Monthly Archives: July 2013

Homemade Vanilla :)

When we first moved back from Hawaii my MIL gave me some homemade vanilla, which was amazing.  I finally made pancakes with them that my hubby actually liked with it.  When I ran out I tried all sorts of things to get that taste: imitation vanilla, putting in an insane amount of the imitation stuff, and buying store brand real vanilla.  But nothing worked, I couldn’t get that pure vanilla taste that my husband liked so much in his pancakes.  So I decided to make my own.  It’s actually very easy to do, and healthier (the imitation vanilla is full of bad stuff surprise surprise!), and one blog I read even tried to claim it’s cheaper.  I’m not sure I’m believing that last one since imitation vanilla is soooo cheap, but since I didn’t keep track of my expenses this time around I still don’t know for sure.

All you need are vanilla beans, an empty bottle and vodka. I had never been in a  liquor store before and I made sure the guy helping me knew I was making vanilla out of all this vodka I was buying, not drinking it! Not that he cared one bit, it just made me feel better telling him that. 😉


Slice each vanilla bean almost to the top so it is split open:

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Put the beans in your empty bottle and add vodka. I made 1 quart of vanilla, so I needed 20 vanilla beans and a quart of vanilla.



Now you just let it sit for a long time in a cool dark place until it’s ready. You should shake it about once a week to stir up the beans.  I got a lot of different times on how long to let it sit, anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months!  Mine sat about 5 1/2 months.

When you think it’s done you need to strain it.  A lot of places I read said to strain it into a coffee filter so you don’t get all the seeds, but I didn’t have one and most of my seeds stayed at the bottom of the bottle anyway.


Then I poured the strained vanilla into a new bottle, I didn’t have a funnel so I

made one out of the vodka bottle. 😉


And that’s all it takes ladies (and I guess any gentlemen that read this blog?)


I put all the beans and the vodka I had left over from the first batch into the same bottle with all the seeds to sit another 6 months. I guess you can use the beans twice, so maybe it is cheaper than the imitation stuff?

And finally a picture of the pancakes I made that morning with the ‘real vanilla’.  I’d have to say, I’m kind of disappointed as they did not taste the same way as the first ones 2 1/2 years ago did.  There are several kinds of vanilla beans, so maybe I didn’t get the same kind.  Or maybe I didn’t let it sit long enough and isn’t very strong vanilla. I also wasn’t very good at remembering to shake the bottle, so maybe that was it? The very interesting thing is that the pancakes turned out very fluffy, which they hadn’t been all these years I’ve made them with the imitation vanilla.  Does vodka make pancakes fluffy? 🙂


Saying good bye, Denver, and going home

After not enough days we said our goodbyes at the reunion.  Next time I think we need more days to sit around a talk. (I’m sure my introverted hubby wouldn’t agree with me though).

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Our little cabin, and saying goodbye to Kala. We are both pregnant here: Kala is about 8 weeks I think she said, and I was about 18. 😉

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Pictures from my A. Mimi:

the beard picture:


The whole group:


After we said good bye we left James with my mom and took my two little brothers, Levi and Lincoln, to Denver with us to look for houses.  It was a very frustrating time in Denver.  Apparently the housing market is booming there and stuff is renting or selling extremely fast. I had spent quite a bit of time looking on the internet and making calls before we left, and while we where there I spent hours. Out of the all the e-mails I sent, and phone messages I left only two people called back.  But they were very helpful in the info they gave me.  I found out that we wouldn’t even qualify for the houses we were interested in until Titus has his part-time job.  All in all it was a complete waste of time and money.  We left Denver deciding A. to just live in the hotel we were staying at or B.  get temporary housing and find a permanent house after we move there.  I like option A. 🙂 We have stayed at that hotel twice now and we know the area and how to get to a few places already. ha ha.  With option B, I really really didn’t want to move twice.  Especially since a new baby is coming in December.   But it seems that it’s the best way to go, and most people moving there seem to do it that way.  I took a little time off since being home before looking again.  I thought temp housing would be cheaper, but of course it wouldn’t be.  They are all furnished too, so that means we are going to have to put all our stuff in storage now.  Lovely.  This is by far the most difficult move we have ever done.

Lincoln liked this restaurant we ate at in the Cherry Creek mall because they made smiley faces with the ketchup.


                      Believe it or not the morning we left to drive home Lincoln came down with the flu.  Up to this point this had been the very best trip we had ever gone on concerning our kids and sleep and over all holding up well.   So for the first 10 hours of the trip I A. nursed Gideon what seemed like constantly and B tried to find some kind of happy place while Lincoln threw up in a to go mug behind me. I have a weak stomach anyway but while pregnant it’s even worse!  We stopped at Cabella’s in Omaha to let everyone out for a bit.
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They had a little gun range there that all the boys liked.  Sadly it was not working so no one got to play.


It was a nice break!  By this time I was really tired of riding in the back.  Lincoln being sick and taking care of Gideon had just worn me out. So I told Titus I was ready to drive. After we switched Lincoln made a miraculous recovery, and even felt good enough to play with Gideon a bit. So Titus just sat back there doing nothing while I was stuck in the front trying to endure Levi’s non stop chatter about Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. After telling me about some guy that stabs some dude and then licks the blood off the knife I got sick again. Yes I’m serious.  By Worthington my stomach was hurting too and before I went to bed for the night both Titus and I had the flu.  Not the greatest conclusion to our trip, but it was a really really short flu so it really wasn’t that bad to get through.

It was so great to see James again. Below are the pictures of Titus showing James his presents since he didn’t get to go to Denver with us.These are some kind of mechanical bugs. I’m not terribly fond of them, but the boys thought they were great!

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Titus also bought James a big spiral train track set for his train table.  It’s really nice. I over heard Titus say to James, “You are a lucky little boy. I never had something like this. I had to wait until I was 27 before I had one!”  Ha ha ha

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And in conclusion, this is what happens when you get back from a long trip, and both parents get the flu.  Titus did his wonderful complete unpacking of the van, he does such a great job getting every last thing. Unfortunately he also did his normal dump-everything-right-inside-the-front-door-so-no-one-can-get-in-or-out specialty too. 🙂


That ‘oops parenting’ moment

Being a parent is hard.  Just plan and simple.  Every day you have to make choices that not only affect you, but the lives of your children as well.  There are tons of parenting books out there these days, couple that with the amazing internet and any parent is doomed to fail in today’s age.  There also seems to be a rather ‘free to parent other people’s kids’ attitude out there as well, particularly among the child-free population.  Just recently I had someone (who has no children of her own mind you) shout over my head to one of my children to not do something. Do you really not see me here??? That is my child and I’ll tell him no, thank you very much. 


Which brings me to today.  I probably should have said no this time around.  Painting toe nails is strictly a girl thing in this country.  A few months ago I painted my nails outside and didn’t have any problems with James wanting to do it too.  Not this time.Oops!  Boy was he interested!!  I had just told him he couldn’t climb to the top of the van roof and clean it. Maybe I should have let him do that so I could paint my nails, but what ever.  So he came wandering over to see what I was up to.  As soon as I dumped the bag of polish on the outside steps and James said, “Oooo!” I knew I was in trouble. Oops! Maybe I should have packed it all up then and waited until later (like after he was asleep), but I can be stubborn and I really wanted to do it now.  James didn’t let up either, “James do it?” “This one?” “Pink?”  So I gave him a color I thought wouldn’t show up and let him paint his toe nails.  Oops!  Well one color led to another and lets just say, all 10 toes were a rainbow by the end.  You’d think I’d have learned my lesson 20 years ago when I got in huge trouble painting my little brother’s toe nails bright pink on Saturday night.  But noooooo, I guess not. Oops!


But you know what? It was a great, fun time with James.  He kept me laughing at his cute little words.  I even heard him say something new today, “Just a minute!” when I told him it was time to be done.  I didn’t know he could say that!  We went and stood in the pool for a bit kinda hoping it would wash off, but it didn’t.  I was trying to brainstorm how I was going to get all that off before tomorrow, which happens to be a Sunday. Another oops! What is with me and painting little boy’s toe nails on summer Saturdays when they wear sandals everywhere???  I decided the only way to get his off was to take mine off too.  So I told him we were going to clean our feet next.  He also had a GREAT time with this!  Apparently putting nail polish remover on paper towels is great fun to a 2-year-old.  I was able to scrub his feet while he was busy with the remover.  And I only had to take off the polish on one of my toes!


Will I do it again? Probably not.  And I now doomed myself to painting my nails in dark closets until he’s too old to want to anymore (what age is that at? 10???).  But do I regret it? Absolutely not!  He had so much fun, and I had fun watching him.  It even turned educational because we practiced colors. 😀  If I had said no we both would have missed out. Maybe next time we’ll use some kind of wash off paint.  Now if you will excuse me, I have to go scrub a small spot on the upstairs carpet that seems to some how gotten purple polish on it. We are after all trying to sell this house. Oops!


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Boys and mud.

During the church service James and Gideon played with their second cousin, Wade, in the mud.

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We got smart after a bit and took off any clothes that had white on them.

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Then one little boy got sprayed with muddy water by a ball.


Daddy tried to comfort him, but he just needed Mommy this time.

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Wade, my cousin’s cute little boy! He’s just a few months older than Gideon.

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James and his truck went mudding!

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A picture of me.  I’m always taking the pictures and am never in them anymore. Life story of a mom!


Boys and boats

There were boats at the camp we stayed at for the reunion.   My brothers loved the time on the water, and naturally James did too.  They were sweet enough to include James on their excursions.

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While they were boating I took these super cute pictures of Gideon.  I’m just loving the colors and his smile in these!

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Then the boys decided to go rescue a paddle boat that was off by it’s self.  So Grandma had to get involved.

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Family pictures reunion part 2

The point of a family reunion is to take pictures, right? I missed most of them but this is what I got.

Chantal’s family plus Grandpa and Grandma.

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Another try at family pictures:

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The best part of the reunion was seeing my dear cousin Kala and meeting her little family:

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Playing some kind of ball game

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My cousin and his boys:


Country boy. 😉 I told him we will have to get him some new clothes if we are going to fit in in Denver. 😀


Family Reunion on Chantal’s side

We have been in the Black Hills for the last few days enjoying a family reunion on my (Chantal’s) side.  Warning, lots of pictures coming!

At the beginning of the trip! Happy boys eating cereal for breakfast while watching Charlotte’s Web.  Notice the flowers between Titus and I. 🙂  I just couldn’t leave them at home when he had just giving them to me. Now they are sitting on the table in our cabin. 🙂

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A neat storm that we drove through.  It had two fronts that moved through, and it dropped 20 degrees outside!

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A nice break from driving at a gas station in Wall.  We had caught up to Mom, Emma, Levi, and Lincoln at this point and were driving together.  Gideon is excited about the candy bag in his hands.

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Second cousins Wade and Gideon.  If they get together enough they just might be as good of friends as their mommies are.

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Talking and more talking:

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Boys will be, humm, boys. It’s impossible to get a normal picture of them.  My brothers and one of my cousin’s sons.

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But then they started teaching James how to do it. Not cool!


Grandma Norma and A. Mimi


Off to the side of the dinning room there is a big mostly empty space for the kids to run. I’m loving it since I can eat with two hands! The kids are loving it too! Add a few balls and they are happy!

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Grandpa’s 90th birthday party. It was so cute to see him excited about presents!

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My tired men: