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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to Katie Luther!

On this date in 1499, (thanks for the correction, brain knew the numbers, but my fingers went too fast, LOL) Katharina von Bora was born in Kobenhagen, Germany. She married Martin Luther on June 13, 1525. According to Wikipedia, "Katharina is often considered one of the most important participants of the Reformation because of her role in helping to define Protestant family life and setting the tone for clergy marriages."

I fall short of being a perfect "Katie Luther" type pastor's wife, because I can't (won't) brew beer for my own "Martin". I do support and encourage Ron in his brewing (but I DO encourage him to do it OUTSIDE so he doesn't stink up the house, LOL)


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dude, Where's My Tuba??

Ok, we are really chuckling hard at Caleb to night.  It seems he was tricked in band today.  Evidently, there is a "tradition" in band, that if you aren't paying  attention to your instrument, the person sitting next to you will silently twist off your mouthpiece and pass it down the row.  It's been an ongoing game the band members play with each other. 

For the last couple of days, kids have been teasing Caleb by,moving his tuba into a corner when his back is turned.  He always turns around and immediately spots it and says "Guys!  You can't hide a TUBA!" 

Today Caleb was passing out his senior pictures in band, and was distracted for quite a while.  Some of his "friends" snagged his tuba and hid it in a closet!!  Caleb went back to his seat and later said "I didn't even notice!"  Mr. Work, the band director, lifted his arms to begin directing and said "WHY do I have a tuba mouthpiece on my director's stand?"  Caleb said "well, I don't think  it's mi....." as he realizes that his ENTIRE tuba is missing.  And no one is talking!  It wasn't just hidden in the corner.  He walked and looked and peeked all over that room before finding it in the closet.  He is laughing about it as well, but the common refrain around our house tonight is "Caleb!  HOW do you LOSE a TUBA!?!?

Monday, January 26, 2009

MMMMMM....French Bread

I love to bake bread and haven't done it in a long time.  I've always been intimidated by the idea of making French bread, but I have no idea why.  I found a recipe and decided to try it today.  Oh, my gosh!  First of all, it was SOOO easy!  I started it as soon as I got home from school, and we were eating it by 6:15.  And secondly...can you say YUM?  (if I do say so myself, LOL)  It got rave reviews from the entire family.  This will definitely be a recipe to keep handy and make over and over again!

French Bread


2 packages yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp)

2 1/2 cups warm water

1 T. Kosher salt (can substitute garlic salt)

1 T. melted butter/margarine

7 c. flour

2 T. cornmeal


Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl.

Add salt, butter, and flour.

Attach bowl& dough hook to Kitchenaid mixer, turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute or until well blended. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.  (or knead by hand)

Don't be worried if the dough is sticky.  That's normal.  

Put dough in large greased bowl, turning to coat.

Cover and let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down and divide in half.

Roll each half into 12" x 15" rectangle.

Roll dough tightly, from longest side, tapering ends, if needed/wanted.

Put loaves on greased baking sheets that have been dusted with cornmeal.

Cover and let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

With sharp knife, make 4 diagonal cuts on top of each loaf.

Bake at 450F for 25 minutes, then remove from oven.  (mine was done in closer to 20 minutes).  As soon as it comes out of the oven, spread butter over the entire top of the crust.  

Immediately remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

Serve with your favorite spread such as herbed butter, garlic bread topping, etc.









Pursuing Picaso

Oh...I found a new hobby! There's a store in Cedar Falls called "Pursuing Picaso". At least I think that's the name, LOL. You go in and you pay $6 to use their supplies, and then you pick out any plain white ceramic item that you wish to paint. They all have varying prices, and they include all KINDS of kitchenware like coffee cups and mugs, teacups and saucers, soup mugs, soup bowls, huge platters, cake plates, dinner plates, etc. They also have vases, and just all KINDS of things to choose from. Then, you use their glazes and paint any design you wish onto your item. When you are done, they will fire it for you, and you can pick it up a week later.

A group of ladies went there a couple of Sunday's ago, and we had so much fun! I got my mug last night. Here's what it looks like!


the glaze on the bottom is light brown flecked like sand!


can you tell it's been a LONG winter in Iowa???


I sponge painted the cloudy sky.

I can't WAIT to go back and try something else!


UIC High School Honor Band

Both Caleb and Cameron were selected attend and perform at UIC Honor Band last Monday night.  They left their school in the middle of the day and traveled to West Central, where they practiced all the rest of the day!  It was worth all the rehearsals and practice, because their performance that evening was spectacular!  The best of the best high school band students in NE Iowa!  I was quite impressed!


Caleb on his tuba.


Cameron on his trumpet. 

(his comment at the end of the day? My LIPS hurt!)


I always like it when they sit close enough together that I can get them both in one shot!


Great job, fellas!  I'm proud of you!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Farewell and THANKS President Bush!

I'm "borrowing" this post from my friend, Jen who also borrowed the words from Holly.  There really isn't anything more for me to add...what a Godly, gracious man! 



Thank you, President Bush, for the years you have given to our country.

We’ve been through a lot together.  I think we both should have known it would not be an easy two terms - given the way it began with Al Gore and the hanging chads and all.  But still, it was nice to be able to introduce my children to our new President and to not have to think about what you really meant by the word “is.”  Character.  How sweet it was to see it, again.

I know you aren’t very popular right now - shucks, it’s not even very cool to like you on-line, W.  But I’ll say it, straight up:  I like you.  I’ve enjoyed living free these last eight years.  I always knew you had my back.  (And tonight, I have to wonder…where would we be right now as a nation if Al had indeed won?)

I’ve appreciated the way you love and value Laura.  And even though you’re no theologian, I’m not either…and I like the easy way you speak about your faith in God.  I like how you tear up with your pop and how your mom still tells you to take your feet off the coffee table and pull up your socks.  Mama’s always right, right?

I was thinking today how most presidents are able to prepare for war.  They see it coming, they draft plans, it builds…and then war is declared.  That’s not how it was for you.  One day, you were reading to some children in an elementary school when war was declared on us.  You had no time to plan or prepare - you just had to jump into the fray and respond and protect.

I remember how you told us at the outset that it would be a long and protracted war, and that the temptation would be to lose heart and the will to continue when times got hard.  Boy, did your approval ratings as you presided over a very unpopular war prove that statement to be true.

In general, I believe that history will consider you to have been a visionary instead of a villain.  Planting a democracy to replace a dictatorship in Iraq was difficult and painful; but birth isn’t usually pretty or pain free.  You never left her side as she struggled to take her first breaths - even when the rest of the spectating world told you to back off, to cut our losses and run.

And that’s not all, of course.  You’ve helped the nation of Africa; even as she teeters on the brink.  You’ve reached outward, caring for the poor and needy around the world.  You’ve given us several pro-life advances here at home, as well.  You’ve given us Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice Roberts.

Naw, you’re not perfect.  You’ve made mistakes - but you gave us your best.  You gave us optimism and courage during some very difficult days.  I’ll never forget you and the gracious lady by your side.

God bless you, Dubya, and Laura, too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Couple of Dips :-)

This post is for Mary and Jill who asked for a recipe at school the other day. (And NO, I'm NOT calling Jill and Mary dips! One of them is my boss, for heaven's sake! I'm talking about the RECIPES! )

This first one is yummy and very simple to make. I first made it on Christmas Eve, for our family's after the candle light service snacks. My entire family devoured it! I also made it at Kent and Mary Beth's on New Year's Eve...a big hit there, too! And I made it again last Friday for our circuit pastor's Epiphany party. I brought home an empty crock pot!

We like it with plain Wheat Thins and Cracked Pepper Triscuits. YUM!

Now, I have to admit that I found this recipe on a blog somewhere, and I can't find where I got it from. I usually save that info with the original recipe, but I didn't this time. I will edit this post and give credit to the original "source" when I discover where I got it from.'s the recipe...

Spinach Artichoke dip
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (9-ounce) bag baby spinach
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 T jalapeno slices, chopped (I used most of a whole one, and it wasn't too spicy...just a nice little "kick" to it._

Spray a crock pot with Pam. (medium sized crock pot) Drain and chop artichoke hearts, and add to the crockpot. Remove the stems from the spinach, and then roll several together and chop. Toss into the crock, and repeat til all spinach is chopped. Add the mayo, sour cream, and chopped jalapeno peppers. Top with half of each of the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, or high for 1. (This can be rushed if you are in a hurry and have only 2 hours til you have to BE AT THE PARTY that you didn't know about...ask me how I know! I just did it in the microwave, and tossed it into the crock to keep warm at the party) Stir. The spinach should begin to welt. If it hasn't, cook some more. When the spinach is totally wilted, take the lid off and add the other 1/2 of each of the cheeses, and let it melt while the lid remains off. The spinach will have created some liquid that doesn't really need to be in there and will eventually cook off.

Serve with your favorite chips, sliced veggies, or bread cubes.

A second dip...a delicious dip...another one that we devoured on Christmas Eve is called Cheesy Bacon Dip. It's as good COLD before it's cooked as it is heated up! This one I got from a blog called Simple, but Delicious.

Cheesy Bacon Dip
1 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 bag of shredded cheese, mild or sharp
1 16 oz. sour cream
3 oz jar of bacon pieces (recommended: Hormel) ( I just used a pound of real bacon that I chopped and cooked up, and honestly...I'll always do it that was just delicious that way!)
1 cup of chopped green onions ( I think I probably used a bit more)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients and place in oven safe dish.
2. Cover in foil and cook for 35-45 minutes.

Happy Snacking!


How Low Can You go?

Temperature wise,  I mean.  The current temp is -14.  The current wind chill is -39.  That's a bit warmer than the wind chill earlier today that hit -41!  Pretty chilly, huh?

It's been an interesting week, weather wise around here.  On Monday, we got out of school at 11:45 due to in impending blizzard. And it did snow HARD Monday afternoon, that's for sure, and the wind blow that snow all around for a while.  Tuesday we had a 1 hour delay.  Never mind that everyone else in the state had a 2 hour delay...we went with just 1 hour.  Yesterday, Wednesday, we had no school.  Today, due to the bitter, dangerous cold temps, there was no school again.  They've just called us for a 2 hour delay tomorrow, too.  What a mixed up week of school!

My step-brother, Scott, died on Monday.  I was planning on being well on my way to Ohio by now for the Friday night memorial service, but due to the weather, and Ron's car not starting, I had to change my plans.  I wish I could be there with my dad and his wife and the rest of their family during this sad time.  They know I'd like to be there, though, and that is what counts.  This is the especially difficult part about living so far from home!

So today has been a "veg in front of the computer and TV watching a "Grissom lives on" CSI Marathon!  A whole day of CSI makes ANY day a good day for me!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

20 years ago...

right about this MINUTE...the lights went out at the Bavarian Haus in Deshler, OH.  How do I know this?  It was at my WEDDING reception.  Yep.  Biggest party I've ever thrown (well...had thrown for me), and the MOST fun we'd EVER had, and right in the middle of the polka dancing and second meal...a thunder storm came rolling through NW Ohio and the lights all went out and everyone went home.  The backup generator didn't work, so the band packed up and went home, all our family and friends (4-500 people!!) went home...and we can STILL picture Ron's dad stranded in the middle of the dance floor holding a couple of plates of food and hoping NOT to get run into by all the people who were dancing in the dark! 

Oh, did we have fun.  Square dancing, polka dancing, visiting and laughing with all the people in our lives who were important to us.  What a great day that was!

We thought we were in love that day.  Little did we know at the time, but we didn't even know what love WAS at that point.  Twenty years later and we are still in love...more so than ever before.  We still laugh and have fun together.  We still bicker and argue about things (Rachel told us the other day "Oh, would you two STOP it!  You sound like an old married couple!"  Ron just said "well, what do you think we are??")  We enjoy traveling and seeing new things, experiencing new things and just being together. 

I thank God every single day for choosing Ron for be my best friend, my companion, my lover, my hero, my husband.

Twenty years =

17 homes

10 vehicles

1 dog

countless fish

5 guinea pigs

4 hamsters

6 jobs

25 states

And of course, 4 beautiful children!

Twenty years = lots and lots of fun!  I can't WAIT to see what God has planned for the next twenty years!!



Our engagement photo---man...was that the 80's or what??


January 7, 1989



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

You probably are familiar with the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles".  That about sums up our day, except add in "buses, trams, shuttles and taxis" to the list!

We left our hotel a little before 4 am to return our car.  It was a Honda Compass.  Here's a stock photo of one, 'cause I forgot to take a picture of ours.  It was a cute little vehicle, and we enjoyed driving it around for a week!


We took a shuttle and then a bus to the airport, went through security and then rode a tram to our gate.  Our flight left at 6 am, and we arrived in Chicago at right around 11 IL time.  It was a smooth flight, and the stewardess, upon wishing us a good day, said "Thanks for flying with us, and we've enjoyed watching you all sleep most of the flight!" 

We flew into Rockford (we got $29 flights!) , but then had to figure out how to get to our van, which was in a long term parking place near Midway.  We miscalculated exactly how far that was.  The FIRST plan was for the kids and I to wait at the airport while Ron got the van, and then he'd come to pick us up.  Ron took a shuttle to the bus station to catch a bus to Midway.  Fortunately, BEFORE he got on the bus for the 2 hour ride to Midway, Rachel and I were able to get in touch with him to say "You left the van key on the table here at the airport!"  OOPS!

Ron got the shuttle driver to bring him back to the airport, and then all 4 of us rode in it to the parking lot where our van was.  Pricey, but hey...we had cheap flights, LOL. 

We drove the 6 hours home, to be happily welcomed by Caleb, Cameron and KT...and the house still standing...dishes mostly done, and the place looking fairly respectable, considering 2 teen boys were home for 11 days without us!

Praise God for good friends like Kent and MB, for the beautiful things He created for us to see, for a great church to worship in yesterday, for well behaved children (yeah...even after traveling with them for 11 days, I can still say that!) and for safe travels throughout Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, California and Nevada! 


Sunday in Las Vegas

Ron spent Saturday evening looking on the 'net for a Liturgical LCMS church in the Las Vegas area. He found Redeemer Lutheran Church, which was exactly what we were looking for in a church! We were greeted warmly, and one of the first things we were told was "Today is a communion Sunday. Would you like to speak to Pastor about communing with us?" YES! The pastor welcomed us warmly and, after discovering that we were members of the LCMS (and that Ron was a fellow pastor) we were invited to participate in the eating and drinking of the Body and Blood of Christ. The service was totally liturgical and we felt completely at home there. It is wonderful to visit a church so far from home, and still be able to fully participate in the exact same words and songs of the liturgy that we use here in Iowa! It is good to be Lutheran!

We headed back to our hotel for a quick change of clothes, and then (see photos from my previous post), hit some of the hot spots of Las Vegas.

We ate supper at Margaritaville, where we had the "Nachos as big as my head"! (go HERE and scroll down to see a photo of these yummy things!) Two orders, plus, of course, a margarita for me :-) While there, a fun man on stilts made these CUTE balloon hats for my kids!


Rachel, of course, was "embarrassed" to wear her hat back to the van 'cause "People are LOOKING at me!" It didn't matter that we reassured her that she'll never see any of these people again, LOL. Ron and I almost burst into song when the guy handed Rachel the heart shaped balloon and asked her to hold it, saying "Don't go breaking my heart"...


Ethan was NOT at all embarrassed to wear his fishing pole hat through the crowds.


We headed back to the hotel for an early night, due to an EARLY morning departure.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

On toward Las Vegas

We left Bodega Bay and stopped at Buena Vista Winery on our way toward Las Vegas. We were unimpressed with the wine, but enjoyed the stop.

We also stopped in Baker, for "The Best Gyros in the USA" Ron and I do agree...they were awfully good! I was so excited about the gyros that I forgot to check the temperature on the world's largest thermometer!

We drove through beautiful areas and arrived in Las Vegas at about 6 or 7 pm.





Christmas at the Bellagio




Lions at MGM


M&M's World



Me, in front of "the" Las Vegas sign.

We're off to Margaritaville for Nachos, and then the Fremont Street experience!


Lunch on the coast

Everyone was VERY happy with their lunch on Friday!


boiled crab!


and "the best Clam Chowder on Bodega Bay"

(and it WAS yummy!)





Bodega Bay

We spent the night on Thursday night at a lovely hotel in Bodega Bay.  It had a balcony with a nice reading spot for Rachel.


We spent Friday morning on Bodega Head, enjoying the surf and (chilly!) breeze at the ocean.






E found cool treasures on the beach!


Rachel did, too!


love this picture of Lila!





Mary Beth took this great picture of the 4 of us.  I think it's the only photo of all 4 of us this entire trip!  We really enjoyed our time at the ocean.



Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Pacific Ocean

We have an amazing and awesome God who created such beauty for us to enjoy!  The ocean is one of my favorite places on this earth!






Lila and Ben


Rachel and Ben


E and Joe


Chach and E


Ron and Sandy


Ben liked the "beautiful rock!"


Rachel and Lila


The kids were SOAKED and it was quite chilly!  Their warm showers felt GREAT when we got back to our hotel!