Gila's Place: Blog en-us (C) Gila Todd (Gila's Place) Sun, 15 Jul 2018 20:38:00 GMT Sun, 15 Jul 2018 20:38:00 GMT Gila's Place: Blog 117 87 Holy Smokes the Midwest is On Fire Not really on fire, just lit up. The lightening has been spectacular, though better in some areas than others. My folks around Marble Hill got hammered with bolts and heat bursts.

My Illinois peeps got distinctive bolts busting out of the sky, some sizable, and some hitting ground. Massive show... and I am jealous.  I think you can see Gretchen's shots on Facebook by by clicking here.

So I checked my favorite website in the whole world, the Real Time Lightening Map. to see what we have popping up in my neck of the woods. 

Not much happening in my area. It's all north of me. Bummer. 

Before long I'm hearing thunder booms and go outside and the sky is lit up in three directions. Good old Southeast Missouri never fails to deliver on the unexpected. For several minutes the wind blew. The sky blackened, then grayed, and with every flashing of light you could make out the change in the the cloud formations. There were no visible bolts in the sky, just flashes; big, bright, flashes. The light reflecting and bouncing through those heavy clouds, layers and layers of them, made for some strange colors. 

The image below is shooting straight up over my head. There was a break in the clouds, but not a break nearly large enough to catch the streak I was looking for. I have no idea what the orange, parallel lines are on the left. Play on lighting and reflection? 

I'm moving all over this deck at this point, trying to get the best angle, when I realize there is literally unbridled electricity flashing all around me. I am barefoot, on a wet wooden deck, with a metal tripod in my hand. I can hear nothing but my mother's voice in my head, scolding me about how ridiculous I am and to go in the house. She's certainly right, but nothing like living dangerously, right? Right. 

Suddenly I see one small streak and manage to catch it. 

The bolts are making it lighter and lighter out each time. The clouds are thinning maybe?

And then boom! For several seconds the whole neighborhood lit up like it was a stormy mid afternoon. A little after 11:00 pm and I could have seen a candy wrapper in my neighbors yard. 

And then it was black again, with flashes of light so far up in the clouds nary a bolt fell through. At least not on the top of this hill. 

Not sure what makes all the orange color in an otherwise gray and bluish sky. Maybe one of my weather bug friends will chime in and fill me in. I find it interesting. 

The rain came and in the house I went. I wasn't getting any shots worth talking about anyway. 

It wasn't long before the rumbling started again but when I checked my map, grrrrr, the next front, the one making all the noise, was sliding in just south of me. 

It was pretty cool to watch it all cross the river to Illinois on the map though, and then jump Route 3. 

Saturday night, and I am sitting at home blogging about the lightening pictures that I didn't capture.

Man, I'm getting old. 

]]> (Gila's Place) 2018 Lightening Passing Time Southeast Missouri Summer Sun, 15 Jul 2018 06:14:05 GMT
Spring Mini Sessions at Rolling Hills Farm I only do mini sessions at two places, and I only do them once or twice a year. 

This year's mini sessions at Rolling Hills Farm & Equine had a great turnout as always. What a bunch of adorable kids and majestic animals. 

]]> (Gila's Place) Children Horses Mini Session Rolling Hills Farm Sun, 10 Jun 2018 00:30:00 GMT
Winter Underway Missouri winters. Sigh. Some are so long and frozen you feel as though they may never lift and others are so fleeting you wonder if it was ever really here at all. Some are just a huge mix of confusion. This year had been mild with cold snaps. By that I mean blistering cold for several days and then tolerable temps for longer periods. Flip flops one day and three loads of firewood needed the next. I've been wrestling the flu since October. Most of my days feel like the following image looks. Lifeless, colorless, and dreary. 

But thankfully, there's always a bright side, even when skies are gray. 

Everything must eat weather the sun shines or not, and the birds come out in droves here in the winter. Hanging out my bedroom window with my camera always proves productive. (Dropping nuts, cereal, and bread of out my window, frequently, almost insures I will see a doll or two like this, daily.)

Enter one of my resident female, Northern Cardinals.

From a distance they look mostly gray. What a pleasant surprise to see one close up and realize they are really full of color. 

She looked through the sleet for 20 minutes filling up with seed. There's Millet under all those pellets of ice. The flocks out here love it. I throw it out for the smaller birds but the big ones love it just the same. 

Then I just happen to notice my neighbor's place and realize how much I miss you, Red. 

Be safe. 

]]> (Gila's Place) 2018 Bird Passing Time Winter Mon, 19 Feb 2018 01:21:00 GMT
Wood stove weather has arrived Missouri's weather is always a bit strange and this year's winter season has been no exception.

Last week we were all running around in flip flops and shorts. Last night was a blasting, spring-like, thunder storm. Tonight it's 20 out there. Yeah, 20 degrees, brrrrrr. 

I heat my home with a wood stove. Aside from a couple of chilly nights I haven't burned a real fire, for any length of time, all winter season. Small infrared heaters have done the trick to keep the chill off, until now. 

Aside from the rich warmth the wood stove provides, it's a cooking medium for me in the winter as well. I mean, why turn on the range in the kitchen if you already have one fired up in the living room, right? It's great for simmering stews and chili, steaming veggies, and even cook a cast iron skillet full of biscuits. (You need a cast iron lid to make it work right, but yeah, even biscuits.) 

Some times it's like a crock pot. Throw everything in one big pot, put a lid on it, stir on occasion, and a few hours later you have a simple, no fuss meal. It cooks the best Ramen noodles you'll ever eat. Cooked through and through but never mushy. Imagine, a Ramen noodle that's not slimey. I would have never have believed it, but the wood stove does it. 

So, this was supper off the stove tonight, vegan friendly even; perfect rice and veggies in 25 minutes, and that includes the time throw it all together. It's super tasty and costs me pennies a meal. 

I measure my rice and water into my pan. I use the same pan that inserts in my rice cooker. I have a small skillet that fits in the top of the rice cooker pan, and I put my veggies in it with some seasoning and cover it with a lid. I put it all on the wood stove. I don't mess with it in any way. In about 20 minutes I have a nutritious meal that I didn't have to slave over with minimal dishes to do. It is just that simple.

I'll admit I cheat a little with frozen, already chopped, oriental veggies. The Fusia brand I get at Aldi's is really firm and there is a wide variety of veggies in the bag. They are the closest to fresh that I have found. The bag includes a flavor package that taste's a little like Teriyaki but you can omit that and use a little chicken broth to simmer the veggies in for flavor. 


Where most Americans love potatoes, I prefer rice, and I eat a fair amount of it. I've tried using cheaper rice to cut costs, but have found there are some things I just won't cut corners on. Rice is one of them. I like rice that holds it's shape and doesn't cook to mush and will hold up to a good frisk stir fry without busting open in the process. 

I found this brand at Walmart, and I love it. 

It costs about $1 a pound. Best rice ever and has this beautiful Jasmine aroma in cooking and a full body flavor without using any salt. 

I've added chicken or a fried egg, chopped, and stirred into the mix for added protein. More times than not though, the rice and veggies are just fine on their own. 


]]> (Gila's Place) food jasmine rice recipe rice wood stove meals Mon, 04 Dec 2017 06:55:00 GMT
Family birthdays My mother's birthday was the first of the month; my niece Zoey's in late August. My sister, Zoey's mom, put together a family gathering over the weekend to celebrate.

There was a slight hitch.

Zoey was led to believe it was a party just for Granny.

See, Granny got to wear the crown and everything.

What a surprise when we sang Happy Birthday to.......Zoey!


It was great. Zoey was happy to get her cake and a few gifts! (We love these little cakes from Aldi, they are Zo's favorite) And of course she ending up getting to wear the crown!



Amanda loves to pull off a good surprise. She almost looks devilish doesn't she? :-)



We had a nice afternoon visit. We were missing several people but it was so good to sit around and just talk to everyone and enjoy the kids.

My sister Marcy has the greatest laugh ever.



The kids had such a great time. Elly was a little doll as always. She's so bouncy and upbeat and has a smile for everyone.



She loves to do her nails and just had to make sure I took a picture of her "splashed paint" look. She was so proud of the design.


Little Mr. Hudson eluded my lens most of the day. He's fast, and when I did get his attention he got overly concerned with what I might be doing.



With Claire not in attendance to challenger her, Zoey just hung out and soaked everything in.


Happy Birthday Zo!

]]> (Gila's Place) birthday family zoey Sun, 17 Sep 2017 22:15:00 GMT
Finding treasures when you least expect them

"You'll take a picture of anything won't you," my sister insinuated, more than she asked.

"Why yes," I replied, "if I find it interesting, I certainly will."

And I do, no matter how weird it might seem to someone else, if something catches my eye, I'll end up with a picture or two (or ten) of it.

You can only imagine the thousands of images I have collected in my life. And I can't describe to you what a pleasure it is to relive the memories, over and over again, every time I see them.

I was particularly happy to find this image and others of the same batch. I hadn't realized that I printed them and overjoyed to discover that I had.

You see, a couple of years ago I had a hard drive fail on me. It contained six years of my life's memories on it, the majority of which were personal, treasured images. Pictures of people no longer with us; years of my oldest grandson growing up and new grandchildren's first pics; family holidays and get togethers; nieces and nephews.

You get the idea. Really, really, keepsake type images.

I cried when that drive failed. Seriously, I sobbed. I was devastated. Finding out that it would cost me hundreds and hundreds of dollars to even attempt to recover the images from the drive meant it likely wasn't going to happen any time soon, if ever, and so all those keepsakes were just...gone.

But then I found this batch, printed and tucked away in a box, the originals laying dormant on that failed drive.

I was ecstatic to find this fun time between cousins; my grandson and nieces. Days like this that started with great intentions and aspirations of youth.....

and developed into more fun that anyone could possibly have imagined.

It all started innocently enough. Aunt Marcy let the littles go into her garage and bring out buckets, scoops, and shovels to dig around in her fire pit. Next best thing to a sandbox, right?

And in the beginning, it was just a couple of cups of water, right?

Oh yeah. Until Aunt Marcy turned on the hose that is. How cool is that when you're like five or six?

Such good memories. They had such a fantiastic time doing nothing more that playing in the mud.

I love mud. 

Now, most people hang nice, clean, well dressed pics of their kids on their walls.

But this, this, is what I printed on canvas to hang in my dining room. It's one of my all time favorite images, ever. And I thought it was the only surviving shot, until my recent discovery.


I mean, who wouldn't enjoy seeing kids having this much fun? I would honestly rather see pics of kids in their "element", and relive those memories, than to have a bunch of decked out, starched looking shots with fake smiles, and posing like fashion models.

Images of kids having the time of their lives, that's what it's all about. Well, it is for me anyway.

But hey, not for Granny. She didn't think so much of the mud play. She never does. I have been trying to convince her for 50 years that it a simple pleasure in life but she's not buying it. And I have seen this look as her argument for as many years.

The smug look of her not budging; her not buying into how fun it is, 'cause she hates it. And to her, it's gross. And I love to tease her about it. And she loves to not budge.





Granny just don't like mud. Nope. Not at all.

"You're not really going to let them dig in that fire pit are you? And pour water in it it with that hose, are you?" she asked.

"You betcha we are, Sally." (At this point you can see her skin crawling)



She watches all she can stand and then it's over for Sally.

"Well," she says, "it's time for me to go home."

And off she went. Just like that. The mud was just too much for her. (Love you Momma :-) )




And the fun continued.

Nobody (but Granny) wanted to go home even after hours of hard play, digging, hauling of buckets, soggy clothes, and wrinkled fingers.



Zoey can lay it on thick too. How cute is that muddy pout?



I am so thankful to have found these images. So thankful that they are not lost to me forever. All my memories from that day, preserved, to enjoy over and over again.


]]> (Gila's Place) Family Home and Sat, 15 Apr 2017 17:26:35 GMT
A couple of my babies

Kylie and Kaiden have been living in Florida for the past couple of years. They have grown up sooo so much in that time. This weekend they got to do some catching up with Nany.

When Kylie moved away she wasn't much on having her picture taken. She used to give me these real hard looks like she thought it would stop me from taking the pictures.

She was more cooperative today. I think she actually enjoyed getting her pictures taken this time.

She's a darling child. She's smart as a whip, outspoken, and very confident. In other words she's a handful.

Earlier, we had her hair pulled up, all cute looking, but just before our little photo shoot she decided she just want to let it all hang down. We compromised. We pulled it back instead of up.

And meet Kaden.

Kaiden is a hot mess.

He's a darling child too, and every bit the little-big-mess his father was, and then some. He too, is sharp as a whip, and pays attention to your every move. Let him catch you not paying attention for even a second and he's into something he knows he shouldn't be.

He's three, and plays the part well, and what can I expect, right?

He wore me out.

He keeps his sister, Kylie, on her toes his every waking minute. She says he gives her a headache.

"Like this," she says.

"Oh the drama," she tells me.

And she's so serious when she says these very mature things.

And Kaiden, when you ask him if he flushed the washrag down Nany's toilet?

Is a verbal confirmation even necessary?

All in all I think these two are thick as thieves. I love the stuffin' out of them, hot messes that they are.

They hang together pretty tight.

I don't remember exactly what provoked this look, but I am guessing is was a "no" response to one of her many requests.

We are missing dear Karsen. He's a little too young to stay over at Nany's just yet. (At least when I am trying to wrangle these two.) I'm looking forward to another nice day when we can include his sweet smile in the mix.

]]> (Gila's Place) children kylie and kaiden Mon, 03 Apr 2017 03:13:59 GMT
Every Minute I Can Get When Anthony told me that he had enlisted in the infantry, at age 30, I almost had a stroke. I am certain at least 10% of my hair went white in that instant, but that's a whole other story all together. 

From that instant on I was bound to spend every moment I could with my girls before Daddy finished boot camp and drug them off to parts unknown.  This adorable face is going away in just a matter of weeks. 

How can that be? 

And this chubby one. Little Miss Amelia. Be still my heart. Always smiling chunky butt.  

How many memories will I miss? 

While Anthony is in boot camp, Lacey and the girls went to stay with Lacey's daddy. He lives way out in da' boonies; a little over an hour trip from my home. It's a beautiful drive and doesn't seem a terribly long trip, but when your car is having issues it might as well be a thousand miles away. 

You never know what you might see along the way though.

Turkey anyone? 

I made the trip out today even though my car has just been dying at will. Never know when you might need the tow truck home. That's no joke. I drove on a wing and a prayer. Every second of the white knuckle ride was worth it. Those tiny smiling faces are worth it

I couldn't resist stopping for a barn along the way, even one that's falling in on itself. It's Southeast Missouri. This one may stand to rot like this for years. The loft is now about four foot off the ground and keeping nothing out, and nothing dry. I am sure the squirrels and deer and very well nested and fed around there.  I saw signs of some sizable coons so I didn't hang out long; no telling what wildlife takes refuge there now. 

Before I arrived at the Pack's, the neighbor's dog came to meet me at the end of the lane. Nice looking Heeler mix, if not a little intimidating. He turned out to be a really sweet dog. When traveling in rural anywhere, especially Missouri, it's a crap shoot to how a country dog will act when you exit your car. 

It was great to see Ally having such a good time with her cousins. 

She's a handful but keeps up with the boys just fine.

Amelia was tripping on my camera, even without the flash. You'd think she's be used to it by now, but she's not. I could sure get her used to itwith a little practice if daddy weren't about to drag you off away from home. 

Allison is all about giving Nany a pretty smile, chocolate-cookie-lips and all. 

Amelia will settle for sweet little toes to snack on for now. They leave less of a ring around your mouth than Oreos. :-) 

Ally look so much like her Grandma Angie here. She walks just like her. Odd the little traits that children inherit. 

And here. She's Angie's mini me, for sure.

We had a big "adbenture" in Grandma Kathy's back yard . Ally wasn't real wild about that very tall grass, well over her head, but she just couldn't stand it and barreled right in. She's fearless I tell you. 

I'm going to miss this wide eyed beauty more than I can say. I was so prepared to spend the next 20 years dragging her around. And her sister too. Now they are army brats so that won't be happening. But even without me, I am am very excited for them and the real adventures they will surely have, in places I will never see. 

Maybe I'll luck out and one of them will be a camera bug like Nany and they will allow me to see the world through their eyes

Miss Amelia just likes to hang out with her mom and chew on her toes. I cannot fathom the things I will miss out on with her. I have always thought my grandchildren would be nearby. Now I wonder if they will ever really know me. 

On the way home, I realized just how true the statement, "Southeast Missouri is an odd place," is. 

Sometimes while driving, I hold my camera and just shoot off the cuff. No focusing, just snapping as I drive, and I get the to see the treasures when I get back to the house. 

I'll leave with you with these. 

Bus stop straight ahead- Do you see the curve?

And just around the curve.... this one stopped and never started again. 

Sitting along side a field full of...

And made it home just about nightfall. 

]]> (Gila's Place) Family Grandbabies Passing Time Sat, 18 Mar 2017 22:30:00 GMT
Baby, it's sure cold out there As Romey sleeps by the fire. What dog sleeps like this?As Romey sleeps by the fire. What dog sleeps like this?

Last night temps dipped into the teens here in Southeast Missouri. There was frost on the ground by 9:00 p.m. Up to stoke the wood stove before dawn this morning, the dogs didn't leave the confines of the warm bed to follow me into the living room as they normally would. When I made it back to the bedroom, I couldn't see anything of Frank but his butt that was sticking out from under his favorite blanket. Shorty was buried in the pillows and didn't budge when I crawled into the sheets again. Roman was still covered, balled up and snoring when I returned. Jack didn't even look up.

Being Saturday, I slept in late. A little too late as I could feel the chill in the house when I woke and quickly got up to get the wood stove stoked. Typically, all the dogs would be up and ready to jump and run before I got my slippers on. But this morning, not one of them moved. Instead, they all just laid there looking at me as if to say, "get the fire going and I'll see you when it warms up in here."

It was certainly chilly as I pulled on my hoody and noticed the thermometer in the dining room showed 59 degrees. A quick check of the stove revealed a small bed of coals and a firebox full of ash. I decided I might as well clean it out while it wasn't overly hot so I set to shoveling out the ash, careful to preserve some of the biggest coals to get the fire going again. All that noise and still no dogs in sight.

I made my way out to empty the ash bucket, stopped at the woodpile for and arm full of logs, and back into the house. It was certainly frigid. I could see my breath.

Back in the house there was still no sign of the dogs. I began to worry and made my way back into the bedroom to check on them. All were still buried in blankets and sawing their own invisible logs.

I got the fire going, swept the floor, and then went back to the bedroom to see what on earth was keeping the dogs from coming to the front of the house. I couldn't believe it when I made it to the back and found them all still asleep. I clapped my hands. I said "outside" more than once. Only Jack looked at me paying attention at all, but still no movement.

Shorty just wants to be left alone in her blanky.Shorty just wants to be left alone in her blanky.

Now, I myself hate the cold. But I had gotten up, got the stove cleaned, got the fire going, got things straightened up, and made a ton of racket doing it. Still they slept. Honestly, I wanted nothing more than to crawl back in beside them and snuggle up. It was a long and restless night, but that's another story altogether.

Finally I tried rousing them. Shorty climbed right out of the pillow pile and under the blanket with Frank. I tried to get Frank to play. He wagged his tail and otherwise didn't move. Romey, well, he just grunted and rolled over. Jack lay still in the floor just eyeballing the process.

This was worse than trying to get kids out of bed for school.

I finally walked out into the dining room and pulled out the secret weapon- the squeaky ball. "Squeak. Squeak."

Finally they all came running and scrambling to the front of the house, and I could see as they did, that they were contemplating returning to the comfort of the blankets and warm bed. I quickly moved to the back door. "Potty", I said. And they all moved toward the door, stopping short when they felt the cold air.

Nope. That was a game changer. They all had to pee, but they weren't having any part of that cold blast. I had to quickly get to the bedroom door to keep them from going back to bed. I then went back to the dining room, opening the door, and literally had to push them all outside.

Jack in his chair. HIS chair. Jack in his chair. HIS chair.

They all did their business in record time and in what seemed like only seconds were back at the door, Frank barking to be let in. When I opened the door, all came inside like a shot out of a cannon. The brisk air had woke them all up. Shorty barking like a mad dog, Roman doing zoomies through the house, and Frank trying to find a way back into the bedroom and barking profusely at the bedroom door like somehow that would make it open.

Not happening.

Plans for the day changed so and I did something I almost never do. I did nothing but read, stoke the fire, and carry in the occasional armload of firewood. I read blogs. Blogs about refurbishing old houses. Blogs about farm living. Blogs about people spending a year sailing on the ocean on their boat. Blogs about animals. Hours of reading, and it was blissful. I did manage to bake a pan of hot rolls. 

And the dogs- well, they did what they do best. Nothing. Slept. Snored. Chased rabbits (or cats) in their sleep. They occasionally got up to go out to do their business with a little coaxing of a treat. But for the most part, they soaked up the warmth of the stove. In front of the stove is the place to be in these temps and they all know it.


]]> (Gila's Place) Dogs cold weather pets Sun, 11 Dec 2016 03:11:08 GMT
Plants in for the winter A few months ago I decided to kick back and take pause. I booked only a few photo gigs, laid off the odd jobs for the spring and summer, dropped almost completely out of rescue, and haven't written anything to really speak of. I really needed the break.

I've filled my days with my "day job", (a new position I took in the spring), as well as my family, and of course, my animals. As full a my days still are, it's been a much needed break.

One of the things I found time to actually enjoy this year was tending my plants. My yard soil isn't all that great so most of what t I grow is in pots. At the end of the season, a lot of my plants come indoors; all the house type plants and some herbs.

While I do prune in the spring, fall is usually when I prune the most. Some of my plants and trees get sizable over the summer, basking in the sun on my deck, and typically I have to prune them when I bring them in because I only have so much space in my little house.

That wasn't the case this year.

Spring before last, I messed up and put everything out on the porch too early in the year. We had a week of perfect spring weather and then one night everything froze.

I was devastated (yes devastated) when I thought that most, if not all, of my plants were gonners. I've had some of them for years and years and spent a lot of time and love tending them. The memories some of them hold are priceless.

At first I thought they might come out of it if I brought them back into the house. But every stalk turned golden, dried, and snapped easily within days.

I got discouraged, but instead of throwing them out, I thought I'd cut them back completely and hoped that might force some shoots from the roots. But when I cut into the stalk, I saw larva. I knew I was in trouble then.

Turns out that those pesky Japanese beetles that kill 100 year old trees aren't all that picky about where they live, eat, and lay babies; almost any stemmy plant or tree will do. My Ficus and Fig trees worked out just fine for them. The stalks were all just full of larva.

I cut everything back to soil level, plucked out all the larva I could find, and spray painted the open cuts in hopes of smothering any worms left behind still alive.

Weeks passed and nothing. Everything went out on the deck, and what a sight it was. A bunch of huge pots with nothing but stumps showing. I waited and watched patiently for a couple of weeks, and nothing.

Then the rains came and blessed our area for about 5 days. By the end of those five days all of my plants had some green showing. A couple weeks later, and another couple of rain showers, I was seeing life in the pots again. And thankfully, no sign of bugs.

By the middle of summer, here they were. They were only fractions of their former size.

The Ficus (Indoor Fig) was about 7-8 ft tall and at least 3 foot in circumference before I had my lapse of judgement. I've had it 16 years this May. The plant in the middle, the one I can never remember the name of (schefflera), was about 3 ft tall and 2.5 ft in circumference and also 16 years old. My poor of Rubber Trees were both over 4 ft. tall and sprawled out in circumference that two people couldn't wrap their arms around them. I was looking forward to sharing some good cuttings from those with friends last year, but they don't freeze well. :-(

Over the winter and this past summer, everything regained some size and vigor. The only plant that required pruning was my Spider Plant. She had so many spiderettes (babies) spilling over the pot, the weight was more than my wall mount could hold. I hung her up and walked into the other room and then heard a crash. I wish I had taken a picture of her and all those cascading babies before I pruned her today. She was huge.




]]> (Gila's Place) Ficus Fig Schefflera Spider Plant plants yard and garden Sat, 12 Nov 2016 22:35:39 GMT
Hearty Potato Soup Soup’s good with me all year around but it’s the general consensus that the cool evenings we are seeing here in Southeast Missouri, is calling for soups, stews, chili and the likes; comfort foods that stick to your ribs and warm your bones.

Potato Soup is one of my favorites. But don't let the fact that it's packed full of veggies fool you. It's also packed full of butter, bacon grease, and heavy cream. That's why it's so hearty, and not in a heart smart kind of way. It's by far not the healthiest soup you can eat.

It is however, one of the tastiest.

Hearty Potato Soup

  • 5-6 medium size red potatoes, diced to 1” cubes
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 4-6 cups of chicken broth or bouillon  
  • 6 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 4 cups cream (I use Half and Half)
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 green onions, finely diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place diced potatoes, carrots, and celery in the soup pot filling with water just over the top of the veggies and throw in 4-5 chicken bouillon cubes. (You can use 4-6 cups of chicken broth or stock if you like but the bouillon is convenient for me.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a hard simmer.

While your veggies are cooking, fry the diced bacon in a skillet. Once the bacon browned, remove from skillet, leaving the grease in the pan.

Saute’ onion in the bacon grease until almost cooked.

Once veggies are tender, add onions, half the bacon, and two cups of cream to the veggie pot. Reduce heat to medium.

Add butter to skillet on medium heat. Once melted, add flour using a wire whisk, to make a thick roux. Cook one minute.

Using your wire whisk, blend in two cups of cream. At first this will look like milk gravy but the mixture will thicken fairly quickly. You’ll know it’s thick enough when it begins to pull away from the pan while whisking. Remove from heat.

Now, this step is us to you. If you like your soup chunky, skip it. If you like creamier soups use a potato masher or stick blender to mash up some of the veggies in the soup. I just give it a couple of quick burst with a stick blender until the consistency looks right for my taste.

Once soup begins to thicken add a handful of green onions. Stir and reduce to low heat, allowing the flavors to marry, 30 minutes or so.

Salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve topped with bacon crumples, a dash of shredded cheese, and a few green onion pieces. Some people like a dollop of sour cream on top as well, but using Half and Half in this recipe makes it rich enough that the sour cream is not necessary for me.  

This soup freezes well and will keep well in the frig for several days.

Allow soup to cool completely, uncovered, before refrigerating or freezing. Covering cream soups while warm will turn them to a watery consistency.

]]> (Gila's Place) Food Potato Recipes Soup Sun, 09 Oct 2016 22:02:29 GMT
Anticipating Amelia Grace My daughter in law, Lacey, is expecting in a few weeks. A month ago she was supposed to have a baby shower, but it fell through and Lacey was understandably disappointed.

My sister was having none of that. As soon as she learned of the cancelled shower she went to work putting one together for Lacey, herself. As surprise shower no less.

She contacted family and friends to attend. She and my niece made beautiful decorations. With the help of my brother in law and my other two sisters they put together a nice spread of food, arranged a beautiful cake, had punch (and naturally, sweet tea), and put it all together in a rented hall back home.

And they did it all without Lacey and Anthony ever knowing a thing. Did I mention we had to keep it secret for a month?

Anthony and Lacey thought we were going back home for one big birthday party, for all the September and October birthdays in the family. There are many. Since "back home" means a drive of more than an hour and a half, one big party seemed logical, right?

The party was supposed to take place at one of my sisters. We met at my mom's ahead of time though. I got out of the house to get to the hall before Anthony and Lacey arrived with my mom, an hour later.

My mother came up with this story that a close family friend, Anthony's first-ever sitter, was in town at a family get together and wanted to see Anthony's little girl, Ally. On the way to our "family birthday party" they were going to stop at the hall to see Deb for a few minutes. Always happy to oblige his granny, Anthony agreed.

While twenty of us gathered in the hall, the door opened and in came my nephew, then my mother, and then Lacey. She was expecting a family reunion of a bunch of people she didn't know, and she walked into a party, decked out in pink and gold, that she said later, " looked like she was crashing someone's baby shower. "

And then she realized it was her baby shower.

It took Anthony a minute to process the scene, but his surprise was obvious.


The look I am getting in the last picture is when he realizes I have been lying to him to cover this all up, for a month.

And here's another one of those looks to let me know we would be discussing this deception, in more depth, on the ride home. And of course, my sister laughing about it.

Of course he quickly dismissed my deception when he saw the food.

Everyone who attended was generous beyond compare, and indeed showed baby Amelia a bounty of gifts to get her started in this life. Anthony and Lacey were both humbled and grateful.

I got to spend some time with a couple of my oldest friends. There's never enough time, ever. I love you girls and miss you more than you would ever believe. So many memories with these girls. Where does the time go?

Back to the shower.

There was this monster cake. Jim cut each piece very large; more than I could finish.

But let their be no mistake. This is, hands down, one of the best party cakes I have ever eaten.

Well played, Hayley.


Claire was  huge help in making the decorations happen. She's a pretty talented young lady and a wonderful niece.

Aunt Karla, Aunt Deb, Aunt Deniesa, Cousin Heather, and some Gresham littles even made it. Been awhile since I'd seen them and catching up was good. This shower was the first gathering of this kind we've had back home, and close enough for them to attend. We usually do this stuff in Missouri and that's a pretty good drive for them.

Everyone had a great time chatting and catching up. One of Heather's littles is not so little anymore. Where does the time go?

Deniesa and her wee ones.

And of course one of my wee babes had a blast in all the commotion.

Some more of the decorations Hayley and Claire worked so hard on.

Of course no family gathering or batch of images is immune to at least one shot of the wild inside of Marcy or Amanda. This day, it was Marcy who obliged. "Give me a smile", and she does, the biggest one she can muster.

Amanda was content, this time, to just flash that gorgeous grin.

Sweet, dear Elly. What more can I say? She's just a lovin child and was so good to help keep track of Ally all day.

Hudson just hung out being adored. This child is such a snuggle bug it's unreal.

And of course, Deb was there. She's been "family" for as long as I can remember and really was Anthony's first sitter. Always smiling. She, my mother, and Rose make a good trio. Partners in crime for many years now.

Zoey had fun reading the blog about our last family get together. She doesn't get much internet time but I hope she enjoys this blog as well.

Hunter was illusive and managed to dodge the camera more times than I could count. It's a shame too. He has a cool looking new hair cut which shows off what a handsome young man he's grown into.

]]> (Gila's Place) Family Sun, 02 Oct 2016 01:30:00 GMT
Pasta with Bacon, Onion, and Tomato
This is one of those super simple things to throw together, in one pan; it's packed full of flavor, and pretty economical to make. My kids loved it growing up and it was something their dad fed them in my absence. He loved the stuff too and I think about him every time I make it.

Here's to you, Doug.


  • 1 lb of bacon, fried and set aside to drain
  • 1-2 large yellow or white onion- chopped or diced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 box of pasta (about 4 cups), your choice (I used chewy rigatoni noodles for this batch)
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot (or large cast iron skillet which is my preference) fry bacon in strips and set aside.
  2. Remove all but enough grease to coat the bottom of the pan or skillet.
  3. Add onions to pan or skillet and saute' until softened.
  4. Add tomatoes and a pinch of sugar and bring to a simmer. (you don't want this to be sweet. Use just enough sugar to kill the acidic bite of the tomatoes.
  5. Chop cooked bacon into 1" pieces and add to mix.
  6. Add pasta and 4-6 cups of water to pan or skillet. (The amount of water used depends on the type of past you choose.)
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Stir well and simmer until all liquid has been mostly absorbed and pasta will have a nice sauce coating. If pasta doesn't seem tender enough, just add a little more water and simmer a bit longer.

This recipe will make 4 adult size servings and goes great with a side salad or can be used as a side dish.

Freezes well.


]]> (Gila's Place) Bacon Food Recipes Mon, 26 Sep 2016 01:08:43 GMT
What a drag it is getting old I lived through one of the worst cases of heartworms the vet had ever seen. I've battled whip worms on more than one occasion. I've been shot in the face and had teeth blown out of my jaw. As I age, many of my remaining teeth are worn. I have a tumor in one eye and a cataract in the other and between the two I have only a fraction of my vision. My hips are stiff and walking is getting harder every day.

But I am faithful and devoted to my family. I stand vigilant against anything that might cause my loved ones any harm. I'd give my life for any one of them and never bat an eye.

I am faithful and loyal because I am loved and well cared for. I am pampered and treated as part of a family unit.

I adore my momma and she adores me. It's a mutual and deep appreciation.

My momma doesn't care what a grumpy old man I can be because she knows the value of my love and companionship. When she made me hers, she knew it was for the whole of my life no matter where she moved, who entered her life or left it, or what the cost of my care would be. She's stayed true to her promise to me.

Having pets is a privilege that no one should take lightly or for granted. My life is short. Enjoy me while you can. When I am gone, you'll only be left with memories. Make every one of them count. I'm worth it.

]]> (Gila's Place) Pets Fri, 16 Sep 2016 03:30:00 GMT
Animal shelters and rescues of Southeast Missouri For readers looking for animals shelters and rescues in the Southeast Missouri region I've compiled the following list. Each entry contains the public contact information and online presence of each organization, along with their mission statements. Links can include Facebook pages, websites, adoption listings, donation, and more.

Each individual shelter/rescue has its own protocol for rescue, fostering, and adoptions. To get more details on individual shelter/rescue I recommend contacting those that you are interested in.

In addition to pet adoption, each offers a variety of pet related activities and services. You can find their hours of operation listed on their individual websites or Facebook pages.

Only shelters/rescues offering public adoptions have been included in the listing. Organizations that deal strictly in transfers to other qualified shelters/rescues have been excluded.

To have your favorite Southeast Missouri animal shelter/rescue added to this list, please comment in the comment section under this post. * Note- Only organizations in the Southeast Missouri region, that offer public adoptions, will be added.

CHS-PAWS (Formerly the Caruthersville Humane Society)
204 S. 4th St., Hayti, Mo. 63851
(573) 359-0113
Facebook: CHS-PAWS
Petfinder: Caruthersville Humane Society
Donate with Paypal from any page of their website.

CHS-PAWS shelters pets and finds loving homes for abandoned, neglected and abused animals. They work with local law enforcement on animal cruelty investigations for successful prosecution. CHS-PAWS is a no kill animal shelter.


Dexter Animal Shelter
601 E. Grant St., Dexter, Mo. 63841
(573) 624-5512
Facebook: Dexter Animal Shelter
Petfinder: Dexter Police Department

The Dexter Animal Shelter is an extension of the Dexter Police Department. They're responsible for taking dogs off the street and providing them a temporary home at the shelter and now offer adoptions to the general public. Volunteers of the shelter work diligently trying to find homes for the animals taken into the shelter.


FPAC (Farmington Pet Adoption Center) 
2901 Hwy 67 South
Farmington, Mo. 63640
Facebook: Farmington Pet Adoption Center
Donate with Paypal

Farmington Pet Adoption Center is a limited access, no-kill shelter providing lifesaving care and treatment to abandoned and unwanted pets in Missouri’s Parkland. We find loving forever homes for every adoptable pet in addition to striving to reduce pet over-population, to expose and assist in the prosecution of pet cruelty, and to educate the public on pet care.



Humane Society of Southeast Missouri
2536 Boutin Dr., Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701
(573) 334-5836

Facebook: Humane Society of Southeast Missouri
Petfinder: Humane Society of Southeast Missouri
Donate with PayPal

The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri's mission is to provide shelter and care for homeless animals and advocate the humane treatment of all animals. Another major part of their mission is to encourage spaying & neutering to decrease overpopulation of domestic animals. Our mission also includes providing programs and services that enhance the bond between animals and people. We are able to provide our programs and services thanks to the generosity of individuals and corporations through the use of donations, fundraisers and grants.


Rough Road Rescue
9126 S. Hwy 51, Perryville, Mo. 63775
(573) 547-8070
Adopt a Pet: Rough Road Rescue
Facebook: Rough Road Rescue
Donate with PayPal

Rough Road Rescue is located in Perry County, Mo. Rough Road Rescue is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals, by preventing abuse and cruelty through providing safety, shelter and adoption. They help to educate the community and raise public awareness of the importance of advocating on behalf of these animals that are unable to fight for their own rights.


Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary
359 Cree Lane, Jackson, Mo. 63755
(573) 243-9823
Facebook: Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary
Thrift Store: 3862 E. Jackson Blvd, Jackson, MO on/ Facebook: Safe Harbor Thrift Store

Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary is a no-kill, free-roam animal sanctuary whose goal is to provide a safe refuge and find loving lifelong owners for homeless cats and dogs in Cape Girardeau County and the neighboring area. With the help of local veterinarians, all animals of the appropriate age who come into Safe Harbor’s care are spayed or neutered, and are given basic inoculations.


Sikeston Area Humane Society
1900 Compress Road, Sikeston, Mo. 63801
(573) 471-4801
Facebook: Sikeston Area Humane Society


Sikeston Area Humane Society is a small shelter dedicated to placing the animals, whatever kind they may be, into loving homes. They also strive to educate the public of the importance of proper pet care and spay/neuter.



The following is a listing of notable animal control agencies (that do more than average animal control, including adoptions) with links to their Facebook pages. If the animal control unit does not have a Facebook page, links will lead to that localities police dept.

Kennett Humane Dept.


]]> (Gila's Place) Animal Rescue Animal Shelter Animal Welfare Pets Sun, 28 Aug 2016 21:05:36 GMT
What are we eating? The first week of July we have a family gathering at my place. There's always a lot of good food and we always have too much. It's great for everyone to take a plate home, something to have around the house a couple of days to munch on, and even a few goodies the dogs can eat.

This year I threw the buns in a plastic box to keep them fresh throughout the day. After everyone had eaten and taken what they wanted, I cleaned up the mess and while doing so, nonchalantly put the box in the cabinet and basically forgot about it.

Today as I was cleaning the kitchen cabinets, I realized the box of buns was still there. I felt a little ashamed that I had let so much bread go to waste as I pulled the box out of the cabinet. When I opened the lid I expected to see a couple of bags of green, fuzzy, buns. But much to my surprise they looked, well, normal.

I pulled one of the buns out of the bag and checked it out. It smelled right, it looked fine, and other than a tiny bit drier, they appeared just as they had almost seven weeks ago when I had purchased them. I even tasted one. Tasted like bread. Not a single speck of mold on a single bun, in either bag. And yes, one bag had been opened back in July.

Now, I know that I don't have the world's most efficient bread box that magically keeps bread fresh forever. So I ask myself, what in the world are we putting in our bodies when eating this stuff? What kind of preservatives are manufacturers putting in our food so that even bread will stay virtually fresh and without mold, for seven weeks?


]]> (Gila's Place) Food Sat, 27 Aug 2016 18:09:29 GMT
Sally's corner at Gila's Place When I was a kid, my Aunt Edna crocheted all the time. I had more than one crocheted hat, scarf, and poncho in my younger years. I bugged Aunt Edna enough that she taught me how to do a few stitches and put them all together; enough to make afghans, ornaments, hats, scarves, and all kids of cool stuff. 

Much to my surprise, my mother asked me to teach her how. I was eleven. It was weird teaching my mother anything.

But she took right off with it. I'd make a couple of things then put it down for awhile. I had other fun things to do at eleven.

But my mom was all over it, hours at a time, crocheting away. And she made beautiful afghans. Naturally everyone in the family had one as did most of our friends. She'd make them for folks by request.

It's been over 35 years now.

And over the years she's played with hats, scarves, and other smaller projects; still crochets all the time. She could do it in her sleep and never miss a stitch. To this day you can walk in her living room and the coffee table is piled with granny squares, or a big tote full by her chair. People that visit my mother know just what I mean. She's taught herself how to do different patters, work with different yarns, and make little side projects, but her afghans are just the bomb and she cranks them out like nobody's business.

I told her she should put her work online. She doesn't want to Etsy; that requires too much technical stuff like emails, bank account hookups or PayPal, and she's having none of that. (We liked to never got her on Facebook, I am not pushing it) I won't even go into how I think she might feel about learning eBay.

So, Mama's going to get her own little corner of Gila's Place. A place to show her work.

It's all for sale, and for a steal too. I tried to tell her that her prices were too low but she's says she gets her money back on the yarn, and a little extra, and she's good with that. She just loves to crochet. I think it's a habit :-)

So check out her gorgeous creations by clicking here. You can see what she has available.  She still takes special orders.


]]> (Gila's Place) Crafts Crochet For Sale Sally's Corner Fri, 26 Aug 2016 01:45:00 GMT
Crystal Late last year I lost both of my kitties. Both were right around 17 years old. Cleo  had been with me since she was a kitten.  Eddie was about two when he came to live with us.  

Long time companions and both of them gone within a couple of weeks of each other. I was devastated.

It was strange to have a cat free home for the first time in almost two decades. Right after they both passed away, I had my first mouse in longer than I could remember. Even in their declining health neither Cleo, nor Eddie, ever allowed a mouse in the house except for the ones Ry kept as pets. Cleo actually played with those. This unexpected visiting mouse was not welcome, and it finally took a cat to move him on his way. But I digress.

It was an adjustment having no cats, but I managed, and had honestly vowed to myself, "no more cats for me." The dogs were more than enough to keep me busy, entertained, and broke. I was good with that.

Long story short, I got handed a sad story about this beautiful girl, and guess where she lives now? She's the grumpy cat I post pics of on FB and even though she looks mad all the time, she really is a very pleasant little girl.

Meet Crystal. She's a diva, no joke.


She's nothing but a fur ball- a tiny little body under all that cottony fur. She was full of knots when I first got her. So much so I just shaved her instead of trying to brush her out. She would have hated me for sure. Not that she loved me over the clippers, but it was better than hours of tugging and pulling at her sensitive skin. She's not fully grown out yet, but at least no mats of fur to struggle with.


She's got this super smashed face, and of course the watery eyes that all flat faced kitties seem to struggle with. But she's picky about herself, cleans well, abides by the constant eye cleaning by me, and actually seems to enjoy a good brushing. 

Did I mention the word Diva? She really is. She struts all over the place like she owns it.

Crystal's not into other cats at all and merely tolerates the other little kitty I got talked into. (She's a whole other story) No major cat fights between the two but they each have their own territories, one venturing into the others only rarely.

She didn't like the dogs at first but now owns them all, even without a single front claw. And she bawls if you try and pet anyone but her. She has taken over my desktop and enjoys frequently shoving everything on top of it, off in the floor.

A friend of mine built her a cat tree so that she would be able to lay in the windows, up high, where the dogs wouldn't bother her as she basked in all her cattiness. She digs butterflies, and with the petunias right outside of the window, she gets to see a few of those. When she does, she gets wild looking if they get too close to the glass.

She's real "catty", and like I said a little diva, but a blessing non the less. She's got lots of personality and companionship for everyone around her.

]]> (Gila's Place) Animals Cats Pets Tue, 02 Aug 2016 00:30:00 GMT
Breakfast Rice This is one of those meals that you throw together with bits and pieces of stuff because you don’t have enough of any one thing to make a meal out of. My kids loved it and thought it was some great masterpiece. In reality, it was mom just trying to throw together a full meal about the time a trip to the grocery store was overdue.

The following recipe is cut in half and makes four servings for me. When the boys were young, we doubled and sometimes tripled the following.

You’ll need a cast iron skillet or wok and a large mixing bowl for this recipe. Use an egg turner for stirring, you’ll see why.

  • ½ lb bulk style breakfast sausage
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 6-8 Baby carrots
  • 4 T Olive oil
  • 3 C Cooked rice
  • 3 T Soy sauce
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Chop all vegetables to ¼ to ½ cubes. Size just depends on how chunky you want your rice.
  2. Set aside large bowl.
  3. Brown sausage in hot skillet, chopping as it cooks.
  4. Remove from pan and put in large bowl.
  5. Add and heat 2 T oil in skillet.
  6. Crack three eggs into hot oil leaving yolks whole.
  7. After eggs appear firm, chop and mix yolk slightly and allow to finish cooking.
  8. Use egg turner to scrape bottom of pan well.
  9. Remove eggs from pan. Place in large bowl.
  10. Add 2 T oil to pan.
  11. Add vegetables and stir well. Just brown, don’t cook until limp.
  12. Remove vegetables from pan. Place in large bowl.
  13. Drizzle everything in big bowl with ½ the soy sauce and mix well.
  14. Salt to taste.
  15. Add three cups cooked rice to hot pan. Brown rice and use egg turner to scrape pan. When rice is dryer and brown stir in the other half of soy.
  16. Add all contents of big bowl to rice and stir over med heat until combined.
  17. Salt or soy to taste.
]]> (Gila's Place) Breakfast Rice Recipes Mon, 25 Jul 2016 05:07:04 GMT
Goodbye Examiner- all good things must end  

On June 26th I published an article on in reference to my most current feelings about animal rescue, as well as my past involvement in such, and my need to step back away from it all for awhile. It was only one of a handful of editorial type articles I have ever published there.

As I hit the publish button, I contemplated it being my last article to publish on Examiner, forever.

I had been writing there since 2009, it was a great outlet to publish about animal news and welfare, and I had thousands of readers subscribed to my column. It was a real pip that I remained in the top most-read-column line up on the site for several years. I managed to make public a good deal of important information, publishing some things that other news groups refused to touch because of the emotionally charged nature of the material.

However, the articles were extremely time consuming and took away from a lot of the things that I do; things that actually pay my bills. As much as I enjoyed writing on there was nothing financially beneficial about it. Even though I had a couple of pieces hit big and go viral, that was not a constant and I was tickled when my earnings paid even the water bill. And for that reason, many times over the years, I have considered leaving Examiner. Each and every time I did consider it, friends (many involved in rescue) convinced me to stay, to give voice to so much in the animal world that others won’t talk about. And so I continued.

But on June 26th, I was more than a little ready to just chuck it all.

Well, life has a way of making decisions for you, and sometimes, whether we like it or not, we go along because we simply have no choice.

Just days after I published that last article, in the midst of all that contemplation, Examiner made the decision for me. I received an email that stated, as of July 10, 2016, would shut down its feed, and Examiner would be no more. It was simple. The platform was changing to an entertainment driven crowd, there simply wasn’t any money in it for them to continue to operate a news site, and they were chucking the whole thing, including all of its content. Journalist who wished to save their work had just days to do so or wait for it to all disappeared.  

I had seven years of articles on the and just days to save what I could or it would all be gone. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted save any of it. Was it worth the hours it would take to collect it all? Who was reading it anyway?

So I compromised. I saved some of it. I saved the articles that were popular in first publishing and still being read, some that had special meaning for me, and certainly some that more than a few people would like to see completely disappear from existence.  There was just some information I could not bear to see simply fade away.

I’ve had a couple of offers to write for other online publications but decided against it, for now. Instead, I intend to republish those saved articles from Examiner here in my own space. Anything I write in the future will be found here too.

And since my blog is such a big mix of so many different things that I do, the easiest way to find what you want to read about, is to use the convenient little search box or keyword listing on the blog home page. Anything animal welfare related will be tagged with the keyword, “animal welfare”. Old articles will be tagged with “Examiner” or “”.

As always, thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing from many of you.

]]> (Gila's Place) Animal Welfare Mon, 18 Jul 2016 00:27:22 GMT