Homemade Vanilla

I decided to make homemade vanilla this year after reading this post by Heather Bullard. We had some extra bottles of vodka anyway because post-baby we don’t really drink much, so I decided to turn them into vanilla for Christmas gifts.

It really could not have been easier so far. I just bought some vanilla beans, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, and added them to the vodka bottles. Every once in awhile I give the bottles a little shake. That’s it!

In November before the Christmas rush I will filter out the vanilla beans and pour the vanilla extract into individual bottles and label them for gifting. I can’t wait to try my own homemade vanilla!


Blendtec Creamy Potato-Leek Soup


My husband made this soup tonight for dinner and it was absolutely delicious!

Speaking of the Blendtec…we recently tested out our warranty when the Blendtec started making a terrible grinding noise.  We determined that it was the fault of the jar, and Blendtec sent us a new Four Side Jar at no charge.  It was so easy since their website is set up to make warranty claims easy.  I love this blender, and I love this company!

Great Moments in Tupperware

Oh how I adore vintage Tupperware.  I realized recently when looking through an Ebay search on “Vintage Tupperware” just how much of this stuff we had in our kitchen when I was a kid, so I thought I’d do a couple posts on my favorite pieces of Tupperware.  I’ll start with the things I still have and use today.

The Tupperware Shelf Saver, #1243.  Most of these that you find on Ebay are yellow like the ones above, but there are a few in other colors.

First up is the Shelf Saver, item #1243.  These containers seem to fit perfectly in kitchen cabinets, are stackable, and the rectangular shape means they waste less space than round containers.  I use these for salt, baking soda, cocoa, brown sugar, and powdered sugar, and I have yet to find anything for these items that works as well as the Shelf Saver.  I had a few leftover from the old homestead where I grew up, and recently bought a couple more off of Ebay.

The Tupperware Serving Center, #1665.  Great for potlucks.

Next up is the Serving Center, item #1665.  I come from a big family, and most of our holidays are done potluck style.  There is always a vegetable tray and the Serving Center is perfect for cut up vegetables, with a container for dip in the center.  You could also use this for cut up cheese, chips, etc.

Next up:  Tupperware for children!  I loved my Tupperware when I was a kid.

Easy and Delicious Homemade Bread

I recently stumbled upon this recipe for homemade bread, with no kneading required.  This version is also a no-knead bread but can be made in a single day.

I use my le Creuset 5.5 qt cast iron dutch oven to bake the bread in, and it comes out perfect.

So simple, and yet finding these recipes has allowed us to make delicious homemade bread, soft on the inside but with a hard crust, in no time.

Summer Road Trip: Seattle to Lake Chelan

Boats docked at Campbell’s Resort

I’ve been coming to Lake Chelan for summer vacations since I was little.  My brothers and I would swim in the pools at Campbell’s all day long and on the last day of vacation we would go to Slidewaters, where I would dream that someday, I would be a lifeguard– a teenager– with a blue swimsuit, a golden tan, and the power to wave people onto the slides when their turn came.  At the end of the day we were each allowed to get a Slidewaters t-shirt, then we piled into the car and slept for hours while my dad drove us home.

I still love this trip and I try to go every year.

Last year, on our way to Lake Chelan, my husband and I made a pit-stop in the town of Cashmere and serendipitously discovered the barbeque of the Gods, Country Boys BBQ.  Thus a new tradition was born.


We stopped there again this year for dinner Friday night on our way into town.  We also picked up a pound of brisket, which we had as a main course for brunch (for which we used our picnic basket) on our patio at the hotel on Saturday and Sunday.

Campbell’s Resort

We stayed at Campbell’s Inn*, which for me, IS Lake Chelan.  I’ve stayed other places, and although this place has its faults, it’s my favorite resort in Washington State.  Everywhere here, there are happy families enjoying the fleeting northwest summer together.  It is right on the lake, and yet also in the middle of town.  There is a Safeway and a Starbucks right across the street, as well as a variety store that has been there forever.  It also has a restaurant, and after sampling a few other places in town, this is still my favorite place to have dinner in Lake Chelan.

We spent Saturday floating on inner tubes on the lake, and had dinner at the Pub and Veranda at Campbells, where we got these parmesan truffle fries.


On Sunday we did a little wine tasting.  Lake Chelan does not have the best wines in Washington State- for that, you have to go to Walla Walla.  But it does have some great wineries with some stunning views.  The first winery we went to was Benson, where we got a case of Pinot Noir.

The view from the tasting room at Benson

Next we went to Nefarious Cellars.

The view from the deck at Nefarious Cellars

The last thing we did that day?  Slidewaters**, of course!

On our way out of town we made sure to stop at a roadside stand to get fresh cherries, peaches, corn, and zucchini, so we will still be enjoying the fruits of our vacation all week.

*Here are some tips on making reservations at Campbells.  The best rooms are the ground floor rooms, where you can easily go in an out of your room from the resort.  This is especially nice if you are traveling with kids.  Rooms fill up fast, so it’s best to make your reservations by at least December, and if you reserve your room for the following year when you check out, they will give you your same room for the same weekend again.  All this being said, last year we decided to go to Lake Chelan at the last minute, and were able to book a room for the weekend just 4 or 5 days ahead due to cancellations.  I also think Lake Chelan is slightly nicer outside of the peak season that is roughly 4th of July to Labor Day.  In June and September it is still warm, but the crowds are thinner and it’s not quite as hot.

**One of the things I love about Slidewaters is that they still have many of the original slides, including the Thunder Rapids tube ride (which will always be the “River Ride” to me) and the four original slides with their original names- the Blue Blaster, the Sidewinder, the Corkscrew, and the Bonzai Pipeline.  Even many of the signs are what I remember from when I was a kid.

Bringing a Little of Your Vacation Home with You, Part II


One thing you can do to try to recreate food and drinks that you had on vacation is to search online for specific names of foods, drinks, and/or restaurants.  If the restaurant will let you photograph the menu (or take it home), you can use this to search online for those things you’d like to recreate and, if you’re lucky, you might find a recipe.  Some restaurants might even have recipes or cookbooks of their recipes that you can buy.

When my husband and I were on Maui we went to Mama’s Fish House.  This restaurant is right on the beach, and it is my favorite restaurant in Hawaii.  The menu includes all of the best foods (especially seafood) from the island, and the restaurant has a long history that you can feel.

The first thing we did there was order drinks, and I ordered “The Relaxer”.  I feel relaxed just saying that.  It’s a mix of pineapple, coconut, chocolate, and vodka.  When I got home I wanted to be able to relive that feeling of being at Mama’s, so I did some searching online and found the recipe on the blog, “Lick My Spoon”, which I reprinted below.  I made this drink for a summer party and it was a big hit.

On the same trip we also stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Kapulua, which was incredibly decadent.  We were on our honeymoon so staying there was definitely a splurge for us.  We whiled away our days by the pool enjoying their fabulous drinks.  Below are photos of their drinks list.  My favorite was the Makai Fresca, which I hope to recreate at home sometime soon.

ritz ritz2

The Relaxer:

Ingredients (makes one drink)

1 oz. Bols Dark Crème de Cacao
1 oz. Coco Lopez Crème de Coconut
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. milk
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut up and frozen (or you can substitute with 1/4 cup pineapple juice + 1/2 cup ice)


1. Pour half of the Bols Dark Creme de Cacao into the bottom of a tall glass.
2. Blend together everything else and pour over the Dark Creme de Cacao so that it swirls up the side of glass.
3. Top with a little umbrella toothpick and try not to drink too fast because you’re going to want to.