christmas in connecticut

We had been thinking about surprising Jason’s parents on Christmas for a while. (Aside: I can’t really explain our latest fixation on dropping in on our families unannounced, but now that we have surprised everyone, maybe we’ll be more transparent about future trips.) We waited on the weather and some work stuff and finally realized last week it could really happen. With the help of Dave, we mislead the Frosts and secretly prepare for our New England Christmas vacation.

Jason and I woke up at four AM on Christmas Day. We packed up the car and were out the door by 5:15 AM.
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Turns out early early Christmas morning is the very best time to drive the beltway; it was completely empty.

We made great time and got to see the sun come up from inside our toasty warm car.
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Once we made it to the Connecticut state line, Jason turned on WTIC and we sang along to Christmas carols until we reached la casa de Frost. Oh, we also saw this classy sign.
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We texted Dave to let him know we had arrived and tiptoed up to the front door. Jason rang the bell, his mom answered the door, and much happy yelling ensued. I will have to get Dave to send me the video. Jason’s parents were definitely surprised!

Also surprising was how well Dave and my Christmas button up shirts match. Jason is wearing gingham too,
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We opened presents and helped get ready for the Kennedy family Christmas. Jason’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins came by around 3 PM. His Grandma Funny was in an unusually acerbic mood, but that only made her more hilarious. We had delicious dinner and sat around talking for a long and wonderful while.

Late that night Jason and I chatted with the Pullans mid-Christmas party. The fam passed my dad’s phone around the whole group, which was great and really made us feel like we were in the middle of the scrum.
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Grant’s hair is the best, no question.

Though six hours of it was spent driving, this was definitely one of the most memorable of our Christmases.

Christmas Eve

I had Christmas Eve off, which is as it should be, but still got up early to bake Jason’s work cookies. Our package from my parents arrived bright and early and contained all the Pullan treats I have been craving: cinnamon bears, dipped pretzels, mint m&ms, gingerbread, German chocolate bars, and dipped caramel peanut clusters. Oh, and homemade chex mix, also known as scrabble, also known as the fifth food group of Christmas. There were also potholders and a couple wrapped gifts, one of which I was almost sure was David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism.
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After Jason left for what turned out to be about a 3/4 day, I sat down on the couch to read Big Fish and promptly fell asleep. Can I tell you, taking an uninterrupted nap at 9 AM is a beautiful thing. I woke up forty-five minutes later and decided it was time for a quick run. I did 3.5 miles (just 6.1 left until my goal is reached!) and stopped at Safeway afterward to pick up some foodstuffs for our Christmas Eve feast.

Jason got home around 2, after which he rested (still getting over his sinus thing) and I cooked.
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We elected to open presents before dinner, since we would be getting up so very early the next morning. Jason and I had been pretty transparent–and sometimes blatantly obvious–in what we were each getting. When we got home from Utah and there was a package from Gap sitting on our doorstep, Jason remarked, “oh, is this something I’m giving you for Christmas?” Thus, there were not too many surprises, except for the pajamas I got from Jason, which I had ordered but not seen in the flesh…
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…and the Finnbear, a Finnish utility knife my parents sent Jason. The Finnbear is half a Pullan joke, half a Pullan necessity. It made us both laugh (and then Jason tested its mettle on his arm hair).
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The other surprise (for insistent me, at least) was that the book was actually one by Alonzo Gaskill, which we are both very excited to read.

We had a pared down holiday meal in light of our leaving town the next morning. I made a tiny ham, of which we now have many leftovers in the fridge, these updated Mormon funeral potatoes from the New York Times, Lion House rolls that I hadn’t made in a long time, and green beans. For dessert, we feasted on pistachio cookies, after which we watched Elf and video chatted with our respective families. Then we packed our bags and headed off to bed (where visions of sugarplums danced in our heads, of course).

christmas tree V

We finally got the little ernie pine out of the closet and up on the end table, which takes about four minutes but feels like a serious effort. A far cry from our first Christmas, the poor tree is almost overwhelmed with ornaments. This year we added a kayak (from our trip to Maine) and the Mystic Seaport ornament we got on our honeymoon but accidentally left in Utah when we moved away almost four years ago.

Per tradition, I made us take an obligatory awkward picture by the tree. Jason does not love this custom, but I do. Since my dad was in town, we had him take the photo on Sunday. This saved us some self-timer grief. While the terrible photo quality is part of the charm of these pictures, last year’s were so very bad that we gave up in the interest of saving our marriage. Hence, no 2012 living room picture for public consumption. The capitol Christmas tree is for us all to enjoy, right?

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2012
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“nee-oh-kee”

This is a thing I saw this morning. We’ll see if the snow sticks past lunch time. I’m optimistic that it will not, but a delayed start on Thursday might be nice.weather
I came home last night to two packages at our doorstep. One I recognized as my new running pants and Christmas sweater. Ignore my valley girl pose and super-enthusiastic grin.

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The other, from my Grandma and Grandpa Pullan, was unexpected. I cut the tape and pulled out the packing peanuts to reveal the best sight of all for a lonely girl: our Christmas “stockings”. Every year, my grandparents put together sacks of candy and treats for the kiddos on Christmas Day. They used to come in mesh stockings, but now come in cellophane bags. The carefully packed candy and perennial favorites (fruit snacks! tiny boxes of cereal!) were just as they always are and made me feel so close to my Utah family. It was a wonderful surprise.

Last night and the night before, I got home late from work and though I was famished, nothing sounded good for dinner. I wandered the aisles of Safeway aimlessly, which is quite different than my militant, list-in-hand style when Jason is here. On Monday I decided that the only thing to quell my hunger was a caramelized pineapple quesadilla. On Tuesday, I decided to make gnocchi.

I’ve been wanting to try homemade gnocchi since Jason’s birthday dinner at Gloria’s Little Italy in 2009. As I point out to Jason often, what’s not to love about sweet little potato pillows? Smitten Kitchen provided the recipe yesterday, and I went to town.

Problem is I started at 7:15 PM. I talked on the phone to my grandparents and Adam while the potatoes were baking and to my mom while I was mixing up the dough with my hands. After a while, I had some respectable rustic little gnocchi, ready for boiling.

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[They are not the prettiest. I am okay with that.]

I ignored the tomato broth portion of the recipe and tossed my little potato pillows with some Trader Joe’s arriabata sauce and parmesan cheese. At 8:30 PM, I finally sat down to supper and the UK vs. Tennessee game. It was worth it, and now I have three units of gnocchi in the freezer for another day…perhaps tomorrow.

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Christmas Week

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through Virginia, the Frosts were accomplishing many sundry feats.

On Monday we hit up Jason’s Patterson alumni reception and my Grandma’s package arrived.

Tuesday evening Jason had church stuff to do, so I went and read in the foyer.

I did my first long(er than 6 mile) run of half-marathon training on Wednesday morning and had a crazy-busy day at work. That’s all I remember about Wednesday…oh, except having to explain the Wear Pants to Church thing to my boss. That was awkward.

Thursday we stayed up watching the BYU bowl game. So glad the defense can make touchdowns.

I got out a little early on Friday (and so technically did Jason, but we got home around the same time). It started snowing a little bit, but not enough to stick. We had our usual Friday night homemade pizza for dinner and watched the BYU basketball team lose to Baylor.

We were awakened Saturday morning by our doorbell at 8 AM. Jason went to get it. Instead of the missionaries (who are pro at stopping by at inopportune times) it was a Christmas package from my fam! Inside was a butcher paper Christmas tree like the one I’d helped my mom pack up for Hannah when I was in Utah, along with paper ornaments with messages from the extended Pullan clan. 20121226-103754.jpg20121226-103801.jpgIt was the best surprise and so fun to hear from everyone. Also included in the package: the gray dress I accidentally left in Utah, our Christmas presents, a bag of homemade chex mix and white chocolate Rice Krispie treats. I fully intended to take a picture of the edible goods, but they are gone.

On Saturday night we had taquitos and got together with the Oswalds.

Sunday was fantastic. Jason only had one pre-church meeting and the Christmas sacrament meeting program was probably the best I’ve ever heard (not that we’d expect any less than our high-achieving ward). Primary was easy; I only had three kids and Jason came and helped for the last bit of class.

We had lunch when we got home and I settled in with Anna Karenina, but could not keep my eyes open. Jason finally told me to go lie down, so I took a three hour nap. Jason fell asleep a little after me, so we didn’t sit down to dinner (meatball grinders with caramelized onions) until much later than usual.

20121226-085036.jpg We made some quick sugar cookies after dinner, intending to frost them on Monday.
20121226-085108.jpg I’m not sure if it was my nap or the adrenaline of Christmas, but at midnight I decided that instead of going to bed, we should probably try making royal icing for the first time. I put it together while Jason read, then proceeded to frost all the cookies. 20121226-085118.jpg We finally got to bed around 1:30 AM, which would normally kill me, but is fun when you’re on Christmas vacation.

christmas at the capitol, in the capital

When the Newseum closed, we walked to Good Stuff by way of the Capitol, a.k.a. my favorite building in the city, which also has a Christmas tree.

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It’s not really visible here, but in person you can see where the dais for the inauguration is being installed.

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We met the Carters for dinner (Happy birthday, Elayna!) and peppermint-chocolate shakes. Jason wisely let me down approximately 80% of ours. December has the best food.

While loitering outside the restaurant before dinner, Jason and I noticed an earpiece- and suit-wearing guy making plans on a cell phone for somebody important to eat at We The Pizza. We never saw who the mystery guest was, but I craned my neck whenever a black suburban approached.

Post-dinner, we hiked down to the White House, passing some pretty stellar Christmas decorations en route.

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The National Christmas Tree was a bit of a zoo. There were a zillion kids and haggard parents and giant strollers crammed in the inner circle to see the trains. We ventured in, but decided to make a quick exit to the safe outer walkway while we still could.

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ME: This is so fun! Maybe it can be a family tradition. We can bring our tiny children someday!

JASON: Did you not see the chaos around the tree?? Can you imagine trying to squeeze a carriage in there?! (I love how Jason calls strollers “carriages”; it’s almost as proper as “perambulators”.)

The big tree is surrounded by a bunch of little trees that represent each state, D.C., and all unincorporated territories. We found Connecticut (pretty), Kentucky (paying homage to UK on an ornament, of course), and Utah (ornaments decorated by a school in Kamas, apparently).

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We also checked out Santa’s workshop, where I was happy we were all adults and could avoid the forever-long line to sit on Santa’s lap. There was also a nativity and a Christmas carol-ing choir.

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We walked around the OEOB and to the front of the White House, where the viewing stands (or “reviewing” stands, according to the placard) for the inaugural parade are in process.

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Jason and I needed to get back to Georgetown to get our car and offered to bring the Carters home with us so they wouldn’t have to deal with the obnoxious metro closures. I think they probably regret taking us up on our offer. We walked to Metro Center, but discovered the next red line train wasn’t coming for a long while (at least, that’s what I gathered from the disgruntled metro employee. Can WMATA hire some pleasant people, or does working there make you sullen?). We decided to walk the rest of the way.

The night was warm for December and the walk was nice and there are always interesting things to see in the city, like six people dressed as bananas and a man wearing a Chewbacca-esque bandalo studded with what appeared to be essential oils. Weird. We made it to the law school and my ID let us in (thankfully. I was a little nervous because my card seems to work only half the time) and we made it through the labyrinthine parking structure to faithful Swift (our car, which is named after the fox in David the Gnome, a children’s television program from the early nineties that I didn’t actually believe existed until Jason showed me the opening title sequence on YouTube when we were dating). We dropped the Carters at their car in VA and made it home safe and sound.

(Since I like to know these things, Jason and my Saturday walking totaled 7.5 miles across the city. Not too shabby.)

december, by the numbers

Total days I have worked so far this month: 3

Full weeks I have worked since November 1st: 1

Degrees my fever reached at its apex on Wednesday morning: 101.8 F

Number of Law and Order episodes I watched last week while sprawled on the couch under my sage and cream crocheted blanket because reading gave me a headache: 5

Cups of hot chocolate I drank under quarantine, rationalizing that surely it would calm my sore throat: 3

Times I have done the laundry: zero (but not because we are gross dirty clothes wearers. Jason does the wash in the Frost household.)

Days I have run in the month of December (with only three months until the half marathon. Yikes.): 4

Dinners Jason took care of last week, including one with another couple from our ward because he is awesome like that: 3

Miles we walked on our Saturday adventures: 7.5

Days until Christmas Eve: 7!

Percentage of Jason’s presents that will be a surprise on Christmas morning: 20%

Percentage of my presents that will be a surprise on Christmas morning: also approximately 20%, though there’s a chance Jason will guess what his other gifts are and then I will continue to be the less-than-savvy gifter in our home.

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{My view from the sofa Monday night through Thursday}

weekend eats

- When I got home on Thursday, that nice guy Jason had a hot dinner waiting and the house was clean. He’s pretty great and deserves a shoutout of thanks for encouraging me to go on vacation while he stayed home and worked hard. He’s the best.

- On Friday, we went out to Evo Bistro for mediterranean tapas. Jason had been before for lunch, but I hadn’t. It was phenomenal (even without wine, which, judging from the selection, is a specialty). The dishes are served in small plate portions, so we tried four: tilapia ceviche with pomegranate, lime, and serrano chilies; lomo saltado, which is apparently steak roasted with tomatoes, peppers, and onions served over rice with sweet potato fries; butternut squash-filled pasta with shitake mushrooms, bacon, toasted pecans, and sage cream; and pheasant roulade stuffed with cranberries and served on quince puree. We also splurged on the apple and date seasonal crumble with vanilla ice cream. It was a fun date night and a lovely way to celebrate being together again (and made us feel like gourmets).

- Saturday was our ward Christmas party. We made pistachio cookies, which make me feel like it is really Christmas time.

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- I just realized that 2012 is the first year of our marriage that we haven’t moved. In 2009, we moved into our first married apartment, moved to a condo four months later, and migrated to DC on New Year’s Eve. In 2010, we moved from DC to Lexington by way of a three-week intercession in Payson and in 2011, we moved from Lexington to Virginia. Hooray for not moving again until at least December 2013!

- Sunday was gloomy and a little cold, so we hunkered down inside post-church to eat, nap, and read. I made a big pot of roasted poblano corn chowder and Jason brought out Andes mint cookies (which are a little like Girl Scout cookies on steroids) that he bought while I was gone.

- I get that the black background makes the blog difficult to read, but if it’s white you can’t see the falling snow!

tuesday jumble

How gorgeous is this tree? I passed it on my way home last Wednesday and thought it was glorious enough to justify pulling out my phone and taking a picture like a tourist.

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It’s a little cold and drizzly today, which seems appropriate. (Thank goodness for no snow. I heard one woman tell another woman on the metro yesterday that she’d heard we would have three inches last night. She was wrong.) The rest of our turkey is in the freezer and we are back at work and we can’t sleep in every day and it’s a whole month until our next holiday. On the other hand, we got peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks for family night.

We tried to take our yearly Christmas photo after church on Sunday, but the tree table is shorter this year and we couldn’t get one with the timer that didn’t look weird. When we’ve girt our respective photography loins again we’ll give it another shot. In the meantime, enjoy Amanda: Still Life with Christmas Tree and Pearls.

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homecoming weekend

Life is good in the Frost household. We had a great weekend and are looking forward to the upcoming 4.5 day weekend and all its Thanksgiving accoutrements!20121124-094844.jpgMy Saturday was moderately productive. I got up early and worked out and tried to go to the temple. The parking lot and the visitor’s center parking lot and the adjacent stake center parking lot were all full. I drove around for half an hour (along with twenty or so other disgruntled would-be-parkers), but was about to run out of gas (or oil in my lamp? I’m feeling a great testimony meeting metaphor here!), so I went to BP, fueled up, and came back to continue my hunt. I gave up a few minutes later and headed home. As I pulled around the side of the temple grounds, I saw a huge buck deer crossing the street; I tried to snap a picture from the car, but failed miserably.20121124-094849.jpgWhen I got home, I cleaned and made myself a quesadilla for lunch and accidentally took a nap on the couch. A phone call from Mariel woke me up, after which I went grocery shopping and vacuumed and watched the clock until it was time to pick up Jason.

We went straight from the airport to the mall to procure our new phones, then went home to dinner and reruns of missed Thursday night television and opened presents.

Jason brought back a nativity, three Christmas ornaments and a picture for his office (not pictured):
20121119-221851.jpgThere’s one more present, but I don’t get to open it until Christmas!

Jason had early meetings on Sunday, but I got to sleep in a little bit before church. The rest of the day was lazy and pleasant and concluded with spaghetti and Grandma Frost’s meatballs and talking to our families.

Glad we’re back together and life is back to normal.