Showing posts from March, 2011

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Home

Spring Cleaning!  Non-Toxic, Homemade Cleaning Solutions

Store-bought cleaning solutions are usually pretty expensive, especially if you buy non-toxic, aromatherapeutic cleaning products like I do.  My favorites are the Caldrea products (check out their new fragrances) and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products (love the lemon verbena and lavender scents).  I've used the Method line of cleaning products for a long time, and I especially like their wood cleaning wipes.

As part of my on-going battle against general household grunge, and I'm going to try out a couple of homemade cleaning solutions.

Here's a recipe for No-Streak Glass Cleaner from

1/4 c. white vinegar
1 T. cornstarch
2 c. warm water

Don't use too much vinegar or the acid will etch the glass surface and cloud the glass over time.

Mix the ingredients & pour into a spray bottle.  Wipe with crumbled newspaper for no-streak results.

For wood floors, from

Mix equal parts …

Tuesday's Cupboard—Oven BBQ'd Citrus Marmalade Chicken

A great way to use orange or lemon marmalade!

SPRING is here, and it's time to start thinking about chicken recipes that make the most of the season's invigorating flavors.

Serves 4
Prep Time:  About an hour

Preheat oven to 450°F

1 pack of chicken drumsticks (about 8 drumsticks)
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. any kind of citrus marmalade

1.  Clean chicken legs & remove skin layer at the base of the bone with a sharp knife.  Dab most of the water off with a paper towel.

2.  Line a baking sheet with foil & spray it with a light layer of PAM.  Arrange chicken legs in a single layer & season with salt & pepper.  Bake for 10 mins. on 450°.

3.  Brush with half of the marmalade & return to oven for 20 mins.

4.  Carefully remove chicken from oven & reduce oven temp to 350°.  Brush chicken legs with remaining marmalade & return to oven.  Bake for 10 more mins. until marmalade is carmelized to a dark brown & meat is starting …

Monday—The Reading Corner—NYT Kindle Covers—Lethal People

Something new for your Kindle!  New York Times Photo Archive Kindle Covers by Verso—$49.99 each

In celebration of over 100 years of photojournalism, the New York Times has partnered with Kindle and created three Kindle covers from the historic NYT photo archives.  These are iconic black & white images of New York City—the Flatiron Building, the Statue of Liberty & the Twin Towers, and a panoramic view of the city from the River House.  These covers fit the 6" display latest generation Kindles.

Note:  These covers do not have the attached retractable LED reading light.  The Verso clip-on reading light can be purchased separately through Amazon for $19.99 each.

I like the plain-color Amazon Kindle covers for $59.99 each, which do include the retractable light.

Lethal People, A Donovan Creed Novel (Kindle edition) - 99¢★ 1 star out of 5
This book is a detective story about a former CIA assassin who does not seem to have a moral compass.  He is a cold-blooded contract killer, …

Saturday Bonus—Earth Hour Today!

A global event to raise environmental awareness—Earth Hour
Participate on twitter (make your twitter icon go dark for an hour)
Earth Hour starts at 8:30 p.m. (in your time zone) today!  Power down for an hour and see what a collective difference you can make.

Mini-Post Thursday—What A Dame

Tweeted by Elizabeth Taylor on July 22 last year...

"Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind.  I love you."

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Home

Music for the Soul

Oh, man—I triple❤ this new album by Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, called Rare Bird Alert.Git yerself over to that iTunes link and listen to these songs!  They're really great.

Jubiliation Day is hilarious, about a guy breaking up with his girlfriend:

You know you're right
We should stay in touch
I'm walking away
This is your new email address, right?
Cheatin' psycho dish-throwin' ho dot. nut

Best Loveis a beautiful ballad elegantly performed by a shiny new bluegrass penny, Sir Paul McCartney.  Wow, exquisite.  I swear he sang this one for Linda.  Listen for hints of Wings in the last few bars.  In the beginning lyrics, I can picture Linda & Paul driving their convertible down the hazy California coast highway.

Things were nice in California
Loved our trip out to the coast
Did I say your mother phoned us?
You are my best Love

You look good in fancy dresses
Wish we bought that one that day
I even like your old ex-boyfriend
You are my best Lov…

Tuesday's Cupboard—Louisiana Red Beans & Rice

i ❤ Southern food

In celebration of my sister's move to Gainesville, Florida, this Spring, I'll be showcasing Southern things that I love, starting with Louisina Red Beans & Rice.

I've already reviewed a great book that takes place in Florida called, Swamplandia, by Karen Russell.  Be sure to check it out.  It's a fun read—and it has a red alligator!

Louisiana Red Beans & Rice
Troi's spicy version adapted from 2 recipes: EatingWell Magazine &

Prep time:  1 hour
Serves 4 to 6

1-1/2 c. brown basmati rice (or white basmati)
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion (Vidalia, Maui, etc.)
4 tsp. jarred, chopped garlic (or, minced fresh garlic)

1 c. chopped celery, including leaves
1 c. diced green bell pepper (1 lg. bell pepper)

1. 5 pounds lean Cure-81 spiral-sliced ham (or less, between 1.25 & 1.5 lbs.), chopped into 1" cubes 3 15-oz. cans red kidney beans or pink beans, drained & rinsed

1 tsp. M&B Spic…

Monday—The Reading Corner—Writers for The Red Cross

Bibliophiles To The Rescue!

I saw a Write4Red tweet this morning and thought I'd pass along the info to anyone who would like to help with disaster relief in Japan.  It is an online fundraiser for The American Red Cross, and since it is American Red Cross Month (March 1-31), it's a good time to get involved in some very much-needed relief efforts.  
First, a little patriotic, red-white-and blue, all-American history background on the Red Cross.  Clara Barton—nurse, teacher, civil rights activist, and superwoman—founded the first American branch of the Red Cross on May 21, 1881, in Dansville, New York.  She was a Victorian-era woman, and they had what it takes to get the job done.  They were educated and fearless, and they transformed their ideas into actions that to this day represent what is good and right about benevolent causes.  
She got the idea from a Swiss businessman and social activist named, Jean-Henri Dunant, who after witnessing the suffering of soldiers left on th…

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For The Home

Digging Up Your Roots

If you're already a family genealogist, you know two things:

How time consuming it is, and How addicting can be!
Depending on how long you've been at it, you might also know that uncovering the past can reveal amazing, and sometimes startling, answers to questions about your family and about yourself.

What separates good research from crappy research is accuracy and documentation.  Facts have to stand up to cross-referencing, and when it comes to family history, the documentation is often either incomplete or missing.  Actually, that is part of the fun, to separate facts from fiction and to shed light on events that may have been either forgotten or deliberately removed from the timeline.

With all of the great technology we have today, pictures and documents can be shared, reviewed and discussed online.  Free online genealogy research sites like, (a genealogical resource provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), the U.…

Tuesday's Cupboard—Simplify St. Patrick's Day

Grilled Corned Beef Sandwiches with Pickled Cabbage

From Bon Appétit, March 2011
Makes 4 sandwiches
Prep Time:  15 minutes (for deli-bought corned beef)
If you make your own corned beef, add several hours.

Equipment:  1 large nonstick skillet; a non-scratch spatula; 1 zip-loc bag & a mallet or hammer; a sharp knife for slicing sandwiches
Troi's extra side:  Spring greens & fresh baby carrots on the side.
To make this a pub meal, serve with salt & vinegar chips and a dark Guinness beer  

The Spread — Whisk mayo & Dijon in a small bowl & set aside.

1/4 c. mayonnaise (real mayonnaise, not light)2 tsp. smooth Dijon mustard (I use classic, smooth Dijon; okay to use course, country-style Dijon)
Pickled Cabbage

2 tsp. vegetable oil1—8 oz. package shredded green cabbage (or thinly slice your own to make 3 cups)1 c. thinly sliced sweet yellow onion2 tsp. whole coriander seeds, coarsely crushed in a zip-loc bag with a hammer or mallet1 tsp. whole celery seeds2 T. white wine vinegar…

Monday—The Reading Corner—Swamplandia!

Slow As Molasses, but Interesting

SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell
I'm about 15 percent of the way though this book, and I'm not sure whether I like it or not.  I've learned not to judge a book too early, though, so I'm going to keep slogging through this weird little first novel about a family-run amusement park in southern Florida.
The family calls itself the Bigtree family (a stage name), and the father is delusional, as far as I can tell.  The mom dies in the beginning, but I think she was delusional, as well.  They're all a little off, for that matter.  And, not in a fun, cute way.  More in a "Child Protective Services needs to come and help this family" kind of way.  
Before she dies of cancer, the mom is their star alligator wrestler.  She does not get chomped by a Seth—every alligator is called a "Seth." Business is booming until a Hell-themed mega-park moves into town and takes away all of their tourism.  The three teenaged kids were all home-…

Friday Extra—Bizarre Even for Santa Cruz

Boats on the sand in Santa Cruz harbor!  

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Home

A Simple Thank You & Becoming Unplugged

thank you: "An expression of gratitude"

A simple thank-you goes a long way!  How far, and why bother these days, right?  Is thanking someone an outmoded behavior?  Is there no longer an expectation that we should show our appreciation?  Why is it important to say, "Thanks"?

Adam M. Grant (associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School) and Francesca Gino (associate professor at Harvard Business School), looked at thanking behavior and wondered what it does for the person who is being thanked.  How are people affected by gratitude?

In a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (June 2010), they found that thanking people makes them want to help again in the future, while a neutral response made them a whole lot less likely to want to extend themselves again.  The people who received expressions of gratitude were also more likely to go out and do something nic…

Tuesday's Cupboard—Dreamy Lasagna

Comfort Food Extraordinaire! 
The weather is still cool, but the days are getting longer, which means that there is more to do.  The last thing I want to do after a busy day is cook, so I like to make casseroles ahead of time.  
Bon Appétit did their entire issue this month on comfort foods, so here is one that I highly recommend.  This hefty dish made 3 night's worth of dinners, and it is super yummy for the tummy!  

I stuck to the recipe and used no-boil lasagna noodles.  I soaked a few extra noodles and overlapped the edges to fill in the gaps.  My casserole did drip a little because I added extra pasta.  Just be sure to put a piece of foil on a lower shelf in the oven to catch any spills.  This was delicious reheated on nights 2 & 3!
Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese
8 to 10 servings

PREP TIME: 45 minutes