the commitment ceremony, in words and pictures

everything went off smashingly! i have tried to keep this chronological…

we had dinner on friday night with my out of town guests and my parents. we went to aladdin’s on cedar hill, which turned out to be a good choice for a couple of reasons. one of my friends is vegetarian, so he had a wide range of options. plus, it turns out that none of these folks has a good middle eastern restaurant near to them, and they love this kind of food! after dinner we left off my folks and went back to my apartment.

some people set to work on the flowers. i had pre-ordered 1000 daffodils for the day before the event, so they would have time to open up and be in full bloom. i had called the buyer in boston; i had emailed the buyer in boston; i had emailed the buyer again; i had seventeen conversations with the lady who writes the order at store level. i did everything i possibly could…and STILL, the order didn’t come. instead of the thousand stems, the store only got in 300. luckily, my friend was there to prevent me from having a panic attack. he made a decision on the fly and we went with a deep orange tulip tipped in yellow. as he said, “it’ll just add a bit more heat to the arrangements.” in the end, i think i actually liked the combination better than if it had been all daffodils.

the commitment ceremony

my pals arranged them all in several dozen mason jars and then went to work on the programs. I had created the programs on the computer, using the same font as we used for the invitations. after having them printed at kinko’s, we cut out photos of tony and myself and glued them on to the front covers. this is the first picture taken of the two of us together and I really like it. it was taken about a year ago by our friends M&D.

the commitment ceremony

while everyone was working on these two projects, I was busy assembling the cake. having made the layers about a month ahead and the creamcheese buttercream earlier in the week, all I had to do was put it together. it’s a laborious process with a hundred little steps, so it was nice to have friends there to socialize with the whole time. once I got the three tiers stacked and frosted, everyone stepped up to help place the white chocolate curls that covered the outside. it was great fun to be able to include all my friends in the work, so they felt like they had a part. the fact that we drank a fifth of ketel one along the way didn’t hurt, either!
I was up at the crack of dawn the next morning, dealing with the mess of the night before and just generally being nervous. I was hesitant to open the fridge, but there it was, in all it’s glory. the cake had survived the night without falling apart…hooray!

the commitment ceremony

we got all the stuff loaded into the saturn and i carried the cake down and placed it into the hatchback. (this is why i bought a station wagon all those years ago…to be able to transport wedding cakes for the catering gigs i was doing. i guess now that i have transported my own, i can have my mid-life crisis and get a sportscar! ;^) )

the commitment ceremony

we arrived at the church with time to spare. i had planned on directing the arrangement of the furniture in the fireside room for the reception, co-ordinating all the helpers we had lined up, and generally being in charge of the morning’s work. i found, though, that once i got to the church, my brain just shut down and i was unable to do anything constructive! luckily, my buddy stepped in and got everything working. i am afraid the day would have been a disaster without him there. he has saved my butt many times in the past and this was the ultimate saving! once the minister arrived, she was in charge of tony and myself. she has done this many times before, and knew that what we needed was to be told what do and when. bless her!

despite the forecast of a rainy day all week, the sun actually came out in the morning and held for the duration of the reception. and tony was so handsome up there! i managed to keep it together for most of the time, but of course i cried during our song, and when i was reading my poem, it did catch in my throat a bit at the end. it was certainly the most powerful moment of my life when the minister read our vows and i looked into tony’s eyes and said, “I Promise.” he has made me the happiest man i know!!!

after dropping off our stuff at tony’s, we checked in at the intercontinental. then it was off to dinner at the baricelli inn. among the things we ate were a shrimp and gruyere tart, handmade ravioli with parma ham (the italian parma, not the cleveland one), kobe beef shortribs, beef tenderloin, chocolate cake and strawberry shortcake. we also enjoyed a nice glass of hess select syrah, and some ginger tea with dessert to aid in the digestion. then it was back to the hotel. skipping ahead, AHEM…, the next morning we had coffee brought up from room service. i could get used to someone bring coffee in a silver pot to me every morning. unfortunately, tony has made it clear that i shouldn’t count on that on a regular basis. sometimes, he treats me to that, but it’s not gonna be a daily occurrence. later in the morning we checked out and went for brunch at the ritz-carlton. it was easily as good as our brunch last fall, which i reminded tony was precisely six months earlier. (i hinted that perhaps we could make this a twice-yearly event. i may have some more convincing to do on that score.) among the highlights here were the eggs benedict, a luscious slice of prime rib, some intensely flavored oven roasted tomatoes and, of course, the desserts. everything comes in miniature and i think we sampled about a dozen things. a chocolate cake topped with a cloud of whipped cream; some dense, moist banana bread; a triangular tower of hazelnut shortbread, gianduja mousse and chocolate; a layered cake with chocolate and pistachio marzipan; and tony’s favorite, warm apple crisp. for this last part, i managed to secure a dish of vanilla ice cream so he could have it ala mode!

over coffee, we discussed what to do with the rest of our day. shopping was on the agenda, so we got to have the excitement of driving the saturn from the ritz straight to marc’s! it was a little bit of cultural whiplash, but we enjoyed it. a trip to target was not far behind and then home for the evening. we even got some of our thank-you’s taken care of that evening. we had a spectacular weekend, all in all. looking back, there is not one thing about it that i would change. i feel exhausted and elated and utterly, ridiculously HAPPY!

several folks took pictures and once i get them all and edit them down, i’ll post as many as possible.


it's march already?

well here it is march and i haven’t posted in weeks and weeks, so i thought i would put up some sort of update. my life right now is awesome! i never thought that things would be so good at 44 years old. the last few years have been a re-birth for me…a chance to start again and build a great life for myself. i have had some very lucky breaks along the way, too. things have really come together for me since arriving in ohio.

work is way cool! (how many people are able to say that?!?!) i am part of the team that will be opening a new store on april 1. we have been at the new space for the last week, working around the construction crews. they are almost done and the city inspectors are supposed to come today and approve the space. then we can go ahead and get product into the store! we spent the week meeting, talking and building shelving. we discussed which of us will be taking on which responsibilities, as well as talking about each others’ strengths and weaknesses. i like every single member of the team and found it very easy to talk openly about what i think are my issues as a manager. we all pledged to help one another with the things we need to work on.

we also assembled shelving. at first, i thought it odd that this task was not assigned to the construction crew. but as we worked along, i realized that this is actually a team building exercise for all of us. we learn how to work together….and not just in some hokey classroom setting, but in a real-life situation with tangible results. plus, we have a part in building the physical structure of the store. each time we stock the shelves, we can know that we had a hand in putting them together.

we have been meeting our new crew-members, too. they have been stopping by the store for a tour and getting to know us a bit. i have confidence in my bosses’ intuition with the hiring process. so far they have hired about 45 people out of the 60 we will start with. more than 270 people applied to work at this store, so they have been able to pick and choose and get the cream of the crop. this also means that as the first few employees fall away through natural attrition, there will still be a hefty pool of applicants to choose from. there is a lot of training to be done in the next few weeks. we have an advantage over the original “pioneer” store, in that we can bring these people into that store for training. they will have some real, hands-on experience before opening day. this is a huge plus for us!

then there is the commitment ceremony. it’s hard to believe that it’s only 12 days away! we worked on our vows yesterday, as well as the program for the service. i am also working up a schedule of events for the day, so the folks who have volunteered to help us can all have some idea of how the event needs to flow. the minister sent a draft of the service itself that tony and i spent some time with, too. i think it’s going to be lovely and, hopefully, brief. i have no need to stand up there in front of everyone for hours and hours (or even 45 minutes!) droning away about some boring thing. it should just be a few quick words, our vows, the kiss and then on to cake!

as far as the reception, that seems to be coming together nicely, too. i am so relieved that such a wonderful crew of people from the church have volunteered to help with setting up the room and making coffee, etc. i know they will do much to alleviate my stress. the cake is mostly done. i have made the layers already, and they are resting in tony’s freezer. the white chocolate curls to cover the outside of it are also done, and sitting in repose in my freezer. all that remains is the cream cheese frosting, and i have all the pieces of that already in the house. it will just be a matter of whipping it up and then assembling and stacking the layers. i plan on doing this the night before the ceremony at my house, with all my out-of-town guests in attendance. we are going out to dinner in a group that evening, then coming back here to work on the cake, the flowers and some cocktails! it will be so nice to have all of them here to share this event with tony and me.

we had picked out the paper plates/forks/napkins that we wanted weeks ago. tony and his eagle eye found then proceeded to find them all on sale at marc’s, so we saved a ton of money on that score. i have already laid in the supplies of champagne and sparkling lemonade for the toast, as well as the disposable cameras. i’ve pre-ordered the flowers (1000 stems of daffodils.) we have our clothes all picked out. we have reservations made for our mini-honeymoon: dinner at the baricelli inn; overnight at the inter-continental suites hotel; brunch at the ritz. really all that’s left is for the event to happen. we are so excited! there will be pictures as soon as i get to it afterwards.

the hunt for a house has come to a halt, pretty much. our realtor decided to take off for vacation the last two weeks of february. this was a total surprise to us, as i had planned on using this period to plow through as many listings as possible before starting in at the new store. we had seen only one property we thought we might like, and that was in a not-so-great neighborhood. tonight we are scheduled to see a house being sold by a friend of tony’s. it’s in a good area and has the much-desired giant kitchen that has been on the top of my list of priorities from the git-go. more on that as it develops.
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