Best Inexpensive Instant Pot, Smart TV and Recipe for Vinyl Siding Cleaner, Too

Dear Mary: I have always valued your comments about various products and can honestly say that I have never been disappointed in anything I bought after reading your recommendations.

Have you done any research on the Instant Pot Multi-Functional pressure cookers? With Christmas around the corner I was thinking that might be a good gift. Thank you so much. Conni

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Dear Conni: Thank you for your kind words and your trust. That means the world to me.

Yes I am very familiar with Instant Pot, a single electric appliance that functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning, yogurt maker, steamer and warmer—seven appliances in one! What makes Instant Pot so amazing is that is has a micro processor (think: computer) and comes with 14 built-in programs that offer adjustable cooking modes, up to 24 hours of delayed cooking and automatic keep warm for up to 10 hours, to name a few. Instant Pot has all of the features we wished our slow cookers and pressure cookers had.

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This appliance can turn out perfectly poached eggs in 2-3 minutes, baked potatoes in 12 minutes. I don’t want to get too dramatic here, but I really believe that Instant Pot has the power to change a home cook’s life.

I can’t say too many good things about Instant Pot and agree with you that an Instant Pot would make a wonderful gift for a very lucky foodie on your Christmas list.

While there are a number of different Instant Pot models, my pick for the best inexpensive option is Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi Functional Pressure Cooker 6 QT/1000W. It is sweet! About $120. 


Dear Mary: I have read your advice for years and have gained so much from the tips you have sent.  My husband and I are thinking of buying a big screen TV. We have been told to get a smart one. Can you give me any recommendations on a good one? Thanks, Judy

Dear Judy: I agree that if you’re going to invest in a new television it really should be one that is internet-enabled that supports movie streaming from content providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the basic definition of a smart TV. These days there are so many to choose from—each with its own features and price range starting as low as a $170 for an entry-level 32-inch model up to $20,000 for an 88-inch curved screen model that broadcasts in 4K Ultra HD (high definition)!

Here’s my advice. First decide where you will put this television. That will help you determine the best size. Next, determine how much you are willing to spend. If you live within driving range of either Costco or Sam’s Club, go there. You can get a day pass if you are not a member, just to look around. Talk with the folks in the TV department. You’ll learn a lot. And you’ll see some great prices on beautiful smart TVs.

Now with all of that said, if you don’t want to go TV shopping because you would rather just order one online and have it delivered to your home with free shipping (that’s me), here’s my pick for the best inexpensive way to do that: TCL 50-inch 1080P HD Roku Smart LED TV. For the money, it’s a great TV. About $380.

Need a bit more help than that? Amazon has introduced a great new online feature that will take all the guesswork out of finding the right TV to fit your needs. Check it out HERE.


Dear Mary: I am looking for the formula to wash down a vinyl-sided house that I read here years ago. I recall that one of the ingredients was Spic ’n Span. Hope you can help. Thank you, Connie

Dear Connie: I can! Here it is:

VINYL SIDING CLEANER: 2/3 cup Spic ‘n Span, 1/2 cup powdered Tide laundry detergent, 1 quart liquid chlorine bleach, 3 quarts very hot water. Mix ingredients very well in a 2-gallon bucket, and allow to stand for 4 to 5 hours. Pour this concentrate into an ordinary hose end garden sprayer set to the mid-point, and apply to vinyl siding. Leave solution on siding for 5 minutes, remove the hose end sprayer and rinse the siding well with a hose.

Hope that helps and let me know how it works for you! By the way, you can always find past columns at EverydayCheapskate.com. Use the handy search bar to type in a keyword.

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