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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, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Everyone!

(Thanks Joan for passing this along.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

This isn't something we like to think about but it's something that needs to be done. Here's some information to at least get you thinking about it. Make this the year you get it done!
(This information comes from USA Weekend (11/30-12/2/07) article by Sharon Epperson.)

"More than 70% of Americans don't have a will, and parents with minor children are less likely to have one". This information comes from a national survey done by the online legal document company
If you die intestate, that's without a will, the state -not you- decides how to divide up your estate.
You can draft a basic will at the fraction of the cost of using an attorney with the use of a software kit, website, or books.
For a basic will and health care power of attorney there's Quicken WillMaker Plus 2008 edition(The book & CD-ROM cost $32.99 on and it also has information on planning & budgeting for a funeral.
For online form websites:,,
Prices start at about $20 and then varies depending upon the number of forms you need and the number of changes you can make.
There's Nolo's Simple Will Book by Denis Clifford that contains how to select an executor, handle debts and taxes, reduce estate taxes and probate fees, and how to make changes to or revoke an earlier will, and other topics.
Of course an estate planning attorney can answer all kinds of questions and to find one in your area you can go to Be sure to read the site's advice on screening a potential attorney before you sign for any services.

Here's some additional information that HP reader Dee in Las Cruces, NM has emailed me.
"Another thing is that in many states, parents with under-age
children who have been adopted, the parents having no will, those
children become wards of the state. Any adoptive parents will want to
avoid this at all costs. It's the first thing one should do immediately
after adopting a child of any age but especially those under-age (l6 or
so) - this may vary according to state. It's worth checking out with an

See also these 2 HodgePodge postings from the past:

A-Pass-Along (Advanced Medical Directives)

Emergency Medical Information Sheet

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gym or Spa?

I see by the counter there on the bottom that a number of you checked in on Hodgepodge yesterday. I thought you’d all be out either returning items or buying up the markdowns! I myself waited my way through the traffic past the local mall to get to the gym. Gym you say? Yes, I confess, I finally joined a gym. Actually I’ve been going since it opened back in the beginning of November. My husband Paul, joined one too, a different one, closer to the house. He’s in and out in under an hour. Not me, my gym is associated with the local hospital. In addition to all the machines and all sorts of classes it has all the extras, a Junior Olympic lap pool, a warm water therapeutic pool, a huge hot tub, and sauna & steam rooms in the locker room. After the first couple of times I went he said, “What do you do there? You’re there for hours!” I said, “I know, I love it. It’s like a day at the spa!” I stretch out, go on the treadmill, do my machines, then I go and change into my bathing suit, a little steam/sauna, rinse off, and head to the warm water pool and do some laps with or without a noodle and then go in the hot tub. Yesterday I got there around 1 pm and didn’t come home until about 4. He didn’t say anything. After all the hubbub of Christmas, and having been sick the week before with I guess a 24 hour thing and a sinus infection, I just needed to have a nice long relaxing spa day. Yep, that’s how I think of it. Not going to the grueling gym, but I pop on my headphones on with my MP3 player to side track me while I do the machines, and then when I'm done I can head for my "spa" reward.

(We have a lot of gyms in our area. My son Brian, belongs to yet another one. If you've thought about joining a gym but weren't sure check out the different ones where you live. We each belong to a different one that fits our needs! Maybe you can find your perfect fit too.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Visit from St. Nicholas

(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Origin of the Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer Story

The question of the origin of the Rudolph story was on the homepage of Yahoo today and was recently a question on the new game show Duel. I thought you might find the details of the story interesting.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Laura's Christmas Card to All

Even when I was in Tanzania, I knew this was going to be my holiday Christmas card!
Tonight, as we weather our first snow of the season here in the mid-Atlantic, seems the right night to post this card. Sadly, this is the last of the APODS - APOD is about to become OPOD (Occasional Picture of the Day). I want you all to know how grateful I am that you have allowed me to share these photos and my journey with you. With each picture posted , I have relived a wonderful moment. DH Lawrence once said that our sixth sense is the sense of wonder. May this holiday season, and the new year, be filled with joy, wonder and love for you - and all whom you love. Enjoy! - Laura

Dear Laura,
Many thanks from myself, and on behalf of all the Hodgepodge readers who have enjoyed your beautiful photos with wonderful commentary. It was so nice of you to take the time to do this and share your adventure with us. - Debbie

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Digestive Disorders First Aid Treatments

Having spent the better part of last night and today sick. I thought it would be good for you to have information at your fingertips, and for you to keep your pantry stocked with what you should have on hand for treatments.

Kind of ironic that this is just after a posting entitled, "In the Pink" huh? : )

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In the Pink!

I thought that as everyone prepares for this feast day, a soothing, quiet image might be welcome... amid all the hubbub! This is a group of lesser flamingoes. Flamingoes have such unusual bills! They use them in upside down fashion to filter silt etc as they search for shrimp. Hopefully your holiday guests will eat all their shrimp rightside up! May those of you who are traveling have safe journeys and have very few of your feathers ruffled en route! Enjoy! - Laura

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Santa Jigsaw Puzzle

Here's a simple jigsaw puzzle for the little kids to do.

Thanks Robert and Francis for sending it along.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm Seeing Spots Before My Eyes!

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Wild Things!

Last week, when I posted the picture of the wild dog, I was asked how wild dogs differ from hyenas. To a certain extent they are related - all derived from wolf ancestry. Still, note how scruffy the fur is, and there is less of a 'calico dog' appearance to the hyenas. - Laura

Thursday, December 13, 2007

St. Luke's Cookbook

There's a limited number of the St. Luke's Cookbook (Sharing the Feast) left and I can now offer them to you. In total there are just under 300 recipes in a 3-ring binder style (so you can add more if you like) with a stand that snaps right in there! It contains alot of my favorite recipes and Barbara has some in there as well.

The books are $12 each. Priority Mail shipping for one is: $4.60, two $8.95.
My co-chair on the cookbook, Katherine Young, is handling the orders.
Orders can be emailed to her at:

Be sure to put "Cookbook Order" in the subject line of your email then followed up with a check made out to: St. Luke's Episcopal Church

Sent to: Katherine Young (Cookbook Order)
c/o St. Luke's Episcopal Church
17 Oak Ave.
Metuchen, NJ 08840

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Find the Hidden Elephants!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Our own "Ways of the World", Carol Stone has written about micro-loans, "Lasting Peace" Requires People "To Break Out of Poverty" (10/13/06) and you may have wondered how could I do that? How can you help someone break that cycle of poverty with a loan? Well at you can do just that. "Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world." Then, when your loan is repaid you can (withdraw) or re-loan it all over again! How cool is that?! AND you can give it as a gift certificate.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What's Gnus with You?

To date, I have not shown you any wildbeest photos.
They are also known as gnus because of the sound they make.
They are the Dutch equivalent of "wild cattle".
These three were a bit frisky the morning we saw them cantering in the crater.
Later in the day, we would see a huge procession.
Enjoy! Laura

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wild Thing

Oh how I wish I could have gotten a clearer picture! (My battery was dead and I had to scramble even to get this shot.) We were on the final leg of our journey. As we made our way back to Arusha, we suddenly came upon a pack of wild dogs - so rare that the wildlife service in Tanzania pays guides for pictures documenting the fact they are still present. Sadly, these *dogs* have fallen prey to distemper and to farmers' bullets (because they kill the livestock). Yes, they look like very mixed up German Shepherds. They will never win "Best in show" at Westminster, but they are part of our world, and it saddens me that they are on the endangered species list. - Laura

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Catalog Choice - Helping to Unstuff Your Mailbox

Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources. Their mission is is to reduce the number of repeat and unsolicited catalog mailings, by freely providing the Catalog Choice services to both consumers and businesses.
Go here to find out how it works:

(Thanks Nancy for sharing this information.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Monkey Business

These are vervet monkeys...similar to the ones that attacked us in the van.
The one looks like it could be oh-so-tempted to pull the other's tail!
Enjoy! Laura

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What is Eaten in One Week

Take a good look at the diet of each country. How much do you spend?
[Click on picture and choose "open" to see it larger.]
(Thanks Joan for passing this along.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

What's My Line??

OK. I'm going to date myself here. Years ago (when dinosaurs roamed the earth????) there was a quiz show called "What's my line?' The final guest was a celebrity, always silhouetted, and the players wore masks and asked questions to guess the identity of the famous guest.
Tonight's offering is dreadfully backlit, but the really good birders among you will be able to guess the identity of this bird anyway!!
Hint: you will note that the jaws are slightly ajar, like a niutcracker, so the bird can open the snails it catches in the marshes.
WHAT'S MY LINE?? (The identity is below the picture)
Enjoy! Laura

The African Open Billed Stork

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