Rhinestone Rodeo

We listened to Patsy Cline, drank Diamond Fizzes, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for our sweet little school! The center was filled with cowboy hats, boots, and rhinestones…

Photo Jan 25, 9 51 52 PM

The evening went much too fast, but a glimpse of the décor …

Photo Jan 23, 4 13 06 PM

The three hundred roses turned into simple centerpieces with chevron table runners that we sold one by one through bidding …

Photo Dec 28, 11 11 14 AM


The entrance and photo booth were piled high with saddles and straw…

Photo Jan 25, 5 18 15 PM

Photo Jan 25, 5 18 30 PM

Our crew was there at 8:00 am sharp and didn’t clear out until we packed up the whole event at 10:30 pm. Somehow, when working with people you love for something you love, a day of hard work feels pretty good!

Photo Jan 25, 10 12 31 PM

  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    one word:AWESOME!:-)

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    It looks like such a fun time! I love all the glammed up cowgirls in their hats accompanied by oodles of lovely white roses.

  3. Karlyne says:

    Give yourselves a lot of pats on the backs!

  4. Ok Im from out East, what’s a Diamond Fizz, is it like a Silver Gin Fizz? Gosh, at a school shindig I guess not.

  5. Mary Bielenberg says:

    We thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Nicely done!

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Vote for Your Favorite Cover of the Next Issue of MaryJanesFarm

Lend us a hand by voting on your favorite cover for the April/May 2014 issue of MaryJanesFarm!

Option #1:


Option #2:


Leave your vote in the comments. Thanks!!!!!


  1. Karlyne says:

    Picnic basket and cake plates all the way! (the second one)

  2. Jennifer says:

    Number 1

  3. Yolanda Solferino says:

    Number 2

  4. Christina D #5572 says:

    I vote for Option #2 there’s so much more detail

  5. Sharon says:

    #2, for sure. More interesting than just the beautiful flowers.

  6. Terry Steinmetz says:

    My vote is for number 2

  7. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Number 2.

  8. Andrea says:

    Option #2

  9. Absolutely # 2. It has the lovely vintage picnic basket, little plates and lacey napkins and actual utensils that are not plastic! So much more MJ than the plain flower pic, which could be on any given gardening magazine in spring.

  10. Connie-Killarney says:


  11. Kristi says:

    #2 because it’s easier to read. Both options are beautiful!

  12. Thayes Hower says:

    Number 1: The brightness of the flowers grabbed my attention right away. Number 2 is pretty, but I would probably walk by it without noticing if I wasn’t looking for it.

  13. Deborah McKissic says:

    Number two is so nice..makes me want to go on a picnic! Number one is nice..but it makes me think I need to work in my garden, ha ha ha I should have planted more daffodils last fall…..I vote for number two…can’t wait to get my copy and read it cover to cover..whichever one that might be!

  14. Pamela Caldwell says:

    I like the one that is only partially the daffodils. I think it makes it MaryJane instead of a garden-seed catelogue.

  15. Pamela Criswell says:

    Love the Warm feeling of being outside.

  16. Nan Roberts says:

    I pick #2. The first cover’s flowers are pretty, but too busy, and the words both interfere with seeing the flowers and are hard to read themselves. Number 2 is more legible, not just the words but the images. It’s a much better design. Also, because the picture has depth, one goes into the picture, looks at everything in it, including the words. The Number one picture of flowers would be great inside as just a full page picture, because it is beautiful.

  17. Mary Beth Schwarz says:

    Option #2, but both are lovely! MB

  18. Cathy R says:

    Like them both! But will go with #2 ~ take the flowers on a picnic!

  19. Kris says:

    They are both lovely, but I am going with #2. It tells more of a story and it draws you in, which you want a cover to do. Also, it is more representative of what the magazine is all about!

  20. Deena Heath says:

    #2 is very Mary Jane-ish! And I can’t wait to go on a picnic!

  21. Lori Dahlman says:

    I LOVE them both! Option 1 is beautiful. I see option #2 as the cover. It is more fitting to your magazine! Which I also LOVE! <3

  22. Elizabeth Maden says:

    Option 2

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Both are very pretty, but I vote for number 2

  24. Nancy Todd says:

    Option 2

  25. Linda says:

    #2 but both are really pretty!

  26. Beth says:

    Picnic Basket with flowers!

  27. Kristine says:

    Option #2…love them both though

  28. Sylvia jayne says:

    Option 1

  29. Emily Hotchkin says:


  30. Kay says:

    Number 2 definitely !!

  31. winnie says:

    winnie says number 2

  32. Kim says:

    Cover #2, because it looks like an event – a picnic – rather than the first one, which looks like just a gardening magazine.

  33. #2 for sure. There’s more to study and more stories to be told within the picture

  34. Chrissy says:

    I like #2. When words and pictures are the same color values, my eyes have trouble picking out the words. Besides, the idea of a spring picnic is nice after wanting to hibernate all winter due to the arctic blasts:)

  35. Rebecca Tayor says:

    I vote No.1. The light on the flowers looks beautiful!

  36. Phyllis says:

    I vote for #2.

  37. Tena Anderson says:

    I love #2!!!

  38. JustB says:

    Option 2 for me please : )

  39. Cynthia Weaver says:

    I vote for number one. The close up of the daffodils is spectacular.

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Ahhh, the Sounds of a Cricut

As I mentioned last week, I’m getting crafty for a good cause. Stella’s annual school auction is on the horizon, and well, you know my love for party decorating, so I couldn’t be happier to assist. Especially when that means I get to sit down with a cup of tea and get this thing chirping!

Photo Jan 18, 11 51 38 AM

If you haven’t used a Cricut before, it pretty much cuts paper in any shape, size, letter, or design you want it to. If you have used a Cricut, you know what I’m saying about the little noise it makes while it cuts and shifts the paper back and forth. Makes me smile.

But as I craft away for our Rhinestone Rodeo Auction, this next picture might be most descriptive.

Photo Jan 09, 2 41 34 PM

As I pick color schemes and songs (Patsy Cline, in this case) to name the silent auction tables, I’d say this one is particularly fitting today!

Happy Thursday!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    My crafting buddy used to have one of these and they are so fun to use! I love all of the possibilities one can create and the products come out perfect. This is the easiest answer to your upcoming school auction preparations. Show us come pictures of your tables so we can see the end product.

  2. It doesn’t get any better than Patsy Cline! She was amazing !

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Mason Bees

Calling all beginning beekeepers!

The Raindrop Mason Bee House Kit is a simple starter hive that will have you buzzing for joy.

Just look at it—a lovely bit of apiarist architecture, is it not?


Photo courtesy of CrownBees.com

This elegant raindrop-shaped pine hive is designed and carefully handcrafted by a team of Ixil carpenters (indigenous Mayan people) living near Nebaj, Guatemala. The hive holds about 100 tubes or reeds that are protected from rainfall and moisture accumulation.

What’s more, all profits are donated to the Agros International training center, which helps rural families in Latin America escape the cycle of generational poverty and participates in local Guatemalan reforestation efforts.

Buy your hive at www.crownbees.com, where you can also find advice, mason bees, and other supplies for launching your hive.

Here’s a nifty video packed with info about the raindrop hive:


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I just got the book Bees in America yesterday from Amazon and can’t wait to dig in! Maybe this little Raindrop House Kit would be a good place to start. I like the concept and the size.

  2. Was about to ask if these are the same as carpenter bees . Then did a quick internet search, and no they are’nt the destructive ones. Yay as I have many many carpenter bees and they have made ” swiss cheese” of my sheds and the wood on my cottage. I dont kill them though, I just seal up their holes with that stuff you use in construction that seals up holes , you use a tube of it and a “gun” . ( darn , can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called) anyway you aren’t killing them- they just go elsewhere or give up if you continue to fill in their holes. Too bad the nice mason bees don’t try to take over instead! I may have the nice mason bees as there are many big bees that come to the apple and pear tree on my farmette.

    This lovely bee house, looks like a great beginner bee project for you, Winnie, and others. And its the prettiest one I have ever seen plus helps a worthy cause as well.

  3. Deborah McKissic says:

    I went online to read about these bees…they are amazing little bees! Thanks for the website, Mary Jane,…I think these little bees might be the answer for me..I wanted to try raising honeybees…they are not for the weak of heart..so, I was told…and, I want to put in a little blueberry patch this year…so, this raindrop house kit would be nice attached to a garden fence post near the blueberries….

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Charlie Chasin’ Chickens

Our latest addition, Charlie, loves to chase our chickens. (I think they secretly like it.) I might add, I’ve never had such a playful calf. He’s constantly on the go.

First he stalks them, moving only inches at a time—the two girls are just walking along, visiting about the latest American Idol winner—when …


Pounce! (Auntie Etta Jane stands by, shaking her head, “Kids.”)


“It’s him again!”


“Run for your life.”


Meanwhile, auntie watches patiently.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Hahahaha! How cute is that! I am thinking the girls are less than impressed with the big rascal and hoping Charlie grows up soon to not be so interested in having a barnyard game of tag!

  2. Ohhhhhh too cute. Charlie is indeed a very special calf. I don’t think people who haven’t worked with so called ” herd animals” realize how much individuality they possess. Cows are much more playful ( even adults) than we give them credit for. And don’t even get me going on the wonderfulness of pigs!

    thanks MJ for sharing these darling photos and all the antics of Charlie and friends. “Keep on Truckin’ ” Charlie !

    • MaryJane says:

      So true! They are each so very different in personality. One day Charlie talked everyone into a game of follow the leader. My biggest girls followed him up and over the manure pile. Each one was required to kick up their heels when running down the back side. What a sight with their big ole udders full of milk!!!

      We’re featuring a woman pig farmer in the next couple of issues. The pics of pigs she sent gave us all a bout of love-at-first-sight.

  3. Cathy R says:

    LOL! That is the tooooooo cute! Story book quality! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Eileen Stone says:

    This is beautiful!

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    A merry time is had by all, I’ll bet! It’s SOOOOO fun to watch our animals at play!
    We enjoy watching our Longhorns in their various activities. The adults like to “tease” other with those impressive horns and the calves like to spar or chase each other around!
    What fun!

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Getting Crafty

When Stella’s school asked if I’d head their décor committee for their annual fundraising auction, I was tickled pink. Decorate, merely DECORATE, for a party and not have to do all the other party logistics? Sign me up!

Soon after, I scored this awesome pile of …

Photo Nov 30, 12 25 06 PM

burlap sacks. This photo doesn’t do this score justice—two dozen humongous burlap coffee bean bags. The super-cool part is they have all kinds of funky-looking logos from Brazil and Guatemala and all the other fabulous places where coffee beans are grown. So of course I plan to use quite a few of them to decorate for our upcoming auction.


I have so many, I get to use some for home décor also. I have a few ideas up my sleeve, but I’d love some suggestions … ???  Too-much-burlap is kind of a dreamy “problem” for a farmgirl to have, wouldn’t you agree?

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Gosh, what a great donation and tool to work with. Coffee Bean bag, how perfect! In the current issue of country Sampler, they show a few burlap accent pillows on sofas and there is now burlap fabric for making curtains and table runners. I like the idea of burlap curtains in a bathroom with a rustic decor theme. Sort of that cabin feel? Please post here what you come up with so we can all enjoy! Have fun!!

  2. Linda Radziminski says:

    I see some interesting throw pillows with these or how about upholstery .Redo some french style chairs with these.The formal chairs with the burlap fabric on them could be a nice play on opposites.Use scraps to make a burlap wreath.Just tie onto wreath form.

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    I agree with the wreath idea, with burlap “ribbon”. Cover a bulletin board with one or pieces of several. Cover terracotta pots with some, or tie a “ribbon” around pots. Tote bags with some added embellishments of buttons, flowers, etc.
    Geez . . . . hmmmmmm.
    Whatever you do, have fun!

  4. Karlyne says:

    Kitchen curtains or just valances would be sweet!

  5. shelly woods says:

    I have seen them as accent pillows a lot. I can envision them as wall art with the designs. I was thinking of finding some to use as a dog bed. I would like to take some aromatic cedar chips in a mesh bag, along with some soft padding, and try making a dog bed with the burlap. I was thinking that it would keep the bed smelling nice, but the dog will have to give the final blessing as to whether he finds it comfy enough. My other idea was to use scrap burlap to cover a cat scratching post. Now I will have to find some to try for myself.

  6. Debra says:

    Back in the 70s we used to do yarn embroidery on burlap. Kinda like chunky crewel work. Not fussy at all.

  7. Debbie says:

    Oh, I’m so happy I stopped by today! I’m so sorry to hear you are busting at the seams with burlap MJ! 🙂
    I’m loving all of the ideas I read above… Art, pillows, bulletin boards, upholstery,ribbon, dog bed, scratching post… so cool…I recently saw a DIY show where they used burlap for wallpaper. I covered the walls in my booth in it and it makes a lovely cozy, backdrop for all kinds of decorating themes. Shabby, refined, rustic and it’s the perfect background for something shiny too! Think gold leaf, silver leaf and polished silver frames with beautiful photographs of barn and farm art mixed with scavenged finds like rusty metal, salvaged wood with peeling paint and such…So fun! Can’t wait to see what’s up your burlap bag for ideas!!!xo Deb

  8. Antigone says:

    What about some burlap roses? And maybe a tutorial in Mary Janes Farm?

  9. This isnt artistic but burlap is great for covering tender plants and roses to keep off the cold. I also use burlap to over my beds when I plant carrot seeds. You can water the burlap to keep the soil moist which is what carrots need to germinate. Then when the seedlings pop up through the burlap, make it very wet and gently pull straight up to remove. Its a perfect way to start carrots and many other kinds of small simple seedlings that need even moisture to germinate. the pretty colors of the prints on the bags will keep things bright and cheery.

  10. Megan says:

    Oh, I love all the ideas!! I think my favorite part about crafting is the daydream. 🙂 Linda and CJ, I just tucked my burlap wreath (featured in the Dec/Jan 2013 issue of the magazine) away until next year. It made me so happy to pull down my driveway and enjoy its welcome each day. And Debbie, do tell about the wallpaper idea? What did you use to adhere it to the wall? That sounds super fun. Although, I might need even more! 🙂 I love the embroidery idea too, might have to orchestrate that into my current planning too.

    And I do still need to perfect my burlap roses. My initial intention for this auction was to make burlap rose bouquets for the centerpieces for all 25 tables. I’ve since decided that was a bit of a lofty notion. Ha!

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Gwen Stefani’s Elevated Basics

Hey, farmgirl fashionistas, here’s one to watch:

Gwen Stefani, the fab former frontwoman of the band No Doubt, is forging a fashion partnership with 7 for All Mankind to create a line of eco-friendly “elevated basics” (plain speak: outfits) made with Tencel, a biodegradable fabric composed of wood-pulp cellulose.


Photo by jelizen via Wikimedia Commons


The “how” is really beyond me at this point, but the seemingly space-age technique must be happening right NOW because Gwen’s 18-piece DWP (Design with Purpose) collection will be released this spring.

“What’s so great about DWP for me is it’s different from anything I’ve ever done, working in L.A. and having the factory right here,” Stefani told The Hollywood Reporter. “The actual designs are very simple because it’s all about everyday wear. So that’s different and new.”


Photo by Notxmyidea via Wikimedia Commons



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now, to have Gwen’s figure to pull it off!

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She got around.

They say a photo speaks a thousand words …

Lady Norman's Scooter

Public domain photo courtesy of Goodreads


Enough said?

Well, alright, I’ll add a tidbit of explanation, as given by one G.D. Falksen on Goodreads: “Lady Florence Norman, a suffragette, on her motor-scooter in 1916, travelling to work at offices in London where she was a supervisor. The scooter was a birthday present from her husband, the journalist and Liberal politician Sir Henry Norman.”


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This photo is really amazing. To have been an owner of such a device in 1916 must have been quite the luxury as well as the talk of the town. The suffragettes were fearless in a time that was deep in the throes of WWI.

  2. Dolly Sarrio says:

    She was something for her time! A Supervisor among other things. She was jet setter and a role model it seems..Thanks for sharing this.

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Telling Bees

Keepers of bees, lend an ear …

I stumbled upon a curious old custom:

The Telling of the Bees.

Ever heard of it?

It’s new to me, but its roots can be traced deep into the lore of 19th century England and followed to the shores of America on the ships of early immigrants.

“Telling the bees” referred to a tradition of humans informing hive residents about important events in their keepers’ lives, such as births, marriages, or notable comings and goings of the household. Perhaps recalling the events of the year at the start of a new year?


Photo by Pokrajac via Wikimedia Commons


Most importantly, though, people believed that bees must be told of their keepers’ deaths. If left out of the loop, the bees might abandon their hives, halt honey production, or even die themselves.

So, how would one announce such news to an apiary?

If the keeper had information to share, she might rap gently upon the hive and murmur softly to her bees. A bit of lace and slice of cake might be left to include the bees in a wedding celebration.

But if the sad news of a keeper’s passing was in order, the bearer was inclined to drape a hive in black cloth while humming a “doleful tune,” according to New England Legends and Folk Lore by Samuel Adams Drake. Funeral food and wine would be “shared” with the bees, and an invitation to the funeral tacked to the hive. In some cases, the hive might even be rotated to face the funeral procession. It was considered critical that these valuable members of a household not be neglected.


On an Apiary by Aleksandr Makovsky via Wikimedia Commons

In 1858, American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier published “Telling the Bees” in the Atlantic Monthly. In his introductory note, he wrote, “A remarkable custom, brought from the Old Country, formerly prevailed in the rural districts of New England. On the death of a member of the family, the bees were at once informed of the event, and their hives dressed in mourning. This ceremonial was supposed to be necessary to prevent the swarms from leaving their hives and seeking a new home.”

Here are a few stanzas from Whittier’s touching poem:

Just the same as a month before,—

The house and the trees,

The barn’s brown gable, the vine by the door,—

Nothing changed but the hives of bees.


Before them, under the garden wall,

Forward and back,

Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,

Draping each hive with a shred of black.


Trembling, I listened: the summer sun

Had the chill of snow;

For I knew she was telling the bees of one

Gone on the journey we all must go.




And the song she was singing ever since

In my ear sounds on:—

“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!

Mistress Mary is dead and gone!”


From Whittier and Whittier-Land, eds. Donald C. Freeman, John B. Pickard, Roland H. Woodwell. Courtesy of the Trustees of the Whittier Homestead, Haverhill, MA.


As I was buzzing about the Internet, I also found an English folk band called Telling the Bees. This captivating album cover was created by artist Rima Staines:


Image courtesy of Threadsofspiderwoman.blogspot.com


For more beguiling bee lore, I suggest Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation by Tammy Horn.




  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is fascinating. The more I learn about bees, the more I am astounded at their importance and impact on our everyday lives. This book looks quite interesting and I am going to look for a copy to start my 2014. Apparently, there are more important lessons to learn about life from the bees that I need to know!

  2. Since my former brother in law was a beekeeper, he always told the family about such charming customs and lore of the bees. Very touching . Who pray tell, will tell the bees about their future untimely demise from “Colony Collapse Disorder” and pesticides that are decimating their numbers ?

    • MaryJane says:

      I’ve ordered a new hexagonal beehive for next summer. I fully intend to chat with its inhabitants and apologize for the pesticides they’re ‘not always’ enduring. Hard stuff indeed.

  3. Didn’t mean to sound so negative ! On a lighter note, the greatest gift I received this past year was a pint of Appalachian Sourwood Honey. It was gathered by an old time mountain man in North Carlolina who has to station his hives only there under the nearly extinct sourwood trees deep in the woods. Otherwise the bees will go to other flowers and it won’t the the “real deal”. It is a pure white honey, and doesn’t look like any other that you have seen. This honey is so rarified and wonderful that it is listed in the Ark of Taste of Slow Food USA which describes the Ark as “a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction.” It was described thusly :” Most honey is made by bees. But sourwood is made by bees and angels.” – Carson Brewer, writer. Here is a link to Slow Foods description of Sourwood Honey :
    There are lots of other honeys mentioned on this site as well. Makes you want to try them all !
    Bee happy – eat honey! And talk to your bees !

    • MaryJane says:

      Never heard of white honey before. Some gift!!!!! Definitely touched by angels (and dedicated beekeepers).

      • HI MaryJane, first of all – Happy New Year! How was your new year’s celebration with the cows and calves? I spent mine with the cats.
        I do wish I had more of this precious Sourwood Honey so I could send some to you. I use it in every morning’s cup of tea so there is precious little left. I believe you might find some for sale at the ” Local harvest ” website.
        Oh and I’m sure you have read ” The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd (and the movie is very “sweet” also.)

  4. Janet Coomes says:

    Thanks for sharing this. We are new beekkeepers and find articles and books about bees and beekeeping very interesting. Bees are so important and we tell people we are saving the world one bee at a time 🙂

  5. Corri Riebow says:

    Very interesting! I’ll definitely be getting a copy of that book!

  6. Cathy lynch says:

    Thank you for sharing this book, I’ve been raising 2 bees hives for the last 3 years and lost my hives every winter.
    The bees look like this winter they may make it,
    I live in town but they give me the touch of farm life I’d love to have , just like your website and magazine helps me dream.

  7. I love this information, thanks so very much for sharing it.

    Smiles, Cyndi

  8. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I was able to find a copy of the book on amazon and it is headed my way. Can’t wait to dig in and learn more! Thanks Mary Jane for this book review and this thread!

  9. Nancy Coughlin says:

    Ah, honey! Just have to have some in my morning tea. A couple of my women’s groups have had beekeepers in at meetings to talk about beekeeping and the threat to the bee’s continued existence. Man (generic) is such a danger to the world around us. Even though I am highly allergic to bee stings (have to carry my EpiPen except during the winter!), I do admire the tenacity and strength of bees. We will really be hurting if colony collapse disorder continues to grow. I was so amazed by the number of women who made remarks about “not realizing how much we rely on bees, etc.” at those meetings. I shake my head at the number of people who still don’t understand where their food comes from and how that inital source has to be protected for future generations.

  10. Gail says:

    Since reading The Secret Life of Bees, I’ve been fascinated with the art of beekeeping. A good friend and her husband are now beekeepers and I’ve been promised a trip to their hives with my 2 grand-daughters because I want them to become aware of these wonderful little creatures. Your post is great….interesting facts and pictures.

  11. Charlene Quevillon says:

    Love your story about the “telling of bees”. You might enjoy knowing that a PBS series “Larkrise to Candleford” (An adaptation of Flora Thompson’s autobiographical novel “Lark Rise To Candleford”, set in 19 century Oxfordshire, England.) had an episode that included a scene where a character named Queenie rushed to her hive to tell them the sad news when she thought that her husband had died.

    Bees are wonderful creatures and I thoroughly enjoy my 2 bee hives. It gives you a great appreciation for a teaspoon of honey when you realize how much work went into its production.

  12. Karen says:

    In browsing the internet I came across an old newspaper clipping of a gentleman who kept bees for decades. Upon his death, the mourners gathered at the gravesite to find the canopy and bouquet of flowers covered with bees. They weren’t agitated but very docile and calm. Some legends are based on a kernel of truth, however strange it may be.

  13. EFetzer says:

    Depicted in “Larkrise to Candleford” television series very touchingly.

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