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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, November 30, 2007

Old Aprons

Barbara got some nice emails about her eMo untitled "Old Aprons" (Nov.27, 2007) that she passed along to me that I’d like to share here.
(The first apron I made was in Junior High Home EC class. It was pink with blue rick-rack. You made your apron so you’d have it to wear for the cooking portion of the class. If you didn’t have it with you had to sit out, and it had better been clean and pressed! - DSL)

"Oh my. I don't know whether to laugh or weep. Oh, I miss them! The carefully pressed rick-rack outlining every edge of bib and skirt. The smooth-polished surfaces of the ones my Grammy had worn half her life already. My mother's special demi: turquoise floral cotton with huge inserts of organdy wouldn't protect anything against a serious gravy spill. The buttoned bib-skirt that was my first sewing project, 7th grade with Mrs. Post -- 92 miles of red double-fold bias tape that would NOT turn corners. (Amazingly, I continued to sew....) And that host of saints in the kitchens of the Church. It was a special set of tutus that they wore.
Oh my dear friend, thank you."
Marcia Devens

"Hmmm. This fancy apron thing must be an American/Northern European thing. My family is Sicilian, and the grandmothers all wore black, all the time. Long black dresses. Black shoes. I too wear black shoes and dresses all the time, but I brighten them up with a colorful jacket or sweater and costume jewelry, my greatest weakness/splurge. I admit it: am to costume jewelry what Imelda Marcos was to shoes. And some of my favorite pieces have come from St. Stephen’s Nutmeg Festival. "
Anita MacDonald

"To this day, I cannot cook ANYTHING in a kitchen without an apron on.
Thanks for this."

"Thank you for the nice apron story! I collect them, and often give them as gifts, and of course, USE them. My collection has gotten too large, so I have sold some on Ebay, to ladies who thank me for the lovely aprons. They are such a fun memory, and practical too. Enjoy!!"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Free Rice - for the U.N. World Food Program

Carol Stone of Ways of the World, here on the Farm, sends along this website that was passed onto her.

It's a vocabulary game and for each word you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. If you get a word right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word. If you go to the options area you can set it to remember your vocabulary level if you like.

To learn more about the importance of rice in the world go to her article at:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ER* Kit

This was a little gift I had made awhile back for Liz, the doctor (my nephew's wife), that had taken care of David in the ER. It came out in conversation that she hadn't eaten all day and that happens sometimes when she gets so busy. So . . . I made her up this ER (*Emergency Rations) Kit with all sorts of goodies. I put a funny little "prescription" on each one. She got a big kick out of it and said she was going to keep in in her locker at work (and then she would refill it as needed). Some of what I put in: Soup in Hand, Ritz Chips, Goldfish Pretzels, hot cereal mix, flavored tea bags, mints, gum, etc. and of course, chocolate!

Stuck and want a bit of unusual gift? Perhaps this will fill the bill. See also:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blue Bird(s) of Happiness

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cell Phones for Soldiers

OK, I bet you have an old cell phone sitting somewhere in a drawer that you are never going to use again. Dig it out and do something good with it. Donate it to Cell Phones for Soldiers to turn your old cell phone into a one hour prepaid calling card for a U.S. troop member stationed overseas.
To learn more about it go to:

To find out where to drop off your phone and for a Free Cell Phone Data Eraser, Go here:

Please pass this information on to people on your email list, friends, family, and co-workers.

"Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $1 million in donations and distributed more than 400,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas." This morning on the TV show, The View, they were each given $100,000 scholarships to the college of their choice by AT&T.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What's for Dessert?

The girls tried to clean up after dinner. As they turned away from the lake, they spotted our jeep. Doesn't it look like one is saying to the other: "You take the right and I'll take the left..." ?? Enjoy! Laura

Thursday, November 22, 2007


"If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It's a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it's time to reflect on what's come before."
Mitchell Burgess, Northern Exposure, Thanksgiving, 1992

Count Your Blessings, Share the Feast
Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Free Thanksgiving Printables for the Kids and More!

Here you can find not all kinds of Thanksgiving crafts for the kids but there are pictures and mazes to print out for free. A little something to keep them busy while they're waiting for dinner. There are recipes too. Click around and you'll find even more stuff.

Turkey Trivia Quiz (Thanks Joan)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Maple Pumpkin Custard

1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup light cream
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup solidly packed pumpkin mash or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Heat the oven to 300° F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, yolks, vanilla extract, spices, and salt. Set the mixture aside.

2. In a medium-size saucepan, whisk together the light and heavy creams, pumpkin, and maple syrup, then bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Do not let the mixture boil.

3. Remove the pan from the heat once the pumpkin mixture is hot, about 5 minutes. Add it by the ladleful to the yolk mixture, stirring continuously. Don't pour it all in at once or it will cook the yolks too quickly.

4. Once the mixtures are blended, divide the custard evenly among 6 standard custard cups. Pour 3/4 inch of hot water into a large, shallow casserole dish, then arrange the cups, evenly spaced, in the dish. Bake the custards, uncovered, on the center oven rack until their centers are jiggly but no longer soupy, about 45 to 50 minutes. Carefully transfer the cups to a wire rack to cool.

5. When the custards reach room temperature, cover the dishes individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 6 hours. Makes 6 servings.

I haven't made this yet but I thought it sounded good.
It is from Family Fun Magazine/Nov. 2007 and can also be found at: where you can find more recipes and crafts for the kids.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ranger Safaris in Tanzania

Email after posting -
"Debbie - thank you, and thank you Barbara for recognizing Hillary this way today. Photos don't just happen - without a guide who knew where the animals were and who had the energy to track them down, my camera disks would have been very empty indeed!
Happy Thanksgiving to you both and to your loved ones! Laura "

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Previously Posted Thanksgiving Stuff!


Turkey Placemat:

No time to sew one? Let the kids make one out of construction paper, felt, or craft foam sheets.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Paper Piece Quilting - Minus One Step!

When I presented the paper piece quilting at Barbara's Retreat at St. Luke's, the pastor's wife, Evaleon, ironed her fabric around and down on to her hexagon papers and then joined them without any need for basting the fabric to the paper! What a time saver if you can do that quicker or easier than basting. I had brought a small Rowenta travel iron that she used and this made it easy to do. Give it a try and see what you think!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kick Butts!

The Great American Smokeout Day.

To find out all about it and its history go to:

For more about the "Smokeout" or if you need help to stop smoking or know someone who does go to:

If you don't smoke here's a "Health Check" from that same site that everyone can do:
It will give you an instant personalized health action plan.

In the "Get Active" section you can meet with a vitural trainer and find ways to get active:

Eat your way to better health in the "Eat Right" challenge and meet the virtual dietitian and improve your eating habits.

For the non-nicotine prescription pill with a program to help you, go to:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All This Info From Just A Zip Code!

General Information: - Latitude, Longitude, Density, Housing Units, Land Area, Water Area Social Indicators: - Educational Achievement, Marital Status, Stability/Newcomer Appeal
Economic Indicators: - Household Income, Occupation
Also show is how a town compares with its neighbors. You can compare up to 20 towns. The demographics and a map are included too.

Check it out at:
(Actually, you don't even have to know a zip code. Just click on the state and find the name of the town.) Thanks Dave for passing this along.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

King of the Jungle

This is one of the two male lions lying beneath a sausage tree. The lions were enjoying the shade, as it was early in the afternoon, yet they were very aware of all the elephants you saw in procession in yesterday's picture. It was quite something to be as close as we were. Enjoy! Laura

Monday, November 12, 2007


Laura shares more of her photos.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some More Information on Gluten-Free

Joan has emailed me some additional information that was passed onto her. Note #4 includes "Food Allergies".

1. Ghirardelli Candy
Thank you for your email regarding Ghirardelli Chocolate. In response
to your inquiry, a majority of our products are manufactured in a gluten
free facility.
The Masterpiece Collection is one of a few items we out source to
separate manufacturing facilities. The Masterpiece Collection contains
barley malt powder as one of the ingredients, which makes this chocolate
assortment not safe for a consumer with a gluten allergen. This
ingredient is listed in the ingredients section on the side of the box.
The second item is our Classic White Baking Chips. These chips are also
outsourced to a plant which also manufactures with gluten products. A
gluten warning is on the packaging of our Classic White Chips.

Kind regards,
Shawna Ortez
Senior Consumer Affairs Coordinator
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
1111 - 139th Avenue
San Leandro, CA 94578

2. Lean On Me Baking Company
There is an East Rutherford, NJ baking company producing some frozen GF products like quiche, cheesecake, carrot cake and mousse:

3. Looking for celiacs to interview for local newspaper
Sarah Schillaci (201-664-4056) a reporter for the Community Life newspaper is writing an upcoming piece on living with Celiac disease and is hoping to interview individuals/families.The paper covers seven towns in Pascack Valley (Westwood, Woodcliff Lake, Washington Township, River Vale, Emerson, Park Ridge, and Montvale, NJ). If you are interested in participating or would like additional information, you can contact Sarah at 201-664-4056 or

4. Celiac Disease Seminar
Please join members of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (Drs. DeFelice, Green and Ms. Lee) who with Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, MD, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, will be presenting Sorting Through Celiac Disease and Food Allergies on Sunday, November 18, 3:00 at 5:30 pm. Tickets are $22 for non members and $11 for members of the May Center are $11.
To order tickets online visit:
Call 212.415.5500 or visit the box office.
92nd Street Y, Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street, New York, NY 10128

5. Edy's Ice Cream
Thanks again for all the helpful info. I passed it along to a friend and she had expressed confusion over the labeling of Edy's Strawberry Ice Cream as containing gluten (I hadn't gotten that far), so I went straight to the source (I called) and found that it IS G/F.
The customer service rep (Stephanie) was incredibly helpful (as is the Web site) and she said they are really committed to serving the G/F community and will always help out by labeling things clearly (they even note items that are Gluten-Derived).

6. Joe's Deli in South Bound Brook, NJ
I wanted to let you know that I went to an awesome GF taste testing last weekend at a friend's Deli in South Bound Brook. She has started to carry Gluten Free items as she has quite a few customers requiring a gluten free diet. I have attached the menu for you. She carries alot of Conte's (Ravioli's and Perogies) and Grainless Baker products. Everything was really good! I believe she will eventually be able to ship items also.
Feel free to contact them if you have questions, the owner's are Joe and Dolly. Hope you enjoy! Nance

Friday, November 09, 2007

By Ritagail Burleson

Barbara emailed me the following story and I in turn contacted the author and asked if I could pass it along here. Here are links to her website and blog:

I was going to write stories/poems around this theme, call the whole
collection "Modulation" or something like that, but, I am sewing these days
and so I want to write this now in case it will benefit somebody else and
in case I don't get that other writing finished.

According to many standards, I have every right in the world to turn
into a bitter middle-aged woman. I know some people with fewer reasons, who
turned bitter/vengeful/"closed" perhaps even younger than I am now (46)
and carried it into their later years, even to their graves (both men and

I'm terrified of doing that. The temptation is very strong. It's a
lot easier to close down and shun everyone else. Put on a hard shell to try
to keep out other peoples' barbs. Trouble is, it also keeps out other
peoples' blessings.

Let me share with you something that almost all of us have to do: Wait
in line at the checkout. Yesterday, it was the "20 or less" checkout at
Walmart Supercenter. I have to be careful when I wait in line, the visual
activity going on around me, the mixture of
voices........and........those checkout "beeps" can send me into neural overload.
So, usually I will
do everything I can to get out of there as quickly as possible.

But, yesterday, there was a lady who was trying to figure out what she
could and could not get on what looked like her WIC least
that's what they called it when I got it for our family. WIC is a program
where families with young children (think it's income based, but not sure)
can get a voucher for food items like milk, juice, cheese, cereal. It's
a good program and families are grateful for it.

Anyway, back to waiting in line.......this woman was trying to figure
out with the checker what was and was not allowed on the voucher. And,
yes, it took some time to figure it out. I think there were at least 3
people in front of me.........each one of them did a "mad dash" for another
checkout because they were in a hurry, and, evidently there were others who
had before I got on the scene. I stayed in line and waited.

Another lady waited behind me.

The mother with the WIC voucher was very flustered and, I would guess,
embarrassed. I remember that feeling. When she looked over at me to
apologize for taking so long, I said, "You're just a Mom trying to feed your
family.......don't worry about it."

I remember the sneers of others when I had to hold up the line trying
to figure my vouchers out.

When it was my turn at the checkout, the checker was flustered. She
said that one woman had practically yelled at her earlier by taking too
long. Now, this young woman was frantically trying to get her change drawer
ready.....she really was nearly out of all her change, and she was opening
those confounded plastic rolls of least one penny went
flying to the floor, which she hunted and found. I told her to take a deep
breath. When she apologized again, I said, "If anyone is in that big of a
hurry, they are in too much of a hurry."

Then, I looked at the lady behind me, and said, "Well, I guess that's
easy for me to say."
SHE said, "I'm not in any hurry" (and to the checker) "Take your time".

The young checker woman said to me at least twice, "You're nice". I
finally made her laugh: "Don't tell people that.......if word gets out that
I'm really nice instead of mean like they all think.........people will
be all over me to do stuff for them!"

That lady behind me said, "Ain't that the truth!"

By this time we were all three giggling and the checker gal had relaxed
some. My total came to some dollars and 2 cents. I could have given her
exact change and was fishing for 2 pennies, when the lady behind me put 2
pennies into the checker's hand from her purse. By this time I had 2
pennies in my hand, so, I threw them into the lady's purse. SHE said: "Now
I have to fish those out of the bottom of my purse!"

The checker announced (we were both older than her): "You two girls
are crazy!"

I said to the lady behind me, "Did you hear that, she called us
'girls'." Then to the young gal: "Thanks for the compliment". Lady behind me
had a big smile and said, "Yes, Thanks!"

By this time I was taking my bags out to rearrange them for my bicycle
basket and backpack, but, one lady in the OTHER line had one last thing to
say, "My Mom and Aunts would be insulted if you called them
'girls'.......THEY are 'WOMEN'!!!"

There ya go........I'm at the crossroads of becoming a bitter old
woman, or a young at heart old girl.

Oh, I'm sure there are going to be times when I may get bitter for a
time, but, may God have mercy on me enough to remind me that at my deepest
heart, I am basically just a kind, sharing, giggly,......with a dose of

Thanks Be To God.

Here's to All the Girls!!!

And, Dear ain't too late to modulate!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Is Your Child Being Properly Restrained in the Car?

Did you know:

that 7 out of 10 car seats are not buckled in properly?

using a booster seat is 60 percent safer for kids than being restrained by a seat belt alone?

that there is a listing of child passenger safety seat inspection locations where certified inspectors can provide guidance on proper child restraint use and installation?

Answers to all these questions and more can be found at:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


One day, we came upon a group of giraffes lying down in a savannah to enjoy their midday siesta. Giraffes are most vulnerable when they change position - to lie down or to take a drink.
Those long necks pose some serious blood pressure problems and they're a bit dizzy for a few minutes when they stand up straight again. So they take turns resting, drinking etc.
Enjoy! Laura

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Safety Issue with Your Phone Number and Google

Google has a feature which enables you to type a telephone number into the search bar and hit enter and you will be given the person's name and address. If you then hit MapQuest, you will get a map to the person's house. It's a nationwide reverse telephone book. If a child gives out their phone number, someone could look it up to find out where they live. This is an obvious safety issue.

You can have your phone number removed or blocked from this. You just fill out the removal form. In order to test whether your phone number is mapped, go to:
Type your phone number in the search bar and hit enter.
If you want to BLOCK Google from divulging your private information, simply click on your telephone number and then click on & fill out the Removal Form. Removal takes 48-hours.
Check your own number(s).
This may not apply to you if you have an unlisted number or cell phone as primary contact, but you should check.
Please share this information with friends and family.

(Thank you Uncle Phil for send this along. I knew about it but had forgotten all about it.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Retreat - with a Craft

This past Saturday Barbara held her first retreat at St. Luke's in Metuchen, NJ where she is an Honorary Associate, and fills in from time to time. Sometime back when I saw this was an upcoming event I proposed to her the idea of me coming in and teaching the participants a small handwork sewing project. It would be one that could be worked on throughout the day during the periods of time that are giving for meditation. Knowing that people have different ways to approach this quiet time, Barbara liked the idea and welcomed it.
She introduced the idea as the attendees were first gathered in Fryer Hall and I gave a brief explanation. Then I went to set up in a back classroom. Throughout the day people stopped by, about half in all. Some that felt they were not crafty were doubtful that they would be able to make the item. I again reassured them that no great sewing skills were necessary. As the dubious crafters began to see their successes, their enthusiasm grew. They had surprised themselves. Everyone was given a premade padded square of muslin to take home on which to attach their paper piece quilting. It could be used as a hot pad for their Thanksgiving table.

You can do this! Go to:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cookie Recipes & Much More Christmas Stuff for the Kids!

Since many of you will be starting your holiday baking soon here's a link to a web site with a whole lot of cookie recipes . . . . and lots of FREE Things to Do for the kids:

*Send a letter to Santa
*Send holiday postcards
*Stories to read & color
*Santa's Birthday Cards
*Games to play
*Christmas Karaoke
*Holiday recipes
*Northpole Wallpaper
*Puzzles & Activities
*Good Deed Calendar
*Visit Elf Pal Academy
*Educational Activities
*Q&A with Santa
*Find the hidden stories
*Naughty or Nice List
*Santa Tracker (Dec. 24)

Thanks cousin Merry for sharing. (And yes, I did spell her name right. She was born on Christmas!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Santa Fe-Style Quinoa Salad

1 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup mild or medium picante sauce
1 cup quinoa rinsed under cold water
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 salt tsp. (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
4 scallions (white & green parts) thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
15oz. can black beans rinsed and drained

In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the water, picante sauce, quinoa, cumin salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes Uncover and toss with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
Add remaining ingredients to the quinoa, tossing well to combine. Serve slightly warm or let cool to room temperature.
Alternately cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days and served chilled.

Debbie, I use Quinoa in place of the many grains I can't have. Here's a recipe I use that's delicious. - Joan
Joan was David's school bus driver and we still keep in touch. She is on a gluten-free diet.

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