After visiting a spice shop, I fell in love with all things vanilla :) I bought vanilla paste for the first time last December. I love using it in recipes for a more intense vanilla flavor. I use it for creme brulee, pudding, homemade ice cream, icing, and so on.
Another item I was tempted to buy was vanilla sugar. It sounded divine but the high price didn't! Instead, I bought a few vanilla beans to make my own at a fraction of the cost.
I've found that one vanilla bean goes a long way. I just open the pod and scrape out the beans and stick all of it (pod and all) in a tupperware container with 2-3 cups of granulated sugar.
Let it sit in the airtight container for 2 weeks and you'll have vanilla sugar! Chase enjoys using it to flavor his coffee. I usually can use the same pods for a second batch. After that, I use the leftover pods in creme brulee - just boil them in the heavy cream and, for added flavor, use your new vanilla sugar as a substitute for regular sugar. I think it would also be fun to make sugar cubes (see this post) using vanilla sugar. Yum!