Our book Home School Farm was recently reviewed (see below) by the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I am super excited about it. Whenever you write something you don’t know if what you intend to convey will actually be accurately received by the reader, but after reading the review I realized I did achieve my goals. It is a coincidence that the review came out at the same time as the physical copies of our book (previously it had only been available through electronic download). You can pick up copies of our book on our website or through our etsy shop.
This spring Unnah joined our family. Unfortunately we also had a subtraction in our family, when we lost Proeun’s brother in a sudden and tragic accident. Long story short it has been a crazy busy spring with a ton of conflicting emotions.
Finally last weekend we decided we needed to get out of the everyday craziness that had become our life and get away to one of our favorite spots–Duluth and the North Shore. We didn’t end up going very far up the north shore. In the morning we had chores, we a couple extras, like iron shots and iodine for a new litter of baby pigs and deworming goats–craziness I tell you. So we got a late start. But it doesn’t matter where in Duluth I go, I have a feeling when I am there that I don’t have anywhere else– a feeling of being absorbed by beauty and that beauty invites me to release pressure and just be.
It was just what we needed. Here are some pictures of our trip, I think everyone agreed it was a great start to a new year. We hope to have many more adventures this year.
This was a new area of Duluth for us–Park Point. Most of the shore is very rocky, but this man made beach was great. We especially loved the grasses.
Time for a little fishing.
Some of us weren’t so patient.
The whole family.
A few weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs–Soule Mama–about how she loves crafting in January and quickly January is becoming my favorite month of the year for just that reason. The craziness of the holidays is done, but it is still nice to engage in indoor activities and enjoy a lull before the spring the storm. So crafting is exactly what we have been doing this month.
Avril has caught my bug for knitting. Here she completed her first hat, actually her first complete project ever. She used this pattern. It was one of the most expensive patterns I have ever purchased but we have gotten a lot of use out of it.
I originally made a hat for Pray and Lith and Avril liked the pattern so much she thought she would give it a try.
Mavis is more a fan of sewing. She picked out this pattern from Pinterest and Effie decided she wanted to make one too.
I have also picked up a lot of inspiration for next month. Having girls who love creating as well has been very rewarding, now we have to figure out how to get all that crafting in. Special thanks to my best friend Jenelle who knows just how to inspire this creative family!
It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I have started doing New Year’s Resolutions. As I look at the new year and think about my hopes and dreams for the coming 365 days it has become a fun tradition and exercise in dreaming. I firmly believe adults still need to have dreams and goals they are striving for. And for this year my main goal is to enjoy life more–to not be so caught up in daily struggles that I forget about the big picture. When I was writing the author page in my book Home School Farm I was able to summarize what my favorite things are–writing and reading, cooking and eating and creating and loving. So this is where my focus will be for the New Year.
So I start today with reading. I thought I would share with you some of the things that are really filling my soul lately.
As a busy momma magazines are often more my speed. I have long been a subscriber of Taproot. I believe I have every copy, though I have not always been good at reading it, my last 2 issues I have completely devoured. So I am saving my others for a little postpartum reading. I love the authenticity of the magazine and the focus on simplicity.
Making was a dream come true for me. The handmade section of Taproot has always been my favorite as I dream about beautiful things I would like to make. Now there is a whole magazine just for creating all those projects that really speak to me. It is a new magazine. My copy, Fauna, is the 2nd issue, unfortunately I missed the first one, but I definitely plan on subscribing. I love just flipping through the magazine and planning future projects. I also love the ability to learn new skills and types of projects. I bought the tools for my first felting project yesterday!!
I picked up In Winter’s Kitchen at the Twin Cities Book Festival. Of course I am a fan of local food. I did expect this book to be a bit different though, I thought it would be a personal narrative and while there are elements of that I love that it goes into the history of various crops that are northland staples like wheat and carrots. I am learning much about plant history and getting inspired to try some new varieties. What is really cool is that since the book takes place in my home state I actually know some of the people Dooley talks about in the book. Also when she mentions a restaurant or company that she likes I can check them out myself.
Case in point she talks about Sunrise Flour Mill. They are a small mill that grinds heritage wheat and they are just 15 miles from my home! So yesterday I stopped by to get some flour and asked the proprietor Martin to make some recommendations for me. He did. Currently I am making Perfect Artisan Bread. It is a 2 day process I will continue tomorrow. I am super excited about it. Apparently the flour is good for people with high blood sugar, gluten sensitivities and celiac’s disease. I just hope it is delicious.
The last book I am reading has a lot to do with another activity–loving. In loving my children I hope to provide them with a peaceful and secure home environment. Peaceful is a little difficult to attain with 6 little (and not so little ones) running around. We homeschool and I was feeling like so so so much of my energy was going into the older children’s more complex struggles that we were loosing something in creative, fun energy. I stumbled upon Whole Family Rhythms and got a copy of their Winter Guide (it is only in ebook). The book provides a weekly story, and play activity as well as daily focus activities from a nature walk to cooking, to water coloring or crafting. It also provides momma meditations and momma crafts. I am trying to be more go with the flow and not stress if we doing get to everything every day but it is fun to have a little different focus.
What are you reading in the New Year?
As a child I was all about Christmas, so much so that there just seemed to be a void after it. Now that I am an adult I still love Christmas. I love the build up, the home life, the good food, the songs and smells, the movies but I also love what comes after–the New Year. It is so exciting to plan and dream about a whole new year stretching ahead of you. We have decided to take a sabbatical from vegetable farming for the year and hope to travel a bit over the summer. Yellowstone is in our future. I also want to get more familiar with the animals–especially the sheep. I have always dreamed of having fiber animals and I am excited to explore this option more. I already have some projects I am working on and I will share them soon in a post.
I am also really excited about our new book Home School Farm. This was such a labor of love, both for me to celebrate the life we have built here, and for you to share tips and inspiration for finding your own simple, balanced life wherever you are at. It a chronological guide that just happens to start with January so if you are looking for ways to slow down and enjoy the seasons and connect with your family and the land this book is for you. Right now it is available as a ebook (it is also available as a Kindle edition) but we are taking preorders for print copies for $19.99.
I hope you have a very blessed New Year there are so many things to be excited about a new start. What are you planning on starting this year?
This year we lost my grandma. At 88 she was still a vital part of my life though she had been suffering from ill health for the past couple of years. I remember Christmas at grandma’s most. My favorite Christmas gift is still the very life like baby doll she gave me one year.
Once we moved to the farm I loved sharing what was going on around here with her and she even had some tips from when she grew up on the family farm.
One thing she taught me is Christmas is about family and homemade gifts are best. I normally got something crafted from her own hands or a book she thought I might like. I credit her for my love of simple, handmade things.
And so today we have been continuing that tradition. Now the girls are taking over. Something that is relatively new to me is my love of edible gifts. It is still handmade and such a joy to learn what my family and friends have been creating and eating over the year.
I didn’t have much time or energy this year for crafting, but Avril and Mavis have taken over. They decorated the house and wrapped the majority of the presents and today has been filled with last minute creating and planning. Can’t tell you yet what we have been working on but it has been busy in the best kind of way. And the snow is just starting to come down. Merry Christmas to all of you!
It has been a crazy fall. As the children get older their interests grow. We have limited the activities that they can participate in to one sport. They both chose basketball, which means that we are in the thick of basketball season right now. In addition we have had an unseasonably warm fall (until this week!) which means that we have kind of extended some of falls projects into winter.
And somehow through it all Christmas is upon us. Winter is normally my favorite time of the year. It is a time to settle in to home life. Crafts that I enjoy like knitting, sewing, crocheting, and cooking are well suited for the long evenings and nights of winter. But this year I am feeling abnormally busy. I had planned on letting knitting season pass me by then someone posted this article on facebook about how a new study finds that hand crafts help improve mental health including feelings of well being. If I am honest I have been more then a little stressed out this fall. A little relaxation and mental health activities would do me good.
So I decided I better start knitting.
A couple years ago I was at our local thrift store and saw some of my favorite yarn on sale. While not my favorite color I snapped it up as a deal. It has made its way into various projects over the year but I still had enough left over to make—-a baby blanket! Yes baby number 7 will be joining our family early next year. I have never made a blanket for my babies but it just seemed like the perfect project. I picked out this pattern. It is knitting up quick and fun and while the pattern looks complicated it is a repeating pattern so it doesn’t require a whole lot of concentration.
My knitting inspired Avril to make her own gifts for the baby. She went on Pinterest, found the pattern, yarn and needles and created these all by herself.
It is so fun that my children have shown an interest in handcrafts. I will definitely have to carve out some more time for all of us to work together on this. I am still planning Christmas gifts. One thing Proeun and I agree on is we don’t want to add more “stuff” to our home but I am finding some great kits for kids at Imagine Childhood (see link below).
I am also having great fun looking for inspiration at some of my favorite sites like Ravelry, Soule Mama and Purl Soho. I have been a long time subscriber of Taproot Magazine and a new copy just came in the mail. I have also discovered Making Magazine through them and have a copy coming in the mail soon.
Soon we will be receiving our yarn back from the shearings of our Lincoln Long Wool Sheep last year. I am super excited to get some roving and yarn from our own sheep. Now I am researching felting projects. There is simply too much fun to be had. I am feeling better already. Now I just need to find time to sew.
It is finally here! The book I have been working on for over 3 years is finally live and available for purchase. You can find more about it here. I first got the idea for my book as I was sharing our trials and triumphs here at the farm. It has been such a worthwhile and memorable journey that is far from over. I was surprised to run into people and hear feedback about our blog when I honestly had no idea how they had heard about us.
I am a book person. I love books and I have always dreamed of writing a book. Now I had an idea for a good book. So for the first year I just took notes about what we did each month of the year. What were our activities? and Where was our attention focused? Then the next year I started to flesh it out and continued to revise it for the next 2 years. I added pictures and more fun activities and had a wonderful time writing it. Now it is available for you to enjoy.
The book is divided in monthly sections with a brief introductory essay followed by 4-5 projects for the month. I also intersperse 6 longer essays throughout the book featuring topics like budgets, loss/death, passion, abundance, etc. It is a full color book with pictures taken by me on our farm.
We hope you will pop over to our site and check it out. It has tips for how to incorporate some of these ideas into your daily life whether or not you live on a farm. If you are passionate about seasonal, simple living then this book is for you. There are also guided questions if you would like to incorporate some of these projects into your daily life or homeschool. Thank-you for your support over the years.
I am beginning to rediscover my first love. As some of you may have noticed we are taking a sabbatical next year from our CSA vegetables. This is due in part to a desire on my part to focus on my writing. I continue to finalize the details of my book Home School Farm which will hopefully be available as an ebook the beginning of November. My work as a writer and author has really rekindled my first love–books. As a child I never was without a good book to read. But as a busy mother and farmer finding time to read was difficult to say the least. Over the years a void began to develop.
I haven’t ever stopped writing. I have written for the Hmong Times since before I was married. I have also recently added a couple area newspapers, then of course there is my book. But I really wanted to branch out and pursue writing more. So this weekend found me at
It was such a joy to see what books are new, what some of my favorite publishers are working on now, and seeing how some how some literary journals that were fledglings when I started writing like Mizna are doing now. I remember this journal was just coming out when I was in college and I thought my life would go completely differently. Now things are coming full circle except I have alot more life experience under my belt.
The highlight of the day for me was meeting Krista Tippett. She hosts a national radio show, On Being, that explores, “the question of meaning.” She has also written a book entitled Becoming Wise that explores some of her most prominent questions from her many interviews. I have barely started reading it and I am hooked.
I also picked up a copy of Beth Dooley’s In Winter’s Kitchen. I can’t get too far away from my love of good local food and aparently neither can Dooley. I can hardly what to get started with this one.
I also picked up some copies of literary journals I would like to submit to and stopped by many publishers booths for future references.
Some of the books and journals I picked up.
After the festival I was able to meet up with Proeun who also had a class that day for a date–sans children. This was our first date in years! So much fun to discuss all the cool things we learned and be able to eat at our own pace rather then rushing through a meal before the children finished and got antsy. We stopped at Filfillah. It has Mediterranean food and was absolutely delicious. We got a sampler platter of appetizers that had hummus, falafel (the best I have ever eater!), feta cheese and more. Then we ordered their sampler grilled platter of kebabs and chopped meats over saffron rice. I highly recommend them!
It was such a great rejuvenating day!
I love learning about local entrepreneurs who are living their passion through their businesses. I stumbled across one of my new local favorites this week–Deane’s Kombucha, when owner Bryan (Deane is his middle name) purchased a half of one of our hogs. He was gracious enough to offer us a tour and some samples.
Bryan said that in 2008 his wife brought home some kombucha from the local natural foods co-op, “I loved it. And then I found out how much it cost. Then I found out you could brew it at home.” So he started experimenting with home brewing, finding just he right mix to produce the taste and health benefits he had grown to love.
In 2010 he decided to launch his own company. A year and a half ago he went full-time with Deane’s Kombucha. “It is scary but necessary to move to the next stage.
Bryan and one of his employees during production day. They brew all their kombucha in oak barrels, crafted by The Barrel Mill in Avon Minnesota. After an initial brewing in barrels about 20 gallons are siphoned off leaving the remaining to begin the next brew. Those 20 gallons are put into buckets were the flavors are added using real fruit and herbs.
How do flavors like raspberry basil and wild blueberry lemon lavender sound? They run about 20-30 different flavors at a time with seasonal varieties added regularly.
We brought home hibiscus grapefruit and ginger honey turmeric. They were a big hit. We shared them around dinner that night with everyone asking for more. Bryan said his favorite flavor is Ginger Cherry.
The bottles read, “Enjoy this living elixir filled with probiotics and enzymes.”
They sell their kombucha by the bottle at several local co-ops as well as kegs available in local restaurants and coffee shops. Check out their locations. And if you want to start out making your own kombucha check out their class schedule.