Monthly Archives: November 2013



Unprocessed Kitchen Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,558 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,822 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 Farm Kitchen/Unprocessed Kitchen Merit Badge, I was upping the ante and earning Level III. That’s right. The sequel to end all sequels. The coup de grace. The ending of a delicious trilogy.

The advanced EXPERT Level.

Gosh, I gave myself chills. I haven’t been so excited since the shoe sale at the outlet mall.

And if I thought Levels One and Two were fun, I was in for a real treat with the final installment. A dinner party. Who gets a badge for a dinner party? Farmgirls, that’s who. You could say it rocks to be us.

But not just any dinner party, of course: an Unprocessed Dinner Party. And when I say, dinner, I of course mean, dessert.

Evidently, my friends have sweet teeth beyond compare. The point of this party (besides having a blast, naturally) was to introduce them to unprocessed foods, find out their weaknesses, and then help them brainstorm ways to make those unhealthy treats into wholesome foods.

Real foods.

No food-like ingredients here.

No unpronounceable ingredients. (Although I have a heck of a time pronouncing acai and/or quinoa).

No 37 lists of chemicals in one, single, solitary slice of bread, no siree.

No pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, preservatives, food colors, additives, or otherwise frightening additions.

Just, plain, amazing, mouth-watering food. The kind that makes you weak in the knees and breathless. The kind that fills your house with a salivating inducing aroma. The kind that …

Whew! Is it getting hot in here or is it just my dark chocolate lava cake heating up the kitchen? Let me just use my cocktail napkin to fan my face for a sec here. That’s better. Onto the list my pals and I came up with!

  • S’mores (Can you imagine this delight with organic, fair-trade chocolate, a homemade cinnamon marshmallow, and perhaps a gingersnap cookie in place of the graham? Or a spicy version with chili-laced chocolate, a vanilla marshmallow, and a chocolate graham? Or maybe a peppermint marshmallow with a white chocolate square and a homemade Snickerdoodle cookie? The possibilities, folks, are endless.)
  • Homemade coffee-house drinks and creamers! I thought this one deserved an exclamation point, because who doesn’t love to sip on a frothy, creamy mug of goodness? But a lot of that goodness is filled with unnecessary calories, corn syrup, and fake foods, not to mention a painful blow to your wallet. Better to make your own, and so we did. We slurped (uh, I mean sipped) on homemade Hot Cocoa, Butterscotch Coffees, Hazelnuts Mochas, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
  • Popsicles! This is another one where the possibilities for flavors are practically endless. We came up with all sorts of varieties, but our favorites included: watermelon basil, green tea with honey, coconut and lime, peach and strawberry sangria, honeydew cucumber, and Greek yogurt. Mmmm.
  • The above-mentioned Dark Chocolate Lava Cake with homemade ice cream.
  • Homemade Twinkies. Yep.
  • And finally, enough cookie and cake ideas for us to open our own bakery.

Have a hankering to make your unhealthy vice more organic and homemade friendly? Do tell. Share!



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 … Terry Steinmetz!!!

Terry Steinmetz (Farmgirl Sister #3600) has received a certificate of achievement in Outpost for earning a Beginner & Intermediate Level Glamping Merit Badge!

“I started out by finding all sorts of things for glamping in my home. I found a basket to put some tea things into for traveling, doilies, and a small table. Then I went to an auction, where I purchased more doilies, a tea kettle, and dishes. Then I went on the Pack-n-Trail as the nurse with our wranglers from Bible camp for a week of “roughing it” in a tent. While there, I decorated for comfort! I posted on the Farmgirl Connection some info and pictures.

I read Glamping with MaryJane as soon as my copy came! What are dreams made of? Glampers & glamping! I invited my grandgirls to an overnight stay in my glamper parked on the back part of our property. We dressed up, had a tea party, blew bubbles, went for a nature walk, and enjoyed the day and night! I made cucumber sandwiches, carrots & celery sticks with berries & chocolate cake for dessert. Our tea was Arnold Palmer tea—half iced tea with half lemonade. I gave them each a recipe card to take home to Indiana.


The tea party was a great success. We all love to dress up & have some fun. The grandgirls even dressed their dolls & brought them to the party. I loved to watch their eyes as they checked out the whole thing. Their love of the outdoors is refreshing for me to watch in them! We spent the night in the glamper, with a thunderstorm. The youngest one is 5 and all she asked was “Is it safe to be in here, Moosey?” When I told her “yes,” she promptly rolled to her other side & went back to sleep until the morning. I am so glad that I could share my love of glamping with the girls. They still talk about it with me. I really have always loved to camp. Adding the glamp to camping is an added luxury that is fun & great!”

Terry, I love the fabric you chose for your curtains! MaryJane


Hope your day with family and friends is wonderful. There is much to be thankful for!!!




Sweet Land

I’m not a huge television fan, but occasionally something so engaging comes across the screen that there’s nothing I’d rather do than snuggle up and let myself get swept away to another landscape, another time, another story.

Know what I mean?

For me, there’s no better time to get lost in a good movie than a chilly winter’s night over a holiday weekend.

So, let me share with you my recommendation for your next “me-time” movie night:

Sweet Land.

This is not a husband’s movie (read: action), or a kid’s movie (read: animation), although some of each would certainly enjoy it. At its heart, Sweet Land is a genuine woman’s movie, and a farmgirl’s movie at that.



Some of you may have seen this quiet, unsung gem (it was released in 2007 with plenty of critical acclaim, but not a lot of promotion). Those of you who haven’t are in for a treat. The story is simple, rooted in the American aftermath of World War II, but based on a short story by Will Weaver.

What counts most in this movie is its engaging cast of characters …

A gutsy German mail-order bride named Inge lands on the vast plains of Minnesota, where she is to marry Olaf, a young Norwegian immigrant farmer of few words. Forging a marriage under these conditions would have been challenging enough, but the task becomes even more complicated when the local minister forbids the marriage on the basis of Inge’s nationality (anti-German sentiment was still raging in the wake of the war), and the town banker is determined to foreclose on a neighboring friend’s farm.

I won’t say more, lest I give too much away, but I will tell you that friendship, happiness, laughter, and love are as plentiful as wheat in the fields. And the lovely Elizabeth Reaser’s portrayal of Inge adds sass and spice to a seemingly bleak northern town populated by tight-laced settlers.

Here’s the Sweet Land movie trailer for a sneak peek:





Bee Art

Canadian artist Sarah Hatton collects dead bees.

“Why on earth would she do that?” you ask.

Like many an artist, she is out to make a point, and it’s a significant one.

Arranging dead bees into elaborate mandalas on fields of white,


Hatton is making a stark visual statement about the connection between declining bee populations and the use of pesticides.


“The link between neonicotinoid pesticides and the worldwide decline of bee populations is a crisis that cannot be ignored,” Hatton explains on her website. “I have arranged thousands of dead honeybees in mathematical patterns symbolically linked to monoculture crops, such as the Fibonacci spiral found in the seed head of the sunflower. The viewer experiences the vertigo of this lifeless swarm, a dizzying optical illusion that echoes the bees’ loss of ability to navigate due to the toxins locked within the very source of their sustenance.”

Powerful stuff.

A picture, after all, speaks a thousand words.