Archive | February, 2009

Chicken Riggies Recipe

February 28, 2009

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I concocted this Chicken Riggies Recipe after eating it at the Hotel Utica in Utica, NY. Chicken Riggies is a local creation– a very yummy creation– in Utica, NY. “Riggies” is the local slang for rigatoni pasta. Here in Central New York, there are a lot of Italians and, therefore, we have a lot of terrific Italian recipes. I am not Italian, but I grew up in an Italian home in an Italian area of NY. So, I cook a lot of Italian dishes. Here’s one of my recipes. I initially posted this on my New York Traveler blog, where it was Stumbled and was plastered all over the Internet.

As with a lot of Italian dishes, the ingredients are largely “a little this” and “a little that.” That’s how I cook. Chicken Riggies is a chicken and tomato cream sauce with sherry. If you like creamier sauces, add more cream; if you like a spicier dish, add more cherry peppers; etc. This is a great recipe to experiment with, because you can do so much with it. Here’s how I like it (which is: less creamy, more tomato-y, and less saucy).

Chicken Riggies on Plate

Chicken Riggies
Feeds an army or 3 to 4 Italians

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 hot cherry peppers (from the jar), seeded and chopped (add less or more if you are a glutton for punishment)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cans (28 oz. or so) diced tomatoes
  • 4 leaves freshly chopped basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup sherry (optional; I always add it)
  • 4 to 5 chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces*
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup light cream (depending on taste)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • 2 1-lb. boxes of penne rigati or rigatoni

Chicken Riggies Ingredients

* I usually pre-boil the chicken breasts for about 15 minutes, just as they are turning tender. However, in the summer, I grill a few extra chicken breasts, cube them, and freeze them specifically for this recipe. I simply pull them out when it’s Chicken Riggies time. The grill flavor really comes out for this dish. […]

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Working From Home Opportunities

February 27, 2009

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I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for some work-at-home jobs. So far, I haven’t found anything besides paid blogging. Blogging for pay is an ups and downs kind of career, with dry spells from time to time. Perks can be very nice, from a promotional free hotel stay as payment, or cash payment, or keeping the items that your review. I just love blogging, and it seems to like me as well. Nonetheless, work is not always consistent, and it helps to have a different job to rely upon.

I thought I’d share my little resource list in case you are looking for some work, too. Jobs ARE out there, you just have to be the right person in the right place at the right time. Here are some places that may help you:

Tutor.com
You have to be certified to be a tutor. Check the site for more details.

WriterAccess
Writing jobs, essays. This looks like a great job, but it seems that the pay is rather low for all the work involved. Might be good for a teen who shows proficiency in writing.

Kelly At Home
I’ve applied and sent my resume weeks ago, and haven’t heard a peep.

About.com
They are always looking for people who specialize in quirky things, like beadwork or sailing or urology. They have little About.com blogs, and these kinds of jobs look terrific! But so far, none of their specialities are my specialities.

Finally, there are two blogs I enjoy visiting every day, checking for various openings and jobs. They are the Work At Home Mom Revolution and the Work From Home Mother. They also have tips and other helpful posts about working at home. I’ve applied to a few of the places they’ve posted about, but nothing yet. Maybe you can find something helpful!

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The Dreaded Ice Dam

February 25, 2009

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There has been a persistent, nasty smell of mildew in the house this week. Its DRIVING ME CRAZY! I have a sensitive sense of smell, and it’s unbearable to smell the mildew. I’m ready to claw the walls out.

I dealt with this last year, when we completely gutted and renovated the living room. But now the smell is back… and I can’t locate where it is coming from. I strongly suspect it may be an ice dam somewhere.

I wrote about ice dams here, last year. Ice dams are formed on the roof of a house, when melting water builds up beneath a blockage of ice. They are very common here in Northeast, where we might have a daytime temperature of 40 degrees F (melting the ice enough to get the water flowing) and then a night time drop to 10 degrees (causing a freeze). This freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle wreaks havoc on the roof, particularly on the gabled and steep-roofed areas of our homes. Older homes are especially susceptible, because they were built before insulation and before the standardized sealing of air leaks and soffits. And then there is my house, which is like Swiss cheese.
Moreover, the knuckleheads who insulated the attic here completely filled in the soffits with dusty fiberglass cellulose, sealing off the air flow and creating a tropical rainforest in the attic. It would have been better if they never insulated at all, than to have insulated incorrectly. Because now we are stuck with a ton of problems and a sticky, gooey, cellulose insulation cleanup, too. *sigh*

So there’s moisture somewhere in the walls again. For all I know, we could have ice dams leaking into all the corners of the walls! Gah! I have the windows wide open today (its 15 degrees outside) to air the house out. We’re going to have to gear up with our icebreaker merinos and shovels, and get the ice off the roof today, too. I don’t know what else to do, besides claw down the walls…

In the Bible, in the Old Testament, it says to rip a house down if mildew is found, and rebuild from scratch. I am THIS CLOSE right now. Somedays I look at this place and wonder how on earth I’m going to get it all done, and still be sane (and not go bankrupt!) at the same time. GRRRRRR!

There’s a great website called InspectAPedia if you want to learn more about ice dams and how to treat/prevent them. The site also has other helpful articles, too.

Photos from Frugal Yankee.

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Watch This Stuff

February 24, 2009

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In August, I wrote a post about “planned obsolescence” and a great video called “The Story of Stuff.” In a nutshell, the video tells us that our economy relies on the constant activity of the shopper (that is, shopping) to keep the economy rolling. That’s why so few save, debt is so high, and it’s why the stuff we buy does not last. I was once again reminded of this when I wrote my post about my 6-month-old vacuum cleaner breaking down (and it never really worked right, anyway). This planned obsolescence and shopping craze is a system, a purposeful plan by governments to cash in on our slave labor and on more power and trading.

This video, “The Story of Stuff,” spells out the entire system and how it works. It’s a GREAT video and I think it’s very timely. Here is a trailer of the entire video.

See? Why else do we have to replace, on a CONSTANT basis, everything from toasters to vacuums to bathroom vanities to cars? That’s why!

This kind of an economy is not sustainable. There is an END to its cycle, and it isn’t a happy ending. Governments (who have grown fat off our backs with this kind of economy) are doing everything they can to prevent the end, but by prolonging the agony, we will experience the economy’s long, agonizing death. The only ones who will walk away with money in their pockets will be the international bankers (in the U.S., this includes the Federal Reserve) and the politicians (who are paid by the international bankers). Looking to the government for “change” will further enslave us into their system, as we are seeing right before our eyes.

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Follow Up on the GE Upright Vacuum

February 23, 2009

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GE Vacuum fail

Another vacuum bites the dust. :-p

We got this machine in October, and have been trying to endure it since then. We’ve resisted the urge to throw it out the window… but have come pretty close a few times. I wish vacuum manufacturers would realize that we consumers don’t want a vacuum with the latest doo-dad, fancy accoutrement, microchip and hard drives that remember our last vacuum session, etc!!! I just want a vacuum that VACUUMS! Simple enough?! Gah!

I bought this particular GE vac because it is lightweight, has a powerful motor, and is bagless. The vacuum directions say to replace the little filter once a month ($10 per filter). But the filters on this thing are teeny-tiny– the size of an index card. And my old house is very dusty (we have a bird and the walls are the original plaster). So guess how frequently I have to replace the filter? ONCE A WEEK. Yes you read that right. ONCE a week. If I don’t, the vacuum will not pick anything up. I’ve had it! Forget it! No more of this.

Anyway, I think I’m going back to bagged vacuum cleaners. My experiments with the filter/bagless models have all failed, and the filters are costing me a fortune. It’s like printer ink– the printers are inexpensive cheapos, but the manufacturers getcha with the cost of the ink. Grrrr.

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My Kitten Update

February 20, 2009

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The other day, I realized I haven’t had a kitten update in quite some time. The horror! I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting like this! 😀 After all, she is the cutest little kitty in the whole wide world! How can I neglect her adoring fans like I have!

Livvy is now 7 months old. She was spayed…. kind of. She had the operation, but… the vets found nothing inside. WEIRD. I’m still not sure if the problems is with Livvy’s innards or with the vet’s eptitude. Time will tell.

Anyway, Livvy is just like us, like one of the family. She “talks” to us, too. When we discuss things with her, she makes little meows and close-mouthed “pulses” of kitty sounds, as if she were responding. It’s absolutely adorable. I haven’t had a chance to try to capture it on video yet.

When we are cleaning the house, she is cleaning the house. (She especially likes sweeping the floor– when we are using the broom to gather all the dirt, she gladly comes charging in to scatter it all over the floor again!). And, she likes “helping out” with the laundry.

LivvyDryer2

[…]

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Housing Market Bottoming Out?

February 18, 2009

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We can only wish. Then we’d have nowhere to go but up.

According to Bloomberg, this may be the year the housing market bottoms out. Hmm. I am skeptical; we’ll see. I haven’t seen any moves by anyone to tighten the belt or hit a diet supplements routine. Instead, I still see an awful lot of gorging!

U.S. home prices will reach bottom by the end of the year, concluding a slide that will have cut values 36 percent, Moody’s Economy.com said today.

“Notwithstanding the intensifying economic gloom, the bottom of the housing downturn is within sight,” chief economist Mark Zandi said in a statement today. “Presuming we see strong action by policymakers to help support the economy and the housing market, prices will begin to recover by the end of this year.”

Demand for new and existing homes began to fall in 2005, marking the end of a five-year U.S. housing boom fueled in part by easy credit for subprime borrowers. Existing home prices tumbled from an average high of $230,200 in July 2006 to $175,400 in December, according to data from the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors.

U.S. home prices will fall another 11 percent on average before stabilizing, according to Moody’s Economy.com. The Case- Shiller home price index will fall 36 percent from its 2006 peak to the bottom this year, Zandi’s study said.

About 62 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed will record double-digit declines in home prices by the end of the slump, according to today’s report. Prices will fall more than 50 percent in former boom areas such as southeast Florida and parts of California, including Riverside.

The rest of the nation is experiencing what we in New York State have been seeing for the past 15-20 years. So here, the housing market decline is not as unbearable… to every cloud there’s a silver lining, I guess… *laughs manically*.

You know, when the American people were clamoring to the government, demanding that the government “create jobs,” I think Americans forgot to tell the leaders– “Uh, we meant create more jobs for AMERICANS.” Because that’s a lot of the problem, here– the outsourcing of everything, everything except retail industry jobs. You just cannot base an economy on “Paper or plastic?” and “Do you want fries with that?” DUH!!!

Anyway, it’s really up to us to make this economy work. Shopping our way out a recession is not going to work– getting out of debt, building savings, and living frugally is what will do it.

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My Review of the Oral B Pulsonic

February 17, 2009

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Two of our kids got Oral B electric toothbrushes and we’ve been testing them out for quite a while. You can read about my review on the Oral B Triumph (which is AMAZING, really!) here. My youngest son- a reluctant brusher- has been dentally-transformed by the Triumph, and we love it!

Oral B Products

It’s my daughter who got the Oral B Pulsonic (in the photo above, it’s to the left). She has braces. She had to get braces because they were medically necessary– her teeth were so mangled and snaggly that she was going to have dental and jaw problems if we didn’t straighten her teeth. She’s always had problems with her teeth […]

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2009 Bathroom Trends

February 17, 2009

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Well, despite gloomy news in the housing market, people still have rickety old houses that need renovating (like yours truly). I’ve been keeping my eye on “trends” for renovations and new construction for several years now, trying to stay slightly ahead of the game; so, when it comes my time to gut my kitchen or bathroom, I’ll be modernized and efficient (and therefore won’t have to re-update in 5 to 10 years like so many of my neighbors do). One thing I have learned is– keep it simple. You can’t go wrong with keeping things simple. I try to think beyond design and make systems and functions simple, too.

According to the UK’s House to Home, the bathroom trends for 2009 are:

  • Natural Beauty
  • Hotel glamour
  • Freestanding baths
  • Shower power
  • Bathroom storage

I like that list (nice and simple!), however it’s missing one thing– a trend toward “universal design.” Universal design is what I am considering to be the ideal standard bathrooms design. With the majority of the populace getting older (Baby Boomers and such), universal design is becoming almost standard in new bathroom design, but it is commonly overlooked in renovation. I am using it in small ways myself now, and intend on going that route entirely when I remodel the bathrooms.

Universal design is kind of like the ergonomics for bathroom accessories. For example, instead of round doorknobs, which are more difficult for older hands to twist and open, use lever door handles. Instead of moulded bathtubs that are integrated into the wall (bathtubs that are very difficult to climb in and out), use kudos showers that have doors, even wider, bi-fold doors,– you can just walk in. Some showers even have stools and should definitely have handles.

Common universal design features:

  • Grab bars in tub/shower and around toilet area
  • Walk-in tubs and/or showers; showers with seats; tub handles placed to the side and not inside the tub/shower
  • Elevated (taller) sinks and cabinets, to eliminate bending to wash hands and face
  • Lever door handles and lever faucet handles
  • Wider doorways and wider tub/shower entrances (36″ wide) to accommodate wider people and/or wheelchairs
  • Taller toilets, or toilets on pedestals, to eliminate bending; elongated toilets instead of round ones

So while I like natural neutral colors, hotel glamour, and “shower power,” I think a trend that should remain consistent and never become outdated is universal design. Don’t overlook this when renovating or building! You will thank yourself when you are older.

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Springtime… When Our Thoughts Turn To…

February 12, 2009

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A NEW WARDROBE! Yeah, baby! A number of my girlfriends are returning to the workforce, now that our kids are all older. It’s a great feeling to realize that you’ve (finally) raised the kids and they can now fend for themselves, haha! I haven’t found a new job yet (I am still looking for something, at least part-time), but I am preparing myself by

1.) getting up earlier (hee);
2.) combing my hair every morning; and
3.) looking for a new, “outside” wardrobe.

Which of course means that the fuzzy pink slippers and gray sweats have to go….

How about you? Looking for some classy pieces to add to your wardrobe, but maybe you are a little tight on cash? Check this out: Roman Originals. Classy! Roman Originals has the best selection of tailored skirts and trouser suits I’ve seen. And we’re not talking about the boring old navy-stripe or black polyester stuff, either. I saw this jacket and fell in love. Isn’t that the classiest jacket you’ve ever seen in your life?! It’s charcoal-color single-breasted with fully-lined satin fabric. Gorgeous. They’ve got a terrific sale, too– buy a jacket and get the matching bottom trousers for free! And Roman Originals offers free shipping too, for qualifying purchases (orders over £75). I love the styles, because they don’t make you look like a man– the suits are extremely feminine with feminine styling and fit. Check the site for a free 20% off voucher.

Roman Originals has been in business snce 1957, so they know a thing or two about women’s clothing needs and styles. They’ve got dresses, skirt suits, outerwear, eveningwear, and more to offer. Check them out- the prices are great and the quality is stunning.

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