christmas-y things and a reunion

Last week my office celebrated nondenominational wintertime holiday party three of four by visiting the capitol Christmas tree and the botanical garden.20131216-092804.jpg

The botanical garden, as it turns out, is pretty awesome at Christmas time. There’s a pretty big model of the mall, with the buildings made of plant-based materials (bark, I guess?). To be honest, I initially thought the capitol was made of chocolate. 20131216-104928.jpg

The party went long and I ended up meeting my dad at the metro around 7 PM. There was insane traffic (more to come on Friday), so we didn’t get home until after 7:30. By then I didn’t really feel like cooking, so we went to Nielsen’s. Now, I love Nielsen’s, but their customer service that night was not great. The sandwich station had apparently been put away, so we had frozen custard for dinner. Jason also had a soup and my dad ordered a soup, but let’s just say Nielsen’s does custard better than soup.

Friday was Christmas party four of four and the day my dad left for Utah. I woke up at 5 AM to bake pistachio cookies for Jason’s work Christmas party. I grossly overestimated the time it would take to bake them, so I had time to also make a big breakfast, unload and reload the dishwasher, and finish a book.
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On Friday night, Jason and I had plans to meet up with the Oswalds and Grant, some of our favorite Bluegrass Ward friends. Traffic, it turns out, was once again horrible, so Grant and I waited at the metro for an hour while Jason battled to drive four miles in that time. We did all make it to Cafe Rio (of course) in one piece and actually ended up right behind el auto de Oswald in the last turning lane. There was much catching up and eating of nostalgic salads and cooing over adorable children, which by and large made for a wonderful evening, traffic notwithstanding. The thing I hate about moving so much is missing people that we like, which is definitely true of the Laytons.
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We took Grant to Trader Joe’s for some stocking up, then dropped him off at the metro.

Saturday morning I went for a bold earlyish morning run with a friend from our ward. I haven’t had a running buddy in some months and it felt good to run outdoors. It was pretty cold out and even started snowing the tiniest little bit at the beginning. Worth it to feel hard core.

The rest of Saturday: naps on the couch, reading, watching of basketball, ward Christmas party with excellent food, Trader Joe’s, listening to the BYU-Utah basketball game until I couldn’t take it anymore and fell asleep. Jason stayed up because he is a true fan (or a masochist).

wednesday + red eye

My least favorite part of visiting family is that last day, when you feel obligated to cram in as much stuff as possible and you have to pack and you’re dreading the curbside drop-off at the airport, because it is in aiports that you feel the most alone and depressed that the trip is over. At least, that’s how I feel.

The last day of my Utah trip was jam-packed. I got up earlyish and went on a five-mile run with one of my favorite Bluegrass running buddies, Elaina! Without her, I would never have been able to finish (uninjured and happily) the Derby Half Marathon. She’s awesome. We ran the Provo River Trail, which I’d never done before. I was worried the altitude would kill me–since I’ve been running at essentially sea level for the last year–but I felt really good. 20121206-094828.jpg

It was so fun to catch up and felt just like all those early mornings at the Johnson Center gym in Lexington.

Post-run I headed home and cleaned up. My mom and I mailed Hannah’s Christmas package (last package of her mission!) and picked my dad up from his office for lunch. We went to Guru’s and (of course) had to get the sweet potato fries along with our comida.20121206-094837.jpg
We stopped to see my Grandpa Henderson and my mom and I did some food shopping and cooking in preparation for my dad’s work party on Thursday. We ate dinner and headed up to SLC to see my Grandma and Grandpa and Sharla and her kiddos before taking me to the airport.

Grady is a wild man. He’s sneaky and quiet and then enters the room, tornado-style, as seen below. Also, how cute is Grant with small children? He’ll be a good uncle one of these (many) days (hence).
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We talked and ate cake and Justin shared his Christmas pageant lines with us. I’m so glad I was able to catch these little ones (and their mom, of course) before returning to VA.20121206-152054.jpg
We took a bunch of pictures with everyone, but I forgot to get one with my phone. After a series of good-byes, my parents and the boys dropped me off at the airport around eleven. I hated leaving them, but couldn’t wait to see Jason.

I had to show my marriage license at security to prove my identity as The Girl Formerly Known As Amanda Michelle Pullan, which I found a little funny in super-trusting Mormon Salt Lake City. My flight was on time and I had an empty seat next to me, but it was kind of cold and I had trouble falling asleep. I got into Charlotte at 5:30 AM EST (3:30 AM MST), and used the last of my Starbuck’s gift card from Laura to get a peppermint hot chocolate (Slightly embarrassing side note: I thought the cashier said there was $0.45 remaining on my card, so I walked away. I was quickly summoned back, though, to pay the extra $0.45 I owed on my beverage. Amanda Frost: hot chocolate thief).

I settled in at Gate C11, plugged in my iPhone, and enjoyed two sweet hours of Law & Order before boarding. I did fall asleep partway through the second episode, but awakened before my zone was called. I was able to sleep on the way to Baltimore until a woman four rows behind me threw up.

My bag was one of the first ones off the carousel, which never happens, and then I ran outside and immediately caught the bus to the Amtrak/MARC station. I took the 9:57 AM MARC train into the city and was back in my office at 10:40 AM, my trip officially concluded. I wasn’t as tired as I expected, though I may experience a post-supper crash this evening.

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I have the cutest cousins in the world. There is just no denying it.

bluegrass bowling

Each Christmas Eve morning, the Bluegrass Ward gathers to bowl and eat bagels. We missed out last year because we were busy flying to Connecticut. Thankfully, this year they invited former ward members to join in the fun.

Below, Jason getting us all ready to go. I realized that Jason and I have never bowled together before. How did we escape Provo without a cliche Fat Cats+Costa Vida date? No idea.

Turns out, we like bowling together. I did not even mind losing terribly to Jason and one of the Bluegrass ward missionaries. The other missionary was even worse than me (which is saying something. I didn’t score in my first two frames).

Afterward, we ate more bagels and caught up with friends.

I like this tradition. Maybe we’ll have to make it a Frost family one next year?

good things from today

1. Jason and I both rocked 4.0 GPAs this semester. Granted, I had just two classes to his three, but it’s still cause for celebration.

2. Six days until Christmas. SIX!  Kentucky looks decidedly autumnal still, and we are not supposed to get any snow before Moving Day (nine days away). Five days until Christmas Eve. Two days until Pre-Christmas dinner.

3. I decided to be thoughtful and get Jason Clear and Present Danger from Amazon.com for Christmas (on the recommendation of basically all his Connecticut friends). Since he’s a student, we have AmazonPrime (a.k.a. free two-day shipping, which actually comes in one day, thanks to the Amazon fulfillment center located in Lexington), but I had to order it on his account and surreptitiously check his email periodically to intercept the shipping notification. Unfortunately, I wasn’t careful enough and he saw an email from Amazon. Also unfortunately, he noticed that I ordered a VHS instead of a DVD. Nice, especially considering we do not (and do not ever plan to) own a VCR. The good part? We had a hearty laugh about it when I got home…and the VHS was $2.87.

4. Chocolate chip cookies + Andes Mint Chips = Cookie nirvana for mint-devotees.

5. I remembered today that the first day of winter is on Thursday and I am not completely behind on my To Do in Fall 2011 goals (though some, like Bible mini-golfing, have sadly fallen by the wayside).

6. (Technically from last night) We had a great last-hurrah dinner with the Laytons and wish they were moving closer to us, instead of very far away.

7. It’s nine o’clock and Jason is reading recreationally. We watched three episodes of Parks and Recreation and ate dinner and neither one of us has to worry about homework. I could get used to this.

the best meal on beale

…is not veal, but that would be nice so as to perpetuate the rhyme.

No, the best meal on Beale is a half-rack of ribs, fried catfish, slaw, baked beans, steak fries, and Texas toast.  This is what Jason ate for lunch yesterday at the Blue City Cafe.  We tried to eat at Rendezvous with our friends, but it was closed.  Jason had seen the Blues City Cafe on our way over, and noted that they claim the best ribs in Memphis.  We decided to give it a try.

We took this picture afterward.  We are so full.

Jason had the aforementioned Best Meal on Beale, and I had six Cajun-spiced skillet shrimp (along with the obligatory and delicious slaw, new potatoes, and Texas toast).  We also sampled a sausage and cheese plate; if all sausage were like that, it would be removed from my Least Favorite Foods list.

We wandered around Beale Street in the rain for a bit before heading out of Memphis.

My dad asked us to leave a chocolate chip cookie on the steps of Sun Records (I think as a gratitude offering for the good music produced there).  We chose instead to eat the chocolate chip cookies, but did snap a picture of the building.

We pulled into Lexington last night around 9:30 PM, but between returning the rental car and putting away our stuff and eating dinner, we didn’t get to sleep until almost one in the morning.

Needless to say, we’ve had a pretty relaxing Labor Day.  It’s 66 degrees out and has rained off and on all day, so we skipped the ward (well, now our former ward.  It’s not every day that you leave on vacation and return to find yourselves in a different ward) apple picking outing.  Instead, we opted for grocery shopping and maybe a trip to the gym later tonight.  I ordered my books.  Jason has done some reading.  Now I am having an internal struggle about whether to sign up for the Indianapolis Mini Marathon in November.

not granola, but we did like the farmers market

2. Go to the farmers market.

We’re moving right along on our goals.  Our weekend began with a morning trip to the Lexington farmers market.  We just wanted to check it out, peruse the wares, etc.  Then, we saw the beautiful peaches and knew we had to bring some home.  We also scored a pint of fresh blackberries.  I witnessed Jason eating more fruit this weekend than any other period in our marriage; this farmers market thing may become a habit (at least until the end of summer), even if Grant makes fun of us.

Jason and I went to the gym after grocery shopping, and then he helped with a move while I talked to Mariel on the phone.  When he returned, we had pizza for dinner and watched a West Wing.  Those two things never get old. 

On Sunday, Jason helped in the sunbeam class, so I was a lone adult in Sunday School.  I had a (long) nap soon after we got home, and Jason had a (short) nap later.  We took a little walk around campus after dinner; I quite like UK.  The grounds here have nothing on BYU (maybe I’m a little biased), but parts of campus are really pretty.  I love the brick buildings especially.  When we were dating, I informed Jason that we would never live in an all-brick house because when I think of all-brick, I think of the brick-enthusiast’s house in Elk Ridge (if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.  So bad).  However, Kentucky has converted me to (tasteful) red brick.

In the evening, we happened to catch President Obama’s press conference re: the debt ceiling deal, then played Settlers with the Thompsons.  I think that is a game we should own someday. 

Now it’s Monday.  Jason kindly got up at 5:40 AM to go to the gym with me; he’s one good guy.  It’s going to be a great week.

youth conference weekend

This weekend was busier than usual. Jason was tapped for youth conference group-leading, so he spent the night on Thursday with his group. I went to book club and made a big pot of carrot and chickpea tagine and baked sweet potato fries.

It rained almost all day on Friday, and Jason was stuck doing outdoor activities with the youth. I had carrot and chickpea tagine for lunch and again for dinner (and for breakfast the next day. That stuff is a little addictive). Jason picked me up at six and we went over to the youth conference dance. Chaperoning youth activities makes me feel very old, it turns out. Fortunately, no one brought in illicit substances or danced closer than Book of Mormon-width, so there was no need to lay down the law. After the dance, Jason went back to their group’s host family’s house and I spent the night at Taryn’s with a group of girls and their leader.

The next morning, I rode back to the church with the group, then made Taryn drop me at home so I could go running. I did a quick little run (since it was stiflingly humid), then walked to the church to catch the last bit of youth conference with Jason.

These flowers were on the way.

When Jason’s kids had all been safely returned to their parents, we went home and both took naps. For dinner, we enjoyed leftover hawaiian haystacks (which lasted us two meals after that too). Sunday was relaxing, especially since we had no desire to go outside. In the evening, we went to the Thompsons to see their tiny new baby. He’s adorable.

et cetera

1. I’ve been vascillating between five or six books to suggest for next month’s book club and have finally decided on three (which is good, since book club is tonight).

Does this mean I’m not over coming-of-age stories or that coming-of-age stories naturally make for good literature?  I’m inclined to think the latter.  I’m excited to see which one gets selected.

2. I saw another little bunny on my way to work.  I wouldn’t have photographed it (because honestly, how many photos of tiny bunnies do I need?) except that it let me get so close.

3. Lucky Jason is youth conferencing today, tomorrow, and Saturday. 

4. We made the most delicious salad on Tuesday from my birthday cookbook: a wedge with roasted corn and red pepper salsa and red wine vinaigrette. I think/hope this will become a summer staple in our house.

5. Shout out to the Pullan fam in St. George: we are jealous of your vacation, but not of your weather.  Stay cool (if possible)!

 

Sundry Saturday/Sunday things

Yesterday:

We went to Kroger and our favorite checker was there. She is a student, has a nose ring, and started recognizing us a couple months ago (I guess we look distinctive and/or are creatures of habit). Now we have nice conversations with her every Saturday.

Jason and I both took long afternoon naps.

I went running with Elaina. Perfect weather, great company–I’m going to be so bummed when she moves away.

In the evening, we had a cookout with Kim and Josh, then went to a collaborative artist performance downtown at the Black Box Theatre. The presentation included modern dance, visual art, film, and music; it was great! We had a wonderful time.

Today:

We went to church. Sacrament meeting = great. Sunday School = great. Relief Society = great. Elder’s Quorum = I can’t speak from personal experience, but Jason taught, so I imagine it was great.

I accidentally shredded our Vermont “Only to be eaten on crackers” White Cheddar into manicotti, thinking it was just hard mozzarella. I should be more conscientious when I cook, apparently.

Jason let me take a three-and-a-half hour nap.

We talked to both our families.

It has been a pleasant/relaxing weekend, but (as always) too short.

The lingo

Mary, Kim, and I ran into the missionaries as we were coming back to the office from lunch yesterday. Mary and Kim aren’t Mormon, and the last time Mary and I encountered the missionaries, it was embarrassing. I braced myself for the awkwardness that might ensue.

I shouldn’t have worried. Though definitely nervous, these elders were sweet. I explained that I am a member of the church, and that my coworkers and I talk about religion occasionally. Then, the following conversation occurred:

Elder: Would you like to hear more about the blessings that come from having a living prophet on the earth?

Mary: No, I get a lot of info from Amanda.

Kim: Same here.

Mary: Actually, Amanda’s my visiting teacher.

Both elders’ jaws dropped (as in, “How does she know about visiting teaching already!?”) and I laughed. Don’t worry, guys, I’m sharing the gospel and the lingo (and Mary shares her lingo with me. We need to write a Sorority Girl to Mormon dictionary. We’ll celebrate it’s completion by keg standing).

**Posted with Mary’s consent.