Foodie Friday ~ Baked Apricot Chicken

ApricotChicken2

Chicken thighs

1 cup apricot preserves

1 cup French dressing

1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the jam, dressing and soup mix. Mix together.

Place chicken pieces in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour apricot mixture over chicken and bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

Sacred Silence Novel ~ ZACH

BookSacredSilence

“Sacred Silence”

ZACH

August 15th, 2013

Withered. That is how I feel…here, now. Like a full, succulent red rose whose vibrant color enlightened those who encountered it, enchanting each with the fullness of summer’s glory, only to droop of unquenchable thirst from the dry season that fell upon it as the days passed.

For years I had remained a thorny bush, green leaves curling on end, but no bud produced, to grow fully into a cushion of silky, fragrant petals that claimed the senses with such ease.

Six and a half months ago I had felt the rush of living water flow through my veins finally, bathing my spirit with such eloquent beauty and sustenance. Life was forming, growing in a shadowed corner of the garden where I felt I would always remain without beauty, without a blossom that the world often hungers for, that I had always hungered for since I was a young girl.

Yet after years of standing alone amongst a fruitful garden, I had been handed the God given gift I had longed for, a bud forming on the tip of my thorn ridden life, so welcomed and so cherished from the very first moment of its unexpected arrival. From the very first instant of knowing I could envelope and nourish new life, that I wasn’t barren.

Yet today, I’m dying. My heart has fled, leaving an empty hole where it once beat with gratefulness for two. My eyes are hazy, scarred with a pool of hurtful tears that beg to wash me away to a world where hurt no longer lies. Yet if I let this moment go to soon, I know solid regret will find me. Somehow, I must find the goodness here as I hold him; to love him the best way I know how. He’s mine, and I must show him so.

Zachariah. That’s his name. Zach, my sweet angel whose eyes will never see his mother’s face, but somehow has stolen her spirit anyway. My heart beats for him although his is silent, still…broken. He’s tiny. His frail body filling my hands, his skin delicate, but perfect all the same. Perfect in my eyes, and in his father’s.

I stroke his cheek, the pad of my thumb caressing his moist skin that grows ever cold as we lay huddled in my hospital bed, the quiet murdering my thoughts as I muddle over every square inch of his frame, trying desperately to remember every part of him. I mustn’t forget a single curve, finger or toe. I made this, molded this, his father and I out of pure love. He’d want me to remember how he was wonderfully made; I’m his mother. It would be wrong for me to forget the most hidden pieces of my child. The way his hand feels within mine, and how his ears so tiny, remain deaf even though words pour from my mouth as to how much I love him, cherish him…miss him.

My husband’s arm cradles my shoulder, pulling me into a warm embrace that still leaves me bitterly cold. His face is expressionless as he pushes his raw emotions inward, unable and unwilling to wrestle with reality that his son is lifeless, departed.

“Do you want to hold him, darling?” I turn to look at my husband through fractured dark blue eyes, tears moistening the tips of my lashes, tickling my cheeks every time I blink.

He shakes his head no, placing his left hand instead on the top of our son’s baldhead, sweeping across it gently as his jaw tightens. Anger radiates from his cheeks, blushing a deep, swollen red as a single tear glides down his unshaven, shadowed face.

I push myself deeper into his chest, nuzzling my shoulder against his heart that races wildly out of sorrow. Raising my forefinger, I brush the tiny pale lips of my Zachariah: his father’s lips. I feel my stomach flip as emptiness tears at me, stifling a deep, monstrous groan of immeasurable loss.

“Why?” My husband’s voice is soft, but harsh. “Why us, Alana? We’ve waited so long for a child, and he’s been stolen from our arms. Why?”

The question drew the air from my lungs, my heart hurting as agony coaxed its wounded ego once more. I felt my eyes wither with another bout of angry tears, as I fought to stay grounded just a little while longer.

“He wasn’t stolen from us, Miles.” I felt him pull away, causing me to sit up straight as he shifted his weight from behind. My gaze turned toward his, both of us empty, hardened and sad. “Did you hear what I said?” I breathed slowly, drawing Zach closer to my chest.

I watched him shake his head, his lips curling into a grieving snarl as he let go, the howl of a haunted father echoing amongst the white washed walls of our quaint, unabashed hospital room. He shifted himself off the bed, walking over to the one solemn window that overlooked Dallas, as night fell, and the lights of the bustling city awoke.

Lying back against the pillows, I let my head sink into the softness behind me, my back aching from giving birth. And my husband, seething with anger, completely unwilling to deal with what life had handed us this lonely August afternoon, staring out into the great void of a world that would never hold the hand of Zachariah.

He cleared his throat, pretending to be perfectly entranced by the world outside. “Yes, yes Alana…I heard what you said. But I don’t believe it. That little boy in your arms was my son; our son.” He rested his weary head against his forearm, his other hand tucked into the pocket of his khaki dress pants. “After three years of trying for a child, God granted us a miracle. The doctors told you we might not ever have a child, but we did,” his voice was eerily deep as he spoke.

Turning to face me slowly, I looked into his deep, dark hazel eyes that were now ringed with red. “We had a son.”

“We have a son, Miles.” I spat back at him insistently; my cheeks warm with tempered anger as I spoke. “We have him! Stop talking about Zach like he doesn’t exist. He does! Look at him. Hold your son, Miles. Whether he ever took a breath or not, he’s still your son!” The tears began to pour from the corners of my eyes as I leaned my head over, pulling Zach’s face to my lips as I kissed him over and over, my chest aching with sheer distraught.

I felt his arms slip around me once more, his lips finding the nape of my neck as he kissed me gently. Warm tears fell onto my skin as he let his mouth wander across my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Alana. I just feel so lost, so empty. I don’t want to hurt you, baby. I love you so very much,” his words soothing my spirit ever so sweetly as I tried to catch my hindered breath.

The words weren’t there, so instead I lifted my left hand, enveloping his that wove themselves around my drooping shoulders. Squeezing his fingers, he squeezed mine back, our love a true testament this very moment as we relished the final moments of being a complete family. The very thought of such a bittersweet ending brought the walls tumbling down again within my soul as I relived the horrifying event that had brought me here.

Early labor had landed me in the emergency room only eight hours ago. A dizzying afternoon that had pulled Miles out of a real estate meeting with a potential client, and left me crumbled in a heap on the floor of the dental office where I worked across town.

The pain struck out of nowhere. Death defying pain that caught hold of my breath as I stepped out of a patient’s room, exam gloves still on my hands, and a mask still on my face as I struggled to breath through the excruciating contractions of an all too early birth. My fellow co-worker, Meredith, grabbed me around the waist before I slid to the floor, warm liquid soaking through my scrub bottoms leaving a blood tinged pool on the cold tile around me.

That was it. This was the beginning of the end for me, for Miles, and for my dear sweet boy. Now here I sit, no longer swollen and full, but broken and completely shattered for a life that couldn’t be saved, my beautiful, departed son in my arms, and the dream of motherhood stolen from my world as I prepared to say goodbye to the little boy who would never know the meaning of visual love.

Zach’s heart will always remain entangled with mine, for a lifetime and then some. Whether here for a fleeting moment, or years on end, a child, your child, molds you instantly once they nestle within your womb. It reminds you how precious life is and how short it can often be. In my case, it paints a vibrant picture of what a miracle looks like in the face of my son. That’s one valid piece of truth I can always hold onto for forever and a day. I have a son. He is and always will be, my little miracle.

Copyright 2013

All material written and owned by Valerie King. http://www.valeriekingbooks.com

*In an effort to remember the little ones lost, IntelliGender has partnered with Beautifully Chaotic Blog to support and honor women who have lost a child. You can leave your child’s name on our sign-up sheet to be included in this year’s “We Remember You” walk held each year on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness day in the month of October. If you would like to include your angel baby, please use our form here to do so. 

Beautifully Chaotic’s Mission Statement

We Remember You exists first to reach out to parents and families touched by the loss of a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, abortion, SIDS, and any other form of infant loss. We honor the short but important lives of these babies and honor the grief and healing of their parents and families. By recognizing these babies by name we acknowledge the impact they have had on the world.

Second, we exist to link with other organizations, sites, and individuals who have the same passion; creating community and unity while furthering their reach.

Third, we exist to raise money for the Art Card Project, providing comfort and resources for women/families experiencing a loss in the form of a small card to be distributed by Dr’s offices, Hospitals and Birthing Centers and other organizations.

Foodie Friday ~ Lemon Coconut Loaf

lemonloaf

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Lemon Drizzle:

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice, or more as needed

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 4×8-inch loaf pan.

Beat white sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir juice and zest of one lemon into butter mixture.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, mixing until batter is just incorporated. Fold in coconut, mixing just enough to evenly combine. Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Gradually stir 2 teaspoons lemon juice into confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until mixture is thin enough to drizzle. Transfer mixture to a resealable plastic bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. Gently squeeze bag and drizzle mixture evenly over the loaf.

Green Recipes ~ Homemade Creamy Body Wash

homemadebodywash01sm

1 Tbsp shea butter

1/4 cup aloe vera gel

3/4 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum

3/4 cup soap base (I used Dr. Bronner’s Castille, unscented)

Approx 25 drops essential oils (See my Best Essential Oils Series) I used a mixture of citrus oils (orange, lemon and lime).

Method

1. Melt shea butter over low heat.

2. Add aloe vera gel and warm together with the shea butter.

3. Add gum and stir well with a whisk.

4. Add the soap base. Mix well. I found I had to mix with my immersion blender or in a blender to get the gum completely distributed. It’s not completely necessary, but makes for a more consistent wash. After blending, your wash will be quite foamy but it will settle in a few hours.

4. After the mixture has cooled, add essential oils (if using).

5. Pour into container of choice. A funnel comes in handy here. (I used a super eco-friendly recycled body wash container.)

Foodie Friday ~ Homemade Grape Nuts

cereal_1-6

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Combine flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla extract; mix well. Pour mixture into prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with a spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven until browned and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool patty in the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Break cooked patty into chunks and put through a meat grinder, using a coarse blade. Divide crumbs over two baking sheets.

Bake in the oven until dry, stirring every 10 minutes, about 30 minutes. Allow crumbs to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Green Recipes ~ Homemade Body Lotion

Homemade Lotion

(Makes 30 ounces)

masonjarlotion

As this lotion contains water, it should be refrigerated in warm weather.

4.5 oz coconut oil

1.5 oz emulsifying wax

16 oz distilled water

8 oz glycerin

10-15 drops essential oil (optional)

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the oil and wax. Microwave for about two minutes or until melted. (This can also be done in a double boiler on the stove if you prefer to not use the microwave.)

Heat the water in the microwave or on the stove until simmering.

Combine the water, oil/wax mixture, glycerin and essential oil, if using. Stir thoroughly.

Pour into desired bottle(s). 4 ounce mason jars work really well; then store the rest in a bigger jar in the refrigerator.