Vintage illustration of girl reaching up into mailbox











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September, 2006

I joined your forum last week and have spent many hours reading. I have learned new recipes; looked at pictures of farms; and learned about members and their struggles, successes, and joys (lightning bugs!). I read about traveling journals, which I am starting with a friend; got the courage to order MaryJane’s mixes; and am ever more determined to own a small farm some day. All in all, this is the best group I’ve ever belonged to, and I visit several!

I am excited about all the things I will continue to learn.

Farmgirl Connection member

Lisa Engle's 'farmgirl' pillowDear MaryJane,

I have been rug hooking for five-plus years and would like to share a little about the craft and the women that I hook with regularly. Originally, a woman named Angie Malone in Snohomish, Washington, held a weekly hook-in at her home. She had a studio above her garage full of wool and hooking and dyeing supplies, a full kitchen, and lots of comfy couches and chairs to sit in. She taught us how to dye wool, color-plan a rug, and the basics of hooking. She was a traditional rug hooker at heart, and we tried her patience, as we were looking more for a primitive style rather than a rug with fine shading. But by the time she closed her doors, I think the majority of her gals were hooking primitives!

I also know a woman in Eugene, Oregon—Karen Kahle—who has a rug-hooking business called Primitive Spirit. She is a wonderful teacher with a fine arts and textile background, and her style is very childlike and whimsical. She gardens with wool, and the beautiful rugs she creates are my favorites.

Rug hooking is such a wonderful craft, and there are many of us out here. My group members are definitely kindred spirits, and we found our commonality through rug hooking. My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June of 2003. I was one of her main caregivers (the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do). My church family was supportive, but I could be more REAL with my hooker friends. They understood my frustrations better and did not try to offer too much advice, just supported me ...

Lisa Engle
Carnation, Washington
lehandworks at hotmail dot com

[Lisa’s “farmgirl” pillow was inspired by MaryJane’s Ideabook cover!]

Dear MaryJane,

It is amazing to me how you have kept such a personal stamp of yourselves, your values, and ideas on your magazine. It has not gotten carried away from you and your family. Congratulations on that.

I am an artist from Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada. I create one-of-a-kind hooked rugs out of recycled wool cloth onto linen or burlap. I am also a writer. My book, Hook Me a Story, published by Nimbus, has sold over 10,000 copies. I have just finished a second book called The Secrets of Design for Rug Hooking Magazine, an American magazine on the art and craft of rug hooking. I have been a member of the editorial board of the magazine for the last five years, and write articles for them regularly. I am currently writing a book on Coastal Inspiration for Hooked Rugs.

I have an active website, which receives 6-8,000 unique visitors each month. I have a tremendous amount of free information for rug hookers to explore. I maintain it myself, so it is homespun. I want to see people pick up the craft. It is my belief that through creating, and tactile crafts such as making rugs, we can soothe ourselves and enrich our lives. Before I became a full-time artist, I did a master’s degree in counseling and worked as a therapist. I used to feel a little bad that I left behind those skills when I became an artist fifteen years ago. But I do not anymore, because I can see that in teaching others to create, I can offer them a wonderful and helpful way to fulfill themselves.

Deanne Fitzpatrick
Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada

Regarding our apron patterns:

I took MaryJane’s book with me into town this afternoon to a print shop and got the pattern enlarged the 400% it calls for. It only cost $1.25 to enlarge it. I took the book with me to JoAnne’s, too, to try and find some material similar to the picture. The girls in JoAnne’s were asking what I was making. I showed them the picture and they really liked it too.

Port Angeles, Washington

OK, I took MaryJane’s book to Office Depot and got it enlarged 400% for 87 cents. I am in the process of taping together the papers from the enlargement, cutting them out, etc. I placed the cut-out pattern pieces up on my sewing mannequin, Andrea—she is about a size 8–10, and the pattern pieces look like they will fit her perfectly. So I am now in the process of altering the pattern to fit a plus-size farmgirl (me). I’ll let you know how it goes. I plan on cutting them out later on Sunday after cutting them out in paper first and fitting them. Then I will redo a permanent pattern. Are there any other plus-size farmgirls out here besides me?

Midlothian, Virginia

The average size in the U.S. now for women is 12 or 14. Don’t get me started on how Hollywood shapes our ideas of what is beautiful and acceptable and what is not.

Salt Lake City, Utah

I am going to work out a muslin prototype from MaryJane’s Everyday Apron in the 20–24 size range. I think that it will be very lovely when done. I really like the shape of it and the drape. I was thinking of trying to start a home sewing business for the plus-size aprons. I kinda like this name for it: Abundant Blessings {Heavenly Aprons for the Big-hearted Farmgirl.} Is that a little too corny?

Midlothian, Virginia

I didn’t go to Kinko’s. I just measured the lines on the page with a ruler and took a heavy black marker and drew it out on newspaper. If the line in the book was 2 inches long, to blow it up 400%, I drew a line 8 inches long. I didn’t want to tear the page out of the book!


I enlarged the apron pattern I got with the farmgirl tote I ordered from MaryJane. I used freezer paper and drew a 1"-square grid and just re-drew the 1/4" squares on the pattern. It went fast and I enjoyed it!

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

The farmgirl motto that I started with my girls (ages four and six) last summer while working in the garden ... before I even realized there was a Farmgirl Connection! ... is:
Farmgirls get dirty and they clean up pretty.

Ann Forrester
Farmgirl Chapter Leader
Belmont, Michigan

I love the Budget mix!! Thank you MaryJane and all of your crew!! I love, love, love the new magazine too. I felt like someone had given me a new cookbook! Thanks for making healthy, organic food possible for my family!

Kate, Farmgirl Connection

I’ve made several delicious BakeOvers from your Budget Mix, but rather than “cut in” the butter with a pastry cutter, I just grate it on a large grater into the mix. The texture of the finished product turns out great, and it is very fast.

The butter grates neatly whether it’s frozen or just out of the fridge. Thanks for the great products!

Vivian Levy

Your magazine is just what this world needs! Thank you—over and over—for all the hard work that makes it possible!

Louetta Kurt

I just had to write to tell you that I made the crackers from your Farm Kitchen issue. This is the first time that I’ve made crackers ... ever. I mixed up the dough, cut them out with my cookie cutter, and baked them. I was so unsure about how to do this ... were they too thin, how much flour do I put on the board before I roll them out, how often can I reuse the ‘leftover’ pieces? I pushed along despite my lack of knowledge in baking ... and I baked them for three different time frames. I kept snacking on them as they came out of the oven and thought they were too moist—just not crunchy enough. I thought about this for a day or so and remembered that biscotti were twice-baked too. So I decided to bake them again. Success!!! They are crispy and crunchy and taste even better than my first-baked cracker. I am about to order more Budget Mix (both white and wheat) and try my hand at some other recipes. Thanks for turning me on to these crackers. I just absolutely love them!

Chris Murphy

Just got the new issue of the magazine! It is just wonderful, as always. I’ll definitely be ordering some Budget Mix! I’ve got to say, MaryJane has definitely filled a niche. I lamented losing convenience in good old reliables like Bisquick when I went away from processed foods. Sometimes you just need something fast! Hooray!

Farmgirl Connection

My husband makes a red clay pie plate that puts a great crust on Panbread!

Lory Hess

I’m into ancestry, and the earliest story I have is of my great-great-great-grandmother smoking a corncob pipe. Whenever someone was coming, she’d suffocate it in her apron. I was told she had many a burn mark in that ol’ apron!

The Farmgirl Connection

Dear Cindylou,

I made my daughter, Maddie, the apron from the pattern that you gals put in with the Budget Mix in your tote bag special. It turned out so cute! She’ll be wearing it today as Dairy Maid for Wayne County’s Dairy Princess Court here in Pennsylvania. They are building a giant sundae in the park in front of the courthouse in town to celebrate June as Dairy Month. Maddie has also appeared in two parades. I just love it that she wanted to be part of a group that promotes dairy businesses in our county. She’s a farmgirl already at age 13!!!!

My husband’s sister was a Dairy Princess in 1985 when she was 16. At that time you had to have a family dairy farm to qualify. Now, you can either have a family dairy farm OR a relative who has a diary farm. Since his parents still milk cows every day, our Maddie was eligible. A girl can even purchase a dairy cow from someone’s farm and then be considered “a dairy farmer” and be eligible. She truly enjoys promoting the dairies in our region and sharing recipes and tips for milk and cheese. It has been a great opportunity for her to learn public speaking and practice being comfortable ith adults. The girls dress nicely and speak well and kindly to each other and the people they meet.They are confident and exude joy in their role. It is so nice to see this wholesome outlet for the girls, and wonderful to see it come around to another generation.

Your farmgirl apron does indeed flatter every shape and size. I’m going to make quite a few for Christmas gifts this year. I think my lady friends will appreciate them—they’re decorative when hung on the wall and functional when in use, with pockets to hold tools and a bottom to lift up to form a bigger pocket when hauling produce in from the garden. I know one friend who owns a small organic dairy farm with free-range chickens and she is NEVER without her apron. I wear one every day in December because of holiday preparations, a time when my crafting and baking is in full swing.

Clare Adams

How do you make the firm set chillover? Sometimes people have to draw a picture for me!

Warner Robins, Georgia

Hi Sherri,

I have this new thing I do with firm-set ChillOvers. I love visuals too, so I’ve included some photos at right. But I especially LOVE using old-fashioned gelatin molds. The method we used in the book to “unmold” one was to wrap a hot dishtowel (moistened, of course) around it for a few minutes or set the mold in a pan of hot water.

Since then, I’ve found a foolproof method. I get my tap water running as hot as my hands can stand. I moisten the plate I’m going to display it on (moistening the plate allows you to move the dessert afterwards to center it). I tip the mold upside down onto the plate and then hold it in place with both hands and let the hot tap water run onto the mold (cascading onto the plate and into your washbasin for future use!). I do that for about three minutes, until I hear or sense the ChillOver dropping out onto the plate. (If there is a troublesome design detail in the mold, like the head of a chicken, that is likely to grip the ChillOver, I run the water a bit more on that spot, but in general, I just move the mold around under the hot water). Then I set the plate on the table, but before I lift the metal mold off, I take a dry dishtowel and mop up (dab) the water that surrounds the mold (pooled up on the plate around it). Voila! I lift the mold off and none of the ChillOver is ever stuck to the mold! One thing I do want to point out (now that my ChillOver Powder is in the marketplace and we’re getting feedback) is to FOLLOW OUR INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY for cooking, etc. When we say three minutes, we mean three minutes, not five or even three and a half. When we say sprinkle the powder into the liquid while whisking, we don’t mean dump it in and then whisk—you’ll get a lump. Once you master our firm-set, you’ll be making exquisite desserts in two shakes of a lamb’s tail!


Thanks for the explicit instructions, Queen Bee! I have been hesitating to try my ChillOver packets until I had time to figure it out properly. You did a super job giving step-by-step instructions for Sherri and the rest of your fans! I’ll be watching for the next magazine and all its ideas!


Thanks for the info! I made a ChillOver for my boys using grape juice and strained the liquid, since it appeared I would have a lump or two. It turned out fine, and if I had put it in a mold, it would have been fine too. By the way, it was a hit with all the kids in the neighborhood! Thanks for all your products!

Warner Robins, Georgia

I think small farms are the answer for women in many ways. We don’t need fancy clothes and fancy cars, we need blue jeans (embroidered) and vegetable oil-powered pickup trucks (painted purple).

Nylene Schoellhorn

[Editor’s note: No purple pickup here, but MaryJane’s 1981 Mercedes, painted nail-polish pink by her son, is powered by homegrown vegetable oil!]


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