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Luv Saving Money – Page 2 – Life on a Budget

Ritter Sport Chocolate Tasting Party #Tryazon

I’ve been a fan of Ritter Sport Chocolate for several years now. The creaminess of the milk chocolate, the unique flavors like marzipan, cornflake, and honey sea salt for example. The quality of the dark chocolate. Man it makes me crave it just typing this out. If you’re not familiar with Ritter Sport chocolates you’re missing out. You can check out all their products on the Ritter Sport website

I had the opportunity to host a Ritter Sport chocolate party thanks to Tryazon. We decided to do it as a laid back chocolate tasting party. We told everyone that could make it just to show up in comfy clothes. We offered coffee, milk, and water to have with the chocolate tastings.

If you’re not familiar with Tryazon you can check out this video here:

Tough I’ve personally had Ritter Sport chocolate a number of times, some of my guests were tasting for the first time. I had never tried the honey sea salt flavor so I was excited about that one.

All in all the party was a success. Most guests had picked a favorite by the end of the tasting. There were comments about the uniqueness of the Marzipan flavor. We talked about how these would be great to stuff in a stocking for the holidays too.

Another thing we liked about Ritter Sport chocolate is their effort to create their chocolate sustainably. You can read more about Ritter Sport sustainability efforts here.

**We received the party pack at no cost from Tryazon to help spread the word about Ritter Sport Chocolate**

Vanilla Extract: Make It, Bake It, Gift It for the Holidays

A few years ago I learned how to make vanilla extract. Then I took a holiday cookie baking class at a local college and the instructor couldn’t say enough about making your own vanilla extract. So I finally decided to try it a few years ago and now I don’t know that I’ll ever buy store bought vanilla extract again.

Benefits to making Your own vanilla extract

There are several benefits to making you own vanilla extra. My personal favorite, having vanilla forever. Once you make your first bottle of vanilla extract you only have to top it off with more alcohol or alcohol alternative to keep it going. You can add another vanilla bean over time if it seems like the flavor is getting weaker.

Making your own vanilla extract means you can also make awesome homemade gifts. Make a large batch of vanilla extract when you start. Get a few resealable bottles. Add a cute ribbon and tag and you got yourself useful and appreciated homemade gifts that are ready to go once brewed.

Another benefit? You control what’s in your vanilla extract. Alcohol or no alcohol. You choose the beans: Madagascar? Tahitian? New Guinea? The choice is yours. Do you love to bake? Make yourself a big ‘ol bottle. Use an empty re-sealable bottle or jar that you already have or get a cute fancy bottle.

How to make vanilla extract without alcohol

There could be a number of reasons someone may not want to make vanilla extract with alcohol. If the person making it is in recovery or maybe someone you’re gift it to is in recovery. Add that extra touch to show you care by making your vanilla extract with food grade vegetable glycerine instead of alcohol.

Alcohol can affect some health conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, and isn’t recommended with certain medications. When in doubt making your extract with food grade vegetable glycerine is a safer choice.

what do you need to make vanilla extract

You actually don’t need a lot.

  • vanilla beans
  • alcohol (such as vodka or white rum) or food grade vegetable glycerine
  • a clean, resealable bottle or jar
  • a small knife such as a pairing knife
  • small funnel
  • patience

Vanilla beans can be expensive depending on what type you choose, name brand, and the grade of the beans. My absolute favorite place….pretty much the only place I’ll get my vanilla beans is Native Vanilla. You don’t have to get the top of the line vanilla beans. In fact, grade B beans are perfect for making vanilla extract. Native Vanilla also offers great sales and discounts periodically throughout the year including bogo deals. You can also find Native Vanilla products on Amazon.

As far as the liquid you’re using. I actually just buy a cheap bottle of vodka to make mine. I keep the bottle then to top off my vanilla extract throughout the year as needed. I pay maybe $12-$13 for a cheap bottle of vodka and that will last me about 2 years of top offs for my vanilla extract. Obviously it will vary depending on how much vanilla extract you use, how many bottles you need to top off, and how big your bottle(s) is. Some people will use other clear alcohols too such as white rum, or gin. You can try it different ways and see which way you like it. I personally prefer vodka because it really doesn’t have a flavor. I did make one bottle with white rum but it does give it a different flavor.

I’ve also tried a number of different bottles and jars to see what I like better. I made a big batch the first time I made it to give out some as gifts. I used mason jars but I didn’t care for that as much as I’d have to dip my measuring spoon and if I tried to pour it didn’t always give me a controlled pour. I bought these amber glass bottles on Amazon and are my favorite for extract making. The come in different size to from 4 oz to 32 oz.

How to make vanilla extract

Once you have your items gathered from the above list you can start making your extract.

Step 1: Carefully slice your vanilla beans down the middle to open them up. I also like to trim the tips off of the vanilla beans too.

Step 2: Pour or funnel your alcohol or vegetable glycerine into you bottle.

Step 3: Add your vanilla beans to the liquid in the jar. I like to add 4-5 vanilla beans per 16 oz jar. You may need more for a larger jar/bottle.

Step 4: Seal your jar and store it in a dark place. I keep mine in my spice cupboard. I also find it helpful to add a sticker to the jar to let me know when i started the extract.

Step 5: Patience. This is where that part comes in. It takes about 6 months for the vanilla beans to infuse with the liquid until you have vanilla extract.

6 months? can I make it faster?

The answer is yes. One way to do this is to “brew” vanilla extract in an Instant Pot. Using this method the vanilla extract can be ready in two months. I’ll be honest. I tried this method and after two months my vanilla extract just wasn’t strong enough for me. I ended up letting it sit in my cupboard for an additional 2 months until I was happy with it. So this method did shave 2 months off. There are plenty of how-to’s for Instant Pot vanilla extract on Pinterest.

Other options for gifting

Native Vanilla vanilla extract making kit includes most the items needed to make vanilla extract. It includes the bottle, directions, and vanilla beans and comes in a giftable wooden box. I’ve actually bought this kit a few times to give as a gift. It’s different, it’s useful, and easy. The recipients I’ve given them too loved it. When I’ve gifted it I’ve also bought a bottle of cheap vodka or vegetable glycerine to gift with it.

Native Vanilla also has recipes on their site and information about vanilla.

Have you tried making your own vanilla extract? Do you think you would give it a try?

**This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links. This post is NOT sponsored.**

Halloween Decorations Caused 790 Fires From 2015-2019 Data Shows

Halloween is a fun time of year. Candy, decorations, costumes, parties, and a break from the summer heat. October brings cozy fireplaces, outdoor firepits, patio heaters, lighting fall scented candles, and glowing jack-o-lanterns.

But according to data collected by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) Halloween decorations caused 790 home fires from 2015-2019. 45% of those fires were caused due to proximity to heat sources with candles causing 1/3 of the fires. All told it it was $13M in property damages.

ServiceMaster Restore has some helpful ideas to make your Halloween and your home, a safe one.

Decoration Safety:

  1. Prevent fire hazards during Halloween by exclusively using battery-operated candles or LED lights for jack-o-lanterns and decorations, minimizing the risk associated with traditional candles.
  2. Prevent fires by keeping flammable materials away from fire sources like fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, candles, and outdoor fire pits.
  3. Make sure inflatable decorations are secured properly and kept away from sources of ignition. 
  4. Natural decorations like dried corn stalks, hay bales, dried leaves, and crepe paper can easily catch fire. Keep these items away from flames, light bulbs, and other heat sources.

Yard Maintenance
To ensure the safety of trick-or-treaters: 

  1. Remove Debris: Clear yards of leaves, sticks, and other debris to minimize tripping hazards for visitors.
  2. Check Exterior Lighting: Ensure all exterior lights, including path lights and Halloween decorations, are in working order to provide a well-lit and safe environment.
  3. Secure Steps and Railings: Verify that steps and railings are secure to prevent accidents and fall during the Halloween festivities.

Children’s Costumes
  1. Be mindful when choosing children’s costumes of flammable pieces that may drag, flow into, or accidently bump into light jack-o-lanterns, outdoor heaters, and other flame/heat sources that those handing out treats may have along their path or porch.
  2. Ensure masks allow for proper vision to reduce falls or pumping into heat or flame sources.
  3. Read labels. Some of the glitter hair sprays, craft sprays that may be used on decorations or costumes, and wigs can be highly flammable.
Check your fire safety

Be prepared for fires anytime of year. October is a good month to checklist fire safety in your home. Checking in October helps ensure a safer holiday season.

  1. Check any fire extinguishers you may have. Make sure they’re not expired and in working order. Replace if needed
  2. Test smoke alarms in your home. Replace batteries if needed.
  3. Fire extinguisher can be difficult for children to use. Consider keeping some fire suppressant blankets readily available in your home. They never expire and are easy to use.
  4. Review emergency plans with your family. Make sure all members can dial 911 in an emergency. Discuss a meeting places should disaster strike.
  5. Consider a fire box for important papers and maybe a small cash stash. We keep our social security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificate, and other important papers in ours.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!

**This post does contain some affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links**

Oct 1 is International Coffee Day – Here’s some idea to try

I LOVE coffee. Can’t make it through a day without coffee. I usually have to have a hot cup of coffee as soon as I make it to my kitchen. I also enjoy trying coffee in different ways: hot, cold, latte, different ways to brew, coffee recipes, etc.

Vietnamese Egg Coffee

I enjoy watching short recipe video when done right. A few years ago I came across a video for Vietnamese egg coffee. I did a quick search for a recipe and gave it a try. It wa pretty good. I had to tweak and make my own recipe because I didn’t have all the ingredients. So check out my throwback post to when I made Vietnamese egg coffee and the recipe I tried.

Javy coffee concentrate

If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably seen the ads for Javy. Javy is a coffee concentrate that comes in several different flavors. They offer recipes to make hot, cold, latte, and other coffee treats with their product.

I signed up because it was summer and the iced coffee recipes sounded really good. Also because they gave me a great deal for new sign ups. I got a bunch of flavors to try.

They tasted good. They mixed well. Definitely good for a variety of coffee recipes. My issues is, after the introductory price I felt it was a bit high for the amount that I received. I was also supposed to get the Oleato style coffee flavor when I got the deal with additional flavors. I never received it and it was replaced with a double of another flavor I received. There was no explanation as to why I didn’t receive it. While the flavors I received were good I would have have like to get an email saying “sorry we’re out of the oleato style but we sent you a double instead” There was also a shipping delay in one of my orders but it didn’t really matter because I still had a bunch of the other order left.

Why did I stop my subscription? I just couldn’t justify the price after my 2nd shipment. I still had tons left after each order because I’d only drink it a couple times a week. And ultimately in the 2 order I received there was some issue with my order each time.

I’m also not a fan of subscriptions in general. If you want to try Javy without the subscription you can find Javy coffee concentrate on Amazon.

Mushroom Coffee

This one I was really leary about. See, the thing is, I don’t like mushrooms. Like at all. I don’t like the taste, I don’t like the texture, I don’t like the smell. The only thing I like is the nutritional and health benefits being touted right now with certain mushroom like Lion’s mane and Chaga.

I kept looking at different brand of mushroom coffee. It seemed kind of expensive. I was hesitant to try it because I didn’t want to end up with a bag of mushroom coffee I was never gonna drink.

Reading the reviews were confusing too. Some people swore it didn’t taste like mushrooms while other said it does a little bit. After checking out different brands I finally settled on one to try.

I bit the bullet and tried Everyday Dose mushroom coffee. It contains both Lion’s Mane and Chaga mushrooms. It also includes a coffee extract which I hoped would help with the mushroom flavor for me. Bonus for me is that it also includes collagen proteins which I typically add to my coffee anyway. It also contains amino acids which will be great for my workouts.

I got a nice little introduction package that included my coffee but also a measuring spoon, frother, recipe ideas, and a free 6 month subscription to the breathwork app Othership. Honestly I haven’t tried it yet but I think it will be a great addition to my meditation practice.

They also send helpful video for how to make your coffee. The youtube video they shared to make iced coffee was so helpful and actually worked. I got such a frothy creamy cup of coffee. I’m so happy.

So I’m sure you want to know, did I like it being a mushroom hater. The answer is yes, yes I really do. I honestly think it tastes a lot like regular coffee. I think choosing the one with coffee extract was a good choice for me. I found out that my next box includes free gifts of a mushroom glass, matcha mushroom sample, and a poster. I love the little perks. I feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck.

Again if you don’t want to deal with subscriptions you can find Everyday Dose mushroom coffee on Amazon sans the bonus items.

If you don’t want to have to worry about subscription plans you can also check out Grateful Earth coffee. It still contains Lion’s Mane and Chaga but also includes turmeric, cinnamon, and coconut creamer in their Super Brain Coffee.

You can save 10% off at Grateful Earth Coffee with code AUTUMN10 until 10/31/23


Small Coffee Companies

I like to try new coffees. Especially when it’s a small business based in the US. Last year I was lucky enough to win a free bag of coffee from Nectar of Life on instagram. I chose their French Roast coffee and it was really good.

They’re a small coffee company based out of Oregon. Check them out or at least give them a follow on instagram if you have a chance.

Have you tried any of these coffee options? How do you like to drink your coffee?

Do you make sure you get your coffee on International Coffee Day? Have you tried your coffee a different way? What did you think?

**This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links. Any opinions expressed are my own. I have personally tried all these options**

I Tried EyeBuyDirect For My Glasses

I’m a 40 something woman and for the past 3-4 years I’ve noticed my eye site just wasn’t what it was. I had amazing eye site. I was told better than 20/20 in my younger years. My parents started needing glasses in their 40s so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. About 3 years ago I had my first eye doctor appointment I’ve had in a long time. Motivated by the fact that I found myself having more trouble reading my books or kindle at night and doing that “moving it closer to my face then away from my face” more frequently.

After that first visit in a long time I got a pair of reading glasses with a mild prescription. I typically only used them at night to read. I also got the blue light blocker so I started using it more when working on my blog, entering sweepstakes, or scrolling on my phone.

This past year my eyes seemed worse. I found myself needing my reading glasses more and not being able to see signs far down the road like I used to. So I went back last week for my appointment. Ironically I had my appointment on September 22 and found our National Eye Health Week was September 18 – 24, 2023. I did get a slightly stronger reading glasses prescription. My insurance covered most of it. I think my glasses at the eye doctor were $400+ before insurance. After insurance I paid around $63.

Just prior to my appointment however I interacted with EyeBuyDirect on X (formerly Twitter) They sent me a code to get free frames, lenses, and free shipping to try them out. I was happy since my prescription changed and I wanted a 2nd pair for travel, this was perfect. With my new prescription in hand I browsed the EyeBuyDirect site for what seemed like an hour. There were so many styles and colors to choose from!

I especially loved the virtual try on feature. It helped me a lot with figuring out which frames would look right on my face and which colors. Even with the frames, lenses, and bluelight blocker added BEFORE my coupon, my glasses only came ot $78.45. Of course after my coupon they were completely free. But it made me realize I had options for glasses. If I needed another pair before my insurance was ready to pay again it would affordable to just buy them outright from EyeBuyDirect.

EyeBuyDirect also has a referral program. When I refer someone to the site they get $10 credit to use towards their glasses. Honestly that’s a good deal considering how reasonable their prices are!

Try out EyeBuyDirect now

They also have updates on your order. I ordered mine September 22 and it says they should be ready by September 27. My local doctor’s office is saying 2 weeks!

Let me know if you want an update when my glasses come in.

**This post does contain referral links. I won the coupon from EyeBuyDirect. I was NOT asked to do this post by the company. I created this post on my own for others that may wonder about ordering glasses online or what it’s like to order from this specific site**