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 … Mary Jo Boyd!!!

Mary Jo Boyd (Quiltsister413, #5559) has received a certificate of achievement in Each Other for earning a Beginner Level Civic Heritage Merit Badge!

“I decided to visit the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan. I am originally from Port Huron and now live in Ohio so this is right in between. When I was in grade school we used to take field trips to Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum so this was a sentimental place to me as well.

We decided to go on Friday, November 22 because in honor of the anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination they offered free admission. The actual limousine he was riding in was on display. I went with my husband and my father-in-law who is a World War II veteran.

I enjoyed seeing the history of the auto industry, but there was so much more. My favorite was finding the perfect “glamping” camper! I also found some really cool vintage sewing machines and since I am a quilter, these were a treat.

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I was very excited to try to find the rock candy that I remembered from when I was a girl. It was homemade rock candy on a string. When we got to the gift shop the girl pointed to a display of pre-packaged rock candy suckers. I guess a lot has changed in 35 years.

My all time highlight of the day was seeing all the people stop to shake my father-in-laws hand and thank him for his service. He had worn his hat with his military pins and as I pushed him in his wheel chair strangers would stop us all through the day.

For the next level I want to find some local sewers/quilters and get to know them and how they have evolved over the years in their craft.”

Pay It Forward Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 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 Farm Kitchen/Pay it Forward Expert Level Merit Badge, I was pretty thrilled. I mean, level three? Expert? Moi? Luckily I’m like the most humble girl I know, so I didn’t let it go to my head, and got to work.

I went to my local food bank and soup kitchen (you remember the one? I brought them all my bounty from earning the Intermediate Level badge). I grabbed the nearest apron and told the cook I was ready for some good ol’ volunteering. Time to give back after yesterday’s splurge.

“Put me to work. I’ll do anything. Plate food, scrape dishes, play the piano … you name it, I’m your girl.” I beamed.

Then he nearly broke my heart by telling me I kind of had to sign up in advance for this volunteering stuff, and maybe in a few days or so they’d give me a call when they had an opening.

Whaa?

My hopes were dashed. I was all set to do good deeds and now this snag in my plans?

Sniffle.

Whimper.

Wail.

It was the wail that seemed to do the trick. Cook waved his magic spatula and suddenly there was space for me in the kitchen. I wiped my eyes on my borrowed apron (Note: make cuter aprons for the volunteers. Can you say polyester in the shade of pea soup?) and rolled up my sleeves.

I wasn’t the only volunteer, but I was the only first-timer, so I tried to blend in and look efficient. This was easier said than done because this place could really hustle and bustle. I mean, we’re talking moving and shaking everything and everyone working together like a well-oiled machine. I needed to find my place. But how?

Turns out I had a hidden gift in the plating department. You know what they say in all those cooking shows: presentation, presentation, presentation. I lovingly arranged dozens of cake plates and artfully plated the food. I had a special knack for making the colors pop, if I do say so myself. For instance: A shake of sesame seeds on the chicken and a dollop of butter just off center of the rolls REALLY made the whole ensemble come together.

Can food be an ensemble? I think, yes.

Anyway, Cook had to stop me before I started carving roses out of the radishes so I moved onto clearing the tables. This was where the real fun started: I got to visit. You all know how much I love visiting people, right? Visiting means talking, and I love myself a good long talk. I got to meet the most interesting people, farmgirls! And they all totally loved my napkin folding, said it really brought some thing different to the tables. I beamed again (it was a beaming kind of day).

Cook stopped me before I started munching on the cake and telling my life story to my new friends, and moved me onto dish washing. I could tell they really needed my expertise in nearly all areas, so I was pleased. And humble, of course.

I ended my day of volunteering with lots of suds in my hair and dish-pan hands, several new friends, and the desire to come back. Cook’s eyes smiled, which I totally took to mean he was thrilled.

I beamed.

 

 

Icing on the Cake Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 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 Farm Kitchen/Icing on the Cake Expert Level Merit Badge, I was inspired by my local gingerbread house auction and contest.

Okay. So it was a little bit of a stretch … from cake to gingerbread house … but I knew my fellow farmgirls were behind me. Yeah, I wasn’t making a butter cake from scratch, but all the decorating I was going to do was going to make up for it.

And how.

The great thing about gingerbread houses is how long they stay fresh, and how early you can start the decorating process. Example: I started my house two weeks before the contest and auction. I mean, it’s not like anyone is going to eat it anyway, right? It’s for gazing at in awe and admiration, not for snacking. We aren’t Hansel and Gretel, people.

Of course, should anyone want to snack upon my house, they’d be met with delicious flavors, I assure you. Licorice whips, candy buttons, peppermints, gummy bears, powdered sugar, mini marshmallows, gumdrops, sugar cubes, lollipops, red hots, jelly beans … well, this list is somewhat endless. Being a farmgirl, I really tried to limit my junk food and went with plenty of locally made candy, dye-free alternatives, and healthy options, like pretzels and shredded wheat.

I realized about three days in that gingerbread-house decorating is a lot like having a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. They become rather addicting. As in, I’ll just finish this one stained glass window and then I’ll use the bathroom, or One more tree and then I’ll eat breakfast. If you don’t have boundaries, girls, you’re gonna end up with a slight bladder infection and expired, uneaten breakfast foods. Helpful hint from me to you: Know when to walk away from the golden glow of the frosting-tinted roofs and caramel-studded window panes.

I was going to bed with not only visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, but also visions of jellied fruit slices, Skittles, shredded coconut, and cotton candy. Willie Wonka had taken over my dreams. I was getting toothaches and I hadn’t even been pinching the inventory!

I needed a break. Mr. Wonderful obligingly took away my gingerbread house for the night so I wouldn’t be tempted to ice some more, or frost something. I printed out a list of emergency numbers for him in case something happened to my sweet baby, and I tried to go to bed early. I got up the next morning and treated myself to a nice breakfast and didn’t even call to check in (though I wanted to).

Seeing my beautiful house after a little bit of an absence was just what I had needed. With renewed vigor, I placed the very last silver non-pareil atop the gingerbread roof, and together, Mr. Wonderful and I loaded it up into the car.

He drove like a geriatric snail by my request, and we made it to the auction and contest just in time.

Did I win? Did anyone buy my sweet baby?

Well, Second Runner Up isn’t too bad, and let’s just say Mr. Wonderful came with spending money.

Munch munch.

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Organic on a Budget Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

 

 

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 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 Farm Kitchen/Organic on a Budget Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I gave myself a little pat on the back.

Why, you may ask?

I’m so glad you did.

Because I am officially chemical free when it comes to my fruits and veggies, that’s why. And do you know what? It feels good.

Like I knew that it would now.

So good … so good … I got –

Well, that’s where my fondness for segueing from vegetables into song lyrics goes awry. No matter, the point is: I have been successful at eliminating those pesky non-food ingredients from my “rabbit food,” as Mr. Wonderful likes to call plants. (He’s still working on Level One, let’s say).

At first, I admit to being skeptical. I mean, I’ve never been a veggie girl, let’s face facts here. My poor mom had to drown them in Ranch just to get me to swallow them without making a face (vegetables, that is, not facts. Though facts are better with condiments, too). Basically, as a kiddo, I liked my veg in this order:

French Fries

Potato chips

Dill pickles.

I know, I know. It’s a wee list.

But it’s gotten longer these days, and it’s amazing how broadening my horizons, culinary-ish speaking, has lightened my moods (and waistband). I discovered all sorts of foods I never knew I liked, and realized how much yummier it all tastes when there isn’t an aftertaste of pesticides and fungicides. Scary ‘cides aside …

I don’t even need Ranch anymore, which my mother would say is a small miracle. A little sauté in butter and my peas are delish. A squeeze of lemon on a spinach salad and I’m in heaven. A quick stir-fry of bell peppers and onions enliven my sandwiches, and a splash of apple cider vinegar wakes up my sleepy Swiss Chard. And when it comes to my organic fruit? Mm. I never thought a fruit salad could take the place of dessert for this sugar-aholic, but guess again.

Another perk to earning this badge is all the friends and farmers I’ve met that I otherwise would never have found. It’s much more fun, healthy, cheap, and delicious to buy my organic produce from my local neighbors than it is from the big supermarket. Also, there are more samples from the farmers, which is a definite plus when you’re a try before you buy kind of gal.

All in all, I’d say this badge was a pleasure to earn. I’d tell you more but I’m too busy stuffing my tummy with organic jicama.

Only lightly dipped in Ranch.

(But it’s organic, Mom).

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 … CJ Armstrong!!!

CJ Armstrong (ceejay48, #665) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Quilling Merit Badge!

“Papercrafting is not new to me; however, I had not actually pursued quilling. Quilling, also known as paper filigree, has been around for centuries. It was used in the Renaissance to decorate scrolls and books. In the 18th century, it became a “ladies” art.

Basic tools currently include a slotted tool, tweezers, glue, and a tapered needle.

I studied the different rolls and scrolls, which include tight circle, loose circle, teardrop, marquise, shaped marquise, square, rolled heart, loose scroll, open heart, V scroll, C scroll, S scroll and variations on the scrolls. It certainly is nice that you can purchase quilling paper already cut into neat, tidy, and even strips!

I decided to make a card with a simple flower design on it. Since I’ve made lots of papercraft cards, it was pretty easy to get into the process. I used teardrops for the flower petals, a loose circle for the center, and shaped marquise leaves. I’m very happy with the result and look forward to the next project!!”

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Homespun Christmas Merit Badge

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 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/Homespun Christmas Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I was determined to give my neighbor something she deserved so I grabbed my ax.

Whoa. Now, now, settle down, gals. I just meant I was planning on cutting down a Christmas tree for old Mrs. Brown down the lane.

Y’all have been reading too many crime novels.

If you’ve never cut down your own Christmas tree, I will write a handy-dandy tutorial for you, okay? Here goes.

  • put homemade hot cocoa in thermos
  • buy a permit from your friendly local U.S. Forest Service (they’re usually between $5 and $10, depending on where you live)
  • grab your saw or ax
  • lace up your boots
  • figure out where you’re going and get there
  • find perfect tree almost instantly, but keep walking around the next bend or up the next mountainside for the next five hours just in case
  • get lost once or twice or seven times
  • wish you hadn’t left your thermos of hot cocoa in your truck
  • wonder where you left your truck
  • chop down World’s Most Perfect Tree
  • start lugging back to invisible truck, singing O Christmas Tree panting all the way
  • tumble down the mountainside once or twice
  • put down tree in order to really buckle down and locate truck
  • locate truck
  • lose tree
  • panic
  • locate tree, greet with kisses
  • load into found truck, or tie to top of car
  • drink hot cocoa
  • drive home, tags attached to trees, waving merrily to everyone you pass

If you’re getting two trees, like Yours Truly, then of course you will need to spend twice as long, get lost twice as often, and—you guessed it—bring two thermoses of hot cocoa. Maybe three. Christmas-tree hunting is extremely aerobic, you know. I hit my burn after the third snow bank (but that might be from the physical exertion of climbing out, I’m not entirely sure).

If you live in a snowy or wet area, you’ll probably need to leave your tree alone for a day or two to dry out a bit. The needles, I mean, not the trunk. The trunk you will want to get promptly into some water. You can plop your evergreen beauty in a good Christmas-tree stand, or a bucket, or a pretty planter. Get creative! Just make sure it’s sturdy for all the lovin’ up on it you’re gonna be doing. And also when you sort of wrap yourself up in strands of twinkly lights and topple into it. But maybe that’s just me.

And you don’t really need a tutorial on how to decorate your tree, right? We all have our own traditions: from the topper to the lights to the skirt to the ornaments. My personal tradition is to attempt not to hurt myself. Vintage lights are super cute, but let’s just say they aren’t to be trusted when it comes to electricity.

Zap.

And getting my angel topper atop my greenery? Well, it’s a good thing I’m nimble (and double-jointed).

But this badge was about acquiring and decorating a tree for Mrs. Brown, so no more digressing. I thought it would be even more fun to do this for her as a surprise. Being neighbors, we actually own keys to one another’s houses. (In case of getting locked out. Not that this ever happens to me. Weekly.) So getting in was going to be easy peasy. I knew she played Bingo every Friday afternoon and would be gone for several hours, so I plotted my scheme accordingly. I felt just like the Grinch returning all the trees and presents to the Whos down in Whoville, but less green and hairy. More pink and sparkly. I found her collection of ornaments that I’m pretty sure she hadn’t seen since 1986, and added a few of my own homemade ones, plus some candy canes and tinsel. Because when it comes to glitter and sparkle and twinkling—well, more is more! Am I right? Of course I am.

If you don’t own a key to your tree recipient’s house, I don’t really advocate breaking and entering, but that’s just me. I’m a law-abiding kind of doll. Now that I think about it, you could totally decorate a night tree in their yard instead. (The squirrels and birds appreciate this kind of holiday spirit especially, so make sure you use edible and nontoxic decorations. Peanut-butter pinecones, homemade bird houses, strings of popcorn, dried fruit, or cranberries … how fun would that be)?

I also decided to do my tree delivery and decorating anonymously. Cause it’s just more fun when there’s a little bit of mystery and magic alive in the holidays, don’t you agree?

I gotta say, being Mrs. Claus for an afternoon was pretty joyful and triumphant!

Grandma Moses

Are you a fan of American folk art?

If so, you may know the artist whose passing we lament on December 13.

Need a hint? Take a look:

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Image courtesy of Wikipaintings

The sweetly simplistic style of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known to all as Grandma Moses, is nearly unmistakable. And her subject matter is as dear to this farmgirl’s heart as that of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

A picture speaks a thousand words, as the saying goes, and Grandma Moses proved it to be true. With the clarity of her almost childlike imagery, she preserved the rural arts of maple sugaring, soap-making, haying, quilting, and Apple Butter Making (below),  to name a few.

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Image courtesy of Wikipaintings

She once said, “I’ll get an inspiration and start painting; then I’ll forget everything, everything except how things used to be and how to paint it so people will know how we used to live.”

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Sugaring Off by Grandma Moses courtesy of Wikipaintings

“In person, Grandma Moses charmed wherever she went,” read her obituary in the New York Times. “A tiny, lively woman with mischievous gray eyes and a quick wit, she could be sharp-tongued with a sycophant and stern with an errant grandchild. Cheerful, as a cricket, even in her last years, she continued to be keenly observant of all that went on around her. Until her last birthday, September 7, she rarely failed to do a little painting every day.”

Talk about an inspiration!

Perhaps what fascinates me most about the iconic Grandma Moses, though, is the fact that she didn’t begin painting until she was 76 years old!

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Photo of Grandma Moses, taken in 1953, courtesy of Wikimedia

She took up a paint brush, she said, because she could no longer wield her embroidery needle as a result of arthritis. “She had been too busy all her life to bear the thought of being idle,” reported the Times.

Grandma Moses died on this day in 1961 at the ripe ol’ age of 101.

To learn more about her and enjoy a bountiful sampling of her paintings, I recommend the out-of-print book Grandma Moses by Otto Kallir, the renowned art dealer who helped popularize Moses’ work. It even includes a summary of her life, handwritten in her own words.

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