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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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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Guess It's About Time For The Kids To Be Writing Those Thank You Notes

Well...I guess it's about that time when you try to sit the kids down and get them to write those thank you notes to Auntie and Uncle, Grandparents and such. I just happened to pull out of my night-table drawer an article I had tucked away from Country Living magazine from 1999! I re-read it and thought this is just the thing for any of you out there trying to get your kids to appreciate what goes into someone's effort in selecting, buying, and sending them a gift. So to that end I offer the following:

Thank You, Uncle Arthur by Faith Andrews Bedford
(Illustration is from the original article)

Google Earth – Explore, Search and Discover

"Want to know more about a specific location? Dive right in -- Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips."

"Fly from space to your neighborhood.
Type in an address and zoom right in.
Search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels.
Get driving directions.
Tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings.
Save and share your searches and favorites.
Even add your own annotations"

This is free but you have to download it first. Go to:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Things You Learn From The Movies

The following is from a T-Shirt I gave to Brian for Christmas that I got from Kohl's. I thought you might be able to add some of your own.

  • Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel back and forth.
  • One of a pair of identical twins is sinister
  • Good guys never run out of ammunition or ever have to reload
  • When you turn out the lights, everything in your bedroom will still be clearly visible, but slightly blue.
  • When chased on a staircase, always run upstairs rather than down.
  • If being chased through town, you can take cover in a passing St. Patrick's Day parade at any time of the year.
  • Dogs always know who's bad, and bark at them.
  • A police detective can only solve a case after he has been suspended from duty.
  • It's easy for anyone to land a plane, providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.
  • If staying in a haunted house, women investigate strange noises in their most revealing underwear.
  • A man will show no pain taking the most horrific beating, but will wince when a woman cleans his wounds.
  • Cars never start when you are running away from the bad guy.
  • Honest, hardworking policemen are usually gunned down a day before retirement.
  • If a tapping sound or flashing light represents Morse code, there is always someone near that can decipher the message.
  • During all crime investigations, it is necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
  • TV news bulletins contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.
  • Bombs always have big, blinking, beeping, timer displays.
  • Any lock can be picked with a credit card or paper clip.
  • Pretty blonde women can be world-famous experts on nuclear fission, dinosaurs, hieroglyphics or anything else at the age of 21.
  • Explosions in space make noise.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Delightful Evening of Music

It was late afternoon and I was on the road returning home when my cell phone rang. I expected it to be Paul but it was my friend Helen. Would I like to get out for awhile this evening? Jonathan's home from Colorado and we're having a few friends over and he's going to play his guitar. Ahhh....but of course, night out and Jon's guitar playing, I'll be there; and what a delightful evening it was. You see Jonathan, a very accomplished guitar player and lover of Celtic music, went with his friend Rosh to Ireland last year and they played their way around the country. They basically set the whole thing up over the Internet, playing their music in exchange for room and board. They played in some pubs but sometimes just in people's homes. They stayed in youth hostels, homes and inns. They even played for their meals. Jon's guitar was made in Ireland. It has the most beautiful sound. He had purchased it before he made the trip and was able to meet the man who made it. The circle was completed. (I wonder if he played for him? I didn't think to ask.)

Here are 3 tracks you can listen to:
#6 - What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Traditional Arr. By John Standefer)
#12 - Moran's Return (Traditional Irish Arr. By Pat Kirtley)
#13 - From Darkness (An Original work by Jon)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Childhood Christmas Memories

*Putting out milk and cookies for Santa (and then I think at some point it was suggested to switched it to Coke and pretzels...hmmmm?)
*Sneaking downstairs and seeing my parents putting together my first 2 wheel bike (and never telling them)
*The original Noma Bubble Lights on our Christmas tree, I could watch them for hours
*Houses all decorated in blue lights
*Driving around after dark to see all the Christmas decorations and lights
*Christmas parade in town with the Miss Merry Christmas float
*Shopping on Main Street for gifts and not a mall
*Saving up my money and buying my mom a nativity set from the fancy gift store in town
*Bob Hope and Andy Williams (with the Osmond Brothers) TV Christmas Specials
*Waiting forever for my parents to get up (and have their cup of coffee) so we could open our gifts
*Watching my dad put together a crystal radio set my brother got
*Getting a 3 foot Patty Play Pal doll from my Aunt and Uncle, taking it with us when we went out to a restaurant for dinner, and the waitress setting a place for it
*The bright pink embroidered comforter my brother sent when he was stationed in Korea
*Taking my new skates to Tommy's Pond and spending hours skating or going down the hill there on a sled or "Flying Saucer" I got one year
*The living room floor being covered in a sea of gift wrap (and my mom sometimes opening something carefully and saving the paper to use again, oh and always saving the bows of course)
*My mom calling back home to her parents, brothers and sisters and having a hard time getting through and when she did her Midwest accent would start to come back, and the saddest Christmas when my granddad died
*Seeing pictures from when we were little of the Christmas tree with all our gifts after they were opened and remembering certain toys
*Baking dozens of cookies to give away
*My mother making up a meal for a neighbor and always taking it over before we sat down to eat ours
*During Christmas vacation going into New York City. My dad would drop us off with my mom and we'd see the animated windows in the department stores, see the tree and skaters at Rockefeller Center (sometimes bringing our skates but we were never there at the right time to catch a session)
*Seeing the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall twice
*Going Christmas caroling in the snow
*The Christmas pageant at church, especially the year my brother forgot about his beard and he walked down the aisle with it hanging around his neck
*Midnight service with incense, candles and beautiful music, all made even more special when there was snow falling as we left the service, and after we'd go to the street that was lined with luminaries just to see the beautiful lights

Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Maggie
and the entire Loeb Family!
Debbie, Paul, David, Brian

Friday, December 23, 2005

What Are Your Favorite Christmas Memories or Family Traditions?

What are some of your Christmas memories?
Does your family have special traditions?
What will you pass onto your children?
What new traditions have you started?
Please share them with us.
Just write a line or two or send a list.
Email me or post a comment.
I'll tell you some of mine after Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

2005 Year in Review

Can't remember what happened yesterday, let alone this past year? You might find this link of interest. It's MSN-NBC's 2005 Year in Review.

Top Stories of the Year
The Year in Pictures and Video
Farewell to those who have touched our lives.
Quizes on what's happened over the year. How will you score?
...and much more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A-Pass-Along (True Meaning of Christmas)

Just in case you didn't get this in your emails you can go to the following link. There is music. So turn on your sound.
The Star: A heavenly signs of prophecy fulfilled long, long ago- The shining hope of mankind.

The Color Red: The first color of Christmas, symbolizing that Savior’s sacrifice for all.

The Fir Tree: Evergreen- the second color of Christmas shows everlasting light and life. The needles point up to heaven.

The Bell: Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying that all are precious in His eyes.

The Candle: A mirror of starlight, reflecting our thanks for the star of Bethlehem.

The Gift Bow: Tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.

The Candy Cane: Represents the shape of the shepherd's crook, used to bring lost lambs back to the fold.

The Wreath: A symbol of the never ending eternal value of love…having no end.

For patterns for ornaments you can print out on the True Meaning of Christmas go to:
Kids could make these out of felt or the craft foam that comes in sheets and decorate them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

French Breakfast Puffs

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter

Combine dry ingredients and mix with wet.
Place batter in 12 cup muffin tin.
Bake: 350' for 20-25 minutes.

Topping: Muffins are dipped in melted butter (1/4 cup)
and then into a mixture of
1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Monday, December 19, 2005

Directions for Folding a Paper Star

Many years ago when I was just a girl we went to the Kutztown Fair in PA. From there I brought home a kit to make a Moravian Pennsylvania German Star. If you go to the following link you can find directions to make your own star or order a kit:

Here's another set of directions if you had trouble with the first:
These make pretty ornaments for your Christmas tree. You could even make your own strips of paper from a sturdy gift wrap paper.

Directions for paper snowflakes:

Friday, December 16, 2005

59 Diner Pancakes

This recipe appeared years ago in either Parade or USA Today in the Sunday paper. For many years I made it up into little mixes and gave it as gifts to teachers, aides, bus drivers and David's various therapists. Because they are so light I called them Angel Pancakes. A mix will fit into a sandwich bag and I always gave two as each uses 2 cups of buttermilk and I've never seen it sold in less than a quart so I thought it wouldn't be right to have someone buy the buttermilk only to be stuck with half of it! Anyway, I'd put the 2 mixes in a lunch size brown paper bag. I made decorative labels with instructions that fit the outside of the bag and glued them on with a glue stick. You can put the full recipe inside if you want. Fold the top over, punch 2 holes in the top and thread curling ribbon through tie and curl. You can use the label below if you like. I'm sure you'll enjoy these light pancakes.

The Dry Mix:
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar

The Liquid ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups Buttermilk (yes, you have to use Buttermilk)
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions: (One bag is one mix.)
Combine liquid ingredients and then mix in the already combined dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. Let batter rest for 10 minutes. Cook on a preheated, lightly greased griddle. Use all the batter. Leftover pancakes microwave well. Sprinkle with a little water beforehand. Makes about 10 pancakes.

Angel Pancakes Label

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Ham

ahh.... comfort foods...Do you have a favorite? Send your recipe along and I'll post it.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 Tblsp. Cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 1/2 cups milk

Bring this to a boil over a med-high heat, stirring constantly & boil 1 minute and then remove from the heat. I do this in a large pot so I can mix everything together at the end. To this add: 8 oz. Velvetta that you've shredded or diced and 8 oz. or mild or sharp (or there are pkgs. of mixed) shredded cheddar cheese. If you buy a 12 oz. package reserve about a third or so to sprinke on the top.

While the cheese sauce is being made - In a medium frying pan, fry 1 medium to small diced onion and 2 - 1/4" thick pieces of ham you've diced (I like Russer Lite from the Deli) in 2-3 Tblsp. butter. When the onions are nicely wilted and the ham is slightly browned add this to the already melted cheese mixture.

Now for pasta, I actually like to use (1 whole box) Cellentani. They look like corkscrews. Remember it should be slightly undercooked. You really want it al dente, firm. Add this last to the pot and stir everything together.
Put it all into a 13 x 9" greased pan. Sprinkle top first with some shredded cheddar cheese and then plain bread crumbs. I like to use Panko bread crumbs found in the Oriental foods section. Kikkoman products have them.
Bake: 375' for about 25 to 30 minutes. Top should be slightly browned. You can even place it under the broiler for the last minute or two but watch it closely. The top will be crunchy. If you don't like it this way, leave off the bread crumbs. We like the crunchy top.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Free Sample and Print Coloring Book Pages

Stuck for a rainy day activity? Need something to do with the grandchildren? Looking for a supplement to go with a classroom lesson?
Dover Publications has this page you can go to where you can print out a sample page from one of their books. You can also sign up to receive samples of coloring book pages every week with their Children’s Book Sampler email. Just go to this link:

Don't forget to checkout their Homepage and the Subject Directory. You might find they carry something of special interest to you or a child you know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

I was looking around the Internet for a homemade Hot Cocoa Mix and found the following that sounded really good at the follow link:

Mom's Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe

11 cups powdered milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar
11 ounces powdered non-dairy coffee creamer
2 pounds Nesquick powdered chocolate milk mix
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (like you use in baking)
1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

This makes 16 cups Hot Chocolate Mix
You mix all these ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.
Use 1/3 mix to 2/3 cup hot water when making hot chocolate.

Note: I found a box of Powdered Milk that weighed 1 lb. 9.6 oz. which makes 8 quarts. This measured a little under the 11 cups in the recipe but it worked fine and the largest Nesquick now comes in a 1 lb. 14 oz. and so that's what I used. I found a store brand of creamer that came in an 11 oz. size.

Now, never leaving a good thing well enough alone I had to put my own little touch to it so I added:
1 more tablespoon of cocoa
1 box of Jello instant French Vanilla Pudding

This could be divided up and put in jars, labeled and decorated for gifts.

Oh, and I did of course taste this and I thought it was pretty good.

My favorite premade mix is Stephen's gourmet hot cocoa. To go to their website:

Monday, December 12, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Truth or Fiction?)

In addition to you can also checkout those email stories at:

(From HP reader Judy)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Monkey Bars

1 cup mashed ripe banana
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 slightly beaten egg
2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
3/4 cup toasted wheat germ

Mix ingredients together and spread into a 13 x 9" pan.
Bake: 350' for 30 to 35 minutes.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I think this rain-x windshield washer fluid, which costs a little more, works better than the less expensive ones. Give it a try the next time you need to refill and see what you think. It costs about $2 at Wal-mart.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Baby Quilt

This is a quilt I just made as a gift. The pattern for it was from a posting on 4/6/05 with 3 other baby quilt patterns or you can go to this link for this one:

For the blue that makes the 12 triangles, border, and I used it for the backing, you'll need 2 yards. The yellow border = 1/2 yard and for the two sets of six triangles you need 1/3 yard of each print.

The blue print for the 12 triangles just has little white dots.
The fabric that has a white background has ABC's in pastel colors. The yellow has tiny flowers and the other blue print is a plaid.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Protecting your Identity and Credit Information)

This is one of those things that's being passed along the Internet that I thought was worth passing on. I'm posting it pretty much as I got it with a few additions.

Excellent information

ATTORNEY'S ADVICE -- NO CHARGE Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday. Maybe we should all take some of his advice!

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company.

1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".

3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all
of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more. But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

2. File a police report immediately! in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here's what is perhaps most important of all : (I never even thought to do this.)

3. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away. This weekend someone turned it in. It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, etc., has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

3.) Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):

1-800-269-0271 FAX to: 410-597-0118
Online Fraud Reporting form at:

Here are some additional numbers:
Government agencies

Federal Trade Commission Phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT

U.S. Postal Inspection Service:

To report the fraudulent use of your checks
Check Rite / Global Payments Phone: 800-638-4600
SCAN Phone: 800-262-7771
Tele-Check Phone: 800-710-9898
Chex Systems Phone: 800-328-51

(Thanks for passing this along Carrie)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Feed a community for $15!

Today I'm asking you to check out the Geranium Farm's homepage if you haven't done so already. Barbara is celebrating her silver anniversary in the ministery. Click where it says "Silver Anniversary". There you will find pictures from Barbara's 25 years in the priesthood. To honor and celebrate she is requesting donations to Episcopal Relief and Development. She has listed a few but there are more to choose from when you click on "Gifts for Life" Online Catalog. For even as little as a $15 donation you can provide 10 trays of drought resistant seedlings that will produce food to feed an entire community! Your gift also provides the training to grow, harvest and market the crops. Isn't it amazing that a little bit can do so much! (and just a little more, much more!)
(Be sure to email Barbara and let her know what you've donated!)

You can Click here for the Gifts of Life:

or You can go to the following page, give a dollar amount, and request where you'd like it to go:

Friday, December 02, 2005

Soup as Gravy?

Yesterday I went out to lunch with my brother and dad to Panera Bread. Sampling their seasonal soup, Portobello & Roasted Garlic Bisque, I thought it would make a great gravy to go with sliced flank steak or London broil or perhaps the base of fancy stew. Their description of the soup is as follows:
"Domestic mushrooms and sliced portobellos simmered in a roasted garlic velouté embellished with Amontillado sherry, prosciutto, sweet cream and chives."
On the website it says it is served on Monday, Wednesday and Friday's. (We were there on a Thursday.)
Want to locate a Panera Bread Cafe near you? Go to this link:

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Free 411 Service)

This pass-along comes from Deacon Joanna of More or Less Church.
You can get free directory assistance by dialing 1-8oo-Free411
This is in part what it says at their website: " 1-800-FREE411 was created to provide callers with a free alternative to the skyrocketing rates being charged by phone companies for directory assistance (411).The service is made possible by thousands of national and local businesses who sponsor this service with brief valuable audio advertisements that are played to callers who request businesses in their yellow pages category. "
You can checkout their website at:

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