Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Trash Talk, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,825 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,626 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   

Earning our Beginning Level Merit Badge for recycling and proper garbage disposal fired up my nephew, Andrew, so much that he was determined to earn his Cleaning Up/Trash Talk Intermediate Level Merit Badge posthaste.

He was garbage obsessed.

A stinkage fanatic. A debris addict. A litter king. A rubbish extremist. A trash junkie.

Ha! Get it? Trash junkie? Ah, I slay myself.

Anyway, after our newfound knowledge gathered from the local recycling center, the dump, and reading his handy-dandy pamphlet cover to cover, Andy was the man for the job. He recruited me as his Super-secret Garbage Spy Left-hand Sidekick Girl (his title), and we got to work infiltrating the family.

First off, he brought in his shiny, new recycling container that the friendly folks at the recycling center gave us, and plopped it dead center in the middle of the living room.

photo by epSos .de via Wikimedia Commons

(Mom quickly nixed that idea, so it moved to the kitchen.)

Andy was not satisfied though; he thought we could do better. So, using a small laundry hamper and an oversized Easter basket …

photo of The Longaberger Basket Factory by Barry Haynes via Wikimedia Commons

(not quite this big)

… he painstakingly made DIY labels for his Super-smart Recycling Center (his title), and soon enough, he had three stations:

  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Glass

We were going to make one for cans, but the family had recently give up their soda habit, so we decided against it. Yay, family! I shall reward them with some fresh-squeezed kale juice soon. Or maybe we won’t push them that far quite yet …

I did remind Andy we could make a compost container too, so once again we were off on an upcycling quest. We took an aluminum coffee can with a lid and decorated it with scraps of paper and magazine cutouts, collage style.

photo by BrandEvangelist via Wikimedia Commons

Note to self: giving small boys access to glue is an adventure in babysitting.

Andy labeled it Compost for Auntie Jane’s Eggs Chickens.

At least, I think that’s what he labeled it.

Is there a badge for legible handwriting he can work on soon? No? Phooey.

As for me, being his Super-secret Garbage Spy Left-hand Sidekick Girl, I was put to work spying and reporting back to him, the Super-secret Top Boss Recycling Hero Man (his title). We spent a whole afternoon hiding behind furniture, sneaking in the laundry room, and trying to fit in the kitchen cupboards.

Note to self: You aren’t as young (or flexible) as you used to be, Janey, my girl.

If we saw a family member nonchalantly toss a recyclable into the regular old trash, we were to report to one another immediately.

Then we were to tickle them until they begged for mercy and charge them a quarter (his plan).


We were to lovingly and calmly instruct and remind them of the new household rules (my plan).

We compromised and went with lovingly and calmly instructing and reminding them of our household rules and then charging them a quarter.

Or was it lovingly and calmly tickling them? Well, no matter. Let’s just say, the family got on board asap. And in no time at all, Andy had earned his badge and the family was upgraded to Super-hero Recycling Experts (my title).


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 … Amy Cloud Chambers!!!

Amy Cloud Chambers (Song sparrow, #6098) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner & Intermediate Level Knitting Merit Badge!

“My mother taught me to knit many years ago, but I never really tried to finish anything (music took first place in my interests). But now I have grown very interested and wish I had paid more attention. I started with a simple garter-stitch scarf in stripes, using up yarn from Mom’s stash. I had in mind a dear lady from the nursing home, which would also help motivate me to working on another badge. It took hours to complete (way beyond the three-hour requirement). But in actuality, this project propelled me into a love of handiwork long forgotten since my childhood. And although I finished it after some more advanced projects that I tackled for Christmas presents, it was a project of the heart for two reasons. 1) Because of the person for whom it was made, who I will tell more about in another badge application; and 2) Because it brought handiwork back into my life after years of being busy with other things. This simple project became a source of great joy!


I think it turned out very well, and certainly, I have received very kind compliments from my Henhouse and Farmgirl Connection forum sisters. They seem to really like the colors, and I like the long fringe. It’s kind of glamorous for my dear friend, who will receive it as part of a Valentine’s package of goodies.

After I tackled the project for my Beginner badge, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to knit Christmas gifts for family and friends. I chose more advanced projects that would allow me to experiment with new stitch techniques and fibers. The results were mostly very lovely and I learned so very much about about the art and craft of knitting. I knitted two sets of scarves and arm warmers for my very cosmopolitan brother and sister-in-law, who are always on their iPhones. For these projects, I learned to use a circular needle, knit cables, and work with mohair- and alpaca-blend yarns. For my mother, I made a lap afghan, which introduced me to so many new stitches and techniques that I started and ripped it out eight times before I got the hang of it! Pictures of these projects are included. I also made my poor daughter what may be the ugliest sweater vest ever created, which taught me a valuable lesson about making yarn substitutes. The cats received knitted catnip fish, which taught me to knit with double-pointed needles. I even knitted a basket out of jute twine to hold the various food jars for my granddaughter’s hermit crabs, a most unusual project.


All of the gifts were well received, even my dear daughter’s ugly sweater, which gave us all a laugh. The cats have torn their gifts to shreds, but I can’t really tell if the hermit crabs like their basket.”





Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Do Your Eyes Light 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 Make It Easy/Do Your Eyes Light Up? Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I once again visited my go-to, would-be, wanna-be, newbie farmgirl sister (or as she would say, sistah), Piper. I was just as thrilled with this badge earning as she was—maybe a smidgeon more even—and we got to work ASAP (As Soon As Piper … fixed her hair, ate breakfast, checked her social media, watched an episode of something or other, ate a snack, sent several text messages, and fixed her hair again).

In order for Pipes to earn her Beginner Level badge, she needed to learn a few things from Yours Truly, aka Jane the Brain. Namely, we needed to identify common tools used around the house and garden. I was secretly super-excited about this for a few reasons:

  • I love tools
  • I love wearing my tool belt
  • I lost the charger to my cordless drill and was hoping we’d find it ASAP (As Soon As Piper … well, you know the drill. Ha! Get it? Drill?)

Anyway, we started out in the house and I was surprised at how few tools she could actually name (manicure set aside). Then she shocked me even further by admitting her school—like most others—had eliminated Shop Class.

Whaa? Who put who in the what now?

This was a travesty. I mean, who was going to keep everyone in constant birdhouse supply? What about homemade mailboxes, or crooked picture frames? What, no ashtrays as Christmas presents anymore? (Okay, maybe that one, no one will miss too dreadfully. Although they are handy for storing jewelry.)

Photo by Alfred T. Palmer via Wikimedia Commons

I couldn’t believe my ears. And beyond what these poor lost sheep weren’t learning in their non-existent Shop Class, where were all the ex-Shop Class teachers going?

Was there a halfway house for fired Shop Class professors? Were they hanging out like juvenile delinquents on the steps of Home Depot? Were they getting tatted up, pierced, joining a biker gang, and causing chaos due to their lack of purpose? Were they lying face down (gasp) in an empty aisle at Lowes?

I had to put the poor lost men and women of Shop Class on the back burner, though, as I focused on Piper. I wiped away a single solitary tear in memory of those who had gone before us as I lovingly showed her the license-plate birdhouse I had made in ninth grade.

“The rusted steel cut off part of my pinky and gave me tetanus,” I reminisced nostalgically. “It was the best time ever.”

“Um, yeah, okay, Auntie. What’s this funny looking thing?” Piper held up a post-hole digger.

There’s no better way to teach than to learn by doing, so we spent an hour putting a fence around my herb area in my garden. And by ‘we,’ I, of course, mean Piper. I sipped on some iced tea and fondly remembered my days in Shop Class.

The day was a success: Piper learned the identities of most of my tools, I took a trip down memory lane, and we found my drill charger when Piper went to plug in her cell phone. Thanks, sistah!

Photo by edward stojakovic via Wikimedia Commons




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 … Doris Meisell!!!

Doris Meisell (#3794) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Backyard Farmer Merit Badge!


“I decided to jump in and get my feet wet by raising some chickens and it’s been a love affair since day one! I ordered them from a hatchery as day old chicks and have spent the past year and a half tending to them. I originally planned to order 15 to start but ended up choosing six different breeds. I plan to branch out with ducks and goats and a cow and a couple of horses … but that will have to wait until we have more space. For now it’s five dogs, three cats, and six chickens!

Did I mention how nervous this makes my DH whose planning a quiet retirement?!

This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Not only do we have fresh eggs that come from a source that I control (well except for the worms and bugs they find on their own) but they provide hours upon hours of entertainment and contentment for me. We had to move them 1,200 miles and, thankfully, everyone survived. I love each and every one of them. Although I did pick them partially because they are meat birds, I have no intention of ever eating one of these. They are excellent layers and are not much trouble at all. I can honestly say that there have been days where a stick of dynamite could not rouse me out of bed but the minute I remember that I must raise the coop door, I am out there in a flash, sometimes in nightclothes and mudders (boots) … and let me tell you, on those mornings back on the east coast where we struggled just to get up to the freezing mark by midday, that says a lot about chicken love. Thank goodness we probably won’t have long hard freezes like that here back in our home state of Texas.”

Dyeing for Color Merit Badge, 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 Beginner Level Stitching and Crafting/Dyeing for Color Merit Badge, I was already a bit of an expert. I mean, I don’t like to brag or anything (“Toot toot!” That may or may not be the sound of my own horn.), but I have been dyeing for a long time now.

I’ve been a brunette, a strawberry blonde, a platinum bombshell, and every shade in between. I’ve had highlights and lowlights, frosted tips, and bleached roots. I’ve had Clairol and Garnier and L’Oreal. I’ve done …

Wait. That’s not what we’re going for?

Well, color me embarrassed.

(Get it? Color me?)

photo by jerebu via Wikimedia Commons

But I could still use my hair color know-how and safety lessons learned in my newfound adventure of dyeing other things besides my tresses. For example: preparing your workstation (or head). Always put on an old shirt that you don’t mind getting stained, and wear gloves, chickadees. Once I went Nicole Kidman-inspired red, and my palms were stained for days. It looked like I had murdered someone. I was housebound for a week, and by the time I could leave, my beautiful locks had faded to Carebear pink. Sigh. Learn from me.

Another precaution before you start playing around experimenting responsibly with dyes, is to choose products that won’t trigger a headache or stomachache, if you are prone to those niggles when an overwhelming odor assaults you. Or, if you must use a chemical-laden dye, do it outside. No one will appreciate your shade of chartreuse on your hand-dyed bedspread if you are face down in it halfway through the procedure, gasping for breath like a fish out of water.

For my first venture into the unknown of Dyeing for Color, I chose tea.

That’s right … tea. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

photo by Kayla Palmer via

I decided to dye a lovely, vintage lace tablecloth that had a roast chicken stain smackdab in the center. Up ’til now, I had simply plonked a vase of flowers right over the offending mark, but now I had a better plan. Color the whole thing Roast Chicken Drippings.

Side note: Crayola should probably hire me as a color namer. I’m really good at it. Some of the others I’m working on: Wet Seagull, Glistening Pepperoni, Vampire Skin, and Tuna Noodle Casserole Surprise.

Anyway, I was hesitant to use a good-quality tea for something that wouldn’t involve guzzling it, but then I remembered if you are cooking with wine, you should use a wine you’d like to drink. So, I figured the same rule applied here, right? So, I poured myself a glass of wine and got to work. Hee hee.

I brewed up a very large batch of Earl Grey, mixed with Oolong and just a sprinkling of Constant Comment. Your tablecloth may not be so particular, so go with your gut. Darker teas will, of course, dye your fabric a darker color, but don’t worry, even Turkish coffee won’t turn your fibers jet black.

I swirled my tablecloth around in the tea, making sure it was properly submerged and tucking it in gently. Then I left it for about 60 minutes. You can go longer or shorter; just keep checking on your fabric.

Rinse and wring out. If you don’t like the smell of tea, you can wash it out. Although, if you don’t like the smell of tea, well, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do for you.

Line dry, and enjoy your pretty new creation.

Now my tablecloth is less Roast Chicken Drippings, and more Recently Bathed Golden Retriever.

Seriously. Someone get Crayola on the line. I’m on fire.