Sunday, December 31, 2017

ebates: free cash back shopping (not sponsored)

If you are reading this on your phone, stop! You have to sign up from a desktop computer.
A few weeks ago I posted on insta story that I had purchased something online and my cash back from ebates had come through minutes later. I have never had so many DMs in my life asking what ebates is, is it free, what is the catch, etc. So I did a little insta story of what it was and how to sign up, then I got more DMs that they missed my insta story and so here I am, spreading the gospel of ebates!
If you sign up using my link, you get $10 after your first purchase. Click here.  What is ebates and how do they do it?
Ebates is a cash back shopping tool. NOT A CREDIT CARD. I REPEAT, NOT A CREDIT CARD. Free to use! No fee! yay! When you online shop (and in store, I will get to that later) you click on a ebates affiliate link that you install in your browser bar. When you make a purchase, ebates gets a certain percentage commission. Instead of keeping the entire commission (this is how many bloggers make money) they split it with you! Pretty smart! 
For example, I recently bought a winter coat from Columbia. It was $49.99 and I got $2.50 back from  ebates. It isn't much, but I use ebates on every single purchase I make online, so it adds up. Right now I have $60 waiting to cash out. 

Okay, how do I get it?
1. Click on this link and after your first purchase it will give you $10! 
2. Sign up using that link. If it asks for my email, it's
3. After signing up, open up google chrome and go to their webstore (you can click here or I just google it)
4. On the left hand side it says "search the webstore" type in ebates.
5. It will be the first result. There is a blue ADD TO CHROME button. Click that and it will download. 
6. It will pop up in your chrome bar.

Okay, how do I use it?
When you go to a website, a popup will come up saying "active ___% back" all you have to do is click on it and you're done. 
After you make a purchase, it can take minutes like the purchase I described above or a few weeks to get your cash back. Usually mine is a day or two. These amounts accumulate and then every three months ebates sends you a "big fat check" aka they just deposit money into my PayPal. 

Coupon codes and Ebates
The other reason I really like ebates is it finds coupon codes for you. Instead of googling "ulta coupon code" ebates finds them for you. After you activate your cash back and you go to check out, sometimes (not always, but most of the time) a little button comes up that says "APPLY COUPONS"
Just click that and it automatically puts coupon codes in and sticks with the best one. It saves you money and gives you cash back! 

Ebates website
I look at ebates website daily because they have different stores with double cash back. For example, right now Nike is 10% cash back instead of the usual 1.5%, so if I have had my eye on some shoes it would be a good time to get them! 

In store cash back
You can hook your credit cards/debit cards up to the ebates app and anytime you purchase something that the offer in store cash back on, you get cash back. I know people who use this and some who don't like the idea of it, but I just signed up for it so I will let you know. Again, it's free. 

Other tips!
-We use ebates anytime we book travel. For example, expedia is up to 10% cash back. When we booked our big east coast trip, we got 7% cash back. 
-We just purchased a big expensive desk from Ikea. Instead of just going to the store to buy it, buy it online, use ebates for cash back, and pick it up at the store. 
-When you google something, look for the ebates cash back signal and only buy from stores that are compatible with ebates if you can! See example below of when I searched "pink coat"
-Again, check the website every so often and see if any stores you like are doing double cash back
-Use my code to sign up and you will get $10 after your first purchase. 

Let me know if you have any questions, I love saving people money! 
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2017 wrap up//2018 word of the year

Whole outfit via Posey and Pence! One of my favorite companies to model for because the owner's house is BEAUTIFUL and they have a great plus size collection! There is a red dress that I really love on there.
2017 was really great, at least personally! As far as our political climate hanging by a thread, not so much. However in a way I am grateful for that because it has gotten me a lot more active and involved in the government, just as a citizen should be.
Okay, 2017. Mark got an amazing job that we are grateful for every day. I kept on keeping on at my job and explored some other opportunities of things I could do with my career, although I will be in the classroom for a while. I finally started taking care of my anxiety through a therapist I really click with (thank youuuu amazing insurance) and that has been its own roller coaster but it's been great to finally feel like I'm in control of something that has been driving me all my life. We were so lucky and worked hard to be able to travel almost every month.  We also started saving for a house this year, which is big for us. Most importantly, we watched about 150 movies this year. Haha!
As I think about where we are now, we are kind of in between a lot of things. I know that I probably won't be in the classroom forever, we hopefully won't live in this basement apartment forever, plus a lot of other things that won't come for a longer while like kids, etc. It's a weird time but I'm happy to be here because life truly is so good, very minimal bad days and we are just lucky for that because that hasn't always been the case.
I have heard "word of the year" floating around the blogosphere for many years and I didn't really "get it" until this year. I just felt like the same word kept popping in my head as I think about this year so I decided to make it "official" whatever that really means.
My word for 2018 is patience. 
I am probably the least patient person. I don't really know what it means to wait for things. I'm pretty impulsive in general and deal with the consequences later, for example I buy and return a lot of things. However, this year will require a lot of patience as we make sacrifices for long term goals. I want to be able to plan and be successful long term, so I'm going to really try to be patient this year and keep in mind all of the cool things that will come if I use this year not to be so impulsive. I'm not a goal oriented person whatsoever, but I hope that I can be patient this year that achieving some of our goals will not and can not be immediate. 
I'm really excited for 2018, I'm super optimistic about it and I can't wait! 
Okay, here is my year highlight reel. I have done this so many years now I can't even count. Although I just blocked my old blogs from the public eye, the ones that are public are 2013, 2014, 2015, and apparently I had an attitude last year and didn't do one which is sad for me. They are fun to look back on!
Went to a work conference that was very eye opening for my future career!
Went to St. George for the weekend!
Mark got a JOB! Like a career job!
Literally nothing cool happens in March because I'm in the midst of Mock Trial season at school. 
Went to San Francisco with some work friends!

Celebrated three years of marriage and Mark's birthday! 
Went to D.C, New York, Boston and San Antonio!

Went to St. George and San Diego!
Started my 4th year teaching and turned 26! Also had a somewhat traumatic life event which led me to start therapy, which I'm grateful for.

Went to L.A! 
Went to Vegas!
My niece was born!
Went to Europe!
Celebrated Christmas!

Bring on 2018!
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Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas 2017

New Years Resolution: DOCUMENT.
Okay, moving on.
It didn't totally feel like Christmas, mainly because I do not enjoy a lot of Christmas traditions that mots people do. I don't like doing Gingerbread houses because they are messy, gross and fall apart. I don't like going to see lights because it's cold and I hate cold. We don't do Christmas PJs because I have so many sweats/leggings/whatever I don't need them at all and they would probably just get donated to DI really quickly. Anyway, so I just don't know how to make it feel Christmas-y! 
We have a friend party that helps, I got new tree decor this year which also helps. I put a tree in my classroom which the students loved, so I will for sure do that again. We watched a lot of Christmas movies and I always love that.
I was feeling very lucky that this year Christmas Eve came on a Sunday, which meant that my in-laws moved their traditional sushi dinner to Saturday. So instead of leaving before the check came at sushi to make it to my family party, we were able to enjoy sushi, play games and hang out afterwards and have a very calm evening with people we love! Then on Christmas Eve we were able to do the same thing with my family without coming a few hours late. It was just the perfect situation! 
We woke up on Christmas morning and opened our presents, just Mark and I! He got me a desk for my new "beauty room" and I got him a bunch of cooking stuff and some stuff for his "nerd shelf"
We spent Christmas morning at my parent's house and then went to my in-laws for dinner and games. It was a really great Christmas, probably my favorite since I have been married, despite it not totally feeling like "Christmas"
So grateful!
Mark took a picture of me making funeral potatoes for our family party, it doesn't come off super well in the picture but the kitchen was a DISASTER.

Thanks to Biscotts Utah for delivering this cake to my door! It was so yummy even though I crushed it taking it out of the box!

 I did a breakout box with my older nieces and nephews at the Christmas party, basically like an escape room but instead of a room they try to open a box with several locks. They loved it!

My baby niece totally has my heart! She is so cute!

Mark and I brought a delicious charcuterie plate to Christmas dinner!

I realized we got 0 pictures of us at any point during the Christmas season so here is our cute before bed selfie...hahah!

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

europe: paris day three

Okay, I am forcing myself to finish this Europe series! I should have written these within a few days of getting back, but it was such a whirlwind after we got home that it didn't happen, so now I am trying to make it up!
Our third day in Paris was going to be spent at Versailles! I know a decent amount about Versailles so I was excited to go. Getting there was probably the most stressful part of traveling. We were so lost and it was the only time we couldn't find someone that spoke English. Our method of figuring out how to get there was basically to pick a random train of people that kind of looked touristy and luckily it turned out to be the right one. It was so stressful! However we finally got there. I always imagined that Versailles would be out in the middle of no where but it really isn't, at least currently. There is a very cute little town that you walk through to get from the train to Versailles. There were so many people just going about their normal day, like a few little girls scootering to school with their backpacks on. I was so wanting to tap them on the shoulder and be like, "little ones! You live in France! Like next to Versailles! How amazing is that??" but I didn't because I'm pretty sane generally.
So anyway, we made it to Versailles and I wish we would have gotten there much earlier because we could have spent so much longer there! The palace itself didn't take much time because over half of it was closed for renovation which I was very disappointed about, but oh well. The gardens are what you could spend forever in! It was the one time during our trip that I wished we had gone when it was warmer because you could hang in the gardens forever. We actually ended up renting a golf cart because the gardens are so big. It was $35 euro for an hour which we thought was awesome, but we didn't take into consideration how slow the golf cart would be, it took us like 30 minutes to "drive" to the summer house we wanted to see, so we had to hustle in the tour so we could get the cart back.

I've never wanted to be royalty so badly as I did while touring Versailles. Everything was so extravagant and amazing, even the summer houses that they stayed at just to get away from the hustle and bustle of the castle. It was huge! The palace and grounds are so beautiful! On the backside of the palace there is just total wilderness, what I expected there to be all around. So pretty.  It was a highlight of the trip, everyone should go to Versailles!

We got back to Paris much more smoothly and we tried to go several places for dinner, the restaurants are so tiny that they are packed quickly so we went to four or five places before we could find somewhere to eat! We scarfed on a charcuterie plate and got home to get ready for our early train the next morning.
Or so we thought.
We got to the train station an hour before our scheduled train. About five minutes before we were supposed to leave, we still hadn't been assigned a train, we found out our train was delayed an hour and a half. I was not okay at this point, I won't really pretend I was. My anxiety totally got the best of me. It was freezing cold in the station since it's just basically a hanger, there were absolutely no chairs or anywhere to sit down, it's the biggest or busiest train station in the world apparently, and this was the only place where the gypsies were bugging us. I had read about people asking you to sign a survey and then pick-pocketing you, and sure enough this weird acting person came and asked us to take a survey. This gypsy also dropped a baggie full of something behind one of the vending machines and I was sure it was a bomb. I was so freaking on edge and just crying. We finally went into a restaurant just to get warm and not be bugged for a while. We rushed in there because even with the delay, our train was coming soon. Our sweet waitress was so fast in getting our food out to us. We rushed out of the restaurant and found out our train was delayed another two hours. I was so upset because if we had known that we wouldn't have rushed out of the restaurant and would have been able to stay in the warmth and not be bothered. We ended up sitting against the wall of the restaurant and I tried to lose myself in my book. Time went by faster and no one really bothered us when we were sitting and looked busy. While we were sitting there a guy got robbed in the restaurant we were in so I guess it was good we didn't stay? Haha I don't know.
Our train finally arrived and we were on our way.
Also, there was a American guy on our train and he was being SO RUDE and I realized no wonder people hate Americans. 

like the temple doorknob wedding pictures except not haha

the hall of mirrors was supposed to blow me away but I thought it wasn't the most impressive room

backyard of the queen's summer house

the king's "summer house" so big!

casual chapel

I PRESENT TO YOU: A DOG WALKING A DOG! You can see the two sets of dogs ahead of the dog walker, there was a "lead dog" that was literally walking the other dog, they were connected with a leash! Is this a thing everywhere? Mark and I were flippin.     

We got back to Amsterdam much later than we wanted to due to the delay, so we basically lost a whole day in Amsterdam. I was so sad, there is still so much we didn't do there. That's okay though because now we have an excuse to go back! We stayed a little further from the main Amsterdam area and I would 1,0000% recommend our hotel, the Westcord Fashion Hotel in Amsterdam. It was the nicest hotel I have stayed in ANYWHERE. I have never been in such a bathtub. It also was only two stops away from the main part of Amsterdam, so if you are headed there soon I would totally stay there. We had our favorite meal of the trip which was Indonesian food because apparently if you can't go to Indonesia then you go to Amsterdam. It also reaffirmed we just like Asian flavors more. I took the most luxurious bath ever and we got a few hours of sleep before starting 24 hours of travel.
We had a flight from Amsterdam to Madrid, that went super smoothly. From Madrid we had to get on a flight to Chicago. I was really worried about this connection because we only had an hour. The lady at the airline said "max connecting time in Europe is 45 minutes, don't worry about it" well that was a huge lie. I think Madrid is on high security alert right now because after having this experience people have said that it isn't normally like this. 
Okay, so, we get off our flight from Amsterdam and we find out that our flight is in literally the furthest terminal away. So we are sprinting through the airport and we get almost to that terminal. Mark was like "oh my gosh, we have 20 minutes till boarding, we are totally gonna make it!" so we slow down and are so happy, and then we turn the corner. 
There were about 3,000 people (no exaggeration) waiting to go through customs. Yep, you have to go through customs on a connecting flight. I was sure this was a mistake but nope. Everyone was miserable because it was taking forever, there was no organization, it was a million degrees. People kept asking to cut others so they could make their flight and they would say no, because everyone was going to miss their flight. People almost got in a fist fight. I definitely had some tears in that line!  We waited almost 45 minutes, got out about 25 minutes after our flight had taken off. I was sure that we had missed our flight. Mark looked at the screen and the flight before us said "boarding but our flight said "boarding closed." it seemed odd that the flight before ours would still be boarding but ours wouldn't be. So even though I was crying and had to pee LITERALLY SO BADLY, Mark made us run. We still had to run SO FAR after going through customs, it was about a 10 minute run and I promise, I almost took out a perfume saleslady who got in my way. WHY ARE THERE MALLS IN EVERY EUROPEAN AIRPORT!?!? We finally got to our gate and they said "Miami or Chicago?" and I said "Chicago!" and they said "Come on! We held the flight!" and you guys, I literally just started sobbing.
I have truly never cried of happiness until this moment. It wasn't just a cry, it was a full sob that sounded much worse since I was so out of breath. I was shaking so badly the lady couldn't even look at my passport, she had to take it from me. She gave me a big hug which I kind of needed. Mark looked over at me and I saw divorce in his eyes. Joking, haha, but he really was like "UM WHAT ARE YOU DOING!" I honestly don't know if it was my knee pain (I am pretty sure I re-tore my meniscus running through the airport, going to the doctor tomorrow), the fact that I thought I was going to pee my pants and still miss our flight, the fact that I would actually get to teach the next day (I have been so sick this year that I have had a sub way more than I want to admit) or just the kindness of the people but  I have never cried so hard in my life. We got on the plane, used the bathroom (YAY!) saw my bright red and tear streaked face in the mirror (SCARY!) and then the plane left a little bit later! It was one of the greatest things ever. The flight wasn't too bad, I actually was able to sleep and I watched the entirety of Riverdale season 1. We got to Chicago and were amazed at the level of organization in customs (haha!) and had a small layover before our last flight which I slept through completely. We got home about 10pm and both had to work the next day, I was pretty loopy and insane on that day. It took about a week to get back into the swing of things jetlag wise, but it was worth it! I for sure want to go back and do Paris and Amsterdam much more thoroughly. It was also great practice for Japan, we are going in May and it's a 13 hour flight and we will be there for almost three weeks, so it was good to test run international travel. I'm really grateful for Mark for being so patient with me, I am not a peach to travel with. 
I'm ready to go get some more stamps in my passport!

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