Nov 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

I'm re-posting this from a couple of years ago. Since then, a documentary has been made about the airmen who were captured and held at Buchenwald. Lost Airmen of Buchenwald  I was in touch with the producer of the film and he added a few pictures of my father-in-law to it since he was one of the commanding officers while held there. Here's a clip where he is mentioned: Ed Carter-Edwards contacted me through email after I sent the photos to the producer. It was surreal communicating with someone who was actually in this prison with my father-in-law.


A few years ago I had to write an article about making a military scrapbook. My father-in-law retired from the Air Force after 30 years as a Colonel and after he passed away we found a large amount of memorabilia. I spent some time compiling some of the information, and of course, making layouts. He was a P-38 pilot, had shot down many Nazi planes and was shot down himself, captured by the Nazis and spent time in the concentration camp Buchenwald.

He was interviewed many times about his experiences so information was pulled from various sources. Some excerpts...

Nothing could have stimulated pilot morale of the 429th Fighter Squadron more than the coming of 1st Lt. Merle E. Larson, holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air medal, and other citations.  His combat record has already been an inspiration to all flight officers of this squadron.
Lt. Larson, a South Dakota man, underwent a normal aviation cadet’s training – minus combat training – but went into combat under a handicap condition to survive and make an honorable and respected name for himself.
He was trained on the West Coast in the summer of 1942.  In September of that year his Group went over.  They made the voyage in troop ships, landing in Scotland after spending 7 days on water.
From Scotland he was sent to Northern Ireland where he was stationed on an R.A.F. field for about two and one-half months.  While there, he was given a series of lectures by R.A.F. Intelligence Officers, which were helpful.
Then, about the middle of December, he was on his way to Africa.  He flew down as far as southern England, and then was “weathered in” for a week.  His flight then took off for Africa.
They flew for about two hours when German fighters jumped his formation, but it got through okay and finally arrived in Africa, near Oran, on Christmas Eve 1942.
“Our first night on the new location” he comments, “was spent on the wings of our planes, ready to take off upon a moment’s notice.  It was the worst Christmas Eve I’d ever had and I thought of the ones back home with the folks.  But there was no time for self-pity, we had a job to do.”
Christmas day he spent over the Mediterranean Sea, escorting a convoy.
He relates that his living quarters were not favorable, in plain language, “rotten.”  The mud was about a foot deep.  His quarters were made of concrete (same as the floor) and he had no bed or anything to sleep on so that meant using the bare floor, still without a bath since leaving England.
His unit stayed there for about a week, then the day came: it was sent up to operate.  The real thing – and it seemed a little hard to believe.  He was assigned to give medium bombers close cover protection.  It was a rough job because his squadron had only a few planes at first, and being right in the toughest part of the fight against Rommel’s army, it was not easy.  There were but a few ground crews at first, so Lt. Larson had to work on his own plane.  He says it was not easy or fun.
Living conditions behind the front lines were very poor.  They had no beds; all they had were two blankets apiece, which weren’t nearly enough, and they nearly froze to death at night.  The food, he relates, was poor.  It seemed as if all he had was “stew and tea.”  He seldom enjoyed a cup of coffee.
But let him continue with his story:
“The shortage of planes cost us a great toll in lives as well as planes the first months of combat.  Also we were not properly trained for combat.  Our first aerial target we shot at were ME 109’s and because of our not having any aerial gunnery in the States, it was tough.
Our main job was bomber escort work.  Most of those escort missions were ocean sweeps.  Toward the end of the North African campaign, we were given some fighter sweeps to knock down German transport planes.  We had very good results.  Fortunately, I got three of them.
There is no glorious feeling in knocking an enemy plane out of the sky.  The thrill you would normally expect just isn’t there because you’re too tense yourself, not knowing when you are going to get yours.  My biggest thrill was coming in from a mission and seeing the rest of the fellows in my flight come home safely.
When we were escorting bombers, the main function of our fighter craft was to escort them to and from their targets, and protect them from enemy aircraft.  We would fly tight formation until we reached the target, then we would go up and “sit” above the bombers until they had dumped their loads, and started on their way back home.  One of the reasons for not following the bombers at a lower altitude was to escape “Flak” or anti-aircraft fire.  Sometimes the Flak or smoke from the bursts was so thick we could hardly see the bombers below us.  The thickest AA fire was at Tunis and Bizerte, where the Axis tried desperately to fight all Allied bombing attacks.
My closest call was when I was 50 miles over enemy territory.  Two AA shells, one 20MM and one 40MM went through the lower part of the gondola – I guess they just didn’t have my name on them, but they didn’t miss me by far.  They knocked out my right engine and my wing tanks.  Fortunately, I had not dropped my belly tank so I started my 50-mile trip toward home.  It wasn’t the flying that did it, it was mostly luck.  I landed safely in friendly territory and began hitchhiking back to my base.
I rode in French and British trucks, finally making it.  When I reported to headquarters they had me listed as “Missing in Action.”  It gave me a funny feeling, and I thank God that it wasn’t true.”
Lt. Larson reports that he was in on some fancy dive-bombing and skip-bombing that always seemed to catch the enemy completely flat-footed.       At the end of the campaign, his squadron occupied several abandoned enemy airfields with enemy planes usually on the strips because there had been no gas to fly them off.  In many cases, captured planes had been mined, and the minute anyone would touch the stick, the plane would explode.
“Some of the German pilots we captured, “ he continued, “ranged from the age of 18 to 40.  One South American who had been flying for the Axis was 18 years old and had over 1,000 flying hours before being captured.
After 10 months overseas and my required number of hours in combat, I was sent home.  I returned by Clipper via South America and had a pleasant trip.  We landed in New York.  It sure was good to be home again, but now that it is in the past and I lived through it, I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.  Now I am looking forward to  (or expecting, I should say), combat again.”

From the Sunday Tribune for March 17, 1963
Interview by William Wingfield
            Lt. Larson will probably remember his year in Buchenwald as long as he lives.  It was only two weeks after D-Day when German anti-aircraft fire brought down his twin-engined Lockheed fighter over France.  “I got away from the Germans for three weeks.  I was on my own for a week, then the underground picked me up.  I was with them for two weeks.”
            Larson thought he was on his way to safety, but instead a red-haired French woman in the underground as a spy turned him and other Allied fliers over to the Gestapo.  She was supposed to take them to Spain, but instead the men found themselves in Paris in the hands of the dreaded Nazi police.
            “We were caught in civilian clothes, so they called us spies,” Larson said, “We had our uniforms and flying suits on underneath, of course, and our dog tags, too, but the Germans took away our uniforms and tags and gave us back our civilian clothes, and took us up for interrogation.”
            “They said, ‘You’re spies, and you know what we do to spies.’  We expected to get shot.”
            The men were held in Paris for 45 days, then, when the American troops approached the city, they were bundled with 3000 prisoners into boxcars for Buchenwald.
            “Conditions were terrible in Buchenwald,” Larson recalled.  “We didn’t have to work, but there was nothing to eat.  People were dying like flies.  Two of our people died there.  They didn’t have gas chambers at Buchenwald, but they did have crematoriums.  The Germans were hanging people right and left.  Bodies were stacked in a room like wood.  The guards would take the gold out of the teeth and then stuff them in the crematory.”
            “You had a pretty hopeless feeling,” he continued.  “There was no way to get out that we could see.  We appealed to the Germans that we were prisoners of war, but they said we weren’t.  After about 3 months, they shipped us out to the prisoner of war camp.”
            The Nazis hustled off the prisoners on a 100-mile march to the new camp through a snowstorm.  The reason was that the Russians were approaching Buchenwald.
            “That was a rough march,” Larson whistled, “especially when you were in bad shape to begin with.”
            The Germans took the fliers to Nuremberg.  “I got sick at Nuremberg,” Larson said.  “I had infections from the flak (anti-aircraft fire) where I was shot down.
            When the Americans were coming through, the Germans marched out those who were healthy, but I was in the hospital, so I stayed there and was liberated.  “I had an ear infection and boils all over me.  They gave me the last penicillin they had in the hospital.  That snapped me out and saved my life.”

 A True Story by William E. Chickering Jr.

May 1945.  The war in Europe is just about over.  Our 474th Fighter Group, the only P-38 fighter unit still in operation in the 9th Air Force, is based at a place called Langensalza, Germany.  Word gets to us that Merle Larson has turned up in an army hospital outside Paris.  This is our first word about him since he bailed out over northern France a year or so before, and was last seen waving to the other guys on the mission before running into some nearby woods.
            George Edmonds and I, as 2 of the few remaining original 429th Squadron pilots, arrange permission to check out two P-38s for a flight to Paris to look up old Merle.  We manage to program a long evening in several Paris bistros on the night we arrive, with plans to visit Larson the next day.  With frightful hangovers, but young and strong, we report to the hospital at noon.  We are directed to Captain Larson’s cot, and find ourselves in a heart-rending reunion.  Merle had been imprisoned at Buchenwald as a so-called American spy, and now weighs a hundred pounds.  He is close to tears when he sees George and me, but recovers quickly enough to exclaim, “So now you sons of bitches are Captains, and I taught you everything you know!”  He is right at that, having been a veteran of the African Campaign and was one of the only combat-experienced pilots in our all-new 474th Fighter Group from the old Warmwell days.  The visit is a good one, even though Merle can’t share the nip of whiskey George and I have sneaked in for him.
            Arrival at Langensalza airfield:  We climb out of the planes and have one final toast to Merle Larson.

And not to leave out my dad - he was a Seabee in the Navy stationed in the Pacific. 

Oct 10, 2012

Dad's Enchiladas

During my dad's job with Eagle Picher, he traveled to various states and countries. There was a time that I think he traveled at least once a month. One place he visited was the EP plant in Socorro, New Mexico. It was there that he had his first taste of real Mexican food. Unfortunately at the time, Joplin didn't have much in the way of Mexican restaurants, so Dad decided he needed to just try making his favorite dish himself - enchiladas. 

Over the years it was quite the event to have these enchiladas! Dad would spend hours cutting up vegetables and simmering the sauce. At some point I became his regular helper and while he fried the tortillas, I would assemble the enchiladas. There have been many versions of Dad's enchiladas because he always would throw in different ingredients. Once it was peanuts! And one time he made them so HOT we could not even eat them.

October 10 is the anniversary of my dad's death. It's been 7 years now, and we all still miss this amazing man. So, each October 10, I honor him by making Mexican food or we go out for it.  I don't always make enchiladas, and I don't always make them his way (since it takes so long). But I enjoy reminiscing about all the great times we had over this special meal.

And fortunately I am a scrapbooker and knew to capture this event with photos and a layout, one of the last times he made them. 
Thanks Dad, for all the delicious memories. ♥ ♥ ♥

Mar 24, 2012

Running Out of Gas...and other stories...

In my lifetime, I've run out of gas 3 times (that I can remember). The first time I was in college up at Kansas State University and I had borrowed my brother's 1965 Ford Ranch Wagon one Sunday. (This is not an actual picture of it, it was gold, and no, I'm not that old that I was in college in 1965 - it was an OLD car.) This station wagon was STURDY to say the least - it was a 3-on-the-column manual transmission and had such a strong clutch, that once I learned to drive this, I could drive any standard vehicle. (My older sister, Tricia, never could drive it, she's just too little. ;) )

Anyway, this time that I ran out of gas wasn't really that interesting - I ran out in a neighborhood, walked to the nearest gas station, got a can of gas...and you know the rest.

I mentioned this car was sturdy. Well, yes, it actually saved my mother's life in 1981 when she was broadsided by a semi-truck on the highway coming home from my brother's KSU graduation. She ended up in a small hospital in Kansas for 2 weeks, but thankfully her injuries were not life-threatening. My brother was with her, but not driving, and he only had minor injuries. We all fully believe if it had been any other vehicle she was in, she would not have survived. Yes, these are the actual photos and that's me on the side of the photo. This station wagon was carrying all my items from school because I was moving home for the summer. I had driven home the night before. It had been raining and my stuff was strewn all over a muddy field when the wagon was hit. I'm trying to see if I can salvage anything from the items the passers-by had picked up from the field and put back in the car before it was towed away.

The next time I ran out of gas was in my roommate's 1976 blue Camaro. (Not the actual car.)

 My friend, Dan Pekarek, from Joplin had come out to visit me in Phoenix. We were going tubing down the Salt River for the day. I had just bought my very first brand-new car - a 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS (pic not the actual car, but it looked just like this!) and my roommate suggested I take her old car down to the river so mine wouldn't get dirty and sandy.

I thought that was very nice and generous of her. Of course, that also meant she got to drive around my NEW car all day long. But anyway...we went tubing - got really sunburned, as usual - and were headed back into town when we ran out of gas. See, my roommate failed to tell me that her car ran out of gas when the gauge was at the 1/4 tank FULL mark. Grrr. We were able to get it off the road, but we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere, in 110 heat, no water, and this was pre-cell phone era. We had no choice, Dan and I had to hitchhike! For the record, if I had not had a guy with me, I would not have done it. Not sure what would have happened to me, but at least I didn't have to figure that out. Fortunately a nice person stopped in a pick-up truck and Dan and I jumped into the back and rode back to town. We were left off at a gas station, where I promptly called my roommate to pick us up and help us out.

The last time *I* ran out of gas was several years ago. My 4 boys were in grade school or younger and it was summer. We owned a 1999 Oldsmobile Silhouette van (not the actual pic - what, do you think I should have taken pictures of all my cars or something? It looked just like this.) and I decided to take the boys to Sonic for Happy Hour drinks.

I only had $5 with me, but that would be enough for our drinks since it was Happy Hour. :) While I was sitting in the drive-thru AFTER ordering our drinks, we ran out of gas. ACK!! I ran up to the window and asked if someone could push us over to the gas station right next door. The manager and another guy came out and helped us get there (the boys were all little and couldn't push). We bypassed getting the drinks because we were not up to the window yet and I said I would come back for them. Got to the gas station, it only accepted debit cards and cash. No credit cards. I pull out my debit card and then remembered, I had just gotten a new one and it was at home, this one was expired. So the $5 I was going to use for drinks, I had to use for gas. I wasn't able to go back to Sonic for the drinks. :( The boys were so disappointed and I was embarrassed and frustrated. So I went home, got my new debit card, and took them to McDonald's. It was quite a while before we went back to that Sonic.

You might be asking...why am I even writing about this? It's been so many years. But as luck would have it...I'm not done with running-out-of-gas stories. After all, 2 of my SONS now drive.

So yes, this past week, I was just getting out of the shower and had started drying my hair, and Wyatt calls..."Mom, I ran out of gas by Hanger Park."  Our high school is about a 1/2 mile away from our house and he ran out of gas on the way. Really? He was only about a block from school, so I told him to leave it and run to school. "But Mom, I'm in a No-Parking Zone and by the time I move it, I will be late to school and get swept!" (if you are late, you aren't allowed to go to first period, you are "swept" into a study hall room). O. M. G.!!! Me: "OK, fine, I will come down there and help you move it and take you to the office." How fun was that, moving that car while tons of people I know drive by. But we get it moved and I get Wyatt to school and he gets a late pass. The car is still stuck at the park.

Fortunately Grant was home for spring break this past week, so I made him get up and go with me to get gas. Stupid gas stations don't have cans you can borrow for a deposit anymore - did you know that? You have to buy ONE gallon of gas in a container for $15!!! I, of course, could not make myself do that. Instead I ended up at Home Depot buying an empty 2 gallon container that we can re-use for $15, then filling it with gas. (Not quite sure that was the smartest thing, but anyway...)  So we got the car gassed up, Grant drove it over to the school to park in Wyatt's parking spot and I picked him up.

Now, I'm hoping my empty-gas-tank days are over. It sure has taken me more than once to learn not to let that tank get so low. And after the lecture Wyatt got, and the trouble I put Grant through, let's hope they both learned something from this. But I kind of doubt it.

Feb 25, 2012

Flagstaff, track, and snow!

Wyatt's favorite sport to do is track. He does the triple-jump as his main event. An opportunity came up for him to go to a big invitational at Northern Arizona University and compete in their Skydome. We debated on whether to go with him or let him go with the few team members who were competing. In the end we decided to make a little road trip out of it and take him up there. Kent and Kurt came along, but Grant was coming home for the 3-day weekend and didn't want to go with us. Why would he? He had the opportunity to have the house to himself! Yikes! We were a little concerned, but trusted he would be a good boy. ;)

It's a fairly quick trip up to Flagstaff - only a couple of hours. Arizona is an amazing place - you can go from desert to snow in 2 hours! And sometimes less. We stayed in the Courtyard Marriot which was a nice hotel with an indoor swimming pool, that Greg and the boys enjoyed. The other team members were in a hotel across the street from us so Wyatt went to hang out with them for a while that night.

It started snowing Sunday morning and we were thrilled! The boys hadn't seen snow in about 10 years. Kent and Kurt barely even remember it. Fortunately we borrowed winter coats and gear from some friends before we headed up there - we didn't have much of our own. Since it was snowing and I wanted to take pictures, I stood at the window of our room while K&K played. (OK, OK, I'm a wimp.) Greg joined in for a while too.

We wandered around Flagstaff for a while after that. Take my advice, don't waste your time going to the's about the most pathetic one I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of small town malls. 

Then we headed over to the NAU Skydome. Flagstaff is a cool place to go to college...if you like the cold and it was fun to get a taste of being on campus while it was snowing. The Skydome is pretty huge - NAU basketball is played in here so the track meet was setup around the basketball floor.

They have a big Lumberjack (it's the NAU Lumberjacks) both outside and inside - I forgot to get a picture of the outside one. Darn.

We ended up here a little toooooo early. Like 5 hours too early. Thankfully they had good Wi-Fi so I just played on my Nookcolor the whole time. And we watched Wyatt walk around with his friends.

Finally it was time for his jump. This was a huge meet - state records were set in a few events! Wyatt did well, but he's not yet up to his personal best from last year since this is just the beginning of this track season.
After he jumped, we left to head back home. It it had started snowing again, so we took it slow and easy until we were out of it and down the mountain some. What a fun couple of days! But that was enough cold and snow for me for this year. I was glad to get back to the warmer weather and safer streets.

Oh, and the house was intact when we got back. Grant had even vacuumed! :)

Feb 5, 2012

My Office Photo Border

When we built our house I was telecommuting from the electric company I worked for so we needed an office space for me. This room has always been an office, but also part guest room, and at one time a full scraproom. Several years ago my dad and I painted it when he was visiting, but I needed something for a border along the top. I was heavy into scrapbooking at the time and had lots of double prints of photos. So I came up with the idea of a photo border. 

The border is made up of 4x6 photos and  4x10 photos (typical size of a panoramic photo). I used duplicate photos I already had, plus I also took a set of of panoramics where I went around the house and shot favorite objects inside and outside the house. For example, part of a quilt, our front door, piano keys, trees outside, plus I took some panoramics of the boys. 

Then I used navy blue cardstock and cut it to about 5 inches wide. I ran all the cardstock through my Xyron, then also stapled it to the top of the wall. Then I ran all of the photos through the Xyron and just centered them on the cardstock and on top of the staples. They stuck really well. 

My office doesn't have all this craft stuff in it anymore, especially since I now digi-scrap. But I do still have my shelf of old toys. The photo border cost about $50 for the photo printing, cardstock, and Xyron usage. And so far so has not fallen off!

Jan 31, 2012

Phase 1 - Project Room Organization

We've let Kent and Kurt's room go for months now. It pretty much made me ill every time I stepped foot in it. So I stopped going in there. You see, I've organized their room countless times and they are just unable, and unwilling, to keep it up. In the past, I literally would be in tears during the hours and hours of my sitting in the middle of their room going through box after box, and stack after stack, of stuff. As the older boys got older, their toys/Legos/games got handed down to K&K and put in their room. So it was overflowing, not just with their own items, but with items from 10-12 years ago. So, one of my 12 for 12 goals for this year was to get their room back in shape. And somehow I motivated myself to do it in January - yay!

I started with the closet so that as I got rid of stuff in there, we could store items from the room in it. A big dilemma was of course, their Legos - the loose ones and where to put them. Currently they had many plastic boxes of them stuck under Kurt's bed. I emptied a 6 drawer Iris cart that had art supplies in it (that they were no longer using) that was inside the right side of the closet, and most of the loose Legos fit in there - sorry I forgot to take a pic!

The other side had old books, puzzles, and games on the upper shelf and other things just crammed in below. I was able to clear out all the books, recycled all puzzles less than 500 pieces (because I was not going to put them together, nor count the pieces to see if they were all there), and throw away board games that were missing pieces. As a result we were able to get all their Lego board games in there plus the other games that were left. And store some other toys down below. Oh, and now we can close the doors.

This is the whole room - theirs is a long room, so taking pics of it from the door only got one side of it. They have their Ikea loft beds along one side and they sleep head-to-head.

Kurt's side. Since pre-school, he has loved frogs. And so far is unwilling to part with them. OK, by me, I'm in no rush for him to grow up. ;) In the top right-hand corner is a vanity that my Uncle Wilfred made me when I was a little girl. For Christmas that year I was dying for a vanity! It's all I wanted. So my parents had him make one. Since it came from Santa, I didn't find out it was made by him until many years later. It has held up all these years.

Kent's side. I didn't have room to take a before picture close-up, so I had to crop it from the room pictures. He also has a favorite - big cats. :) So his side is more jungle-ish.

As we went through everything, it was a constant chore to pick out the Legos, K-Nex, airsoft BBs, and Nerf ammo amidst all the other junk. These are 2 boxes at the end of Kurt's bed - the bottom has stuffed animals in it that *I* am not ready to part with that belong to the boys. The top overflowing box contains all their Nerf guns. Ammo containers are sitting on the stool that goes with my vanity. :)

K&K were a great help this time. They helped carry stuff out of the room so we could get started and I gave them boxes to sort the items into keep, give away, throw away piles. We still have some things left that I'm not convinced they will ever touch again, so I told them we would revisit those items this summer.
We packed up several boxes full of like-new books, some big floor puzzles, animal stamps, and the last of their plastic animal figures and took them over to a friend of mine who has 9 children - 5 of them under 7. It was like Christmas for them! The rest of it got recycled or thrown away, with just one more bag to give away.
After about 12 hours, I was so happy to have this room to this stage. We still have another phase to do, organize all the shelves, desk, and Lego displays and clothing. I'll be back another day with the befores and afters of Phase 2.

Jan 15, 2012

At the Phoenix Suns Game

I've only been to 2 Phoenix Suns games. I'm not a huge fan of theirs, so I must have a big incentive to go. Several years ago we ended up getting Senator John McCain's tickets the day after Christmas. Greg worked with the wife of McCain's Chief of Staff and I guess no one else wanted those tickets! :) It was pretty sweet - we sat in the front row floor seats and had access to the Courtside Club under the stands where we got all the free food and drinks we wanted, and got to hang out with the Suns players. 

The game was on TV but we happened to be in a spot where the cameras never reached (that's probably why McCain's seats were there). However with 2 minutes to go, a player from the other team fell on the guy next to me, so the cameras caught it, and us on TV. We were taping the game at home so we were able to see ourselves. I had no pictures of this experience because Greg wouldn't let me bring a camera, so I paused the game on TV when we were shown, and took a photo of the TV. Yep, I go to extremes to document our lives.

This past Thursday night we had another unique opportunity to see a Suns' game. Greg's partner has a client who works for the Suns and he was able to get us a suite for free to watch the game.  

It holds 16 people, so we let the boys bring friends.

And then his partner invited several friends also. Including her boyfriend's sister who was on The Bachelor, but got kicked off the first show. 

The Suns lost (they aren't that good this year), but it was a fun way to watch the game. I told Greg, next time try to score Loge seats - you get a free buffet with those!!  ;)

Jan 8, 2012

The ants go marching one by one - Hurrah, hurrah!

We have a huge problem with ants. Usually it's during the warmer months and outside. This past year, they invaded our tortoise pen in a really bad way. Our biggest tortoise, Max, was running (as best as torts can do) around frantic for days before I figured out the problem. 

Since you can't spray pesticides around animals, I needed to try the method my tortoise care email group (what?) recommends for homemade ant bait. This doesn't kill the ants on contact, it allows the workers to take the bait/poison back to their nest so it will kill the queen and thus the nest.

Supplies: boric acid, sugar, water, cotton balls, glass jar with lid, and a plastic container with a lid.

For a 1% solution, mix the following:
1 tsp boric acid (if you find the ants dying right away, lessen this to 1/2 - 3/4 tsp)
6 tbsp sugar
2 C water

Mix together in a glass jar until dissolved. Label and store safely and somewhere way out of reach.

Take your plastic container and make holes around the bottom - big enough for the ants to get in. Soak a few cottons balls with the mixture (be VERY careful when handling this!) and place in the container, then put on the lid.  

 Place the container near ant trails. With the small openings and lid, our tortoises could not get to the poison so I was able to put this in their pen. If you are using this around larger creatures, secure the container with something heavy on top. Freshen 1-2 times a week depending on the success of it or the evaporation of the mixture. You can also use the decreased strength on a regular basis to keep the ants away.

Fast forward to NOW, when we are supposed to be ant-free since it's winter...only it's very warm out. So what do I find in our downstairs bathroom? Ants yet again. My first reaction was to spray pesticide. But all that does is make a big smelly mess and kill the ones inside, while they keep coming and coming from outside. And this time, we couldn't tell where they were getting into the house. 

I decided to try my boric acid mixture and put the container into the shower. I gave strict instructions to Greg NOT TO SPRAY the ants (because I knew he would). We want them to carry the poison back to their queen to kill the whole nest! And sure enough, within a few hours a huge long line of ants were filing into the shower and surrounding the container. This also let us discover how they were getting in. It's been a couple of days and I just took the picture above - hardly any ants around. Now Greg has asked me to make up more of these to put outside where he has seen more ants. Even though we have no animals outside right now, I'll still want to keep the container anchored with a lid so no roaming cats, dogs, or lizards get to it.

Jan 1, 2012

My Recipe Binder

It's been over 28 years since I moved to Arizona right after college. Before I left, I rummaged through my mom's recipe box and copied down a few favorites. I really didn't know how to cook that well, but I figured (hoped) I could follow a recipe. I moved to Arizona with one vessel to cook in - a Wok. I had no pots or pans, but since I moved out to Arizona without a job and I really didn't even know where I was going to live, kitchen stuff was the least of my worries.

Fast forward through those 28 mom visiting and bringing more recipes with her. Her homemade french bread, cinnamon rolls, gingerbread cookies...of course I never made those myself. But she was out here often enough that she kept copies of those recipes here. Handwritten recipes and notes of what and when they were made. Each time she visited, we had to search for those recipes as they undoubtedly were stuck in a cookbook or under a pile of papers somewhere. It was frustrating to say the least.

When my local scrappy buddies first came up with the idea of a recipe binder, I was hesitant. I still don't consider myself much of a cook (try being a great cook with 5 males in the house who are super picky and rarely eat the same thing), so I wasn't sure I wanted to go through the hassle of making one. Then I remembered the mess all my recipes were in and thought I'd start one digi-style.

I chose a gorgeous kit called Here's the Dish by Melissa Bennett and Heather Roselli to make the covers and divider pages. I also used a variety of templates by Cindy Schneider that I altered quite a bit to fit what I needed.

I started with a 3" black binder with pockets for inserts. I chose coordinating cardstock for the tabs and used Staples Photo Supreme Double-Sided Matte papers for printing. The only other supplies I needed were a corner rounder and my paper cutter and some ribbon (to decorate the cover).

I designed my divider pages using the kit and template. I used a quote on each page and with the beauty of digi-scrapping...I printed each twice and put them in a page protector so that either way the book was open, I could see my pretty divider page. :)

My categories are: drinks, appetizers, salads, main dishes, sides, snacks, breads, desserts. The tabs were printed on a regular piece of cardstock, cut down, then I used my corner rounder on the sides.

I also reversed the cover (another perk of digi-scrapping!) for the back, and made a spine insert.

For my recipes, I put everything in page protectors. It keeps them clean. Some of my friends, though, had a lot more recipes and just used a 3-hole punch and put them in without the protectors. Many of my recipes were on recipe cards. Many were written by my mom and some by my late dad. There was no way I was going to sacrifice those momentos for a prettily scrapped recipe. Plus, all those recipe cards I hand-wrote when I moved out to Arizona - I kept those as is also. So my binder has ended up a mish-mash. And I love it that way!

If you do put in your recipe cards, you'll want to put those in a page protector so you can see the front and back of them.

Here's some of my mom's notes I've saved and added them in next to the recipes. How priceless is that! Especially the times when my parents came out when my boys were born and she took care of all of us.

Here's the rest of my divider pages. 

When my mom visited this past summer, I had her bring out her most favorite recipes from her recipe box - there were random notes, newspaper clippings, and various recipe cards. I took pictures of all the recipes I wanted and will add them to the book. So I still have some work to do! She was thrilled that we don't have to hunt for her recipes anymore - she knows to head straight for my new binder. 

Dec 21, 2011

Gifts for Friends

Every year I make some inexpensive gifts for 5 of my friends. Since I'm a scrapbooker, it usually revolves around that, but I can do a few other things too. This year I made post-it notepads - not my original idea, I copied it from here.

I used 5x7 acrylic photo frames and chose bright colored post-it notes. I decided to make this a little more useful by including a calendar. Two months are shown on each insert and each background is a differnet color for each set of months. Rhinestones were attached on top of the frame to match up with the middles of 4 flowers. I also included a basic insert to be used after the end of this year.

Every other year I make them pocket calendars. The first time I made them, I was not a digi-scrapper, so I used paper and ribbon and glue and stuff!! ;) They last for 2 years so when it was time to make them again, I had started scrapping on the computer and printed them - so much easier!

A few years ago I made them notebooks with attached pens. Greg had brought home several of these from his office and they made a really nice set for jotting down notes. These were done pre-digi scrapping too. 

And then 2 years ago I surprised them with hand-sewn aprons. They loved these the most and did not even know I knew how to sew! (Thanks to my mom being such a great seamstress and making me take sewing lessons when I was 14 at the Singer store at the mall. :) )  

We now all wear our aprons on our annual baking day each year before Christmas.

Normally next year would be the year for a new pocket calendar, but most of them now have smart phones that they use for their calendars, so my cheap little crafty ones are obsolete. Darnit! I guess I'll have to think of something else!