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Hodgepodge from The Geranium Farm

Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Monday, October 31, 2005


Who remembers when the really scary movies were the ones with Vincent Price and how spooky it was to walk home from the Saturday matinee
after seeing House of Wax, The Fly, The Pit and the Pendulum, or The Tingler, just to name a few? Then there was the one of the first 3-D movies, 13 Ghosts. It was really something for its time with the special glasses you had to wear to see the ghosts!

I remember one Halloween we were all watching House on the Haunted Hill on TV and I had gone in the kitchen to make some popcorn. Unknown to me my mom had put on this translucent face mask I had, gone outside to the window, and as I rounded the corner to walk back into the living room, she ran her fingernails down the screen. I let out a yell and popcorn went flying everywhere!

Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb

From the History Channel you can find out about the ancient origins of Halloween.

For more about our modern traditions of the holiday go to:

and lastly to find out the evolution of the holiday of Halloween go to:

Friday, October 28, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Find a Flu Shot)

My brother, John, passes along the following for you to find a flu shot in your area. Just go to the following website and enter your zipcode:

He says that if you are a senior and have a Medicare card you must bring it along. The clinics must accept it and not charge the seniors more.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF"

How many of you remember saving your milk carton at school, washing it out and putting on the UNICEF label so you could collect coins when you went Trick or Treating? I did all through elementary school. You can click on the link below to read the story about how it all got started.

To find out more about collecting donations through the Trick-or-Treat program:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Halloween Stuff for the Kids)

Deacon Joanna from More or Less Church passes along this from Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream website of some Halloween ecards, crafts, and games. (Sound on if you want to hear the special effects.)

and for their homepage for other fun stuff go to:

...and let me add to this for carving your pumpkin:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

“Supernanny” Teams With Acclaimed Autism Expert

This show is to air Friday, November 4 or check your local listings.

Supernanny Jo Frost teams with world-renowned autism expert Lynn Koegel, Ph.D., to tackle the parenting issues faced by a family whose three-year-old son is autistic.

The parents, Deirdre and Trae Facente don't know how to integrate their son Tristin into their daily life with their 4 year old twins, Kayla and Marlana. Tristin is non-verbal, caught up in his own world of spinning, jumping, swinging, and, often, taking off his clothes. The only time he spends with his family is sitting at the dinner table.

Lynn Koegel and Supernanny Jo work together to refine the “Supernanny” methods and teach all the Facentes about Koegel's inclusion and also communication techniques to help engage Tristin. In just a week, silent Tristin goes from zero words to speaking hundreds of times using over 20 new words. He is bursting with requests to play a favorite game, be tickled, or eat a treat.

Step-by-step, Jo and Koegel help the parents keep Tristin from his disruptive behaviors by including him in family chores and activities. These efforts culminate in the boy helping his dad set the table, a seemingly mundane task that is so miraculous for Tristin, it brings tears to Trae's eyes.

Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., is one of the world’s foremost experts on the treatment of autism. She and her husband, Robert L. Koegel, Ph.D., founded the renowned Koegel Autism Center at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She co-wrote the bestselling book on autism, Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope that can Transform a Child’s Life, and also co-authored with her husband the new book, Pivotal Response Treatments for Autism.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Food allergy affects disability, behavior

The following appeared on the Editorial page, Your Views, section on October 17th, 2005 of the Asbury Park Press, a New Jersey newspaper. I thought it was worth sharing.

"In the spring I submitted a letter about the public's ignorance in autism awareness. Recently, I discovered my own igorance of this disorder. I learned of something that could make a huge difference in my son's disorder, something his pediatrician failed to suggest: food allergies.

You would think a cheese sandwich on white bread with a glass of milk would be a perfectly healthy lunch. I did, until I found out these things contain ingredients harmful to my son's health and affecting his behavior.

A relative suggested we have our son checked for food allergies and, sure enough, his list is very long. Gluten, found in flour, and casin, found in milk products, were major offenders. He can not process gluten or casin, locking up his intestines, as well not allowing part of his brain to function properly.

In my last letter, I told of an experience with a cashier in a store who asked my son if I gave him too much sugar. My answer then was, "No, this is autisum." If I had know about food allergies, I could have said, "No, this is what a cheese sandwich does."

There are thousands of parents of children with autisum who had or still have no idea that a simple change in diet could make a world of difference. An allergist or a nutritionist and even possibly a gastroenterologist may help improve a child's behavior, social skills, and his or her ability to learn."
Christie Kaplan - Freehold Township

I would like to add to this that when David was very little there was a young neighborhood boy by my parents that had outbursts of uncontrolled anger and agression. I suggested that he might have food allergies and sure enough, when tested, he did. I remember some of what he was allergic to were apples, apple juice, wheat, and eggs. When these were removed from his diet his behavior drastically changed. When the mother mentioned it to her mother-in-law she said oh yes, her son had had food allergies as a youngster. Too bad she hadn't mentioned it sooner.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Breast Cancer Awareness Items)

My friend Diane passes along these websites for some different items for breast cancer awareness that she was told about on her recent walk.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Get Credit for Your Used Ink Cartridges

The Staples office supply store will give you a $3 credit good for three months from the date returned on each of your used printer ink cartridges. If you don't have a Staples in your area check with other office supply stores. Sometimes schools and other organizations take them for fund raising.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A-Pass-Along ( Dryer Safety)

We all know you should regularly clean out your lint trap but did you know that you should also wash it too? It seems that you get a waxy build-up from fabric softner dryer sheets. This invisible film will burn out the heat unit of your dryer. So use a little warm soapy water and a brush and gently scrub your lint trap clean. If your dryer has a moisture sensor you should clean that too. See directions for that and to read more about this go to the following link at where I always try to remember to check out such.
I held my lint trap under the faucet and on part of it the water went through, but on some of it the water pooled on top of it.
Thanks Carrie for passing this along.

In addition, from another link:

I found the following:

Don't Leave Wet Clothes Inside Your Dryer:

"Leaving damp clothes inside the drum may have adverse effects. A chemical chain reaction may occur when and if the conditions are right. Spontaneous ignition has proved to be the source of numerous laundry fires. The damp cloth plus the hot dry environment creates the conditions that support unassisted combustion. Once a fire starts inside the clothes drum it has the opportunity to grow and consume everything that is combustible. Lint in the trap, around the outside of the drum, under and behind the machine is fuel that ignites easily. When the fire reaches the outside of the machine, it is free and will search for more fuel. Any clothing piled up on the floor in front of the washer and dryer becomes that fuel. Unchecked fire will double its' size every minute, and will quickly reach ceiling temperatures of 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Shawl Ministry)

I have a group of women at my Parish who supply meals on an emergency basis to a family in need, such as a death in the family, a birth, a move, illness, etc. We have run errands, babysat, brought groceries, etc. We call ourselves, the “Sonshine Ministries.” I have been brainstorming recently to try and add a new dimension to this ministry, and stumbled on a wonderful website, I have already started to knit my first shawl for a woman recently widowed in our church. What an incredibly tangible way of wrapping someone with God’s love. The website is great, has lots and lots of information, and the instructions for making the shawl are so clear and easy to follow. I haven’t knitted in a zillion years, and fell right back into it. Thought you might want to pass this along.

I love your “blog,” and read it daily. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful tidbits of information with all of us.

In Christ’s love,


Thank you Wylie Hunt for the "Pass-Along"
P.S. - If you don't knit it says at the website: "The shawls can also be crocheted, quilted, woven or machine knitted as well!"

Monday, October 17, 2005

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Ovarian cancer it is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women age 35-74. Because there is currently no consistently reliable screening test* available for early detection it is most important for women to be aware of the symptoms and report them to their doctor. If diagnosed and treated early while it is still confined to the ovaries, ovarian cancer has a five-year survival rate of about 93%. Unfortunately, due to the disease’s non-specific symptoms, only 24% of all cases are found at this early stage. *(The Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer.)

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include: pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort; vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea, and indigestion; frequency and/or urgency of urination; unexplained changes in bowel habits; unexplained weight gain or weight loss; pelvic and/or abdominal swelling or bloating; pain during intercourse; and ongoing unusual fatigue.

For more information go to this link:

Please pass on this life saving information and be sure to go to the link to read more about it and what other tests are available to help detect it.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Giant Stuffed Shells

1 pound of ground beef
1 large chopped onion
1 crushed clove garlic
Brown the meat with the onion and garlic and drain off the fat, allow to cool.

8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly chopped Parsley
1 egg
salt and pepper

Mix the above ingredients with the cooled beef. Stuff into giant pre-cooked al dente' shells and place into a 13 x 9" pan on top of sauce. Top with remaining sauce. A spoonful of ricotta cheese can be placed on top of each and you can sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and/or mozzarella.
Bake: 400' for 20 - 25 minutes until bubbly.

2 jars of your favorite sauce can be used with 1/3 cup of dry red wine added.

This recipe was in TV Guide a very long time ago.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Story Behind Yom Kippur

Usually the stuff on religion is Deacon J's (More or Less Church) territory but I was curious and wanted to know more about the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and decided to find out more about it. Did you know that "the first Yom Kippur took place after Moses returned from his second trip to Mt. Sinai with the replacement set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments. He had broken the original set when he returned the first time to discover the children of Israel worshipping a golden calf rather than G-d, who brought them out from Egypt."
The following link will tell you more about it and even the origin of the word scapegoat.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Neck Coolers (Additional Info)

The directions for the neck coolers were on 8/10/05 posting. I have found that if you are going to make a quanity of them that the tool pictured above comes in handy.
To use it sew the right sides of your fabric together leaving the ends open and use this to turn it inside out.
Press flat, seam one edge and folded is the other edge.
Then, sew one end closed, sew off the one end area which is 13" in from the end, fill with a rounded 1/2 teaspoon moisture crystals, shake them down, sew off the other end of the neck area, and then sew the other end closed. No manner what length you make the ties, the neck area would be a 16" center area.

Also note: You need to soak them for at least 5 minutes, but soaking them longer will give you even more of the gel filling.

(I'm presently working on making a quanity of them to give to the Red Cross for the relief workers. For servicemen in desert areas make them tan to match their uniforms.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Quotation (Perfection)

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery French writer (1900 - 1944)

Are you an artist, writer, gardener, or enjoy some other creative pursuit? Have you labored over a project thinking it just needs a little more "tweeking" to perfect it? Perhaps what you have created is just perfect as it stands. Not only nothing more to add, but nothing that should be taken away.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A Prairie Home Companion

Last month when my friend Helen and I were riding home from the quilt expo we listened to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. The particular one we heard was a rebroadcast from another time.
In addition to the musical segments there is also always The News from Lake Wobegon. This one was about deer hunting. If you have such in your family you'll will surely get a laugh out of this, if not it's still funny.
Go to the following link and click on Segment 6 or you can listen to the whole show if you like.

For the home page go to:
Here you can find the station and broadcast time for your area as well as other information.

To find out more about Garrison Keillor and A Praire Home Companion go to:

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fund Free Programs

When you go to The Breast Cancer Site to click to give free mammograms there are also other things that you can fund for free. Just look at the tabs at the top.

There you'll also see the following sites: Hunger, Child Health, Literacy, Rainforest, and Animal Rescue. So click on these too and help fund their free programs.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A-Pass-Along (A question about Rustic Bakers)

The following is an email I received from Rev. Sue Doohan of Hearthstone Ministries and I told her I'd post her question as a Pass-Along.

"I cook and bake outside on a propane grill most of the summer and inside over an open fire most of the winter. Do any readers have experience with this? Cooking seems pretty much the same except there's less temperature control so you have to watch the pot more. Baking has been a challenge. Inside in the dutch oven, it's hard to get stuff to brown on the top and outside under the grill lid it's hard to get browning on the bottom. Also, things take longer to bake on both the hearth and grill. The old wives' wisdom is a "low" oven is one you can lay your hand atop, a "medium oven" is one you can touch without damage, but you wouldn't want to leave you hand resting on the lid, and a "hot" oven you don't want to touch at all. I'm finding I can turn out good quality and "done" baked goods, but their appearance isn't what it would be done in a conventional oven. Your thoughts?"

I told her I had never cooked in a Dutch oven and she sent along the following:

"If your Dutch Oven has feet, you can use it on the stovetop like a dutchoven. I would set it over a low fire or beside a hot fire and I would pull out come healthy but not flaming embers to put on top of the lid. You will essentially be using it as a slowcooker (sitting beside the heat you use for cooking other things) or the bottom rack of a conventional oven (because what you're baking will be near the heat source). When I use mine as a slow cooker, I'm cooking all day over the flames and the oven sits on a large rock which conducts heat as close to the flame as the pot can be without touching the flame. It works just like any other slow cooker in about the same time but you need to turn it occasional for even cooking. When I bake in the dutch oven, I put it on top of low flames, put a rack in the bottom of the pot so there's air space between what I'm baking and the heat source, and keep embers covering the lid. It usually takes a bit longer than the time a recipe calls for ... sort of like if your recipe calls for 350 but you're baking something that calls for 300 at the same time.

Here's another rustic lore I follow ... I only use dry salt to clean my cast iron cookware. First you wipe out as much as you can, then sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the bottom of the pan, then "scour" the rest off with the salt. When your're done (the salt gets dark gray), you dump that out, wipe off the residue and then wipe on oil or melted fat and oila` a virtually non-stick pan."
I thought Kosher salt might work well as it is coarser.

Effective Christianity Transforms Lives!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Komen Race for the Cure

Since October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month I thought you should know the link for the Komen Race for the Cure which is:

Here you can find a fitness run/walk in your area where it says "Find an Event"
or go to this link:

My friend Diane is going down to Tampa, Florida this Thursday to do a 3 day walk with some friends. We spent some time together on Sunday making her "Pink Chicks" group some matching neck coolers for the walk. You can find directions for the coolers on the August 10th, 2005 posting of Hodgepodge.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Chocolate Chip Mondel Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs
3/4 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup cooking oil
6 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix all ingregients and pour onto an UNGREASED cookie sheet and shape into an oval. Bake: 350' for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut into slices/bars. (Remove to a cooling rack any edges that are already browned.) Move the slices apart. Put back into the oven for another 10-20 minutes more and bake until desired crispness. They should be like a Biscotti.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Noodle Kugel (Noodle Pudding)

12 oz. pkg. wide noodle cooked firm and drained
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinammon
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 Granney Smith apples thinly sliced
1 stick unsalted butter cut up into small pieces
4 eggs well beaten
Mix all ingredients adding the eggs last.
Place in a greased 13 x 9 pan.
Bake 350' for 45-50 minutes until lightly browned.
(Chopped walnuts could be added into the mix if you like.)

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