Category Archives: New Year

Superbowl=$$$$ not buying futures

We have just entered a new fiscal year at the Doeun household. Each year around this time we like many Americans begin preparing our taxes, through this process we look closely at the previous year’s financials and make plans for the coming year.

At the same time our home state will host the Superbowl this year. Our home team is just one win away from playing in that Superbowl–the first time ever a team would play in their own stadium for Superbowl. My husband has several co-workers that are season ticket holders for the Vikings. They said that while they pay around $99 to view a Vikings game. If they go to the Superbowl even the cost of the nosebleed sections run in the thousands of dollars.  A good seat could be as high as $30,000-40,000!

We have hopes and dreams for the future that include financial security. As we contemplated what financial success would look like for us the question came up “would we ever spend that kind of money on a sporting event?” There was no hesitation, never in a million years would we spend that money in that way. Each year we hope that the next year we can donate more.

Proeun grew out of displacement and poverty–the refugee experience. He often says, “try getting a good grade on a Math test when you haven’t eaten over the weekend.” While we home school our children I have recently become impressed with out amazing our public school system is. I purchased the book Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan at the Rush City Library’s Christmas book sale. Akpan’s collection of short stories transports you to a world mostly tragic with some beauty thrown in. The first story, “The Ex-mas Feast,” is the story of a preteen prostitute working on the streets so her brother can go to school. Going to school is not an option for her as school costs money–alot of money. She makes the hard decision to go full-time by entering a brothel. Her brother is so distraught by her sacrifice that he runs away.

Free education for all children, we take it for granted. Fiction does often have the ability to be more truthful then non-fiction. Through stories our world is opened to the experiences of others and my world was rocked by this story. Here we are taking for granted education. Education is truly the ability to have a future.

Then my mind took the leap to how many schools could the Superbowl fund throughout the year? We could be buying futures. What are we buying instead?

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?

Welcome 2014

When we were preparing for our big move to our dream farm it was hard not to be frustrated by delays. Winter was coming and I was anxious to get settled. But delay after delay happened. Finally on New Year’s Eve three years ago we were ready to move. So on the first morning of our new year we woke-up to our dream come true. Now I know what a blessing all those delays were. Now the New Year will forever equal a New Life. I enjoy celebrating my holidays with quiet contemplation–reflection on what this day means to me. Last night I was lying in bed thinking how amazing our life is.

Today it is hard to see out the windows, they are so frosted over. The outside temperatures are not expected to climb out of the negative numbers for a couple days now. But we are celebrating our New Year with a special kind of ordinary–good food, cuddling, movies, games, crafting, reading, togetherness, all while living our dream. It’s a great life.

Last year at this time we set out to get healthy. Seemed like everything had been thrown out of whack a bit but the crazy upheavals no matter how good. Now in addition to looking forward I can look back to the good things this life has given, especially good health. Looking forward to another great year of continued growth. I hope all of you have a special dream or project to drive you forward to the good life.

New Year: 4th of July R and R

I hope all of you had a great 4th. As part of our goals to live a healthier life I am realizing how important it is to take time to rest, relax and celebrate. So even though our CSA deliveries have just started the work began pretty heavily back in March so we are actually about mid-way through our heavy work season. So for the 4th we decided it was time to celebrate.

We had family and friends over for a 4th of July cookout, then on the 5th we headed up North to some of our favorite spots. I have always loved Duluth and the North Shore and last year I was so focused on work we didn’t take time to go. But this year we made it a priority.

A smoked fish and cheese curd picnic at our favorite beach just a little north of Two Harbors. Yes there are some extra children in the picture family and friends came with us.

Gooseberry Falls, another family favorite.

The first time we went to the falls we came in our normal street clothes and just expected a nice hike. Little did we know that Gooseberry is one of the few places I know to get up close and personal with a waterfall. All these people were swimming and splashing in the water and we felt pretty out of place. Since then we have come planning on joining them. Yes this hike involves swimsuits and towels now.

Two on Nature’s water slide.

Avril with some of our family and friends enjoying the spray.

And how did Pray like his first trip to Gooseberry. As you can see it was just like home.

New Year: Healthy Soil–Review of “Back To Eden”

Last night Proeun and I watched a life changing video, literally. See we knew that farming was not an easy life, and we were totally willing to embrace that, feeling that we were called to live this life. We have been very blessed by our move and loving every minute of it, but it is alot of work, especially bringing soil back to life that has been farmed conventionally for years.

One of the great people we met during our move loaned us a copy of Back to Eden and we finally sat down to watch it last night. See we had heard about no-till farming but weren’t really sure how to go about implementing it. “Back to Eden” gives you a step by step example of the how to and also the benefits. Turns out that even though man lived in a garden when first created, he didn’t actually till the soil until after the fall.

The movie goes on to explore different coverings that the earth naturally uses for its soil and how to recreate that on your on your own land. Now the answer to so many of our labor intensive problems like weeding and irrigating and building up the soil are answered in one way, covering and no-till. So we begin our process this year. We are so excited. One of the women on the video who visited the demonstration garden was asked if she would use the same methods at home, “definitely she said, in about 3 hours.” We feel the same way. So so excited.

New Year: DIY Hard Lotion Bars

As you probably remember most of my goals this year revolve around better health. While most people think about eating right and exercising as keys to good health (and they are definitely a priority for me) I am realizing what I put on my body by way of personal care products have a huge effect on health. There are some great companies out there run out of homes and producing excellent products for health, Blue Vervain is one of my favorites, but I am a Do It Yourself (DIY) kind of gal.

Luckily Erin at Blue Vervain totally gets that and offers great classes locally on how to make some wonderful products and keep your family healthy with herbs. She is also the one who introduced me to Brambleberry for supplies–another great company.

So this Christmas Proeun and I decided to get serious about our personal care products as well as other areas of our health. I have had a great time researching recipes and essential oils and best of all trying stuff out.

This weekend was our first foray into soap making, but that will have to wait for another post since the soap isn’t yet ready to come out of the molds. Anyway while I was prepping the oil and lye solution the girls were gazing whistfully at the kithen wanting oh so bad to be a part of the making. However soap is definitely not child’s play. So we started a different project that I hope was just as fun–Hard Lotion Bars. I found this simple recipe here. I made it of equal parts coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter. The measuring and using the kitchen scale were the fun part for the girls.

Then into my makeshift double boiler to melt together. Once melted we picked out the scent. The instructions didn’t recommend citrus scents for outdoor wear–something about amplifying the suns effects. So I let the girls pick from my non-citrus scents. They picked Rosemary, who would have thought, wish I could get them to eat it.

Anyway then they picked out the molds and we poured the melted mixture in to harden.

They are so proud of their work. Proeun complimented me on my soft hands last night, they are super fun to use and smell and feel great but it does take a little getting used to after using liquid lotions my whole life. It is great for hands but I need to get better at moisturizing legs and arms and such.

New Year: Back to Cloth

It all started when Proeun and I were just married. We were at the insurance office getting me added to Proeun’s policies. It just so happened that it was right next door to Peapods. I was killing time and went in to look around and saw an amazing selection of cloth diapers. I remembered my mom and grandma talking about using cloth diapers on their babies and how much cheaper it was. I had a new sister-in-law expecting and told Proeun we should buy some for her. That was my first cloth diaper purchase. When we had our first baby a year latter we got those cloth diapers back. I loved using cloth and while I occasionally used disposables (like when my son was born premature and those cloth diapers simply didn’t fit and for heavy wetters at night) I preferred cloth for the next 3 babies.

Then baby #4 came along. We were farming and oh so busy. I was on bedrest for the end of the pregnancy and then had a difficult birth and recovery period. Also our washer and dryer were not working. With the previous baby I had had to hang the diapers on the line, I was no longer willing to do that and so baby number 4 was almost always in disposables. I loved the convenience of it but not the expense or full trash cans.

I knew I wanted baby #5 back in cloth and so started inventorying and adding to my supply. Once he was born I realized the additions I needed to add to my stash. I looked at prices on the internet and planned. Then I came across some great patterns on etsy and Diaper Sewing Supplies and started my journey to making my own diapers. 

Effie is in the Trimsies trainer pattern and Pray is in the this diaper pattern.

Here are some of my handmades and favorites–prefolds from Peapods and Contour diapers from Kissaluvs, some more trainers and the Rocket Bottoms Cover Pattern.


Pray sleeping on my lap in his new diaper.

All these patterns were pretty easy to make and they turned out oh so cute with the personalized fabric from diaper sewing.

Here is more information about cloth diapers from one my favorite blogs.

New Year’s Resolution

I have never done a New Year’s Resolution. But I have been doing lots of things the past couple of years that I have never done before and I suppose in actuality this is not a New Year’s Resolution, but a life resolution, part of the journey I have been on with my family.

We now have our dream farm, but I want to enhance it with an increased focus on health, peace and tranquility. It is so easy to get caught up in life’s busyness and forget to take care of our health (both physically and mentally) and our relationships. In the interest of full disclosure our journey to the farm hit a low point when we were commuting back and forth to rented land. We were still living in the city, we were surrounded by a very fast pace of life and living one ourselves, even though almost every day we got to go to the country to farm. We were busy, busy, busy. Often on the way back from the farm as we were rushing home for Proeun to go to his “day” job we had to stop and grab fast food. Yes here we were farming wonderfully healthy food but not having the time to cook it, or even harvest any for personal use.

We were way out of balance. As you can imagine our health suffered, physically obviously but also mentally with all the busyness and feelings of not living the way we really wanted, we were on a journey but not there yet.

Now we are where we want to be and it is time to reclaim our health, vitality and love for life. This winter has been like a healing balm as we have been able to slow down, evaluate what is missing in our lives and make plans for achieving our goals. So this year we will take time to slow down and enjoy, eat better, exercise more, breathe more, love more and focus on sharing all these goals with the children. I want a healthy, vibrant life that is also full of peace and tranquility.

Already we are seeing some good results just by changing our focus. Throughout the year I will start posts about our specific goals with the title New Year. I hope you join us.