Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Do Your Eyes Light Up? Expert 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? Expert Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Nora and I stopped resting on our laurels from earning our Intermediate Level badge and got back to work.

Side note: how do you rest on laurels, anyway? Please advise. Is it like sitting on a tuffet?

Now that we knew the names of all of our tools and had also organized them, it was time to put them to good use. Earning our next badge required us to roll up our sleeves, don our safety glasses, and DIY all day long until the cows came home, or until our DIY abilities couldn’t DIY any longer. Whichever came first.

Side note #2: if you didn’t organize and/or purchase safety glasses while earning your Intermediate Level badge, you may or may not be forced to wear hot pink swimming goggles at this point.

Our project was a luminary. Not to be confused with the illuminati. One you can hang from the ceiling or a tree for a lovely and stylish lantern, and the other … well, I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to put a candle in them.

Side note #3: you can of course, use candles for your project, but I recommend those battery-powered tea lights. Less danger of burning down your ‘hood.

There were plenty of ideas floating around the ol’ interweb on how to make a beautiful and fully functional luminary, and we got a bit lost down the bunny trail for a while trying to decide. Being list people, we naturally had to write down our favorites and then choose.

Side note #4: writing lists in goggles isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I recommend waiting on the goggle wearing until you actually have your hammer and nails in hand.

  • Mason-jar luminaries (since there weren’t many tools involved in this one, if any, we scratched it off the list).
  • “House” luminaries made of strong cardstock or cardboard. These are especially cute when they’re holiday themed: snowy and Victorian looking for Christmas, haunted and creepy for Halloween. Again, not enough tools for us hammer and nail crazed farmgirls, so we shelved this one for another afternoon.
  • Tin-can luminaries. You can make sweet, mini ones using pop cans, or larger ones using the family-sized cans of diced tomatoes, tinned peaches, etc.
  • Paper-sack luminaries, made from … well, you guessed it, paper sacks. These are fun when you want to use a lot, and maybe spell something out, with a letter per sack. Again though, not hands-on enough for Nora. Preschool project, Aunty, she said with a miffed sniff. If anyone has the miffed sniff down, it’s Nora. So last year.
  • Floating Witch Hat luminary. These are oh-so adorbs for Halloween as well. Take a pointed witch hat from the dollar store or thrift store, pop in a glow stick, and hang from the ceiling of your porch to delight your trick or treaters. The more the merrier with this one.
  • Milk jug or wine bottle luminaries. Painted and decorated, these have unlimited potential, and they’re a great way to teach your little farmkid about upcycling and keeping things out of our landfills.

Well, it’s no surprise we chose to do mostly the tin-can luminaries, with a couple milk-jug ones thrown in for good measure. Teaching a smallfry to use a hammer is an exercise in patience and bravado, by the way. Is there a badge for that? Cuz I earned one, let me tell you. I almost taught her how to use the drill, but I got skeered by the wild look in her baby blues.

Maybe next time. Until then, we are lighting up our evening skies with a whole collection of luminaries. If you see a glowing orb down the street, follow it … it’s me. And I have snacks.

Mostly tinned peaches and diced tomatoes.


  1. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    Not being that swell with tools, i would vote for the paper bags filled with sand luminaries. There are also the (some time involved ) frozen ice ones, which are gorgeous and you can used dried flowers, pine cones and such from your gardens. I just love them. Keep your nights bright and warm and think about the shooting stars ( meteor showers) coming in December.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I need to attend your basics tool class with the young cultivators. I never really had anyone show me the correct way to work with basic tools, and as a result, I am not handy at all. Do you think Nora and the others would agree to a Grandma in their presence??

  3. Krista says:

    These luminaries sound so fun! I have actually been eyeing a couple Mason-jar luminaries. Especially the Christmas looking ones with letters on them. I hoping to make some for this year. If not I will definitely be making some for next year. I will have to try some of the others as well.

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