Monthly Archives: December 2017



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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Toys, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

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/Toys Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I brought along a willing Nora and a not-so-willing Andy. Being the eldest, Andy thought he was far too old to be playing with toys, especially of the “girly” doll variety.

I wrangled him into submission with a stern talk about being young-at-heart forever (can I get an amen?), the promise that once his badge was earned he didn’t have to play with his creations if he really didn’t want to (cough, cough), and also a rather ginormous slice of apple spice cake with homemade whipped cream.

You know what they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Or is it, the way to a man’s heart is through his ribcage?

Well, I’ve heard it both ways.

Anyway, to earn our Intermediate Level badges (Piper had earned hers earlier in the year and was patiently waiting for us to catch up), we needed to make some DIY paper dolls or finger puppets. Still nursing paper cuts from my experience with Piper, we settled on finger and sock puppets for Andy and Nora.

photo by Diablanco via Wikimedia Commons

Perfect for a rainy afternoon, I got out my basket of scrap material and the catch-all of abandoned and single socks I keep next to the dryer. You know the ones: hard to toss because you’re sure the mate is around here somewhere, but he’s probably off gallivanting in some sort of mid-life sock crisis, driving a convertible, and flirting with striped knee-highs and sophisticated argyles.

photo by Tony Alter via Wikimedia Commons

Having given up all hope of ever seeing their mates ever again, they were relegated to official Sock Puppet Status (except one polka-dotted thigh-high who had ambitions to be a Sock Monkey one day). Andy got to work, his tongue between his teeth in what I had learned long ago was standard Andy concentration mode.

Nora was more interested in the finger puppet variety (she loves her some miniatures), and she spent hours making families. A few different ways she experimented making her finger puppets were:

  • Felt. Lots of felt! Even if you don’t make the bodies out of felt, you’re going to want lots of color varieties for facial features and accessories. But if you do want to make the bodies from your felt collection, it’s easy: cut out tubular shapes slightly larger than your fingers and sew or fabric glue together.

  • Crochet or knit your finger puppet bodies.
  • Using pipe cleaners, twist very loosely around your fingers (you want to be able to remove them and put them back on again). Attach your heads made of felt to the tops using glue.
  • With construction paper or cardboard, cut out animals or people shapes. Punch two holes large enough for fingers to be inserted through in the bottom of each puppet. This will give your character “legs,” which can be quite hilarious in your puppet show.
  • Snip apart old gloves (remember when I mentioned my Lonely Hearts Sock Single Club in my laundry room? There’s another chapter in my hall closet, but for gloves). Use the separate fingers to decorate into puppets.

Don’t forget to add googly eyes, glitter, hats, sequins, etc. Decorating these are almost as much fun as playing with them afterwards. While Andy insisted his collection was being given away for Christmas gifts for his small cousins, I did notice he pocketed his favorite when he thought I wasn’t looking.

Don’t worry, Andy, real men CAN play with puppets! Think of all the Muppets! And just watch Fred Astaire and Edward Everett Horton playing with finger puppets in the 1934 film classic, The Gay Divorcee.

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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 Kimberly Nelson!

Kimberly Nelson (kmnelson77, #3492) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level Shopping Green Merit Badge!

“For this merit badge, I had to acquire some reusable shopping bags. I’ve been using reusable bags for quite some time, but many of my bags needed replacing, so I picked up a few new ones so I had at least six. I also used a reusable bag I already had to hold all of my reusable bags and placed them in the bin in my car, so they are always with me on grocery shopping day.

Having the new bags has worked well. They are stiffer and stand up better for the person bagging my groceries. Having them all in one bag is easy to grab and having them in the car definitely helps to have them when you need them. No more, I forgot my bags at home!”

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Today’s Recipe: Baked Eggnog French Toast


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Christmas Traditions to Try

One of the best parts of the holiday season are the traditions you and your family begin and carry on. If you don’t have any, start some now.

P.S. I don’t recommend picking out more than two or three, otherwise your own personal holiday tradition may be an impression of Mrs. Grinch.

Photo, Lumières de Noël, à Montbéliard by Thomas Bresson via Wikimedia Commons

  • In Iceland, a popular Christmas tradition is giving new books on Christmas Eve. Then you spend your whole evening reading books in bed, and eating chocolate! Um, yes please.
  • Another popular tradition is exchanging pajamas on Christmas Eve. Everyone wears them to sleep and voila! … instant cuteness on Christmas morning.
  • If you have multiple children, a fun tradition is to wrap all their gifts in their own individual wrapping paper, no tags. In order to find out which paper hides their gifts, you hide a small scrap in the toe of their stocking.
  • “Santa Bags” are large bags for your children to put their old toys in (you choose the number) in order to be donated to those in need. Then, they’ll learn about charity and giving and they’ll have room in their toy box for anything new they receive.
  • Wrap up your collection of Christmas movies and unwrap one each night to watch.
  • Go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt: Make up your own list with items to check off that include things like a light-up reindeer, a Santa on the roof, more than four candy canes, elves, Snoopy, penguins, etc.
  • Get each family member a new ornament each year. At some point before Christmas day, sneak them onto the tree and see who notices first. You could even have a prize.
  • If you aren’t normally a church-going person, think about attending a candle-lit service or a midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
  • Go caroling with hot cocoa.
  • Dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus for a holiday party.
  • Have an Annual Snowflake Cut-Out Competition.
  • Throw an Ugly Christmas Sweater party, or a White Elephant Gift party.
  • Have a Christmas campout in the living room, near the tree.
  • Every other year, only give and receive homemade gifts with your family members.
  • A lot of people enjoy going to a movie on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, but you might consider trying a local production of the Nutcracker ballet, or see if your local community theater is performing something like A Christmas Carol or White Christmas.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Do Your Eyes Light Up? Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 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? Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I took advantage of my little helper-around-the-house extraordinaire, Nora. And by take advantage of, I mean taught a valuable life lesson.

What? You think I have an ulterior motive in my offer to babysit the little squirt? So cynical, dear reader! I would never!

Okay, maybe I would just a little. You see, I had misplaced my umpteenth tool for the last time. There’s never a hammer around when I need one, I haven’t seen my good flathead screwdriver since the summer of ’99, and when it comes to pliers … well, I know they’re around here someplace.

Nora loves a good organization project, and she was old enough now to teach the basics of a good toolbox. After all, she’d be in shop class soon enough, building crooked birdhouses, sawing off fingers 2X4s, building benches that list to one side … Sunrise, sunset. *nostalgic sniffle*

Anyway, we had an afternoon to spend and I was in desperate need of my measuring tape. Total coincidence, I assure you. First, lovingly instruct the kiddo. If we find the missing measuring tape, just a happy accident. Ahem.

First, we organized what we could find. My toolbox was frightfully embarrassing, I don’t mind telling you. I mean, it made my junk drawer in the kitchen look posh and well-thought out. There was a spilled bag of zip-ties sprinkled throughout, bent nails, broken and busted halves of things, a couple dried up paintbrushes, a butter knife (don’t ask), and some dead flies. I bear no responsibility for those guys, though.

But alas, no measuring tape or my good flathead screwdriver. The mystery deepened and the plot thickened, kind of like a Thanksgiving gravy but less lumpy.

Part of earning her badge was to learn the names of said tools, but she already knew quite a few. This led to her shouting around the house with a wrench,

It was Professor Plum in the kitchen!

Sometimes it’s difficult to get the little whippersnapper to focus. We ate a snack to feed our brains and tummies and got back to work.

After cleaning out the toolbox (Nora insisted on affixing some glitter stickers to the outside), we arranged the tools back inside in a much less haphazard way than we had found them. We also had a small, but respectful, funeral and eulogy for the flies. Nora prepared a lovely speech and we sang a few hymns. We figured that was the least we could do since they were getting the rather undignified disposal of joining the dustbin debris.

We were still missing the aforementioned tools and I was starting to panic over the lack of a decent hammer in my life. I’ve pounded small nails in my walls with a shoe one too many times to find it clever and/or cute. Also, it’s hard on the shoes.

So, off we went on an excursion to the garage. You know, the dimly lit room where perfectly good tools go to die. Or at least become missing in action. Seriously! In action! Like right in the middle of popping open a tin of paint in ’99 and wham, bam, thank you ma’am, my flathead screwdriver disappeared without a trace.

I don’t feel like Dateline or Law and Order takes seriously enough the millions of missing tools around the world.

(Don’t even get me started on socks.)

After about an hour, we found one MIA tool. As Nora exclaimed as she held it high in triumph,

It was Aunty Jane in the garage with the hammer!

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