The Story of a Recipe: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I’m often very glad that cell phone cameras weren’t around when I was a kid. I like the fact that my dad doesn’t know how to use the internet well enough to upload my baby pictures to Facebook and tag me in them. I’m grateful that my awkward years of braces and bad bangs aren’t documented too terribly well for the world to see.

But sometimes, I wish we had documented everything like we do now.

One of those times I wish I had pictures of is cooking with my grandmothers. Especially so when they were teaching me to make cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon Rolls

You see, both of my grandmas make excellent cinnamon rolls – and both of them have passed the love of feeding others on down to me.

My Grandma Morgan in Kansas used to make cinnamon rolls the old fashioned way – getting up before dawn to let the yeast activate, then letting the dough rise until it needs punched. I always loved the punching part as a kid. Now, at almost 95 years old, she doesn’t spend too much time in the kitchen, but her recipes keep making an appearance every time my cookbook comes out.

My Grandma Nancy on the other hand, makes cinnamon rolls in a more modern fashion: with a bread machine. (She also reads blogs and has a Facebook account, so it’s par for the course for her.) You toss in the ingredients, hit a button, and two hours later there is fresh, perfectly kneaded dough just waiting to be rolled out, buttered, and sugared. My time-strapped, millennial self likes this option, and that’s the recipe I find myself going to the most these days. I probably need to take a day and make them the old fashioned way, just so that I remember to appreciate all these modern conveniences I get so used to (and, you know, for old time’s sake and such).

Because I have a feeling you like saving time, too, here is the recipe for the perfect bread machine cinnamon rolls, often called the Cinnabon Clone recipe:

“Clone of Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls” (hence the deliciousness)

Bread machine: takes 1 ½ hours in machine. Bakes for 15 minutes at 400*.



  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted margarine
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 t. bread machine yeast


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup softened butter

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 4 T. softened butter
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1/8 t. salt


Add ingredients in order listed to bread machine baking pan. Insert pan into bread machine and start “dough” cycle. When dough is done, turn out onto floured rolling board and allow to rest for ten minutes.

Roll dough into a 16″ wide and 21″ long rectangle with a thickness of about 1/4″.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl until well mixed. Spread softened butter over the surface of the dough and sprinkle mixture over it. Roll dough jelly-roll fashion along the 16″ wide side of the rectangle. Cut dough roll into 12 slices. Place into 9 x 13 baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for approx. 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove and allow to cool.

Combine Frosting ingredients until well mixed. Frost and Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite family recipe? What is it?

Empty Shelf Challenge: September 2014

September was a busy month, despite the fact that I am supposed to be slowing down and savoring life. Well, I did some more savoring, but life hasn’t slowed down any. Makes me wonder how I was doing even more before…

Here is what I read in September as I continue the #EmptyShelf challenge. It’s pretty basic: starting December 23rd, you empty one shelf of a bookcase in your house completely. Hence, “Empty Shelf.” Then, through the entire next year, you fill that shelf with the books that you read.

We’ve finally unpacked all our boxes, but I have even less shelves than I used to. I still don’t have a dedicated shelf for the challenge, and at this point I am guessing that I won’t by the end of the year. It’s still been a neat way to keep track of what I read, so I am going to keep calling it the Empty Shelf Challenge.

Empty Shelf Challenge Inkwells and Images September

Here is what I am tackling next.

To read what I’ve read this year by month:

January // February // March // April // May // June // July // August

Here’s September’s line up:

43.) One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of by Richard L. Brandt – While Brandt is obviously not a fan of Amazon, this book gave an a great overview of Bezos and the inception of the company. It’s shorter than the next Amazon book on the list (#46, below), so if you just want a general idea of how the company got its start and because a mega-corporation (all while never turning a profit), this is a good option.

44.) The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown – So, so good. After reading Daring Greatly last month, this was a good follow up, discussing different ways we can focus on letting go of perfectionism and really living life as we are meant to life it. I like here writing style better in Daring Greatly, so start with that one.

45.) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – This is one of my favorites. I was feeling out of sorts on a Sunday, so I sat down with this and read it cover-to-cover, staying up well past my bedtime to do so. Worth it.

46.) The Truth Seeker (The O’Malley Series #3) by Dee Henderson – The O’Malley Series is one that I read as a teen. It’s Christian fiction, which is not something I usually read because of the bland characters, but the O’Malleys all have vibrant personalities and cool jobs. It’s fun to re-read these now, just some light fiction for days when my brain needs to rest.

So … what did you read this month?

My Writing Process: A Blog Hop

My Writing Process (or lack thereof)

I’ve been running behind this year.

I’ve tried to give myself some grace as I’ve moved and chaperoned and changed jobs. But, when you are a Type-A, it’s hard to let yourself off the hook.

So I’m trying not to beat myself up that Valerie Biel nominated me for a blog hop post back in May to talk about my writing process… and that I still haven’t written it. Oops.

I’ve been holding her email invite in my inbox these many months, knowing that I would get to it eventually. Well, eventually is now. Without further ado, here is how I go about writing things. All the things.

I have no actual process.

That’s probably not what anybody wanted to hear. It’s not really what I wanted to type. I wanted to say that I get up early every morning and sit on my front porch, sipping a cup of coffee and taking a moment to enjoy the sunrise before I set to typing, never failing to write 1,000 words before I head to work at 7 AM.

That is not the case.

Right now, writing for me has been a haphazard endeavor. It’s something I squeeze in between work hours, freelance projects, and the need for sleep and nourishment.

As you can tell, I’m making tons of progress on that novel (Actual 2014 word count: maybe 14).

But, this year I have been blogging, albeit somewhat infrequently. I’m getting better. That’s progress right? that still counts as writing, right?


When I do write, it’s mostly because I have all of a sudden stumbled upon some half-formed idea while walking from my car to my desk, and so I hurry into work and open Evernote and jot the scrambled thoughts as quickly as I can into a note in my “Writing” folder. I’ve got dozens of little snippets of novels, poems, short stories, and anything else you can think of – just not a completed novel.

This frenzied write-when-inspired tactic is also probably why I have most of the climatic “moments” of my novel written and am now trying to fill in the details to get people from point A to point B in a semi-realistic fashion (Hint: air travel is a blessing).

So, I’m never out of ideas, just the time or motivation to execute on them.

As far as blogs go, I approach them a few different ways. Often, the blog is just about what is going on in life. I write to help me work through what is going on around me, to process life as it happens. Right now, I’m exploring “rest” a lot on the blog, as I reevaluate what is working and what isn’t in my day-to-day routine. Very often I am inspired by other bloggers – a line I read on their site will get the wheels churning and a few weeks later I have my own opinion on something. Other times, its a photo that I take that spurs a blog story – like the weekend we spent in northern Wisconsin recently.

I then usually write the words first, indicating where I will insert what images. Then I watermark photos I’ve taken or create a graphic in Canva for the post and put it altogether. I schedule social media posts about the blog, and call it done! I try to blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it doesn’t always happen.

So that is my writing “process” – a term I use here very loosely.

Thanks, Valerie, for prompting me to write this blog, even it the prompting came many months ago. You should all go check out Valerie’s latest novel: Circle of Nine: Beltany. I just ordered my copy and can’t wait to dive in! I met Valerie at the UW Writer’s Conference this spring when she was settling into another round of edits for the manuscript. I’m so happy that she has been able to focus more than I this summer and get this book launched. It’s got be a great feeling, and one that I am looking forward to experiencing myself, many months down the road.

Thanks for the inspiration, Valerie!

If you are a writer, what does your process look like?