Monthly Archives: October 2011

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.

The joy of work–chopping wood

Contrary to popular belief kids love hard work, especially when done with their parents and they really feel like they are helping.

I promised I would share more of our staycation adventures. Well we didn’t just stay, we went camping also. To the family land. We have been working so hard with my parents and Proeun’s family to get a nice cabin set up. The children love having this wild space to explore and Proeun and I love to practice our homesteading skills like identifying mushrooms, trees and tracks, learning the ins and outs or woodburning stoves and propane heaters, lamps, etc.

With hunting season less then 2 weeks away and the newly installed woodburning stove tested out the duty of last week was to chop wood.

Turns out Proeun is a master wood chopper. Proeun and dad work on splitting the logs. While the children wait anxiously outside of flying log range for their signal

to come collect the wood and stack it on the pile.

Even Mavis was able to help. Children now when they are really helping and they love it. I was reminded once again how important it is to include them in daily tasks on a real level. Thank goodness my parents and Proeun were of the same mind.

At the end of the day there is much joy in a job completed. I am so thankful to rediscover the joys of hard work for myself and to share it with my family. Though honestly taking pictures isn’t too hard.

Yah for last minute gifts!

What a wonderful break we had! We went to see a play, went to the zoo, went camping, watched movies, visited family, ate good food and cuddled. I also had an opportunity to work on one of my favorite cold weather pastimes–knitting. I will write more later about knitting but today I want to focus on one of the nice things that having some crafting skills help you do–last minute gifts.

I found out yesterday that one of our close friends just had her baby. I called to arrange to bring a meal and I was asked if “tomorrow would work?” I hesitated for a moment, did I have time to plan a meal, cook it, get a gift and such? Then I remembered my stash of yarn and pantry full of items, “yes” was my reply.

My next step was to go to Ravelry and look for patterns. I typed in quick newborn and quick toys. I picked out the kid’s crown for big sister and the newborn sleeping bag for baby brother.

By skipping nap and working at odd minutes like while the children were doing school and while waiting to pick Proeun up from work, I was able to get both projects done in an afternoon and for no cost. I really loved both patterns, my girls want crowns and the sleeping bag was so cool I know it will be in the future. It is such a pleasure to create things for people who are crafty themselves so even though it took little time and no money I know it will be appreciated in the way only handmades can. Have you made any creative handmade gifts?

Staycation Awaits

I forgot to mention on Monday that we have an excellent staycation planned this weekend. We will use it as a time to focus on relationships, fun and relaxing after a busy rewarding season. So I will be taking a few days off from blogging as well. I will return to blogging next Friday. Before I go though here is another excellent article featuring our story. Happy reading.

Last Delivery of the Season

Today I am filled with gratitude. Thankful for the 42 families and organizations that believed in us and wanted to support family farmers like us (and they chose us, yeah!). The last boxes are out at the dropsites, this evening I will put boxes away for the last time. The field is beginning its winter rest and we are to. This weekend we will begin a nice staycation but that is a different story.

I am sad to, to not be farming to not see our customers every week and not be eating out of our field till next year, but definitely more gratitude then anything else.


This I will miss. The freedom the children have. Once we were camping on family land. Their cousin had come with us. The children were oh about 20 feet from us when she yelled, “heh come back you guys, someone is going to take you!” How much we loose in fear. A moment before they were holding hands, darn my camera–too slow.

Also I love working so closely with this handsome man! Proeun is packing boxes.

Family vehicle bursting at the seams with the whole farm family.

Pumpkins waiting at the dropsites.

Thank-you for all our customers, family and friends for another wonderful year.

And thank-you Star Tribune for a nice article about the Minnesota Food Association and us.

Raking in the Leaves

In years past I have not looked on the task of raking the fall leaves with much relish. We have one very large tree on our small city lot that is the bane of our existence. Honestly it is so hard to keep 2 places maintained, especially when one is a vegetable producing farm. Anyway I digress. I haven’t looked on leaves with much relish. But this year the children have. It certainly helps that the weather has stayed warm so it is fun to have the experience of playing barefoot in the leaves.

Mavis loved throwing them up in the air and letting them fall on her head. The children had been begging to please go play in the leaves. So finally yesterday was the day.

Two liked the big boy job of raking. Avril tried to help but with one rake it was all getting too complicated

So Avril developed her own method. Very resourceful.

Mommy did finally have to step in to help get the pile going. Then the fun really began. They buried each other, pretended they were mummies emerging from the leaves, ran and played tag and begged mommy to come lie in the leaves with them.

Finally I succumbed.

Maybe that tree isn’t so bad after all. Have you taken the time to enjoy the leaves?

History through Textiles: Hmong textiles

I went to a very interesting exhibit at the Center for Hmong Studies. Lee Pao Xiong, executive director for the center told me that the exhibit is about looking at Hmong History through Textiles. He went on to say how the hand production of hemp cloth has been an integral part of traditional Hmong culture from birth to burial.  While I was familiar with some of the finer elements of Hmong embroidery–including paj ntaub and story clothes (I did my college honors project on these) the exhibit got me thinking about how much what we wear says about us. 

Examples of Hmong embroidery.

Detail of embroidery. 

I have been known to knit, crochet, sew, embroider and once tate. It is a very worthwhile and calming experience and it is such a sense of accomplishment when you finish a project. 

Hmong tradition dictates that a mother make 2 of these handmade skirts of each of their daughters–one to be married in and one to be buried in. If you factor in the process to make the cloth, dye the cloth (including some batik) and embroider it it can take 1 year or more to make one skirt. I wrote in an article about these pieces that they were a visible manifestation of a mother’s love and devotion. While machine made clothes are faster and cheaper they loose the art, love and devotion required to produce these works of art. 

I suggested that the Center host a 1 year challenge asking young people to come together and encourage each other in the process of learning an old art. 

The really wonderful thing about art is once learned you can make it your own. Here is a picture of a couture evening dress on display at the Center. Using very traditional elements it becomes an all new art form. It has me thinking about projects I would like to work on this winter season. More to come.