Back from Hiatus – Let’s Get Physical

Earlier this year I tore all 3 ligaments in my right ankle after falling while practicing Irish Dance. I was absolutely devastated, and wondered if I would ever be able to compete at the level I was at before. I went through the most painful surgery of my life and has the ligaments repaired. I was in a wheelchair and a boot, but I swore to myself in the chair that I would do whatever it takes to get to Oireachtas (Regionals). While this was happening, I found out that I might have endometriosis, and was rushed to a second surgery in mid-May of this year. I was so tired, but I got cleared to go back to dance in June.

I started back to dance learning the new steps. It was a slow process as they are the most complex steps I have ever learned. I could barely keep my hard shoes on for more than 30 minutes at a time, when the classes are 3 hours long. I kept pushing myself, swearing that it would all be worth it once I got to step on the stage, and slowly I was able to keep the shoes on longer and keep up with the dancing. Some of the step had toe work in them, which I had never been able to do and was nervous to put that pressure on my ankle. I kept working on my own and one day I was finally able to do the toe work.


Toe walking at a Feis

I decided then and there I would set two goals for this year; to dance at Oireachtas and to place on the podium at a full feis. I am delighted to be typing this today and be able to tell you that despite all of the setbacks, I was able to accomplish both of those goals this year. It has been a long hard road, and I have a lot of work left to do in regards to my dancing. But now I feel like I can absolutely do anything. I am counting all of the hard work I’ve done for this towards the ‘Let’s Get Physical Badge’.

Me at the Western Region Oireachtas 2018
2nd place and first podium placement at the 2018 CIDA Feis

Needless to say, this is why I have been on a hiatus over the last 2 months. I also want to blog a little more about my personal self and will be adding that in here and there such as this post. So I’ll be talking about my travels and Irish Dance and graduate school journey. I hope you’ll enjoy it. – Much love, Aidan


Make it Easy – Candlemaking

Beginner Level

  • Research the different types of wax used in making candles. Are certain waxes better than others, depending on the type of candle being made?

There are many different waxes used to make a candle. My research shows these different kinds:

Paraffin – has no additives, most commonly used and can be used for many different types of candles.

Soy – 100% natural and is mostly used for container jar candles

Palm – allows for creation of candles with unique textures. Used mostly for pillars, votives and tarts

Beeswax – 100% natural and can be used for any type of candle

Granulated wax – used for crafting, made from paraffin

Gel wax – made from mineral oil and polymer resin, not actually wax, but can be used for candles.


  • Research the different ways to scent a candle. What are the pros and cons of each method?

Commercial making scent oils – liquid form, can be bought premixed

Fragrance Oils – 100% synthetic

Essential Oils – These are produced naturally from plants such as herbs and flowers. They have specific properties, which can be found by doing an online search or using a book on essential oils.

Natural Scents – This covers such things as crushed or powdered plants, spices and herbs, finely ground zest, etc. Some work really well with melted wax, such as ground cinnamon, crushed lavender flowers or finely ground lemon zest.

  • Research the different ways to color a candle. What are the pros and cons of each method?

Color blocks – Dye chips or blocks are made from vegetable based wax with a pre-measured amount of dye, this allows them to be added directly into melted wax.

Liquid Dye – Liquid measured out to dye the candle.

Pigment Dyes – Typically used for larger batches of candles, dye flakes are a great way to achieve a strong depth of colour in your candles while maintaining fade resistance. As dye flakes are highly concentrated you only need a small amount to achieve the desired colour. Dye flakes are measured by weight as a percentage of the amount of wax.


Intermediate Level

  • Gather the supplies needed to safely make candles.
  • Make two different mold candles. Use a different wax, scent, or color for each candle. Let us know how each turns out!
  • Gift a candle to a friend and be sure to let them know that it was handmade by you.

Expert Level

  • Teach a friend how to make candles and help them to make at least one candle.
  • Make a hand-dipped taper candle. Feel pioneer-esque.
  • Take a close look at one brand of candle that is available for purchase in your area. Report to your chapter or the Farmgirl Connection on what type of wax, scent, and coloring is used in this candle. Include information on whether or not the use of this candle in the home can be toxic.

Farm Kitchen – Bread Making

Beginner Level

  • Learn the difference between baking powder and baking soda.
    • Baking soda has one ingredient: sodium bicarbonate. This causes chemical leavening.
    • Baking powder has acids that cause CO2 to releasee at different times, and won’t react with baking soda until wet and hot. This is what allows the bread to rise evenly.
  • Cook three different breads using chemical leavening agents. Describe the texture of your bread and how it’s affected by what ingredients you used. Did it change with the type of flour and leavening you used?


I baked 3 different types of Irish soda bread the first I used organic ingredients and wheat flour. The texture was very different then the other two. For the two, I used white flour, they were much softer. The one in the cast iron I used extra sugar and flour and the shape completely changed.


I submitted this Irish Soda Bread to the OC Fair, which is something I have always talked about, but never dreamed of doing! I got this participation ribbon and honestly I am so proud. The theme of the fair is “find your inner farmer” and I just felt that it was so appropriate. I want to get better at baking and enter more categories next year 🙂

Intermediate Level

  • Learn about different types of yeast.
  • Make two different breads using yeast as your leavening agent.
  • Of the two breads you make, choose one to re-make using a different type of yeast, or convert the recipe to use baking powder/soda. Let us know how it turns out! Irish Soda Bread, anyone?

Expert Level

  • Start a wild-yeast “mother” using the instructions in MaryJane’s Wild Bread book. (Copies available for loan to Sisterhood members from the farm library, contact
  • Use your “Counter Mother” to make a batch of Beginner Batter Bread. (Yikes! That sounded more awkward than it really is!) Introduce yourself in the Welcome Wagon section of and share your results.
  • Once you’ve successfully advanced to the “Refrigerator Mother” phase, make two loaves of Bara Brith (p. 156) and share your results on (photos welcome!).

Make it Easy – Make it Pretty

Beginner Level

  • Using pencil or colored pencils, reproduce an image by drawing it.
Irish Countryside
Original Image


Intermediate Level

  • Learn how to paint with watercolors or acrylics and produce at least four paintings.
    • I bought watercolor pencils and have already completed one painting!
  • Visit an art museum or participate in an art walk.


Expert Level

  • Learn how to paint with oils.
  • Learn how to frame and wire your own paintings.
  • Enter your paintings in a gallery or a show or other public viewing venue.

Each Other – Farmgirl Grammar


Grammar has always been something that I have not thought too much about. I like to think of this badge series as an exercise in expanding my grammar capabilities, and vocabulary.

Updated 9/21


  • Make an effort to improve your grammar and spelling. Refrain from using slang, abbreviations, or any form of text-messaging language.
  • Using a dictionary, pick an unfamiliar word to be your word of the day, write down the word along with its meanings and uses, and try to incorporate the word into your daily activity. Continue to do this daily for two weeks.

Word Diary

  • 6/24 – enervate – sap energy from
  • 6/25 – upbraid – to scold
  • 6/26 – culpable – degree to which someone can be held morally or legally accountable
  • 6/27 – halcyon -idyllically peaceful and calm
  • 6/28 – lambast – criticize severely
  • 6/29 – volubility – quality of writing or talking easily and continuously
  • 6/30 – elucidate – to make clearer
  • 7/1 – soporific – inducing mental lethargy
  • 7/2 – tortuous – not straightforward
  • 7/3 – laudable – worthy of high praise
  •  7/4 – myopic – lacking foresight or imagination
  • 7/5 – bucolic – related to pleasant aspects of the country
  • 7/6 – prescience – ability to foresee the future
  • 7/7 – banal – overused
  • 7/8 – aesthete – someone who is sensitive to the beauty of art and nature


  • Create at least 10 posts or responses on the Farmgirl Chatroom, making sure to use excellent grammar and spelling. –
    • 5 posts to date
  • Keep discovering new words daily for an additional two weeks.

Word Diary

  • 7/9 – germane – relevant and appropriate
  • 7/10 – inexorable – impossible to stop
  • 7/11 – didactic – instructive
  • 7/12 – jingoism – fanatical patriotism
  • 7/13 – delineate – describe in detail
  • 7/14 – coalesced – come together to form a mass
  • 7/15 – inviolable – unable to be broken
  • 7/16 – vaunted – highly praised
  • 7/17 – solipsistic – thinking you are the center of the universe
  • 7/18 – dolorous – showing sorrow
  • 7/19 – pontificate – to talk in a pompous manner
  • 7/20 – recapitulation – a summary (recap)
  • 7/21 – sagacious – having good judgement
  • 7/22 – hagiographic – excessively flattering toward someone’s life
  • 7/23 – redoubtable – inspiring fear or awe


  • Read the book Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, by Patricia T. O’Conner


  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper discussing the importance of precise communication and syntax.
  • Read the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
  • Keep discovering new words daily for an additional two weeks.

Each Other – Civics Challenge

An interesting theory going around is that most American citizens would not pass the citizenship test. Now, both my sister and my boyfriend were naturalized, so this is something I hold near and dear to my heart. I’m hoping I can learn more so I can say ‘This American would pass a civics test!”. Also it’s still fourth of July week, so I felt this would be a perfect way to celebrate.

Beginner Level

Research and learn the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the supreme law of the land? – The Constitution
  • What does the Constitution do? – It establishes America’s national government and laws of the land, as well as guarantees it’s citizens certain basic rights.
  • The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are they? – We the People
  • What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution? – Bill of Rights
  • Name two rights or two freedoms listed in the First Amendment (five are possible). – Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion
  • What did the Declaration of Independence do? – Declares United States independent from Britain
  • Name two rights in the Declaration of Independence (three are possible). – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
  • What is freedom of religion? – One of the freedoms protected in the bill of rights, but it means that Americans are free to choose their religion without fear of persecution from the government
  • What is the economic system in the United States? – Capitalism
  • What is the “rule of law”? – the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws
“We the People…”

I was very pleased that I knew most of these answers without research! Guess that semester of Government in High School paid off! On to the more challenging questions.

Intermediate Level

Research and learn the answers to the following questions:

  • Name the three branches of government. – Legislative, Judicial and Executive
  • What keeps one branch of government from becoming too powerful? – Checks and Balances system, i.e. president can veto laws, judicial branch can challenge and bring rulings on laws, Congress can pass with 2/3rds votes
  • Who is in charge of the executive branch? – The President of the United States
  • Who makes the federal laws? – United States Congress
  • What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress? – House of Representatives and US Senate
  • How many U.S. Senators are there? 100 Senators
  • Name one of your state’s U.S. Senators and one of your state’s U.S. Representatives. Nancy Pelosi, US Representative & Kamala Harris, Senator
  • What is the term of a U.S. Senator? 6 years
  • What is the term of a U.S. Representative? 2 years
  • What is the term of the President? 4 years
  • Who is the Commander in Chief of the military? The President
  • Who signs bills to become laws? The President
US Congress

Once again, I have to thank my 7th grade History teacher. I knew 90% of these with no research, I only had to look up my Senator and Representative since I’m new to the state.

Expert Level

Research and learn the answers to the following questions:

  • Who vetoes bills? The President
  • What does the judicial branch do? They verify that the laws passed are within the parameters of the Constitution
  • What is the highest court in the United States? The Supreme Court
  • How many justices are on the Supreme Court? 9
  • Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Under our Constitution, some powers belong solely to the federal government. Name two (four are possible). Regulate commerce with foreign countries, Coin money
  • Under our Constitution, some powers belong solely to the states. Name two (five are possible). Education of residents, ownership of property
  • Who is the Governor of your state now? Jerry Brown
  • What is the capital of your state? Sacramento
  • What are the two major political parties in the United States? Democratic and Republican
  • What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now? Paul Ryan
California Capital Building

Outpost – Rocks and Minerals

Growing up in the wilds of Ohio (?), I became rather interested in rock collecting due to a computer game that I had about science that discussed rocks and minerals. I had a collection of shiny rocks and minerals that we picked up from our travels, and I would love to start collecting them again, if only in a small capacity.


Beginner Level

Research the difference between rocks and minerals.

According to the United States Geological Survey,

“A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties.

A rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals, or a body of undifferentiated mineral matter.”



Learn about the characteristics of minerals and identify the three types of rocks.

There are 5 characteristics of minerals. They are:

  • Solid
  • Formed by inorganic processes
  • Naturally occuring
  • Definite chemical composition
  • Definite crystalline structure

There are three types of rocks:

  • Igneous Rocks – solidify from molten rock
  • Sedimentary Rocks – these rocks are layered
  • Metamorphic Rocks – these form where sedimentary, igneous or preexisting metamorphic rocks are changed by heat pressure and/or chemically reactive waters.
  • (per American Museum of Natural History)

Research the ways rocks and minerals are used in our everyday life.

Rocks and minerals are used in many varieties of ways in our daily lives. I chose the top 5 ways that I found most interesting and had not heard of before.

  • Beryllium – used in the manufacturing of light, X-Ray tubes and by the nuclear industry
  • Gypsum – used in the manufacture of ‘sheetrock; or wallboard
  • Molybdenite – when alloyed with other metals, this improves hardness. Used principally in catalytic converters but also to make jewelry
  • Soda Ash – used to make glass containers
  • Vanadium – used in metal alloys for aerospace applications

Intermediate Level

Find a museum near you that has a rock, mineral, or gemstone display. See how many you can identify.


Expert Level

Become a rockhound! Collect at least 10 different rocks or minerals. Identify if each is either rock or mineral, and write your observations down.