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Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is Jill Lokke!

Jill Lokke (#6707) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Basketry Merit Badge!

“I have been making baskets for many years, and even taught beginning basketry classes, so for this merit badge, I researched plaited, coiled, ribbed, and wicker basket techniques, and discovered that there is a lot of overlap, and my basketry books don’t always agree with the Wikipedia article. The baskets I have made are mostly plaited, with the materials woven over and under each other at right angles. I have also made some that are more of a wicker style, with very flexible weavers over spokes of a more rigid material. For both types, I usually begin by twining the base of the basket with a small diameter round reed. One of my earlier baskets is wicker-style on the bottom and ribbed at the top, with a braided rim, but I didn’t know that until I did the research.

For my ‘first’ basket for this merit badge, I chose to make my first coiled basket. It is sea grass cording wrapped with my hand-spun, hand dyed wool yarn. I dyed it with indigo after spinning. The sea grass is entirely covered by the yarn.

In all, I spent at least four hours on the basket, and a couple of hours researching. I’ve already started looking into Native American basketry for the next level.

It was a lot of work for a tiny basket, but it’s very cute! The diameter is 4 1/2 inches and it’s 2 inches high. It will hold three eggs, which is about all I get in one day right now (6 hens).”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Where in the World? 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 Each Other/Where in the World? Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I wrangled me some Piper.

Just call me the Child Wrangler.

(Just don’t call me late for dinner.)

I was itchin’ to do this badge with her because I hadn’t yet attempted the grown up farmgirl version of it: National Geography. I wanted to ease my way in, so to speak. Why? Well, let’s just say geography isn’t my strong suit.

And if you teach someone to fish for a day, you teach yourself … how to fish for a day as well. Or something like that.

Also, expressions aren’t my strong suit, either.

Anyway, Piper was excited about this one because she recently been gifted a huge stack of paper maps. Most were from old back issues of National Geographic magazine and they were mostly in good shape. She’d used some already … to make paper fans, paper dolls, homemade envelopes, line her dresser drawers, and turn into paper airplanes with which she accosted nearby bystanders (like me). In spite of all that … um, geography, she had yet to do anything with her maps along the lines of what the good cartographer had intended them for: hanging them up on her walls for study purposes.

Map of Eastern Europe, 1836, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Armed with thumbtacks, we set about hanging the two most important ones: one of the United States, and one of the whole world. Hung right at eye level near her bed, I figured she would be doing a lot of learning and memorizing by osmosis.

And you know what they say: If you judge a fish a day by its ability to climb osmosis trees, it will spend its whole life believing it’s a stupid tree. Albert Einstein said that. Or something along those lines.

While I was staring intently at the map of America (When did North Dakota move over there? Has it always been there? Weird.), Piper was hanging up her own personal favorite map, one of Neverland.

You know, where Captain Hook reigns and the Lost Boys run amuck.

I was pretty sure this map had not been published by National Geographic, but I had to admit, it was a beautifully drawn map. Complete with crocodiles and flying pirate ships and mermaids! I was a little jealous and used a nearby crayon to add some mermaid doodles to North Dakota. It vastly improved the scenery.

Peter Pan, 1915, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

While Piper is not yet ready for the National Geography Bee, she had memorized quite a lot the next time I saw her. She knew the capitals of most states by their handy-dandy star icon, she knew which ocean was on which side of America, and she had added a sock to the boot-shaped Italy. She also knew the way to Neverland.

“Second star to the right,” she said, gravely, “And straight on till morning.”

We’re currently working on our flying ship to get there.

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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 Dawn Conrad!

Dawn Conrad (DawnC, #7297) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning the Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Levels Bee Good to Your Mother Earth Merit Badge!

“Identify five herbs and uses for them along with using them daily in cooking and/or crafts = accomplished Beginner Level.

Started an Herb Garden. Grew more than two herbs and used them in coking and some for medicinal use. Harvested and used the herbs. = accomplished Intermediate Level.

Identified issues re: location of the herb garden. Moved the herb garden to a new location. Planted additional three herbs, harvested and used them. Dried Basil, Thyme, Lavender and Stevia. Packaged in gift bags, used in cookie recipes, used fresh, and gifted to friends and family. I also Joined a local Herb Society, which has been very informative and helpful. Accomplishing Expert Level requirements.

Super FUN and satisfying to grow your own herbs! Herbs are such interesting plants and there is SO much you can do with them. Herbs offer a great learning experience, and I find it very relaxing to be in the herb garden.”

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Bibliophile Badging Merit Badge, 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 Each Other/Bibliophile Badging Beginner Level Merit Badge, I brought along my BFF, Midge, and we sauntered off to the library. Being the mom of triplets, Midge doesn’t get out much, and she hasn’t read a book without pictures and rhymes in like, five years, so I figured I’d share the love of this badge.

We both had library cards already, which was Step 1, but since Midge couldn’t find hers and mine needed an address update, we went to the front desk first. I was a little skeered the librarian lady would take a peek at my overdue fines and screech like a cat on a hot tin roof, but she seemed nonplussed. Of course, it helped that I paid down the balance and also brought her a double mocha with whip.

It’s important to keep the librarians fed and well-hydrated, don’t you know. They run the world.

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at York University by Raysonho via Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, the next part of earning our badge, Madge (er, I mean, Midge), was to check out the other things the library had to offer.

Get it? Check out the other things? (I slay myself.)

We availed ourselves of the handy-dandy free pamphlets the librarian had to offer, took snapshots of the extra-large bulletin board in the main room, and made sure to update our e-mail addresses so we wouldn’t miss a thing. In fact, our humble library offered so much free stuff, we planned out the next two months of our social calendar!

Midge found things for the kids to do:

  • A Lord of the Rings movie marathon, with popcorn and trivia
  • A book club for mystery lovers
  • A craft afternoon

I found several things of interest that I promptly put on my to-do list:

  • Read It Before You Watch It: a book club specializing in famous films that were novels first
  • How to Garden
  • A tour of my local cemetery, complete with historical guide
  • A 25-cent book sale

Midge found several things up her own alley:

  • Story-time for kindergarteners (moms get to browse the Adult Non-Fiction area nearby)
  • A class for journal lovers
  • A calligraphy course
  • A meet and greet with local authors

We were so excited about all our new interests, we totally forgot to check out any books! So after realizing our mistake, we went back the next day. Sometimes these badges take a while … good things come to those who wait, however.

The final part of earning our Beginner Level badge was to start our TBR pile.

For those of you book newbies, a TBR pile is a To Be Read stack. Some people have these all over their houses, some relegate them strictly to the nightstand, some keep them scribbled on a piece of paper or organized on a website like Goodreads, and others (like Yours Truly) sprinkle them willy-nilly throughout the house and car. You never know when the mood to read will strike, you know?

If you’re stuck on what to put on your TBR list, ask your friendly librarian. She will be pleased as punch to give you her recommendation (and a double mocha with whip will assure she doesn’t hold back the best of the best). Tell her what your favorite authors or genres are to date, and she’ll come up with something faster than you can say Dostoevsky. Which admittedly, might not be very fast because that guy’s name is hard to pronounce.

Still not convinced about the power of your library? Check out some of these quotes, and when you’re done, get thee to your library and get yourself a card …

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” ~ Albert Einstein.

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges.

“A library is the only single place you can go to learn something new, be comforted, terrified, thrilled, saddened, overjoyed, or excited all in one day. And for free.” ~ Amy Neftzger.

“Libraries represent the diversity and immensity of human thought, our collective knowledge laid out in rows of revealing inspiration.” ~ Manuel Lima.

“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” ~ Andrew Carnegie.

“Without the library, you have no civilization.” ~ Ray Bradbury.

“What is more important to a library than anything else — than everything else — is the fact that it exists.” ~ Archibald MacLeish.

“The library is like a candy store where everything is free.” ~ Jamie Ford.

“The idea of a library full of books, the books full of knowledge, fills me with fear and love and courage and endless wonder.” ~ Elizabeth McCracken.

“Libraries really are wonderful. They’re better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.” ~ Jo Walton.

“There is no problem a library card can’t solve.” ~ Eleanor Brown.

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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 Marlene Laverty!

Marlene Laverty (#7503) has received a certificate of achievement in Make It Easy for earning a Beginner Level Let’s Get Physical Merit Badge!

“About two months ago, I decided to start a workout program. I wanted one that I would actually do everyday. I allowed myself one day a week off from this program, but other than that, everyday for no less than 20 minutes a day. I suffer from depression, and I need a more natural form of control over it other than pills. I picked yoga. I did yoga several years ago to help with a back injury and it worked very well. I didn’t practice everyday, just when my back hurt. It really helped with my recovery. I stopped doing yoga for a long time. I needed to reconnect with my inner yogi!

Not to mention that studies show yoga can help with depression, stress, and a host of other ailments. I already have a few books and a few DVDs. I already have the tools to do yoga at my disposal. I am not even sure why I stopped my yoga practice in the first place.

I have been doing yoga now everyday for a few months now and I have fallen in love with my yoga practice. I was taking one day a week off from my workout, but I discovered that I didn’t feel as good that day. I feel better throughout the whole day if I do my yoga in the morning. I sleep better when I do bedtime yoga. I even have an app for yoga on my tablet. I can touch my toes again, I feel less stress, and I have lost 9 pounds to boot!”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Toys, 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 Stitching and Crafting/Toys Expert Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Piper (with her paper dolls), Nora (with her finger puppets), and Andy (with his sock puppets), gathered everyone together in the living room for a little impromptu performance.

Actually, what am I saying? It was anything but impromptu. They’d been planning and rehearsing for weeks. They had written their own plays and skits, trashed them, refocused, and sent out invitations. They’d fired their set designer (me), extended their run, and offered backstage prices for three easy installments of $14.99.

In short? I had created little monsters.

photo by Rion via Wilimedia Commons

Their parents were eyeing me with something like wariness and mistrust as we all took our seats. I couldn’t blame them. I was concerned I’d never work again as Assistant to the Prop Department Manager, which was what I had been demoted to. Word gets around in a small town, you know. I’d hate to be blacklisted from the sock puppet world. I sent up small prayers to the puppetry gods that all would go well and opened my program.

Along with biographies of the cast (including made-up biographies of the puppets themselves, which I found rather adorable), this evening’s show order, and an encouragement to visit the concession stand at Intermission (say whaaa? Piper’s mom glanced nervously at her kitchen), there was also paid advertising.

Sheesh. These kids were good.

My worries turned back into a feeling of pride, which was abated slightly when Andy came out of the wings to confiscate my cell phone when it pinged at the start of the show. You gotta admire their work ethic, I guess.

photo by Natasha Tremain via Wikimedia Commons

The first act was a rousing rendition of Annie Get Your Gun, performed by ummm, well, Nora’s fingers and their respective puppets. We applauded heartily.

Next up was Piper’s modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, complete with balcony scene with the help of a Barbie Dream House. It was quite moving, I must say, even though at some point Juliet’s left arm dropped off accidently. Since that’s hardly the worst thing to happen to the poor dear in the tale, Piper didn’t even skip a beat: just got out some scotch tape and kept going. What a pro!

public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then it was Andy’s turn. While planning to give away all his homemade sock puppets for Christmas gifts for the “smaller” and “less mature” people in his circle (his words, not mine), he nevertheless had spared no attention to detail. I think he could have a career in Jim Henson’s world, should he be so inclined. Although his playwriting skills need work: Captain America Meets Dracula was a little hard to follow.

After spending an exorbitant amount at concessions during Intermission (where I was served half a juice box, a leftover pork chop from the fridge, and a stick of bubble gum), we settled back in to watch the Finale. There was a lot of singing, dancing, madcap antics, and a kickline (chorus girl style) that I’m sure the Rockettes would have been dazzled by. Even if the kicks were done with fingers and not legs.

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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 Shari Doty!

Shari Doty (Sharikrsna, #607) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Tatting Merit Badge!

“I ordered needles, and using my Stitching Room book, learned needle tatting. I had already been shuttle tatting. I have already made six ornaments, a collar, a hatband, and edging for a baby carrier I sewed for my neighbor. One heart shaped ornament was a pattern from 1917!”

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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 Ann Gee!

Ann Gee (#7351) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Levels for the Sew Wonderful Merit Badge!

“I went thru the 3 steps, Beginner through Expert. On the lst step, I took all of my supplies out of a plastic bag and put them into a nice sewing basket.

For the second challenge, I went online and found stitches and copied them onto fabric. Even though I’ve been a hand-sewer for many years, I found these to be very interesting.

For the 3rd, I made the carry-all tote, and it came out very nice, may have to keep it and make more for gifts. Made the chicken potholder for my niece, who raises chickens.

I was very satisfied the way everything turned out. I took a denim shirt and appliqued several fabric animal designs on it plus my Sisterhood badge and some buttons.

My new sewing basket is much nicer to take to classes and to be able to find things more easily.”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Get Buggy, Intermediate 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/Get Buggy Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Piper and I wandered out to the front yard with our trusty notebook journals, magnifying glass, and a couple of glass jars with holes poked in the lids.

I think you can tell where we were going with this, righto? You got it, we were looking for some bug lovin’!

Furry, spindly, fat, eight-legged, four-legged, winged, cute, ugly (or bugly, as the pun-loving Pipes liked to say), we were all about dem bugs.

What we were not about was the anthill we accidently disrupted. Talk about ants in our pants. Okay, okay, I exaggerate, not so much in our pants as milling about our toes, but you get the drift. We apologized to the ant family (They didn’t even pause to listen though. Busy little buggers, aren’t they?) and moved to a different area of the yard.

For the Intermediate Level badge, you won’t really need the jars with lids, but we like to be prepared in case of bug adoptions. You never know when you might find a rare, exotic type lurking under your hydrangeas or scampering past your garden gnome! Why, just one of these finds of the Top Five Rarest Bugs in Nature would cement our notoriety in the world of entomologists:

  • Euspinolia militaris (the panda ant): Oh, it may look all cute and fuzzy, with black and white patches that appear positively snuggable, but this ‘ant’ is actually a member of the wasp family. And we never recommend snuggling a wasp. Lest you think you can take this little guy on, we’re here to tell you his nickname is “cow killer” (and yes, they can!). Yikes. Luckily, these stinging devils are mostly found in Chile.

photo by silamtao

  • Atrax sutherlandi (red-fanged funnel spider): Also called the Vampire Spider, this somewhat terrifying arachnid has red fangs. Gulp. Surprisingly though, for its fierce appearance, the atrax sutherlandi mostly just eats other insects, and won’t suck your blood.
  • Lycaedes melissa samuelis (Karner butterfly): Finally, one that won’t keep you up at night with bad dreams, this vibrant blue butterfly can only be found near New York, where it sadly has nearly become extinct due to deforestation. It’s a particular and persnickety butterfly and wants its habitat exactly just-so (kind of like me, now that I think about it).
)

photo by Hollingsworth, J & K via Wikimedia Commons

  • Titanus giganteus (the titan beetle): Back to the frightening kind, this beetle, native to the Amazon rainforest, can be 9 inches long! Let that sink in. Bigger than my whole hand. Or my favorite sub sandwich! Well, at least at that size, it won’t be sneaking up on me anytime soon.
  • Dryococelus australis (the tree lobster): This ginormous walking stick insect (about 6 inches long!) only lives on Lord Howe Island, between New Zealand and Australia. Entomologists thought this amazing creature was extinct back in the ‘20s but luckily for bug lovers everywhere in the early 2000s, they began popping up again. Now, experts are breeding them so as to populate the island once more. How do the residents feel about this? Unsure. How do I feel about that? Glad I don’t live on Lord Howe Island!

photo by Granitethighs via Wikimedia Commons

Well, Piper and I didn’t find any of these remarkable bugs, but we did find some beauties to mark down in our journals. And a roly-poly named Earnest lived in a Mason-jar habitat for an afternoon before we let him go back to his family.

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Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is Jennifer Chappell!

Jennifer Chappell (AdeleHale, #6346) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level My Fair Farmgirl Merit Badge!

“I researched the difference between conventional products and cruelty-free organic beauty products and shared it on my personal Facebook page. I replaced my toothpaste and all of my skincare products with organic alternatives. I made scented bath salts with Epsom salts and essential oils.

I like using the organic beauty products—they have improved my skin health immensely.

For the bath salts, I combined three pounds of Epsom salts with 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil, 3 drops tea tree essential oil, and 2 drops peppermint essential oil. The scent and the salts lasted about an hour and my fibromyalgia is better today than it was yesterday.”

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