Cinnabon? You Bet Your Life

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These cinnamon rolls are the closest thing you’re ever going to make at home to the real deal. I say that with absolute certainty and calm. They. Are. It. I’ve held this recipe close to the bone for a long time, mamas, but I will now divulge the secret:

Pudding.

That’s right, you make the rolls with vanilla pudding as your primary liquid. That, and a lot of butter. I have no idea what the nutritional breakdown is, but to be on the safe side, and out of kindness to your heart, I suggest making them only 2 or 3 times a year. Without further ado, I give you,

General Conference Cinnamon Rolls!

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Bloom the yeast with the sugar in the warm water, waiting for froth and bubbles.

  • 1/2 cup instant vanilla pudding powder
  • 1 c warm water
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, with a wire whip, mix the pudding powder with the water until well combined and smooth. Add the butter, eggs and salt, whisk to combine well.

Add the bloomed yeast/sugar/water mixture and combine well.

Add flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes together, and is still soft, but not sticky. Knead until smooth. It will feel like fat baby thighs.

Let rise in a warm, covered and lightly oiled bowl until doubled in size. About 2 hours.

Punch down, and knead again.

With a rolling pin and a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to a 34 x 22 inch rectangle. Keep moving the dough as you roll, to keep from sticking to the board.

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon

Melt the butter and pour the whole cup on your rolled out rectangle of dough. (I told you only a few times a year!) In a separate bowl, combine with your impeccably clean hands, the sugar and cinnamon, then cover the butter-drenched dough rectangle in an even and delectable layer of cinnamon sugar.

Starting at the 22 inch side, roll the entire thing into a nice, long cinnamon tube. Seal the edge with a little bit of water on a pastry brush or your fingers.

With a serrated knife, (or even better, a piece of thread or dental floss) cut the log into 2 inch segments, and carefully move your giant cinnamon treasures to a glass pan.  Put no more than 8 in a large glass Pyrex casserole dish.  Do not crowd them- they will rise almost double. Whatever baking dish you use, deeper sides give the rolls a softer exterior = better.

Cover in a warm place and let them rise again until fat and happy- about two hours.

Bake at 350* for 15-18 minutes. Really, only that long. Do not over-bake. You want them to be soft, yet set, in the middle. The house will smell divine.

Icing:

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cream

Whip all ingredients together and smear on top of still warm rolls.

Remember, only a few times a year!! (For us, it’s Christmas and General Conference- the grand-poo-bah of all Mormon meetings) Your taste buds will rejoice, your heart will need a serious, sweat inducing walk afterwards. Enjoy!!

L-l-l-l-l-lovely…

A few years back, there was a band called Suicidal Tendencies, and they had this song about things being Lovely- you can probably guess from their name that “lovely” was subjective, and not necessarily a floral centerpiece.

That song is playing on a loop in my brain today, as I try and redefine my expectations of what “lovely” means…

Lovely is the new treadmill we purchased yesterday, mocking me from the family room to come and walk many miles upon it… Because I have more than made up the weight I barfed out while preggers with Abby.

Lovely is the spilled grape juice on the couch as we are late for school and I don’t have time to clean it properly, ensuring a permanent blurple blotch on the couch… Because it is Lovely that we have both a couch, and the money to buy grape juice.

Lovely are the shouts of pain and wails of fury as my boys fling tinker toys at one another after a rousing indulgence of chocolate cupcakes… Because it is Lovely that they have strong little bodies and even stronger wills.

Lovely are the wads of toilet paper I get to fish from the downstairs potty after Beanie decided to wipe his own hinie… Because it is Lovely that he isn’t using diapers anymore.

Lovely are the Frankenstein-ish scars I carry from birthing three babies in 4 1/2 years… because it truly is a miracle that babies are ever born at all, let alone so often and so perfectly.

Two Commercials

Rave: Have you seen the Citibank commercial where the outdoors-ey guys are mountain biking but one dude doesn’t have bike? And he pretends to pedal down the mountain and totally eats it? Ok, I laugh out loud at the commercial, I think because it reminds me of my brothers- they would totally do that. But here is the totally funny part- the boys saw that commercial, and now they RIDE their IMAGINARY bikes all over the house! I can’t stop laughing!

Rant: Who in their right mind thought it was CUTE to make scissors walk all over the freakin’ place, chomping and nibbling and being flippin’ SCARY, as they eat your old credit cards? OH how cute, look little Suzy, cute scissors- put your fingers close and lets laugh as the 100’s of POINT-UP scissors dance around the roadway! Holy crapsticks, it gives me the heebies just thinking about them…

That is all.

Dictionary Dot Com

The delightful and effervescent Millie tagged me for a meme, and while I usually abstain from the reindeer games, this time I’ll play along… By the way, if you haven’t checked out Millie’s blog, What on Earth is that Smell, you are totally missing out. The chick-a-dee has a house full of naughty babies, and get’s her kicks picking play-doh from the carpet while she listens to Weird Al music… She’s one-of-a kind.

So I’m to tell you the definitions of the following words, the unabridged compendium according to Dandelion T. Mama: 

  • slivovitz– n. (sliv- ow-vits) a delicatessen meatunique to certain boroughs of New York City. Often served with onions and sour pickle and wrapped in wax paper.  Slang: something not appreciated by people outside of New York.
  • zucchetto- n. (zoo-keh-to) An Italian couture house women’s shoe, styled with a pointed toe and very high, spiked heel. Often comes in shades of green, with leather embossed in the texture of various vegetables as opposed to animal hides. Zucchetto’s are notoriously difficult in which to walk. Also see: Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo.
  • Ignitron- p.n. (Ig-ni-tron) Proper noun. Member of the Decepticon fellowship of the Autobot planet. Fights for the forces of evil with Megatron again the uber-hero, Optimus Prime.
  • gentrice– n. (gen-trees) a woman’s article of underclothing, usually worn in previous decades, to push a woman’s body into artificial curvature.  Became obsolete with the advent of drive-through plastic surgery centers in the early 21st century. verb: to make something idealized and unnaturally feminine.

Impromptu Bra Shopping

One of the joys of having breast-reduction surgery is that I can now shop for my bra’s in regular stores. I no longer have to go to specialty stores and shell out $60 for a gigantic over-the-shoulder sling to haul my great big-un’s around. And I love it. Bra shopping is no longer as painful as swimsuit shopping.

However, taking your almost-five year old boy with you bra shopping is not such a hot idea. I didn’t mean to, but we were in the store, and they were having a sale, and post-baby #3, I really need a pick-me up- something not an oh-so-sexy nursing bra… so I veered off course and headed into bra-land, with a small, freckly faced red-headed haystack following behind and complaining loudly.

“I hate bras, mama! Why do you need a new braaaaaaaaa??” “YUCK, bras are GROOOOOSSS!” ignoring him, I was looking for a particular one, and knew this wasn’t going to take long- I didn’t even need to try it on, just find my size, grab and go.

“Look at me mom!” Turning around, Jeff has his head in the bras. “This one is really soft and pretty, mom… why do you get the plain white ones, look! Mama! That one is like a leopard, get that one mama!” and suddenly my little boy was making lingerie suggestions, and I was oddly more comfortable with is protests of grossness than I was with him eyeballing the red lace garter get-up. OK, time to go!

“Look how pretty this one is mama!” We left the store. No bra.

Lets just chalk this one up to “really bad ideas I’ve has since becoming a mother” and call it a day.

Good Morning

Her children are laughing, but she cannot discern from where the laughter comes. Sleep has a deep hold on her, and she struggles to find the surface, swimming through her subconscious toward the light. The humid jungle of dream, thick and oppressive, closes ranks behind her as soon as she moves, and insects are mercilessly biting her legs. The sun beats down through the canopy of trees, and sweat trickles down her chest as she reaches to scratch away the incessant bugs from her tormented legs…

The laughter comes louder, and she is confused, looking for her children- but closer to the surface now, she suddenly wakes. Huh… wha…she startles and tries to shake the dream clouds from her mind.

She is lying in a bright beam of sunlight, tangled up in her bed-sheets. The heat pours in the open window, her brow already beaded in sweat, and her tangled hair stuck to her cheeks. Her children are laughing at the foot of the bed, and she groans as she lifts her tired head to see their bright apple cheeked smiles. They are beside themselves with giddiness… and her naked legs are covered in Post-It notes.

Crawling from bed, laughing children dancing around her feet, she trudges down the hallway towards her day, a trail of Post-It’s fluttering and falling from her legs like a queen bestowing kisses.

(D.P. at MMW today)

Red and White Blue Suede Shoes

When I was seventeen, in June of 1989, I went to my first Grateful Dead show at Cal ExpoCenter in Sacramento, California. And I fell in love. Hopelessly, totally, completely, in love.

Deadheads count off their shows in decades, dozens, states, east coast shows, west coast shows, how many New-years you saw, how ’bout Halloween or Mardi Gras? While I never submersed myself into the subculture to that extent, and I always maintained a home and a job, I did, in fact, follow the band for a while. 

For my first show, I was with a group of people who had all been to several shows, and I was totally unprepared for what was going to happen. They basically took off, and left me and my boyfriend in the parking lot, looking for tickets ( I said I fell in love- with the music, not with the crummy people I was with!). At the time, I didn’t realize it, but not having a ticket’s not really something to worry about.

There was an older guy down the lane of parked cars, and as we walked through the hot, dusty parking lot, by boyfriend kept asking people if they had any tickets to sell. This old guy started talking to us, and when he found out it was my first show, he pulled out a Glitter Ticket and gave it to me. Free. Just gave it to me. Glitter Tickets were special- not like the Ticketmaster or whatever broker tickets- no, Glitter tickets came straight from the band. Of all the shows I ended up attending before Jerry died, it is the one and only GT I ever had.

A Grateful Dead show was like nothing else in the world. And you didn’t have to do drugs or get high or drink to totally love them. At every concert, there was a group of people called The Wharf Rats (a Dead song) who ran an area for clean and sober people, and for people who wanted to enjoy the music, but not be around smoke or other unsavory things.

You could (and many did) go to three or five or eighty Dead shows in a row, and never hear the same set list. The band didn’t really have one. They would come out, and decide what to play as they tuned and tried their instruments. Sometimes they would disagree on what to play, and meander off into some other song. Some critics hated this, but I found it fascinating to watch their creative process. You never knew what you were going to get. They never played the same song the same way twice.

Some times this formula of whimsey was a miracle to behold and listen to- other times it was a disaster. I saw completely sublime shows that I still remember in vivid detail, and I was at shows that were train-wrecks, which I can also recall in vivid detail, unfortunately!

One of the coolest things about The Dead was they allowed people to record all of their shows. There was a special section set up just for people who wanted “bootlegs”- right in front of the sound board. They would even let some tapers plug right in to the boards sometimes. All you had to do is request Tapers tickets. This has created a rather neat phenomena for Deadheads. You can find  high quality recordings of any concert you might have been at by searching online. And you can get a copy of it- often for free!

You can be a conservative Mormon mommy and still be a Deadhead- you would never know it to look at me, but I’ll always be one of Jerry’s Kids. 

(West coast only, 3 mardi gras, 2 new year’s, 1 Christmas and unsure of total count)

My Not-So-Secret Love

All of my life, I have loved the written word. Vividly I can recall the exact moment in kindergarten when it all clicked and I suddenly could read. It was a miracle- The words unfolded on the page, spinning and weaving and swirling in my mind, making pictures better than anything I could draw with my crayons, and the love affair was on.

Then, I learned to write. Just the act of writing, of penmanship, was art to me. I loved the way the letters curled and curved and how different shapes could mean the same thing. I loved the command I had over how those words looked, and I wanted them to look as lovely, charming and enchanting as they sounded. Needless to say, my handwriting has never held a candle to good ol’ Wills Shakespeare, but heaven knows, I tried! (just look at his writing!)

It was later on that I discovered how different writing instruments could feel so different in your hand, and how the curl and swoop of your hand would change with soft leads, flowing India inks and charcoals… And that nothing felt quite so fine in my hand as a thick, heavy pen. And when you are young, they are pretty hard to come by- No one wants to give a kid an expensive pen. No one besides my grandma. She saw my love early, and she gave me my first set of nice pens. They were a silver Cross pen/pencil set, which I coveted and then promptly lost.

It was also my grandma who put the first fountain pen in my hot little hand… and I have been lost to all others ever since. There is just something about writing with a fountain pen that makes the words carry more weight. The ink pools in your natural pauses and the ends of your strokes, it fades and deepens, the nib slowly wears to the slant of your hand; a fountain pen makes penmanship into art. Just look at old handwritten letters and postcards if you wonder what I mean. There is a beauty to them that is lost to letters written with a Bic.

At this point, (and I’m very careful not to say I collect them), I have more than a handful of fountain pens. There are old ones, family hand-me-downs, new ones that were pretty and I couldn’t resist them, wooden pens, boxed pens, found pens, disposable fountain pens (used in German schools for teaching children to write properly, if you can believe that!) and an assortment of other darlings I have acquired over the years.

Then there is my baby. My Pen. My beautiful, sexy, wonderful Pen.  It lives on my desk, but it has a leather box lined in white satin that it came in. I do keep it mixed in with the other pens, but it’s unmistakable. The very best pen in the whole world, the Meisterstueck 149 by Mont Blanc… If you like pens, those words will make you drool. This is the pen governments use to signs peace treaties, terms of surrender, accords and declarations. It is heavy, thick, solid, fluid, with a wide gold nib that gently gives to the hold of your hand- the ink is drawn up into the pen by hand, and there is simply not a finer handwriting instrument anywhere.

Even my kids know not to touch it… they like to look at it, and someday I will introduce them to the pleasure of a fine pen, but not yet. For now, it remains my little rediculous indulgence; A reminder of a lifelong love, and a well used instrument of my life. (If you’re interested, you can see one of these lovlies here.) *sigh*