Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours


I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season and enjoying decorating their homes this year! Two VERY special people came to my house yesterday and put up two trees as well as most of my decorations for me! My mother and my middle sister Lavonda did a lovely job and I am SO appreciative for their giving hearts. Had they not spent their entire day for this chore, I would not have been able to “deck the halls” this year! I do SO love to see a sparkly tree! Our newest cat Pumpkin does, too! (Pictured above under one of the trees) She is just a little kitten, but sure does make a HUGE impact! I decided one of our trees is really a matador, the red tree skirt is really a red cape…and YOU GUESSED IT, Pumpkin the KITTEN is REALLY…A…BULL!!!! She keeps mangling my tree skirt, the little rascal! I guess it would help if I put some presents under that tree!

I want to share a wonderful site with you along with some pictures.

I ordered picture ornaments at http://www.yorkphoto.com/storepage/storePageId=Ornaments. I am very pleased with the results.

This first ornament is a memory ornament of my hubby’s Nana who passed away in September this year.

The picture was taken at our wedding reception in November 2001. They mutually adored each other and she was a huge influence in his life, as well as my own. I miss her dearly, but every time I see this picture, it warms my heart to be reminded of our fond memories.

The next picture shows a memory ornament of my very first dog Daisy.

As you can see, she was a dalmation! I recently told someone on here that I had put a santa hat on her for the picture, but now that I see the picture, I recall I ended up wearing the santa hat! My oldest sister Tina got her for me as a housewarming present when I purchased my first house at age 22. She was just a tiny little puppy, but quickly grew…into EVERYTHING you have ever heard that could possibly be WRONG with a dalmation except deafness. I loved her anyway! My father raised beagles most of his life and ALL of my life, but we learned to not get too attached to just one because they were traded or sold too often. So this made Daisy even more special to me because I KNEW she was NOT going to be traded or sold EVER by ME!

I ordered the last ornament for my hubby as a surprise. This is our new kitten Pumpkin, the day we brought her home after rescuing her.

A social worker had to take her out of a home when she rescued the children. She was only about 9 weeks old when she came to live with us in October. My hubby says she will be HIS cat and I am NOT to try to let her love me more. He thinks the other two cats love me more!!! This is too funny to me. I have always been the type of person that animals are just naturally calm around and so naturally cats are drawn to me because of this bond I seem to have with animals. I do not do anything out of my way to provoke them to love me! ALAS, Pumpkin DOES love me, but she loves my hubby, too. I am SO relieved that she pays so much attention to him because he would be so disappointed if she shunned him. Our ragdoll cat Buster still often treats him like he is nothing, so I am sure my hubby is also relieved. Our only other cat, Sassy, does have a special bond with Jamey. When he comes home from work and gets settled down, she comes over for an extra hard petting as she stretches her body out like a feret in the floor. I am not able to pet her hard, so this makes it “their thing” altogether. I think he wants their time to last longer and more on his terms, but it is ALWAYS on her terms. I often tell him that cats come to you when they want your attention. DOGS are the ones ready at YOUR beckoning, like our Jack Russells! He does not listen, though! He still picks them up and tries to cuddle them like babies and rub noses, etc. I guess it is a man thing (no offense if you are a MAN reading my blog!) to not listen to such wisdom. 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours and I hope you enjoyed some more tidbits of my life!

Vanilla Beans for homemade Extract


Post from 2008

Do you make your own vanilla extract??? (SEE NOTE AT BOTTOM FOR LATEST UPDATE ON RECIPE)

I had recently read a blog here about making Vanilla Extract from scattertheseeds…I was SO EXCITED to find a GREAT and unique Christmas gift idea! I’ve been thinking about ways to use my Starbucks frappucino bottles and I think this is going to be it! Thank you “scattertheseeds”!

I went to “Fresh Market”, a store in Chattanooga, Tennessee to purchase the vanilla beans. I had no idea they were SO EXPENSIVE!!! I paid about $3.99 per bean!!!! SO, after researching the homemade extract options online, I came across an ebay store that sells vanilla beans in bulk CLICK HERE to go to Vanilla Products USA.

I am looking forward to receiving my beans in the mail soon!!! ALSO, if you buy them at this particular ebay store, they have a sale right now that if you buy over $25 worth of merchandise, you get an extra 1 lb of vanilla beans free (that’s ALOT of beans!). I only purchased 40 beans for now (@4.99 for 20). I think that will be plenty. There was also a $1 discount on shipping when I checked out (instead of $5, it was $4) b/c I am in the USA. Total spent was just a little less than $14…close to the same price I paid at a retail store for only 4 beans!!!

As far as the recipe, I have researched several options. I think I am going to use vodka as my base b/c I read that it is neutral in taste, and I will just add about a Tablespoon of a dark rum to each bottle. I read that the rum can be overpowering if used for the entire bottle, but that adding just a little can enhance the flavor.

HOW MANY BEANS PER BOTTLE???

I’ve read several opinions on ratio of beans to liquid. I think I will go with 2 beans to every 1/2 cup of liquid and then I can add more liquid or beans in a few weeks depending on my preference for strength. I will slice the beans open lengthwise before putting them in the bottle.

Once the liquid is added, store in cabinet w/tight lid for approx. 6 weeks before using…shake the bottle frequently during the 6 weeks.

TIPS REGARDING ADDING THE BEAN:

Some folks suggest scraping the inside of the bean into the bottle…some suggest cutting up the entire bean into tiny pieces or even 1/2 inch pieces and adding…no matter what method you choose, when you are ready to put it in a jar to give away, you can either syphen it through a filter of some sort (like a coffee filter or tea filter) if you want to remove the bean…or just leave the bean. Who doesn’t like vanilla bean ice cream w/the bits of bean all in it???

Several opinions suggested using the entire bean sliced open, then remove it after 6 weeks, let it dry out, then put it in a sugar bowl w/sugar…then you’ll have VANILLA SUGAR!!! YUM

I hope all is well with you today and that you are enjoying this beautiful day (at least it is beautiful here in N. Georgia today!). I love to hear the birds outside and watch the squirrels play now that they can’t get into my bird feeder! At least some of the birds give them crumbs.

UPDATE: This is how we ended up making ours after we received our WONDERFUL beans: we added 20 beans sliced open to the large bottle of vodka. We added 4 beans to the rum bottle. Keep in dark cabinet for 6 weeks in airtight container. Shake once a day. After 6 weeks, your vanilla extract is ready! Add 4 parts vodka to 1 part rum when mixing. The starbucks bottles worked great for me to hold my extract, especially when others asked for some to use for themselves.

God bless you!

Teresa