leslie and pete with martinis in foreground Posted by Hello

colossal carrot cake from the hyde park grille. this pic does not really do it justice. (pete's hand is there for scale.) Posted by Hello


xmas wrap-up

whew! this time around, i’m relieved that christmas is over. it was quite an interesting day--one that i will be happy not to repeat. but i’m getting ahead of myself...

the remainder of the holiday baking and truffle-making went well. i succeeded in dipping the cognac truffles and they are outstanding. the chocolate tempering worked out great, so the coating has the desired gloss and snap. i am hoarding these for myself, having given away all the others. we had plentyplenty cookies. even after gifting tins of them to many folks and securing enough for all the holiday entertaining, there is still a full box of assorted ones in my mom’s freezer. myself, i’m tired of all of them. i can’t wait to bake something different. i have a hankering for some dark, intense gingerbread. there will be time for all that in January.

one of the best parts of this holiday was having my parents so close by. no one had to travel hours in the car or get on a plane. it was a relief, especially given that we had the worst december storm in cleveland history on the 22nd and 23rd. unfortunately, the storm left some roads covered in a thick layer of ice that would not melt, due to temps in the single digits. this was what caused the scariest part of the holiday.

on christmas morning, while on his way to pick up part of his family and ferry them to his parents’ house, tony was struck by a pickup that spun out of control on the ice. he was not hurt, but was very upset. (last year on christmas day, he was involved in a weather-related accident, as well.) he called me in the midst of the gift exchange part of the morning at my sister’s. i drove back out to the west side of the city to pick him up, as his car was damaged to such a degree that he didn’t feel safe driving it. we went to the police station (which was experiencing a parade of accident reports) and filled out the necessary paperwork. then we went out to parma to pick up his brother, his niece and nephew and the mother-in-law and take them to his folks’ house. i stopped in there for a cup of tea before driving back out to chagrin falls to my sister’s to pick up the gifts i hadn’t opened yet. they were just getting ready to leave to go to some friends for christmas dinner, so i headed out again to my folks’ house. once there (about 2 pm), i was finally able to sit and eat something. i opened my presents with them and then drove home. i was exhausted from a day of driving and worrying about tony. it all turned out okay in the end, given that he was not hurt in the least. this is what the officer kept re-iterating to us: you’re not hurt. no one was killed. you have insurance. the car can be repaired. so you can see that while there was no real tragedy, it was not a day i am anxious to re-live.

on the bright side, santa was very good to me. i got a variety of sweaters, a new jean jacket (which i have wanted for a couple of years now), a bunch of different gift cards (gap, sur la table, barnes and noble, winking lizard tavern and the hyde park grille) and other assorted baubles and trinkets, including some pictures of ben franklin. on the whole, i got what i had asked for. tony has an excellent memory for things i have mentioned wanting/needing. this is a great thing about him: he listens and remembers. the thought that goes into his gift giving has always been apparent, and it really shined through this year.

my friends leslie and pete are here visiting from chicago now for a couple of days. i have known leslie for over 26 years now. (doesn’t that mean we met when we were like 3 years old?) we lived near each other in chicago and hung out together often. i really like her husband as well, and have always felt comfortable in their home. i even made their wedding cake for them! we have a long list of things we want to try to accomplish in two days, but i’ll bet we get to less than half of it. there’s a big part of our time that seems to get invested in coffee and cocktail drinking and we wouldn’t have it any other way. we’ll also work on some serious eating whilst they’re here. we have a reservation for tonight for the hyde park grille, where tony will join us. we had been to several steakhouse/supperclub evenings together in chicago. it’s fun to dress up and act like grownups once in awhile, drinking martinis and eating big bloody slabs of meat. i can’t wait!

tomorrow we’ll do the more traditional, touristy stuff. possibilities include the rock hall, the cleveland museum of art, the westside market and the cleveland greenhouse. they are interested in just driving around and seeing the city neighborhoods. i would like to take them to sokolowski’s, if we don’t eat too much at the market, that is. somewhere i see a big platter of polish food in our near future. it’ll be fun having them here and the weather is supposed to show a gradual warming trend with almost no snow in the forecast! woohoo!


ho ho ho

the lack of posting has been due to a couple of things. first off, there has been very little of import going on. mostly, i would have just been saying things like, “we had our busiest week EVER at work,” which has been true consistently for the past 7 weeks now. or something along the lines of, “i’ve been helping my parents unpack and get settled.” or, “i’ve been baking for the holidays.” or, “things with tony are great.” boring stuff. additionally, i have been busybusybusy DOING all these things, so i haven’t had the time to post. i have a few quiet moments here this morning, so i thought i’d put in some kinda update.

last week tony and i went to see Linda Eder in concert at severance hall. in addition to her own band, she was backed by the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the North Coast Men’s Chorus, our local gay singing ensemble. we were the invited guests of our friends M and G, but when we arrived at our seats we discovered that seated directly in front of us were our good friends M and D! it turned out that the woman seated next to me knew them as well, and she also knew several other people next to them. what a small world it is here in cleveland...i love it! anyway, the hall is stunning, having been built with steel baron money in the thirties and refurbished (at a cost of several million dollars) in 2000. both the chorus and the orchestra put on great performances. ms. eder, whom i had never heard of before, was also magnificent. she performed a nice mix of holiday classics and some of her own music. although i had never heard these songs before, a few of them had me close to tears, including ‘vienna’ and ‘if I had my way.’ it was a wonderful way to kick off my holiday season, while introducing me to a new voice i can enjoy for years to come.

the baking is almost complete at this point. the list includes the following…

little pecan pies
nut crescents
chocolate almond biscotti
sugar cooky cutouts
chocolate shortbread
english toffee cookies
almond spice slices
mixed nut squares
cherry pistachio biscotti

right now i am working on truffles in two flavors: clementine spice and another more complicated one, where i’ve soaked raisins in cognac and then embedded each in cognac ganache. the idea here is that i will then dip each one in chocolate, but my luck with this in the past has been less than stellar. we’ll see how it all goes. i still have both plain and chocolate puffpaste stashed in the deepfreeze, which i will turn into palmiers, sacristains, arlettes, papillons and cheese straws as we get closer to the actual holiday.

my shopping is done, too. i got some packages off at the fedex dropoff point yesterday. now all that remains is the wrapping of the things for here. there is not that much to do, but it will keep me busy i am sure. that, and a pile of ironing that i keep noticing out of the corner of my eye and have been successful in avoiding for over a week now.

the only other real news is that tony and i met with the minister at his church the other evening as the first step in planning our commitment ceremony. she is a wonderful woman and i look forward to working with her. we will each complete a questionnaire covering a wide range of topics, which will then be analyzed and integrated into a report that will help us to see areas where we are in agreement and areas where we can grow together. it is something i look forward to doing. i am sure that we are right for one another…and i am sure that working on these growth areas together will only serve to strengthen our bond. we have a tentative date in mind, but the minister had to doublecheck something and get back to us. as soon as i know for sure, i’ll post it.

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