In December 1999, a newspaper reporter from Washington called. He was writing a review of the book Seven Wonders: Everyday Things for a Healthier Planet by John C. Ryan. Michael Guilfoil of the The Spokesman Review newspaper asked me if I had my own “seven wonders.” The story that ensued was headlined “Simple Solutions.” Here, then, is the continuation of that story. Each issue of MaryJanesFarm will feature in detail new solutions, and will give you all the information you need to make them your own.
For Whom the Bell Jingles Solutions: Seven Honey Facts, Tips, and Tests (PDF)
There’s nothing sweeter than a drizzle of honey, but is your go-to brand the real McCoy? Here are seven scam-busting facts, tips, and tests to make sure your honey is pure.[+] Read description.
Turning the Page Solutions: Seven Things You Might Not Know About Books (PDF)
You crave them, devouring pages as if stories were sustenance. But, dear bibliophile, I’ll bet there are a few things you don’t know about books. For instance, Americans buy somewhere around five million books a day! Surprised? Read on to boost your brainpower and share the literary love.[+] Read description.
Sunday Drive Solutions: Seven Ways to Glam Up Your Glampsite (PDF)
Late summer is the most sublime time to get your glamp on. The air is sweet with ripening fruit, and the nights are warm. What are you waiting for? Hit the road ... in rhinestones. Head for the hills ... in heels. Don’t be shy about glamping up your campsite. This trip is for the girls.[+] Read description.
Midnight Hour Solutions: Seven Late-night Sanity Savers (PDF)
It’s past midnight, but your eyelids simply won’t stay shut. Sleep? Impossible. You’re wide awake and suddenly beset by stress. At this hour, anxiety can run wild, leaving you feeling helpless. Instead of tossing and turning, try these surefire sanity savers to calm your mind and send you drifting back to dreamland.[+] Read description.
Mother Lode Solutions: Seven Ways to Pamper Mom (PDF)
What does Mom really crave on her special day? Chocolate? Flowers? Think again. Of all the gifts you can give her, time with you is the most precious of all. Here are 7 fabulous ideas for making Mother’s Day memories that the two of you can share for a lifetime.[+] Read description.
Saying Yes! Solutions: Seven Farms to Visit (PDF)
The urge is undeniable—you long to know how your food evolves from la terre to gourmet fare. Your hands hanker for harvesting. But how? Where there’s a whim, there’s a way. Begin your pastoral pursuit with a farm stay. Here are seven farms that will welcome you with open arms.[+] Read description.
Self-Rising Solutions: Seven Books for Holiday Giving (PDF)
Books make the best gifts because they keep on giving, page after page. This holiday, pass out paths to new horizons! Here are a few of my favorites. All are available on Amazon.com.[+] Read description.
G Is For Solutions: Seven Tips for Good Neighborin’ (PDF)
Country life has many things to offer, but anonymity isn’t one of them. We tend to know our neighbors, but city folk are often so independent that they have no idea who lives right across the hall. Privacy is great, but good neighborin’ (both having one and being one) is necessary, too. Neighbors can be your security system, support network, and information hotline. Here are seven solutions to help you say “Howdy!”[+] Read description.
Best of Show Solutions: Seven Sisters Who Are Making It Happen (PDF)
Our Farmgirl Sisterhood members continue to inspire and delight us with the creative ways they earn their Merit Badges. For this issue’s theme, “Best of Show,” I wanted to share the stories of seven Sisters who found stellar solutions to earn badges. Read about our Farmgirl Sisterhood and Merit Badge program at www.farmgirlsisterhood.org.[+] Read description.
Road Trip Solutions: Seven Methods for Compact Composting (PDF)
It’s time to give some serious thought to your garden—no matter how petite your plot. Anything grand needs good soil to grow, and the best soil is the soil you make. If making soil sounds out of your league—it’s not! You don’t need farm experience, a tractor, or even a backyard. You can convert food scraps (and even dog poop!) into compost, the most critical component of fertile soil.[+] Read description.
Smitten Solutions: Seven Ways to Upcycle Your Wardrobe (PDF)
Newfangled “eco” fabrics are all the rage, but if you’d like to get in on the ground floor of the greenest fashion trend going, think UPCYCLE! Reconstruct your own retro-style wardrobe or design clothing to sell on the green market with these 7 simple ideas for upcycling with flair ...[+] Read description.
Folklore Solutions: Seven Ways to Celebrate (PDF)
If greeting cards and boxed chocolates are leaving you feeling ho-hum about Valentine’s Day this year, get inspired by the celebratory customs of other countries around the world. Here are seven ways to put an international spin on this special day. Devote yourself to one, or flirt with them all![+] Read description.
Imagine a Place Solutions: Seven Ways to Imagine (PDF)
Imagining the many paths we could pursue in life helps us get up each morning and face the world. But there’s sweeter satisfaction in finding the power to follow through. Today, try taking hold of a dream and steering it toward reality. Here are seven ways to make it happen.[+] Read description.
Nifty Thrifty Solutions: Snow White and the Seven Smoothies (PDF)
Smoothies are a great way to boost your nutritional intake and still feel like you’re getting away with something. Liquids make more nutrients available than solid food, and are absorbed faster, too. They’re also easier to digest and frequently more appetizing than solid food when you’re rushed, sick, pregnant, or just plain bored. So grab your blender and let’s get started.
9–5 Solutions: Seven Ways to Recycle Your Stuff (PDF)
So you want to simplify your life. Start with a drawer, a closet, a storage bin. But don’t just send those unwanted items to your local landfill or even your local charity store. There might be an organization that can put your discards to better use. Here are a few...[+] Read description.
Sister Act Solutions: Seven Acts of Kid Kindness (PDF)
Helping kids become helpers is crucial in developing strong identities of generosity and usefulness. “There is an unexpected magnificence in our children and an underestimated power in their ability to change our world for the better,” writes Mary Gordon, author of Roots of Empathy. Let’s begin teaching our kids ways to offer the best of themselves to others in need. Here are seven ways to start ’em off on the right foot.[+] Read description.
Shelter from the Storm Solutions: Seven Sanctuaries to Support (PDF)
Storms and strife may sweep the globe, but don’t get bogged down in the gloom. Instead, reach out a hand and make someone’s day brighter (the gesture will also send your own heart soaring).[+] Read description.
Emotional Currency Solutions: Seven Thoughtful Gestures for Holiday Giving (PDF)
Whether you’re hosting this holiday season or heading out to visit friends and family, simple gestures of thoughtfulness and hospitality are a sure way to warm spirits and make everyone feel right at home.[+] Read description.
Attitude of Gratitude Solutions: Seven Ways to Save Water (PDF)
Conserving water when I worked for the Forest Service on a fire lookout tower wasn’t a choice, it was a requirement. Fetching water by hand taught me in no uncertain terms how to make every drop count. I used my bath water to wash my clothes by hand, then I cleaned with it, and after that, I watered my garden with it. Up until the time my children were teenagers, I washed our clothes in a wringer washing machine parked next to our bathtub because I could use a bucket to transfer the still warm, soapy bath water into the wringer’s tub to give our clothes a bath. If you want a lesson in gratitude, haul all the water you’ll need in a week. The invention of piped water improved our lives, but it also allows us to take water for granted.
Lay of the Land Solutions: Seven Ways to Revitalize with Simple Work (PDF)
Sometimes the daily grind has a way of grinding us to a halt. With work, kids, and never-ending to-do lists, we’re so busy that when we do get a precious moment of quiet, we often feel like we’ve forgotten how to embrace unbridled freedom. And so we tend to turn to technology for much-needed relaxation. Televisions, telephones, the Internet, and e-mail have become our “comfort” zones—the paths of least resistance. But, the truth is, technological timeouts can be more taxing than relaxing, leaving us unfulfilled and even more scattered. I’m no exception. My spare moments are few and far between, but when one surprises me, it’s hard to stop my head from spinning. I’ve never been big on television, but it takes discipline to disconnect from my laptop! The trick I use to wind down and get grounded again is simple hands-on work. I credit my mother for teaching me this vital life skill. Back when the only blackberries we knew grew plump and purple on the bush, I remember watching Mom’s steady hands as she knitted, folded, kneaded, and scrubbed. These were the tasks that needed doing in order to keep a home running smoothly, but she was rarely harried, and stress was just a kink that was worked out by hand.
Sentimental Journeys Solutions: Seven Steps for Lowering Your Grocery Bill (PDF)
The part of your budget that has the most flexibility is often the dollars you spend on food. If you’re feeling the pinch in this challenging economic climate, don’t trade quality for quantity—with my simple solutions, your savings are in the bag.[+] Read description.
Garden Secrets Solutions: Seven Ways to “Green” Your Spring Cleaning (PDF)
Ah, the balmy tickle of spring is in the air. Time to throw open your windows and beat that dust from your rugs! Relishing the ritual of spring cleaning is a sure way to start fresh.[+] Read description.
Things We Love Solutions: Seven Ways to Tap into Your Own Brilliance (PDF)
Ready to connect with your inner brilliance? The secret recipe for discovering your innate ability to shine is simple: Take a cup of curiosity, add a pinch of pampering, simmer to satisfaction, and then savor the inspiration that springs to life.[+] Read description.
Old Fashioned Christmas Solutions: Seven Resolutions for a Green New Year (PDF)
There’s something about a new year that emboldens us to reinvent our lives. So with 2010 fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to muster good intentions and gear up for the opportunity to “go green.”[+] Read description.
Tried-n-True Solutions: Seven Ways to Celebrate Food (PDF)
To eat is human; to embrace the art of carefully prepared food is divine! When imbued with love, even the simplest meal can nurture like nothing else. Let’s celebrate food at its finest.[+] Read description.
Makin’ Hay Solutions: Seven Ways to Preserve the Harvest (PDF)
My family of seven grew enough produce on less than an acre of ground to feed us each year, but since most of the produce came ready at the same time (summer and autumn), we preserved it to extend our bounty.[+] Read description.
Plum-Easy Solutions: Seven Ways to Switch to an Organic Lifestyle (PDF)
Organic living encompasses so much more than just food choices. With all of the chemicals creeping into our homes daily, it’s important to find natural alternatives. Why? Because organic is clean, vibrant, and healthy—it keeps us young! And it all begins with agricultural practices that are gentler on the environment. So, here are seven simple ways to make a full-spectrum switch.[+] Read description.
Glamour Camping Solutions: Seven Ways to Go Wild (PDF)
Even if it’s a settee on the porch, we need it—gotta have it. The wild, that is. Know it, grow it, show it—just let it out.[+] Read description.
Simply Bee Solutions: Seven Ways to Help Our Pollinators (PDF)
The plight of the European honeybee has garnered the public’s attention largely because of its crucial role as a crop pollinator. Native bees may not make honey, but they do pollinate, along with bumblebees, beetles, birds, butterflies, and moths—even wasps, flies, and mosquitoes. Wild pollinator populations are also on the decline due to loss of healthy habitat in our overcrowded world. You can do your part to help these other pollinators pick up the slack.[+] Read description.
Live to Give Solutions: Seven Ways to Give (PDF)
‘Tis the season for generosity, and the spirit is catching. When others share their harvests, we get inspired to do the same. A wonderful thing to pass around, isn’t it? If you’d like to donate a bit of your bounty to a worthy cause, here are seven wondrous ways to share.[+] Read description.
Ladyslipper Solutions: Seven Ways to Lift Your Spirits (PDF)
The inevitable bumps and rough patches that life dishes out can be smoothed out by incorporating a few simple habits into your daily routine—a kiss here, a care there, better food NOW ... flavored with a bit of shopping and creative make-do! Here are my favorite seven salvations.[+] Read description.
Raising Jane Solutions: Make It Do Or Do Without (PDF)
Momma said it best: “Make it do or do without.” I’ll give you lots of ideas for the modern-day “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). But if you’re finally ready to give that old thing a new home, you can add a new R to your to-do’s: Recirculate! Here are seven ways to recirculate. Remember, one woman’s trash just might be another woman’s treasure![+] Read description.
She's a Keeper Solution: Be a Discard Diehard! (PDF)
Treasures await you! In this issue, you’ll find ideas and instructions for lots of make-do, can-do, re-do projects!
Artists in Aprons Solution: Rags to Riches (PDF)
If you don’t have a bag, basket, or bin set aside exclusively for rags, it’s never too late to discover their many uses—everything from holding up your up-do to piecing together an heirloom quilt. Had you asked my mother about her stash of rags, she would have told you it was akin to having money in the bank. Taught to value rags by my mother, I never feel poor when I can dip into a bin of rags ... oh, the textures, the colors, the possibilities!! ... a little something for my hair, a “ribbon” for a jar of flowers, a tiny bit of yellow for a daffodil. Once you decide to value and collect rags, you’ve entered the soul-satisfying world of farmer-girl make-do![+] Read description.
Farm Kitchen Solution: Mother of Invention
For rural women, necessity is the mother of invention. Being imaginative and making-do is just part of the job. Actually, it is the job. It comes with the territory. Not only are stores sometimes hours away, but frittering away money on things you can make yourself will most certainly run a farm short of money.[+] Read description.
No Place Like Home Solution: Root Cellars
My root cellar was built around 1910. In it now are potatoes, beets, parsnips, sunchokes, carrots and cabbage. It’s an easy, “free” way to refrigerate food.[+] Read description.
Handful Solution: Hand Pumps
Last summer, I contacted the original 1800s company that made hand water pumps. They were about to quit when Y2K brought them a surge of orders. If the eletricity goes out, I can walk to my pump and with 15 easy strokes, a stream of water from 400 feet underground spews out of the spout.[+] Read description.
Plateful Solution: Sauerkraut and Kimchi
Sauerkraut and kimchi (pickled cabbage) are family staples. I make them in five-gallon crocks. I chop or shred vegetables, add a bit of dry salt and cover them for six weeks. Fermented vegetables aid in digestion, and they’re very tasty.[+] Read description.
Shoulder to the Wheel Solution: Lawn Alternatives
As an adult, I’ve never had a lawn. Americans spend about a billion hours a year caring for lawns, and apply 67 million pounds of pesticides. When my grandpa moved to the city, he amused his neighbors by turning his front yard into a vegetable and flower garden. Early one morning, when he was around 85, he fell over while picking beans and died in his beloved patch of food and flowers. What a nicer way to go than behind a gas mower![+] Read description.
The Art of the Egg Solution: Hand-Powered Kitchen Duty
I use a hand vegetable mill to grate or slice all of our cheese, potatoes, carrots — even shelled walnuts. It’s permanently mounted in my kitchen and has four different attachments. It’s faster and easier than an electric grinder. And it’s a great way to involve kids in the kitchen.[+] Read description.
Backcountry Food Solution: Treadle Sewing Machines
I come from a family of seamstresses. When I left home, my mother purchased a new electric sewing machine for me. Within a year, I sold it and switched to a Singer treadle machine. I’ve reupholstered couches with my treadle, sewn sleeping bags, made car seat covers and, of course, clothes. You can’t beat the stitch and reliability of a treadle.[+] Read description.
Premiére Solution: Wooden Drying Racks
I’ve never owned an electric or gas clothes dryer. But I have a beautiful collection of wooden racks. Over the years I’ve found them in antique stores, or purchased them new from an Amish catalogue. Laundry is a religion for me. I love it when I’m all caught up. I love it when I have a bunch to do. I love the smell and repetitive reward of laundry.[+] Read description.