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.”




  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Another beautiful gift from the ocean. These stars are so delicate and perfect.

  2. What a sweet story to back up a scientific phenomena.

  3. Karlyne says:

    I love it!

  4. Jeri-Lyn Walsh says:

    That’s so cool! Love the Japanese legend.

  5. Kate says:

    God’s wonderful creation.

  6. CJ Armstrong says:

    Beautiful! I love to walk beaches and pick up shells, but I also am interested in the sand. I live in Colorado . . .there are no beaches here. But I’ve walked beaches of the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, North Sea and Irish Sea. I’ve managed to have little film containers (remember 35 mm camera film?) to collect samples to bring home. One of the most fascinated beaches was on Maui on the east side where the sand was black sand from the volcano.
    Very interesting, indeed!

  7. Krista says:

    How cute and tiny! Our oceans contain such wondrous creatures. It amazes me that those tiny shells stay intact all the way to the shore. I would love to see some of this star shaped sand.

  8. Bonnie ellis says:

    Absolutely fascinating! It makes me remember to look at all things more closely.

  9. Brenda Wheeler says:

    Wow! Just wonderful to see and read about. So tiny and beautiful!

  10. Ellen Osborn says:

    When my husband was serving in the US Marine Corps we lived on Okinawa for 3 years with our two young kids. We practically lived on the beach. One day we were in a shop and there was an aquarium filled with sand and a magnifying glass was attached to it. We didn’t know about star sand until then. We kept peering in trying to see some little critter. Then we learned it was the sand!

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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

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This story is fantastic and globally important. Who knew this was all happening? It never occurred to me to think it through on my own. Of course women in these impoverished areas of our country and the world need a better solution! These young twin women are amazing in their openness, creativity, and positive attitude that menstruation wear is a solvable problem that everyone needs. I am so impressed at what they have come up with and started for women around the world.

  2. Cindi says:

    Ha! Okay, I will admit reading that phrase brought an image of huge cotton/spandex panties that go up to the waist… Yeah, that dated me a little. What a great video about an equally great innovation! There should be a major award for such a positive and useful creation. Passing this info on. Now… if we can just figure out a way to get people to stop making nasty remarks and blaming PMS when a lady is having a bad day.

    • MaryJane says:

      I couldn’t agree more about the focus on women, PMS, and hormones. If anything we should be remarking about men’s testosterone levels–maybe regular hormone checks like at a Walgreen drug store so that if it gets too high, they’d take something to bring it back down. Less crime, less wars maybe? I raise Jersey bulls and I’m well aware of fluctuations and spikes in their testosterone levels.

  3. Karlyne says:

    Isn’t it odd that with all the inventions and the knowledge that’s been shared over the last 100 years, this is the first real solution to a real problem?

    P.S. I love the hormone check idea at Walgreens, and I’m trying to think of a sneaky way to get all males to participate. I know – a free beer after each check!

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    Ah, yes the REAL world for women! I’ve learned a LOT lately, several years postmenopausal, about hormones! Very complex!

    I, too, am glad to see great products available for those who need them!

  5. Having lived and taught in several ” third world countries” ( there are new more politically correct terms but I am using this as this was what it was called when I was there.) I know from personal experience with my own students, this is a huge issue for young women. Brilliant idea and affordable for these young women. In some african nations they are confined to a separate hut when they have their period and this actually still goes on.I could tell you horror stories from my own experiences in these countries. This goes on in the entire world actually, like with Orthodox Jewish women for instance, right here ,right now in the USA. Kudos to the Thinx women for coming up with a simple and affordable solution !! I am in awe!

  6. Krista says:

    As I watched this video my heart broke. Our society treats women terribly for things that are out of our control and that our bodies were designed to do. It reminds me of the big debate about breastfeeding in public. When did these things become inappropriate and unacceptable by society? I was unaware of this being an issue in other countries. I feel so bad for those young girls. It’s wonderful to see that after all this time we are finally having breakthroughs for improving lifestyles during periods and helping other countries at the same time. Spread the word.

  7. Heather says:

    I have tried these! I love them so, so much. They are beautiful, well made, comfortable and protect from leaks. My flow is too heavy to use these on their own except at the end of my cycle. I wear these with a diva cup and I feel 100% protected and thrilled to not be creating gross trash or exposing my body to more chemicals.
    Thinx are amazing and their customer service is fabulous. I hope they take over the feminine hygiene industry. (I am not affiliated with Thinx in any fashion. I simply stumbled upon them about a year ago and I love what they are doing and I seriously love their skivvies.) Buy some…..make your period panties be your pretty ones.

  8. Sherri says:

    As my daughter approaches this next stage in her life a few of us mothers hope to get together and throw a special kind of party welcoming them into puberty and budding womanhood. Plans are still in the brainstorming phase, but I think I will add this to our list of products that help us be positive about ourselves and comfortable in our bodies. Thank you MaryJane for introducing us all to this.

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floral art

If you’ve caught yourself dreaming of spring and feeling just a little confined

Photo by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

(don’t feel guilty—it’s perfectly normal this time of year)

… the wondrously whimsical floral art of Seattle artist Bridget Beth Collins is certain to soothe your savage winter spirits.

And if your spring dreams haven’t yet sprung, beware.

This might just rattle the cage door:

Explore more of Bridget’s artwork on her website,, where you can also purchase prints of her collages.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    It is incredible what an artistic mind can vision and make. Bridget’s work is fascinating and beautiful!

  2. I wish I had known of her technique when I worked in a commercial flower and herb greenhouse. I would have had an endless supply of raw material to play with. She has a great sense of humor and so much imagination

  3. Krista says:

    What an imagination. It’s incredible that she can find images in simple everyday objects that many people just brush aside. Her work is very beautiful and really gets me excited for spring.

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diner lingo

I’ve always gotten a kick out of diner lingo and hate to see it go the way of the dodo, ya know?

Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel via Wikimedia Commons

Hoping to do my part in preserving this cute ‘n’ cheesy (wink) café chatter,

I created a—you guessed it—QUIZ to test your food slang savvy.

Have fun figuring out these phrases (the answers are posted at the end), then call them out with gusto in your own kitchen. The kids will love it.
1. All hot
2. Battery acid
3. Birdseed
4. Bubble dancer
5. Cluck and grunt
6. Cow feed
7. Cow paste
8. Eve with a lid on
9. Fish eyes
10. Frog sticks
11. George Eddy
12. Houseboat
13. Italian perfume
14. Make it moo
15. Mike and Ike
16. Moo juice
17. Nervous pudding
18. Radio
19. Sea dust
20. Shingle with a shimmy and a shake
21. Vermont
22. Walk a cow through the garden and pin a rose on it
23. Whistle berries
24. Yum-yum

1. Baked potato
2. Grapefruit juice
3. Breakfast cereal
4. Dishwasher
5. Eggs and bacon
6. Salad
7. Butter
8. Apple pie
9. Tapioca pudding
10. French fries
11. Customer who doesn’t leave tips
12. Banana split
13. Garlic
14. Add milk/cream to coffee
15. Salt and pepper shakers
16. Milk
17. Jell-o (or, better yet, Giggle Wiggles—one of my Chillover recipes!)
18. Tuna salad sandwich
19. Salt
20. Buttered toast with jam
21. Maple syrup
22. Hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion
23. Baked beans
24. Sugar

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    These are fun and totally new to me except for #16. I wonder how the terms originated? The lingo constitutes a foreign language known only to those who work there or eat there frequently! I wonder if the other countries of the world do the same thing in their restaurants? Is it unique to restaurants in general or diners in particular? Great topic for our MJF morning Social Studies Lesson!

  2. Karlyne says:

    Italian perfume especially cracked me up!

  3. I knew some of these as I adore diners and love slang to boot. We used to have a restaurant in the town where I lived previously where the cook ( always called “cookie” ) was an ex navy cook and he used a lot of very colorful terms, “Whiskey” is rye bread/toast for instance. SOS ( s–t on a shingle, is creamed chipped beef on toast, very Navy talk! I always said SOS and never knew what it really stood for until I was an adult!) and many others I am unable to remember this morning.
    My idea of heaven is an all day breakfast which many diners still do. Here in my little town we have ” Dave’s Diner” a real one in the stainless steel style that looks like a train car. We used to have 3 of them hereabouts but the awful chain restaurants put them of business, alas.

  4. Shannon Hudson says:

    What fun! I could only figure out four of them… 5, 13, 16, and 19. I think I might turn this into a game for Family Fun Friday 🙂

  5. Krista says:

    I have only heard of 3, 9, and 13. These are some crazy and fun sayings. Hopefully diners are still using them. I wonder how they came about. The cow feed one reminds me of my old boss. Whenever we would have salad at work she would always call it rabbit food. It seems to fit better with salad than cow feed. I think I am going to quiz my family on these and see how many they can guess or how many they have actually heard!

  6. Dawn says:

    This would be fun to use as a game for a bridal shower!

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Zentangle Quilting

With a brand-spankin’ New Year upon us, it’s the perfect time to explore new creative frontiers while honoring artistic traditions that have led us this far.

What do I have in mind, you wonder?

Well, you may remember how I told you about Zentangle, the addictive art of zany (yet so very Zen) doodling.

Image by Trinity Verlag in der Scorpio Verlag GmbH & Co.KG via Wikimedia Commons

(If this doesn’t ring a bell, hop over to this post.)

True to form, each time I swirl and squiggle lines on paper, I find myself fantasizing about fabric, which inspired me to poke around a bit into the idea of Zentangle quilting, and wouldn’t you know it?

It’s a real thing.

And it’s just as neat-o as I’d imagined.

Just look at Quilt Zentangle Style! on Pinterest (warning: you might start drooling).

Since I have a feeling you’re already itchin’ to start stitchin’, I gathered up this little list of goodies to get you going:

Book: Tangle Stitches: For Quilters and Fabric Artists by Jane Monk

You can buy it on Amazon, but you can’t “look inside” like you can on many other books. Here’s a video flip-through to preview the wonders within:

Video Tutorial: Zentangle Quilting by Machine

Blog Tutorial:
Zentangle Quilt Tutorial from Zany Quilter

Share your results on the Farmgirl Connection to inspire the rest of us!

  1. Lisa A says:

    I’ve admired this too, MaryJane, but haven’t tried it yet. Someday.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    For an experienced quilter, a Zen tangle quilt would be a work of art. It would be fun to design all of the colors and shapes into such a unique and personalized project.

  3. Deb says:

    How Interestjing, a true work of art when finished. I love the vibrant colors!

  4. Darlene Ricotta says:

    Zentangling is a lot of fun, I have done some on cards, and made little plaques, and am working on one for Valentines day, It is a lot of fun and so many ways to use it. Quilting with it would really be pretty. and the color possibilities, what an awesome idea.

    Thanks, I will have to try it sometime.


  5. Darlene Ricotta says:

    What a treasure in that phone message, I bet you did have a Happy Birthday after hearing that one.

    Happy Birthday late.


  6. wow, and I have trouble with squares, this may be beyond my abilities, but way way cool indeed!

  7. Krista says:

    How fun is this?! These zentangle quilts are very intriguing. I love in the video how she colors the patterns to make them darker. The boldness in the pattern makes it that much more appealing. I would love to make a zentangle quilt with the colors black and turquoise. I’ll be adding this to my list of things to do.

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MaryJanesFarm Review

Look what we found …

Jennifer Prior, of Flagstaff, Arizona, is sharing her ultra-cute excitement about our magazine.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Visit Jennifer’s blog, My FlagStaff Home, to follow her adventures.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Thank-you ,Jennifer, for a great job of promoting MJF with your happy, upbeat review!

  2. Well she sure was enthusiastic! And I am just like that when I talk about MJFarm magazine. I give subscriptions as gifts and I wouldn’t start my day without reading this journal. And I and many other farmgirls also know you are in Moscow Idaho!

  3. Kristi Wildung says:

    Oh how fun! I love to hear the love getting spread <3

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quilt romance

Grannie sits in her oaken chair,
Firelight flits o’er her silvery hair,
The silent children around her sit,
As she pieces her patchwork coverlet …

The Chimney Corner by Joseph Clark via

These lyrics from a traditional song called “Patchwork” are among the gems tucked in The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt by Carrie A. Hall and Rose Good Kretsinger. Originally published in 1935, this oldie but goodie is the kind of book that sentimental quilters covet.

It’s neither glossy nor glitzy. It doesn’t knock your socks off with colorful photo spreads or tutorials. What it holds are sweet scraps of history.

Some woman sewed these points and squares
Into a pattern like life’s cares.
Here is a velvet that was strong,
The poplin that she wore so long,
A fragment from her daughter’s dress,
Like her, a vanished loveliness;
Old patches of such things as these,
Old garments and old memories.
– Douglas Malloch

Peppered with tidbits of poetry and prose, the book features hundreds of black and white images of full quilts and patches with the name of each pattern, making it a handy guide for modern quilters seeking to identify the patterns of an antique quilt.

“Over a period of years, Mrs. Hall has accumulated a collection of more than 1,000 quilt patches, both antique and modern, showing practically every design and motif of design ever created in America,” the book’s jacket reads. “This collection, which she has entrusted to the Thayer Museum of the University of Kansas, formed the inspiration for her book.”

Who knows? You might even discover a spark of design inspiration from yesteryear.

Although it’s out of print today, you can still pick up a used copy of The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt from many an online bookseller for under $10.

The sun has such a pretty quilt,
Each night he goes to bed,
It’s made of lavender and gold,
With great long stripes of red.
And bordered by the softest tints
Of all the shades of gray,
It’s put together by the sky,
And quilted by the day.
– Laura Coates Reed

Photo by Anna via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Janet Pulver says:

    This is the first quilt book I purchased. Many years ago. And I still look at it from time to time for the historical reference of quilt blocks. Your entry has taken me down memory lane. Thank you once again.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This book sounds quite interesting. You know how I love the history of our country, especially when it comes to the role of women. I am going to add this to my list of look for books and see if I can scare up a copy.

  3. How serendipitus! I looked at my most recent find on quilts called ” Quilting as a Hobby” by Dorothy Brightbill., from the ’50s. On the back dust cover it gives the review of this book too ! My book is chock full of history and names of designs and sewing tips , etc. One of the more helpful quilting books I have found actually.

  4. Helen G Jarrell says:

    I’ve been a subscriber to your magazine for years-don’t know why I’ve waited so long to join your blog-

  5. Krista says:

    What a great book to add to the quilter’s collection. I wouldn’t mind owning a copy myself. It would be very interesting to see if I can pin point the designs in the book to match the quilts I have. Also to hopefully replicate one someday when I make a quilt.

  6. Bonnie Ellis says:

    Wow! I have that book too. I have been quilting since 1973 and have many of the old books. They are valuable to read. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Brenda Wheeler says:

    How lovely! It’s time to add this book to my collection. The Book Cottage is just down the road and I’m sure Nancy will find a copy for me. I have quilted for many years and somehow missed this one.

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While this may sound like some sort of neologism meant to convey, say, surprise or delight, it is actually the pronunciation of:


Oh, gee …

Don’t worry if you’re coming up empty on definitions because duodji isn’t an English word–not even close. It actually hails from a remote group of nomadic people called the Sámi who herd reindeer across the far northern reaches of Scandinavia.

Photo of Sami family at spring (Easter) celebration by Mortsan via Wikimedia Commons

Duodji refers to any number of handcrafted items made by the Sámi that are both aesthetically beautiful and useful (clothing, accessories, household items, and tools). Traditionally, duodji crafts were divided into men’s and women’s work. Men used mostly wood and antlers as well as other bones from reindeer when crafting items like this salt cellar:

Photo by Christopher Forster via Wikimedia Commons

Women incorporated leather and fur in elaborately stitched items like these marvelous mittens:

Photo by Thorguds, via Wikimedia Commons

Traditional colors incorporated in duodji are red, green, blue and yellow:

Photo by Duodjiinfo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Christopher Forster via Wikimedia Commons

“Duodji represents cultural continuity with our ancestors,” explains Ellen Marie Jensen, author of We Stopped Forgetting. “There are creative and functional adaptations over time, and the individual duojar has room for individual creative expression. Duodji is both functional and beautiful.”

Doy-gee, I surely agree.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I actually got to visit with the Sami in Finland three summers ago on our trip. The tour included a visit to the Sami Museum and an evening of dinner and a sharing of some of their cultural traditions. It was fascinating and the Sami are located in all three Scandinavian countries and neighboring Russia. Their lifestyle above the Arctic Circle is ancient and their handmade clothing in indeed bright and colorful. Such a contrast to the stark and barren landscape. They are also the keepers of the reindeer herds which are still a vital part of their livelihood. Thanks for sharing this today and I am happy to learn a new word that represents the Sami culture!

    • MaryJane says:

      That’s amazing Winnie! You are a lucky woman to travel like you do. And I am remiss in my correspondence. Does it matter that I have a letter to you started?:) Love and hugs your way. (Can you imagine how sad I was when I ate my last orange?) But I had a new muffler around my neck to make up for it.

      • Winnie Nielsen says:

        I was wondering how the latest Knit for Victory was working? You sure have the weather for using it and I am glad that you like it! The oranges are almost gone save the ones way at the top where we can’t reach them. We also discovered several patches of wild orange growing long thorny branches everywhere. We are learning is that this must be cut out of the tree or they will take over and ruin the orange production. Who knew such things? So a pruning we must do pretty soon before the new blossoms set for next year. We are actually have a chilly sweater weather day today! Perfect for knitting and and reading this afternoon. I have some new books begging to be opened.

  2. As a lover of reindeer I have always been fascinated by the Sami culture as well.Their costumes indeed bring to mind elfs with the bright colors and their red boots with turned up toes.

  3. Krista says:

    This is such a fascinating group of people. I love the bright colors that they use and the beautiful craft items they make. This would be such a fun place to visit. Winnie, it sounds like you learned so much on your trip there. Lucky you! Now I have a new word to add to my vocabulary. I’ll remember to refer to duodji next time I am crafting!

  4. Karlyne says:

    “Duodji” – first I have to learn to spell it, and then I pronounce it – “doy-gee”. Love the concept!

  5. Bonnie ellis says:

    Our Scandanavian traditions are seep in Minnesota. There are several herds here. Great picture of their colorful costumes.

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