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Harvesting California Poppies

November 1st, 2018

This was my first year for growing California poppies. I grew them for two reasons, their beauty and their medicinal value. Being an insomniac, it is said to have properties that help you fall asleep more quickly. Since it’s pretty expensive to buy the tincture (I purchased this kind to try a few years ago), I figured it would be cheapest to grow my own.

I harvesting the entire plant, leaves, stems, and flowers, cut them up and put them in a mason jar. I also harvesting some try dry to make tea.

The mason jar was topped off with grain alcohol and I put it in the pantry. It should be ready in 6 weeks. I’ll let you know how it works, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it helps me fall asleep quickly.

Do you grow any medicinal herbs and make tinctures? What’s your favorite?

Homemade Gifts

January 9th, 2018

I’m always making gifts, sometimes they come out of my sewing room, sometimes I crochet them, sometimes they come from my kitchen, other times they’re just creative things I come up with. Most recently, I made a set of spice jars for a good friend. The jars originally came filled with delicious local mustard, I’ve been saving them for a year just for this project. For those of you that love mustard, give Raye’s Mustard a try, I’ve tried most of their flavors and they’re FANTASTIC. Old World Gourmet is the most used variety in my kitchen, but I always have a few others around as well.

The labels were designed on Avery’s website, I printed them here at home, then added a few details with a gold pen. Overall, they turned out beautifully and she LOVED them.

I’ll keep saving jars and keep printing labels. She’s been wanting to organize and beautify her spice cabinet, so I gave her a good start and will continue to add to her collection.

Have you come up with any creative gifts recently?

Lovely Lavender

August 11th, 2016

At the beginning of July I stopped at Glendarragh Lavender Farm in the next town over. I needed to get both fresh and dried lavender to make infusions with jojoba for a blog post on The Jojoba Company’s website. The air was thick with the smell of lavender, it was quite amazing. It’s a wonder I didn’t sleep on the way home with all that lavender in my car. As far as herbs, lavender isn’t my favorite for scent, but it has been growing on me, especially the fresh lavender I got from the farm. I find some types of dried lavender to be a little overpowering.
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Currently, I don’t have any lavender plants in my garden, they were all left in Ohio. This past winter I winter sowed a packet of seeds and have a few tiny lavender seedlings that need transplanting to the nursery beds. In a few years I’ll be able to harvest my own lavender for infusions. Head on over to The Jojoba Company’s blog to see more photos of this lovely farm and for directions to make a lavender infusion.

What’s your favorite herbal scent?

Making Cidah

October 13th, 2015

Cider (or cidah here in Maine) is one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fall treats. In Ohio, we had a local press we purchased gallons and gallons of cider from each year. We have yet to find cider as good as there’s here in Maine, so we usually get 8-10 gallons for our freezer when we’re back in Ohio for Thanksgiving. Lucky for our, our neighbor was given a cider press and we had an abundance of apples.
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We have lots of different varieties of apples here, probably around 15, of which 8 are ready to be used right now. We have no idea what varieties they are, some over 120 years old. We’re hoping to figure out what they are here one of these days. We picked two of each variety and I made juice, which we tasted to see what flavor profiles they each had. It was amazing to taste the difference between them all, some where sweet, some were intense, others were watery, and still other were astringent.
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After tasting the various juices, we started picking apples into big totes. Each tote holds around 2 bushels of apples, we picked three totes and a bushel. We picked for an hour or two and then loaded them up in the car to head down to our neighbor’s.
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He was ready to roll, the cider press was fixed up nicely and on the front porch. After a little tweaking we were in business putting the apples through the crusher and making our first batch.
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After a few hours we had all of our containers filled and tons of apple mash. Some went to his chickens, some went to our chickens, some went to a local farmer for their pigs.
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Overall it was a really fun day, ending up with a lot of cider wasn’t so bad. The cider ended up being delicious, next year we might tweak our recipe a bit, but it’s still better than any of the cidah I’ve purchased from any of the local orchards. We were pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy the process was.

Have you ever been a part of a cider pressing day? Do you like apple cider?

Making a Birdseed Wreath

February 22nd, 2012

On Sunday I was mixing up a batch of suet for the woodpeckers and I posted it to my Facebook page. Krista asked if I had ever made a batch in a bundt pan. Since I hadn’t, I decided to give it a try. I mixed up a batch and make cakes as usual and mixed up another batch and put it in a bundt pan. Here’s my suet cake recipe.

My bundt pan isn’t a real one, it’s a springform pan with a bundt insert. I was worried about the removal of the wreath from the pan, but a few minutes over the warm oven vent and it popped right out. I think one of these silicone bundt pan would be perfect since you could peel it right off and these mini bundt pan would make the cutest gifts!

If you do make one, make sure you hang it with wide ribbon as a thinner string might cut right through the suet on a warm day. I hung mine from the maple tree by the bird feeder and within a few hours the woodpeckers had already found it. ¬†This will be perfect because I won’t have to replace the suet cakes quite as often.

Any great crafting going on in your kitchen?  


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.