Sunday, January 24, 2016

Homemade Adventures Part 1: Cinnamon Rolls

While Jonas was out there whipping snow and ice around I've been staying cozy inside and taking advantage of this downtime - until having to finally shovel today. As I was heading to bed Friday night I realized it might be a good time to see if I could knock off some of the things on my 101 in 1001 list. I started this list in October 2013 and at that point, a deadline of summer 2016 felt so far away. Now it's almost here!

After spending so much tim and energy this past year on marathon training, our house, and new business ventures, very little was checked off in 2015. So I took a good look at the list and what I could work on for this weekend and came up with the following for a to-do list:

  • Make homemade cinnamon rolls
  • Make homemade marshmallows
  • Make gnocchi from scratch
  • Watch five Audrey Hepburn films (one down before this weekend, four to go!)
  • Successfully complete a Sudoku puzzle (ha - this should be hilarious)
Can you guess where I started?

As I looked up recipes for each thing I wanted to make I had to include "without [insert some random ingredient]" to each search. For cinnamon rolls it was yeast, because who really has that just lying around in their pantry? But I mean I did have packets of plain gelatin in my pantry for the marshmallows so I guess yeast wouldn't be too crazy!

I found this recipe from and it was incredibly easy. Naturally I didn't look at how much of each ingredient I had before I started (one reason I'm so much better at cooking than baking), so for the cup of brown sugar I needed for the filling I had about a tablespoon and a half. Whoops. So I used the amount of butter called for, the last dregs of my brown sugar, and an entire spice container of homemade cinnamon sugar. I think they still turned out just fine, but I know they would have been so much more gooey with the brown sugar. Guess I'll have to make them again sometime.

Other tips and tricks for this dough...I used almond milk and they came out just fine. The dough was a bit sticky coming out of the mixer so I rolled it around in a bit of flour to make it easier to work with. Make sure to liberally flour your working space so that you'll be able to roll the sticky dough out. Also, have a good amount on hand to use as you spread the dough out into a rectangle. 

When it came to the icing, I should have known better but I went by the listed amounts for powdered sugar and milk (again, used almond milk and it was just fine). I had to end up adding in so much more powered sugar. So just use the amount of sugar called for and add in a little bit of milk at a time until you get to the consistency you like. 

Overall, this was super simple. I mean, I know my way around a kitchen and bake frequently, but don't tend to do many recipes with bready type dough like this and it was super simple. They cooked quickly and were delicious, hoping that they'll reheat just as well. What I'd be curious about is if you could make the dough the night before and refrigerate it to then make the rolls in the morning so there's less prep time when you're hungry and want to eat.

Now I'm going to try and not eat the entire pan...the woes of baking when you're home alone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2015: A Year in Review

Yes, it's January 19 and I'm reviewing the past year. At this point in life I've learned that I will never sit down to reflect on the year before it's actually over, and I also won't formulate any new goals or resolutions until well into the New Year. You can't just force this stuff to happen - I have to find the right time when my mind is ready to sit down take some time to think. Yesterday was the perfect day for this - why can't every weekend be three days long?

I had some lofty goals for 2015, let's go back and see what happened with these...

1. Read at least 20 books.
Check and check! Even though I didn't pick up and read my first book until June (don't judge me), once I started I was on a roll. Check out what I read here, my favorites were Crazy Rich Asians (and sequel - China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan is a genius), The Girl on the Train, Wild, and Big Little Lies. I also reverted from my Nook back to real books and fell in love with the drive-through window at my local library.

2. Run three races. 
"They can be of any length and of any variety." When I wrote that I did not yet know I'd sign up for a full marathon three months later. But run, I sure did in 2015. A full marathon, a half-marathon, two four-milers, and a three-miler - not to mention all of the training. My running rack is full of medals and I could not be more proud of myself. Marathon recap is still on it's way, it takes a while to wrap your head around 26.2!

3. Get back to meal planning.
Must have spent too much time reading and running (see above) as I think 2015 was the worst year of meal planning yet.

4. Institute Meatless Mondays.
Nope and nope.

5. Intentional reflection.
"At the beginning of each month I vow to sit down and reflect." I'm actually laughing at myself for thinking that I could do that. So cute. But no, that did not happen. Lots of reflection - but maybe it will be more intentional this year.

6. Establish a regular activity oriented date night.
Another no. However, for 2016 we've already come up with a list of one super fun date for each month that we'd like to do.

7. Launch Dogwood Brides!
Who even could have guessed the crazy ride that this goal would take. Launched a blog and four months later took over another business and merged the two. Maybe this is also why there are lots of things on this list that I'm laughing at thinking that I could have kept up with last year.

8. Learn and develop a new creative skill.
Well, I took a photography class and had an introduction to calligraphy...and then they collected dust. I sure have learned a lot about social media, Wordpress, Squarespace, and Canva. Does that count?

9. Save mo money.
Spent it all buying a house. But we did do well building savings back up, have some more specific goals coming about this for 2016.

10. Move more.
See number 2. Certainly did a lot of moving, but also did a lot of sloth-ing. More coming on this odd phenomenon.

11. Organize memories.
Not quite. I did clean through some old pictures and momentos and have a long to-do list of how I'd like get them all together this year.

12. Create a space that inspires me.
Yes! One perfect little bedroom in our new house was turned into my office and I LOVE her. Will have to get some pics for a good office tour this year, she is my little lady sanctuary.

13. Social media purge.
Kinda. I did go through and clear out a lot of people I was following on Instagram and Twitter for a cleaner feed. Need to continue here, but a good start.

14. Re-establish a morning routine.
On some days, but not enough of them. Need this back in my life like woah, this year has been a good start.

15. Carve out happy time. 
Again, not quite but I think any extra time went to a few of the things on this list that I did achieve.

BONUS! Complete Project 365.
Big 'ole check right here! Took a picture every freakin' day last year, even if it was 10pm and I had to find random crap sitting around my house to look Insta-worthy. Check out #project365ay to see them all, if you didn't know what that hashtag meant everyday I used it last year the mystery is now solved.


So what did I learn? I learned that just having a few hefty goals might work better than many kinda smaller, but still time intensive goals. I learned that you can achieve some things, but you can't achieve everything. That if there's something you really want, you can do it. I learned that there really are on 24 hours in one day, and one of me.

Looking at what I've just written I'm learning that if I paid more attention to a few areas that got a big fat "NO!" for completion, I would have probably increased overall wellness helping with all of my goals.

What were your biggest accomplishments of 2015? How do you create goals or resolutions that you can stick to?