Homemade Vanilla

Because I loved and completely used up the homemade vanilla from Bethany, I decided to follow her instructions for how to make my own.  What an awesome little gift for people!

I ordered 25 Tahitian vanilla beans from a supplier on ebay.  The 4 oz. bottles came from here.  The vodka was a 1.75L bottle from ABC.  I’m pretty sure the brand doesn’t make much of a difference.  In fact, you can make vanilla extract with other liquors like rum but vodka is the preferred alcohol because of its neutral flavor.

I used two beans per jar.  I cut them lengthwise then crosswise and stuffed the eight pieces into the Boston round bottles.

Cutie Pie lent a hand pouring 1/2 cup of vodka into each bottle.

We capped the bottles right away and put them in a dark place to steep.  Ideally, they should steep for at least 2 months so I put that on the labels that I placed on the jars- “Best when used after 2/3/2012”.

You can use amber bottles to protect your vanilla extract from degradation from UV light.  I figured this stuff is going to be stored in a cabinet so UV exposure is not really a big deal.


I’m So Granola

Imagine this with a cute label on it...

I’m really not so granola but I do love to eat it.

This year I tried my hand at making it for Christmas presents.  It turns out that making granola is super easy and it tastes amazing!  The only problem I found was in the discovery that 1-quart Mason jars hold way more that I thought they would.  I had to quintuple my recipe and I still did not fill all 12 jars!  Yikes!

Homemade Granola Recipe

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup dried, sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds in one batch and walnuts in another)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Mix oil and honey in a pan over medium heat until runny.

Drizzle hot oil and honey mixture over dry ingredients and stir.

Spread granola on the jelly roll pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Completely cool then serve or store in air tight container.


Gingerbread in a Box

My friend, Pam, is an extremely talented scrapbooker/card maker/paper crafter.  When she recently uploaded a few of her projects to Facebook, I knew I had to borrow one super awesome idea.  After several e-mails back and forth about how cute her “Cupcakes in a Box” project was and one order going in to CTMH for the boxes, I began work on “Gingerbread in a Box”…

These sweet kits are going to my boys’ preschool teachers for Christmas!  I love how they turned out.  Each kit contains a box of gingerbread mix (I didn’t cover and embellish my bread boxes like Pam did… ran out of time), white icing with tips, three containers of mini gumdrops and dot candies, a gingerbread man cookie cutter, and a mini rolling pin.  Cutie Pie added the adorable salt dough ornaments for his teacher and his teaching assistant.

I’m unsure of whether I should give one of these kits to Wildman’s teacher or not.  She specifically noted (several times) that she does not eat or want sweets on her Christmas gift questionnaire that went home to the students.  I’ve been working on batches and batches of homemade granola so I might give her that…  A post about that little project is coming soon!

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