The Year of the KeJen

Happy New Year, folks!  It’s been a bit since I posted, but now I can officially say that I made it through my first month in Boston, my first month at my new job and the first month of Ken’s deployment.  I made it through the holidays, which, according to Ken’s AF friends, is the hardest time during a deployment.   Ken has officially been on base for one month, he has finally received mail (more on this later), and is settling into working super long hours.

Partially Eaten Afghani Meatballs

Since I haven’t posted anything in awhile, I will go over Christmas.  For being so far away from friends and family, I think Ken and I had a pretty good Christmas.  We were able to Skype a lot – that was really nice.  He ate an Afghani meal provided by his interpreters wife and mother.  I think he enjoyed the meal but it definitely wasn’t Christmas dinner like your grandma makes, you know?

Meatballs and Rice at Ariana Restaurant in Boston

Speaking of Afghani meatballs, my first night living in Boston, me and my friend Caroline , who was kind enough to log over 1,000 of the 1,500 miles of my Memphis to Boston road trip in the Penske truck with me, went to eat at a new Afghan restaurant called Ariana located in the Allston/Brighton neighborhood of Boston.  The decision to eat there was definitely made in part due to Ken’s, at that time, impending deployment.  As usual, I was “out ordered”, meaning I looked at Caroline’s plate longingly, wondering how she was enjoying her lamb (You will be pleased to know that she did offer me a bite or two and it was quite delicious) while I looked at a big pile of meatballs and rice that, I ordered just so I could show Ken, because if you didn’t know, the guy really likes meatballs.  And, the meatballs were really good and it ends up I probably wasn’t out ordered.  Great restaurant, too.  Looking forward to going back and trying some new things.

So, I cooked some yummy stuff on Christmas to bring over to my boss’s house.  He and his wife invited me over and it was a really nice meal.  Here’s what I made while Ken supervised:

KeJen's Mac n' Cheese (same as what Ken & I made for Thanksgiving)

Ken and I love this Mac N’ Cheese.  I could eat a vat of it, I think.  All of my favorite things mixed together into a little dish of perfection…mmmm.  If you like mac n cheese, there is a restaurant in NYC, I have been to once, years ago called Elbow that will satisfy any and every macaroni craving you may have.


Smoked Salmon Canapes with Cucumber and Dilled Cream Cheese

On the healthier side of things, I made these little canapes that were quite good.  Smoked salmon, fresh dill, light cream cheese atop sliced seedless cucumbers.  Yum.



Back to Christmas, thanks to everyone who sent me and Ken cards.  You all are really thoughtful.  Ken’s family and friends have kind of taken me in and for them to have been thinking of me during a holiday season that was undoubtedly tough, means tons.

Since we are on the subject of Christmas cards, Ken got a very special package in the mail today, and here is what was inside:

Christmas Cards from Natalie's Class

This made Ken’s day.  He is working so much (in fact, he is still in the office as I type this and it is nearly 1 AM his time) that little breaks in the day to look at something as simple and beautiful as a handmade Christmas card, brings a smile to his face.  And mine, too.  When Shannon told me awhile back that Natalie had a hand in arranging for her class to do this, and that I couldn’t tell Ken so it would be a surprise, it made me really happy – like almost cry a little happy.

The New Year

So, it’s officially 2011, and so far so good.  I spent New Year’s Eve with Ken (via Skype).   I mounted his flat screen television while he watched, and occassionally cringed anytime I dropped a tool for fear that it had landed on his tv.  No tools fell on the tv and I was able to get it up on the wall in time to watch the last quarter of the Liberty Bowl with Ken, so we were watching together during Georgia’s unfortunate loss.  Ken was asleep 6,500 miles away when I rang in 2011 with a screwdriver in one hand and a glass of champagn in the other – I was hanging curtains.

Now, I am totally focused on my job and my goal to be healthy and organized in all facets of my life – not an easy goal, but setting small goals within the larger one makes it more attainable.  An example is my buying a commuter bike.  This allows me more control over my schedule as I will not be dependent on the bus.  So, I can stay later at work, which happens to be a gym, and get in some group classes and longer workouts all while burning more calories by bike commuting to the train station.

About the title of this blog post…back in Memphis, where Ken and I met, the folks at Bardog began calling us “KeJen” and it stuck, and we like it.  2011 will be our first full year together and we have labeled it, “The Year of the KeJen”.    So, cheers to you, the new year, and to the hope that Ken and I have the opportunity to spend a little of 2011 with each of you.

I want to leave you guys with a quote that more than sums up my hopes for you in the coming year.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.  I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman