Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

August 2nd, 2015

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

I’m a big believer in stretching your mind by keeping it open, not always focusing on the things that are in line with your way of thinking or your beliefs. Often, when I read/watch/listen outside my normal parameters, I’m pleasantly surprised and sometimes my mindset is changed sometimes I am more sure of my beliefs. It is difficult to do, especially these days when it seems everyone just watches, listens to, and reads things that are in line with their current thoughts and beliefs while berating and looking down on those who think differently. There are times when I don’t recommend books to certain friends because I know they are adamantly opposed to the religious or political views put forth in the book. It makes me sad, because I know if they were able to read with an open mind they’d find much value. You’ll find interesting things on my stack of books a wide variety of topics and viewpoints: Christian, Buddhist, poetry, farming, and more.
I’ve never regretting reading widely, in fact, I think it helps me to understand those who believe differently than I do. So often our minds can be closed and sure that our beliefs are the “correct” ones, even if we have no experience or knowledge of other beliefs. I challenge you to read outside your comfort zone, I guarantee you will come out a much richer person.

What have you been reading lately? 

Artistic Repose

November 10th, 2014

When I was a kid, coloring was one of my favorite activities. My coloring books were always done from front to back, in order, and the pictures were colored to perfection with outlines and a lot of shading. I remember once my little brother got ahold of one of my coloring books once and scribbled on a page halfway through the book. I didn’t even want to finish the book, but of course my parents weren’t about to buy me a new coloring book for that reason. If I remember correctly, I carefully cut out that page so it was no longer in the book and then I could proceed.
coloring 1
A few months ago I spotted Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book at a local bookstore. I was immediately taken and dreamed of coloring the beautiful pictures within. Impulse purchases are not my thing, so I didn’t buy it right then. Much time was spent mulling over whether I should buy the book. Last week I decided to go for it and got it and a set of Staedtler markers.
coloring 3
The markers are perfect, but the color does bleed through to the back page a little. I really like the saturated color they produce, so I’m using them on front cover and any pages that don’t have anything on the back. I have a set of Prismacolor colored pencils I will use for the other pages. Here’s the front of the book after I got finished with it (see image above before coloring).
coloring 2
coloring 5
coloring 4
The coloring pages in this book are highly detailed, it takes a lot of time to complete each one. It was definitely $15 well spent for the many hours of artistic repose I will get from it! You can bet I’ll be coloring through it in order, let’s hope Mr Chiots doesn’t get ahold of it and decide to color a page halfway through.

Did you enjoy coloring as a kid? Do you still color as an adult?

Gardening Goals

October 8th, 2014

I read a lot of books about gardening, most of my reading on the topic happens in the winter. Last year I purchased Salad Leaves For All Seasons: Organic Growing from Pot to Plot and read through it. I recently pulled it off my bookshelf to read again. This spring I decided that growing greens throughout the year was going to be my gardening goal.
Roxy Lettuce 1
This book is a fantastic guide for this process, with loads of information and recommendations. Of course I’ll need a winter structure of some sort, I designed a low tunnel/greenhouse/coldframe made with old sliding glass doors that we have collected. Eventually I’ll have a proper greenhouse, but that won’t happen for quite a while. Low tunnels are OK, but I find that they freeze solid to the ground and harvesting in the dead of winter is pretty much impossible.
My winter will be spend reading and researching, dreaming and planning, and developing a plan to eat greens from my garden 24 months out of the year. I’ll save more money if I grow greens than if I grow my own broccoli or peppers, so I’ll be allocating prime garden space to achieve my goal.

What gardening goals do you have for next season? 

Quote of the Day: Elderberries

September 7th, 2014

“Once up on a time not so long ago, elderberries were held in extremely high esteem by humans. Elderberry trees feds us. They got us drunk, provided medicine, and protected us from witches. Everybody know elderberry trees. They offered everything from fruit to flutes and cosmetics to weapons.”

Connie Green and Sarah Scott The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes

I only have one small elderberry plant here in my garden in Maine so far, though it’s sending up suckers that will be transplanted when it’s finished producing berries. There aren’t enough berries for me to make anything this year, they will be cut and fed to the chickens. Elderberries are beautiful plants and provide such nutrition.
Elderflower fritters 2
The lacy white flowers can be fried up as fritters, made into wine or syrup for sodas and the berries can be used in all sorts of different ways. When I have elderberry syrup I use it in my tea all winter long, it’s said to boost the immune system. My dad swears by its health promoting ability and doesn’t hardly go a day without consuming elderberries in some form (jelly is his favorite medium). Even if you don’t want to consume the berries or the flowers, they are a wonderful way to provide forage for pollinators and birds of all varieties and are worthwhile to include in the garden for that reason.

Do you have any plants you grow for their medicinal properties?

A Garden to Dye For

May 19th, 2014

As a kid I was fascinated with the colors of berries and things in the garden. We often took poke weed berries, smashed them and made ink to write on stones with. Being a crafty kid, learning how to dye fabric, yarn and other things with plants would have been so much fun. A few times I dyed items with regular dyes and a few times I used tea and coffee.
Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.27.13 AM
“You may have already guessed that there are some great perks that come with obtaining dyes from your own plants: they’re non-toxic, biodegradable (compost anyone?) and absolutely renewable.

Using botanical dyes isn’t even remotely close to being a new concept. People from all over the world have been borrowing nature’s colors for thousands of years, using plant- based dyes to adorn clothing, baskets, cave walls, and skin. It’s the ultimate in awesome to realize that when we derive color from the plants in our gardens or landscapes, we’re communing creatively with our ancient ancestors and civilizations.” (excerpt from pages 4 & 5).
signet_starfire_marigold 1
The most fascinating part of this book for me was reading about the studies being done on naturally dyed fabrics and clothing to see if we absorbed any of the medicinal/healthful properties from the herbs through our skin.  Super fascinating and something that has been believed throughout history by many cultures.  It does make sense with the advent of transdermal patches for medication and other things.  What we put on our skin is absorbed, it makes sense that herbal qualities from naturally dyed fabrics would also offer some benefits.
This book includes everything you need, from setting up your craft station to choosing the right plants for the color you want to achieve. Chris geared this book for the gardener and the beginner when it comes to dying so you can learn the basics and then be able to move forward with your own creativity.  I must admit, reading through the lists of flowers and other natural materials and seeing the colors achieved with them makes me want to buy some muslin or yarn and get to work experimenting.
When looking at all the colors achieved from various plants, seeds and other natural material many of them made complete sense. Of course pokeweed was in there, the one I used all the time as a kid. Then I came on the section about using avocado seeds and skins (hey I have a bunch of those) and I was amazed! If you use the skins and seeds you’ll get a salmon or pink for your final color, not at all what I was expecting!
avocados 1
It’s not just about dying fiber and fabric either, she tells you how to dye Easter eggs and play dough as well as direction for how to make your own watercolor dye paints. I must admit, making my own watercolors sound like a lot of fun, perhaps I can do it with my nieces when we’re back in Ohio later this year.
Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 8.26.05 PM
She’s doing a great giveaway on her site that includes everything you need to get started including a few silk scarves and wool yarn, head on over and enter if you’re interested.

This book definitely piqued my crafty side and now I can’t wait to try some of the ideas from this book, not sure what I’ll do first, maybe some yarn so I can make a scarf this winter.

Have you ever dyed things with items from you garden? What would you try to make first?

Also Find Me At
Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


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.