My American Kitchen: Cinnamon Swirl Cake

If you are a cinnamon lover, this is the cake for you! It is sweet, soft, easy to make in three simple steps and completely delicious with a cinnamon glaze on the top and a cinnamon sugar swirled throughout the sponge.

Total cinnamon heaven. Enjoy!

cinnamon swirl cake graphic

Step One – Make a Basic Vanilla Sponge

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup soft brown sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 medium eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

cinnamon swirl cake 1

Heat oven to 350°F

Butter & flour cake pan and line with baking parchment at the bottom

Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer

Add the butter, eggs and vanilla extract – mix until smooth

Pour the cake mixture into a 9.5 inch loaf tin

cinnamon swirl cake 2

Step Two – Make Cinnamon Sugar

4 tsp soft brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake

Use a fork to swirl the cinnamon sugar into the top of the cake mixture

Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch

Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out and transfer to a cooling rack

cinnamon swirl cake 3

Step Three – Make Cinnamon Glaze

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined

Pour over the cake and smooth to the edges when the cake has sufficiently cooled

cinnamon swirl cake 4

You can leave the cake without the glaze to make it less sweet and perhaps more suited to a brunch / coffee morning. It will have a nice crust from the cinnamon sugar – either way, you get a really good cinnamon flavour that is marbled through the sponge cake.

What do you think? If you have a go at making my cake, let me know how it turns out!

cinnamon swirl cake 5



The Weekend Review | Creating Cakes

For a closer look, click on the photographs below.

It has been all about food this week (it seems every week involves it, I have noticed)! I have been busy planning what to prepare in advance for Christmas day (we are having the most beautiful piece of beef tenderloin) and writing out a schedule of what to do so I can be as organised as possible.

With all the planning, I got hungry so decided to have a go at creating a recipe for a cake. I love cinnamon and I came up with something that all cinnamon lovers will want to try. If that sound like you, and you like the look of the photographs above, keep an eye out for the recipe on Monday!

What have you been up to this week?


The Pleasures of Going Postal

One thing I have found I really love about being an expat is getting packages and letters from family and friends back in the UK. Since moving abroad, although as a child I loved to write letters – and did so regularly – I have developed a great love (call it a re-romancing, if you will) of sending items via post.

Some cards I brought to America with me

Some cards I brought to America with me

I was so excited when I received the packages for Christmas that now sit under my tree – with some more on the way. There seems to be a ritual involved (if I do not know what is in it) of feeling the weight, giving a little shake and trying to guess what it could possibly contain. I even make a mini-ritual of opening personal correspondence – a cup of tea is made, I get cosy on my sofa and read the handwritten cards or letters – a little corner of home.

Packages for Christmas from the UK

Packages for Christmas from the UK

When I was interviewed by ParcelHero about the things I miss about home (you can read my contribution here) it got me thinking about sending more letters and cards out to those in the UK. I aim to make this a thing in 2015 … with a possible blog link-up to link people from across the globe (I am ironing out the idea as we speak).

What do you like to send or receive from ‘home’ by post?

Check out ParcelHero if you have not done so already – they have a great site to help with UK and international deliveries plus some extra services available!

The Weekend Review | Tea, Crumpets & Creativity

For a closer look, click on the photographs below.

Preparations for Christmas (house decorations) are completed, and I am busying planning the food … I am going for an Anglo-American inspired meal and hope to share what I come up with on here. I aim to introduce some festive food from my childhood traditions – what food traditions do you have for this time of year?

As for the rest of this week, it has involved having some lovely British tea and crumpets, and thinking about design / decor ideas for my creative writing space … if you have any ideas for the blank white wall (one of the pictures above) then let me know!

What have you been up to this week?


Creative Spaces & Inspiration Ideas

creative spaces graphic

Having a space to think, research, write and edit is really important when blogging, reviewing or writing articles for other online sites. Everyone needs a place to create, and I thought I would share mine to show what works for me – and also get a little input from you, my lovely readers!

I created this space in a well lit area of my home as I wanted as much natural light as possible, and that it was away from the main sitting room / televisual distractions. It is near the kitchen as I like to have a nice cup of tea or coffee to hand, and when I find the dreaded writer’s block strikes, going off to make a snack or start baking something really helps!

There is a cosy couch with all my office supplies nearby, and BBC radio on my laptop as I scribble notes in my notebook using my favourite pen (a birthday gift from my sister). I try to be organised and plan ahead in my diary what I am going to write about (and day-to-day life / house stuff too).

The part I would like your input on is that empty white wall – I would like some design ideas for that area. I already have a decor / craft project using some old stamps and postcards (will be Instagramming my progress as I go), but do you have any ideas what things I could put up there to help with my creativity and for it to be a place to be inspired? What would you put up there?

What is your creative space like?

My Expat Perspective on the Death of Eric Garner

expat perspective

I have not been living in this country long enough to get to grips with, and understand all aspects of, the cultural subtleties here – but there is something that has had me taking a really careful look at the way society can sometimes work or behave in America.

There has been much in the news lately about the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice – to name a few – who have been killed by police, and the subsequent protests that are fuelled by the decision not to indict the officers involved in Brown’s and Garner’s death – Rice’s death is currently being investigated to see if it will progress to an indictment.

I come from a country that does not have police armed with guns as a norm for patrolling the streets, so I find it difficult to comment on that as it is so out of my realm of experience, but the death of Eric Garner – which was deemed to have resulted from compression of the neck and body and the prone positioning he was in, with his asthma, heart disease and obesity being contributing factors – is something I wanted to write about.

The police officer who compressed his neck, by putting him in a chokehold which had been banned by the New York City Police Department will not face indictment – even though Eric Garner’s death was ruled a homicide.

This is the part I find most disturbing. I find it so disturbing because, no matter what you think about the character/motives/actions of Garner or Officer Pantaleo who used the chokehold – I always had the belief that in this country, if a death is ruled a homicide that there would always be a formal charge/investigation, a time in court, with some kind of punishment, if found guilty, that resulted in time in prison. Maybe that is simplistic, but I had faith in the justice system here, that if a homicide is found to have occurred, then the person responsible for that homicide would be held accountable. I thought that was just the way things work here.

It seems that you can kill someone, and their death be ruled a homicide, and no formal accountability is taken. Officer Pantaleo has been stripped of his badge and gun – but in my mind this does not reflect what should happen in a homicide case – there should always be an indictment when a police officer is involved – this at least gives the officer their day in court – like anyone else would have to go through. By not indicting an officer in the case of a death ruled as a homicide, it gives the impression that there is an element of bias – irrespective of race – in the favour of the police, which then leads to a perspective that some officers are above the law.

I thought there was an innate sense of fairness in this country, and the death of Eric Garner, ruled as a homicide, where the officer is not indicted seems, at best, unfair, but at worst, something far more insidiously pervasive.

I am not saying Officer Pantaleo should be thrown to the wolves, I just really believe he should have his day in court.

What are your thoughts?

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Seychelles Mama

NFL vs. Soccer – Fandom Fervour

Yesterday was a crucial game between the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns – it was a crucial game, especially in this household, because if the Browns won they could have been in contention for the playoffs (which to any non-NFL junkie, like me, means they could be in the games leading up to the Superbowl).

They lost.

Cue every swear word in one sentence uttered through gritted teeth from Hubby.

The love for the NFL is much like the love of soccer back in the UK, and has many similarities with the fervour that the fans have for all things foot, and ball …

superbowl graphic

1 || Teams are often followed because of long standing family traditions

2 || Clothing from the favoured team is overpriced worn with great pride

3 || Fans often have team emblazoned accessories – lighters, hats, posters, banners/flags, bedding, bathroom and kitchen items … the list goes on

4 || Fans can talk at length about anything to do with their team, from injuries of key players 20 years ago to the potential nicknames of the rookie players

5 || There is a silent nod of acknowledgement and solidarity between fans when they see each other – made even stronger if the team followed rarely wins a game*

* I was told asked by Hubby to write that the Browns have not played this well, and won this many games, since 2002 – so are doing better than expected

Can you spot the Browns themed items?

Can you spot the Browns themed items?

In all seriousness though, like soccer in the UK, the college and professional football over here is very much a part of the national identity and is a deep cultural element to life in the good old U.S of A.

So, as a Brit who has a very rudimentary understanding of the game (other than it is like rugby, but with padding) how should I go about supporting my new (adopted) team of the Cleveland Browns? Should I throw myself into it and go all out and wear the clothing, learn the history etc? Or should I continue to prefer cricket, unpadded scrums and teams made up of men with cauliflower ears and broken noses?

What team/sport do you support? How far does it go in your household?

The Weekend Review | Packages & Presents

For a closer look, click on the photographs below.

Preparations for Christmas are well under way as we have now put the presents/packages that came from my family back in the UK under our tree. It is all getting extremely festive and exciting!

I have also been busy creating things in my American kitchen – one of them was my lemon drop cake (that recipe, and more, can be found here) which was really delicious. I will be making it again soon!

I have also been munching my way through some goodies that Hubby bought home with him, which included chocolate covered chips, cinnamon granola, raspberry dark chocolate, my favourite jam (Bonne Mamam) and tea bags! He sure knows how to make my day special!

What have you been up to this week?


November Reflections

december begins graphic

I stumbled across this monthly recap idea when I saw the ‘Head and Heart’ post on Helarious and thought I would join in – be sure to check it out and have a go yourself!

The idea is to reflect about the month just gone and have a place, as bloggers, to be open and personal about things that go on in life, thus giving support to each other, and building an online community.

Here is my Novemeber Reflection:

Grateful For ||
Thanksgiving was a good time to reflect on this as I took stock of the fact that it was my second one in America with my husband. I thought about what I was really grateful for, and I realised that I have immense gratitude for the patience we both had whilst we were apart for so long.
I am also very grateful for all the people in my life, who continue to be in general good health, and that life has the possibility of moving forward in new directions for 2015 for us all.

Thinking About ||
I always find myself thinking about my Dad who passed away two years ago in November. I spend time thinking of his partner Susan, an amazing woman who was perfect for him, and I spend time thinking (and sharing funny stories about him with my husband who would have got on with him so well).
I have also been thinking about where I wish to be next year – just a little about what I wish to experience and achieve … I think I have a lot more to think about this month too!

Excited For ||
December is an exciting month because I am having the first Christmas with my husband in our own little home. Last year was the first we spent together (the previous 5 had been apart) and we were living with some lovely friends. It was a great experience, but being in our own place is an exciting prospect.
It is also my birthday month – woohoo!

Been Doing ||
I have been trying to get into a good schedule with my writing and blogging (which I think I have managed) and I have been organising our home as we have been purchasing more furniture to fill it – it is really starting to feel like a cosy, homely home!

Been Reading ||
I have been a bit slow with my reading lately – I usually devour books – as I have been reorganising our home and concentrating on my writing. I am hoping to read, in the next few days, ‘Full Dark House: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery’ by Christopher Fowler.

Spending Money ||
November was filled with buying new furniture and Christmas presents to send to the UK to my family and friends. It has been a bit of an expensive month, but we learnt the lesson from last year and budgeted carefully (and in good time) to make sure we spread the cost – which is essential when living abroad!

What was November like for you? I would love to read about your reflections for the month.

My American Kitchen: Lemon Drop Cake

Hubby recently bought me some lemon curd made by The English Provender Co. which he found in a store over here, and thought I would like to have it as a way of reminding me of a taste of home (I used to have lemon curd sandwiches as a child), so it was a really thoughtful gift.

I really love the taste of it and decided to have a go at creating a cake using it … I came up with my Lemon Drop Cake.

lemon drop cake graphic


1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup soft brown sugar

1 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

lemon curd (I used The English Provender Co.)

9in round cake pan

lemon drop cake 1

1. Heat oven to 350°F

2. Butter & flour cake pan and line with baking parchment

3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl of an electric mixer then add the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla extract – mix until smooth

lemon drop cake 2

4. Pour half the cake batter into the lined cake pan

5. Drop several teaspoons of lemon curd on and around the cake batter

6. Pour the rest of the cake batter on top and smooth

lemon drop cake 3

7. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch

8. Leave to cool in the cake pan for 5 minutes then turn out and transfer to a cooling rack (there will be pools of hot lemon curd, so be careful

9. When completely cool, dust with icing (confectioner’s) sugar – if you do not like the pools of lemon curd showing (for serving), before you dust the cake with the icing sugar, turn it over to the smooth side

lemon drop cake 4

What do you think? If you have a go at making my cake, let me know what you think!