What’s your “emotional intelligence”?

Look closely.

Photo by Fanny Schertzer via Wikimedia Commons

What do you suppose this dairy darling is thinking? Perhaps more to the point, how is she feeling?

Your guess is as good as mine, but I will tell you that I just scored pretty high on a quiz to determine emotional intelligence. Not that I’m bragging.


Play along …

According to The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, “Facial expressions are a universal language of emotion, instantly conveying happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and much more. Reading these expressions is essential to compassion and empathy.”

So, they came up with a quickie quiz to measure emotional intelligence.

Are you yawning … or laughing?

Photo by why 137 via Wikimedia Commons

Anyway …

Visit the quiz site and try to identify the emotion conveyed in each photo (there are 20). “Each answer will pinpoint the exact muscles involved in that emotion and explain the subtle differences between expressions,” explain the authors. “Some emotions appear more than once.”

This guy isn’t in any of the photos, but he looks pretty happy to me! What do you think?

Photo by Sam Photos8.com via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I just finished the quiz with 15/20 correct which brought a “not bad” score. Room for improvement but at least I am not totally out in left field! LOL!

  2. Cindi says:

    Ah yes, what are they feeling? What a fun quiz – the flip side of which is the emotional response of the quiz taker! Both of these pictures made me smile.. and both gave me a different “feeling”. I think there might be another study to be done!

  3. I think I “read” animals better than people, altho my excuse today is the painkillers I am on from the car accident earlier this week. I am so not myself. In order to dull the sharp pain enough to do anything I must be pretty groggy. I will try this quiz again in a week or so.

  4. Cindi says:

    LOL! Well, when get the first 5 out of 6 wrong, it’s time to leave the quiz! Clearly expressions are subjective hahahahaha!

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    I used to work at a middle school and was pretty darned good at reading the kids faces! I was also pretty good at give them a look that would make them shrink, if they needed it! My daughter has the same “look” which is a great tool for a teacher.
    I did pretty good on the test . . . some of them were “either/or” I thought.

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red eye

While red eyes are desirable in some cases …

say, in the world of the red-eyed tree frog,


tree frog by LiquidGhoul edited by Muhammad via Wikimedia Commons

they’re not very desirable in humans.

We’ve all seen those photos that make sweet little Sammy look like the spawn of the devil.


Most cameras now have built-in features to avoid the dreaded “red eye effect.” And if you do end up with red-eyed monsters when you’re snapping pics of your sweet darlings, you can always use a photo-editing program to fix it after the fact.

But you might be intrigued to find out, like I did, why that particular eerie effect happens in the first place …

When you take a photo of a person who’s looking directly at the camera, the flash reflects off the person’s retina, located at the back of the eye. Because the retina has many blood vessels, the camera picks up the red color.

Who knew?

But what about those scary animal eyes you see at night or even sometimes in a photo taken in the middle of the day? Sweet little pup all of a sudden turns into the Hound of the Baskervilles …

photo by Jazzjohnn via Wikimedia Commons

No, he’s not possessed … you’ve just picked up something called “eyeshine.” Many animals (especially those with good night vision) have a layer of tissue in their eyes called tapetum lucidum. It also reflects light back through the retina, which appears to make the animals’ eyes glow. Cats and dogs with blue eyes can reflect both eyeshine and red-eye.


photo by Una Smith via Wikimedia Commons

Thank goodness for Photoshop.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am so glad you researched this phenomenon and posted about it. I always wondered why animals had these wild eye colors at times. That last kitty photo is the best. Merry Christmas!!!

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Yoga for Kids

Jodi the Yogi aims to set children on the path of a positive and healthy lifestyle through yoga. Her programs and videos, made for children 2-6, engage kids through song, dance, and movement with the help of her “bestie,” Downward the Dog. With original songs and age-appropriate interpretations of yoga sequences and postures, Jodi’s videos engages tiny tots while targeting gross motor skills and promoting social/emotional learning using humor, playfulness, and a sense of wonder.


photo, JodiTheYogi.com

Jodi and Downward the Dog are based in New York City, where they visit schools, teach classes, and even book parties and events, but you can get your little ones interested by watching her 8-minute video below. Then stay tuned for more videos on her website.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a wonderful idea for kids. It helps them learn to center and quiet themselves which is a great life skill. Plus I think it helps kids with strengthening certain muscle groups they may not ordinarily use.

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Odd couples

You’ve heard the term “strange bedfellows,” right? Well, here are some downright s-t-r-a-n-g-e, but adorable bedfellows, for sure.

 Do you have any cross-species odd couples on your farm?

  1. Frankie, my so called outdoor kitty who made my couch his home during this ultra freezing winter, is very easygoing about the half grown opossum that comes to the kitchen porch to eat leftovers ( and sometimes Frankie’s bowl of food too ).
    It is common for nervous high strung race horses to have a ” pet” goat to calm them down , and those friendships are especially endearing. MY friend Joanne who trained olympic dressage horses always had goats for her equines.
    Its the big and aggressive animals that take kindly to smaller, weaker animals that always make us smile.

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seed libraries

Have you ever visited your local library to check out …

Photo by Craig Dietrich via Flickr


It’s a new trend that’s “going fungal,” according to Rebecca Newburn, who started the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library in California in 2010.

When Newburn launched her library in collaboration with the Richmond Public Library, there were about five such seed lenders in the nation—now there are over 300.

“You may be asking, ‘How can you borrow seeds?’ The basic is idea is that you take seeds home (for free), plant them, let some go to seed, then return some of these next-generation seeds to the library for others to borrow,” Newburn explains. “Don’t worry. We don’t have fines if you don’t return seeds.”

Photo by Jonathan McIntosh via Wikimedia Commons

It makes perfect sense to merge seed-lending with book-lending, don’t you think?

“[It] is such a lovely fit because public libraries are about providing access, and they are a commons of the community,” said Newburn. “Our mission and their mission just seemed like they dovetail beautifully together.”

Plus, she says that the document storage conditions within libraries (dark, cool, and dry) are also conducive to seed preservation.

Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to serving the community of Richmond, the library is excited about helping others establish their own seed-lending services. They offer detailed start-up ideas on their Create a Library page and support in the form of a Seed Libraries Social Network.

Here’s a little video that illuminates more about seed-lending and borrowing. But before you watch, take a minute to sign the Protect Seed Libraries petition to prevent seed libraries from being “regulated out of existence due to misapplication of seed laws by several state departments of agriculture.”

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a great idea and one I have not heard of or seen locally in our library. There is a local farm that is located on conservation land that is working on this project with some federal funding to support our local school gardens and the public school Farm to School project. Right now the focus is on lettuces which are grown at the school farm and used with local farm produce to provide school cafeterias with fresh lettuces for salads everyday.

    Happy Easter MaryJane!

    • MaryJane says:

      Happy Easter to you too, Winnie! BTW, I LOVED the little sitting hen you made for Easter decor. Adorable and so very famrgirl of you. Who says a farmgirl can’t have chickens ANYWHERE she lives!

      We have plenty of family stuff planned for later today and tomorrow that include out-of-town visitors, not to mention I have a calf due any minute. I’ve been getting up twice every night to check on her. Maybe she’s going to have an Easter baby.

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    Hmmmm . . . I’m not sure our library has a seed library but it is certainly worth checking out! 😀

  3. bonnie ellis says:

    I’ll have to check out our libraries here. I haven’t seen this yet. What a really cool idea.

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Winner!!! Giveaway: MaryJane’s Ideabook

And the winner of MaryJane’s Ideabook giveaway is:

Jenny Binus, who said: “I love the Earth. I love being outside, and when I was a kid, my favorite place to go to was my Mimi and GFR’s cabin in the woods. We built it, the whole family, from the ground up. We cut the logs, my dad put on the roof, I helped find the stones for the hearth. It gave me a love of working with my hands and being outdoors. I live in a small town in Pennsylvania now, far from Western Washington, but this taught me an appreciation for the outdoors. I love making quilts for my children, teaching them to bake (both boys), I homeschool, we have a garden that we grow a good deal of our veggies in, and I am looking forward to being outside watching caveman TV (fire) near the creek this summer. I enjoy the feel of bread dough and working with my hands. I teach art classes that focus around using recycled materials and I volunteer filling backpacks with food for kids who don’t have it over the weekend because I didn’t always have food when I was little. My sons come with me, ages 5 and 7, because I want them to learn to care about others for no other reason than it makes them feel good and it’s the right thing to do.”

And the original post for the GIVEAWAY was (thank you to all who participated):

Continue reading

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Congratulations Jenny!! I am so happy that you now have a copy of this wonderful book. You are going to love reading it over and over plus it is full of lots of projects that will enrich you and your family life.

  2. Deborah McKissic says:

    Congratulations, Jenny! You will love this MJ book…you are doing so much for your community and your own children…good for you! We are building a new “caveman TV” this spring….enjoy your book and your family!

  3. Barbara Burke says:

    Both of my parents were farm kids. They passed on some beautiful farm life treasures to me. My love of working with my hands in the soil, the enjoyment of a sweet breeze perfumed with lilacs, the musty smell of a farm house attic, and a cellar stored with canned goods, prepared by my grandmother.These are a few of the things that make me a farm girl.

  4. Moya says:

    I have never been able to be a (out in the country farm girl) But I still feel that I am. I love to be out in my yard and garden as much as I can, even after I was told that I can’t kneel to garden anymore my husband and I did bed’s so that I don’t have to But not just that I think that these days, everyone is all about the electronics, and I do have 2, but they are not my life, I am an old time (knitting, crocheter and embroidering) These are because of my grandmother Thank you and that is why I think I am a farm girl

  5. Carol Vagher says:

    I grew up on a truck farm with my Dad raising vegetables bedding plants and carnations in greenhouses and in the fields. You never really get over it…

  6. Marilyn Hartman Sullivan says:

    Oh I hope you enjoy the book! I couldn’t wait and ended up ordering the whole library and have been luxuriating in them. I am also a native Washingtonian (there are so few of us, it seems) and I live in SE PA now!!!

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