Wiki Photo Challenge

Fancy yourself a photographer?

Photo courtesy of

Well, then, focus your lens on the Photo Challenge at Wikimedia Commons.

“Monthly thematic competitions encourage participants to try new subjects, new photographic or processing techniques, and to develop skills while improving the Commons repository of free images,” explains the Wiki Foundation, which I smilingly support.

Monthly challenges (there are often more than one) are based on unique themes and run for a month. For example, June’s themes are “Eyes” and “Collections, Collecting and Collectibles,” which is right up farmgirl alley.


Wikimedia welcomes everyone to participate in challenges. You simply need to choose one or more current challenges, read the rules associated with each challenge, upload your photo(s), and submit as instructed here.

After a challenge has closed, photo submissions will be assessed by popularity voting in the subsequent month. You can get in on the voting, too, if your Commons account is at least 10 days old and has more than 50 edits or if you participated in a challenge.

The top three photos will be awarded first, second, and third place and displayed as winners on Wikimedia Commons.

If you win, be sure to post a link for us to follow to your photo! Continue reading

Look what I got!

I was astonished, amazed, bowled over, and yes, downright blutterbunged when I opened an unexpected package the other day from Magnolia Pearl’s Robin Brown. Robin had remembered that I admired a hat I’d seen in one of the gorgeous photos from our Magnolia Pearl feature in the Oct/Nov 2013 issue of MaryJanesFarm.


In the box was that very same, gorgeous, handmade, vintage, well-worn hat, along with a lovely note from Robin: “I’ve loved this hat for many, many years, but I have not worn it in a long time. I’m gifting it to you because you like it and will be gorgeous in it.”


Needless to say, I’m pleased as punch, tickled pink, happy as the day is long, jumping for joy, on cloud nine! Thank you, Robin!!!

If you haven’t yet discovered Magnolia Pearl’s one-of-a-kind clothing, you’re in for a treat. In the middle of Texas Hill Country, Robin “Pearl” Brown has created a magical recipe she calls Magnolia Pearl. With a dash of inspiration from a grandmother known for her delicate handmade lace and intricate quilts; an eye for antiques from her other grandmother, who owned “the most eclectic antiques shop in San Antonio”; a spoonful of enchantment from her interior designer great-aunt; and a heaping cup of encouragement from her artist parents, Robin has whipped up a style that’s uniquely her own—part Victorian splendor, part hippie chic. With her love of vintage fabrics and finds, each of Magnolia Pearl’s layered and embellished garments is handmade and hand-embroidered, making every one a unique work of art. Visit Robin’s truly gorgeous website, for a whimsical journey through the fun, funky, flamboyant style of a life lived in layers.

And if you haven’t seen our feature on Magnolia Pearl, you can still buy a copy of the “Turning the Page” issue in our Back Issues Bundle #10. Continue reading

farm babies

This past week, we had two new arrivals at the farm …

Welcome Elsa O’Mally (with her mother’s trademark Tinkerbell ears–cute as pixie dust). 

and Sweet William!!!


Elsa O’Mally is the daughter of Sally O’Mally, born at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 14th. Sweet William is the son of Miss Daisy, born June 10 at 11:59 p.m. Our new little ones gave a whole new meaning to burning the midnight lamp oil. Calf watch for me meant a cot in the barn.

Here are the new babies exploring their domain:


  Continue reading

Rocky Mountain Land Library

The Rocky Mountain Land Library had me at hello.

As soon as I heard its name, I needed to know more …

It began as a dream (as wonderful things do) and began taking shape by means of old-fashioned tenacity (ditto) …

“For more than 20 years, Jeff Lee, 60, and Ann Martin, 53, have worked at a Denver bookshop, the Tattered Cover, squirreling away their paychecks in the pursuit of a single dream: a rural, live-in library where visitors will be able to connect with two increasingly endangered elements—the printed word and untamed nature,” explained Julie Turkewitz in a recent New York Times article that has succeeded in turning the eyes of the nation toward this Colorado couple’s monumental effort.

Girl Reading Under an Oak Tree by Winslow Homer, 1879, courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library via Wikimedia Commons

With their life savings and a generous lease from the city of Aurora, Lee and Martin have established a base of operations known as the project’s “headwaters” at the historic Buffalo Peaks Ranch near South Park on the South Platte River.

Photo by Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons

The main ranch site is an elaborate work-in-progress in cooperation with the University of Colorado-Denver’s Center for Preservation Research. The vision they’re working toward is a Rocky Mountain refuge that will “provide both quiet and inspiration for lifelong learners of all types, including artists, writers, naturalists, scientists, and students at all levels. Everyone will have access not only to the Land Library’s 32,000+ volumes, but also to South Park’s surrounding landscape of high mountain grasslands and alpine summits.”

Photo by Hogs555 via Wikimedia Commons

Busy building the Headwaters at Buffalo Peaks, Lee and Martin have simultaneously launched a satellite Waterton Canyon Library (located where the South Platte meets the plains) and also operate a 3,000 volume Kids & Educators Library at the Kassler Environmental Education Center, southwest of metro Denver.

In the grand scheme of this undertaking, the couple says they’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. They envision a network of land-study centers stretching from the Headwaters of South Park to the metro-Denver plains, with each unique site united by the common purpose of connecting people to nature and the land.

  Continue reading

Sensory Overload

Marilyn Monroe is said to have experienced it …

Marilyn Monroe from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Have you?

That is, have you tasted green?

Or smelled peach?


Not the fruits, mind you, but the COLORS.

The sensory overlap of taste, smell, and vision is known as “synesthesia,” which Wikipedia defines as “a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”

Translation: turquoise blue might seem to smell something like peppermint, and pale yellow could trigger taste buds to sense banana.

“Each sense has a pathway to the brain. These paths are parallel to each other. However, in some situations, a crossover from one pathway to the other occurs,” explains “Seeing the color yellow-green may evoke taste sensations of sourness; pink may evoke sweetness. Seeing the color gray may evoke olfactory sensations of smokiness.”

Synesthesia has been described as an uncommon phenomenon, but is it really all that rare?

Here’s a simple little experiment to test your own reactions. When you look at the following images of richly colored gems, do your taste buds sense sweetness or tickle with tang? Do you associate each with a particular flavor or fragrance?

Photo by Fiona Storey via Wikimedia Commons

“Color psychologists have long known that our favorite colors tell a lot about us. They’re a manifestation of our emotions and moods, and the colors we prefer also allow conclusions to be drawn about our fragrance preferences,” reports Leffingwell & Associates, an information and service provider to flavor and fragrance industries. “A woman who picks the color combination of yellow, orange, red, and pale green, for example, is not only extroverted, active, optimistic, and positive—she’ll also tend to prefer fresh-floral fragrances.”

I’m guessing that a gal’s palette preference also varies with the day, the season, and so on. As the sun streams through my window this morning, my soul is aglow in a rich shade of yellow—amber, to be precise—and I can’t help but think of honey, mmmm …

Photo by Hashoo Foundation USA – Houston, TX via Flickr

Your turn—what colors are you feeling/smelling/tasting today? Continue reading


Why is one of the main ingredients in my toothpaste also one of the three things that were so precious in ancient times that they were gifted by the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus at his birth?

Myrrh … even the word sounds soothing. Kind of like purr(h) …

Myrrh is the aromatic resin of several small, thorny trees in the genus Commiphora. And soothing it is. It was once used as a treatment for toothaches, and now appears in toothpaste for its anti-microbial, anti-viral, astringent, and antiseptic qualities.


Photo by Alsterdrache via Wikimedia Commons

But why a precious gift? Even though myrrh was mentioned in the Old Testament as a rare perfume with intoxicating qualities, its role as one of the three gifts isn’t as clear as that of gold, a precious metal and valuable commodity, and frankincense, another resin that was often burned as an offering in worship. Myrrh was also a component of holy incense and was used as a anointing oil, and all three of the gifts were standard offerings to honor a king or deity in the ancient world.

But frankincense and myrrh’s powerful herbal healing properties could also have had a role in their choice as precious gifts. Frankincense and myrrh both have proven antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and were once considered remedies for everything from toothaches to chronic coughs to indigestion to hemorrhoids to leprosy. Myrrh was commonly carried into the battlefield to treat wounds by the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, mentioned myrrh more frequently than any other plant substance in his writings.

Today, both frankincense and myrrh are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and aromatherapy. Myrrh is used as a natural remedy for treating a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, congestion, asthma, indigestion, ulcers, and joint pain. It’s also known to protect against liver damage and has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and to lower cholesterol. Many natural toothpastes contain myrrh to soothe irritated gums, mouth, and throat; to fight plaque; and to promote healing.

Purr(h). Continue reading

What’s Rosie thinking?

Put on your comedic thinking cap.

This’ll be fun.

I ran across a fabulous photo called “Rosie with a lollipop and polka-dot bandana.”

Needless to say, if you’ve already peeked, the portrait begs for a caption,

and you’re just the jester for the job.

So, give it a whirl—what IS Rosie thinking?

Photo by MollyPop via Wikimedia Commons

Include your caption in the comments, below.

I can’t wait to read the silly things that feisty little farmgirl might be sayin’ … Continue reading

Selfies from the 1950s

One of the many benefits of living near two state universities is the steady flow of art and culture they bring to the geographical area I call home. Recently, I had the pleasure of a free afternoon in which I found myself wandering among a poignant collection of work by street photographer Vivian Maier that was on display at the Washington State University Museum of Art. I was really struck by the candid nature of her photos, and when I returned home, I did a little more research on this fascinating woman.

Man with mirror

Man with mirror via

I love the thought of Vivian Maier wandering in 1950s New York City, camera in hand, capturing ordinary life for five solid decades. And I am truly fascinated by the number of “selfies” she took, celebrating her unique character at a time in our history when that type of behavior was often considered “unladylike.” She certainly couldn’t hold her Rolleiflex camera out at arm’s length like we do today, so she had to capture her reflection, which in turn, often captured unintentional snippets of life in the background.

self portrait via

I found some of my favorites from the gallery at It’s worth some time to browse her story and portfolios and get to know her a little better. Continue reading

let’s celebrate!

Yep, today’s m’birthday. The big 62. Big deal. Not. At this point, all my birthdays seems the same. I’m permanently stuck in time. I could be 50 for all I know. Or 68.

Here on the farm, we get to double-celebrate, because it’s my magazine designer, Carol’s, birthday too. We were born just three years apart on the very same day, and over the years, we’ve seen plenty of parallels in our personalities. Maybe there’s something to that astrology thing, after all.

I’m simply celebrating the day by taking the girls who work here (and Winnie, our Farmgirl Sister of the Year, who’s here for our Farmgirl Jubilee celebration) out to lunch, then spending quiet time with my family in the evening, but I thought it would be fun to find out how people have celebrated their birthdays over the ages and around the world.

Did you know …

• In ancient times, only kings had birthday celebrations.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee via Wikimedia Commons

• When you turn the age of your day of birth (if you’re born on the 6th, it would be when you turn 6), that’s called your Golden Birthday, Lucky Birthday, Grand Birthday, or Star Birthday.

• If you’re Chinese and you’re born on the same day as me, you’re a year older than me! The Chinese count your first year, which we don’t in the Western world. A newborn baby’s age is 1; at the end of their first year (12 months old), they’re 2. Glad I’m not Chinese today … just sayin’.

• The tradition of having a party on your birthday started because of a superstition that evil spirits were especially attracted to a person on their birthday, so the person’s family and friends would gather to protect the person with good wishes, festivity, and presents.


Photo, Sharon Pruitt via Wikimedia Commons

• If you’re Vietnamese, you’ll celebrate your birthday with every other person in Vietnam on Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day,” in January or February.

• If you’re Hungarian, instead of getting birthday spankings, you get your earlobes pulled! The “puller” then wishes you well with the saying, “God bless you; live so long so your ears reach your ankles.”


Photo, C. Flynn via Wikimedia Commons

• Koreans celebrate a person’s 60th birthday with a special celebration called hwangap. They believe that 60 is an auspicious year, the year when the Korean zodiac has completed its 60-year cycle. In ancient times, it was also uncommon for a person to live to the ripe old age of 60, so double reason for a celebration! Hwangap is now celebrated on a person’s 70th birthday.

• And the largest birthday celebration in the U.S.? No, not Mariah Carey, who’s known for her over-the-top love of holidays. It’s not even for a living person, and it’s not even held in the town of their birth. It’s for good, old George Washington, in Laredo, Texas, and the celebration started nearly 100 years after his death. The month-long celebration is now held every year in February and attracts over 400,000 celebrants to balls, festivals, parades, concerts, fireworks, and more.


Photo, Shin-改 T via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not in Texas or Hungary, and I hope to celebrate my hwangap a few years down the road. Continue reading

What personality type are you?

Here’s a fun little personality test you can take online. Understanding your basic nature can “help you learn how to use your strengths, increase your self-confidence, improve your relationships, and discover your ideal career and personal development paths.” has developed a test using both Jungian theories and modern developments to help you do just that.

Jan Braet von Überfeld. Portrait of a young woman with Bible, 1866 via Wikimedia Commons

The survey is based on five personality aspects that, when combined, define the personality type: mind (how we interact with other people), energy (how we see the world and process information), nature (how we make decisions and cope with emotions), tactics (our approach to work, planning and decision-making), and identity (how confident we are in our abilities and decisions). Within those aspects, you rate on a percentage scale how strong your preferences are between the two opposites of the aspects:

mind: extraverted (that’s how the test creators spell extroverted) or introverted
energy: intuitive or observant
nature: thinking or feeling
tactics: judging or prospecting
identity: assertive or turbulent

At the end, you’ll find that you fall within one of the four major personality types: analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers; and based on your ratings, you’ll find variations within those types (for example, within diplomats, there are advocates, mediators, protagonists, and campaigners).

After taking the free, 10-minute test and finding your results, you might be so intrigued that you’ll want a custom “premium profile,” 100 pages long, costing about $33.

Put your thinking cap on, your feet up, and delve into the depths of your psyche for some lighthearted, thought-provoking prospecting. Continue reading