Auld Lang Syne, My Dear!

New Year’s Eve … a time to ring in hopes for a prosperous and happy year to come. Last year, I shared a fun post about the tradition of dropping things on New Year’s Eve (think Times Square, then add pickles). This year, I thought you might like to hear some fun facts about last night/first night festivities.

Did you know …

• Julius Caesar declared Jan. 1 an official holiday more than 2,000 years ago. Before that, the start of the New Year didn’t happen until the first new moon following the vernal equinox (in late March), and later, on March 1.

• Americans alone consume 360 million glasses of champagne on New Year’s Eve.

photo by Niels Noordhoek via Wikimedia Commons

• And here’s an odd one … more cars are stolen on New Year’s Day than on any other holiday. (Does the previous night’s reveling make people forget to lock up? Or maybe the thieves merely need to get to the big games?)

• In Japan, Buddhist temples across the country ring bells and gongs 108 times at midnight on New Year’s Eve to symbolize the 108 human behaviors Buddhists consider weaknesses. They believe the bells repent for the bad behavior of the year before.

photo at the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery by Michelle via Wikimedia Commons

• In many South American countries, revelers wear colored undergarments beneath their finery: red for love; yellow for prosperity.

• In ancient Persia, people gave gifts of eggs on New Year’s Day to symbolize new beginnings and productiveness.

• Many traditional New Year’s Day meals are thought to bring good luck and prosperity throughout the year; auspicious ingredients include grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes. What are your lucky New Year’s dishes?

vintage new year’s wishes via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Here in the deep South, New Year’s Day is supposed to include black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread and some form of pork for good luck. All this week, the grocery stores have black eyed peas, cornbread mixes, and lots of greens displayed when you first walk in the door. Currently, my daughter has a garden with the best collards, kale and turnip greens growing. She brought me a huge bag so I know that is one item on the menu tomorrow!

    Happy New Year, MaryJane! I can’t wait to see what comes from your creative mind this next year. Whatever it is, I know I am going to enjoy.

  2. Bobbie calgaro says:

    We a always have pork and sauerkraut to bring luck for the new year.

  3. Kristi Wildung says:

    My southern family also celebrated with black-eyed peas and cornbread. My grandmother always saved out a few uncooked beans to carry in her purse for good luck in the coming year. I think of her always at this time of the year 🙂

  4. Bob Sitterly says:

    Good Morning, My wife subscribes and enjoys your magazine very much. This morning, she did spot this website in your latest publication and was particularly interested in your advertised Gluten Free upcoming recipes. I did go to the webpage to check it out, however I can’t quite guarantee her that I will do so every day, so, I was wondering if possible, you could give me a heads-up by e-mail when there will be some Gluten Free recipes coming up she was diagnosed some time ago with Celiac and has to be very careful with her diet. Thank you very much.


  5. Im originally southern and New Year’s is all about Hoppin’ John, a mixture of greens ( collards are preferred but i use swiss chard which is still in my garden ), rice, smoked louisiana style ( andouille ) sausage or ham hocks, and various other ingredients like onions, hot sauce, peppers, etc.
    -Also you need to eat ” coins” like sliced carrots cut in rounds.
    – and yes cornbread and lots of it. I could live on cornbread honestly. Made in those cast iron pans that make little ” ears of corn” shapes.
    -And my German/Austrian background says you need to make pigs out of marzipan ( almond paste) with a tiny coin in their mouth. They can be bought in European import stores but making them is so much more fun. (Even though mine always look rather silly.)


      My hoppin’ John is in the oven now- I made cornbread for breakfast. Slept thru’ midnight last night so I will drink the champagne tonight. Crystal champagne flutes in freezer for readiness.
      Here’s to a wonderful new year to come to all my fellow farmgirls!

  6. Bonnie ellis says:

    So interesting to hear about the southern tradition of hoppin John. I’ve had it and it’s delicious. I don’t think northerners have much New Year’s Day tradition. We always made home-made ice cream on New Year’s Eve. We cut the ice from a nearby lake. That ice cream is yummy.

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cork stamps

I don’t care that it’s everywhere.

Yes, yes, it is tactlessly thumbtacked with to-do lists and flyers.

Photo by Benjamin Stone via Flickr

It is perfunctorily plugging bottles from here to farfoodle.

Photo by Ccyyrree via Wikimedia Commons

Again, I don’t care.

Cork is cool, my friend—cool with a capital C.

I mean, really, just the whole cork tree harvest situation is pretty awesome in terms of sustainability. (When the World Wildlife Fund says, “The harvesting of cork oak offers one of the finest examples of traditional, sustainable land use,” you know it’s a good thing.)

But, when you stop to look at a simple bottle cork, to examine its little woody intricacies and feel its once-living, spongy-soft texture, you come to appreciate this marvelous (yet often cast away) material.

Photo by cPinoB via Pixabay

We have a thriving community of mail-art enthusiasts on my chatroom (you must get in on the movement!). Mulling over myriad ideas, I started thinking about ink stamps because stamps are an easy way to add creative touches to any loving letter, dontcha think?

A quick online search of DIY stamps led me to corks (you knew I’d eventually come full circle here), and I stumbled upon the sweetest little stamp tutorial, complete with corks.

Sound fun?

Come on, I’ll show ya the way …

DIY: Cork Stamps by

Just promise you’ll send some cork-stamped mail our way, k?


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now, this is clever. Such a cute idea and useful too. Most art I have sen with corks has been the ones where they are glued together to make art, trivets, or other useful household projects like message boards.

  2. I love corks, in fact as a child I made champagne corks into dolls, which tells you about my family celebrations, always lots of bubbly . I will forward this post to my friend annie who is a bartender at night and a very talented artist by day. She is always using the corks from the restaurant for her projects.

  3. Denise says:

    What a neat little idea! A great way to use those corks and save a little money on those store bought stamps.

  4. What a great idea! I am just beginning to use stamps. Thanks for sharing the economical cork!

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sun hive

We toured a bevy of beehives around the world …

and found the variety to be voluminous (good word, eh?).

Yet, there always seems to be a glorious stroke of genius cropping up among the ever-inventive community of conscientious beekeepers.

The latest?

German apiarist and sculptor Guenther Mancke presents the Sun Hive, which brings beekeepers another step closer to hives built by bees in nature.

“The underlying idea is that by tailoring hives to bees’ natural tendencies, they are apt to thrive and thus, be bolstered against factors causing bee colony collapses,” explains Kimberly Mok of “The Sun Hive is meant as a conservation method, rather than for lots of honey production. It’s a beautiful, bee-friendly, and even bee-therapeutic design, made with the bees’ natural inclinations at its very heart.”

Take a peek:

And, by all means, do tell the bees


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is incredible. What a great idea and it amazes me that the bees are so calm that he doesn’t get stung when taking about their house and touching them. It makes sense to me that Gunther’s idea could be a potential solution for saving bees from colony collapse. With frightening statistics lately of the number of bees that die every year, we must find a solution for their well being and continuation. This hive looks very simple and inexpensive too. I will be keeping an eye open for hearing how it all is working out for helping save our bees. Thanks for a wonderful morning science class at MJF!!

  2. Gunther has the best bee karma in the world! maybe because they are so happy they don’t sting him?

    amazing story and concept, and thanks for sharing this story with us farmgirls, MaryJane .

  3. This post made me hungry for honey so I got out my prized rare sourwood honey.
    here is what Ark of Taste says about it:

    Sourwood Honey
    Oxydendrum arboreum

    Most honey is made by bees. But sourwood is made by bees and angels. – Carson Brewer, writer

    Sourwood honey is so rare that a good crop sometimes only surfaces once every decade. Yet, its deep, spicy flavor makes it sought after by honey connoisseurs everywhere. The honey’s scarcity can be attributed to the very small amount of sourwood trees currently growing. The medium-height tree is indigenous to the United States and grows from southern Pennsylvania to northern Georgia. It is also known as sorrel and lily-of-the-valley. It typically blooms from June to August, providing a small window of time in which beekeepers can bring their colonies to collect nectar from the flowers.

    The bloom period is quite short and beekeepers must time themselves accordingly in order to ensure that the bees do not harvest any nectar from other flowering plants. If the bees are brought to the area too soon, they will harvest from the sumac trees that bloom before the sourwood and if they are brought too late, they will miss the beginning of the flow of nectar.

    If the honey is produced with the expertise of a skilled beekeeper, the taste has no parallel. Its flavor is floral and light with hints of baking spices and anise. The honey’s color ranges from pure white to light amber with a slightly gray tint and its texture is defined by a smooth, caramel buttery quality. People sometimes liken the flavor to gingerbread and note a “twang” in the aftertaste.

    The parameters for classifying the honey are very strict; if it has even small percentages of other varietals it cannot be sold as sourwood. Because purity is key, beekeepers must be trained to have great critical timing skills and attention to detail. Yet even with this expertise, the production of sourwood honey is still a great challenge. The duration of the bloom season is very sensitive to rainfall and the trees need adequate sunlight in order to produce nectar, which can be difficult because sourwood trees are often shorter than the tress that surround them. If the weather patterns are not conducive to good blooming, the producer cannot make the honey for that year.

    While production is inherently challenging, other factors currently conspire to make it even more so. The sourwood tree population, already limited, is constantly threatened by development. Colony Collapse Disorder also presents a threat. While this widespread and mysterious phenomenon has yet to affect the bee-colonies, an episode could destroy small-scale producers, driving them to less-sustainable, market-driven practices.

    Many honey connoisseurs today agree that Sourwood is the best tasting honey available. Its syrupy, spicy flavor is impossible to find in other varieties. Furthermore, its limited region, season, and supply make it a rare treat and a regional specialty prized for its true distinctiveness.

  4. Chrissy says:

    Fascinating! I liked how he talked to them. I know the bees were so busy, they didn’t even notice him, but I appreciated the TLC he showed them. I agree with Winnie, that this might be a helpful method of preserving our humble bees.

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here’s looking at you

“You know that feeling you get when you’re being stared at?”

This question, posed by social psychologist Ilan Shrira of the Loyola University in Chicago, is one we can all relate to, right?

“Out of the corner of your eye, even outside your field of vision, you can just tell someone is checking you out, sizing you up, or trying to make eye contact with you.”


Let’s say you’re out grocery shopping,

perusing the produce,

when you suddenly feel as if someone is looking at you

(and it’s not one of those heirloom potatoes).

Now, don’t get jumpy.

I don’t mean the creepy kind of looking—just, you know, looking.

photo by Shelby H via Wikimedia Commons

And you know they’re looking without even looking to see that they’re looking.

Maybe your neck prickles a bit,

your cheeks feel a slight flush,

or you just KNOW, but you don’t really know why.

Then, you dare to glance around,

and sure enoughthere’s a looker.

photo by Steve-h via Wikimedia Commons


Young, old, male, female … kitty-cat.

Doesn’t matter.

The point is: you knew.


“Sometimes it almost feels like ESP, this ability to detect another person’s stare, because it often comes at the fringes of our awareness. But far from being ESP, the perception originates from a system in the brain that’s devoted just to detecting where others are looking,” Shrira explains in a blog post on “This ‘gaze detection’ system is especially sensitive to whether someone’s looking directly at you (for example, whether someone’s staring at you or at the clock just over your shoulder). Studies that record the activity of single brain cells find that particular cells fire when someone is staring right at you, butamazinglynot when the observer’s gaze is averted just a few degrees to the left or right of you (then different cells fire instead).”

Who knew?

You knew.

Photo by Ksnordstrand via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Fascinating brain stuff. Our complex sensory system is pretty amazing when you get down to the nitty gritty, isn’t it. Primal protection, 2015 social function, it all adds up to what our amazing brain can do to help and protect us even when we aren’t in the jungle being sought after as prey! Or are we being sought after?

  2. Bobbie calgaro says:

    Isn’t it amazing the abilities God has wired us to do, to know to be intuitive to.

  3. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing!

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help the monarch

If you farm in the Midwest, you may be able to help monarch butterflies next year and get paid in the process.

Photo by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson via Wikimedia Commons

Monarchs make their way to the United States in the summertime, and in recent years, these ecologically important (and oh-so-pretty) pollinators are having trouble surviving the season due to a lack of food.

Seems strange, especially during the summer months, when green things abound, but one of the monarchs’ main food sources is the native flowering milkweed plant, and it is rapidly disappearing in the wake of herbicides.

Photo collage by Pixeltoo via Wikimedia Commons

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is taking action to target milkweed restoration and management on private farms and ranches in 10 states that provide critical habitat for monarchs (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin).

“We’re focusing efforts in the southern Great Plains and Midwest—two regions at the heart of the monarch’s migration,” announced the USDA last month. “In the southern Great Plains, our work will focus on rangelands and ways to improve the health of pastures so they provide good forage for livestock and food for monarchs. In the Midwest, we’re focusing on integrating plantings into croplands and making improvements to wetland areas.”

As with its other cost-share programs, the NRCS will offer financial assistance, incentives, and technical guidance to landowners whose property meets the specifications for monarch habitat establishment and/or improvement. The agency’s goal is to partner with farmers and ranchers “to voluntarily establish habitat for the monarch on working lands while ensuring America’s farms and ranches stay productive.”

Pollinators, as we know, are a vital factor in that equation.

If you’d like to get a jump on establishing healthy monarch habitat this spring, get in touch with your local USDA service center for details.

  1. Christina D #5572 says:

    This past summer I collected 125 Monarch larva put them in 2 large aquariums and kept plenty of milkweed in them, they all hatched, I have 2 butterfly bushes in my flower garden and I gently put the hatched butterflies on them and they get their “wings” I’ve been doing this for twenty years or so. I involved my 3 year grandson this year. He enjoyed it. I love butterflies.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This past Summer and Fall, we had an abundance of Monarch butterflies around here in Florida. Milkweed grows easily everywhere and they are happy campers. It is fun to see a big cluster of them feeding away.

  3. Bonnie ellis says:

    We had about 30 milkweed for monarchs this summer. I’m trying to do my small part too. Christina, that is really awesome what you did. You go girl!

  4. Christina, I am really impressed! We have milkweed growing in the ditches here. Our own ditches are no spray. I have also planted Joe Pye the past two years. Love the color and so do the Monarchs. Munch, munch. Where do you collect your larva from”

  5. Pingback: Molly Moo-cow | Raising Jane Journal

  6. Pingback: Marvelous Monarchs | Raising Jane Journal

  7. Chrissy says:

    Our local Master Gardener Club is endeavoring to inform our community of the plight of the Monarch. At the local farmer’s market, in early summer, we have a sale of various milkweed plants and encourage growing of other nectar/feeding plants well as provide plight and growing information for adults and children. Another good source of information is the Monarch Watch where you can learn what to plant to attract pollinators as well as Monarchs. Once a plot/habitat is established, for a monetary fee, you can purchase a “Way Station” sign to let other’s know of your effort.

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12 Days with MaryJanesFarm

On the first day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

A full year of MaryJanesFarm!


On the second day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Two Mossy Wreaths and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.

On the third day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.

On the fourth day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.

ChillOver-Box-jamOn the fifth day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.


On the sixth day of Christmas a farmgirl sent to me:

Six Yo-Yo Pillows, five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.


On the seventh day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Seven Orchard Farm soaps, six Yo-Yo Pillows, five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.


On the eighth day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Eight Milk Cow Kitchens (pass ’em all around!), seven Orchard Farm soaps, six Yo-Yo Pillows, five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.

On the ninth day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Nine crocheted snowflakes, eight Milk Cow Kitchens (pass ’em all around!), seven Orchard Farm soaps, six Yo-Yo Pillows, five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.

snowflakes1On the tenth day of Christmas a farmgirl sent to me:

Ten Clothespin Apron Patterns, nine crocheted snowflakes, eight Milk Cow Kitchens (pass ’em all around!), seven Orchard Farm soaps, six Yo-Yo Pillows, five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.


On the eleventh day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Eleven Scrappy Hotpads, ten Apron Patterns, nine crocheted snowflakes, eight Milk Cow Kitchens (pass ’em all around!), seven Orchard Farm soaps, six Yo-Yo Pillows, five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, a farmgirl sent to me:

Twelve Tin Can Snowflakes, eleven Scrappy Hotpads, ten Apron Patterns, nine crocheted snowflakes, eight Milk Cow Kitchens (pass ’em all around!), seven Orchard Farm soaps, six Yo-Yo Pillows, five Felt Cupcakes, four Jars of Jam, three Rag Dolls, two Mossy Wreaths, and a full year of MaryJanesFarm.



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now this is the most awesome 12 Days of Christmas I can imagine! Oh, this rag dolls are precious and my favorite. Love me some prim dolls and these are the cat’s meow!

    MaryJane, speaking of cats, Mr.Bump definitely hurt is left knee the other day on his accidental collision with with the porch. Vet thinks it is soft tissue but possibly a knee ligament tear. We are giving it a few weeks to see how he does and I have some pain medicine to give if he gets too gimpy. But, Bump is acting like normal, save a limp, and I have only given him pain medicine once each day when he seemed extra quiet. Santa is currently making a scrap wool mouse which will have some nice fresh catnip inside!

  2. Kristi Wildung says:

    That was fun:) Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Happy Christmas Eve MaryJane!
    What a cute thought to do the 12 days of Christmas with your lovely ideas. I already gave a subscription to your delightful magazine as an Xmas gift to fellow Farmgirl Debby McKissic, who posts often here, and it arrived this week just in time.
    Funny- of those suggestions I gave homemade ( um- not by me) black currant jam, Amish handsewn potholders, some crocheted snowflakes ( made by a very bored male friend of mine who makes them when watching sports on TV !) ),lots of hand made all natural soaps, and some of my own handmade balsam pine pillows ( THE scent of Christmas! )

  4. Jan McCusker says:

    Oh wouldn’t it be lovely to have twelve days of these wonderful MaryJanesFarms goodies. I love the magazine! Thank you for all the ideas you share! Merry Christmas to you and yours!🎄

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    How fun! Thanks so much for sharing the MJF Version!
    Love it!

  6. Sue Capps says:

    Oh so clever–we really should do this on Christmas!

  7. Linda says:

    I love this, MaryJane! The best ever 12 Days of Christmas! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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angel sighting

Just had to share an e-mail we received this week from shopgirl Patsy in our Coeur d’Alene store:

Patsy says,

“This morning on my way into the Plaza, I held the door open for a beautiful older woman and we talked as I unlocked the store. I commented on the rainy day, and she said how happy she was to be out in it because she had just turned 90! With that, she pulled down her hood and showed me the bright pink streak she’d put in her hair to celebrate. I hugged her and asked her what her secret was, and this is what she said:

‘Honey, remember everything in life has a positive and a negative side … YOU get to choose. Choose positive!  Everything that happens is an opportunity to learn. Take it.’

With that, she trucked off down the Plaza. Hmmm … we just never know who our next teacher will be. I’m definitely taking her lesson to heart.”


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a wonderful heart warming story and no doubt an angel sighting! My Mom used to say the same sort of advice to me. I definitely think that aging brings a perspective that we all can benefit from. Hopefully, I will be able to say the same sorts of things one day because I was lucky enough to live to celebrate 90 in good health!

  2. Cindi says:

    Angel sighting indeed!!! What a wonderful lady to so generously lift up the heart of another. True words of wisdom; delivered along with a smile I’ll bet. And Patsy, known to do her fair share to uplift hearts, is a most deserving recipient!

  3. Wow, what a powerful mantra indeed, no wonder she has lived to be 90! And still really enjoying life!

  4. Linda says:

    Such a nice story. How nice that Patsy was able to meet and talk with this special lady.

  5. Very nice story…we should have that little bit of excitement…90 or not!

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Weird Veggies

You know how, when you’re really hungry, all sorts of strange things start to look or sound appetizing?

When I lived year-round close to 40 miles from the end of a dirt road, I dreamed about all kinds of foods that were out of reach.

Sometimes, it would be hamburgers or candy, or …

boot leather.

Hmmm … jerky, anyone?

Photo by Ragesoss via Wikimedia Commons

Well, this time of year, I get such a yen for some good ol’ dirt-grown grub that I’m liable to think about nibbling on anything I can get my hands on.

(Hide the houseplants, here she comes.)

photo by James Rickwood via Wikimedia Commons

I get it, Bessie.

I really do.

I suppose that’s why a few odd foods caught my eye lately and made me say,

“I want to BITE that.”

Like, now.

To gain some perspective, I think I need to bounce my cravings off you, to see if you can relate to me the way I relate to Bessie.

So if you don’t mind, take a look and let me know if any of these peculiar crops induces the urge to indulge.


Photo by Natalie-S via Wikimedia Commons

This succulent-looking wild veggie, common on sea coasts, is enjoyed by English enthusiasts who prefer it pickled.


Photo by Nzfauna S via Wikimedia Commons

Tangier and sweeter than potatoes, the flavor of this native Andean root has been described as almost fruitlike (I’d love to taste the “Apricot” variety, popular in New Zealand).


Photo by New Brunswick Tourism via Wikimedia Commons

One might migrate to Maine just to try these fabulous baby fern fronds (although you can probably find them closer to home). Northeasterners gather them in the woods and serve them fresh or boiled with mayonnaise and butter.

Tiger Nuts

Photo by Tamorlan via Wikimedia Commons

These tasty looking little nuggets aren’t actually nuts, they’re the tuberous roots of the chufa sedge plant. In Spain, they’re often soaked in warm water before eating and are used to make tiger-nut milk (like almond or cashew milk). I hear they have a sweet, nutty flavor … yum.


Photo by Aurelien Guichard via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t you just love the look of this captivating cauliflower variety? According to the folks at Mother Nature Network, the Romanesco’s spirals follow the Fibonacci sequence, which is a bit over my head, but not too sophisticated for my stomach.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I tried to grow Romanesco last Fall and it sort of fizzled. My flower didn’t look nearly as pretty and it opened up very quickly. As to the taste, it is very close to broccoli but more bitter. Or maybe mine was just weird. I would like to try it again if I can find it.

  2. Back in my earlier, poorer days, I actually collected fiddleheads when I lived in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and sold them to the gourmet restaurants. They are a wonderful and a very short lived delicacy. Romanesco Broccoli is notorious for being difficult to grow, or grow nicely at any rate. I have a friend who grows oca, but he is studying ethno-botany and he has sources for such plant matter.
    Oh, MaryJane, speaking of weird try Skirret. Here is info on it from my website as I am the only person who grows these plants and sells their seeds in the USA, it is the second one down:

  3. Karlyne says:

    The ocas look like something out of the ocean, sea urchins or something. I’d love to try them, especially!

  4. Darlene Ricotta says:

    I have seen the Romanesco Broccoli before and it really is a beautiful vegetable, the others I have not ever seen before but I am always willing to try things at least once.


  5. Bonnie ellis says:

    How fun to learn about new things. New experiences in eating.

  6. Virginia Meyer says:

    I have eaten fiddle head ferns! They are quite tasty! Especially with a pinch of salt and lots of butter! I’ve also tasted Virginia water leaf and lambs quarters. (Wild plants.) I’ve also tasted a few other wild plants that I don’t remember the names of. I’ve eaten leaves off a tree, (baby ones are best)! A guy friend of mine loves to forage for wild plants, and he will bring samples to me to try. He also knows where to find wild morel mushrooms too!

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Christmas All Year Long

About an hour north of my farm, folks celebrate Christmas all year long.

You would, too, if you lived in a place called Santa.

Yep, nestled in the hills and forests of the Idaho Panhandle sits a tiny town named Santa.


But Santa, Idaho, isn’t the only town that rustles up the holiday spirit year-round. How about

  • Santa Claus, Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana
  • Snow, Idaho
  • North Pole, Alaska
  • Silver Bell, Arizona
  • Eggnog, Utah
  • Christmas Valley, Oregon
  • Holly, Washington
  • Christmas, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi
  • Shepherd, Montana
  • Elf, North Carolina
  • Mistletoe, Arkansas and Kentucky
  • Bethlehem (this one’s in 18 states)

Also, nearly all of Santa’s reindeer have towns named after them. (Not to mention the 36 locations with “Reindeer” in their names.)

  • Rudolph Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin
  • Dasher (Creek), Georgia
  • Dancer (Flats), Texas
  • Prancer (WAIT, where’s Prancer? He must have been out on a mission when they handed out towns!)
  • Vixen, Louisiana
  • Comet, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia
  • Cupid, Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma
  • Donner, California, Florida, and Louisiana
  • Blitzen, Oregon

You’ll find all these and many more in William D. Crump’s The Christmas Encyclopedia.


Packed with everything Christmas and now in its third edition, the encyclopedia includes Christmas carols and hymns; customs; historical events; popular symbols; plants; celebrations; Christmas movies, plays, books, and TV; and more. A perfect early present for anyone who loves everything Christmas.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a very cool book idea for someone. Every now and them I run across a person who does Christmas all year long and loves collecting various elements of the holiday. I am going to file this away in my list of good books for that special day when it could become just the right gift from Santa’s bag.

  2. Cindi says:

    I’ve never heard of such a book, what a wonderful find! Every year they offer little tidbits of Christmas facts on the radio, often repeating the same over and over and over. I like that portion of the broadcast but it isn’t very thorough. Gotta get a copy of this book right away! Have you any idea how much your writings contribute to my smarty-pants episodes? 🙂

  3. The number one question called in to the Central New York Library ( and pretty much every other library in the USA ?) the names of the reindeer !
    I have various encyclopedia type Christmas books and I treasure them all . The best though was a the LIfe magazine trilogy published in the early 60’s. Its got it all, and very studiously researched, fabulous photos, lots of great religious history of celebrations and so forth. I love to reread those kinds of books at holiday time. Oh and the dear ” Forever Christmas” all about our favorite author and illustrator, Tasha Tudor’s charming way of celebrating- lovely large format book with splendid photos .
    I had left a post a few days back mentioning my late friend, Sante C. Claus, the professional Santa Claus and how he had his drivers license from North Pole AK. My best friend’s last name is Rudolph and you can imagine the fun we have had with Rudolph reindeer stuff.

  4. Mary Pitman says:

    And, don’t forget Snow, Oklahoma!

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2016 emotional calendar

We talked, once upon a time, about emotional acres

“Every single one of us at birth is given an emotional acre all our own,” wrote Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird. “You get one, your awful Uncle Phil gets one, I get one, Tricia Nixon gets one, everyone gets one. And as long as you don’t hurt anyone, you really get to do with your acre as you please.”

Photo by Eptalon via Wikipedia

I was reminded of this marvelous metaphor today when I stumbled upon a book called The Emotional Calendar: Understanding Seasonal Influences and Milestones to Become Happier, More Fulfilled, and in Control of Your Life by Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John R. Sharpe.

Are you as intrigued by the title as I was?

As it turns out, we all have an emotional calendar to go with our emotional acre (feeling pretty fancy about now, right?).

Even before clicking the button to order the book, I started thinking—well, scheduling, sort of. I mean, I love “normal” calendars, so this twist piqued my penchant for planning. The blurb I read inspired me to ask myself a pointed question …

What does the coming season hold for me in terms of emotional landmarks?

I found myself ticking off events in my own mental autobiography. Is that why I feel such a deep sense of family connection this time of year?

Dr. Sharp contends, and I agree, that the roadmaps of our lives have profound effects on us, season after season, year after year.

“Take a look at what you are experiencing now, as well as at what’s just ahead. How do you expect your fall to be?” he asks in a recent Psychology Today blog post. “Consider each of the two possibilities—that this season is in fact looking very predictable based on your past experiences, and conversely that this season is looking really quite surprisingly different. Ultimately, you will grant yourself the opportunity to make changes for the better, if you so desire. One big lesson from understanding The Emotional Calendar is that we are in fact able to make strategic changes in our outlook and adjust/regulate our involvement with the seasons in order to lead a happier, more fulfilled, and in control life.”

John Carlin, Schneeszene in Utica via Wikimedia Commons

So, that’s what I’m up to today. As I let my mind drift backward, I’m jotting bits and pieces of winters past, remembering what has happened, how I’ve felt. It looks like I’m beginning to construct my own emotional calendar, and it’s stirring memories.

I hope you’ll carve some quiet time out of your day, today or sometime this week, and try it for yourself.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This books sounds intriguing. I am definitely influenced by an emotional calendar, Last night a friend and I were out having coffee and discussing this very same issue as it relates to weather and Christmas. She was in Madison , WI last weekend where it was in the 30s in the day and she and her friend were bundled up and enjoying hikes and long walks in the city. When she returned here on Sunday we were having one of our 80 degree days. Why is it that warm weather dampens the idea of the romance of the Christmas season? It shouldn’t but it definitely does. The cozy factor is not present when everyone is in shorts and the AC is going. We were wondering if what we experienced in our childhood imprints our emotional calendar so strongly that we struggle when those memories are challenged in the present conditions. Maybe? It is not something that is rational at all. The trick seems to be how to capture the romance and reframe it in today’s reality. And for that……I think I need to read this book!!

    • Karlyne says:

      I don’t know, Winnie, because I have an issue with hot weather at all times! I’m never comfortable unless there’s a chill in the air, or at least the promise of it. I’m trying to remember my childhood Christmases, but the only one I actually think I remember is the one where I got my first bike. We were in Sacramento, so the picture shows me (with a big grin), yes, wearing shorts! Strangely enough, Christmas didn’t become important to me until I had kids of my own, but now it’s certainly the best part of my emotional season. We have so much fun with our goofy traditions, and, yes, indeedy! some of it revolves around SNOW!

  2. Karlyne says:

    Such good points! I love the idea of both an emotional acre and an emotional season.

  3. Bonnie ellis says:

    I know that snowy weather definitely affects my Christmas. If we have warmer weather at Christmas I feel something is wrong. Most of my Christmases we snowy. Living in Minnesota definitely influenced the way I think about things. My son lives in Austin, TX. I would have a hard time adjusting to no “wintry” weather at this season. Sounds like I will read this book too.

  4. I have experienced Christmas, for instance ,in all climates- In Panama, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire, Greece/Crete ( I actually made a trip to the village of St Nicholas in Crete to celebrate ) India ( I put together a nativity play-easy in a country with lots of camels ) , Sri Lanka, Argentina, the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.
    Christmas is a spiritual thing, not a climate thing. You make it happen no matter what. So your emotions are based on your personal context, not the temperature. I like this idea, especially the quote at the beginning of this post about ” emotional acres “. Very interesting concept. Thanks, MaryJane for informing us Farmgirls about this book.

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