Monthly Archives: September 2013

Empower Orphans

There is nothing more glorious than a good cause,

except …

(stay with me here)

a good cause that is launched by a child like Neha Gupta.

Neha was only 9 years old in 2005 when she created Empower Orphans, a grassroots campaign devoted to helping orphaned children cultivate self-sufficiency around the globe.


Photo courtesy of Empower Orphans

Among Neha’s family, it has been a tradition to celebrate birthdays by taking food and gifts to orphaned children in their hometown in India. Although Neha has grown up in the United States, she has had the opportunity to travel to India and participate in this tradition.


Photo courtesy of Empower Orphans

The experience of meeting kids who had no families was life-changing for young Neha.

“I remember the moment that I was talking to a girl of the same age; she wore tattered clothes and her face was covered in a thin black layer of dirt,” Neha, now 17, recalls in an article she wrote for the Huffington Post. “As she showed me around the orphanage, we first went to her room. It wasn’t exactly her room though … she shared it with 10 other girls. As I walked in, all I saw was an empty room with a single sheet on the ground. I asked in a confused manner, ‘This is where you sleep? Where is your bed?’ She looked down as she spoke and said, ‘This is our bed … We sleep on the ground. It does get very cold in the winter, but we manage.’ I was absolutely shocked.”

Sympathy wasn’t enough for Neha, though.

She needed to act.

Her passion to help blossomed into Empower Orphans, which aims to provide orphans with better healthcare, food, clothing, educational opportunities, and useful items so they can find a path from helplessness toward becoming fully capable human beings.

Neha has raised more than $1,000,000 so far for the creation of libraries and computer labs as well as the donation of water-purification systems, sewing machines, bicycles, and more to hundreds of kids.

Her current efforts that need funding include:

  • Creating … a low-cost smart board to bring Internet access directly into classrooms
  • Starting … a computer lab at Shiv Shakti School
  • Expanding … a science lab for underprivileged children
  • Providing … school fees to an additional 200 children
  • Expanding … a sewing center to train another 200 girls

“I love helping these children so much! It is an amazing feeling to see the change that you can make in their lives as they grow,” Neha says. “I am definitely very happy with how much my efforts have grown; of course I am hoping that we keep growing and that more people see how important it is to help these children.”

If you would like to help Neha accomplish her gloriously good cause, you can make a direct donation (as little as $25 can educate a child for an entire year), purchase specific items for orphans, or you can buy handmade gifts from the Empower Orphans online store. One hundred percent of the profits are donated directly to the children that need them.






turtle tears

What do butterflies and turtle tears have in common?

Funny question, I know, but it’s more than mere nonsense.

It turns out that butterflies sip turtle tears to satisfy their need for salt.


Photo courtesy of Lufonz via Flickr, CC BY-ND 3.0

Who even knew that turtles cry, right?

Apparently, it’s not out of sorrow, though—simply an eye-moistening matter.

Even so, there’s something rather fairytale-esque about seeing a butterfly drying a turtle’s tears.

But bees?

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Let’s Get Physical EXPERT Merit Badge

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,518 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,451 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 Make It Easy/Let’s Get Physical Merit Badge, I stepped up my game. Literally. The neighborhood kids had gone back to school and left me in the dust, so to speak. We had had some majorly epic games of Kick the Can, Basketball, and Cul-de-Sac Roller Derby, and now they had abandoned my fitness goals for algebra homework.

The nerve.

Well, I sadly waved goodbye to my summertime friends, and sorrowfully Kicked the Can all the way back to my house. Alone. I was going to have to come up a new plan for my Expert Level Badge, and quickly. You know, before the ol’ muffin top and love handles found me again …

Mmmmm, muffins.

No, no, Janie, my girl, sez I, have some will power! I can, I have, and I will again. Although, did you know that if you lick the frosting off a cupcake, it magically becomes a muffin? And we all know muffins are healthy.

Note to self: write diet book.

I scoured my local community for new fitness options. A softball team, a 5k, a Bike-A-Thon—I was up for anything. Well, not anything anything. As a general rule, I try not to run unless I’m being chased by a bear, and even then, it’s iffy. I would probably just throw it a cupcake and hope for the best.

And then I saw it. Ballet! How had I not thought of this particular field before? It was genius. Not only would I tone my calves, but I could break out the ol’ tutu and really rock the bun look. I signed myself up for a Beginning Adult class and laced up my dance shoes. Well, not precisely; I was sad to learn pointe shoes only go to the more advanced ballerinas. No matter. How hard could twirling and pointing my piggies be?


An hour and a half later, I staggered out into the sunlight, my tutu dragging, my pink tights soaked with sweat, my toes sore, my bun lopsided, and the words of a Russian lady, who I believe may or may not have been speaking French, echoing in my addle pated brain. What a harebrained scheme I had committed myself to. What had I done? This class was battement-ing my derriere and it was only Week One!

A tiny, glittery dancer pirouetted by as I leaned against the wall, trying to get up the energy to find my car. She leapt across the street and cheerily waved at me. I glowered. This was obviously not her Week One. I panted for a bit, and finally attempted to move off the wall. Unfortunately, I could not recall how to make my feet move. I longed for a cupcake.

Or a bear.

I decided I would live here. On the side of this building. It was a nice building. And it was holding me up, so we were feeling pretty close. Sadly for me and my plan, my ballet teacher found me as she was locking up.

“You go now!” she told me, with her hands on her perfectly turned-out hips. “You go home and stretch.”

Obediently, I began to move my stiff muscles towards my car, amid suggestions (and demands) that I suck in my stomach, lift my head, relax my fingers, and then repeat—this time faster.

If I live long enough, I think I’m going to sign up for something less murderous. Like rugby.




Museum Day Live

Are you a museum lover?

Art, history, science … there’s so much fun stuff to explore within the hallowed halls of our nation’s museums.

Photo by Ingfbruno, CC-BY-SA-3.0, vvia Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Ingfbruno, CC-BY-SA-3.0, vvia Wikimedia Commons

And, it just so happens that September 28 is National Museum Day. This tidbit of trivia also comes with a sweet deal: free admission.

Photo by Paul Duke , CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commonsvia Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Paul Duke , CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commonsvia Wikimedia Commons

It’s true!

The Smithsonian Institution is sponsoring Museum Day Live, in which participating museums across the country invite visitors to download tickets (one is good for two people) and explore their exhibits for free.

Tickets and a full list of participating museums are available on the Museum Day Live website.

Will you be including a museum in your plans this coming weekend?


In memory of Mrs. Imperial who died recently at the ripe old age of 11 years+. May you rest in peace.


Picture this…

Sandra Bullock riding a bicycle with a chicken on her handlebars.

I mean, hey, who hasn’t done that? (Confession: I haven’t, but I want to now.)

Most of us chicken lovers can’t claim super-celebrity status (outside of our own households, anyway).

Photo by Angela George, CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Angela George, CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

But fame hasn’t stopped Sandra from sticking to her farmgirl roots.

She tells it like it is.

And, according to a recent article in Vogue, chickens are IT.

“Back in California, she keeps chickens named for comediennes: Carol Burnett, Wanda Sykes, and a Phyllis Diller, until she was revealed to be a rooster and rechristened Phil Diller,” reveals interviewer Jason Gay.

Rest assured, her California chickens are not a flight of fancy. Sandra has a history with hens, a longstanding rapport with roosters …

“When I was like 12, I had a chicken named Colonel Sanders and he was not a chicken chicken,” she told Dennis Hensley a few years ago. “He liked people. He would stand on the top of your handlebars while you were riding your bike through the neighborhood.”

Can’t you just see it now?

Something a bit like this:


Photo courtesy of Nana & Baba





Chicks n’ Chaps

Chicks n’ Chaps, a rodeo event to fundraise for the fight against breast cancer, was held a week ago in Lewiston, Idaho, and oh boy (like oh BOYS in pink shirts!) was it a fabulous event.

I had a previous engagement, so I sent my food photographer, Ace, and graphic designer, Saralou, and they came back with lots to show and tell …



There was posing with the cowboy voluntees. Many of whom were riding, roping, and bulldogging in the night’s events.


Lots of great swag was given out. I sent along my MaryJanesFarm water bottles (with pink writing!) to be added to the list of great goodies.

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