Little Traditions: It Starts with Cinnamon Toast!

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I wouldn’t classify myself as a cook. At all. I would probably put myself more in the “follows a recipe and doesn’t want to linger in the kitchen” category. I have friends that love to bake; they find it really soothing to be mixing and putting things in the oven. I also have friends that come up with their own creations like they’re creating a work of art. WITHOUT A RECIPE.

This blows my mind.

I do, however, really enjoy the payoff and the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve made something that tastes delicious and that everyone loves. The rare moment when I feel like I might be inching into “cook” territory, just for a few seconds, is SO WORTH IT.

The other day, I had one of those moments. Filet? Nope. The perfect creme broulee? Not even close.

Cinnamon toast, people. Cinnamon toast.

I consider cinnamon toast to be probably the most comforting taste in the world. And yet, much to my embarrassment, I really had never tackled this delicacy. One morning recently I was thinking about my childhood and how amazing cinnamon toast used to taste, so the next thing I knew I was googling recipes. And then before I could lose my nerve, I actually started making The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Toast. Yes, THE Pioneer Woman!

The difference in this recipe is that you mix together a butter spread and then bake/broil the toast. I can’t believe it actually turned out, but my lips don’t lie. It was delicious!

I mixed butter, cinnamon, sugar, and VANILLA together to make a delicious spread.



Then I got my bread ready and spread the butter mixture over each piece. I made sure the entire surface was covered, all the way to the edges (because more is more).



I baked as instructed then put the broiler on for just a minute or so. Then I pulled out the toast, sliced it up* and got ready to test it out!

*I’m a firm believer in triangle-cutting.



YUM! Crispy toast with a soft, buttery layer on top.

My kids were big fans!




And with that, Cinnamon Toast Saturday was born! A new tradition for our family that I’m really excited about. But the minute the word “tradition” popped into my head, a lot of feelings followed.

But the great part of all this too is that health benefits of cinnamon! Read this fantastic article about cinnamon and just how our bodies benefit from this one spice – yes, it IS a spice! My friend, Helen Sanders wrote the article and said:

“Many health benefits of cinnamon have been reported over the years, but much of the information reported has been anecdotal. We investigate the evidence behind the claims of many of the health benefits of cinnamon.”

One thing that I think a lot of moms struggle with, especially in the season of having young children, is the pressure to create traditions. We think that in order for something to be a “tradition,” our kids have to have done it from birth (guilty!). We convince ourselves that we’re failing as moms if we don’t have a bunch of TRADITIONS because we truly want to be in the moment and create memories with our families.

I get it, I really do.

But here’s the irony I’ve learned the hard way:

In trying to manically create traditions to create memories and cherish the time with our kids, we are missing out on creating memories and cherishing the time with our kids.


But really; think on that.

One of the keys to enjoying our little ones without the pressure is to have Little Traditions that are low pressure.

Traditions appeal to us because they create rhythm, predictability, and a shared experience. We love to think back on traditions we experienced as children ourselves and we desperately want our kids to look back on their childhoods with the same fondness.

But honestly, it really comes down to fear. We’re afraid that our kids won’t think they had a great childhood. We’re afraid that they will look at their friends wistfully and wish for something different. We’re afraid that we will have regrets when they’ve all left home and we’re sitting in our living rooms with no messes to clean up.

We’re afraid. 

So in thinking about my fears and trying to process this myself, I thought about the traditions that I remember fondly. I broke them down and took the time to really tighten my focus around what meaningful traditions really are. Taking Cinnamon Toast Saturday as an example, I ran it through my list.


  • Sustainable and simple. Is this something you can feasibly maintain? If it’s too elaborate and complicated, you might grow to resent the activity instead of looking forward to it.
  • Flexible. Don’t be legalistic and uptight. A tradition might vary in the way you do it or even the time you do it, and that’s okay.
  • Fully engaging with everyone. Are you too hyper-focused on getting the tradition “done” that you don’t give your full attention to your family or friends? A true tradition becomes a tradition because people remember how they FEEL. They remember the interaction surrounding the activity.
  • Doesn’t become an idol. Even when our motives are good, sometimes we can elevate the actual tradition above the people it’s meant for. We can brush past the kids in order to get to the “traditional” Nutcracker concert at Christmas or we can make the whole family miserable while trying to go on the “traditional” lake trip that just isn’t meant to be this year. We have to pay attention to what’s going on around us and never sacrifice relationships in the name of tradition. This also means that we must feel the freedom (and sometimes have the courage) to drop things that have run their course. As the mommies, we usually become the managers of our family’s time and emotions, and it’s important to know “when to say when.”


This might seem like an over-abundance of analysis about the concept of traditions, but I believe it’s a core struggle for moms in this season of parenting. It also carries over into moms who have teenage children and are trying to navigate their preferences and involvement (maybe things worked for a season of time and it’s time to create NEW traditions). Navigating traditions can be difficult for adults, even when children are grown and everyone has an opinion.

Cinnamon Toast Saturday is simple. It’s really just about a “special” type of breakfast. It might not happen on Saturdays and we might not even have Cinnamon Toast (Pancake Friday, anyone?). But as long as we’re in the kitchen together, even just for the brief amount of time it takes to make toast, it will be special. And as long as I don’t start screaming at my family to SIT DOWN FOR THE DUMB CINNAMON TOAST SATURDAY THING, they will remember the handful of mornings that they got to place the bread on the cooking sheet and spread the butter with their little kid-sized knives.

Let’s loosen our death grip on traditions (or the pressure we feel to create them) and instead hold them tenderly in our open hands. We will feel them much more deeply and cherish them so much more.


The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Toast


  • 16 slices Bread (whole Wheat Is Great!)
  • 2 sticks Salted Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Sugar (more To Taste)
  • 3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (more To Taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg (optional)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Smush softened butter with a fork. Dump in sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, if using. Stir to completely combine.

Spread on slices of bread, completely covering the surface all the way to the edges.

Place toast on a cookie sheet. Place cookies sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until golden brown and bubbling. Watch so it won’t burn!

Remove from oven and cut slices into halves diagonally.



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  1. Dee Ann on March 10, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! This brought back great memories from my childhood. I remember my dad would get out the cookie sheet and fill it with slices of white sandwich bread and cover those with butter and then we had this brown shaker in the cabinet and we all knew that was for making cinnamon toast. It was equal parts cinnamon and sugar in the shaker and we just sprinkled it over all the bread and put it in the oven. I loved this breakfast more than anything else! And come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever made it for my kids! I loved what you said about traditions too. Every! Word!
    Dee Ann

  2. Sara on March 10, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Oh how true this is! Thank you for reminding us what’s really important about traditions…that they are enjoyable and precious time spent with our family!

  3. Lisa Rippy on March 10, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Such wisdom in this Ashley! Traditions are to be “treasured” not “tolerated”. As a blended family, starting new traditions can help in the healing from the loss of the ideal. Thank you so much!

  4. Mallory Hawkins on March 16, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Ashley, this is great! I love that you try your best to create traditions, but don’t over-stress when something doesn’t go as planned. Thank you for being a role model, can’t wait to have a family of our own one day to have fun traditions like this!

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