Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

If you know me, you know that I LOVE the Instant Pot. Love it. I use them (yes, I have two) pretty much every single day.

Cookie is the pickiest eater I have ever known. One of the few things she actually likes is macaroni and cheese. I like to make real macaroni and cheese but honestly I don’t always have the time even for the IP. Now I have figured out how to make boxed mac and cheese (yes I admit to using the blue box) in the Instant Pot. Fast, easy, and will actually be eaten. Plus I have a trick to fixing the clumpy noodles you usually get when you cook them in the IP.


First picture is immediately after I opened the IP; second picture is before stirring – the noodles are all clumpy so I pull out my trusty whisk; third picture looks good enough to eat!

IP Boxed Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups water
4 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 box macaroni and cheese

Put water and milk into the liner pot.

Stir in the noodles then put in your butter and cheese powder.

Close the lid, make the the vent is on sealing, and select Manual or Pressure Cook, and set the time for 5 minutes (at sea level you can probably do 4 minutes).

When time’s up, let it release pressure naturally for about 4 minutes and then quick release the remaining pressure. Any sooner than that, and you’ll end up with cheese powder particles coming out of the vent. Or so I’ve heard…ahem.

Now here’s my trick to breaking up the noodles. When the pressure is fully released, open the lid. Don’t worry about the cheesy part just sitting on the top, we’re going to get it all mixed it.  Grab your whisk and go to town on those noodles. Don’t stir with a spoon because you’ll won’t be able to separate the macaroni.

Serve and enjoy!

Believe it or not, it is faster than the stove top. I know this because I did a test. One box of mac and cheese on the stove top and one on the IP. I actually put the water on to boil on the stove top first and then threw the ingredients in the Instant Pot. The IP was done about 2 minutes before the stove top was done. But the best part? I didn’t have water boiling over on the stove and I didn’t have to watch and stir anything. Win, win, win!


Diffuser Sale

Are you ready for this? Spark Naturals has diffusers on sale this week – 15% off! That’s a pretty nice deal but it gets even better. You can still use a coupon code for another 10% off. That means you get a diffuser for 25% off!

Diffuser Sale

I absolutely love diffusing my oils. Not only does it make the room smell wonderful but you’re breathing in all the wonderful properties of the oils. I diffuse Respire almost every night to help with the snoring coming from the other side of the bed. Sometimes I diffuse Jeddy’s in the school room when we’re having a particularly difficult day. Sometimes I just diffuse something to smell nice – like lemon. Mmmm, love the smell of lemon!

Shop here for diffusers and don’t forget to add coupon code plainjane to get your full 25% off! Also any sale over $55 includes free shipping.

Essential Oils and Nails

I love finding new ways to use my essential oils. I have recently purchased some new products that work so great with essential oils that I just had to share.

I just discovered Jamberry wraps and i love them. I’ve used them twice. They’re pretty easy to put on and look great unlike the nail “stickers” you get at the drugstore. Plus they last for more than a week. Bonus!

But when I wanted to take them off, I was worried about the stickiness lingering. I didn’t purchase Jamberry’s other products for applying and removing so I knew I’d have to improvise. I was contemplating what might work best when I remembered that lemon oil works great at removing price tag stickers.

I grabbed my lemon oil and put on drop of the edge of my finger and just started rubbing it around the edges of my nail. Sure enough, the wrap started to loosen. I lifted an edge and continued rubbing lemon oil across my nail, gently pulling the wrap off. Voila! The Jamberry wrap was off and my nail was smooth and lemony. No sticky residue left behind.

Essential Oils and Nails

The second time I tried Jamberry wraps I rubbed some sweet almond oil into my cuticles before applying the wraps. The almond oil softened my cuticles so I could gently push them back in preparation for the wraps. Next time I think I’ll add a drop of Frankincense too.

I also learned that if you use a spray to keep those pesky mosquitos off you, the DEET (which we already know isn’t anyone’s friend) will eat away at the Jamberry wraps. Forget that nasty chemical stuff and grab SN’s Nature blend. I dab it on my neck, wrists, and legs (if they’re exposed which, let’s face it, isn’t too often these days). No more bugs bugging me!

Loving Jamberry wraps and Spark Naturals essential oils together!

Get 10% off any Spark Naturals order with coupon code plainjane.

Summer Skin Care Sale

Spark Naturals is returning to Items of the Week. And this week the theme is Summer Skin Care. These are some of my favorite SN products.

Lavender is an all around favorite of mine for calming both mind and body. A fun tip – a drop of lavender in your mascara keeps it free from bacteria and helps it last longer.
Geranium is one I use with argan oil as my moisturizer every single day. My skin is soft with fewer blemishes and wrinkles (and yes, they’re starting).
Rose Water spritz is refreshing each day but especially in the summertime. It’s so cool and makes you feel lovely.
Witch Hazel is what I use as my daily skin toner but I also use it in a lot of first aid for cuts and especially bruises.
Carrot Seed is quickly becoming a favorite of mine for skin care. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t love the carrot smell but I can’t believe the results I’m getting with dry skin. Cookie’s skin has been really dry and though salve has been helping it wasn’t healing very fast. I started adding carrot seed oil and I see improvement every single day! Add a drop or two of carrot seed to a carrier oil or salve and you’ll be amazed at the results.

All of these are 10% off this week and you can get another 10% off with coupon code plainjane.


March Deals of the Month

Spark Naturals’ Deals of the Month for March have been announced and they include many of my favorites!





Eucalyptus Oil: Fantastic for congestion. Did you know that you can make your own VapoRub to use for chest congestion? No petroleum going into your body. I use coconut oil with a couple drops of eucalyptus. This is also a great oil for muscle pain. I use it in my blend for relieving a stiff neck along with rosemary and wintergreen.
Pure Touch: This is a blend of wild lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, fir, naiouli, melaleuca and peppermint essential oils. It was originally designed as a massage oil for relieving stress but can also be diffused to help relieve mental and emotional stress.
Citrus Kit: This kit contains grapefruit, lemon, lime, and wild orange. Citrus oils are some of my favorite oils because they are versatile. You can use them for cleaning your home; as an air freshener; in cooking; in your water to aid in digestion and weight loss. These four oils together in one kit are a great deal.
Rose Water: This is one my favorite beauty products. I spritz rose water on my face and all over daily. I feel like I’m going back to the days of my grandmother and earlier when they would use rose water as a beauty aid and perfume. It’s a delightful smell and always gives me a little pick-me-up.
5pk droppers (5ml size or 15ml size): These droppers are wonderful for being able to get a precise number of drops. Because essential oils are so concentrated, you must remember that less is more. Just a drop or two is enough. Sometimes the orifice that comes on the bottle doesn’t allow for counting drops so these droppers some in very handy. They come in two sizes depending on what size bottle you need them for. Be aware that storing them in the bottles can cause problems.
The Fragrant Mind book: Another excellent book by Valerie Ann Worwood, this one deals with emotional and mental health.

These deals are good for the entire month of March. As always you can get 10% off your entire Spark Naturals’ order with coupon code plainjane.

Master Bedroom – The Wallpaper

The Big Guy and I bought our current home just over 10 years ago. We had plans from the beginning on what changes we might make to the house. Not that it was a fixer-upper. On the contrary, it’s a beautiful home that suits us perfectly. But it’s an older home (over 30 years) and there are some cosmetic changes to be made. Of course right after we moved in, we started our family. It seems like we’d just decide on a project and there’d be a baby instead. So here we are ten years later with my first project still undone.

I loved everything about the house the minute I walked into it except for one thing: the wallpaper in the master suite. It’s not that it’s ugly. It’s just that I hate it. Really, really hate it. After two to three years, we decided to get the wallpaper out of the bathroom. What a project that was! It took forever – probably because I was also pregnant.

When the bathroom was done and I had two children to take care of, the bedroom had to wait. Then baby #3 came along and the bedroom had to wait again. But now! Now, it’s time!

Two days ago, we moved furniture out of the bedroom. Old broken desks – gone. Ugly dresser – gone. Bed – ready to be painted to go with the new room.

Yesterday, the Big Guy rented a steamer for the wallpaper. It took a while to get going but once we did, the wallpaper started peeling right off. It’s taking a little longer than we anticipated – but isn’t that the way it always goes?

Since this is really our first redo, I thought I’d share it with you. I’m excited to get to the end result. Mostly because – until the wallpaper is out and the room is painted – this full-size air mattress is our bed. Not delightful.






Here’s the room before (never mind the clutter, please – we were still sorting things out). Don’t you love the wallpaper?

IMG_4924 IMG_4923





Progress is being made!





Today we’re getting the carpet cleaned. Hallelujah!

More updates to come.

February Deals of the Month

Here’s another reason that I love Spark Naturals. For some time now, they have had special Item of the Week deals. Always fantastic but I can’t afford to place an order every week to take advantage of the deals. Well, I’m happy to announce that Spark Naturals will now be offering Deals of the Month. For an entire month, there are a number of specials – not just one.

For the month of February, here are the deals.
SN Feb 2015 DOTM




The Aromatic Kit This kit contains some the best aromatherapy oils and blends:
Wild Orange
White Fir
Ylang Ylang

Hemp Seed Oil is available in a 4oz bottle and an 8 oz pump bottle. This is one of my favorite carrier oils.

Lemongrass Oil is available in 5ml and 15ml bottles.

Amend + is an oil blend that is wonderful for muscle pain. This is a new blend for SN that’s similar to their original Amend blend but, whereas that blend is for soothing sore muscles, Amend + relieves pain. Caution: Amend + contains birch so if you are allergic to aspirin or are pregnant, you will want to avoid this blend.

Organic Body Care Recipes  I don’t have this book…yet. But it looks like a great place to start if you want to make your own skin care products.

Last but definitely not least, SN is introducing a new diffuser and it’s included in the deals of the month. This is seriously gorgeous and I want it. Zaq Bamboo diffuser holds more water and lasts anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on which mode you use.

I am so excited about the new Deals of the Month. It will be so much easier to put together a single order for the month and take advantage of the wonderful deals and products that Spark Naturals has to offer.

As always, get 10% off your entire order (whether it contains any of the deals or not) with coupon code plainjane.