Making Spirits Bright | Dec–Jan 2023

book one

book two

Kindred Spirits
An old one-room schoolhouse, now serving as a quaint antique shop in Reinbeck, Iowa, is where my story begins. This little schoolhouse was arranged just like school was in session, with antique desks all lined up, a black chalkboard, and pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln hanging on the wall. Along with the array of vintage school furniture, antiques were available for purchase, and that is where I found my treasure.

Browsing through this unique shop, I came upon an old book, a novel with a picture of a beautiful lady from days gone by on the cover. The book was very old—cloth-covered, yellowed pages, some pages a little loose—but it was the cover with the lovely lady that drew me in. The book was entitled Family Pride. It didn’t have a copyright date, but inside the front cover was an inscription: “Christmas 1912, to Hazel from Ethel,” which made the allure even greater, knowing the book was over 100 years old and had been a Christmas gift between friends. As it was in a delicate condition, rather than reading it, I found a home for it on one of my bookshelves for safekeeping.

In the April–May 2022 issue of MaryJanesFarm, I read your article, “A Kindred Mary Jane,” and it made my heart skip a beat, several beats actually, as you had included photos of the two books by Mary Jane Holmes that you had purchased for the same reason I did—because of the sophisticated, stunning ladies on the covers.

With a typical Nancy Drew mentality, I couldn’t get to my bookshelf fast enough. I had to know the author of my book, and there on the spine was the name Holmes and sure enough, inside was printed Mary J. Holmes. Excited was not a word that came close to how I was feeling.

I debated whether I should write to you with my story, and in the meantime, I decided to carefully start reading the book, fragile as it is. In your article, you stated that Ms. Holmes “tackled the serious issues of gender, class, war, and the injustice of slavery through the eyes of feisty females we can identify with.” Although I am not quite finished reading this wonderful book, I am seeing that Ms. Holmes was a forward-thinking woman in her day. She was not afraid to let her readers know what was in her heart, and I believe it was a tender heart. It would have been a joy to sit down and chat with her over a cup of tea.

Family Pride means so much more to me now that I have read your article. It warms my heart that I can connect you to this other Mary Jane. I would not be surprised at all to learn that you and Mary Jane Holmes were somehow related.

I have been a subscriber to your amazing magazine since the prehistoric days and, up until recently, I have, like many of your other readers, saved every issue. My situation now is that I either have to purchase a larger home with a dedicated room for MaryJanesFarm magazines; rent a storage unit; or as a last resort, give them to my close friends, who will revere these issues as I do. I am pondering. Thank you so very much for enriching our lives with your beautiful magazine. I, for one, am very grateful.

– Carol Hook, e-mail

I love the back-to-basics ideas and simplicity of the magazine. It brings comfort to my life and takes me to places, ideas, and a lifestyle I love.

– Teresa, RaisingJane.org

The Way We Were | Feb–Mar 2023

My husband and I so enjoyed MaryJane bringing a breath of fresh air to our minds with her recent article on letter writing [in our “Sunbeams” Aug/Sept 2022 issue] and helping us bring to our family the letter writing of the past that has been replaced by keyboard and text messages. We were planning to celebrate with our family the 60th anniversary of our first meeting. We sent each person a separate handwritten letter of invitation to join us for supper at a local barbeque restaurant. We also sent a follow-up handwritten reminder letter a few days before the date. Then, when we were finished eating, a white box on the center of the table was opened, and inside were smaller boxes. Each box had a person’s name on it. The tops were painted by my husband, Oliver, with the various lighthouses his dad and my brother used to visit and talk about. In each box were two seashells we picked up those 60 years ago as we walked the beaches of North Carolina, not far from our home in Wilson. Under the shells was part of a love poem. We did all this after reading your article in MaryJanesFarm. Thank you!

– Elizabeth and Oliver, e-mail

I wanted to reach out to you and tell you how much I love the content you include in every magazine. I especially love all the new stuff I learn, including BakeOvers, Farmgirl Expressions, crafts, MaryJane’s Seven Wonders, and more. I gather all of the information and am waiting to try new things. Thanks to everyone who puts this masterpiece together!

– Cheryl, e-mail

Last summer, I entered a quilt at the Marias Fair in Shelby, Montana, that I made out of your fabrics and won the coveted Best of Show gorgeous green, sparkly ribbon! I was so excited I cried. I used all of the fabrics in your line on the front and a floral pattern on the back. I hand-quilted it and loved every second! Just thought I’d share my happy news. Thank you for designing the fabric!

– Mary, e-mail

In June this year, my husband and I had the pleasure of staying at MaryJane’s B&B with our son and daughter-in-law. I must say it was the most amazing weekend for all four of us. My husband and son take a father-son motorcycle trip every year, and this year was in Idaho. Also this year, my daughter-in-law and I followed in a vehicle, as the B&B stay was a Mother’s Day gift. After trying the Outpost meals for dinner one evening, we knew we had to stock up. Later, my husband took another motorcycle trip with our younger son, and the Outpost meals were a hit for dinner on the road. They are so delicious and filling. When you only have room for what fits in a saddlebag, you are limited to what you can pack. The meals are so easy to pack and easy to prepare. Thanks for keeping my motorcycle farm guys well-fed!

– Penney, e-mail

MaryJane's Milk Cow Kitchen book cover

5-Star Online Review for Milk Cow Kitchen:

Exactly what I was looking for, as I’m new to the idea of making homemade cheese. Very informative and visual! Thank you!!

– Kim

I have been reading your magazine for years, and find that every time I pick it up, I become more in tune with my inner farmgirl! I love your recipes and love being more organic because of the awareness you have brought to me. I garden too, and thank you for ideas that inspire. Thank you so much for all you do!

– Carol, RaisingJane.org

When my MaryJanesFarm magazine arrives, I have to stop everything, get a cup of tea, and begin to dream. I love every page, including the ads. I have been inspired to do so many things and try some new recipes. As an avid gardener and canner, I am so glad to have found a wealth of knowledge done so beautifully.

– Abigail, RaisingJane.org

Eggs in One Basket | Apr–May 2023

Dear friends I’ve yet to meet, Through my tears, I have finished reading “The Way We Were” Feb/Mar 2023 issue of your magazine. I lack words to express how it touched my heart. First, the tribute to Nick leaves a legacy of loving words that are not to be forgotten. My heart hurts with yours in this loss. Second, the tribute to Idaho was beautiful. We lived in the state for many years and all three of our children were born there.

Third, I resonate with the section on quilting more than I’m able to express. (And who knew how many squares of various sizes are in a fat quarter? Well, now I know!) Over the years, I have made perhaps a dozen quilts that were all given as gifts. They were certainly not masterpieces of the craft, but were stitched with lots of love. For the past decade, life has crowded out the time to sew. But this last year, I came back and found the truth of Ashley’s adage: “When life gets bumpy, I find a project.” My mother was very ill earlier in the year. We thought we were losing her, but she rallied and we were so thankful. As I sat by her bedside, I took comfort in being up-to-date in my relationship with her, and I celebrated the peace she displayed with each word and each breath. Yet, I had one nagging thought: I had collected handkerchiefs over more than a decade with the intention of making them into a quilt for her. These handkerchiefs had belonged to my grandmother and to my mother, but sat untouched. Some dear women who embraced my desire helped me get started. When I visited my mother again in July, I covered her with a quilt of handkerchiefs that she remembered and lovingly caressed. I am so thankful she was able to use it until God called her home a few days after Thanksgiving, just 19 days from her 95th birthday. The quilt is back at my house now, but it served its purpose as a gift of love to her. Now the quilt brings my lonely heart comfort. And the sweet comments about quilts in your magazine made me feel a kindred spirit. Thank you!

– Colleen, e-mail

Farm Girl Meditations book cover

I just finished writing my first book, Farm Girl Meditations: 31 Days to Love the Life You Live, available on Amazon. It’s a book full of stories, pages to journal, meditations to practice, and quotes to color. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for MaryJanesFarm magazine being THE seed to sprout this book. Thank you for choosing to publish my stories in your beautiful magazine. For teaching me that “farm girl” is a state of mind, not where you live. I’m BEYOND grateful. I need you and your team to know that you do more than make magazines. For some, you mend hearts and work miracles. And for all the millions of ways your hearts have woven with mine, thank you to Carol, MaryJane, and Meg. I just wish I lived close enough to hug each of you. I love being your farm girl sister! Thank you.

– Holly Love King, e-mail

The Way Home | June–July 2023

Dear MaryJane,
I am an early-childhood teacher and love your magazine. My daughter is a park ranger. I live on my family farm on 89 acres.

I read your article in the “The Way We Were” Feb/Mar 2023 issue about the death of your husband. I am 62, so I understand life passages. Your story about your life passage reminded me of my favorite book. And further on, you wrote about lupines—I couldn’t believe it! You will understand why when you read my favorite book, Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney. I treasure the book and think of myself when I read it, along with my mother.

– Sally, e-mail

Miss Rumphius
[This lovely children’s book tells a story about the real-life Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of Miss Rumphius, “The Lupine Lady,” who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went.
Note: When I scatter lupine seeds, I always make sure not to plant them in areas where I graze my cows, as lupine is considered a poisonous plant.]

Rose Mather

I am a librarian and events planner and recently graduated from culinary school. I am at my core a farmgirl. In my youth, my family farmed a friend’s piece of land in Mill Creek, Indiana, and we raised animals as well to feed our family of six.

I was at a Barnes & Noble last summer and discovered MaryJanesFarm magazine. It is a sublime magazine and I thoroughly enjoy it. Last week, I went to Barnes & Noble for some downtime and purchased your “Making Spirits Bright” Dec/Jan 2023 issue. In your Letters to Us section, I read the Kindred Spirits letter from Carol Hook about author Mary J. Holmes and how she discovered after reading your April/May 2022 issue that she owned a Mary J. Holmes book as well. When I saw the covers of the Holmes’ books in the article, they looked familiar and I remembered that a couple of years ago, my brother had given me a beautiful antique book and porcelain teacup for my birthday. I scanned my bookshelves and, sure enough, my brotherhad given me a Mary J. Holmes book titled Rose Mather. Providential! I wonder how many other readers will discover they own a Mary J. Holmes book?

Thank you for your magazine. Your life has been amazing and your accomplishments are impressive and inspiring.

– Cherri, e-mail

My favorite this about your magazine is all the inspiration I get ... the can-do attitude, the “gotta try this,” the recipes, the ideas, the projects. The connection I feel toward everyone who also loves MaryJanesFarm is an added bonus!

– Jessica, RaisingJane.org

I look forward to every issue of MaryJanesFarm I got a newstand copy last year and I was hooked. I’m renewing my subscription soon for another wonderful year of eclectic reading—crafts, recipes, helpful tips on various topics, and great personal writings. MaryJanesFarm has it all!

– Paula, RaisingJane.org

I have loved your magazine for years now. I always find the ideas for repurposing everyday items into useful and decorative “new” items very fun to do. The recipes are terrific, too! I recently decided to subscribe, so now, I will never miss an issue. Thank you for all the positive and uplifting quotes sprinkled throughout, too; they keep me in a good frame of mind.

– Tina, RaisingJane.org

Call It a Day | August–September 2023

I look forward to getting your issues in the mail and they never disappoint, but “The Way We Were” issue was a very special reading experience for me. I try to spread my reading of each of your issues over the two months so as to hold onto the pleasure of having MaryJane’s spirit in my life, but it is hard sometimes to set the magazine aside and I am eager to pick it up again. This issue was certainly poignant on so many levels, but I especially resonated with the “Idahome Love Story.” Raised in northeastern Nevada, I knew the Twin Falls/Lower Snake River area well from visiting relatives, but it was not until the ’90s when my husband and I often drove up through Idaho for visits to his family in Coeur d’Alene that I experienced the astounding variety and beauty of the landscapes along the narrow roadways up through the heart of the state. Light traffic indeed! The wonder of Idaho was “all mine” too. Thank you for this generous and compassionate magazine!

– Colleen, e-mail

My name is Cassidy and I’m from Connecticut. I am 28 years old, and my boyfriend and I own and operate a small commercial farm here in our quiet corner. I felt compelled to share with you the story of how I recently came across your magazine. It is truly a heartwarming story and I felt it needed to be shared with you.

My grandpa is just the sweetest. He’s always been a quiet man, but his gears are always turning. He purchased a sample of MaryJanesFarm magazine for me and my aunts because he knew we might be interested in it. He told me, “Let me know what you think and I’ll order a subscription,” and before leaving, he added, “Make sure you bring it back when you are done so I can pass it along.” He’s not overly affectionate, but he’s always been this kind of giving person. Since my grandmother passed last June, he’s been relearning his role in the family dynamic and stepping up in areas my grandmother was known for, like remembering everyone’s birthdays and going to church. He’s always been a fair man, which is why I’ll be making sure to bring this magazine back to him as soon as I finish reading it so everyone gets a chance to read it. I think of it as the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Magazine”! There were also multiple articles in it referencing roses and lilacs, some of my grandmother’s absolute favorites … and I can’t help but feel she’s still taking her part in these new endeavors.

Thank you for the community of it all.

– Cassidy, e-mail

I am into year five now of following your sourdough break book, Wild Bread. It has been a life changer! Thank you for giving us such confidence!

– Donna, e-mail

MaryJane's Wild Bread Book

I love my Farmgirl Sisterhood badge and my “Certified Farmgirl” bumper sticker. They remind me that even though we now live in a small apartment, I’m still a farmgirl at heart, and adapting to change is one of a farmgirl’s super powers! I’m “farming” in our kitchen and on our porch, in containers.

– D’Wanna, RaisingJane.org

I love your Strawberry Jam recipe that uses ChillOver Powder. It’s a game changer!

– Amanda, RaisingJane.org