Recycle your what??

Here’s an idea I bet you’ve never considered …

Bra recycling.

Photo, circa 1900, via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so maybe you’re not a big bra wearer (no pun intended)—lots of farmgirls are going without these days—but I’ll bet that most of you have some old wire-rimmed contraptions laying around at the bottom of a drawer somewhere.

Am I right?

Well, if so, Kathleen Kirkwood wants them. Of course, she wants the ones without wires, too—stretch, lace, cami, padded, training, but no gel or water cups, please.

Wait a minute … what?

Intimate apparel designer and QVC maven Kathleen Kirkwood wants your used bras.


The thing is, Kathleen knows bras. Like, lots of bras. She has been designing them, in one form or another, since the early ’80s. But a few years ago, as she was handling a huge shipment of bras from Hong Kong, she had one of those light-bulb moments.

“I thought, we have to start recycling bras,” she recounted to Mother Nature Network. “Let me go back to New York and find a company that does this. I’ll put it on my hang tags so I can be this super-cool designer. But lo and behold, there was nothing going on.”

The more she researched, the more she felt compelled to fill this gaping niche.

According to MNN, “Some 500 million bras—made of toxic materials such as polyurethane foam, which off-gases dangerous VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and doesn’t biodegrade for centuries—are tossed into U.S. landfills each year or are incinerated.”

Long story short, Kathleen got ‘er done. In 2010, she founded B.R.A. (Bra Recycling Agency), which transforms old bras into—you’ll never guess this one—red-carpet cushioning.

I’ll let Kathleen show and tell you in her original “test pilot” recycling video …

Now you can say you learned something new today. Find out more about B.R.A. (including Bra Recycling e-Kits) at Continue reading


If you’re a cat person, then you know that friendly felines are prone to kneading with their paws.


Purrrrr …

And you may also recognize this pastry-esque posture, which has recently been coined “catloaf” (one word) by Internet cat chatters due to its uncanny resemblance to baked bread:

Photo by Zeemeeuw via Wikimedia Commons

Awwwww (human version of the purr) …

Delightfully, there’s a creative baker in Yorkshire, England, known as Lou Lou P, who decided to put her own knack for kneading to work (on dough, of course, not blankets or bellies) in purrsuit of a purrfect catloaf, as edible as it is adorable.

“I’m cat mad. I have five moggies of my own, all rescue kitties,” Lou Lou P told ABC News. “I love the ‘catloaf’ expression, so one evening I just had to see if I could bake it for real. Thus, catloaf was born, simple as that.”

The result is so darned darling that one would hardly know whether to snuggle it or butter it.

Photo courtesy of Lou Lou P’s Delights on Facebook

Not that Lou Lou is new to the craft of baking up cuteness. The virtual shelves of her Lou Lou P’s Delights Facebook page are filled with too-sweet-to-swallow treats,

from gussied-up Guinea Pig Rolls:

Photo courtesy of Lou Lou P’s Delights on Facebook

to delightful Hippo Dumplings wallowing in a glorious stew:

Photo courtesy of Lou Lou P’s Delights on Facebook

Now, in case you’re desperate to make catloaves of your own (and I know you are), you’ll be pleased as pie to know that Lou Lou has lovingly shared instructions in a step-by-step guide via Good Morning America.

I do hope you’ll share pictures of your lovely loaf litters on the Farmgirl Connection (free to a good home?) … wishful thinking!


  Continue reading

Illegal cheese?

You’ve probably heard of contraband—drugs, guns, and more that are smuggled illegally—but I’m guessing you haven’t heard of contraband cheese.

photo by Eva K. via Wikimedia Commons

In Moscow, Russia, police recently arrested six people that produced $30 million of contraband cheese using rennet forbidden by Russia’s import ban. (A year ago, Russia imposed a ban on imported agricultural products in retaliation for U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine.) The cheese was made with the illegal rennet, then sold using counterfeit labels of known legal foreign cheese brands. Government workers seized the cheese and publicly crushed it with steamrollers and bulldozers, drawing outrage from concerned citizens who say the cheese could have been used to help feed the poor. In an effort to crack down on the ban, government officials recently began publicly destroying contraband food, including over 500 tons of produce and nearly 50 tons of animal products. “Many Russians were uneasy at the images, shown widely on state television, of food being destroyed in a country where millions live below the poverty line,” says The Guardian. Moscow alone is thought to have up to 60,000 homeless residents.

One upside of the ban is that small, local cheese manufacturers have seen a dramatic increase in demand for their products, and are filling the need for fresh and short-aged cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, Brie, and Camembert. Continue reading

Conservation Dogs

Shelter dogs with an over-abundance of energy can sometimes be hard to place. Their bounciness may be a little intimidating to those looking for a pet that’s more low maintenance. But Rescues 2 the Rescue, a Washington, DC-based program, is putting all that energy to work by training shelter dogs for wildlife conservation jobs. Created by Working Dogs for Conservation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Rescues 2 the Rescue works with high-energy shelter dogs, especially those who are “toy-obsessed,” to give them jobs as conservation detection dogs, finding hard-to-see wildlife or even the tiniest invasive weed among a mountainside of plants. They also work to help scientists gather data. These dogs are often more easily trainable, as they are rewarded with a favorite toy when they find their target.

photo by KatrinKerou via Wikimedia Commons

The program is intended to connect shelters with trainers/handlers who are equipped to adopt, prepare, and care for detection dogs. There are many ways you can help these hard-to-adopt shelter dogs find new, rewarding lives through Rescues 2 the Rescue:

  • If you are a shelter or trainer, join the Rescues 2 the Rescue site to post and search for dogs.
  • If you are a volunteer at a shelter, bring Rescues 2 the Rescue to the attention of your adoption coordinator.
  • If you are a pilot, or have a car and are willing to transport candidate dogs from shelter to trainers, join the team.
  •  Donate dollars.

Visit the Rescues 2 the Rescue website to learn more. Continue reading

cow ball

You know how much I love being a techno traveler, a virtual vagabond.


Anyhoo, my web-based wanderlust has led me astray today, and I’m dreaming of a distant nook of the globe that seems so foreign and yet looks a lot like home.


Photo by Rosino via Wikimedia Commons

Continue reading

Dreaming of a Farm?

If you’re a farmgirl at heart who’s planted in the city, you’ve probably dreamed about owning your own farm. Well, look what we discovered on our Farmgirl Connection chatroom from Barbara in Ithaca, NY (GreenSleeves2015):


My parents have both passed away and it is time to sell their small farm (14+ acres) and Victorian home. It is located in Laurens, NY. It sits in a lovely rural spot, yet close to many conveniences. We hope there is someone out there looking for just such a terrific property, and I’d like to tell you a little about it. This farm is an excellent and exciting choice for a homestead, craft brewery, organic produce farm, or other home-based business. The house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, an extra kitchen with floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets, an amazing amount of storage for an old (1880) home (6 lighted, walk-in closets), and gorgeous woodwork throughout. There is a 2 1/2-story barn, chicken house and detached garage. There are 70 blueberry bushes, fenced with netting, that yield about 200 quarts a year. The land and buildings have been well maintained. There is a stream on the property.

Interestingly, wild hops grow abundantly on the property—AND—there is a great need in NYS for more hops growers. There is a large new brewery going in Oneonta, and a hops processing plant is in the works. This could be a great opportunity for the right person or family. We’ve been told that a 5-acre, fully mature planting of hops could yield a $50,000 income per year. There is room for this, as well as much more on this excellent property. This link will take you to more information. We are not listed with a realtor, but are hoping to find the right family on our own.

If you’d like to make an appointment to see it, or just to ask more questions, please call Margaret at 607-432-8063.


Just for fun, we thought you might like to see what farmgirls are saying on our chatroom about Barbara’s farm:

Nini, Pennsylvania (Ninibini) says:
Oh, BARBARA! First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. So hard. And letting go of a family treasure such as their home and farm must be very, very difficult. Having said that, though, I think I’ve just seen my dream farm!!! What I wouldn’t give to be able to relocate and start a new life there… We were upstate New York last fall and I fell in love, absolute love. But I think I could live a little further south and be quite happy. If only… If only… Thank you for telling us about your parents’ beautiful home and farm. I pray that the perfect family will move in and be able to honor their hopes, dreams, and hard work… and the love they built there! God bless – I wish you the best! Hugs – Nini

Laura, St Augustine, FL (RabbitGirl) says:
Hi Barbara – I am so sorry for the loss of your parents. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have to sell their home.

I actually know where Laurens is. I graduated SUNY Oneonta a long time ago, but I imagine and hope it hasn’t changed all that much, so I wanted to offer a testimonial that Otsego County is absolutely gorgeous and rural and the kind of place any true Farmgirl would love. Your parents’ home is beautiful. If my life circumstances were different, I’d want it for myself.

Best wishes to you in finding the right family that will love and preserve your parents’ farm.


  Continue reading

food waste sculptures

We’ve talked about food waste.

Photo by Foerster via Wikimedia Commons

How to avoid it,

how entire cities are composting it,

and how some folks eat it.

But I recently discovered another use for food that has passed its prime.


While you may not want to replicate this at home, I know you’ll appreciate the aesthetic. Lauren Purnell, a Canadian photography student living in London, has achieved social-media star status by crafting uniquely beautiful works of art from pitched produce.

Watch this video clip from CBS This Morning:

On second thought, moms might just want to recreate Lauren’s lovelies in their kitchens (using fresher veggies). Imagine how enticing they would be to pint-sized picky eaters.

Visit Lauren’s Culinary Canvas website to see more. Continue reading

The Little Store That Couldn’t

This post is for Winnie, who asked recently for an update on the status of our little store that moved home to my farm.

As it turns out, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work we’re doing before we get to the store. The store will eventually have a new roof that includes two cute little carports on each end (farm truck in one, Shasta trailer parked in the other, fully hooked up to power/water/electric) and a rocking-chair front porch. Inside will be a community bathroom, retro kitchen, and washer/dryer for farmstay guests.


But first, what’s that peeking out from behind?


Why, it’s my Airstream! She’s found a permanent home beneath her own carport, complete with concrete pad and water/sewer/electric hookups. When I took these photos, I’d just planted a “dryland pasture grass mix,” and since then, her new yard is green and lush. Winnie, she has a very old homestead apple tree right outside her door, as well as lots of indigenous plum trees in her new yard.


The next few pics show all the work being done to essentially take apart and naturalize what we’ve always called our “upper garden,” which is located beside the little store. We’re taking out the deer fence and removing all the black felt and netting we had throughout for weed control in our large strawberry bed and raspberry patch.




Our strawberry patch has been dramatically downsized to these two new raised beds in our “lower garden.” (The large strawberry patch was destroyed this spring when we had to reroute our sewer, water, and electrical lines.) In the distance, you can see a wall of tomatoes. We’re growing a market-garden patch of heirloom black cherry tomatoes to sell in town, and they’re just starting to come on. This whole patch was grown from seeds I saved from one little tomato I bought two summers ago. The first year, I grew a number of plants from the seeds of that one tomato, then I saved lots of seeds and offered them to my readers. I sent out around 80 envelopes full of seed.

bed-breakfast_6623 Continue reading

Lace Gardens

I mentioned “gardens in lace” in my space salad post, promising to tell you more.

So …

Photos by Jeroen Musch of De Makers Van via Dances with Wools,

Believe your eyes.

Those are pics of LACE garden fences.

Yup, lace.

Like a dream come true, right? Doily heaven.

This artistic installment, a collaboration between Swiss landscape architect Anouk Vogel and creative design company De Makers Van, appeared in Amsterdam a few years ago, transforming the courtyard of a city housing block into an ethereal garden of white flowers and lace. It’s no surprise that the location has become a popular spot for wedding photos.

Little did I know …

  1. A) There is a flourishing lace fencing movement, mostly in Europe to date.
  2. B) Lace fencing is not only pretty, it’s pretty big business in places like Belgium and the Netherlands.

Well, now that I know, I hope the trend catches on here in the U.S. Leading the way is the Philadelphia University Design Center, which commissioned De Makers Van to craft a fence segment for their 2009 Lace in Translation exhibition.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia University Design Center via

Mind you, this “lace” isn’t exactly what it appears to be. If you’re an old-school fabric fanatic like me, you’re thinking needle, cutwork, crochet … but, no.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia University Design Center via

Rather than stitching thread to form a fence or weaving into an existing chain-link fence, De Makers Van’s creations are actually crafted using mysterious high-end galvanized metal wire that is “knitted” (don’t ask me how) to create lovely—and deceptively dainty—illusions of lace.

Look closely at this fence in Belgium:

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia University Design Center via

Remarkable, isn’t it? There are several more photos of fabulous fences here.

“In our projects, we often combine the sensitive and the small with the powerful, large, and industrial,” explains the De Makers Van team. “Fencing is a sign of how we have modified and cultivated our environment. Like brambles, fences are rising rampantly around us. What would happen if a patch of embroidered wire would meet with, and continue as, an industrial fence? Hostility versus kindness, industrial versus craft.”

A sound artistic sentiment, but I still want one for my garden, don’t you?

Until lace fencing goes mainstream, we may simply have to content ourselves with outbursts of crochet, knitting, and weaving to give our fences festive flair. I’m picturing something along the inspiring lines of Brooklyn yarn bomber London Kaye’s fleeting installments of urban joy:

What a wonderful way to give our yards and gardens a bit of flair all year round. Continue reading

Space Gardens

Gardens in buckets,

Gardens in lace,

Gardens on rooftops …

Gardens in space?

Captain Kirk never dared to dream such succulence.

Nevertheless, it’s not science fiction.

On August 10, astronauts at the International Space Station ate fresh food grown in space for the very first time. In a collapsible and expandable Veggie Unit dubbed Lada, the astronaut gardeners grew a real, live crop of red romaine lettuce out there among the stars, and the taste test was documented in live-stream fashion:

It turns out that growing veggies in space is not as easy as it is on Earth, what with the soil-free and sun-starved spaceship environs. Even so, astronaut Scott Kelly sowed a smattering of lettuce seeds on a fabricated “seed pillow” in early July, illuminated them with multicolored LED lights, and harvested leaves a month later.

Sure, it’s a little avant-garde in the realm of gardening, but it sure beats the Jetson’s Meal-o-Matic fare.

Image courtesy of Mike Licht via Flickr

Driven by more than mere curiosity (and serious cravings for fresh salad), NASA is experimenting with space-grown food in hopes that it might aid astronauts in extended expeditions through the galaxy.

Watch out, Mars, here we come.

Photo by Cmichel67 via Wikimedia Commons

P.S. If you’re “spacing” out and still wondering about the “gardens in lace” mentioned in line two, come back for tomorrow’s post! Continue reading