Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving AND Christmas in Iowa City!!!

Because my cousin is dancing in a Bowl game in Florida right after Christmas and The Bechtels can't get to Iowa until after they leave, this will be the first Christmas in my 33 amazing years that we haven't seen our Houser Family at Christmas time. And while,after spending 2 days with them makes me long for more time with my favorite people, I'm so glad we were able to come together at Thanksgiving and spend just a few minutes spoiling the 4 youngest cousins ( and a few of the older ones too).

The kids were excited...especially when they saw that their bags were as big as they were!
Their cousins, Maddie and Brady gave some of thier old gifts that were exactly what the kids wanted, instead of shopping. They got TONS and TONS of stuff and all 4 kids were really happy to say they got their cousins stuff too. it was so generous and amazing!!!

The kids could have played for days!

We spent Friday night just hanging out. Eating, drinking, telling stories and playing games with some our our family's dearest friends. It was great. I loved getting my teenage cousin, Benjamin out of his dungeon and talking to me, about school and girls and cars and sports. One of my favorite memories of the weekend! I told him I must be his favorite cousin. Don't I look like his favorite cousin?!

Or maybe I'm Becky's favorite? She's married to my cousin Brad but I think of her as my own. She's my food, wine, shopping, talking, texting, dieting, everything cousin and I love her!

There was even some Math tutoring going on with Alinia and Dan. And yes, Mr. Bechtel would where that shirt to school.

Then we found my Auntie Doris' apron purchased in Rome.....enough said...or is it? Who looks better?

The girls! Mara loves having so many wonderful young ladies to look up to. ( where are you, Maddie?)

Brian is wearing a "Brad shirt". Not only because Brad and Becky bought this for Bri a couple of Christmases ago but because when Brad discovered how comfy and versatile and zip sweater could be, he bought as many as he could....he's taking over the world, one zip sweater at a time ( they both do look nice, though)

After a late night Friday night playing games, Saturday was much of the same. The Bechtels went back to Champaign after lunch but the rest of us stayed. The men, minus Dad and Dan, played Monopoly for HOURS!!!While Mara colored dozens of pictures and played with all her cousins and her new toys.

She did some snuggling with Phoenyx.After we decided $13 was too much to pay per person for a 3D movie, we agreed to stay in and rent. We had it narrowed down to Cars 2 and Spy Kids when I found Swiss Family Robinson in Auntie Doris' collection. We all were interested. So Saturday night was spent eating bowl after bowl of popcorn and taking in a Classic Disney movie-TOGETHER! it was great! We all loved it!

I love the Bechtel/Houser Family! I love every second I get to spend with you and I'm so blessed and honored to call you all my family!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving with the Nelsons & Fultons in Galesburg!

We got to Galesburg Wednesday afternoon and immediately starting in with catching up, drinking, and playing games wtih family! This year's favorite game was Pictionary!
Look at my sweeties on Thanksgiving....who am I thankful for everyday of my life?My babies!!!

Brian and his dad carved the beautiful turkey.

While the rest of us stood around and chatted. Here Aunt Kathy tells the funniest story about an old lady telling her daughter to "shut the F#@* up!" Let me know if you want to hear it, its good.

Not everyone sat around, we all brought dishes to share. Brian and I tried something new this time-Ratatiouille. It was SO easy and so amazing. That's goat cheese on top. Let me know if you want the recipe. When I say easy, I mean EASY...I can make this!!!

After our bellies were filled to the brim, the adults cleaned up while Mara ate chocolate pie and worked on her alphabet with Uncle Jeff...I think they both loved the moment shared more than they let on.

While some people napped (teenagers!)

Another group of us went for a walk. it was nice to get some movement in our bodies. We spent the rest of the day just hanging out with family. It was wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

"A corn" ucopia of Gratitude!!!

We give the kids' teachers and special staff members ( principal, secretaries, janitors, etc) gifts throught the year to say thanks and make sure they know how much we appreciate them. It was also snack day for both kids so we spent part of the weekend making this precious acorns! The kids loved helping and it was super easy!

Snack for both classes and treat bags with notes for the staff= ALOT of acorns!
Thankyou teachers and staff for all you do for our children!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My How We've Changed!

So with 4 years of doing this special dinner with our friends, we've been through alot of changes....I notice first the families....The Ryles and Eckhardts have moved away and Meyers have joined us. We've gained LOTS of kids in the past 4 years. Mommas have gotten pregnant and had babies, my hair color and style changes every year, most of our weights have changed ( check out Bri), and the babies have all changed so much!

What hasn't changed....always in the same the basement so we can put the camera on the bar on a timer. Brian and I are always in the same location ( so he can run to get in the picture from setting the timer), we all look happy, and we have a great time every time we are together!!!

4th Annual Thanksgiving with Friends

Its that time again...Thanksgiving at our house with our group of friends from Champaign. We spent the day working! Brian cooking, me cleaning. We both had helpers! Mara loves being in the kitchen with Daddy.
Everyone arrived, all 25, and we ate!

And ate and talked and talked and ate. This is the first year I couldn't get everyone at the same table. The 4 oldest had to sit at a kid table next to us.

FOURTEEN kids under 7!

The group!





Dills ( Adam was at the Bears Game)

The Fultons

We are so blessed and so thankful for this amazing group of friends we share New Years, Wiffle Ball Tournament, RibFest, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with! Love you all!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Fulton Family's Favorites Friday

POPCORN!!!!! If you asked me my favorite snack- it would be popcorn.

If you asked me what my favorite thing to do with the family was, it would be watch a movie and eat POPCORN!!! I love it!!

I'm a traditionalist....real butter melted and dribbles all throughout my huge bowl and sprinkled with salt. Lots of it!

So when my girlfriend, Rachel told me I HAD to try one of her client's line of popcorn products, I was skeptical. Sure, I can always use the actual kernels but I liked air popped popcorn, not bagged. And I don't need a bunch of flavors to add...just my little pitcher of melted butter goodness and nothing else.

I'd seen KernelSeasons flavors before at the theatre. Butter, Nacho, Sour Cream and Onion. But who knew about the rest.

So, I told Rachel I'd try them. I don't like to just try things, I like to experience things. And turn it into memories. So I told Rach I'd have a popcorn party for Alaric and Amara's friend and we'd taste, try, enjoy.

AHHHHHHHHH( thats the sound of the heavens opening up and shining light right down on my dining room table)
Hmmmmm....while my excitement was growing as I layed each item out on my table, I also was a little bit crabby- I longed for my simple salt shaker. I mean, come on....Chili Lime? Cajun? Chocolate Marshmellow?
I love my StirCrazy popcorn popper. Put the combination of good kernels and a stir crazy together, and almost every kernel gets popped. Its beautiful to see the golden kernels in the oil spinning and getting hot, just ready to pop and become an incredible snack!

And I find it absolutely fascinating that it then turns into this beautiful, white fluffy product!!

I prepared the space for the party. 16 hungry children and their parents would be arriving shortly. I loved these cute little nacho cheese shakers I was using as favors.

Ta Da!!! Ready to go....15 shakers, 3 HUGE tubs of popcorn ( made with Kernel Season's popcorn and oil) and two cans of kernel season's popcorn spray. Before everyone arrived, Mara wanted me to tell her the names of each flavor. We went around the table and I read her the name on each one.

"Chocolate Marshmellow?" she asked


"I want that one."

"You can try them all"

"I can? Ok!"

I left the room and came back to find the lid off the Chocolate one and her sweet head on the table, waiting. She knew she had to wait but she was going to be ready!
Everyone arrived and was excited. Alaric had been waiting for this party for weeks ( he, like me, LOVES popcorn!)I gathered everyone in the same room and gave instructions and pointers and send the kids and their parents on their way to the table.

THEY WERE THRILLED!!!! Reading the lables. Spraying the spray so the seasoning with stick. Running to the other room to start eating and then running back to try something new.

Mostly, the flavors were appreciated. Maybe even loved! Smiles...

Full mouths...

Big laughs as more popcorn was shoved in!Within minutes, the table was destroyed. Shakers on their side, bowls everywhere. And the popcorn was really EVERYWHERE. 16 children under the age of 8?! lets just say i'm glad I didn't vaccuum before they arrived. A few flavors caught the children by surprise ( salt and vinegar, barbeque, jalepeno) but some loved those too and I was so proud of the kids for trying them.The kids just kept coming back for more and more and more. What I thought would only be a 30 minute party lasted well over an hour. And the kids were engaged in popcorn the whole time. They became adventurous too....adding two together to come up with combinations. Hating it, throwing it away, and starting over. Asking parents for their advice on concoctions. Over and over.

Seems to me that this was a good sign that the kids were having fun!The parents loved it too. I couldn't wait to try the flavors. We not only tried them on popcorn but talked about other ways to use the about Carmel on oatmeal? Or apple cinnamon on toast? Maybe nacho cheese on veggies? or Chili Lime on rice or sprinkled on your taco? The brainstorming was fun!

And when the party drew to an end and the kids booed about having to leave when there was still more popcorn ( did you see the size of the buckets I used?), we took a group picture.

All happy children. Stuffing their face with amazing popcorn, products,and flavors from Kernel Seasons! Thanks for making this fun group a popcorn drunk group....giggling and content!
But the party didn't stop there. That night I was making two types of chicken salad. One sweet with grapes, apples, and a dash of vanilla and one savory with vegetables and garlic. All the Kernel Season products were still out. Hmmmmm....

Yup. I did it! Apple Cinnamon and Caramel to the sweet one and Chili Lime and Ranch to the savory one. They were delicious.

And just yesterday ( no picture), when I made pancakes to share for a meeting I was at, I threw Chocolate Marshmellow, Caramel, and Apple Cinnamon shakers in my bag to see if anyone wanted to sprinkle on top of their pancake-HUGE hit! What fun!

Rachel, you were right! The products are amazing. Even a traditionalist like me can enjoy something new and different. It was so fun! I loved every second of it....and vacuuming up thousands of popped kernels didn't even bother me! Thanks!