Things I Hate

"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.

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!

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Landscape

Mean muggin.

I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with Craigslist, but I am. I’m apparently so taken with the online marketplace that I write about it on this very blog — quite frequently.

But while I’ve discussed how to be good at Craigslist, what I hate about Craigslist, and how to NOT rent an apartment on Craigslist, there’s one aspect of buying and selling that I have no yet addressed: the art of the Craigslist negotiation.

Fortunately for all of you (right?), I’ve garnered many a cautionary in my many years of buying and selling, and now I’m going to share them with you. Here are a few signs you might not be so good at Craigslist negotiating.

1. You seem to think this is Macy*s.
Listen, I get it. You paid hundreds of dollars for that [insert name of furniture/appliance/etc.]. It hurts your heart — and bank account — to even think about selling it for half what you paid for it. But you know what? You are not a department store. I did not drive to your establishment, park in your sprawling parking complex, and brave a stroll through your perfume department to get to this [furniture/appliance/etc.], whereupon I then bought it brand new out of a box. I found it on a semi-shady, over-grown garage sale website. After you had used it for a couple of years. So, alas, you cannot sell it to me for what you paid for it.

There’s nothing worse than a Craigslist seller who won’t budge on their listing price. This is why I always list at least $10 higher than what I ultimately want to get for the item — that way, I can negotiate without feeling too great of a loss. Any time I encounter a seller who won’t drop at least $10 from their price, I immediately move on. Stop acting offended and remember where we are right now.

2. You think you have Jedi mind control.
There are few things more annoying than a buyer trying to trick you into a low-ball offer. When you email me and just say, “What will you sell this to me for?”, my immediate mental response is to send you a “Let Me Google That For You”-type response where I just re-send you the original ad. Howsabout we start at that number, huh pal?

As I just said, I have no issues with haggling. I encourage it, in fact. But you have to at least make me a real offer. You’re not going to fool me into giving my best and final right off the bat. This ain’t my first rodeo, cowboy.

3. You take the low-ball offer to a subterranean level.
I feel like I should repeat the fact that I am not above bargaining. I expect you to reply to my ad with an offer. What really irks me? An offer that is 50 percent or less than what I listed for.

Come on, guys. Be respectful. If I really didn’t care how much I sold it for, I would just drop it in the free section to be done with it. I make a habit of offering at least 75 percent of whatever it was originally listed for, in expectation that the seller will come back closer to 80-85 percent. The only exception is if something is already priced super low — then I might just offer whatever it’s listed for (because I’m not a psychopath).

There’s nothing more annoying than listing something for $80 and getting an offer for $30. Like, what do you think this is? And stop acting wide-eyed and shocked when I say “no, thanks.”

I feel like I may have exhausted my Craigslist tips at this point, but I’m sure there are more great ideas out there. What are your best buying and selling secrets?

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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:

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And for a little pizzazz, I added these beauties:

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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?

UGH THIS POST ALREADY SOUNDS WHINY IN MY HEAD BUT I JUST NEED TO PURGE THE BAD THOUGHTS AND THEN MOVE ON.

Current least favorite things:

1. Brokers who hide their posts in the no-fee real estate section on Craigslist. YOUR DECEPTION WILL NOT GO UNNOTICED. And the fact that you started our relationship with a lie makes me instantly dislike and not want to work with you.

2. Pretend spring days that turn into frigid winter ones. WHAT DID I JUST SAY ABOUT DECEPTION? You cannot give me a 45-degree Sunday and then just follow it up with a 6-degree Tuesday. That’s a jerk move. Get outta here.

3. Allergies masquerading as colds. AM I SICK OR NOT? Make up your mind, cold and flu symptoms. Either the Claritin should start kicking in or we should just call this what it is.

4. Paper cuts. I mean, I hate these all the time, but my hands are currently covered in them from packing. Just saying. It’s annoying.

Blah. Emotional purge: done. Carry on.

No matter how old I get, these three things will probably always be a mystery to me:

1. Why it is so difficult to roll over a 401k
2. People who are mean to dogs.
3. Stores that won’t sell you something off the mannequin.