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Inside Deals (May 4th, 2017)

1. Product rec: 

Zojirushi Rice Cooker

When it comes to cooking gadgets, I find many of them to be crazy expensive, confusing, complicated, or just not particularly useful. Rice cookers are the exception. My rice cooker costs $40, is SUPER simple (it only has one button!), and it is incredibly useful. It's a "smart" cooking device from before the era of "smart" devices. Here's how it works:

You measure the correct amount of water and rice, quinoa, or lentils. Then you press the button. Then, the device cooks the grains to perfection – at which point it switches from "cook" mode to "warm" mode. How does it know when to do that? Doesn't matter. (Actually, it's kind of cool: it uses a thermometer. When the grains are floating in water, the temperature will never rise above 212 degrees, but when the rice is finished, it will. So as soon as the temperature rises above 212, the cooker switches to "warm" mode.

How good of a job does it do? Let's just say this: if you have average/decent cooking skills, it's really hard to get rice right – and the rice cooker will make better rice than you can on the stove. If you're the guy from Jiro Dreams of Sushi...you might want to stick with what's working.

So, that's our recommendation for today: a magical device that saves you time, makes you better at cooking, and even has "smart" features, for $42. (I've had mine for five years, with no issues except a $10 replacement of the glass lid when I dropped it last year)

Here a few links:

1) The Zojirushi rice cooker that I own. It's perfect. ($42)

2) The larger/fancier Zojirushi rice cooker (which I've had my eyes on for larger gatherings) ($165)

3) You might know Roger Ebert as a famous film critic. Well, his work actually spanned much wider than just film (and all of it is truly exceptional IMO), including taking the time write a book about rice cookers. If you're giving the rice cooker as a gift, this book is a great add-on. (The Pot and How to Use it, by Roger Ebert; $11)

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2. Steep discount: 

Fitbit Flex 2 for $59.99 (40% off)

I bet at least two of these things are true:

You want to get more exercise You love gadgets You haven't gotten your mom a Mother's Day gift yet (it's next week!) You love a great discount You're at least mildly competitive

Well. We've really got a deal for you. It's a cool gadget (#2 above) to compete with your friends (#5) on fitness achievements (#1). It's available TODAY ONLY for 40% off (#4). And, it makes a great Mother's Day gift (#3).

So, now that you have five reasons to buy at least one of these, here you go:

Fitbit Flex 2 ($59.99, 40% off)

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3. Passive Income Story:

Photography

Generating income by taking photographs may sound like a long shot, but it turns out there's a pretty practical way to work up a little passive income and improve your eye for framing great photos at the same time. Just basic camera ability is all you need. Stock photograph websites like Shutterstock and iStockphoto get visited thousands of times a day by professional publishers, news producers, editors, and writers, looking for images of this landmark, that beach, this city park, that particular kind of sandwich, etc. If you can identify a subject that fulfills a clear need (i.e. a particular location you may have easy access to, or a sporting event that is held nearby) those stock photo websites will host your photos and you can take either a percentage or a flat fee from sales of your shots. The hardest part is doing the research and identifying a subject that isn't well-covered but that you may have particular access to. If you can figure that part out, the revenue opportunities are absolutely there. 

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4. Money-saving trick:

Hack your Crockpot

Here's a simple heating trick that's pretty cool: If you have a crock pot, you can use it during the winter months to add humidity to the air and "stretch" the heat you're paying for, allowing you to save on heating bills. Put the crock pot in your bedroom, fill it with water, take the lid off, and set it to low. It costs almost nothing to run a crock pot all night. The only challenge is getting used to the site of big red (or whatever color you choose) crock pot in your bedroom, but when it gets really cold it might not seem so silly.

Here are a few other worthwhile uses of a crock pot not having to do with food, from the Huffington Post.

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5. DIY Project:

Hipster dog bed

Got an old suitcase you don't use for travel anymore that has a hard shell exterior? Got a dog? Then we've got a nifty idea for you. With just that old suitcase, the heads of four wooden dolls, and a big, nice pillow that fits the interior snugly. Goodbye useless old blocky suitcase, hello DIY dog bed!  

If you don't have a dog but do have the old suitcase, you can still re-purpose it as one heck of a conversation-starter as far as comfy chairs go. For that project, you just need the suitcase, 4 legs with screw-on attachment, a piece of plywood, and either a pillow or a section of foam to fill the suitcase.

More on this one over at Gramkin Studio

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6. Crazy Travel Deal:

Icelandic cruise ($4000 off)

WindStar cruises are offering a week-long cruise around Iceland at 48% off its usual fare. The package includes seven nights of shipboard accommodations and meals; a trip to Seyðisfjörður, a deep fjord that is home to colonies of puffins; a hike to Hengifoss Waterfall; and a visit to the island of Heimaey, known as the "Pompeii of the North." The cruise is a round-trip from Reykjavik .

Travel and Leisure have the package available from $4,299, down from the usual $8,199. Cruises must be booked by May 12 under the promotion. 

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