Have you ever Zentangled? (This new concept may be old hat to you, but just in case …)

Don’t let the term trap you into logical interpretations.

No claustrophobia intended.

On the contrary,

this type of tangling is all about freeing … your mind.

Zentangle® is a mesmerizing method of structured doodling created by calligrapher Maria Thomas and her husband, Rick Roberts.


Image courtesy of Zentangle.com

Let’s put it into context:

You’ve been known to scribble and swirl on scraps of paper when talking on the phone, yes?

Well, Zentangle takes this kind of drawing to a whole new level of artistry-meets-meditation.

And anyone can do it, even people who insist they can’t draw.


Image courtesy of Craft Chick http://craftchick.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/whats-a-zentangle/

“We love presenting to a class or seminar full of people who are convinced they can’t draw the Zentangle art we show them. Then, within 15 minutes, they have easily accomplished what they thought was impossible,” Maria says. “This is one of our favorite Zentangle moments, because then we ask, ‘What else do you know that you can’t do?’ You can transfer that insight and experience of success and accomplishment to any life experience. Something may look complicated, but you now know that you can do it, one simple stroke at a time.”


Image courtesy of the Greeley County Library http://greeley.mykansaslibrary.org/zentangle-classes/

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This whole idea is new to me but it is fascinating how it all works. I can see how it would be relaxing because it would be totally absorbing while you were doing it.

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    Zentangle art is something that my daughter, Robin, has taken up and currently makes some wonderful cards with her artwork. She’s getting quite creative with it and enjoys it immensely. I’m sure that she would have a lot of insight to offer here . . . if she see’s the post.

    But it is easy, it doesn’t require a lot of supplies and there are a lot of books available to help inspire and give tips on designs. I’ve just ordered a couple different ones for her that we were looking at together recently while on our road trip.

  3. Theresa says:

    Last week I picked up the book “Joy of Zentangle” as something for summer, when the kids say “I’m bored” . The boys and I have been working on this sporaticly throughout the day. Imagine my surprise when I saw your post on facebook this morning. : ) We are having fun, it is very relaxing. My sons are 16 and 14, it’s not ‘baby-ish” to them. You can create a little masterpiece in 30 minutes, or just take your time with it and come back to it when you have the time. I love it!

  4. Kimberly Owens says:

    I can’t wait to show this to my middle school students! Love this

  5. Darlene Ricotta says:

    Zentangling! I love it, I got into Zentangling about a year ago on one of the swaps on MJF and have been working on different ones since. I went on a trip up to Washington by train and Zentangled my memories of my trip. It was fun and I had a great tangle from my trip.
    There is so much you can do with it.

  6. TammyJo says:

    My sister Connie gave me your mag. With a story about a cancer patent using these
    way of draw and medataion. I am Breast cancer patent in need of something to take me away mentally. I ordered the starter kit and never looked back. I’ve gone places in my mind I didn’t know where there. They
    gifts I share and I use them as way to encourage others. We talk and share and the Zen move on from me to those I meet anywhere.

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Teacup Bangles

Dear reader, beware!

If you have a weak spot for vintage china teacups,

you may want to sit down for this.

First of all, this post involves cutting fine bone china into pieces …

I know. It’s hard on the ears.

But, there’s also an imminent risk to your pocketbook should you continue reading.

Do you dare?

I thought you would.

So, now you’re dying to know how tearing apart teacups could spur a spending spree.

Well, take a look at this:


Photo courtesy of StayGoldMaryRose

No, your eyes don’t lie.

Those beautiful bangles are …



English artist Abigail MaryRose Clark has perfected the most perilous process of transforming porcelain cups into must-have jewelry.


Photo courtesy of StayGoldMaryRose

Lest you still feel faint imagining your grandmother’s mint-condition china set being rendered into wrist rings, let me assure you that all of the china used in Abigail’s work is sourced from the UK’s biggest china manufacturers as seconds and damaged items.

“I believe strongly in preserving, upcycling, and reusing beautiful objects that have outlived their previous lives or intended use,” she says.


Photo courtesy of StayGoldMaryRose via Colour Me Vintage

Abigail has been designing and making her Repurposed Vintage Teacup Bracelets since 2004 and is currently supplying them to Anthropologie and other stores throughout the US and UK. You can also find an irresistible variety on her Etsy shop, StayGoldMaryRose, for about $45 to $65 each.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now this is truly ingenious! What a way to repurpose unwanted, mismatched tea cups. My question would be, would they break easily if you clanged them by accident? Some of the bone china is quite delicate.

  2. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Imagine all the different colors to go with all your colors of clothes, swimsuits, etc.! I love the idea of re-purposing things that others are going to throw away. And beautiful they are!

  3. Laurie Dimino says:

    Oh how sweet! The possibilities are endless in color/pattern etc! WOW! I must confess that like Winnie I would worry they might be too delicate to wear? Sure wouldn’t want to break one of those beauties! Hmmmm. I must refrain myself from visiting that etsy site! LOL.

  4. Karlyne says:

    I’m often astounded by the brilliance of “some people”. Like right now!

  5. Juli Becker says:

    The bracelets are beautiful and reflect the ingenuity and creativity of the human spirit, but I like the recording of your grandbaby singing Happy Birthday on your voicemail just as well. My grandbabies do the same. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing,

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she’s home bound

headed for one last stop and long-lasting Sweet Dreams




no more city street lights


fresh air! … green acres is the place for me


she’ll be coming ’round the corner when she comes

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  1. Laurie Dimino says:

    What a great journey!! I bet she is so happy to be close to you on the farm.
    Have you decided how you will use the building now that she’s in her new home?
    Good luck, and Sweet Dreams!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Yay!!!!Sweet Dreams is embarking on a brand new chapter. Maybe better, a brand new book with lots more chapters. She looks quite perfect in her new lush green surroundings facing a garden full of flowers. Let the book open, the pages begin to fill, and share the news here for all of us to read! Willkommen, Bien Venue, Welcome!

  3. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Woo Hoo! Way to go! So ca-ute! Happy for you!

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    YAY!! Sweet Dreams is home! Looking forward to what is next for her!

  5. Jenny Williams says:

    Alright!!!!! Congratulations on a safe journey home. What a perfect setting for her. She looks absolutely adorable in her new home. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for Sweet Dreams.

  6. Karlyne says:

    What a beautiful trip she had!

  7. carol branum says:

    It will be ok.You will find a new exciting use for it.

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movin’ on up in the world

As promised, here’s Lucille, our tractor, in action.


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  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    A good place she is going, too!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Sweet Dreams is Homeward Bound in the “arms” of Lucille! Well, sort of in the arms. The project all looks like it is going on schedule without any big problems which is the best news of the day. Was this building an old, historic one? Or was the gingerbread trim added by you? It is going to be so much fun watching this relocation unfold into a new future. Your grandchildren are going to think Nanny brought them home the ultimate play house! Today is Wednesday: Wagons Ho!!

  3. Jane Sprague says:

    Mary Jane, you’re such a gift to the world. You constantly remind folks everywhere to take care of that which has been put in your basket and not just throw it away. It’s good to see your beautiful little shop begin its move to its new home. I’m looking forward to visiting someday!

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Sweet Dreams, Little Store!

My Sweet Dreams store on Jackson Street in my hometown of Moscow, Idaho, needed to move to make room for a parking lot. I kid you not. We owned the building but leased the land, and when our landlord passed away, the new owner wouldn’t budge in his decision to clear the entire block. But remember my post about doubling the size of my Coeur d’Alene store recently and the huge parking lot outside our door that’s being converted to a park? Win some, lose some. All the work we’d put into the grounds weren’t lost entirely. Every single bush, tree, bulb, and plant was lovingly dug up and replanted somewhere else. Our landscaping endeavors had won awards! Sigh.

And do you remember the colors from my Winnie the Pooh poster? Well, guess what? I had painted my little store the exact same colors. After trying to sell the building (backyard mother-in-law quarters anyone?), we decided to move it to the farm to occupy the spot where my Winnie the Pooh tree stood … without bees. A new kind of swarm was about to happen.


We readied a spot by cutting down our one tree and then pulling out a thicket of small plum trees with the tractor. We brought in truckloads of gravel and poured a concrete pad.

Here’s my SIL, Lucas, knee deep in the muck of it.


As each tree we pulled out with the tractor was then pulled down the road to our debris pile, my little farm was bathed in a dust storm.


Walker had a free pass to lounge the day away.


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  1. Laurie Dimino says:

    I am sad to hear that your store in Moscow is no more, but thrilled that you are able to move the building to the farm and use it! It is just so darn cute! Love the colors.
    Good luck with the flat bedding. I had a flatbed adventure of my own yesterday…I found a 14′ 1975 Dutchman trailer, which I had flatbedded home. It was quite the process, but she is home in one piece and now my journey begins in getting to glamp her all up!
    Looking forward to pictures of your store/building once its at the farm.
    Big Hugs,

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wowza!!! This is going to be a fabulous ending!What’s not to love with this plan to “save” the Sweet Dreams store? And, what will the store do? Be a dwelling? Be a store again? Be a training center? Lucille is a hero here along with skilled and passionate workers. “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. Remember that tune? I still remember the song wafting at top volume in the spring of 1970 through the dorm halls! Well, decades later, our Mary Jane defied the odds and said , “We will just pick up and leave the sandbox and play in a more hospitable spot!” Paradise just got relocated. Take that you ill advised land owner!! Never, ever, try to muscle past a Framgirl! We WILL come out on top!Hahahaha! I am staying tuned……

    • MaryJane says:

      Your comments are so wonderful Winnie. They compose a separate blog–yours!

      • Winnie Nielsen says:

        That was so sweet to say!!! I bet your head is swirling with new ideas for this relocation structure. I know I would enjoy the process of figuring out what the next “life” of Sweet Dreams will be. The possibilities are probably numerous. How about a new B&B option? Or apprenticeship lodging for a new program? Or weekend small group learning event? Your own entrepreneur training school for people who are looking to start their own small business? Some of your talented Farmgirls could teach classes and present how they started their own businesses? With the job situation these days being so challenging for 24-35 year olds, starting new small businesses has really caught on nationally. The biggest step forward is some training on how to get started and what is needed. Branding, website, advertising, finances, and more are the building blocks to the idea the person may have but clueless about what to do next. Whatever you decide, I know it will be purposeful! You have a very long legacy of doing projects that reach beyond just having fun! That is why you deserve the title, Queen Bee!!

  3. Jenny Williams says:

    Oh man that bites! I agree with Winnie and she does have such a wonderful way with words. That adorable little store will have a much better place on the farm where it is truelly loved and appreciated. As for the land owner, sometimes there are much better uses for land than parking lots.

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    You got it Winnie! Well said! More than once I’ve told people, I’m a farmgirl, I can handle it . . and more!
    Robin and I had the wonderful privilege of visiting your little store in 2011 and we’re so glad we did. I’m glad Sweet Dreams will have a new home . . . looking forward to the story as it unfolds!
    We totally enjoyed your CDA store, Patsy and Jordan! The expansion is wonderful! Wishing you the best!

  5. Jennifer Memolo says:


  6. Lora Rosencrans says:

    Well, shucks. I am glad I was able to visit the little store in 2008. I had such a great time meeting farmgirls and staying with Teresa Sue. I think I still have most of the pictures we posed for in front of the building. Glad you were able to save the building and ‘recycle’ it!

  7. lynnia says:

    I continually wonder how peoples can treat Mother Earth with concrete after all She has given us…..another topic for another day!!!…..the GOOD, is that you were able to keep part of what we all have fallen in love with….huummm….dare I mention, maybe a room for birth lessons???…..peace and love from my heart……

  8. lynnia says:


    thanks for sharing the pics…much enjoyed them!!!

  9. Barbara says:

    Sorry to hear about your store location..as my friend in Natural Resources says, once it’s paved, it’s gone. Glad to hear that you were able to save and move the trees and that your “Winnie the Pooh” house will have new life on your farm. B.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Those yellow roses are lovely! I prefer yellow and pink roses to the traditional red roses for bouquets.

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Honey Bee Tree

Remember my post on Saturday about hubby driving Lucille, our tractor, to town? I was elusive then and will be again today. Do stay tuned though. I’ll pull it all together in the end. But first, take note of the colors in this sign. I put this sign up a few years ago when my bees swarmed and took up residence in an ancient, almost rotten apple tree near where we park our cars at the farm. Okay, I thought. I won’t be able to harvest their honey, but a beehive in an apple tree sounds so right somehow.

But sadly, bears can’t read and a bear (or another critter with claws) did, in fact, raid and destroy most of the combs. The bees disappeared and never returned.


Fast forward a few years later when the sign, the tree, and the abandoned hive needed to come down. Why?




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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I do love your sign! It is curious as to how one would use the old comb for an art project, so that will be interesting to watch. But a Winnie the Pooh tree? Besides being partial to the name and having a separate apple obsession( in addition to my Swedish obsession), what and how does Lucille and the fallen apple tree restitution come together? Inquiring minds want to know!!

  2. Love your interest in Lindsborg Ks It’s few miles from me now ! Glad you like Little Derden USA . It’s more like Sweden Than Sweden is today …they say! From this Swedish / Texan….Tak so Mycket!! (Thank You).

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Old Mill Days

In an earlier post, I shared some pics from our trip to Lindsborg, Kansas. While there, we also toured a flour mill built in 1898 that, for a couple of days each year, is cleaned up and turned on! Amazing.

Below is an advertisement from The Lindsborg News-Record of the Old Mill announcing their annual event, Millfest.


They even dressed the part and gave us a fabulous tour of their mill.

P1060254 (Custom)

It was especially exciting touring this mill because for the most part, it’s a carbon copy (well, inside at least) of my J.C. Barron Flour Mill, located in Oakesdale, Washington.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Phooey! I will miss being able to attend by 4 days! One of the chapters in your Ideas book that I loved best was the story about the acquisition of the JC Barron Mill. It was so worth the money and time to preserve a piece of the regions’ history. A few years ago on a visit to Minneapolis MN, I had the opportunity to visit the old Gold Medal flour mill which has been turned into a museum. It sits along the banks of the Mississippi River facing the Pillsbury Flour Mill which is now closed up. So many layers of history and stories of life in the mid west along the great river! Here in the South, we still have a few working corn grist mills where you can visit and purchase fresh ground corn grits and corn meal. It is so much fun to watch and then take home a purchase in those cloth bags. I hope you have a great turn out to your event on July 20 and raise much needed dollars to continue the care of the mill for generations to come!

  2. Eileen Stone says:

    Is this near Spokane, WA?

  3. Terry Steinmetz says:

    I love history of old factories & mills & about anything else. When my hubby was at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN,I toured the floor with all the history & found out some very unique things about the Mayo Brothers & the Clinic itself. It is fascinating to me!

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Pampered Poultry

Don’t be afraid to confess.

We’re all friends here.

Your secret is safe.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

So, admit it …

You dream of bringing your chickens indoors.


A Girl with a Rooster by Jacob Gerritsz via Wikimedia Commons

It’s okay—it’s considered normal around here. I raised my girl Ginger indoors because sometimes …

a couple of daily visits to the henhouse just isn’t enough.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Gotta pass this along to a friend who lives in the city & keeps a chicken as a pet. The chicken is an in~home/outdoor chicken. My friend’s pet chicken pretty much has the run of the household at night but can usually be found perched on one of the kitchen counter stools in the morning? Guess her pet chicken knows where breakfast is served;-)

    Oh, and I really like the hairy legs on the chicken in your 6th picture. Too cute.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Tis is exactly why my husband refuses to agree to backyard chickens!! He knows me all too well. Of course I would want them inside in bad weather! And I love that Julie is supporting other women to have better lives as well. Maybe in retirement I can twist his arm?????

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one of a kind!

On our recent trip to Lindsborg, Kansas, I stopped by to give a big ol’ farmgirl hug to my friend and National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson. (Treat yourself to some of his photos in his list of published stories.) He and his wife, Kathy Richardson, have a studio on Main Street called Small World Gallery.


If you’re a regular reader of Nat Geo, you know that Jim is still capturing the world in photos. In 1994, Jim spent a few days photographing us for a feature that appeared in 1995.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Hmmmm. I wrote a comment early this am, then got one of those computer update notices, did that but it erased my comment. So, let me say again that the fabulous jewelry shop in Lindsborg sounds just so fun. I will definitely be sure to visit when I finally make it there. Jim’s photos are so beautiful and perfectly crafted. They were part of the fascination for Idaho from your Ideas book and the links on your homepage. Your farm and surrounding countryside was breathtaking and generated a ” must go see”” longing in my heart! Both Jim and his wife are true artists!

  2. Thanks for dropping by Small World Gallery, MaryJane. It was a wonderful surprise.

    Jim and I love keeping up with what matters in your world. You’re always out ahead, scouting best practices and connecting us to the flavors, sounds, textures and beautiful sights of simplicity. You continue to inspire Jim so many years after he first met you and Nick.

    With appreciation and until we meet again,


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