A Small Town Gal

Recipe Collector

Mel BooneAs I was going through some papers this morning, intending to throw most of them out, I came across one I thought that I had stashed elsewhere. It was a recipe for "Dog Ice Cream." It goes as follows: Blend together three ripe bananas, one container (32 oz.) of plain yogurt and one cup of peanut butter. Pour mixture into ice trays and freeze for two hours. Serve.

Ok, I want to save that one. So I went to put it in it's place, with all my other recipes. I now know that I have another past mess to deal with. One whole shelf crammed full of recipe books and printouts of recipes I printed from the internet. Good grief, how did this happen?

Most of the recipe books I've forgotten that I had. There's a few that aren't there, so who knows where I've stashed those at (I'm sure I will stumble into those somewhere else where I least expect them to be.). I've got recipes that I printed off the internet three years ago that I haven't even tried yet. I don't even remember where I got a couple of the recipe books. Yikes!

I'm still scratching my head. How did I get started accumulating this mess? I barely enjoy cooking for myself only because I don't care to eat out at the fast food places on a daily basis. So it's highly unlikely that you will see me using any of these cookbooks or recipes to cook for anyone else.

As dumbfounded as I am, I walked away. It'll be there tomorrow. One of many "I have to sort through this to declutter my life" to do list. It's a slow process, sorting through the clutter. On the bright side, I have no excuse when it comes to not knowing how to cook something. If there's a recipe for it, I've got it. It's on that shelf, somewhere.

recipe collector
Photo by Getty Images/Stieglitz.

A Nation Celebrates

Mel BooneCelebrating the Fourth of July has always been fun for me. It's the time to celebrate our nation's birthday. My most frequent memory of celebrating July Fourth is eating watermelon and setting off fireworks at night. Of course now as an adult, I'd rather sit back and watch the fireworks than to be the one that sets them off.

Parades will be held all across America. Barbecue grills will be put to good use. Families will gather and will have a grand time. So what if the Fourth of July is on a Wednesday this year? No problem. Just take a few days off of work this year, if you can, and make a vacation out of it.

I'm proud to be an American. In fact, I'm grateful to call this country my home. To think that my ancestors, so many years ago, immigrated to a new land to call home and they chose America. It just boggles my mind that they chose this country instead any other. This is my country of birth and I can't imagine being a citizen of any other country.

As I get into my patriotic frame of mind, I think about the parades and little kids waving the flag. Fireworks that will fill the night sky and those of us who will "Oooh" and "Awww" with each one that goes off. I think about those who came here before me and those who will raise their hand to become naturalized citizens. I think about our military that serve us 24/7, both here and abroad. I think about the Native Americans that were here long before my ancestors ever arrived.

America is a big land and a melting pot of many nations. This country has seen good times and bad times. Somehow, as I lose myself in thought as I watch the fireworks while eating a piece of watermelon or apple pie, I can't help but believe that with each firework that goes off, there will be the hope of a good and better future for us all.

Fourth of July
Photo property of Getty Images/Choreograph.

The Dogs of Summer

Mel BooneMy dogs love summer. I can say that in writing, mainly because most everyone who will read this will never meet my dogs in person.

Of course they love summer, providing their day includes, for the most part, sleeping on the couch. Ironicly enough, the couch sits directly under the air conditioner. They enjoy long car rides. As with any dog, they will stick their head out the window. However, as with the couch, Jake and Buddy prefer their car ride with the window up and the air conditioner on at all times.

Taking them for a walk during the summer months is a challenge in logistics. I get up earlier than normal at times, which is fine with me. The days are longer so I enjoy being out. I'm up, dressed and ready to go in no time. The dogs, however, are still curled up in my bed asleep. I spend at least a couple of minutes trying to get them fully awake and up to get them out of their early morning walk around the neighborhood. Once we're out, we're fine.

To get them to go out to pee at any time during the day proves more daunting. They make it clear that they are not crazy about being out. The outings normally end up with one, if not both dogs, peeing once and then laying down. Once down, they refuse to get back up. As a trained human, I pick them up and carry them home. Because of this, as a trained human, I walk Jake first, then I walk Buddy so that I only have to carry one dog at a time home.

Late evening walks before bedtime work well, about like the early morning walks. They both will go out together around the neighborhood. No carrying home required.

sleeping dogs

Photo property of Mel Boone.

Cooling Off

Mel BooneWelcome June! Well, if you like warm weather you will welcome June along with the next few months of warm temperatures (along with humidity if you live in a place like Missouri where I live).

I love the summer months. I guess I really can't help it. I've never liked winter, except for the few times as a kid in school when we got a snow day. That's another story though.

As always, some things from my childhood are still the same today. Cooling off during the summer months is one of them.

When I was younger, there was the swimming pool, built back in the 1930s. That iconic landmark closed forever a few years ago. The pool needed to be fixed and it was decided not to fix it. A new pool, to be built north of town hasn't been built yet, so you see a lot of backyard pools springing up around town.

I never learned to swim, so I'll stick with the little kiddie pools from Dollar General. Soaking my feet in a kiddie pool is as far as I want to go on that particular summer pastime.

Then there is my all time favorite, watermelon. I love them. The best cool down item ever in the summer time, next to ice cream and Kool-Aid. At least the watermelon is healthy, right?

I have fond memories eating the variety of watermelon called moon and stars. Usually had one big yellow spot on the green rind with a lot of little yellow spots, hence the name.

They were always so delicious. I can't find them for sale any more, although I can find the seeds to grow them for sale in the various gardening catalogs that I get. If there's one thing I have learned over the years it is that unless I'm growing zinnias tomatoes or marigolds, the only other thing that I can successfully grow every year is weeds.

Drink plenty of water. Well I do, providing I've got a package of Kool-Aid to mix in with it. Heaven help me if the store runs out of cherry or strawberry flavored ones!

Photo by Getty Images/NelliSyr.

Family Reunions

Mel BooneMemorial Day weekend was a time for reunions and family gathering for my family.

As the unofficial start of the summer season, everyone would first gather at the local family cemetery to put flags onto the family veterans that had passed away. Not many in my family have served, but it's still a big deal to help do general upkeep of the cemetery (mow and pull weeds) and then set flowers and flags on the grave sites.

Afterwards, we would gather at my uncle's farm (grandpa's older brother) for a barbeque. That was always nice. You got to see family that you may not get to see any other time of the year. So there was a lot of visiting to catch up on. The day always seemed to go by way too fast.

I was in my mid-twenties when I missed my first family reunion. I put to have it off two weeks in advance like I was supposed to.

The boss decided that there was too many of us wanting off and he made the decision that I was the one that had to work. It was hard for me to hold back the tears that weekend.

I never made it back to the yearly reunions. Slowly, but surely, the time came that they were never held. In a sad way, my grandpa and his four older brothers have their own reunion now. They are all finally together in heaven.

I find myself reflecting this time of year. Mostly about how many of my relatives that I have lost over the years.

I don't realize how many of them are gone until I actually start thinking about it. When they're gone, they're gone. You can go visit their grave sites, but it's really not the same.

That person is no longer there to share memories or stories of their life with you. As a kid, sometimes you roll your eyes. Once that person is gone, you start wishing he or she was still around to talk to.

So as Memorial Day comes closer, I get things ready. A few flowers and a couple of flags to put on the graves of my grandfather and uncle. That's all that I can do now.

I dread being the one to do that task, but it's one that I will do. I know that it's the right thing to do.

My stepdad tells me that there is no such thing as "the golden years" when you get old. The "golden years" according to him was the years that you spent as a kid. For every birthday that I live to see, the more that I think he is right.

Live life while you can and cherish those moments.

mother's day
Photo property of Mel Boone.


Mel BooneSpring is here, finally. After what seemed like forever, Mother Nature has finally loosened her grip on winter. The snow is gone and the temperature is finally warmed up. At last, I can enjoy the outdoors. I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to shake loose from the cabin fever that I had.

It's a wonderful thing to witness the changing of the seasons. Everywhere around me, I see trees in bloom. Red and yellow tulips are in full bloom as well. I just love to see the tulips at one house here in town. Whoever lives there has taken the time and care to plant tulip bulbs, in alternating red and yellow along the sidewalk in front and along the side of the house. I admire his or her green thumb and the care that this person has taken to make these flowers and yard look so beautiful. It puts a smile on my face every time I drive by.

White blossoms from my neighbors tree are a beautiful sight too. I get to look at the tree several times a day when I take Jake and Buddy out for a walk. I don't know if it's a cherry tree or some other tree that has white blooms on it, but I must ask. It has been in her yard for as long as I can remember. The tree seems to have more and more white blooms on it with each passing year. It never fails to take my breath away every time that I see it.

It never fails that I will see an occasional wild rabbit in my yard. Before long, I will catch a glimpse of little baby bunnies hopping around. There are a couple sets of squirrels in the neighborhood. I'm sure the neighborhood will be graced with their offspring running from tree to tree before long. Of course, with squirrels, I figure it's a blessing as long as they are in the trees and not the attic, right?

Birds are making nests, if they have not done so already. I love watching the little birds leave the nest for the first time as they learn to fly. Just a few days ago, I saw the first butterfly, a white one, of the spring as I took an afternoon walk with Buddy. I stopped and watched as it gracefully fluttered through the air while Buddy trailed a scent of something that was no longer there. I wish I was as graceful walking as butterflies are at flying, but I am not.

So it goes that way. Even though I'll never have the gracefulness of that butterfly, I am still grateful. I've gotten up today and walked outside to witness all of nature's beauty that is known as Spring. I guess sometimes Mother Nature has a reason for making us wait a little longer for the changing of the seasons. It makes us appreciate it a little more when it finally happens.

spring tulips
Photo by Getty Images/Milaspage.

Pass The Peanut Butter Please

Mel BooneIf there's one thing that can be agreed on at home, it will be this one: Everyone at home loves peanut butter. That's pretty much where the agreement ends. It's when you start asking "crunchy or creamy?" that the humans start to take sides.

That has been the age old argument for years at home. Speaking for my self, my preference has always been crunchy. Even as a kid, it had to be crunchy. The brand name never mattered to me as long as the word crunchy was on the label. Hand me a jar of creamy peanut butter and I would just look at it and wrinkle my nose.

It was kind of like the way I viewed milk. Mom could set a glass of milk in front of me and I would wrinkle my nose at it. For me, milk was for cereal unless the glass had that magic ingredient in it. Mix chocolate or strawberry syrup in it and I would drink milk all day. I honestly haven't changed much since then.

David on the other hand, will only eat creamy peanut butter. He has a hatred for the crunchy kind. For him, there's the bread, butter, creamy peanut butter, strawberry jam and another slice of bread for a sandwich. I tried a crunchy peanut butter sandwich with a banana the other day and loved it. I haven't convinced him to try it yet.

I did try a peanut butter and banana smoothie yesterday, it tasted pretty good. As usual, I didn't care for cleaning the blender when I was done with it, but that's the way I am anytime I use the blender. It still has to be cleaned, so I cleaned it while daydreaming for a dishwasher for all the other dishes that I needed to wash.

The pets at home love peanut butter too. Jake and Buddy have their kong toys to eat their treats out of. However, they like the empty jar too. When the plastic jars are pretty much empty except for what little is left on the side of the jar, the plastic jar gets cut in half, and each dog licks clean whichever half they get. They don't care if it's crunchy or creamy. As long as it's peanut butter, Jake and Buddy are happy. One of these days, I need to google recipes for dogs that include peanut butter. Why not when I've got a couple of taste testers at home?

My parrot, Bogie, loves peanut butter too. As with the dogs, she is indifferent when it comes to crunchy or creamy. As long as it's peanut butter and it's on a cracker, she will eat it. As far as that goes, it doesn't even need to be on the cracker. Just put a dab of it on a plate and she will still eat it.

So it goes at my house. The crunchy versus creamy debate will continue between the two humans. Just as long as we don't run out, the pets are happy.

jack russell
Jake enjoying peanut butter.