Category Archives: Handmades

January Crafting

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I originally made a hat for Pray and Lith and Avril liked the pattern so much she thought she would give it a try.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!

Reading in the New Year

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?

Deane’s Kombucha

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.

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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.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Doeun Family

We hope you had a very amazing Christmas. We had a very blessed Christmas. Of course, the more children we have the more fun it is. We still tried to do a homemade Christmas. The children even got into it.

Avril made arm knit scarves using the video below.

Mavis and Effie helped made all sorts of baked goodies. And I did my usual–knitting. This year I decided I would do either legwarmers or slippers for all the children.


Here are the legwarmers I made for Effie and Mavis. They both picked out the yarn. Effie liked the metallic worsted weight and Mavis the bulky weight yarn. I made up my own pattern using four needles and multiples of 4. Start and end with a ribbing, for the lighter weight yarn I did 2X2 and the bulky weight 1X1. But then for the main pattern I did

Row 1: Knit 3, Purl 1 repeat
Row 2: Knit


Pray’s slippers


Avril’s slippers


Lith’s Baltic Booties. I loved the yarn for this. It is my all time favorite yarn–


I did do some sewing but I found it alot harder to get away and sew, whereas with knitting I could do it while we are in the thick of family living. This is another of my favorite patterns, done up in cotton flannel. The pattern is available in this book.

I didn’t get to a couple presents so I plan to keep working and creating throughout January. Hope you had time to pursue some creative pursuits this year.

We are very very excited for the next year. We have some very exciting things happening in the next couple of months. We’ll keep you posted.

Also don’t forget that our CSA is up and running. We are taking reservations for the next year now.



I vaguely remember lefse. I think sometime a long time ago my mother (or maybe grandmother) bought a package, yes a package, of lefse and I remember really enjoying it with butter and sugar. Not sure why I remember the food so much but not the time I ate it. Maybe I had it more then once. For those of you that don’t know lefse is a Scandinavian potato pancake. Part of my background is Swedish. In Sweden lefse is eaten especially around Christmas time with lignonberry preserves.

So I remembered the food, remembered really enjoying it. And then a class was offered through continuing education–“Learn to make lefse.” It had been ages since I took a class just for fun, just because I wanted to learn how to do something. And to make it even better our absolutely favorite librarian was teaching the class. So last night I learned how to make lefse at the Rush City Library.


Start with russet potatoes and only russets. You want your potatoes to be very dry. Peel them, quarter them and boil them until just tender. Remove from the water right away. Remember you want them to be dry. While they are still hot put them through a ricer. The above picture is of riced potatoes. The below picture is of a ricer–lower right corner, as well as some other tools of the trade, a flour shaker, rolling pin and pastry mat.



After the potatoes are riced put them uncovered in the frig overnight. You want them completely cool and as dry as possible. Donna gave us two recipes, her grandmother’s that involved depression era ingredients like evaporated milk and canola oil and this one from Lefse Time. She said she never thought she would find a recipe she liked better then her grandmother’s but you can’t beat real cream and butter.

Once you have mixed the batter following the recipe you will need to put it back in the frig. Donna likes to portion the patties first on a baking sheet with waxed paper. Then she rolls them out one at a time making sure to keep the other patties in the frig until she is ready for them.




Our wonderful teacher and superstar librarian Donna demonstrates rolling out the lefse.



A traditional tool for rolling out lefse. Though Donna likes the silicone pastry mats much better now. They do not need to be seasoned with flour and can be rolled for easy storage.


I try my hand at rolling and cooking the lefse on a special lefse gridle set to 500 degrees!



The finished product. They were so much better then I remember. Of course these are hot right off the gridle. I had them with butter and just a dash of sugar.

Though I don’t have all the tools I plan to get a potato ricer this weekend and I bought a bag of russets. Can’t wait to try my own.

Foggy Bottom Alpacas

This weekend we were about neck deep in projects that need to be done before winter. This is our normal operating procedure–neck deep. But as I have said before our children are getting older and we feel like we want to take the time to make memories with them. I am always on the lookout for fun things to do close to our home. For the past 3 years I had heard about the National Alpaca Days. But like I said I always thought we were too busy to go. Not this year, we were going to make time. When I told the children that we were going to an alpaca farm they were practically giddy. So off we went to Foggy Bottom Alpacas.


Of course convincing the children that we were actually going to be leaving without an alpaca was a bit difficult. Two (Crazy Boy) said, “we have had cows, pigs, chickens, bees, goats, and dogs in the back of the suburban. Why is an alpaca different?” For me it is the price, they are definitely a high end animal, but fun to look at.


Foggy Bottom started 7 years ago with 4 animals. Now there are 109 on the farm. Mark and Sara’s daughter even started her own business Over the Rainbow Alpacas. They are very passionate and have an amazing set up.


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This little guy is only 5 days old! We had great fun visiting the alpacas and farm family and shopping at the on-site store. If you get a chance to stop by it will be well worth your time to visit with these amazing animals and people. Oh and for all my fiber arts friends, the fiber is fabulous!

Relics at the Threshing Show

A friend of my recently posted this article about a couple that has chosen to live in the past–in the Victorian era to be exact. I must admit that there was a point in my life where I could see me doing this. In fact my first job was as a “historical interpreter” at Historic Fort Snelling. I have come to realize that there is no ideal time, though some will try to idealize a “simpler by gone time.” I am aware of the fact that my marriage could not, would not have existed 100 years ago. My husband’s family would have stayed in Cambodia, I in Minnesota and our children would not have existed.

However I do still love history. I love working with my hands, creating things, or restoring things and simplifying life. Apparently there is a family close to us that also has this passion. Every year for the first weekend after Labor Day we would see the signs for Andersons Rock Creek Relics Threshing Show. We have always allowed our own duties on the farm to keep us from going, but since our goal this year is balance, we knew we had to take time to do some of these fun events.

So on Sunday, right after chores we headed over to the Andersons. It was truly an amazing experience. The family has for the past 4 generations been building and restoring antique farm equipment, plus the buildings to house them is. There is a replica cabin, black smith shop and more.



Here they give a demo of threshing. I had to take 2 pictures to try and get the whole production but basically there was a big belt going from one tractor to the thresher. Then there was a person standing on the pile of bundled wheat and pitching it on to the thresher. On a personal note I was sharing with my grandparents about the threshing show and grandpa said, “your grandma’s job was cooking for the threshers when they came.” Wow what a piece of family history, now I have an idea what that actually looked like.



The children learn about phones that needed operators to function.




An old style generator.




Corn shucker.



The barns were full of equipment that had been rebuilt. I liked the name on this manure spreader. We have a spreader that was made by a company in Canada. It was nice to compare.




The children learn about when water came from a pump.



Then there was the corn maze, a hit to be sure. It was a great weekend, and a new tradition was made. Now I am inspired to incorporate history more into our lives. I do love our technology, but there is something about doing things thoughtfully and by hand that produces more then just a tangible product.

Spring Fun + violet jam

Finally it feels like spring around here. As I was transferring my blog to the new host I was going through some old posts and found that 2 years ago when we first moved here our crab apple tree flowered in late March. However it has yet to flower this year. Just last week Avril asked, “are the snow days over?” and I realized like her I had been kinda holding my breathe. But when I assured her that they were she was so relieved that it was fun to see.

Last weekend Proeun finally got a chance to get into the fields with Bessie.


Chores have been so much more fun now that it has warmed up. Speaking candidly it is not all fun and games on the farm but I try to focus on the good as much as possible and one of the things I have really enjoyed is getting to know this land throughout the seasons. I have been interested in herbs and foraging for a long time now but there is something extremely special about finding where these plants grow on your own property and being able to come back year after year. Plantain is an easy one and last year I found yarrow. We have a white oak tree and there are more herbs that I want to identify.

But while checking facebook recently a friend of mine was talking about violets and I realized that this year we have an overabundance (as well as and abundance of dandelions, ahem). I remembered a violet jam from one of my favorite blogs Soule Mama. Now I actually had the goods to make my own.






I ended up doing most of the harvesting while the children played but it was fun and they would come over every once in awhile to check on progress. During the cooking process they helped more, that’s where the fun is anyway though it probably too less then five minutes to whip up a batch. Now I have a new spring time tradition and it is so fun to make things grown right on our own land.

But on a humorous note all you moms out there know that once the seasons change it is often times hard to find the clothing items from last year, especially shoes and in this season shoes rapidly disappear. Here is Effie’s solution.


Praise for Grandmas

I am blessed in more ways then I can count. But for this post I will focus on the amazing women in my life who taught me everything I know. I have learned about several folk schools over the years. I have yet to take a class at any since most of the “local” ones I know of are still a bit of a hike and logistics and nursing babies haven’t allowed me to get away. But as I was browsing some of the class offerings I realized I am in a unique and highly valued (by me!) position of having many of these skills passed down from generation to generation. My mother taught me and my grandmother taught her and occasionally me skills like baking bread, making food from scratch, sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet and some gardening. I remember my grandmother taught me to eat green beans right from the garden, just wipe off any dirt.

Once we all–me, my mother and grandmother, took a class together on tatting but I couldn’t quite get the hang of it, maybe I will have to have my mother reteach me.

Here we all are shortly after Avril was born. On an interesting note we are all the first daughters of our families. At least I find things like that interesting.

Shortly after this picture was taken Proeun and I decided we were going to farm. We were living in St. Paul at the time and got our chicken permit. We went to a feed store to pick out some chicks, one was a Rhode Island Red. I was telling my grandmother and asking if she wanted to see our chickens and she said, “honey I have seen chickens before.”

Of course she has, she grew up on a farm in western Minnesota. Now I had another way to connect with her as we talked about farming and planting and cooking good old fashioned health food straight from the farm. Turns out she raised Rhode Island Reds

I will always remember my grandmother knitting. Often it was cotton dishclothes. I have gone through more of these then I can count. They are literally the best dishclothes. Recently I was noticing my supply was dwindling. I was talking with my mom and she said grandma can’t remember how to knit them anymore. My mom had figured out the pattern and wrote it down for grandma but still it was a bit much. So my current dishclothes were knit by my mother, I likely will not have anymore knit my grandmother.

And  just yesterday I finished my first one. I noticed mistakes and I am definitely not the woman my grandmother and mother are but I feel so blessed for all the little connections that bind us together even if it is a dishcloth. I have seen other patterns I might try but this one will always connect me to my grandma.

So thankful for all these amazing women have taught me.

For those of you who are interested

Grandma’s dishcloths

Cotton yarn and needles 7-10 depending on how tight you want it.

Cast on 4 knit 2 or 3 rows.
On the next row knit 2, then yarn over and knit to end of the row.
Continue in this way until you have gotten to widest point you want, you will be increasing one every row.
Once you get to the widest point you can begin decreasing. So knit 2, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to 5 stitches from the end knit 2 together, then knit remaining stitches.
When you get to 6 stitches on needles knit 2, yarn over, knit 2 together and knit to end of row.
Next row, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit to end of row.
Next row knit.
Next row, bind off.

Goat Milk Mozzarella = Pizza

We are settling into a very nice rhythm around here, though we did have the major flu work its way through the house. Even though I only got a mild case I found that having the rhythm of chores and others to care for (animal and human) helped me keep my priorities straight through the illness. I was actually feeling really out of balance before that but the illness helped me slow down and reprioritize and find comfort in things I previously took for granted. I am actually starting to enjoy the milking now. One of the perks is all the homemade goodness.

We are discovering a new love in our home–homemade pizza. This is made all the better with homemade cheese from our goats.

I used Rikki Carroll’s 30 minute Mozzarella recipe. I wasn’t sure if it would work with goat milk but it did and was delicious!

Proeun found a dough recipe he wanted to try with Avril’s help.

Avril and Mavis add the toppings.

The children proud of their delicious creations. Even if you don’t make everything from scratch it was such a rewarding experience making dinner with the children and the loved it. What a great way to connect! How do you like to connect with your family?