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 Outpost for earning a Beginner Level Knotty Farmgirls Merit Badge!

“I learned to tie a square knot (used most commonly to tie two ropes together), two half hitches (used most commonly as a quickly tied fastening, as it will hold forever without loosening), and the bowline (commonly used by sailors, as it never slips, jams, or fails, and it is easily and quickly untied). Each knot is used for a wide variety of applications, for which I listed the most common one.

Using these knots, I then build a tree swing in one of our maple trees.

I was a kid during the ’60s and ’70s, so I learned to do macrame. I have tied a lot of knots. Later, I learned how to tie a wily horse to a hitching post (he used to let himself loose). I still use knots almost daily to secure my stitches or a load in the back of a vehicle. My favorite loop is the “figure 8.” It doesn’t slip or twist and is used by rock climbers as a point to attach themselves to a line.

The swing took nearly an hour to get up. I might be able to tie a knot, but I am lousy at throwing a rope over a branch. After much swearing and sweating, I did get both ropes over the branch and secured (20 ft up), and the swing secured to the bottom. The first kid hopped on and nearly hit the ground. I hadn’t thought about that nylon rope stretching. After about an hour of swinging and adjusting the swing height, we got that rope stretched out and the swing positioned. They were both up at 5 a.m. this morning to go swinging in that tree. The tree is no longer lonely.”


  1. growing up on the water and sailing, we all learned to make all the sailor’s knots. I remember being totally confused by the name ” sheepshank” for one of the knots. Kudos to you sherri! surely you are knot without a line to fix anything anymore.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Brilliant summer red! It even feels like it is hot outside.

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    I love day lilies. I have a lot of some this same color. I saw some in a bed in front of a local market in a nearby town that are just a lovely shade of pink . . . not pale, not bright or dark . . . perfect in my opinion. Kind of reminded me of pink pearl nail polish. I’m going on a hunt for some of those for my yard!

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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 … Wendy Kay Skovo!!!

Wendy Kay Skovo (WendyFlower, #4700) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level The Secret Life of Bees Merit Badge!

“I watched the trailer at VanishingBees.com. I have planted borage, fennel, calendula, lemon balm, chamomile, clover, and other bee-friendly flowers. I’ve read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and watched the movie. I own the DVD and try to get people to watch it with me.

2014-04-15 11.55.48

I’ve been in love with honeybees a long time. My mom kept bees for a while. Bees are one of my obsessions. I’ve taught a workshop on building top-bar bee hives. I have had 3 attempts at starting a hive. UPS killed my first package; my second try was a small caught swarm that didn’t make it through the winter; and my third package of bees had a queen that died, and by the time I realized it and replaced her, there wasn’t time to put up enough stores for winter even with feeding.”

  1. Oliver says:

    What a material of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable know-how
    on the topic of unexpected emotions.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wendy, your beehive cake is fantastic. Wow, what a beautiful, and I bet delicious, culinary work of art! Working on the Bee Badge is very fun and enlightening. Your 3 attempts at hive starting are proof of the complexity of honey bees and their specific living needs to be successful. I am currently working on the same badge but using the Mason Bees to raise and explore. It has been an eye opener to read and learn about all of the challenges Honey bees and Mason Bees face now with GMO crops and pesticides. I hope your flowers enjoy lots of BeeAttention this summer. Someone will be enjoying some honey from your garden efforts!

  3. haven’t seen a honey bee all summer and them, wham ,found a dead one this morning on an outdoor cushion. Just breaks my heart. But I am happy to say that the various bumblebee sorts seem to be doing fine as evidenced by the huge number on my clover in my unmown lawn/meadow. Good luck Wendy for your next hive !

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  1. Christi Head says:

    Wish I had the sewing know-how to make a dress! Check out the sizing from back in the day

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a smart and pretty summer outfit. I loved how the patterns had all sorts of details you could select to customize your dress to your needs. On the front, I can see the numbers 1 & 2 under the hem to show such an option. I also like the polka dots look. Really fresh and fun!

  3. linda radziminski says:

    Notice the size Today that would probably be a size 6!

  4. maria lawrence says:

    I love old sewing patterns! I made one of the reproduction original designs and it was one of the hardest things I’he ever sewn but turned out so nice!

  5. Pamela Caldwell says:

    I saw this pattern and it reminded me that for years I’ve complained to myself of the fashion industry’s subtle size changes over the year to keep us thinking that we aren’t fat and to keep us buying new, “smaller” clothes. I was a size 14 in high school and college. Now at 62 I’m a size 10 with 4 extra inches on my top and bottom. Then add the stretch component and….. Wake up girls. To be real is to wear the real size!

  6. and take note that the hips were bigger than the bust, now thats more realistic isn’t it?

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Embroidery 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 Stitching and Crafting/Embroidery Expert Level Merit Badge, I took advantage of some down time (that’s what I call it’s-too-hot-to-go-outside-and-it’s-too-hot-to-turn-the-stove-on) and got out my collection of embroidery floss. What’s floss without needles naturally? so I got those out as well.


And of course, what are you going to do with a bunch of thread and needles and nothing to stitch them to, right? so I crawled into my linen cabinet.

Yes, literally.

It’s a really deep cabinet, girls.

And somewhat unorganized, I confess.

Ahem. Is there a badge for closet organization?

I admit to being something of a pillowcase hoarder, but today is the day where my irrational love of rectangular shaped cotton covers was finally going to pay off. By golly, I had a place to put these puppies now and it wasn’t the back of the closet with last year’s Halloween decorations, 12 rolls of wrapping paper, a set of curlers (for my hair … not the sport you see at the Olympics), and a case of toilet paper bought from one of those warehouse club places that will last me until approximately April of 2064.

Anyway, I seem to have gone off on a bunny trail there. My point was this: I had recently rearranged my living room to include a lovely window seat. (Talk about needing a badge for that one, am I right, girls? I’ll be covered in badges in no time.) Well, really, it’s an upcycled set of cabinets, turned on their side and placed strategically beneath my large picture window. But if you didn’t know better (pretend like you don’t know better), you’d say the architect was a genius.

Why, thanks. *blushes*

And as we all know, window seats are made for pillows. Or pillows are made for window seats. Or something. All I know is, I had an awesome place to sit and nibble cookies and people watch, and I needed some cushions to do so in comfort. My pillowcase collection was about to be put to good use!

Of course, it wasn’t as simple as all that. Just pulling a stack of fabric niceties out of your closet isn’t going to earn you a badge – sorry to disillusion you. No, this badge was all about embroidery, remember? (Why you keep getting me off track with all this talk about toilet paper and Olympic sports and architecture is beyond me. Try to focus!)

My plain, slightly boring pillowcases needed a makeover, and I had just the floss, needles, hoop, and nimble fingers to do it. Since I knew this windowseat would be excellent for reading novels, I used some of my favorite quotes to decorate my pillows. You can print out fonts and iron them on, or use stencils, or just free write them with a pencil.


Here are a few things my friendly pillows have to say as I snuggle in with them. Can you match the quotes with the novels?

I am so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.

To live would be an awfully big adventure.

I wish I’d done everything on earth with you.

You have bewitched me, body and soul.

Let’s begin by taking a smallish nap or two.

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.


Answers: Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter.



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Dear MBA Jane~ We must have been on some common wavelength because this Farmgirl was reading through your Stitching Room and Ideas books and decided it was too hot for knitting and perfect for embroidery. Now, my hoop and floss has not been used for (ahem) 3 decades so you can imagine what I had to do to find my stuff. But, there it was and just waiting for discovery. Then , I had to zoom off to JoAnn Fabrics for a few flour sack dishtowels as that was my project decision. A few years ago, a Farmgirl swap landed me these adorable iron on transfers and I was set. It is a good thing I had your Stitching Room book with pages showing how to make the stitches because I had truly forgotten what to do! And, my stitches weren’t as neat and pretty as I remember them. But, practice makes perfect, right? So, I have been stitching away and having a blast the past two weeks!

    I love your idea of stitching up favorite quotes. Perfect for gift making too! Last night, I finished my clothespin apron from your Ideas book and decided to add some embroidery to the pockets. I have wanted to make this apron since I first read the book 3 years ago, and finally I found some fabric I wanted and the time to get busy. This pattern was so easy, even I could follow along and do a decent job. So now, I am adding a clothespin apron WITH embroidery for a simple and fun gift giving idea. Plus, I need to go back and look up those badge requirements because I might have just completed another badge! Amazing what happens on a hot and humid summer afternoon when you dig out your embroidery and material!

    Thanks MBA Jane!!

  2. Wowie Zowie ! and to think that I just curl up with a “chilling” mystery
    by the creek on a hot day. Nope no airconditioning in this ole farmhouse, altho it is mostly in the shade -so not that hot.
    I collect vintage linens and the ones with ” turkey red” ( from the old days when the dye was imported from the east) embroidery are always the most charming. I use the antique and vintage pillow slips (what we always called them in the south) nightly. Hot sweaty night? just use another one- I have stacks. Around here they are often written in German. But your idea of stitching your favorite quotes is just brilliant. Might just try that for gifts as well.
    And you, Winnie, I’m amazed at how much you know how to do! Funny , I have also been perusing the big MJ book of late, so relaxing to sit and look at the beautiful photos and dream ( ok i dream more than I do, not like you ,Winnie ,who seems always so full of energy !) I have stacks of those darling iron on transfers from Aunt Martha’s. But ,uh, no iron !

  3. Karlyne says:

    Well, how timely! I was determined yesterday to do something creative today, and since it’s too hot to stake up the tomatoes again and I ran out of shade while mowing, it has to be indoors. (Forecast: 102′) Why, yes, it will be an embroidery sorting and sewing kind of day!

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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 … Courtney Robbins!!!

Courtney Robbins (#4840) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner & Intermediate Level Crochet Merit Badge!

“To earn my Beginner level badge for crochet, I thought I would try my hand at some MaryJane slippers! This pattern was a little complex for what I was used to, and the first time I tried to make them, I was camping, without help from my go-to crochet expert (Mum) and without electricity. I crocheted in the company of my soon-to-be sister-in-law while we were at camp, and as she knitted away, I crocheted away. After 10 hours of crocheting the soles and body for these slippers, I realized they were way too big! Huge, actually! I left camp feeling a little frustrated that I had spent all that time on these slippers that could fit my boyfriend!

I was determined to figure out this pattern, so every night after school for a few hours, I restarted them. Eventually, I figured out what I was doing wrong and managed to finish two even slippers! It took me another 10 hours to complete the darn things and a little extra time to pick out the perfect wooden buttons.


My MaryJane slippers are awesome! They are a perfect fit and really comfy and cozy on my feet. I used gray and yellow yarn, so they have a really beautiful contrast. The wooden buttons are a nice final touch and I am proud that I didn’t just give up on completing them! I truly learned a lot through my struggle. For this pattern, I had to learn how to follow an intermediate pattern, practice my ch, dc, and I had to learn how to dc2tog. I also had to learn and practice my patience!!

Here is a link to the website where I found the free pattern (for personal use only).

To earn my Intermediate Knitting Badge, I wanted to try something a little more challenging than a cowl on my circular needles! My boyfriend’s sister shared a really awesome knitting pattern with me that was for a cowl/shawl that was inspired by Katniss Everdeen from the new Hunger Games movie. I fell in love with the pattern and thought it would be a great challenge!

The pattern worked up in 3 sections. The first section was created like a sash/sling and I had to learn how to do a new stitch called the herringbone. This was challenging and I took it out and restarted several times!! After a few days of restarting, I finally figured it out and then had to switch the project over to circular needles for the second section. I had to practice my knitting in the round, and took on the new challenge of also picking up stitches, which I had also never done before. For the final section, I had to switch the project to smaller circular needles and finish it in the herringbone pattern.

For this project, I knitted in the company of my boyfriend, who was probably getting just as frustrated as I was listening to me grumble!


All of my frustration was worth it, though, and I stuck through it! My Katniss cowl came out awesome! It is so beautiful! I even spent extra time in my studio at school creating the perfect handmade ceramic buttons to give it its final touch. The cowl is super-neat and unique, and I have received so many compliments on it. This project made me so much more confident in my knitting, and I feel ready to take on a project like a sweater now … I just need to save up and buy some gorgeous yarn for it! I also am planning on making another one this fall to give to a close friend for Christmas.”

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow, Courtney, your slippers and Katniss Cowl are beautiful and so neatly done! Your perseverance really paid off and you have great items to enjoy and patterns to repeat for gifts. Congratulations and you have to post that sweater when you are finished.

  2. Christi Head says:

    Fabulous!! I see the link for the mary jane slippers, but do you still have the link for the Katniss Cowl? I wold love to try…although I might need to learn knitting first (I can crochet).

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Self-sufficiency Merit Badge, Expert Level, Part II

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,892 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,416 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/Self-Sufficiency Expert Level Merit Badge, I was really, really enjoying my food dehydrator. I mean, I was in love with the little miracle maker. My tummy full of yesterday’s beef jerky, I moved on to some vegetarian options. Pineapple, “sun”-dried tomatoes, apples, banana chips, peas, and plums. Mm! And don’t forget mangoes, papayas, peaches, and kiwis. Dry your own teas, make your own soup mix, gosh! The possibilities are keeping me up at night with hunger pangs (or they would be, if I hadn’t stashed some dried nectarines in my nightstand).




P.S. Don’t have a food dehydrator? You can try setting your oven to a low temperature. But some ovens don’t go low enough.

Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Homemade Dried Onion Soup Mix (although I usually use it for other things besides soup: casseroles, sprinkled atop steamed veggies, in meatloaf or burgers, or as a base for other soups)

  • 8 t dried onion flakes (why, dry your own, of course!)
  • 1 1/2 t dried parsley (again … do I even need to say it?
  • 1 t onion powder, and turmeric
  • 1/2 t each celery seed, sugar, salt, and pepper

Store in a Mason jar or Ziploc bag.


Citrus Mint and Licorice Tea

  • Zest of 2 lemons and 2 oranges (remove with veggie peeler, then chop)
  • one 3-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
    • 1/2 small fennel bulb (can substitute whole star anise, but if you do, add the anise in at the last step)
      • 1 cup tightly packed mint leaves
      • 1 cup dried cranberries or apricots

Dry your zests, ginger, and fennel until dried. Dry the mint as well (you can put them in together, but the mint will be ready the quickest). Crumble the mint when cool enough to handle and steep with hot water (about 2 T per 1 cup water).


wasabi peas

Photo by GuillaumeG via Wikimedia Commons

Homemade Wasabi Peas

  • one package frozen (defrosted) or fresh peas, dried nearly completely (let them be a little chewy still—we aren’t done drying them yet
  • 2 T white rice vinegar
  • 4-5 T wasabi powder
  • 1 t mustard powder

Toss the nearly done peas with the mixture above. Return to dryer and finish drying. Eat alone as a spicy, yummy snack or add to your own Gorp mix, trail mix, or popcorn.



Chocolate-covered Dried Fruit

  • assorted dried fruits that go well with chocolate (Is this an oxymoron, Jane, my girl? Doesn’t EVERYTHING go well with chocolate?)
  • dipping chocolate (dark, milk, white—whatever floats your boat)

Dip cooled fruits in warm chocolate. Let dry (if you can you have more willpower than I) on wax paper. These are most excellent for gifts. Like, a gift to me from me. Happy Tuesday, Jane … you know, those kind of gifts. The best kinds.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    These recipes look yummy! While I don’t have a dehydrator, I have been able to successfully dry apples in my oven on a low heat so I am thinking I could try a few of these recipes. The citrus and Licorice tea really caught my eye and I bet it would be fantastic hot or iced in the hot summer.

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Your Key to Happiness

Hey Winnie,

Here’s my skirt you asked about …


with matching book cover …




matching tatted necklace …


and matching apron. So farmgirl!



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Oh, MayJane these is absolutely beautiful! What a lovely set of handcrafted items you put together. I love the color palette and all of the intricate details. Thank-you for sharing these color photos and the entire set. I can just see you on a warm summer day all dressed up and sitting in the shade with a tall glass of ice tea and reading. True Farmgirl Romance!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    MaryJane, I just read my July sister issue and was delighted that you shared the latest Time magazine issue talking about butter. I had read that issue about a week ago myself and so happy to see that FINALLY the truth about those fake butters was brought to light. As someone with familiar hypercholesterolemia, years of medical advice has shunned butter or animal fats of any kind. At last, research is shedding light on the facts. There is mounting evidence that organic meat from naturally fed animals does not pose a threat. And now, at last the truth of milk fat and milk fat products having better health records than their artificial competitors is being validated. Plus, just in time for the publication of Milk Cow Kitchen! Making homemade butter has now been elevated to “preferred” instead of “avoid”. I love how this Time article supports your new book and I hope millions of people will take your ideas to heart and start making healthy milk additions to their diets. Perhaps your suggestion of a backyard cow will begin a cultural shift equal to the backyard chicken idea that has spread with great enthusiasm. Won’t Lehman’s will thrilled to having a stampede of folks purchasing their butter churners? Business synergy is grand.

  3. Debbie Fischer says:

    Wow! BEautiful things Mary Jane and you are so talented too! Sure wished my sewing machine liked me so I could make pretty things:-)

    • Karlyne says:

      As one who has over the years fought her sewing machine, I feel your pain, Debbie! I finally bought a basic Brother machine at Costco about 6 years ago, and I am in looooooovvvve. And better yet, it loves me back.

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photo of the day


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow, is that a lovely vintage handcrafted book cover? I have never seen anything like it. I wish you could post it in color to see the details better. That title and key graphic just makes me want to read away!

    • MaryJane says:

      Thanks Winnie! I even have a skirt I wear that matches the cover. Fabric is mustard with purples, etc. in the embroidery threads. How’s that for happiness. I will see if I can find the photos in color for you. Good morning!

      • Winnie Nielsen says:

        Good Afternoon to you! A skirt to match, you say?? Now that is perfect Farmgirl genius and happiness MaryJane Style. The past week, I have gotten out your stitchery book, my embroidery hoop and threads and working on embroidering dishtowels. I used to do more embroidery in my early 20s but haven’t for decades. Something about the photos in your Ideas book, which I recently re-read, made me just want to get out the thread and needle and get back my skill levels again. In the blistering heat of Summer, I am stitching away and loving it. Dishtowels are very forgiving too which helps.

  2. Karlyne says:

    Is it real embroidery?!? I love it!

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