Thursday, January 24, 2008

1 more room down

Ok, not completely done, I still need curtains and baseboard (and yes, I do plan on washing the window. Please excuse the filth.) It is close enough for the kids to be using it, and boy howdy, do they. They love having the toys all together in one room. It's even been fun to finally have a place for mister cow chair. Isn't he cute? Sarah picked that up in 3rd grade with her AR points and we've just never had space for him on the floor before.
I would love to have some more sophisticated shelving, but I'm happy that everything looks neat and tidy with what I do have. One of these days I'm going to surf on over to HGTV's website and see if I can nominate myself for a room make over. I'd love to have one of their shows redo that room. Keeping in mind of course, that the house must sell and the room will be seen from the front room. (Who am I kidding. I would expect lime green and orange with funky built ins from a tv show make over.)
PS. See the cute little pink house? That was Libby's big Christmas present. She adores it. She invites me to come in and play with her often. It's two pieces that nestle inside each other so we can make it smaller when she's not playing with it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

He's got me pegged

Last night at Dinner, Joshua decided to bring up the subject of his birthday party, the one that won't happen for four months. Joshua likes to start asking for things early in the hopes that the long period of whining will wear down our resistance. I should just send him to the UN because he could bring peace to the world. The countries of the world would all stop pointing their guns at each other because they would all be pointed at our house as punishment for making him an ambassador and not just letting him be the most successful car salesman ever.

Joshua decided he needs a sleepover party this year and he felt the need to negotiate the number of guests he could have. We let the kids have fewer guests for sleepovers than we do for evening parties. I figure it evens out the work load a bit. So there Joshua was pushing for more guests (yes four months early) and I responded, "Let me put it this way, Joshua, do you want a sane mom after your party or a crazy mom?"

"Well, it really doesn't matter either way, does it? You'll just be crazy no matter what." says Joshua.

Not the way to get yourself a party, buddy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Cheesecakes

The recipes for the cheesecakes were requested by some of the guests at the party, and since I spent the morning typing them up, I'd thought I'd post them here. The recipes are long because the instructions are very detailed, so don't freak. These are worth it. The Lemon curd cheesecake is quite possibly the best cheesecake I've ever eaten. I Did the New York cheesecake with the chocolate marble version. Also fantastic. These are so creamy and perfectly balanced. Neither is too heavy or thick. If you are trying to lose weight you may want to forget this post.

The Lemon Curd cheesecake is from a special issue magazine called "Desserts from America's Top Chefs." It's a Meredith publication so it should be availible anywhere. There are several really, really good recipes in it if you want to just buy it for yourself. The New York cheesecake is from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. If you buy this one for yourself you have to try the black bean soup and the chicken parmesean.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 crackers)
3 T sugar
1/ 8 t kosher salt
5 T unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 8 oz packages regular cream cheese
1/2 c + 2 T sugar
3 T flour
pinch of salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 t lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolks
1/2 c sour cream

unsalted butter, melted for the pan
Lemon Curd

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center of the oven. Prepare a 9" springform pan by cutting a parchment circle to fit the pan bottom.

2. For the crust: Combine the graham crackers crumbs, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Stir in the 5 T melted butter with a fork until well combined. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool the crust in the pan on a wire rack.

3. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed in an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment about 2 minutes, until creamy. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add all the remaining sugar, then the flour, and finally the pinch of salt. With a spatula, scrape down the side of the bowl and the paddle twice.

4. Switch to the whisk attachment and continue mixing, adding the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Whip in the eggs one at a time, then add the yolk, scrapping the bowl and whisking at least twice. Continue to whip on low speed, adding the sour cream. Whip until well blended. Do not overbeat. The batter should be light and airy.

5. Brush the sides of the springform pan with melted butter. Wrap the outside of the pan tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure there are no holes in the foil. Pour the filling into the pan. Place the spring form pain in a large roasting pan and pour enough hot tap water into the roasting pan so that it comes about halfway up the edge of the springform pan. Place pans carefully in the oven and bake until the filling is just set, about 45 to 60 minutes. (A 1" area at the center of the cheesecake should jiggle slightly when the cheesecake is done. Do not test with a knife; it will crack the cake.) Immediately remove the pan from the water and remove the foil. Place pan on a wire rack and cool 15 minutes. Using a sharp, small knife, loosen cake from edges of pan; cool 30 minutes more. Remove side from pan. Cool cheesecake to room temperature. Loosely cover cheesecake and chill overnight.

6. About 2 to 3 hours before serving, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator. Replace side of springform pan. Warm the Lemon Curd until it is pourable and spread it evenly over the surface of the cheesecake, tilting it from side to side to form an even layer. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. To serve, remove wrap and pan side. Slide the cake still on the parchment paper, onto a serving plate.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Lemon Curd:
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 large egg yolks
1 c sugar
4 t lemon zest
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

Combine the lemon juice, egg yolks, and sugar in a nonreactive bowl. Whisk until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a heavy nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until hot, 5 to 10 minutes. The mixture should begin to thicken as the temperature increases. Once thick (it should coat the back of the spoon), reduce the heat and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the curd into a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and butter with a wire whisk until the butter has completely melted. Cool slightly before using. The curd can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 1 week. Warm over a double boiler or in microwave briefly to return to liquid form. It will set up again when chilled.

New York Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 T unsalted butter, melted
1 T sugar

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into rough 1 inch chunks and softened
1 1/2 c sugar
1/8 t salt
1/3 c sour cream
2 t lemon juice
2 t vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 T unsalted butter, melted
For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the graham crumbs, melted butter, and sugar together, then pour into a 10" springform pan (9" works. ) Press the crumbs firmly into an even layer using the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. For the filling: Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until softened, 1 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters thoroughly.

3. Beat in half of the sugar and the salt and until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs 2 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed, 1 to 3 minutes.

4. Being careful not to disturb the baked crust, brush the sides of the springform pan with the melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the cheesecake, reads about 150 degrees, about 1 hour 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Let cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, running a paring knife around the edge of the cake every hour or so. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

7. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a wet, hot kitchen towel around the springform pan and let sit for 1 minute. Remove the sides of the pan. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.

Marble Cheesecake Variation:
Before baking cheesecake: Whisk 1/4 cup boiling heavy cream and 5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped, together until melted and smooth. Let cool completely. Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate randomly over the top of the batter. Using a knife, swirl the chocolate into the cheesecake batter, creating an attractive marbled pattern.

I'm Not Only President, I'm Also a Member

Ah, Bedlam. Wanna know why i haven't updated lately? Huh? wanna guess? Because I think I've finally dropped over the edge of crazy, that's why. I actually cried on the phone to Steve on Friday over a baby shower. Why? No one cares if the cheesecake is pretty or if I have the proper candy bars to melt into baby diapers. (It's a party game.) It's cheesecake for heaven's sake. They'll eat it if you have to scoop it out onto their plates with a spoon. Sigh.

This was last week:
Sunday: Sub in Sunbeams
Monday: wash walls and patch drywall in playroom. Remove everything from the room including carpeting.
Tuesday: paint playroom. Two coats. Also clean.
Wednesday: Carpet layers came. It looks lovely. Also, I prepared a presentation for church youth group on photography, because Teenagers always love to be lectured to. (and why does the 2nd Counselor's wife always glare at me? Dude. What did I do?) Also do laundry and clean. Also clean out the girls' bedroom.
Thursday: Clean house for that evening's party. Host party. Make diaper cake. (it's diapers put together in a three layer cake shape. I'll post pictures when I have them.) This was my easy day.
Friday: Clean boys' bedroom. Do laundry. Make two cheesecakes. Prepare games for baby shower. Also attend meeting and go shopping. (and apparently lose it at 4pm on the phone, which does get dinner made by someone else.) Assign candy bar diaper game to sister in law who could do it without going crazy. Nice sister in law.
Saturday: Finish one of the cheesecakes. Move everything you can out of the kids' bedrooms so the carpet can be laid on Monday. Get everything ready for baby shower. All before 11 am. Go to Mom's. Help them get ready for baby shower. Go early to shower to set up. Host shower. Stress the whole time because I can't relax when I hostess. Clean up shower (it was a success! Everyone liked the cheesecake. It wasn't ugly after all! yea!) Relax until 8pm, (except for the time I spent helping make dinner and helping clean up, but there was lots of help so that wasn't bad.) go home and bathe children.
Sunday: Go to church. Come home and proceed to break the sabbath by finishing up emptying the bedrooms. Go visit family. Come home and put children to bed in family room. Help husband rip carpet up in the bedrooms.

This week:
Monday: Carpet is laid. It looks lovely. vacuum the fuzzies. put bedrooms back together. clean house. Kids are off school. Find a plumber who can get the dang water heater out of the kitchen. I want to start remodeling that!
Tuesday: Kids are off school again. Probably put the playroom together.
Wednesday: I might cry again. This time in relief. I do intend to find a book. And a nap. A nap would be good.
Also: feel guilty all week because it's "Fill the Temple Week" again for our stake and I won't make it.

Do I get my padded room yet? And when I come out could someone make dinner first?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Nova Makes Me Look Smart

We got snow yesterday. Lots and lots of snow. It snowed for 10 hours. Rilla came trudging up the hill from the bus stop after school with her coat hanging open and complaining of cold feet. She had left her 6 year old brother behind, so I had to send her back for him. (I don't know how many times I've asked her to wait for him. sigh.) Before she headed back, I got after her for leaving her coat unzipped. In times past, I had no reply for the "but I'm not cold there!" argument my kids gave me when I asked them to zip their coats. I watched mountain climbers on Nova recently, though, so I have a rational reason for making them keep their coats zipped.

"Rilla," I said, "You have to keep your core warm or your body steals heat from your extremities to maintain the core temperature."

She just nodded her head because she's used to her mom spouting off completely foreign words at her.

I tried again. "Your body has to keep your heart warm so if you leave your coat unzipped it will steal heat from your fingers and toes to warm it up."

"oh." and a lightbulb went off above her head.

See it all makes sense. Now go zip up your coat.


ok, I did get a cute picture of Libby in her pj's last night. Isn't that smile much better?

Monday, January 07, 2008


"I do it myself!" She said.

She did do it. Slowly and carefully.
Such a big girl.

(Cute pj's, huh? Those are the Christmas monkey jammas. )

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How to Drive Yourself Crazy in Three Simple Steps

1. do way too much in Dec. Really overwhelm yourself with projects so that you completely neglect all housework.

2. Go visiting family for the entire week of Christmas. You should only be home long enough to toss laundry in corners and dump presents and junk places.

At this point when your house looks worse than it has in months you kick in the final step:

3. Decide to host a New Year's Eve party for your preteen and her friends.

We spent all day NYE cleaning house. It was not pretty. I was stressed. Sarah was tired from all the cleaning, but I got to be the cool mom. Sarah had nine friends over. We had a borrowed Wii in the basement and a borrowed XBox 360 (with Guitar Hero) upstairs in the play room. We also set up board games in the living room. When they first arrived, we had a Nerf dart gun fight range all over the house. Everyone had a blast, but I forgot to take pictures.

We did do such a good job cleaning, though, that that house is still clean.