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Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is CJ Armstrong!

CJ Armstrong (ceejay48, #665) has received a certificate of achievement in Make It Easy for earning the Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Levels of the Jewelry Making Merit Badge!

“BEGINNER: I’ve been making jewelry for about 10 years and have accumulated all manner of tools and supplies. I have quite a selection of beads, which include plastic, glass, wooden, metal, clay, ceramic, stone (semi-precious), etc. in every size and shape. I also have tiger tail, nylon, elastic, waxed cording, chains, memory wire and all kinds of pin backs, ear wires, jump rings, split rings, a variety of clasps, etc. Some of my favorite things to work with also include charms, ribbons, and even buttons.

I have already established that Celtic design jewelry is my favorite, but I also like simple designs using semi-precious stones. I used to have a lot of costume jewelry that I wore for work, but since retiring, I hardly wear any of that and gave most of it away. I had some pieces that were turquoise, made by Navajo silversmiths; most of that I gave to family members, except for a few favorite pieces. I do not try to replicate these pieces because I’m not native. But I still have all my Celtic-style jewelry, which I plan to keep and still wear and I’ve made some of my own Celtic-style pieces.

INTERMEDIATE: I am a self-taught jewelry maker, but learned quite a bit from my husband, who is a silversmith himself and has made a lot of jewelry as well. With what I learned from him, some printed material, and trial and error on my part, I became quite skilled at it and have made dozens of pieces in all kinds of styles and combinations of beads, wire, etc.

I like to buy a lot of my supplies from Fire Mountain Gems and have been able to learn a lot from the info they provide. I have made more than the required beaded and spiral-wired piece of jewelry

EXPERT: I have made bracelets, necklaces, earrings, cell-phone charms, keychains, zipper pulls, lanyards, pins/brooches, and stick pins, and have used beading/wire/charms to embellish papercraft projects such as cards, journals, and tags.

I have sold many pieces through the local farmers’ market and a variety of craft shows/bazaars. I have made custom orders for folks wanting a particular style or color and I have made many pieces for gifts, usually either a matching necklace and earrings or bracelet and earrings. The cards, journals, and tags were also sold through these venues. I have made matching sets for my daughter and we have matching breast-cancer awareness bracelets (more than one) and lanyards. The rings I have made were using elastic cording and beads.

The necklace and bracelet in the photo are a Celtic design set that I made for myself. The necklace uses waxed cord and a section of memory wire with the beads and charms. I have had a lot of fun making jewelry and it’s been nice to sell some pieces—that certainly is a compliment to me. Perhaps there is more of that in the future!!”

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  1. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    Congratulations CJ. I always enjoy your posts and comments on Raising Jane . Now you have shared some more of your interesting life and how artistic you are. I have done beaded jewelry all my life but I’m not that good at it , more like the hippy,dippy trippy stuff in my earlier days. I am very impressed with all that you have done and to sell your pieces shows you how good you really are!

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    Thank you Lisa! What a compliment! I’ve had to make a LOT of changes in my lifestyle due to health challenges and, just this week, had to make the decision to let go of jewelry making! Fortunately, I was able to pass all my supplies on to a farmgirl sister. Hope she has as much fun as I did.

    • Lisa Von Saunder says:

      I wish you well with your health challenges changing your lifestyle. I understand. I too am going through that and have had to cut way back on the physical work I will be doing for my seed business.
      Glad you were able to “pass it forward” to another Farmgirl sister, so thoughtful.

  3. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Congratulations CJ! You made some beautiful jewelry and it sounds like you had a lot of fun too. It is always a plus to be able to sell some of your wares to share the wealth and recoup some of your investment. I am glad you have been having so much fun!

  4. terry steinmetz says:

    Lovely jewelry CJ.

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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 Joyce Hein!

Joyce Hein (GinghamGirl, #6071) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning an Expert Level My Fair Farmgirl Merit Badge!

“I have long wanted to make my own soap … and I finally did! Not only is it healthier, but it’s considerably cheaper and the bar lasts twice as long. I also made my own shampoo, conditioner, hair rinse, face wash, toner, face serum, and aftershave for hubby.

I realized that making soap can be used for many different things! I grate it for my laundry detergent (homemade now!), bubble bath for the kids, and some other recipes that I haven’t tried yet but are on my list, such as foaming hand wash. All health and beauty products in our home are now 100% natural and homemade. Although it may seem that initially it costs more as you need to buy supplies, in the long run you save a considerable amount as the supplies last quite a bit longer than buying one simple store-bought item. For Christmas, we gave only homemade goodies; the baskets included bath salts, soaps, and aftershave for the men.”

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  1. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    Good for you Joyce! Wow what a project your started ! Where did you get your recipes?

  2. Barbara Criss says:

    My friend makes soap to sell and I love it! I have been buying soap from her for several years and I am always thinking I will try making it myself. It looks like such fun. I have a book about how to make it so that is a small step toward beginning.

  3. Debbie Klann says:

    Congratulations, Joyce!! What kind of soap did you make?

  4. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow, Joyce, What an achievement learning to make all of those personal care items!!

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Farmgirl’s Best Friend Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

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

For this week’s Outpost/Farmgirl’s Best Friend Beginner Level Merit Badge, I had to stifle my excitement a little bit. You see, I have a habit of falling in love with every four-legged creature that comes my way. Hold your horses, girl!

Note to self: no horses. Settle down, Janey.

The requirements were clear, so I gave myself a stern talking to, and committed to staying firmly within the lines:

  • If you’ve never owned a pet before, explore the reasons why. Are you allergic? Did your parents not enjoy pets? Have you always lived in an apartment, or worked too many hours to care for one?
  • If you have had pets, think back to your favorite one.
  • If you could pick a pet, what would you choose and why? Research your choice and see if their temperament/availability/cost sway you to another choice. Remember, not all pets are dogs and cats. If you’re allergic to dander, maybe consider a lizard or some backyard chickens.

Well, I’ve clearly owned a pet or two or seventeen before, so the first column I could skip over. Uh oh, adhering to the rules was already becoming a problem …

The second requirement was more applicable. I waltzed down memory lane with all my furry pals …

My first pony, Rainbow Dash. A bit on the squat side for my long gams, she nevertheless fulfilled my need to have adventures of the equine sort. Of course, she was busy with her own life, what with being one of the oh-so popular My Little Pony franchise stars.

Then there was my beloved dog, Spotty McSpot Spots. Fluffy as could be, with long ears, and his own collar, he was three times the size of Rainbow Dash so I could ride him merrily along as my own personal horse. Don’t you miss the Pound Puppies?

Toys aside, I had to say my favorite pet was my family cow. She was a great listener, not to mention she guarded the backyard from intruders and gave us yummy milk.

If I could pick a pet, what would I choose and why? Wouldn’t it be easier to list the type of pet I wouldn’t want and why? Cuz that list is short:

  1. A rattlesnake.
  2. There is no #2.

But after many moments of deep thought, and several slices of apple pie, I came up with an intriguing possibility: an octopus.


1896, The Illustrated Police News, via Wikimedia Commons

Wait, wait, hear me out!

Did you know these fascinating facts about octopuses? Octopi? (I looked it up: it’s octopuses. You’re welcome.)

  • They eat their own arms if they get bored. Yikes! That seems a little overly dramatic, even for me.
  • They’re considered the smartest animals in the world, and the closest things to aliens we have here on earth. They’ve even been seen using tools! An octopus with his own home improvement show? Yes, please.
  • They’ve been seen opening child-proof bottles in mere minutes if you hide their snacks inside. I mean, I’ve been known to do some crazy stuff to get to my favorite trail mix, too.
  • They can change their entire body color in three-tenths of a second, in order to camouflage themselves. And we’re not just talking one color: they can take on the appearance of just about anything near them.
  • They have sadly short life spans. Unfortunately, they only live a few years, with some species (those typically sold at pet stores) only living for about six months.

That last fact made me decide to keep researching different animals. I just get too attached to lose my new BFF in that short a time.

Maybe a tortoise?

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am also one of those folks who falls in love with animals……..except lizards, snakes, bugs and predatory fish. I am always looking for a little “buddy” to talk to and pet.. Big brown eyes and soft fur or feathers help a lot. However, I could easily fall in love with a dolphin too. The photo today of two of your sweet faced cows and a golden hen would be pals I would love to have.

    Speaking of cows, how is Miss Daisy?

    • MaryJane says:

      Miss Daisy is due in a couple of weeks, this time with a girl, little Buttercup (grandgirls picked out the name). She’s doing great! Everyone LOVES Miss Daisy–she’s A+ adorable.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Oh my, I hope this baby arrives safely!! The Grandgirls selected a very sweet name for a baby girl calf. Please post a photo when she gets here and tell her that her Aunt Winnie is very happy to meet her. that Daisy is just totes adorb!

  3. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    I was allowed to have any pet animal at all as long as it wasnt a dog ( my mother had a traumatic near death experience with one) and well I took FULL advantage of that for sure. I had my share of kittens/cats. I also had a pet groundhog, various snakes ( that I caught myself in the woods)lots of field mice and shrews, turtles ( even the giant ones we had in the Seychelles, look just like the ones in the galapogos islands , only not the same) crows ( which I taught to talk) a baby raccoon ( although not for long -too destructive)

    I had a ferret, rabbits, tons of tropical fish ( freshwater and saltwater) Gosh the list goes on and on. ( I did have dogs later on when no longer living at home) I wont count the farm animals.Yes I have had an animal filled life.

  4. Karlyne says:

    Wow! Octopus trivia I needed to know! Except the eating their own arms part…

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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 Kristy De Vuyst!

Kristy De Vuyst (#7419) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Homespun Christmas Merit Badge!

“I made dishcloths for all of my friends and family with a side of baking. My kids and I also decorated our tree with edibles. We made birdseed ornaments and dried oranges and apple slices to hang on the tree. We also strung popcorn for garland. When we took our tree down, they were all hung outside for the birds.

It was the most beautiful tree we have ever had and our friends and family loved their gifts!”


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  1. Barbara Criss says:

    I absolutely love this tree! The edible ornaments are a great idea—the birds got to enjoy Christmas also. I think I will put up an outdoor tree just for the birds in 2018 and let them help me enjoy Christmas.

  2. Debbie Klann says:

    This is one of the prettiest trees that I have ever seen! And I love that you all worked together on it….what wonderful memories made!

  3. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Kristy, this is the most beautiful idea and expression of love and joy! It was a tree that gave joy and treats to everyone this past Christmas season. Great job and inspiring to all of us!!

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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Know Your Food, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

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

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Know Your Food Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Nora decided to educate the rest of her family on her newfound knowledge of … drumroll please …


Yes, once little Nora realized plain ol’ fruit was pretty plain delicious all on its own, she had forgone most of her sweet treats in favor of a juicy kiwi, or a bowl of peaches and cream, or some sun-ripened strawberries.

Photo by Nino Barbieri via Wikimedia Commons

She was even starting to come out of her sugar-induced coma. I swear I saw a twinkle in her eyes I had never seen before as she bit into an Anjou pear. It was a miracle.

To earn her Intermediate Level badge though, she had to share her knowledge.

In retrospect, I probably should have supervised this part a little more. Sharing what you love and don’t love about food at the dinner table, with over-tired parents and whiney siblings and the like can be a recipe for disaster. Note to self: Janey, my dear, when you have offspring of your very own, fruity looms, remember this.

Nora had been a sport about trying new fruits and veggies. We had a blast at the farmer’s market and grocery store, picking out new things. She even went totally overboard: she only needed to do one new item per week, but she was averaging one per day. The girl was becoming addicted to it. I wasn’t sure if her mom was going to thank me, or kill me.

Photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

My Final Decisions and List of New Food
By Nora

The Good:

  • Kiwis
  • Cantaloupe
  • Persimmon (but only under ripe, then they get gross)
  • Plantains
  • Starfruit
  • Sweet Potatoes (made into fries only)
  • Purple Cauliflower
  • Radishes
  • Pomegranates
  • Jicama

The Bad:

  • Sweet Potatoes that aren’t in the shape of fries
  • Raisins
  • Dragonfruit
  • Squash
  • Lima Beans
  • Arugula

The Ugly:

  • Beets (until you slice ‘em, then kinda pretty)
  • Raisins (should be illegal)
  • Turnips (yuck)
  • Bean Sprouts (scary, alien-looking things)
  • Ugly Fruit (No, really! It’s a thing! A form of a tangelo!)

Since no mom wants a report card after dinner, I took it upon myself to keep the list at my house. All in all, we tried lots of new stuff, and Nora enjoyed more than she spit out. Tastefully. Into a napkin.

We also learned that taste buds change over the years (they literally wear out like an old pair of socks), approximately every seven years to be precise. So though Nora may hate arugula now, she might eat it up cheerfully as a 20-year-old. (She is skeptical.)

Time will tell.

P.S. Jane here. Still waiting for my taste buds to accept asparagus. Maybe if I bury it in Hollandaise sauce? You know, for my health?

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  1. Barbara Criss says:

    Fruits and vegetables are my favorite foods. I can’t think of any that I don’t like. We all need to have healthy diets. America has so much healthy food and it makes me sad that a lot of people would rather eat junk food. We should all realize how wonderful it is to have such a large selection of food at all times of the year and learn to eat the right foods and enjoy them.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    It seems universal that some fruits and veggies are found to bet “yucky” by many kids. Why, I am not sure, but thankfully, many of these old ideas melt as the ages add on. That is one good thing about growing old!

  3. Joan Hendrix says:

    Speaking from my own childhood, most veggies were deemed awful because I only ever had the canned or boiled-to-death versions. I never knew why the peas in my TV dinner were so different than the canned version. Duh! I’ve learned to love Brussels sprouts when they are oven roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. In fact almost every veg is delicious when roasted or grilled. No water involved!

  4. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    Oh my Mary Jane, you don’t like asparagus, the ultimate spring food to wait impatiently for ? Have you ever tried the stuff straight from the ground, not from a supermarket where it probably imported from Mexico, replete with pesticides?

    Try slow roasting the little spears, ( early spring ones the size of pencils are best ) with some olive oil drizzled over them , until they are browned a bit. Just heaven!

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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 Debbie Klann!

Debbie Klann (debbieklann #770) has received a certificate of achievement in Each Other for earning a Beginner Level Greatest Generation Merit Badge!

“I have always loved spending time visiting with my older relatives and hearing their stories. I especially love hearing the wisdom they have gained with their age.

Our church has a small mission church on the local reservation that we attend. There is a small group that stays afterwards for coffee and visiting. A couple of years ago, we started going to coffee and hanging out with our older members.

Sunday morning Mass and coffee has become one of the highlights of our week! These older couples have lived here most of their lives, and we went to school with their kids. It is so great to have this church family and sit and hang out with them and enjoy being with them and especially their HUMOR!”

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  1. Barbara Criss says:

    I too always enjoyed the company of older people. I have been friends with and helped out eight elderly people over the years. I learned a lot from them. Now that I am getting old I think I will be able to age gracefully while still staying young at heart because of what I learned from them. We don’t value our elderly people enough.

  2. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    We don’t appreciate the older people in our society. One of my best friends and my helper on my farmette is 81 and still going strong. And his sense of humor makes working with him so wonderful. Another best friend is 81 and a ball of fire.

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Bibliophile Badging Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

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

For this week’s Bibliophile Badging Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I had shortened my TBR pile from the Beginner Level badge, only to build it back up again. I’ve noticed TBR stacks are like bunnies. They multiply quickly and at a sometimes alarming rate.

Berliner Walk of Ideas, Humboldt University by Lienhard Schulz via Wikimedia Commons

One way to keep your tomes down to a manageable minimum is to loan your books out. I know, I know, it hurt my heart the first few times too. I mean, these were my babies. What if someone abused them? Dog eared their pages? Dropped them in the bubble bath? Used them as coasters? Or worse yet, never gave them back?


One thing I found to help alleviate that last fear, was this handy-dandy personal library kit. I recommend it highly, not just because it essentially gives the loanee no excuse to remember who owns that book, but it’s way fun to stamp things and channel your inner librarian.

Anyway, earning my badge meant challenging my friends to a book reading contest. You can do this with your local buddies, or do it online through social media, like Facebook or Instagram. I found plenty of willing participants, and we put ourselves out there with all sorts of goals and plans. We found we were all motivated by the same things: good books and prizes. That’s right, what’s a book reading challenge without a prize at the end? I gathered all sorts of fun trinkets to award to the readers: chocolate, coffee mugs, bookmarks, fuzzy socks, gel pens, etc. Then we separated our goals into easily obtained chunks, like this:

  • Most Books Read in the Month
  • Finishing an Entire Collection by One Author
  • Keeping Detailed Reviews of Books Read
  • Finishing a TBR Stack that is At Least Five Books High
  • Reading Five Biographies

The possibilities for challenges and prizes are pretty much endless.

Next, organize your fellow bibliophiles in a real Book Club. Now, when I say real I don’t mean it has to meet in person right in your own living room: if that’s not a possibility due to living rurally or whathaveyou, you can have just as much fun joining or starting an online book club. Perk to that: you get to eat all the chocolate chip cookies you baked for the occasion all by yourself. Ahem.

Once your club is off the ground, so to speak, pick a book to read together and a date to meet. Also, a secret handshake and a clubhouse is not amiss, but maybe that’s just me.

My book club? We are currently reading spy thrillers, meet at a secret location, and eat a lot of cookies. But that’s just what floats my literary boat. Can’t find one to meet your needs? Check out our own Farmgirl Book Club on Facebook, and find what’s fresh and new (or old and vintage), chat it up with other bibliophiles, meet new friends and farmgirls, even be introduced to authors. Cookies not required, but highly recommended.

The Story Book by William-Adolphe Bouguereau via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Barbara Criss says:

    A book club sounds so fun! Alas—I live in an isolated area and the few people I do know are not into reading. My husband and I are both avid readers so I do have him to talk to about books. I suppose an online book club would be fun, but I have a fear of social media. It is just nice to know that some people do have book clubs. I think it must be quite enjoyable.

  2. Kamy says:

    I love the idea of this book; I need to add it to the TBR.

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