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Luv Saving Money – Life on a Budget

December 2023 – Let It Snow Cash Giveaway

Happy December! We wish you a warm time of cheer this holiday season and offer you the chance to win some cash!

This event is HOSTED by The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It and sponsored by fabulous bloggers, authors, and Etsy shop owners! Click Your Way Over To Our CoHosts!Sunshine and Rollercoasters, Get Your Holiday On, Deliciously Savvy, Sybrina’s Book Blog, Author Jill Chapman, Ottawa Mommy Club, Versatileer, Saving K, Jessica Inspired by Faith, Jennifer Lane Books, Mom Does Reviews, and The Frugal Grandmom.

Who couldn’t use an extra $100 this time of year? I know I could. What would you do with the money?

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

ONE entrant will be selected by the entry form to win $100 USD PayPal Cash! Open for entry WW, 18 years and older from 12/01/2023 at 12:01 a.m. ET thru 12/21/2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET. No purchase is necessary. Void where prohibited. This event is not sponsored or endorsed by PayPal. A winner will be chosen after/around December 22, 2023. The winner will have 12 hours to respond to the notification email to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected. See Rafflecopter for official rules. The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island are responsible for sending the winner their prize. Twitter and Facebook dummy/fake accounts are ineligible for entry and will be blocked. Authentic accounts only are eligible to win. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Reebok Drops Harry Potter Collection

My husband and I just watched a few Harry Potter movies the other night for …oh I don’t know… maybe the 10th time. While I’m not Harry Potter obsessed, I do like the movies and some of the aesthetics.

Speaking of aesthetics have you seen the Harry Potter Collection drop from Reebok? Harry Potter and athletic fans rejoice. They have you covered (literally) from head to toe.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m liking the look. Of the shoes, my favorite is probably the Harry Potter Classic leather Hexalite Shoe. (The light blue one in the picture above) Though I’m definitely seeing the school uniform in the Harry Potter Club C85 shoes (2nd from left)

Calling all wizards, witches and muggles. The new Reebok x Harry Potter collection inspired by the magical world is here.

Can you have the Harry Potter shoes without the athletic wear too? Probably. But do you want to? I’m asking

This collection officially drop on December 1, 2023. If I were a betting gal, I’d better that some of these items will sell out pretty fast. If you have a Harry Potter fan on your shopping list, this would be an awesome gift idea!

You can get matching kicks for the whole fam if you’re so inclined.

You won’t be able to purchase these items until December 1, 2023. But you can browse the collection and get your shopping strategy lined up before drop day.

Are you a Harry Potter Fan? Do you think you’ll be grabbing anything from his collection? Let me know in the comments

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

Harlem Globetrotters World Tour 2024 – Save 20% off your tickets!

HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS 2024 WORLD TOUR Tickets are now on sale!
Save up to 20% with Promo Code: USFAM


Where, WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!? Happens all the time!
Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters global tour as they take the court with moments of extreme basketball innovation and unparalleled fan FUN! See the Globetrotter stars LIVE as they DRIBBLE, SPIN, SLAM, and DUNK their way past their relentless rivals, the
Washington Generals! You’ll be amazed by new levels of mind-blowing trick shots, expert ball-handling skills, and BIG LAUGHS with unrivaled opportunities for pre-game, post-game and in-game fan

Save up to 20% with Promo Code: USFAM

Bringing world-class basketball showmanship to arenas all over the U.S.
(Discount valid on tickets purchased at least One Week Prior to Game Date)

Coupon Link:

I’ve had the pleasure of attending several Harlem Globetrotters games throughout the years. All of my children have experienced several games. They love the mascots, the crazy tricks, the comedy bits, and meeting the players after the game. Here’s a pic from the last time we attended.

Here’s a hint, they do have Harlem Globetrotters merch to buy at the game but if you don’t want to purchase items you can take an autograph book and pen with you to get autographs after the game.

For my Pennsylvania peeps there are lots of games in Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia, Reading, Hershey, Allentown, Erie, and State College.

Break the boredom of the cold months with an exciting Harlem Globetrotters show. I’ll be heading to the show in Johnstown, PA on February 22, 2024. Hope to see you there!

Check out the tour dates, Is there a show near you?

As a US Family Guide blogger, I will receive complimentary tickets to attend. No other compensation has been or will be received.

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.**