All You Need Is Love

In 2002, we shared a story from the Atlantic Monthly called “How the Terrorists Stopped Terrorism.” The story of how these extremists were changed by giving them something to live for instead of die for is food for thought. Read the story here.


Photo by Roger McLassus via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I wonder if there is lasting hope within young people who pay allegiance but have no real political power. The tough issue seems to be changing those who have allegiance and big political power. Power and money is often a deadly potion that people can’t resist. It seems to always lead to corruption and brutal authoritarianism to maintain that power status. I know there has been a lot said that the young unemployed youth of places like Libya, Egypt and other countries have used the social media to push forward the Arab Spring. However, what we see are the men still grabbing for power and protecting their own interests. I have to agree with Hilary Clinton and others that the future for peace in these countries lies in the education of women and the freedom to equally participate in society. In countries where women have the same rights and opportunities as men, there are more stability and peace.

    • MaryJane says:

      That’s the reason I bristled when I read the part about finding “pretty” women for the men. It’s been shown over and over again that when women are allowed to flourish there is more stability and peace in regions that are chronically war-torn.

  2. Karlyne says:

    I found it crazy that it worked. But, then, when you think about it, all anyone (unless he is a sociopath) ever wants is to love and be loved, right? And yet I still find it crazy.

    And another thing I found crazy was that these “pretty” girls went for it. Is the world getting crazier, or is it just my perception of it?

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Couch Confession

What my couch really looks like in the midst of pool dates, camping trips, craft projects, and bike rides this summer.

Photo Aug 13, 4 37 06 PM

Maybe when I finally take some time to sit down, I’ll get it all folded and put away. Where do you sort and fold your laundry?

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Ahhhh, the proverbial piles of laundry. No matter where you are in your life, kids young or kids grown, laundry seems to always pile up somewhere. At least the couch provides space to stack stuff by destination while remaining in the center of the day’s action. It is as good a location as any!

  2. I dry all my laundry on the line outdoors in the fresh air . The line is strung up between an antique apple tree and an antique pear tree and then makes a corner to the antique lilac. I fold my laundry outdoors as I take it down or I will just put it in baskets indoors and ignore it forever. I know my limitiations, ha

  3. Nancy Coughlin says:

    When the rain here in the northeast relents for a few days, my laundry is out on the line. I fold and stack in the basket as I go. It may not get put away immediately, but as the basket sits in my bedroom the two cats take turns making their ‘dents’ on it.

  4. Pingback: School Daze | Raising Jane Journal

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Happy New Year Me!

Is it just me or do you get excited when you finally buy that new purse you’ve been wanting? You know the feeling, right? You can’t wait to get home and organize all of your belongings in all the fun new pockets and throw out the smashed granola bars and the business cards of people you’ve since forgotten and post-its that are total gibberish. Whose phone number is this anyway?

Photo Jul 31, 9 51 52 AM

I’ve never owned one of those super-big calendars that have room for ALL of life’s details. In fact, I have a little one for work, one for personal, one for jogging, and a pile of random post-its of things worth remembering. Maybe most people use the uploadable sort these days, or their smart phone.

But I must say, I finally upgraded to a calendar that holds it all, and it feels just like a new purse. Or a whole new year! Look at all this clean space and open air for getting my life organized and just so. I mentioned it to a friend and she replied, “Wait until you have a new ‘dedicated calendar’ pencil!” Maybe someday I’ll get with it and keep a digital calendar. But for right now, mid-August, I’m enjoying this simple upgrade. (My oversized calendar pages are blank, so I still have 12 months to go.)


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love those business year calendars where you can look at the week/month at a glance. It really makes it easier to keep all the important appointments and events together. Plus there are tabs in the back for contact information and they are portable. My last job required everyone to use a business calendar and take the Stephen Covey class on how to use one. Honestly, it revolutionized my organization skills and for once, everything for work and personal life was in one place. The calendar allowed me to put deadlines for projects, reminders, and daily to do tasks so that every morning, I just opened up my day and looked at what needed to be done. Covey also teaches you to list your daily tasks by priority by placing a tagging system beside each item like A1, A2, B1, B2 to remind you what has to get done plus I could add my personal life tasks on the list like get birthday cards, mail something, make casserole for pot-luck etc.

    Now that I am retired, I am using my desk calendar on my Mac and the daily reminder with a bell to ring at the right time of day. That way, I get a reminder at my desk or on my phone to do something.

    I know you will enjoy your new calendar system because it will make your life so much easier and organized. Especially when life amps up a few notches with kids, work and holidays!

    • MaryJane says:

      I have the same calendar and have always kept a hand-written calendar. I switched to a big one a while ago because now I have all my cow birthings, heat cycles, due dates, vaccination/hoof trim dates on mine also, in addition to everyone’s b-days, business/travel meetings, mag and book deadlines, garden plantings, etc. I tried to have a separate cow calendar and also a b-day one but it didn’t work. My personal, business, and COW life are all one and the same. I’m going to look up Stephen Covey. Never heard of him. Cool. Tagging system next!

  2. wow, lets hope my life doesn’t get that crazy- busy – I have a garden calendar where I jot down all that it is happening in the gardens , and the rest of life calendar and the little one in my purse that almost never get used. I used to have those big desk types and then all the junk on my desk covered it all up and well that didn’t work. I live a very simple and uncomplicated life really now, gone are the days when I had my “day planner” and so forth. And I am truly thankful for that simplicity now.

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When Glamping …

We loaded our campers and headed out—two weekends in a row. We always look forward to good eats around the campfire.

Photo Aug 08, 10 28 31 AM

Add a pile of meat or maybe some salmon, a mound of veggies, plenty of butter, salt, and pepper, and wrap it all up in double foil.

Photo Aug 08, 10 13 28 AM

Ahhh, the sound of sizzling goodness.

Photo Aug 08, 9 17 40 PM

We don’t have pictures of us enjoying our Hobo Dinners because it was too dark for photos, but perfect for a night around the campfire.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    These dinners in a packet remind me of Girl Scout camp where we would make the same thing on our overnight campouts. They are always so tasty and the easy clean-up is an added bonus! Thanks for reminding me of these great memories.

  2. Terry Steinmetz says:

    WoW! It looks like the same food we girls made on our Pack-n-Trail week. I go with a group of girls & a leader or two from the Bible camp I volunteer for, for whole week of glamping, with horses, & plain tenting–no amenities, either. It is great fun. We cook all the meals over an open fire that I keep going all day while they go horseback riding on the trails. It just ended on Sunday & I have great memories! We ate really well again!

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Milk Cow Kitchen Tea Towel

Stitchers, are you ready? Enjoy this tutorial for jazzing up your kitchen using my new Milk Cow Kitchen fabric by Moda available at the and

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    CeeJay shared this link on the Connection and I saw all of the colors combinations for the Milk Cow Kitchen. Immediately, I knew there would have to be some of these darlings in my kitchen as soon as I can get organized. Of course, the red mug , red apples and fabric choices in this photo just make this FSOTY SMILE! If you live in the city and you can’t have a cow……….surround yourself with lots of MJF MCK Accessories. BY the way, I made more homemade butter the other day and have my fresh ground Montana Prairie Wheat flour ready to use up the whey for making a loaf of bread today. I canned some of our local Florida Sand Pears into a jam that has orange juice, orange zest and fresh nutmeg for seasoning. Of course with MJF ChillOver for a beautiful result. I am thinking it is going to taste really good on fresh bread later today!!

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Ten Years

It’s not every day that someone gets married. I mean, people get married every day, but for each individual, it doesn’t happen often. In fact, most hope it only happens once. Ten years ago last weekend, I got married. For some moments, I can recount the details as though it was yesterday. For other moments, it feels like another lifetime ago. ‘Tis the roller coaster that’s life, right?

There are, of course, a billion discussions on the topic of how to make it work, how to make it last, how to make it. Please bear with me while I get a little sentimental. As I got ready that day 10 years ago, I wanted to defy the statistics. I wanted to be right about what I was about to do. But it really is anybody’s guess. How can you really know someone that well to know you’ll be able to navigate life together for the rest of your life? You don’t know how life will change the one you’ve chosen, how they’ll handle curve balls. The odds are definitely against a couple who couple.

I don’t have ready answers for how to “make it work.” But I do know that 10 years ago, I was giddy. I couldn’t wait to walk down that aisle and whisper my handwritten vows.


The excitement and joy I felt and the crystal-clear feeling I had that all was soooo right in the world turned into an effort to keep from crying.


I mean, we were on top of the world, at the top of a wheat field, on the farm I grew up on.


I felt pretty lucky about a lot that day.

And here we sit, 10 years later. A dear family friend took our two girls to the lake for the weekend. We contemplated for months all the marvelous places we’d go to celebrate being childless. Then we decided that one of the things we never get to do is be on vacation in our lovely little hometown.

Photo Aug 03, 8 49 19 AM

So… we stay-cationed it. We enjoyed our favorite dinners and frequented our fav breakfast nook. We even visited our little local bookstore hand-in-hand for his copy of the Sunday New York Times and my copy of a good beach-y summer read.

We took a few moments to remember that I am still loved and so is he. Rejuvenating, invigorating, inspiring, encouraging, to say the least.

I’m sure that someone who has accomplished 20, 30, or 40 years can say “Get ready for the long haul.” But I’d like to say that the first long haul that is 10 years has been worth it. And as long as most days, the pros outweigh the cons, celebrating a milestone with someone you love feels pretty awesome! I’m still feeling lucky and ready for the next long haul, especially if I get to share it with this guy.

Photo Aug 02, 10 33 57 AM

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Congratulations Megan on your 10th Anniversary! You are so correct in that the navigating of each day and each storm is nothing you can predict or prepare for. Most of the time, it is blind trust and hand holding. But challenge makes us a better couple, and gives an opportunity to find out where our real bottom lines are located and where our hearts are best at assessment. I think marriage is part work and part an art form. And as you know, art evolves to become a beautiful piece of work; ever changing, always in progress and, never static. Best Wishes to you and Lucas for another beautiful 10 year ride!!

    • Megan says:

      Winnie, thank you. It is a project in progress, a piece of artwork. Pretty sure it will always be my favorite piece. 🙂

  2. Connie-Killarney says:

    AWWWWWWWWW What a Perfect Wedding! The pictures just captivate me!! and you have been blessed with 2 of the greatest gifts we get in this life!! Happy Anniversary!!

    Sincerely, Connie

  3. Thayes Hower says:

    Congratulations on your first decade! My husband and I celebrated 40 this year. Celebrate every year, every week and every day. I hope you are even more in love every year as we have found we are.

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    Congratulations you two! I have so loved meeting . . . and hugging . . . you both! You, Lucas and your girls are a treasure of a family! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!

    By the way, my hubby and I will celebrate 46 years in December! 😀

  5. What a beautiful love story, Congratulations!
    Lots of farmgirl Hugs from Colorado.

  6. My husband Tom and I will be married 40 years August 24th, and I would not trade one single day or do anything different. It is our life, our journey and I am so Blessed to have the wonderful man for my husband, and our wonderful Son Kent.
    Meg, I wish you and your husband many more years of blessings and love.

  7. Cathy R says:

    Congratulations! It’s great to look at the “long haul” one glorious day at a time! That’s how years later you are still magically in LOVE and enjoying the roller coaster ride of your life! We will be celebrating #39 this year. The last ten have been on our Idaho hill where we bask in heavenly blessings continuously! How delightful to celebration with a ‘stay-cation’! May God’s blessings of love and joy overflow on your little family!

  8. Karlyne says:

    Lovely, Megan!

  9. Debbie says:

    Happy Anniversary you two! I loved your story, Meg…From a gal who is approaching her ” 25th” with my guy, we wish you many blessings for the long haul… It’s not really a haul when you are a good match. It’s more like a Sunday drive, with a few pot holes here and there! Enjoy the ride! Much love,
    Deb ( and her handsome Yankee, Boz )

  10. Belated Congratulations to you both. You still sound so in love and that is the important part. may you have many more decades together to come!

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Perfectly Piggish

Pondering the prospect of a pet pig?


Photo by Brian Robert Marshall via Wikimedia Commons

Ponder no longer.

The Ross Mill Farm in Pennsylvania is dedicated to one purpose: the care and handling of pot-bellied pigs as (perfectly presentable) family pets.

“The Farm, originally established in 1740, is nestled in the rolling hills of Bucks Country, Pennsylvania, one hour north of Philadelphia,” explains the Ross Mill website. “Situated on 30 acres of pristine woods and streams, its historic fieldstone buildings and grounds have been carefully modified to provide the perfect environment for the care of pet pigs. The main farmhouse provides a place for piglets and youngsters to become socialized household companion pets. Outdoor facilities, the stone barn, and other buildings create the perfect environment to grow, learn, and express their natural social behavior.”

But the Farm doesn’t just pamper its own pigs. Owner Susan Magidson, also known as the Pet Pig Information and Consultation Specialist, provides guidance to prospective pig owners who can even come and stay at the guest cottage B&B for a bit of pet pig practice.


Photo by Eirik Newth via Wikimedia Commons

“Ross Mill Farm has everything a pig fancier could wish for, from boarding services to specially-formulated feed, and for those of us unable to keep our own pigs, a chance to mingle with them, and perhaps sponsor an orphaned pet in need of foster care,” writes Hannah Kirshner of Modern Farmer, who recently stopped in for a stay at the farm. “People usually stay in the bed-and-breakfast for two or three days, but pig guests often stay longer—sometimes indefinitely when circumstances don’t allow them to go home. They might come for weight loss or behavior modification, or just for ‘camp’ while their owners travel.”

If it’s pet pig boarding you need, there is no place more posh to leave your pig pal while you’re away from home. Many guests stay in the Village, with its camp-like cabins, private yards, and pools. But primadonna pigs who prefer profuse pampering may upgrade to the Luxurious Lodge, which includes the famous Lula’s Piggy Spa …

Not your average pigpen, now, is it?

So, tell me … if you have a pet piggy, I’d love to hear the perks of your porcine parenting.


  1. Deborah-Anne Caramico says:

    Nice alliterations! 🙂

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Our neighbors beside us had Barney, the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, living in an enclosure right beside our driveway for 13 years. Because we live in the city, these pigs are supposed to live indoors in a crate like a dog for part of the day. But, our neighbors put a large dog Igloo hut out in the pen and Barney lived outside all year round. He had tusks and wasn’t really that friendly to most people so he lived alone. We quickly realized that he loved vegetable and fruit scraps, so I saved all of mine in a bowl. Each morning, when my lab went out to fetch the paper, Barney would run along the fence line and sing for his treats. I would bring out the bowl of scraps and give him his treat, which he devoured with gusto. Barney also loved for me to scratch behind his ears which I could do through the chain-link fence. I tried to give him some pets every time I passed by and I know he loved it. The family sort of ignored him except for his daily feeding of dry dog food. But, pigs can be very interactive and Barney enjoyed contact. My lab would often nap on the driveway on his side of the fence and Barney would be napping on the other side of the fence beside him. When the weather started to turn wet and cold, I kept a bale of hay in the storage shed and through the fence, helped Barney fill up his hut with hay and then pile up the hay on the outside of the hut . It was so cute how Barney would shove the piles of hay inside while making these grunting sounds until he was satisfied. I always made sure he had lots of extra hay to work with after I left. The next morning when I went to work, you could see Barney all snug in his hut with just his little piggy nose sticking out of the fluffed up hay in his hut. He was adorable!

  3. Oh Winnie, how kind you were to that poor pig ! thank heavens for your big heart or he’d have died unloved. My ex mother in law always named her pigs after people she hated, she said it made it so much easier to butcher them and eat them later . I always lived in fear that there would be a “Lisa Pig”.

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Rewards from the Past

In the next issue of my magazine, we’re using a photo of one of my most precious heirlooms—my mother’s favorite—Jewel Tea dinnerware, collected piece by piece in the 1950s with credit rewards from Jewel’s household products delivery service.


Jewel Tea was founded at the turn of the century in Chicago by Frank Skiff with just $700, a horse, and a wagon.


Frank sold coffee, tea, spices, and dry goods to area housewives. By the 1930s, Frank had turned his single delivery wagon into the Jewel Home Shopping Service, with a fleet of door-to-door salesmen in Jewel Tea vans who hawked groceries, cleaning supplies, clothing, cookware, tools, and more to housewives across the country.


Jewel gave premium coupons with each purchase; when you had enough coupons, you could order any of the “premium items” from Jewel’s catalog, one of which was the Autumn Leaf china pattern. My mother collected two sets, one for everyday use and one for Sunday and holiday dinners, that came into the house piece-by-piece over the course of several years. As a little girl, I could see that the Sunday set was extra-special because it still had the lovely golden edges that had been worn off on our everyday set.

I also remember many an hour carefully pasting Green Stamps into a booklet and daydreaming of things to come from the S&H Green Stamp rewards catalog.


It was truly the stuff little-girl dreams were made of: pages and pages of color photos of dolls and toys for me and my sister, and everything from knickknacks to furniture and appliances for Mom. Not to mention bows-and-arrows, tools, and more for Dad and the boys, and even a big-ticket trip to Disneyland for the whole family!


S&H Green Stamps were a staple of American culture from the 1930s until the late 1980s. The Sperry & Hutchinson Company sold their stamps and redemption books to retailers—from supermarkets to gas stations to department stores, every purchase came with a bonus of green stamps. Some retailers offered more green stamps per dollar—one more reason to bring shoppers into their stores. Shoppers collected the stamps and pasted them into stamp books, which could then be redeemed from the S&H Ideabook rewards catalog or at S&H redemption centers, which numbered over 600 by the mid-1960s. Eighty percent of American households collected the stamps. At their height, S&H printed three times as many stamps as the U.S. Postal Service and their Ideabook was the largest publication in the U.S. (I didn’t remember that the name of the catalog until I saw this graphic, but now I wonder if all those days of dreaming were firmly lodged in my subconscious, only to pop to the surface when I named my first book MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook.)

To a frugal family of seven, these “rewards programs” fueled our fantasies even more than the Sears catalog … we could dream of owning beautiful things without any extra cash outlay. A true reward for shopping smart. And now, precious heirlooms from days gone by.


  1. Lisa says:

    S&H stamps bring back so many good memories.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Oh my goodness, Green Stamps! How we loved to save those and then redeem them for household items. I so remember carefully putting all of the stamps in the books for Mom.

    Your Mother’s Jewel china service is such a treasure. I don’t remember anyone having that pattern in my growing up days BUT, do you remember the china with the wheat pattern on it that came in boxes of powdered laundry powder? Yep, we had quite a lot of that one. I often see it again in antique stores and have considered buying a few pieces for nostalgia sake.

    • MaryJane says:

      Haven’t seen the wheat pattern. Will have to look that one up. Might be good for the bread book I’m working on.

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    Ah yes! S&H Green stamps! My mother used them for all kinds of things and my younger sister and I had the “lick ’em and stick ’em” duty. She also used Gold Bond stamps, but they were discontinued at the grocery store where she got them before the green stamps were.
    I have some things that were my mom’s but I have no idea if any of them were acquired because of the stamps!
    Yes, memories!

  4. Connie-Killarney says:

    My eyes just welled with tears at the sight of the Jewel Dinnerware! I have 1 piece, My Granny’s Small Pitcher. Most of the other pieces are with other family members and I do remember one piece was broken at Thanksgiving in the 1960’s!

    It brought back such happy Memories! seeing you collection!

  5. We had the green stamps but my mother only got things for herself, a full set of Samsonite luggage as I recall. We also had a jewel tea man as my mother didn’t drive, he loved us as she would order just about everything he sold. I remember a full year’s supply of toilet paper she ordered once and had stacked in the living room when I came home from school. The jewel tea man has a severely disabled child and she felt that her purchases helped him. My grandmother was a chainsmoker and smother Raleigh cigarettes that had coupons on the back, when she passed we had thousands and thousands of those coupons, but my mother never redeemed them. We also had a local market that had white ironstone china as a freebie and she got enough for full set of dishes for all 5 children when we left home. I was the last holdout using those dishes. It was a standing joke when we visited each other that those ( insert curse word here) dishes were indestructable and we were all sick of looking of them!

  6. Vicki says:

    I did not know the history of my recently deceased mother-in-law’s Autumn Leaf dishes but wish I had known enough to ask her about them before she passed. She had quite a large collection and they were rarely used – my husband and I have been married for 44 years, and neither of us remember her ever getting them out of the china cabinet. We’re not interested in keeping the set, and her grandchildren/great grandchildren are not interested in them. Guess we’ll try and sell them on eBay!w

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