Anyways, I hope you're all ready to be seeing alot of me over the next few days, I have so much to get out of my head and onto the blog.
Tonight I figured I would start with one of the homemade gifts we will be giving for Christmas this year.
We are TRYING to implement a mostly homemade gift theme for parents, siblings and friends this year. And leaving the store bought presents for the kiddos in hopes to cut down on the amount of money spent, and to try and bring a little bit of holiday spirit back into our lives.
If you hadn't noticed (and if you didn't you must live on a secluded island somewhere!) Christmas has become ridiculously commercialized. Giving has become a shoppers dream. Shop 'til you drop or until your wallet can't take anymore pain. Stop wherever you can, at whatever store and purchase whatever useless item you can find for that friend you speak to MAYBE 4 times a year.
Yes, I like gifts just as much as the next person, but to be honest I would so much rather get a phone call or a letter in the mail from someone I rarely see rather than a battery operated spinning spaghetti fork (BIG joke in my family!). To me something that speaks from the heart is what this season is about. So really, you don't need to run out and buy me ANOTHER set of Rudolph the Stick Reindeer hand towels, or a polar bear that poops jelly beans just because I sent you a Christmas card.
The first gift I want to share with you has to do with my love for vanilla.
DISCLAIMER: For those on my list that are foodies, or adult beverage guru's don't read any further because you are about to ruin your gift!
The other night I made up one of my favorite flavored sugars and even a flavored sea salt (My Baking Addiction put that idea in my head!). Vanilla sugar is wonderful to mix in drinks, sprinkle on desserts, etc. My kitchen STILL has a lovely vanilla scent to it after scraping all the vanilla beans out of the pods - I love it! And the sea salt is proving to be delicious as a margarita glass garnish! I also sprinkled some on watermelon this morning - YUMMY!
For gifts we are pairing the jars with small bottles of tequila and margarita glasses or with some gourmet coffee and mug cozies depending on the recipient.
Side note: Don't you love my new name stamp from Pick Your Plum?I'm smitten!
To make the salt you will need:
1/2 cup Sea Salt
2 Vanilla Beans (tip: order them online, much cheaper!)
Place salt in a bowl.
Slice the beans length wise and scrape the beans out of the pods.
Save the pods for the sugar.
With your fingers rub the beans into the salt until well mixed. Place in the jars and embellish!
For the sugar:
1 Cup granulated sugar
(I use organic granulated, or turbinado if you want more of a molasses flavor)
2 Vanilla pods with seeds removed
Layer the pods and sugar in the jars.
I try to make 3 to 4 layers - a few vanilla pod slices then an inch of sugar, etc.
Allow to sit in a cool place for 2 days. The longer it sits the stronger the vanilla sugar.
Remove vanilla pods and embellish the jars.
Enjoy! The possibilities are endless with these two super simple recipes :)
And if you have extra vanilla beans left over - why not try some homemade vanilla extract?
1/2 Cup of Vodka (Grey Goose is what I used)
2 whole Vanilla Beans (be sure to slice down the side of them so the beans can soak as well).
Pour Vodka over the beans and allow to sit for 6 weeks, be sure to shake vigorously once a week.
Okay, I'll spare you any more recipes. Apparently I have a vanilla fetish.
It's good to be back! I missed you all BIG TIME. My little friends inside the computer have become a big part of my life, and never again do I want to go almost a month without you. The withdrawals were starting to set in for sure!
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