Category Archives: Oregon!

Meet Our Northwest Farmers: Lonely Lane Farms

 

Mike Kloft and Patty Bochsler. Lonely Lane Farms. MomsicleBlog

About a year ago we started to get all of our meat from Lonely Lane Farms out of Mt. Angel, Oregon. It sounds like maybe we’re rich or crazy crunchy. Not so. It’s just that we live in Oregon, and it was easy.

Lonely Lane Farms is an eco-friendly family farm that can be found at the Beaverton Farmers Market (also in grocery stores in the Corvallis and Eugene areas, and restaurants in the Portland area).

Lonely Lane Farms. MomsicleBlog

When I approached owner Mike Kloft at the farmers market, he was happy to answer questions about pig living conditions and relative animal happiness levels. That’s right, Portlandia is real, people.

Mike and his wife Patty even said the gremlins and I could come down to the farm during the market offseason to stock up if our winter freezer ran low.

It’s pretty easy to run out of bacon and sausage, as you probably know–especially  with the promise of a trip to the farm–so in late January we headed off to Lonely Lane, and we fell more in love than we were before.

Lonely Lane Farms. MomsicleBlog

This is a small family farm with big ambitions. They started processing all meat on-site for better quality control, and they also grow all their own feed. Soon they’ll start packing meat for other local farms.

Lonely Lane’s pigs and cows are raised with no hormones, no antibiotics, and no animal by-products, which was key for ust.

I’ve come across one-too-many mainstream articles about the deplorable conditions and chemicals in much of American meat raising and processing.

And buying a pound of ground beef that was a product of Uruguay and New Zealand and Australia makes me feel weird. I’m a patriot. My beef should be American. Or at least not so fast and loose with its passport, right?

I never thought we’d be able to get all of our meat from a local farm, but I wanted to see if it was possible.

So we made some trade-offs. We switched to lower cost cuts and preparations of meat—pork butt to roast in the slow cooker, sausage, ground beef, and bacon (of course!). Maybe once or twice a year we will get some flank steak or a tenderloin. We also do more meatless nights, which works well with the fact that I kept getting beaten over the head by articles that said, “Eat more vegetables!”

We are planning to go back to Lonely Lane in the summer to see the cows grazing (they were under cover when we went due to the time of year). In the meantime, you can find them at the Beaverton Farmers Market, which just started back up with its winter market!

Here are a couple more pictures from the farm. (And by the way, it’s worth it to head to Mt. Angel–just southeast of Woodburn in the Willamette Valley–for a day trip. It’s a picturesque small town that also boasts a Benedictine abbey and a couple of cute, family-friendly restaurants.)

The lonely lane itself….

Lonely Lane Farms. MomsicleBlog

Mike and Patty with baby John (this kid has a lot of real tractors, which was a point of jealousy for K-Pants). Also, he’s adorable.

Lonely Lane Farms. MomsicleBlog

Our furry bovine friends.

Lonely Lane Farms. MomsicleBlog

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The Bend Ale Trail is the Perfect Weekend Away

Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

My husband and I are trying to make fun stuff happen in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, our pets K-Pants and Baby Woww are fun, but they’re fun in a very volatile, Hangover sort of way. Some morning, about 16 years from now, we’re going to wake up with splitting headaches and ask ourselves, “What just happened?!? Do you remember any of it?”

In the meantime, we’re adding in a few lucid moments without the gremlins. And thanks to my parents (thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you), we got a weekend away in Bend, Oregon. There’s a little secret about Oregon: A LOT of the state is high, dry, and dramatic with pine forests, plateaus, and high desert.

Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

Bend is three hours away, simple to drive to if the mountain passes aren’t snowed-in, and there is much beer to try!

Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

There’s also a super long list of outdoorsy, foodie, ski fun, but you can find that here. We focused on the Ale Trail, a hoppy little odyssey of 14 local breweries. We love discovering places through food and drink, and stopping in for a beer and an appetizer was a fantastic way to see different parts of the city, imbibe good beer, and nosh. 

Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

If you can only hit three breweries, do Crux Fermentation Project, Boneyard Beer, and Silver Moon Brewing. Here are the breathtaking taps at Crux.

Crux Fermentation Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

If you need to go to a just-a-restaurant-not-a-brewery, hit Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails.

Zydeco Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

Zydeco Kitchen Bend

If you are searching for a food truck in Bend, definitely go to Glazed and Amused Doughnuts, where you can also have a zombie eat a Justin Bieber fan with every purchase.

Glazed and Amused Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

Look, it’s the Deschutes River!

Deschutes River Bend. MomsicleBlog

Deschutes Brewing is out of Bend, but I would say don’t waste your time going because it’s the exact same experience as in Portland. (Except that you might get a glimpse of how Pacific Northwesterners spell “y’all,” which is pretty cute….)

Not from the South. MomsicleBlog

I will leave you with the critical piece of Bend information: Crux Fermentation Project does happy hour at sunset every day, and their chunk of the sunset is damn satisfying.

Bend Oregon. MomsicleBlog

I would love to hear about your favorite Oregon getaway spots! I hear there’s a cool train through the Wallowas….

Creative Genius: Elegant Elephant Baking Company Drops Gluten-free Goodies At Your Door

Elegant Elephant Baking Company Eugene. MomsicleBlog

A CSA for baking? Is that really a thang??

I wouldn’t believe it except that I was part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) in the Bronx that delivered bread and granola along with veggies. It was amazing! I feel like the more of my food that can be delivered by cool, local peeps, the better. It was awesome then, and with kids, it’s even better now.

So I wanted to hear more when a friend told me her sister Jessie, in Eugene, Oregon, was getting a bakery-boxes, CSA-like project off the ground. Jessie’s business, Elegant Elephant Baking Company, already delivers gluten-free goodies with mostly local and organic ingredients to 15 coffee shops, markets, and other spots in the Eugene area. She’s on Kickstarter (here) until October 17, 2013, to raise funds to expand the business to deliver bakery boxes directly to customers. (UPDATE: It’s funded!!! Now you can say you knew Jessie way back before she got famous.)

Jessie started Elegant Elephant Baking Company at the urging of her husband Evan, who adored her gluten-free cookies (Jessie has celiac disease) and noticed that on his local dairy delivery route–yes, she married the milkman!–nobody was selling gluten-free goods. So Elegant Elephant started up and has gotten rave reviews: The buyer at Market of Choice told Jessie that her twisted-berry scone was the best gluten-free item she had ever eaten!

Elegant Elephant Baking Company. MomsicleBlog

Jessie is also the mom of Ella the-elegant-elephant, who is two.

Elegant Elephant Baking Company. MomsicleBlog

I’m always interested in how moms are investing in their careers while raising children. Speaking from experience it’s a complex picture and constantly feels like uncharted waters. So I got the chance to go back-and-forth with Jessie about the business and her new delivery venture.

Elegant Elephant Baking Company. MomsicleBlog

Me: Tell me more about how Elegant Elephant Baking Company started.

Jessie: I have had celiac disease for eight years, and during that time I’ve had to learn to cook and bake from scratch—something I would have scoffed at previous to my diagnosis.

During my pregnancy, I really kicked it into high gear, trying new things like fried foods, cinnamon rolls, and decadent cookies. (Primarily from the wicked cravings I had for Cinnabon and Chicken McNuggets—things I hadn’t eaten for years prior to not being allowed to!). After mastering a chocolate chip cookie recipe, we had some friends over and I got a wild hair and added toffee and peanut butter chips to the mix and—Violá!—my friends and Evan couldn’t stop talking about them. [These cookies are Elegant Elephant’s Not Your Average Cookies.]

Elegant Elephant Baking Company. MomsicleBlog

Evan at the time was a delivery driver for Lochmead (a local dairy—so yes, I did marry the milkman) and he noticed that at every account no one was selling gluten-free baked goods. I already knew this due to the lack of edible items available at every local coffee shop. I was used to sitting at coffee with friends while they sipped and snacked—and I would keep little treats in the car.

So with Evan’s encouragement, I decided to pursue a small venture as a gluten-free cookie maker for Eugene. My very first account, Eugene Coffee Company, really opened my eyes to what it meant to have a wholesale food business—like having a commercial kitchen and liability insurance and other necessities for selling food. Evan and I had imagined I’d bake ‘em and take ‘em, no big deal. We were wrong! But in the 16 months we’ve been open, we’ve expanded our offerings from that one cookie to brownies, scones, pies, rolls, and many, many more.

We also now have over 15 accounts including Market of Choice, and two spots on the University of Oregon campus. I’m in the works preparing my commercial kitchen to be gluten-free certified—which, with the new FDA regulations–is huge.

Me: I’m always interested in how moms make life work. So how does the bakery schedule work out with your parenting schedule?

Elegant Elephant Baking Company. MomsicleBlog

Jessie: This is growing more complicated by the day! When I had my daughter Ella, my husband was working full-time and I had the luxury of staying home most of the time. We are very fortunate to have a lot of family support, as Ella has six grandparents who all live in Eugene and are very active in her life. Last December, six months after I started up the business, Evan injured his back and hasn’t been able to return to work. We suddenly found ourselves without income (as the profits of the business are still being turned back into the business every month), moving onto my parents’ property, and fighting a battle with the workers compensation company. It’s a long story!

But Evan is now healthy, and has decided to begin doing sales part-time with Elegant Elephant, as well as returning to school in business. With the help of our family we have three days a week of free childcare, and I try to do all of my baking and delivering on these days. So far it has worked out well, and Evan is able to have his school schedule fall on these days also, so he is available to work or have Ella while I bake or work the other days of the week. It’s not perfect but we make it work. 🙂 And Ella is one lucky little girl to be surrounded by so many people who want to dote on her.

Me: Where did “Elegant Elephant” come from? It’s adorable and alliterative–I want to know the story…. 

Jessie: It was hard to choose a name for the business: At the time we weren’t sure if Ella was going to have celiac (my father and I both have it, and she had a 50% chance), so we wanted to have her included somehow. I wanted to go with “Mommy and Me Bake Gluten Free” but Evan thought it was too cutesie. Ella is very interested in elephants, and I played around with lots of names but landed on Elegant Elephant Baking–it just seemed to fit!

Me: You provide baked goods to local Eugene spots like Theo’s Coffeehouse, Market of Choice, Capella, and The Buzz Cafe. How did you convince them that Elegant Elephant was a great bet?

Elegant Elephant Baking Company. MomsicleBlog

Jessie: The convincing of accounts was and is quite interesting. Almost all of the places I go don’t have other gluten-free goods, so it seems like it should be an instant Yes!, however people who aren’t gluten-free often don’t realize there is such a demand for it. But if I can work the chain of command enough to bring in samples, then I’ve only ever had a few places still say no. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, or in our case the scone.

When I finally sat down with the buyer at Market of Choice, she took one bite of my scone and said it was the best gluten-free item she had ever eaten–and she’s been in the biz a long time. That compliment meant–and means–a lot.

Me: I like to experiment with gluten-free baking, but the coconut flour I’ve been using lately seems to soak up all the moisture and totally change my dough. Please help the novice!

Jessie: About baking gluten-free–most alternative flours suck all the moisture out due to the starchiness (a technical term!). For these flours—rice, coconut, etc.—I find that adding additional butter and egg white are super helpful to keep the consistency right.

I also can tell from the dough if it is going to hold together once baked. Ideally you want to pinch it with your fingers and have it mainly retain the mark, but not be too rigid, and not too sticky. Gluten free baking takes a lot of trial and error–and patience.

***

If you want to support this small, local business, visit Elegant Elephant’s Kickstarter page here. The cool thing about Kickstarter is that when you donate to support a project, there’s a reward (for example, brownie bites or twisted-berry scones!).

Jessie, good luck! I can’t wait to try everything when I’m in Eugene next!

***

Other ways to connect with Elegant Elephant Baking Company:

All photos courtesy Jessie Scarola. And thanks to Jenny for putting us in touch!

Our Favorite West-side Portland Pumpkin Patches

Pumpkins. MomsicleBlog

Fall is not complete unless we’ve visited at least three pumpkin patches. At least. I love everything about them (except those diabolical corn-maze-pit-of-horror-things: Those are not G-rated, and therefore I am not allowed inside. Also, with the directional capabilities in my family, I would have to be airlifted out so they could close the maze at the end of the season).

But tractor rides, apple cider, orange-yellow-white-bumpy-smooth-princess pumpkins, farm animals, crisp air, muddy boots… oh be still my childish heart!

Here are our favorite west-side PDX spots.

Lake View Farms in North Plains

32055 NW North Ave., North Plains, OR 97133

Lake View Farms. MomsicleBlog

What’s awesome: There’s a little train AND a little steamboat that take you to the pumpkin patch. Seriously, what is better than riding a miniature train to a field and grabbing a giant pumpkin off the vine? The little sternwheeler even goes by a pirate and a Loch-Ness-monster-thing. Campy? Maybe. Hilarious? Yes. Awesome? More yes. Prices are reasonable, too ($4 ticket for round trip train/sternwheeler, plus cost of pumpkins).

Bella Organic on Sauvie Island

16205 NW Gillihan Rd., Portland, OR 97231

Bella Organic. MomsicleBlog

What’s awesome: Crazy amount of pumpkin choices at good prices (plus they’re organic–yeah!!). There’s a covered picnic area with a miniature hay maze for little people and their freaked-out parents (freaked out by mazes, not parenting). This is where most of our misfit gourds came from last year: white pumpkins, deep orange with green, bumpy, big, small… yeah-ah!!! These squash serenaded me with their insidious squash songs and I couldn’t say no.

Plumper pumpkin Patch way out west in Portland

11453 NW Old Cornelius Pass Rd., Portland, OR 97231

Plumper Pumpkin Patch. MomsicleBlog

What’s awesome: It’s like pumpkin-palooza around here. The farms store is filled with every gourd and gourd-like holiday gift-item, there’s a giant pumpkin launcher, there’s an indoor hay-bale picnic area, and there are adorable farm animals. Did I mention the giant tube slide? Oh, and the tractor ride, of course. Plus you can stop by Helvetia or Rock Creek Tavern on the way back. Prices here are a little spendier, I found, but still pretty reasonable.

Baggenstos Farms in Sherwood

15801 SW Roy Rogers Rd., Sherwood, OR 97140

Baggenstos Farms. MomsicleBlog

The tractor ride here is awesome, and the pumpkin patch is in this little fairytale glade. The bummer is that the pumpkins are not on the vine. Normally that would knock a place off my list, but the enchanted glade is very Charlie-Brown-Great-Pumpkin-ish, the farm store often has local pies, there’s a fantastic play and picnic area, and the drive takes you through some beautiful Willamette Valley scenery.

***

What new spot should we try this year???

 

Creative Genius: Scout’s Honor Clothing Company for Modern Tomboys

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

I get goosebumps when I see friends boldly following their creative passions. I imagine it’s like ripping your heart out and putting it on display for everyone to step on, toss around, and ultimately–hopefully–lift up and make successful.

It takes GUTS. And there’s risk.

(Risk is a four-letter word that I tread lightly around.)

So I’ve got goosebumps all over seeing see my friend Clare Marie from college (top right, wearing her shirt The Scout) starting Scout’s Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys, out of San Francisco. 

I love androgyny. I love seeing a woman rock a good “guy’s” look and make it her own. Most of all, I love this scarf. 

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

It was the scarf that inspired me to become a Scout’s Honor backer on Kickstarter. I’ve never backed anything before. But I wanted that scarf. And for $38 I could have the scarf and be one of the founding backers.

(Do you know about Kickstarter? I didn’t. It’s an online way to fund creative projects. The artist creates a campaign and sets a target amount. If the target amount is pledged by the campaign’s end, the project gets its funding: If not, no moolah. Scout’s Honor is in the final week of its Kickstarter campaign, and is 76% funded–just $2,144 to go.)

Although I can appreciate and drool over a kick-ass braided scarf, I have no idea what it takes to start your own fashion line (besides raw talent and creative cojones) so Clare let us into her world to talk about what it’s like being the genius behind an upstart little fashion brand–or as she calls it, her “extremely unpaid internship.”

Scout's Honor Clothing Company logo

Me: Starting your own business is brave. I’m scared thinking about it. What pushed you to finally dive in?

Clare Marie: But you do have your own business! [Editor’s note: Sort of.] And it is really scary; I think the scariest part of it is how public it is, but sharing my journey with friends, family, and strangers has also been part of the fun.

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

I’ve wanted to study fashion since I can remember. Almost a decade ago, I was getting set to apply for the Masters in Fashion Journalism at the London College of Fashion, but life happened, so that didn’t. Later I made a new plan: work full-time until 2014, save some money, and if you’re still not happy, go to fashion school full-time.

But, again, life happened.

A couple years ago I lost one of my two part-time jobs (still haven’t managed to get that full-time thing going) and decided to just go for it. I couldn’t afford to go to private design school, and I couldn’t afford to leave my other job, but I could take a ton of evening classes at the local community college–and honestly, while we don’t have as much fancy equipment, the instructors at CCSF [City College of San Francisco] are bar none, and that’s what really matters.

Most of them also teach at those private schools I’d dreamed of attending–often they teach the exact same class. They are industry experts, and are very generous with their skills and knowledge. I feel very lucky to have found the program.

Me: Yes, but classes are one thing. Actually doing it is another beast entirely.

Clare Marie: One of the classes I took was “Creating a Garment Business.” That’s where Scout’s Honor was born. I’d been trying to figure out what I really wanted out this experience. Who did I want to work for? What did I want my role to be? And how was I going to make that happen?

I never thought of myself as a business-oriented person. I’m a creative person; I like to make things. But as I worked my way through the business class, I realized that starting a business is the ultimate creative pursuit, not to mention the ultimate learning experience. You get to do it all! It’s your vision, coming to life!

In the class we had to make timelines: production schedules, projected budgets, plans for growth. I would always title them “Scout’s Honor fantasy timeline.” And then one day I realized, well, the first date on my fantasy timeline hasn’t actually passed yet. What if I followed it? What if I did the thing I said I could do by that date, and then I did the next thing, and the next thing? It wouldn’t be easy, but at least I had a plan.

So I set off. I sometimes like to call it my “extremely unpaid internship.”

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

I learned to do as much as I could on my own, and I would work with experts when I needed to. Sometimes hiring people–mostly patternmakers and samplemakers, because at the end of the day, the garments need to be perfect.

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

But a lot of it has involved just picking the brains of friends and acquaintances. You’d be surprised how many people have a connection to the garment industry, or have other skills and knowledge that have helped me find my way. And they’re almost always happy to help.

Me: What was it like to do your first fashion photo shoot? Glamorous, right??

Clare Marie: Oh, of course. No. I don’t know. I over-prepared, but maybe not in all the right ways. My models were all friends, helping me out of the goodness of their hearts, so I wanted to be sure to keep them happy–maybe even happy enough that they’d do it again!

So I wound up bringing a whole bunch of food–cookies, hummus and veggies, sandwich makings–plus all my shirts, plus a whole bunch of other clothes. All this, essentially to the middle of a forest. A city forest, but still. And then once I got there, I sort of had a “What now?” moment.

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

What I can say from this whole experience–not just the photoshoot but all of it–is, wow, I have amazing friends. Both the photographer and another friend–she became my stylist-slash-director–helped me prep for the shoot.

They encouraged me to come up with a story, and I think that was really helpful. The story: we were old friends, reliving our memories of summer camp together.

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

The idea was a little, well, campy, but that helped make it fun, and loosened everyone up. Once we started, I was more than happy to let Stephanie (stylist/director) and Liz (photographer) take the reigns. They both had a lot more experience in that sort of situation. My main role was to make sure everyone was happy, to thank them profusely, and occasionally make requests like “Can we get the red Wrangler with those jeans?”

A few days into the Kickstarter campaign, I decided I wanted to supplement the photos we had with something a little more hip and current, and I was fortunate to be able to coordinate with one of my studio-mates and a good friend who has the perfect look. [Editor’s note: That’s this photo, from the top.]

Scout's Honor Clothing Company for modern tomboys

That shoot was totally different, much more relaxing for me, I think because it was so much less of an unknown. I didn’t bring a picnic, only had one change of pants. It was much more impromptu. At the end of the day, I’m really happy with the results of both, and I learned a ton about what I can do in the future to make it even smoother.

Me: Where do you want Scouts Honor Clothing Company to be in a year?

Clare Marie: Good question! Well, the building where I currently share studio space with nine other people–leatherworkers, printmakers, woodworkers, a photographer–has a funky little storefront [1564 MRKT] that we’ll be bringing to life over the next couple months, so I’m excited that I’ll be able to sell my shirts to folks in person as well as online.

BUT that building is scheduled to be torn down in one to two years (our rent is dirt cheap because of this), so I need to figure out what’s going to come next. I’d love to continue to have access to a storefront, but that may not realistic, financially, so one of my major goals is to find accounts with local boutiques so that I can continue to have a physical presence.

In a perfect world, Scout’s Honor will be self-sustaining in a year. That is to say, it will be my job, and earn me enough to stay afloat in the expensive but magical city [of San Francisco]. In order to make this happen, I’ll need to expand the collection. I have a couple other shirts in the works, and after that I’ll add jeans and shorts, after that a coat. I’d like to partner with other designers who are working on similar projects. I’d like to be making all my own patterns.

Me: Well, it’s happening! Go Clare! 

***

You can get your own scarf, or camp mug, or postcard, or Wrangler shirt, or Scout shirt here.

But don’t feel pressured. Here are some other ways to follow Clare’s journey and show your support for this fledgling fashion line:

Like Scout’s Honor on Facebook

Shout at Scout’s Honor on Twitter (@wearscoutshonor)

Follow Scout’s Honor on Instagram (scoutshonorclothingco)

Or just leave a little love note or smiley face in the comments to tell Clare Marie what you think….

Some Hilarious Things Four Year Olds Say

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

Our little ragtag crew went for a leisurely, and very short stroll that involved eating snacks hike this morning. The Chaos Team was joined by our pal Luke. (I’m calling him Luke because of his fondness for Star Wars.)

Luke is four, like K-Pants, and four year olds are a strange breed. They’re like part crotchety-old-man-with-no-dialogue-filter and part endless-optimist. And it is gayyre-awhhhn-teeed that everything that comes out of their mouths is 100% accurate.

  • Me: You said, Thunderstorms like dirty air? I’m not sure if that’s right.
  • K-Pants: Yes it is. The trees told me that.

So when two of these quirky beasts get together, the best plan is to just sit back and enjoy. Here, join us on our hike at the Portland Audubon Society.

A Chat Between Four Year Olds (All Facts Below Are Certifiably True, Especially Brain Sizes)

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

K-PANTS: This owl is Julio. He’s a genius because geniuses have black eyes.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

K-PANTS: This bird wants to invite Julio over to his house for a play date.

LUKE: Han Solo is Chewbacca’s friend.

Audubon Society Portland. MomsicleBlog

K-PANTS: I think Julio said he wants a mama.

LUKE: I don’t see any mamas around here.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

K-PANTS: They’re over on that tree.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

LUKE: Did you know my shoes have good grip?

K-PANTS: Yeah.

Audubon Society Portland. MomsicleBlog

LUKE: I’ve been here before. I have a huge huge brain.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

K-PANTS: Yeah, me too. I have a huuuuge brain.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

LUKE: All this green is not moving.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

K-PANTS: This vest is bigger than me.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

LUKE: My brain sticks out but you can’t see it because it’s camouflaged.

K-PANTS: Mmmmhmmm.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

LUKE: I have an enormous brain. Bigger than that plant.

AudubonSocietyPortland. MomsicleBlog

K-PANTS: Can I have a play date at your house for a long time? Like five minutes?

***

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Oregon’s Most Terrible Gardener

My grandmother came to visit us for a week. The first thing, she looked at my garden and said, “My mother was a gardener; I was a gardener; your mother was a gardener. What happened to you?”

My garden is sad.

Bad Gardener. MomsicleBlog

Most often, when I’m watering, I think of those cracked-earth dust bowl scenes from the Great Depression.

I had to apply for a refugee visa for my squash, who is fleeing to a neighbor’s vegetable plot.

These two squash were the same size when planted, but mine (left) is about ten times smaller than my neighbor’s (right).

Fleeing Squash. MomsicleBlog

Too many years of living in apartments has sucked all of my green thumb’s color dry. Also, my little minions love to run over plants with their dump trucks.

But it’s mostly me.

I killed a hydrangea. My fledgling spinach went to seed right away (which is how spinach gives you the finger–see below).

Spinach Flips Me the Bird. MomsicleBlog

Doesn’t it look angry?

Half the basil went brown. My two tiny rosemaries have been accepted into Hospice. (Don’t be fooled by the green below–this plant has been getting smaller since I bought it a year ago.)

Rosemary. MomsicleBlog

“You know,” my grandmother said, “a garden needs love.”

It’s hard to hear the truth, but there’s no one like your family to tell it.

My sister suggested that maybe I’m a hate gardener rather than a love gardener, because–in a really bad mood–I cut out every single blackberry tendril that was sucking the life from our yard. And I stood triumphantly on a tree stump, razor-sharp weapon in hand, surveying my kill.

And Don't Come Back. MomsicleBlog

There’s no tender touch here: This is more like Sherman’s March to the Sea.

But I think that’s what my yard needs right now. The ivy is encroaching on my position every day. A few really good bad moods and I’ll have pried that python off the yard’s neck using my favorite tools: shovels and shears and rage.

In the meantime, the tomatoes and peppers can continue their imitation of a vegetable ghost town.

Vegetable Ghost Town. MomsicleBlog