I’m way behind.
I usually have Christmas presents bought and buttoned up by now. Or, at least started. I begin shopping - little by little, piece by piece - in the summertime. I’m normally working my way down a list that was made in the spring.
I’d like to think I do it this way because I’m so thoughtful and giving and generous. That my gift giving was borne within me, it’s a part of me, it cannot be denied for 12 months out of the year and so, I must shop early and shop often. How else can I uphold the claim that I am like Leslie Knope when it comes to presents?
Sure, it’d be nice if that were the case. In all actuality, I start shopping that early because I don’t like seeing my bank account take such a wallop the last six weeks before Christmas. If I spend the money slowly over a longer period of time, it doesn’t hurt so badly.
But, this year has been a crazy one for me (Umm…October is next week? What?!). I’ve had a lot going on that hasn’t involved shopping. Which is kind of crazy. Because I love shopping! And all things Christmas related!
I love making things too. Preferably of the edible variety (no, not that kind of edible). So, if we combine my love for DIY-ed gifts and my uncanny ability to procrastinate with my need to give people thoughtful and useful gifts we end up with this: homemade vanilla extract! A handle of bourbon, a handful of vanilla beans, a little time, and some cute apothecary bottles are all that’s needed to create a delightful, useful, and thoughtful Christmas gift!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
1 liter favorite affordable bourbon/whiskey – I have used both Jack Daniels and Henry McKenna to rousing success
~ 60 vanilla bean pods (I buy them in bulk off Amazon, they're rather affordable that way.)
Remove about ½ cup of the bourbon from the bottle (maybe make a cocktail?). Slice 48 of the pods lengthwise and place in bottle. Close bottle tightly and shake well.
Store bottle in a dark, cool place for at least three months (a little bit under or a lot bit over is ok, I’ve aged bottles up to six months!), shaking once a week.
When ready to bottle for gifts, split remaining vanilla beans and place in individual apothecary bottles (also bought on Amazon). Pour extract into a large measuring cup and use a small funnel to fill bottles with extract before sealing and labeling.
Give with love!