Come Fika with Me (Again!)

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we last had fika together.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s a Swedish concept not unlike high tea in England. Instead of tea though, we usually serve strong coffee, along with a bite to eat. This could include anything from simple bread and butter, to open-faced sandwiches but traditionally is something sweet. More than just your typical 3 p.m. coffee break, it’s a time to press pause and chat with friends, or to just contemplate the events of the day.

As a baker with a semi-Swedish background, I’ve incorporated fika as much as possible into my regular routine. It’s better for you than you think! Taking the time to sit, relax and focus on your sensory experiences is restorative for your mind and also for your digestive system- having a little bit of food with your coffee can counteract the acidic, sometimes inflammatory, effects that coffee has on your stomach. Plus, I’m kind of a stress baker, so I have to some way of getting rid of all those extra sweets in my cupboard!

Ever since I started writing about my baking back in 2014, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to share some of my favorite classic recipes with you, as well as new ones that I’ve been longing to try. Last year’s fika was a chance to feature some of my favorites from the blog, and it’s amazing how many more recipes I’ve added to my collection since then.

I even got together with some other bloggers (twice!) to round-up even more recipe inspiration, first focusing on cakes, and then sharing our most-loved cookies.

Last year’s fika also featured a listing of some the cookbooks that grace my shelves. You’d better believe my collection of titles has expanded since then!

If you find the concept of fika as appealing as I do, I hope you’ll join me this year for my second annual fika party. Today’s post is just the first of many goodies this week- I’ll also be sharing a little more about where I get my inspiration, how I develop and test my recipes for the blog, and some of the adventures I’ve had in baking along the way.

For now, though, your only task is to decide what you’re going to have for fika. Here are some of my suggestions from the past year:

These Cranberry-Almond Biscotti are perfect for dunking in your coffee, and they’re gluten-free which makes them good for you. (Kind of?)

Looking to fika but still stuck with the kids? These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, or these Rocky Road Sour Cream Brownies are certain to pleasure sweet-tooths of all ages. Just mind any nut allergies, please.

I originally made these Date Pecan Bars for Christmas, but they pair perfectly with any hot drink any time of year, plus they’re super easy to make.

Impress your friends with this minty version of a Nanaimo bar that eliminates your need to bake, although there is some assembly required. (For more no-bake wonders, try these Butterscotch Bars, this Chocolate Roll, this Marshmallow Roll, this Pineapple Log, this Butterscotch Confetti or these S’mores Squares.)

For those of you looking for something a little less sweet, search no further than this surprisingly delicious Zucchini Bread. (You’ll have most people fooled into thinking it’s carrot cake!)

You won’t ever have to choose between sweet and salty flavors again with these addictive Pretzel Shortbread Bars.

The baking on this blog doesn’t stop there. I like to try out a new recipe out every two weeks or so, and you can find all my work archived into the following categories: cakes and pies, cookies, muffins and cupcakes, squares and loaves, and “other” (think lots of fruity surprises, and yummy candy).

And if you’re planning on throwing a festive fika for a crowd, I’ve got tips on how I bake for the masses here.

Even if you’re not a baker and you just enjoy baking, I hope you’ll join me for fika this week. We may not know each other but we’ve bonded already over our love of food, and it’s always a good excuse to kick back, relax, and enjoy some great company. Thanks for joining me!

KBwB-BFlower-50

Do you fika, or have you incorporated a particular aspect of it into your everyday life? Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and tell me everything- including how you like your coffee.

Or maybe you want to join in on the party too so leave your comments below along with a link to your favorite recipe, or one of the best featured on your blog! The more the merrier!

Reclaim Your Home From the Holidays!

kbb-holiday-mess

Cleaning up after the holidays is the worst. Not only is cleaning kind of a chore (har har), but you’re also coming down from that holiday high and finding yourself staring down at the long, dark tunnel of the winter months with absolutely nothing to look forward to until the spring.

I’m kind of a buzz-kill, aren’t I?

The Swedes have it down pat, though, when it comes to holiday clean-up: a whole other holiday known as Julgransplungering, or literally “the plundering of the Christmas tree”. It’s kind of a holiday unto itself that usually occurs the twentieth or so day after Christmas. There’s food, and singing, and one last dance around the tree (yup, just like a maypole) to mark the end of the holiday. I always regarded it as the “final hurrah” of the Christmas season before it’s back to the reality of winter.

If it’s something you’re into, I highly recommend conducting your own modern adaptation. Mine usually involves a glass of wine and one last listen of all my Christmas playlists as I take down all of my decorations. It’s not quite like dancing around a tree, although I may or may not do a happy dance after my apartment is looking clean and back to normal.

The time of year is another great opportunity to review your greeting card list (Don’t have one? Want one? Click here to learn more on how to assemble your own) and make note of any changes in address, or personal information. I always try to update my list to include anyone who’s given me a card during the past season. Hopefully there are no deletions on your list!

I’ve got a Christmas budget, too (read all about that here), so after the holidays I go through my receipts and make notes on how much I spent, saved, and of course, what I ended up buying. Sometimes I’ll come up with new ideas for gifts after the exchange has occurred so I’ll note those too, along with my purchasing information like sizes, color preferences, etc. It sounds like a pain but it really helps me with my shopping the next time the holidays roll around!

Every season I find that my decorations and other holiday fare grows exponentially in comparison to the amount of storage I have allotted for these items. Taking the time to put everything neatly away allows me to discard any unwanted items, and gives me a chance to make notes about repairs. (I chat a little more about storing holiday décor here.)

Dealing with the aftermath of the holiday season is not necessarily a party. (Although the Swedes have made it so.) But the act of cleaning up and organizing everything afterwards has become almost a ritual of closure for me. It’s a way of embracing the calm and restoring order after a busy and often anxiety-inducing time. I also find it clears the air and gives me a sense of renewal and purpose for the year ahead.

The final act of the Christmas tree plundering when I was younger involved a procession with the tree out of the door and to the yard, where we’d toss it onto the ground in a grand finale. Although I never actually threw the tree itself I found the whole thing kind of satisfying. There’s no tree-throwing in my version now as an adult, but there’s still something to be said for engaging in the ritual- it leaves you with that same sense of completion.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’m so happy to have spent another holiday season with you and excited to start a brand new year on the blog. What are some of your end-of-holiday rituals? Have you ever plundered a Christmas tree? (Have you ever plundered anything?) Tell me all about it below or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

I love talking about the holidays so if you’re still feeling that holiday fever, you can read more about the most wonderful time of the year here. Interested in cleaning up and getting over with? I write lots about organizing your household and your life here and here.