Instant Pot Magic

Okay, so I finally did it… I bought an Instant Pot.  I’m sure you’ve heard of it, unless you’ve been living under a bridge, in which case you should maybe rethink your life choices because I can think of much better places to reside.  Anyhoo, I decided for it’s maiden voyage that we would make mac ‘n cheese because it’s something everyone loves and it seemed simple enough. I apologize in advance for not taking more pictures… if you are ever at our house during mealtimes, you’ll understand why it’s sometimes very difficult to take photos between the distractions of cats and children.

Bottom line, it’s so easy to use and I love all of the settings and how big it is.  Now… is it actually quicker?  Usually, if only by a few minutes.  The one thing you have to take into account is that while it may only take a few minutes to cook something, you have to add in 10-15 minutes for it to actually reach pressure before it starts cooking and then another 10 minutes I think for the pressure to naturally release (NR).  This recipe called for Quick Release (QR) and I was not prepared…  I had to quickly get a towel to cover up a 3 foot steam geyser of a combination of water and butter (which the noodles had been cooking in).  It was messy to say the least.  All in all, though, it took about 15-20 minutes tops to make and it made a huge amount and was super tasty.

I’ve also done hardboiled eggs and they came out almost perfectly… I think I could have done a minute less.  I’m excited to try a whole chicken and I also love that I now have a second slow cooker, because you can use this for that as well!  I can’t wait to try the saute feature and I’m going to try my hand at yogurt soon too, so I’ll share how that turns out. Did I mention it’s easy to clean too?  I think even easier to clean than our rice cooker, so we may get rid of that eventually.

I’m really excited about this kitchen gadget.

 

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Spoooooky

Every year on my birthday I prep the house for Halloween. The kids get a kick out of the decorations, which I try to add to each year and there’s just something about this time of year in general when it comes to feel in the air and the lights and just overall fun.  Next year, I have big plans.

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Not at all Halloween related, but it was a treat for myself for my birthday. Ha ha!

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I have more stuff scattered throughout the house, but didn’t get to taking pictures of everything.  Part of my plan this winter is to declutter a lot, so that way when I do decide to decorate there’s more room to do so and just less clutter in general.  I’ve always been the type of person who sort of collects, but I’d like to find some balance between minimalism and what we’ve got going on now. :p

Unplugging

Well, it’s raining, which isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but hopefully we won’t get too drenched tomorrow. I have a feeling we won’t be finishing up our mulch right away, though. Ha ha!  I need to take pictures of our landscaping progress so far, but have a few from the past weekend. We still have so much on our list, but are making so much headway!

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Such an improvement over the out of control chives and the grubby shrub that lived there when we first moved in.  Is there anything better than lilacs? I think not. However, our sprinkler heads need to be adjusted because one or two of them are hitting the the poor thing head-on.

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Looks like we still need to pressure wash the other half of that rug, but you can see some of the chives that we kept and a few flower additions as well.  Plus… kitties!

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Amazing what a few pots of flowers can do to brighten things up. I’d like to eventually do more with the front “porch” but I’m not entirely sure what.

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If we had more time and money, I think we would have done some major damage at the nursery last weekend. There were so many beautiful flowers and plants.  We’ll need to return soon to add a few more plants to the section we’re currently working on, but until I saw what we bought laid out, I didn’t want to buy too many things and I wanted to make sure a few of the flowers would flourish. I’m thinking we’ll be getting more lilies.  It felt so good to be productive and it’s been ages since we both felt like we’d gotten that much done. It made me start thinking and really part of the problem is distractions. There are so many of them.  Before kids we didn’t have smart phones and while they are enormously useful, I also feel like I’ve never wasted so much time in all my life.

So… we’re trying a little experiment this upcoming weekend and following week and seeing what happens. Aside from a Snap here and there and maybe a quick photo upload to Instagram, I’m staying off of social media and my phone in general – no games, no anything… well, except reading.  Josh said he’d be willing to try it out too.  My hope is that it’ll help me to get out of a rut and force me to quit procrastinating and figure some stuff out. It’s amazing how easy it is to scroll and scroll through various medias and while I enjoy seeing what everyone is up to… let’s face it, for the most part it’s just a time waster – at least the way we’re using it now.

Time to reset, become more present and hopefully awaken some fire within myself that motivates me to do… well, I’m not sure what yet.  Either way, it’ll be good for us all, I think and I’ll report back either during the week or after the full week is up… I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll blog.

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I’m hoping to get a lot more pictures without a phone in anyone’s hands. 😉

Happy Friday!

Bring it on!

I am planning on a busy weekend spent mostly outside thanks to a good forecast.  I bought a deal online for some plants from a nursery nearby, so we’ll be heading there, but also will have to clean up the spots where our new purchases will be going. One area is completely overgrown with chives and I’m thinking a smaller lilac bush would be perfect there.  The kids will most likely be content to help us for about 10 minutes before they’re bored, but they love being outside and will find plenty to occupy their time.

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With luck we’ll be able to eat outside tomorrow night, but we’ll see. I’m planning on homemade pizza and ice cream because it is time to bust out the ice cream maker!  Then we just have to all decide on a flavor, which will mostly depend on what we have on hand.

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Then there’s camping prep to do!  I want to try and pare down what we bring with us, but we enjoy a certain amount of comfort when we camp so I’m not sure we’ll be able to leave out too much. One day we may just have to get a little camper.  In the meantime, our giant tent is good for when it’s buggy outside so that way there is plenty of room to still have fun without being bitten to death. I’m hopeful, though, that this year it won’t be an issue. So far the mosquitoes haven’t been bad at all and considering we’ll be headed north, I think we’ll be okay.  And by north, I mean very north. I almost wish I had a passport since we’ll be so close to Canada. Haha!

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I’m hopeful it will be a good trip considering the drive, but it wouldn’t be the first time we packed up early if it just ends up not being enjoyable. With luck we’ll see some wildlife and there are plenty of trails to walk on and, worst case, a town close by where there’s a park if we can’t exhaust the kids near the campground. Absolute worst case, I’m not against slipping them a bit of melatonin (we use only the amount and type the doctor recommended and not regularly – usually just for Enzo when he’s having an especially hard time shutting down).  We are also not completely against letting them wind down with a show on our portable DVD player, especially if it means letting the campers around us also get some peace and quiet in the evening.

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Sure, they look sweet and innocent, but the sibling squabbles started up around the same time Miss Phoebe entered the stereotypical “terrible” part of the twos. She knows precisely which buttons to push with her brother and will do so gleefully when there isn’t something else to occupy her time. I’m trying to explain to Enzo that it’s best to just ignore her when she’s being a stinker, but he thinks he should get the last word since he is the eldest. He has fully stepped into his roll as the bossy older brother. Some days it’s really kind of hysterical listening to the two of them whether it be when they’re playing nicely together or bickering over the most ridiculous things.

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Happy weekend, all!

A Room of One’s Own

I’m grateful that our house has three bedrooms upstairs and all close to each other. It’s really the perfect setup to have with small children, especially our two children. While they both get along fantastically they have two very distinct personalities and I think having them share a room would be difficult.  We tried briefly months ago, but it was kind of a nightmare, and even now if we all end up in the same room bedtime takes a bit longer.  They feed off of each other’s energy and before you know it they’re poking at each other, tickling each other and giggling or stealing each other’s lovies and fussing – anything but sleeping.  So, separate rooms it is.

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It’s been a while since we got Phoebe her big girl bed, and she continues to love it. While Enzo still prefers to crawl into our bed in the middle of the night, she prefers to stay in her bed, though there are nights when she insists I lay down with her at 2:00am and then generally wake up between 4 and 5 when Vega comes in to vigorously lick my face.

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Since her bed is much bigger than her crib we had to move a few things around and I brought a shelf up from my office to give her more room for toys and books.  I really need to do another purging of both kids’ rooms and ideally make space in their closets for some storage in there for the larger toys that don’t seem to have a place.

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Phoebe lucked out and ended up with the brightest and coziest of the bedrooms. I kind of want a set of her twinkle lights in our room – they’re magical and change colors and I’m a little jealous of the flannel unicorn sheets she has on her bed now.  How could they not make them in a King size??

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I really wish so many toys weren’t such awkward sizes. I confess I struggle finding places for all of them or ways to keep them organized nicely. There never seems to be the perfect bin or solution.

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Anyhoo, its funny how a house seems to be a constant work in progress what with everyone’s changing moods and preferences.  There is always something to rearrange or alter completely. I think once it warms up we’ll do another big purge and really narrow down the things we all like and want to hang onto, but finally get rid of the things we’ve held onto for no particular reason except for that we’ve just always had them.