Groundhog Day

Will he, or won’t he?

Photo by Cephas via Wikimedia Commons

Phil won’t spill (the beans, that is).

Not until sometime around 8 a.m. Eastern Time.

Are you hoping for a shadow … or no?

In case you’re unsure of what the shadow portends, here’s the superstition:

If the esteemed Pennsylvania rodent known as Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

Photo by Susan Sam via Wikimedia Commons

“The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers,” explains Groundhog.org. “They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, ‘For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May…’ The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.”

Photo by Skeeze via Pixabay

Naturally.

For the latest updates on this year’s shadow sighting, it would be prudent to follow Phil on his Facebook page (insert chuckle here).

His “prognostication” is scheduled to occur between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. (not sure if that timeframe includes some sort of “pre-game” party, but I think I’ll wait till sunup for the report). Check out the official Groundhog Day Guide to see what else goes on in celebration of the 130th annual event.

Of course, if Phil sees his shadow, don’t despair. USAToday reports that, since 1988, the groundhog was “right” 13 times and “wrong” 15 times. In other words, only 13 times did the national average temperature for the remainder of February match what would be expected based on what the groundhog predicted.

And, anyway, if you’re in dire need of spring sunshine, scurry on over to this groundhog’s burrow, where you’re sure to smile:

All in good time, my dear, all in good time. Continue reading

Star Sand

Just when you thought you knew about the world …

Photo by Geomr via Wikimedia Commons

Look closely.

That’s star-shaped sand, my friend.

Look a little closer, and you can see its splendid starry points:

Photo by Okinawa Soba (Rob) via Flickr

Okay, scientifically speaking, these little lovelies aren’t actually sand. They are the tiny, empty shells of ocean protozoa called Baclogypsina sphaerulata.

Say that three times (or even once).

When the micro-creatures die, their exoskeletons are washed ashore amid grains of actual sand on only a handful of beaches on earth, and they’re all in the vicinity of Okinawa, Japan.

According to legend from Okinawa’s Iriomote Island, the “sand” stars are Hoshizuna, the fallen sky children of the North Star and the Southern Cross. Long ago, the tiny stars sprinkled into the sea of Okinawa, where they were killed by a sea serpent and continue to wash ashore as miraculous star-shaped particles of “sand.”

 

 

  Continue reading

Period Panties

Period Panties.

I wonder if, when you read the phrase above, you pictured “time of the month” or “historic” undergarments (do comment).

In fact, I was referring to the former.

Time of the month, that is, not …

Photo by Marshall Astor Food Fetishist via Wikimedia Commons

Sheesh … bye-bye, historic bustles.

Moving right along, it’s no surprise that the modern world is all about hustle now rather than bustle.

And as the world of fashion has modernized, so have underthings (albeit a bit more slowly than the average runway ensemble).

And, with today’s tendency toward putting ALL subjects on the table, it is no surprise that enterprising women have put their minds to building a better mousetrap.

Somehow, that doesn’t sound right when referring to underwear. Maybe I should avoid idioms here.

Sigh.

Plainly speaking, a trio of women in New York City has, in their words, “reimagined feminine hygiene products to provide support, comfort, confidence, and peace of mind.”

A lot to ask from undies?

The gals at Thinx think not.

They report that 80 percent of American women have had accidents during, and have expressed anxiety about, their periods …

(you’re nodding, I’m nodding)

… and they set out to change all that.

Yup—with underwear.

But not just any underwear.

Thinx “period panties” are truly innovative.

In short, they’re extraordinarily absorbent, antimicrobial (via embedded silver, not chemicals), so low-profile you won’t see them through clothing—and they’re pretty.

Really—PRETTY.

These panties are designed to fully replace panty liners, eliminating a lot of waste and discomfort as well as leaks, and they can be used in conjunction with tampons or menstrual cups on heavy flow days.

What’s more, Thinx are helping girls in need of much more than peace of mind while wearing white pants.

According to Thinx, 94 percent of girls in Uganda report having problems at school due to menstruation, and many drop out of school entirely as a result.

“We see a world where no woman is held back by her body,” the Thinx team declares. “We will work proudly and tirelessly until every single girl has an equal opportunity for the brighter future she deserves.”

Here’s how they’re doing it:

You buy a pair of “period-proof” THINX undies (and relish the results, even in yoga pants). Meanwhile, Thinx sends funds to their partner organization, AFRIpads, which trains Ugandan women to sew and sell reusable cloth pads, creating entrepreneurs in the process.

Watch this video for the full monty … er … the whole shebang?

Check out savvy suggestions for “building a cycle set” and saving money on multiple pairs of Thinx at Shethinx.com/pages/build-a-cycle-set. Continue reading

floral art

If you’ve caught yourself dreaming of spring and feeling just a little confined

Photo by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

(don’t feel guilty—it’s perfectly normal this time of year)

… the wondrously whimsical floral art of Seattle artist Bridget Beth Collins is certain to soothe your savage winter spirits.

And if your spring dreams haven’t yet sprung, beware.

This might just rattle the cage door:

Explore more of Bridget’s artwork on her website, FloraForager.com, where you can also purchase prints of her collages. Continue reading

diner lingo

I’ve always gotten a kick out of diner lingo and hate to see it go the way of the dodo, ya know?

Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel via Wikimedia Commons

Hoping to do my part in preserving this cute ‘n’ cheesy (wink) café chatter,

I created a—you guessed it—QUIZ to test your food slang savvy.

Have fun figuring out these phrases (the answers are posted at the end), then call them out with gusto in your own kitchen. The kids will love it.
1. All hot
2. Battery acid
3. Birdseed
4. Bubble dancer
5. Cluck and grunt
6. Cow feed
7. Cow paste
8. Eve with a lid on
9. Fish eyes
10. Frog sticks
11. George Eddy
12. Houseboat
13. Italian perfume
14. Make it moo
15. Mike and Ike
16. Moo juice
17. Nervous pudding
18. Radio
19. Sea dust
20. Shingle with a shimmy and a shake
21. Vermont
22. Walk a cow through the garden and pin a rose on it
23. Whistle berries
24. Yum-yum

Answers:
1. Baked potato
2. Grapefruit juice
3. Breakfast cereal
4. Dishwasher
5. Eggs and bacon
6. Salad
7. Butter
8. Apple pie
9. Tapioca pudding
10. French fries
11. Customer who doesn’t leave tips
12. Banana split
13. Garlic
14. Add milk/cream to coffee
15. Salt and pepper shakers
16. Milk
17. Jell-o (or, better yet, Giggle Wiggles—one of my Chillover recipes!)
18. Tuna salad sandwich
19. Salt
20. Buttered toast with jam
21. Maple syrup
22. Hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion
23. Baked beans
24. Sugar Continue reading

Zentangle Quilting

With a brand-spankin’ New Year upon us, it’s the perfect time to explore new creative frontiers while honoring artistic traditions that have led us this far.

What do I have in mind, you wonder?

Well, you may remember how I told you about Zentangle, the addictive art of zany (yet so very Zen) doodling.

Image by Trinity Verlag in der Scorpio Verlag GmbH & Co.KG via Wikimedia Commons

(If this doesn’t ring a bell, hop over to this post.)

True to form, each time I swirl and squiggle lines on paper, I find myself fantasizing about fabric, which inspired me to poke around a bit into the idea of Zentangle quilting, and wouldn’t you know it?

It’s a real thing.

And it’s just as neat-o as I’d imagined.

Just look at Quilt Zentangle Style! on Pinterest (warning: you might start drooling).

Since I have a feeling you’re already itchin’ to start stitchin’, I gathered up this little list of goodies to get you going:

Book: Tangle Stitches: For Quilters and Fabric Artists by Jane Monk

You can buy it on Amazon, but you can’t “look inside” like you can on many other books. Here’s a video flip-through to preview the wonders within:

Video Tutorial: Zentangle Quilting by Machine


Blog Tutorial:
Zentangle Quilt Tutorial from Zany Quilter

Share your results on the Farmgirl Connection to inspire the rest of us! Continue reading

MaryJanesFarm Review

Look what we found …

Jennifer Prior, of Flagstaff, Arizona, is sharing her ultra-cute excitement about our magazine.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Visit Jennifer’s blog, My FlagStaff Home, to follow her adventures. Continue reading

quilt romance

Grannie sits in her oaken chair,
Firelight flits o’er her silvery hair,
The silent children around her sit,
As she pieces her patchwork coverlet …

The Chimney Corner by Joseph Clark via WikiGallery.org

These lyrics from a traditional song called “Patchwork” are among the gems tucked in The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt by Carrie A. Hall and Rose Good Kretsinger. Originally published in 1935, this oldie but goodie is the kind of book that sentimental quilters covet.

It’s neither glossy nor glitzy. It doesn’t knock your socks off with colorful photo spreads or tutorials. What it holds are sweet scraps of history.

Some woman sewed these points and squares
Into a pattern like life’s cares.
Here is a velvet that was strong,
The poplin that she wore so long,
A fragment from her daughter’s dress,
Like her, a vanished loveliness;
Old patches of such things as these,
Old garments and old memories.
– Douglas Malloch

Peppered with tidbits of poetry and prose, the book features hundreds of black and white images of full quilts and patches with the name of each pattern, making it a handy guide for modern quilters seeking to identify the patterns of an antique quilt.

“Over a period of years, Mrs. Hall has accumulated a collection of more than 1,000 quilt patches, both antique and modern, showing practically every design and motif of design ever created in America,” the book’s jacket reads. “This collection, which she has entrusted to the Thayer Museum of the University of Kansas, formed the inspiration for her book.”

Who knows? You might even discover a spark of design inspiration from yesteryear.

Although it’s out of print today, you can still pick up a used copy of The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt from many an online bookseller for under $10.

The sun has such a pretty quilt,
Each night he goes to bed,
It’s made of lavender and gold,
With great long stripes of red.
And bordered by the softest tints
Of all the shades of gray,
It’s put together by the sky,
And quilted by the day.
– Laura Coates Reed

Photo by Anna via Wikimedia Commons

  Continue reading

Duodji

Doy-gee!

While this may sound like some sort of neologism meant to convey, say, surprise or delight, it is actually the pronunciation of:

Duodji.

Oh, gee …

Don’t worry if you’re coming up empty on definitions because duodji isn’t an English word–not even close. It actually hails from a remote group of nomadic people called the Sámi who herd reindeer across the far northern reaches of Scandinavia.

Photo of Sami family at spring (Easter) celebration by Mortsan via Wikimedia Commons

Duodji refers to any number of handcrafted items made by the Sámi that are both aesthetically beautiful and useful (clothing, accessories, household items, and tools). Traditionally, duodji crafts were divided into men’s and women’s work. Men used mostly wood and antlers as well as other bones from reindeer when crafting items like this salt cellar:

Photo by Christopher Forster via Wikimedia Commons

Women incorporated leather and fur in elaborately stitched items like these marvelous mittens:

Photo by Thorguds, SaamiBlog.blogspot.com via Wikimedia Commons

Traditional colors incorporated in duodji are red, green, blue and yellow:

Photo by Duodjiinfo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Christopher Forster via Wikimedia Commons

“Duodji represents cultural continuity with our ancestors,” explains Ellen Marie Jensen, author of We Stopped Forgetting. “There are creative and functional adaptations over time, and the individual duojar has room for individual creative expression. Duodji is both functional and beautiful.”

Doy-gee, I surely agree. Continue reading

Journaling

I’ve been keeping my daily Raising Jane Journal for almost five years now,

so I feel I have some authority to say,

“Journaling rocks.”

Adolf Hölzel – Dorotheum, via Wikimedia Commons

But don’t just take my word for it.

“University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health,” reports PsychCentral.com. “Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides other unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit, and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others, and the world around you.”

You can find 96 more reasons to journal here.

Good stuff, I tell you. My mother wrote in her journal (several volumes) most every day of her life, some days only a sentence or two. But, what a treasure to leave her children.

The new year is the perfect time to start jotting a journal. Yes, you! It won’t do to hide your head in the sand.

photo by Korall via Wikimedia Commons

Journaling is not another insurmountable task to add to your to-do list. In fact, it’s a wonderful way to tackle life with more merriment and less moping. According to a study published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, journaling just 15 to 20 minutes on five occasions was enough to help the participants deal with traumatic, stressful, or otherwise emotional events.

Liebesglück – der Tagebucheintrag, August Müller, via Wikimedia Commons

So, let’s get down to the basics:

  • Creativity is not required (unless you crave it). Art journaling may evolve from your writing routine, but that’s another entry …
  • Eloquent writing skills and proper spelling aren’t necessary, either.
  • How about reserving a nice notebook for journaling only, something you’re eager to pick up. This year I’m started a Bee Journal as I journey into being a beekeeper.
  • Try to write a little—or a lot—every day. Whether it’s a single sentence vent (“This day has been CRAZY because …”) or a long meander down memory lane, or like me, I usually write about my fascination with people and things outside my personal world. Just pencil in a time each day to let your thoughts flow on paper.
  • You don’t have to be nice, but penning positive notes brightens your day.
  • Don’t give up if you miss a day or two. Just start again.
  • If you aren’t a fan of writing, you can still reap the benefits of journaling. The University of Rochester suggests substituting with a video or audio journal on your phone.

For a little more inspiration, here’s a video pep talk about the joys of journaling:

Continue reading