$19 and a Killer Essay Could Win You a $1.3 Million House in Canada

iStock.com/Eerik
iStock.com/Eerik

Now's the time to put the writing skills you learned in English class to good use. A Canadian woman from Millarville, Alberta has put her house on the market, and instead of asking for its $1.3 million value, she's holding an essay contest to find a new owner, the BBC reports.

While Alla Wagner describes the three-bedroom mansion as her "dream home" and a "writer's or artist's paradise" in a Facebook post, she writes that she's giving it up due to her declining health. She initially tried to sell the property the conventional way, and when that didn't work, she came up with a more creative plan.

For an entry fee of $19, anyone can submit an essay for a chance to win the house. The letter should answer the question "Why would moving to this lakefront dream home change your life?" and be 350 words or less. After submissions are narrowed down to the most compelling stories, they will be posted on social media where the public will pick the last 500 finalists. Finally, this pool will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges tasked with deciding a winner.

The prize is a deed to the 5000-square-foot house, which has a library, wine cellar, and a wraparound porch with views of the surrounding lake and mountains. The once-in-a-lifetime deal does come with a small catch: Wagner will only move forward with the contest if she receives enough entry fees to match the $1.3 million value of the home. If she doesn't raise that money by the time submissions are set to close in April, she will extend the submission window by up to three months, and if the money still hasn't been raised in that time, she will cancel the contest and refund essayists back their $19.

Wagner says her search for the right owner is inspired by a similar essay competition held by the owner of the Center Lovell Inn in Maine in 2015. That contest, however, required a submission fee that was five times what Wagner is asking for and it was to win a property valued at $400,000 less.

[h/t BBC]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Philadelphia Is Now Home to a Yarn Vending Machine

Emani Outterbridge with her yarn vending machine in Philadelphia.
Emani Outterbridge with her yarn vending machine in Philadelphia.
Emani Outterbridge

When 24-year-old Emani Outterbridge was stuck at home with a broken foot this past spring, she got to thinking of new ways to bring her self-made designer yarn to DIYers around Philadelphia. What she landed on was the idea of a yarn-dispensing vending machine, which she floated to her followers on social media.

They responded enthusiastically, and after a whirlwind fundraising campaign, Outterbridge ordered three machines, ready to be stocked with rows of brightly colored skeins. Earlier this month, the first one made its society debut at Elements of Grooming, a Philadelphia barber shop owned by a friend of Outterbridge’s. Soon, curious customers flooded the shop, and Outterbridge (who was on a business trip to Miami at the time) received excited updates from the owner. With the first vending machine already a proven success, she’s now looking to place the remaining two at other local businesses before ordering more.

Outterbridge's vivid skeins in the vending machine.Emani Outterbridge

Outterbridge doesn’t just make designer yarn—she also crochets custom items for her fashion line under the name “Emani Milan.” She’s been crocheting since she was 12 years old, and launched her own online business at age 15 after finishing an entrepreneur course in high school. She’s even designed items for Cardi B, whom she credits with elevating her profile. Outterbridge tells Mental Floss that the best part about being a business owner is the freedom to be “completely committed to my own success.”

Part of that success comes from understanding the needs of her fellow crocheters (and knitters), which helped her come up with the innovative vending machines in the first place. “I was thinking … if I had something that’s accessible to me 24 hours, mid-project, if I need to stop and go get some yarn, a vending machine would be ideal,” she explains.

Since the first vending machine is currently housed inside the barber shop—and future ones will likely live indoors, too—Outterbridge is hoping to open her own brick-and-mortar store in order to give people round-the-clock access to yarn. “With the salons and the shops—they close," she says. “But if I had my own store, I can have it open 24/7, so that’s what I’m pushing for.”

A future crocheter checks out the goods.Emani Outterbridge

In the meantime, she’ll continue offering her vibrant yarn skeins and garments through her website. Though you might assume a career crocheter would look forward to making cozy sweaters and scarves for chilly weather, Outterbridge actually prefers the summer months, which allow for more “creative range”—items like swimsuits, coverups, skirts, and rompers.

While you’re waiting for a yarn vending machine to land in your neighborhood, you can follow Outterbridge on Instagram and check out her products here.