Foodie Friday ~ Chipotle Cheeseburger

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1/4 cup Goya Mayonnaise

1 chipotle pepper from a can of Goya Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, finely chopped

1/4 cup sauce from a can of Goya Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce

3 tablespoons Goya Minced Garlic, divided

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning, to taste

2 pounds ground beef (80% lean)

1 teaspoon Goya Vegetable Oil

6 slices Cheddar cheese

6 hamburger buns

6 (1/4 inch thick) slices red onions

6 (1/2 inch thick) slices tomatoes

6 lettuce leaves

Directions

In medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. chipotle sauce, 1 tsp. garlic, cilantro and adobo; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In large bowl, gently mix together beef, chopped chipotle, 3 tbsp. chipotle sauce, remaining garlic and adobo until combined. Divide meat into 6 portions; form into 1 inch-thick patties. (Take care not to over-handle meat or else it will toughen).

Prepare grill to medium-high heat, grease with oil (or heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat). Cook burgers, flipping once, until charred and cooked to desired doneness (about 12 minutes total for medium rare). Add cheese to patties about 5 minutes before taking them off grill.

To assemble, divide patties evenly among bottom buns; top with onion slice, tomato slice, lettuce and top bun spread with reserved chipotle mayonnaise.

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #4

BookSacredSilence

 

Journal Entry #4

August 29th, 2013

Two weeks. At times it seems so much longer than that. I finally willed myself to open the door of Zach’s nursery today for the first time since losing him.

Miles and I hadn’t done much, as we weren’t expecting him to arrive so soon. His closet was full of diapers, newborn clothes and receiving blankets though. I pulled them out, folding each little cotton suit with pristine care, placing them in a cardboard box. All but one. I kept the very first item I ever bought when I found out I was pregnant. A little tan onsie with a giraffe on the front and the words “I Am Loved” stitched beneath it. He is loved. He will always be loved. I tucked this little suit beneath my tank tops in my dresser drawer. When I needed to feel him, remember, I’d always know that it was there.

The rest of the items I took to a women’s shelter downtown after lunch, handing them over to a beautiful young woman, with smiling brown eyes and braided hair with olive skin that reminded me of my youth.

“This is so generous of you! Everything is brand new. And the diapers…we need these badly. Thank you.”

I nodded, unable to answer as the tears started to build. She reached over and touched my hand, my eyes rising to hers. She seemed to understand my story without a word ever uttered. I could see it swimming in those almond shaped eyes of hers. Apparently I hadn’t been the first mother to step foot inside these four walls with a box of “new”, and heart of “loss”.

She finally spoke. Nadine was her name. I’ll never forget it. “Healing brings hope. And hope helps you heal. Peace to you, love.”

I offered her a warm smile. She accepted.

As I sip on a cup of tea, that giraffe onsie in my lap, and a pen in my hand, I am doing my best to find hope. For I realize that I gave a speck of it today to Nadine without even realizing I had done so. And in return, she had given it back.

.. Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

 

Sacred Silence ~ Journal Entry #3

BookSacredSilence

 

Journal Entry #3

August 27th, 2013

I did something today I never thought I’d ever do. Leave the house with a smile on my face.

I couldn’t help it, nor could I hide it. The love of my two sisters and my mother had cradled me with grace this morning. Our very first stop was at the floral shop two blocks from our house to buy a bouquet of white lilies. Lilies for Zach. The four of us sat together, my mother Beatrice, my older sister Lainey and my baby sister Paula, arms around shoulders, and soft fingers wiping away tears as we reminisced about my son while sitting by his grave. The sun was hot, sweat running down my brow and it was only ten in the morning. A Texas summer for you…but I wouldn’t have traded that moment for the world. It was strangely comforting beyond measure.

It felt odd having to say goodbye, running my hands along the parched earth before bending over to kiss the ground I knew my son lay underneath. After leaving the cemetery, I honestly wanted to return home to my seclusion. I felt safest there. But my mother insisted on lunch and some time away. When my mother insisted things, you didn’t argue. A small part of me didn’t really want to. I wanted to feel the love that I knew had gone missing.

There was a quote I saw on a store window today in downtown Dallas.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

I saw a future with Miles before we ever married. I saw a future when I found out I was pregnant. I saw a future when I learned that I would become a mother to a little boy. I saw a future when I let him go…and it was ugly.

Yet somehow I see a small measure of hope in my world. A blessed future. Life doesn’t end here. I will see my son again. Although he is absent from my arms, he is mine. I am a mother. My future consisted of me becoming a mom, and I am. Regardless of the heartache that longs to destroy me. My future has brought me here, and with my head held high, I have the right to grieve, but I also have the right to live. I will live for the memory of my son.

.. Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Green Recipes ~ Homemade Hand Scrub

body-scrub

– 2 teaspoons of coconut oil (make sure its extra virgin coconut oil!)

– 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

*This mixture makes a small amount that will last about 3 scrubs. You can double or triple to make a fuller container.

Directions:

– Mix it all up.

– Using 1 teaspoon full of the mixture, scrub over the sink.

– Rinse

– Store the remainder of the mixture in a small tupperware container with a tight seal.

Your hands will feel silky smooth with a smooth light layer of oil that will make the water bead up on your hands.

Foodie Friday ~ Sweet Bell Pepper Rice

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2 cups water

1 cup long grain rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tiny pinch salt

1 splash dry white wine

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

Bring water and rice to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onion in the hot oil until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook and stir until onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes more. Stir green bell pepper and red bell pepper into onion mixture; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with basil, oregano, black pepper, and salt.

Pour wine into vegetable mixture and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir rice into vegetables. Top with Parmesan cheese before serving.

Sacred Silence Novel ~ Journal Entry #2

BookSacredSilence

Journal Entry #2

August 22nd, 2013

Miles woke me from a disoriented nap this afternoon. When I grabbed the phone, I realized I had been crying in my sleep. The tears…they never stopped. Zach has been gone a week today. Our conversation went something like this:

Miles – “Hey. Just thought I’d check in before my next meeting. Everything alright?”

The words had stung like a bee. Everything alright? No, not even close, so I had lied, choosing to avoid lighting an emotional wildfire.

Me – “Yeah, I’m fine. Just doing a few things around the house this afternoon.”

Miles – “Don’t overdo it, Alana. The doctor said for you to take it easy for the next few weeks. I agree with him.”

Me – “I know you do, but I can’t just sit around this place. The quiet is too much sometimes. I have to keep myself busy.”

He had sighed heavily at my reply. He did a lot of that lately. Sighing, like the thoughts in his head were too much for him to say aloud. Instead of letting pieces of himself go, he just buried them deeper, within a long drawn out frustrated sigh that he used to cover his brandished hurt. Miles had always been such a support to me, a man of great words, but his inner voice was missing. The man I knew and loved, was hiding within the shadows of his misery, alone. I wasn’t expecting an invitation for me to join him anytime soon.

Me – “Perhaps we can talk…”

Miles – “This is not the time nor the place for talking about this, Alana.”

Me – “I know, but when will it be time? We can’t let this just drift off into the distance; pretend that it never happened. It did, and I’m so afraid of moving on.”

The line grew quiet after that, and my question remained unanswered. Just like always.

Me – “I’m afraid of moving on without you, Miles.” Still silent. My throat burned badly as I tried hard to swallow the bile that had risen quickly from my empty stomach.

Miles – “You’re not moving on without me. We’re in this together. I’m just not ready to open up the wounds just yet. Please respect my wishes this once, Alana. That’s all I’m asking.”

And all I wanted was to find truth in his words. The words he refused to say aloud. The diversion between us opened up a little wider, as my heart grew a little weaker.

Miles – “Listen babe, I’ve got to get back to work. Hang in there, okay? I’m trying to do the same.”

Me – “I’m doing my best, Miles.”

Miles – “I know you are. Just take it easy. I love you.”

Taking a deep breath, and closing my eyes, I had said what any good wife should. “I love you too.”

So here I sit. Bent over, head aching with sheer force as it lay within the sweaty palm of my left hand as I write. This is so much more than losing Zach; this is the beginning of losing myself. Miles and I had been married for almost seven years, and what an amazing seven years it has been. Even through our struggle with infertility, the two of us stuck together, hand in hand through every test, procedure, poke, prod and agonizing wait for test results, without fail. After losing Zach last week, I feel my hand slipping slowly from within my husband’s. The reason for our bout with infertility was because of me, and the loss of our miracle baby…was also because of me. I couldn’t give my husband what he wanted more than anything; a child. A child that he could love, lead and cherish until his dying breath.

My gift, my everything, stolen.

.. Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

Sacred Silence Novel ~ Journal Entry #1

BookSacredSilence

Journal Entry #1

August 20th, 2013

This morning I stood in front of the long mirror nestled in the corner of our bedroom, running my hands over my still swollen stomach; only today it was soft and frightfully uninhabited. My fingers wove themselves together, cradling the crook of my belly that once held my baby boy as he grew sweetly for more than five precious months.

I swallowed hard at the reality that had hit me square in the face five days ago at this very hour. I glanced at the clock. 4:34pm; the time of Zachariah’s birth. That unforgettable afternoon that will remain forever embedded in the wreckage of my shattered memories for the rest of my life. My frame was disheveled, my hair a complete mess, and my face swollen from continued bouts of crying when the thoughts of my indescribable loss arose.

Miles had immersed himself back at work today, the words between the two of sparse. Perhaps neither of us knew what to say anymore, how to cope together, leaving each of us to mourn Zachariah on our own.

Work was waiting for me, but I wasn’t sure I could ever return. Not for a good long while. I knew it would be excruciatingly hard to keep my frazzled emotions in tact with the sea of people I saw on a daily basis, but it was also the place where the loss of my little boy had begun. The thought had crossed my mind more than once that perhaps returning to Dr. Parson’s office was completely out of the question. I wasn’t sure I could ever step foot into the one place I knew hurt lurked; where it had swallowed me whole and stolen my very livelihood away.

It wasn’t healthy to try and cope alone, but whenever I felt the urge to run to my husband’s arms, hurting and compassionately broken, I stopped dead in my tracks each and every time. Somehow I knew I wouldn’t find the remedy in his arms; not for now at least. Such a thought was unnaturally wrong. He was my husband, for God’s sake. Yet, I can’t bring myself to confront him. Not now. Maybe never. The truth tears at my heart. So I weep, alone. The image of my baby boy on my mind every waking moment. And it hurts. Oh how it hurts.

.. Alana

Copyright 2013

Written and owned by Valerie King at http://www.valeriekingbooks.com