Instant Pot Sale!

Did you miss out on the Amazon Prime Day Instant Pot sale because of those glitches and now the IP is back at full price? Well, here is a second chance to get a great deal on the Instant Pot. Sur La Table is having a three day Instant Pot sale!

Okay, yes, there are affiliate links here which means NQSH gets a small portion of the sale but really this is a great deal and if you have been reading the blog for a while you know I love my Instant Pot. I was so exhausted after work the other night that I just threw some frozen sausage in the IP and in minutes had Sausage with Red Sauce with Penne. No defrosting, no heating up the house in the Summer with the oven.

Get the 6qt InstantPot Ultra for $99.96 (Valued at $300) at Sur La Table! Offer valid 7/20-7/22.Amazon currently has the Instant Pot Ultra 6qt on sale for $159 which is still better than the $300 MSRP, but you can snag this same IP from Sur La Table for almost $50 less! Plus there is free shipping since your order will be over $59. The one on sale is not the exact model I have, in fact, it is better! There are so many options with the Ultra that the Duo doesn’t have, like a cake setting…hmmm…possibilities…

Sur La Table

This sale is only lasting the weekend, so if you are interested, you need to check it out by Sunday, July 22. Let me know in the comments if you were able to get one.

Sur La Table

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Let’s Talk About Self Care: a top 5 list

Face it, when you think about self care, you are probably thinking of spas and pedicures. Right? Full disclosure, I am writing this while waiting for a blue Dead Sea Minerals mask to dry. I’d take a picture, but I can’t smile since the mask is drying and honestly, I am not a selfie person. But that isn’t what self care is all about.

Self care is taking a moment to do something for your mental health. The benefit of visiting a spa is that you can disconnect. But really, how many of us can afford that? Monday was my birthday and I thought about going to get a pedicure, but instead I did my feet myself at home because spending money gives me anxiety. So dropping a chunk of cash in the long run really wouldn’t make me feel any better mentally.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know my husband is having health issues. We are currently waiting to see if he has been approved for disability. It is a tough reality, but we have accepted it. So that means that we have to find ways to save rather than spend since he is not working. Things have also been tough at work too because two people in my department resigned. So overwhelmed is not even strong enough of a word right now.

So here is a list of my top five low-cost/no-cost self care things that you can do for your mental health:

1. Staycation

To celebrate my birthday and the fact that I had just returned from a week long conference trip, I took the two days off before July 4th. That gave me five days to unwind since my office is closed on the weekends. It would have been nice to have taken a real vacation somewhere, but not this year. Instead, I spent $18 on a cheap vinyl kiddie pool that my son and I setup in the back yard. We have learned that you can’t put a pool in our yard gracefully because of the slop of the yard. In the end, we sat in the pool fully clothed while it was filling with water just to keep the sides up long enough to self stabilize. It was a heat index of 105 degrees, so the pool was really needed if we wanted to be outside. The rest of the time was spent reading and watching movies with the family. Family time is very important for your mental health because the connection with people is something you need even if you are an introvert. Remember that experiences also trump things when it comes to happiness. So an $18 pool wins out over a $1800 vacation because of the experience it gave me and my son. Though he would probably have argued that a trip to Universal Studios would have been better. Honestly though, what will he remember. The only times I remember our family trip to Disney when I was a kid is when I see photos. Instead, my memories are filled with seeing fireworks at the local community college or barbecues in the backyard. Those are the memories that have stuck with me.

2. Budget

I know what you are saying…money gives you anxiety, so how is this self care? There is a piece of mind when you know that it is okay to spend on something like that kiddie pool. Also, even though money is tight, I know that we will be okay. Budgeting helps take out that ambiguity factor. According to Maslow, our happiness is at the top of the pyramid of the Hierarchy of Needs. However, we can’t reach that level if we are constantly worried about food or even a roof over our head. Which leads me to the next item…

3. Safety Net Fund

This could probably be lopped in there with the budget section, but a safety net fund is something everyone should have. For a long time, my husband and I put this on the back burner for when we would get our debt paid down. Then he got sick…when I took over the bills last year, it was one of the first things I did. The idea is that you want to start with $1000 set aside for when those big ticket emergencies pop up. So I set up a free savings account with Capital One because even though they were not exactly the best interest rate (though 1% is not too shabby compared with other banks), the ease of use for their system is really nice as I also have credit cards and my car loan with them. So it is all one interface that I log into. I started out small with $25 deposited ever paycheck. When money was a little better, I adjusted that to $50 and then back down to $25 when things started getting tighter again. When I got a little extra money, that also went into the account. I also opened an account with Long Game which is a gamified savings account app from a bank in Virginia. You receive tokens for depositing money into your account. Those token are used to play games of chance like scratch offs, match games, races with friends, and lotto drawings. You can win coins to play more games or even cash. The games don’t cost you anything, it is all based on how much you deposit. The more you deposit, the more you can play. It is FDIC insured and has a really low interest rate of .1%, but the draw is that some of the games give you a chance to win money. So far I have won about $3. I know, not much, but it is more than my son’s savings account has gained in almost six years with the same amount of money in it. Between Long Game and Capital One, I have reach that $1000 goal,for my safety net fund.

4. Gardening

Gardening is one of those activities that has a two-fold benefit. It can be a mindfulness based activity because of the tranquility feeling it can give us to putter in the dirt or trim leaves, but it can also be a nice benefit for our pocketbooks. I tried for several years to have a traditional garden and every year I failed. So I started small with a patio container garden using pots and herbs. With container gardens, you have many options for what you can grow things in. I have containers from the dollar store that I drilled holes in and added gravel for drainage below the dirt. That same year, my son tried to grow a cucumber plant in a pot. We had basil, mint, and cucumbers all summer. This year I expanded the pot garden. We have cucumbers, peppermint, basil, oregano, rosemary, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, lavender, cucumbers, butternut squash, and zucchini. Most of these were purchased as seedlings from the garden section of the hardware store, but some we also started from seeds. We didn’t think most of the seeds would sprout, but now I have roughly fifteen zucchini plants. My son hates zucchini. I am going to have to get creative when it is time to harvest. So factor in the price of purchasing these fresh at the grocery store and you have your money back and then some in the output. I use a dehydrator for all the herbs that we can’t eat fresh. Honestly, I am Italian but even this is too much fresh basil for me. During the summer I constantly drink ice water with lemon and mint. A health alternative to sugary or caffeinated drinks. It is also nice to sit on the deck in the morning with my coffee and smell the herbs. Very soothing!

Garden Tower Project

Here is a picture. It is a bit overgrown at the moment, I need to harvest some of those herbs.

5. Clean

I know, this is another one that has you shaking your head. But the truth is that clutter and mess is overwhelming to our senses. When our house/apartment is a mess, we feel like we are a mess. It also becomes another thing on our to-do list. You can start small, with just fifteen minutes a day (or broken down into fifteen minutes sections with lots of breaks between sections like my son likes to do). Purging the stuff you don’t need can also be very satisfying. You can donate or have a yard sale. There are also free sites you can post your stuff on if you still want money, but a yard sale isn’t an option. I have been holding on to a lot of clothes since moving to Maryland. They don’t fit, but I always had in the back of my mind that one day I would lose the weight and be able to wear them again. That is something else that can sabotage your mental health. Holding on to those items is just a reminder that there is something wrong with you. But hey, I am healthy and I can always buy new clothes if I do start to lose the weight. So I have been bagging up all those too small clothes and sending them off to thredUP…and using the money gained to buy cute shoes.

There are a lot of other self care things you can do to benefit your mental health. These are just my top five recommendations. Other than a spa trip, what would be some of the things that you would put on your Self Care list?

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

I am the only person in my house that likes Black Bean Soup. So when I make it, I don’t want a huge pot since I will be sick of it before I can finish it. Every recipe I find seems to call for dried beans and makes way too much. I wanted to see if I could make a simpler batch.

On Sunday, I made myself a small batch that portioned out perfectly for lunches during the week. Honestly, I did not plan on making this ahead of time. It was more looking in the pantry to see what I had and what I could make. I typically keep canned beans on hand and had the tomatoes and chilies just in case. Everything (except the dried cilantro) came from Aldi, so it was a cheap meal that has saved me the cost of lunches for a whole week. Win!

I will caution that I like spicy food. This has quite a kick to it. So if you follow the recipe exactly, be advised. I also did not account for the saltiness of the chips. Different brands might have different levels of salt. This is not exactly a dump soup recipe. Be aware that the same ingredients were added in stages in some places. However, it took under 30 minutes to make. It gave me enough for six servings. Plus everything came from my pantry!

My son even tried it, but it was too spicy for his tastes. You could leave out the chilies and just use tomatoes if you wanted something a little milder.

Materials:

Instant Pot 6qt Duo

Ingredients:

  • 3 12oz cans Black Beans
  • 1 10oz can Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dried Minced Onion
  • 1 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Salsa
  • 2 tbsp Dried Cilantro
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Tortilla Chips (optional)
  • Lime Juice (optional)

Procedure:

  1. In the Instant Pot, dump chicken broth, tomatoes and green chilies, all dry seasoning except for 1 tbsp dried cilantro, and 2 of the cans of black beans together. Set on Soup for 10 minutes.
  2. When soup is done, carefully release the vent on your Instant Pot. There will be a lot of steam, so be careful not to burn yourself.
  3. Take your immersion blender and carefully blend your ingredients together. Again, be careful! This is very hot. Don’t burn yourself!
  4. Add your salsa and the last can of beans. Stir. I like the texture this adds. Also add that last tbsp of dried cilantro. I love cilantro, so the more the better for me.
  5. Serve your soup with crushed tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. You could also add a squirt of lime juice if you have it. Enjoy!

Just a Little Sunday Morning Jewelry DIY

It is a bit dreary out today, but I love it because, except for the wind blowing in the trees, all is quiet. So I got out a stash of jewelry supplies I have picked up with coupons recently at Michael’s. You can typically always find a coupon using the phone app for Michael’s and, if you share your email, they will even send you bonus coupons to your inbox.

These items came from two separate trips which meant I got to use a 25% whole purchase coupon as well as a 50% on one item coupon. They are a mix of semi-precious stones and glass stones with the most expensive item being that 14k gold chain for the dark blue stone. Honestly, my pictures here are not doing the stones justice.

Most of these pendants also came from the clearance section of the store. I always check out that section for great deals. Sometimes I mix and match during that same shopping trip of items from clearance matched with items on sale or at regular price (I always use coupons!). As soon as I saw the chain with the small brown beads in the clearance section, I knew I wanted to pair it with an owl pendant. They had the perfect one on sale in another section. I have two more semi-precious stones that I didn’t have chains for, but they were only $2 each so I couldn’t pass them up. Into my stash they went. For all four necklaces, the cost came to about $30. That is less than $10 a necklace!

I love the Bead Gallery collection even though the tags don’t identify what the stones are other than semi-precious. Honestly, I don’t really care if the stones are real. I only care that they are pretty. The blue semi-precious stone with the gold is a nice addition to my collection as I tend toward silver pieces, so I am trying to open up my accessories a little to include gold. I love that Amethyst (that one did have a identifying tag since it from a different collection, so I know the stone). I paid full price, well discounted with a coupon, but it is so pretty how it fades to a brownish purple color. The sea glass stone is also such a pretty blue green color. That owl pendant is such a fun piece. It reminds me of the owl from the original Clash of the Titans movie.

I have a whole stash of loose gems and semi-precious stones that I inherited from my father. He used to order stones from overseas with the plan of one day turning them into jewelry. My mother found a box last month and gave them to me. She is convinced there is more in the house. So I might get another box if she finds it. My goal for this summer it to learn how to set them so I can turn them into pendants like the ones pictured.

I also love taking apart thrift store jewelry and repurposing it for something new. I highly recommend if you want to update your accessory collection, check out thrift stores and craft stores!

Faux-tisserie Chicken via the Instant Pot

I love getting creative with food. It is one of my go to small “c” everyday types of creativity. I have not really been discussing my blog much with friends, but I shared my beef stew recipe with a friend who wanted to know what my favorite goto recipes were for the Instant Pot. She didn’t realize at first that the link I sent her for this blog was actually my blog. When I told her that you can also use the IP to make rotisserie style chicken, she requested that for the next post. So here is my Faux-tisserie Chicken recipe. Enjoy!

Materials:

  • Instant Pot 6qt Duo
  • Instant Pot Trivet
  • Tongs
  • Knife
  • Small bowl
  • Measuring Cup
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Cutting Board
  • Paper Towel

Ingredients:

  • Whole Chicken (small enough to fit in your inner pot)
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp Parsley
  • 1/4 tsp crushed dried Rosemary
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary
  • Olive Oil ( see instructions for amount)

Instructions:

  1. Remove the gizzards from the inside of your chicken. Depending on the brand, you might not have this in yours, but don’t forget to check!
  2. Pour a small amount of Olive Oil onto a paper towel. Use this to rub the skin of the chicken with oil. The amount of oil used depends on the size of your bird. Don’t skip this step though or you will have trouble with the next step!
  3. Turn your IP onto Sauté mode. When heated, place your chicken in the inner pot for 3-4 minutes. Then flip the bird over and repeat for the other side. Be careful not to burn the skin! See this is why I told you to grease up that bird…did you skip that part and now have your chicken stuck to the bottom of your pot?
  4. Turn off your IP and carefully remove the chicken from the IP inner pot using tongs. Place on cutting board.
  5. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze juice onto the chicken. Stuff the squeezed rinds inside the chicken.
  6. Cut the onion into fourths. Stuff the inside of the chicken with the onion.
  7. Stuff Rosemary sprigs inside the chicken.
  8. Mix your dry spices together in a small bowl. Rub this spice mixture all over your chicken.
  9. Pour chicken broth into the IP inner pot. Place your trivet inside the pot.
  10. Return the chicken to the inner pot, breast side up on top of the trivet.
  11. Close lid and seal the vent. Set on Manual on High for 25 minutes. NPR for 15 minutes.
  12. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the IP to a serving dish.
  13. Let rest before serving. —You could also place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes if you want crispier skin. As you can see, we thought it was good as is…

*Optional*

You will have liquid leftover in the pot. Turn your IP back to Sauté. Mix water with cornstarch. When boiling, pour the cornstarch mixture into the liquid while stirring with a whisk. This makes a great gravy. Adjust the amount of cornstarch depending on how thick you want your gravy. The thicker the mixture, the thicker your gravy. I used 1/4 cup cornstarch to one cup water.