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Saturday, January 28, 2012

What’s in the Box?

Memories.  Years and years and years worth of memories.  Ron was looking for a picture of a skunk or a skunk stuffed animal for an entry on his blog.  That triggered a memory for me, from WAY back in 7th grade, when I wrote a children’s book for my English class.  The book was called “Silly Sally Skunk”. 

When Ron asked about the skunk picture, I remembered the book, and thought “IF I still have that book, I know exactly what box it is in.”  I went downstairs, and dug that box out and was instantly transported back in time.  I almost forgot what I was looking for! 

I found old pictures that I drew, poems that I collected, high school and college schedules, calendars (I found the calendar from October of 1987 where I wrote in my first date with Ron!) , letters and notes from friends, my elementary years memory book, my old Pettisville Blackbird beret (wow…that hat saw LOTS and LOTS of basketball games!)  I found the folders from my Grandpa Tuckerman’s funeral and my Aunt Marlene’s funeral.  I found the bouquet made from the ribbons and bows from my bridal shower gifts. And the diaries.  Oh my gosh…do you remember those thick little diaries that you could lock with a tiny key?  I have several of those.  Some of them are just one year, and some of them are FIVE years each (I think the one goes from 77-82?  I’m not sure exactly,) but you can be assured I’m going to spend some time re-reading THOSE things.  And laughing at myself!

After a long, LONG time, I got to the bottom of the box and what did I find?   I found “Silly Sally Skunk”! 

What fun and treasures are in this box.  I’m sure that it is a box that my kids will throw away someday, but for now, I’m going to enjoy spending some time looking through the folders and things in there!


Isn’t it amazing what all an old cardboard box can hold?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I had a song stuck in my head

after washing my lunch dishes at school.  Can you guess which song?



So…did you figure it out? 





Sorry if you have it stuck in YOUR head now!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Treasured Possession

I know I already had one photo this month where the focus was on my most treasured possession, but I saw this done on Pinterest, and just HAD to try it out!  I think this may go down as one of my favorite photos of the year…and I can say this with only 23 pictures down, and 300+ (I’m just to tired to do the actual math, LOL) to go. 

When I saw this on Pinterest, I think I was a bit skeptical.  It just couldn’t be that easy, or work that well.  I was suspecting that, ultimately, it would be a photoshop type project.  But it TOTALLY wasn’t! 

Of course, now I have even MORE reason to spend time on that addicting web site…looking for MORE ideas of things to photograph in really cool ways!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Homemade Irish Cream

My hubby makes this YUMMY beverage for me sometimes.  It is smooth, and creamy, and just absolutely hits the spot.  It nicely warms you, from the inside!  It is a hit with all we share it with!

Homemade Irish Crème

  • 2 Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 1/3 cups  Black Velvet
  • 1 pint half and half
  • 2 Tablespoon Chocolate Syrup
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp coconut extract (optional)

Mix it all in a pitcher and stir well.  This is best if you let it sit overnight, to let the coffee dissolve.  But…most times we can’t wait.  It’s still good!


This year, this bottle was a gift from me to a friend.  It was full of this Irish Crème.  I told her that it was a conditional gift.  She could have it on the condition that she gave it back when it was empty for a refill.  She agreed, and this is the first refill! 


Speech ROCKS!

Our SF Speech group did an absolutely FANTASTIC job at the speech competition on Saturday!  The 2 hour later start due to snowy weather didn’t fluster OUR amazing kids any!  We had (I believe) 11 out of 13 of our entries that got a I rating, and will advance to STATE next week! 

Rachel was in a group that performed mime, and they were GREAT!  We laughed the whole way thorough (and so did the judge!  We could tell she enjoyed it!)  All of their hard work and practices paid off, because they were awesome!


Rachel and her MIME team.  Great job, ladies!

I didn’t get a picture of Rachel and Jenny, but they did a …skit? (Bad mom…I don’t exactly know what it was, other than that it was a 2 person ensemble).  They were SOOO good.  Again, we laughed and laughed!  What FUN to watch!

Good luck to ALL of our STATE qualifiers!

Friday, January 20, 2012

SNOW DAY!! (and my Mom’s Bread Pudding)

I said earlier as my status on facebook…the ONLY good thing about snow is the occasional snow day.  And today was one!  We did get a good bunch of snow, starting in the wee hours of the morning.  Poor Rachel was up, dressed and at the middle school in the vehicle that would shuttle her to the High School for an early morning practice, when the bus driver got the call that their was no school.  She came home and promptly went back to bed. 
Ethan got up at 6 am, to do some homework that he left in the vehicle when I went to a friend’s house last night.  He was sitting on his bead working on homework at 6:30 when I went in and let him know there was no school.  He put his homework away and came out on the couch to watch tv…and fell asleep for a few more hours.
I just stayed in bed.  I LOVE being able to do that!  Ron stayed up for a bit and then he slept a bit more, too.  What a great way to start a weekend!
Ethan is at a friend’s house, but before he left, I had him shovel a little bit.  He did a good job, but didn’t come close to getting it all done.  There was a BUNCH of snow!
Rachel woke up and wanted to make something.  She asked about bread pudding, and I said… “I have my mom’s recipe”.   She went through my recipe box and found it, which really made me laugh, because when I was a kid and we had a snow day…the first thing I did was went through my mom’s recipe box, looking for something to make that day!  Like mother, like daughter!
So, I taught her how to make my mom’s bread pudding.  It is SOOO yummy, and such a comfort food for me.  I have my mom’s original recipe…in her handwriting, even!
It’s a well used recipe, isn’t it?  It was one of the things that my mom made quite often. 
So, first I taught Rachel how to scaled milk, as she has never done that step before.  If you are unsure of what it means, there is a good “how to” on this page.  But it is EASY, and don’t let it scare you away!
She made toast, and buttered it.
Then she tore it up into little pieces and put it in the greased casserole dish. 
When the milk was scalded, we mixed the eggs, sugar and salt.  We added a little of the scalded milk into the eggs, and kept stirring while adding the rest of the hot milk.  Then, Rachel poured the milk over the toast.
And then (I didn’t take a picture of this) Rachel sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the top of it all.  And then we baked it.  The recipe says for 25 minutes, but I had to go closer to 35 or maybe even 40 minutes today. 
Oh.  Yum!  YUM!  YUMMY!!!
Wish you could have had a bite!

The End of Wrestling Season

Ethan had his final wrestling meet last night.  He had a pin (WOO HOO!) in his first, hard fought, match.  His second match went into the second period, and while he looked good, he was pretty exhausted, and got pinned early in the second.  He has made great improvements over the season, and we are way proud! 
This was taken JUST before the ref slammed his palm on the mat to announce the pin!  Way to GO Ethan!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Mac and Cheese

I hit upon a winner for dinner tonight!  OOOH…this was sooo yummy, and VERY easy.  I just made a basic  homemade mac and cheese, and added precooked chicken and some broccoli and baked it.  MMMMM….we ate way too much!

I was making enough for 4 of us plus leftovers.  So here is what I used. (I make homemade mac and cheese often enough that I don’t really use a recipe.  If you have a favorite recipe that you follow, use that.  If you don’t…here’s my basic amounts (more or less, LOL)

  • 2 HUGE chicken breasts (cooked and cubed)
  • 1/2 or 3/4 of a large package of frozen broccoli (under cooked a little.  Cook just long enough so that it isn’t frozen any longer)
  • 4 cups of uncooked macaroni (bow tie or rotini or other shaped pasta would be good, too)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup or so of milk (add more to make it runnier if you need to)
  • 1/3 block of Velveeta-more or less (I used Fareway brand)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar—more or less (I used taco cheese because it is what I had tonight.) 
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I made homemade, and I added some onion powder and garlic powder.)

Boil the noodles and drain.  Chunk up the Velveeta type cheese and butter and stir til it is all melty.  Add the milk and keep stirring.  (If it doesn’t melt very quickly, you can stir it over a low/medium burner.  I usually don’t need to do this, though).  Then stir in 1 to 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese (if I don’t have it, I sometimes leave this out.  Just depends on how cheesy you like it.  We like it best when it is REALLY cheesy)

Add the chicken (when I cooked mine, I added some pepper and garlic.  You can keep your chicken plain or spice it up with whatever flavors you like)  and broccoli.  Stir it up really well, and then pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle with the rest of the shredded cheese (if using), and then toss some bread crumbs on top (for a crispy topping….you can leave this part off, too, if you want…but I can’t imagine why you’d want to.)

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or til the bread crumbs are nice and toasty brown and crunchy on top. 

Ethan took one bite and said “mmmmmmmmmm……..”  And that’s all I heard from him for the next 10 minutes or so.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

He LOVES me!

and I have PROOF!  Ron is away at Symposium in Ft. Wayne.  When I got home from school today, I had a text from him.  It simply said “There is a Milky Way in the basket on top of the microwave”

Is that man good to me, or what? 




Catch-up Part II

So I guess I don’t know exactly what the point of this Project 365 is supposed to be.  For someone like me, who takes lots of pictures, without prompting and encouragement, perhaps the challenge should be to LIMIT myself to only one photo a day.  Hmm.  But that isn’t how I chose to interpret it.  Because I CAN’T. 

I can’t decide which of the next two pictures should be my picture for January 15. Therefore, I’m going to share TWO for that day.  Because I CAN! 


Rachel begged Caleb to play Just Dance II with her on the wii.  They did GREAT and it was fun to watch them enjoy a few minutes together!


And this was also taken on Jan. 15.  Cameron wanted to learn how to make beer, so Ron obliged.  They brewed it a couple of weeks ago, and the 15th was bottling day.  Ron tried to act disappointed that he didn’t save any water back to get the siphon started…but really?  I don’t think he minds having to get it started this way!  It looks to me like one great, big, giant straw!

January 16th was a crazy day for this mom!  Ethan had a wrestling meet here in town, and his first match was  #53!  After sitting at the meet for almost an hour and 45 minutes, it was finally his turn!  Then he had a little break until match #80somthing.  Fortunately he was finished by about 6:30 so I could run him home and then drive to watch Rachel’s UIC Honor Band Festival. Where she was chosen to be FIRST CHAIR for her section of clarinets!  It was a tremendous concert, with hugely talented young people from our area!  I really enjoyed it!  Great job, Rachel!  We’re proud of you!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Catch-up, part 1

I’m sure this won’t be the only time this year that I get a little behind in sharing the project 365 pictures.  Sometimes, life gets in the way, and blogging takes a back seat.  But I’ve already posted more this year than I did the whole last half or so of last year, I think. So…I feel that I’m doing quite well!

I will do a part 2 tomorrow, hopefully, to get all the way current on the pics.  But for now, here are a few pictures and the stories behind them.


What better way to welcome in the first wintery blast of weather that we’ve had so far this winter, than with a Daily’s ready to drink frozen margarita (for me) and a Daily’s ready to drink  peach daquari for my mother-in-law?  Even though it was blustery, snowy, windy and cold outside, we were toasty warm from the inside out after enjoying these.  YUM!!  I could at least pretend I was at the lake or on the beach somewhere!

January 12 found all 7 of us sitting around the table playing “Catch Phrase”.  That game really makes us laugh!  Especially when Cameron is trying to get us to say someone’s name that the last name rhymes with a type of whale (Beluga?)  We got the first name right away,  (John) but took us a while to get to Belushi (really?  Does that rhyme with  Beluga?…but we eventually got it!)  And Ronnie was SOO frustrated with us when he was trying to get us to name some thing we hear at Christmas time.  We got the bells part, but…were stuck (someone (who shall remain nameless) even tried “Silent Bells” …and THAT got raised eyebrows from Ronnie and howls of laughter from everyone else.)  Eventually we did get to “Jingle Bells”  As we were playing, I thought “I should write some of these things down, because I’ll never remember what all we laughed at tonight!”  And now that it’s time to write this…I really can’t remember it all.  But we did laugh pretty hard.


This time of year, it is surprising to me when I see plant life that is sprouting fresh new life, so I had to take a picture of the bright green “new” on my lucky bamboo plant.  (I got it at IKEA a year and a half ago!  I love this plant!)


And finally tonight, I’ll end with a self portrait.  I was ready for a date with my hubby to attend the annual banquet for the Northeast Iowa Antique Engine and Power Show group here in town.  A DELICIOUS meal, and a visit with some of the local folks makes for a nice evening out!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And we have a PIN!

Woo HOO!  The BIG news of the day is that Ethan got his first pin in wrestling!  He has worked hard all season, and tonight he just looked GREAT!  He was very intent and methodical, and we could see him thinking through each step of what he was doing.  What a FUN match to watch!

So, even though I’m going out of date order a little bit, here is my Project 365 photo for Jan. 10.


And then, ‘cause I’m the mom, I’m going to share a couple of other pictures from the meet.  I’m so proud of this kid!





Great job tonight, Ethan!!!

Now, to back up and share the project 365 pictures from the past couple of days…


Mexican Train dominoes is always a fun game to play with Grandma!  We played for a couple of hours on Sunday.

And on Monday evening, Caleb spent a couple of hours talking with Grandma Koch about his trip to South Korea.  They looked at pictures and he told stories about his time there.


Saturday, January 7, 2012


What were you doing 23 years ago?  I can tell you, almost to the minute, what I was doing all day on January 7, 1989.  It was my WEDDING DAY!


Oh my goodness…I just have to laugh out LOUD when I see this picture!  Who ARE those young kids, and what in the world do they think THEY know about marriage?

The weather was quite unusual for an Ohio January day.  It was unseasonably warm.  Ron and I started the day with him picking me up at my parents and we went out to breakfast together.  That was the “calm before the storm” of the rest of the day…I think it was my last few moments to just sit and relax. 

It was an exceptionally perfect day.  Everything went wonderfully (or else I had wonderful family and friends that kept any and all glitches away from me.)  The service went very well, the music was great, and the reception was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. AWESOME food, wonderful polka music….it was just GREAT!  Why wouldn’t it be?  Everyone in our lives that were important to us were there with us.  What could be more perfect? 

Until the 10 pm thunderstorm hit.  And the lights went out.  And the backup generator wouldn’t work.  And the band quit playing, and everyone went home.  But even with all that…we had a wonderfully perfect wedding day. 

And it’s been wonderfully perfect every day for the past 23 years.  Ok…well…not really.  But the transition into wedded bliss really did go smoothly for us.  We’ve had ups and downs over the course of the past 23 years, but definitely more ups than downs.  We’ve seen a lot of places and we’ve done a lot of things, and I can’t wait to do more and see more  together.  I just can’t wait to see what God has planned for me with this wonderful man He has given me!  Ron is proof of just how much God loves me and wants the best for me. 

I love you, Ronnie Lloyd Koch, and I would marry you all over again in an instant, and not change a thing!  I am truly looking forward to the future that God has planned for us!


Dec. 24, 2011


This was put on my finger 23 years ago…and has, and will remain there!

Friday, January 6, 2012


Tradition is an important part of many of our lives.  For me, as a lifelong Missouri Synod Lutheran…tradition is pretty much mandatory (just ask my LCMS pastor husband what happens if he suggests changing anything.  Or heaven forbid that he change a little something WITHOUT suggesting or asking me first! )  I like my predictable liturgy, familiar hymns, and even when it comes to things of the church outside of the worship service…I just like it best when things are done the same way as they always have been. 

So tonight’s Epiphany service at church was perfect.  We had a short service (just like every year) using Responsive Prayer 2 in our Lutheran Service Book.  Ron read the lessons of the day (just like every year).  We had prayers (just like every year).  And then, we sang (just like every year).  Before putting away Christmas completely, we sang our favorite Christmas hymns one last time.  We have a great organist who does a wonderful job of playing whatever we request.  Of course, we missed a few of MY favorites because I don’t want to be a request hog…I have to let others have their choices as well.  But that’s ok…they were all great Christmas hymns. 

Then, just as we always do, we put Christmas away in the church.  We took the Chrismons off of the Christmas tree, and then the lights.  We took down Christmas banners and the Advent wreath.  And the tedious job of getting all those pine needles out of the carpet.  It was a productive evening and the church looked great when we were finished.

Then, just like every year for 16 years, Grandma Marge said “Let’s go upstairs for cake and ice cream!”  That’s the Epiphany tradition that my kids like best!  They know that every year, after all the work is done, Grandma Marge and Grandpa Richard help Ron and I celebrate our wedding anniversary (which is tomorrow) with CAKE!  Grandma Marge cake!  It’s always yummy and pretty and comes complete with candles.  A part of the yearly tradition involves the retelling of the story of the year that Cameron was lighting the candles on our cake (he was probably 8 or 9 at the time) and he was wearing a coat…and all of a sudden the coat was smoking and melting on top of the cake, because he’d reached over a lit candle to light one in the back.  And every year, Cameron says “That’s ok…I never liked that coat anyway”

This year, our little friend Connor got in on the fun!  He said “CHEESE” and helped us blow out the candles!  I’m glad!  I don’t think we could have gotten them all out without his help!


Thanks everyone, for helping us keep those traditions going! 

Putting Away Christmas

or at least the Christmas decorations.  It’s a good thing to post about on Epiphany, even though we started the process here at home a few days ago.  Of course, we daily remember the gift God gave us through the birth of the infant Jesus.  We remember that every day throughout the year.  But there is a time for celebrating Jesus birth, and Epiphany marks the end of that celebration. 

At our house, we can officially say, “It’s done!”  I *THINK* we have all of the decorations put away.  Although, to Ron’s utter frustration, I keep finding “one more thing” that needs to be put away, after he has all the boxes stacked perfectly in the closet.  Wonderful man that he is, he always finds a place to put those final things. 

In the process of “un-decorating”, please tell me that your house looks something like this:


This is my Project 365 picture for January 4.  Sadly, the house looked like this for a couple of days, as we had to find time to gradually get everything packed away.  I am very happy to have my house back to as close to “normal” as it gets around here.

On Thursday, Ethan and I had to go to Sumner for his Middle School recognition night for wrestling.  On the way, we saw this (which is my Project 365 picture for January 5)


While it isn’t the exact look I was going for, (I STILL am struggling to get good sunset pictures from my little camera), I think it is a pretty picture.  It was a beautiful sunset on a brilliantly beautiful, record breaking 50 degree day, and I was sharing a lovely drive with my youngest son.  It was a good evening!  (and it got even better when we arrived home to homemade pork tenderloin sandwiches!  They are one of Ron’s specialties…and …can I just say “YUM!”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last Day

Today is our last day of Christmas break.  Rachel, Ethan and I have to go to school tomorrow.  Caleb and Cameron, the lucky dogs, have another week and a half before their classes start up again! Where did that time go? That had to have been the shortest Christmas break on record.  Today was the first day of the break that was a “do nothing” day.  It was a very nice, low key, laid back day!


Project 365, photo for 1.3.2012

We got started on putting the Christmas decorations away while watching the BEST movie EVER!  The entire family loves “The Princess Bride”.  Most of us can quote almost the entire thing!  What is your favorite quote from the movie?

I think mine has to be “I’m NOT a witch! I’m your WIFE!” (as seen beginning at 3:03 or so in this clip.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Sad Discovery: Project 365

I asked for only one thing for Christmas:  A family picture, where everyone was happy to be there.  This is the contract I got, signed and dated by everyone in my family.

We, the undersigned, do hereby pledge and promise to you, Sandra Kay Koch, the following:

1. On or around January 2, 2012, we, the undersigned, will sit with you for a professional photographer.

2.  We will be noticeably happy about it.

3.  We will have our hair combed.

4.  We will, without hesitation or debate, dress in the manner and with the articles and accessories that you demand.

5.  We will purchase and provide for you a finished portrait.

6.  We will hang the portrait in our home in a timely manner.

Conditions and exclusions:

1.  We, the undersigned, may or may not be available for you to look at all the proofs and provide our opinion about which pose is best.

2.  We reserve the right to refuse any request of the professional photographer to put ourselves or each other in poses that may be embarrassing or silly.

3.  No part of this binding contract shall be interpreted as a promise of continued and perpetual happiness on our part for getting our pictures taken, beyond the stated sitting, as aforementioned.


Since today was January 2, this was photography day!  We loaded up the car and headed to visit our good friend Lorry of Kohls’ Photography.  Everything went beautifully, and Lorry did a great job.  I can’t wait to see the finished product.  And can I just say…I LOVE my family. They all, in spite of their strong dislike of having their picture taken, did a wonderful job of faking it for me!  I think Lorry definitely got some good shots!

Following the photography shoot, since we were all dressed nicely, and hadn’t spent  ENOUGH time in a vehicle together this Christmas break, we headed to Decorah to go to one of our favorite restaurants in the area.  Rachel was ecstatic to discover that we were headed to the Americana Grille, because she LOVES the seafood wrap she gets there. 


The parking lot was suspiciously empty but we could almost chalk that up to it being shortly before 5…not quite dinner time for the general population.  Ron went in and checked it out and came out shortly after, shaking his head.  “They’re closed?” I asked.  “For more than just today,” he sadly answered.  Evidently the owner has been fighting cancer and had to close his doors.  Rachel sadly decided that if she had known that the last time she enjoyed a seafood wrap would have been her LAST time, she would have savored the moment more!

Fortunately for my other children, one of THEIR favorite restaurants was right next door.


Cameron, who had been pouting and moping about “just wanting to go home, ‘cause I’m not even hungry!” JUMPED out of the van and said “This is the BEST DAY EVER!”  He loves their mashed potatoes more than anything.  He declared that it should be called “Potato Ranch”.  Caleb was a trend setter and started out with a root beer float, and Ethan was very happy to get the timing just right to get the INSIDE pieces of the cactus bread (cheese bread).

We all came home absolutely stuffed, and pleased with our day.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I can’t remember ever being so glad to welcome in a new year.  I took a pretty big blogging break during much of last year. I got tired of trying to find something not depressing to write about. I would like to get back into it, because it is definitely something I enjoy doing.  So, I’m starting out the new year with a new post. 


Christmas Eve, 2011


And this is a picture I took today of our Christmas tree.  I was just playing, and trying to decide if I am going to try to do this “year in pictures” thing, where you take a picture every single day for a year.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to commit to that or not, but just in case I decide to do it, this is my picture for Jan. 1.