Monthly Archives: November 2014




We all love doing our repurposing projects, ranging from the practical …


Photo of an antique dresser reborn as a bathroom sink by Victorgrigas via Wikimedia Commons

to the playfully unpretentious …


Photo of soup cans used as stool legs by Victorgrigas via Wikimedia Commons

to the positively … perfunctory?


Photo of a commode planter by Jean Luc Henryplanter via Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, whatever the (re)purpose, we love ’em!

But you must admit that there’s something stupendously special (and infinitely inspiring) when someone elevates repurposing to the heights of entrepreneurial artistry—someone like Traci Claussen of REpurposingNOLA Piece by Peace.

If you’re wondering who NOLA is, you’re probably not from the South (neither am I). NOLA, I learned, is the shiny new acronym for that legendary city that has risen from the floods of Katrina: New Orleans, Louisiana.

And Traci Claussen has put her fashion sense to repurposing her city “Piece by Peace,” using castaway fabric from urban industries to craft couture items with a conscience. Traci talks about her business in this video interview:

Traci started making bags from burlap coffee sacks and old carpet in 2009.


Photo by Jkafader via Wikimedia Commons

 “She began designing bags for her own travels: an eco-duffel for a trip to the Jurassic Coast of England; a burlap HoBo handbag for running around town; a RE-weekender Bag for trips to the coast,” explains her blog. “She made adjustments to the prototype after each trip, to add or edit options that would make it more useful for the next trip.”

Now, Traci tailors her designs to meet the needs of her travel-savvy customers. She offers a BURLAP line, featuring her original three designs and seasonal favorites, as well as a signature CARPETBAGGER line and a VEGAN line of totes. She also stocks her online store and physical shop at 604 Julia Street with gorgeous, eclectic goodies, including clothing, candles, and cosmetic collections—all locally made and mostly repurposed, of course.

“I design for the wanderlust in my heart,” says Traci, “because people with innate wanderlust share a compassion, a thirst for local people and the planet. That chronic thirst to grow and learn, help others, bring people together, celebrate appreciation for the individual—it inspires communities.”

Hop on over to to pick up a little more inspiration—and maybe even a Christmas gift or two!




Nellie Will-Do Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,102 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,722 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/Nellie Will-Do Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I was excited to kill two birds with one stone, figuratively speaking, naturally. The first bird: earning a new Merit Badge with my crafty, sewing skillz. The second bird: bulking up my fashionista closet.


Eva Rinaldi Photography via Wikimedia Commons

Now those are two things I can get behind. Can I get an Amen?

I’d been hearing a lot about re-fashion. Like up-cycling, and re-cycling, you might say, but this type of doing good for your planet makes US look good, too. Win, win! How can you, too, earn this badge and look at clothing differently? I’m so glad you asked.

  • At garage sales, thrift shops, or whenever you get some hand-me-downs from your friends, look at the pieces with new eyes. Use your imagination. Do you love the color, but the size is wrong? Maybe the fabric is fabulous, but the shorts are too short? Or the dress is great, except for the outdated Peter Pan collar? Perhaps the blouse has a stain on one sleeve? All is not lost, farmgirls! RE-FASHION!
  • Now that your imagination is sparked, get out the ol’ sewing machine. Start small, like a skirt that’s way too long for your petite stature. Hemming is easy-peasy, lemon-squeasy. What if it’s the opposite problem, though? Shorts that are far too short? They can be saved, chickadee. A ruffle of lace at the bottom, and voila! Denim and lace are uber-adorable together (and totally in fashion this year, too). Don’t stop there with your jeans and lace combo—peekaboo lace patches in holey Levis are the bee’s knees.
  • Once you’ve started to get the hang of it, try something a bit more difficult. Say, a huge dress that was in style 20 years ago (no judgments!). Start by taking it in. Maybe remove the sleeves altogether. Add a chunky belt. Saweet!

Photo by Ricardo peralta solis via Wikimedia Commons

  • Know what you can do with a cable-knit sweater that doesn’t fit? The arms become leg warmers (so cute poking out the top of boots) and the torso part becomes a matching skirt. Didn’t see that one comin’, did ya?
  • A man’s button-up shirt is a timeless lady’s dress. Take in slightly, or simply belt: this one doesn’t even really need sewing!
  • Baggy pajama pants with a favorite pattern can be taken in and tightened to be your very own patterned skinny pants—so in vogue.
  • Boring T-shirts can be jazzed up with a big bow in the back, lace down the sides, or re-fashioned into a halter tank. You can even stencil your favorite quote and have a one-of-a-kind “statement T.”
  • Adding elbow patches in a heart or moon shape is a charming way to add style to a plain, long-sleeve shirt or jacket.
  • Women’s cardigans can easily be transformed into a little girl’s sweater dress, and small ladies’ blouses can be reworked into toddler dresses.

Who knew, am I right? The possibilities are fantastic, and so is the fashion!




Today’s Recipe: Gluten-free Budget Mix Pizza Crust


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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 … Kristie Bulla!!!

Kristie Bulla (#3679) has received a certificate of achievement in Each Other for earning a Beginner Level Farmgirl Gratitude Merit Badge!

“My mom had sent me a seriously blinged-out blank journal with my initial on it. This thing was so silly and shiny and sparkly, it made me giggle. I didn’t know what I would do with it until I read through some of the merit badges and saw the part about keeping a gratitude journal for the Farmgirl Gratitude badge. How perfect!! I was not in a position to purchase The Book of Awesome, but I did read a lot of entries from the Amazon site, and I read from when I ran out of things to read from my first source.

On the day I started working on this badge, our oldest dog, Dakota (our practice kid right after we got married), passed away. Although heartbreaking, I was able to find a gift in that he went peacefully in his sleep with no suffering. Just last week, my purse was stolen while shopping with the kids, and I was yet again able to find the gifts and lessons in that less-than-positive experience. I think actively focusing on gratitude really helped me through both scenarios and then some.”

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Happy Thanksgiving

I know you love a good story as much as I do.

But a good old-fashioned story?

All the better.


Anonymous artist in the style of Petrus van Schendel (1806-1870) via Wikimedia Commons

The yarn I want to share with you on this lovely Thanksgiving is a rare gem—after all, it’s a rarity to find a tale that is rich in the atmosphere and traditions of this cherished holiday. But, one glimpse at the author and you’ll know just what I mean …


Photo of Louisa May Alcott via Wikimedia Commons

Recognize her?

That’s right—Louis May Alcott (how thankful we are for her!) wrote a wonderful little account of the fictional Bassett family’s Thanksgiving in 19th century New Hampshire, aptly named, An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving.


Picture this …

“Thanksgiving morning is here, and the Bassett family’s cozy kitchen is filled with the hustle and bustle of the holiday. But this year something is different: Tilly, Prue, and their brothers and sisters have been left in charge of everything from the roasted turkey to the apple slump. They tie on their aprons and step into the kitchen, but are they really up for the challenge of cooking a Thanksgiving feast?” (Excerpted from the back cover of the children’s book adaptation beautifully illustrated by James Bernardin.)

Why are the children left to cook for themselves?

It’s a bit of a mix-up, really, but I don’t want to spoil the story for you. Suffice it to say, a neighbor brings word that Grandma Bassett isn’t feeling well, so Ma and Pa must rush off to her aid by horse-drawn sleigh, leaving the children to prepare for Thanksgiving on their own.

Mustering their best intentions, the children embark on a series of humorous mishaps—for instance, forgetting the sugar in the plum pudding and spicing the stuffing with wormwood and catnip. As if the story of seven children scrambling to prepare the feast isn’t entertaining enough, you are sure to swoon with nostalgia as you read Ms. Alcott’s romantic literary rendering of the simpler times we all long for today …

“The girls, after a short rest, set the table and made all ready to dish up the dinner when that exciting moment came. It was not at all the sort of table we see now, but would look very plain and countrified to us, with its green-handled knives, and two-pronged steel forks, its red-and-white china, and pewter platters, scoured until they shone, with mugs and spoons to match, and a brown jug for the cider. The cloth was coarse, but white as snow, and the little maids had seen the blue-eyed flax grow, out of which their mother wove the linen; they had watched and watched while it bleached in the green meadow. They had no napkins and little silver; but the best tankard and Ma’s few wedding spoons were set forth in state. Nuts and apples at the corners gave an air, and the place of honor was left in the middle for the oranges yet to come.”

Oranges, gladful guests, and a delightful meal all manifest before the happy ending of the story (if that’s a spoiler, I do apologize).

Tilly and Prue even manage to produce a perfect apple cobbler dessert, using the very recipe that is included at the end of the story: Louisa May Alcott’s Apple Slump.


Photo by Ralph Daily via Wikimedia Commons

You want the recipe, won’t you? Well, just visit the Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House website, where you can write down the recipe or order your own keepsake calligraphy copy for $2.50.

Now, let me send you off to read the story for yourself. There are several ways to enjoy An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving and make it a new annual tradition:

• Read the full story online (for free) at
• Listen to the entire story (also for free) at
• Order a copy of one of the illustrated children’s book adaptations from

Oh, and, I also found a film based on the story (haven’t seen it yet). Take a peek at the trailer:

And, with that, I wish you a Thanksgiving full of joy, laughter, and delicious food shared with those you love.


Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy