Money is tight this year, so I’ve decided to hand make all of our Christmas gifts (and if any of my friends or family members are reading this – please pretend to be surprised when you receive your gift…). A great idea that I came across recently was homemade vanilla extract. A lot of people in my family love to cook and bake, so I thought I’d give it a try.
Here’s what you’ll need:
-Vanilla beans. I used Tahitian vanilla beans from Beanilla Trading Company. You can order them here or from Amazon. It ended up being about $14.99 for 25 beans, plus shipping.
-12 glass bottles, about 4 oz each. You can also order them them from Beanilla, but I chose to order them from Specialty Bottle, for about $0.67 each.
You’ll also need a cutting board, a knife, a funnel, and some vodka. I chose to use Svedka vodka, because I’ve heard that it has a smooth, mellow taste which would blend nicely with the taste of the vanilla beans.
Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, it’s probably a good idea to wash out the bottles to remove any dust or particles that may have worked their way inside during processing or shipping. Let dry completely. Here you’ll see I’ve used my bottle drying rack which conveniently works for more than just baby bottles.
When all of the bottles are full, put the covers on and let them sit for at least a month to let the vanilla mature. I did them a couple of days ago so that the vanilla would have plenty of time to “extract” before Christmas.
How was everyone’s weekend? I had a pretty busy weekend, but I did have a little bit of time to help my friend, Stacy, make a T-shirt for a friend’s birthday. If the caption on the shirt doesn’t make any sense, just ignore it and imagine your own beautiful design on it, instead. Apparently, it’s some sort of an inside joke.
I recently discovered the secret double life of freezer paper (you can trace designs onto it and iron it onto fabric), so when Stacy asked for my help with this project (that’s her, pictured above), I was excited to see it in action.
First, we ran to the store for the supplies. Well, more than one store, because all we were able to find was this enormous box of freezer paper. We asked several employees if they knew where we could find a smaller box, and they all looked at us like, “Do I look like the type of person who knows a lot about freezer paper?” At last, we settled on the large box, because we weren’t sure how long the shirt itself was going to take, and we wanted to get started on it. That, and we still hadn’t eaten lunch.
Here are the supplies for this project:
We choose a black shirt, because apparently that’s Stacy’s friend’s favorite color. Hmm. Because the T-shirt was black, we decided to go with white “dimensional” fabric paint, which I assume is the same as the puff fabric paint. Since we wanted to avoid the “puffy” look, we bought an economy pack of children’s paintbrushes to brush it on.
First, we opened a word processing document and picked a font that would be substantial enough to cut out and make into a stencil. Then, we printed it and cut around each word.
Since we used size 225 font, it only printed three letters per line, so Stacy took the time to line up the letters using a ruler to make sure that each word was straight, and then taped them together using masking tape. We then put masking tape on the back, with the sticky side up so that we could tape it to the plastic side of the freezer paper.
When the letters were all traced, we used an orange craft knife that I found in my basement to cut out the letters. We almost threw out all of the insides, but then we realized that we were going to need the centers of some of the letters. For example, B, A, R, D, etc., all have inner centers that need to be ironed onto the shirt, as well, to complete the stencil.
In the future, we would probably let it dry for a little longer first before removing the freezer paper, but it turned out just fine. Here is the finished product: