Friday, February 21, 2014

Easy Homemade Vanilla

A few months ago I made my own vanilla. OH. MY. GOODNESS. This could not be any easier!

Vanilla Beans. Ordering your vanilla beans online makes it easier and cheaper. Trust me. Order them.  I chose Madagascar vanilla beans because they are supposed to have a richer, creamier flavor. Sounds good to me!

Booze. You need booze. You can use vodka or white rum. We happened to have both (don't judge) so used both.   Vodka is said to produce a flavor like the brands you find in the store. With rum, you would get a richer flavor. I can't honestly say that I can tell the difference in my baking. Maybe if I baked something with each type and did a taste test. I'll add that to my someday list. Someday I'll do a vanilla taste test. 

Jars. You need to put the vanilla in something. I just used mason jars because I had them on hand but you could find cute bottles and give them as gifts.  

Ready to go.  

Split the beans down the middle (the long way) so all the good stuff on the inside can easily flavor the liquor.  Use 4 beans per cup of liquor. So....figure out how much liquor you can fit in the jars or bottles. Depending on the size of them, you may need to cut the beans in half so they fit.  Place your beans in the jars and add the liquor.
That's it.  Seriously.  Close the lids and let them sit in a cupboard or pantry for 2 months and you're ready to bake!
You could use your homemade vanilla in these recipes...

Salted Chocolate Drizzled Cookies
Million Dollar Cookies

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies (A Heritage Recipe)
Sour Cream Banana Bread

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ikea and a U-Haul

Whew! It has been a crazy couple of weeks here and we've been having a blast!

Two weekends ago we took a little trip to Atlanta.  We are homeschooling next year (never thought I'd say that) and we went to pick up some furniture. Book shelves, a table...things like that. We also wanted to do some fun things for the kids while we were there.
We stayed at the Marriott in Alpharetta. We surprised Kayla by getting the American Girl package. Totally worth it! It was like a dream vacation for her! Pink comforters, pink towels, robes, milk and cookies sent up for her and her brother....and Kit, her doll. My favorite part was the amazing breakfast buffet.

I really think I could get used to this!

We hit the store and Kit got her ears pierced to match Kayla's. How fun is that?!

Lego Land was next on our list. Noah was so excited!  Rides, a miniature display, car-building/racing station, a short movie, and a play area. Just enough to do it all by the time you're ready to go.
Then....Ikea. I can't even tell you how excited I was to hit Ikea. It was my first time. We ate Swedish Meatballs just like my Grandma used to make. We dropped off our kids at the play area. We shopped.

We were both amazed at the system they have set up. It is beyond efficient! We ended up picking up a couch along with our other items and needed to rent a small U-Haul to bring it home. Still, it was more than worth it for the amazing prices.

Once we got home, we had the Ektorp couch put together in about 45 minutes.

Here's how the living room looks now. I love the new look!

And these throw favorite! They have such a great modern take on the old Scandinavian design.

Two days later we had the first of 2 snow 'storms'. They call them storms here but there was no blizzard. Just a few inches. We had a blast for 3 days!

Now today I'm opening the windows to enjoy our 65 degree weather! What a difference!

Hope you have had the chance to make some memories this week!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Salted Chocolate Drizzled Cookies

Instagram. Love it! (follow me: prairiegirltosouthernbelle) I love the group of friends that forms.  Recently Emily Fruit (IG: emfruit) from Mountain Girls started following I started following her.  She posted a pic of Sea Salted Chocolate Chip-less Cookies.  This looked so good that I pulled out my chocolate chipless recipe.  My husband doesn't like chocolate chips so I make this with him in mind...usually. Today I'm following Emily's lead and salting some chocolate.

Salted Chocolate Drizzled Cookies
(This recipe is 1/2 of a large batch recipe found and adapted from an old church cookbook)

3/4 cups softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 Tbsp vanilla (just over 1 tsp)
2 1/8 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

For salted chocolate cookies add:
melted chocolate for drizzling (one large bar of Hershey's will do...unless you want more. I used 10 Valentine Hershey's hearts because that's what i had)
sea salt for sprinkling

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add beaten egg and vanilla. Mix until combined. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. These don't really crack, so check the bottom for browning.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl set on a pot of water set at a low boil. Drizzle chocolate and add sea salt immediately. Allow to cool and chocolate to set. Or eat them right from the pan, melty chocolate and all if that's your thing. mmmmmm.
sharing at


Where We've Been...

I have been pretty quiet around her for the past few weeks.  We are making some changes in our home and they have had me researching, reading, thinking, and praying praying praying. Everything is good, so don't worry about anything at all. I'll share more about this later.
So I have been soaking up my kiddos,
{These are all Instagram images...follow me! prairiegirltosouthernbelle }
Preparing for our first-ever trip to IKEA (eeeeeep!!!)
Playing with the kiddos more,
and making things for the shop. 
A great reminder. (available here)
And yesterday I took my first class in the Life Scripted class with Kal Barteski, offered by Studio Calico. So fun!.....and harder than it looks! I can't wait to log on and work on the second class!  This class is so perfect for me. In order for script painting to work, you have to let go of perfect. That's hard for me. Anyone else?
And chicks. We have been checking in daily on my brother and sister-in-law's new baby chicks. They set up a webcam for us to watch them! How fun is that?!
So, changes are being made and my days are full.  Expect organizing posts, school posts, easy recipes and fun ways to involve your kidlets. And God willing, I'll start my Project Life project!
Love you all!