Vanilla Sugar

A gourmet ingredient that is so simple to make, you will never spend the money on buying it premade again.
Most recipes call for putting a few vanilla beans in a jar with a bunch of sugar and letting it set for weeks. This one is almost as easy and you can use it right away. I have never actually tasted straight premade vanilla sugar, so I cannot say it has a better, stronger taste, but I really enjoy the flavor it brings to recipes.
Swap it out in your favorite sweet recipes for a lovely flavor boost.

Vanilla Sugar

Quick Vanilla Sugar @godschicki
2 cups of sugar
per
1 vanilla bean
You’ll need a food processor. I have a very small one that holds maybe 1 cup, so I have to work in batches, though if you have a large one just chuck it all in at once.
Cut your vanilla beans in half length wise. Next cut them into 1 inch snippets. Be sure to wipe the seeds from the knife (or scissors) you use! Put bean pieces and sugar in food processor and whiz it for a minute or so.
Viola, you have vanilla sugar.
Store in an air-tight container. I leave the bean pieces in and sift them out before I use the sugar. It may clump a bit due to the moisture in the beans, but a gentle shake of the container will break it right up.
Swap out vanilla sugar for plain sugar in your favorite recipes. My favorite swaps so far are in banana bread and angel food cake.

Imitating

It happened the other day. My sweet little guy wanted to be sure I heard him as I was trying to change little sisters diaper. He took my face in his hands, put his forehead on mine and looked right into my eyes.
 
Imitating @godschicki
It was one of those moments when you realize they are not just watching, but learning habits and how to do things.
You see, when I want to make sure little man understands me, I take his face in my hands, put my forehead on his and look into his eyes.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;  and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:1-2

What a perfect picture painted here in Scripture. Kids pick up on and repeat so much. They are extremely perceptive.
We, as God’s children, need to imitate Him.
The term “Christian” was not originally used by people to describe themselves. It was used by pagans as a derogatory term. The Christians in Antioch stood out with characteristics of Christ. They were different.
As a mom, I need to imitate Christ. To walk in His love. Offering my life as a sacrifice to God.
My kids are watching. The world is watching.
Finding time to study the Word is hard, but I need to get better at it. I cannot pass something to the that I do not have. I want the love of God to overflow from my life to theirs.
Have you ever had a moment when you realized your kid was watching you? Did it give you pause to think about your life and habits?

Pray Without Ceasing

I originally wrote this post about a year and a half ago, but I wanted to bring it over from my old blog. I updated it a little bit.
Pray Without Ceasing @godschicki

Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Even now, while our little ones are young, I have tried to make it a habit to pray with them and for them aloud ever chance I get. Being in a spirit of prayer is something I want to pass along to our little ones.

    • When we get up, we thank God for the new day, pray for safety, and that we’d accomplish all God has for us to do on that day. That He would open our eyes to the opportunities He gives us to speak life into live around us. That He would give us the words to say to make the most of those opportunities.
    • We pray before meals.
    • When Daddy leaves for work, we pray he will have a safe trip, a good, productive day, and a safe trip home.
    • When we hear sirens we pray for the rescue workers and the people they are going to help. What is fun is that our oldest new makes sure I hear the sirens so we can pray.
    • When we see a police officer pulling someone over we pray for their safety and that they would have a good day.
    • On trash collection days, we watch the trucks work from our door (Little Man loves them and waves at the workers), we pray for God to bless the workers and give them a great day.
    • When we drive past people working or waiting out in the cold we pray that the Lord would keep them warm and help them have a good day.
    • We pray for people we hear about on the news or other media (or from another person) who are hurting. Thank God for the people who are making a difference in the world. Pray for our leaders and country.
    • When we see kids at bus stop we pray that they would have a good day at school and that they would be safe. We pray for the Christians attending school, that they would be a bright light in a dark world.
    • When we see kids playing in the neighborhood, we pray that they come to know Christ in a real and powerful way and that they would have a good day.
    • When we see the military jets or someone in military uniform we pray for our military.
    • When we see someone whiz by us on the highway (or cut us off), we pray that God would keep them and those around them safe. (I will admit, it was done rather grudgingly at first, but now it’s a genuine heartfelt thing.)
    • When we see a beautiful flower, sunset, or have fun we thank God for it.
    • When we see someone asking for help by the road, we help if we can (if we don’t have cash we see if we can buy them a meal) and pray for them if we can help or not. I share a bit about why this is so important to us here.
    • When we hear of some celebrity who has cause a stir in the world we pray for them.
    • When the littles falls down or bump themselves we pray that God will help them feel better.
    • There are certain things that I see that will remind me of someone that we know, so we stop and pray for them.

When we’re putting our littles to bed we pray with and for them.

  • Thanking God for them and their milestones they’s meeting. For fun things we’ve done during the day.
  • For stuff we’ve gotten done.
  • We pray that they would seek the Lord with all that they are, all the days of their lives.
  • That they would wait on the Lord and His timing for their future spouses.
  • That they would stop and think about things before they do them so they can be safe and remember to obey and be sweet.
  • We pray for wisdom and direction and words to speak into every situation as we raise them.
  • We pray for any future children we may be blessed with.
  • We thank God for out family by name and pray for our friends and loved ones.

Prayer is such an important facet of our faith, and trying to pass along our faith, it is important to be intentional about it. I have shared about my prayers in parenting and parenting bucket list as well.
What are some of the ways you teach your children about prayer?

Putting on Love

 
It has taken me more than a day to get this up. Life has been busy. In my last post I wrote about putting on a Garment of Praise. In this post I wanted to share about love.
Putting On Love @godschicki
Dressing for your day has to be intentional. If you’re not properly prepared for the work ahead you could ruin nice clothes cleaning or working in the yard or get soaking wet in rain. We have to put on our clothes, they don’t just appear on us by themselves.
We need to dress for our day spiritually as well. If you didn’t check out my last post, please take just a minute to check it out.
Putting on Love @Aboutachik

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:12-14

These verses tell us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness and to bind them all together, to put on the day’s ‘belt’, love.
The word ‘love’ is thrown around a lot these days. We ‘love’ everything from people to foods to movies to bands, but what does that word mean?

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Now, some of these attributes overlap with the verses from Colossians 3 we just read. They do not come naturally. Children have to learn to be patient and kind.  Even as adults we have to learn to be content and polite. This kind of love comes from God. It is only with His help that we can possess these qualities, but as Christ followers, we should strive to attain these qualities.
An exercise I love is substituting your name for ‘love’ as you read 1 Corinthians 13. Can I say that I am patient and kind? I do not envy or boast? I am not arrogant or rude? I do not insist on my own way? I am not irritable? I am not resentful? I do not rejoice in wrong doing? I rejoice in truth? Do I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things?
Honestly, as much as I have done that exercise, it still hurts making me realize how short I fall. I have to remember multiple times a day to ask for God’s help. For Him to pour out His love on me so that it just overflows onto those around me. That is the only way it happens.
It is a process, but one that is well worth it.
What are some ways you work on applying Scripture to your life? Have you ever substituted your name for ‘love’ in those verses? How do you put on godly attributes?

Dressing for the Day

I recently read one of those post sharing tips and thoughts on making your days better and more productive. One of the items was “Dressing for the kind of day you’d like to have.”
 
Dressing for the Day
My first thought was “How do I dress for a day that I don’t want to get puked, pooped or peed on?” (As a mom those days are sometimes few and far between)
It is very good, practical advice. Days that I get out of my pajamas or strap on one of my aprons I am more productive. It really helps me get into a different mindset. On rainy days, you want to stay dry, so you put on a rain coat and carry an umbrella.
Thinking about it more, I remembered this verse.

To grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3

 
God will give us a garment of praise for a faint spirit. We have to make the conscious effort to put it on. A gift is not useful until you accept it and take possession of it. Remember that rainy day? If we want to be prepared to face the day, we need to put on the garment of praise.
We need to put on the garment of praise. Change the way we are thinking and refocus.
Some things I know help me are:

  • Starting the day with prayer, especially of thanksgiving. When we are looking for things to be thankful for we look for them through the day and not reasons to be upset, our attitude is much more positive. Need to focus on Thankfulness? Check out this Challenge for Thanksgiving Any Time of the Year.
  • Getting in the Word as soon as possible, even if it is just reading it aloud to the kids as we finish breakfast. I have been trying to read when the kids are finishing up meals.
  • Listening to worship music though the day, especially when cleaning. I share more about this in my own post on Tips for a More Productive Day.

How do you put on a ‘garment of praise’?
There are a few other Scriptures that reference putting things on. One is Putting on Love. In other places Scripture talks about Gracefilled Speech, Being Peculiar, and Getting Drunk.
 

Red Sauce Recipe

A wonderful, versatile sauce. This does make a lot of sauce, so if you are planning to make it, either plan for a lot of sauce based recipes in the week after you make it, or can or freeze it.  Since it’s fairly easy to double or triple, why not make as big a batch as your pot can hold and freeze what you don’t use? A great staple to have on hand for busy days.
Thanks to Jyn for teaching me how to make the basic recipe. This has been tweaked and scaled down a bit from the original.
Veggie Loaded Red Sauce @godschicki

RED SAUCE

1 #10 (bulk size) can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons butter or bacon grease
1 large sweet onion
1/4-1/2 large head of garlic
1 4oz can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Optional:
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 zucchini, chopped
1 large or 2 small eggplants, chopped
2-3 large beets, quartered (you will want to wear gloves when chopping!)
Mince onions as finely as you like them (if you don’t want to find evidence of them in the sauce do it very fine). Brown in a large pot with the butter or bacon grease (you will need to get the whole can of sauce in there), stirring frequently. While the onion browns, peel and finely mince about 1/4- 1/2 head of garlic (I use my mini food processor and get it very fine). 1/2 a head of garlic will give your sauce a bit of a bite, which if you like spicy foods is nice.
When the onions are nearly brown add garlic and cook until soft and the onions are browned.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil for just a minute or two. Bring down to a simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until the veggies are soft (but I usually do mine for 2-3 hours), stirring every 15 minutes or so. This gives me a nice, thick sauce and takes out a lot of moisture from it. We like our sauce thicker.
For pasta with meat sauce simply brown some hamburger (drain if not very lean meat) and add sauce.
I personally like adding a lot of veggies when I can. Sometimes I put in a few carrots, some eggplant and zucchini while it it simmering and then use my stick blender or blender to whiz it up. I like it chunky, but hubby isn’t keen on that, so saucy it is. I’ve also added kale, but it made the sauce somewhat green, so just be careful. It is a great way to sneak some more vegetables into your family’s diet, though it’s not super authentic red sauce then.
I love this sauce. It can be used in so many different ways. Spaghetti, Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna, Baked Ziti, Baked Stuffed Shells, Pizza and soups are a few of the ways I have used it.

Lessons from the Garden

I’ve been going through my old blog and looking over posts. I found this little reminder of some lessons I ponder every spring as I plan my garden.

Lessons From The Garden @godschicki

Lessons From The Garden

Working in my garden has taught me many truths about growth in our Christian lives.
There’s no real order to these right now, but here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

A Garden Is Like a Relationship

A garden takes work, just as a relationship does. You can’t throw out some seeds and expect a perfectly manicured garden to appear. You have to prepare the soil, removing weeds and rocks.  We have to maintain it, being vigilant to take care of any weeds that pop up or any diseases that plague our plants as soon as can be. Like the garden, we must draw near to God and work on that relationship. We must spend time with Him. Ask him to reveal the weeds of sin in our lives and the diseases to be dealt with.

Sins Are the Weeds of the Soul

If your hand causes you to stumble,cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.

Mark 9:43-45

 Weeding is something that must been done to keep a garden growing. The roots of weeds will quickly choke our the plants your are trying to grow, tangling them hopelessly with their own. They steal vital nutrients from the soil. When you weed, you must not only get the leaves, or sprout, but the root as well. If you don’t take the root of the weeds, they will grown right back. We must ask God to reveal the roots of sin in our lives. Does a TV show cause you to sin? Stop watching it. Friends influence you to sin? Stop spending so much time with them. Surround yourself with godly friends who will encourage you to pursue God and hold your accountable.

Watering Your Garden

When watering your garden, you must water the roots deeply. If you only water the very top of the soil, the roots will stay there, not growing deep into the ground to help keep the plant stable. A plant with a shallow root system will be easily knocked over. We must drink deeply of the living water and ask God to continually fill us. Again, it’s a part of spending time with God, seeking His face. How many times are we okay with a little devotion, maybe a little verse of Scripture, from a book instead of drinking in God’s Word? We must root ourselves in the Word of God. Then we will know the Truth for ourselves and not be easily swayed or blown over.

Pruning is Essential

There sometimes comes a time for pruning. It can be a dead branch/vine, a burnt out part of our ministry that we must seek if it’s God’s will for us to continue in this ministry, and if not, it’s time to prune it. Sometimes, to make plants more productive, to let more of the plant’s nutrients go to other fruits, you prune blossoms off. Sometimes we take on so many ministries, that they aren’t being given what they need. That is when we must seek God’s will for the ministries we are a part of, if we are able to give it our best, and reevaluate which ones God is calling us to.
A few of the many lessons I’ve thought about while gardening.
I have linked this post up at:
Christian Blogger Community

A Natural Mama's Guide to Pediatrician Questions

 
 
One very important thing to do when preparing for baby is to choose a doctor for them. The earlier the better!
Because of some of our natural ways, we opted to go with a family doctor instead of a pediatrician.  We don’t see eye to eye on everything, but on the important stuff we do and he is respectful of our wishes that he doesn’t agree with.
Here’s our list of ‘interview’ questions. I hope you find it helpful.
Please do your research on each of these question yourself, deciding where you stand (and why). Decide what things are important in the person caring for your child, and which one(s) are ‘deal breakers’ before you go to interview your little one’s potential doctor. Think of how you will handle having to constantly defend your parenting choices.
Natural Mama's Guide to Pediatrician Questions
General Questions

  • Where did you go to school?
  • Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
  • Do you have any specialties?
  • Do you have hospital privileges?
  • Is there another doctor in the practice?
  • Who covers your patients when you vacation?
  • What are your office hours?
  • What would I do after hours?
  • How long does it usually take to get an appointment?
  • Are there separate sick/well visit waiting rooms?
  • Do you do your lab work in house? Where would we go to have labs done?
  • How often do you prescribe antibiotics?
  • Do you have any kids?
  • You may want to ask about their faith/beliefs.

Breastfeeding/Feeding

  • How do you feel about breastfeeding in general?
  • How long do you recommend breastfeeding for?
  • How do you feel about exclusively breastfeeding for 9-12 months?
  • How do you feel about delaying solids until 9-12 months?
  • How do you feel about extended breastfeeding (past age 2)?
  • How do you feel about breastfeeding on demand?
  • How do you feel about tandem nursing?
  • If we had to supplement, how do you feel about homemade goat’s milk formula?
  • What do you recommend starting baby on as far as foods go? (Grains are essentially packing peanuts, filling, but no nutritional value for baby)
  • What do you think of starting baby on avocado and egg yoke with breastmilk?

Vaccines

  • What are your thoughts on vaccines in general?
  • What are your thoughts on selective/alternative vaccine schedules?
  • Do you see patients who choose to not vaccinate or do selective/alternative schedules?

Miscellaneous 

  • How do you feel about co-sleeping/bed sharing?
  • How do you feel about home-birth?
  • Do you see patients who have home-births?
  • How do you feel about using natural remedies/homeopathic treatments before prescribing a drug?
  • How do you feel about homeschooling?
  • How do you feel about circumcision?
  • How do you recommend caring for intact sons?
  • How do you feel about crying it out?
  • How do you feel about attachment parenting?
  • How do you feel about chiropractic care in general? For kids?
  • How do you feel about amber teething necklaces?
  • How do you feel about fluoride?
  • How do you feel about using essential oils?
  • How do you feel about fluoride?
  • How do you feel about cloth diapering?
  • How do you feel about homemade cleaning supplies/laundry soap?

Did I miss anything? What are some other things you asked about?
I have linked this post up at:
Christian Blogger Community

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Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle 2018

Blog Reboot

I’ve been playing around with the idea of seriously blogging (not just journal type blogging) for quite some time now. I tried a bit to make my old ‘blog’ into more of a blog, but I’ve decided to try this out for a while. I have so many ideas, but as I stare at this form, I’m kind of blanking. I think my first post should be something substantial, but what?
With two sick kiddos, not much has gotten done around the house today, but that is okay. Dishes and laundry can wait for a bit. The kids are only little once. I will take all the cuddles I can get from my sweeties. I just wish they felt better. As I write this, I am wearing one little one and have the other’s head in my lap while they nap. :Sighs: So sweet.
If you have little ones, drink up all the sweet little moments. Write some down for when they get older, for when you get older.