Monthly Archives: June 2014

photo of the day


photo of the day


Glamping Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,929 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,474 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 Outpost/Glamping Expert Level Merit Badge, my farmgirl friends and I joined forces and went glamping.

Oh yeah.

And in style … to boot.

(Boots? I brought boots of course. They look fetching with a sundress if I do say so myself).


Glamping—as we all know by now, unless you’ve been living under the perverbial rock—is a form of camping, but with more flair (glamour + camping). I’d worked my way up to this Expert Level badge, and I was itchin’ to really put my skills to use. I use the expression itchin’ in the figurative sense, of course, though I did bring some homemade anti-itch cream with me, just in case.

Homemade Anti-Itch (calamine) Lotion

  • 1 t non-nano zinc oxide powder
  • 1 t fine sea salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 t bentonite clay
  • 1 T witch hazel
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix the zinc oxide, sea salt, baking soda, and bentonite clay. Slowly add the witch hazel and stir continuously until it’s nice and creamy, then add peppermint oil. (It’s a good idea to keep all of the dry ingredients on hand in a jar. Then all you have to do is mix in the wet ingredients. This recipe may not last super long, but if you’re prone to bug bites and falling into sneaky patches of poison oak like I am, that won’t be a problem.)

I’ve been saving up my spending money to buy a little teardrop camper,


but in the meantime, I still have my trusty childhood pup tent.


I patched up any holes, shook out the remains of 20 years of dead bugs, and aired her out in my backyard before we were ready to go. Then I got a little crazy and crafty and used some rickrack and lace trim I had lying around, and edged the tent. Once we got to the campsite, I hung some pretty crystal beads near the doorway and put a sweet little rug down at the entrance. She was looking gorgeous. I decided she needed a name. Cars get names, boats get names, campers get names, why not my adorable little home-away-from-home?

I stepped back and studied her with a critical eye as I sipped my Lady Grey tea out of my china tea cup (hey, I said this was glamping!).


I straightened her up (she tends to list to one side, but I think of it as cute little way of cocking her head) and placed my favorite lawn chair nearby. The effect was enchanting. She really was a looker. I named her Vivian Leigh.

Then I took in my friend’s campsites; we were sitting pretty. Midge had brought her Airstream with the awning that cranks out by hand in the most delightful way, and our girlfriend, Skipper, had brought her original 1978 Volkswagon bus with the gingham curtains. (Did you know you can buy tents that look like VW buses? I know, right?!)


photo by Saschaporsche via Wikimedia Commons

Our campsites made in the shade (literally and figuratively) we grilled up our dinner, sang songs around the campfire, brushed our teeth, and hit the hay. It was a night to be remembered: Midge, Skipper, Vivian Leigh, and me.




Bird Song

Last summer, I shared a little tweet (literally) from my morning windowsill …


Photo by Geoff Clarke via Wikimedia Commons

The “tweet” I’m talking about was the song of a Yellow Warbler who was frequenting the trees around my farm.

I recognize the songs of the warblers and several other species that sing the praises of the daily sunrise, but there are feathered farm friends whose voices I don’t know, so I was excited to discover Bird Song Hero.

Want to know what it is?

You may be surprised to learn that Bird Song Hero is an online game (you never thought of me as a “gamer,” did you?).

Granted, I’m not one to linger on the computer, but this game is really more of a fun tool, and it doesn’t take long to play. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology created Bird Song Hero to help bird watchers learn 50 common bird songs using a technique employed by the pros.

“Bird Song Hero trains you to interpret spectrograms, the sound visualizations scientists use to help them understand sound patterns,” explains the Cornell crew. “Spectrograms are used in the matching game to enlist your visual brain in identifying bird songs.”

Here’s the video that introduces Bird Song Hero and prepares you to play. It might take a moment to load, but it’s well worth it. When you get to the song of the black-capped chickadee, you’ll love the way I’ve always remembered its song: “Who did it?” “Who did it?” “Who did it?”

Visit Bird Song Hero to try the full chirping challenge.


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 … Sherrilyn Askew!!!

Sherrilyn Askew (sherri, #1350) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Grow Where You’re Planted Merit Badge!

“In Western Washington we have a number of non-invasive native ground covers, 5 of which are kinnickinnick, salal, wood strawberry, bunch berry, and coastal strawberry. I have planted both the strawberries in my strawberry patch and when they put off runners, transplant them around the trees and bushes in the yard. The bunch berries I have also planted around the shrubs and trees. The mosses in the grass are left unharmed, and the salal and kinnickinnick grow in the native part of my yard. I transplant any babies so that I can spread them further.


I’ll admit it, I’m a berry addict. An opportunity to plant edible berries native to the area is not to be missed. I plant some for the wild critters and some for me. I also hate to mow the lawn. I would rather be spending that time gardening, or sipping mint tea and dreaming while I enjoy the scents of my herb garden. Grow moss grow!!!! And the best part about a native garden is that is does not have to be watered or weeded once it gets started. I am cleaning out a corner of my place that is full of weed trees and have started establishing the undergrowth for the wild cherry tree and ocean spray bush already there, and will be planting more native plants so that I will have a nice little sanctuary to hang out in.”



A Smoky Mountain Independence Day

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, may be small (only about 4,000 people at last count), but it attracts over 100,000 spectators each year on July 4. At midnight, nonetheless. Yep, that’s right—Gatlinburg boasts the country’s “first Independence Day parade” each year at 12 midnight since 1976. Many people set up their folding chairs as early as 7 a.m. on July 3 to get a spot for the famous parade.



While you’re in town, don’t miss the River Raft Regatta at noon. The unmanned floatable race allows “anything that floats” and starts at the charmingly named “Christ in the Smokies Museum & Gardens.” The day progresses with several free concerts and a spectacular fireworks display at dark.


Photo by Zereshk via Wikimedia Commons

Or travel just 6 miles north to Pigeon Forge, home of Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, for the annual Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival with food, crafts, and music throughout the day.

Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains on three sides, Gatlinburg is the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in America, which attracts more than 11 million visitors a year to this tiny mountain town. Its Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community is touted as “the largest gathering of independent artisans in North America.” If you’re looking for a bang-up time for Independence Day with a generous dose of Appalachian charm, make plans to visit Gatlinburg—and be sure to show up the day before to catch the nation’s “first Independence Day parade.”






Gone Fishing

My sister and I caught our first trout of the season. We were supposed to be on our way home about the time I told my dad I wasn’t leaving until I caught a fish, and look who tried to eat my hook.

Photo Jun 21, 11 59 11 AM

I was pretty proud when Dad grilled them up for dinner.

Photo Jun 22, 6 15 12 PM

Mia was mildly concerned when she thought she was supposed to eat the tail! She seemed a little confused by a variety of things, including her Santa pjs in the middle of summer. 🙂

Photo Jun 22, 6 14 23 PM