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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, January 30, 2009

Valentines That Give Back

Actress Julianne Moore was on The View today and showed cards created by talented contemporary artists and friends that you can buy to help the "Save the Children" organization. There are also cards featuring artwork created by children ages 11-17 from across the country. Pricey yes, but also a way to teach your kids about helping other kids in need.

Go here to check them out:

You can also download their free Valentines here for your kids:

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why You May Have Bad Dreams

Highlights from the divine caroline website article - Six Reasons We Have Bad Dreams - By: Brie Cadman
To read in full go to:

1. Anxiety and Stress - are sometimes the cause of nightmares and bad dreams. A major surgery or illness, grieving over the loss of a loved one, suffering or witnessing an assault or major accident or post-traumatic stress disorder can be the cause of recurrent nightmares. Not all nightmare triggers have to be traumatic even everyday stress, can also cause nightmares.

2. Spicy Foods - may affect our nighttime rest, if not our tendency toward bad dreams. Spicy food can elevate body temperatures and thus disrupt sleep. Some people report bad dreams when they eat too close to bedtime thereby increasing metabolism and brain activity and maybe promping bad dreams or nightmares.

3. Fat Content of Food - Some research has indicated that the more high-fat food you consume during the day, the greater the chance that the amount and quality of your sleep may suffer.

4. Alcohol
Though alcohol will help you fall asleep in the short term, once it wears off, it can cause you to wake up prematurely. Excess consumption can also lead to nightmares and bad sleep.

5. Drugs
Some drugs, including antidepressants, barbiturates, and narcotics, can cause nightmares as a side effect those these usually cease once the drug is cleared from the system.

6. Illness
Illnesses that include fever, can often trigger nightmares. Other sleeping disorders, including apnea and narcolepsy, may also increase the incidence of bad dreams and nightmares.

There are also related stories at this link on:
Seven Common Dreams and What They Mean and Six Techniques for Remembering Dreams

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Midnight Run Quilt

This is a flannel quilt my friend Helen made for her son Jared. It is made up of 224 five inch (finished size) filled squares all hand-stitched together. 14 squares wide by 16 squares long.

To make this quilt:
To make each of the little puffed squares - Start with two - 6" x 6" squares of flannel.
With right sides together sew three sides on the machine using a 1/2" seam allowance.
Then turn right sides out.

You will then stuff this with TWO pieces of Hi-Loft polyester batting that is 7" square.
Fold in your 1/2"seam allowance and blind stitch closed by hand.
With Size 3 - DMC Cotton Pearl double thread go thru the center and come back up to the top and make a square knot (left over right and right over left) , snip your thread leaving some short tails, say inch or so. This side is the top side of a square. (This quilt used several shades of the Cotton Pearl thread with the light thread on the dark fabric and the dark thread on the light fabric. See what you like for yours.)

When all your squares are made decide on your pattern by laying them all out on an old sheet or tablecloth (if plastic lay them on the flannel side). You can always cover them with another one and then roll them up together if you need to put it away.

To keep them organized you can make a pile of a row with the first one on top, down to the last one on the bottom. Take a piece of your pearl cotton threaded on a needle with a big knot on the end. Start at a corner of the bottom square (last one in the row) and thread them all on going up to the top one and through a piece of paper with the numer of the row written on it and end it off. Then when you go to join them together you will make a row at a time and then join the rows together.
When joining the squares together place right sides (remember side with the thread tails) of two together and whipstitch with double thread along the edges.
You may also want to take a picture after you have them all laid out just in case the cats think it is a place for them to play as did Helen's! LOL : )

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blue Ocean Institute - Seafood Program

The Blue Ocean Institute’s seafood program helps consumers discover the connection between a healthy ocean, fishing, and seafood. Their guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood gives color-coded rankings for popular seafood determined by evaluating species’ life history, abundance in the wild, habitat concerns, and catch method or farming system, including health advisory information. You can also download or order a wallet seafood guide.
To learn more go to:
Go to the following link for the Fishphone - It is Blue Ocean’s sustainable seafood text messaging service that instantly puts sustainable seafood information at your fingertips.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

A David Moment - With The Car

I don't often drive the car we have as I prefer the feel of my van. It's 15 years old now with over 205,000 miles (with a rebuilt engine) and sat last week with powersteering fluid running down the driveway from underneath it. I was forced to use the car (and Paul, his mom's) until it get's fixed. I never really much take David anywhere in the car but I did take him to his day program in it last week. So I get there, get him out, hit the clicker to lock the car, (mine broke on the van ages ago) it gives it's short little beep, and I turn to grab David's arm to walk him into his place. He looks at me smiling and says, "It farted!" "What? What did you say?" "It farted!" he repeats, "The car farted!" Oh David! You crack me up!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Ten Cool Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

1. Exercise
It’s not only great for relieving the stresses of life but the effects of a good workout can last for several hours giving you energy throughout the day. Your metabolism will stay elevated and those “feel good chemicals” that are released will improve your mood.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet
What and when you eat has a great affect on your mood and energy. Avoid refined and processed foods that are not only devoid of the nutrients your body craves, but they zap your energy levels and can affect your mood—causing depression, lack of concentration, and mood swings. Incorporate more complex carbohydrates and drink plenty of water. These healthy foods provide your body (and mind) with nutrients, and stabilize your blood sugar and your energy levels.

3. Get Some Sun
Sunlight not only provides us with Vitamin D but also improves your mood. Similar to exercise, sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. You can also change some light bulbs in your house to “full spectrum” bulbs. They mimic natural light and have the same affects on your mind as the real thing.

4. Act on your Resolutions
A recent study from the CDC showed a strong link between healthy behaviors and depression. Women who exhibited healthy behaviors had less sad and depressed days. Although researchers studied women, the results are likely similar in men.

5. Avoid Binge Drinking
Alcohol is actually a depressant, and rather than improving your mood, it only makes it worse. The morning after a binge of drinking will have you feeling sick, depressed, and even more tired, which will make your low energy and bad mood even worse.

6. Treat Yourself
Plan something that’s exciting to you. Having something to look forward to can improve your mood when you’re anticipating it and when the event actually comes.

7. Relax!
Everyone needs some time off. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to extra opportunities. Try to spend a few minutes each day doing nothing! Read a book or magazine, sleep in on the weekend, go to bed early, try some meditations, or take a yoga class. Relaxation, especially in the form of yoga, can alleviate stress and leave you with a calm energy. Even mental exercises like meditation and positive thinking can help keep depression at bay.

8. Embrace the Season
Instead of always avoiding the cold and the snow—look for the best that it has to offer! Take up a winter sport and enjoy these opportunities while they last. Staying active will boost your energy.

9. Get Social Support
Who can you turn to when you’re down and need a pick-me-up? Don’t underestimate the power of friends, family, mentors, co-workers, and neighbors to ask for help or encouragement when you need it. A phone call, a chat over coffee, or a nice email or letter can brighten your mood.

10. Catch Some Zzzz’s
Aim to sleep seven to eight hours each night, and try to keep your bedtime and waking time consistent, keeping sleeping patterns can normal and you’ll have more energy. Oversleeping on the weekend can actually make you more tired. Don’t forget naps! A short (ten to thirty minute) afternoon nap may be all you need to re-energize midday.

This is from a posting on divine caroline written by Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor and Health Educator

To read more go to:

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

From George Washington To Barack Obama

44 US Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama morphed to the music Boléro by Ravel.
(Thanks Don for sending it along.)

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mug Mates

These were made by my friend Helen. Directions can be found in the Summer 2008 issue of Quilts & More Magazine and they are featured on the cover. Find them on page 60 under the title "Hand-pieced Posies".

The finished size of the coaster is 5 1/2" and 3/4" hexagon paper pieces are used.

For another design of a Mug Mat see:
At this website you'll also find quilting basics, printable patterns, how-to instructions, videos, quick & easy gifts to make, and much, much more.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential Inaugurations

"I Do Solemnly Swear . . .": Presidential Inaugurations is a collection of approximately 400 items or 2,000 digital files relating to inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to George W. Bush's inauguration of 2001. This presentation includes diaries and letters of presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music.

A list of all the Presidents and their inauguration dates:

Videos of Presidential Inaugurations
(The first was McKinley's second on March 4, 1901)

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating

Nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden has created several lists of healthful foods people should be eating but aren’t. Dr. Bowden is the author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth”. The following is his list with some favorite foods that are easy to find but don’t always find their way into our shopping carts.

1. Beets: A rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.

2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.

3. Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.

4. Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol.

5. Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.

6. Dried plums: OK, they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants.

7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.

8. Sardines: They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.

9. Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,” it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

10. Blueberries: Frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.

11. Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie, high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.

To read more about how to incorporate these into your diet - go here:

(Thanks Joan for send this along.)

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Friday, January 16, 2009

A Little Pocketbook You Can Make

First, the fabric you want to show on the outside will be the one that is on the inside when you start, that is to say, right sides together.
Your diagonal fold on the bottom will measure approximately 24". Sew your vertical lines equal distance apart at about 8" and 16", stopping about 1/2" from the top.
The right triangles on each end will be opened and lap over the center square.
Hand sew the overlapping triangles to each other to maintain the outside pockets on each side.
The handle can be made with the leftover bias tape. Sew right sides together, turn it right side out with a loop turner and then use the loop turner to pull a piece of edge roping through it. Sew to the inside edges of the bag.

At the link given below are some directions but don't go by the measurements given for the sewing lines.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

So Where Are You All From?

Something new has been added to the Farm Homepage by Matt the Web Dude. Click up above there where it says Geranium Farm Home. Scan down the page a bit to just under the map of the world and you'll see "Visitor Locations". Check back every so often after it's had a chance to register your "hits" and let's see where you are all from and while you're there don't forget to check out some of the other Farm features.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pillsbury Recipes and Coupons

Pillsbury - Home is Calling

Go to the link to find recipes and to sign-up to get coupons mailed to you:

(Thanks Diane for telling us about this.)

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Call to Service

Take a look at Michelle Obama's video to tell you more about President-elect Obama’s call for a national day of service to “Renew America Together” on January 19th.
You'll be able to see where you can find a service opportunity in your area or you can organize one yourself.

(Thank you to HP reader Ann S. for bringing this to our attention.)

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Monday, January 12, 2009

How Well Can You Place The States on a Map?

No time limit on this one but accuracy in placement counts towards your score.

(Thanks Diane for sending this one along.)

and a previous timed map challenge:
(The timer starts as soon as it loads. You drag the name of the state to its place on the map.)

. . . and for the hardest one:

Want to try to list them all? There are:
4-A, 3-C, 1-D, 1-F, 1-G, 1-H, 4-I, 2-K, 1-L, 8-M, 8-N, 3-O, 1-P, 1-R, 2-S,
2-T, 1-U, 2-V, 4-W

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Healing Acute Wounds

There was a piece on the news last night about a man that had a rare infection in his leg that was not healing and it was cured with the use of Medihoney. He happened to have a kidney transplant as does my mother-in-law. She had had a lengthy hospital stay and post recovery from a leg infection. I wonder if such a treatment might have helped her. It is also used for burn treatment.
THIS IS NOT REGULAR HONEY but a special medical care product.
Here is one article about it:

Some additional information passed on by Katherine Young -

"The other major advance in wound healing, besides hyperbaric chambers, is a vacuum pump device that puts continuous negative pressure on the wound, resulting in continuous draining, revascularization and rapid healing. I know someone for whom the vacuum pump has been absolutely remarkable and her difficult infected wound is going to be healed, without the need for a skin graft. "

Main site for KCI:


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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Other Uses for Coffee Filters

This was passed on to my brother by a friend of his.
Have any other uses? Pass them along and I'll add them on.

Coffee filters who knew! And you can buy 1,000 at the Dollar Tree for almost nothing.
Coffee filters: Not just for making coffee....

1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.

2. Clean windows and mirrors. Coffee filters are
lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.

3. Protect China. Separate your good dishes by putting a coffee filter between each dish.

4. Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.

5. Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.

6. Apply shoe polish. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.

7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.

8. Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.

9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.

10. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.

11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.

12. Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows? Use strips of coffee filters.

13. Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them. Soaks out all the grease.

14. Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."

I use one when I want a manageable sized snack, like for popcorn so I don’t over-eat.
- Cathy A.
Wrap Christmas tree ornaments in them. Barbara S.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Apple Core Baby Quilt - A Work in Progress

I used the following method to get the shape before I basted the fabric to the apple core paper piece:
an extra step yes, but it much easier to get that inside curve.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Hot Cereal Mix

This is a recipe from the Splenda website.

5 cups instant oatmeal
4 tablespoons SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
3 tablespoons dry milk powder
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. In a large bowl combine oatmeal, SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, dry milk, raisins, chopped nuts, and cinnamon. Transfer ingredients to an airtight container or jar to store until ready to use.
2. To serve: Place 1 cup of mixture and 1/2 to 3/4 cup boiling water (depending how thick you like your oatmeal) into a cereal bowl. Let stand until thickened.
Serving Size: 1 cup hot cereal mix

Nutrition Info
Servings Per Recipe: 10
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 240
Calories from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 420mg
Total Carbs: 38g
Dietary Fiber: 5g
Sugars: 3g
Protein: 8g

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Index of Hodgepodge Postings for 2008

2008 Hodgepodge Index

For other Indexes:
2005 -1/9/06
2006 -1/16/07
2007 - 1/18/08

Friday, January 02, 2009

Natural Sweeteners

Awhile back I wrote about the natural sweetener Stevia:

Now it is being more pubically promoted under the name of Truvia.
If you'd like to learn more about the natural sweeteners Agave nectar, Fructose, Honey, and Stevia go to the following link to read a description and considerations about each one.

Comment from HP reader Suzanne A. - A note about Spenda. For women with urinary trac problems, in particular interstitial cystitis, Spenda may aggravate them. Also, it's a very big problem for some people in causing ( I don't know any other word to use.) gas! Kind of reminds me that there really aren't many ways to cheat the Sugar Monster, except to eat less of the real thing. I love your site.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Some quotes to start your New Year:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Dr. Miller says we are pessimistic because life seems like a very bad, very screwed-up film. If you ask, "What the hell is wrong with the projector?" and go up to the control room, you find it's empty. You are the projectionist, and you should have been up there all the time." - Colin Wilson

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
- Mahatma Gandhi

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." - E. M. Forster

"Every time you wake up and ask yourself, "What good things am I going to do today?", remember that when the sun goes down at sunset, it will take a part of your life with it." - Proverb

“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.“ - John Henry Jowett

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