Mama Kali

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Kali grew up in Spokane, Wash., but moved to Oregon for college and never left! She spotted her husband, Taylor, the first day on campus and (jokingly) told her Mom that she’d found her future husband. Long story short, she had! They married shortly after graduation and just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. They have two sweet boys, Emmett (almost 3) and Beau (almost 3 months). Before they had kids, Kali had a small catering company called Bird is the Word, but she has transitioned into staying at home with the boys and doing family photography on the side. Last year they bought a little homestead across from the family farm where her husband works. He is the third generation to work the land and they are thrilled with the type of life they are able to give their boys.

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What’s the best part about living on a farm and what do you like the least?

One of the best parts about living on the farm is that my husband is just right there. He comes home for lunch everyday, is almost always somewhere nearby, and is often able to involve Emmett in whatever he's working on. To say Emmett is passionate about farming would be the understatement of a lifetime, so you can imagine what a thrill it is for him to get to work with his Dad on such a regular basis. 

The hardest part is harvest season. Taylor is on call 24/7 since we pick berries at night, it's hot, exhausting and I kind of become a single parent for a few months. It's also exciting and extremely satisfying- you work hard all year for a good harvest- but it definitely takes us a few months to recover once it's all said and done. It can be tough not to feel like you're missing out on all the fun summer things that other families get to do, but we also have nine months of the year where things are more flexible, so there are definitely compensations.

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Tell us about work. How do you incorporate photography into your role as mother?

I have a hard time calling photography work because I truly enjoy it so much! It's not something I ever intended to do, but has just kind of naturally evolved and I'm so grateful it has. I get so much joy out of capturing life- especially families and kiddos- and it feels like such a bonus that I get paid to do so. I usually squeeze shoots in on the weekends when my husband can stay with the boys, and like to shoot right before naps so I can get my shoot and editing done on the same day. That keeps it from feeling like it's hanging over my head, or intruding on family time too much. I'm not formally trained, I don't have the fanciest gear and I like a real natural, film-style photography, so it's hard for me to feel like I'm a "real" fancy photographer, but I suppose once you've done it long enough, that's as real as it gets. Either way, I'm grateful.

Photography has also been a wonderful way for me to appreciate motherhood from another perspective. I always have my camera on hand to capture little everyday moments and then try my best to catalogue them on my blog. Whenever I feel down or discouraged, I scroll through that collection of words and images from our life, and it gives me such a lift every time. Our life is so beautiful, and I'm so grateful for the ability to preserve it in a tangible form.

What are you most proud of as a mother?

I think the thing I feel most proud of as a mother, is just how much I like motherhood. I never really expected to, to be honest. For some reason, I had it in my head that being a mom was going to be kind of a drag. I'd never been one for babysitting, never been super into kids in general and even questioned before we had Emmett, if I ever even wanted children. Boy was I wrong! And boy do I love it ever so much. Being home and being with my kids is unquestionably the best job I've ever had, and even on the hardest days, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I feel pretty good about that. 

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How do you cope with hard days?

GO OUTSIDE. Go outside, go outside, go outside. There is nothing so far that heading out to wander around or play in the dirt hasn't been able to help. I read There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk a while back and it has convinced me that being outdoors is the cure for what ails ya! 

I've also been trying, especially since Beau has come along, to share my feelings with Emmett. If I'm tired or frustrated, I tell him that I'm feeling it just like I'd tell anybody else. If he's overwhelming me with questions, I try to kindly explain that I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed and ask him if we can take a short break from asking questions. I try to give him the same level of respect and communication I'd give any grown person, and remember that he and I are partners in this growing up process, it's not just me being the boss of him. I also want him to have the words to express himself when he's having a hard day, so I try to show him that it's okay and how to communicate those feelings when he has them.

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Whats your favorite thing about living where you do in the NW? How has that influenced your parenting? 

My favorite thing about living in the Willamette Valley is the insane variety of landscapes and outdoor opportunities that are pretty easily accessible to us. We live within a couple hour's drive of the city, the mountains, the ocean and the desert. There is farm country, wine country, coastline, waterfalls, rain forests, rivers, mountain passes and volcanic rock formations. It's definitely more challenging to get out and explore with our little guys at the moment, but I am constantly dreaming of the hiking, camping and fishing we'll do when they're older. I hope to give them a deep appreciation for the natural world and lots of time spent in it!

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What is one of your go to meals?

Our favorite go-to meal is Turkey Meatballs and Cacio e Pepe, adapted from Marilou Champagne's Three Times a Day

What is one of your holiday traditions? 

There's a neighborhood in our town that goes all-out on Christmas lights, so every year we get in our jams, pop a big bag of popcorn, hop in the car and head over to drive through and look at lights. Last year was the first year Emmett remembers, and he has talked about it all year long. It's just kind of magical. 

Tell us about a parenting solution you found that changed something that was previously a challenge for you.

I think the biggest "parenting solution" I've found that has helped me through loads of challenges is kind of a combination of two main ideas: the Montessori ideal of "Follow the Child," and the Charlotte Mason belief that children are born persons. Remembering that my kiddos are fully formed humans from birth helps me to respect their needs and feelings even when they seem irrational or frustrating, and remembering to "follow the child," reminds to me to observe first, prepare their environment so they can participate in everyday life, value and preserve their concentration and help them to pursue the things that spark their curiosity. 

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What’s your favorite NW spot to visit with your children?

One of our favorite spots is Silver Falls State Park. It's only 30 minutes from our house and full of fun trails, dozens of waterfalls, a gorgeous forest and a beautiful creek that flows throughout. It's a perfect little slice of wilderness right in our "backyard." And with two little fellas, it feels like a perfectly manageable adventure. 

Even though he is still little, does your son have responsibilities on the farm?

Since our farm is mostly berries and grass seed- and a few acres of hazelnuts, he doesn't exactly have regular chores he is responsible for. During harvest he rides on the forklift with his Dad to load and unload berry crates, loves to ride in the berry trucks to deliver loads to the processing plant and every now and then gets to head out at night and get the picking crews going. He climbs up on the giant pickers and checks each one with his Dad, and between that and getting to stay up late, pretty much thinks he's the king of the farm. We're already having a hard time convincing him he's not ready to head to work with Dad on a daily basis, and he's constantly asking to head over and check out what Dad's working on.

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Favorite books or podcasts we should know about? 

My favorite parenting books are Simplicity ParentingNo-Drama Discipline, the Read-Aloud FamilyFor the Children's Sake and Mere Motherhood. My very favorite books to re-read are the Anne of Green Gables and Little House series- I'm an avid re-reader, believing that you find something new in there each time. My most recent read- finished just this week- was English Creek by Ivan Doig. Always having a good book on my nightstand helps me feel like the best version of myself. 

Though I don't have nearly as much time to listen as I would like, I really enjoy a good podcast. Some of my favorite parenting podcasts are the Wild + Free podcast, Read Aloud RevivalBaan Dek Montessori and Simple Families. Other favorites include: Young House Love has a PodcastThe Bill Simmons PodcastLiving Homegrown with Theresa LoweAnchored with April Vokey and On Being with Krista Tippet.

Do you have a self care ritual?

I am probably not the best person to ask, self-care is something I'm still figuring it out. But whenever I'm feeling depleted or down, I try to do things that make me feel like me. Read a good book, go outside- usually for a walk, listen to a podcast, work in the garden and eat or drink something really wonderful. Getting away isn't something that's always possible or wanted, for me "taking a break" often means just having somebody around to help lighten the load. We waited a long time to have kids, and now that they're here, I just want to be with them. But it's definitely nice to have an extra set of helping hands around. 

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How To Increase Your Milk Supply

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I’ve used Cake nursing bras since I had my first son 5 year ago so I was excited when they reached out about doing a blog collaboration about breast feeding and milk supply. It’s a good reminder even if you have been breastfeeding for years. -a

It is important to remember that every woman’s breastfeeding journey is different.  Avoid comparing yourself and your experience with others, as this will only help to fuel doubt in your ability causing unnecessary worry.

Should you feel like there is something wrong it is always advisable to consult your local lactation consultant or health care professional.  They are qualified to address your concerns and give you help as required.

Reasons for low milk supply

In some cases a woman’s milk supply can be affected:

  • If separation of the mother and baby is experienced immediately after birth, breastfeeding can be delayed resulting in a temporary shortage of milk supply.

  • Women suffering from conditions such as mastitis may experience a temporary shortage in their milk supply as feeding can become painful and difficult.  A woman may choose during this time to feed her baby via other means.

  • A poor latch will result in a low milk supply.  This is because baby is not feeding effectively and the body learns to produce less breast milk.

TIP:  If you suspect your baby is not feeding effectively, it is advised to see your local lactation consultant.  A good latch will help to avoid nipple damage and will help to ensure your baby gets the milk he needs to grow.

  • Feeding your baby to a timed routine can affect your milk supply.  It is advised to feed on demand.

  • Women who choose not to feed exclusively from the breast can experience a drop in their milk supply.  This is because baby feeds less often and perhaps infrequently.

  • Supplementing feeding between breastfeeds will mean baby feels less hungry and will demand the breast less often.  Breastfeeding less will result in less breast milk being produced by your body.   Your body will only produce the amount of breast milk needed.

  • The frequent use of dummies can affect your milk supply.  Babies have a strong desire to suckle.  By giving your baby a dummy he will demand the breast less.

Reasons why some women might think their milk supply is low

  • Breasts become smaller

Over time your breasts will become smaller.  Immediately post birth you will experience a dramatic increase in your breast size.  This is because your breasts are producing an over supply of milk.  In time your body will learn to regulate only what is required to feed your baby, resulting in a decrease in your breast size.

  • Her breasts are leaking less or no breast milk

As the body learns to regulate its milk supply the breast becomes less full.  Leakage is a result of overfull lactating breasts that are common early on in your breastfeeding journey.

TIP:  Invest in some cotton or bamboo nursing pads early on in your breastfeeding journey.  Washable nursing pads are not only more comfortable to wear, but they allow the skin to breath avoiding infections such as thrush from developing.

  • Baby demands the breast often

When baby is first born he will demand the breast often.  This is because he has a small stomach and breast milk is easily digested.  He will feel hungry much sooner than that of a formula feed baby.

  • Baby suddenly feeds more often and for longer

This is likely to be because baby is experiencing a growth spurt.  This feeding pattern may continue for a week or two, but will return to normal.

  • Baby feeds for a shorter period of time

This is because as baby gets older he becomes more efficient at breastfeeding.  He is able to express more milk in a shorter period of time.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

The answer is very simple.

A baby is getting enough breast milk if he is increasingly putting on weight, he has a number of wet nappies a day (approx. 5-6 a day once mums milk has come in) and his stools are easily passed (soft yellowish color).

TIP:  Ensure you keep up with your health visits for the first few months of baby’s life.  Your health care professional will monitor baby’s weight and growth patterns.

How can I increase my milk supply?

There are a number of ways you can help to elevate your milk supply should you be concerned you are not producing enough.

  • Eat Oatmeal

This is not scientifically proven, however a lot of lactation consultants will recommend it.

Eat oatmeal as porridge, in cookies or energy bars to help increase your milk supply daily.

  • Feed on demand

The more often you feed baby the more milk your body will produce.  

  • Feed baby from both breasts

Ensure you empty your breasts during feeding and feed baby equally from both breasts.

  • Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water and eat healthy food.  Avoid skipping meals.  Your milk supply is fueled by what you eat.

  • Pump in between feeds

To help increase your milk supply, pump your breasts between breastfeeds.  Your body will continue to produce milk as demanded. 

TIP:  Breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for a period of 12 months.

  • Drink herbal teas

Herbal teas that contain Fenugreek, Fennel seeds and Blessed Thistle are recommended.  The herbal levels contained in teas are low so it is recommended to drink tea often throughout the day.

  • Herbal supplements

Herbal supplements such as Fenugreek can be purchased in tablet form from your local drug store and have been proven to help boost your milk supply.

  • Rest

Your body is working over time initially to care for your baby and to produce breast milk. It is recommended that you get as much rest as possible to help ensure your body does not get run down.

  • Nurse exclusively

Your body will learn to produce enough breast milk, as your baby demands it.  Nursing exclusively will help to maintain a constant milk supply.

TIPInvest in good nursing bras that are both comfortable and supportive.  Breast health is important during this time of change.  A good fitting bra will help to avoid premature sagging and or ligament damage caused by heavy breasts.


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Like many women out there, Tracey Montford is an exceptional multi-tasker! Apart from steering a global business, managing 2 young boys & keeping the clan clean and fed, Tracey still finds time to provide creative inspiration and direction to the exceptional designs of Cake Maternity. From the branding, presentation and delivery, creativity is a big part of what Tracey does so naturally and effectively. Find out more at https://ca.cakematernity.com or catch up with her on social @cakematernity



The Big Chill

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Lately I’ve been drinking mushroom tea on a regular basis. It’s quite a ritual: First, I draw a hot bath and add epsom salt. Then I add eucalyptus to my diffuser and dim the lights. I dry-brush my skin and begin to separate myself from the hustle of the day. By the time I sink in, the small bathroom has become an isolation chamber, a rare sliver of privacy. And for this experience, my mushroom of choice is reshi.

This adaptogen is the “chill” mushroom; it’s best-known for calming the nervous system, leading to better sleep. On its own, reishi has a bitter taste, so I’m loving the Mushroom Hot Cacao mix from Four Sigmatic. It’s an upgrade from basic hot chocolate, and I add a spoonful of coconut butter and some almond milk to mine. With salt water up to my chin and a steaming cup in my hand, this mama calms all the way down. It may not be a mystical journey, but it’s definitely the trip that I need.

-Andrea

Lydia's Mothers Day Wish List

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Lydia, Portland mama to Mo and corporate advertising career woman, shared a mothers day wish list with us. Portland mothers might especially find some inspiration in gift requests this weekend! Lydia writes a blog that, as she puts it, "consists of unprofessional photos and run-on sentences." called Making La Madre. I know how that is with my limited interest in grammar. (sorry, kinda.) Anyways, check it out because she is definitely an inspiring and fun woman to get to know. 

Lydias Wish List

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1) Wake up with Mike & Mo and head out for breakfast in our hood at little t bakery.  We order a croissant, plate of eggs and the little skinny baguette with jam & butter and share it all. SO GOOD. 

(I conquer. Little T is the best.)

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2) A little arrangement of flowers from fieldwork, shop owner Megan is a mama and the most fun florist I have ever met! I love supporting her shop, plus her arrangements pack so much personality. 

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3) A new pair of vintage loved in levis from my favorite spot for denim Mister Sister up the street on Hawthorne. Both Mike and I love the denim selection at this shop, it is a family run store by Lauren & Ben. Mo has the best time literally running circles around the shop with their son Bowie. 

4) Tickets to the Rosé Dinner in June at SE Wine Collective, our neighborhood winery that bottles wine by local wine makers and features the food of all star chef Althea Potter.  

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5) The Vero bracelet in bronze by Seattle designer Faris. I love the ease of ‘everyday’ accessories. My rings, earrings and necklace never come off. I am consistently on the hunt for a bracelet to add to my ‘always on’ accessories game. Something simple yet unique, that does not require care and can be worn 24/7. I can’t be bothered to take it off for showers, swimming or bedtime. Truth be told, I just bought this exact bracelet for myself when I was in LA recently for work. A late birthday/ early Madre day gift to me from me. 

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6) A couple dozen orders of the mini donuts at Pips. Donuts and Mother’s Day go hand in hand in my family. Donuts are my mom’s favorite treat, so the day is not complete without gifting her a dozen. The minis from Pips are perfect for sharing and not over indulging.  

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7) Finally, the latest issue of Motherhood Magazine. That would be incredibly thoughtful if Mike came up with that on his own. (image credit Twiggs Hood River)

Your Living Book Store

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By Kika Panaitescu

What do independent bookstore owners and mothers have in common?  Both are curators of ideas, philosophies, and potentials.  Both are liaisons to the wider world.  And both require excellent listening skills, because they’re in service to something that has a life of its own.

My first glimpse of North Bank Books came in the evening, when dusk had already fallen.  The storefront gleamed with yellow light.  Among the tidy rows of books I saw two of my favorite titles on display - which in a town as small as Stevenson made my heart skip a beat - and a set of enormous, cozy chairs next to the window.  In the chairs were two children, quietly reading.  It seemed too good to be true.  But when I went inside, it got even better.

Megan, the soft-spoken woman at the counter, led me to the community room at the back of the store, where mundane-looking stacks of boxes belied the magic incubating there.  As the space evolves, she explained, it will host children’s story hours (sometimes followed by craft-making related to the story) and zine-making for teens.  Writing classes for teens and adults are in the wings, as are speakers, visiting authors, and panel discussions.  

Co-owners Megan Harrison and Stephanie Lillegard are both mothers; their kids are a generation apart.  Their collective background includes library arts, small business, elementary education and retail banking.  They met in a university program.  After its conclusion, they got to talking about the bookstore each of them wanted to open - and soon discovered they were talking about the same place.

“We both definitely had in mind that this would not be just a place that sold books,” Stephanie says.  “Books are more like the path that takes us where we want to go.”

Megan’s young family sold their home in Idaho and moved to the gorge to join Stephanie, a long-time local, in realizing the vision summed up in their tagline:  Literary Arts in Our Neck of the Woods.

The two women were still in the early planning phase when their space suddenly became available, months sooner than they had expected it to, and they opened their doors in December 2017.  

“We’re from different generations, we have different areas of expertise and different interests in what literature we spend our time with,” continues Stephanie.  “These cross over a lot, but they meet more than duplicate each other.  And we want that for the bookstore - to be a place where viewpoints meet, rather than being limited to the set of experiences that goes with just one person’s life.”

Their approach arises out of self-described “humanist values” rather than radical ones, and they view their bookstore as a “community ecosystem,” beginning with their partnership. 

“She’s doing the finances and I’m doing the window displays,” laughs Stephanie.  “It takes all kinds.  I think that a coalition of mothers in a culture that doesn’t really form coalitions is essential.  And that’s part of our original vision….that this would be a place where those kinds of coalitions could form.  And it works in two ways….the coalitions that form here, and the opening of gateways into what’s not here.”

This enthusiasm for connectivity is reciprocated.  From the beginning, the community has expressed support. 

“People were stopping by, popping their heads in the door saying, I’m really glad you’re here!  I’m in a huge hurry but I’ll be back!  And then continuing on up the hill.  Everybody was like, Yay bookstore!  They’re participating in it.”

That participatory element is what North Bank Books is after.

“I have three small children,” Megan adds.  “And for me it’s been very isolating in some ways.  You kind of get into that insular motherhood where you’re focusing on their needs and taking them to appointments and that kind of thing.  For me this is a way to use my love of children and children’s literature to participate in the community.  It’s important to me to create a place where children feel welcome and can come in and learn more about other people, cultures, and viewpoints…it’s important for my own children to realize they aren’t the only kind of people who feel the way they do.”

Bookstores like North Bank can be bridges where that exposure happens organically, at the pace of thumbing through tangible pages or attending an event alongside neighbors with whom a conversation can continue.  Awareness deepens alongside a sense of belonging.  

There’s a quality of enchantment that comes with browsing carefully tended shelves, letting yourself - or your child - be drawn to the texture and heft of a volume, and then inside an unfamiliar story or new perspective.   Small town bookstores are havens of real time and place in a rushed, virtual world.  

“This is learn-as-you-go for us,” says Stephanie, referring to their sudden opening.  “We thought we would be able to plan it all out and then do it!  Turns out this is more like real life, where the thing starts moving before you’re done planning.”

But where the planning gets interrupted and the doors thrown open, something wonderful happens.  The dream takes on a life of its own.

Kika facilitates workshops, classes, and rites of passage events in the gorge and beyond. Get in touch with her at: kikapanaitescu@gmail.com

Find North Bank Books in Stevenson, Washington along the Columbia River.

Hood River Artist: Rachel Harvey

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Give us a little background info about you.

My background is finance, which I worked in until my daughter, Ella, was born in 2005.  When she was about a year old, I went looking for a hobby and discovered a passion.  The oil painting class I took was meant to be a therapeutic escape, nothing more; I fell in the deep end.  Within two years, I was exhibiting professionally, and have been doing so now for 10 years, right through the birth of my son, Evan, in 2009.  In fact, he attended his first art show at 2 weeks old.

It’s a challenge being a full-time artist and a full-time parent, because I’m passionate about both. I’m a parent first, painter second, but sometimes I forget that! Nevertheless, even though it’s trite to say it, I’m a better mother for being an artist. Studio time keeps me energized and sane.  

How did you get started with your art?

I took a community education oil painting class, just for fun. Then I took it again. Then I told my husband I was switching careers. It’s just been trial and error, a few workshops and miles of canvas since then.

How do you involve your children in your passion for art?

Early on, my children were in the studio with me every day. Since they’ve started school, they’re here less. But they still go to shows and openings with me, and have done a lot of traveling as a result. They suggest scenes I should paint, offer critiques, and are my biggest fans. And like all children, they are artists in their own right. 

What does your work aim to say?

My work is about refuge and security, a groundedness that transcends a place on a map. It invites the viewer into an emotional oasis, through the lens of their own experiences.

Who or what are your biggest influences?

My work is greatly influenced by my children, and conversely, my relationship with them is affected by my art.  They are two little people exploring a big world; I am a big person feeling small in my place in the universe.  Just as they wake up each day to endless possibilities and discovery, I wake up with a renewed sense of the transitory nature of our lives.  The seeming permanence of the world around us highlights how brief our stay is.  Yet in the midst of that feeling of fragility, there is a strong sense of connection and vitality, heightened by the awareness of time passing.  In both my art and with my kids, my goal is to capture that fleeting moment of illumination.

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What current art world trends are you following?

Is there an art world out there? Ha! Between the kid stuff and home stuff and studio stuff, the days just slip by. I can’t find enough time to do all the things I want to. I think it’s why I paint large canvases—I love the deep end. 

What is something you can't live without in your studio?

Coffee and podcasts. I’m currently listening to Happier with Gretchen Rubin and going through the backlist of The Writer and the Critic (spec and sci-fi fiction reviews).

How do you balance motherhood and your work/art?

Art is on my mind all the time, so when I leave the studio, I try to leave my art brain there, too.  I try to be present with my kids in the evenings, to just be Mom.  I’m not always successful—I find myself thinking about what’s on my easel while I’m cooking dinner. 

Why did you join the studio tour?

The tour is a good reason to clean my studio. 

Find Rachel on the Gorge Artists Studio Tour April 20, 21 & 22 from 10:00am-5:00pm.

Hood River Artist: Leah Hedberg

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Give us a little background info about you.

I’m a photographer who is passionate and curious about the natural world here in the Gorge. I do photography and printmaking from a home studio in Hood River, Oregon. My husband and I have a son, age eleven, and a daughter who is nine. I studied photography at Northern Arizona University before moving to Hood River in 2000.

How did you get started with your art?

After some years working as a portrait and wedding photographer, which was an enjoyable art also, I began to see things like I was seeing people, with eccentricities and personalities and lots to say through the camera. This grew into photographing everyday things I found around me. Here in the Hood River Valley, one of the most abundant things is fruit, so this was the subject that led me into looking at the nature of ordinary things through the language of light. What I’d learned from portraiture transferred naturally to this newer work, and my eyes keep wondering about other things and finding new surprises.

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How do you involve your children in your passion for art?

I try to involve them by sharing what I’m working on, or asking their opinions. But I enjoy also the ways they involve me in their passionate view of the world. Just the other day, my nine-year-old and I were lying on the couch … our heads were upside-down, and she said, “everything looks funny.” I asked her how things are looking, and she said, “Well, the kitchen faucet looks like a goose, the ceiling fan has bats where those things attach, and the coat cabinet is winking, see?” The clarity of vision kids have and the things they say can spark my thinking in a creative direction. I’m always asking my kids if I can post their sketches and writing around my workspace because they inspire me to try and start from a fresh and innocent view of things again every day.

What does your work aim to say?

My work aims to ask questions about the nature of things rather than saying anything in particular. I hope that when people see my work, they feel they could step right into the picture and feel at ease, and have a sense of possibility from what occurs to them.

Who or what are your biggest influences?

The landscape of the Columbia Gorge; my mother, father, and sisters; photographers Dorothea Lange, Alfred Stieglitz, and painter Georgia O’Keeffe; naturalists and writers like Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, John O’Donohue, and many musicians and poets.

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What current art world trends are you following?

I’m following the information shift that places artists and collectors directly in touch with one another in meaningful ways. I’m also interested in how people and companies honor creative intellectual property, and in people and organizations finding new ways to prioritize intrinsic and artistic value over money.

What is something you can't live without in your studio?

A pair of speakers.

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How do you balance motherhood and your work/art?

One thing I’m learning is that creativity and organization have a mysterious inverse relationship. The better I can organize the routine aspects of life to minimize repetitive decision-making, the more free and creative I can be. So I use a lot of lists and systems to keep headspace available. 

I work from home, which is challenging but also a great privilege. One of my goals the past several years has been to live a more integrated life, working on the skill of switching hats while trying to maintain the centeredness and integrity of motherhood in many endeavors. I’m not always in balance, but I’m learning how motherhood can work hand-in-hand with professional life, because wanting what’s best for my children and desiring good things to unfold (professionally) for the world are congruent ends. The more I’m able to trust that everything I do aims toward a common goal, the more wholesome I feel regardless of what I’m able or unable to accomplish.

Why did you join the studio tour?

I joined because I heard about it from a colleague, and found it to be a great group of professional artists serving the community with a mission I really believed in. The community of artists and visitors together make it so enjoyable. We have 41 talented and hardworking artists participating this year. If you haven’t visited the Gorge Artists Open Studios Tour, I hope you’ll visit a few studios this spring! 

Find Leah on the Gorge Artists Studio Tour April 20, 21 & 22 from 10:00am-5:00pm.

Traveling Families: From Oregon To Morocco

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Where did you go and why? 
My husband works remotely as a web marketer. When we travel, we choose to stay in one location for a period of time and try to live as a local as much as possible. My husband still works his 40hr/wk job and I care for the kids and home. We schedule our time during the week to explore as a family and the weekends are full of exploring together!

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For this trip we chose to come back to Essaouira, Morocco. We lived here 3.5 years ago for a month and loved it so we were excited to return! We love Essaouira because it's a small coastal city filled with good food, beautiful art, craft workmanship, and friendly people. It's a very family-friendly area and we plan to stay close to the 90 days that our visa allows.

What is your bus doing while you are away?
We packed up our bus and put it in storage while we are traveling internationally for a few months. It's in a covered garage and being looked after so we can return to it upon our arrival back in the states.

What are some of the biggest differences? 
There are so many differences between Essaouira and Oregon! One of the reasons we chose to come here was to avoid winter weather, so it's a good thing we're enjoying 70 degrees here! Another good difference (for us, at least) is that we're hardly cooking at all! We eat out for 2 meals a day and snack on things at home in between. Back home I was getting so worn out by the food plans, grocery shopping, meal prep, cooking, and cleaning so not having to worry so much about that has been AMAZING. Hopefully I'll be dying to cook and clean again when we return home in a couple months ;)

A challenging difference is definitely the language barrier. We miss our friends and family back home so much and it's hard to make friends here when you can't communicate. Scott and I have started taking French lessons so hopefully that will help!

How is navigating the language? Do a lot of people speak English?
The main languages here are French and a Moroccan variation of Arabic. Our family doesn't know either language, so it's a bit interesting for us. A lot of people speak very basic English so we are definitely able to get by, and we practice French vocabulary and common phrases with our Duolingo app and Google Translate. We look forward to our French lessons!

5. Tell us about the food?

The food here in Morocco is so good! They use so many different spices and have specific blends for different dishes. You also eat bread for every meal, it's really your utensil! There are different kinds of bread for different times of day, but my kids love to disregard what the norm is and just dip everything in honey anyway. Argan oil is native to this area so it is used for dipping bread and it's so delicious! 

A very common dish here is called a tajine. The tajine is an earthenware pot that the food is cooked in. It's function is similar to a crockpot, but it's not electrical as it sits on a gas stove to cook. The tajine makes the flavors of everything really pop and everything is so moist, perfect for scooping up with bread! Some common combinations for a tajine is roast with dried fruits (my favorite!) or chicken with onion, olives, and lemon.

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What is your typical day like?
A typical day for us here in Morocco consists of Scott working in the morning and I take care of the kids. The kids and I like to spend a lot of our time playing in the sand at the beach. We go to an early lunch together at a nearby cafe then either Scott or I goes to our French lesson for an hour (we switch off days). Then it's back to work for Scott and back to the kids for me! Scott finishes work around 5 and we go into the Medina (city center) to have dinner and pick up produce to have at home. After all the walking around the Medina and back home, the kids are ready for bed!

Any recommendations for families that want to visit the area?
For families, we recommend Essaouira over Marrakech--Essaouira is a lot more calm, it's on the beach, and it's smaller and easy to navigate. You'll have essentially the same experiences in either place, but without the hustle and bustle of the tourist capitol of the country. We think the food is better here on the coast too ;)

Start practicing your French! It's definitely possible to get around without knowing French (we've been doing it for a month now), but you'll definitely be in a better position knowing some of the language.

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Follow along with Emily and her family on their youtube channel or Instagram