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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 … Bea Campbell!!!

Bea Campbell (#2575) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning an Intermediate Level Herbs Merit Badge!

“This summer, my husband made a raised bed for me to start a herb garden. I have been doing some research and reading books on the subject. I didn’t want to use railroad ties or treated wood. And rough oak would need to be replaced eventually. So we used cedar. I got some lemon sage, dill, oregano, rosemary, and cilantro cuttings from a friend. I have used the cilantro for salsa and the oregano to season pasta sauce.

kiki aug herb garden 009

My herb garden is doing well. I got some mismatched forks at the Goodwill store and used wide-mouth canning lids to make markers for my herbs. It’s so nice to go out and cut fresh herbs for cooking.”



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 … April Choate!!!

April Choate (sonshine4u, #658) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning an Expert Level The Secret Life of Bees Merit Badge!

“My husband declared, when we moved to our property, “I want to have bees!” I was shocked, being that he was a city boy. Seemed adventurous and crazy. I was totally on board, though, because I knew the benefits! He took the short course at the University of MN in the fall of 2011, and we got our first hives in 2012. During the winter, the kids and I helped him put together the hives and paint them. We watched him read all these bee books like his life depended on it. I was so thankful that he wanted to do this project!

We got our bees and watched them build up combs and create their “city.” I helped hold frames while he checked on the queen and looked for brood. I cheered him on when the queen from one of the hives decided to disappear. That hive had to be re-queened … twice. But then the fun began in 2013, when we got to harvest the honey. Our first time harvesting was scary, but not as scary because we had helped our good friend, Joe, with his harvest the previous year. But being newbies, it was still a little daunting.


My friend Jan kept telling me that it was a really sticky mess and to be prepared to stick to the floor by the time you’re done! But the reward is so worth it. When that first comb was uncapped and just oozed honey goodness, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! When we had spun the first few frames and our 5-gallon bucket was filling up … I was more than ecstatic! It was pure gold! Watching it filter was something that I didn’t expect to be fascinating, but every part of the process was. When we were finished with all the supers, we had 7 1/2 gallons of honey! Not bad for our first harvest! I was thrilled!

Each time we had someone over, we would show them how it was all done, or if they were really lucky, they would be there to help with the fun. I had a farmgirl meeting all about bees and my hubby shared all his vast bee knowledge with the ladies. He brought out a frame that they could see and explained all about it. We played some bee trivia games, made lip balm with beeswax, and watched the movie, Vanishing of the Bees. While I’m not the head beekeeper, I do enjoy helping him out, and after reading all those great books about bees for the first two levels … I’m ready to beeeeee a beekeeper for real with my hubby. Giving honey as Christmas gifts was so fulfilling this year. The look on people’s faces was priceless!

I’m totally inspired to become more involved with the process. I thought I would be scared taking care of bees, but now I’m totally calm around them and love hearing them in my garden doing their job. Holding a frame in my hands with all those wiggling bodies doing their jobs is just fascinating! I love putting on the suit and helping out now. The only time I don’t enjoy it is when it’s super hot and then the sweat just pours down! LOL! This past winter, we lost both of our hives from the extreme cold. It was a really sad discovery. We had to purchase new bees this spring. It was really expensive. I’m hoping and praying that this winter will be more favorable. We also are looking for more ways to plant more flowers in the fields that surround our hives so the bees can continue to enjoy a toxic-free flower zone. I really am loving this bee experience. The honey is so good and I appreciate the bees so much more!”

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 … Valdeane Odachi!!!

Valdeane Odachi (#4860) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level Recycling Merit Badge!

“In our home, I have established several receptacles to make recycling easy. I have three stacking bins to separate HI-5 glass, plastic, and aluminum cans. I have a special newspaper bin for the daily paper (we often use these to build fires, though) and a separate trash can (next to our kitchen trash can) that we use for miscellaneous recyclables that we can take to our transfer station for recycling. I also have an old one-gallon bottle that we use to store old batteries. We also have a small cardboard box lined with a plastic bag to hold the ink cartridges that I take to Office Max for recycling.

At our local rubbish transfer station, we can recycle the following: glass and “mixed bin” recycling where the following are accepted: newspaper, copy paper, corrugated cardboard, plastic shopping bags, aluminum, tin, non-HI-5 glass, boxboard and plastics numbered 1, 2 and 5. (I didn’t know about every single thing until I had to earn/apply for this badge!) I wasn’t aware of the shopping bag recycling!

HI-5 (5-cent redemption) glass and plastic can be redeemed at approved stations. Most of these are located approximately 20 miles from us.

Vehicle oil can be recycled approximately 20 miles from us at the Toyota dealership. (I didn’t know this either!)

Cooking oil can be disposed of (no more than 1 gallon) with regular household trash if disposed of fully absorbed by newspaper or other material. If more than that, several companies offer disposal locally. (I will be inquiring via phone of their services, though I looked up the info online.)

Our family has been recycling for a while now, but this activity made me more aware of the areas that I need improvement in and what areas are working well. Also, this badge helped me learn about more resources available in my area!

Redeeming the 5-cent refund for cans and bottles always poses a problem, as it takes so long to build up an adequate amount to redeem. We would hate to take trips just to redeem a few cans! But keeping the cans and bottles around creates such a mess.

Batteries face a similar problem, but they take up much less real estate in the house since it’s just one gallon bottle. At least we have a designated spot that everyone in the family knows about and uses.

Overall, I believe we’ve made (and continue to make) strides toward recycling. I actually hope to decrease the amount of plastic waste we BRING IN to our home… that will mean less to take out!”

Home Insulation Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,011 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,586 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 Cleaning Up/Home Insulation Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I had to wait for a windy day.


photo by Tcie via Wikimedia Commons

That was no problem; seeing as how I had already earned my merit badge for weather, I knew precisely which day would be best and I was ready. Prepared. Armed to the teeth. Well, not armed exactly, but I had a lovely apple-pie-scented incense stick and a match—not to mention a caulking gun—and that’s sorta like being armed.

I mean, I could do some damage if I needed to with those three things.

What? Being prepared for a zombie apocalypse is just good planning on my part, okay?

But back to the badge. Stop distracting me.



photo by Tamiasciurus douglasii 000 via Wikimedia Commons

Now, the reason we need a lit incense stick is because we need to determine where the drafty parts of your house are. Ahh! Now you’re with me, huh? And you thought I had totally cracked for a minute there, didn’t you? Have a little faith, my farmgirls, I know exactly what to do. And by exactly, I of course mean, vaguely.

I like to be adventurous, and also I like to pretend I’m Nancy Drew on a semi-regular basis, so I waited for nightfall. Midnight, to be exact. And I may or may not have put on my detective hat and trench coat, but you can leave that part out if you aren’t as committed as I am.

The ambiance of my house at midnight with nothing but a lit apple-pie incense stick to light my way and the wind whipping it up outside was spooky to say the least. I stepped on a cat and nearly died.

Darn cats.

I paid attention (or tried to; I was a tad distracted by branches tapping against my window and the shadows on my walls) to the way the flame flickered. It really got to dancing at one point, and no small wonder: the window in question was being held shut by a hair scrunchi and the “M” volume from my Encyclopedia Britannica.

Okay, okay. If your windows are held tight by duct tape, plastic sheeting, or a hair scrunchi, you can probably forgo the incense method and just … you know … assume they need fixing. But if your doors and windows look pretty tight, don’t be fooled. Just cuz their appearance is groovy, doesn’t mean they’re energy-efficient.

Or zombie-apocalypse-efficient, either.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

Or two zombies.

Anyway, once you’ve done what I’ve done and located all your drafty areas, it’s time to draw, aim, and shoot! No, not the zombies; the caulking gun is for the leaks. (Although if you have any left over, go ahead and save it for the undead.)


photo by Achim Hering via Wikimedia Commons

Some areas just needed weather stripping, like around my cat door. I saved that part for the next day. I needed some sleep after my long night of detective work; I was exhausted. Nancy Drew never worked so hard.

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 … Emily Race!!!

Emily Race (Simply Satisfied, #3591) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Putting Away for Winter Merit Badge!

“We try not to freeze veggies and fruit, since most of our meat comes during the fall during hunting season. We did freeze zucchini (shredded), carrots, and squash this winter. We also froze some blanched green beans when the season was late and I didn’t have enough to bother with a batch for canning. We also froze strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and currants this winter. I shared my ideas on the chat forum and gave a fellow farmgirl a new way to store zucchini.

The carrots, squash, and zucchini taste great after freezing. The beans seem similar to canning, but take longer to cook when we are ready to eat them. The berries all tasted great this spring. I just made the raspberries into jam with huckleberries to get them out of the freezer to make room for new produce and meat this year.”

Recycling Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,965 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,526 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 Cleaning Up/Recycling Expert Level Merit Badge, I really honed in on a new-found passion: recycling.

Yes, that sadly neglected “R” (nearly as neglected as the “rythmatic” in the other 3 Rs we know so well) was becoming a focal point in Yours Truly’s life at last, and I was ready to earn my last badge for it.

It was a long haul, I’m here to tell you. When I first started recycling, it was with half a heart. A lack of passion. A milk carton here, a piece of cardboard there … basically (*blushes madly*), I only recycled when I ran out of room in my regular trash can.

But I have repented of my wayward ways, ladies! Wayward ways? Isn’t that redundant? Aren’t all ways wayward? Well, I know mine tend to be. Anyway, back to what I was saying. Recycling. Girls, it’s more fun than it looks.

Also, it can be a little addicting. I don’t know why—call me crazy—but it’s kind of like a treasure hunt in reverse. I hunt for things that can live another life. I think it makes me a conservationist, don’t you? Or at the very least, a super-nifty person.


My recycling bins were still sittin’ pretty in my kitchen, and I was getting so good at knowing what can and can’t be recycled that my recycling picker-upper wasn’t leaving me helpful (and annoyed) notes anymore. I was tossing things in with a feverish dedication that made my trash nearly empty (after composting and recycling, it’s ahMAYzing how little trash you have … we’re talking a straw here, a orange-juice cap there). It was time for Part B of Jane’s Plan for World Recycling:

Recruiting a friend.

Neighbors are best for this, because after all, you see their garbage. I mean, it’s sitting right next to mine every Tuesday morning on the curb, am I right? Except for the Tuesdays I forget, and I run down the street in my pajamas … but you get the drift. Anyway, my neighbor (we’ll call her Sally*) was not exactly the world’s most devoted recycler. No, her big red bin the city provided was mostly used to hang up her line-dry-only clothing, and as shade for her cats. But her big black bin? The regular trash one? It was heaped high each week and practically moaning under the weight of all that garbage. I pulled on my gloves, figuratively and literally (hey, it IS trash, after all) and got myself over to Sally’s house.

Evidently, first thing in the extremely wee hours of a Tuesday was not the best time to announce my presence and my desire to sort through refuse with Sally, but after she drank a cup of coffee and glared at me for a while, she came around to the idea. Also, I promised donuts. I like to think that it was her passion, her commitment, her zeal for the Earth, though, that really won out.

(It may have been the custard-filled maple bar).

Today, my street … tomorrow, the world!

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty innocent.


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 … Joanna Green!!!

Joanna Green (Joanna, #5965) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Weather Merit Badge!

“When researching for this badge, I tried to steer away from the easy, sometimes unreliable, method of Googling for answers and use a book that has been handed down to me from my father and his father before him. It’s called Outdoor Canada and was published by Reader’s Digest in 1977. However, I did break down and acquire a few facts from

Here’s what I came up with:

• All weather occurs inside the atmosphere, which is 13 miles thick from the equator and 5 miles at the poles. I was actually amazed at how thin the atmosphere actually was. As the Earth revolves around the sun, the sun warms the ground. This heat radiates off the ground and warms the air within the atmosphere. The sun also evaporates water from the lakes, rivers, and various other water sources. The water vapours are drawn up into the air and eventually form the clouds. Later, this will fall as some sort of precipitation—rain, sleet, snow, etc.

• Atmospheric pressure is what the air actually weighs. The weight of the air varies at different points on the Earth simply because cold air is heavier than hot air. This creates high and low pressure areas. In a high-pressure area, the air is gradually sinking. As it sinks, the sun reflecting off the Earth warms this air and makes it able to retain moisture. This warm air evaporates the clouds that cross its path and the skies become clear. In a low-pressure system, the air is gradually rising. As it rises, it expands and cools making it difficult to retain moisture. Lows often form between the highs causing storms.

• A barometer measures the atmospheric pressure or the weight of the air. When the barometric pressure decreases, it predicts a storm, whereas rising barometric pressure predicts good weather.

• Wind is caused when air flows from a high pressure point to a low pressure point. High pressure winds circulate in clockwise fashion and low pressure winds circulate counter clockwise. The closer the high and low pressure areas are together the stronger the wind will be when the air flows from the high to the low. The friction from the Earth typically slows down the wind the closer it gets to the Earth. Wind is typically a good thing since it transports excess heat away from the surface of the Earth to cooler regions. In some cases, as we all know, wind can cause great havoc. Hurricanes and tornadoes are the worst-case scenarios of uncontrollable winds. The winds of a hurricane are usually greater than 70 miles an hour and the diameter of this swirling air mass is 400 miles or more. A hurricane starts in the hot, moist air near the equator and as the Earth rotates, it draws more moisture into the growing storm, which eventually falls as torrential rain. The eye of the hurricane (a calm area) acts as the axle of a wheel for the storm as the wind propels this “wheel” north. The friction of the land slows the hurricane, but damage can still be caused by its trailing winds. A tornado usually occurs during a thunderstorm when the air is unusually warm in the lower atmosphere and cooler in the upper atmosphere. A tornado is a column of low pressure air that is about 200 yards in diameter and rotates at 300 miles an hour.

• Air masses are large areas where temperature and moisture are much the same throughout. The temperature and moisture levels of these masses take on the characteristics of the Earth’s surface below them. When these areas meet, they form fronts. Some of these air masses are composed of cold, heavy air and others are composed of warm, light air. When the cold air masses displace the warm air of another air mass, it creates a cold front. When the opposite occurs, it causes a warm front. In either situation, the weather usually becomes troubled and stormy.”