Monthly Archives: July 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise

It’s definitely Just Another Day in Paradise type day. But you know as the song suggests it really is paradise even with clothes on the line and a broken dryer (again). But days like today I feel so thankful for a resourceful husband who knows how to fix stuff and save us money! Especially when we are saving money to buy a farm.

My uncle grew up on a northern Minnesota dairy farm. He is my fix it guru (other then E-How and Youtube). One day I asked him how he got so good at fixing stuff and he said, “when you grow up on a farm and you don’t have much money you just have to.” Well we are “having to” a lot lately but really racking up the skills.

Weekend Fun

It is so easy to let the business of life get overwhelming and crowd out the things that are really worthwhile. The things we are working for all along.

In years past we have taken a fair number of camping trips. Once we started farming this got a little more complicated, but we still enjoyed our refuge in the woods. This last weekend we planned to go camping, but with the heat of the previous week we were behind at the farm. So we stayed and made our own refuge. It was so worth it. We set up the “pool” in the backyard and went “swimming” three nights in a row. We grilled out and had favorite meals.

Proeun grilling up the goodness. I love sarongs!

On the grill–slices of zucchini and eggplant with a marinade of soy sauce, lime juice, honey, onion and garlic powder, green onions, and traditional Hmong sausage.

Already off the grill–turkey burgers with dill, parsley, onion and garlic powder and lamb steaks from  Blue Genetian farm.

We like to eat our meat wrapped in lettuce with herbs like mint, cilantro and sorrel. Then we dip the wrap in a spicy dip of roasted ground chilis, garlic, lemon and sugar with a pinch of salt.

It made for a very special weekend and reminded me that sometimes kids prefer eating at home to restaurants and backyard pools to water parks (and I do to), especially when it is all together as a family.

Sandhill cranes

So every morning this week when we have gone to the farm our resident Sandhill Cranes were there but I never had a camera. So today I brought a camera intending to take pictures but they were no where to be seen. There was more then usual activity at the farm so that may be why. I’ll keep trying to get pictures and share them as soon as I can.

Fruit Fruit everywhere

My sentiments exactly Avril. But heh what we in Minnesota won’t do for wonderful fruit. Our fruit shipment from Washington came in last night during one of the hottest, most humid days of the summer. A friend said yesterday the only place in the western hemisphere more humid then Minnesota was the Amazon according to MPR (Minnesota Public Radio).

But we got all 249 boxes unloaded from the semi and into our living room and today there is much joyous snaking as friends and family come to pick up nature’s bounty. On a slightly philosophical note today I am reminded of just how blessed we are in this country. Just look at the stacks of fresh produce available to us! And thanks to next door neighbors for helping us unload and bringing amazing fresh bread over to us. Now we have bread and fruit.

This week at the farm

The warm weather is suddenly gearing up for the peak of the growing season. With the solstice behind us and August fast approaching it seems like this summer has been really short. But our crops are growing nicely and we are getting plenty of good veggies. Here’s what’s happening around the farm.


Asian long beans.

Swiss chard

Kohlrabi. Growing vegetables have really expanded my tastebuds. My aunt told me about this wonderful veggie last year and how to grow it. So this year I get just a taste. Next year I’ll have to grow more.

Playsilks for Effie

Awhile ago a friend of mine taught the wonders of Kool Aid–not to drink but for dyeing. Turns out Kool Aid will dye animal fibers (i.e. wool, silk, etc.) A girl I went to German camp with when I was younger even dyed her hair green with Kool Aid.

Then another friend introduced me to Dharma Trading for all the cut things to dye. And low and behold they have silk scarves. A few years ago I bought 3 playsilks and decided to make 3 more for the older children for Christmas, but for Effie I wanted something smalled and more manageable.

I chose a 12 pack of Silk Ladies Hankerchiefs for under $11. Add a bunch of Kool Aid and you have a pretty reasonable toy.

So put a pack of Kool Aid in a bowl (here we have lemon- lime and blue raspberry) and enough water to cover the hankerchiefs. Stir and the silk and put in the microwave for 30 seconds. Let cool in the bowl and it will absorb the dye more, notice the water is no longer blue or green. Rinse and hang dry.

Play. (Sorry for my messy floor, you know kids).

Happy 4th of July!

OK I know it’s a bit late but late, but this weekend was our annual 4th of July camping trip at the family property near Cloquet. Family has gotten to be a bigger word (or meaning) for me. Our family trip this year included us, my parents, 2 of Proeun’s brothers, 2 nephews and a niece and 4 friends. It was pretty international also with at least 3 languages being spoken around camp. The weekend included,

Playing outside on our makeshift swing set of a log wedged between two trees with swings attached. Obviously they didn’t need anything too fancy.

Picking flowers.

Dinner by lantern light.

And best of all, sleeping during the day time. Naps are such a missed blessing.

A Capitol Day

Today in honor of July 4th and since we have a possible government shutdown looming I took the children on a little tour of the capitol. It is quite near our house and often coming home at night the children will point it out. In my work as a writer for Hmong Times I spend a fair amount of time at the capitol and I have been known to take the children with me on assignment. But I didn’t realize that they were fascinated with the building. When they found out today’s work would take me near the capitol they really wanted to go inside.

They were craning their heads to see everything.

And there is a lot to see at the capitol.

The day turned into an impromptu history and civics lesson. We went to the Senate and I pointed out our Senator and talked a bit about elections. We looked at the statues and commemorations and I explained a bit about the Civil War.

They wanted to know the name of each of the statues and what the men did. Two said, “I sure am learning a lot, I like it!”

I explained that this is the “people’s house.” And that we should feel comfortable coming here (I am still working on that one). Let’s see how often they ask to go now.