Christmas Recap: The Play by Play

This was our very *first* family Christmas morning. I say *first* because obviously we’ve been a family for a couple years now… but Christmas morning is always spent waking up slow, and then heading to one of our parent’s houses, then the other parent’s house, then in the past out to a movie, then home… 13 hours later, and exhausted. Happy, fulfilled, but exhausted. We knew going in to this Christmas that it wasn’t going to be like that, because my side of the family was mostly out of town.

{Christmas Eve at Brad’s side of the family’s party. I call this “The Evolution of a Family Picture}
Family Portrait 2

A few weeks ago I started thinking about traditions. We’re right at that prime moment as a family to start traditions. We have a few years to try some stuff out and see what we like and what we don’t, tweak and fluff traditions that we come up with, and really solidify what we want to do. So, somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to make homemade cinnamon rolls as a Christmas breakfast {or lunch} tradition. I figured that it couldn’t be too hard, and now that I know how to knead dough {and dissolve yeast} I should be able to do it. I bought self rising flour and a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, you know, just in case. The night before I read several recipes, comparing them, figuring out the important steps, how they all described the important steps, learned what “scalded milk” was {Thank you Pioneer Woman!}, and generally psyched myself up.

My eyes popped open at 8, and I made my way downstairs to start the dough, which then had to rise for an hour, then I would add stuff and make the rolls, then it had to rise for another 30 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes. Timing was everything. I got about 35 minutes into making the dough, meaning it was sitting in the bowl waiting to rise, when I realized that I’d forgotten two very important ingredients: the egg and salt. I definitely dropped a few choice words, thought about quitting, decided I didn’t care what time the rolls were done, and went upstairs to crawl back in bed with Brad.

{Zoe’s Christmas outfits}
christmas outfits

Zoe woke up as I reached the top of the stairs, so we just hung out in bed for a while. It was perfect. I sat there looking at my perfect little family, and I felt like the most blessed woman in all the world. When we headed back downstairs, I was ready for Round 2 with the rolls. Let me tell you, that egg made a huge difference in the texture of the dough. Huge. Truth be told, because I knew what I was doing, that round took a fraction of the time that the first round did. The dough was set to rise, and we gathered around our tree.

Now, between my family’s early Christmas and numerous packages she’s received in the mail, Zoe has been opening Christmas presents for an entire week. She knows exactly what to do, and she gets really excited about her presents. Every time. It’s amazing. So, due to the amount of gifts that she was receiving outside of our family, Brad and I only bought a few items: a toy laptop, an over-sized elephant, a fountain for the tub, and a foam finger. {Two days before Christmas, Brad took Zoe to the store for some more fish. That was his special present for her.} Brad and I had a few presents for each other, and then we just played with Zoe on the floor. Again, looking around the room, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’d be lying if I said that my eyes didn’t get watery a time or two.

{The only family “portrait” we took that day. It’s perfect, if you ask me}
Family portrait 1

By the time we finished playing and eating a make-shift breakfast of eggs and toast because the rolls were nowhere near done, Zoe started acting like she needed a nap. So, she got one. That gave me time to slather on the cinnamon and sugar and roll up my rolls, and then we had to wait some more. Zoe slept just as long as the rolls needed to rise and then bake, and let me tell you, those few minutes right before the rolls were done, and the smell was wafting through the house… I knew this tradition was a keeper.

{The evolution of the cinnamon rolls. I’m telling you, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming, messy, and sometimes tricky. But, worth every second.}
cinnamon rolls 3

After 3 1/2 hours of prep and 30 minutes of baking, I pulled out the most delicious looking cinnamon rolls ever! There was definitely fist pumps in the air, and dancing, and hootin’ and hollerin’. Brad laughed at me. I couldn’t contain my excitement. These rolls were perfect. And, then I realized that I didn’t have any powdered sugar for the frosting. Womp Womp. I improvised, threw in some regular sugar, added a little cream cheese to the mixture, and made an OK icing. It wasn’t bad, but it could’ve been a heck of a lot better. And then, the moment I waited for all morning… one delicious bite went into my mouth…. and it was worth every OUNCE of waiting. Zoe tasted a bite, walked to the dishwasher, opened it, grabbed not one, but two, forks out of it, walked back to the cinnamon rolls and held them both in the air. I about died laughing.

{Freaking Perfection. Next time my goal is a Cinnabun type icing….}
cinnamon rolls 2

At that point, it was noon, and we needed to head over to Brad’s parent’s house. So, we moseyed our way over there. Brad’s brother and sister-in-law were with her parents, so it was just me, Brad, Zoe, Janet and Glen. Quieter than usual, but perfect nonetheless. They were feeling the same thing for Christmas that we were… no need to rush, slow, relaxing, no schedule, nowhere to be…. perfect. I don’t remember feeling so relaxed on Christmas. It was amazing. Janet, as usual, had a ton of present for us to open, and again, Zoe stole the show. We laughed and talked and opened present slowly. I enjoyed every second of it.

Christmas Presents

We spent the afternoon lounging around, I was able to read more of the Steve Jobs book, Zoe hung out with her Gammy and Glen and Brad watched basketball. Around 4 we sat down to eat, and about halfway through dinner I looked over at Zoe and realized that she was about 2 minutes away from falling asleep in her highchair. Sure enough, her blinks started getting longer and longer, and then she just passed out. Talk about adorable! We just left her there and enjoyed our supper. It was great!

{Can you see that she has a fork in her right hand?}
Christmas nap

Towards 6pm we headed back over to our house to meet my sister {who was supposed to go to Texas but got sick and stayed home} and Kristin was coming over too. The four of us hung out for a few hours, and then after they headed home Brad and I cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie.

I’ve written over 1,000 words in this post, but I don’t think I could even put into words how perfect Christmas day was. We are so blessed with family and friends. I’m so thankful for my little family. Truly, the best things in life are free.

{The many Christmas faces of Zoe}
Christmas for Zoe

How was your Christmas?

Happy Tuesday Ya’ll!

PS. If you want the recipe that I used for the cinnamon rolls click here. It’s Paula Deen’s recipe, but I warn you. She lies about the amount of time it takes. =)

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10 responses to “Christmas Recap: The Play by Play

  1. We do cinnamon rolls too. Next time, to make things easier, you can make them ahead of time and freeze them after you get all the innerds in and before that last rise. Then you put them in the refrigerator to rise slowly overnight. They are just as good and you can actually have them for breakfast.
    Loved all the great faces Zoe made.
    O and Pioneer Woman has a FANTASTIC recipe.

    • =) Yeah, I definitely learned about the importance of prepping the night before! I read the Pioneer Woman’s recipe like 4 times, but the only thing is that it’s for 8 pans of cinnamon rolls, and I don’t like coffee AT ALL so I need a different icing. Do you know her recipe for 1 family?

  2. you need to come to my house and just teach me how to make those things. i am not that patient…if you want a super easy recipe – not cinnamon rolls but similar go for PW’s monkey bread. its so simple i can even make it πŸ™‚

    • oooohhhh! Monkey bread! I love that every time I’ve had it, but I’ve never made it before. I’ll have to give it a shot. But, the actual MAKING of the cinnamon rolls is not really that hard. You just have to know that scalded milk is milk 1 second before it’s boiling, warm water for the yeast means 120-130 {or as I figured out, what a good shower would feel like}, and then according to Ree, just throw the yeast in there and let it sit for a few minutes. I did that and it worked like a charm. By the time that I stirred it up it was totally dissolved, and then when you knead the dough it’s for 5-10 minutes, so both times, I did 8. The key is to make it the night before and just plop it in the oven the morning of…. which is what we’ll be doing next time

      • I will say though, Brad couldn’t handle the mess. He literally didn’t step foot in the kitchen for half the morning. I had to bring him his coffee, mug, creamer, and sugar to the edge of the kitchen so that he could make his coffee. He was twitching =)

  3. Glad you guys had a great Christmas! Love the pics! Zoebear…well…she defines cuteness! πŸ˜‰ Yummo to the cinnamon rolls! Wish I had one…in my mouth…RIGHT NOW! πŸ™‚

  4. I found your blog through Marriage Confessions and realized from your 30 before 30 list that we’re neighbors! (Only to the point that I live in Jax too. I’m not stalking you, I swear!) How random & fun. Added your blog to my RSS reader!

  5. Aw I love her constantly smiling face!!!

  6. I make PW’s cinnamon rolls and give a bunch of pans to friends (baked, but frozen). That way, I do it ahead of time, and there’s still plenty for my family on Christmas and afterward. Also, Zoe + foam finger = ADORABLE. Merry Christmas!

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