Domesticity

"This is how to bake cheesecake. And this is how to ruin it."

“This is how to bake cheesecake. And this is how to ruin it.”

I’m going to tell you a sad story. It’s called, “The Time I Tried to Make a Cheesecake for a Party.”

And, yes, there is a bit of foreshadowing in that title, isn’t there?

Last week, we found out two of our dear, dear friends were moving to Texas. To send them off in style, a group of us decided to put together a little Western-themed going-away party. Everyone chipped in or offered to bring a certain dish or drink for the party.

I offered to bring a cheesecake because it is one of our friend’s favorite dessert.

Nice enough, right? Sound simple, doesn’t it?

But, as you already know, this is a sad story. And sad stories are rarely nice and simple.

Anyone who has ever made a cheesecake before knows that it’s at least a 2-day process if you’re making the real deal. (Your no-bake Jell-o versions need not apply here.) So, the day before the party, I rounded up the ingredients for a Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake with white chocolate chips (roughly $40 of ingredients because baking is expensive, yo) and got to work after dinner.

It’s also relevant for you to know that my husband’s pal Gregg was over for dinner, and he and Joey watched this whole thing go down.

After dinner, the boys sat around drinking scotch and bonding (I assume) while I went to work in the kitchen. I made my own crust from gluten-free ginger cookies to appease the guests with diet restrictions. I whipped the cream cheese and sour cream and sugar and white chocolate into a fluffy, pillow-y mass. I gently swirled the raspberry jam, thinking fondly of the fresh raspberries I had also purchased to adorn the cake the next day.

When everything had been lovingly combined and assembled, I arranged the springform-bound confection in a water bath and put it in the oven.

It takes almost two hours to bake a cheesecake, so the boys had a great deal of fun asking me at 20-minute intervals if they could eat it yet. Ah…what fun we had…before the incident.

I always get nervous at this stage of cheesecake making because it’s so difficult to tell if it’s truly done. The center should still be a bit wiggly when you take the cake out of the oven because it sets up in the fridge overnight. If you over-bake a cheesecake, it gets a dry, almost powdery consistency that still usually tastes okay but is not as pleasing.

I was even more nervous because my little, old oven is not exactly the most reliable appliance.

But despite my trepidation, I finally got the cake to the correct consistency and set it on the stove to cool for an hour before it was to be refrigerated.

By this time, it was after eleven, and this old lady was quite tired to be up past her bedtime. But after washing all the dishes (because what’s the point of a perfectly prepared dessert if your kitchen is a disaster?) I watched TV with the guys and we chatted amicably about how to make cheesecake (and, no, they still couldn’t eat it).

Around 11:45, I had to call it a night, so I went to put the cheesecake in the fridge.

When I tell this story in person, this is around the time when people start biting their lip or preemptively putting their hands over their mouths in anxiety.

I don’t really have an excuse for what happened next. I mean, I was tired. The cake was kind of heavy. I had it on top of another pan so the butter wouldn’t drip onto the floor. I was holding it with one hand and opening the fridge door with the other.

But really, the excuses don’t matter. What matters is that one second I was opening the fridge door to put the cake in, and the next I was watching it, in slow motion, slide off the tray, nail a 180-degree flip, and then splatter all over the kitchen floor. The springform pan, free of it’s creamy contents, did one of those slow, spin-rattles to a stop.

No one in the apartment breathed for a second. (Well, Bogey did. He was already lunging for the mess.)

A number of thoughts courses through my brain in those seconds.

“That did not just happen.”

“I didn’t even have a chance to clean the floor yet this week.”

“$40 of ingredients.”

“This is why I don’t bake.”

And an assortment of words not becoming of a lady.

I let out a long, slow breath, and started to clean up the mess. Joey tentatively approached me from behind. You know, the way you do a wild animal that might kill you.

“Oh babe…what happened?” he asked.

“I do not want to talk about what just happened,” I seethed through clenched teeth.

“Ok,” he replied quickly. “Do you want me to get the Wet Jet or-”

“I want you to stand there and not say anything.”

“I can do that.”

(Even in the moment, I have to give it up to Joey for just NOT trying to fix it in that moment. I was mad at everything, and he knew getting involved was a surefire way to make me mad at him, too.)

For the record, I didn’t cry then. I didn’t cry while I scooped the (still searing hot) cheesecake back into the pan with my fingers and a large spoon. I didn’t cry while I sponged up the creamy bits the spoon couldn’t get. I didn’t cry while I mopped up the sticky remnants. I took a few shuddery breaths while I washed my hands and face, but I did not cry.

I told the guys I was going to bed. They quickly said, “Ok!” and gave me their best sympathetic glances.

I went to my bedroom and shut the door. And then? Then homegirl sobbed.

To be fair, I probably would have cried even if I wasn’t dealing with Hulk-level hormones lately, but I’m sure it didn’t help.

I heard the guys whispering furtively in the living room for a few minutes. Then a little while later, Gregg went home. Joey came into the bedroom and wrapped me in a bear hug.

“I just want you to know, Gregg and I both think you handled that better than we would have. We agreed that we definitely would have been throwing things.”

“I…don’t…want…to…talk about it,” I heaved through my sobs.

We both went to bed. And the next day, Joey bought a cheesecake for the party. (I wanted nothing to do about it.)

I can laugh about it now, obviously. (Though the next morning, I still wasn’t able to tell the story without getting glossy eyes.) But I just felt like sharing the story on here was the best way to purge it from my system.

So now, I want to hear your sad stories. Share your experiences of baking loves lost in the comments below. And we’ll all bond over wasted ingredients and sticky floors together.

You know what is fun about knowing whether you’re having a girl or a boy? EVERYTHING.

Not surprisingly, one of the things I was most looking forward to about being pregnant was planning our baby’s nursery. I’ve been pinning nursery ideas for months, and now I can finally start making some decisions.

It took me all of 48 hours to make said decisions. I SAID I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT IT, OKAY?

Here is what I have culled together from a few of my favorite pins:

Vivian's Room

 

I want the room to feel girly without being too princess-y, so I’m working with a color palette of pink, mint, and loads of neutrals. I’d like to paint the room a very, very pale shade of pink (currently thinking Benjamin Moore’s Hint of Pink):

ss_102008785_pink

 

Then I would really like to add a statement wall behind the crib of peachy pink peonies. I’m a little nervous about my ability to actually pull off said wall, but Joey and my mom are both pretty artistic, so maybe I can sweet talk them into helping me.

I’ve had a white crib picked out for a while now, but I want to balance out the femininity with a mid-century modern-style wood dresser and this ADORABLE (but yeesh-is-it-expensive) mint glider. A fluffy neutral rug will also ground the girly and create a soft landing spot for baby cuddles. For bedding, I love this DIY black, pink, and white quilt (and am hoping my crafty mom can maybe whip one up), and then I’ve been looking at mint, gray, and black-and-white polka dot bedding.

The rest of the details I’m trying to keep eclectic in keeping with my decor style in the rest of the apartment. A few mint, pink, gold, black, and white prints, as well as a display bookshelf in one corner. I’m also fairly smitten with that Gummi Bear nightlight and, come on, that piggy rocker? I die.

So that’s what I’m thinking so far! When I first showed Joey a few pictures of what I was thinking, the conversation went like this:

Him: Cute! I like the bear print. But you know not everything has to be pink, right? 😉

Me: …

I promise I’m trying to temper my excitement about it being a girl, babe. I’m trying.

So there you have it! You know, I think I’m really going to like this whole nesting thing.

cocker-spaniel-on-flooded-doghouse-1950

Really, I should have known that the new apartment was coming together too quickly.

We’ve only been in the new place for a couple months, and already I had the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom done. The hallway was going to be finished this weekend, and then all we would have left was the baby room.

It was just. Too. Simple.

Our upstairs neighbor must have known things were going a bit too swimmingly as well. So she decided to intervene.

Before I tell you this story, you need to know that our apartment is in the basement of a house. We have two floors, each of which are their own apartment, above us. We now return you to the story.

Last Friday, the woman on the third floor started filling up a pot of water in the sink. Then she left. For, apparently, hours. The pot quickly filled with water, and then the sink filled with water, and then the water overflowed and flooded her apartment. It then flooded the first floor apartment. It then started to leak into our apartment.

This is, apparently, the second time this woman has done this. *finger gun to the face motion*

Fortunately, Joey got home in time to realize what was happening (due to the three large, quickly expanding bubbles on our ceiling) and move our furniture out of the way and put put buckets under the bubbles. When everything was in place, he poked small holes in the bubbles to allow the water to drain into the buckets. The bubbles remained, but at least the water within them had been dealt with.

Or so we thought.

When our landlord sent over a contractor to assess the damage a week later (grumble), they found that water was not only in our hallway ceiling, it had also been leaking into one of our bedroom walls all week. The entire wall had rotted and needed to be ripped out. The ceiling needed to be opened, dried with heavy-duty fans for three days, and then either ripped out (if the wood had warped) or just have the sheetrock replaced (if it had not).

This all happened three days before we were supposed to have family over on Sunday for our gender reveal.

I was not, shall we say, pleased. There may have been tears. But I like to think I would have been able to handle it sans the weepies if I wasn’t pregnant.

The negatives of this situation are fairly obvious, so let’s look at the silver linings, okay?

1. This didn’t happen when the baby was here. I would much rather deal with construction without having to worry about it upsetting anyone’s nap time.

2. It could be worse? At least it’s only one wall and one section of ceiling as opposed to the more heavy-duty damage our upstairs neighbors are dealing with.

3. A friend offered her house for the party. Which is super nice, I just hate having to impose. Blerg.

Those are pretty much all of the positives. Really, there is very little good about water damage.

Sooooo that’s what’s going on. But on the actual bright side, today is my anatomy scan ultrasound, so hopefully we will know more about our little bean this weekend. Stay tuned!

{image source}

When it comes to decor, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly a giant game of one step forward, two steps back. In most cases, new ideas just beget other new ideas, adding to your already never-ending to-do list. And in some cases, just when you think you’re getting close to finishing that to-do list, something comes along to throw a big, fat fly in the ointment.

Oh, am I being vague again? I’ll elaborate.

This weekend, the person who lives two floors above us flooded their apartment. The apartment above us was also flooded. We were spared the brunt of the water damage, but we do have three lovely nipple-shaped pockets of water on our ceiling right now. Two of them broke through and mostly drained out, but there is still visible damage. Fortunately, our landlord is taking care of it (supposedly today), but it still puts a (literally) damper on my plans to have finished the living room this weekend.

But we’re close, people. So close.

And while I have to throw in the actual towel to sop up the mess for now, there are little signs of progress throughout the apartment. Like this fun little craft I completed a couple weeks ago.

It’s no secret that I love gold details. And since our office area is usually the corner of our home I struggle to make look put together, I thought it would be a nice touch to add some gold details. And rather than spend any money on any new chotchkies or whatever, I broke out some spray primer and spray paint I already had on hand to dress up the drawer pull and my cheap plastic push-pins.

how to paint gold push pins DIY

To paint the push-pins, I stuck each of them through a piece of scrap cardboard and primed. This step is key — most metallic spray paints I’ve used won’t stick to naked plastic. Let dry for a couple of hours in the sun.

gold push pin DIYNext, it was time to go for the gold. This painting portion actually took about four steps/coats because the pushpins are such a weird shape. I have to spray from each side as well as the top to make sure all the rainbow-bright colors were completely covered up. Then I let them dry for a full 25 hours outside to cure any stickiness.

gold push pin DIY

Ta-da! I love the finished result — it makes the whole bulletin board look more pulled together.

I used the same technique to paint the drawer pull, and it also turned out nicely. (It’s just hard to take an inspiring photo of a drawer pull.)

So there you have it — the easiest little decor DIY ever.

What is everyone else working on?

You know how sometimes you just stop believing that something is ever going to happen for you?

Case in point: the last two winters. I don’t know about y’all, but I had quite literally given up hope it was ever going to get hot again. When I woke up to 40-degree weather this morning, that disbelief was reinforced.

That’s how I’ve been feeling about our bedroom. I was just plain ol’ convinced that it was just never going to come together.

Oh, what’s that? You want to hear the saga of our bed? Oh, I just couldn’t possibly regale you with this tale of tragedy and woe…but, sure, let’s do it.

It started on the first day of our move when the movers discovered it was actually impossible to navigate our headboard down our twisty little hallway to the bedroom. This wasn’t a huge shock — the headboard was of the storage variety, so it was pretty bulky. I had secretly been hoping to sell it for a few months because I wanted something more streamlined that would allow us more space to move around the room.

Careful what you wish for, chickadees.

Once we had confirmed that the bed wouldn’t fit, I started a more aggressive campaign to try to sell it.

You guys, if there is one thing I could teach you about Craigslist, it’s this: It is dang-near impossible to sell a bed on that sucker.

I say this as a self-professed Craigslist ninja. I have sold entire dining sets on Craigslist. I have sold massive, 400-pound china cabinets on Craigslist. I once sold a used rug on Craigslist.

I could not sell this bed.

You know what I could do? Almost sell it.

You just have to trust me that I am not exaggerating when I tell you I almost sold the bed four separate times. One potential buyer even came to the apartment, saw the bed, said he want it, left us a $100 deposit, and then went home and changed his mind and asked for 50 percent of the deposit BACK over Paypal. That was a dark day.

When a girl from Craigslist called and offered me peanuts to buy the bed (IF we would deliver it), I readily accepted if only because I NEEDED THIS TO BE OVER.

And I still didn’t really believe it had sold until Joey returned sans bed with cash in hand.

So after all that, the bed was sold. But I still had to wait a couple of weeks to order the new bed. In the meantime, Joey and I have been sleeping on the mattress. On the floor. Like heroin addicts. It’s super glamorous.

About three weeks ago, I finally ordered the new bed. About a week later, it arrived. The clouds parted. Angels sang. Bogey shed a tear or two. We finally had a bed?

Or did we???

I unpacked the side pieces and the platform slats first. No problems. Then I went to unpack the headboard, sliding it out of a long, thin box. As the last corner slipped free from the cardboard…it became instantly apparent that the entire corner was crushed beyond repair.

NO BED FOR YOU!

In the moment of black-out rage that followed my seeing that crushed corner, I can’t even tell you what was said. I’m guessing not anything pleasant.

The only bright side is that Overstock.com actually has a pretty competent customer service department. They quickly forwarded my complaint to the parts department, and two days later I had an email that a new headboard was on its merry way to me. And we just had to toss the old one — they didn’t need it back.

The new headboard arrived on Thursday. That pretty much ends the story (except a little anecdote about the UPS guy dropping it over our fence to crash-land on our patio table…because CLEARLY these things are so durable…the headboard was fine, fortunately)(for the UPS man)(and his life), and this weekend I was finally able to set up the bed and our bedroom at large.

So now, to reward you for sticking with our bed odyssey all this while, I present you with photos of the finished product:

IMG_0222

 

And for a little pizzazz, I added these beauties:

IMG_0221

Obviously the bedspread is still a bit wrinkled from being packed (and a couple of our pillows warped when we tried to wash them), but it’s still lightyears ahead of where we were last week. (AKA, on the floor.)

So it just goes to show, you should never give up the dream.

What did y’all accomplish this weekend?

It has been a while since we’ve had a good, ol’ fashioned how-to on the blog. Lucky for you guys, a fresh move is rife with possibilities for DIY. (I know, don’t you feel lucky?)

Anyway.

Before I begin the how-to, I have a confession: Joey and I are one of those horrible American couples who eat most of our meals in front of the TV. I know. We’re single-handedly breaking down humanity. I’m sorry.

We started our marriage with good intentions. The first couple of weeks, we ate dinner at the dinner table. Like grown-ups.

Then…we got cable.

And then we became your worst sitcom nightmare, slowly drifting closer and closer to the tube, plates in hand, promises that “it’s only this one time” drifting from our lips. By six months of wedded bliss, the “dining” table was used mostly for holding paper work or as a surface for whatever craft I was working on at the time.

RIP, dining table.

By our second apartment, we downsized to a small white kitchen table mostly for the sake of appearances. After a year of little to no use, I sold it and used the space for kitchen storage. I had no regrets.

So when we started looking for our next place, I made an agreement (with myself)(in my head): I would only buy a dining table if our apartment had a designated dining space. Otherwise, why bother with the pretense. And then…we succeeded in getting pregnant.

And when we found our sweet little 2-bedroom, definitely lacking in specific dining space, we were faced with a choice: pass on our bad habits to our offspring, or get creative with our furniture arrangement. Because, really, what kind of grown-ups are we if we can’t manage a family dinner at a table like the surgeon general has begged us to do?

But no amount of good intentions was going to expand our apartment, so we needed to think small. I started looking for tables on Craigslist that either came petite or had the ability to be folded down in some way. After a couple of weeks of scouring, I came upon a sweet little round number with fold-down sides — perfect. The only problem? While the legs were white, the top was that pale tan wood that I associate with farm tables from the early ’90’s. Definitely not going to work in our strictly white-and-dark-wood household. (Furniture colors is a household divide worthy of fair Verona, in my humble opinion.)

And so, after roughly one calendar year of preface, begins our how-to.

I started by lightly sanding (seriously, you’re mostly just wiping it down with a very fine-grit sandpaper) the table’s surface.

IMG_0128

From there, I used a small mohair roller and Glidden Duo Paint + Primer in a semi-gloss. When it comes to picking paint, I always refer to the expertise of whoever is working in Home Depot’s paint department. But in general, you want something with a semi-shiny finish for easy wiping, and a roller is better than a brush for the smoothest finish.

Two coats in...

Two coats in…

Also, don’t go crazy with your coats. It’s so much better to do 3-4 thin coats of paint than to glob on one or two thick coats that will never fully cure. Be patient. (I’m saying this mostly to myself, but it’s probably good advice for you guys too.)

I ended up doing three full coats and one touch-up coat. Don’t freak out if you feel like your roller is leaving a spongy texture in the paint — give it a few minutes to settle and then decide if your equipment is faulty.

You also want to not do what I did and make sure to bend down the sides before the paint finishes drying. This will enable you to paint those surfaces (which will be visible any time the table isn’t fully extended) without have the surface paint dry together over the cracks.

Mind the crack.

Mind the crack.

I had to sand my edges down a bit and then repaint them. Learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, once you’re done painting, it’s a good idea to let the table sit for at least 24-48 hours before putting anything on top. Mine dried fast enough that I could at least attach the legs and move it inside (since the weather forecast originally predicted rain), but I had to touch up the top when I got overambitious and added a vase of flowers so I could take the below photo. Darn me and my incessant staging! But the point is, now it really looks like this:

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Pretty, right? And it takes up very little space, especially with the sides folded all the way down.

I hope this baby appreciates all the work we’re already putting in to being good parents, ya know?

Was anyone else particularly industrious this weekend? Tell me what you’re working on!