My Cinnamon Rolls

(Yes. They really look like that.)


1 3/4 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted
7 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) container.

Mix in the flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon. You may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover, not airtight, and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), for about 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise but it is MUCH easier to handle when cold. So...refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. This is enough for three batches of cinnamon rolls.

(Tip: I usually mix the dough three days in advance, we find that the flavor is better when the dough ferments a bit)

On to the cinnamon rolls!! (are you still with me???)

The Caramel Topping (Don't miss this! It's what makes my cinnamon rolls special!)

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar

* Mix together and spread evenly over the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan. This magical concoction will turn into a sweet, sticky, gooey caramel that will sink into your amazing rolls.

The Filling

4 Tbps. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (yup. you read that correctly)
1 cup of raisins

*Pull your bowl of dough out of the fridge, dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound (roughly the size of a cantaloupe) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thin rectangle. Cream together your butter, sugar, and spices. Spread thinly over the dough, sprinkle raisins on top. Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. If the dough is too soft to cut, let it chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
With a sharp serrated knife, cut the log into 8 pieces and place in cake pan with the "swirly" sides facing up. Let rise for about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees about five minutes before baking.
Bake the rolls for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and well set in the center.
Pull out of oven, and while they are still hot, turn onto a large serving dish. Make sure the serving dish has a lip around the edge or else all the gooey topping will fall onto your counter. DO NOT let the rolls cool in the pan or the Caramel Topping will make them stick.

And you're done!! :)

Yes, a lot of work, but look at this picture! They are SO worth it!!


Recipe adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which you should own. Seriously.

My Dad, the doctor. Another re-post!

She asked if my dad was a doctor.

Uhm...yes, well, kinda...maybe? Sorta.
Hm...I'll just start at the beginning.
When I was eleven we moved from a big city in Venezuela, Barquisimeto its called, to a small Indian village named Chajurana. It was a two hour plane trip. Not a big plane, a small one engine 206 Cessna. Like a sardine can with wings. We arrived in the village and began the long process of settling in. The bats didn't like that we were taking over their outhouse. And of course we didn't like going to the outhouse by ourselves. So who ever had to "go" also had to convince a younger sibling to accompany them.
Josh - "Hey! Jewel! You want to go to the out house with me?"
Jewel- "No."
Josh - "It will be fun!"
Jewel- "No, it will stink. The out house smells weird."
Josh - "Please???"
Jewel - ""
Josh - "Uhm...Jayde! You want to go the out house with me??"
Jayde- "AAAA!! I hate bats!!!" (as she's running away....)
You get the point. Well, one day, right at dusk, the Ye'kwana nurse came to get my dad. He told my dad they needed his help. A little boy had shot an arrow into his shoulder. Could my dad help the men get it out? My dad was ecstatic to help, he grabbed his flashlight, because his idea of "helping" was holding the flashlight so they could see better while they pulled the arrow out. Wrong.
When they got to the small, smokey little hut one of the men handed my dad a scapel and said, "There you go." My dad asked them just what they thought he was supposed to do with a scapel. "Pull the arrow out."
"I don't know how to pull the arrow out. You're the nurse!"
"Yeah, but you're the missionary."
"All missionaries have to do medical stuff." Of course this conversation did not take place in English, it supposedly took place in Yekwana, which my dad knew very little of at the time. So for all we know the conversation that really took place was...
"Pull the arrow out"
"Hi! How are you? What is your name?"
"What? I asked you to pull the arrow out. Here's the scapel."
"We will be here for three months, and Jesus loves you."
"You missionaries get weirder and weirder."
Most of our early conversations in Yekwana went like that, and I must admit that my grasp of the language never really got past that point! ;-)
Long story short, my dad pulled the arrow out, and he was hooked. He loved medical work and went on to deliver babies,treat burns, stitch, pull teeth, etc. Just about anything you could think of, he could do. Of course his children did not put as much trust in him as the Ye'kwanas did. We were afraid to tell dad we had a toothache, cause he would want to pull it. Practice, he called it. We were not very excited about being his dental guinea pigs.
The Ye'kwana parents would threaten their kids..."If you dont behave, the missionary is going to give you a shot!" Ahh...the good old days. When penicillan could fix everything!

Chicken Run!

The other day we had quite the adventure. I'll let Elena tell you about it in her own words:


"Okay. Once upon a time, there was a chicken right next door and it came into our yard, and Alice was chasing it and I was screaming "Daddy! Daddy! Save the chicken!" And then Daddy stopped Alice, and I picked up the chicken. I was so proud of me! Then I was five years old, but now I'm six. And that was a very funny day. My Daddy was laughing very hard when he was chasing the chicken."


Abbie's view on that day:

"I was thinking if that chicken would get dead by Alice. I was sooo worried. I screamed very loud. And laughing too. And I thinkded that I would have to take it back to the man that the chicken belongs to. Because I was scared of the chicken. And that's it."


Captain Alice's view:

"Chicken. Get in my belly."

The End.

Bedtime Woes

A re-post from my old blog. To busy to blog right now, so enjoy this oldie!

There's nothing like saying, "It's Bedtime!" to turn a happy child into a sad, sad, sad, pathetic mess of tears.

My guess is that Elena believes we throw parties after she has gone to bed.

(Because after a long day of giggles, Barney songs, runny noses, peepee accidents and endless questions there's nothing I would possibly rather do than throw a party.)

Not just any party mind you.

Oh no, in Elena's mind these parties are some kind of toddler awesome.

I'm sure she pictures elephants, balloons, giant lollipops and an endless supply of grandparents to give you anything your little two year old heart desires.

Which would explain why she is so distraught at having to sleep while we party.

Friends, we are The Meanest Parents In The World. At bedtime anyway.

If only she knew the truth...

There are no elephants. Just two blurry eyed, fuzzy brained adults, who can't wait to fall into bed and stare at the ceiling.

No balloons. Just dishes to wash, and trash to get out.

No lollipops either. Maybe just a few minuts of reading before my eyes slam shut.

As for the grandparents? They're not present either, but oh how we wish they were.

The closest we get to a party is giving each other high-five's and a hearty "Congratulations!" for making it through another day.

And then we go to bed.

Because we're tired and it's all going to start again tomorrow.

So, dear Elena, trust me on this...You're not missing anything.

And one more thing...

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Graduating in Brazil

I was homeschooled from pre-school till 12th grade. One of the few, though the number is growing in the USA, that never attended a traditional school. I'm always asked if I felt that I missed out. No pep rallies? No friends? No graduation? My answer? Nope. Some homeschoolers miss those things but I never felt that I needed them. If you know my family then you know why. We are good at entertaining ourselves.

My grandfather is the pastor of a church in Florida full of lovely, kind people who decided to throw me a surprise graduation upon my completion of High School. I was 16 years old and got to experience wearing the silk robe, walking down the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance, and eating lots of cake afterwards. I was the only graduate and it was still fun.

Last weekend we were able to attend the graduation of a dear friend. It was his college graduation in Brazil.

It started at 7:30 PM and we did not get home that night till 1:00 AM.

Thankfully I had a long nap and a sip or two of Brian's cappuccino before the ceremony.


I have to tell you, if you think American graduations are fun , you've never been to a graduation in Brazil!

There was music! I can not verify this but I do believe the theme song to Star Wars was one of the melodies chosen for the walk down the aisle. Awesome.
There were balloons! Bull horns! Vuvuzelas.
It was all very fun and cool.
The graduates were color in Medicine graduates wore yellow sashes, International Relations wore red, Computer Engineers wore blue, etc.
The graduates were very proud and joyful. None of them appeared to take for granted their hard work and accomplishment.

All this to say, I never really felt that I "missed out" in not graduating from College, or being in a large graduating class in high school, until...

I went to this Brazilian graduation.

Now I wish I could graduate...Brazilian style. :)

And as for our friend, who graduated top of his class, we're so very happy for you! And thanks for letting us share with you that night.

His grand entrance:

He and his wife: Happy, happy, happy!


Who wants to play with Lexi?



Why I blog

Sometimes I forget why I blog. Why do I feel the need to post something as often as possible? It isn't to make money, obviously. And I don't really do it to interact with people although I LOVE getting comments. I blog so that one day my girls can remember what they did, said, and acted like "way back when." my three little crazies, on this day, September 8th of the year 2011 this is what your day looked like:

Mornings are slow....Angry Birds on the couch while Mommy makes oatmeal for breakfast.


It was a rainy, drippy day and Elena had the best idea yet - put on rain boots and play in the mud. She ran around in circles, splashing in puddles and shouting out "BEST.DAY.EVER!!" (For those who don't know, that's a line from the movie Tangled)

Then it was time to make dinner...a new recipe, Potato Pizza! It was yummy and they were both sweet in the kitchen.

My big girls helped by sprinkling rosemary on to the pizza and then feeding leftover bits of fresh parsley to their pet caterpillar named Pasqual, who I am sorry to inform you blog readers, passed away this afternoon. Caterpillars don't like to be pulled apart into two pieces, this was Abbie's lesson of the day.

Except for a long game of Ring Around the Rosy with Lexi before bed, those are all of the highlights of today in pictures.

Just little snippets of our days for my girls to remember, I usually only write about the good stuff. There were also some bad attitudes, laziness, and whining today.

(Mostly all from me, and that's the truth.)

{Do not be fooled by Abbie's serious face here. We had a wonderful day.}


I think today may have been the first time since we moved into our new house that we got really sit back and relax. Early this morning I heard clapping at the door (we don't ring door bells in Paraguay, we clap) and I literally crawled on the floor from the living room to the back bedroom so that they wouldn't see me through the window.
Why? Because I'm an introvert. I love being alone, being alone energizes me and helps me not get migraine headaches. So after a week and a half of having strange men parade through the house with their loud machinery I.AM.DONE.

Brian took care of the two guys that stopped by this morning (one to fix a minor detail on a window and the other to make sure the minor detail on the window was fixed) while I hid in the TV room with the girls and watched Sense and Sensibility.

After that we spent the day cooking, working in the yard, grocery shopping, facebooking, coloring, reading, eating, and not being around other people.



Orange dirt and lots of it!


Our yard currently looks like a big slab of orange clay. Oh is a big slab of orange clay! Our socks are orange, our bath towels are orange, our clothes our orange, and yes, our feet are orange. On Monday we will be laying sod which will make this Mommy extremely happy because orange is quickly becoming my least favorite color. It also makes me so very happy that I chose reddish orange tile which looks clean-ish even when covered in reddish-orange footprints.

Most of today was spent outside spreading two loads of dirt all over the front yard in preparation for grass.

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A pretty nice way to spend the afternoon, if I do say so myself.