All in a day’s …

… work. Guess what I was doing yesterday morning at 4 am?

Wake up sleepy head Rose Etta.

Rosetta1 Today is your debut. Welcome to planet earth!

rosetta2 My milk cow Maizy was due Feb. 26, so starting a week ago, I began checking in on her night and day every 3-4 hours. Rose Etta weighed in at 56 pounds and there were no complications during delivery—always a relief. Every thing about her is udderly perfect and momma Maizy always does such a good job delivering her babies. I was sooooo hoping for a girl!

rosetta3 I spent the morning with both of them, cleaning and washing up after the birth and getting Maizy milked for the first time in a couple of months. Once all my dairy chores were done, I headed to our design studio to finalize my next fabric collection, work on our MaryJanesFarm Sister Issue, finalize the front cover of our next magazine, work with Gabe on our new website and Facebook page, and mess around with some burlap décor ideas for the next issue of my magazine.

fabric Oh, and also work with Brian on a new mud room we’re finishing. The idea with our mud room is to convert our farm facility into a boot-free zone. And because we all have such awesome footwear, it seemed only fitting that our daily line-up of boots show up in a properly decked out zone. Our two bootjacks are gonna get a workout. I know I’ll be taking my boots on and off several times a day but you know what? Mopping up all the manure we track across our floors is far more work.


As Real As It Gets

It has long been said that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

But in this modernized age, it feels more as if beauty is in the eye of the media, and the rest of us are scrambling to live up to strangely synthetic ideals. As a grandmother to several growing girls, this issue strikes a chord.

From movies and magazines to apps, ads, and even toys,


Photo by Anoni245 via Wikimedia Commons


“beauty” has begun to acquire a positively unnatural gleam that reminds me of polished chrome.

It may be glossy, but it leaves me feeling a bit blinded.

When, I wonder, did our notions of attractiveness become so sterilized?

When did we forget that “flaws” like freckles and frizz are where fabulous flourishes?


Photo by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons

If you missed the viral online video showing a perfectly lovely woman’s artificial transformation into a plasticized photo model, you may be shocked at how the images we see in the media are contorted in ways we wouldn’t even imagine. Let’s just say that leg lengthening and eye expansions are par for the course.

Befuddling, isn’t it?

Suddenly, thanks to computer software programs, models are not only impossibly thin, they are just plain impossible.

In light of such surreal standards of appearance, it’s no surprise that today’s women (and their developing daughters) are losing perspective on what it means to be a living, breathing, beautiful being.

And that is what makes me love a new video produced by Dove. While I may not love every ingredient that goes into their products, the company’s Campaign for Real Beauty has its heart in the right place, and its latest effort is something special.

Here, we find moms and daughters who are taking the media into their own hands and reclaiming their place as beauty’s beholders.

You’ll want to watch this:

The Key to Radiating Health

While thumbing through my collection of vintage magazines, I nearly fell off my stool when I spied this ad in an August 1929 issue of Hearth and Home.


The curative powers of radium??!! Isn’t that radioactive? Poisonous? I checked my dictionary to make sure … yep, “a highly radioactive metallic element whose decay yields radon gas and alpha rays.” But it looks like, in 1929, folks weren’t worried about a bit of radioactivity. Hey, it was apparently the cure for whatever ailed you with its “wonderful curative powers.” Ah, self-health radiation treatment. Here’s an excerpt from the text:

“The wonderful curative power of Radium has been known for years. However, the benefits of this precious, health-giving substance have in the past been only within the means of persons of wealth. Since the invention of Degnen’s Radio-Active Solar Pad, any man or woman, poor or rich, can afford this treatment which offers so much relief from suffering and disease.

Degnen’s Radio-Active Solar Pad is worn next to the body day and night. It pours a constant stream of radio-active energy into the system while you work, play or sleep, helping to build up weakened nerves and tissues to a strong, healthy condition. It creates a vigorous circulation of blood, thus removing congestion, which is the real cause of most diseases.”

The ad goes on to say that they’ll send you the “appliance” for free with the understanding that they won’t charge a cent is it “fails to give satisfactory results.” The “appliance” was apparently a belt with “several coats” of “actual radium.” The effects? I can only guess. “Thousands Have Proven the Marvelous Effects Without Risking a Penny {only their health}.”


2 cents seed fund

As wild as the winter has been across much of the country, you may still feel like you’re in deep-freeze mode, but small beacons of hope are beginning to sprout in mailboxes hither and yon …


That’s right—seed catalogs are arriving again, as faithful as Spring herself.

Who doesn’t fancy these powerful portents of the season to come (if in doubt, read my romantic ramblings on the subject). The glowing cover of a good catalog is something a soil-starved farmgirl can hang her hope on!


Feeling a little warmer already, aren’t you?

Alrighty then, let’s not waste another minute …

If you’re toying with the idea of planting an organic plot this year but are wincing at the thought of seed prices, consider applying NOW for assistance from the new Seed Fund Program sponsored by the Rodale Institute and Amy’s Kitchen.

Time is short, so don’t wait for the snow to melt!

What is it?

The Seed Fund partnership is an expansion of Rodale’s Your 2 Cents program, which unites producers, consumers, researchers, and educators to launch the next generation of organic farmers. The goal of the fund is to help new and transitioning organic farmers buy the certified organic seed they need for the 2014 growing season.

Who qualifies?

First-time and transitioning organic farmers.

How do I apply?

Get the details here.

When is the application deadline?

March 1, 2014.

Make Do and Mend

Do the words

clothes rationing

send a shudder down your spine?

Before you run off to lock your closet, let me assure you that this World War II practice is not being reinstated.

Well, not yet, anyway.

But you might find (once the initial shock of the notion has faded) that you are pondering its practicality.

Hmmm …


Image courtesy of the Board of Trade, artist Donia Nachshen, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office via Wikimedia Commons

Clothes rationing was in fashion (euphemistically speaking) in the U.K. from 1941 to 1949, when manufactured commodities were limited. At first, each adult in the country received an annual allotment of 60 coupons, but as time went on, the number was reduced to 48. Kids were given an extra 10 coupons each to account for growth.


Image courtesy of Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer via Wikimedia Commons

According to the sustainable fashion hub Ecouterre, “You had to be judicious in your selections; a petticoat or slip ‘cost’ three coupons, a woolen dress eleven, and a men’s overcoat an extravagant thirteen. Even a pair of socks required at least one coupon.”

The kicker was that a coupon didn’t actually pay for anything—it simply represented permission to purchase a certain quantity with one’s own limited finances.


Image courtesy of the British government via Wikimedia Commons

Necessity, which we credit as the Mother of Invention, spurred a national movement of Make Do and Mend, of which my grandmother pitched in full bore. Men’s suits became children’s coats (I was the recipient of one of them) and worn trousers became vests. You see, my grandmother was of the era in which she showed up for work every day (after her children were raised) in a fancy hat and white gloves (required for her job) as a creator of sewing patterns in Denver, Colorado.


Image courtesy of Board of Trade, H Manly and Son Ltd, London N22, and Her Majesty’s Stationery Office via Wikimedia Commons

To advocate the idea of a “substitution and conversion” economy, the Ministry of Supply produced the following video clip that extolled the virtues of upcycling items—a patchwork dressing gown fashioned from fabric scraps and a shift sewn from old trousers.

“For the ladies, you may be reassured that all garments made in ‘make do and mend’ are entirely exclusive,” the narrator quips. “To the men, lock up your favorite old clothes before you leave home in the morning!”

So, you see, there is a grain of genuine sensibility here. After all, many of us live the “make do and mend” mantra as it is.

Would rationing be so ludicrous?

“The political situation may be less dire today, but scarcity, coupled with unfettered consumption, continues to be a problem,” asserts Ecouterre. “Inhumane demands, lax workplace standards, and routine abuse are the result of too much expendable income and too little social or moral accountability to rein in our impulses. Shopping has become something we do out of habit, boredom, or because we get a buzz from acquisition.”

I get waaaaay more revved about repurposing, how about you? And my favorite way to repurpose the wool from a man’s suit is to make a crazy quilt, held together using a variety of different embroidery stitches. Love the look! I did turn an old green wool army jacket into a purse once. But nothing I’ve done compares to the volume of re-use projects my grandmother and mother accomplished.

Introvert Video

This one’s for the club.

What club?

I’m hailing that group of quietly connected, loosely knit, and elegantly empowered introverts who clamored

(in their own understated way)

about my post last year titled “A wise woman once said … nothing.”

I was surprised and delighted by the response—how incredibly affirming!

So many of us, it seems, feel that our personality characteristics (like the deep need for alone time) are peculiar quirks, unique and, well … rather odd.

Not so.

Not so at all.

Hence my use of the term “club” (no commitment required).

If you piped up about that post, or just silently listened in, I think you will appreciate this video created by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce) to illustrate points made by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.






Chalkboard Obsessed!

This project has been on the back burner for months. We finally tackled it over the holiday break, and boy, do I feel more organized with such a simple upgrade.


One pint of chalkboard paint later, we have the perfect spot for grocery lists and random art. Now I’m thinking I ought to paint all my cupboards?? Maybe?? Too much?? Yes!?!

For every season, there is …

Chocolate. I promise.

Cross my heart.

I am NOT deliberately trying to derail your New Year’s resolutions.


It’s just that I think you should know …

There are chocolate holidays on the horizon.

Sure, there’s Valentine’s Day.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


And Mother’s Day follows shortly thereafter.

But sometimes, a woman needs more excuses to succumb to her urges—no, let’s call them “instincts.”

Your intuition knows when you need a nibble.

And quite frankly, a couple of heart-shaped-box holidays are not enough.


Photo by John Hritz via Wikimedia Commons

After all, there is new science cropping up all the time, telling us how fabulous chocolate can be for body and spirit.

So get out your calendars and mark down these days (they appear throughout the year!) as reasons to celebrate chocolate with abandon.

February 1: National Dark Chocolate Day

February 5: National Chocolate Fondue Day

February 19: National Chocolate Mint Day

February 25: National Chocolate-covered Nuts Day


Photo by David Leggett via Wikimedia Commons


March 19: National Chocolate Caramel Day

March 24: National Chocolate-covered Raisins Day

April 21: National Chocolate-covered Cashews Day

May 15: National Chocolate Chip Day


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


June 7: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 26: National Chocolate Pudding Day

July 28: National Milk Chocolate Day

August 10: National S’mores Day

September 12: National Chocolate Milkshake Day


Photo by Peter M. via Wikimedia Commons


September 13:  International Chocolate Day

September 22: National White Chocolate Day

October 28: National Chocolate Day

November 7: National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

December 16: National Chocolate-covered Anything Day


Photo by Bryan Ochalla via Wikimedia Commons


December 28: National Chocolate Day

If you have any deep, dark secrets about how to best commemorate any of these delicious days, do tell.