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Posts Tagged ‘vanilla’

Update

It’s been a busy couple months and I haven’t really been blogging much so here’s a quick update. First of all, we’ve all been sick. I had a sick kid or was sick myself for literally over a month straight. We took Evelyn in a little over a week ago after having a fever of 104.5 (and that was under her arm) and got her on antibiotics for an ear infection and I think we’re all pretty healthy now. Unfortunately, while we were at the doctor and getting antibiotics for said ear infection the doctor got very concerned about how under weight Evelyn was and wanted me to take her to a gastroenterologist.

So I got really concerned and the doctor recommended I see a private one since the government run ones didn’t have an opening until June. But the private one didn’t take our insurance, which meant a lot of money from us, so I put it off and asked if I could try weaning her first since she’s extremely stubborn and won’t eat solid food unless I don’t nurse her. She said that would be alright but she HAD to gain weight in the next five days before our follow up appointment.

We went from 6 or so times nursing (she had been sick and nurses more when she’s sick) to 3 times nursing in a day over about 3 days (it was a little painful), and her solid food intake skyrocketed. Long story short, she still nurses morning, nap time and night, but she gained 350 grams (about three quarters of a pound) over that five days. She’s still under the weight curves, and the doctor still wants me to take her to a gastroenterologist, but I think I’m going to wait and see how she does. She’s been a lot less clingy since antibiotics and weaning and I think she’s doing alright for now. So that was a stressful week or so.

Ivan went to Seattle for a conference the end of March and had a blast. SAGE, a computer program for math being created by the University of Washington had a conference to get as many of the people that work on it together as they could. They have people from all over the world working on the project so they flew everyone that could come in to Washington and Ivan got to go. He had a lot of fun and even got an iPod Touch so that he could work on an iPhone app.

In miscellaneous news we started another batch of vanilla. It’s sitting in the pantry and should be about ready to use by now, but we haven’t tried it yet. We made strudel and are hoping it gets warm enough to do pickles soon. We had a low key pi day celebration with a square pie because I don’t have a round pie pan here. I’m pretty sure that’s blasphemous in some way, but it was the best I could do. We went and saw Budapest’s favorite church last week. Matyas Templom was pretty but we still like Szent Istvan’s Baszilika better. We’re hoping to go see the synagogue in the next several days. It’s the second biggest in the world.

The kids are doing well. Avery thinks she needs to get up with the sun every morning and usually comes into our room by 7:00 wanting to play or talk or cuddle. I usually send her back to bed if I can because she’s cranky cranky when she gets up that early. Evelyn is sleeping pretty well through the night. She goes to bed at 8:30 or so and gets up around 4:30 or 5:00 to eat. We’ve moved her back into our room, which is kind of nice. It was a pain having her in the living room.

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We started our vanilla on Tuesday. It’s actually really easy to get going. There’s tutorials on the internet all over the place with pictures and proportions and everything. I looked a bunch of them and then kind of just mixed them together. Ivan bought me a vanilla bean in Hungary and brought it home for a coming home present to me. We wanted two beans, though, to make four ounces of vanilla so we had to find another one. We went to Central Market and they had several to choose from. Apparently Bourbon or Tahitian vanilla beans are the best to use. The cheapest we found was two beans for $7.50 or so, but looking online you can order them for a little over a dollar a bean. If I do this again I’m totally going to order my beans online.

The vodka I’ve already written about. That was a fun experience. Did you know you can spend over $100 for a liter and a half of russian vodka? It comes in a really tall, really cool bottle though. We bought the cheap kind and got 750 ml. We wanted a smaller bottle, but could only find the little individual drink bottles until we were on our way out and had already bought our bottle when we found the quick to-go shelf with a 450 ml or so bottle for cheaper. Oh well.

That night we put it all together. You slit the beans the long way and then cut them so they’re short enough to fit in the bottle and put them in a bottle with the pre-measured vodka in it. Then you let it sit for 4-8 weeks or so. They say ideally you let it sit for 6 months, but you can use it after 4 weeks or so. You shake it every day the first week and then every so often after that. It gets darker and stronger with time. The best part is that it’s reusable. When the bottle is half empty you just pour more vodka in and you’ve got more. I took this picture today, so it’s 4 days old. It’s already way darker.

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I found a blog post a couple months ago explaining how to make vanilla extract and got really excited about it. With everything that’s going on it’s taken me a couple months to get around to actually making the vanilla, but part of the problem was that vanilla uses vodka. My county is a (semi)dry county. This means they sell beer and wine, but not hard liquor. Anywhere in the county. We looked at grocery stores and liquor stores and asked the info desk at the grocery store where we were told to try going to the next county over. So we did.

So, being mormon, I’ve never been in a liquor store before. It was an interesting experience. I have never seen so many pretty bottles in my life. We both wanted to go, so we ended up taking the girls with us and my brother perked up when he heard we were going to a liquor store so we took him along too (we’re a little worried about him… j/k). We were quite a sight I’m sure walking into that store – Me, Ivan, my 19 year old brother and a toddler and an infant. They were very polite and helpful there, though and we eventually decided on a cheap plastic (sorry Nelson) travel bottle of vodka. So far it seems to be serving it’s purpose.

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