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Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Ginger Dawn Harman!!!

Ginger Dawn Harman (Ginger Dawn, #6451) has received a certificate of achievement in Make it Easy for earning a Beginner Level Mindfulness Meditation Merit Badge!

“As soon as I read the e-mail from MaryJane listing the new merit badges for 2017, I squealed in delight when I saw mindfulness. I cannot begin to list all the positive effects of mindfulness. First, my health in general has improved. My blood pressure is lower, I am able to regulate my breathing much better and now only use my inhaler once a day. Moreover, I am sick less often and my immunity has improved greatly. I also feel less stress since I began practicing a mindful lifestyle. I meditate every day and have been using the Insight Timer app since Jan 1, 2016! I haven’t missed a day. I prefer the guided meditations, but I have also used the bell. For the purpose of this badge I started again on January 1, 2018.

There are many benefits to regular meditation. For one, the health improves. I am a great example of this. Interestingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration: One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. In fact, the increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points. In 2013, I participated in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at Winchester Medical Center in Virginia. It was an 8-week course that taught me how to meditate and live more mindfully. Our class had a nun, several doctors, a retired preacher, and a few who were battling different medical challenges or learning to practice mindfulness within the public school and health professions. There’s been increasing interest from educators and researchers in bringing meditation and yoga to school kids who are dealing with the usual stressors inside school, and oftentimes, additional stress and trauma outside school. Some schools have starting implementing meditation into their daily schedules, and with good effect: One district in San Francisco started a twice-daily meditation program in some of its high-risk schools—and saw suspensions decrease and GPAs and attendance increase. Studies have confirmed the cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation for schoolchildren, but more work will probably need to be done before it gains more widespread acceptance.

INeedMotivation.com made a wonderful list of 100 benefits of meditation.

Meditation is also completely FREE! It requires no special equipment, and is not complicated to learn. It can be practiced anywhere, at any given moment, and it is not time consuming (15-20 min. per day is good). Best of all, meditation has NO negative side effects. Bottom line, there is nothing but positive to be gained from it!

Oh and after you have meditated for a while, you might enjoy a Mindful retreat! Can you believe that I have done this and went an entire weekend with NO TALKING! I encourage everyone to give Mindfulness a try!”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: All Dried Up, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,200 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,226 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 Farm Kitchen/All Dried Up Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I invited Nora to take a peek at my spice cabinet.

She seemed a little suspicious, but she agreed. This badge was all about those yummy, fragrant, delicious bits of greenery: herbs.

photo by JoJan via Wikimedia Commons

Helpful hint from me to you: when dealing with smallfries, be sure to call the plants and such ‘herbs’, not ‘spices’. Call them ‘spices’ and you will watch your children’s legs turn into the Road Runner’s as they hightail it outta there. Or at least, such was the case with Nora.

She was pretty certain I was trying to trick her into eating spicy foods. I reminded her that spice just meant flavor and when she got a little bigger (and grew into her taste buds) she might not mind a little kick now and then. She was skeptical, but at least she came back into the pantry.

The Beginner Level badge was all about learning and tasting (does it get any better than that?) and smelling and touching. If you want to up the ante with your rugrats, do a blind taste/smell taste. But if you’re like I used to be before I was bitten by the farmgirl bug, your spice cabinet might need a real overhaul.

I mean I may or may not have had a jar of marjoram that expired in 1994.

Whatever.

I digress.

Don’t be like me.

Nora was delighted to discover some scents she really dug. Sage, bay leaves, oregano, basil, vanilla bean, cardamom, clove, cinnamon sticks, ginger, mint leaves, celery seeds … okay, you got me, not all of those are herbs per se, but once we got to opening jars and sniffing and tasting, we were hooked. She was not overly fond of ground mustard and she discovered that yes, inhaling pepper will indeed make you sneeze (she thought that was an urban myth).

photo by Casey Fleser via Wikimedia Commons

“But how do you know what goes well in what?” she asked, sneezing again. “Pass me the cumin, would you?”

“Trial and error, my girl,” said I. “Here, what do you think of smoked paprika?”

“Yum. Oooh, lavender! Give it here!”

We spent some odiferous time together and we emerged with slightly singed nostrils and a well-organized pantry. Not all were a big hit with Nora, but I assured her they taste differently when used in recipes, or if you had fresh as opposed to dried.

“Put your money where your mouth is, Aunty,” she replied.

“Absobloominlutely,” I answered, pulling down a cookbook from the shelf. “What should we start with? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks? Desserts? Brunch?”

“Yes,” she said.

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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 … Shannon Hudson!!!

Shannon Hudson (hudsonsinaf, #5349) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level UFOs Merit Badge!

“Since moving into our new home, I have had the opportunity to look at some projects and organize those I have not finished. These projects are now separated in bags and craft boxes, with the supplies needed to finish each of them. The first project I tackled was one I had began two years ago for my now five year old—a set of peg people families of different colors. Since my 5-year-old is too advanced for the concept of identifying the colors and putting the people in their correct “home,” I decided to finish making them and give them to my now 3-year-old daughter for Christmas.

I was quite happy with how the peg people turned out. The best part though, is my 3-year-old loves them. Makes it worth the time!”

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Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Icing on the Cake, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,200 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,226 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 Farm Kitchen/Icing on the Cake Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Andy was my sous-chef on All Things Cake. I mean, come on, this badge is about making (and thusly eating) cake. It’s not about making your bed, or writing a paper.

Andy was all over this badge.

In fact, the wild look in his baby blues kinda scared me, not gonna lie. I swear, at the mention of cake, his pupils started twirling and swirling, his eyes bugged out like a cartoon character, and he began bouncing up and down and climbing the walls. He needed a reality check (and maybe some fresh veggies or something).

“So,” I said, casually, “I was thinking Carrot Cake.”

The bouncing stopped and his pupils quit swirling. He stared at me, suspiciously. “Like, with carrots? A cake with carrots? I knew there was a catch to this badge!” He flopped dramatically on the floor.

“It’s delicious! But my other idea if you don’t like that one, is Hummingbird Cake.”

He rolled over with a grunt. “You’re sick, Aunty.”

“Not with real hummingbirds, Einstein!” I debated on whether now was a good time to let him know my dog-eared copy of To Kill A Mockingbird was not what it sounded like, either. At this point, he likely thought it was a cookbook.

“Hummingbird Cake is an old recipe …”

“Made with endangered fowl?”

“Hush, cretin. No, it’s made with yummy goodness like chopped bananas and chunks of pineapple, and covered in cream-cheese frosting.” I wiggled my eyebrows.

He flopped back over. “Idonkikecweemzeesh.”

“Eh?”

Flopped back once again to glare at me. “I don’t like cream cheese.”

“Yes, you do, don’t be ridiculous. Cream cheese is a gift from the angels. Now, get up off the floor and wash your hands. Chop, chop!”

We got to work. And at the end of the afternoon, we had earned a badge and a newfound addiction to cream-cheese frosting. Also, my eyes might be swirling around like a cartoon character after the third piece, but I have not climbed any walls. Yet.

Hummingbird Cake (no hummingbirds were harmed in the making of this cake)
(recipe from Southern Living, 1978)

Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Karin Olsen

3 cups organic flour
2 cups organic sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups chopped bananas
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, bananas, and 1 cup chopped toasted pecans. Spoon batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in vanilla. Beat 1 to 2 minutes or until fluffy. Give beaters to small child to teach them that they do, indeed, love cream cheese.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup Cream Cheese Frosting over cake layer. Top with second layer, and spread 1 cup frosting over cake layer. Top with third cake layer, and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with toasted pecan halves, if desired.

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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 … Marie Bostwick!!!

Marie Bostwick (MarieBee52, #7185) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Aprons Merit Badge!

“I dug out some fabric from my stash and stitched up a cheery yellow and purple half apron. Then I took the leftovers and made a matching apron for my oldest granddaughter, who is not quite 3. I’ve done a lot of sewing in my life, so this was a pretty quick project.

I think they turned out really cute! Tomorrow, I’m heading out to Oklahoma to see my granddaughter and help take care of her mommy and brand new baby sister for a week. I’m sure that big sister will enjoy helping grammy keep house in our matching aprons.”

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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 … Andrea Chavez!!!

Andrea Chavez (#7230) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Level Recycling Merit Badge!

“In the Beginner category, Moscow, Idaho, has curbside recycling and in the summer of 2016, went to single-stream recycling, which has helped a LOT. Before, we had to separate items: cans, glass, papers, etc. It could be confusing, and because I know that an entire batch can be tossed out if something in it is bad, it was a strain. Single-stream allows us to pop everything recyclable into one big bin. The only item not allowed is glass. Glass takes a different process, and can be dangerous when broken. However, I still collect glass in a separate area and take it down to Moscow Recycling myself when I hit a critical mass.

For the Intermediate level, as you know, much of this work is now done for us! However, I have kept the list of dos and don’ts on my frig as a handy resource so I can decide what can and cannot go into the single-stream bin. I have to monitor what my dad puts in, as he thinks some of the plastics he uses can go in and they cannot. When my family is in town, I have to monitor their stuff, too, as Seattle has an even better system. They can put everything but food waste in, and they all have a compost bin for that stuff … nice.

We do reuse a lot of things, too. I often reuse cardboard boxes for storage and when we get a plastic bag (I do use reusable bags … but now and again we get one), Dad uses them for his bathroom waste. If we get a lot of them, they, too, can go into the recycling bin. I think our biggest recycling waste is newspapers and aluminum cans! Still, we manage to fill the bin every two weeks. Our garbage bin is much, much smaller now that we have done single-stream.

Expert level: We have been recycling for years, actually. As I mentioned earlier, I have to monitor the recycling bin to make sure things don’t end up there that shouldn’t AND to make sure things don’t go into the garbage that could be recycled. I help my dad with that. (He is 90… give him a break.)

How did it turn out!? Really well. As I mentioned, single-stream has been a blessing. It has really increased the amount of recycling we do because it is so much easier that even those who aren’t used to recycling can do it, too. I do have to make sure that glass is set aside because I will take that myself. Dad would just toss it … no, no! So, that is a constant learning curve for us. When family visit, I go through the recycling info with them so we don’t end up with beer bottles in the bin.

My sincere hope is that the single-stream is working for Moscow. It is difficult in a rural area for recycling centers to get a critical mass that is worth the energy to transport. Economically, that can be a tricky thing. Recycling is great, but does using fossil fuel to get it to the treatment plant offset the benefits of doing it? It is a question greenies need to consider, not because we shouldn’t do it, but because we need to fight to make it even better.”

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Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Little Scrappers, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,200 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,226 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/Little Scrappers Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I snagged the opportunity to do one of my favorite things (scrapbooking), and one thing I’d always wanted to do (ice skating).

Henri Giacomotto, ‘La patineuse’

Piper’s family invited me along on their family outing to the rink, and I was pleased as punch to lace up my new skates and try my skillz at waltzing/turning/spinning/arabesquing falling/crashing/bruising/face-planting. I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, so I borrowed some shin guards from Andy and placed my bike helmet safely atop my curls (better safe than brain damaged, I always say).

Piper was new at this, too, so I was not alone. Not skating, unfortunately, but scrapbooking; so I tried to convince myself we were on a level playing field. We were soooo not. Turns out, skating is much harder to master than cutting and gluing. Or at least, so I thought. (The little whippersnapper really cannot cut in a straight line. I tried to ignore it and patted her on the head reassuringly. Or at least I would have had I not been gliding by like elegant ballerina gimpy penguin.)

Piper took lots of pictures to commemorate my big day and to paste lovingly into her first scrapbook. She can really multitask; she was decorating borders at the same time she was sashaying ‘round the rink. I can relate though; I was multitasking too. I was outlining a rough draft of my Last Will and Testament as I crashed unceremoniously into a Hot Cocoa Booth (that thing came outta nowhere).

photo, Alanna George via Wikimedia Commons

I was very much patting myself on my (thrown-out) back over the use of the helmet. It saved my noggin from crackin’ in four or five places at least, and it also came in handy as our day came to a (blessed) close and I used it to hold all of Piper’s photos on the way back to the car. She skipped along merrily, and I limped like a one-legged pirate who’d had too much rum.

I had mistakenly assumed Piper would use a digital camera, or even her mommy’s cell phone, but she had an adorable Polaroid Snap, so the photos were ready for pasting asap. Photographic evidence suggests I am a professional photo bomber, but in my defense, they were nearly all unintentional … you try staying out of a family’s nice picture when you’re standing on ice in shoes with tiny strips of metal on them. Yeah. Harder than it looks. Photo after photo, I am a blur of panic, leaving not-quite-death and destruction in my wake, as I skated by, knocking out elderly senior citizens and small children alike. Hey, don’t feel too bad; those grannies really know how to move out of the way when they’re motivated. I figure I saved them from having to go to Jazzercise this week.

I would have helped Piper more when we got home with her scrapbooking, but I needed to put a heat pack on my back and a bag of frozen peas on my tushy. She assured me she could figure out the intricacies of album arranging without me and would bring the finished product by for a looksee after my long winter’s nap and after my toes recovered from frostbite.

I’m thinking the skates will make nice flower planters. Is there a badge for that?

ice skate planters, Macys.com

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