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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, January 31, 2008

National Wear Red Day

Tomorrow Friday, February 1, is the fifth anniversary of National Wear Red Day. It's the day to wear your favorite red clothes or accessory to show your support for women and the fight against heart disease.
There are many supporters and sponsors that have designed special products, donating a portion of their sales to the movement and found many innovative ways to inspire others to Go Red.
Macy's is just one of the many proud national sponsors of Go Red For Women and will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Friday, February 1, by offering an all-day savings pass for customers wearing red. For anyone forgetting their red, Macy's is offering an all-day savings pass to those who make a $2 donation in the store to the American Heart Association. All contributions received will benefit the Go Red For Women movement.
Look in your area for local sponsors' offerings.

To learn more go here:

Shop for Go Red:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Help with the Multiplication Table

I came across this for anyone who has a child having trouble learning their times table.

There are also worksheets and a Multiplication Grid up to 12 you can print out at this site.

A trick for the 9 times
Hold your hands in front of you with your fingers spread out.
For 9 X 3 bend your third finger down. (9 X 4 would be the fourth finger etc.)
You have 2 fingers in front of the bent finger and 7 after the bent finger
Thus the answer must be 27
This technique works for the 9 times tables up to 10.

The 11 Times for two diget numbers
Multiply 11 by 18. Jot down 1 and 8 with a space between it. 1 --8.
Add the 8 and the 1 and put that number in the middle: 198

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Warning About Cough and Cold Medications and Children

There have been repeated warnings about the use cough and cold medications for children. The U.S. government estimates that about 7,000 children go to hospital emergency rooms each year from the use of these medications. "About two-thirds of the cases were children who took the medicines unsupervised. However, about one-quarter involved cases in which parents gave the proper dosage and an allergic reaction or some other problem developed." The study included both prescription and over the counter medications. This all comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned parents that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are too dangerous for children younger than 2.

To read more:

An important number to keep on hand.
National Poison Control Number: 1-800-222-1222 It is open 24 hours - 7 days a week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Weird Household Uses for Food

To get gum out of a carpet, scrape up what you can, using an ice cub to stiffen it if necessary. Then rub a small glob of peanut butter into the fibers, and wipe up the whole mess with a cloth. To get rid of any left-behind PB, just dab it up with a mixture of 1 tsp of dishwashing liquid in 1 cup of lukewarm water.

Everyone knows Clorox's catchy ditty about keeping clothes bright, but all you need is pepper. Add a teaspoon of pepper to the wash before you add in your clothes and it will keep the colors from fading. (I thought it was salt or vinegar?)

Deodorant stains can ruin a perfectly good shirt. Save your whites by spraying white vinegar (no need to mix with water) onto the underarm areas. Then you can wash per usual.

At your next BBQ don't spend money on anti-pest candles that never work. Simmer 2 cups of milk, a 1/4 pound of sugar and 2 oz. of ground black pepper for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the mixture into bowls and put them where the flies will be attracted to them and then drown. You can also place around the house. No more buzzzzzing at the windows.

Next time your drain is clogged and you don't have time to run to the store for some Drain-O just look in your fridge! A 2-liter bottle of soda will do the trick. Just pour it down to clobber the clog.

For a natural solution to diaper rash, try coating the area with a thin layer of shortening. It will act as a moisturizer.

Grease stains can be a huge pain when it comes to doing laundry. Before you wash, work a generous amount of table salt into the stain and then launder as usual.

Too much to drink last night and now you have puffy eyes? Apply a thin slice of cold potato to your eyes and leave on for five minutes. Then splash with cool water, put on your makeup (or just some moisturizer -- this means you, too, guys!) and head to work!

Don't you hate it when you have to start a fire and little bits of newspaper are flying everywhere? Next time, air-dry orange peels, which contain flammable oils that burn longer, and use those instead of the paper. The delicious smell is a bonus.

Does it seem like nothing is working for your bad skin? Use 4 tablespoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to create a paste. Leave it on your face for 2 minutes and rinse with warm water. Then wash your face as normal. Use every day for a week and then cut back to 3 days a week and you should notice an improvement.

It may make you smell like a hot dog, but rubbing a thin layer of mustard over your chest and covering with a hot towel can relieve a stuffy head and chest. (OK, I think that's just really gross.)

Oh no! You forgot to put the cap on your pen and now there is ink seeping into your shirt. No worries -- just grab some milk and soak the area. Depending on the type of ink, this process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. Patience is a virtue. (Hmm . . . I thought I remember hairspray being used for this.)

It's one thing when your child draws on the wall with crayons, it's quite another when it comes to your wood furniture. Rub some mayonnaise on the crayon mark and let it soak for ten minutes. Then take a damp cloth and wipe away the mayo AND the crayon!

Dandruff can be an embarrassing health problem, but the special shampoo often smells yucky. Try massaging 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into your scalp and rinsing with warm water. Follow with a leave-in rinse of 1 teaspoon lemon juice in 1 cup of warm water. Use this daily until your scalp is healed. (Vinegar can be used too but doesn't smell as nice.)

You have an ant problem but are worried about the poisonous ant traps around your pets. Just sprinkle flour wherever you see ants entering the house and along the pantry shelves, since they are most likely after your food.

No time to hit the salon before your big event? Get your hair super shiny and conditioned with eggs! Take two beaten egg yolks and massage into hair. Start at the scalp and work in small sections. Then gather all of the hair in a shower cap, wrap in a warm towel and wait 30 minutes (you could cook the kids' dinner). Rinse with cool water and shampoo as usual.

Your child just learned how to tie their shoes and the knots are impossible to undo. Stay calm and sprinkle a little cornstarch on the laces to help you work out the knot.

There's no more worrying about drinking red wine on white carpet. Soak up as much wine as possible and then pour club soda over the area, making sure to blot and not rub. Repeat the process until the wine is no longer visible. You can also do the same for urine stains.

While most of us associate castor oil with constipation or childbirth, did you know it can also help get rid of pesky moles in your yard? Just mix a 1/2 cup of castor oil with two gallons of water and pour the mixture down the mole(s) hole(s). Don't worry, the solution is animal friendly and they will likely relocate.

A jewelry box can help you organize, but sometimes those thin-chained necklaces just want to get tangled and you can't stop them! Rub some butter into the knot and lay on a flat surface. Then take a sewing needle to untangle. When finished just run under hot water to rinse off the butter.

Next time you drop a wine glass or break a plate, grab a slice of bread to help you clean up. After you pick up the larger pieces, press the bread over the area and it will pick up all the itty bitty pieces you can't see. Bread can also help clean fingerprints off walls and wallpaper. Just rub and voila!

Before you throw your banana peel in the compost pile, remove any stringy pulp and use the peel as a buffer. This works with silverware as well as leather shoes and leather furniture. Just rub the peel over the object and buff with a soft cloth. Be sure to test a small section of your furniture first!

Sick of waiting for your green tomatoes to ripen on the windowsill? Stick up to five tomatoes in a brown paper bag with a ripe apple and seal for a few days. This will speed up the ripening process.

My brother found this on AOL and sent it along.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What's Your Risk for Diabetes?

Wonder what your risk is for diabetes.
Go to this link to find out:

Common warnings signs of diabetes include:

Increased and/or Unquenchable Thirst
Increased hunger (especially after eating)
Dry mouth
Frequent urination or urine infections
Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
Weakness and Fatigue
Blurred vision or Decreased vision
Tingling or Numbness in Your Hands, Legs or Feet
Frequent yeast infections
Recent weight gain
Velvety dark skin changes of the neck, armpit and groin, called acanthosis nigricans
Skin that is dry or itchy
Frequent infections or cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal
Diabetic coma (loss of consciousness)

To learn more:

For more information about risk factors go to:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Watch a Short Video & Donate to Autism Speaks

The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.40 to Autism Speaks
for each time the video is viewed. The funding goes toward research studies
to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link below to
watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family. They are
aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.
Put your sound on.
Link to the site:

Thanks Carrie for passing this along.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More from Dee

I asked Dee if there was anything else she'd like to share and she wrote back the following:

"The only further thing I wish people could all know (altho' it wouldn't now serve much purpose, I think) is in just what awful conditions our black brothers and sisters lived. Those are stories that, also, I'm glad I experienced so I would truly know what they were up against; however, I am grateful for them that things have changed mostly beyond THAT stuff which was just ghastly - 11 people living in one room right across from the all-white the high school; a mother and toddler baby trying to exist in a cinder block shell of a building which had been under construction - it was winter and the baby had a bad cold. This is what the public health nurses saw all the time and how, on just one day, I saw it, too."

"I guess my memories of these black friends are all positive ones of people whom we knew. When I say "worked for...", they might come once a week as our helper did - her name was "Gussie" - Augusta Lewis - and she helped Mom with the cleaning and ironing. She taught me how to iron perfectly and I was only 6 or 7. She would NEVER come in and have lunch in the dining room with us no matter what so I took my lunch into the kitchen and ate with her - a big treat for me! I heard from her as late as when I was married as she had an invitation; she was 90+ years old. And then there was "Rosie" who looked after me part-time when I was a baby. Her sister Minnie came and helped Mom clean but Minnie broke things a lot so she had to be "let go". Margaret was Rosie's and Minnie's mother and she was chief cook and housekeeper for my mother's best friend. Remember that none of us had large homes - the ladies just needed good help as everything was done “from scratch”. Margaret was the most loving person I have ever known - she was always there with a hug and a treat whenever I went with Mom to visit her friend. She had been there for years and still talked about the beautiful garden party that she helped with when my aunt and uncle came over from England in 1936 for a visit. It was an evening party; there were Chinese lanterns all through the gardens ( not large but lovely) and two orchestras (quite swell!) - one was a local popular dance band for the guests. The other was a black banjo band present in the back yard and out toward the barn for all those who liked to hear that music. I would so love to have been at this party! Everyone was in evening dress. At any rate, there was a certain amount of pride in how one did one's job and for whom one worked. There was also a man at the local manufacturing plant -he was half American Indian and half black. He could work all day long from 7 to 4 without a break except for a drink of water. He had no fear of heights and my Dad, upon having to inspect the smokestack which went 40 feet into the air, got stuck up there due to fear of heights. It was this man, Mr. Sally, who dropped everything and skedaddled right up there, got hold of Dad and "talked him down". He came to help us clear land at our new home in the Fredericksburg Battlefield Park and again, would arrive at 6 a.m., stop for a drink of water at noon, and keep going until 4 p.m. He amazed me. The saddest thing I've seen in my older years is in trying to write an article about the black cooks at local popular restaurants at home. The magazine editor was quite in favor of the article but it was quite amazing how there was NO information as to the cooks' names during the l930's, '40's and 50's. Goodness knows, we would all have crawled over crushed glass to eat anything they fixed - it was SO good!"

"Other than this - things have changed in that there has been a black mayor of our town and altho' there is much more tolerance over the later years, there is still quite a division between white and black in their daily activities. Interesting. Have we progressed or not????
Thanks for the opportunity to share my experiences." - Dee

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Experience of a Lifetime

"Thanks for giving us "the whole speech", Debbie. I was there that hot August day. Drove my roommate to work at 7 in the morning because we were not sure she could get there otherwise. We all feared violence; we were not sure what to expect. I stayed the whole day down at the National Science Foundation Bldg. right on Constitution Ave. I gradually, very gradually, made my way down to the front door, then out to the sidewalk, then out into the street and then, ultimately into the crowd and right up near the front to hear the speech. The reality of that day is that there was NO violence; just thousands of people who, with great peace and love in their hearts, believed in their cause and wanted us all to know how they felt. They were all very friendly to me, very kind, made way for me to go along and forward. I will never forget it. I did take pictures - am so glad I did. I was 24 and raised in northern Virginia but was lucky enough to know what black people I did from a perspective of tolerance (I had British parents) and love (those who worked in the households I knew well, including my own, taught me so much in the way of housekeeping and loved me greatly). I have been very fortunate to experience this in my life - I would not trade my life experiences with these dear people for anything." Dee in Las Cruces, NM

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

For those of you that never saw this famous speech as it was delivered, or to hear it again, you may go to this link to see, hear, or read the "I Have a Dream" speech:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hodgepodge Listings for 2007

Click link for:

2007 Hodgepodge Index

Thursday, January 17, 2008

More G-F Information

(Just saw I had this old email that I forgot to add to the last information I posted.)

Demonstrating significant support to the gluten-free and special diets community, all 54 of Charlie Brown's Steakhouse restaurants are now offering complimentary gluten-free desserts. Guests must purchase a gluten-free entrée from the extensive gluten-free menu and present the complimentary coupon to their server to receive their dessert.

Coupons are available from the 54 Charlie Brown's Steakhouse qualified listings featured on, the world's largest on-line directory of gluten-free restaurants.

Serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York with over 40 years of experience, Charlie Brown's Steakhouse restaurants offer prime rib, delicious steaks, chicken and fish dishes; each complemented by the famous Farmer's Market Salad Bar.

Visit to obtain your coupon and begin to enjoy your delicious gluten-free meal with dessert today. Coupon is valid for up to 4 guests per table and ends March 31, 2008.

Committed to ensuring the highest levels of satisfaction, Charlie Brown's is also requesting your feedback on your gluten-free dining experiences. The survey will take less than 5 minutes and will help to further understand your needs and expectations.

GlutenFree Passport is the proud sponsor of, helping to bring you tasty & safe gluten-free meals, around the corner from your home and around the world!

The Gluten Free Market
7-09 Fair Lawn Ave
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

NYC celiac group posted a note that the American Girl Store in NYC has GF Bread & cookies on their menu.

Ian’s French Toast Sticks, Bell & Evans Chicken Tenders & Food by George Pizza

Lilli and Loo: 792 Lexington Ave, New York 10021 Btwn 61st & 62nd St. 212-421-7800. The gluten free menu can be found at:

Gluten Free Traveling Bears Program
The Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group has a unique GF Traveling Bears(tm) program for celiac children. The goals of the program are:
to let celiac children know that they are not alone, to provide a fun way to help children understand and communicate the gluten-free diet,
and to help them to educate their communities about CD.
Participants receive a backpack containing a GF bear named after a safe grain alternative (Buckwheat, Quinoa and Teff), basic information about
celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. a disposable camera, and educational puzzles and coloring pages.
For more information or to request a three-day visit, go to and look for the special Traveling Bears' section. Be sure to check out the maps, photos and letters!

I thought I would forward this list I recieved from Snyders regarding their
products. I did call to find out about cross contamination and was told that
they start out the week processing gluten free items on the equipement, and
when they are done with those items they start processing gluten items on
same equipment, but it is washed in between. On Friday, all equipment is
broken down and washed before they start again.
Below is the list of Snyder's of Hanover products that are gluten-free.

Regular Potato Chips, not seasoned
Ripple Potato Chips, not seasoned
White Corn Tortilla Chips
Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips
Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Butter Popcorn
EatSmart Veggie Chips
EatSmart Sundried Tomato Pesto Veggie Crisps
EatSmart Cheddar Jalapeno Veggie Crisps
EatSmart Cheddairs
EatSmart Tomato, Romano and Olive Oil Soy Crisps
EatSmart Garlic, Parmesan and Olive Oil Soy Crisps
EatSmart Sweet Salsa Dip
EatSmart Three Bean Dip
EatSmart Salsa Con Queso
Cheddar Cheese Dip
Multi Grain Golden Flax Tortilla Chips
Multi Grain Jalapeno Red Tortilla Chips
Multi Grain Savory Blue Tortilla chips
EatSmart Lightly Salted Potato Chips
EatSmart French Onion Potato Chips
EatSmart BBQ Potato Chips

Thanks for your interest in Snyder's of Hanover.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Birds Going Squirrel-y

Over the weekend I was wanting some popcorn and found an old bagful in the pantry and popped some. It was awful but I thought the squirrels might go for it. I set it out on the deck with a handful of unpopped kernels. They liked it! Then it rained the other day, and yet there was one of them scooping his little paw in there and eating kernels. When he left we brought the bowl in and dumped it. Now those same little rascals had dug through my birdfeeder spewing seed everywhere just to get to the sunflower seeds, totally emptying it in a matter of days. Hmm . . . what to do? Out of birds seed . . . bagful of of useless popcorn kernels . . . Fill the birdfeeder with popcorn! Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, until shortly thereafter Brian noticed the birds were walking in circles around the feeder trying to find which side had some seed for them. We had a good laugh over that one!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Room A Day Giveaway

Kimberly-Clark has teamed up with the Daytime TV program "The View" and is having a $25,000 Room-A-Day Giveaway. Just go to the link to register for your chance. Let's see if a Hodgepodge reader can win one!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some More Gluten Free Information

I had several emails dating back to November and just got around to compiling them.
This information comes from my friend Joan by way of Central NJ ROCK (Raising Our Celiac Kids).

"Just wanted to share some of the new gluten free items that I discovered over the last few weeks. I was so excited when I found that Ians makes 130 calorie snack packs of chocolate chip cookie bites! Great to travel, great to put in your child's lunch- just like the rest of the kids! I almost cried tears of joy! And most importantly- they are delicious! Ians also makes now french toast sticks- (found them at Wegmans). My box I didn't have much luck with- they came out as hard as a rock. But Wegmans said they would take it back and give me a new box. I have heard really good things about them. Glutino now makes cinnamon french toast- and its delicious! We found the most delicious GF chicken fingers and chicken nuggets made by Bell & Evans...and to add to my excitement I found them at the A&P!"

Curious Cookie- delicious gluten free cookies!
"A friend of mine who also has a celiac child- gave my daughter a sample of this cookie. She tried the chocolate chip cookies and she said it was delicious. They come individually wrapped so its great to travel with. I contacted the company and asked him a bunch of questions. Here is how they responded."

1) We are not a gluten free only facility. With that said we taken great care to avoid contamination with our wheat based products:

a) we use separate equipment for gluten free cookies
b) we bake and pack gluten free cookies before any other cookie or bake on specific gluten free only days
c) we clean all utensils, bowls, ... in a sterilizing dish washer (190 degree plus)
d) the gluten free cookies are a different size than our other cookies

2) All cookies are individually wrapped with a 3 to 4 month shelf life
3) The cookies can be frozen

We have many satisfied celiac customers; I hope we can gain your trust and business as well.


Kevin Clyne
(973) 616-8500(b)
(973) 557-2397(f)

You can order online

Indian Restaurant in New Brunswick with a gluten free menu!
Just heard about a new Indian restaurant in New Brunswick that has an extensive GF menu. Here is the link to their menu, etc.

Joan's GF Great Bakes - GF bagels & english muffins.

CINDERELLA SWEETS 4909 Rockaway Beach Boulevard (718) 318-2100

Gingerbread House - Gluten free style!
I found a fun way to make a gluten free gingerbread house! Rachel Ray has a
recipe for a gingerbread house made out of rice krispie treats. I used her
idea and used only gluten free ingredients (ie: gluten free rice cereal,
candies, etc.). fyi: I didn't know what pumpkin pie spice was so I just
deleted it figuring the fun was in decorating the house more than eating the
walls! I brought it in to school so my daughter could decorate a house just
like her classmates! Here's the link for the recipe:"


Camp Westminster Higgins Lake, MI
Greetings from Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake in Michigan
( We are pleased to announce Michigan's
first gluten free and casein free summer camp! GFCF camp is scheduled
for June 16-21, 2008. Online registration for camp will open on Jan.
21, 2008. Prior to registration, camp questions may be directed to
Deanna Seng at dkseng99@voyager. net or Pamela Jann at

Beware Aunt Jemima Syrups NO longer gluten free!
From the ClanThompson site:
Aunt Jemima says they can no longer guarantee that any of their syrups are gluten free because the ingredients come into contact with gluten containing grains during harvesting.
Aunt Jemima syrups will be downgraded to Gluten free: Unknown in the next food SmartList update.

Maple Grove Farms GF pancake mix
I just tried Maple Grove Farms GF pancake mix. It was on display in the Manalapan Foodtown. They were very good and can be made dairy free also. Give them a try sometime!

Still Riding Pizza- please contact Liz directly at:

My name is Liz Silverman, and my company, Still Riding Pizza ( partners with local pizza places to offer gf pizza safe for Celiacs. Check out the website, and it's all explained there.
I'm currently working with about 15 restaurants in NY NJ and CT, and the response has been extremely good. Most of our restaurant partners come through referrals from customers: people like to have something local, and they tend to know who is Celiac friendly in their community.
Wondering if you or any of your members would like to suggest some restaurants or pizza places where they would like to eat pizza. I'll take it from there.
Liz Silverman

Friday, January 11, 2008

Close Encounter of the Unusual Kind

I had to run Maggie to the vet the other night. She had been chewing on one of her back paws to the point there was a bare spot. It was determined she had an infection and I was given antibiotic for her. While I was standing at the counter writing out my check a man walks in with his dog. He’s wearing a tan suede jacket with long fringe on the sleeves and back, with was it, a bejeweled shirt? His hair is full, jet black, and combed back with long sideburns. He’s wearing very fancy glasses.
The girl at the counter said to him, “Sir, your dog is coughing and there’s a lot of kennel cough going around, and it's highly contagious. I’m going to have to ask you to wait in your vehicle and I’ll come out and get you when we’re ready.” He goes out and I turn to her and say with a smile, “Gee, wonder what he does?” She replies, “Yea, hard to guess.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Donate Your Used Eyeglasses

Hodgepodge reader Sharon Wilson has asked me to post places that take donations of your used eyeglasses. Great idea!

Here are some to get you started:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Share Your Soles

Oh, what to do with those shoes that the kids have outgrown before they hardly wore them? Or what about the ones you wore only a few times and can't get on now?
I just finished reading an article in my January Guideposts, entitled - Sole Survivors. If you don't get Guideposts you can read all about it here:

It's a great way to donate your shoes and know they are going to someone that truly needs them. To find drop-off sites and learn more go to their donation page:

"The shoes we give to needy children may be the only pair they ever receive in their lives. Please be sure that the shoes you share are gently worn or new, clean and can withstand heavy wear. When selecting shoes to donate, please follow our requirements:

Children’s shoes: boy’s, girl’s and infant’s -- must be new or gently worn
Adult Shoes: Men/Women, dress shoes, and casual shoes are needed -- must be new or gently worn
Shoe types: Winter boots, Cowboy, athletic shoes, canvas shoes, sandals, school shoes, Roller Blades, Slippers, Boots, ice skates, spiked shoes, wrestling shoes."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Oops . . .I Did It Again!"

You'd think I'd have learned after the first time, but Nooooo! I did it again. I left the Shout Color Catcher to get clogged in the drain pipe. So Paul had to get it out again. Funny thing was later that night when I went in the laundry room I saw this glow from under the washing machine. He had left the light I had given to him see with on, and had forgotten to remove it from underneath when he put the machine back in place. Luckily, he was able to easily reach under and get it.
OK, now it's captured in a lingerie bag. Never to be free again!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Budgeting, Money Management, & Getting the Most Out of Credit Cards

I’m going to “piggyback” a bit on Carol’s posting for today on W.O.W. and talk about budgeting and other things.
Actually I’d been meaning to write about this for a long time and thought this was as good as anytime to do it. Now this isn’t something that everyone will want or need to do, but it might be helpful to some that are either starting out, or having trouble managing their money.
We’ve been doing this since we were first married. It works for us and others we’ve told it to, like it as well, and use it. It’s a very “concrete” way to manage money. We've done it so long we never changed.
First of all we don’t deposit a whole pay check into our checking account. The mortgage – which is the biggest amount, will get deposited when the check is cashed as it is paid at the first of the month.
* The checking account is used only to pay bills. What do I mean by that? Well, that checkbook never leaves the house. I don’t take it anywhere to pay for anything.
* We use one of those small check size files with many compartments to manage money.
The compartments are labeled with such as the following:
Miscellaneous - Garbage, Sewer/Water, Home Owner’s Insurance, Loan, Time Share, Etc.
Car Insurance
Car Repair (Money put aside for any future repairs)
Credit Cards
You can also have Phone, TV, and whatever else is a regular bill for you.
The compartment in the front of the file is left empty.*
We only use credit cards that give us something back.
American Express – Hilton Honors – Free stays at the many places they own.
Discover Card – Cash Back Bonus, etc.
You get the idea.
Now Paul budgets so much money for each compartment in the file. When there is extra money they can be “padded” with a little more.
So say I go grocery shopping and I spend $50 (putting it on a credit card). When I come home I take a $50 bill from the food compartment and clip it to the receipt and put it into the *front empty compartment. This way I know just how much is there to budget for food and can plan accordingly. When the credit card or other bills come in, the money is there to be deposited into the checking account to pay the bills.

So -
budgeting is done
bills get paid in full
money is put aside for future bills and savings
and we’ve gotten bonus extras in the form the credit cards give us!
We never pay any credit card interest. We’re the ones the credit card companies don’t like because they don’t make money off us!

You might even want to get your teenager to start this when they start working. They can put money aside for car insurance, gas & repairs, clothes, savings, recreational spending, prom, trips, and whatever else you feel they need to budget for.
Brian started with a Discover Card in his name, under our account to use at college. They said even with it being under our account it will help him to build up a good credit rating for when he goes off on his own.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Please Excuse This Commercial Interruption

Since it’s the beginning of the New Year, just like the diet commercials, I want to put in my plug. It's for “Pennies from Heaven”. “What’s that?” you say. Oh, just a little something I came up with awhile back. You can go to the Homepage of the and read all about it. We’re not asking for big bucks here. Just pennies! It takes me about 3 or 4 months to fill my Pringles can with what adds up to $13. Now I just took my filled can yesterday to my local Commerce Bank where they have their nifty machine that anyone can use and dumped in my change. (You can win a little prize if you guess close to the amount.)* This last time I saved not only pennies but nickels as well, just for the heck of it. I had an even $20+! Now I’ll send off my check to ERD – Episcopal Relief and Development, (where you can choose how you want your donation to be used) being sure to write “Pennies from Heaven” in the memo.

*P.S. – I had guessed $15 but the girl that had come over to the machine to ask if I needed any assistance told me to take one of the red plastic “C” banks they had right there. I imagine they’re really there for the kids, but hey, I’m a kid at heart! [. . . and if anyone out there gets one of these filled with pennies email me and let me know how much it holds. :)]

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cream of Mushroom Soup (Gluten Free)

I just got an email from my from my friend Joan, the one that had been David school bus driver for many years. She was all excited about the Chicken Pot Pie recipe until she came to the part about the canned Cream of Mushroom Soup, which people on GF diets can't eat. I felt bad so I started Googling and found the following. So perhaps those who must eat Gluten Free maybe you can make this soup and incorporate it into the Chicken Pot Pie. I'll leave it to you to figure out how to do it.


P.S. - Also I had forgotten, I had added some sauteed fresh mushrooms too, to the pot pie.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
revised from More from the Gluten Free Gourmet - pg.204

One can 10-ounce cut mushrooms (or approx 2 cups fresh cut mushrooms)
4 tablespoons sweet rice flour*
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (white preferred)
4 cups chicken broth*
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk or non-dairy liquid
* these products available from El Peto

Drain the mushrooms, reserving liquid. Blend pieces in a blender. Pour the blended mushrooms into a large saucepan. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in the reserved liquid and the chicken broth. Add the onion and garlic powders. Cook for a short while and then add the evaporated milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened slightly to a thin cream soup texture. Serve warm.
Makes 6 servings.
Website it is from:

Hodgepodge reader Rita Bennett sends along the following: "I used about 2 lbs fresh mushrooms and upped the other ingredients and put it all into a crock pot for about 6 hours..How delicious!! Thanks for the recipe!!"

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a family that loves chicken pot pie; even in as much one time when we were in Florida we specifically went to a Cracker Barrel for all of us to order it. After being served we dug in, but something wasn’t right. It was more liquidly, more like soup. When our waiter returned we told him but he insisted it was the way it was supposed to be. We knew it wasn’t right because we had had it many times before but we didn’t make a big fuss. As we about to leave and pay our bill the manager happened to come over and ask us if everything had been OK. “Well” we said, “since you happen to be asking . . .” and we proceeded to tell him about the problem with our food. He apologized profusely and said there would be no charge for our meal. We said that was nice but not necessary, but we just were disappointed as we had come there specifically for that one item as we had all ordered it. He still insisted and our meal was free.
More recently Cracker Barrel has taken this off their menu as a regular item and only offers it once a week. What were they thinking? Several times when traveling (we don't have any close by) and happened to catch it on the right day, we were only left with disappointment to find out they had run out of the it! : (
[Also Cracker Barrel has stopped carrying that Baked Potato Seasoning that I had recommended. Some time ago my husband's friend had them ship me all the bottles they had left after he had made inquires in to the stores by him and couldn't locate any. LOL]

* Now at Barbara and Q’s the other day what should I spy on the spread of food that people had brought but this little tureen filled with what looks like chicken pot pie filling! Yes! I scooped a spoonful onto my plate. Yummy, hot and savory! Who made this? I have to have the recipe! It was none other that Barbara’s daughter, Corinna.
She gave me a brief, not too real detailed run down what she did, and I made it the very next night.

So the following recipe is hers and I added a little too.

Some Chicken Cutlets cut up into bite size pieces and liberally sprinkled with Goya Adobo (which I didn’t have and then when I got to the store, Yikes!, only to find there are like 5 different ones. LOL I got the one with the red cap, with pepper.
Sauté the chicken in oil/butter (that’s what I used) and as it was getting browned I added a medium onion that I had cut into pieces as well as a couple of cut-up stalks of celery with leaves. I parboiled 3 small red potatoes and steamed a small bag of baby carrots. I cut any in half any that were really fat.
I also sauteed some cut-up freshly sliced mushrooms and added them too.

In another large pot - simmer
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup (I used the Healthy Request one)
2 cups of water
and then add the cooked chicken with onions, celery, cut-up potatoes, and carrots.
When it was all heated through nicely, I stirred in:
½ cup of heavy cream she had said to use
I added a handful of frozen peas.
To thicken,
2 Tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with some water (like ¼ cup) and then stir that in. Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. I served it over noodles. [I didn't bake it with a crust because I didn't want to have to wait any longer to eat it! : )] Enjoy!

For a crust for this go to:

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Movie Quote's Game

There's always fun and games at the New Year's Day get together at Barbara and Q's. Here's a little fun game I made up. Participants got 2 slips of paper and a little candy treat tucked inside a small paper tube that was covered in sparkle tissue paper, twisted on the ends and tied with ribbon. One piece of paper was their quote and the other double numbered to be torn in half. One for keeping, and the other half for a drawing for prizes!

People read their quotes. Some read with great dramatic flair, and then glued them on the poster above the label for what movie it came from, the actor that said it, the year it came out, and studio that produced it.

Later we had a drawing for the prizes. (Scented candles in little tins and glass ornaments.)

For a list of the quotes I used go here to download and print them out:
List of Movie Quotes

or you can go to AFI's website to find more.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Zoo Lights

The National Zoo in Washington featured a special "Zoo Lights" program for the first time this year. Judging from the reactions of all the munchkins running around, it was quite a success! There were jazz musicians, puppet shows, and lots of hot chocolate! Some of the animal exhibits were kept open after hours, but the special lights were the main event.
Hope the new year brings you all that is good -- and perhaps a little monkey business- just for fun! Enjoy!
(Thanks Laura for sending along these pictures.)
This was also done at the Bronx (NY) Zoo and is still there until January 6th.
Check out a zoo near you!

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