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My Well-Documented Life

April 30th, 2011

I started this blog to keep track of my garden. Mostly for myself, I never really figured people would start reading it. Along the way I picked up some readers, they started commenting and this blog became about much more than just documenting my garden. It’s now a chronicle of my efforts to cultivate a simple life. One of the benefits of blogging is that now my entire life is documented through my camera lens. Just about everything I do is photographed from every angle. Take yesterday for example:

Mr Chiots was away for the day so I had a simple lunch of sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, olives and some cheese. I enjoyed a book while eating my delicious meal and of course I took a few photos. Yesterday was kind of a day off for me after a long busy week. I spent most of the day reading a book I picked up from the library called The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love. I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good book.

I bought a trout when we were in Cleveland earlier in the week to cook up for dinner and of course the process was documented as well. The ingredients, preparation and cooking were all snapped. I take a lot of photos that never even make it to the blog, some go on Flickr, other’s just sit in my photo organization software waiting for a future post. On a “normal” day, I take between 50-100 photos.

Mr Chiots even came out and took a few photos of me cooking the trout over the fire. I know you’re loving this colorful cooking outfit, boots and all!

We enjoyed the grilled trout with a side of brown rice with asparagus, garlic, lemon, ramps and a dusting of good cheese. Quick and simple as most of our meals tend to be.

After we ate, we were sitting in the living room and the sun was streaming beautifully through the window. Naturally I took a photos.

Of course there’s the customary photo of one of the pets as well, that’s taken throughout the day (does everyone do this?). This time it was Lucy posing so majestically in the woods while I was cooking the fish.

That was my yesterday. Simple, boring, and yet fully documented and now on the internet for all to read about. For some reason other people seem to enjoy reading & seeing all about it.

I like having a journal of my days and I most likely wouldn’t be doing it without the encouragement of having people reading each and every day. I do appreciate that you all stop by and comment each day, it keeps me posting.

Do you keep a diary or a journal of your life and what you do each day?

Friday Favorite: Fresh, In Season Food

April 29th, 2011

Each season has it’s special gifts. Strawberries last a few weeks in late spring. Cherries last a few weeks in the summer. Fresh basil is just for warm weather. Kale is sweetest in the fall after a frost. The more we live seasonally the more thankful we become for the little things. It’s about savoring and receiving with thankfulness. Good food doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Simple is best, right off the vine. Getting to that simplicity is the problem.

Jennifer R Bartley The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook

This time of year I’m particularly thankful for freshly harvested veggies. We’ve been enjoying delicious fresh salads almost every day, always a perfect paired with just about anything from liver and onions to roasted chicken or even just a simple fried egg.

I’m super excited that the asparagus is coming in. I don’t have a large patch (that will happen in the new garden area), but I have enough for a few meals each spring. My asparagus is planted up in my front foundation garden amongst my perennials.

The morels are also starting to pop up, I harvested only 3 the day before yesterday for a delicious morel and asparagus omelet. I left the rest of them to size up a little before harvesting. We’re lucky because morels grow in our garden. We do still head out hunting in the local are for more, as with most hunters we have our secret hunting grounds!

I’m very thankful for learning to live seasonally. There’s something so wonderful of fresh, in season food. It really does taste best simply prepared, which not only saves time but lets the flavor come through. I’d have to say at the moment asparagus is what I’m really enjoying.

What’s your favorite fresh, in season item at the moment?

A Sad Day at Chiot’s Run

April 28th, 2011

The last few days we’d noticed that the resident feral cat “Miss Mama” hadn’t been looking great. While she was friendly and would let us pet her, she was never as tame as an indoor cat, which meant we didn’t see her up close a lot. When the weather warmed she started spending her days out hunting in the woods around our home instead of in the garage, so we saw even less of her. When she was around, she’s follow us around the garden and even took a shine to Lucy, running over to rub on her whenever she spotted her outside.

We hadn’t been seeing much of her lately and figured it was because of the nice weather. When we spotted her the other day we noticed she looked very thin and wasn’t walking very well.

We finally caught her Tuesday evening and immediately knew it was bad. She was weak, could barely walk, and her liver was failing. There wasn’t much we could do, we put out a heating mat to keep her warm and didn’t think she was going to make it through the night. She may have caught a mouse or a chipmunk that someone had poisoned and as a result it poisoned her. Or perhaps she wandered onto someone’s lawn that had just treated it with chemicals, which is also very hard on pets. A sad reminder that often our expedient measures to treat a problem or pest result in consequences that we didn’t intend.

She made it through the night, but looked even worse the next morning and could barely walk. We knew it was time. We carried her out and put her on the side porch to enjoy the nice weather while we made some preparations.

We have a tradition in my family that pets are always buried on the property (all of our previous pets are buried in my parent’s garden). The cats always get a pussy willows planted over their graves and the dogs get a dogwood tree. I set out to decide where I wanted to plant a pussy willow, for this would determine Miss Mama’s final resting place.

While I’m very sad that Miss Mama is gone, I can’t be too sad. Outdoor cats have a life expectancy of 2 years – she was about that old. They have to deal with the harshness of nature and the expediency of humans trying to deal with pests. It’s the price we pay for the joy that animals bring us. I know that Miss Mama had a wonderful year and a half of life here at Chiot’s Run. She had delicious pastured chicken to eat, a warm cozy bed in the garage, the freedom to roam the woods hunting and be a cat. While we would have preferred for her to live a longer life, at least her life here was good.

We still have one garage cat left. If you remember, Miss Mama moved her kittens into our garage last summer. One kitten survived, she’s known as “Little Softie” or “The Sweets”. She’s a burgundy black cat now, full grown. Hopefully she’ll be able to avoid Miss Mama’s fate, she doesn’t seem to wander as far. She was brought to this garage at about 5 weeks old, so this is home to her.

We buried Miss Mama up in the front garden and I’ll get a start from my mom’s pussy willow that is growing over Jeffrey, our first cat’s grave. I placed a bouquet of wild flowers over her grave, perfectly fitting for our wild (yet tamed) cat.

Today we’re very sad still that Miss Mama is gone, but we really appreciate the joy she brought us. As our first garden cat – she was perfect! We’ll miss her chirpy meows, her padding around the garden behind us, the moles she left by the car and the great personality she had. So long Miss Mama, we’re sad to see you go, but happy you chose to spend a year and a half at Chiot’s Run!

Other posts about Miss Mama
Should I Change the Name?
The Word is Out
Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Little Ball of Fur
A Series of Unfortunate Events
In Case You Were Wondering
Not So Feral Anymore
Friday Favorite: the Feline Edition
Not Chickens But They’ll Do

Keepers of the Road

April 27th, 2011

Mr Chiots and I enjoy going on walks. We don’t get to go every single day, but we manage to get a few walks in each week. We have a few different routes that we take from our home depending on how long of a walk we want. It’s also nice to have a change in scenery. As we walk, we watch the road and pick up all the nails we see and anything that could be hard on a tire. You’d be amazed at the things we find. Part of the reason we find lots of things is that there are no sidewalks here in our community. The last three days we’ve gone on walks and each day we’ve found something. This is what I found yesterday.

I kind of wish I had started throwing them all in a can in the garage. By now I would have a big bucket filled with all sorts of things from screwdrivers to a giant 12 inch nail and screws of all shapes and sizes! We’re hoping this is good karma and it will help keep us from getting a flat tire from screw, nails and all the sorts of things we carry home from our walks.

Have you ever gotten a flat tire from something on the road?
Do you pick up nails & screws you find in parking lots and on the road?

Parade of Tulips

April 26th, 2011

I didn’t used to like tulips all that much, but they’re starting to grow on me. Perhaps I’d only been exposed to the big bright yellow and red ones (I’m still not a huge fan of those). I do like tulips that are purple, white, and buttery yellow. Most of mine run in those shades, but I do have a yellow and red tulip in my garden that was labeled as a ‘Mickey Mouse’ I planted the first year we moved in.

Tulips aren’t usually perennials here in NE Ohio, at least not the hybrid tulips. They often bloom nicely the year after you plant them, then you might get smaller blooms for another year or two but they eventually die out. I read that if you plant your bulbs deeper in the soil you will have better luck having them come back year after year. I’ve been lucky with most of mine, they seem to come back and some of them multiply each year. I can’t remember for sure what varieties I have, ‘Negrita’, ‘Shirley’ and ‘Mickey Mouse’ are the only ones I can remember.

I’m pretty lucky this year that I have so many tulips blooming. Generally the deer munch them off right before they bloom. This past winter was hard on the deer because it was so cold and we had snow cover for so long. As a result I haven’t seen as many deer in my garden and I get to enjoy my tulips. Of course this may be the reason they always come back and multiply. Since they never get to bloom they put all their energy into producing bulbs.

I haven’t planted any new tulips in 4-5 years. I think this fall I’ll finally add some more to my gardens. I would love to buy a lot of heirloom ones from Old House Gardens. They specialize in heirloom tulips and they’re all quite beautiful.

If you’ve never been to Longwood Gardens during their tulip show, I’d highly recommend that you go, it’s amazing! They plant over 200,000 tulip bulbs in the fall for the show. You’ll see tulips you never knew excited existed!

What’s your favorite spring blooming bulb?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.