The five emotional stages of DIY

You know how there are things that you have to wait to see if you have good results. Will the tulips bloom in the spring after you’ve planted them last year? Will the intensely green, insanely patterned sweater I’m knitting actually fit me? Will the soupy homemade green tea ice cream ever set up in the freezer?

I always start out with great gusto and enthusiasm, thinking about how amazing [insert project of your choice here] will be and counting the seconds until it’s “done.” Waiting for the payoff is so hard, especially when you want to know — was it worth it? 

Enter the homemade vanilla.

Like the siren song of so many other DIY projects, the vanilla promised amazing results on the cheap. It touted its miraculous ability to regenerate a seven-year supply of extract by pouring vodka over some split vanilla beans and letting them rest for a few months. It’s so easy, the bottle whispered. So simple. Anyone can do it — and who wouldn’t want miracle vanilla?

I jumped in.

With this experiment, much like the many projects we’ve started around this house, I went through the Five Emotional Stages of DIY:

Stage 1: Unbridled Enthusiasm. At first, I watched it every day, wondering if it didn’t look a little darker. I swirled the bottle often to help it along. Like a gung-ho novice gardener overwatering his newly-sown seeds and meticulously weeding the flowerbed, I tended that would-be vanilla with great care.  This is going to be amazing! We’ll have vanilla forever!

Stage 2: Boredom. After a while with no results, I started to lose interest. I just wanted to skip to the end and see what it turned out to be. Is this thing working? Does it need more time?

Stage 3: Resentment. Like other WIPs that give me fits, I shoved it away into a cabinet so I wouldn’t have to look at it. Who started this whole myth about vodka and magic beans anyway? Stupid vanilla.

Stage 4: Neglect. And having closeted it in said cabinet, I promptly forgot it was there. For months. I finally found it the other day quite by accident when I was looking for some cupcake liners. Oh yeah… that thing. Huh.

Stage 5: Resignation and/or Acceptance. Now I’m not so in love with the idea of miracle extract. Meh, it is what it is. Let’s crack it open and see what we have.

Happy 1st birthday, Vanilla Project!

Happy 1st birthday, Vanilla Project!


It’s still pretty much just liquor with the merest hint of vanilla. I’m not sure if I’m going to use it to bake cookies, but I might mix it in a cocktail — a fitting end to any DIY project around here.

Anyone else tried to make their own vanilla? I know Ingrid did. And do you go through the Five Emotional Stages of DIY at your house too?


About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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5 Responses to The five emotional stages of DIY

  1. My DIYs also include the What Was I Thinking? stage because I have a tendency to take on projects that require skills or time (or both) that I just don’t have. The last stage is: Selective Amnesia. Because I completely forget my skill/time limits and dive back in. That said, I may have to try your vanilla idea. Neglecting a project for months would fit perfectly in my schedule 🙂

  2. Miriam says:

    This is great- I’ve often wondered if it would be worth the initial expense and trouble to make my own vanilla extract. Now I know 🙂 I actually feel this way about a lot of food “projects”… is it really worth it? I like to cook, but I also have to spend so much time in the kitchen as it is, I don’t really need more reasons to be in there.

  3. I tried making black currant vodka one year. It was drinkable in a cough syrup kind of way… Not the reminder of summer I intended for a Christmas drink!

  4. Oh my goodness! I completely love the five stages — so true! I still need to do homemade vanilla and reading through this, now I’m wavering again, lol. Ah, maybe someday….

  5. Ha! This is hilarious 🙂 I think I get stuck in the resentment stage more often than not. At least I’m not alone in my suffering with DIY projects!

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