Buy props used in MaryJane’s books and magazine!
All proceeds (minus shipping and packing) will benefit www.firstbook.org, a non-profit that provides new books to children from low-income families throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“Ah, wisteria … my favorite. I had one when I was young and newly married and living in a very old house. Since then, I only long for another,” Beverly (Bee Haven Maven) wistfully writes. “I have a picture in my mind of an arbor with wisteria on either side and a great old wooden porch swing hanging beneath. My peaceful dream is only interrupted by the buzzing of bees around my head—they really love the blossoms. Perhaps this will be another project for another year…”
I feel certain that Bev is not the only one feeling wistful for wisteria this time of year. They are truly lovely, but not easily grown on a whim. Cultivating these divine vines requires time and patience (like, years’ worth). So, if you’re planning a planting, prepare for a two- to three-year process of hurry-up-and-wait.
Another consideration before shopping for seeds: only two varieties of wisteria are native to the U.S. This fact matters because the Asian varieties (Wisteria sinensis and Wisteria floribunda) are considered invasive, noxious weeds that will aggressively spread and displace native vegetation.
“Consider growing the less invasive American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which grows in Zones 5 to 9. The vine grows 25 to 30 feet long with shiny, dark-green leaves and large, drooping lilac or purple-blue flower clusters, which appear after the plant has leafed out. However, note that the flowers are unscented, unlike the Asian Wisteria,” advises the Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Another native American is Wisteria macrostachya (Zones 4 to 9) or Kentucky wisteria. This late-season bloomer is native to the southeastern U.S. and bears unscented bluish-purple flowers after growing only two to three years, making it the quickest wisteria to bloom.”
Rather than wait for wisteria to bloom, take a (virtual) vacation to Kawachi Fuji Garden in Kitakyushu, Japan. This gorgeous garden boasts over 100 flowering wisteria plants from 20 different species. The voluminous vines create Kawachi Fuji’s famous wisteria tunnel.
The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,387 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,656 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/Big Kid Now Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Piper, Andy, Nora, and Yours Truly buckled down. When we earned our Beginner Level Merit Badge, we had checked out most of the Non-Fiction section of the local library, and now we were settling in for a long winter’s nap. I mean, a long afternoon of reading. Also, it’s fall. I really gotta work on my analogies.
Is there a badge for that?
We had so many books we spent an hour organizing them, which caused some issues. Pipes likes organizing things by color (you should see her nail polish collection), Nora recently learned how to alphabetize and wanted to show her skillz, and Andy, well, Andy is Andy and mostly he wants to do the opposite of what the girls want to do. He just wanted to stack his books up high and play a game of Jenga with them.
I had to pull out my Auntie card and show ‘em I meant business. I mean, this was the easy part: finding a career they could really sink their teeth into. After that, the hard part came: putting together costumes for their said career and presenting it to their loved ones. I had stage fright already.
We spent some time looking through our tomes of inspiration and organizing them according to our own personal preferences. We also did some swapping between one another. Evidently, Andy lost interest in deep-sea diving for treasure and sunken ships because … well, sharks. But Nora decided sharks were merely misunderstood creatures and she snagged the book on deep-sea diving. Then Pipes decided she wasn’t interested in hair and cosmetology after all because fumes give her a headache, but Andy was kinda into the idea of styling coiffures. So, at the end of a day, they had chosen their professions (liable to change eleventy-seven times, plus four):
Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)
Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)
My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Teresa Roberson!
Teresa Roberson (carolinacateyes, #7386) has received a certificate of achievement in Each Other for earning a Beginner Level Plant It Forward Merit Badge!
“I wish I had taken a picture of my small but beautiful garden! I purposely planted more than I can use to give to the elderly lady next door. When I was raising my children on a limited income, she and her husband always gave me vegetables out of their garden. Now it is my turn to return the giving. I delivered extra zucchini and yellow crookneck squash to her yesterday. Next week, I will share the first of the tomatoes and soon there will be fresh corn, onions, and green beans.
Although I plan to can some of the extras out of my garden, I have to remember my next door neighbor, Ruby. She is a widow now in her late eighties and not in good health. After several strokes, she is unable to tend a garden. She is so very excited every time I share produce with her. She knows there will eventually be canned homemade vegetable soup for the winter. I prefer to give back to her; I know where my produce is going and she is in need this time of her life.”
Tiny homes are all the rage right now. And us farmgirls probably aren’t all that surprised. After all, downsizing, living responsibly and sustainably, saving money, leaving a small footprint, and going “off the grid” are all things we old-fashioned gals cherish. The average U.S. home is around 2,100 square feet, and the average tiny home is between 100–400 feet. That’s a lot of downsizing for some of us! But then again, before you panic at the thought, consider pop-up trailers, Airstreams, and glamping. We heart those things. Could you live there, not just vacation there?
Could you, would you, should you?
Millions of Americans are, and they aren’t looking back, either. When you think about actually owning your own home, instead of paying rent or a seemingly never-ending mortgage to the bank, the daydream starts to take shape. For most Americans, 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; and because of it, 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. (Check out this site for more statistics.)
And getting rid of stuff and clutter has been shown to be a huge stress and depression reliever. Tossing all of those Halloween decorations, Aunt Sybil’s ashtray collection, or 10 years’ worth of Better Homes and Garden ‘zines can really soothe your soul. It’s science!
But the tiny house is trend isn’t really a trend. After all, tiny houses go back hundreds of years.
Varda wagons were tiny houses used by the British Romani gypsies, most often during the 1850s through the first part of the twentieth century, which was their day in the sun, so to speak. Outfitted with cast-iron stoves and usually decorated lavishly, they make some of the tiny homes on the shows featured on television (Tiny House Hunters; Tiny House, Big Living; Tiny House Nation; and Tiny House Builder, to name a few) pale in comparison.
Some of the best and most impressive varda wagons are gone forever. The Romanis have a tradition of burning the wagons, along with all the owner’s possessions, after the death of the person. Our loss!
The Romanis still travel to this day, but nowadays, they mostly prefer caravans, with long lines of modern looking campers, glampers, trailers, Subaru Outbacks, and Costco tents. Occasionally, you’ll still find the horse-drawn vardas, especially for special occasions like the Appleby Horse Fair, pictured here:
If you’re lucky enough to find one for sale (whether it be a real gypsy wagon or a modern tiny home), snatch it up. You can be like the beloved children’s author, Roald Dahl, who bought a varda for his children to play in, then later, transformed it into his writing office/nook.
Just promise us you won’t have it burned after your death, okay?