Friday, August 22, 2014

MEMORIES OF HOME

SALE:  So here's my big news for today! My newest book, "Memories of Home", was just released and is now available in both print and E-book format. This photo of my delicious Peach Fritters is just a sample of what's in the new 100 page book!  And today through August 25th you can take an additional 25% off any this and any other PRINT book...softcover or hardback! Just enter the word SUMMERTIME25 at the time of checkout.

I feel this is my best book of the entire 6 book series of Welcome Home cookbooks and this one might likely be my last. So much work goes into these books that I think I am never going to do another one...but I do. Because I have to...because when you buy them, you help me save lives. But we'll see if I continue with the series!

I really think it is my best work yet, with never seen before recipes that are some of my favorites. These have never been on Facebook, the webpage or any place on the Internet so each recipe will be a delicious surprise for only those who buy the book. Over 100 pages with recipes you've never seen before!

The pictures are beautiful, the colors are vibrant in both the E-book and the print versions, and each recipe has a full color photo that shows the completed dish. Each book is handmade to order with beautiful heavy glossy papers and top notch binding. And they ship all over the world for one low price.

Most important, your purchase will go toward helping me save the lives of dogs and cats who are killed unnecessarily while waiting in Kill shelters for a new home. Over 6 million dogs and cats are killed each year in this country. We can change that. We can make a difference in the lives of some of these precious souls. We can be the voice for those that cannot speak. I personally hand deliver my donations from you in the form of prepaid veterinary services or in gift cards for food, toys, blankets, vitamins and whatever else they need. I only support the fur-babies, not advertising costs or fundraising efforts or any other administrative costs. So please give and consider a book your bonus!

If you order before August 25th, you can take an additional  25% off the price of any softcover or hardback book. Only 50 books will be released this month so be ready with the code or you'll miss the discount. Enter SUMMERTIME25 (all caps) at check out.

The e-book will be priced at $14.99 and available to download to any Android Smart Phone, Desktop computer, laptop, iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone. We will help you download your new e-book if you message us.

 Here is the link for the e-book for $14.99: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/481864-memories-of-home

 Here is the link to the print book:
http://www.blurb.com/b/5464341-memories-of-home for the print book.

Remember to type in SUMMERTIME25 for an additional 25% off the price at checkout!  Sale ends August 25th.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

INTRODUCING: The Welcome Home Kitchen Online Magazine!





It's finally here! And as promised, it is gorgeous and bright and colorful and informative, and fun, and full of brand new recipes you have been waiting for! 

The first issue has now been released and I know you'll love it.  You'll find recipes of course.....lots of them. Most are from my Mom's collection with big vibrant pictures to match every dish. I have how to's and lots of kitchen tips and advice. I have a Recipe Swap Corner and in our first issue we learn step by step on how to make a wonderful recipe from one of the fans here at Welcome Home!

I have a Fur-Baby corner of course...and an Ask the Cook segment where I answer a tough question each month from one of the readers. And we have fun gifts and gadgets and other cool items at discounted prices when you buy through Welcome Home.





One of the many never before seen recipe in the magazine!




















Each issue is just full of great recipes and how to's and I am certain you will instantly see the value that your $2 a month brings. And it's exclusive. It's only for you. It is so private that no one can even find it out there unless you know me....or know of me. Unless you know my mission and why I do what I do at Welcome Home you will never see this online publication. As always, some of the proceeds from The Welcome Home Kitchen Magazine will help me save the lives of dogs and cats who are killed unnecessarily while waiting in Kill shelters for someone to come and adopt them. And some of the proceeds will help me feed the homeless.

That's right....only subscribers who pay the $24 annual subscription (only $2 an issue) will be able to see this online publication....it's that private. So, there are some steps I will walk you through next so that you can see it for the first time in just a few minutes.


IMPORTANT:  First set up a Gmail account.  You can keep the email address and account you have now.  This gmail account is just your key to the magazine.

Step 1: If you do not already have a free gmail address, you want to create one. Get paper and pen so you can remeber what username and password you choose and then go to this link and create a new Gmail address:https://accounts.google.com/SignUp

Step 2: Under the cover photo collage here at the blog, click on the tab that says, MY STORE

Step 3:   Click on the little tab that says BUY FROM 2CO

Step 4: Enter your name and your new Gmail address and other information and then go to the next step. Enter your payment information for the $24 annual subscription. You can choose a credit card you'd like to use or you can click on PayPal.

Step 5: Complete your order and within seconds you will receive a receipt and email confirmation at the Gmail address you created and typed in when you were ordering.

Step 6. Within a few minutes, as soon as I get your email confirmation from 2Checks, I will send you an invitation to become a private member of The Welcome Home Kitchen to your new Gmail address. Click on the orange button that says ACCEPT.  You must still stay logged into your gmail account when you go to the magazine.  Then you will be directed to the link of the new magazine. And you're all set.

Step 7:  Each month....around the 1st of the month, you will be notified that a new issue has just been released. You will always have access to all past issues just by visiting and each month will shown so you can go back and find whatever you are looking for.

And it will only get better. As I listen to your suggestions, I will add new features. Like contests and give-a-ways. Best recipe submitted by a fan. Best fur baby picture submitted by a fan. An open forum for you to chat with other members and so much more. I am open to new ideas and suggestions!
Please help me save lives...and enjoy this bright new magazine today.
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love a soft and chewy cookie.  Maybe a little crispy on the outside edges but definitely moist and chewy in the middle.  My Mom used to always store her cookie dough overnight in the refrigerator because she said it always gives you a better tasting and softer cookie.  You could always find several batches of cookie dough in our refrigerator and every now and then she would let us pinch off a little and eat it!   You will love these cookies! 


Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla with a stand or hand mixer until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Add the wet and dry mixtures together and then stir  in the oats, raisins and nuts.  Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and form a ball. Wrap and chill in the refrigerator for overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a scoop, measure out  2 inch balls of chilled cookie dough and arrange on the cookie sheet leaving two inches between each ball.  Flatten the dough ball just a bit with your fingers.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the center looks slightly undercooked. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the warm baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

You can find Star Fine Foods Butter Flavored Olive Oil at these stores: Raley’s, Walmart, Stater Bros., Food Maxx and online at http://bit.ly/ButterFlavoredOliveOil.

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

♥ Cheddar Cheese Popovers

Popovers are like savory cream puffs... light and airy on the inside and just slightly crispy on the outside. The secret to light and airy popovers is very light mixing and a very hot oven for baking. They are best served fresh and hot. Yo...u will love these! Click on photos for drool mode! 

Cheddar Cheese Popovers

1 cup whole milk, slightly warmed in microwave
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoons salt
4 oz. (1/2 cup) extra sharp cheddar cheese
3 teaspoons canola oil

Mix together the warm milk, eggs, flour, butter, and salt. Add in the cheese and stir. Let the batter rest at room temperature for one hour.


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put your popover pan in the oven for about 3-4 minutes to get very hot. Carefully pull it out of the oven and swirl 1/2 teaspoon of oil in each container. Divide the batter evenly and pour into each popover well filling each one-third to one-half full.

Place the pan back in the oven and cook for 10 minutes taking care not to open the oven door. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until popovers are golden brown and set. Pierce each one in the top with a skewer to allow steam to escape. Serve warm.

Need a Popover Pan...this Norpro 6 cup popover pan is the one I use and love it!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000VLYTA/ref=as_li_ss_sm_fb_us_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=399837&creativeASIN=B0000VLYTA&linkCode=shr&tag=welchome08-20&qid=1376423359&sr=8-4&keywords=popover+pan







Photography ©Welcome Home
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Sunday, August 03, 2014

♥ Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake


I make this at least once a month and it is one of the easiest and most delicious coffee cakes I have ever tasted. The cake is moist and covered with a wonderful brown sugar and butter and pecan streusel topping. It's a wonderful way to start off your day with a cup of coffee or tea. And it gets better each day./


Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake 

 Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a standard bundt pan. Mix the streusel ingredients well and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in sour cream. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and add to the wet mix. Beat until just combined.

Spread half of the batter into a greased and floured pan. Sprinkle 3/4 of the streusel mix over the batter and then pour the rest of the batter into the pan. Top the cake with the remaining streusel. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Place on cooling rack and then when cool, invert onto plate.



Streusel topping:

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Make the streusel topping by mixing together the flour, sugars, spices, pecans and melted butter.

Drizzle (This is optional) Cake in photo is without icing)
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted or whisked
milk (to use as needed)

In a small bowl sift the powdered sugar. Make the drizzle by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stirring until it just starts to go golden brown. Take off the heat and pour into the powdered sugar. Whisk in the milk a tablespoon at a time until it’s thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Photography ©Welcome Home
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Friday, August 01, 2014

Pasta Caprese

























A simple little summer salad for lunch or dinner. So easy to make and so pretty to look at! I love the fresh flavors of my garden herb and tomatoes and the Olive oil brings it all together.

Pasta Caprese

1 pound of thin spaghetti or Angel Hair pasta
1 ripe tomato, diced small
3 Cloves Garlic, sliced in thin slivers
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced in small cubes
2 tablespoons Star Fine Food Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon of fresh parsley, chopped
A pinch of salt 























Saute the garlic in a the olive oil over medium heat until just beginning to turn brown on the very edges. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Next boil your pasta as directed on package, making sure you salt your water well. 
Next, add your diced tomatoes, diced fresh mozzarella and basil to a bowl. Drain your pasta leaving just a little of the pasta water in your pot. Then add the tomato and cheese mixture and toss.  Finally, add the oil and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste; if you used enough salt in your pasta water, you won’t need any in the finished dish.
I serve this dish warm or cold. It's good both ways.  I like to also drizzle on a little balsamic vinegar to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes.  Enjoy!





















Photography is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

 Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kale Salad with Cranberries and Almonds





































I love a fresh summer salad and one of my favorite greens to use is Kale. It's so rich in healthy nutrients and makes an amazing salad. The dried cranberries and slivered almonds give it that crunch and the warm vinaigrette dressing is fantastic!   All Star Extra Virgin Olive Oils are great for making salad dressings. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil for vegetables has a very smooth, slightly almond flavor, with touches of green apple.  This olive oil is meant to enhance the natural fresh flavors in vegetables and salads without  being overpowering. This is a keeper my friends!

Kale Salad with Cranberries and Almonds
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 teaspoons honey
the juice and zest of half a lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
sprinkling of sesame seeds
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute until tender. Add the garlic and continue to cook for about a minute. Next add the vinegar, honey and lemon juice and stir.  Add the cranberries and then season with salt and pepper.  The cranberries will begin to plump up nicely. Remove from heat and set aside.
Toss Kale with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl, using your hands to make sure it is blended well throughout.  Add the cranberry mixture and sprinkle with almonds and toss well to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

NOTE: STAR Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Vegetables can be found at Raley's, Save Mart, Food Lion, select Walmarts and online at http://bit.ly/ArbequinaEVOO.

Photography is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home 2014

Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven



Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Mini Chocolate Eclairs with Vanilla Custard Filling

Mini Chocolate Eclairs with Vanilla Custard Filling

1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream 
1/3 Cup sugar
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 egg yolks

Pastry

1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of water
1 cup of all purpose flour
4 large eggs 
1 1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

Custard: 


Combine both the whole milk and the heavy cream in a saucepan and place over low heat for about 5 minutes. Do not allow it to boil or overcook. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a heatproof medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with a tablespoon of cornstarch and the sugar until well blended. Next whisk just a little of the warm milk with the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Then whisk in 1/2 cup and whisk constantly while doing so. Slowly pour the rest of the milk mixture over egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Add the mixture to your saucepan and over low heat, cook stirring constantly until sauce thickens and coast the back of a metal spoon. Watch your custard carefully so that it doesn't boil or overcook. Cover custard and set aside in the refrigerator to cool.


Puffed Pastry:

Next, make the pastries. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start by putting the cup of water and the 1/2 cup of butter in a medium saucepan and heat up until the butter is completely melted. Add the flour in and mix thoroughly until it becomes a round ball. Next add the dough to a big bowl and with a hand mixer on medium speed, add in the 4 eggs, one at a time until well blended with the dough.
Next, put dough in a piping bag or in a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped out. Line a
cookie sheet with parchment paper land pipe your eclairs to whatever size you want. I usually make mine about 1 1/2 inches wide and maybe 3-4 inches long. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Take out of oven and let them cool completely.

In the meantime, melt your chocolate in a small saucepan on low heat, mixing constantly. Pour your melted chocolate in a wide bowl for dipping your eclairs. 
With a sharp knife, slice the top of your eclair from end to end, deep enough to be able to stuff it with a lot of custard but not all the way through. Put your custard in a piping bag and pipe your eclairs. Then you are ready to pick them up and dip the tops in chocolate. Place back on your parchment paper and allow them to set before serving. Oh Yum!

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Choose To Be Kind

Choose To Be Kind

We all have a choice in every situation. I have made my choice to be kind and I have made a commitment to keeping it that way for the rest of my life. 

As you know, I have injured my knee. I can hardly walk at this stage as it continues to get worse while I wait for an MRI and possible surgery. I want to share a story with you that I hope will stay with you as you travel thishard journey called life.

The other day, I had to go to a pharmacy to get a prescription for an anti inflammatory for my painful knee. It was very difficult for me to walk to the entrance and to stand while I waited for the medication to be filled. By the time I paid for it and began my painful walk back to the car, I was obviously limping and holding on to the shopping cart for support. The thought of walking with it all the way back to the store entrance was overwhelming at the time and so I found a place to park the cart so that it was locked in place and could do no damage or be in anyone's way. I seriously just could not walk another step.

From out of nowhere I heard a voice who yelled, "Hey lady! Please tell me you're not leaving that cart there. You wouldn't dare leave it there unless your just too lazy to take it back." I stopped and looked at his angry face for a second and tried to tell him my knee was injured and that normally I would never leave a cart, but today I can hardly walk. His angry reply was, "Then you ought to stay home and not go out shopping you idiot."

Needless to say, my frustration peaked and I wanted to go after him and give him a piece of my mind. I wanted to run up behind him and jerk him up and punch him in the face. I wanted to hurt him physically and with mean words, I wanted to attack his character and make him feel bad for what he said. But I chose to be kind. Hardest thing I've ever done. I chose to smile and say God Bless you my friend....I hope your day brings more joy and kindness your way. I chose to be kind. What does that mean?

He had that choice too. He had the choice of being mean-spirited like he was or a choice to be kind and do something good for another. He could have easily said, "Hey lady, I see that you're struggling to walk and in obvious pain. Can I take that cart back for you." But he didn't. He was angry and made a decision to spread that anger to others.

We all have the choice to spread kindness or anger. We can waive that person in front of us when they are trying to merge into traffic or we can choose to look the other way. We can stop to help someone at a grocery store reach that top item on a shelf, or we can pretend not to notice. We can help that senior citizen load her groceries into her car. We can pay for that cup of coffee for the person in line behind us. We can allow that person to have that parking space when we both got there at the same time.

We can smile and say hello to a total stranger or tell a mother how beautiful her baby is. We can offer to help someone who is short on cash pay for her groceries. We can hand a dollar or two to that homeless person holding up a sign and we can offer a cold drink to someone who is working hard in the hot sun. We can cut the neighbors grass or bring in the elderly neighbors newspaper or mail. We can bake cookies or muffins or even make dinner and share it with a friend who has no one.

That's right my friends. We can perform any act of kindness for anyone at anytime. That is our choice. We can choose to let life's frustrations make us angry and we can take it out on everyone that crosses our path. Or we can choose to be kind. That is our new motto here at Welcome Home. "Choose To Be Kind."

I put my challenge on the table. How many of you will choose to be kind from now on? For the blogger who attacked me this morning. For the man in the parking lot....it's not too late. The choice is yours.

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's kindness:
Kindness in your face,
Kindness in your eyes,
Kindness in your smile."


~Mother Teresa
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Penne with Grilled Chicken



























What would we do without pasta? It is the ultimate comfort food no matter what you make with it. I love to make creamy pastas with lots of cheese and then throw in some chicken or shrimp or whatever else I have on hand. This is one of my favorites and it's always a huge hit when friends come to dinner. Serve it with a nice tossed salad and some crusty home baked bread. That's what I call a meal!

Penne with Grilled Chicken

(8-oz.) package penne pasta
1 package Tyson Grilled chicken strips
small onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half-and-half or milk...
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup (4 oz.) shredded Provolone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup (8 oz.) shredded Gruyere cheese, divided (or Swiss)
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saut√© onions and garlic until just tender. Whisk in flour, whisking constantly for about a minute.; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in cream while whisking constantly. Continue stirring for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan cheese and half the mozzarella and half the Gruyere cheese until melted. Add in peas and salt and pepper to taste.

Add pasta and chicken and pour into a lightly greased baking dish (I used a 11 x 7). Top with remaining Gruyere and mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is hot and bubbly.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


























Photographs are copyrighted and the property of Welcome Home.
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She Would Have Loved My Garden

She Would Have Loved My Garden

My Mom moved to heaven 12 years ago and there are days that I still cry deeply over missing her so much. I need her in my life and never imagined my life without her. Often times my mind wanders off to a diff
erent time. A time when I still had her with me to share my life. We were inseparable and I am told that our love for each other was unusual...almost too deep and too perfect. While I have no idea what that means, I do know that I loved her beyond measure and she felt the same way.

I miss her most when I am in the kitchen making one of the recipes from the little cards in her old collection of favorites and reading the little love notes that she knew I would read someday when she had moved on to her new home. I miss her when I try to step in and cover for her on those special occasions like my Dad's birthday party or a some special occasion for my brother. I know I can never be her. But I do the best I can to bake that cake or cook that meal that always makes him cry.

I miss her most when I am in the garden. After she moved to Heaven I brought her old bird bath to my garden and some of her favorite flowers and I created a special garden in her memory. And it is the prettiest garden you've ever seen. The flowers are vibrant and colorful and there is so much activity there. Butterflies, birds, lady bugs and some of God's tiniest creations gather there to share her memory with me.

She would have loved my garden ....she would have stood there in silence looking at every single flower, studying every petal, stem, and leaf. She would have taken big breaths and let out deep sighs at the miraculous wonders of God's work all around her. She would have looked up at the Heavens and silently praised God for his beautiful work. And she would have taken my hand and squeezed it tight to let me know she was so grateful that she taught me the gift of gardening.

She is in her own garden now. A garden so magnificent that words cannot describe the beauty. She sees far more flowers and far more colors and she now talks to God up close and personal. And I know she is watching me walk alone in my garden now and she sends these thoughts to me to let me know...."she would have loved my garden."

I want to share that garden with you my friends. I will post some photos in honor of her memory here at Welcome Home. Like this small patch of African Daisies that are supposed to an annual that blooms only one time each year during summer. However, this is a patch that came up on their own this year. I did not plant them. They were one of her favorites.
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The Lilac Bush

The Lilac Bush

When I was about 7 years old, I remember my Mom chatting with a neighbor over the fence about a bush she was admiring in her yard. The neighbor handed my Mother a tiny stem from the base of that bush and wished her luck.

My Mom was so thrilled and told me that the stem was from a Lilac bush, her Mother's favorite of all flowering bushes and that we had to run and find the perfect place for it. So, we got our garden gloves and our diggers and we went to a spot in the front yard where she imagined seeing it one day when she sat on her front porch swing.

We dug the hole carefully and put in the seedling and she carefully put some rocks all around it to protect it from weeds growing close and from my Dad cutting it down with the lawn mower. Then she stood back to admire that little stick in the ground. She said it would be something that we could watch grow together and it would symbolize our love for one another. And it rooted and it began to grow.

And so began the love affair between my Mom and the Lilac Bush. It was slow growing and she tended to it daily. I can remember how excited she was to see the first flower and she cut it and put it on the kitchen table to admire. As years went by, the bush got bigger and she would go out and cut it's sweet, fragrant flowers and make an entire arrangement that would make the house smell so beautiful. She would sit out on her front porch swing and stare at that Lilac bush with such love that you could actually feel it.

But It continued to grow. And grow. And grow. That Lilac got to be 20 feet tall and my Dad's biggest nemesis. Many times I would watch him get slapped with branches as he tried to mow the grass around it. He hated that bush and he would come in with scratches and welts where it looked like it had literally attacked him. He was having his own little affair with it and I can assure you it wasn't one of affection. He would threaten to cut it down every time he mowed the grass. My Mom would stand her ground and dare him to touch it. So there were some heated arguments over the Lilac Bush.

Over the next 10 years, it continued to grow to a point where you could not see above it or around it. It was huge and out of place. It had even invaded the neighbors yard and the bottom of the overgrown bush had become scraggly and unsightly with only sticks and branches. But the top half was just abundant with beautiful flowers and the fragrance filled the air to the point of taking your breath away when you first came in the yard. It was beautiful and she loved that bush and the memories of us planting it and what it stood for. We spent many days sitting on that front porch swing admiring the Lilac Bush. All the while my Dad continued to hate it and fight with it and swear that one day it would come down.

Another 10 years or so passed and I went over to visit my Mom one morning. I pulled up to the house and saw her crying on the front porch. Not just teary eyed and shedding a few tears. She had her face in her hands and was sobbing uncontrollably. I had never seen my Mother so heartbroken. I tried to console her but nothing helped. She could only point in the direction of her beloved Lilac bush.

He had finally done it. My Dad, in a fit of anger while mowing the lawn and getting slapped one too many times, took a chainsaw and cut it down all the way to the ground. To him it was just a bush and an eyesore that my Mother was being unreasonable about. I was furious that he could hurt her that way and confronted him head on.

He was in the house, with his head down and with tears in his eyes he tried to explain his wrong doing. He just saw it as a bush and thought she might get a little angry with him, but then she would get over it. He never in a million years thought he would break her heart and it was killing him that he had made her cry. He was sorry he had done what he's done and feared she would never forgive him.

Time went on and she did get over it and he was forgiven. The place where that symbol of my Mother's love for me stood was now bare and the wonderful fragrance was gone. But life goes on. It really does...because you see, the following Spring, that bush came back. And it came back with a fury. That spring it was 5 foot tall with beautiful leaves and flowers twice the size. The fragrance of Lilacs was back too and my Mother was convinced that it was a symbol of her love for me and that no matter what, it would never die. Many times, when I would come to visit, we would sit on that front porch swing and laugh about how that old bush probably needed some trimming anyway!

Four years later my Mom moved to heaven. It was in March just before the Lilacs bloomed, so she never got to see how much her beautiful 15 foot Lilac bush had grown and how even more lush and fragrant it was that year.

Well, I take that back. I'm sure she is watching from above each spring when my Dad goes out every morning with tears in his eyes and cuts those flowers. I know she watches as he carries them to the cemetery and painstakingly arranges them on her grave. I am certain she is watching.

It has now become a ritual. Every spring when that bush is in full bloom he takes those fresh Lilac flowers to her daily. He kneels at the grave and cries as he tells her how sorry he was for breaking her heart that day and isn't sure she ever really forgave him. I went with him once and I thought my heart would break as he asked her forgiveness for the one time in their sixty years together that he broke her heart.

This morning I went to visit my Mom and there were Lilacs on her grave. And just like old times, I'm sure we were sharing them together. Her love for me has never died and my love for her has grown even stronger.

~Marty
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