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{the week} BRB, Yo!

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the week… and weekend:
So, if you didn’t notice (WHAT THE HELL, YOU?!), I took a week off to TAKE A DAMN WEEK OFF. That, and we did some tent camping and wine and craft beer drinking and cheese and s’mores eating in the Finger Lakes. I was desperate for an unplugging. Posts will be coming on THAT shortly.

After spending five-plus hours in the car ride home on Saturday, I took another one-and-a-half trip to Ohio to play in three derby scrimmages on Sunday. YES, I WAS THE WOMAN WHO PUKED OFF THE SIDE OF 76-W NEAR THE TOLL BOOTHS!

Then, I slept for 10 hours. And it was good.

seven things, seven days:
1. {exercise} starting a new training program
2. {moar exercise} …and starting Spinning this Saturday!
3. {nom} amish baked goods. hello, apple fritter bread.
4. {pamper} came home to a goodies package from ULTA
5. {indulge} poshmark is my new mobile obsession.
6. {puke} ugh, car sickness.
7. {derby} first practice Tuesday night with my new derby home team: Allegheny Avengers assemble!

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{the week} Ain’t no mountain high enough… wait, is that a 4-20 reference?

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{the week} Ain’t no mountain high enough… wait, is that a 4-20 reference?

the week:
This week has been filled with highs… and unfortunately, some lows. But through the smiles and tears (and uncomfortable talks), I discover my strengths and faults. With that realization, I need to make some changes in various parts of my life to achieve my goals. And I know this paragraph is worse than your old college friend VagueBooking, but there are some things that I’m just not ready to talk about. You can read that all over my eyes that are swollen with tears of disappointment, awareness and heart.

But it was all worth it to hear from the boyfriend: to me, you have no faults.
I know, he’s a total bullshitter! And in the same breath, he pointed out actual faults (because I wanted to hear them). But it’s all constructive because some days he seems to know me better than I know myself.

weekend:
So, this weekend, I’m going to rock the shit out of it.
Tonight, a Pirates game.
Tomorrow, roller derby.
Sunday, Pittsburgh ComiCon. And yes, I’ll be there in costume.

And I hear there’s some kinda of hockey game or something…

seven things, seven days:
1. {work} I interviewed and was offered a position at a local non-profit this week. Part-time (which still allows me to freelance)… but full-time excited over here.
2. {nom} More enchiladas at Las Velas, please. Tonight before the game? Boyfriend, you’re the bestest.
3. {cheers} Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week starts today! Actually, at 7 this morning. WHERE WERE YOU?!
4. {do good} A few days ago, I met Randy of Randyland local fame (pictures above). What an amazing human being. I could listen to him talk about his passions and his art for hours.
5. {energy} Barre — a real food bar — is developed by two local dancers and made in Pittsburgh!
6. {dance} Coppelia at the Pittsburgh Ballet was every bit as memorable as the performances that I held dear from childhood.
7. {wishes} And yes, I want to be a ballerina again. I can pretend with adult beginner classes. You bet that I’m seriously considering it!

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{the week} A Cadbury Creme Egg & Jelly Belly Hangover

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{the week} A Cadbury Creme Egg & Jelly Belly Hangover

A pretty day in Indianapolis

And now, for a few weeks break on the American Road Trip…

the week:
I made a goal for 2012 to invest more in my business, with Task #1 to have a new site designed to better show off my copywriting portfolio. I definitely needed a recharge this year (and, frankly, to start taking it a little more seriously), now that I (think I) know what I’m doing. I’m finally down to business (heh), seeing first drafts of my new header this week from my designer. Task #2 and #3, by the way, is to find a career coach/mentor and get myself to a conference, respectively. I’m looking for suggestions and referrals on both.

Then by some strange twist of career fate, I was contacted by a recruiter this week — oh, the ghost of my career past continues its attempts to lure me back into real estate. And next Tuesday, I have an interview for something completely different — part-time, albeit full of awesomeness. The dynamic of my work history and career goals is certainly interesting. I have a fabulous collection of nametags. I think I blogged about this before…

One of the many beer souvenirs brought home with us from Indy.

weekend:
So. Many. Weeds. So, I’ll be catching up on some garden work. And let’s hope that the freeze warnings have passed for good. But I think I’m going to refinish my vanity desk or paint something too — perhaps the cabinetry in the guest bath — hopefully in preparation of us FINALLY finding a bathroom contractor in our budget.

I’ll also be hanging some new curtains. LIFE OF A PARTY ROCKSTAR OVER HERE!

Ok, Ok, so I’m a little sidelined for the aforementioned ambitious activities by this damn lingering wrist injury. Good thing I drink with my left…

Tonight is the new members social at Soho for Pittsburgh Young Professionals. If you’re a PYP member (or want to join), come say hi at happy hour — I promise to talk your ear off about my community involvement committee.

If you’re into the whole superstitious numerology thing, Dormont’s Hollywood Theater is showing Friday the 13th tonight.

Sunday, I go to the ballet and its closing party. Coppelia has been my favorite story since I was a kid in pointe shoes. But also, this is my first experience with the Pittsburgh Ballet performances. I was lax this year in jumping in on a season ticket package, but I’m definitely purchasing one for next.

seven things, seven days
1. {winning} I won $4 on an Easter basket scratch-off. I SUNK YOUR BATTLESHIP! But yeah… it’s for the Ohio Lottery. And yesterday I realized that I can’t cash it HERE.
2. {animal planet} A neighbor of ours has bee hives in her backyard (I know *shudder*), and I recently learned that she names the Queens after all the women in our neighborhood. So, a Queen Bee is named after me and rules a hive on my street. How cool is that?
3. {urban awesome} Said neighbor also has chickens in her backyard. Have I mentioned how awesome our neighborhood is?!
4. {beauty} Birchobox delivery week: the thrill of this monthly subscription is gone.
5. {sports} FUCK YEAH, HOCKEY!
6. {cheese} You know what’s better than chocolate in your Easter basket? HOT PEPPER CHEESE FROM AMISH COUNTRY.
7. {save the date} If you’re in NYC or can make it there April 28, check out this B3 Blogging Workshop presented by Single Edition and Lord & Taylor (wish I could be there!).

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{the week} I like wine with my wine, thankyouverymuch!

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{the week} I like wine with my wine, thankyouverymuch!

And my wine with my vodka. But not really, because I’M OLD AND CANNOT HANDLE THE HANGOVERS. Ahem.

the week: Valentine’s Day was this week… you know, that holiday that I poo-poo’d. We kept on the tradition I started last year of having fondue (celebrated on Sunday, since Tuesday was a practice night for me). It was delicious. And reaffirms all I need is him and cheese and bread and wine and my cats to be happy forever and ever amen. The boyfriend got me a card, which happens… never. Naturally, in my current whack-a-doodle hormonal state, I cried.

He also got me this:

…which is still in mail purgatory. But, SQUEE! You know what’s better than love? Finding someone who knows you SO well.
*swoon*

Err, I meant *puke*

And then on Monday, I had cheese for dinner AGAIN. It definitely was not as delicious as the melty, dippy goodness.

I also got this month’s Foodzie box — which was the Date Night Box. It included: durum wheat Mohawk pasta, Fig & Port Vinaigrette, roasted salted pecans, Mendocino sea salt and a Port wine caramel chocolate bar.

Animals humping on that wrapper, by the way!

That chocolate bar is from Sweeteeth in Charleston, SC. Did you read that it’s filled with port wine and caramel? And I’m having it with my wine for dinner.

PS: who’s already looking forward to Anthrocon this summer?

weekend:
We’re hosting a small bottleshare gathering with some friends this weekend, which means I’ll be spending my Friday night lint-rolling every sitting surface in my house. While drinking a bottle from my new wine club delivery. And that chocolate bar.

We also have a fun Elite party to attend at Penn Brewery, courtesy of Yelp!

Which totally reminded me about that time when I told a waiter “no thanks” in response to taking home my leftover lunch by actually saying, “No. I’m having vodka for dinner.” That time was this week.

For all you pudding lovers: Saturday is the Valentine’s Day Pudding Massacre (aka: PUDDING WRESTLING). Be at Belvedere’s.

weekly reading wrap-up: Still on the same book as last week… I need to get in a few short ones this month before vacation.

seven things, seven days
1. cheese plate and giant heart-shaped red velvet cake at Sonoma Grille… with some of AB’s coworkers. I’m crashing this consultant party!
2. I painted my nails twice in two weeks. WHO AM I?
3. Turntable Kitchen was not worth the monthly subscription. Meh. Definitely sticking with Foodzie.
4. Birchbox was ridiculous this month too — not “lip tattoos” ridiculous, sadly. Regardless, I’m ready to unsubscribe.
5. Arsenal Plum Cider. Yum!
6. handwritten notes from bloggers are awesome. (thanks, Rachel!)
7. vacation countdown has begun!

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{conversations with the boyfriend} what-a-burger?

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{conversations with the boyfriend} what-a-burger?

Boyfriend: Would you be offended if I put your cheeseburger on an English muffin?
Me: Um… those are cinnamon-raisin English muffins.

Dammit. A Michael Symon Lola burger sounds SO GOOD, no?

I can’t think of a single burger that would use a cinnamon-raisin muffin as its bun though. DO YOU GOT ONE, INTERNET?

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{I want!} DIY Cheese Kit: NO CHEESE FOR YOU!

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{I want!} DIY Cheese Kit: NO CHEESE FOR YOU!

SOLD OUT?!

I hope this means that one of you was SUPER, DUPER awesome & already bought a DIY Cheese Kit for me! Or is currently making me cheese from their recently-purchased DIY Cheese Kit.

See UrbanCheesecraft on etsy for more kits (currently sold out for the holidays *whomp*) and cheese-making accessories.

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{pursuit} Cooking for the boyfriend: #2

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{pursuit} Cooking for the boyfriend: #2

My first attempt at cooking for the boyfriend went well, with something I feel comfortable doing: baking. So, I made wonderful cinnamon rolls. And the boyfriend approved.

The second task I picked as my 25 project was a “surprise” for Valentine’s Day. This was no easy task, as not only was dinner my responsibility — so was the freaking grocery shopping. AB was ALL kinds of nervous, wondering if I was gifting him food poisoning for the romantic holiday. See? That’s real love.

In order for my meal to be a success, I needed to purchase a new small appliance (as if we need anything else in this kitchen!): a fondue pot. Finding an abundance of models at both Target and Kohl’s online, I thought that buying one in store would be just as easy. WRONG. Neither had them. But thankfully, at open skate that afternoon, one of my freshies recommended Bed, Bath & Beyond (I have no clue why that option escaped me while I was wandering around McKnight Road). I scored an electric Cuisanart model for less than $50, and also picked up a mini dipper crockpot for, like, $20. This thing is AWESOME, and saved a potential “problem” I recognized in serving three courses of fondue.

Cuisinart fondue pot

First course: oil and meat (and dipping sauces)
I used peanut oil, as it is supposedly healthier, but also less likely to stink up the place. I mean, we were cooking meat practically in our living room. Mmmmm, smell that Chinese restaurant on my couch? *puke* Also, never use olive oil (smoky). Anyway, the butcher at Giant Eagle was incredibly helpful, selecting a pound of filet that I had to cut into small pieces for dipping. There wasn’t a lot of fat to cook off, which was great, and I didn’t need to marinate the meat. You can also use sirloin, but… meh.

My three sauces: a sweet and sour (ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar), a mustard sauce (mayo, mustard — both dry and hot mustard, and wine vinegar), a melted lemon-herb butter (OMG, it was so delicious & we have those individual butter warmers, which was like a whole other fondue!). And of course, A-1.

fondue dinner

Second course (served alongside the first): cheese fondue and a platter of veggies and breads
I found a few recipes online for a cheese fondue, but none of which could be made without the use of white wine (which we didn’t have… and you know you can’t buy freaking wine from grocery stores), so I had to open up a bottle of “saved” Pinot Gris (even after I asked the boyfriend not to use it THE PRIOR WEEK). I used all Gruyere, melted with the white wine, a little cornstarch, salt & pepper and garlic. I had to time it perfectly, as I had to make it on the stove first, then transfer it to the mini crockpot (which really didn’t keep it hot enough, but we made it work). It was DELICIOUS. I cut up a variety of veggies (the carrots are NOT good for fondue, but I wanted another color on the plate… consider it a palate cleanser) and a couple different breads and a seasoned pita chip.

fondue night

Third course: chocolate and several sweet things for dipping
I tell you what, melting chocolate has everything to do with the pan. We received a new Cephalon small sauce pan for Christmas, and this thing was wonderful — perfect chocolate melty-ness. I used semisweet (the individually-wrapped cubes, then chopped them a little smaller) and heavy cream and a tiny bit of vanilla. Voila! Also, I just transferred to a small Corningware ramekin for the table. It stayed melted long enough to enjoy the plate of goodies.

For dipping, I plated vanilla wafers, giant marshmallows (seriously, this campfire bag was all kinds of awesome, but it is definitely no Pittsburgh Marshmallow Company marshmallow… I just couldn’t get there over the weekend), pineapple, cut up one of those frozen Sara Lee pound cakes (seriously, I love that cake for things like this).

fondue marshmallow

To be honest, I was shocked how well everything came together (even if I spent the better part of February 14 stressing out and doing prep work). It was my first time attempting fondue, and I swear, I made a time sheet to make sure I didn’t forget ANY steps. But the best part: I didn’t really have to cook anything (which, I think alleviated some of the boyfriend’s stomach stress).

What did you make (or have) for Valentine’s Day dinner?

valentine's day fondue dinner

Kind of romantic, no?

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Easter givings, food and offerings of cheese.

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How was your Easter? I am seriously on carb overload. But YAY for Spring dresses this year and mojitos. And… that gorgeous bruise on my hand.

Speaking of cheese, the Cheese Club at West Point Market in Akron is amazing. As such, their selection is equally as awesome. We came home with a honey nut gouda, aged habernero cheddar, and an never-before-heard and deliciously-buttery Bruges.

Friday, I spent with the NEO roller derby gals in a skate class. I now know the inner workings of trucks, wheels and bearings.

Afterward, AB & I loaded up on beers at Riverside in Kent, and enjoyed the outdoor patio for a bit.

Saturday, aforementioned cheeses and lunch at A&W. Two Yums for root beer floats for lunch (and a coney dog and mozzarella sticks). What? It’s a holiday. And I start running on Monday.

For dinner, we had kitchen-bar seats at Russo’s. I was a bit nervous at the menu offerings, where with a seafood allergy — IT’S CAJUN, CREOLE, NEW ORLEANS-infused, which means um, tread carefully. The grilled chicken livers were delicious. Seriously, each restaurant has its own spin on offal, and I can’t get enough. For entree, I ordered the jambalaya which contained sausage, chicken and ham, but couldn’t have the creole sauce since it’s made with a crab base. DAMN. Thankfully, it still contained a bit of spicy bite. (And thankfully I asked for their “replacement” sauce of marinara on the side. Kinda ew, right?). Highly disappointed in the house salad served with the entrees. I mean, can a girl get a shredded carrot or grape tomato or something? IT WAS ONLY LETTUCE. And it was weird to me. I LOVED my Sazarac drink, even if the waitress second-guessed my penchant for rye whiskey.

End note: Bread pudding with a bourbon cream sauce. Om nom nom nom. I was more full than I would be on Easter.

I need a massage. Badly. I don’t know if it’s either my sleeping patterns (or bed un-selection) or combined with the fact I work from slumpy couches and dining room tables. We should be able to dispel the latter with our purchase on an actual DESK (from the Wayside folks). Being delivered next week. It’s time to rearrange the apartment and create an actual “office” within our living space. Next up: a new computer chair.

Be that as it may… a big hooray as well for repeat holidays. I broke the spell of AB’s attention span or something apparently, since he’s never had a girl long enough to repeat holidays. Now, I wish he wasn’t such a traveling businessman. I want him here. Needy, I know.

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Weekend update

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Thanks to the wonderful suggestion of the one-and-only Cleveland Bachelor in finally getting my ass over to Cinematheque (where I thought I’ve been before, but perhaps not) to see “We Live in Public” on Friday night. It was a fantastic documentary about Josh Harris — a man who should be familiar, but unfortunately is not. So, if you like social media, history on the beginnings of the internet and other amazing technologies of the online variety, check him out. The movie is gone from Cleveland, but perhaps in that being a story about an internet guru, it would find its way to downloadable status somewhere.

After our weekly trip to the West Side Market (complete with holiday music, courtesy of the  St. Ignatius band), Saturday was meant for holiday shopping.

And for any day-long festive stress fest, food fuel (and beer) are prerequisites. The Mighty Macaroni Melt from Melt (and holiday brews) did the job! The wait wasn’t horrible for lunch time on Saturday, but as always — it’s totally worth it. My mouth and stomach were at capacity at only a quarter of sandwich eaten. (And I was not hungry for the ENTIRE duration of the day). That being said, my Melt tattoo is not finished in its design phase, but I intend to revisit hopefully by February to join the melty-happy-tattoo club. 25% for life and The Goddess of Grilled Cheese is certainly a religious sacrament I can get behind.

We fortunately walked off most of those calories. I was excited to find a copy of  “Paris je’taime” DVD at the CD Exchange in Lakewood as well. And subsequently cannot WAIT until the sequel, “New York, I Love You” — coming soon.

A little further into Lakewood, a stop into my most favorite of chocolatiers – Sweet Designs — for an add-on birthday gift for AB’s mom.

Shop. Shop. Shop. Shop. Stand on line. Annoy. Annoy. Horrible Hat Head. Go broke. Get happy, happy holiday cards from that piece of shit sitting in River. Heat broken. Grrr. Fixed. Shop online.

Need more Christmas Ale.

Our end result was ne’er too merry — we still have to finish up next weekend. But the trip should prove to be a fun shopping excursion, with visits to vintage stores and kitchsy galleries and home stores. Again, more West Side.

I was wholly tuckered by ten o’clock.

Coming up this week: Tuesday is the last day to enter the Penis Tuesday giveaway, courtesy of the ever-gracious Princess Patti (and her crocheted penises). I’ll have a Gift Guide for the Male in your life. Also, a random ex-boyfriend story. New Year’s plans are set, with an upcoming vacation/road trip and then the mother of all vacations in January.

Did you catch Cold Case Sunday night, inspired by the music of the iconic Bob Seger? Tuh-die.

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Mel’s 12 Days of Christmas Gifts Guide for your Lady Friends

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I’ve been asked for ideas* for holiday presents this season for females**, so sing along with me***:

On the first day of Christmas my boyfriend bought for me Murad Hydrating Toner… *cough* or Mineralize MAC shadow! Boys, raid your ladies’ medicine cabinets and see which of her favorite products are running low. Bonus: sparkly shadows are make-up bag pleasers, and the MAC shadow suggested is a perfect complement for those date nights you promised as part of your Couple Resolutions for the new year.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me: a manner of stress relief that didn’t involve massaging… your penis. But while we’ve got your attention on holistic health services, a massage (followed by facial, followed by pedicure) sounds abfab in the most non-pervy sort of way. Preferably at a place that serves me champagne and a steam bath. And a limo ride home. Heh. If your “friend” spends her money on more sensible objects like, say, alcohol, she probably won’t treat herself to spa services. Enter: Ladies & Gentlemen, an all around local fave (plus they’re paid handsomely that they don’t accept tips, which I think is doubly-awesome for gift giving — it’s been a couple years, and I hope this is still true!). AND there are two east side locations, you know, so by selecting Legacy Village, there’s more a chance that she won’t run into any weird acquaintances from Memorial Junior High school. Tip: Hopefully by now, you recognize your woman’s salon — call them up. Guaranteed someone will refer a great selection of regular (or splurge) services she requests.

On the third day of Christmas my computer geek emailed to me: something awesomely geeky. While I can’t find these specific panties sold locally, a small additional gag gift for a woman with a sense of humor works every time. “For what?” I hear you ask. Well, a reminder how hilarious you are (you know, that whole women like a man who’s funny thing. Oh, you forgot that part of courting already. Well, you need to complete this part of your gal’s Wish List ASAP). Local suggestion: Big Fun (TWO locations: Coventry & Cleveland/Lakewood border). Remember the silliness of her NKOTB obsession — I’m sure there’s a boxed 80s Jordan Knight doll for that. Star Trek geek — oh, they definitely have you covered.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my Man Around the House cooked up for me: *gasp* Michael. Symon. and Chef Sawyer Chef School. Sure, cooking schools have been around, but for the foodie in your heart, these two hottie chefs present a gift idea for the new generation, regardless of the lady of the house’s experience level (hey, watching someone cook is a skill too!). And, frankly, looking at hot (ahem, married) chefs doesn’t hurt a meal. Call your local favorite restaurant and check out what special dinners or classes are offered.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my lover wrapped for meeeeeee: lessons to be learrrnnnned! So, speaking of lessons, has your sig other talked about ballroom dancing lessons (*choke*) or perhaps learning the tango (*swoon*)? Maybe she could benefit from a few months of paid lessons from a local instructor to learn more than just that same freaking song. Longing for the days of piano recitals and relearning your classical repertoire? Shit, if money and space isn’t an option, surprise! It’s an antique piano! I’m sure you catch my musical drift.

And on the sixth day of xmas my true love made for me? Hahah. No, silly, he BOUGHT handmade for me: the cutest handmade scarf ever seen! Search etsy for local handmade or visit CLE events like Bizarre Bazaar or the Made in the 216 holiday shop. Girl not into handmade? Go vintage for classic accessories. My obsession is vintage coats and cardigans (and old rhinestone necklaces and silk scarves and hats…). Do a small bit of research on sizes (vintage runs different than modern sizes!!). Start with these shops: Suite Lorain or Busy Broad.

Am I on the 7th Day of Christmas? Um, yes, gift cert to Voodoo Monkey, please. You know, for my geeky code tattoo. Added bonus: if your woman is a Melt-fanatic (who isn’t?!), help design a grilled cheese tattoo for $25 off, courtesy of VooDoo Monkey artists. And well, we all know the cult following — the gift that keeps on giving: 25% off Melt grilled cheese for LIFE. Just as permanent as the tattoo. And hopefully, as you.

On the eighth day straight of drinking spiked egg nog, my boy toy bought for me: a CLE-made iPhone appstand. Holy crap — be still my ever-gadget-lovin’ heart! I have so many ideas for its use in our apartment, it makes my head spin: an ever-changing digital photo frame to show off all my Facebook fans, set up to read online recipes while in the kitchen, narcisstically showing off my awesome new iPhone version of my website. Oh, you didn’t know? Seriously, grab your smartphone and check it out. Awesome, right?

On the ninth day of Christmas, my non-book-reading boyfriend gave to me: Yes. It’s a $100 (used) book. Shut up. Local bookstores can likely order it just the same. Be that as it may, stalk her Amazon wishlist. There’s a reason for it. But support one of the many FABULOUS local bookstores in Cleveland, if available.

Dear Santa, Day #10: still craving cheese. Ohio cheeses: MacKenzie Creamery habanera goat. Heini’s Vidalia onion. Guggisberg baby swiss. Yes, as much as I drooled over the “Cheese of the Month Club” in Williams-Sonoma, knowing where my dairy comes from (and especially knowing their practices) is important. I’ll leave my fancy imported cheese porn for my next dinner with the maître fromage at L’Albatros.

On the eleventh day of damn-my-freaking-nipples-are-falling-off, my tent buddy bought for me: awesome outdoor activity gifts. There’s kayaking (certain classes are available to ready your skills for the open waters in Spring), horseback riding (RR stables), snowmobiling (*sigh* WTF?! I still cannot find a local renter of snowmobiles. I don’t get it – there are trails, but no equipment available to rent in the area. More people in Cleveland must enjoy the snowy trails as much as I do! I just don’t have the storage space for a snowmobile). It’s Winter in Cleveland — Hell may freeze over, but the lake doesn’t… completely. You want a Red Rider BB gun? I want a Red Ryder sled.

And (thankfully) on the final effin’ day of Chrismahanukwanza my significant other shared with me: a museum membership. Dating an art major (Become a member of Cleveland Museum of Art) or hankering for a history buff (The Nature League is a GREAT member group of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History). Does your marriage need a little more rockin‘? Perhaps your Best Friend’s Girl is an independent or international film freak (CIA Cinematheque)? Passion breeds passion. *wink*

*please adapt accordingly to your girlfriend/FWB/wife/favorite Diamond’s stripper.

**males are next! I’ll have 12 gift ideas for the men in our life, courtesy of AB.

***but really, don’t sing. I hate Christmas music.

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