Young Cultivators Merit Badge: All Tied Up, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,760 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,508 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Young Cultivator Stitching and Crafting/All Tied Up Beginner Level Merit Badge, I spent some time with Nora, my ever-lovin’ and ever-talkative neighbor girl. She’s the artistic type (I can tell this by the mood swings and the way she dresses … very eccentric), so I knew she’d be perfectly swell for this particular badge.

For Nora to earn her Beginner Level badge, all we had to do was whip up a smock.

“No, not a snack,” I patiently replied to Nora, who sighed dramatically. “A smock. Smock? You know, like an artist’s apron?”

Self portrait of the Venezuelan painter Arturo Michelena, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Empty eyes stared back at me. Goodness, this child.

She said she’d probably think better if she had a slice of cake. That seemed logical, I had to admit.

After our cake break, we got down to business. First, we made a list of all the different ways we could fashion our own DIY smock and then we narrowed it down to what we actually had on hand, because if we put off actually making our smock any longer it would be dinner time.

Jane and Nora’s Smock-ipedia

  • Adult sized T-shirt. To size it more kid-like: open up the seams at the side, cut strips and tie, or slit open the back, gather and tie.
  • Use oilcloth for a waterproof, wipe-able smock. To upcycle this idea without purchasing new oilcloth, just use an old vinyl tablecloth.
  • Men’s button-up shirts make great smocks: keep the collars and buttons, but cut off the sleeves and the whole back (use the sleeve material to make the apron ties).
  • Terry-cloth towels and ribbons: use the ribbons as a tie for around the neck and another for tying around the waist. Use hand towels for toddlers, and bath towels for larger kiddos (or messy adults).
  • Denim smocks: use an old pair of jeans. Cut off the legs and just use the tushy part with the back pockets. Attach a ribbon (or just use the leftover denim) at the top as a tie.
  • For a one-day only smock, or if you need a whole bunch of smocks for one use only: use a large paper grocery sack. Cut out a hole in the bottom for the head, and two at the sides for arms (think homemade ghost costume from a sheet). Can also use trash bags if you are doing an especially water-y craft, like painting.
  • Pillowcase smock: same directions as above.

And don’t forget: whichever idea you choose, everything is better with pockets. I mean, where else can they put their pet frog, or their rock collection, or the last slice of cake?

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To make a pocket, simply fold the bottom hem of the smock over in a generous fold. Stitch at the sides. To make tiny pockets to hold individual paint brushes or crayons, make several straight stitches vertically throughout your large pocket with your sewing machine (if your Young Cultivator doesn’t know how to use a sewing machine yet, this is a perfect jumping off point).

Now, you’re ready for another cake break to decorate your smock and make it your own. You can:

  • Paint with waterproof fabric pens or paints.
  • Tie-dye it.
  • Applique it.
  • Sew on buttons.
  • Bedazzle it!
  • Add sequins or glitter with a glue gun (careful).
  • Stamp on it.
  • Write something fun with permanent markers.
  • Trim with lace, ribbon, or rick-rack.
  • Hot glue or sew on felt cutouts.
  • Googly eyes are always fun.

Nora, being of the philosophy that more is more and a girl can never accessorize too much, chose … all of the above.

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 Moore!!!

Emily Moore (E-Moore, #6770) has received a certificate of achievement in Each Other for earning a Beginner Level Little Squirts Merit Badge!

“On my first official day of Christmas break, I wanted to start it off right—to earn my first Sisterhood Merit Badge!

I started my day around the house armed with a can of WD-40. I sprayed all the hinges and doors that squeaked. I researched online how to winterize garden tools, and when it warmed up a little, I headed outside to grab all my garden tools from under the house. I scraped off all the dirt and rust with steel wool, put vegetable oil on all metal parts and linseed oil on wooden handles. We don’t own any bikes, so I headed to the barn, grabbed our grease gun, and got to work. I greased all the grease fittings on the bush hog, manure spreader, and hay rake.

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This was the first time I had ever taken the time to winterize my garden tools and I am really happy with the results! I look forward to making this a yearly thing. My grandma gave us a pointed hoe for our wedding, and I would like to keep it in good condition for the rest of my life—now I know how to do it.”

Farmgirl Gratitude Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,760 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,508 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Each Other/Farmgirl Gratitude Expert Level Merit Badge, I expressed my very own Farmgirl Gratitude, open-letter style.

I wanted to hold up some large pieces of white paper with poetical and important words in permanent marker, or maybe pour some ice on my head or something, but I figured, hey, a good, old-fashioned letter is the way to go, Jo.

No drama here.

(Never said that before.)

An Open Letter to My Favorite Things
(Singing to the tune of These Are A Few of My Favorite Things optional. But encouraged.)

Moonbeams on gardens, and ice cream with peaches,

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Sweet tea with cookies, and good books in niches,

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Upcycled shopping bags filled with what life brings,

These are a few of my favorite things.

Tractors as rust art, upcycled porch swing,

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Organic and homemade and garden-grown everything,

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Fresh air while hiking and glamping while camping,

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These are a few of my favorite samplings.

When the health’s good,

When the air’s clean,

When I’m planting trees …

I simply remember my favorite things …

And then my farm life’s a breeze!

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Okay, maybe I haven’t earned my Expert Level Merit Badge in Poetical Poetry, but hey, I got ya singing, didn’t I? And don’t even pretend you weren’t channeling Maria and spinning in a circle, be honest. von Trapp it up.

Now pass me my sweet tea (local honey, of course; it’s the bee’s knees), put up your feet on my upcycled porch swing, and pen your own open letter of gratitude. Your heart will thank me.

Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Music, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,760 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,508 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Young Cultivator Make it Easy/Music Intermediate Level Merit Badge, Piper and I picked up right where we had left off with the Beginner Level badge.

Right between the knowledge that neither of us had any rhythm to speak of, and the knowledge that we were both kinda dismal at … how should I put it? … Music Appreciation Arts.

Let’s just say, you don’t want us in your philharmonic.

photo, Bundesarchiv Bild via Wikimedia Commons

But hey, what we lack in musical ability, we more than make up for in passion and heart.

So, anyway, to earn our Intermediate Level badges (I mean, badge. It’s really just Piper. I mean, I’m a fully grown adult. Kind of.), we brought in Nora. Nora had earned her Beginner Level badge earlier, so we were a mighty trio. Since this whole shebang was going to culminate in a performance for their parents, we thought hey, the more the merrier. (Also, we were hoping Nora had some skills we could desperately cling to learn from.)

We had to make our own instruments, so here’s what we did in case you too, want to form your own band:

Homemade Tambourines

  • Embroidery hoops in any size, but large is best
  • Ribbon
  • Jingle bells

Wrap the ribbon all the way around the hoops so they are completely covered (you could also use strips of fabric, or skip this part altogether if your hoop is already colorful). Tie jingle bells to more strips of ribbon or fabric and tie tightly around the hoops about an inch or so apart. You can use as many bells as you like. Do like Taylor Swift instructs, and SHAKE IT OFF.

Homemade Maracas

  • Plastic Easter eggs
  • Spoons
  • Dried beans
  • Ribbon

Place beans inside your Easter egg and close. Cradle egg between two spoons and wrap the handles together with ribbon (or patterned duct tape). Start a mariachi band!

The Estey orchestra club, Trautmann, Bailey & Blapey / Estey Organ Works via Wikimedia Commons

Rainmaker

  • A large tube of strong heavy cardboard (the larger and stronger, the better)
  • Small nails
  • A few dried beans
  • Construction paper or scrapbook paper
  • Glitter, stickers, markers, glue, and other craft supplies for decorating

Start by hammering in all the nails into your tube. The more nails you use, the better sound your rainmaker will have, so go nuts. You want them around the whole tube, not just in one straight line, but they don’t have to be in perfect intervals. Cover your tube with the construction paper or scrapbook paper, gluing it on securely. Decorate. Seal one side with a few layers of heavy paper, cardboard, or a layer of duct tape (or if your tube came with plastic lids, even better). Drop in some beans, rocks, or beads, and seal up the top. Enjoy the sound of rain on even the hottest summer day!

Homemade Pan Flute

  • An assortment of plastic drinking straws
  • Tape

Cut your straws in different lengths and line them up accordingly. Tape your line together. Use about eight or so. Each straw will have a slightly different tone than the one next to it. Have fun being a Pied Piper.

P.S. Piper really likes this one. Go figure.

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 … SuZan Brown!!!

SuZan Brown (imascholar2, #4394) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner & Intermediate Level Cross-Stitch Merit Badge!

“I learned how to cross-stitch several years ago, so I taught two of my daughters how to cross-stitch. My oldest daughter made me a sampler as her first cross-stitch project.

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For my Intermediate badge, I learned about different fabrics: even-weave linen, aida. Basically you can cross-stitch on anything that is woven, even a gunny sack is a candidate. At this point, my favorite is 14-count aida.

This year, I completed a sampler cross-stitch on 14-count aida. When I first started cross-stitching, the changing of threads would make me so nervous. Now I have learned to relax and enjoy the process.”

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Nellie Make-Do Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,760 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,508 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MaryJane 

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 Make-Do Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I settled in for a long winter’s nap a little recycling and crafting.

Getting’ down with my crafty self.

In order to earn my Intermediate Level merit badge I had to devote at least 50 hours to making fiber projects without purchasing a darn thing (sewing machine parts and/or thread excluded). This worked out well since I’m broke as a joke due to the holidays.

And due to my extreme fondness for snacking. Snacks don’t grow on trees, yanno?

I still needed a few gifts for birthdays, so this badge would be perfect for killing two birds with one … bush … in the hand. Or however that goes. Expressions are not my thing. Snacking is my thing.

I took out two sweaters I had been given eons ago by my Gramma Barbie, who—let’s face it—has had at times questionable fashion sense. They were high in quality and color and low in fit and appearance, to say the least. With a Downton Abbey marathon just starting up, I began unraveling.

photo by Bas Sijpkes via Wikimedia Commons

That’s right. I was unraveling sweaters to make balls of yarn to make new knitted creations.

photo by xlibber via Wikimedia Commons

How many pot holders would a sweater make? We were about to find out.

Hang on a second. Lady Mary and Matthew are needing my full attention. Such shenanigans …

Soon, I was sitting in a pile of chartreuse yarn. I felt like Miss Muffet on a tuffet (what’s a tuffet, anyway?) and I had nearly knitted myself into a fiber cage of my own making. I paused the television during poor Sybil’s childbirth, and spent some dedicated time to rolling neat and tidy balls.

Or, at least I tried to.

Note to self: Arrange for kitty-cat daycare when attempting to start large knitting projects. They were unraveling and chasing my yarn faster than I could spin one. It was like shoveling snow during a blizzard, or eating Oreos after brushing your teeth. Sigh.

Now, never let it be said you must follow in my size 5, kitten-heel footprints. You don’t have to be a knitter or a ruthless sweater killer to earn your own Nellie Make-Do badge, no. You can make quilts from other scraps, if that floats your boat better. Also, if you have cats, I might recommend quilting, although they will likely think you are laying out various bedding options for them, so … you can’t win. But I chose the knitting from sweaters option because of this charming book:

It follows an adorable couple who live in a shack and eat nothing but turnips (that’s probably another badge). The wife unravels the husband’s sweater, bit by bit, row by row, in order to knit some socks to trade for milk and cheese (backyard cow, anyone?). Then the owners of the cow unravel the socks, one at a time, to make a sweater for the farmer. And the twist at the end? Well, it’s witty and sweet and will make you want your own bucket of milk, a small cheese, a backyard cow, a turnip garden, and a wholesome and satisfying knitting project.

There you have it! Nellie Make-Do. Now, if I can just figure out who Nellie is. And does she sit on a tuffet, do you think?

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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 … CJ Armstrong!!!

CJ Armstrong (ceejay48, #665) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning an Expert Level Quilling Merit Badge!

“I completed this quilling project using tight circles, loose circles, teardrops, marquise, loose scroll, scroll variations and scroll stretches in a floral 3-D frameable “picture.”

Time investment was approximately nine hours. I am pleased with the outcome of this project. I find quilling to be a bit tedious but I do like the end result.”

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