Monthly Archives: February 2024

Model Manners

I wasn’t sure what to think when I took a call from a woman late last summer representing an agency hired by a chain of retail stores saying she wanted to rent my farm for a couple of days for a photo shoot. When I hesitated, saying I didn’t really have my B&B “open” and in good enough condition for a photo shoot, she said, “They told me to beg if need be.” Once she told me a little bit more about the kinds of photos they’d be taking, I jumped at the chance to host them, thinking it would be a playful, fun-filled two days for me, my employees, and my granddaughters. I wasn’t wrong. Why? Manners. Gallant GOOD manners! They worried about their impact on plants and they cleaned. Actually, they left my farm cleaner than they found it. And one week later, one of them wrote to say she’d ended up with one of my hand towels and would drop it in the mail. “I’m so sorry.”

It was pure delight loading people and gear into the back of our farm trucks and/or our little utility “golf cart” vehicle for delivery to a forest and/or field location that one of their many scouts had picked out. Abigail and I prepped our guesthouse for their make-up/hair technicians; and I put the woman in charge in touch with a local restaurant for meal catering. It, of course, made us smile when we heard them talking on their cell phones, saying things like, “The brunette from the UK has arrived at the airport, ETA 30 minutes.”

It was hot. And dry. And in some of the shots, the models were wearing sweaters! Those attending to them rushed forth in between shots with ice packs and cotton towels for dabbing away beads of facial sweat. Did they complain? They did not. Not even once. Did my modelesque granddaughters take in every detail and nuance? They did; some of models were only a few years older.

And then, a few months later. There it was! Pieces of my farm were everywhere on their website. Their scouts really had an eye. In one instance, they chose an old tree stump off to the side of my wood shed, right next to my clothesline. Who knew!? But the photos turned out fabulous. They wore fall clothing so my farm isn’t currently featured on their website, but I did snap a few photos from the two days my farm became famously glam.

Here’s one of my granddaughters afterward utilizing her newfound skills. Right before they left, they pulled my granddaughters aside and let them pick out several outfits.

Get Out! Getaway Farmstay

The April/May 2024 issue of my magazine, MaryJanesFarm, will have two pages that showcase my fresh-air B&B, along with an invitation to come! Join me! For more details, go to the B&B section of my website:

(To read the text on the two pages below, scroll down.)

Outside, even if only a fantasy, can be better than an endless dose of inside. And a little bit of outside can go a long way toward improving your outlook on your inside life. If you get outside, you’ll more easily grow into its companionship, its comfort. It needn’t be a trip or a planned excursion, gear, and lots of outdoor know-how. A sleeping bag thrown down in your back yard can do the trick. 

My mother gave me outside at an early age (often only a flannel bag and a pup tent 30 feet from her door), and it made an empiricist out of me. In other words, rolling gracefully with life’s punches isn’t all that complicated, because I know I always have the moon, the wind, or my own two feet … a soft place to rest, a walk alone at night. Nothing outside resembles the complexities of four walls and a roof, when behind the everyday modern-day door lurks an array of gadgetry—devices that overschedule, over-obligate, and overwhelm us.

Armed with my mother’s outside nourishment, I left home at age 19, headed for the wilds of Idaho. I landed my first outside job saving trees as a fire lookout, perched atop a 100-foot tower. After that, I moved back to Utah for two summers to work as a wilderness ranger in the Uinta Mountains. Then I came back again to Idaho to live year-round in the heart of the wilderness—the Selway-Bitterroot, 27 miles from road’s end, all of it before cellphones, before the excess of constant yammering, before the angst of 24-hour news.

Years later, I put what I had learned from my outside work into sharing what my mother and others had given me—outside how-to.

Helen Butters (my mother), 1925 

“To have a mother who loves you for being independent is to have a mother who fosters rebellion in your heart and revolution in your bones.” – Judy Chicago

Not just how-to, more an approach, a runway with a soft landing, a starting place, where outside is readily accessible, obtainable—a space and place without fear of failure or judgment. When I broke ground on my wall-tent B&B in 2004 and launched the term glamping, outside was more hardcore—backpacking, skiing, water sports, gear. And regular old camping was still the domain of guys-in-charge-of-the-know-how, if you know what I mean. I wanted to change all that. Twenty years later, I think I have changed all that, one reader at a time, one B&B guest at a time.

2004 wall B&B wall tent

What started out as a canvas wall-tent bed and breakfast in 2004 morphed into a bed and outdoor bath (providing guests with kitchens to cook their own meals). Given the number of different tent cabins, pavilions, cottages, vintage trailers, and RV hookups we’ve created, your spring/summer 2024 getaway farmstay will be based on several factors—family w/young children, family w/teenagers, soloist, girlfriends’ retreat, couple, family reunion, wedding party, etc. Each venue has an outdoor claw-foot bathtub, shower, flush loo, full-service kitchen, wood stove/campfire, organic bed linens, nap hammocks, and access to our farm store (chock-full of antiques and collectibles), U-pick gardens, and orchard. Right beyond your doorstep, our private 115-acre native plant and wildlife preserve provides stunning views anywhere you choose to wander. 

Currently, we’re taking reservations for May 31 thru July 8. Depending on your needs and length of stay (we have a two-night minimum), creating your unique configuration will require going back and forth via e-mail (no phone calls please). For more details, visit the B&B section of my website.

Wild Bread

Yesterday’s loaf of Dutch Oven wild bread (no store-bought yeast used, just 1/2 cup of my refrigerator sourdough mother) was so happy when it hit the oven it exploded sideways. This loaf was destined for my daughter’s household. I have perfected this kind of loaf so that it’s airy inside but super moist by working with a more wet dough when I knead and fold it. If you haven’t yet toyed with the idea of nurturing a sourdough mother, I encourage you to take the leap.

Six Years Later

It’s been gasp six years since my last post.

I do have a pint-size excuse. I’ve been busy adding to my family, a sweet adorable scrumptious little boy. Meet Tristan Nicholas.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 47208710-088C-46EE-BE33-70D29AA99692.jpeg

And Mia, in the last six years (who had blonde hair that curled ever so slightly when she was Tristan’s age), has grown into her teen years with hair that has turned into a million tightly wound reddish-toned ringlets, gorgeous! And big sister, Stella, my oldest, lost her curls, plays basketball, and has her driver’s license! Mia plays basketball, too. Papa Lucas, my husband, was a basketball coach at Gonzaga years ago when we were dating and dreamed of a family.

The Orphan Collector

How about this book? Does it interest you? Maybe you’ve read it already. If so, let us know what you thought about it! Because I’m old enough to remember the impact of polio before there was a vaccine (two of the boys in my neighborhood were stricken), I’m not sure I want to revisit this topic, especially since we’ve just been through a modern-day pandemic. On the other hand, history is a great teacher and often helps broaden my perspective, while allowing me to cancel out all the current noise and notions that have a tendency to be politically motivated.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook

I haven’t read this book yet, but historical fiction is a genre I’m drawn to. How about you?

Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined . . .

“Powerful. Grounded in historical fact, it ends like a fast-paced thriller.” – Historical Novel Society

Today’s Recipe: Cinnamon & Sugar Cake Doughnuts


Continue reading