Six Years Later

It’s been gasp six years since my last post.

I do have a pint-size excuse. I’ve been busy adding to my family, a sweet adorable scrumptious little boy. Meet Tristan Nicholas.

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And Mia, in the last six years (who had blonde hair that curled ever so slightly when she was Tristan’s age), has grown into her teen years with hair that has turned into a million tightly wound reddish-toned ringlets, gorgeous! And big sister, Stella, my oldest, lost her curls, plays basketball, and has her driver’s license! Mia plays basketball, too. Papa Lucas, my husband, was a basketball coach at Gonzaga years ago when we were dating and dreamed of a family.

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Anyone Else Hungry for Summer?

I was looking for a specific photo this afternoon and found some summer photos. Are you as ready for summer as my girls and I are?

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  1. Lorraine Hess says:

    Beautiful, beautiful. Warmth & sunshine. I can hardly wait! Snow dusting tonight in Wisconsin.

  2. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    oh my yes! we are to get our 4th nor’easter starting today- the first day of spring! Mother Nature is mean today! I AM DREAMING ABOUT SUMMER NOW
    Anyway HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING MaryJane

  3. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    oops forgot to wish you a happy first day of spring Meg also! we are to get 7+ inches of snow akkk- nope I’m dreaming of summer for sure now.

  4. Barbara Criss says:

    These are all beautiful pictures and you are so lucky to have your lovely little girls. Everybody I know is totally sick of winter. This has been the coldest wettest March I can remember. Heavy wet snow for West Virginia tonight. It will flatten all my daffodils that are blooming. But—cheer up folks summer has to come sooner or later and then we’ll be fussing because we’re too hot. I’m going to throw another log on the fire and enjoy not having to mow grass and hoe the garden for a little while longer. If you can’t beat em—join em.

  5. Deb Bosworth says:

    So cute, Meg!!! The girls have grown so much! They are darling little farmgirls! I definitely am ready for Summer! More snow and rain headed our way tomorrow but at least it’s officially Spring! Hugs!
    Deb

  6. Lisa Bell says:

    Great pictures! Yes! I am ready for summer-I am watching it snow right now. Ugh

  7. Daizy Bailes says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I am soooo ready for…..spring! Summer down here is long and hot …and humid! Therefore, I will take spring…a good long, sweet, WARM ( not hot) spring. Today there is a nip in the air with the feel of warmth on the edge. I am ready to plant my flower gardens and vegetables too but have to be patient a little longer.

    Seeing your littles brings back many sweet memories. I am about to be a Granddam for the first time this summer so we will have a little on the ranch once again. I am uber excited!!! It’s a girl and her momma and daddy are naming her after her grandmother and great grandmother…..Jacqueline Louise. July will be here before I know it!!!

    Sending you and yours many hugs and prayers.
    Daizy #1093
    The Poor House Ranch
    Alabama

  8. Connie says:

    Great pictures, I’m sure ready 🙂

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Spring Daydreams in a Snowstorm

Working on a newsletter piece for a spring issue, I decided to do something with terra cotta pots. Now, this sounded like a lovely craft project while I dream of spring as the snow piles up out here and the temperatures have been dipping below zero.

But …IMG_9741

getting to the garden shed to gather some pots was…

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a bit of an adventure in the middle of a snowstorm!

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But in the name of a good craft project, I persevered.

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Now that we’ve finished laughing at my coordination and bright idea, we’re warming up with a cup of tea. Cheers to spring daydreams and refreshing winter storms!

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  1. melissa eloe says:

    That made me smile!!! We are near Spokane, and I hear you about the snow. I can’t wait to see your project that made braving the snow worth it!

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    That’s like me trying to dig the rest of the carrots from our garden yesterday. We got about 2 feet of snow last week and while some of it has melted it was still no small task to get to the carrots. I had covered them with plastic and a metal frame to keep them from freezing and keep the deer out of them. BUT, finding any of that was interesting. We had gotten TONS of rain in January before the snow, so the ground was super saturating and still not frozen under the insulating cover of snow. I found the carrots, dug them up and there was SOOOOOOO MUCH MUD!!!! Then, I had to take and hose them down . . . outside, in the snow! What a mess and I was wet and muddy! They are all now clean, scrubbed and put away . . hubby also made a delicious pot of carrot soup for supper last night too!

  3. Paula Stone says:

    I can so relate. This is me shoveling to get to the greenhouse to get seed trays so I can start seeds in the house and dream of spring.

  4. Karlyne says:

    I know your snow isn’t terrrrribly deep, but snow shoes are great for tromping around in – if you don’t have a pair, you need one! (I seem to remember pix of antique ones in the mag?). We’ve had such a pile-up around the house that they’ve been invaluable this year.

  5. Krista says:

    Your winter snow pileup is looking like ours here in Utah! Even though I am dreaming of spring and getting outside more, I am grateful for all our snow. We definitely need the water. Have fun with your spring craft project. Can’t wait to see it!

  6. Nielsen,Winifred T. says:

    Gosh, you have quite a lot of deep snow everywhere! Guess that will melt and make for a moist ground for all of those garden plans that will be coming in another 2 months.

  7. Bettyanne says:

    Loved seeing the snow. I live in Alabama now and do not really get any. Lived in Rhode Island and loved the snow and going snowshoeing in New Hampshire.

  8. Diana Shelton says:

    lol, Great Job! Your craft ideas are always wonderful so, I am sure it was worth the trouble. I am always excited and impatiently waiting for the next mag. Keep warm, enjoy the tea and have fun in the new craft project.

  9. Debbie says:

    Hi Meg!
    I love your boots! Look forward to seeing your craft project. We finally invested in a snowblower this year and wouldn’t you know it’s only snowed twice so far. February usually brings more our way. Keep thinking spring!

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Celebrating Sophia with a Winter Shower

In our “Stitchin’ Post” Oct/Nov 2016 issue of MaryJanesFarm, I demonstrated how to carve carve an old window using a dremel by engraving the name “Sophia Grace” for my dear friend’s new baby.

So, a couple of weekends ago, we finally got around to a formal celebration of this sweet little addition in our lives.

Here are a few snippets from the weekend.

I don’t have the juices, San Pellegrino, and champagne loaded in the white bucket yet in the above photo, but do try a San Pellegrino, pear juice, and fresh thyme sprig for your winter festivities. Delicious!

And anything and everything ought to be garnished in baby’s breath and tree trimmings, don’t youu think? The centerpiece garland is actually from the base of our Christmas tree. Perfect.

We went all white for our dessert table in honor of our little sweet pea. Three mamas did all the cooking!

Here we are attempting to gracefully enjoy our Russian Teacakes while dressed in black. I should have taken a picture of the pile of powdered sugar at our feet.

To the left is Sophia’s mama, Christin. Then, myself and Tina, to the right, have been honored with the joint title of Godmothers.

And who doesn’t love baby feet??

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  1. Nielsen,Winifred T. says:

    Megan, your shower table looks like a Pinterest moment!! Everything is so beautiful and I bet delicious too. I am sure everyone had a wonderful time celebrating Sophia’s arrival. And you are right, baby feet are the sweetest ever. I love how their little chubby toes curl up.

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    Beautiful! Looks like a sweet, serene celebration! Knowing you, Meg, I’m sure it was elegant, classy and superb!
    cj

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Beginning to Feel a Lot Like… Valentine’s Day??

Well, we’ve wrapped up another magazine issue. While most folks are pondering their holiday meals, winter festivities, and gift giving, we’ve put the finishing touches on Valentine’s Day and the month of love. We’re excited to share it with you, and here’s a sneak peak at what my coffee table has looked like this past month.

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Curious to see what this large mess could possibly look like in the magazine? We’ll let you get through the winter holidays first, but mid-January, your magazine subscription should be on its way to your doorstep. If you’re not yet a subscriber to our magazine, MaryJanesFarm, subscribe here for $19.95/year.

  1. Shirley Romig says:

    Looking forward to the next issue.

  2. Nielsen,Winifred T. says:

    February will be here in the blink of an eye! I am curious to see what you were working on with so many unrelated items collected on your table.

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Farmgirl Apple Pie Sunday

I’m always up for celebrating any occasion with a pie. Since Farmgirl Apple Pie Sunday was on September 25th this year and I just so happened to be in the Big Apple …

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… my two girlfriends and I decided to make it our mission to find an apple dessert, at the very least. With a good pair of walking shoes, we started the day with muffins from a nearby NYC bagel shop. Who buys a muffin at a NYC bagel shop!? But we started the day ready to satisfy a sweet tooth or two. Never mind they were berry muffins.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now that was a bummer to be in the Big Apple and not have any apple pie available! LOL!! I was in England on Apple Pie Sunday and was able to find some apple pie slices at a tea room but sadly it wasn’t all that good. We make better Apple Pie here in the US. I am glad you have a fun weekend with your friends. NYC is always a fun place to visit.

    • Karlyne says:

      I had some incredible pastries in Ireland/England while we were there – I’m thinking your apple pie was probably a lot like what you’d get here in the average restaurant and not like what they make at home or in small shops? Don’t give up on them!
      P.S. We just made an Irish Apple Cake that was beyond fabulous, by the way!

  2. calle says:

    Hummmmm

    Mind is churning and churning!

    I love Pumpkin Pie Smoothies at Scooters Coffee shop in Nebraska, They make the owners mom’s pumpkin pie recipe, sans the eggs, and mix it with an ice cream base. Is it yummy.

    So why can we have a “apple pie” smoothie al la mode!
    Will try to cook some Jonathan’s, get some great fresh spices to mill, add some Blue Bunny, all natural Vanilla Bean ice cream and blend.
    Add some toasted spiced walnuts on top, with a dash of fresh nutmeg and read MJ magazine and sip.
    Of course served in a stemmed goblet with some cinnamon petite cookies for crunch.
    Heaven in a goblet.
    No time today, raining and much to be done. Hummmm… dreamin!

  3. Krista says:

    That’s no fair! I’m sorry the Big Apple was out of apple pie or apple pieish treats for you ladies. May the next Apple Pie Sunday bring you many apples and tasty treats! Hopefully your enjoyed your trip and other tasty treats anyway!

  4. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    NYC is not a pie place but I happen to know there are shops that just make pies, one in Brooklyn ( but sorry I totally forgot the name). when in Rome do as the Romans do, in NYC its bagels mit schmear ( with cream cheese) .At least you got the Little Italy thing right.Italian pastries are divine.

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Running Wild

I’m a runner. And it’s taken me a long time to say that out loud. What motivated me to finally say it? Well, running is good for you.

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My first running shoes that I actually ran in.

Running regularly improves your health immensely, from increasing bone mass and helping prevent age-related bone loss to keeping your mind sharp as you age. It can prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Running makes you a happier person by releasing those feel-good chemicals known as endorphins, thus protecting you from anxiety and depression. Although I’m super slow (so slow some can walk alongside me), running has made a huge difference in my life.

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Me and my brother after my first half marathon.

One of the comments I hear most often when I talk about running is this: “I’m so out of shape, I’ll never be able to run.” That is simply not true. In my humble opinion, all you need is a pair of comfortable shoes, a little motivation, and the ability to start slow. I would say the last item on that list is the most important.

Turns out, the team at Couch25K agrees with me. This company designed an app that accompanies you every step of the way in a bid for your very own 5K (that’s 3.1 miles!). The designers made it for folks who want to approach running, but want to be somewhat comfortable and in control while doing it. They say the biggest mistake made by new runners is going at it too fast. Their bodies rebel and they wind up miserable. The Couch25K program conditions you slowly over a period of nine weeks, but you can vary that pace to accommodate your own fitness needs. Each session lasts 20-30 minutes, which is the recommended length of time to gain benefits from moderate exercise. You can choose to measure your progress by time or distance, and you can set up the program in a metric version, a treadmill version, even a Poochto5K option, which is all about improving the health of our canine friends. There’s a running forum where you can connect with like-minded souls online, and lots and lots of resources are available on their website.

If you decide to jump in, please keep me posted. Have fun!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    You go Girl!! Running is a beloved way to exercise for so many reasons and it can be a huge life changer as well. I am happy to hear that you are enjoying the challenge and success of starting small and building momentum. Plus, running a half marathon is a very BIG accomplishment. Congratulations!

  2. Krista says:

    Way to go! You make running sound fun. I would love to get back into running and keeping myself healthy. I will have to get this app to help me get started. I wouldn’t even mind using the one for dogs. My Malamute really could use some exercise!!

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Freezing Pants

A good sense of humor can go a long way toward combating the doldrums of a dreary winter.

That’s why I want to share this funny story about some wise-cracking residents of the city of Minneapolis. Residents there are creating statuaries of frozen pants around the city.

It all started a few years ago when Minnesota suffered at the hands of what is called a Polar Vortex, which left the city with dangerously cold temperatures for weeks on end.

photo by Frank Kovalchek via Wikimedia Commons

To lighten the mood, local resident Tom Grotting decided to pull a prank. He soaked a pair of jeans in water and then hung them outside. As they were freezing, he shaped the pants to look like a person was wearing them and then placed them in public locations around his neighborhood.

Photo: Heidi Wigdahl, KARE

Now he’s doing it every winter, leaving pants busting through sidewalk snowdrifts and standing in front of coffee shops, and he’s gaining accomplices. Since then, others are taking up the prank in the name of winter fun and frozen pants are appearing all around the city. Tom says he does it mostly to bring a smile to the face of his neighbor, who doesn’t care much for winter. That’s definitely a RAOK in our book!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a clever and fun idea for this often frigid city. It just shows the good humor of the people Garrison Keelior’s “Lake Woebegone”.

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    put this link in your browser, sorry, couldn’t make the image show up here

    this was posted on our local weather page.

    local amish snow humor – Amish cant have bikes but can have scooters

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    How fun! Reminds me of when I was growing up we had to hang the laundry outside no matter the weather and, of course, it froze. Then we’d have to bring it in and hang it around the house to thaw and finish drying. I never understood what my mom was thinking! 😀
    CJ

  4. Krista says:

    How funny! I would love to see some of those pants around my town. This is a good way to get a laugh on those gloomy winter days. Lisa, that picture is funny. I wasn’t aware they couldn’t ride bikes either.

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    I”ll have to keep this in mind for our next snowy frozen winter!
    CJ

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Softie-making

With another holiday on the horizon, I’ve been doing a little gift browsing. Of course there are all the usual pinks and purples and hearts this and hearts that, but I stumbled upon an enterprise called Child’s Own Studio that claims to have perfected the art of “softie-making” from children’s drawings.

In other words, they can take your child’s drawing and turn it into a plush toy … but I like the term “softie-making” better. And why might you be interested in one of these softies? I learned that young children draw from their imaginations with pure self-expression, and it’s based on an understanding of what is being drawn rather than on observation.

Around the age of 5, children develop a visual vocabulary, or their own unique symbolism. When they draw a cat, it will always be the same basic image, maybe altered with stripes or color. It’s not until around the age of 9 or 10 that children begin to be influenced by realism and often lose their passion, frustrated that the object being drawn doesn’t look exactly like what it represents. From what I can gather, there’s a sweet spot of self-expression from about 5 to 9 years of age, and these plush toys serve as an excellent way to preserve that.

Snail Softie via childsown.com

Inspired by a drawing from her 4-year-old son, Wendy Tsao started Child’s Own Studio in 2007 as a home-based art venture in Vancouver, B.C., but she’s had so many orders that she’s had to expand. The softies start at $70, but that seems like a small price to pay for such a unique and personalized gift that was hand-stitched just for you. The average size of a toy is about 16”, but they also offer super sizes up to 5′. And to top it all off, Child’s Own Studio is enthusiastic about helping fundraising campaigns for non-profits and schools.

Scorpian Softie via childsown.com

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Megan, this is really interesting. I did not know about the self expression symbolism of children’s art between ages 5-9 either. It would be a great idea to take your child’s art work and turn it into a softie toy. Such a unique way to celebrate the child’s creativity and one that they could share as a gift to others as well. I hope you will post a photo of what you choose to have made for your daughter’s upcoming birthday. I want to see!

  2. Krista says:

    This is such a cool idea. I remember when I was a teacher and how proud the children were of their work. I always made sure to hang their work up on the walls for display. When their parents came to pick them up they always had to show off what they made that day. I would have loved to have given each one of my students one of these plush toys of their most prized artwork. It would also be fun to have your child draw a picture of themselves each year and turn it into a softie and see how much their vision of themselves changes over the years.

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Sweet Harmony

I recently shared a titch about the sweet, sweet harmony reigning in our home since both of my girls started music lessons in September. But I was skeptical about squeezing a piano into our tiny living room. A piano is generally a big-ticket item, and I really, really want to instill an appreciation for frugality in my children.

Well, it turns out I know a guy who knows a guy who is a professional tuner by day, and he gave us a great deal on a 1950s Kimball that’s in super good shape. Not excellent shape, which is perfect for me, because I’m happy to give it a little cosmetic love. So with plenty of encouragement from a music teacher that I am thankful to have in the girls’ lives, my hubby and her hubby carefully hauled it up our front-stoop stairs and into our living room.

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Here’s what the experts say: Playing an instrument is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout, especially for children. Learning to play an instrument develops physical attributes in the fine-motor-skills department for sure, but research is now showing that learning an instrument aids in emotional and behavioral maturation as well. That means the little ones are honing their attention skills, managing their anxiety, and gaining control of their emotions, because playing an instrument actually thickens the parts of the brain used to fight depression, aggression, and attention problems.

In school, music-makers generally understand math and science concepts more easily. By learning about note lengths and how they relate to the whole piece of music, students exercise the part of the brain that processes proportional thinking, and that kind of thinking is required to understand math and science at higher levels. It also improves spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the ability to see disassembled parts and mentally put them back together.

Wow, all that from a little ivory tickling. The results I’ve seen in the short time we’ve had our piano are rather astounding. The girls even play it while they brush their teeth! To say the least, they are appreciating it far more than I ever dreamed. This year, I’m anticipating a year filled with sweet, sweet harmony and music.

American Trade Cards, Boston Public Library via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Ohh, Megan, what a lovely piano deal you were able to purchase! I remember when my girls were little and we got our piano. It was fun learning to play duets together too as they got a bit better. Plus, it was fun to watch them increase in skill and play beautiful songs. For a few years, I even took lessons. I agree with you that having a musical instrument like a piano in the home just brings out great opportunities for family enjoyment. Tell, Stella and Mia that I wish them the best with their lessons and exploration of music!

  2. How wonderful for all of your family ! Congrats and keep on ticklin’ those ivories, the girls will be popular at parties all their lives even if they don’t grow up to be concert pianists.

  3. Bobbie calgaro says:

    I can buy into a lot of what was said about what music can do except the math part. My mind wants no part of math and my grades all through school reflect that. I took about seven years of piano lessons so it should have rubbed off in the math area at some point. But not so much. Lol

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    Yay for your girls . . . and your family! I’m a pianist having started learning before I even started school. So, I’ve spent my life at the piano keyboard. It’s a “whole body exercise”. The brain training that takes place is amazing . . . your left hand and your right hand are doing entirely different things. You have to play the right notes, get your timing accurate, get your dynamics in there . . . and make it MUSICAL!
    Enjoy the ride, girls!
    CJ

  5. Linda says:

    So nice you got a great deal on a piano. There has been a piano in my life from day 1 – my mother played every day. I took piano lessons from age 4 and then started violin in 3rd grade at school. I have always been good in math and love math – to this day I love working with numbers. It helps in designing quilt blocks. Now science, that is a different story. I’ve never been great at science. But I think music helped when I was having to type computer code for engineers I worked with. Several times I pointed out something that just looked strange to me – there was a series of code with repeats, and yet something looked wrong. I was right! LOL! Music is great for kids of all ages.

  6. Krista says:

    Megan, what a great find. I’m glad you were able to find a piano and give your girls such an amazing gift. When I was younger I played the violin, the piano, and the flute. To this day I still have a love for music and can agree with the experts on the benefits. During school I was good at math and science, even though I didn’t care too much for math. There is just something about music that can completely change your outlook. I hope that your girls continue to find joy and passion in playing the piano and you will have a year full of wonderful tunes.

  7. Cindi says:

    That is a very nice looking piano ~ congratulations on the best investment ever 🙂 Those girls can take music with them to the end of time. Not so with many other types of extracurricular activities. You might have to push them through a ‘piano lessons are borrrrring’ phase at some point, but they will thank you in the end.

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