Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mind Games To Play With Humans

Mind Games To Play With Humans

After your humans give you a bath, don't let them towel you dry! Instead, jump up on their bed and dry yourself on the sheets. This is especially good if it's right before your human's bedtime.

Act like a convicted criminal. When your humans come home, put your ears back, with tail between your legs and chin down, and act as if you have done something really bad. Then, watch as the humans frantically search the house for the damage they think you have caused. Note: this works best when you have done absolutely nothing wrong.

Let the humans teach you a brand new trick. Learn it perfectly, then, when the humans try to demonstrate to someone else how well you do it, stare blankly back at them. Pretend you have no idea what they're talking about.

Make your own rules. Don't always bring back the ball when playing fetch with the humans. Make them go and chase it once in a while.

Help your humans learn patience. When you go outside to pee, sniff around the entire yard as your humans wait. Act as if the spot you choose to pee will ultimately decide the fate of the earth.

When out for a walk on the leash, alternate between choking and coughing every time a stranger walks by.

When your human is grooming you, you can really speed things up by passing a little gas and acting like you have no idea where it came from.

When begging for food, never look directly at the human eating. Always put your head down between your paws and look up at them with your sad face. Works every time.

From my book, "If Dogs Could Laugh Out Loud." Now available at iTunes....
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♥ Stove Top Tamale Pie

Stove Top Tamale Pie

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 packages McCormick® Taco Seasoning Mix
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, undrained
1 package (8 ounces) Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup water

Brown ground beef in large skillet on medium-high heat. Drain fat. Stir in Seasoning Mix, tomato sauce and beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare corn muffin mix as directed on package. Drop small spoonfuls of batter over meat mixture. Cover.

Cook on medium-low heat 15 minutes or until corn bread is cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Cover. Cook on low heat until cheese is melted.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Smile At A Stranger Today

Smile at a stranger today. It doesn't take much and you have no idea how powerful that little gesture may be at that precise moment. My mom used to say, "Sometimes you might say or do something very small that might just fit perfectly in the empty space of someone's heart."

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

♥ Lemon Drop Cake

I love lemon desserts. I have been making this cake for years using a Betty Crocker Cake mix. However I use my own lemon butter cream frosting when I make it. So, I gave you the option of using either one in this recipe.

Lemon Drop Cake

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® lemon cake mix Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1 container Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy lemon frosting
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Line two 8-inch square pans with foil, letting foil hang 2 inches over 2 opposite sides of pans. Grease or spray bottoms and sides of foil.
Make cake batter as directed on box. Pour into pans. Bake 25 to 32 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes.

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice. Poke top of warm cake every 1/2 inch with long-tined fork, wiping fork occasionally to reduce sticking. Drizzle and spread lemon mixture over top of cake. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. Remove cakes from pans by lifting with foil; peel away foil.

In small microwave-safe bowl, microwave frosting uncovered on High 15 seconds. On serving plate, place 1 cake, rounded side down; trim if necessary so layer rests flat. Spread with half of frosting. Top with second cake, rounded side up. Frost top of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with lemon drop candies. Store loosely covered.

On serving plate, place 1 cake, rounded side down; trim if necessary so layer rests flat. Spread with half of frosting. Top with second cake, rounded side up. Frost top of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with lemon drop candies. Store loosely covered.


Fluffy Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioners
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) softened
1/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix the butter, lemon zest and vanilla together, making sure all the lumps are gone. Add the milk, and quickly cream it into the butter mixture by the 1/2 cup, mix in the sugar.
Once the sugar is all in the bowl, cream on "high" for two minutes and then mix in lemon juice.
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Hersey's Kisses Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hersey's Kisses Chocolate Chip Cookies

A Sweet Surprise Inside a Cookie!

48 HERSHEY'S Kisses or Kisses with Almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Chocolate Drizzle (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add flour to butter mixture; blend until smooth. Stir in small chocolate chips. Mold scant tablespoon dough around each chocolate piece, covering completely. Shape into balls; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Prepare Chocolate Drizzle (below) and drizzle over each cookie. About 4 dozen cookies.


Place 1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate and 1 teaspoon shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.

Recipe courtesy Hersheys

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Baked Cannelloni

Baked Cannelloni

1 package JOHNSONVILLE Italian Sausage Links ;, removed from casing

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed or shredded
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk (not skim)

12 Cannelloni pasta shells
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Make the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil, onion and mushroom cook for 5 minutes allowing the onion to soften and the mushrooms to release liquid.

Once most of the liquid has dissipated, add sausage crumbling it with a wooden spoon into small pieces as it cooks. Stir and cook all ingredients until the onion is softened and the sausage is no longer pink and is starting to brown. Set aside.

To make a béchamel sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Slowly, add milk and whisk together until smooth. Continue whisking until sauce comes to a slow boil and starts to thicken. Stir half this sauce into the sausage mixture. (Reserve the other half to pour on top of the cannelloni.) Add cubed mozzarella to the sausage and sauce mixture and continue stirring while slowly whisking in the egg yolks; mix to combine cover and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, rinse under cold water and reserve being careful to keep the pasta from breaking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 3/4 cup of the reserved béchamel sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch oiled baking dish. Spoon filling into each pasta tube. Start from one end and using your finger to push the filling all the way through.

Nestle the cannelloni in the sauce and cover with remaining béchamel sauce. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of oregano. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until heated through; and cheese starts to turn golden. Remove from oven, let stand for 5 minutes then serve.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Meat Loaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes

Meat Loaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes

1 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 (3/4-ounce) slices Land O Lakes® Deli 4 Cheese Italian Blend cheese
Potato Topping
1 1/4 cups water
6 (3/4-ounce) slices Land O Lakes 4 Cheese Italian Blend, cut into quarters
2 cups mashed potatoes whipped with butter and milk
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 450°F. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with no-stick cooking spray. Place muffin pan onto 9 x 13 inch baking pan; set aside.

Combine all meatloaf ingredients except cheese slices in large bowl; mix well. Stack 6 cheese slices. Cut into 4 even strips; then cut across into thirds to create 12 small square stacks of cheese.

Shape about 1/3 cupfuls meatloaf mixture into 12 (2 1/2-inch) balls. Press 1 stack cheese into center of each ball, covering evenly with meat mixture so cheese is in center. Place stuffed meatloaf mixture into muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature is at least 165°F and meat is no longer pink.

Meanwhile, combine left over mashed potatoes and 6 cheese quarters and cook over medium-high heat until cheese is melted. Top each cupcake with about 3 tablespoons potato mixture over each meatloaf; sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Serve immediately.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Just A Dog

Just A Dog

From time to time I hear this phrase. "It's just a dog." or I hear, "Why do you worry so much, she's just a dog."

To all those people out there who may have said this to me over the years, I want you to know that some of my... proudest moments have come about with what you refer to as "just a dog."

Many hours have passed happily when my only company was with what you refer to as "just a dog." When people have let me down and I've felt so alone, it was what you refer to as, "just a dog" that reminded me of her unconditional love and everlasting friendship.

In those days of darkness, it was the gentle touch of what you refer to as "just a dog" that gave me comfort and support to overcome the hardest days. And what you refer to as "just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

You see, for me, she's not just a dog, but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past and the pure joy of the moment. This dog brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the very thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being, "Just a person."

From my book, "Forever Friends" ~Marty
Photo shown is of my little dog Katie, my best friend and canine soul mate.
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator door,
and it made me want to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray dog,
and it made me want to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake,
and I realized it was the little
things that made others feel special.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and it made me believe there's a God
I can always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me good night,
and it made me feel that I was loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and it made me realize that when things hurt,
it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw how proud you were of me,
and I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I was....and I just want to thank you for
all the things I saw... when you thought I
wasn't looking.

~Author Unknown~
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Your First Love

Your First Love
Your mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street. She's the smell of certain foods you remember, the flowers you pick, the fragrance of life itself.

She's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well. She's your breath in the air on a cold winter's day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow.

She is Christmas morning. You mother lives inside your laughter. She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take.

She's was your first breath, your first love, your first friend, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time. Not space...not even death.

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You Are One Of A Kind

God made you just the way he wanted for his very own.

You weren't an accident. You weren't mass produced. You aren't an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.

He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning and he gives you the moon at night. He thinks you are wonderful and beautiful and he made no one else in this world like you. 

Remember that the next time you feel you are not good enough...thin enough...pretty enough.... You are enough.  You are one of a kind.
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Dog's Greatest Fear

The greatest fear dogs know...is the fear that you will not come back after you go out the door without them.

~Stanley Cohen
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Life's Lessons: What God Would Have Wanted Me To Learn By Now

As I get older each year, I find myself reflecting on past moments of my life that I can't get back. I often wonder if I've truly learned lessons from the experiences in my life. I decided to ask God what are some of life's lessons that he would have wanted me to learn by now. This book gives me the chance to share these lessons with you.

My book is now available in soft cover, hard back, PDF for your computers and lap tops and also in ebook format for your readers, IPads, Tablets and cell phones.

You can preview my book by clicking on this link:

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One of my favorite things to do in the mornings is to sit at my kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee and watch the bird activity just outside my window. I have hung different bird feeders from the old tree in the backyard, but nothing gets as much activity as this simple little idea I found not too long ago. This my friends is a Slinky....the old fashioned toy we played with years ago....filled with peanuts! I simply formed a circle with thick wire, leaving ends straight. Insert one end of wire into slinky. Secure ends of slinky with wire, leaving a gap for access. Fill it with whole unshelled peanuts and watch the birds work to get them out of the shell! You'll get Blue Jays, Titmice, woodpeckers, and tons of other birds who love nuts.
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Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter saying their goodbyes in their last moments together at the airport. The daughter's flight departure was announced and they hugged.

The mother said: "I love you and I wish you enough."
The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.

The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she was about to cry. She looked at me and asked, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"

"Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?"

"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead. The reality is that her next trip home will be for my funeral," she said.

When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, "I wish you enough." May I ask what that means?"

She began to smile. "That's a saying that has been handed down in my family for generations. My parents used to say it to all of us when we were growing up. When we say it, we are saying, "I wish you a life filled with just enough good things to sustain you."

Then turning toward me, with tears in her eyes, she recited this from memory....

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you just enough pain so that the smallest joys in life will be so much bigger."

"I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you have.
I wish you enough hellos in life to get you through the
final good-bye."

She then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.

I will never forget her for the rest of my life.
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Baked Parmesan Coated Pork Chops

Baked Parmesan Coated Pork Chops

I like to buy pork tenderloin rather than pork chops, but sometimes because they are such a great deal that I can't pass them up. So I buy them and slice them into pork cutlets myself and save a ton of money over buying those that are already pre-cut and pre-packaged at the grocery store.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Cutlets

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread without crust
1 cup freshly grated Kraft Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 large eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 boneless pork loin chops, each about 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, sage and lemon peel in pie dish. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Place flour on plate; season generously with salt and pepper. Coat pork chops on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Dip chops into eggs, then coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture.

Melt butter with oil in heavy large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet with pork to oven. Bake until pork chops are crisp on the outside and meat thermometer inserted into pork registers 150°F, about 20 minutes


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How many dog lovers out there? Last year I wrote and published two books which clearly show my love for dogs. Both books are free to read online by clicking on the Title of the book below. Be sure and click on the full screen so they are easier to read.

I didn't write these print and ebooks to sell them for profit. I purposely wrote them to raise money for something that I believe in. Every single penny from those sales went to support No Kill shelters across the United States.

"Forever Friends" is a compilation of inspiring and thought-provoking quotes,sayings and poems about dogs. Many of these are meant to inspire, some are meant to bring a smile and others are simply thoughts to ponder. If you enjoy photographs of dogs with both funny and uplifting words, then this book is for you!

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the NO KILL Advocacy Center. A No Kill nation is within our reach….“If every animal shelter in the United States embraced the No Kill philosophy and the programs and services that make it possible, we would save nearly four million dogs and cats that are scheduled to die in shelters this year. It is not an impossible dream.”   Click on the link below for your free preview....

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Easy Garlic Chicken

Easy Garlic Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional herbs and spices, as desired

Preheat oven to 450°F Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil.

In small pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add additional herbs and spices as desired. Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for 15-30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken.

photo credit: Food.com
Garlic & Brown Sugar Chicken via food.com 

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"At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have receive, how much money we have or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by how many souls would say "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you gave me shelter."

 ~Mother Teresa
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Citrus Potpourri

I love to mix different things to make my own potpourri and simmer it in my slow cooker or on the stove all day. There is nothing that smells more fresh and clean. I make winter potpourris from apples and maybe coves and cinnamon sticks. But in the Spring and summer months, I love citrus.

2 whole oranges, cut into pieces
4 sticks of cinnamon, broken into 3 pieces each
1 tablespoon whole cloves
water to cover

Add orange, cinnamon, and cloves to pot to simmer on top of the stove or in your slow cooker. Then add water until pot is almost full. Monitor water level frequently, adding more water as needed. Store in the refrigerator each night and it will last you for about a week.

You can add other things to the brew as well. Sometimes, I throw in a couple of slices of lemon. You could also add cranberries, nutmeg, pine needles, or whatever you like. Experiment with it and let me know what you try!

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Bacon Cheddar Puffs

Bacon Cheddar Puffs

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup (4 oz.) Sargento® Fine Cut Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
1/2 tsp. onion salt or powder
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine milk and butter in medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is simmering. Add flour all at once; continue to cook, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.

Beat in 1 egg until mixture is smooth. Repeat with remaining eggs, adding just 1 egg at a time, beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop heaping teaspoons of mixture onto greased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350°F oven 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Crispy Cheddar Chicken

Crispy Cheddar Chicken


4 large chicken breasts
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup milk
3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried parsley


1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup

2 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoon butter

Cut each chicken breast into 3 large chunks. In a small food processor grind up the Ritz crackers.

Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate small pans. Toss the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine.

Dip each piece of chicken into the milk then the cheese. Press the cheese into the chicken with your fingers. Some of it will fall off when you add it to the cracker crumbs, don’t worry about it.

Press the cheesy chicken into the cracker crumbs and press it in. By the time you are coating the last piece of chicken, the dish you are using for the crumbs will be full of cheese. Don't let it get you down. Once the cheese melts in the oven it will adhere nicely to the crumbs and the crackers.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan. Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken.

Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove the tin foil, bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are golden brown and crispy.

Into a medium sized sauce pan combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk. Stir it over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot. Serve over the chicken. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

 My Prayer

"Oh, God, when I have food
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me
to remember the jobless;

While I am in my warm home,
help me to remember the cold and the homeless;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer.

And in remembering,
please help me to destroy my complacency;
please stir my compassion,
so that I am concerned enough to help;

By word and by deed,
those who cry out for the very things I might
take for granted.

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A Dove's Feathers

Have you ever noticed the heart on a dove's back when she stretches her tail feathers? It's one of those things that takes my breath away for a few seconds. I have memories of my Mom when she saw something in nature that was so beautiful. She would close her eyes and look up to the heavens and whisper, "Be still and know that I am God."
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♥ Chocolate-Frosted Mint Bars

Chocolate-Frosted Mint Bars

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon mint extract
4 drops green food color
1 cup butter or margarine
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour

Chocolate Frosting 

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 13 x 9-inch pan with shortening; lightly flour. In small bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar with spoon until smooth. Stir in 1 egg, the mint extract and food color until well mixed; set aside.

In 3-quart saucepan, melt 1 cup butter and 4 oz chocolate over very low heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes or until slightly cooled.

Stir 2 cups sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla into chocolate mixture. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Stir in flour. Spread in pan. Carefully spoon cream cheese mixture over brownie mixture. Lightly swirl cream cheese mixture into brownie mixture with knife for marbled design. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool 30 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons butter, the corn syrup and water to rolling boil, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Stir in 2 oz chocolate until melted. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and the powdered sugar. Beat with spoon until smooth. Frost chilled bars with Chocolate Frosting.

For bars, cut into 6 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

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Thanks to all those who hated me in my life because you have made me a much stronger person. Thanks to all of you who left my life because you showed me that nothing lasts forever.

Thanks to all of you who supported me and allowed me to lean on you in the dark times of my life, because you have made me strong enough now for you to lean on.

Thanks to all of you who loved me in my life because you made my heart grow stronger. Thanks to all of you who cared about me in my life because you have made me feel valued and important.

But most of all, thanks to all of you who stayed in my life, no matter if my days were dark or sunny. It was you that taught me the true meaning of friendship. And because of you, I am a better friend to all.

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A Man And His Dog

There was a homeless man who 'camped' in the covered garage at the bank where my office was located. You'd see him huddle down for the night, along with his little dog, a small scruffy little terrier mix. When I walked through the garage on my way to lunch, I would often check to see where he was and then bring him a burger and drink, too. He always tore the sandwich in half, ate one half and gave the other to his dog.

I started bringing him a bag of dry dog food every month and he took great pains to keep it dry & his dog rode seated in the child's seat in the grocery cart wherever he went. One especially cold winter morning, I noticed his dog was missing and he seemed utterly forlorn. I bought him some coffee and he explained how the city rounded up the homeless and took them to the shelter because it was bitterly cold and they took his dog away from him and took her to the shelter (no license, no tags, no rabies vaccination). I was appalled.

I took the morning off, picked him up from the garage & drove him to the shelter where we asked to look for his 'lost' dog. When we found her, she put up such a racket of pure joy upon seeing him: yipping, yelping, wiggling uncontrollably. Paws squeezed between chain link trying to touch her master and his fingers stroking her little face.

I paid for her license, basic shots and retrieval fee and he rode back in silence hugging her so tight, I thought he would break her. When we got out, I told him to keep her safe. He hugged me, made Sasha give me a smooch of thanks, and hurried off to where he'd hidden his cart.

I understand the need to keep these souls safe but taking his one undeniable friend -- while legally founded -- was gut-wrenchingly wrong on so many other levels. ~Cynthia
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♥ Cheddar Bacon Pull Apart Bread

Cheddar Bacon Pull Apart Bread

1 large round loaf of soft bread

2 cups Sargento Chef Blends Shredded 4 State Cheddar Cheese
8 oz. diced sliced bacon, cooked crisp
1/2 cup melted butter
1 Tablespoon dry Ranch dressing mix

Cut bread in 3/4-inch intervals, being careful to not cut all the way through. Cut again, crosswise, not cutting all the way through.

Place cheese in between all cuts: sprinkle with bacon. Blend melted butter and Ranch mix and drizzle over top of bread evenly.

Wrap in foil and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes; uncover and bake 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

Photo was provided Courtesy of

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He always knows. No matter how quietly you get out the leashes or how you smuggle the show gear out to the car, he knows you're going to a dog show. He sits beside the cabinet where the gear is stowed as you bustle about attending to the last minute details. His ears flat, a hopeful gleam in his eyes, he looks at you. It is as close as he will come to begging. You pause for a mom
ent to rub behind his ears, guilty at leaving him again and then you think back.....

You remember it was not so terribly long ago, when it was just the two of you, striking out in the early morning before the sun came up. Everything was bright and new and life was simple. He was the most beautiful dog in the world, and your goal back then was to win that ribbon...maybe a blue one. But those years have passed and now you're off to show younger, more beautiful dogs.

You move on - its nearly time to go. He gets up to follow you from room to room - old age and arthritis narrowing his limits. You tell him that he will have to stay home, and you turn away before his tail droops slowly to the floor. And so you leave. You see his head at the window as you drive away.
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Here's a way to always have fresh herbs on hand when you need them. Put fresh herbs in ice cube trays with olive oil and freeze. In the summer months I grow my little herb garden on my deck so I can have fresh herbs when I need them. At the end of summer I simply cut and chop them and then freeze them and use them all winter long. Anytime I need rosemary, thyme, oregano, or any other herb I have them!
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♥ Old Fashioned Coca Cola Cake


Old Fashioned Coca Cola Cake

1 cup Coca-cola
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stick Margarine
3 tablespoon cocoa
2 cup sugar
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

In saucepan, combine Coca-Cola, oil, margarine, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour and salt. Add mixture from saucepan and beat well. Add eggs, buttermilk, soda, and vanilla and beat well. Pour into a greased and floured sheet cake pan. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine
3 tablespoon cocoa
6 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup pecans – chopped
1 lb. confectioners sugar (1 box)

In a saucepan, combine the margarine, cocoa, and milk until the margarine melts. Add the renaming ingredients and beat until well blended. Spread on the cooled cake.

To Print recipe click: http://cocacolacakerecipe.com/
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Good Night

Good night everyone. Hope you had a wonderful Easter and that you had the time to share it with friends and family. Holidays are bitter sweet sometimes because they seem to bring back memories of days gone by.

When my brother comes to visit we always find something that reminds us of our Mom. Today it was something funny she used to say or do, and we started to laugh. But then there always see...ms to be this mutual thing that happens between us, when we realize we don't have her here to laugh with us anymore. It's almost simultaneous...a few seconds of genuine laughter and then silence, as we both look down at the same time and say nothing. It is always that sadness that stops the laughter and fills the room with silence. And then we move on to something else quickly because we have to protect our hearts at that moment. Maybe later we'll cry.

You know someone complimented me today about how well I write about my Mom and memories past. One friend commented on the story of the pink roses I used to give her on my birthday each year. I want to share something with all of you....

I wrote that story in less than 10 minutes sitting here thinking about her birthday that day...the words came so quickly that I had to type faster than usual. It was if I was being guided to tell that story by a higher power and I just wrote what came to mind as quickly as I could. It was if my Mom that was telling you all that story and I was just typing as she put the words in my heart.

I often feel that way when I write here at Welcome Home. Sometimes I feel like I am taking dictation as I share my memories of my Mom with you. It is so spiritual and her warmth is all around me as I write about my love for her and the memories that are still so close to my heart.

I believe with all my heart...with everything in my very being... that my Mom is the creator of Welcome Home and that her spirit is so alive within me. Call me nuts ...as I am sure some will... but she fills my heart with so much love that it spills out all over this page. I believe she brought us all together here to share love and compassion and the comforts of home.

Good night every one. God Bless and sweet dreams until tomorrow. See you back here in the morning for coffee!

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My mother woke up in heaven today. She has lived there for 8 years now. And I wonder what she is doing. You see, today is her birthday and I can't help wondering what it's like for her. And then the memories came flooding in.

I've been fighting back the tears and trying hard to swallow this big lump in my throat as I always do on both the day of her birth and the day of her death...which falls in the same month. So it's been hard for me today. This day always brings back memories of good times past and traditions that are no longer.

When I was a teenager I can remember making a decision one day to take my allowance and spend it on my mother for MY birthday. I loved her so much that I wanted to make sure she knew how glad I was that God gave me to her on that day 14 years earlier. I wanted her to know that I wouldn't have wanted any other mother but her. I wanted to thank her for giving me life and for being the best mom ever. I wanted her to know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much I loved her and that it wasn't about me that day...it was all about her.

So I went out and bought her flowers....not just any flowers. I bought her pink roses...her favorite. And that day when there was cake and ice cream and presents for me.... I felt sheer delight when I handed her that bouquet of pink roses. And she cried. And she hugged me for the longest time and told me how good it made her feel. And I remember her taking one of the dried roses when they died and putting in the family album and writing under, "from my baby girl."

And so started a tradition. For the rest of her days with me here on earth, I bought her pink roses on my birthday. And later when I had the miserable task of sorting out her things and going through it all...I found each and every pink rose that she had saved for all those years....all 37 of them...each taped carefully to those pages with the same message underneath and the year it was given. And I cried and cried because I miss her so much.

Even though I miss her terribly, I know it's selfish of me to wish she was here because I know she is in a far better place than what this world could ever offer. I know that she is celebrating eternal life with no sorrow or tears or pain.

I'm not sure what my mother is doing today in Heaven. I guess I won't know until I go there and find out myself. But here’s what I do know, whatever she’s doing, she’s home. That’s what Heaven is... Home. ~Marty

If tears could build a stairway,
and memories were a lane,
I would walk right up to heaven
to bring you home again.
No farewell words were spoken
no time to say goodbye
you were gone before I knew it,
and only God knows why.
My heart still aches in sadness
and secret tears still flow,
what it meant to lose you,
no one will ever know.

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♥ Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup saltine cracker crumbs, finely crushed or use bread crumbs finely processed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan. Press the brown sugar in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan and spread the ketchup over the sugar.

In a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients and shape into a loaf. Place on top of the ketchup. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices are clear.
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My Mother's Garden...

My Mom taught me to cook when I was old enough to learn...but she taught me to garden when I was just knee high. I can remember following behind her as she would show me how to plant seeds and pull weeds. And when I got older and moved away I was so grateful that she had taught me so much.
I have always had a beautiful garden and I am so excited about sharing it with you. This photo is of the beautiful Fuschia, one my all time favorites.

Fuchsias are prolific bloomers and heavy feeders. To maintain growth and flowering, continuous availability of fertilizer is a must. There are various strategies to accomplish this. Most grow them in containers and feed the plants with every watering. You should use 1 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water and water once a week.

To have the huge fluffy plants, you should always grow in shade. The more light the fuchsias are given, the shorter the blooms will last. Plants in bright conditions will be tight bushes as opposed to the long flowing plants that are grown in the shade.

The problem with fuchsias is that they do not like to have their roots get hot and dry out. Always plant fuchsia in a clay or ceramic pot to keep the roots cool. Plastic gets too hot. Also, Fuchsias don't like their roots to dry out. So water when the soil feels slightly dry.
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 The Other Woman

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman who also loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my Mother, who has been a widow for 19 years and lived alone. I knew she was probably lonely at times and wanted me to visit more, but demands of my work and my three children had made our visits scarce lately. Other than holidays once a year or on her birthday, I rarely got to see her. But that night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.

And she asked, “What’s wrong, are you ill?” My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. "No", I said. "I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you..... “just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. We had never done this before. She waited in the doorway with her coat on and I wondered how long she had been watching for me to drive up. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s and I thought to myself, how beautiful she looked that night.

“I told all my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were so impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They just can't wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady of the United States. She was just beaming with pride and joy. After we sat down, I had to read the menu for her. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me with a nostalgic smile.

“It was I who used to have to read the menu to you when you were a little boy,” she said. And I replied, “then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor.”

During the dinner, we had a nice conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each others' life. We talked so much that we completely missed the movie. But we were both okay with that because the conversation was far more important.

As we arrived at her house later and I walked her to the door, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you next time.” I agreed and gave her a hug and a kiss and left.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered. Four days later, my mother died. It happened unexpectedly and so suddenly that I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye. But one week later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from that same restaurant we had shared our date. There was a note attached that said:

“I paid for this meal in advance of our next date because I wasn't sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, just in case I can't be, I paid for two plates –one for you and the other for your sweet, sweet wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you so much my son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. While we are so busy growing up in life, we forget to remember that our parents are growing old.

Nothing in life is more important than taking care of and nourishing the relationship with your parents. Give them the time they deserve, because some things cannot be put off until “some other time.”
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"He Speaketh not and yet there lies a conversation in his eyes."
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My Mother's Garden....

My garden is full of Peonies in every color as they might just be my favorite of all flowers. They are showy and smell like a sweet rose and make an exceptional cut flower. But be careful to remove the ants that are always attracted to the sweet natural secretions, before you bring them in. They do little, if any, harm to the plants themselves... they just like them as mu...ch as I do.

Peonies prefer cooler climate zones but they will actually grow anywhere they experience a cold winter, even as far south as northern Florida and Texas as long as there are at least a few cold weeks of weather.

Peonies require a great deal of sunshine, so plant them in full sun for a bounty of blooms. In areas where summer temperatures reach extreme levels, a light shade canopy during the hottest time of the day will benefit the plants.

The area must be free of standing water, as peonies rot quickly. They prefer a rich, heavy soil, so the key is to make sure that it is exceptionally well drained.

The best time to plant peonies is in the fall. A spring time planting may prevent the plant from blooming for a season or two. Choose a location carefully. Peonies don’t like to be moved, so you should consider your new peonies to be permanent residents and space them accordingly. Be ready to stake Peonies each season because their heavy blooms tend to make them lean over.

When the first flower buds appear, remove the side buds from each stem, leaving the end bud in place. This encourages show-stopping blooms. When plants grow heavy with blooms, stake behind the plant and secure plants with loops of coated wire.

Remove fading blooms to prevent seed development. Cut no more than ½ of the flowers for vases or display, and leave as much foliage on the plant as possible.
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♥ Homemade Bisquick Baking Mix

Homemade Bisquick Baking Mix

5 cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Cup Shortening (I use Crisco)

n a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening. You can use a pastry blender, however, I find it easier to just use my hands to get it mixed in really well. Store in an airtight container and Use the same as you would use Bisquick in a recipe.

You can also make this with cold butter instead of Crisco. Just use the same amount. If you use butter, you will need to keep your jar of homemade mix in the refrigerator. If you just use Crisco or any other shortening, you won't have to.

Recipe courtesy of The Make Your Own Zone

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♥ Chocolate Coca Cola Cake

Chocolate Coca Cola Cake

A deliciously moist chocolate cake with a chocolate cola butter cream icing. Serve with a tasty chocolate sauce and some mini marshmallows for an extra special treat.

For the cake:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter

1 3/4 cup of self rising flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder, sifted
generous pinch of baking soda
3/4 cup coke (slightly more than 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the butter cream icing:

4 1/2 tablespoons of butter, softened

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons of coke

For the sauce:

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
pinch salt
1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda together in a large bowl. Melt the butter and cola together. Add to the dry ingredients along with the milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix gently bur thoroughly. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Beat together all the ingredients together for the icing until smooth and fluffy. Spread over cooled cake.

To make the sauce, melt the butter and sugars together until they no longer feel grainy. Whisk in the cream and heat through. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.

Cut the cake into slices to serve. Sprinkle with some marshmallows and spoon some of the chocolate sauce over top.

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