Monthly Archives: September 2017



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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 … Ginger Dawn Harman!

Ginger Dawn Harman (Ginger Dawn, #6451) has received a certificate of achievement in Outpost for earning a Beginner Level Pampered Pets Merit Badge!

“I have made a new commitment to our pets Oreo and Gelato! I have a veterinarian in my area that practices holistic and natural veterinary care but also uses other practices.

I checked out the labels and ingredients of your pet foods. It was very bad. So I am in the process of changing foods.

I love all the pets in my house … well maybe not the Madagascar Hissing Roaches that my son has. Nevertheless, I want to make sure that I am doing the best for each animal. Our one cat has a bit of a weight problem. We have noticed that in his older age, he is not able to clean himself very well. So I made an appointment at our local vet and this also provided me a great opportunity to learn what treatments are better and which food to use.

First, the food that I was using was very bad. It was filled with terrible stuff. I don’t want to cause a negative impression, so I will not list the name, but it is cheap and can be bought at any local market. The vet said it is not good to switch food all at once, so my cats are getting a mix until next week. We now are using a Natural Balance Reduced Calorie Dry Cat Food (15-pound bag).

Oh, and I learned that essential oils are great for pets, too. Just like for us, lavender is great for calming. Now this is important to know! Most animals are more sensitive than humans to essential oils. Start by diluting heavily and use in moderation. Every animal is different, so carefully observe how each animal responds to the oils. Use common sense and good judgment as you try different methods. Take special care to not get essential oils in an animal’s eyes. Avoid using high-phenol oils such as oregano and thyme with any animals, especially cats. Use special caution when using essential oils with cats. Cats are also generally averse to citrus essential oils.

Also, there are other holistic methods that can be used, such as acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic treatments. My vet showed me a few calming massage rubs for Oreo, and he was happy and relaxed and this is on his diet food. Personally, I get crabby when I am hungry. As I said, I love my pets and they deserve the same quality of care as we humans do!”

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Farmyard to Kitchen, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,428 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,782 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  

For this week’s Farmyard to Kitchen Young Cultivator Expert Level Merit Badge, Andy, Nora, Piper, and Yours Truly were ready for action. We had earned our Beginner and Intermediate Level badges (and no one was harmed in the making of those badges, fowl or bovine or small children or Aunty), and we were ready to progress.

First things were first: raising baby chicks or learning to milk a cow?

Since Buttercup the Cow Princess was looking rather askance at us (talk about mooooooo-dy), we decided on chicks. Or, Baby Balls of Fluffy Cuteness, as Piper described them with stars in her eyes.

“Yes, they’re adorable right now, but let’s remember: when they are no longer shiny and new, you don’t get to drop them off at Aunty’s house, okiedokie?” I reminded them. I had heard tell of a childhood phenomenon: adopting delightful pet babies and then losing interest in them posthaste, leaving the chores to be done by their mothers.

Just another reason why I was never a kid. Fresh out of the box as a grown woman, that’s me.

But I digress.

“We’d never stop loving our Cotton Balls of Puffy Fluffy Loviekins!” Piper was insulted.

“I’m naming mine Ryan Gosling,” said Nora, who was really into movie stars lately. “Get it? Gosling? Ha!”

“Goslings are baby ducks, dummy,” said Andy.

“Nuh uh, they’re baby geese, dork-head,” she fired back.

“No arguments!” I broke in. “Arguing in front of hens makes bad layers. It’s science.”

We got our little chickies home that evening and set up their cozy new house: a large Rubbermaid container with straw and a heat lamp, food, and water. And Piper’s additions: half a Barbie’s Dream House, a few stuffed animals, some baby blankets, and a medley of soft rock playing in the background.

After I armed them with an stack of library books on how to raise happy chickens, a list of Things Not To Do (in my days as Aunty, I’ve learned those are much more applicable to their mischievous little minds than lists of Things To Do), and my number written on the fridge in case of Chicken Emergencies, I went home for a little nap.

The next day, after checking in on Ryan Gosling, Mrs. David Bock-Bock-Beckham, and Lady Clucks-A-Lot, we finished up our badge earning with a little butter making.

“I don’t really like butter,” Andy said.

I had a small stroke and had to be revived by the local paramedics. Afterwards, while recovering with a nice bread and butter sammie and a cup of tea, I decided to get to the bottom of Andy’s sacrilegious comment.

“What did you mean you don’t like butter?” I croaked, still weak. I dunked my sammie in my tea for extra nourishment.

“Well, I don’t know, Aunty,” he said. “I just don’t think it tastes all that great. Kinda oily and greasy, if you ask me.”

“I did not ask you, whippersnapper!”

“Yeah, you did.”

“Oh yes. Right. Fetch me this so-called butter, youngster. Chop, chop.”

He complied, rolling his eyes all the way (I nearly threw my sammie at the back of his head, but I’d finished it). He returned with …


I can hardly say it. Here you try and try with these kids, you nurture, you give and give, blood, sweat, tears … wasted.

It was a crock.

A plastic crock.

A plastic crock of butter impostors.

Fake butter product.

Processed, pasturized, yellow-food-coloring laden, oil.

The rest of the Expert Level earning will have to wait. Tell the paramedics to get back here.

Fading. Fading.

Going towards the light.

Goodbye, cruel world.

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Get on the Forest Bus

In the concrete jungle of Taipei, capitol city of Taiwan, I imagine residents often long for nature.

Like, deeply long.

Photo by Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons

Tapping into this profound longing, florist Alfie Lin accepted a commission from the Beautiful Touch Association to fancy up a Taipei city bus with the trappings of a real, live forest.

“I hope the public will feel that it’s a beautiful and interesting experience,” he told the Agence France-Presse. “They can smell the scent of summer on the bus and see the vibrant green plants to feel messages from nature.”

The forest bus is taking a trial run this month, but Lin hopes it will become a permanently rooted fixture of the city. Passengers like Celine Wei hope so, too. “I feel happy and relaxed on the bus smelling the flowers and plants,” she says. “I hope it can become a regular service on a double-decker. It would become something special to Taipei.”

If you can’t bathe in an actual forest (read my post on shinrin-yoku), a mobile forest might just soothe a city dweller’s wild side.

Ya think?

Take a quick virtual ride on the forest bus and share your thoughts:

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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 … Jennifer Ettlin!

Jennifer Ettlin (MsKathleen, #7128) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning an Expert Level Home Insulation Merit Badge!

“We got lucky on this area because we managed to get the attic insulated in mid-to-late June before the summer heat kicked in and before all of the weird natural disasters have been hitting our area. We were severely under-insulated when we had our energy audit, down to an R value of 8 in some areas. None of the attic was insulated to the same level either. So, following an insulation ruler and adding some blown cellulose insulation, we were able to bring it up to an R17 value evenly throughout the attic. It looks like it snowed in our attic.

Our walls have proven to be an interesting addition of insulation, as we are in a Berm- or Earth-contact house. It’s underground like a Hobbit hole, so insulating walls is a bit different than insulating above ground. We still get air drafts and things from the windows and skylights, but with insulation, our big problem is underground humidity. It molds extremely fast in the walls, especially if it’s a higher R value. Luckily, we were able to check the insulation to find we have stiff back-board insulation with mold-resistant barriers built in (it’s a pink sheet of solid fiberglass insulation with two layers of moisture barrier glued to the back and one on the front). This is exceptional for a house that is underground since it means all of our escaping air was going out of the attic … Which now has more insulation. And we were notified today that the power company got our rebate application.

We’re toasty and our energy bill has dropped in half this summer! I’m fairly happy. Our rebate is still under review with the power company, but they have acknowledged that they have it. They’re just having difficulty processing it with all the unusual weather going on in the Kansas/Missouri area (we had the largest flood in our area in the last 40 years just last Thursday), so they said it will be back probably around the end of the month. Three tornado incidents, a flood, and a power outage that knocked out the power for 14,000 people during a super-hot summer have kept them busy.”

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