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A Year Ago Today…

January 21st, 2012

A year ago today I had tiny little onions in the basement seed starting area, this year I have nothing started yet. Celery seeds had also been started, none of those have been planted either this year.


Outside, it was a beautiful sunny day, I spotted a bluebird at my heated birdbath for the first time of the season.


On my blog I was talking about my love of flannel sheets since I has just gotten a new set.

This is one of the reasons I blog, it encourages me to take photos and keep a record of my life. I enjoy looking back every now and then to see what I was doing on this day a year ago.

Have you ever kept a journal, or do you keep one now?

Uncommon Gifts

January 20th, 2012

Mr Chiots and I have been working on simplifying our lives, which means we try not to buy things we don’t need. This presents a problem when it comes to buying gifts for each other. As a result, our gifts are usually things we’re buying anyways or things we need for our business. For example, I got a new camera lens for Christmas. We’d been debating on buying it, and it’s for our business more than it’s for me personally. I also got a few pairs of wool socks, that was it, simple and useful. Both items I needed and would have purchased eventually. Mr Chiots received some glass straws and Klean Kanteen Steel Pint Glasses from me.

You may be wondering why these particular gifts were chosen. Mr Chiots is a HUGE fan of chocolate milkshakes from Hartzler’s Dairy in Wooster, OH. Every time we’re driving by he pulls into the parking lot and asks “you said you needed butter right”. When I say “No”. He says, “Oh well, since we’re already stopped I may as well get a milkshake!” The only downside to their milkshakes is the straws, they are too small, filmsy and collapse when using them.

When I saw these glass straws on Etsy.com, I knew he’d love them, nothing flimsy about these. Stainless steel pints were added and now he can get a milkshake whenever he wants without worrying about the styrofoam cups or plastic straws. We have already managed to reduce the amount of garbage we produce to one small kitchen bag every two weeks, and now without the countless milkshake glasses it will be even less!


We haven’t used the cups yet as they just arrived Wed, but the straws are a big hit – Mr Chiots loves them. Although, he said because they don’t collapse he drinks his milkshake faster and says he’s going to have to start ordering bigger ones!

I’m thinking these stainless steel glasses might get a little cold when filled with a milkshake, so a felted wool or cork koozie might be in order to complete the gift.

What’s the most perfect gift you’ve ever received?

Make it Green Please

January 19th, 2012

My mom’s always had amaryllises blooming around Christmas ever since I can remember. It was no different this year, she has quite a collection of bulbs that she’s had for a very long time. She even has a few that she’s grown from seed from blooms she hand pollinated a few years ago.


Her amaryllises have always tend towards the red and salmon shades, nice, but not my cup of tea. I prefer something green or maybe white, so I purchased three different kinds of amaryllis bulbs this past fall when I ordered all those tulips, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs.

I ordered ‘Baby Doll’, ‘Green Dragon’, and ‘Evergreen’ amaryllis bulbs, three of each. I gave one of each to my mom and planted the remaining six bulbs in pots. The ‘Evergreen’ started blooming earlier this week and it’s quite lovely; this is not my mother’s amaryllis. It’s perfectly green, just like I was hoping.  My mom, who dislikes green flowers with a passion, didn’t like the green one, but the white ones she said were “OK”.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but it does fall from the tree!




Can you believe this is the first amaryllis I’ve ever had? It seems like they’re one of those intro to gardening plants that everyone has grown before.

Do you grow amaryllises? What’s your favorite color?

If you’re looking for great prices on amaryllis bulbs of all colors, shapes and sizes try visiting Van Engelen. They sell in lots of three bulbs, but generally getting three bulbs is cheaper than buying one from other places. Give the other bulbs away as gifts, or find a gardener to go in on the purchase with you. They do have a sister company that sells in single bulb lots, John Scheepers.

Choices, Choices, Choices

January 17th, 2012

A gardener who hopes to find the answer to all his needs within one catalogue might be able to, if these needs are not to special.

Katherine S. White from Onward & Upward in the Garden

There are some gardeners that can look through one catalog, make a list, place their order, and never even crack the cover of another seed catalog. That is not me!

When it comes to seed catalogs I find myself inundated with choices, as you are as well I’m sure. My first year of serious vegetable gardening, every seed packet came from Baker Creek. I had a small garden and didn’t have space or the knowledge to try anything out of the ordinary. As my garden space grew, I found myself reading more books and finding new things I wanted to plant. These items could not all be acquired from one company and the number of catalogs I ordered from grew each year along with my garden space. Trying new things is also something I really enjoy doing; after all, you’ll never find a new favorite if you don’t branch out. Renee’s Garden was like this for me, I ordered one year and I was hooked. This year I’m really excited to try the new ‘Wasabi’ arugula from Renee’s because the spicier the better is my motto for this green.

If you’re in need of seeds for make sure you check out the Heirloom Seed Company List I’ve been compiling here. You might even be able to find a small local place that specializes in region specific plants! I’ve also been collecting Seed Potato Sources if you’re in need of those. It’s always wise to order your potatoes, onions, and seeds early to make sure you get what you want. There have been a few times I’ve missed out on being able to plant what I want because I waited too late to order.

This week, my goal is to get all of my seeds ordered, I actually don’t need too many this season. For some reason I’ve been dragging my feet on getting my seeds ordered, perhaps I’m just not ready to admit that spring will be coming sooner than I’m ready for it!

Do you order from one main source each year or do you have a variety of places? Do you have your 2012 seeds ordered already?

The Favored Ones

January 16th, 2012

I’m not much of one for high maintenance plants, indoor or out. The majority of my houseplants are neglected, which is actually what houseplants seem to like! Most of them live on in the same location for months without a thought. There are two that are my favorites though, receiving special care.

These two dwarf citrus trees are my pride and joy when it comes to plants that live in pots (here’s a post with their history and why they mean so much to me). During the long cold winter months, they get carried outside whenever the weather is mild enough. I would put a light on them, but I really hate the thought (plus I’m pretty sure the sherif would stop by every now and then to make sure I was just growing citrus).

You many wonder why I go to all this trouble – I’m really hoping they’ll bloom soon and provide me with some fruit this year or next. One of my garden dreams has always been to have a citrus tree in a pot with a few lovely lemons dangling from it’s branches. Soon, this dream may actually come true.

Do you have any plants you favor above others? What special treatment do they get?

For more information on growing tropical fruits and other exotics indoors here are a few book ideas:

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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 just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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