Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

They are moist, dense, but not too dense, and they have just the right amount of filling in proportion to the roll. I thought I had the best cinnamon roll recipe until now. This one is now my favorite. And they are somehow a defensive mechanism against the winter blues.

Note: This recipe calls for alot of butter, which you can cut back on.

Shawny's Cinnamon Rolls
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degree)
2/3 cup, plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
1 cup warmed milk
2/3 cup butter
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
7-8 cups all-purpose flour, more if needed
1 cup melted butter, divided
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
Cream cheese frosting
In small bowl mix together warm water, yeast and sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, mix milk, remaining 2/3 cup sugar, melted butter, salt and eggs; stir well and add yeast mixture. Add half the flour and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour until dough is slightly stiff (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a well-floured board; knead 5-10 minutes. Place in well-buttered glass or plastic bowl, cover, and let rise in warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When doubled, punch down dough and let rest 5 minutes. Roll out on floured surface into a 15x20 inch rectangle.
To prepare filling: Spread dough with 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix together 1 1/2 cups sugar and cinnamon. Roll up jelly roll fashion and pinch together to seal. Coat into 12 to 15 slices. Coat bottom of 9x13 pan and 8x8 pans with remaining 1/2 cup melted butter, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and frost with cream cheese frosting.
(Thanks, Shawny, for this amazing find!)


Reflecting over Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Helping yourslef to a second bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream is the way to look back upon the day, in my book. The end of the day went like this, as it always does: dinner, bath, pajamas, scriptures (boy, that can be a doozy), stories, pleading by the ruffians to do anything other than go to bed, brushing teeth, prayers, tucked in, time passing with books dropping, kids yelling across the rooms, then slowly, slowly, slowly, 8 o'clock chimes and they are sawing logs. It is never a done deal once they're tucked in. Lucy just stopped her faint moan (I'm imagining her eyelids closed at this point). It was a good day, or at least better than the past several, where I've yelled my way through the day and gone to bed praying for forgiveness of my impatience and mean spirit towards my kids. I mean, why do I have to use the angry tone all the time? But tonight I felt like the home was my own womb, a protective, warm place where I could just be without watching the clock or posturing to impress anyone or thinking too hard. I kept reading outloud children's books at my kids' insistence. The couch was so comfortable. The kids were content. I felt like Mary Poppins, the words flowed and my audience was captivated. And now that I'm full of ice cream it's time that I got some shut-eye as well. It's hard work growing another person.
(oh, and this picture has nothing to do with this post. I just liked how Travis arranged his drumset to photograph to sell on Craigslist).


Can't Help It
Sometimes I can't help but wonder what happened to me. Wait, I KNOW what happened to me, I just can't believe how fast it happened. I mean, how fast I lost all desire to do things I used to enjoy (like thrift shop, eat dessert, run). My days are spent in a state of nauseousness so strong it has sucked the life out of me. I am doing good to keep up on the laundry, the feeding of my kids, and cleaning the house. Everything is done super slow and super deliberately. I am usually in bed by 8:30 PM. By 3 AM, I am usually hungry enough to be found in the kitchen toasting a bagel or some other bread-like food. This little stranger inside me is taking over. Amazing how it's only an inch long and it's ruling my world and the world of my family. The only thing that interests me, reading-wise, is about the womb and fetal growth. My whole focus has shifted in a matter of weeks. It seems like I'll never start feeling better. Vegetables sound disgusting, as does Mexican food, right now. I consume fruit smoothies in large quantity, as well as English muffins, orange juice, chocolate soy milk and nachos (anything with cheese). I decided today this is not a bad phase to be in, it has just taken some getting used to. I am more aware of my kids because of this change, because I'm laying on the couch most of the day, when normally I wouldn't be in the same room watching them play. I have more time to think and reflect about my life and what I'm doing. I can't stop thinking how there's a reason for this phase of sickness, even if I can't put my finger on what it is. So, that's all. I just wanted to share a little of what's been going on in my brain lately. Carry on.
(The picture had nothing to do with this post. I just like it for some reason).


Relief Society Birthday Dinner Invitation
It's that time again....the annual Relief Society Birthday Dinner. This is our invitation this year. I used a corner-rounder and rounded all the edges of them. I've found it's cheaper to print them on photo paper at Costco Photo (plus they give you all the envelopes) than using a printing service or printing it yourself. It's alot easier too: no cutting or worrying if the invitation will fit in the envelope. If you're local, you don't want to miss this! (Think: huge cupcakes, good conversation, French circus-y theme).


The Big of Small Things

Ahhh, that feels much better.


Oh, the Irony of it All!
In case you were wondering, Miles never just sits bottom-to-seat in his high chair. Come mealtime, he has either perched himself on one of the arms of his chair (above left picture), leaned forward onto the tray (above right) making proximity to food that much closer, or, if we're sitting around the dining table, he is making a human bridge between his chair and the table, while I'm feeding him, praying he doesn't fall and securing him with an arm grip (bottom left). And despite our attempts to securely fasten him into the chair via the strap that came with the chair, he fenagles his way out of it every time. I'm too busy feeding the two other mouths to hold him in sitting position. So, he eats in these various positions, and once in a while, like today, he falls out of his high chair. Tack it on to the situation here, where every second of the day someone is either crying, falling, hitting, scratching, biting, ripping, breaking, or pooping, and we have ourselves one happy little KOA. It's intense and ironic at the same time.
It's ironic because I'm now carrying another little one to add to the mix. "What was I thinking?" pops into my head a little more often than I'd like to admit. But, the strange thing is that several months ago when I was tinkering with the idea of another sweet babe, I felt like I had about as much of a handle on taking care of my kids as I would ever have, so I might as well get going on the family plan (I've always wanted 5 or 6 kids).
So, back to the irony. I keep telling myself that several months ago I also wasn't nauseous ALL DAY LONG and tired as a sick puppy. By 4 PM I'm ready to call it a night and hit the hay. And, then I think about Spring coming maybe, someday, eventually, to these parts, and I can handle the thoughts of afternoons spent outside instead of cooped up watching endless Netflix episodes of Dora the Explorer.
And then the thought keeps coming into my head of Eve and how she said it was better to go through sorrow to know the good, or something to that effect. Yes, three in the afternoon is the lowest of lows for me, but then tonight when Miles was nuzzling his head into my neck and babbling, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. It was like he was sending me a feeling thank-you, not a written or verbal one, for being his Mom. Oh, the irony!
So, to sum this narrative up, I feel like I'm at the end of my rope alot of the time (add to that equation sick kids, too) but I also have so many moments of joy and gratitude. Life is worth living. Kids are worth having, and cherishing. There is so much beauty all around, even in the endless overcast winter days of Cleveland, and the endless dishes, laundry, and spills. I have to keep reminding myself of this or I get lost in self-pity and doubt. It's all going to work out.
Reading about Eve and her role has helped me see my role and this pregnancy in a positive light. Here's an excerpt of one of my favorite's on Eve (in addition to birthing children, I think this applies to carrying and raising children):
"God tells Eve what she will experience as she embraces her destiny to be the mother of all the living as she complies with his command to multipy and replenish the earth."
The Father's language on its face seems very harsh: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children." (Note that he does not say in thy conception but and thy conception, a blessing that there may be many children."
The Hebraic word for "sorrow" is astav, meaning "to labor," "to sweat," or "to do something very hard." God did not mean that childbirth would be a cause for sadness. What God seems to be alerting Eve to is that in mortality childbirth will be very difficult; that in childbirth she will sweat and toil and there will be pain. To "multiply" does not mean to add to or increase; in this context it means to repeat over and over again, such as saying multiple words in repititious prayers."
The Father is not cursing or causing pain to be inflicted on Eve; he is making her aware that her newly mortal body will experience pain in the process of childbirth, a pain that will come and go and repeat itself many times."
"Mother Eve, Mentor for Today's Woman: A Heritage of Honor," Beverly Campbell, 1993.
(And that last picture is of Miles after he'd had a bath and was dressed in his pajamas, but decided to go in for a second dip).


Adding On
If these plates represented our children, then we would be adding one more to the wall come September!
I just thought I would take this chance, since I'm up eating my second round of a midnight snack (first one didn't stay down), to fill you in on what's been going on around these parts lately.
(I'll write more about it when I'm not cutting into precious sleep time.)


I Looked Out the Window, and What Did I See?

Answer: Peanut butter popcorn balls.

Here's Lucy doing the hand-motions: "...I can take an armful and make a treat; a popcorn ball that would smell so sweet."

And here's Miles' version of the same.

One rotten afternoon made a little sweeter. If you'd like to make some, it's very easy. Here's how:
Ida Grace Fox's Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter
4 quarts popped popcorn
Boil sugar and honey in saucepan on stove for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour over popcorn in large bowl. Form into balls with buttered hands.


Charlee's Oranges

As I was peeling an orange and handing it to Lucy's friend, Charlee, today, I thought, hey, I've heard that phrase before. Then I remembered it was Charlie's Angels, not Charlee's oranges and kind of chuckled to myself. Silly me.



On my return from Utah, I brought my youngest brother Andrew with me (aka Chris Brown). We have thoroughly enjoyed having him here. Lucy calls him "Grandpa" for some reason, even though we've explained many times he is her uncle and is to be called such. You wouldn't guess from this photo, but this guy can dance. But, poor thing had his wisdom teeth removed this morning (all four) and now I'm playing nursemaid.

After an intense struggle with Lucy, who insisted it was her toy, I gave him a bell tambourine to ring in case he needed anything from the nethermost room in the house. Medicine halved, then swallowed: check. Jell-o gelling in fridge: yes. Small heater humming: check. Frozen pea ice bags wrapped around his head and safety-pinned: yes. All we need now is some healing and clotting for this gauzed-up boy. My prediction is in 4 days he'll be dancing like Chris Brown again.


Someone Pinch Me, Please
{above shot: Finn taking a picture of me fake crying before Lucy's party}
Okay, here's the deal (and I can hardly believe it's for reals): I leave in 4 hours to get on a plane, BY MYSELF, and fly to Utah for my little sister Emily's final MFA show at BYU. Did I mention I am going BY MYSELF? ALL ALONE? NO KIDS IN TOW? This is truly a miracle (made possible by my generous parents and siblings, wonderful friends who are watching my kids, and ever-supportive husband for letting me go). I am stoked. I don't think I'll be able to take my afternoon nap, I'm so excited. It really doesn't seem real. I've never taken a trip without my kids or husband. If you don't hear from me Tuesday it's because I couldn't muster up the courage to come back to reality. At any rate, have a great weekend and you don't need to wish me likewise, because, frankly, I don't think it could be bad any way I slice it.


How to Warm Up Those Winter Blues: Dinnertime Edition

I was making enchiladas for dinner, I had Spanish rice in the rice cooker, and I was mashing up some avocado to serve with tortilla chips and salsa. Only one thing left to do: turn on some mariachi music a la Pandora and shake it!

For several minutes, as I danced around the table, trying to arouse some livelihood into my kids (as they dipped their chips in salsa), I felt like I was in a Mexican restaurant in my hometown. The music was SO Casa Chapala-esque, or was it more Las Margaritas? At any rate, it's all the same. This south-of-the-border theme was helping me come off a particularly dicey pair of witching hours on a frigid, grey winter afternoon.

Miles knew what to do. He was getting into his own high-chair groove.

I just might tuck this trick up my sleeve for later, long-winter-afternoon times. It definitely helped me snap out of the winter blues for a little while....long enough to shake my bon-bon!
For the recipe for Creamy Bean and Green Chile Enchiladas, go here.


Schullerism No. 493
Tuna fish sandwiches must be cut into suns and moons (using a biscuit cutter).