New Year, New Changes and a Baby Picture of Me

The New Year brings with it new changes that I’m incredibly excited about.

The first is a new job.  Before I go into details, I’d like to share a little background information.  For 13 years, I worked as a television news producer.  Nine of those years at KARE 11, the NBC affiliate in the Twin Cities.  I left in August of 2016 when my contract ended to pursue new challenges.  I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer more, meet new people, and check some items off of my bucket list like working in a flower shop.  (In case you’re wondering, yes, Hollywood does glamorize the florist industry.  No, you are not prancing around in cute dresses and sky-high heels arranging flowers every day.  There are a lot of buckets, bleach and sweeping.  Rubber-soled shoes are a must unless the thought of slipping on wet floors and flower stems appeal to you.  That said, the flowers.  Oh the flowers.  Going in every day was a feast for the senses.  Plus, it gave me a creative outlet.)  During this time, I did try to find a full-time gig.  Despite numerous comments about how intriguing my resume is and tons of interviews, nothing materialized.

After talking with the fella last fall, I decided to give television news another try.  I honestly miss news.  I miss being in the know.  I miss the buzz of the newsroom on a big news day.  I miss the writing.  I miss the excitement.

This coming Monday, I start at FOX 9 as a morning show producer and I cannot be more thrilled.  The people I’ve met there so far are great and I love their commitment to the community.

And that’s not all.  A week from today, I start teaching again at my alma mater, St. Cloud State University.  News Producing 101.  Well, technically, it’s COMM 379, but I’ll be teaching a room of students what I did for 13 years.  I taught for a semester in 2016 after I left KARE 11, but it was a temporary position.  I was filling in for my old college professor while he was on sabbatical.  This time around I’m filling in for him while he’s on leave.  It’s a shorter gig this time — just 9 weeks or so — but I’m really looking forward to it.

Another milestone I hope to hit in 2018 is to become a U.S. citizen.  People are surprised when I tell them that I am a legal resident, but not a U.S. citizen.  My parents and I immigrated to the United States when I was 16 months old.  We are Hmong.  During the Vietnam War, the Hmong helped the U.S. fight communism.  After the war, communist soldiers in Laos started targeting Hmong people.  Many Hmong, like my parents, made the dangerous escape to Thailand, where they lived in refugee camps.  That’s where my parents met, married and had me.

baby panhia
Baby Me

By this time, many Hmong people were being sponsored to the United States.  My parents and I arrived in 1982 after relatives in the U.S. sponsored us.

Since our arrival, five more biological and four adopted siblings joined our family.  My parents eventually became U.S. citizens.  The sad thing is, I am the only person in my immediate family who is not a citizen.  I just never got around to it.  The big reasons, it’s expensive and I just never made it a priority, until now.  That changes this year.  I plan to become a U.S. citizen so I can be like other Americans and get called up for jury duty and vote.

Other plans for 2018 include opening an Etsy shop, devoting more time to this blog, and being the best me I can be.  Read: no slacking in 2018.  Are you excited?  I sure am!

Here’s to 2018!

Garden · Uncategorized

Succulents are Having a Moment


Succulents are totally the It plant right now.  It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use, they’re everywhere — from wedding bouquets and boutonnieres to terrariums and wall art.  Seriously, everywhere.

A friend of mine recently gifted me some leaves that had broken off of her plants and urged me to propagate my own — and its incredibly easy.

If you don’t have a generous friend with unwanted succulent leaves, you’ll need to remove leaves from a healthy plant.  Gently wiggle it back and forth until the entire leaf breaks off.  (You need the entire leaf, or the magic won’t work.)

drying out


Next, leave the leaves out to dry for a couple of days so the end where it attached to the stalk can scab up.  I left mine on a paper towel well away from the determined paws of our curious kitty, Lillith.  (Probably should have unclumped them, but details, details.)


After a few days, take the leaves and lay them on a bed of soil.  Miracle Grow makes a cactus potting mix that’s also perfect for succulents.  You want soil that drains well.  Root rot is not fun.

I then mist the leaves with a spray bottle.  You’ll want to do this whenever the top of the soil dries out.  After about a week you’ll start to see tiny roots sprout from the end of the leaf that was attached to the plant.  In a couple more weeks you’ll notice tiny leaves spout up.

Then comes the waiting game.  Succulents grow slowly.  I started these guys about six months ago and they’re still tiny.  I have yet to experience it, but I heard that it could take up to a year (or more) for that leaf to reach full size.




I just started these guys this week, so it will likely be a while before anything major happens.  I am starting to see some minuscule roots, but I try not to disturb them too much.




Here are some I propagated about six months ago.  They are about an inch and a half tall.  They’re a bit stretchy, so it’s likely they need more sun.  (Still learning as I go.)






These plants actually started from the stump of a succulent I decapitated after it got too leggy.



You can re-pot them once they get bigger or just leave them as is.  I can’t decide quite yet what I’m going to do with them.  I do love the succulents in a tray thing.  I just want to find the right container for them.  I also want to try succulent kokedama since you can hang them.  That way they will be out of the reach of Lillith’s grabby paws.  (Maybe I should start calling her Jabberwocky — you know, “the jaws that bite, the claws that catch.”)


I’ll keep you guys posted on what happens with this new batch of leaves.


P.S. My florist friend has put her foot down on making boutonnieres with succulents.  Those juicy leaves break very easily.  You practically have to handle them with kid gloves.  Actually — even more gently than kid gloves.  What’s more gentle than kid gloves?  Baby gloves?  I digress.  Expect to pay a ton of money for that trendy boutonniere.  On the plus side, it’s a good excuse to avoid all those hugs from Aunt Mildred.


A Long Time Coming

I’ve dreamed of this day for the past — forever it seems.  My first blog post.  I don’t know why I haven’t gotten around to starting a blog until now.  My loved ones have been encouraging me to do it for years.  I love to write.  I love sharing knowledge with others. So I did it today.

First off, here’s me:


As you can see by the picture, I have two thumbs.  What you can’t see is my love for my family.  I am Hmong.  In my culture family is huge.  In my case literally and figuratively.  I am the oldest of ten siblings.  I am married to a wonderful guy who believes himself to be rough and gruff, but has a big heart.  (Quick story: The other morning he got up early to put the garbage on the curb.  He didn’t stop there.  Our neighbors had hauled out two mattresses and two box springs and had just left them in their driveway a week ago.  So what does he do?  He hauls them to the curb.  What a guy.  I would have let them be, but that’s just me.)

I can’t write about myself without mentioning our cats.  They are delightful.

I adopted Madelyn 13 years ago from a shelter in Lincoln, NE.  She is my snuggle bug.  Clementine came to us from the human society in Coon Rapids, MN.  This quirky girl loves to search for spots of sun around the house.  My husband found Lillith several years ago on the engine of his tow truck during the polar vortex.  Her eyes were still closed and she still had her umbilical cord scar.  He brought her home and we bottle raised her.  Lillith fancies herself a farmer.  My houseplants bear many signs of her efforts.  We also have neighborhood cats stop by the house.  They get a treat and a food name.  So far we have Frijoles, Gnocchi, Ghee and Kishka.

I worked as a television news producer for 13 years and had the opportunity to work with some of the best journalists in the country.  (The picture above was taken in one of the newsrooms.)  My career took me to Lincoln, NE and Flint, MI where I met many incredible people and made some wonderful friends.  I recently had the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine.  I filled in for my old college professor while he was on sabbatical and taught news producing.  I’d love to go back to teaching someday.  Professor Panhia does have a lovely ring to it.  I’m currently doing freelance media relations and social media.  I also moonlight as a florist every now and then.

So why did I start this blog?  As I mentioned earlier, I love to write and have been yearning for an outlet since leaving television news where I wrote a lot.  I love being creative.  I cook, craft, sew, knit, crochet, and can among other things.  I also love new experiences — whether it’s checking out a new restaurant in town or a new city.  And as I mentioned earlier, I love sharing my knowledge.  So on my blog, you will see Panhia cook.  You will see Panhia craft.  You will see Panhia sew.  You will see Panhia explore.  I hope to share these experiences with you.

One last thing, in case you were wondering, while reading this inaugural entry, how to pronounce my name, it’s Panhia, like Tanya, but with a P.  It means “Silver Flower” in Hmong.