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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, May 29, 2009

Baffle Those Squirrels!

(From Hodgepodge reader - Terry W.)

I have found a solution for squirrels that climb up bird feeder poles. I originally had my bird feeder hanging from the eave over my kitchen window. After squirrels began digging in my window boxes for dropped seeds and even tipping them onto the ground I decided to move the feeder away from that location. I had a wrought iron shepherd's crook from which I hung the feeder. All was well until the squirrels began climbing the pole and actually sucking the seed out of one of the feeder openings! Since I buy very expensive bird seed that doesn't sprout and the squirrels were scaring away the birds I knew I needed to do something. I went online and discovered there are any number of baffles and squirrel proof feeders. I just wasn't sure I wanted to spend a lot of money.
Then while at Lowe's Home Center, what to my wandering eyes should appear but a 48" clear polycarbonate tube lamp guard! It's intended use is as a shatter guard for T-12 fluorescent bulbs. It cost a whopping $3.68 plus tax, much cheaper than any of the products I found online. All I had to do was pull my shepherd's hook out of the ground, slip it into the plastic tube and place it back in the ground. I was hoping to catch a squirrel trying to climb it - that would have been a YouTube moment - but I didn't. Now "Squirrel Nutkin", as I call him, has been baffled.
Thanks Terry for sharing your idea!

. . . . . and some additions from other HP readers:

- Well, I don't know what to say.
I learned about the Geranium Farm from the cover of Jesus Wept, loaned to me by a friend.
I joined your email group only today, probably a couple of hours after I photographed this squirrel helping himself to my bird seed.
I intended to send the photos to a friend of mine who enjoys bird watching for his advice.
Before I could do that, I received my first Hodgepodge with advice on stopping squirrels from eating your bird seed!
I just thought that was pretty cool.
God sure does work in mysterious ways!
I have been in a very serious mood, searching for "connections."
What a humorous "connection" I have found here instead!
Thanks for the laugh - and the advice.

- What a great idea!
I had a bird feeder on just such a shepherd's crook a while ago. After one particularly single-minded squirrel continually ravaged the feeder I got provoked and slathered Vaseline on the pole. I then found a comfortable spot from which to watch the fun, and settled down for the wait. It didn't take long. That little stinker fairly flew up the pole, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed his comical distress as he slowly slid down, looking all around and trying to figure out what was happening. It worked for a while, until the rain and heat melted the Vaseline, and then he was back in business again.
Well, it was fun while it lasted!
Warm Regards,
- Mary

If you have the type of Shepherd's Hook that is attached to a tree or a building - you can cut 3 inch sections of PVC pipe and put them on the hook in the same fashion you have the clear pole cover - because they are segmented the squirrels cannot get a foot hold and cannot walk on them to the feeder - it was the best piece of 3 foot PVC pipe I have ever bought! ~~~ Fran

My story about the persistence of squirrels is a good one too.
I was living in a house with a picture window in the kitchen. I had put a small suction-attached feeder in the middle. I was sitting in the kitchen one morning when I noticed a paw, followed by most of a squirrel, streeetching down to snag the feeder. Then there was a bushy crash as it overbalanced. I thought that was that, but five minutes later the bush started shaking and our friend climbed onto the sill, from where he was finally able to hoist himself into the ( much too small) feeder.
At that point I intervened, of course. I figured he deserved some free seed for all his efforts!
Adelaide K.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

A David Moment - The Teddy Bear

David never ceases to amaze us with his kindness, compassion, quirkiness, and sense of humor.
Last week David won a teddy bear playing Bingo at his day program. He was thrilled with his prize. Later Paul came home from a visit to the dermatologist. As David went to hug him he told him to be careful, pulling up his shirt showing him some stitches. David went off to his room and brought back his bear and handed it to his dad and said, "This is 'cause you hurt." A minute or two later he passed David in the hall smiling, cluching the bear to his chest. David cracked up. Paul placed it on his night table. The next day David decided he needed his bear back but was quick to substitute a little stuffed dog in its place!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finding Free Stuff

Here are links to two articles from Yahoo on finding free stuff:

How to Find Free Stuff

How to Find Even More Free Stuff


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Update on the Chicken Panini Sandwiches

I made the sandwiches again over the weekend but this time I marinated the chicken in the Cardini's Balsamic dressing to which I added some freshly chopped basil before I cooked them. Instead of plain bread I used rosemary bread from Costco cut on the diagonal to get larger slices. Oh wow, even better!!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Animation: Recession Sing-A-Long

The classic "West Side Story" is enjoying its Broadway revival.
Now comes the remix, "Worst Slide Story."
Put your sound on and click on the link:
(Thanks Joan for sending this along.)

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

9 Natural Remedies That Really Work

Here's an article from MSN Health about 9 natural remedies for heart disease, varicose veins, tension headaches, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and cough. It also tells about remedies you should not use.
Click on the link and take the quiz to see how much you know:

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Homemade Chicken Panini Sandwich

You don't need a fancy panini press to make your own delicious sandwiches. I made these last night and wow were they yummy!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Helping a Vine Along Its Way

I've been working on growing this clematis for years and now at the base are some beautiful flowers. I just took this picture today. From the other side of the arch I have another vine, or two of some kind. Whatever it is, it was planted a few years ago and I don't remember it flowering. Anyway to help train the vines along the way I looped lightweight fishing line up and over the cross pieces of the arch to give the vines more to go on. I've helped weave them along as they've gotten longer on the sides and up & over the top. I'll try to remember to take another picture when it fills in even more. Click on the picture and look closely and you can see some of the fishing line.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Try To Do

Sometimes we could all use a little help.

(I caught this on the Bonnie Hunt show today.)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Delightful Blogs

Here is a website to help you "Cut through the Blog Smog" with an edited directory of 3200 blogs. If you are blogger you can submit your blog to get reviewed and listed.

Here is a list of the categories that are covered.

Activism (7)
Art (206)
Auto + Sports (6)
Beauty + Cosmetics (59)
Celebrities + Gossip (21)
Deals + Steals (12)
Design : Decor : Style (261)
Design : Graphic (29)
Diet + Health (23)
DIY + Crafting (248)
Eco-Friendly (46)
Fashion + Designers (145)
Film + TV (9)
Food + Drink (142)
Gadgets (9)
GLBT (4)
Home + Garden (149)
Humor (29)
Internet + New Media (35)
Knitting (9)
Literary (19)
Local :: Australia (7)
Local :: Canada (2)
Local :: Euro & UK (8)
Local :: So. America (0)
Local :: USA (27)
Mommy + Family (184)
Music (10)
Personal Journals (170)
Pets + Animals (29)
Photo + Video (109)
Pop Culture (24)
Relationships + Sex (13)
Scrapbooking (30)
Shopping (91)
Shops who Blog (74)
Stylish Living (53)
Travel (63)
Trends (22)
Wedding + Marriage (146)
Women's Issues (18)
Work + Career (19)

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Do You Believe?

(The following is just one of those things going around in emails I thought you might like.)

A Birth Certificate shows that we were born
A Death Certificate shows that we died
Pictures show that we lived!
Have a seat . . . Relax . . .
And read this slowly.

I Believe*...
That just because two people argue,
It doesn't mean they don't love each other.
And just because they don't argue,
It doesn't mean they do love each other.

I Believe*...
That we don't have to change friends if
We understand that friends change.

I Believe*...
That no matter how good a friend is,
they're going to hurt you every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that.

I Believe*...
That true friendship continues to grow,
even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.

I Believe*...
That you can do something in an instant,
that will give you heartache for life.

I Believe*...
That it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I Believe*...
That you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.

I Believe*...
That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

I Believe*...
That we are responsible for what we do,
no matter how we feel.

I Believe*...
That either you control your attitude
or it controls you.

I Believe*...
That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I Believe*...
That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I Believe*...
That my best friend and I,
can do anything, or nothing,
and have the best time.

I Believe*...
That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down,
will be the ones to help you get back up.

I Believe*...
That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry,
but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I Believe*...
That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had
and what you've learned from them
and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I Believe*...
That it isn't always enough, to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I Believe*...
That no matter how bad your heart is broken
the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I Believe*...
That our background and circumstances
may have influenced who we are,
But, we are responsible for who we become.

I Believe*...
That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life forever.

I Believe*...
Two people can look at the exact samething
and see something totally different.

I Believe*...
That your life can be changed in a matter ofhours
by people who don't even know you.

I Believe*...
That even when you think you have no more to give,
when a friend cries out to you -
you will find the strength to help.

I Believe*...
That credentials on the wall
do not make you a decent human being.

I Believe*...
That the people you care about most in life
are taken from you too soon.

The happiest of people don't necessarily
have the best of everything;
They just make the most of everything.

Thank you God for all the wonderful people
who help us throughout the journey of life..
May Angels guard you and guide you.

(Thanks Pat for sending this along.)


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

True Duck Story

Something really cute happened in downtown Spokane this week. Joel a loan officer at Sterling Bank and works there in a second story office. Several weeks ago, he watched a mother duck choose the concrete awning outside his window as the unlikely place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and Monday afternoon all of her ten ducklings hatched.

Joel worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching. Tuesday morning, Joel watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off. Office work came to a standstill as everyone gathered to watch.

The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In disbelief Joel watched as the first fuzzy newborn trustingly toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. Joel couldn't stand to watch this risky effort nine more times! He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling, near its mother, was resting in a stupor after the near-fatal fall. Michael stood out of sight under the awning-planter, ready to help.

As the second one took the plunge, Joel jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the concrete. Safe and sound, he set it down it by its momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from that painful leap.
(The momma must have sensed that Joel was trying to help her babies.)

One by one the babies continued to jump. Each time Joel hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall. At the scene the busy downtown sidewalk traffic came to a standstill. Time after time, Joel was able to catch the remaining eight and set them by their approving mother.

At this point Joel realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs and past pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the Spokane River. An empty copy-paper box was brought to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother's approval, and loaded them in the container. Michael held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the Spokane River. The mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight, all the way.

As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping in the river and quacking loudly. At the water's edge, Joel tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to the waiting mother after their adventurous ride.

All ten darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up snugly to momma. Joel said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward him beam, and proudly quacking.

At last, all present and accounted for: "We're all together again. We're here! We're here!"
And here's a family portrait before they head outward to further adventures...

(Thanks to my cousin Kendall for passing this one along.)

Snopes link:

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Josie and Mary Visit with Barbara & Q in Florence

My time clock is way out of sinc so here I am writing early in the morning. I had a fantastic 10 day trip to Florence with Mary from St. Luke's, Metuchen. We stayed in the rectory with Barbara and Richard (Q) and got to experience days in the lives of priest and spouse. Mary and I saw the most important sights and art on our own with their guidance. We walked to most of the sights in the mornings stopping to have something to eat before returning to the rectory.We found a wonderful gellatto (ice cream) shop nearby. Florence is a wonderful city full of beautiful art including the famous David sculpture and painting of Venus standing on a shell and many famous frescos. The cathedrals are so beautiful. The food the best including the cheeses and wines. We visited several markets where we bought Tuscan bread, cheeses, wines and fruits to help with meals. It truly was an experience that we loved. One noon time lunch was at the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata which was very special to me. Don and I visited Florence when we were stationed in Tripoli (1950/52) and stopped at a Pensione that was a palace at one time. I wasn't too thrilled with the appearance of the place but Don insisted we stay. This was after WWll so much was still showing signs of the war. The room was very very basic and bare with the chandelier being an electric cord with a light bulb attached. The linens were immaculate and the floor to ceiling shutters on the 2 windows squeaked during the night. The next morning when we looked out the window there was a garden and the back of one of the many statues of David. We found out that when we walked around the block there was the true Michelangelo's David.

St. James Church is celebrating their 100th anniversary and the highlight is the organ that was just installed to replace one damaged in floods of Arno River years ago. We met the 3 gentlemen from Liverpool, England who who constructed the organ that was made and shipped from Liverpool. We enjoyed sitting and listening in the church while they were fine tuning it. Barbara and Richard put Mary and me in charge of cooking several evenings because they had meetings, classes, etc. Cooking with an Italian stove/oven was quite an experience. The "organ grinders" as B & R called them stayed at the rectory while installing and tuning the organ which added to the experience of cooking for all. B & R opened the rectory to 3 other guests also so we never knew just how many would show up at dinner about 8:30 each evening. We ate and treasured the time at the long table with everyone. A glass of wine always added to the festivities and I can't forget to mention the expresso ! Richard made each evening for us (decaf expresso for some of us).

St. James' Church sponsors an opera group so on the weekends we got to see and hear La Boheme and Tosca. The church also sponsored a college/university student art show on Wednesday evening which was judged and awards given. The church has 3 choirs. The 11 AM service choir sang a gospel hymn. They actually have a gospel choir and they were fabulous. Gospel music is much loved by the locals. Both English and Italian are spoken there.

One afternoon B and R drove us to the hilly Tuscan countryside where we saw grape vineyards, olive groves, the famous cyprus trees and many poppies along the road and stuccoed homes/barns with tile roofs. We had a wonderful dinner at a little inn in Impruneta. I would love to go back and spend time in that countryside. Another day Barbara drove us to the hilltop to see the view of Florence that is so famous. We enjoyed relaxing in the church herb/flower garden back of the rectory next to the church where B & R's two cats, Ben and Santi joined us often but more so while we were sitting or napping in the afternoons inside. I've taken lots of photos and will send some of my favorites soon.

And as I said to dear Mary "I'm so glad we did this while we're young".

Love to all - Mom, Grandma, Josie

(Josie and Mary are long time parishioners from St. Luke's - Metuchen, NJ)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nature Find

This is really cool way to find nature, parks, etc. in the United States in your area, or for an place you might want to visit. You can either enter a zip code or the town and state, and a list of places will pop-up. There is a chart with information as well as you being able to click on a location for more information.
Another feature is "Event". Enter the distance you'll travel within 25, 50, or 75 miles and you'll get a listing of the current events for the area you entered.
Go to this link to get started:

Places – each featured location has been individually selected as a place you can have a quality experience of nature. They include...

National Parks
Science Museums
National Wildlife Refuges
Natural History Museums
Scenic Rivers
Botanical Gardens
Nature Centers
Ski Areas
City Parks
Wilderness Areas
County Parks
Wildlife Mgt Areas
National Forests
Raptor Centers

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Help Send a Kid to Camp

For this weekend only, May 8th, 9th, and 10th printout this voucher and take it to any Barnes and Nobles Bookstore. When you check out present it and a portion of you purchase will be donated to Rainbow Village.

"Rainbow Village is a place where lives are transformed. The rainbow has always been the symbol of a covenant of promise and hope between God and humankind. Since 1991, Rainbow Village, Inc. has honored that promise, entering into covenants with homeless families, making it possible for them to stay together while developing the skills they need to stand on their own again. Rainbow Village means security, stability, a place of many resources and opportunities, support and understanding."

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Funky Fabrics Made Fabulous!

On 12/11/08 I posted some "Funky Fabric" I had started to collect. Well, that collection grew even more after that posting. Then my quilting buddy Helen found this adorable print made exclusively for Jo-Ann Fabrics ("We Are Family" -Heidi Grace Designs) and I just knew I had to combine it with the funky fabrics. So, what you see above is a hint of what's to come. (Oh, not all of the collection is there. Some was set aside for something else I have in mind.)

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Here's an interesting food website:

"Founded on the idea that we eat first with our eyes, TasteSpotting is our obsessive, compulsive collection of eye-catching images that link to something deliciously interesting on the other side. Think of TasteSpotting as a highly visual potluck of recipes, references, experiences, stories, articles, products, and anything else that inspires exquisite taste.
We don’t use the term “potluck” for the hell of it. Everyone brings something to the party here: the user community submits images/links from around the web and the editorial team reviews the submissions. What finally gets served up on the site is a beautifully refined set of the community’s contributions."
The site was launched in January 2007 and is run by Sarah of The Delicious Life and a small group who just likes to be called "The Team."

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Great American Bake Sale

Here's a summer activity for the kids that can help others.

Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale helps to raise funds to end childhood hunger in America. At the website you'll find tips and tools to help you hold a successful bake sale.

Why Should You Hold a Bake Sale?
1. 100% of the funds you raise help feed kids.
2. Funds you raise from your local bake sale stay local, supporting after-school and summer feeding programs in your community —food programs that hundreds and thousands of kids depend on.
3. It's a fun solution with a large impact.
4. You can host bake sale based on your schedule and in your community. You don't have to train for six months to run a marathon or make a large donation to make a huge difference!

When you sign up for your Participant Kit you'll get: Official Bake Sale poster, Participant Brochure with recipes and tips, and valuable coupons from their sponsors.
You'll also gain access to your own team Web page to promote your bake sale and collect donations online.

An email from a HP reader:
We signed up as a site for the Great American Bake Sale at the Moravian Theological Seminary. For a final presentation in our Christian Ethics class, I spoke on Greed and Hunger. Wanting to conclude with something concrete to actually address the problem (specifically of hungry children in America, I baked and sold goodies to my classmates. Thanks for passing along this information to Farmers. - Judy

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Monday, May 04, 2009

American Camp Association

It's that time of the year when parents are looking at camps for their children and there are all kinds of camps out there.
If you are looking for a camp, a job at one, or to see if one is accreditated, you can find out that and more at this website:

Just some of what you can find here: Quick Links to . . . .
Find a Camp
Find/Post a Job
Support Camp
Public Policy
Camps for Sale or Lease

Here's some ways to find ACA - Accreditated Camps:

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Why Physical Numbers Have the Shapes They Do

The Numbers

(This is a power point presentation.)

(Thanks to my husband for passing this one along
and to Matt our Web Dude for setting it up for me.)

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