows that are intertwined, irregular, and often unpredictable.
  21. Sometimes you’ll have bad days or will feel down. That’s ok. It’s part of the deal.
  22. Be grateful for everything in your life.
  23. Giving can provide the same great euphoria as receiving.
  24. Money can buy a lot of things but it cannot buy you class.
  25. That drinking enough water thing, really IS IMPORTANT (had to find out at 30, took me some time).
  26. Nothing beats a home made dinner.
  27. Love Yourself (Justin Bieber says it, too, so you better believe it). 
  28. A title should never determine your self-worth.
  29. Sometimes you need to have a boring day? You don’t always have to have an overflowing schedule.
  30. Patience is a virtue (that I still need to learn).

Poetry Books I’m Loving

Friends,

I never used to be into poetry but I’ve been getting into it more and more lately. Time to share some of my favorites, you might like them, too.

#1 Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I KNOW. I KNOW. You’re like, ‘Sandra really? This is old news’. And I know, you’re right. Rupi Kaur’s first book, Milk and Honey, already sold 1.4 million copies (what! amazing!). It’s been an immense success and to be honest I waited a long time before giving it a read. I was just thinking how there was that huge hype around that 24 year old girl that became famous thanks to Instagram. But. I have to says: The hype was/is absolutely justified (in my opinion). If you’re into contemporary poetry that you can actually understand and you do enjoy beautiful and delicate illustrations, this is the book for you. One of my favorite poems:

“for you to see beauty here
does not mean there is beauty in me
it means there is beauty rooted so deep within you
you can’t help but
see it everywhere”

#2 Ariel by Sylvia Plath

#4 Howl by Allen Ginsberg

#5 Averno by Louise Glück

My 5 Favourite YouTube Channels At The Moment

Ok, so I promised to be real around here.

And I am. If I have a guilty pleasure it has to be watching YouTube. Today’s is going to be about my top 5 favourite YouTube channels.

Yes, I know know. I watch YouTube for escapism reasons (all of my fellow media and communications friends will know what I mean). Anyways, in case you want to relax and just consume something entertaining (because the thought of actually actively doing something seems difficult or watching something too complicated and demanding). So, those are my 5 favorite YouTube channels, maybe there’s something in for you, too. (I just realized that selection might be a bit more feminine, sorry guys).

#1 The Anna Edit

Well Anna, if you’re ever reading this. I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND! While that might make you feel all cringy I think we’d really hit it off. Yes I do. For all of you who are interested in lifestyle, beauty, food and bits of fashion but all in a really cool and easy and not over the top kind of way, this is your channel. Also, can we take a moment to just listen to this beautiful English accent, so nice!

#2 Estée Lalonde

I’ve been following Estée’s channel for a few years now. She’s Canadian but moved to London for love and is now making videos about all things London lifestyle, beauty, interiors, style in general, books and the list goes on. She has also made a few videos on the topics of feminism and the stylishness and the house Estée lives in are JUST ON ANOTHER LEVEL. So beautiful.

#3 Pick up Limes

I’ve discovered Saida’s channel only a few months ago but really appreciate this nutritionist’s videos on minimalism, vegan recipes and just life tips and hacks in general. You really see the effort she puts in every video and her voice has just something so soothing to it. Don’t you think?

#4 Sarah’s Day

This Australian girl is just so nice. Her accent is, too. She also seems to be super easy going and approachable. Besides showing us the great life of living in Sydney she is all about that healthy fitness and food lifestyle. Check her out if you’re into that!

#5 SORTEDfood 

It’s all about the food. Need I say more? Cool (is it ok to still use cool?) and inspiring channel, check it out yo.

And last but not least, my all time favorite not needing to be in a top 5 because it is just the best…is…..you might have guessed it: Yoga with Adriene!

Let me know what your favorite channels are if you have any!

Cheers!

My Current Skincare Staples

Hello friends,

how are you doing today, how is your skin doing?

I’d like to share my current skincare favorites today with you as I’ve been getting so much more into all skincare related things lately and I think you might like some of it, too. Or if you’re looking for some inspiration and information, here you go.

The Ordinary

Yes. I knoooow. I am veeeeeeeeeeery late to jump on the whole The Ordinary bandwagon. The brand has launched end of last year and has been a huge success all over the world ever since.

Overall I think it’s a really exciting brand (cruelty-free, fragrance-free) and a great way for people to embrace a proper skincare routine without spending hundreds of dollars as it is really affordable.

The idea of the brand is to strip things back to basic. The formulations are pure and the packaging says it as it is without any fluffy marketing blabla. The descriptions of the products are very sciency and ingredients based so you sort of need to know quite a bit about skincare. You can do it. I’d encourage you to check their site out and see what could be interesting for your skin and its needs. My favorite picks so far are Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (for lots of hydration), the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, The Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (for or should I say against blemishes), The Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% has really helped clearing up my skin in such a short amount of time, pretty amazing. Lastly, I’ve been also loving The Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. Let me know what The Ordinary products you’ve liked the most yourself?

Natural Beauty Faves

Is it weird to love The Ordinary stuff but also be equally obsessed with organic and natural beauty? No, I don’t think so. As long as both use high quality ingredients, sourced in a sustainable way I am all for it. I love browsing through Whole Foods Beauty sections as I know how thoroughly every product gets screened before it ends up in the store. A brand that I’ve always been loving for a long time because they use great ingredients and don’t add any questionable or nasty things has been Weleda. My current day and night cream are theirs and they are just great (check them out here). I’ve also been enjoying their Sea Buckthorn shower gel as it really has a vitalizing effect on you and sets you up for the day.

A brand that I’ve gotten to know and LOVE thanks to Whole Foods Beauty was Evanhealy. It’s a Californian brand founded by a super interesting woman called Evan Healy. In 1999 she co-founded the evanhealy brand of skin and body care products featuring simple plant-based, certified organic ingredients. She sources plant material directly from small, regional or family-owned farms in various parts of the world.

I love their Wild Carrot Nourishing Eye Balm and use it religiously everyday. It’s really a game changer, leaves the area under your eyes refreshed and nourished but not in a heavy way.

Much love,

Sandra

August 1st as an Expat

Friends!

Long time no see. How are you? How has your summer been so far?

I’ve had a great time. Isn’t summer just simply the best time of year? Anyways, we’re back in the US and settling in again.

And then there was August 1st.

A day that I normally don’t care much about. Surprisingly this time around I thought about it a lot. And as it seems, if you’re a Swiss living abroad you think about August 1st more than you would if you were back home (at least I think so).

So what do you do? You attend all sorts of August 1st related events. Yes. AND they all mainly revolve around food as they usually do (which is totally fine with me) so we went to an August 1st brunch at the Swiss bakery here in town (see my post about finding that bakery here).

And it was glorious. Birchermüesli, Weggli, Croissants, Wähen, Röschti, cheeses…the list goes on.

We were talking with some fellow Swiss friends at the brunch about what the holiday meant to them and they said that August 1st was mainly a holiday they spent with family and that they associated it with time spent outside (as the weather is usually really good round this time of year). What does it mean to you? I’d love to know! I felt still connected to Switzerland even though I wasn’t there.

Have a great week and see you back tomorrow with another say Swiss themed post!

#ChallengeMeJune Week 1: Getting Up Early Every Day

Hi everyone,

how are you doing? It’s getting summery over here, I’m loving it. Hope you’ve had the opportunity to catch some sun where you live!

So, it’s Monday. I know, I know. When brainstorming for new blog posts a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d like to challenge myself in June with a special challenge every week (#ChallengeMeJune if you will, genius hashtag I know). Anyways, the first week’s challenge was to set my alarm to 6 o’clock every day (for some that might be not early at all or totally normal already, in which case I salute you. Others will look at me like, whaaat?).  Some context here: I never used to be an early riser, really I wasn’t. I would stay up rather late, watch series, read, scroll through the internets. In the morning I’d have a hard time waking up and would keep hitting that snooze button many (many) times.

But you know what? Getting up early was amazing.

Yes. And I’d even go as far as saying that it changed my life. I’m getting a bit dramatic here, it’s true though.

Why should I do that, you ask? (or in other words, “you crazy, I ain’t gonna give up my precious sleep time“). I’m going to try and give you some good arguments here, ok?

Let’s be honest here for a minute. You can’t convince yourself to wake up early just because. If you’d like to try that challenge,  ask yourself, “What would I get if I wake up early?” Whatever you answer, make sure you really want it because that’s what will be your motivation to ACTUALLY get up in the morning. A few answers why you’d like to consider getting up early.

You’ll Get More Time (D’oh)

I read somewhere that if you were to get up just one hour earlier each morning, you’d gain 15 days in a year. How crazy is it to think about it like that. So you better want to use this time than sleep, right?

Get Active, Quiet or Creative (Whichever You Prefer) 

I found that the morning is a great time to exercise. You’re body is well rested and it will set you up for the day with energy and motivation. Overall I felt more productive getting up early this week, it made me feel calmer and happier. If you’re not into sports in the early morning hours but rather into meditation, do it! I’m going to give it a try this week. Also, if you have some tips in that department, do let me know. Others like to use this time to read the newspapers in silence, to be creative, paint or write.

You’ll feel One Step Ahead

Having that one to two extra hours in the morning will undoubtedly make you feel calm, prepared for the day and chill, when everyone else around you is rushing around. When you wake up early, you’ll have more time for planning and getting organized. Getting to the office early means no distractions and getting things done (and then hopefully leaving early in the evening).

I’d really like you to try getting up early, I think you will like it. NO, SERIOUSLY. Don’t laugh at me.

Go to bed an hour earlier so that you won’t be too tired the next morning. It may take a couple of days to adjust your body and mind to it but once you’re in it you’ll most likely not want to go back. Obviously a lie in every once in a while is GREAT (not gonna lie) but overall it’s a great new habit. Start tomorrow and let me know how it went!

Happy week!