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Friday, November 10, 2017

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using the New Ibotta App

If you haven't heard of the new grocery and mobile shopping rebate app called ibotta yet, you will want to pay attention, because you are going to want in on this! If you are already using it, then you know how good it can be. I know I'm addicted! 

The concept is simple: buy stuff get money back. Yes, that idea has been around for a while...so what makes using Ibotta better than other ways of saving money or getting rebates? Lots of things! Let me list 10 of my favorite reasons for using the new app.

1. Get $10 just for trying the app online.
Free money...heck yeah! Right now, if you download the app through my affiliate link, you can earn $10 when you shop online through the Ibotta app in the first 7 days. Plus you will earn a percent of your purchase back in a rebate. Easy peasy. Yes, your favorite stores are most likely participating. Each participating store offers various rebate amounts.

2. Get $10 more the first time you redeem an In-Store rebate.
What? Hold the phone! That's $20 in free money just for trying the app in two different ways. If you like money, you should be saying, "Yes please. Sign me up. I like free money." The first in-store rebate I redeemed, was a fifty cent rebate for "any item." I shopped at Smith's for my regular groceries, and got $10.50 cents back. I didn't have to buy anything special...just my regular stuff. You will have to redeem this bonus offer in the first 7 days of getting the app.

3. Get easy rebates on groceries at your favorite local grocery store. 
There are several grocery stores participating in ibotta rebates. I have several choices in my area. I can shop and get rebates back at Smith's, Costco, Macey's, Ridley's, Sam's Club and Walmart. Each store may offer the same or different rebates, so check with the app. Chances are, items that are already on your shopping list, are items that could earn you cash back. Your local stores are most likely participating too!

4. Grocery store rebates are so very simple to redeem! 
I don't know about you, but I hate having to do complicated rebates where you have to cut something off of a box, fill out a form, stick it in an envelope, with your receipt, address an envelope, waste a stamp, put it in your mailbox...then six weeks to three months later, (if you are lucky and cut the right thing off of the box) you get a check back in the mail for $1.00 that you have to drive up and deposit at your bank. That's clearly too much work for a $1.00. No thank you.

It's also a major step up from extreme couponing...the days when I used to clip coupons, organize them in binders, then plan some crazy insane shopping trips in order to save money.

Ibotta has simplified rebates...Immensely! Yay!!! Go to the ibotta app, go to the grocery section, and search for rebates going on in your grocery store right now. Add those items to your shopping list, buy them, when you get home, scan your receipt into the Ibotta app, and voila...you've earned your first rebate!   Yup...it's that simple! I just earned $24.50 in rebates shopping at Walmart today.

5. Easy to shop and earn $ at my favorite online store through the app.
I'm an admitted Amazon Prime addict. I'd rather shop Amazon Prime, than run across town and shop for the odd items my child needs for a school project, or pretty much anything else that would require me to shop somewhere other than my local grocery store or Costco. When I use Amazon Prime, the mailman magically brings it to my door two days later. You can't beat Free 2-day shipping, and I didn't have to pay for gas, nor take the time to shop. Now Amazon Prime just got better, because I can earn 3% cash back every time I shop Amazon through my Ibotta app. With my addiction, that's going to add up fast!

6. Easy to shop and earn $ at your favorite store too! 
Amazon is my favorite online store...but if Amazon is not your cup of tea...then it's likely you can earn rebates back at your favorite online store too. That's because ibotta has teamed up with several online stores to offer fantastic rebate opportunities. There's Ebay, Barnes and Noble, Overstock, the Gap, Holister, Kohls, Modcloth, Nike, and so much more! You can see a complete list of participating mobile stores in the ibotta app.

7. Travel deals
If you travel, then you definitely need this app. You can earn cash back through a plethora of online travel services: Booking.com, CheapOair, HomeAway, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Priceline, Orbitz, VRBO, and more. You can even earn $1.00 rebate every time you take an Uber!

8. Bonus deals (recently 20% during ibotta days)
I already like getting $ back through the app...but I like it even more when they offer bonus deals. Recently, during "ibotta days" some online stores were offering as much as 20% rebates when you shopped through the ibotta app. That was huge...and just in time for Christmas shopping.

9. You don't have to use your phone to use the app
We all know that shopping mobile sites have a limited view when compared to desktop sites. Sometimes it's convenient to use your phone to shop at your favorite online stores; other times, it's just much easier to find what you need on the desktop site. When you use ibotta to shop, you don't have to do it through your phone app, you can do it through the ibotta website. Just login to ibotta from your desktop and launch from there to the participating store you want to shop at.

10. Cash is deposited into your paypal
The number 10 reason why I'm loving the new ibotta app, is that the rebates you earn, are deposited into your paypal account. It couldn't be easier to set up, and the earnings are quite immediate.

So, if you haven't gotten the app yet, now you know why you NEED it. Once you start using it, I'd love to hear what rebates you are loving!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Review of NEW Janome Skyline S9

Janome recently sent me their new Skyline S9 embroidery/sewing machine to play with and review...and play I did, and have enjoyed the machine very much!

This machine is a part of their affordable S series, and is the first in this series to combine sewing and embroidery on one machine.  The machine is feature rich, yet has the ease of use you expect from a Janome machine--with built-in tutorials to get you up and running. It also comes with a comprehensive manual that is indexed well, with pictures and diagrams, to let you know how to use all of the features. One of my favorite features...is it's wi-fi capability. This is a machine that speaks the language of the 21st century. You can send designs to the machine wirelessly via your i-pad. Because the machine is so feature rich, I wasn't able to test out every feature, but I wanted to make sure I at least tested out the basic sewing stitches, decorative stitches, and embroidery, and changing basic settings through the touch screen. I also purposely created a project that had many layers to see if this machine could be a reliable "work horse." My conclusion...you're going to love this machine.

To test some of the machine's basic features, I created designed and pieced quilt. (Heads up, this quilt design will be available as a FREE downloadable project on the Janome website later this month.)  For this project, I used basic straight stitches and listened to the machine's soft hum, as I pieced. The machine is smooth to operate, and has low vibration, which makes it nice to use. The LED lights were great for lighting up my project so I could be accurate with my piecing. The machine allows you the ability to operate it with a traditional foot pedal, or a touch stop/start button. A convenient knee lift is included with this machine for raising the presser foot.


You can also adjust the speed via the slide control, to prevent you from being to "heavy with your pedal" if you need to sew a little slower. I liked the convenient inclusions of the locking stitch, reverse, and cut-thread buttons. I also found the automatic presser foot lift feature quite useful in streamlining the process on my project. I would have loved to have had a completely automated needle threader like the Janome MC 15000, but the manual needle threader did the job well, and was quick. (This is where you save some money on the machine.) The workspace is larger than any of the other in the S class, at 8.25"x13" of bed space and 8.25" to the right of the needle. This was more than adequate space for the projects I chose. I went through lots of thread piecing this large quilt and so I got to know the bobbin winder. It's super simple, and if you forget how to use it, simply press on the question mark on the user interface and you will be directed to a tutorial.

For my second project, I tested out the embroidery side of the machine. You need to attach the embroidery arm unit, and switch out the needle plate before proceeding into embroidery mode. It doesn't take long to switch over, and I went back and forth between sewing mode and embroidery mode a few times with ease.

For this project, I created a matching pillow for the quilt. I selected one of Anna Maria Horner's on-board embroidery designs (yes, get excited, because 40 of her designs are included on this machine,) and selected some gorgeous thread from her embroidery kit specially designed for use with the S series. This thread is yummy scrumptious--yummy colors, and a scrumptious luxurious sheen in a strong polyester thread. This particular design was comprised mostly of satin stitches which really show off the sheen of the thread. I didn't have a single thread break while stitching this beautiful design.

The Skyline S9 includes the embroidery arm and three hoops--the largest being 170mm X 200mm. There are also hoop magnets included if you have a project where that kind of attachment works better over traditional hooping. I enjoyed watching the mesmerizing stitch sequences, and was pleased with the intricate detail that the design and the machine provided. This design takes 21 minutes and the screen shows you exactly which stitch you are on and how much more to go. You can resize your embroidery using the touch-screen interface, you can also reposition the design and change stitch density.

For fun I added some decorative stitching to my pillow project. After testing out several of the satin and decorative stitches, I chose to feature one of the appliqué stitches as I wanted the embroidery design to stand out and not get busied by a decorative stitch. The decorative stitches would be super fun for another project though. I played with the spacing and size on this appliqué stitch, via the touch screen, and found a setting perfect for my project.
When assembling the pillow, I decided to try out how the machine would do with a thicker project. So I purposely chose to quilt the design and add welting trim to see if the stitches were consistent even when things got a little tougher. I also designed the back of the pillow so it could easily accept a pillow form, by creating a split overlap with a rolled hem. This design meant that at one point, I would be sewing through 6 layers of fabric plus the welt edge, making that 8 layers, not to mention the quilt batting changing the thickness as well. The Skyline S9 had no issues with this extra workload. I used the included zipper foot to help aid in attaching the welt, which made the welt placement easy.
I was having so much fun sewing these projects, I decided I'd get another project done. I made a Christmas advent calendar to delight my three kiddos. This was a simple panel kit from Riley Blake, that I've had for a while, but just hadn't finished yet. I thought this would be the perfect time so the kids could have fun with it this December. I enjoyed adding some detail to this project with little accent stitches and a little bias tape. The pockets are filled with adorable "softies" that have ideas for different activities each day in December.

These were just some of the features that I tested. There is so much more to this machine than what I played with--including the ability to design your own custom decorative stitches! If you are looking for a great embroidery/sewing combo machine at a nice price point, this would be a good one to consider. You can read more about the features of this machine on the Janome website here.

By the way...the quilting on my quilt was done by Melissa Kelley of Sew Shabby Quilting. She does a beautiful job!

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