GIVEAWAY: “Shuttercraft, Fresh Egg Overture”

For a chance to win these robin cutout painted wood shutters from Shuttercraft Quality Wood Shutters, tell me about your favorite bird in the comments below. I’ll toss your name into a hat and draw a lucky winner sometime mid-July.


Stay tuned for more magazine-related giveaways. If you’re not yet a subscriber to my magazine, MaryJanesFarm, subscribe here for $19.95/year.

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Hatching Albert

We’re told time and again that supermarket eggs won’t hatch.

Photo by Karen Arnold via

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bee sweet

This story simply couldn’t bee any sweeter …

Photo by Bob Peterson from North Palm Beach, Florida, Planet Earth! Via Wikimedia Commons

“When I was just 4, my family encouraged me to make a product for a children’s business competition and Austin Lemonade Day. So, I put on my thinking cap,” begins Texas pollination activist and ecopreneur Mikaela Ulmer (who is now a ripe ol’ 11 years old). “I thought about some ideas. While I was thinking, two big events happened: I got stung by a bee. Twice. Then my Great Granny Helen … sent my family a 1940s cookbook, which included her special recipe for Flaxseed Lemonade. I didn’t enjoy the bee stings at all. They scared me. But then something strange happened. I became fascinated with bees. I learned all about what they do for me and our ecosystem. So then I thought, what if I make something that helps honeybees and uses my Great Granny Helen’s recipe?”

It was a golden idea that blossomed into Bee Sweet Lemonade, a burgeoning business that not only sells a lot of lemonade but also donates money from sales to local and international organizations that strive to preserve pollinator populations.

Mikaela’s motto is, “Buy a Bottle … Save a Bee.”

This sharp-as-a-bee-stinger little darlin’ is on a roll.

Last year, Mikaela hooked a Shark Tank investor Daymon John. Last month, she struck a deal with Whole Foods that included the distribution of Bee Sweet Lemonade in 55 stores.

Watch her in action and you’ll understand the secret to Mikaela’s success:

Keep up with the Bee Sweet story at and


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GIVEAWAY: “Simply Stitched, Fresh Egg Overture”

For a chance to win this new book, “Simply Stitched” (featuring 20 beautiful, original embroidery motifs, plus projects and instructions), tell me about one of your favorite needlework projects in the comments below. I’ll toss your name into a hat and draw a lucky winner sometime mid-July.


Read about Simply Stitched in the June-July issue of MaryJanesFarm, “Fresh Egg Overture.” Stay tuned for more magazine-related giveaways. If you’re not yet a subscriber to my magazine, MaryJanesFarm, subscribe here for $19.95/year.

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GIVEAWAY: “Liberty Quilt, Fresh Egg Overture”

For a chance to win this beautiful MaryJane’s Home “Liberty Quilt,” tell me your favorite place to take a nap in the comments below. I’ll toss your name into a hat and draw a lucky winner sometime mid-July.


Stay tuned for more magazine-related giveaways. If you’re not yet a subscriber to my magazine, MaryJanesFarm, subscribe here for $19.95/year.

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bike baskets

By jiminy, I love bicycle baskets.

Photo by Jill 111 via Pixabay

Now, that’s farmgirl romance.

There’s just something special about the artistry of a beautiful basket hanging from handlebars, weaving whimsy with function (a bushel of flowers adds an extra dose of fabulous, to be sure).


Poetically speaking, a bicycle basket represents that divine intersection where pretty meets practical, and the two fall madly in love.

Photo by Friedrich Haag via Wikimedia Commons

So, imagine my delight when I discovered a line of bicycle baskets that incorporates yet another strand of sublimity into the weave: humanitarianism.

Trifecta, baby.

True to its name, House of Talents is a marketplace designed to employ and empower talented people who are living in poverty in Ghana, West Africa. One of these artisans’ finest lines, as I mentioned, is bicycle baskets. Here is one of their creations, modeled by the lovely Atlanta Bicycle Chic:

Photo by Cameron Adams via Flickr

Launched by Ghana-born Kate Herzog in 2009, House of Talents is Kate’s way of giving back. Kate, whose family struggled with poverty, pulled herself up by her proverbial bootstraps. She taught herself to read at age 10, earning a degree in Economics from the University of Ghana Legon, and pursued a career in consulting and luxury resort management (read more of Kate’s inspiring story here). According to the House of Talents website, “Kate has always had the desire to give back to her community in Ghana, and after completing her MBA at the University of St. Thomas, was finally able begin bringing this dream to reality by founding House of Talents. Kate hopes that through this work, her journey will come full-circle and those she helps will lend a hand to others they encounter.”

House of Talents connects artisan groups in developing countries with consumer markets worldwide to promote self-development through economic and social advancement in rural communities and cities.

You can help by treating yourself to a bicycle basket (what better way to kick of the summer cycling season?). These beauties are handcrafted by master weaver Joseph and his community in northern Ghana. The only real challenge will be deciding which shape and color will best complement your bike … Continue reading

Molly Moo-cow

If you’re passionate about pollinators, then you probably know that butterflies love milkweed.

Photo by Barnes Dr Thomas G, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons

But here’s a trickier bit of trivia:

Why are butterflies called butter flies?

(As a Butters, I simply had to know.)

Butterflies, it is said, earned their name back when they would flutter around the milk pails and butter churns on farms.

milkmaid, G. Morland via Wikimedia Commons

Makes sense, but also makes you wonder why these aren’t called milklappers (buckettippers?) …

Photo by David Maitland via Wikimedia Commons

Anymoooo …

Here’s a cute 1935 classic called “Molly Moo-Cow and the Butterflies,” just for fun:

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Some things are too pretty to pass by,

but here’s something spectacular that you might miss altogether

if you weren’t looking for small, burrow-like doorways

amid the desolate desertscapes of New Mexico.

Journey with me …

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larger than life

I just ran across this photo of one of the largest bulls in the world:


Chilli is a Friesian bull who lives at the Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Somerset, England. He weighs more than a ton and is over 6 feet tall (the same height as a small elephant!).

A few other giants of the animal world:

Hercules, the largest cat in the world.

Hercules, via

Hercules weighs over 900 pounds, is nearly 11 feet long and a little over 4 feet tall (to compare, about 1 1/2 feet taller than the average desk).

Or how about Zeus, “the tallest dog ever” at 44 inches (just for reference, a standard kitchen counter is 36 inches tall, so I’m guessing Zeus’ owners never leave things on the counter).


Then, there’s Romulus, the tallest donkey in the world, at 5 feet, 8 inches at the withers.


Compared to KneeHi, the shortest donkey on record at just over 25 inches, Romulus is a true giant.


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Raining Jane

It’s Raining Jane …

Nope, not a slip of the key.

Raining. Jane.

Call it serendipity.

There I was, surfing the Web in search of one of my old Raising Jane posts,

and Google introduced me to a group of four musically gifted mavens who call themselves

Raining Jane.

Of course, I forgot the task at hand and wandered off—ears first—to find out more.

These California songstresses, who describe their genre as “lady rock for owners of cats,” have a talent for singing from the heart in a way that dresses up ordinary details and somehow makes you want to celebrate being a woman. Or, maybe it’s just that they’re so darned good at wielding their array of instruments (guitars, cello, cajon, sitar, bass, and heavenly voices). Just beautiful.

“In an era of overnight sensations that fizzle as quickly as they spark, and a time when music seems often overshadowed by a side show of special effects, it’s a relief to know that there are still bands out there that are the real thing: bands who play their own instruments, write their own songs, and have the musical chemistry that can only come from playing and touring together for over a decade,” the band writes on their website. “This is Raining Jane.”

The women of the band (Mai Bloomfield, Becky Gebhardt, Chaska Potter, and Mona Tavakoli) launched their musical career with a UCLA concert in 1999, and although they have received notoriety for collaborating with popular singer-songwriter Jason Mraz since 2007, they hold their own with the soulful solidarity of sisterhood and have four independent albums under their belts.

Here’s one of their older tunes …

In addition to their musical work as a band, the Raining Jane ladies are passionate about community outreach. In 2010, they started Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, a non-profit dedicated to empowering girls through music education.

On their Facebook page, they say, “Every morning in the Raining Jane van, we raise our teacups to toast, ‘Welcome to your life.’ We aim to make tasty lemonade out of whatever it is we can find out there in the world … We are interested in good people who like to do good things. Those things include (but are not limited to): creating, music, having fun, helping others, dancing, eating delicious food, expressing gratitude, skipping, whistling, etc.”

Get further acquainted with Raining Jane at

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