Monthly Archives: October 2014

Halloween Across the U.S.

Looking for some frightening fun this Halloween? About.com has published a list of things to see this spooky season. From theme parks to The Big Apple, you’ll find events like Guavaween, a Latin-themed Halloween celebration in Ybor City, Florida; creepy corn mazes; horrifying haunted houses; and more.

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The Pumpkin King outside of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, by Imperpay via Wikimedia Commons

Or check out The Travel Channel’s “Best Halloween Attractions 2014.” Not for the faint-of heart, these attractions have been chosen by Ghost Adventures lead investigator Zak Bagans and paranormal expert Jeff Belanger, and will give you shivers to last a lifetime … if you survive the thrills and chills.

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Scrapbooking Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,065 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,688 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/Scrapbooking Expert Level Merit Badge, I was on a roll, still basking in the warm glow of earning my Intermediate Level Badge. I tend to be a bit on the obsessive side when it comes to hobbies. They’re kinda like cookies: I collect one flavor and binge eat them until I get a little bored, then I move on. So lately it’s been my scrapbooking hobby obsession, and I’m all about something super nifty I wanted to share with you Chiclets:

Potato Stamps!

Why yes siree, girls. How much more farmgirl can it get: combining good ol’ salt o’ the earth spuds with a little creative artwork? I know, right?

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So here’s what you do to really up the ante and customize your Expert Level scrapbook …

Homemade ‘Tater Stamps

Supplies needed: potatoes (regular or sweet will do just fine), an Exacto knife, your imagination (don’t leave home without it. Wait. You are home. Just have it with you at all times, ok?)

Slice your potato in half. You want a nice smooth surface, so this is not the time to use your dullest knife (save that for spreading frosting or something). Decide what kind(s) of shapes and designs you want your stamp to be. If you’re feeling a bit nervous, just go through your cookie-cutter drawer and use one of those. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can Google silhouette shapes and stencils, print one out, and trace it on your spud. If you’re feeling super devil-may-care-throw-caution-to-the-wind-we-only-live-once-take-the-bull-by-the-horns, then freestyle your own design right atop your potato. You little rebel, you.

Cut out your masterpiece with your Exacto knife.

Dip into the paint of your choice, or color with watercolor markers or Sharpies. Press onto your scrapbooking pages in a highly sophisticated and organized pattern. (Or just go willy-nilly nuts like I did. I enjoy a good crazy-quilt effect, so sue me.)

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Photo by Jimmie via Flickr

That’s it. You now have a truly one-of-a-kind stamp that can also be used to do other things (though I can’t guarantee you it will earn you a merit badge):

Stamp with fabric paint onto tablecloths, lightweight baby blankets, cloth napkins or placemats, hand towels, personalized gift wrap or gift tags, stationary …

I’m a mad stamper.

Somebody stop me.

Is there a 12-step program for stamp addicts?

My name is Jane and I am a stampaholic. Oh well. As they say, pot-AY-to, po-TOT-o.

P.S. Another benefit to using potato stamps as opposed to buying all those expensive, factory-made ones: you can toss ’em (or eat ’em, ha! note to self: use organic paints) when you’re finished. No fuss, no storing, no cost, no dusty collection that you’re embarrassed to find when you’re rummaging through drawers looking for cookie cutters … win, win!

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Tulip Time

Even though your garden may look a little bedraggled this time of year, it’s time to think tulips … planting them, that is. Now’s the perfect time to sow these little beauties for a beautiful border of springtime color.

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Photo by John O’Neill via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll want to get your tulips in soon before you experience a heavy frost; optimum time is 4-6 weeks before the ground is frozen. You can find step-by-step sowing instructions on the National Gardening Association website.

But did you know that tulips were at one time as good as gold? Even though more tulips are now said to be grown in the U.S. (than in all of Holland), just 300 miles from my farm, in the Skagit Valley area of Washington State …

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Photo by Alistair Wressnigg, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival photo contest honorable mention

at one time, they were so rare, they resulted in the first-ever economic bubble (when asset prices widely deviate from intrinsic values) throughout Europe. This speculative madness even had a name, Tulip Mania, that is still used metaphorically today to refer to any large economic bubble. Tulip Mania occurred in 1637, at the height of the popularity of this relatively new and extraordinary flower.

Tulips were introduced to Europe nearly a hundred years earlier from the Ottoman Empire, but it wasn’t until 1593 that a Flemish botanist experimented with plantings and found the tulips to be hardy and tolerant of the harsh growing conditions of northern Europe. By 1636, tulips were the fourth leading export of the Netherlands (after gin, herring, and cheese).

Their brightly colored petals were rare in flowers of the time, and because of a virus that made unusual stripes and color variations in the flowers, they were considered rare status symbols, gracing the grounds of manors and estates across the continent.

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Photo by Taxiarchos228 via Wikimedia Commons

Trade and futures speculation reached a peak in 1637, when a single tulip bulb could sell for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman!

Fortunately, tulips are now a common garden bulb, but they retain their uncommon beauty and the ability to transform your spring garden into a riot of colors. Plant some this fall and enjoy the bounty next spring. And for a real treat, plan a trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, where you’ll join hundreds of thousands of people in western Washington from April 1-30 and get to view millions of tulips in full bloom, as well as visit demonstration gardens where you can buy rare bulbs at a cost nearly anyone can afford.

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poster, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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Today’s Recipe: Pumpkin Refrigerator Pickles

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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 Stitching & Crafting for earning an Expert Level Knitting Merit Badge!

“While in Lincoln, NE, for a business conference, my friend and I stopped in to the local yarn store and found an adorable shawl pattern that we both had to make. We purchased two skeins of Crazy yarn and got to work right away in our hotel room. It took me about a month, but I finished it.

I think it went well. The pattern was by far the most challenging one I have tried, but I enjoyed knitting a little each night and watching it grow. I got to use circular needles for the first time and found I really loved them. The edge called for an I-cord bind off, which was completely new to me. YouTube videos are so helpful in these situations! I found several videos to help me through and it turned out very nice.

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I taught four ladies how to knit at our last Faithful Farm Girl meeting. Each of the ladies brought size 7 knitting needles and some practice yarn and I taught them how to tie a slip knot, do a long tail cast on, how to knit and how to purl. I also provided them with two patterns for knitting dishcloths and they are off and running … or is that knitting.

The fifth person I taught to knit is actually my friend and knitting teacher. I actually got to teach her two techniques I had learned that she didn’t know. How cool is that! I taught her the long tail cast on method and also a new way to add a new color or skein in the middle of your project. She now uses both new techniques and loves them!”

Learning to knit

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ghostly sightings

Have you seen these spooktacular specters billowing around the Internet?

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Photo courtesy of Shadow Manor

 

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Photo courtesy of Wacky Archives

Oh, the chills, the thrills!

I love the “Wandering Woman” crafted by blogger Lori Nelson of Shabulous Creations:

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Photo by Lori Nelson via Shabulous Creations

Crafted of good ol’ chicken wire (poultry netting), these ghostly figures and free-floating dresses are perfect decorations for frightening farmgirl fun on Halloween. Just imagine hopping on a hayride or wandering through a pumpkin patch at dusk …

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Photo by Visitor7 via Wikimedia Commons

When suddenly you spy strange, ethereal figures drifting through a darkening field …

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Plowing at Dusk by Leon Bonvin, 1865, via Wikimedia Commons

Gives you the shivers, doesn’t it?

Whether you have enough acreage to host a hayride or are nestled on a tiny townstead frequented by trick-or-treaters, your visitors would be delighted to find fabulous femmes fatales twining though the twilit shadows on Halloween night. And, you have just enough time to rig up a few ghostly gals using the basic technique in this tutorial from P. Allen Smith (leave out the rebar and pumpkin heads for a simpler project):