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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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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quick Real Age Test

To do a quick "Real Age" test go to this link at Oprah's website:

For the longer version go to:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lullaby Muffins


Makes 12 low-fat muffins
Between the bananas, the whole wheat, and the honeyed touch of sweetness, these muffins are practically an edible lullaby.
· 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1 tablespoon baking powder
· 2 large, very ripe bananas
· 1/3 cup applesauce
· 1/4 cup honey
· 1/2 cup milk or soymilk

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the flour (make sure it's whole-wheat pastry flour or you'll produce golf balls, not muffins), salt, and baking powder. In a blender, puree the bananas; add the applesauce, honey, and milk. Blend well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups, pour in batter, and bake 30 minutes or until tops are lightly brown and slightly springy.

Nutrition Facts
Per serving: 119 calories; 1g fat; 2.5g protein; 27g carbohydrates; 10g sugars; 133mg sodium; 3g fiber; 35mg magnesium

Monday, January 29, 2007

Top 10 Foods for a Good Night's Sleep

This is from
What is the secret to getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep? Head for the kitchen and enjoy one or two of these 10 foods. They relax tense muscles, quiet buzzing minds, and/or get calming, sleep-inducing hormones - serotonin and melatonin - flowing. Yawning yet?

Bananas. They're practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.

Chamomile tea. The reason chamomile is such a staple of bedtime tea blends is its mild sedating effect - it's the perfect natural antidote for restless minds/bodies.

Warm milk. It's not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan - an amino acid that has a sedative - like effect - and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus there's the psychological throw-back to infancy, when a warm bottle meant "relax, everything's fine."

Honey. Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that's linked to alertness.

Potatoes. A small baked spud won't overwhelm your GI tract, and it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effects, mash it with warm milk.

Oatmeal. Oats are a rich source of sleep - inviting melatonin, and a small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cozy - plus if you've got the munchies, it's filling too.

Almonds. A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can be snooze-inducing, as they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.

Flaxseeds. When life goes awry and feeling down is keeping you up, try sprinkling 2 tablespoons of these healthy little seeds on your bedtime oatmeal. They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a natural mood lifter.

Whole-wheat bread. A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it's converted to serotonin and quietly murmurs "time to sleep."

Turkey. It's the most famous source of tryptophan, credited with all those Thanksgiving naps. But that's actually modern folklore. Tryptophan works when your stomach's basically empty, not overstuffed, and when there are some carbs around, not tons of protein. But put a lean slice or two on some whole-wheat bread mid-evening, and you've got one of the best sleep inducers in your kitchen.

What if none of these foods help you get your zzz's? Check out your sleep habits with this quick RealAge test to find out what?s keeping you up at night.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Teachers See Movie for Free- 1/26-2/1

Here is an offer to all teachers to go see Freedom Writers for free. Pass it on!!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

21 Days

At the start of a new year many of us think about breaking a bad habit or trying to change our way of thinking about something. Scientists and researchers tell us the way to do this lies in the brain. Our brains are good at forming habits and holding onto habits. It frees up the brain for higher level thinking. So to successfully give up a bad habit or start a new routine takes time and effort, not to mention that the “memory” of the thing you’re trying to change is always lurking there in the back of your brain. This pattern can be triggered if the right habit cues come back such as feeling lonely or sad. Stress makes this worse and during these times the body produces hormones that can help prevent the brain from laying down a new memory. So it’s best to avoid stress when trying to make a change.
In the end you need to stick with a new habit long enough for the brain to take over for you – some say 21 days. You’ll need to eliminate the stress and give yourself some kind of immediate gratification.
Be patient and give your brain time to rewire.

From an article: Women’s Health: New Year, New You - By Barbara C. Bourassa

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Zap That Sponge!

Putting sponges in the dishwasher will clean them but it won't decontaminate them.
Zapping them in the microwave at full power for two minutes will kill or inactivate 99 percent of living pathogens. Adding an additional 2 minutes will destroy *Bacillus cereus spores. The sponges must be wet when you microwave them and of course be careful when removing them as they will be hot! Microwave them every other day or so.

*You can read more about B. cereus and Preventing Foodborne Illness at:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Need to Vent

Yesterday David had a doctor's appointment at 4 pm. I picked him up at his day program a little after three and was there by ten to four. (He had already had 3 seizures and was a bit "glitchy" but we carried-on.) This was to be a follow-up appointment to go over a test he had done back in December. Finally at 4:23 we were ushered into the exam room. By 4:40 or so I went out to the counter and asked if the doctor was actually in the office. They were able to discern that the doctor was in an exam room. At 4:50 a pharmacy student came in and wanted to know if she could ask me some questions. Since this is a teaching hospital, I said sure. Throughout the years we have answered countless questions about David and his condition. Well, this ended up going on until 5:30. As she left I saw the doctor and the physician's assistant out by the counter and went up to her and David followed.
"Do you want to just meet out here?"
"Sure, why not", I'm thinking as just about everyone in the office had left by now. "So what were the results of David's test?" I ask.
"Uh, it's not here in the folder. Let me call radiology for the report." "They don't have it and the place where it was done is closed today."
"So why am I here? This was supposed to be a follow-up to discuss the results?"
(Somewhere around this time the physician's assistant is slinking away in the background. Yeah, I saw that.)
"I can call you tomorrow in the morning with the results."
"I'd really like you to call after 4pm so my husband can hear the report."
"Blah,blah, blah....." by now I can't really take in too much between trying to concentrate with listening to an accent and decipher medical jargon all the while my brain keeps flashing, "What the hell are you here for?"
"You can make an appointment to come back in three months."
I walk out with David a few steps away around the corner past the checkout desk.
"You need another appointment?"
I'm thinking - I need to get out of here!
"I don't know." I blurt out, my head wanting to explode.
She leans back through the opening and asks the doctor. Yes, in 3 months.
"Fine", I sit down. "What have you got?"
"February or May?"
"I'll take May."
"I'm really ticked off. You know this appointment was a total waste of time. Nothing was accomplished, nada, zilch, zero and it cost me a $20 copay. I waited for 50 minutes before I saw anyone and that was a pharmacy student for 40 minutes. The doctor did not have the results that were needed to be discussed for this appointment so there was no reason for me to be here. The appointment should have been cancelled."
"I'm sorry that happened to you."
Yeah me too I'm thinking, or did I say it?
Oh, and the doctor was able to hear everything I said to the secretary, and I really don't care.

Well. tonight it's after 6pm and there's been no phone call.

I took David to a dental appointment this morning and his dentist came out apologizing for running late before I had even told him what had happened the day before. I had seen they were having a problem with a piece of equipment. I don't think he was even 5 minutes late and we were out of there by 11:30 for a 11am appointment. Probably more of the time was taken up by me talking to him about my awful time yesterday. He felt a refund was in order.

After I took David to his program I called up the chiropractors (a brother and sister team). Althought I had just called at the time where they close down for several hours before resuming at 3pm, they told me to come in anyway. Boy, was I ever glad to see them. I had so much stress and they were able to help relieve much of it. I thanked them again for seeing me and told them that I had needed it and it had really helped me. Oh, and they too both couldn't believe I wasn't given my money back.

Copyright © 2007 Deborah Sharp Loeb

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Longevity Game

This is from the The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. Just go to the website, answer a few questions, and see how long can you expect to live. It will give you insight into your daily lifestyle and tips on how you can make some positive changes.

Thanks Dave for passing this along.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Get GARDASIL for Your Daughters Now

From the website: Go there to learn more.

"GARDASIL is for girls and women ages 9 to 26. Like other vaccines your daughter has received, GARDASIL works to help prevent illness. GARDASIL works when given before there is any contact with HPV Types 6, 11, 16, and 18. That’s why it’s important that you talk to your daughter’s doctor or healthcare professional about getting GARDASIL now—not later. You’ll be helping to protect her future from cervical cancer and genital warts before she’s even old enough to worry about them.
HPV Types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases. GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important to continue regular cervical cancer screenings. GARDASIL is given as 3 injections over 6 months. Before you visit the doctor's office, contact your health plan to determine your level of coverage."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Jump Start Smarts

I found the following information in an article from Handyman magazine (Feb.'07).

It says that jump starting and driving away after having found you have a dead battery, may be the worst thing that you can do. What happens is that as soon as you drive away, your alternator starts pumping out maximum amps to recharge the battery. The strain of recharging a dead battery and powering headlights and a blower motor can toast the alternator. Having to have your car towed and replacing the alternator can cost between $600-$800 (parts and labor).
What you should do instead is ask the Good Samaritan that gave you the jump start to leave the jumper cables on the battery for 5 to 10 minutes before starting your car. Once you've got it running, let it idle for 10 minutes with the lights and blower motor off. Then, when you do get home, put it on a trickle charger to bring the battery back up to a full charge.

You might want to make copies of this for everyone in your household that drives and have them keep a copy of it in the glove compartment of the car with their car's manual.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Well, Just Slap Me Upside the Head!"

OK, what is it now . . . coming up April first it'll be two years I've been doing this column, and just now noticed the search feature there at the top. DUH!
So if you're looking for a recipe or wanted to reread something, just type a word or two in there and hit "Search Blog". Go ahead give it a try. See if you can find what it was you've been looking for. Pretty neat, huh?

Still can't find it (or if you are more of the A.R. type), you can still get the full list of titles for 2005 on 1/9/06 and for 2006 on 1/16/07.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lose Weight in Your Pajamas - Live Chat Tomorrow

In case you missed this in Barbara's emo, here's another reminder.
Chat With the Doc!
Need some company and support in maintaining a healthier lifestyle? You need the StandUp Doc's new online program "Lose Weight in Your Pajamas." Join Barbara Crafton and Anil Maheshwari, the famous StandUp Doc, in an hour-long online chat tomorrow, Thursday, January 18th at 8pm EST. The doc will discuss weight loss and answer your questions, and we can all talk about what works and what doesn't. You can do it, and we can help. To join the chat, visit and click on "Live Chat."
Pajamas optional.

Here's the link to his weight-loss blog:

For his Home Page and to Join the Weight-Loss-To-Go mailing list to get weight loss news and tips e-mailed to you each month. Go to:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A List of All the Hodgepodge Postings for 2006

Here's a list of the postings from the past year.

I hope it helps you to find what you're looking for!

Monday, January 15, 2007

New Member to the Geranium Farm

Check out the newest member of the Geranium Farm, Rev. Matthew Moretz. Click on the link above where it says, "Fr.Matthew" to see and hear his video web log.
Welcome to the Farm!

Friday, January 12, 2007

How to Make a 3-D Snowflake

You can make these out of paper as the sample above or it's really best to use the large craft foam sheets, especially if you'd like to hang them outside. If you have a sturdy gift wrap that's printed double-sided that would be pretty too!
You can get 2 squares from each sheet so you'll need 3 large sheets to make one snowflake.
Each section was made from an 8 1/2" square.
The link below will give you the directions.
It may be slow to load, so be patient.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Penny Postcards

Here's a neat website to see penny picture postcards from all over the United States. Maybe even from your hometown! Click on "Types of Postcards" and learn about the history. If you have some of your own to contribute go to the submissions page to see just what they're looking for and how to submit them.

Thanks Joan for passing this along.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Here's a fun activity for the whole family. Geocaching (pronounced - "geo-cashing") is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers called "geocaches" or "caches" anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and "treasure", usually toys or trinkets of little monetary value.
The official website that can answer all your questions is at:

The Rules - from:
(a maker of GPS units)
This growing outdoor sport has a simple set of rules, making it easy for anyone to play. The challenging part is finding the cache.
Once geocachers find a cache, they follow these basic rules:

1. Fill out the logbook
2. Take something out of the cache
3. Put something in the cache
4. Return the cache to the exact position and condition in which it was found

You never know what the founder or other visitors of the cache may have left for you to enjoy. Be sure to fill out the logbook with the date and time you visit the cache and leave something in return.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Matt and the Orange Juice

I was in the grocery store last night and saw a boy getting a carton of orange juice from the refrigerated section and bring it to his father. It made me remember the time I was visiting my childhood friend Carol some years ago when her son Matt was much younger. He was getting ready to go to his Grandma Sal's down the road for a sleep over. My image is of him standing there with his pillow and such tucked under his arm with toothbrush in hand and in the other hand he's holding a small wire strainer. I turn to Carol and ask: "What's with the strainer?" She replies, "Well, my mom has the O.J. with the pulp and Matt doesn't like that kind. So when he goes over there he takes the strainer to take it out." Cracked me up. I wish I had taken a picture. Oh, and the carton of juice the boy had taken, "No Pulp"!

So now whenever I see of orange juice I think of Matt and his little strainer.....

Copyright © 2007 Deborah Sharp Loeb

Monday, January 08, 2007


The Freecycle Network was started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. This is made up of many individual groups across the globe where an electronic network provides a way people can "recycle" unwanted items. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer and membership is free!

To learn more about it and to see if there is a group in your area go to:

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Sci-Fi" Quilt

This is a quilt I made for my husband, Paul, for Christmas.
Click on the picture and you can see the prints a little better.
There are rockets, U.F.O.'s, stars, planets, and robots!
I filled it with a fleece blanket and backed it with navy blue flannel with stars and moons.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Safety Video

For great information on protecting yourself go to:

Thanks to Tony & Jen for sending this along.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Penny for Your Thoughts . .

A nice way to start off the new year. Click on Pennies from Heaven above, print out your wrapper for a Pringles can, and start saving your pennies. See how long it takes for you to fill it! A filled can is about $13. I think many of us could give up that much for ERD. Now would you really miss those pennies? Who can fill their can first? The race is on!!
P.S. - Don't forget to write "Pennies from Heaven" in the memo blank on your check to ERD.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Year's Day Get-Together at Barbara and Q's

Happy New Year Everyone!

(If you click on each collage, you'll see bigger pictures.)

Copyright © 2007 Deborah Sharp Loeb

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