Monthly Archives: January 2016



Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Trash Talk, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,825 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,626 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

Earning our Beginning Level Merit Badge for recycling and proper garbage disposal fired up my nephew, Andrew, so much that he was determined to earn his Cleaning Up/Trash Talk Intermediate Level Merit Badge posthaste.

He was garbage obsessed.

A stinkage fanatic. A debris addict. A litter king. A rubbish extremist. A trash junkie.

Ha! Get it? Trash junkie? Ah, I slay myself.

Anyway, after our newfound knowledge gathered from the local recycling center, the dump, and reading his handy-dandy pamphlet cover to cover, Andy was the man for the job. He recruited me as his Super-secret Garbage Spy Left-hand Sidekick Girl (his title), and we got to work infiltrating the family.

First off, he brought in his shiny, new recycling container that the friendly folks at the recycling center gave us, and plopped it dead center in the middle of the living room.

photo by epSos .de via Wikimedia Commons

(Mom quickly nixed that idea, so it moved to the kitchen.)

Andy was not satisfied though; he thought we could do better. So, using a small laundry hamper and an oversized Easter basket …

photo of The Longaberger Basket Factory by Barry Haynes via Wikimedia Commons

(not quite this big)

… he painstakingly made DIY labels for his Super-smart Recycling Center (his title), and soon enough, he had three stations:

  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Glass

We were going to make one for cans, but the family had recently give up their soda habit, so we decided against it. Yay, family! I shall reward them with some fresh-squeezed kale juice soon. Or maybe we won’t push them that far quite yet …

I did remind Andy we could make a compost container too, so once again we were off on an upcycling quest. We took an aluminum coffee can with a lid and decorated it with scraps of paper and magazine cutouts, collage style.

photo by BrandEvangelist via Wikimedia Commons

Note to self: giving small boys access to glue is an adventure in babysitting.

Andy labeled it Compost for Auntie Jane’s Eggs Chickens.

At least, I think that’s what he labeled it.

Is there a badge for legible handwriting he can work on soon? No? Phooey.

As for me, being his Super-secret Garbage Spy Left-hand Sidekick Girl, I was put to work spying and reporting back to him, the Super-secret Top Boss Recycling Hero Man (his title). We spent a whole afternoon hiding behind furniture, sneaking in the laundry room, and trying to fit in the kitchen cupboards.

Note to self: You aren’t as young (or flexible) as you used to be, Janey, my girl.

If we saw a family member nonchalantly toss a recyclable into the regular old trash, we were to report to one another immediately.

Then we were to tickle them until they begged for mercy and charge them a quarter (his plan).


We were to lovingly and calmly instruct and remind them of the new household rules (my plan).

We compromised and went with lovingly and calmly instructing and reminding them of our household rules and then charging them a quarter.

Or was it lovingly and calmly tickling them? Well, no matter. Let’s just say, the family got on board asap. And in no time at all, Andy had earned his badge and the family was upgraded to Super-hero Recycling Experts (my title).






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 … Amy Cloud Chambers!!!

Amy Cloud Chambers (Song sparrow, #6098) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner & Intermediate Level Knitting Merit Badge!

“My mother taught me to knit many years ago, but I never really tried to finish anything (music took first place in my interests). But now I have grown very interested and wish I had paid more attention. I started with a simple garter-stitch scarf in stripes, using up yarn from Mom’s stash. I had in mind a dear lady from the nursing home, which would also help motivate me to working on another badge. It took hours to complete (way beyond the three-hour requirement). But in actuality, this project propelled me into a love of handiwork long forgotten since my childhood. And although I finished it after some more advanced projects that I tackled for Christmas presents, it was a project of the heart for two reasons. 1) Because of the person for whom it was made, who I will tell more about in another badge application; and 2) Because it brought handiwork back into my life after years of being busy with other things. This simple project became a source of great joy!


I think it turned out very well, and certainly, I have received very kind compliments from my Henhouse and Farmgirl Connection forum sisters. They seem to really like the colors, and I like the long fringe. It’s kind of glamorous for my dear friend, who will receive it as part of a Valentine’s package of goodies.

After I tackled the project for my Beginner badge, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to knit Christmas gifts for family and friends. I chose more advanced projects that would allow me to experiment with new stitch techniques and fibers. The results were mostly very lovely and I learned so very much about about the art and craft of knitting. I knitted two sets of scarves and arm warmers for my very cosmopolitan brother and sister-in-law, who are always on their iPhones. For these projects, I learned to use a circular needle, knit cables, and work with mohair- and alpaca-blend yarns. For my mother, I made a lap afghan, which introduced me to so many new stitches and techniques that I started and ripped it out eight times before I got the hang of it! Pictures of these projects are included. I also made my poor daughter what may be the ugliest sweater vest ever created, which taught me a valuable lesson about making yarn substitutes. The cats received knitted catnip fish, which taught me to knit with double-pointed needles. I even knitted a basket out of jute twine to hold the various food jars for my granddaughter’s hermit crabs, a most unusual project.


All of the gifts were well received, even my dear daughter’s ugly sweater, which gave us all a laugh. The cats have torn their gifts to shreds, but I can’t really tell if the hermit crabs like their basket.”



Star Sand

Just when you thought you knew about the world …

Photo by Geomr via Wikimedia Commons

Look closely.

That’s star-shaped sand, my friend.

Look a little closer, and you can see its splendid starry points:

Photo by Okinawa Soba (Rob) via Flickr

Okay, scientifically speaking, these little lovelies aren’t actually sand. They are the tiny, empty shells of ocean protozoa called Baclogypsina sphaerulata.

Say that three times (or even once).

When the micro-creatures die, their exoskeletons are washed ashore amid grains of actual sand on only a handful of beaches on earth, and they’re all in the vicinity of Okinawa, Japan.

According to legend from Okinawa’s Iriomote Island, the “sand” stars are Hoshizuna, the fallen sky children of the North Star and the Southern Cross. Long ago, the tiny stars sprinkled into the sea of Okinawa, where they were killed by a sea serpent and continue to wash ashore as miraculous star-shaped particles of “sand.”






Period Panties

Period Panties.

I wonder if, when you read the phrase above, you pictured “time of the month” or “historic” undergarments (do comment).

In fact, I was referring to the former.

Time of the month, that is, not …

Photo by Marshall Astor Food Fetishist via Wikimedia Commons

Sheesh … bye-bye, historic bustles.

Moving right along, it’s no surprise that the modern world is all about hustle now rather than bustle.

And as the world of fashion has modernized, so have underthings (albeit a bit more slowly than the average runway ensemble).

And, with today’s tendency toward putting ALL subjects on the table, it is no surprise that enterprising women have put their minds to building a better mousetrap.

Somehow, that doesn’t sound right when referring to underwear. Maybe I should avoid idioms here.


Plainly speaking, a trio of women in New York City has, in their words, “reimagined feminine hygiene products to provide support, comfort, confidence, and peace of mind.”

A lot to ask from undies?

The gals at Thinx think not.

They report that 80 percent of American women have had accidents during, and have expressed anxiety about, their periods …

(you’re nodding, I’m nodding)

… and they set out to change all that.

Yup—with underwear.

But not just any underwear.

Thinx “period panties” are truly innovative.

In short, they’re extraordinarily absorbent, antimicrobial (via embedded silver, not chemicals), so low-profile you won’t see them through clothing—and they’re pretty.


These panties are designed to fully replace panty liners, eliminating a lot of waste and discomfort as well as leaks, and they can be used in conjunction with tampons or menstrual cups on heavy flow days.

What’s more, Thinx are helping girls in need of much more than peace of mind while wearing white pants.

According to Thinx, 94 percent of girls in Uganda report having problems at school due to menstruation, and many drop out of school entirely as a result.

“We see a world where no woman is held back by her body,” the Thinx team declares. “We will work proudly and tirelessly until every single girl has an equal opportunity for the brighter future she deserves.”

Here’s how they’re doing it:

You buy a pair of “period-proof” THINX undies (and relish the results, even in yoga pants). Meanwhile, Thinx sends funds to their partner organization, AFRIpads, which trains Ugandan women to sew and sell reusable cloth pads, creating entrepreneurs in the process.

Watch this video for the full monty … er … the whole shebang?

Check out savvy suggestions for “building a cycle set” and saving money on multiple pairs of Thinx at