Monthly Archives: August 2017

Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Farmyard to Kitchen, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,428 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,782 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 Garden Gate/Farmyard to Kitchen Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I brought back Andy, Nora, and Piper to put some finishing touches on what we’d learned during our Beginner Level badge adventuring. (Oh, you thought you EARN badges here? No, no, silly goose, we ADVENTURE them.)

They had gone through the whole gallon of cream-on-top, fresh-from-the-cow milk I had given them in no time. I had assumed one of their mamas would get to experience the bliss that is fresh cream in her morning cuppa joe, but evidently, Nora got to it first and used it on her oatmeal. She however got to experience some bliss so all was not lost.

They had also spent a whole week eating only fresh, organic chicken eggs, and they were mightily impressed.

“Aunty!” They told me (as if I didn’t know), “The yolks are bright orange! Like, practically glow in the dark! And they taste sooooooo good!”

I was pleased as punch and proud as a peacock (hey, do peacocks lay eggs?). Now it was time to mooo-ve along to discussing what types of chickens lay what colors of eggs.

“I want a pink egg!” shouted Piper. “And a purple one with sparkles!”

“Um, yeah, not happening. Focus, little sprite. This here is a Rhode Island Red.” We were in the backyard coop, the better to teach in a visual manner. I read that in a book once. Kids like visual stimuli. And, if I do say so myself, my backyard is even better than a picture book. “And that one over there, looking disgruntled and cranky, is a Gold Laced Frizzle.”

“Are we gonna have to spell these?” Andy wanted to know, looking even more suspicious than my Gold Laced Frizzle.

“No. Which is good, because that one is a Wyandotte. And that one over there is a Plymouth Rock. Isn’t she adorable?”

“Which one lays striped eggs?” Piper again. Good thing she’s cute, because sometimes I wonder about her intelligence.

“Uh, none of them.”

“Ack!” shrieked Nora suddenly. “What is that giant puffball? That walking cotton candy? Oh my gosh, I am in love!”

“Oh, that’s a Silky. Yes, she’s pretty cuddly.”

“I bet she lays Cadbury Eggs, right, Aunty?” Piper whispered to me.


“Okay, kids, let’s head back to the kitchen. I have some new milk I want you to try.”

“Yes!” Nora fist-pumped. “My oatmeal was totally lonely this morning.”

At the kitchen counter, they bellied up to the bar, so to speak. I used my smallest juice glasses to pour shots of a few different types of dairy for the smallfries. In order to keep them guessing (and to keep the “EWWWW”s to a minimum), I kept the containers under wraps. This was to be a blind tasting. I had goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, a bland store-bought skim cow’s milk (shudder, shudder), and of course, fresh, whole, organic, cow’s milk.

“Man, I was hoping for chocolate, but this is good too,” said Andy.

“I like #2,” said Nora. “But not that one that tastes like weird water.” Down the drain went the skim, and good riddance.

“I like them all! Another round!” shouted Piper, banging her glass down. “Barkeep! Keep ‘em coming! And make mine a double!”

We drank our milk and made guesses as to the source all afternoon till… well, I guess you could say until the cows came home.

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World Beard Day

What, you didn’t know?

You mean to tell me you’ve never properly celebrated this upcoming important holiday?

Fitzhugh Lee Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

That’s okay, I forgive you. But in order to show proper penance, I’d like to you to memorize these whisker-ocious facts (and maybe post a photo in the comments of the most highly groomed bearded man in your life).

  • World Beard Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of September (mark those calendars).
  • You may think this is a new holiday, but, my mustached friend, you’d be wrong. There is actually evidence that the Danish Vikings had their own Beard Day as far back as 800 AD. And you know those Vikings—they really knew how to party.
  • In Donksburg, Sweden, they banish all of the un-bearded to the forest to spend a day and a night (probably thinking about what they’ve done!). Their effigies are burnt to a satisfying crisp in the village by those who have the very best in facial hair. Seems a tad bit harsh … but also humorous.
  • In southern Spain, the locals enjoy a boxing match between a bearded man and an un-bearded one. The bearded one always wins. Of course, he’s the only one allowed to be armed, so things are a bit swayed in his favor.
  • It is considered extremely disrespectful to shave on World Beard Day. Don’t even think about it! Prefer your hunk of burning love to be smooth skinned? Best have him shave the day before and ignore a little stubble.

photo, Ikie2 Designed by Incredibeard via Wikimedia Commons

If you or the significant other in your life can’t quite wrap your brain around (or can’t quite grow) a fully impressive set of whiskers, perhaps a mustache is the place to start. He can even participate in the highly competitive The World Beard and Mustache Championships, located this upcoming September in Northern California. There are all sorts of categories to sign up for, from the humble Dali Mustache to the Imperial and the Freestyle Goatee. Check out these past winners and prepare to be inspired by follicle greatness!

Whatever your preference, opinions about facial hair are varied and sometimes quite amusing. Check out these quotes about the fabulous beard:

“I have the terrible feeling that, because I am wearing a white beard and am sitting in the back of the theatre, you expect me to tell you the truth about something. These are the cheap seats, not Mount Sinai.” ~ Orson Welles

“You know, I just tend to grow my beard out for ‘Parks and Rec.’ As an actor it’s always easier to shave or cut your hair for a role, but it’s hard to put fake hair on or grow hair for a role. When you look at pictures of me, the longer my hair is, the longer my facial hair is, that’s just the longer I haven’t gotten a job.” ~ Chris Pratt

“I will never shave off my beard and moustache. I did once, for charity, but my wife said, ‘Good grief, how awful, you look like an American car with all the chrome removed.” ~ Rolf Harris

“A man’s face is not a rich person’s lawn; you are wasting resources if you devote that much energy to trimming your beard, sideburns, or mustache just so. Nor is a man’s face the woods; there need not be the tangled weeds, shrubbery, and wildlife/eggs benedict that get ensnared in them.” ~ Ellie Kemper

“A decent beard has long been the number one must-have fashion item for any fugitive from justice.” ~ Craig Brown

“Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic. You don’t mind going through a little bush to get there!” ~ Minnie Pearl

Well, have I convinced you? Raise your pint of ale high to this most manly of all holidays. (And be prepared to share your styling gel. Just sayin’.)

None of the men in my family are sporting beards this summer, but the ear of fresh sweet corn I had last night for dinner had a kind of beard …

and my bees are “bearding” (forming “beards” on the outside of the hive during hot weather to keep the hive from overheating).

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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 … Michal Cole!

Michal Cole (#7441) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Sew Wonderful Merit Badge!

“I put together a sewing kit for my daughter, who will be a junior in college at the University of Idaho. I like to try and do a fun back-to-school gift, but as she is in her third year, she has more than enough of the typical items. When I last visited her, she commented on all the little baggies she had of extra buttons from the clothes she gets, so when I read the requirements for this badge, it all just kind of came together. There is a significance behind the acorns. She is in a sorority, and the name of her “family” in that sorority is the acorn branch of the nut family tree. I thought it would be fun to include those. I had so much fun putting it together!

I included two small Mason jars, one for the many extra buttons she has. The other has several bobbins wrapped with thread, and some empty ones. She is a lefty, so I bought her left-handed scissors, and sticking with her signature color, spray-painted them pink. I also added a scissors fob with her initial and an acorn and a pretty button as well as a felt cover for the blades. I made her a needle book based on a pattern from Nana Company. I added a small pocket to it to house a soft measuring tape, a seam ripper, and an ez-pull bodkin. Lastly, I crocheted a small amigurumi acorn, wrapped some steel wool in batting, and stuffed it for a pincushion. For the straight pins, I found some cute heart-tipped ones and included those.


I think it came together in such a fun and cute way. It was my first shot at making the needle case, so next time, I will make some adjustments, but otherwise, I am really happy with the results.”

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Today’s Recipe: Summer Squash Bread

Tip: Ashley made some of this to take on one of our recent family camping trip and used it to make French toast. It might sound odd, but it was divine. I may never go back to plain ole French toast.


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Firefly Experience

“When I walk through a quiet forest in the middle of the night full of fireflies, I feel like I am in a magical forest. I see fireflies being a mere reflection of stars under the Milky Way, I feel connected to everything in the universe. They are communicating to me. I am listening …”

Photo by Jud McCranie via Wikimedia Commons

These are the poetic words of photographer Radim Schreiber.

Schreiber was born in the Czech Republic, but now lives in a fairyland called … Iowa.

Yup. The Hawkeye State. Corn fields and combines.

Sometimes, it takes a fresh perspective to see the ordinary as extraordinary.

“When I first moved to Iowa, I was mesmerized by the abundance and brightness of fireflies during summer nights. During my childhood in the Czech Republic, I had never seen anything like that,” he recounts on his website, “It was in 2003, and I was on the plane when I felt inspired. So, I made a sketch on a paper; it was a glowing firefly on a silhouetted blade of grass, with the moon in the background and the dark-blue sky. Since then I had this image in my head, waiting for the right time to materialize.”

Taking advantage of recent advancements in the low-light capabilities of camera equipment, Schreiber began to photograph fireflies in 2008. “The most challenging aspect of firefly photography is the fleeting nature of fireflies. When they glow, they like to fly or move. They never seem to be still for very long, and so I struggle to quickly compose my shots. It was sometimes almost complete darkness and I took the photo right when the firefly illuminated … and all that when being bitten by other insects. This truly shows my patience,” he says with a smile.

Photo by Jud McCranie,

Perhaps even more delightful than his photos, though, is Schreiber’s Firefly Experience, which you are about to experience right here.

But before you do, be warned: if you are far from firefly country or have never known the magic of fireflies in person, you will pine. Yearn, even. Fireflies are just that fantastic.

Willing to take the risk? Then, immerse yourself in the Firefly Experience …

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