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Holiday Gifts: beginning

November 22, 2009
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Moments of sanity are becoming less rare, and I am beginning to look beyond my keyboard during daylight hours.  Of course I need to busy myself, and cleaning up the aftermath of the thesis can only hold my attention for so many hours a day, so I’ve begun thinking about holiday gifts.

I’ve been searching through Sew, Mama, Sew!’s handmade holiday posts for a week or so– randomly when I needed a break from editing or writing–and found a couple things that were inexpensive (as everywhere else, money is tight around here this year) and looked like things people might actually appreciate receiving.  Number one on my list was Neverending Vanilla from Hungry Mouse.  I loved the idea–homemade vanilla extract that can be replinshed just by topping off the bottle with vodka every so often.

Super simple, it took about 5 minutes to get these bottles going.  She has nice pictorial instructions on her site, but here is a quick overview.

1.  Save some likely bottles from your recycle and wash in hot soapy water, or otherwise “sterilize.”  I used some empty Brianna dressing jars–they were a good size and had a nice lid.

2.  Put 2 vanilla beans in your bottle.  I found mine in the bulk section for about $1 each.

3.  Pour vodka (or rum) over the vanilla beans to fill the bottle.

4.  Cap up and shake.  Place in a dark cupboard for about 6 weeks.

That should bring me right to the holidays.  I only had two bottles on hand, but that’s about what I had in vodka anyway.  I’ll probably try to save a few more bottles and get those going soon.  I thought this was a fairly reasonable priced project:  I estimate that it is about $4 for each bottle of Neverending vanilla, if you buy the cheap vodka.

Over the next few weeks I’ll work on designing the label, and check on them to make sure they are darkening up as described.  Hopefully, I’ll update with a pic of the final product sometime before the holidays.

Meanwhile, I’ll be working on some other things.  You can see my knitting in the background of the pic (I am not a knitter, but trying again), and I’ve got a few sewing projects prepped and ready to begin.  I’ll also probably make some of these orange candies (or these ones), and definitely we’ve got fleur de sel caramels on our list this year (There is a recipe in SaltySweets cookbook, but also found a this one, and this one online).

What’s brewin’ in your homes?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2009 9:01 am

    That’s a cool idea. I had been thinking about steeping vanilla beans in vodka and adding simple syrup to make a vanilla-flavored drink, but it had never occurred to me to use it as vanilla extract for cooking.

    • jessbcuz permalink*
      November 22, 2009 10:24 am

      Oh, the drink syrup sounds good too. Maybe I could make that for my swingin’ 20 something cousins! And then I can give the staid extract to my baking aunties (oh, and one for me).

  2. November 23, 2009 7:23 am

    Awesome ideas!!!

  3. Sandy permalink
    November 27, 2009 3:54 am

    Yummy, I’m going to try these orange treats – sounds like a ton of sugar though! I am planning on making some limoncello for my brother Simon, who you’ve spoken to I believe :)

    • jessbcuz permalink*
      November 27, 2009 8:39 am

      oh! limoncello! I’ve been wanting to make that for a few years–they ran an article in our local paper about making it, and ever since its been on my list–despite the fact I’ve never had limoncello! I used to get great meyer lemons from my grandma, but she moved a couple years ago–i miss those dearly.

      • Sandy permalink
        November 27, 2009 11:00 pm

        I have only had limoncello in California! Kent’s stepbrother shared some they had bought in Italy with us on one visit. I think it is becoming easier to find here now but truthfully I don’t spend too much time perusing the bottle shops (unlike my husband who is crazy about red wine). I’ve had the recipe for some years. Ps Hope you don’t mind long comments on your blog, this is more fun than emailing somehow.

    • jessbcuz permalink*
      December 9, 2009 11:55 pm

      So remiss in not responding sooner! Of course I love your comments here! and your emails too! keep them coming any which way!
      Update me on limoncello!
      p.s. sounds like our husbands could definitely go bottle shopping together–mine is all over red wine too.

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  1. Green Xmas: Use up your stash. « jessBcuz

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