Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Let’s Go to Town, Expert 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—10,886 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/Let’s Go to Town Expert Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Andy and I—you guessed it—went to town.

photo by James Steakley via Wikimedia Commons

If only earning Merit Badges were so simple …

Once we got there (several yard sales and snack breaks later), we headed over to our local library. Not for books this time, no siree, but to see what was thumbtacked up on the ol’ community bulletin board.

We saw:

  • Services from a pet psychic (Yeah. That’s all my chickens need. They already think they’re Marie Antoinette if their diva behavior is any indication.)
  • Tuba lessons (BYOT)
  • Something called Pickleball
  • Massage therapy for the ticklish
  • A seminar on DIY world domination
  • Matchmaking services for the romantically challenged
  • How to cook with inedible ingredients (say what now?)
  • Lost: guinea pig
  • Found: weird-looking rodent
  • Soccer for seniors
  • Conquer your fears through total immersion therapy (please sign waivers, provided)
  • Community theatre actors wanted
  • Underwater basket-weaving classes
  • Sign Language, Shakespeare, and You

There were probably lots more, but they were all stapled and scotch-taped and thumbtacked right over one another, all willy-nilly. I thought someone needed to offer a community class on the Proper Etiquette of bulletin-boarding, but Andy was all about … drum roll, puhleeze …

Pickleball!

To earn his Expert Level badge, Andy and I were going to choose three different after-school-type activities. He had already joined Band last week, and I wrangle him in to my Book Club meetings every third Thursday (I lure him with the scent of chocolate-chip cookies. Works every time. Little guy is cute, but he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to noticing things. Ah well. He gets cookies and some literary education, to boot. Although, he wasn’t real fond of The Bridges of Madison County, and when it was his turn to pick the novel, he chose Sir Farts-A-Lot Eats the Booger as revenge. How childish. Although, I have to say, I secretly enjoyed the book).

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. Pickleball was to be our third activity! We were both really excited. Andy because he likes balls, me because I love a good pickle.

Sadly (and you may be one step ahead of me on this), there were no vinegary cucumbers to be found when we got to the arranged meeting place. Instead, there were paddles, nets, plastic balls with holes in them, and a tennis court.

photo by Stephen James Hall via Wikimedia Commons

I was instantly suspicious. This looked like some sort of *gasp* SPORT.

Suddenly, I knew how Andy felt every third Thursday.

Putting my fear of all things sports-related aside for the greater good, I attempted learning the oddity that is pickleball. Turns out, I wasn’t really so bad. It’s kind of like ping-pong on a larger scale. And I’m happy to report one of the sports moms brought juice boxes and crackers, so I made it through a happy camper. And Andy earned his badge. He put it right next to his dog-eared copy of Captain Underpants (I think I know what we’re reading next month).

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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 Teresa Roberson!

Teresa Roberson (carolinacateyes, #7386) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning an Expert Level Recycling Merit Badge!

“My recycling system at home runs like a well-oiled machine! I have been successfully recycling at home for months now. In late July, I enlisted my granddaughter, age 12, to recycle. She has recently moved from the city back out to the country, where there is no garbage pickup, but a recycling/garbage convenience center is nearby. We set up four cardboard boxes on the back porch; one for newspapers, one for plastics, one for aluminum cans, and one for rinsed metal cans. Rachel also recycles plastic shopping bags to return to Walmart. No, I still can’t convince her to use fabric bags! I periodically visit and can’t help but see her progress; she tends to hyper-focus on things that interest her. She has even decorated a couple of her boxes! She also has recruited her aunt, maternal grandmother, and maternal great-grandmother to recycle as well. Occasionally, her dad will drop off a bag of glass items at my work location for me to recycle at my convenience center. I also collect the shredded paper and the cardboard boxes from work to recycle just down the street from my office.

As I travel from school kitchen to school kitchen in my county, I see so many items that could be recycled if anyone cared to listen and act responsible. When I retire next year, I think this will be my mission. My school district needs to set the example by recycling instead of collecting garbage for a landfill. At least Rachel is on the right track, and she has others doing the same. She talks about recycling with her friends and teachers at the middle school. Hopefully, the younger generation will get on board to save this planet one metal can, one plastic bottle, one plastic bag, one cardboard box at a time.”

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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 Jacey Titus!

Jacey Titus (OnceUponaFarm, #7468) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Aprons Merit Badge!

“I made a half apron for a homesick friend. It is on its way to her. I have also made one for myself and wear it every time I am cooking or baking. The first attempt turned out great. I need to fix the tension on my sewing machine, but that is all. I may adjust the pattern and make some for my little kitchen helpers.”

photo-of-the-day

happy-thanksgiving_6584

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Do Your Eyes Light Up? 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!!! ~MaryJane 

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

For this week’s Make It Easy/Do Your Eyes Light Up? Expert Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Nora and I stopped resting on our laurels from earning our Intermediate Level badge and got back to work.

Side note: how do you rest on laurels, anyway? Please advise. Is it like sitting on a tuffet?

Now that we knew the names of all of our tools and had also organized them, it was time to put them to good use. Earning our next badge required us to roll up our sleeves, don our safety glasses, and DIY all day long until the cows came home, or until our DIY abilities couldn’t DIY any longer. Whichever came first.

Side note #2: if you didn’t organize and/or purchase safety glasses while earning your Intermediate Level badge, you may or may not be forced to wear hot pink swimming goggles at this point.

Our project was a luminary. Not to be confused with the illuminati. One you can hang from the ceiling or a tree for a lovely and stylish lantern, and the other … well, I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to put a candle in them.

Side note #3: you can of course, use candles for your project, but I recommend those battery-powered tea lights. Less danger of burning down your ‘hood.

There were plenty of ideas floating around the ol’ interweb on how to make a beautiful and fully functional luminary, and we got a bit lost down the bunny trail for a while trying to decide. Being list people, we naturally had to write down our favorites and then choose.

Side note #4: writing lists in goggles isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I recommend waiting on the goggle wearing until you actually have your hammer and nails in hand.

  • Mason-jar luminaries (since there weren’t many tools involved in this one, if any, we scratched it off the list).
  • “House” luminaries made of strong cardstock or cardboard. These are especially cute when they’re holiday themed: snowy and Victorian looking for Christmas, haunted and creepy for Halloween. Again, not enough tools for us hammer and nail crazed farmgirls, so we shelved this one for another afternoon.
  • Tin-can luminaries. You can make sweet, mini ones using pop cans, or larger ones using the family-sized cans of diced tomatoes, tinned peaches, etc.
  • Paper-sack luminaries, made from … well, you guessed it, paper sacks. These are fun when you want to use a lot, and maybe spell something out, with a letter per sack. Again though, not hands-on enough for Nora. Preschool project, Aunty, she said with a miffed sniff. If anyone has the miffed sniff down, it’s Nora. So last year.
  • Floating Witch Hat luminary. These are oh-so adorbs for Halloween as well. Take a pointed witch hat from the dollar store or thrift store, pop in a glow stick, and hang from the ceiling of your porch to delight your trick or treaters. The more the merrier with this one.
  • Milk jug or wine bottle luminaries. Painted and decorated, these have unlimited potential, and they’re a great way to teach your little farmkid about upcycling and keeping things out of our landfills.

Well, it’s no surprise we chose to do mostly the tin-can luminaries, with a couple milk-jug ones thrown in for good measure. Teaching a smallfry to use a hammer is an exercise in patience and bravado, by the way. Is there a badge for that? Cuz I earned one, let me tell you. I almost taught her how to use the drill, but I got skeered by the wild look in her baby blues.

Maybe next time. Until then, we are lighting up our evening skies with a whole collection of luminaries. If you see a glowing orb down the street, follow it … it’s me. And I have snacks.

Mostly tinned peaches and diced tomatoes.

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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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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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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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