Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let's see, where did I leave off? Oh, yes, we went to bed Friday night. It was late.

Kristy and I decided to get up early and be on the first bus to catch a ferry and see the Statue of Liberty. It was actually nice to see the city so quiet (as quiet as New York gets anyway). It was supposed to rain all day Saturday, so we just showered, threw our hair back and went on our way.

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Monica and Marci had their day planned with shopping and such and it really worked out well that Kristy and I had in mind to do sort of the same things and we split off again and met up with them later in the day. Oh, and we must have willed the rain away because besides a bit breezy, it was beautiful all day Saturday and not a drop of rain fell. We enjoyed the early morning bus ride and got on the ferry quite quickly as we already had tickets to the Statue of Liberty. While waiting in line for the ferry, there was an interesting fellow playing a little guitar and meeting people and singing funny songs about them for money. I'm guessing that is his only source of income. He made the waiting in line more bearable. Although we were early and the first group waiting for the ferry, so the wait wasn't that long.

Pause......we interrupt the regularly scheduled run down to let you know that this is where I finally talked to Kevin that next day. We were waiting in line for the ferry and he called. I took a deep breath and after telling him how amazing and hilarious Spamalot was that I got to meet Clay and get my picture taken with him! That was all I said and he said, "How much?" I acted like I didn't know what he meant and said smiling, "How much what?" He said, "How much did you spend?" I timidly said, "two fifty." (Maybe he'd think I meant $2.50!) He instantly knew I meant $250 and said, "I would have let you and Kristy both get one." What?! I was surprised at that. He just said that he knew it was something I would always love having and that I'm worth it and that he would have been upset if he found out I HAD the opportunity to do something like that and didn't do it. WOW! What an amazing man! I have told many people and they have mostly said that their husbands wouldn't have been so mad. Thanks, Kevin. Love you to pieces! (It helps that I'm not really a big spender when it comes to shopping and buying things for myself and he's always trying to convince me to buy more things just for me, so the bank account doesn't "run low" because of my shopping, so this kind of splurge is okay in his eyes (and mine.) Get it. So YEAH for me! I'm still really excited every time I think about meeting Clay and having this picture with him. What a great memory!

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Lady Liberty was quite the sight as I hadn't realized we were so close at one point and turned around and there she was. We decided to stay on the ferry, since you can no longer go up in the statue and then made our way to Ellis Island for a run through of the museum.


After getting back to Battery Park, we decided to walk around. We were actually headed to another place I had on my list of "must dos" in New York, Jacques Torres Chocolate Store. I needed to taste his also infamous chocolate chip cookie--and so we walked and walked and walked blocks and blocks and blocks to find it. We passed by Ground Zero--which was quite humbling and amazing to imagine all that happened there.

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I think we walked a good couple miles and got to Jacques Torres. We were excited! Here's a few more pictures.

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The Jacques cookies was warm and crisp and perfect. The chocolate was heavenly.

We then walked and walked some more. It was about 2:30 and we hadn't had lunch yet, so we ended up at a fun little French bistro called Bistro Les Amis, I think it was in SoHo. I had (and splurged) a croque monsieur sandwich (lots of thin sliced ham with Swiss cheese, toasted bread, then smothered in a cream sauce. It was good! The food was beautiful. Kristy only took video of it, so I don't have pictures. That's okay, you don't really want to see video of me eating anyway. She had some salmon that she loved. After eating, we decided we were really tired, but still needed to make our way to the other side of Manhattan to find the Levain Bakery with my other desired cookie. So we found (after much wandering and finding only subway stations that were closed on Saturday) a station that was open and enjoyed sitting a bit while we made our way to the other side of Manhattan. It really didn't take long on the subway. Again, we did a lot more walking. I think the subway only went to 66th or somewhere around there (under construction further up) and the bakery was on 74th, I believe. (See, that's what I get for waiting so long to write this all down.) Again, we were delighted to find Levain's Bakery. I have already blogged about the cookies in a previous post, so will spare you more about them. Okay, maybe just one more picture to refresh your memory----


Would you just look at the size of those cookies?! Amazing! If you are ever in New York--you cannot pass up Levain Bakery! That's all I'm going to say about that. This is how most of New York looked. It really was beautiful and not at all what people say about it being trashy, etc. Maybe we just successfully avoided those places.


We actually weren't too far from the Manhattan Temple (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), so we hoofed it there and met up with Monica and Marci for a bit. It was neat to see that there amongst all the buildings in New York, you run in to a beautiful temple.

Kristy and I hopped on one of our tour buses and let it drive us back near our hotel. On our way walking the few blocks to the hotel, we decided to stop for a few more pictures of our New York experience. I bought some nuts from a nut vendor and he was delighted to be in a picture with me.


Kristy chose a giant soft pretzel and after asking the man with the pretzels if she could get a picture with him, he actually said no and stepped a good distance away after telling her she could take a picture with the cart. He did NOT want to be in a picture. Hmmm, could he be in the U.S. illegally? That's okay, the pretzel was good and so were the nuts!


After getting back to the hotel, we took a few more pictures of those Levain cookies. Okay, I can't resist, look at these. There is also a chocolate peanut butter chip cookie (that one was delicious) and a triple chocolate cookie (good, but too rich), the yummy chocolate chip cookie and in the next picture, the oatmeal raisin cookie that I didn't really like that much. Did I mention that the cookies are $3.75 each? Hey, if you're going to go to New York, it's worth it--$20 to try all four kinds. They are so big they last you the perfect amount of time.

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We rested a bit, then Monica and Marci got back and we all got ready for the next show, Wicked. The theater was right across the street from our hotel (nice!). We were SO tired. Wicked was good, but in my opinion (and it may be one-sided), it was no Spamalot! No really, great show, but the combination of still be "high" from the night before with Spamalot and oh yeah, don't forget--I met Clay Aiken, but that and the fact that I was SO tired, I was having a hard time enjoying Wicked as much. I actually drifted off to sleep a few times. I had to keep telling myself, "You paid a lot of money for this, you cannot sleep." Anyway, Wicked was great music, great singing, and great performing--I think I'd just rather laugh my head off seeing something like Spamalot. Spamalot was great enough that I'd see it again even without Clay in it!

After the show we went back to the hotel and fell in to bed at probably about 11:00 p.m. We had to get up at 3:30 a.m. as our airport shuttle was picking us up at 4 a.m.! That was to get us to the airport on time for our 9 a.m. flights! Sheesh. We got to the airport about three hours early. So after posing for one more of these:


we did what we could to pass the time! ; )


So there you have it--finally. My New York trip in its entirety (the sweetened condensed version).

We had a crazy busy Memorial weekend with Kevin's sister Cindy and her family coming to visit. We actually went and saw Wicked in Kansas City last week and I actually liked the traveling one better than the Broadway production, I think. Maybe I just wasn't so tired this time. We also did some of the church sites with Cindy and family--Independence, MO, Liberty Jail, and made our way to Nauvoo, IL for the weekend. Here are a few pictures. The Nauvoo Temple. The Mississippi River in Nauvoo, me on a swing with Taylor, Parker on the swing, the boys near the Christus in the visitor's center and the Clyde Family (minus Leigh who is on a mission in Jamaica). Taylor begged me to get on the swing with him. It was a bit crooked, one side longer than the other and not very comfortable, but the kids sure had fun on it.

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Nauvoo is a six hour drive. The drive there seemed to take forever. Sam wasn't very happy being strapped in his car seat all day. We spent Saturday in Nauvoo and went to Carthage (I am amazed by the feelings I get while in Carthage Jail as I stand in the very room that Joseph Smith was shot and killed in so many years ago!) Sunday we drove home and that drive didn't seem nearly as bad. We had an enjoyable time with Cindy, Warren, Sarah, Marie and Brian. On Monday, Cindy and Warren helped with a few things around the house--that's just what they do--help with anything and everything. Cindy took the extra slats off our blinds in the living room that have been there for a few years and never looked very good, but we just never got around to doing it. And Warren helped Kevin install a ceiling fan in our dining room. Thanks a TON! We barbequed that night after going to KU Campus and listening to Liz Berghout play the carillon bells for us. She took us up to the top to see the bells and learn how they are played. What a talent she has! We had the Berghouts over for dinner as well as Bob and Tes. I think our total for dinner was 17! It was an enjoyable night. Of course I made treats and of course, I have pictures!


Kevin really likes the "yeast" Levain's that I have recently made and also had me make more of those for all the guests to try. I didn't take pictures, but they looked just like the previous pictures I posted of them. So that's it, this is the end of this eagerly anticipated blog finishing all the amazing details of my New York trip and a little bit about our Memorial Weekend. (This also took me some extra time because Kevin's old laptop that I have been using for months now decided to die. It was acting funny the last few weeks, so luckily we backed everything up on it and it is now gone. Got everything saved--except all my food blogger's and friend's web sites! It will take me some time to find them all again. Sigh! And how are you doing?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Yeast" Levain? Ya Gotta Try It!


So I know what you're thinking--this cookie--again?  Well darn it if my foodie friends don't keep finding a better recipe for it.  And well, you're thinking is the cookie REALLY that great?  Well, there's just something about it, but even more so, there's just something about trying to perfect it.  You know, in this crazy life of mine with a house full of boys--I think I just like my time in the kitchen.

So without further talk, just know that this is the closest I think we've come to getting the Levain just like theirs.  One of the Cookie Madness readers tried yeast as the leavening and it works.  It doesn't taste yeasty, but has that something/something that Levain has snuck into their cookie to make it stand out from others.  We're (when I say we, I'm talking about Anna from Cookie Madness--she tried the recipe first and I will actually link the recipe from her that Rita in Portugal has "mastered") finding that the cookie is best after sitting for a few hours and possibly even a day.  Although, there still is just nothing like a cookie not long out of the oven!  So if you're at all interested, give this a try!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Laffy Taffy" Krispy Treats

Today I experimented more with the rice krispy treats and here is what I came up with.  Do you like Laffy Taffy?  My kids do.  They know that banana is the only flavor I really like and always save me one when they get them.



I made these in a bread pan as I didn't want to make too many (still have some of the peanut butter/chocolate ones left!)  It worked great and is a perfect amount.

I did the plain layer first and used 4 oz. marshmallows, 1 1/2 T. butter, and 2 1/2 to 3 cups rice krispy cereal. 

I then did the strawberry layer and also used 4 oz. marshmallows, this time using the big strawberry flavored ones, 1 1/2 T. butter, and about 3 cups of the new Rice Krispies with strawberries.  I really like the little added strawberry bite to these.  It was kind of a chewy bite here and there.  I also added 5-10 drops of red food coloring to the marshmallow mixture before adding the cereal. 

Finally I used 4 oz. marshmallows, 1 1/2 T. butter, 5-10 drops of yellow food coloring, and about 2 T. banana flavored pudding mix (which I didn't think smelled strong enough), so I also added 1/2 t. banana extract.  I then added about 3 cups cereal. 

I couldn't wait too see these, so they only set up in the pan about 15 minutes.  They were soft, but looked great and taste great, too.  I think my kids will really like them!

Have some fun and play around with your rice krispy treats!        Will I ever finish my New York blog?  I promise, someday......  

Monday, May 19, 2008


I really am trying to get my last day in New York City done and posted.  It's getting there, but in the meantime, look at these---


I was inspired by my recent "creation"  (Rice Krispy Treats are hardly a creation--they are TOO easy), but after making double-decker ones, I knew I wanted to try for more and went for a triple!  Score!  They are, to me, very good.  I like the tri-color look, but these could easily be made with just the chocolate and peanut butter layer for a yummy treat.  These would even be fun as a July 4th treat by just coloring each layer white, blue and red with food coloring (you could also play with flavor extracts).  Hmm, the possibilities are endless.  But I do love the chocolate/peanut butter combo!

All I did was follow the package directions (although some seem to vary slightly if you look on the marshmallow bag versus the cereal box).  For the chocolate layer I actually used Cocoa Krispies.  For each layer I used a 10.5 oz. bag of marshmallows and 1/4 cup butter.  I used about 6 cups of cereal.  I sprayed a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  After melting the butter and marshmallows in a large saucepan over med-low heat, I added about 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and stirred them in until melted.  Then I added the Rice Krispies cereal and mixed well.  I then added another 1/2 cup or so of chocolate chips to the mix and they melted slightly.  I spread this in the pan and pressed down as much as I could. 

For the peanut butter layer I used regular Rice Krispies and did the same with 10.5 oz. bag of marshmallows and 1/4 cup butter.  After that was melted I added 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (you can use whichever you prefer).  I mixed the peanut butter in with the marshmallows until it melted together, then added the cereal.  After mixing that together I mixed in 1 cup of peanut butter chips.  These also melted slightly, but you have to work fast with rice krispy treats and get them in the pan before they stick.  I put this right on top of the chocolate layer and pressed down well.

The final layer is just the regular rice krispy treats--a 10.5 oz. bag of marshmallows, 1/4 cup butter and 6 cups cereal.  I mixed that up and added it as the final layer.  I let the treats cool and set up in the pan on a counter for a good hour.  I then turned them out on to a cutting board and cut them in to squares.  You can cut yours to whatever size you desire.  The only thing I'm not sure of is if I should have started with the plain layer, then chocolate and ended with peanut butter on top, just to contrast the colors more.  But these are YUM-O!  (Thanks for the yum-o word, Rachel Ray!)


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Let me just start by thanking the person responsible for me taking this trip of a lifetime to New York City.  (He loves it when I post pictures of him like this!)

DSCF5844 Hon, I can't thank you enough for this trip being possible financially AND for your willingness to play Mom and Dad for four days.  I know that you are one of a kind and that I am the luckiest gal to have you.   I love, love, love you!  I went on this trip April 24-27.

It was supposed to be that my two sisters-in-law and I meet up in Chicago and then fly together to NY.  Monica and I made it, but Kristy's flight had all kinds of problems and she didn't get to New York until a long, full day of airports and flying and being rerouted through Dallas.  Monica and I had an enjoyable evening walking around Times Square and eating dinner.  We ate at a yummy little Italian place called Da Marino Ristorante Italiano.  I had a great tomato and mozzarella salad and some pasta with traditional sauce and Monica had some delicious Pollo Francese (chicken in a lemon butter wine sauce.)

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This picture of the Empire State Building is all LEGOS, inside the Toys R Us store in Times Square.  There were all kinds of neat, huge things built out of Legos.  Some other Toys R Us pictures follow.

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Kristy finally arrived around 9 p.m.  Monica was also having a friend join us who knows New York really well.  She didn't arrive until about 6:30 Friday morning.  She took a red-eye from Utah and was exhausted.  While she slept briefly, we went and ate breakfast.  The four of us then went out and ended up walking through Central Park.  It is a beautiful park--and huge!

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There were probably 30 taxi's all driving by at once!  Not just Central Park, but the whole city was beautiful with spring flowers all in bloom.

We met an old man who decided to walk with us and find out all about us and being a Manhattan native, had lots to tell us about New York and his life.  He was on his way to The Boathouse for breakfast and we said goodbye to him there.


This is Marci and the man we met in the park.

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We then made our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at which point, Monica and her friend, Marci wanted to actually go in and enjoy the art.  Kristy and I were anxious to see the city.  We high-tailed it back towards the center of town and bought tickets to ride the double decker bus for two days and get as much of the city in as we could.   As we made our way back to Times Square, we went to FAO Schwartz Toy Store to check it out.  Kristy wanted to play the big piano that was made famous by the movie BIG.  We walked through Trump Plaza, went in Tiffany's and checked out the Plaza Hotel.  So many famous places and it was fun to be there and to now be able to say "we've been there."  It was all a lot of walking, but we enjoyed it. 

After we got our tickets for the bus and were waiting for the next one to arrive, we met a man on the street selling baseball caps.  He was an interesting guy, but we enjoyed talking with him and "playing along" with his strange views, etc.  After he found out Kristy is from Utah and that we were LDS, he informed us that he totally believes in polygamy.  We appeased him and made him feel that he knew what he was talking about, but defended ourselves well.  This guy was happy to have us call him Patrick the Irish Polygamist.  (He's not really a polygamist.)  Here's a picture of Kristy with Patrick.  We each bought a hat from him.

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We finally hopped on the bus and enjoyed our time not walking, but getting to see so much of the city.  We finally had a late lunch at a place called Riviera Cafe in Greenwich Village.  The salads we had were beautiful, but not that great tasting, but that was the only place we ate at on the trip where we didn't really care for the food.

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We walked around a bit, made our way back to the bus and enjoyed being toured back to our hotel where it wasn't long until we had to get ready for the big show--SPAMALOT.  I was so excited!

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After waiting at the theater for a short time, we were seated and enjoyed being there, talking about Clay, buying pins and buttons and playbills and talking to people next to us.  Some ladies informed us, as I explained I wanted to wait outside the stage door to see Clay walk out, that he wasn't doing that the next week or so, but that they were collecting money for Broadway Cares for Kids and by doing so were letting people get their picture taken with Clay for a fee (100% of proceeds to go to the charity).  Well, I was so excited about this and had to think about it through the whole show whether Kevin would care if I spent the money for that.  Kristy and I decided that we would do it.  Now we were even more excited--I was going to get to meet Clay Aiken!  I don't know why these things are such a big deal to me, but I just love doing it.  Kristy was just as excited as I was.

I cannot tell you how great the show was.  Clay played three or four different characters, but his main one was Sir Robin.  The show was absolutely hilarious!  Five minutes in, my face hurt from laughing and smiling so much, and it stayed that way for the next two hours.  You really need to laugh like that in life sometimes.  Clay was, of course, amazing in his performances.  He transformed a very southern accent (he's from Raleigh, NC) into an amazing English accent.  And he sang as only Clay can sing.  He fit right in with the whole humor of the show and seemed to me like he was born for Broadway.  Although, he has so many talents--singing, now we can say acting and dancing (that's never been his strong point-the dancing, in fact, it's always been a bit of a joke at his concerts), and he's an amazing ambassador for charity, working with UNICEF and his own charity The Bubel/Aiken Foundation for children with learning disabilities.  I did not want the show to end--except I knew at the end that I was going to get my picture taken with Clay! 

So after the show all the cast members were on stage and Clay talked about the money raising for charity and explained the options for helping, you could get a playbill signed by all the cast for $20 and a few other things like that AND you could get a picture taken with Clay.  I wasn't sure I should tell you how much that cost, but it's sort of part of the story.  Let me just say that I don't think I would have done it without talking to Kevin if it wasn't for charity.  Kristy and I lined up ready to go up on the stage and meet Clay and smile pretty.  It was a whirlwind.  They (the people) get you in and out very quickly.  It was finally our turn.  This is how it went.  Kristy was on one side of Clay and I was on the other side.  He said, "Hi, Ladies.  What are your names?"  Kristy said, "My name is Kristy."  And I said, "And I'm Katrina."  Short pause while the photographer is saying "smile".  Then I said, "And we love you."  Clay said, "Thanks." and as we walked off, Kristy told him his performance in the show was great.  That was it.  Next please.  I was totally shaking.


So happy to get this picture--it's a Polaroid and we got to wait while it developed to make sure no one had their eyes shut or anything.  I gave them my money, they enclosed the picture in a little paper frame that was signed by Clay and off we went.  It was over way too quickly.  And though I still questioned the cost, it was worth every penny of the $250!  Yes, that's right, I did it and without consulting Kevin first.  I did not even get to talk to him until the next morning.  But knowing my amazing husband, I knew he would be alright with it.



We were hungry after the show and decided to eat dinner.  We ended up at another Italian place that was also very good.  It was called L' Allegria.  While we were eating, it began to rain.  It was supposed to rain all day the next day, which we were not excited about.  We made our way back to the hotel pretty late and fell in to bed.  (Thank you for the extra ear plugs, Kristy, and we'll just leave it at that!)   Tune in for my next blog about our second day in New York and Kevin's reaction to the charitable donation!