Posted on 2 Comments

Stuffed Memories

“What was your favorite toy as a child?”

This is a post I could rant and rave on forever. I feel that I was blessed and had so many toys, but I did not really realize it until now when I think back and try to decide what exactly was my favorite. This is difficult because I think that I played




My mind first went to a few places – stuffed animals, Legos, ‘Batmen’ (AKA action figures), and when we were outdoors it was Tonka Trucks, bikes, and playing baseball.

As I try to think back, I am not sure that I could peg one toy as being my favorite because I tried to treat them as equals and give them the same amount of love (maybe my younger brother forcing us to watch Toy Story 100+ days straight had some sort of effect on me).

Every night before bed, I would have to organize all of my stuffed animals on my bunk bed to sleep with me. I easily had around 30, definitely over 20, and would spend a lot of time arranging them just right before a bedtime story and then lights out. Some of my favorites were a Winnie the Pooh that I still have and is now in my son Zander’s room, Woody the Woodpecker (who probably was my favorite) and then the rest of the pack was riddled with random stuffed animals I had gotten from family or vacations. I specifically remember two dolphins I got from Sea World (Flipper and Dipper) – but probably my most favorite was a tiny Tigger stuffed animal. It was somewhat of a knockoff-looking version of him, but it was something that I had since I was a baby.

My parents always tell the story of how they would make it sneeze and I would crack up with deep-belly laughs. I thought that this Tigger was lost forever until I found it a couple months ago while going through a box of Beanie Babies that we collected.

And on that note, and the length of my description of the stuffed animals, I think it is safe to say that those were my favorite toys – and toys that I knew I had to reject at some point to keep from getting made fun of. I don’t remember sleeping with stuffed animals once we moved to our new house – maybe I did, but I remember always keeping them in my room or closet.

There was always something about these characters that I loved. Perhaps it was the comfort they offered, or the sense of safety when sleeping in my own bed and eventually my own room (not sharing with my brother). What I love now is that I was able to pass some of my animals onto my 5 month old son and hope that he will enjoy them as much as I did.

I have to laugh because it is somewhat disarming to talk of toys and sensitive things as a grown man, yet I am not afraid of my feelings or feel any shame. I want my son to know that it is okay to be a kid and to not always play with Tonka trucks and Legos, he can do what he wants and he needs to explore the creativity that his mind creates without the dictates of society or flawed adults interfering with the innocence of a child. Childhood is a time to explore and learn, not to be hindered or indoctrinated, and I am excited to see him progress through life. I just hope time slows down so we can all enjoy the journey.

Posted on Leave a comment

Stepping Out

person rock climbing

“When was the last time you left your comfort zone?”

I find this to be a strange question and odd prompt – do people really hunker down in their comfort zones for weeks at a time, maybe even months or years?

Of course they do and I have been there a few times in my life. One of the great needs for humans is the need for homeostasis; stability in a crazy, ever-changing world. I may have misconstrued the prompt slightly – “write about the last time you left your comfort zone” – but my opening message remains the same.

I am not sure that there is an easy way to pinpoint this because I feel that ever since I asked my now-wife to marry me, I have been challenging myself to leave my comfort zone as much as possible so that I could grow in life. And while I say this, we always have one thing that we cling to and hold onto for dear life as the constant that gives us some sanity in life. Maybe it is the family life, maybe it is your career, but the truth of the matter is that you cannot thrive in a comfort zone and if you feel yourself sinking into one, you need to assess it – and challenge it if you ever desire growth in your life.

I believe that every morning when my alarm goes off at 4:30am, and I actually get up rather than snoozing it until 5:00 or 5:30am, then that is a successful day because I have removed myself from the first comfort zone of the day, my bed and my peaceful (though often dream-filled) sleep. We all need an adequate amount of sleep, so I am not saying to neglect your body’s needs, but if you have big goals & dreams set for yourself, how will you conquer them when you are asleep? If I lay there, or am able to snooze and pick up an extra 15 minutes of sleep, I have to ask myself the question – was that 15 minutes even restful sleep, or could it have been better utilized on other tasks in the morning to prepare me for attacking the day?

I think that the latter will always win out because the psychological weight of missed time & opportunity will weigh you down through the day more than the missed sleep. If anything you will feel more awake & energized with that small victory under your belt so early in the morning.

I’m sure that I could have dressed this “leaving my comfort zone” post up much more, but I am a huge believer that small things make the biggest impacts in our lives. So often people will go way over the top just to prove a point to themselves, or the proverbial ‘they’, without realizing the action did not fit the situation and will not illicit a reaction they desire because they have not calculated, but have dropped an errant bomb with no purpose other than destruction to prove a point.

So often we think that we must be showman, that what we say has no weight without theatrics, or that a blog post must be long, intricate, and perfectly manicured with a stylistic flair that jumps off the page. Sometimes all it takes is asking yourself “what is the right thing to do” and executing on that thought no matter how much fear bubbles up in your gut.

Use the fear as a guide of where you can leap out of your comfort zone – and take your steps to freedom of mind and watch your life get better with every chance you take.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Road Less Travelled

What is a Road Trip you would Love to take?

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to travel more – but we all know how that turned out! I never thought that we would see a time where we were “locked down” due to a virus, or anything for that matter. It seemed that life was too good, too prosperous, and how could things ever go from good to worse? I guess they could, they did, and even as it seems to be getting better, it also seems like there is an incessant push to keep the fear loitering in our minds and pushing our psyches to a state of near-panic.

I would rather sit in my house with my wife, baby, and our dogs than have to go out into the world masked up, juggling the restrictions versus the possible benefit of travel – but a road trip is a great way to forge your own path and to avoid the mass transit option of planes.

Last August we closed on 5 acres of land that was owned by my family 4 generations ago, and along with the land, we got a giant RV. This was purely a bonus for me because I just wanted the land to grow my gardens, plant fruit trees and cultivate any plant that I had the desire to grow – but the RV was a bonus that could either be sold, or could become a fun project that could be used for camping until we built our house there – or could be used to road trip around the country in.

The road trip of my dreams could take place in 2 locations – one is somewhat unattainable by RV, but I think that traveling through Europe would be amazing. Every time I see pictures of Switzerland’s mountains, Italy’s mountains and vineyards and Old World villages, I am immediately drawn to it like I have been there in a dream – or maybe in a past life.

While Europe is on the ultimate bucket list of travel, I would want to explore the greatest country in the world first, the United States of America. I think that we are extremely blessed to live in the United States of America because part of our history is the quintessential American Road Trip. We have such a large contiguous land mass that the possibilities for constructing a road trip are endless.

As cliche as it may be, I would construct a trip that took a full lap of America. Since I would begin in Ohio, I think a somewhat non-traditional route where you could get the most bang for your buck would start with heading north into Michigan’s wine country, the dunes, and then into the grand wilderness and surprising beauty of the Upper Peninsula. Coming out the other side into Wisconsin and Minnesota would require some research and planning, but I am sure the country is beautiful there as well.My ultimate goal would be to make my way to the Dakotas to see Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and the peace of the northern and forgotten states.

Montana would be the next stop, and a place that I have wanted to visit since I saw pictures of Glacier National Park, the giant mountain ranges and the Big Blue Skies that seem to stretch forever. While in Montana, we would have to ride on horseback through the mountains, do lots of hiking, and hopefully find a cabin where we could enjoy the wilderness, have a place where we could relax by the fire and cook a pot of chili on it like cowboys in the wild west. And while we desire nature’s wildness, we would also need a hot tub where we could rest our bodies and recover from the many miles of hiking that would be done.

There is so much beauty out west that I imagine that we would continue this trend of nature-seeking through Idaho and into the Pacific Northwest, but probably avoid California because there’s no way we could afford gas for the RV out there! In all seriousness, California would have to be a trip in itself because it is so large, with so much to see and do – whether it be hiking in God’s great creation, exploring wine country, or to venture to the coast.

After that we would head to Colorado for more forest-bathing and hiking and hope that the best spots weren’t overrun by Instagrammers seeking their perfect influencer picture. That would be the thing that I would fear through all of this and as we ventured to Utah’s National Parks, and to the Southwest’s famous hiking spots, the Grand Canyon, or even Sedona.

Maybe I sound like a recluse, but when I go on vacation, I want some sort of seclusion and an escape from the hustle and bustle of life, I do not want to wait in lines or explore cliche touristy things that do not involve nature, hiking, and have some sort of physical health benefit – not to mention the psychological release of exploring God’s Creation and witnessing His awesome power.

I think that as we made our way to Texas, and into the South and Southeastern states that we would begin to slow down and to explore more culture and less nature. By this point in the trip, we would be so exhausted that I think we would enjoy slowing down and there would be more cultural and historical sites in this portion of the country. This would also be a time where we would transition from being hiking fitness freaks to becoming beach bums that would enjoy a margarita and the crash of the waves on the sandy beaches while getting tan – or sunburnt.

To round out our perfect road trip, we would travel from the greasy goodness of home cooked southern food, up to New England and the Northeastern states. This would be a great stop to learn & witness the history that forged this land into the greatest country to ever exist. We often take it all for granted, but we must learn our history and where we came from to know why we are here – and where we intend to steer this ship in the future. And the beautiful thing is that once we got our fill of history, we could head up to Maine for more hiking and nature before making our way home to Ohio.

It is fun to dream, and maybe one day we will fix up our RV and make our way across the country. I can’t wait to travel the country with my family and to experience the greatness of America – and to share that with my son as he grows and develops an appreciation for America and spending quality time with family.

Posted on 3 Comments

Advice for my Teenage Self

astronomical clock in prague

When I saw that the first writing prompt for Bloganuary was “advice for my teenage self”, I balked at it and felt slightly discouraged. To me, it seemed slightly out of place to have the writing prompt for New Year’s Day to be focused on looking backwards instead of being hopeful for what the future may bring. Perhaps it was my own experiences in my teenage years that made me feel this way, or maybe it is my current disposition to only look forward; to stare out into the horizon and to envision what is coming rather than to crank my neck in retrospect and dream of “what if” and think of all the things that I could have done differently.

The truth is that I would not have done anything differently, and I would find it difficult to offer any advice to my teenage self because I believe that everything worked out well – and everything happened for a reason whether I realized that in the moment or not. Life and time is not something that can be changed or manipulated after the fact, but rather it must be faced for what it is and what it was.

The advice I would offer my teenage self would be to listen – so I suppose that is not advice at all, but it would be lending an ear to hear what I needed in that moment. Would my younger self offer anything up to a stranger? Would I know that it was me from the future? And even if I did have the knowledge that it was me, would I have the courage to say anything? I think that I would wonder why my future self was asking a question rather than offering advice – or maybe he just remembered the struggles that raged within my mind & heart; the thunderstorms of my soul.

Certainly I could offer advice on the stock market – and tell myself to buy 10 Bitcoin when I was pondering it at $800 – or maybe I could catch myself when it was pennies for a Bitcoin. What would life be like if I were lucky enough to realize what I was dealing with when seeing such a foreign concept?

Rather than looking back at what I would say to my teenage self, I now wonder – what advice would my 50 year old self offer to me at 31? That seems like a more reasonable question to ask, and one that makes you think in a futuristic position rather than wishing and wanting to alter your past. It makes me wonder whether the Metaverse will be the next Bitcoin – or whether it is a trap. It makes me wonder if my current thoughts are correct – “the way of the past is the way of the future” is one adage that I live by that I believe is a gold mine.

There is so much advice that we wish we had when we were younger, but what do we need right now? How can we position ourselves to be successful in 20 years? I do not think that we can quite comprehend that because our society tells us that we need to obtain our successes right now and they shove the success of the .000001% in our faces constantly while ramming propaganda down our throats. To be successful is not to be rich, to not make mistakes, and not to look backwards with a desire to change our past – it is being Happy in the moment and realizing all of the riches of the blessings that we hold in family, friends, and in our Self.

I guess I cheated this prompt because I would not change a thing about my journey through life because it shaped me into who I am today, and every little thing that occurred happened for a reason – down to the very second so that I can be in the place I am today, living with my soul mate, my newborn son, our dogs, on a career path that I love, and with a world full of excitement & opportunities ahead of me.

Plus – do I really think that my teenage self would listen to any outside advice?

Posted on Leave a comment

A New Year With A New Focus

field of plants

The year 2020 was a strange year for all of us – things were changing rapidly as our lives were upended due to a global pandemic, social & political unrest, and the world sort of stopped and watched in awe with mouth agape. For the past several months I have felt the same way and steered clear of much of social media to avoid the incessant onslaught of everyone’s agenda being shoved in my face.

Instead I lived my life and continue to live it happily – probably more happily since I have quit social media in a way. But it also feels like I have been defeated.

There is no reason that I should have let that happen.

In another way I felt that I wanted to share more political stuff and less gardening content because it felt tone-deaf and like I was ignoring the world’s problems if I was posting pictures of flowers & produce instead of conforming to the narrative being pushed that day – not to mention the backlash you will receive no matter which side you are on.

You can make some of the people happy some of the time, but you can’t make all the people happy all the time.

That is the way that life actually works, but not how it works when everyone is brainwashed to believe what they hear instead of thinking critically for themselves and researching for the facts beyond the deceptive headlines & reporting. The fact of it all is that we are Americans, we need to do what is right for America, not what grabs the most attention unnecessarily.

It feels strange that I self-isolated my ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. In a way I was psychologically quarantined for my beliefs that run contrary to the current narrative.

This year is when Gardening 4 Gains finally sprouts into something more useful – both for myself and for others.

Gardening as a hobby, a passion, a necessity, is rising in popularity as a result of the pandemic, and I am here to guide the beginning gardeners to growing their first successful garden.

In order to accomplish this, I will be offering Garden Coaching as a new service from Gardening 4 Gains for 2021 and it will consist of:

  • Personalized 1-on-1 Garden Coaching – hourly rates or seasonal packages available
  • Site selection & getting started
  • Plant selection
  • Garden design/planning
  • Seed Starting / Starter Plants (limited availability, first come first serve)
  • Garden construction services
    • Garden Bed Prep / Tilling services
    • Raised garden bed construction
    • Mulch/stone/straw-laying services
  • Garden Installation & Maintenance
    • Bed Prep
    • Planting service
    • Weeding
    • Plant care on schedule set by you (daily, weekly, 2x/week, etc)
  • General Landscaping Services
    • Mulch/stone
    • Paver patios
    • Deck construction
    • Any outdoor project you want to make gains on!

There will also be a premium subscription to a gardening group with a detailed Q&A forum for those highly specific or even odd questions you can’t seem to find anywhere else. This is where the deep knowledge can be gained and those crazy questions that curiosity posits in your brain can be answered.

The thing I love about gardening is that there is so much more to it than meets the eye, yet it is simple in another way. I aim to build an ecosystem in my gardens so that plants can fend for themselves with the help of companion plants and beneficial insects – not to mention all the beneficial bacteria, fungus and other goodies that make the garden the most interesting place on Earth.

You will see bugs you’ve never seen – or maybe just never noticed. When people say, “Stop and smell the roses”, most of us cannot comprehend the profoundness of the statement. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the gifts from God that you usually take for granted. Give thanks by being present – in the present. Time ceases to exist when you are amongst the buzz of the bees in the row between the raspberry canes and your tomato vines. I have had a slight fear of bees and spiders my whole life, but gardening changes your perspective on them as you see their vital role in the garden. Although I will have to say that the yellow arrow spider still give me nightmares and I worry they could leap at any moment and end my life.

My soul is telling me that I need to rebuild my garden this year and it makes me want to do it for others too. After building my own deck with the help of my Dad and my friend Brian, I feel like I could build anything. Gardens are my specialty, but decks are fun too – and I like laying bricks for pavers or for walls. There is so much potential for the garden. It is not only a food production hub, it is an oasis for a tired mind and a weary soul. When you sit in your lush green oasis you will regain your strength as we all do near a body of water. It is in our nature to be in nature. With a touch of your taste it can become your next peaceful getaway.

Though my mind is scattered, what do I desire the most? What do I think has the best chance?

I honestly think that gardening and writing are the only things I could ever want to do.

It is relaxing, yet productive. It is creative, but practical. It is down-to-earth, yet can become one of the most sophisticated things you could do outdoors – or indoors.

Once you realize “gardening” is more than the basic conception of growing plants, it can encompass the whole outdoor/indoor experience, then you realize the power that you wield, not to mention the fruits you will yield, the beautiful plants you will grow, along with the amazing structures & features that make every single garden unique.

Posted on Leave a comment

Writing for Liberty

Nightly Blog 5

It was tough getting back to work today after a long weekend, but I am just grateful for the fun times with family and the amazing memories we made by simply enjoying the moments that we were in. Whether it was time spent with my whole family, or just with Kyla, I feel like we all seized the moment – there was no chance for regret.

And that is what I am pursuing in life – to leave no chances for regret.

This is the reason that I am so scattered – and yet so focused. I want to be a gardener/farmer, but there is also so much more in life that I am interested in & have a passion around. One of those things is writing. Writing is something that I have held near & dear to my heart; it is such a personal expression and an outlet for those rogue thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In the past I used to write all the time and I seemed to find myself in a negative space. Because of this I stopped writing for a while, and generally stopped putting content out into the world during those periods of my life.

To me it was better to say nothing at all than to flood the internet, and thus the world, with my negativity & bullshit. I feel like I am way beyond those feelings – but most of the world is not. Most of the world is out to bring everyone down to their level, so that we’re all one miserable melting pot of propaganda – or at least that’s the way it feels right now. So I hope that while my writing is simply a hobby, simply something to get me conditioned to better share my thoughts openly and more coherently, that I can attempt to bring some Common Sense to this world that is living in an ever-triggered state ready to attack anyone who may threaten your ideology.

My second passion somewhat stems from the last thought, and that is reading. Lately my reading has been much more purposeful with philosophical, economical, & historical readings such as Ayn Rand (although that was at least 6 months ago), but more recently with the writings of Thomas Paine: Common Sense, The Crisis, The Rights of Men, The Age of Reason, & Agrarian Justice. My thoughts in reading this book is not to incite a revolution but to understand the forging of nations and what role one man’s pamphlets played in turning the colonists from seeking Tax Reform to seeking Independence from Tyranny. A lot of people believe that there are some strong parallels between what is going on in the world today and the American Revolution.

I think that it is important to note the fact the we take advantage of the rights that we posses. We take for granted the promises made to us of “Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness”.

And how could we not?

We know no different than To Be Free – what we don’t realize is that people, as in Human Civilization, had not been living in a free society. The world was ruled by Kings; the Earth was inherited from the royal bloodlines while the feudal system kept the people in an impoverished, stifled form of life based on roles in society – not the freedom to “pursue your passions” or “find yourself”.

America was the country that turned the tides for the Freedom of Humanity – don’t take your Freedom for granted; and don’t let anyone take your Freedoms from you.

Posted on Leave a comment

Tilling Another Garden

As I sit down to type out my Nightly Blog, a navy hue hangs in the air extending dusk deeper into the night more & more every day as we inch towards the Summer Solstice. Today was another ultra-productive day that began with a slower-than-expected start & a later-than-expected wake time – but it all ended up perfect in the grand scheme of things.

I stayed up late last night finishing my nightly blog while Kyla conked out from all the work we put into scrubbing the front of the house. I find that I really enjoy writing the nightly blogs, but it is difficult to focus, and to properly articulate my day because I am so exhausted, and coming from a point of spending all my energy through the day, not from a point of pure pursuit of passion.

With that being said, I woke up early, cranked out my Morning Pages, then enjoyed my morning coffee with Kyla & the dogs before heading up to my parents’ house to get their garden prepared for the season. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think that they would have a garden because I didn’t think they wanted to care for it (and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to care for it) but I’m really pumped that they changed their mind so that we can plant tons of sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, cucumbers, & sunflowers.

Today’s project was long overdue, but had to be done – I needed to till up my parents’ garden. Yesterday we had a cookout at my parents’ and my grandparents were there as well. My Grandpa took a look at the weed patch that used to be a thriving garden for the past 4-5 years and asked me what I was going to be doing with it. I replied that I needed to till it up and that was all it took to get him rocking & ready to go.

“You wanna get that done in about a quarter of the time? I’ll bring the Kubota down and grind that up into a fine powder in no time,” my Grandpa said with a smile and a gesture with his hand like he was crumbling dirt.

“Hell yeah, let’s tear this yard up!” was my reply as I was laughing at my Grandpa hopping on the opportunity to help me with my gardens – and any excuse to use his new trailer and play with heavy equipment. But doesn’t everybody love playing with heavy equipment!?

It was funny because earlier my brother Adam texted me asking me if I remembered playing Army men on the dirt hills at Grandma & Grandpa’s house. I replied with an ‘of course’, and a burst of flashbacks of playing with Tonka trucks in the dirt with my brother & cousin – I feel like that was basically my whole childhood right there, just playing in the dirt with my dudes!

But after that wave of memories flooding back I realized something – I took those dirt mounds from my Grandparents’ house to build my parents’ garden into what it is today. So it was weird that Adam had those memories pop up – because it happened when I was tilling up the dirt that we played upon as kids. And the spot where my parents’ garden is located is where our childhood swings was; I’m just growing fruits, herbs, & vegetables on the mounds of our memories.

My Grandpa took the first few swipes on the Kubota and then handed it over for me to grind up the soil into the lush loam that all gardeners desire. There is nothing I love more than running heavy equipment or tractors – it just makes the job so much easier and it really makes you feel like a real Farmer 🙂

Grandpa on a tractor tilling up a garden
My Grandpa on his pride & joy

After I criss-crossed the garden I noticed that I had a heavy clay area in the southern portion of the garden. I had no manure, rice hulls, perlite, or anything to loosen the soil up – but then I found pine needles under the pine trees growing in the yard. After dumping 3-4 wheelbarrows-full onto the area, I tilled it in and it loosened the soil to an acceptable, and workable, consistency.

With the garden tilled up, we packed the tractor up and I followed my Grandpa back to his house to help him unload. Once we got there, we put the tools away and went on a little garden tour to see all that he has started so far this year. He always has a nice large garden, but this year it feels like he’s taking it to another level; I think I’ve got some competition. What I didn’t realize though was that he was actually growing potatoes for my CropBoxes – we’re still not sure if we will offer them at the scale we have, but it looks like we might have to with the volume that the whole family is growing!

After rounding up the kittens and then hugging my Grandma & Grandpa goodbye, I headed back to my parents’ to finish up the garden duties there. The last piece of the puzzle was to cover the garden with ground cover fabric to eliminate the weed problem, then I will burn holes in the fabric where I want to plant plants. As these things go, I ran out of anchor pins with only 2 more swipes of ground cover needed, so my plan is to get more anchor pins tomorrow & finish up the Garden of Gains North tomorrow if possible.

With sweat pouring off of me, I trudged from the garden to the garage to eat a double burger that my Dad made for me. There’s nothing quite like a thick, greasy burger after a long day of hard work under the hot sun. And it was also nice to get to spend more time with my parents, grandparents, Adam & Chelsea, and Kyla this weekend. I think we all take advantage of the value of the relationships that we have, but we realized how much we missed people, and how much we love people, through this whole Covid situation & social-distancing. Though it may have been necessary, it isn’t natural for humans to be separated from each other. We need each other to live, to heal, & to thrive.

Farmer in a straw hat on a tractor tilling up a garden
Me, living the American Dream
Posted on Leave a comment

Sunburnt & Smiling

Today was a great day.

I feel like it’s not often that you get to say that, but it truly was – even though I am thoroughly exhausted and trying to write this while Kyla, Twiggy, & Basil sleep soundly around me.

Our busy day began mid-morning as we felt the heat creeping up on us while drinking our coffee on the patio. Though my phone said it was only 72 degrees, you could feel the potential for heat in the air and we immediately began to gather our supplies to begin cleaning the front of our house before going to my parents’ for a cookout later in the day.

Cleaning the siding on the front of the house was priority numero uno, but there was a deeper issue that was causing the buildup of mildew on the siding – my gutters were clogged, which was causing rain to collect in the gutters, not drain, and spill water out and down along my siding. Once I set my ladder up against the house, I climbed up with a rake to attempt to unclog the gutters; although all I could really see was water & some of those helicopter seed things that fall from maple trees.

I reached my rake along the gutter and heard the water & seeds shift down the downspout.

Progress. But the water was still plugging the gutters.

I raked again and heard another shift.

I raked one final time and then a tsunami of stagnant rainwater and a bucket-full of maple seeds rocketed through the downspout & finally completed its journey back into the ground.

From the point of the gutters finally being cleaned out, the next task was to get scrubbin’ the siding!

It took a little Dawn dishwashing liquid, a scrub brush, and some balance on the ladder, but we got a huge portion of the siding and our porch railings done. It’s really amazing what a little soap, water, and hard work can do to make a place feel like brand new – and to give you pride in what you work for; what you own & to have pride in the place you call Home.

Aside from the work and the results of the work being fulfilling, it was great to see our neighbors outside and to feel the warmth of human engagement & interaction. It was funny because at one point I looked up and saw two people riding their bikes by our house and say Hi to us, only to find out it was one of our friends (who is also our hairstylist – yes we go to the same hairstylist hah!).

But either way – I loved the fact that they stopped by to talk, and ended up seeing our crazy garden that engulfs half of our backyard. I have been loving having people stop by to get plants, or to randomly say hi so that I can show them the garden; introduce them to this madness that keeps me sane.

Cleaning the front of the house was therapeutic for me & Kyla’s soul, but once we got rolling on projects we just had to keep it going. Next up was rearranging the landscaping so that we had a more balanced landscape – making sure we had a solid mix of colors, textures, & heights – but I won’t bore you with all of that. The biggest thing I had to say about this is that I couldn’t believe what happened next. As I was digging out a shrub in the landscaping to transplant, I was wearing one of those farmer sun hats with a broad brim and then a truck drove by, slowed down and they yelled, “HOLA” at me.

I’m not sure if it was just a joke – or if they thought I was Mexican – but I just stood there confused and just started laughing & was like, “Holy shit, I think I was just racially profiled”.

With all the plants in place, the dogs fed, and both of us showered, we headed up to my parents for a cookout. Normally we would have steaks and burgers, but today my Dad went with smoked chicken halves & they were absolutely primo. The chickens were marinated in either Mesquite or Cajun marinade, then smoked in the smoker for 7-8 hours with Mesquite & Apple wood chips – and you could taste the sweetness of the applewood in that chicken – again, primo.

Somehow Adam & I lost in corn hole 2 games to 1 to my Dad & my Grandpa, but the real victory of the day was that I landed my first ollie on a skateboard on concrete. I may have only gotten 3 inches off the ground, but the fact that I conquered that fear of skateboarding has me pretty pumped up & ready to keep attacking it to see how much further I can push the boundaries. Needless to say, I’m ordering a helmet & pads – gotta protect this body from my clumsiness! It’s funny because I feel that I’m athletic, but as soon as I’m not in athlete mode, I trip over my own feet.

Good food and good conversation filled the rest of the night as we yelled across the deck about the insanity of the news, the government, and politics – though we said we wouldn’t talk about those things – yet how do you avoid it.

Either way, I think the biggest thing we realized today is that we all need each other; people need people – especially family. So while times are tough, and things are uncertain, enjoy the things in life that are certain – and enjoy your time with the people you can’t live without.

And so it is sunburnt & smiling that I slip into my slumber 🙂

Posted on Leave a comment

Seedling Sales on a Saturday

Today was a beautiful Saturday here in Ohio.

Kyla & I began our day somewhat late because we took advantage of not setting an alarm and sleeping in on the first day of a long holiday weekend. Sleeping in for us is 7am – but it always feels amazing when you wake up on your own power & can face the world with your own force.

We didn’t really have an agenda today other than to prepare boxes of veggie plants for our friends & family who bought starter plants from us. It’s been incredible to see the overwhelming response that people have to our garden and to our plants. Just with our small circle of family & friends I feel like we have begun to sell a decent amount of plants – I just wish I started marketing the plants earlier!

But on the flip side of that, I think that this whole Covid situation has amplified people’s interest in gardening & growing their own food – plus it completely changed my focus for the Garden of Gains this year.

For the past 2 seasons we have offered our CropBoxes – a bi-weekly box of fresh produce from the garden. Once lockdowns began, and it became clear that we wouldn’t be going back to work anytime soon, I completely changed gears & rather than grow a bunch of quick-turn crops for 10-20 people, I needed to double-down on food production for our household & for our families.

What this meant is that I would plant a ton of plants that would produce a high yield of food, or things that would store for an extended period of time. Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs were the crops I chose for producing high yields, and offering veggies that we could can. Root crops such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, and beets are the veggies that will store for 3-4 months in the proper conditions and keep us fed for a while.

While my aim became more selfish with the garden, I saw that I had plenty of space to grow plenty of plants on my Grow Rack in the Plant Lab. The Grow Rack is a 4-tiered rack that holds 4 trays per level and each level has 2 Stratum LED Light Bars. I have started all of my seeds on it for the past 2 years & absolutely love the results that I’ve gotten with starting tens of types of tomatoes, jalapeños, habaneros, Banana peppers, Anaheims, Dill, Cilantro, Basil, Thyme, Lavender Hyssop, cucumbers, squash – you name it; we’ve grown it!

So with all that extra space on the grow rack, I decided to grow tons of popular tomatoes & peppers so that people who are looking to start a garden can get all the basics from us. It’s funny because in a way it feels like we have been “working” the past couple days that we have prepared plants for people, but it also makes me so happy that I can’t quite quantify it – there’s something about it that makes me realize that that could be my whole life; growing plants & putting smiles on people’s faces because of the seeds that I pushed into soil.