Where there is a will there is a way

Monday, July 16, 2012

American Cinnamon Rolls with frosting

I am travelling in the USA for a family reunion in Utah. Before and after, I am visiting all my bros and sisters at their houses, and learning lots of new things that they are doing. My sister-in-law made these amazing cinnamon rolls. I thought she had bought them from a bakery - they are so yummy! Also, her sister had worked at a famous cinnamon roll bakery called "Cinnabon" here, and the frosting is her own version of their frosting.

Here is the recipe, makes 24 rolls:

1 .5 cups milk
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast
2 cups of warm water
1/2 cup butter
9-10 cups flour

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
8 oz (226 g) cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon sour cream or buttermilk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla


- Scald 1.5 cups milk, 3/4 cups sugar, 1/2 cup butter for 2 minutes in the microwave
- Cool by adding 1 cup of flour, then 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of salt. Let cool.
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons yeast in 2 cups warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar, let sit 2 minutes.
- Combine yeast and sour cream (or buttermilk) mixture.
- Gradually stir in 8-9 cups flour, let double (1 to 1.5 hours)
- Divide into 2 parts, roll out 2 long rectangles (about 9 cm wide)
- Slice each rectangle into 12 rolls. Spread on filling. Let rise 1 to 1.5 hours.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (260 Celsius) for 25-30 minutes in two 9x13 inch pans.

You spread on the frosting after they have been baked in the oven.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

First sewing practice doll - buy a premade doll form to decorate and sew a dress

My mother made me the doll on the right, "Raggedy Ann". She had taught me to sew when I was little by helping me sew a simple doll's dress for my doll. They were selling doll forms at a local craft depot, and I got one for Troy - thinking of that. This is "Raggedy Mary".

Troy designed the doll first, which was sweet. She drew the face on with pencil, and then sewed the nose and mouth herself. I did the eyes and hair. She also sewed a few seams on the dress and apron, and sewed a button on the dress. I really had to hold myself back and let her do the parts she did do, thinking - the whole point of this is for Troy to learn. It can be difficult when one wants to make something perfect yourself - but then what is the point? Passing on skills is far more important. So with great difficulty I held myself back....

And it was great.

Troy threading a needle - children are better than adults at this anyways!

Note: For the dress and apron, I looked at a doll dress pattern I had and replicated the steps, but tailored for this doll. (I would get a doll pattern of some kind with a few clothing options to choose from - aprons, pants, dresses for example.) I didn't have elastic in the house which turned out to be great because I used thin hair elastics and they were perfect!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How to make a rainbow dress (dyeing calico)

I had a vision of a rainbow dress for an upcoming work party. I looked around a bit, but didn't find anything that suited my vision. Then I thought I would go find a beautiful rainbow print from Spotlight and make a simple dress out of it.

A day prior to the function (of course), I went to Spotlight. I searched high and low but there was nothing like I had imagined. I knew that I didn't have the extra money for buying a dress at the shops. After awhile at the store I got the idea of making the dress in plain calico (100% undyed cotton), and then dying it myself. I chose the primary colours (red, yellow, blue) of Dylon dye (the hand-dying variety, there is also one you can do in a washing machine), and envisioned dipping a side of the dress in at a time. The dyes would fade upwards and blend into each other to create other secondary colours, green and orange and purple. I didn't buy a pattern because it was out of my budget (some were $20-30).

The 3 dyes, a dress zipper, and 1.5m of calico fabric came to $31 NZ.

It took me all night to make the dress from a pattern I had that was far too small that I visually sized up looking at a dress I had that fit me - so made my own pattern by following the structure of one, and the look of an actual dress I had. I had to play with it, tailoring it, but eventually made one that was good enough. I was very out of practice! So this was the weak part of my project - and can only improve the next time I do it (I think I will then just use a pattern which fits me).

But the dyeing went great. See the photo below. I dyed in our basement garage, which is perfect for dyeing - just concrete and metal down there. I repurposed a container for the dyeing that I usually used for recycling. Then I had to find a way to the dress dipped for at least 45 min (one side at a time), so I used laundry clips and string, and tied them up to a pole at the right lengths so the dress was suspended evenly in the mixture.

What I did:
First I had washed the dress in the washing machine on hot - so it shrunk as much as possible and wouldn't shrink any more later (my mom's tip). After it was dry, it was wrinkly so I ironed the fabric before (and as a tool during) making the dress.

After the dress was made, I got the dress wet and wrung it out. After dipping the side of the dress in the first colour, I rinsed the dress out in cold water, then warm. Then another side of the damp dress got suspended in the next colour. I was even able to make the fade (which naturally happened anyways) more extended by raising the container up higher for a few moments (so the dress was submerged for a short time deeper in the dye) so the colours blended more.

Important: Dyeing is very fun and easy - IF you are dyeing a natural fabric. It's pure cotton, or wool, or linen etc, it will be great. If it's polyester or viscose or something plastic - the dye won't take.