Embracing Your Creative Self

Huge life changes can be so unsettling. Sometimes in a good exciting way, other times not so much. But at this stage in my life I am discovering the wonder of the creative work of life. Thankfully I am home with my children, living the life with them but often I don’t appreciate it and utilize it: but I realize it doesn’t take much to connect to your creative self.

Sorry for the quality of this picture. I had to snap it quick before they realized what I was doing. As I took this picture they were all inside and it was a cave. Before that it was a beautiful home complete with guest bedrooms and before that a stable. As I cull the unnecessary for our move toys have been a particular area of concern. What to take and what to give away? While I am struggling, wondering if my children will have enough toys I am reminded it doesn’t take any toys at all to keep them occupied all morning.

That said I am experimenting with waldorf style toy making. This is Effie’s Christmas gift. I used the Sheep pattern from Living Crafts (scroll down) and created this little treasure in an evening. Yes I thought a black sheep would be cute. Don’t know if the children will dig it as much as I do but the older children think it is so cute for Effie. Using natural products and found items are something I really want to experiment with more.

By far this is my favorite project. I have been wanting a Nativity set for years so when I saw this set I used it as inspiration to make my own. I bought the peg dolls at a local craft store then saw these and more on etsy for a great price. So I will have to get more since I wasn’t sure how to do Baby Jesus. The reason this project is my favorite is because while I have inspiration it is realLy my own drive, no step by step pattern and so it feels “really” creative if you know what I mean. Yes I am discovering a love for peg dolls. What’s your favorite creative outlet?

Farmer Boy

I grew up watching “Little House on the Prairie” while in my opinion it remains one of the great television series we have been reading the books this year and they are oh so so much better. I love that I am finally able to read chapter books with my children and look forward to my story time as much as the children. We just finished the 3rd book in the series “Farmer Boy,” the one book that is actually about Laura’s husband, Almanzo Wilder.

As we embark on our new journey as farmers this book has alot of interest for me. It is fascinating to me that Almanzo’s father raised  merino sheep in the 1850s-60s. Or how careful he was when training horses, how to raise a “milk-fed pumpkin” and the techniques for building a sled to haul wood.

The children loved the pictures and I did to. It is interesting enough to be a fun read but has some interesting instructions that I plan to try out this next year.

Two things really fascinated me about the book–1. The price that Mr. Wilder got for his products, like $0.50/bushel for potatoes, $2/bail for hay and $400 for a team of horse. Yeah if you are thinking what I am thinking the prices haven’t gone up that much in 150 years.

2. When Almanzo’s older brother chooses a career as a shop keeper over farmer and Almanzo must make his own decision the benefits of being a farmer have not changed that much either.

So I would definitely suggest adding Farmer Boy to your winter reading list. Things I really want to try include winter evening taffy pulls and story telling nights. I look forward to slowing down a bit once the move is complete. What’s your plans for quiet winter evenings.

The Announcement

So the past 2 weeks have not gone exactly as planned but here goes with the big announcement–Crazy Boy Farm has found its permanent home. After 3 years of renting land and preparing for this moment it is almost here. Yes almost. These things can sometimes drag one and this is the case for us. So hopefully we will be moving before the end of the year. So I will spare the physical details until then.

Also CSA sales are now open. Hop over to our website using the tabs to the left for more information on our CSA. One important thing to note is that though our farm has been certified organic for the past 3 years our new farm has been farmed conventionally until now. So we will begin the process of certification right away and use the same great farming methods we will not be certified organic again until the 3 year transition is completed. We plan to continue offering the same great variety and use the same growing techniques.

So that is the great, amazing news. We are all so excited. The negative thing is the actual move.

Some things in boxes, some things sorted, but left out for frequent use and some things getting ready to be thrown away. The process has required a reordering of our life and conscious decision about what to keep and what to leave. I am thinking that I should go through a similar clearing out every couple of years. I am employing these 2 rules to decide what stays and what goes 1. is it useful (i.e. have I used it in the last year or so or will I use it in the next year?) and 2. is it beautiful to me?

So even with the clutter and the impending move which is doing wonders to teach us about contentment and the importance of relationships above of all else we are trying to take moments for beauty in this the most beautiful season of all.

Our first gingerbread house.

A bit of Christmas crafting (“elving” ala Soule Mama). More on that after Christmas.

Mama projects abound also. I thought about putting away the sewing and knitting to make way for the practical work of sorting, packing and moving. But I am finding I need it even more now then before. So here is a hat I completed for Two. He loves it and for a boy I have to fight tooth and nail to put on pants versus shorts a hat he likes is a blessing in more way then one.

And there has been quite alot of dreaming. Here are some fabrics I purchased in Banberry Place’s after Thanksgiving sale. These will be pillows and curtains in our new master bedroom. Yes there has been a whole lot of dreaming going on lately.

Thanksgiving plus CSA

I know I hoped that Proeun would be able to post about his recent 3 generation hunting trip. But something very very exciting has happened and I need to turn my attention to that. So I will be taking the next 2 weeks or so off from blogging to complete all the required details. Check back December 5th for our big announcement.

In the meantime we are working out the details for next year’s CSA. We have already had a couple people ask to buy shares–talk about planning ahead. So I will be working out the details. December 5th share sales will open as well for next season. We are planning to expand and add a couple more dropsites and maybe a different drop day. If you are interested in being a dropsite please drop us a line. Prices will stay the same. Thanks for all your support. Be back soon and Happy Thanksgiving!

Back to “work”

I don’t know if I have shared with you yet but we are a hunting family. Honestly I was not pro-hunting before marrying Proeun and it was almost a deal breaker for me. But I listened to the arguments, about keeping populations in check, environmental stewardship and family. So this last week was the annual hunting trip. This year Two accompanied Proeun for the first time, and due to circumstances got to have his dad, uncles and one set of grandparents all to himself. I have asked Proeun to write a recap of the week so maybe he will be able to write it for Friday.

So today I ponder different things in the life of the Doeun family. Now that the vacation is over and we are officially back to “work” what does that mean for us? Work looks alot different for us than most families as it centers around the home. So it is fitting that getting back to work would be a return home. But it also feels alot different, there is a joy in it and a deep sense of privilege, both for the circumstances that have led us to this place and the decisions and convictions.

Last Friday I was off on a free-lance writing assignment. For those of you who don’t know I write for Hmong Times part time and no Proeun is not Hmong. It has been one of those unique circumstances that is an incredible story that allows me to be home 90% of the time. Anyway I was talking with a dear friend and fellow writer who had just had a baby. We were discussing mothering and the topic of work came up. She works in academics and while she enjoys her work felt she needed some additional challenges.

Right then an there I felt a deep sense of thankfulness wash over for me. See I always feel “challenged.” Whether I always feel good about it is a different story. Part of my work is the work of educating my children I could write volumes about the intricacies of our journey but let’s just say my work will always be challenging and that is something I should be thankful for.

So as I spend the day doing laundry, getting the house back in order, cooking meals and trying to explain again why today we do school and no we can’t wait just one more day I am thankful for the opportunity to challenge myself and the children at our home in this amazing life we are called to.

P.S. sorry no pictures today–too busy working.

Happy Veteran’s Day

I grew up immersed in the stories of the “greatest generation.” The stories are truly amazing, I could write a blog just on that alone. I have a sense that Two also has a budding interest in history and those who have gone before, for I truly believe that we must never forget, “or we will be destined to repeat.” And so for today I wanted to give a brief list of those people, many passed on who have affected me and the way I look at the world–

Richard Huspek
Robert Kruger
Donald Larsen
Howard Froberg
Vera Peterson

Thank-you for sharing your story with me, and for all the stories that go untold!

Sew Sew Weekend Part 2

It was a succesful weekend. I am so thankful for my parents for all their help taking care of the girls and helping me with my sewing project. You know how it is for us busy mommas sometimes you just can’t fit a shower in the day and finding clothes that fit in that difficult time right after having a baby is awful. Then there is comfort, style and modesty to consider as your nursing baby insists on eating right now. Anyway it is all to easy to just fall into a routine of self sacrifice and lets face it frumpiness and disarray.

Well I have had enough. So this weekend I began work on my new wardrobe. I had bought the fabric last May but then farming season started and well now it begins. Thanks to my mother’s expert help, my dad’s time with the children, my mother’s serger and The Backwoods Mama sew camp I am well on my way to some new and decent clothing, that is comfortable and functional for us busy moms

Two knit tops, a utility smock and knit pants I just happen to be wearing as I type. I still have some hemming to do but I wanted to get as much done with the serger (special sewing machine for finishing edges and sewing knit fabrics) as I could. I was planning on giving you a fashion show, but I realized I have no one to take pictures of me right at the moment so here you go.

One thing I loved about Backwoods Mama’s patterns are the ability to change it up. The turquoise top I made almost exactly to her pattern though I added a bit wider hem band. The purple one I made much longer and roomier for a more tunic like look and to wear over my new leggings I just purchased. The utility smock is missing the pockets since I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the pockets, but I have 2 more in the works.

It was so much fun working on these projects. In high school I was billed, “most unique dresser” but it is hard to stay on top of a wardrobe when you have so many to care for. Now I am getting back into the groove. For simplicity I picked 4 colors to be my base colors–turquoise, purple, pink and grey. So anytime I add something to my wardrobe I want it to be one of these colors or coordinate. This will save money and time without a lot of excess mismatched clothes and shoes. A note on cost: fabric can be expensive however the quality is often much better then cheaper store bought clothes and you can customize with items you can wear many different ways.

Sew Sew Weekend Planned

Proeun and Two will be away deer hunting this weekend. While I have a few special things planned for the girls I am even more excited about all the sewing I plan to do while the men (grown and budding) are away. We will take vacation from school and I know my parents have some things planned and my mom, master sewer that she is, is going to help me and I a “sew” excited (sorry for the pun, couldn’t help myself).

I bought a bunch of fabric last spring before the farming season and except for one pair of pants it is still sitting. Finally I am going to work on it. So I am blogging a bit early so that tomorrow I can begin the fun. I’ll have some pictures Monday. Promise.

Happy Pumpkin Day!

Halloween is not a big celebration in our home. When we were setting up our own household and family and consciously choosing traditions and making our own we chose that Halloween would be pretty low key. One of the things I don’t like about the day is how scary it is for little children. For example last year I took Mavis trick or treating, she was terrified and practically in tears. Thanks all you adults and big kids out there. So we have made traditions that reflect our family values more. We still trick or treat but carefully and forget about all the media up to the day. Anyway sorry for the soap box.

One thing that we do enjoy is the pumpkin. This has been a tradition that is really daddy’s time with the children. It has gotten even more meaningful over the years as we have grown our own pumpkins. I think it has been over 4 years since we have bought a pumpkin. Another tradition is each child has their own pumpkin to pick the picture for (something that has really been challenging Proeun lately). We may have to change this and share pumpkins but the children love it.

Master carver at work.

I get the job of cleaning out the pumpkins and

Sorting the seeds. I love roasted Pumpkin seeds. This year I tried a new method from Serving up the Harvest.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Wash the pumpkin seeds and remove the “strings.” Start a large pot of salted water, bring to boil. Boil the seeds for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Strain. Preheat over to 250 degrees. Spread seeds in single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 45 minutes or until dry and crispy. So so good.

The finished product a flower, scary face and butterfly. Have a great day.

Fall Knitting Season

Fall has always been my favorite time of year but winter not so much. However with the hustle and bustle of spring, summer and early fall I am relishing the fall knitting season and winter. I am finding time to do all sorts of things I have been wanting to do like bake, sew, exercise and knit. The past couple of weeks have been really productive for me. Here are some of the things that have been on my needles lately.

Pilot hat for Effie.

Hat for me plus finished

the scarf I started after spring’s Shepherd’s Harvest Festival with yarn I bought from Winterwind Farm. Actually both the hat and the scarf are from the same yarn. 2 skeins gave me enough for both projects and some left over.

Finally the sweater for Mavis. She is my middle girl and such a sweet soul. I loved knitting this up for her. She was so happy to have mommy making something special for her and really motivated me to finish it up.

Upcoming projects include hats for Proeun and Two and legwarmers for me (yes legwarmers). Such fun! If you are on Ravelry look me up.