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Jan 20, 2018

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I've been trying out a lot of new recipes lately - shortbread, butter tarts, even dog cookies - and I'm really enjoying it. I've never been much of a baker, but now each week when Saturday rolls around I'm thinking, "What can I make today?"

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

This week I tried my hand at cinnamon rolls. I think my inspiration was a cooking competition show, and even though they take a bit of time (2+ hours), I knew I wanted to give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised with how great they turned out - take that, Cinnabon! - and wanted to share them with you. Well, I'm sharing the recipe because the rolls didn't stick around very long.

Ingredients

Dough:
3/4 cup warm milk
2 1/4 teaspoons active yeast (or 1/4-ounce packaged yeast)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Add the warm milk to a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. The yeast should begin to foam in a minute or two. If it doesn't it could mean that either the milk was too hot, too cold, or the yeast is past its use-by date.

Once the yeast begins to foam, add in the sugar, egg, egg yolk, and butter. Mix until it's well combined. Stir in flour and salt until a dough begins to form.

If working by hand, knead the dough on a lightly-floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes. If using an electric mixer, knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, checking it every 3 minutes or so.

Transfer the dough ball to a well-oiled bowl, then cover it with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1½ hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once dough has risen, transfer it to a well-floured surface and roll it out into a large rectangle. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the softened butter over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch margin along the far edge.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered dough, then gently rub it into the butter a little.

Tightly roll the dough up, sealing the edge with a bit of water. Place the roll seam side down on your work surface and cut it into 1 inch slices.

Take a 9x13 inch baking pan and either grease it or line it with parchment paper. Place the cinnamon rolls in the pan making sure they are touching each other. (If there is space between them they will expand outwards; if they are touching they will expand upwards. Completely your preference.) Cover the pan with plastic wrap and a warm towel and let the rolls rise again for 30 minutes.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

After second rising:
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and towel and bake the cinnamon rolls for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Allow them to cool before frosting.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

To make the frosting:

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread evenly over the cinnamon rolls. Don't worry about putting on too much!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls


Jan 10, 2018

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art


I have been waiting anxiously to share this project with you but couldn't until after Christmas as it was a gift for my sister. She is part of a dog rescue group and I knew it would be perfect for her.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

We started with four 1x10x4ft pine shelf boards, and cut them down to 37" each. I wanted the sign to be square and 10" boards are actually only 9-1/4" wide, so four together are 37" total.

The boards would only be glued together (Oh, to have a biscuit joiner!), so we wanted to reinforce the sign to add strength. Tom clamped the 4 boards together and cut two channels down the back of the sign, crossing each of the boards. He then cut two pieces of scrap wood to the same size and length of the channels.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art
DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

Once the boards were glued and clamped together again, he glued and stapled the strips of wood into the channels. A couple of the shelf boards had a bit of a bow to them so they didn't line up perfectly.
While the glue was still wet we clamped them tightly together at the ends and they dried flat and level.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

I gave the glue a couple of days to really dry, then sanded the entire front and edges of the sign, first with 60 grit sandpaper, then with 150 grit paper to finish. A few knots also had to be touched up with wood filler and sanded once dry.

I stained the entire sign with Minwax's Jacobean brown, then brushed over it with watered-down white paint, to give a weathered look. I considered waxing the wood afterwards, but I was afraid that the paint for the letters wouldn't stick. Waxing also removes some of the whitewash - it was exactly the shade I wanted so I wasn't going to mess with it.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

I use a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine to cut my stencils these days.  I used to cut them freehand, but it is slooooow. Here are a few projects I've done with stencils - fold-down patio bar, cottage sign, Christmas song sign, and personalized dog bowls.


Because of the size of the sign, I had to cut the words out in small sections. The font on all of the words except "Love" is Lucida Handwriting. Love is written in Times New Roman (except the paw of course.) Excuse the different vinyl colours - I ended up using all of the vinyl I had on hand.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

Once I got to the point where I was ready to lay down the stencil I started to get stressed about keeping the words lined up. Tom came up with a great trick: We have a small level with a laser at one end. He clamped the level to the rafter above my work area (I was working in the basement) so that the laser pointed down towards the floor. The laser beam can be either a point or a line, so he switched it to "line" and it made a perfectly straight line across my sign. I could then move the sign around as I worked, always having a reference line for the words.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

The letters are painted in Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray (i.e. my bedroom wall colour). The secret to sharp edges on your letters is to do multiple thin coats, brushing away from the stencil edge as much as you can. Once you have a few layers down, you should have a pretty good seal around the edges and you can brush all in one direction to keep a uniform look.
DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art
DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

After peeling off the stencil I did some touch ups with a razor scraper and a tiny artist's brush.


The final step was to add a French cleat to the back for hanging. A French cleat is a wonderful way to hang items. It's made up of two horizontal pieces - one attached to the back of the item to be hung and one mounted directly to the wall. The two pieces hook into each other and keep the mounted item extremely secure. The cleat can be made from just about anything - pine, plywood, or metal. We bought a metal cleat - it also came with all of the necessary screws and a mini level.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art



French cleat

And so, the finished product! I'm really happy with this. I kind of want to keep it for myself.

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

DIY Dog Rescue Wall Art

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