Monthly Archives: January 2014

Off my bookshelf

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately. Honestly I have come to view reading as my original creative activity. Out of it comes so many things that make life more enjoyable. Reading affects my creativity in so many ways. Whether my reading sparks an idea I really need to process through my own writing or becomes a wonderful family dinner, embroidery project or just soul food, I really feel it when I am not spending an adequate amount of time in books.

I did finally break down and buy a kindle (or Proeun bought one for me) but that was mostly because some books that I really wanted were only available in a digital format. I still much prefer real, physical books.

Come to think of it most of the books I have purchased I found out about on a blog. The very first blog I ever started reading was Soule Mama. I have all her books now and have found that they really give me that soul food that I need. Her family lives on a hobby farm in northern Maine and in many ways they have been on a similar journey as our family. Her most recent book, The Rhythm of Family has short essays from both her and her husband in honor of each month as well as projects and activities that can be done as a family. Since it is January (still) I have started from the very beginning and try to do at least one of the activities a month.

A recent addition to my blog reading is Yummy Mummy. I stumbled across this site when I was searching for “healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.” I found this recipe. Now I make this yummy and healthy recipe a couple times a month. Especially when mommy needs a little pick-up at snack time.

The book The Yummy Mummy Kitchen has many more delicious recipes. But I also love the brief essays and life tips. While Marina Delio lives in California and has a very international background I can’t relate to some areas of her life but I find her recipes delicious and her passion infectious. She writes in the introduction, “I’m not the Yummy Mummy. You are.  . .A Yummy Mummy is not a high-maintenance mom. Being a Yummy Mummy does not mean weekly manicures, grocery shopping in stilettos or nannies. It has nothing to do with money or perfection, it’s an attitude. She puts the kids first, but also takes care of herself and finds balance amid the chaos.” I definitely need to work on this but good food always helps.

I have also always loved handcrafts. My mother taught be all the basics, but now I am discovering so many great resources. Anna Maria Horner has a style I really connect with so when she came out with her own embroidery book I pre-ordered it (yes I wanted it that bad). It is such a joy to browse. and now Avril and I are working on our own project. I help thread the needle, pick out the thread and lay the foundation stitches then she comes back and finishes it. It is a great way to wind down in the evening.

Anna Maria also inspired me towards design. I used to design my own fashions, at 7 years old. I would make catalogs entitled JCAmy. But for the most part my designs and passion for it has been lost. But this winter I have been reminded of how much I love fashion and design. Wanting to explore this further I bought Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design. It begins with the very basics and moves forward. I love the interviews with the designers and sidebar tips. Soon the season will begin in full swing and I am definitely looking forward to warmer weather, but till then I am enjoying my indoor comforts.

Meet Miracle

As Ma Ingalls would say, “there is no great loss without some small gain.” In this case it is a pretty big gain. The cold weather has been really hard on the animals. Couple that with the fact that last fall there was an “accidental” breeding, in the fact that my efforts to keep the male and female goats separated failed. I was really hoping that just because they were together that didn’t mean that there was any breeding. But last Wednesday night I was doing chores. I had suspicions but still convinced myself no there wasn’t an early breeding. But the next morning I found out that I was wrong. This little girl was nearly dead, her mother had cleaned her up but was unable to help her further until I arrived to do chores. I put her in my coat and rushed back to the house. I brought the hair dryer and heating pad and we were able to revive her.

Unfortunately there were 3 babies born that morning to 2 females. What are the odds right? Two babies did not survive. So it was definitely bitter sweet that this little girl made it. Now she is living in our house. There is no way we can introduce her back to the barn until temperatures are in at least the twenties consistently. With this winter I am assuming it will be 3-4 months.

Her mom really misses her and we have been milking both the mothers, though unfortunately one will not have babies returned to her.

It really threw me off last week. It was a big reminder that when you have animals you are responsible for so much. It has been a wonderful learning lesson for the children though. I am so proud of how there are stepping up and helping with the bottle feedings and playing with her and taking care of her. They were very sad about the babies that didn’t survive but are throwing all their efforts into this little girl they named Miracle.

She won’t be able to follow us around the house for too long but right now everyone in the family loves having her, even Hiro, our aging dog. He has seen a lot of new life come into this family and he loves all of it.

Very sad for our loss but happy for this gain.

Meet The Doeuns

I have to admit that after the Duck Dynasty fiasco around Christmas time I was curious so I watched the show for the first time and admittedly liked it. See I am attracted to real people, quirky people, funny people, people who are comfortable in their own skin. Even if I don’t agree with them. One thing I noticed on the show is when the family says, “You’re a Robertson” they all seem to have an idea of what that means.

I was reminded of one of my favorite movies, “Meet the Robinsons” where a young boy finds the family he always wanted in a surprising way. The Robinsons are definitely quirky but also perfect, they also have a family identity and slogan, “Keep Moving Forward.”

It got me thinking, who exactly are the Doeuns. I know the family that I grew up in was all about history and animals. The family Proeun grew up in was all about family, even extended family. But who are we?

I can tell you what we love–family, food, animals, and learning especially about the things previously mentioned. Family is a driving force for us. It is what brought us to farming, what drives us to pursue a simple life, it is fun, it is comforting.

Food is also a driving force. We love great food, especially with simple, fresh ingredients (which pretty much describes Cambodian food). I love cooking, baking and creating tasty food, now I have 3 little girls (and sometimes I can pull the boy away from TV to join us) who love cooking with mommy and we can combine two interests. Proeun’s and my idea of a great date night is cooking something together in the kitchen.

Animals also are a great passion. When our oldest was 3 we went to the State Fair’s “Miracle of Birth Center” the next 45 minutes were very stressful for this mama as he seemed on a mission to touch and look at every animal regardless of the crowds of where his parents were. When we moved to the farm we were advised not to get animals right away but that was a huge reason we wanted to move. Now we love learning about animals and how to better care for them. We might have a horse trainer in the family, maybe a veterinarian, who knows.

Learning is great. Our philosophy is that you should always be learning. Farming is great for challenging you mentally and physically. There is always something to learn. This is also why we homeschool, because we want to make sure the children have time to pursue their interests and get fired up about learning.

Finally we love the outdoors, though some of us more then others (we have a princess in our midst who would much rather stay inside but she humors us). We love being outdoors whether working, playing, learning or cooking.

Yes now I have a bit more of an idea of what it means to be a Doeun and I hope you do to.

Midwinter Fun

Seasonal living is pretty new to me. By seasonal living I mean enjoying the here and now for what it has to offer and not constantly looking forward to the next thing. For example enjoying home life, long evenings relaxing and crafting, comfort foods, stories and homeschool in full swing during the winter. And loving the long days, evenings playing outdoors, warm weather and hearty work of the summer months and everything in between. I really love it.

But this winter what can I say? As much as I love winter I am dreaming a bit of spring, a lot of spring. The polar vortex wasn’t as hard on us as I thought it would be. My chores outfit is perfect. Some great long johns I picked up at TJ Max ages ago, army fatigues from my dad, a carhart jacket from my mom, rubber boots from Fleet Farm a Fleece hood and lined work gloves from the local feed store and I was quite comfortable working outside. We stressed out quite a bit about the animals and even considered bringing them all to the garage but knew that wasn’t practical so we made them as comfortable as possible and hoped for the best and they did quite well actually. One morning I was out early and found out how the goats slept, sandwiched together, side by side in a long row alternating between heads and tails so each kept their neighbor’s backs warm. When they stood up the barn cats were under them!

Anyway this weekend gave us a bit of the winter joy back, yes I can handle this. One highlight of winter is sleep overs with grandma and grandpa. The children get so excited when my parents come for a visit, this weekend we had something special planned–snowshoeing.

As usual it took us longer to get everyone ready then to snow shoe, but it was still worth it. I told Proeun then only solution is not taking them outside which for one is not practical and doesn’t fit with our goals.

Even the dogs really enjoyed the snow.

It was such a nice break from the bitter cold and to actually be outside enjoying the weather. I am hoping to have it be a weekend tradition.

Yes it will good for spring to come, but with this little reprieve in the weather I am ready to carry on until then. In addition to school their are lots of fun things going on around here, more in the next couple months.

It is hard to believe we are already half way through January and soon CSA season will begin in earnest but planning has already begun around hear and our CSA shop is officially open. Pop on over to our CSA page or visit us on Local Harvest.

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.