Merit Badge: Sew Wonderful, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,346 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,010 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/Sew Wonderful Beginner Level Merit Badge, I took advantage of the fact that I had been a human pincushion one too many times this month.


I know, you’re not following. Perhaps that’s because you’ve never spilled an entire collection of straight pins into your entire collection of fabric?

Well, count yourselves lucky, my chickadees, because, well, darn it, I don’t recommend it. Ouch. There’s another one.

Sucking on my poor, Swiss-cheese fingers, and determining never to attempt acupuncture—at least not without a professional—I made up my mind to do something about this awful situation, and why not earn a badge? Seemed sensible. Yowch.

Time out to find the homemade first-aid kit …

All right, I’m back and more determined than ever. (And wearing thimbles on all 10 extremities).

I sorted through my bolts and squares and stacks of calico, gingham, toile, corduroy, denim, satin, flannel, and the like. In order to earn my Beginner Level Badge, I needed to make a sewing kit, complete with pinkeeper, to give to a friend.

You know what they say: Be your own best friend.

What? No one says that? That isn’t a quote? And I was going to embroider it on a pillow.

Well, fine, I’ll simply make two, because I have the puncture wounds to prove I need a little organization as well. Ow.

I decided there was no need to shop to earn this badge. Not with all the lovely things I have lying about my home. Upcycling is the name of game with this farmgirl these days. Why, I hardly remember what the siren call of the mall sounds like, now that I’ve turned over a new (organic) leaf. (Okay, okay, I do occasionally answer the siren call of the Pretzel Palace, which is inside the mall, but hey … I’m only human).

I found two sweet baskets left over from my basketry-making season, and they were a perfect fit for the following:

  • A few adorable fabric squares (perfect for quilting)
  • Several different shades of threads, both for machines and for hand embroidery
  • Straight pins (since evidently I own approximately eleventy-seven thousand)
  • Safety pins (oh, how I love them … and am considering switching to them for all my pinning needs)
  • A handful of buttons
  • A fabric pen
  • A small embroidery hoop
  • Scissors

To top it all off, I put together two rather charming pincushions. One is the old-fashioned, stuffed-strawberry type. You know the one: made of red felt and stuffed plump, it’s extra endearing with the white-tipped pins. The other, I got fancier with: it’s a blue satin dolphin. Well, it was supposed to be a blue satin dolphin, but it turned out more like a cheerful and overfed flounder. Either way, it’s cute. Until I started poking him with pins, and then I felt terrible. Like a flounder killer. I should have stayed with strawberries.

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 … Lynette McPherson!!!

Lynette McPherson (#6300) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level Shopping Green Merit Badge!

“I reclaimed 3 pairs of my husband’s work jeans, made 3 garden aprons and 6 shopping bags.


This worked amazingly well! Not only did I use all of the jeans, but I cut off the belt loops, labels, and other smaller pockets for use in future projects. The reusable bags were made by opening the seam on the legs of the pants, sewing back together, adding a bottom, and cutting along the inseam for the handles.”

Pampered Pets Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,346 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,010 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 Outpost/Pampered Pets Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I took my love for Mr. Darcy even further.


Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. London: George Allen, 1894, via Wikimedia Commons.

No, not that Mr. Darcy, though I do love him, too. But no, it’s my Labradoodle, Mr. Darcy, who keeps my feet warm at night and who keeps my hearth and home protected (from slightly gusty evenings, small birds, the ringing of the doorbell, and postal carriers).


Photo by Searchtempo via Wikimedia Commons

After switching from his usual old, dry dog food—loaded with animal by-products, soy, grains, GMO corn, and enough additives to stop a train, so to speak—and supplementing with all-natural concoctions of my own, my furry friend was happy, healthy, glossy, full of energy, and (dare I say it) not making visitors’ eyes water with the strength of his manly flatulence.

And all the people said Amen.

Anyway, I wanted to share some of my favorite finds and recipes with my fellow pet-loving pals and earn my Intermediate Level badge to boot, so I got cracking with filling some gift baskets. I just know that my animal-adoring acquaintances will love all of these almost as much as their pooches, kitties, and pot-bellied piggies will!

Buckwheat and Mint Doggy Biscuits

1½ cups buckwheat flour
4 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 T fresh mint, finely chopped
2 T olive oil
1 T pure honey
1 egg, beaten
1-3 t water

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, stir buckwheat flour, parsley, and mint together until combined. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and honey; pour into the flour and stir. Add egg and stir until well combined. Knead dough with hands to thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Add 1 t of water at a time to help the dough come together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to approx. ¼” thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter. Bake for 15 minutes. Store biscuits in an airtight container in the fridge to keep fresh.


DIY Flea and Tick Spray

20 drops essential lemongrass oil and 20 drops essential eucalyptus oil
4 oz water

Combine in a spray bottle and shake well. Works well for people and horses, too!


Oatmeal Cinnamon Bun Pet Shampoo

1 cup oatmeal
½ cup baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1 qt warm water

Pulse oats in food processor until they’re a flour-like consistency. Stir in soda and cinnamon. Mix in water.


Dry Shampoo for Smelly Pooches

Mix one box baking soda with several drops of your favorite essential oil. Shake well. Apply liberally to Fido and brush through coat. Much better!


Pet Ear Wash Solution

Combine equal parts water and witch hazel (or apple cider vinegar), a little melted coconut oil, and a few drops of tea tree oil in a squirt bottle. Cleans pet’s ears, wards off infections, washes out foxtails, and makes them smell better, too.


Homemade Doggy Toothpaste

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t organic chicken or beef bouillon granules
  • 3 T baking soda
  • 6-7 mint leaves

Combine in food processor; store in fridge.



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 … Sara Knight!!!

Sara Knight (YellowRose, #6034) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Aprons Merit Badge!

“I chose the clothespin apron pattern that was posted on The Farmgirl Connection for the Jubilee. I used two fabrics from MaryJane’s Milk Cow collection.

I hadn’t sewed on a machine for 30 years, but it all came back to me. The pattern was easy. I am pleased with how the apron turned out.”





Speak for the Trees Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,346 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,010 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 Outpost/Speak for the Trees Beginner Level Merit Badge, I got a perfectly perfect excuse to visit my bestie at the Bureau of Land Management. Sometimes, she forgets we’re besties, but I always remind her with a peppy hello (and a latte).

Being BFFs with a nature and wildlife guru is way cool, girls. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I totally encourage you to take a latte over to your local BLM and test my theory. Sadly, Debbie was in a fish-naming meeting (very important, very hush-hush), so I left her coffee on her desk and took what I came for: a handy-dandy pamphlet on local trees.

Foliage. Saplings. Bushes. Greenery. Vegetation. Shrubs. From the itty to the Redwood, I was finally going to learn a little something about trees, and I was excited to further my Verdure Education, so to speak.


Since I’m a bit of a Visual/Kinetic Learner, I decided to combine my two requirements for this badge into one nice, long walk. See, I could have read my pamphlet at home and then go for my walk to identify the trees, but I have something of a short-term memory. Not to mention, my ADOS* can rear its head when I least expect it.

I didn’t think my process through, obviously, since I spent half the time walking into the trees I was trying to identify as I studied, but no matter. Some people are tree huggers … I’m a tree collider.

Trees I found and can now identify proudly:

  • The Western White Pine (it’s my state tree, peeps!)
  • The Ponderosa Pine (smells heavenly)
  • Balsam Pine (deep inhale)
  • Western Hemlock (a natural weather vane, as its needles and branches actually bend away from the wind)
  • Lodgepole Pine (makes me dream of log cabins)

There are so many more to classify and recognize, I knew it was going to take more than one short walk (and one hazelnut latte), so I made up my mind—ouch, there’s another Balsam—to keep my BLM brochure at arm’s reach whenever I’m hiking, camping, glamping, or just plain out in nature. Bein’ one with the trees, farmgirls … I can see me now: pointing out the lesser-known varieties—like the Englemann Spruce, the Pacific Yew, or the Black Cottonwood—to my eager audience and fellow tree colliders … Yowch, my toe! Dabnabbit, that Quaking Aspen came out of nowhere!

Anyway, I earned my Beginner Level Badge, alright. I have the knowledge, the badge, and the stubbed toes to prove it. Totally worth it, gals.

*Attention Deficit – Oh, Shiny!



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 … Winnie Nielsen!!!

Winnie Nielsen (Red Tractor Girl, #3109) has received a certificate of achievement in Each Other for earning a Beginner Level Farmgirl Sisterhood Merit Badge!

“1. Since I am the one who drafted the requirements for the Jubilee badge [Winnie’s our Farmgirl Sister of the Year], I had already done some research for all of the main topics. In order to do the badge, I created a few other requirements to do. First of all, a Jubilee can be a 50th year celebration and a season of celebration. In my life, I remember celebrating both my grandparents’ and my parents’ 50th wedding anniversaries. They were wonderful celebrations with family and full of old stories, laughter, and happiness.

2. The Queen of England’s Jubilee marking her 60th year of reign was a national celebration for England. The BBC reported that 3,000 miles of Union Jack bunting had been produced, and cities across the nation were dressing their streets up for the occasion. At the event, there were parades with the Queen, radio and TV broadcasts, and people everywhere waving the Union Jack and celebrating. Who doesn’t just love a good reason to be joyful and have a party? Although there are those who feel the monarchy is outdated, many still love the Queen, and they properly joined in all of the festivities in their own towns. Of course, there were many trinkets, mugs, and other memorabilia sold for a bit of remembrance of the grand event. Small towns also held their own local celebrations for everyone to join in. The Jubilee was indeed enjoyed by many!

3. MaryJane wrote on her daily journal about a book, The Jubilee Trail, by Gwen Bristol. Because of the title, I immediately wanted to read it and include it in my badge requirements. Come to find out in the first part that the Jubilee Trail was the way people got to the West Coast and Los Angeles from Independence, Missouri. The story is set in 1844, when the United States ended to the west with Missouri. A young bride from New York City falls in love and marries a young man who is a tradesman of goods from the East Coast to the West. In order to get the goods there, large wagontrains had to cross Mexican land that was rugged and hostile. There were unfriendly Native Americans, long stretches of no water, brutal sun, and rocky and difficult trails.

The bride, Garnet, leaves the comforts of her life for the thrill of the unknown and the thought of adventure. On her journey to Los Angeles, she is befriended by a New York showgirl and a few of the wagon-trail men. The trip was dangerous, and she almost lost her life. Upon arriving out West, she was confronted with her husband’s brother, who was furious at their marriage. Events happened that resulted in Garnet’s husband’s death, but she was saved and helped by two of the men from the wagon trail. She ends up falling in love with one of those men and eventually marries him. They leave Los Angeles with her baby son for San Francisco, where gold has been found just laying around on the ground and in the rocks.

The story of the Jubilee Trail did not mean a celebration of 50 years of something. It represented a celebration of survival to a land where all new beginnings could happen. Nobody knew you and you could start over. Surviving the journey was like a badge of honor, and it signified fortitude and true grit.

Reading this book reminded me of our MJF Jubilee celebration. The many farmgirls who join have found a “new path” to journey on. With much to learn and risks to take, each one of us have reached out to something new and unknown. First farms have been purchased, first gardens grown, first off-the-grid experiences have been chosen, and many new skills have been acquired while enriching our family lives and communities. A Jubilee celebration can also be about meeting personal goals and challenges!

4. I decided to celebrate our Jubilee on the MJF Chatroom with two giveaways, using skills I learned while doing some badges. The first giveaway is an embroidered dishtowel with the Farmgirl at Heart logo. This is the same pattern that I have been making for all of the FGOTM Sisters. Each month, I send them a handwritten note, the dishtowel with their Farmgirl number on it, and a few postcards from MaryJane’s store. Being chosen by your friends as FGOTM is a beautiful and happy event. As FSOTY, I wanted to gift each person something that I learned by also being a fellow Farmgirl traveler.

The second giveaway is a pair of knitted socks using a few of the colors of the logo. This giveaway will also include a handwritten note and postcards. I hope the winner enjoys wearing them!! Since they are a blend of Merion and cashmere wools, they will be soft and warm anytime it is cold and damp.

I think working on this badge was great fun. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jubilee Trail and working on my two giveaways. Now, I am looking forward to our celebration in May!”

Rootin’ Tootin’ Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,346 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,010 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 Garden Gate/Rootin’ Tootin’ Beginner Level Merit Badge, I have to admit a deep, dark secret.

I’ve never told anyone this. But if there’s ever a safe environment for the soul cleansing act of confession, the Farmgirl Sisterhood is it, right?

Okay. Here I go.

I’m not entirely certain what a root vegetable is.

There. I said it. I feel so much better now! What a weight, and has it ever been lifted. I tell you what, carrying that burden around was no fun. The shame that came over me when I read a recipe from my great-grandmother that started out with words like, sauté root vegetables of choice in a pan … The way I kept mum when anyone mentioned their ‘root cellars …’

Well, no longer. I am in the know now, chickadees. Just ask me—no really, ask me what they are and I’ll be happy to enlighten you. Why, would you like your answers alphabetical or grouped in taste? Happy to oblige, gals. First of all, a root vegetable is an edible portion of a veggie that grows underground (nod sagely if you already knew that).

Here are some of the most well-known, in no particular order (They’re a competitive bunch, and I love them all dearly. I’d hate to bruise any tender feelings.):

Sweet potatoes
Jerusalem Artichokes
Water Chestnuts
Celeriac Root

There are just a few of these delightful root veggies for your palate. Now, I’ll admit, root veggies are a bit … well, dirty and not the most handsome in the grocery store. They’re bulbous and tough looking, and let’s face it: if a brown, slightly hairy, and downright ugly celery root was sitting next to a shiny, red Pink Lady apple, which would you choose?

Well, I’m about to change your mind! Apple, schmapple, girlfriend. Roots are where it’s at.


Did you know about the health benefits of root vegetables? These little unassuming and frankly disagreeable looking things are holding all sorts of nutrition and yumminess inside their squat little bodies, and part of the fascinating reason is because they’re grown underground and soaking up all the rich soil. Cool beans, huh? Another reason to love them is how long they’ll keep, patiently waiting in the root cellar (Ah ha! Light bulb moment for moi.) until you decide to consume them. We’re talking months. They really are the most easy-going and long-suffering of the vegetable family. (Bagged lettuce, I’m looking at you and your disagreeable way of going all slimy on me in a mere day or two. Talk about persnickety.)

Now that I knew what I was after, I headed off to the grocery store to see which tubers they carried, and where they were grown. I side-stepped past the cheerful oranges, the beautiful rainbow chard, and the show-offy purple cabbage, and I totally ignored the beck and call of the polished Granny Smiths. It was like a beauty pageant in there, and I had never noticed. I went straight for my newfound friends and loaded up my basket.

Next to come? An Intermediate Level badge, naturally, and a full tummy to boot.


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 … Patty Byrd!!!

Patty Byrd (thebyrdhaus, #1840) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Horse Dreams Merit Badge!

“I have always loved horses. I was raised on a farm, and when I was a child, our family was very interested in horses. We all were involved in a saddle club and showed horses. Our family had a horse (Princess) that would come up to the barnyard fence, and at 3 and 4 yrs old, my sis and I would crawl over the fence onto her back. She would pace around and around the fence with us on her, until we grew tired. We lived in a very small farming community. I was about 13 years old when I went to our local bank and asked the banker for a loan to buy a horse. I paid $375 for a Tennessee Walker and a saddle.


Little banks back in the day did not require corporate decisions to grant loans, though I am sure the banker had an OK from my parents. He gave me the loan and I paid it back, $50 a month, with babysitting money. I had “Fireball” until he had to be buried. I was married with children at this point. My favorite breed is a Tennessee Walker. They have such a beautiful gait. They are a smooth ride, the Cadillac of horses. My family is still very much involved in horses and typically have Quarter Horses. I get to “meet” them up close and personal often.

I venture to the All-American Quarter Horse Congress each fall here in Columbus. Horses are in my blood. I love the smell of a horse. The photo I have attached is one of my dad and his horse, “Buck.” I love this photo of my 75-year-old father.”