So we've got sort of an annual tradition of getting together with the guys... Even though the end of the year starts to get a bit hectic, it really is nice to just get some time set aside to spend with those who're important in your lives, have some good food, some fun times and just chill out and laugh... Yup, I think we covered all those bases Saturday nite!
Everyone showed up a little bit late, but I was happy for that since the stew was running a bit late, and because the roads were getting covered in snow. I'd rather the guys run a bit late and play it safe...
After everyone showed up and we were starting on the nibblies, Larry asked if we could get a picture of him, Randy and the boys together. Hm - things weren't looking so great under the bright dinette light, and could we do something to make it a bit more seasonal?
We joked about renting out our Christmas to them - here's our tree, our living room, and even our dog! Perfect! Only first you've got to convince a teenager to stop playing with their gadgets (I think Kyle had his PSP in his hands more often than not Saturday night...LOL!)
Ok, there we go - everybody smile! Wow, we've got Kyle and Tyler settled down in the same picture - act fast!
Uh oh - things are starting to fall apart...
Yeah, that didn't last very long!
Meanwhile, over in the kitchen, Dave was putting together a cup of hot chocolate while Jay started up the cheese fondue! Larry had suggested we go with a potluck this year - which was way fun, and we had a TON of food! Randy brought meatballs in a Jewish teriyaki sauce (LOL), plus the fixing's for hot chocolate - including marshmallows he'd made from scratch! They were peppermint marshmallows, and Randy thinks maybe he used a little too much flavoring - let's just say for as beautiful and tender as they were, they were "curiously strong". They also brought a really good slightly sweet, slightly spicey red pepper spread, along with crackers.
Jay's fondue, which was mostly just cheese and beer, plus some other seasonings, was a major hit! Not to mention the fact he went all out with things to dip in the cheese - blanched broccoli and cauliflower, red bell peppers, carrots, a loaf of bread, and little cocktail weinies. YUM!
And as we've learned in past years, you can't go with JUST what was intended to dip in the fondue. This time we were also dipping in meatballs, crackers, and apples - seriously good stuff!
After all the nibblies of dips, crackers, fondue and meatballs, we decided we need to just chill out and let our bellies rest before we started the next round of food...
Tyler had us playing a game that was alot of fun - I forget the name of it, but it had different interactive parts to the game - sometimes it was drawing stuff, sometimes we were hunting for things in the house, sometimes it was guessing pictures...
Brett and I got picked as team leaders - this was fun because I had the power I never had back in high school gym - actually picking team members and making someone be last. Since the boys haven't really had to go through this torture in real life yet, Brett and I picked them last. ;-)
Once game time was over, we had dinner. Dave brought the fixin's for a really good spinach salad. It was pretty simple actually - baby spinach leaves, mandarine oranges, bleu cheese (optional - thanks!), and a suggested walnut red wine vinaigrette (which was REALLY REALLY good - Dave left the rest of the bottle with me - thanks!).
At some point the discussion of how much stew each person was going to be expected to eat after everything else we'd eaten came up, and I threatened them with our extra large serving bowls...
A joke about the bowls being more hat sized was thrown out, and I was expected to pose. So that I wouldn't be alone in this torture, I had Randy suffer along with me.
Once dinner was over, the iPods and iPhones came out. I think it started with someone checking email, but this really shows how attached we are to our devices these days!
And these pictures make it seem like everyone has one!
Actually Randy's iPhone, and the iPod Touch's Brett and I have just kept getting passed around. But you can clearly see from the smiles on peoples faces that Apple technology makes people happy!
See? Happy and cute!
Annnnnd, after more chilling out after another course of dinner, it was time for dessert! Larry made an eggnog pie that was REALLY good! And with this many hungry eaters, there wasn't a single slice of that pie leftover!
Joe from work loaned me his Mario Kart game and steering wheels for the Wii - talk about fun! We all took turns driving. Even Dave and Jay, who both seemed a bit reluctant to play video games at first really got into it after awhile. You know it's good when a game's got everyone shouting and leaning side-to-side as they're steering their virtual cars around on the tracks...
Near the end of Wii-time I switched over from big brute Bowser to little hottie Peach in pink...and I'm even sporting a pink motorcycle. Check me out in the bottom right quarter... (As you can see, three out of four of us weren't doing very good on this particular track!)
After the Wii, we switched over to watching videos on YouTube... Only the Wii/YouTube combination was acting up, everything was dragging, and we were starting to have to entertain ourselves. It all started with just being a little goofy and rotating the cursor on the screen, and before we knew it, Jay and I had the giggles.
It's not often I'm driven to tears because I'm laughing so hard, or that my chest and stomach hurt... This is one of those cases where pain and crying are a good thing. I think the rest of the guys pretty much thought we were dorks, but Jay and I laughed it off - literally!
Oops - hey - among some of our other food for the night, I didn't get pics of the stew I made. Since there's TONS of leftovers, here's a pic from the following day's lunch. You have NO IDEA how hard it was to find cocktail onions in the local area... They're so good - it was well worth the hunt! The stew was Tyler Florence's Ultimate Beef Stew recipe, a new one for me - we all recommend leaving out the orange peel, and perhaps even the cloves if you should make this yourself. Really good otherwise - could've been a little thicker maybe...and without that bitter orange twang (sorry guys!).
Anyhow - that's how our Saturday night went. I still need to post Saturday afternoon's last puppy class for Doogie, including some really cute pics and video... Our super fun night with the guys was well worth the racing around trying to find elusive ingredients, hurrying with the Christmas decorating, and cleaning up the house before everyone came over. I don't know that we'll even get to see the guys again before Christmas, but at least we got in some great quality time - Merry Christmas guys!