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In Appreciation

December 21st, 2011

Mr Chiots and I live in a small town and we love it. Every week when we head in to town we chat with the friendly folks at the Post Office, the library, and the bank. We appreciate each every one of these people, sure they’re working and getting paid for what they do, but they do their jobs well, which makes our lives a little easier. The librarians know what kinds of books we like and will save new ones out for us. The post office will add any additional postage I forgot and just let me know how much I owe the next time I come in, and the ladies at the bank give Lucy treats in the drive thru.

Because we appreciate how well they do their jobs, we like to show it during the holidays. Every year I make a few batches of caramel corn and Mr Chiots heads in to town and passes it out. After the first year I knew I could never stop because I started getting questions around Thanksgiving about the caramel corn. One of the guys at the post office even tried to get me to start a business selling it so he could buy it all year long. Since everyone loved it so much, I’ve been doing ever since, which I think has been 5 years at least. Yesterday I spent the evening baking up four batches and packaging it up. Today Mr Chiots will head in to town to show our appreciation!

Do you make anything to hand out to neighbors and others during the holidays?

And They’re Off

December 20th, 2011

Last week I talked about taking photos and setting up our Christmas card. I sent them in to the printer on Sunday night and the UPS man delivered them Friday evening, not bad turnaround time for custom printed Christmas cards. Saturday morning was spent addressing all the cards while Mr Chiots was out sitting in the woods waiting for a nice doe to walk by. I finished up most of them right before noon and ran them in to the post office so they’d be on their way for delivery later this week.

Some people forgo holiday cards for environmental reasons, others for time or cost issues. Personally, I enjoy sending them and receiving them. In a world dominated by quick virtual communication, I find it satisfying to address glossy cards with a pen in hand.   I enjoy thinking about the people I’m sending them to and about the ways they each arrived on my Christmas list.  The creativity involved in coming up with my Christmas card every year is also something I thoroughly enjoy, it’s a good challenge (and I LOVE a challenge). This year I sent out cards our personal cards and cards from Ethel, which I spent Sunday afternoon addressing and writing notes in. Some of the people overlap from my personal to my work life and they’ll be getting one of each.

Since you’ve been waiting to see what our final card looks like, this is it. It features the little camper we built this summer and took on our trek across the country.

Since I received the printing overages I have a good number of cards left. If you’d like to receive a Christmas card from Chiot’s Run use the “contact me” button to the right to send me your mailing address. I’ll gladly send one along as I’d rather seem them hanging in your home than in the recycling dumpster in town.

How do you display the cards you get from others? 

A Cheery Delight

December 19th, 2011

Most years, my front porch is all decorated this time of year with fresh pine greenery, big white Christmas lights, grapevine stars, terra cotta pots, pinecones, and all things natural. I spend the better part of a day outside stringing garland and lights and adding a touch of the holidays to our home.

This year however, my front porch is bare, there is no pine garland, no white lights, and no grapevine stars. I never got around to buying the garland and I haven’t been able to find the time to pull out the stars. It’s kind of sad, I really miss the big white lights shining through the front windows during the evening. I didn’t want to go completely without any outside lights, that makes me sad.

We are not completely devoid of holiday cheer in the garden. Some big colored lights were strung in a small blue spruce out back for our Christmas card photo.

Generally I’m not a colored light kind of gal, but I find them to be a cheery delight when I see them through my kitchen window in the evenings.

The nice thing about this little strand of lights is that no one else can see them but us. It’s like our own little holiday display on the back hillside. The extra nice thing is that it will take me all of two minutes to take down the outdoor holiday decor instead of the usual couple hours.

Do you add any outdoor decor/lights to your home during the holidays? Which do you prefer: white or colored lights?

Here Comes Suzy Snowflake…

December 18th, 2011

“To appreciate the beauty of a snow flake,
it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”


Yesterday about noon the snow started flying here at Chiot’s Run. It happened at the perfect time, as I was working on my Christmas cards. Not too long before the sun went down I grabbed my camera and headed out into the cold to capture the first snowfall of the season!

“The Sweets” aka the feral garage cat, doesn’t come out of the garage much unless she hears or sees us out. She’s really missing having me in the garden a lot during the day. Whenever she hears the door open, she appears in a flash and is rubbing on my legs legs to get some attention, so much for being feral right! Everywhere I went yesterday, there she was, right behind me. As you can see by the second photo, she got some of Miss Mama’s green in her eyes!

Mr Chiots was hunting all day in the neighbor’s woods behind our house and he came home while I was out. I managed to sneak a photo of him all dressed up in his warm woolen layers. He’s off to the family hunting cabin today to meet his cousin, who’ll be deer hunting for the first time – wish them luck!
I’m happy to have it on the ground as long as the cold weather sticks around. Nothing brightens up a dull dreary winter day more than some beautiful white snow. Not to mention, I need to make up for all those white Christmases I missed while growing up in South America!

Do you get snow in your area?

Crispy Soaked Walnuts

December 17th, 2011

Here at Chiot’s Run we follow the Nourishing Traditions way of eating. That means that grains and nuts are soaked to make them more digestible and to make the nutrients more available to our bodies. We try to eat as healthy as possible and thus the proper preparation of nuts/legumes/seeds allows us to get the most nutrition from these healthy foods.

Soaking nuts/seeds/legumes reduces their physic acid content. I won’t go into the details of the why/how, head on over and read this article on the Weston A Price foundation website for an in depth explanation of phytic acid and it’s effect on digestion and nutrition. You can also head over to Nourishing Gourmet for a Q & A on soaking for improved digestion as well as a guidelines for other types of nuts like cashews.

You may wonder if it’s worth it to spend the time and effort on soaking. I certainly have noticed a huge difference in the way my body digests foods when they’re properly prepared. Also, if I’m taking the time and money to seek out and buy the best quality ingredients I’m willing to spend a few extra moments making sure I’m getting the most for my money by preparing them properly. Nuts are also much more tasty when prepared this way, once you try them you’ll be hooked!

from Nourishing Traditions

4 cups of organic raw walnuts (I get mine from*
2 teaspoons of sea salt
filtered water
1 half gallon mason jar

Put two teaspoons of salt into mason jar and add 4 cups of filtered water, stir until salt is dissolved. Put walnuts into jar. If water does not cover nuts, add more water until nuts are covered. Let sit overnight. Drain, spread nuts onto cookie sheet and dry in a warm oven for 12-24 hours (no higher than 150 degrees, I used 140) stir occasionally until dry and crispy. Store in a tightly covered glass jar in the fridge. You can also dry in a dehydrator if you have one. My oven has a dehydrate setting so I’ve never bothered buying a dehydrator.

Nuts can still be difficult to digest so it’s best to consume them with some yogurt or other cultured dairy product, or they can be thrown into soups as bone broth also helps our bodies digest nuts more easily.

*this recipe can also be used for pecans, other varieties of nuts may require different soaking times and different amounts of salt.

I usually make a double or triple batch when I make nuts, or soak a few different varieties at once to make sure I have the oven filled to make best use of my time and the energy. My favorite way to enjoy crispy walnuts is sprinkled on top of yogurt then drizzled with some maple syrup and a dusting of sweet cinnamon. Now that’s a nourishing breakfast or late night snack that’ll provide all kinds of healthy deliciousness (sometimes I’ll even throw an egg yolk in for extra goodness).

What’s your favorite kind of nut?


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.