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Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Ginger Dawn Harman!

Ginger Dawn Harman (Ginger Dawn, #6451) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level My Fair Farmgirl Merit Badge!

“1. Research the difference between cruelty-free and organic health and beauty products versus commercially made.
2. As I run out of each product, I replace it with a healthy, preferably organic version. Examples: toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion.
3. I made lip balm and bath salts.

I found this badge very interesting since I just finished reading about how much work is involved when the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is tasked with regulating cosmetics.

Many can be very sneaky with their labels. For example, “Natural” may be one of the vaguest claims in use today. The FDA states that, “From a food science perspective, it’s difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer a product of the earth.” So, the FDA doesn’t attempt to define the term “natural” in respect to food or cosmetics at this time.

It’s safe to say that even though people may be led to perceive so-called “natural” products as safer or healthier, that may not be the case. There are plenty of natural things that come from the earth that just are not good for us. Two items that quickly come to mind are lead and asbestos, both of which we wouldn’t want in our cosmetics.

The “organic” claim is currently governed for agricultural products by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “The FDA does not define or regulate the term ‘organic,’ as it applies to cosmetics, body care, or personal care products,” according to the USDA Agricultural Marketing service, which oversees the National Organic Program (NOP). The USDA/NOP will, however, allow the use of the “USDA Organic” logo if the product is made up of agricultural ingredients and can meet the organic production, handling, processing, and labeling standards set by the USDA/NOP. All of the entities who supply ingredients, handle, or are part of the manufacturing process of the product must be certified by a USDA-accredited organic certifying agent. Once certified, products are broken down into categories—100% organic, organic, and made with organic ingredients. Products made with less than 95% organic ingredients are not eligible to display the USDA Organic logo on their packaging.

A product labeled as “synthetic-free” contains no man-made ingredients to speak of—it’s 100% made of naturally occurring elements or compounds.

Also I learned about that Leaping Bunny label! That’s a Leaping Bunny certification, which means that none of the product’s ingredients were tested on animals. Another thing to note is that in 2013, Europe banned animal testing on all cosmetics manufactured and sold in the region. Some states in the U.S. have begun to make similar initiatives—but all cosmetic companies that sell in China are required to test on animals, according to the country’s laws, which means that a lot of major brands still test. This makes me rather sad!

I have started using Aveda products and several of my Farmgirl Sisterhood gals in the area swap have sent me handmade soap and have given me instructions on how to make them. I have made the bath salts and lip balm. That was a bit messy, but lots of fun! I love making bath salts and they are such a great gift! Here’s how …

2 cups epsom salts
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup sea salt (optional)
30 drops of lavender essential oils
10 drops of peppermint essential oil

Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Store in an air-tight jar and use 1/4 cup per bath.

I hope that each of my Farmgirl Sisters give this a try!”

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Her-Story Merit Badge, Expert Level, Part I

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,428 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,782 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life  

For this week’s Each Other/Her-Story Expert Level Merit Badge, I settled down for a long nap, lovely weekend of my favorite thing (after snack food): reading.

Ah, books, how do I love thee?

Let me count the ways:

  • You are portable. No more boring bubble baths, late dentist appointments, or tedious business meetings. Not when you have a book.
  • You smell delicious. Did you know book smelling is a thing? Yep. It’s not just me with a strange addiction. There’s even a perfume for us novel sniffers: buy it here, or a roll-on oil for bibliophiles: buy it here.
  • You take me away to strange and fantastical places, all from the comfort of my own cozy chair.

Of course, there are more reasons, but time to get to our badge, Madge.

To earn my Expert Level badge, I needed to read two biographies, one featuring someone from the 1800s and one from the 1900s.

My trusty librarian at my side (Some people have replaced their friendly local librarians with an app like Goodreads or Amazon and the like, but I prefer my librarians to be of the flesh-and-blood variety. Call me old-fashioned.), I picked out my first book …

Pioneer Girl, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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I knew I wanted to read more about ‘Half-Pint,’ my favorite and bestest girlfriend of my childhood. Naturally, we had never actually met, but I feel Laura and I would have gotten along famously, had we only been alive at the same time in history. Of course, there are simply scads of biographies written about my Bestie, but I wanted the info straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Ah, Bunny! Laura’s trusty steed would have liked me, too. I just know it.

I ate up Pioneer Girl like it was going out of style. Some interesting facts I learned about her:

  • Pa’s nickname for Laura was his “little half-pint of cider, half drunk up.”
  • She was quite small, only 4’ 11”. “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” -Shakespeare.
  • It took 65 years for Laura to become a published author, in 1932 (she was born February 7, 1867).
  • She was told writing fiction for children was a waste of time. Good thing the stubborn farmgirl didn’t listen!
  • She wrote all of her books on both sides of yellow tablet paper, in pencil, in order to save money and conserve paper.
  • The Little House books have never been out of print since the ‘30s.
  • Today, the estimated worth of the Little House fortune is $100 million. The heir to the fortune is Abigail MacBride Allen, the daughter of Roger Lea MacBride. Roger was Rose Wilder Lane’s business agent and lawyer. He was also the 1976 Libertarian candidate for President and a co-producer of the Little House on the Prairie television series.
  • Laura met Almanzo, her “Manly,” in a hay field, after she was cutting through the field on a shortcut. He hollered at her to get her attention. How romantic?!
  • In 1891, Laura accidently burned their house down. Oops. This makes me feel much better about my own cooking skills.
  • Her daughter, Rose, was also an intrepid farmgirl in her own right, known for being independent and strong-willed. During World War II, she flat-out refused the government’s ration cards, and instead grew all her own food. She also quit writing during that time to reduce her taxes. She knew the value of a dollar!
  • When Little House in the Big Woods was finally about to be published, the publishers made Laura change the ages of herself and her sister, Mary. They said no one would ever believe two such little girls had so many chores and responsibilities and adventures!

Still eager for more Half-Pint facts? Read her Little House series, autobiography, diary entries, watch the television series starring Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landen, view documentaries, take a road trip to all the places she lived and traveled to, go to their museums … why, there’s even a full-length musical about Laura and a Japanese anime series!

New life goal: become so important that someone makes a musical and/or a anime series about me.

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Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Sherrilyn Askew!

Sherrilyn Askew (Sherri, #1350) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning an Intermediate Level Mosaics Merit Badge!

“I made a larger mosaic piece (larger than the last one). I am making a series of stepping stones that are being installed in our hummingbird garden (currently under construction). My daughter is helping me by making a few stones as well. We need them as paths to get to the spigot which is in the garden, and to be able to get at the weeds in the beds. It’s a pretty big garden.

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The first one I made, my partner “helped” me with, so I had to take a wire brush to it when it dried to get the concrete off of the tiles. The second one, I lectured him about leaving it alone and letting me do it, so I only had to brush the edges to soften the concrete corners a bit. Since I made it on the 4th of July, that is its theme. My daughter and her friend made stones that day as well. I love the way they all turned out.”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: All Tied Up, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,428 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,782 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Stitching and Crafting/All Tied Up Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I had Piper and Nora over for the afternoon. The last time I kid-sat for these two little whippersnappers, we had had an arts and crafts day, and well, let’s just say my living room will never be the same. Not to mention Piper and Nora’s laundry.

Artists are messy. I’m sure Van Gogh’s mother was beside herself on laundry day. Right?

photo by LearningLark via Flickr.com

Anyway, I couldn’t just ban arts and crafts altogether—I mean, that would be cruel and unusual punishment for two little farmgirls who love to create. So, we came up with a fabulous idea: earn a new Merit Badge, and design our own artist’s smocks to cut down on the mess of future art projects.

Note to self: making a mess while creating your answer to making a mess is … a messy paradox. Maybe I should’ve bought smocks for them to make their homemade smocks in. Ah well, live and learn, Janie my girl.

You can use a premade smock and do your decorating from that stage, or if you’re feeling super crafty and DIY-esque, you can make your smock from all sorts of things you likely have lying around the house:

  • Pillowcases are the perfect size for most artistic munchkins. Cut a hole in the top for the head, and two smaller ones at the sides for their arms. Hem the holes, or use bias tape, to avoid fraying.
  • An adult-size T-shirt also makes a great smock for littles. Cut off the sleeves if desired.
  • A terrycloth towel (size depends on size of child; usually a large-ish hand towel is best). Attach a loop of ribbon for placing around head, and tie two more ribbons at the side for tying around waist.
  • If you’re wanting a smock just for a day and don’t mind tossing it in the trash when your epic art afternoon is through, use a paper bag. Follow directions for the pillowcase smock above. These are nice for an entire classroom for a one-day art project.
  • A man’s or woman’s button-down shirt put on backwards makes a great smock.
  • Recycled denim overalls make great smocks. Keep the straps and the front part, and cut off the legs. These are extra nice because they’re sturdy, and they have pockets.

photo by Elaine via Flickr.com

Once you’ve decided what kind of smock you are using, have your wee farmkid decorate. Piper chose puffy paints, and Nora chose her button collection because she had recently learned how to sew on buttons. Other ideas for decorating your new smock:

  • Handprints. We don’t recommend using red paint, though. Kinda looked like a crime scene … ahem.
  • Tie-dye.
  • Fabric markers or paint.
  • Iron-on patches.
  • Simple applique with shapes and embroidery floss.
  • Ruffles and lace for hems.
  • Pockets.
  • Rick-rack.

By the time an hour or two had gone by, we had puffy paint in our ears and buttons between our toes, but we had two gorgeous and one-of-a-kind smocks for our next art project.

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Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Cyndie Parzuhoski!

Cyndie Parzuhoski (cyndieparz72, #7407) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level Shopping Green Merit Badge!

“Per the requirements, I purchased 5 reusable shopping bags. I purchased 5 natural-fiber shopping bags: 4 cotton and 1 jute. I did this because purchasing “#5 reusable shopping bags” defeats the purpose or eliminating plastic, since they are made from polypropylene. Also, 4 of them benefit causes I believe in deeply—animal rights, saving the bees, and the empowerment of women in other countries.

I pledge to use these for every shopping trip from this day forward, and I also have 5 additional reusable bags on order at this time (also from causes close to my heart).

The bags are phenomenal and serve 2 purposes—shopping green and benefiting causes.”

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Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Hadassah Schaap!

Hadassah Schaap (Mentoring Sister Heidi Schaap, #3752) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Birds Merit Badge!

“I researched birds in our area, and located several on our Provident Woods Farm. I made a “future birds to look for” list and found several! I have a book of birds, and a bird journal which I keep bird sightings and nests that I find around our house. We live on a foresty rural farm, so we get a lot of birds around these parts. It’s always so fun to see new baby birds and crazy breeds we have never seen before, such as the Scarlett Tanager or Blue Birds.

Later in the year, I put up a bird house that we had built years before (but never got around to it) and set that out for the Blue Jays, Chickadees, Goldfinches, Robins, and Finches.

I also went on a bird expedition with my camera and got several good pictures, including one of a BRIGHT RED Scarlett Tanager! 🙂

I learned a lot.”

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Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Hope Johns!

Hope Johns (woolybunny28, #7249) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Sew Wonderful Merit Badge!

“Because I have been sewing for years, I put together a cute sewing kit for a fellow farmgirl who is just starting to sew. I used a quart-sized Mason jar and filled it with all the beginner essentials:

  • several spools of thread
  • pretty buttons
  • rickrack
  • ribbon
  • small sharp scissors
  • sewing needles
  • straight pins
  • safety pins

I made a little pincushion out of the Mason-jar lid with some pretty fabric and added a cute button on the bottom side (because why not!). To dress up the outside of the jar, I used some scrap yarn to crochet 2 granny squares to match the color of the pincushion and slipped it around the outside of the jar. Because I chose a quart-sized jar, there is plenty of room left to add more as time goes on.

My friend loved her sewing kit and plans to add to it, as she sews more and more! I had so much fun putting it together!”

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