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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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Friday, September 29, 2006

Are Your Headlights Unclear?

Before and After
The plastic on my headlights was looking unclear. My son Brian took some Dual Action Cleaner Polish* and cleaned them using a spongy attachment to a drill (that's really for polishing rims, see below) and then wiped them with a microfiber cloth. What a difference! There was even a
bigger difference on my husband's car. We'd been driving it with the high beams at night and no one ever even flashed us. It will be interesting to see the difference now.
* Note: The stores do sell a polish that is just for the plastic on your car.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Crocheted Scarf

Simple double crochet picking up both loops.
(Colors appear a bit brighter than they actually are.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sicilian Beef

3 Tablespoons oil
2 pounds beef round cubes*
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Saute' the meat until it is brown and then sprinkle with
3 Tablespoons flour
1 can beef broth or consume
1/2 cup sherry
1 small jar spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
1 small can of mushrooms, stems and pieces, undrained
2 carrots finely diced
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot cook all ingredients. Cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Serve over long curly fusilli.
The "Surprise" Rolls from the 11/9/05 post would go great with this.
*(I like to use sirloin steak cubed.)

This is a nice fall/winter dish.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Recipe Request

Do you have a favorite fall recipe you'd like to pass along?
Email it to me and I'll post it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Now That It Is Fall . . .

In Hardwood Groves by Robert Frost

The same leaves over and over again!
They fall from giving shade above
To make one texture of faded brown
And fit the earth like a leather glove.

Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up.
They must go down into the dark decayed.

They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is way in ours.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Did You Ever Want a Makeover?

If you've ever wanted a different hair color, or wanted to try out a different style but wanted to see what it would look like, you've go to check out this website.
Go to:
You put your headshot up on this website and then can change the length, style, and color of your hair. After that you apply make-up. Then if you want add a hat, glasses, or sunglasses. You can even change your eye color. After you're done you can print out a picture of your new look.
I bet teenage girls would get a kick out of this.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The Jewish New Year starts tomorrow at sundown.
Make you Jewish friends a loaf of Challah bread.

3/4 cup water
1 egg
3 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast or equivalent

(1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
to brush on before baking )

Mix all ingredients with a dough hook, cover, and allow to rise.
(If you use a bread machine use the white bread/dough setting.)
After the dough has risen. Punch down and divide in half as it
will make 2 loaves.

*Take about 1/3 of the dough and make 3 ropes and braid them.
Then take the other two thirds and make another large braid.
Set the small braid on top of the larger one using some of
the egg yolk wash to stick it.

After forming 2 loaves cover loosely with plastic wrap and
allow to rise 15 - 20 minutes.
Brush with the egg yolk wash.
Bake: 375' for 25 - 30 minutes.
Important: Cover with foil after the first 15 minutes to prevent
over browning.

*Note: In an email from Bradford Lewis, he reminds us that the Challah for Rosh Hashanah should be round and the rest of the time it is made with the 6 braids. Very interesting!
Read why below.

From the website: we learn this:

Why Round Challah?
by Aliza Bulow

All year long our challah is braided, but it is round for Rosh Hashana. What does the challah's shape teach us about this special time of year?

Rosh Hashana is a holiday filled with physical doorways into the spiritual world. The blasts of the shofar are the prime example of this (see: Symbolism of the Shofar). But there are many others as well All year round, we dip our challah in salt before distributing it; during the High Holiday season, many use honey so that we may have a sweet year. For the same reason, many make a sweeter challah dough as well.

We also begin the evening Rosh Hashana meals by dipping apples into honey and reciting a prayer for a good and sweet year. Some continue with a Rosh Hashana "seder," sampling many different foods and reciting a prayer that contains an allusion to the food's Hebrew name.

Every Jewish custom is significant on a very deep level. Some have levels that we can access; others are beyond our grasp. Even the shape of the loaf of challah can teach us something deep about the holiday on which it is consumed.

Creative Energy

The Shabbat challah is braided. "Six days shall you work (engage in creative activity), and on the seventh shall you desist" (Exodus 34:21). Part of the preparation for the Shabbat is engaging in melacha, creative activity. Braiding is creative activity. The braid is a shape that does not appear in nature. (Ficus trees are hand-braided.) It is a shape that is made by humans and it is representative of the human ability to manipulate the raw material of the world. Braiding the challah strands helps us harness our creative capacities for the purpose of observing the Shabbat.

But braiding is more than that. The Talmud tells us that God Himself braided Eve's hair in preparation for her wedding to Adam (Brachot 61a). Was He merely beautifying her? Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer teaches that God's braiding of Eve's hair was His wedding gift to the couple. He was arranging her creative energies, channeling her imagination into an ordered form that would allow her to maximize her potential as a wife. He was both charging her and gifting her with the ability and the task of channeling the energy of the couple into positive and creative directions. The braid represents that directive, to focus and give order to the energies of one's household.

Significantly, many loaves are braided out of six strands. Six represents the days of the week that are not Shabbat. My mother-in-law taught me that braiding six strands into one loaf represents the six days of the week that are bound up in the one Shabbat. Six directed toward one, weekdays manifesting on Shabbat, this world bearing fruit for the next. The six-stranded braid offers us the direction of the channeling that we are enjoined to accomplish.

70 Faces of Torah

Round challahs are unique to the High Holiday season. Some say they represent a crown that reflects our coronating God as the King of the world.

Others suggest that the circular shape points to the cyclical nature of the year. The Hebrew word for year is "shana," which comes from the Hebrew word "repeat." Perhaps the circle illustrates how the years just go round and round. But Rosh Hashana challahs are not really circles; they are spirals...

There are 70 faces to the Torah, or in Hebrew, shiv'im panim la'Torah. This means that there are 70 ways to understand every facet of Torah. The word "panim" can be translated either as "face," or as "innerness." Thus the Torah presents 70 different "faces," appearing differently depending on the psychological, intellectual and spiritual angle from which it is examined. It also means that there are 70 different inner realities for every facet we can see.

King David lived for 70 years, and, in our tradition, that is considered to be the "average" lifespan. Each subsequent year of life makes a person into a different creation than the year before. So if one lives the average lifetime, another understanding of "70 faces to the Torah" could mean that we, through living 70 years, have our own 70 faces that we can turn to the Torah. That is why we often have "aha!" moments even as we study the same concepts we studied last year, or hear the same weekly Torah portion we have heard for years in a row. Turning a different one of our faces to the Torah means that our "receptor sites" are different, and we are able to tune into a new aspect each year.

Climbing Higher

The word "shana" has a double meaning as well. In addition to "repeat," it also means "change". As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral.

The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end. Have a sweet new year!

Author Biography:
Aliza Bulow is the program director for The Jewish Experience in Denver, Colorado. She teaches practical Jewish philosophy through The Jewish Experience and Lishmah Woman's Torah Center and loves to delve into the mysteries of the spiritual world. Her husband and children offer her insights, support and opportunities to continue learning and growing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Leaf Print Tablecloth

I saw this on Martha Stewart's website and thought it would be a nice fall project you could do with the kids. If you don't want to do a whole tablecloth you could just make a table runner. Wouldn't that look nice on your Thanksgiving table?

Just click on the link for directions:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dental Aids

Being from that generation that sat through double features at the Saturday matinee eating Sugar Daddy's, Pixie Stix, and all the rest of that "good" stuff, which left us with a mouthful of fillings, I now take really good care of my teeth. Between fluoride and sealants my boys don't know what it is to have a fillings.
The items above are part of my arsenal to defend my teeth, although I don't know where a cavity could fit these days. Now I just get root canals. : (
The first item is Soft Picks by GUM which DJ (MOLC) introduced me to. They come with a little plastic carrying case. The pic in the middle is called the "Traveler" and is sold in a 2 pack. The Reach Flosser's refills even come with "Cleanpaste", a little minty toothpaste on them. If you're have trouble getting your kids to floss this could be just what you need.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Recipe for Beef Brisket

One large beef brisket that fits in a 13 x 9 pan (Cut off any excess fat.)

1 cup Ketchup (Have packets? 35 = 1 cup)
2 cups red wine
1 cup water
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
chopped garlic (amount you like)
salt and pepper to taste

1 large onion - sliced
(A couple of stalks of celery too if you like.)

Sprinkle both sides of the meat with paprika and bake 450' for 30 minutes each side, uncovered. Lower heat to 350'
Place onion slices (celery) on the bottom and add the rest of the seasonings.
Cover and bake 2 hours. Take out before the last half hour and thinly slice aganist the grain. Return to oven covered. Continue to bake half hour or more until tender. You can thicken the gravy at the end.
(Note: You can cook cut up potatoes and carrots with this and remove them when they are done.)
P.S. - This is one of those recipes that tastes better made the day before serving and refrigerated overnight and reheated.

Friday, September 15, 2006

101 Most Unforgetable SNL Moments

The E! channel is running the 101 Most Unforgetable Moments on Saturday Night Live starting on Monday, September 18th at 8pm and again at 9pm. For more times and information go to: or check your local listings.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


My friend Diane passes along this website: Wallwords - Use words or quotes to decorate, home, school, office, windows, or anywhere you like.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Children’s Service Project

"Is your School class, Sunday School Class, or Vacation Bible School looking for a service project? Consider making Christmas cards for seafarers and America’s river mariners that would be distributed by chaplains and volunteers of the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York & New Jersey. The handmade cards would be given to seafarers arriving in the Port of New York & New Jersey and America’s river mariners along 2,200 miles of inland waterways from Pittsburgh to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast."
They collect cards year-round, but they start packing for Christmas in October.
(They also want Easter cards.)

Instructions are available at:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

An Unusual First Day of School

Way back when my youngest Brian was going into second grade he had a very unusual first day of school. Now we knew who his teacher was going to be as we had received notice in the mail. He knew who she was, but also knew that she was to be in a different room than she had been in the previous year. When the bus came he wouldn't get on it. In fact he ran right back to the house. No amount of talking could convince him to get on the bus and that there would be no problem finding his room. I waved the driver on and drove him to school. I got him in the building, but getting him in the room was another matter. I walked him right to the room. He wouldn't go in. The teacher came out to see him. Nope. The school nurse and another teacher he knew spoke to him. Nope. I said how about we go to the library and maybe we can find a book on whales and you can show your teacher the whales we saw this summer. That seemed to appease him. We found a book that had the very whales we had seen and I'm thinking, we're home free. We head down towards the hallway but he still won't go! The gym teacher appears. Brian likes him. Still he isn't buying it. Finally, the gym teacher picks him up, and with his feet dangling at his side, carries him off to his classroom. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

(I saw as I went by that school back in June that the sign in the front was wishing him well on his retirement. I bet Brian was one student he'll never forget.)

Copyright © 2006 Deborah Sharp Loeb

Monday, September 11, 2006


Because we don't live that far from New York City over the years people from other areas have asked me what was it like on 9/11.

The first plane had hit just before I went to put David on his bus for school. Right away I called my friend Diane. Was her husband Doug OK? I knew he worked in the city. Was he in the towers? No, he was away on business in New Orleans, but had he not gone away he would have been at a meeting there.
I put David on the bus. His driver Joan's brother is a street vendor at green market on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the plaza out front of the twin towers. It turned out he was still there as the second tower was struck. Later she hears from his wife around noon that he’s okay. He said he saw a sign pointing north and that's where he headed his van. He wound up crossing over the Tappanzee Bridge. When he got back to the bakery around 6pm he was unloading his truck and came across an itinerary from someone who was aboard one of the planes. (She doesn’t know if he was able to get it back to the family.)

All day I sat in front of the TV watching the horror unfold, in a place that's only an hour away. Paul and I had one of our anniversary dinners at Windows on World restaurant at the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when we were first married.
In the days that followed it seemed that everyone was either touched by or knew someone that had been affected by this tragedy. A student in school where Paul teaches, father was killed. More and more you heard stories.
For a time there were no planes in the sky other than the military. I remember once when we were on our way home from the city I was counting the planes headed for Newark airport for a landing, so many, not now though. It doesn’t seem that there are as many as there ever once were.
In the days of the aftermath everything seemed numbingly surreal.
For the weeks and months that followed collections were taken up in schools, churches, and fire houses for needed items. People came from everywhere to aid in recovery efforts.
It was never off your mind with stories constantly unfolding on TV and the newspapers.
Now, five years later there are still stories to be told.

Copyright © 2006 Deborah Sharp Loeb

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's the Start of a New School Year!

Believe in Yourself
Set your standards high
You deserve the best
Try for what you want
And never settle for less.

Believe in yourself
No matter what you choose
Keep a winning attitude
And you can never lose

Think about your destination
Don't worry if you stray
Because the most important thing
Is what you've learned along the way.

Take all that you've become
To be all that you can be
Soar above the clouds
And let your dreams set you free!

By - Jillian K. Hunt

My School Promise
Each day I'll do my best
And I won't do any less.
My work will always please me,
And I won't accept a mess.
I'll color very carefully,
My writing will be neat.
And I will not be happy,
Till my papers are complete.
I'll always do my homework,
And try my best on every test.
I won't forget my promise,
To do my very best!


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Carbon Monoxide Detector

It's that time of the year when you'll soon be putting the heat on, if you haven't done so already. I cannot urge you enough to have Carbon Monoxide Alarms on each floor of your home, especially near the bedroom where you can hear them when you're sleeping.

Years ago when we were living in a condominium my son's friend's furnace broke down due to a cracked heat exchange. Luckily they caught it in time. Being that they were in the last of eleven buildings in these units, and we were in the first one, I thought there was a good chance this could happen to us. I went right out and bought a couple of Carbon Monoxide Detectors that same night. The very next morning they went off! Sure enough we had the exact same problem! We turned off the furnace right away and opened all the windows. We went outside and called the fire department. Their detectors went off as soon as they went inside.
That same day I typed up a notice and went to every unit and taped the note to their door, as well as another development of the same condo's down the street. I told them what had happened and urged them to get a detector. I soon got a nasty call from the president of the condo association. (I also got some calls thanking me too.) I said that within two days two of these units had problems. I knew they wouldn't take quick action on this and I couldn't live with myself if I knew this and something terrible had happened.

So please don't put on you're furnace, fireplace, or woodstove without a Carbon Monoxide Detector. Make sure everyone you know and love has one!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Chain Clothesline

This clothesline is made from chain I picked up from a dollar store that is meant to hang plants. The links are large enough to hold the plastic hangers. The chain keeps the hangers separated and I don't have anything falling off the line. I wash the shirts in the permanent press cycle with fabric softener in the rinse. I put them in the dryer for about 5 minutes or so and then let them hang dry. No wrinkles and I don't have to worry about being there when the dryer stops to fold them so they don't wrinkle.
Some of the white hangers are the extra large ones meant for overcoats. On larger shirts I use these to prevent "dimples" on the shoulders. They can be found at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Update on David

David came home on Friday after 4 days of video EEG monitoring. One seizure medication was discontinued and another one was added. It will take some time to see if this change will make an improvement in controling his seizures.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Two Avon Products

I've been using these two Avon Anew products for several months now and I think they've been helpful. The one the left is for the eyes. The tan colored gel is for the eye lid and the cream is for under the eye area. The bottle on the right with an eye dropper is a liquid used for creases. You can return them if you don't think they work. Just ask an Avon representative.
Anew Clinical Eye Lift - Upper Eye Gel/Under Eye Cream
Anew Clinical Deep Crease Concentrate with Bo-Hylurox

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