UPDATE 12/31/12 click here.

Christmas is coming and I've already started shopping!  Christmas has always been a big holiday in our family.  Every year the Rustowicz children made a gift to give all of our aunt's and uncle's.  One of my absolute favorites has to be when we glued colored ornaments to an ice cream cone.  Add a little glue and some sprinkles and we had ice cream cone ornaments.  I love the tradition of homemade gifts and it's one I try to carry on.  

Another vivid memory I have is my dad making homemade vanilla extract.  I can remember the huge bottle of brandy sitting under our sink and my dad shaking it every so often.  For the last couple years I've thought of making vanilla extract and finally I am doing just that.  Last year Marissa and I made 40 pairs of snowman earrings...super cute.  Spoiler alert....sorry to my family that's reading...this year's handmade holiday gift will be homemade vanilla extract.

I found a great deal online at Beanilla, 25 Madagascar Vanilla Beans for $25 + free shipping.  They also have a variety of other beans.  I really wanted to make some vanilla using their Mexican Vanilla Beans, however they were out of stock.  These are suppose to have an additional hint of spice to them.  Bonus...you can be cheap with your vodka.  Using bottom shelf vodka is most common because it will not add any additional flavors to your vanilla. Finished pictures to come!

Here's a link to some great priced bottles by Mountain Rose Herbs.  Also some really cute vanilla labels by Live Laugh Rowe.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
1 cup vodka
5 vanilla beans

Measure out 1 cup of vodka, or more depending if you are doubling the recipe or not.   I tripled my recipe and put the left over vodka in another jar.  
Using 5 vanilla beans per one cup of vodka, slice your beans lengthwise starting 1/4" from the end of the bean.  There should be a 1/4" on both ends of the bean that is left uncut.
Place your beans in a bottle and cover with your vodka.  Place in a cool dark location and shake 1-2 times a week.
Vanilla will be ready to use in 8 weeks.

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