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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 Hope Johns!

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

“A talented quilter in my knitting group offered to teach me how to quilt! I jumped at the opportunity, since quilting has always been on my wish list. We started out with the basics, how to properly cut your fabric, and different methods of piecing (I now love strip piecing!). I learned how to read a quilt pattern and how to select colors for a quilt. I made a mini quilt for my kitchen table using fabrics I had purchased a while ago in the hopes of using them in a quilt. I quilted it on my sewing machine and sewed the binding down by hand.

I LOVE how my mini quilt turned out, and I learned so much. The whole experience was so enjoyable that I have already started on a second quilt—the next one is definitely going to be bigger! I see many quilts in my future …”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Big Kid Now, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

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

For this week’s Each Other/Big Kid Now Expert Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Andy asked me to help him by shadowing him as he shadowed another.

I know. Sounds shady. Like a film noir, Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall, cue the Magnum P.I. theme music shady. But in order to earn his badge, he needed to follow in the footsteps of someone (a mentor or Farmgirl Sister) who was working in the profession he was most interested in. He had waffled a bit, I admit, while earning his first two badges in this category, but he finally settled on what he thought was his dream job.

Donut Maker and Baker Extraordinaire.

He added the Extraordinaire part, as I’m sure you deduced.

I knew he was coming at it from a purely preteen, adolescent, constantly hungry, sugar-crazed, glazed and frosted, point of view, but I figured he could learn that the hard way.

Also, I enjoy a good maple bar like any red-blooded American farmgirl, so I didn’t mind waiting in the wings. The sprinkled, deep-fried, apple fritter wings … where was I?

The neighborhood baker at the local donut shop was only too happy to oblige Andy’s request. In fact, I thought I heard something mumbled manically under his breath about slave labor and needing the fryer deep-cleaned, but I couldn’t be sure. Probably just my imagination.

Bright and early the next morning, we were off. And by ‘bright and early,’ I of course mean, in the dead of night with nothing but moonlight to light our way to the donut shop. Andy resembled a cast member of the Walking Dead, and I must admit, I didn’t look too good myself. Nobody looks good at 3:30 a.m., except maybe the aforementioned Bogey and Bacall. But they had makeup artists and better lighting.

Mr. Donut Maker and Baker Extraordinaire Senior was already up and ready to go. I’m not sure what his veins are pumping with, but I’m fairly certain it’s caffeine and sugar, not the normal blood the rest of us have. I got myself to the coffeemaker faster than you could say ‘good morning, sunshine’, and when I couldn’t find a mug fast enough, I used a large mixing bowl.

It was either that, or put my lips directly beneath the coffee spout and guzzle. And I am a lady, let me remind you. Most of the time.

Mr. Donut Maker and Baker Extraordinaire Junior found some energy somewhere in that gangly body of his, and jumped right in. He had been hoping for a hot breakfast of chocolate-glazed goodness before any actual work, but one narrow-eyed squint from his new boss kept him on the straight and narrow. He was put to the test by cleaning out some ovens.

He spent half the time reenacting the witch scene from Hansel and Gretel until Mr. Baker plugged his donut hole with a pastry just to keep him quiet.

All in all, it was one long day … that somehow was over by 2 p.m. Baker’s hours are a thing not to be taken lightly.

Me, I take mine with extra sprinkles and a mixing bowl of strong coffee. Because I am a lady.

Just not before 9 a.m.

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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 Peggy Smith!

Peggy Smith (Forever Young, #1815) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning an Intermediate Level The Secret Life of Bees Merit Badge!

“The health difference between regular honey is being pasteurized and filtered. Pasteurization is the process where it is heated at high temperatures to kill any yeast that may be present in order to prevent fermentation. Raw honey comes straight from the beehive. It is totally unheated, unpasteurized , unprocessed honey.

I buy pure raw honey from a local bee farm, Bekemeir’s, in Neosho, Missouri, which is close to where I live. I read the book Nature’s Little Wonders.

I have been taking a teaspoon of this honey every morning for a year now for allergies. I have not been back to the doctor since; it really works for me. I also cook with it.”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Horsing Around, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

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

For this week’s Garden Gate/Horsing Around Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I took all three of my favorite, intrepid, fearless (and always hungry) neighborhood kids and we went on a little adventure of equine proportions.

That’s right, all things horsey, that was our goal.

Who doesn’t love a horse? They bring to mind galloping adventures, a sense of freedom, beauty, the intoxicating scent of hay, and they may in fact be the perfect pet!

Well, maybe a dog. Or a cat. I’m also fond of chickens. And lizards. I need a 12-step recovery program for my fondness for fur babies. Anyway, back to the badge.

In order to earn ours, we needed to spend a day either walking or driving around the outskirts of town, searching for ponies to make our hearts sing. Okay, the badge requirements don’t say that precisely but I enjoy paraphrasing and rewording for the sake of keeping my charge’s attention spans from waning. Mothers of middle schoolers, you can pick up what I’m putting down, am I right?

Being rather health conscious and seeing as how it was a lovely day, we chose to walk. There are several ranches in the same area not too far from our town, so we parked the car, refreshed ourselves with ham sandwiches, slung our backpacks over our backs, and set off.

It wasn’t long before we were surrounded by fields of such beautiful horses that my heart swelled to three times its normal size. Bounding through the amber waves of grain, I twirled in circles, and began to sing the soundtrack from The Sound of Music. Unfortunately, this technique scared the horses and the kids nearly left me behind, so I scrambled back over the fence posthaste and tried to behave myself for the rest of our trip.

“You know, Aunty,” Andy scolded me as he picked grass out of my hair and put a BandAid on my skinned knees (climbing fences is not as easy as it used to be, helpful hint from me to you), “Trespassing is a like a federal offense.”

“Don’t preach, kiddo. I prefer the term interloping. It sounds less … uh, illegal. We won’t be mentioning this to your mother, by the way. And pass me a granola bar. Interloping makes me feel snacky.”

Nora and Piper had stuck to the greenbelt, being less of an outlaw than I. They were two walking pigtails in the distance, but we caught up with them soon enough, sitting on a fallen log and sketching some of the horses we had seen.

Andy preferred to take snapshots with his fancy IPhone, and I made use of their distraction by polishing off the rest of the ham sammies. (Remember when I said I was health conscious? Well, it’s organic ham, with spinach and homemade mayonnaise, so quit your judging! Trespassing interloping burns a lot of calories.)

The girls made page after page of sketches of their ponies. Nora kept adding horns to hers; although I am skeptical of her assurance there were several unicorn sightings that I allegedly missed due all my twirling and singing. I wrote down my own list of the types of horses we had seen, and Andy scrolled through his collection of photos.

There were a disconcerting amount of my illegal activities documented, so I insisted he delete a few before his mother decided I was a bad influence.

Note to self: keep federal offenses to a minimum while earning the next badge …

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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 Erin McBride!

Erin McBride (notathreatinsight, #3762) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level Water Conservation Merit Badge!

“I checked for leaks from our faucets, toilets, and shower heads. I didn’t find anything that needed to be fixed. Since we live in an old house, that was a pleasant surprise.

Some of the ways I’ve found that we can conserve water as a family are to turn off water while brushing our teeth, turning the water off in the shower between soaping up and rinsing off, being conscious of how often the water is running needlessly at the sink in the kitchen, and operating the dishwasher and washing machine only when they are full.

I must admit that my husband already implemented most of these water-conserving strategies, and he’s been on me for a while to pay more attention to how much water I waste. I have really tried in the past couple of months to be more mindful of how much water I’m using. Since I have small children, putting these ideas into practice falls mostly on me. I’ve tried to emphasize to them the importance of water and that it is a resource that we need and shouldn’t take for granted.

By implementing these water-saving plans I estimate that we have saved weekly 250 gallons of water from running the dishwasher and washing machine only when full, 670 gallons a week from “navy showers,” and 250 gallons a week by turning off the water while brushing our teeth.”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Table Talk, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,466 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,836 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 Farm Kitchen/Table Talk Expert Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I enlisted all three of my fab favorite kitchen minions: Andy, Nora, and Piper. After all, they were all ready to earn this badge and a bird in the hand is worth three in the kitchen. Or something like that.

Anyway, they got to work planning out their menu, since this Expert Level badge was all about making dinner and being adventurous about it, to boot. Adventure is in these kids’ blood, I tell ya, so this was not going to be a problem. At least, that’s what I thought.

Trying to get them to agree on supper plans was pretty exhausting and time consuming. I needed a snack just to keep my blood sugar up. Finally, after some serious arguments, tiffs, quarrels, and squabbles (not to mention arm-wrestling matches), they decided they would each pick out a dish. After all, it was going to be a full meal deal, righto?

Going with their spirits of adventure and trying new things, I steered them away from standby favorites, such as macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, and pizza. I let them browse through my cookbook collection and scroll through Pinterest, and they came up with some pretty interesting menu ideas.

Okay, so they didn’t flow together all that great, but we decided to call it A Trip Around the World Buffet. Andy chose fish tacos, Nora picked Savory Crepes, and Piper had her heart set on Ratatouille.

photo by Arnold Gatilao via Wikimedia Commons

I wished I had a bigger kitchen.

I ate another snack.

Piper’s dish was going to take the longest to prepare and cook, so I let her get started first. She learned how to use a mandoline (no, not the instrument, my peeps—that’s a mandolin, but the slicing kind). The bounty from my garden was getting some serious lovin’. We used eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red and green peppers, fresh basil, garlic, plum tomatoes, and red onion. The smell was divine! She artfully arranged all our slices in a beautiful pattern and we put it in the oven.

Then Nora was up with her Savory Crepes. Crepes are fun for everyone because you can put anything inside of them. Nora took this decision seriously and really got her knickers in a twist over the pairings. She finally decided on mushrooms, pesto, and turkey. We made a simple batter and I must say, she got pretty darn good at flipping. One or two or seven might have ended on the floor, but practice makes perfect and she figured out her crepe-making mojo.

Then we let Andy back in the kitchen, and he was a whirling dervish. It was like the Tasmanian Devil was whipping up the fish tacos. Back and forth he went, stirring his Sweet and Spicy Chili sauce, dipping his halibut in salt and pepper and cumin, heating up his corn tortillas, and chopping up lettuce, cilantro, and radishes.

At the end? We had a feast of epic culinary proportions. We were all so full, it felt like we had eaten Thanksgiving early!

And the state of my kitchen?

Don’t ask.

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pumkin-chair_4121

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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 Martha Koukios!

Martha Koukios (Martha K, #508) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Sew Wonderful Merit Badge!

“I put together a sewing kit in a canning jar, and made a pinkeeper out of the top. I included straight pins and needles, scissors, assorted buttons and thread colors, safety pins, measuring tape, and a thimble.

It came out very nice. I am partial to bees, so I made the pinkeeper out of a beehive fabric.”

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sophie-sophia_4029

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: All Dried Up, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,466 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,836 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 Farm Kitchen/All Dried Up Young Cultivator Expert Level Merit Badge, Nora and I went on a mad, crazed, no-holds-barred shopping trip for herbs.

I know, you can’t stop us nutty herbivores. We’re obsessed with fresh plants!

There were a few still growing in my garden, so of course we took advantage of those as well, but we wanted to expand our culinary palates too, and that required a bit of supermarket and farm stand browsing. After an afternoon of odoriferous gathering, we had a basket of fresh greenery that would make Rapunzel swoon with envy.

apron-basil

Our bounty:

  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Chamomile
  • Sage
  • Lemon balm
  • Coriander
  • Chervil
  • Bay
  • Dill

Next up, after washing our delicate pretties, we hung some of the herbs up to dry, and thought about what to do with the rest. We came up a couple ideas: compound butters to give as gifts, and frozen oils to keep for cooking.

For the frozen herbs, it’s simple. Use ice cube trays and separate your herbs into the cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and freeze. When you need an herb for say, spaghetti sauce or soup, just pop out the one of your choice!

For the compound butters, we mixed our herbs with softened butter. Roll into a log using wax paper and refrigerate. Tie with a pretty ribbon and these make great gifts for a housewarming present (add a loaf of French bread). They are also yummy melted on top of a steak or broiled on a piece of fish or chicken.

Just the thought made our mouths water, so we made ourselves some fresh iced tea with mint leaves and invented our own recipe using Nora’s personal favorite herb of choice: dill.

Nora’s Dill Pickle Dip

  • One block of organic cream cheese, OR half a block cream cheese plus 1/2 cup sour cream (could substitute Greek yogurt as well)
  • Several splashes of dill-pickle juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles (homemade if you’ve got ’em!)
  • A handful of fresh dill

Mix thoroughly and refrigerate to thicken slightly. Serve with crackers and iced tea with mint.

Try it with your dill-pickle fans. It’s dill-icious!

Once our herbs had finished drying (you can speed up the process by using a food dehydrator or your oven, but we enjoyed the look of the pantry once we had hung all of our bunches upside down using clothesline), we pinched off the leaves and packaged them in jars. Voila! Fresh herbs for all our friends to last even when the garden has been plundered.

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