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Sunday Night Sauna

January 19th, 2015

One of the things we were excited about when we purchased this place in Maine was the wood fired sauna. We didn’t use it too much the first two years we lived here, but we’ve been firing it up every Sunday night. It has become one of our rituals.
Snow
It’s a sweet little building sitting down below the house, built by a Finnish guy many years ago. It’s big, we could have sauna parties if we wanted to, with a dozen or more people. We love that it’s wood fired, since we heat with wood it’s not much trouble to cuts/split/stack a little extra.
sauna 3
This summer the plan is to do a little maintenance on the sauna. The trim can use a coat of paint, we have leftover black from the barn that should look nice. The interior needs a really good scrubbing as well, it’s been neglected for far too many years.
sauna 2
If you’ve never used a sauna or haven’t read about it, here’s a great website full of information. I smiled when I came across this quote where Ilmari Kianto (1874-1970) describes a countrywoman’s facial transformation in his novel The Red Line: “There in the gentle löyly, the wrinkles on her face smoothed away, and the deep-blue shadows under her eyes gave way to a healthy colour. It was as if the heat had also melted away the darkness of her soul…”.
sauna 1
It’s such a great way to end a weekend and start the coming week. Saunas provide physical and metal relaxation, along with marking the start of a new week.  There really is no better way to kick off the week than with a sauna!

Do you have any weekend rituals?

Quote of the Day: Albert Camus

January 18th, 2015

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

~ Albert Camus

winter 2
This is how I certainly feel in winter, summer is such a busy time, winter gives me time to think, to reflect. One of my favorite times to do this is while snowshoeing. There’s just something wonderful about being in the woods on a cold sunny winter day. I find having a hobby like this makes me get out on these beautiful days, it is too easy to sit inside by the warm fire.
snowshoes
Yesterday was the perfect day to be out and about. I followed moose, coyote, and fox tracks through the woods. I sat on the little bridge in the back and watched the water gurgle up through a few thawed spots in the creek.
Sun and snow
It was quiet, it was peaceful, you can’t help but think, reflect, and meditate in such an environment. It’s the perfect flip side to summer, just and wonderful in a completely different way. Less doing, more being, which is when you can find the invisible spirit you’ll need throughout the coming seasons.

What’s your favorite winter time activity?

Friday Favorite: Toasted Spices

January 16th, 2015

One of the things I love about making ethnic food is the toasting of the spices. After doing this for the first time many years ago I’ve been toasting spices every since. It really helps bring out the flavors from dried spices.
toasted spices
Last night I found myself toasting these fragrant spices to make duck pho and it reminded me how much I love them. If you’ve never given this a shot I’d highly recommend it! All you need is a hot dry skillet, I use cast iron of course. Add the spices and shake the skillet for 30 seconds or a minute and that’s it. You’re finished, your spices will be fragrant and the flavors will be enhanced. I guarantee you’ll take the time to do this from now on.

Do you toast spices before using them?

Still Going Strong

January 15th, 2015

I don’t put my Christmas tree in November like many people do, but I do leave it up until mid-January. There’s just something about sitting around with the warm glow of the lights when the nights are so long. I also feel guilty throwing outside while it’s still fresh.
Christmas tree
It is getting to be about time to take it down, I noticed a few needles falling from the upper branches. That means it’s drying out and we wouldn’t want a fire hazard, especially with Mr Chiots being on the fire department and all. I’ve got it on my list of things to do this weekend. Thankfully the days are getting longer so it’s a little less depressing to take it down mid January rather than at the end of December.

When do you put up and take down your Christmas tree?

The First Seedlings of 2015

January 14th, 2015

I have my first seedlings for the 2015 gardening year. Well, they’re technically not official seedlings since they won’t be planted outside, but they’ll provide food for the table nonetheless. I finally got around to starting a big planter of cilantro. Way back in the fall I started this planted with cilantro seed outside, but the blue jays found it and ate all my seeds before they germinated. I never got around to replanting until now.
cilantro seedlings
In a month or so this will help reduce our grocery bill. Each week I buy a bunch of cilantro and fresh herbs aren’t cheap! Luckily I have pots of a wide variety of herbs in the house already so cilantro is the only kind I have had to buy this winter. It is my favorite fresh herb so I always have to have it on hand for cooking. There’s nothing quite like fresh homegrown cilantro or parsley when the snow is covering the garden outside!

Do you grow herbs indoors in the winter? Which is your favorite fresh herb?

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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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