E-Gad! Two months to Christmas and I’m out of vanilla extract!

And what does this have to do with writing?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

But holy crap! I looked at the calendar and it dawned on me, Christmas is 2 months away – to the day.  That means only one thing:  restock the spice cabinet!

I found out I needed, among many things, whole cloves, baking powder, and vanilla extract.  But it can’t be any vanilla extract.  It has to be homemade.  So…  time to get in the attic and bring down my mason jars and make a store run for rum and vanilla beans.  Yum, heaven.

So, how do you make homemade vanilla extract? Oh my gosh, it’s so easy, and I swear  you’ll never go back to store-bought again, but you’ve got to get started now (within the next 3 – 4 days at the latest).

You’re going to need:

a jar with a tight-fitting lid
3 vanilla beans
about a cup of rum (I prefer Appleton Jamaican Rum over Bacardi or Meyers). Taste it and you’ll understand why.

First, sterilize your jar and lid by pouring boiling water over them and then letting them soak in the scalding bath for about 10 minutes.

Next, with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or paring knife, cut your vanilla beans in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.


Place the three beans in your sterilized glass jar with tight-fitting lid and cover with rum.

Seal it up good and tight and store in a dark cupboard for two months.  Once a week, give it a good shake and return it to it’s dark hiding spot.  Come December 24, you’ll have the best vanilla extract to ever cross your tongue.

Look at that great color!  And, the great thing is, it never runs out as long as you keep adding the rum.

I hope you try this recipe.  I know you will love it.  Enjoy!!!

I have a novel to publish, short stories to edit, and a new novel to write in 30 days. I’m swamped.

Remember this fantastic scene from the Princess Bride?

Swap the words for the title of this post and that’s me facing down NaNoWriMo which starts a week from today. Am I nuts?

Unlike Prince Humperdink, I am not a planner. I don’t outline, I don’t figure out my characters or what they’re doing. I just write. Now, I do have a plan in my head. I know where I want to start and how I want to end but that’s it. I guess you could say my writing style reflects my everyday look at life.

I don’t plan. In fact, I hate to plan because nothing ever goes right when I plan. The best vacations I’ve ever had were the ones where no plans were made except to say “We’re going on vacation to [fill in the blank]”. Once we got to wherever we were going, my family and I did whatever caught our interest. We’ve never had an itinerary to uphold.

One of our best vacations was the one we took two years ago to Key West over Labor Day weekend. It was literally a spur of the moment trip, completely unplanned. I told the boys we were going to the Keys the next day (you should have seen their faces! priceless!) and to go to bed early. I got online and made reservations for us and the pooches (they love traveling, too) at a fabulous Sheraton Hotel on Key West beach (at an AWESOME rate that I couldn’t even believe myself] and off we went. I even took 1 extra vacation day from work so we would have 4 fab days in the Florida Keys. I got to live out two of my dreams: to see Hemmingway’s house and stand at the southern most tip of the United States. Kewl!

Hopefully, NaNoWriMo will offer the same opportunity to fulfill one of my dreams: to write and finish the second installment in my 3-part saga. I have butterflies in my tummy, my nerves are starting to twitch, and my brain is gearing up to face the unknown. The trip is going to be a fantastic one and I’m going to learn a lot, especially about myself. Can I stay focused? Can I make and accomplish goals? I believe I can. What I am sure of as a writer, is if I can get through and succeed at NaNo, I can succeed at anything. Today – Little Town, Florida. Tomorrow, New York! Look out world! I’m coming for you!!!

(gotta love the ‘I am awesome’ message!)