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Ethel Gloves

December 26th, 2008

Well, Mr Chiots took the hint and bought me a pair of Signature Ethel gloves. I’m so excited! It’s clear that they’re going to be fantastic gloves from the time you see the box. They’re perfect for a style conscious consumer because their packaging and attention to detail is amazing. Everything is printed, packaged, and made to perfection! They’re perfect for the environmentally conscious consumer as well because their packaging is 100% recyclable and it contains no plastic (always a plus).
It’s too bad I won’t be gardening for several months because I’m super excited to try these out. If you would like to buy a pair of Ethel Gloves enter code “CHIOTS” during checkout at you’ll receive a 10% discount (offer ends 1.23.09).

Merry Christmas from Chiot’s Run

December 25th, 2008

Last year Mr Chiots and I made up our own Christmas cards. We had a blast doing it, although getting the cats to pose the right way took a few tries! As you can tell the Chiots is the center of the family around here.

This year we didn’t mail out Christmas cards. We decided to save the money and donate it to charity instead. So by not sending out cards we were able to pay for a year of schooling for a child in Colombia. I’m sure our money will be much more effective that way!

I know Detailed Breakdown did the same this year, they donated funds to Heifer International. What about you? Anyone else going the charity route instead of the card route this year?

Elderberry Syrup

December 24th, 2008

Em from Dance of the Small Things asked for my Elderberry Syrup recipe back when I posted about the items I had canned as part of the Harvest Keepers Challenge. I make syrup every year and we use it for pancakes and we also stir it into tea as a sweetener. Elderberries are super healthy and great for you. Handmaiden’s Kitchen has a few posts on the benefits and how to make an elderberry tincture.

Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not.

This is my recipe for syrup. You can just make it using sugar, elderberry syrup and lemon juice if you don’t mind a runny syrup. I prefer mine to be a little thicker so I use pectin, I find it works much better on pancakes this way (doesn’t make the pancake soggy). If you plan on using this only for health benefits in tea, you probably don’t need to add pectin. I use no-sugar pectin so I can make a reduced sugar syrup, I also use organic evaporated cane juice to sweeten my syrups & jellies.
First you want to pick very ripe elderberries (I always pick as many as I can, I think this is about 10 quarts) and remove all stems (stems are poisonous so make sure to get as many as possible). Next, you’ll cook the berries down with a little water to prevent sticking. I usually barely boil mine for 30-35 minutes in a big stock pot with the lid on, every so often I crush them with a potato masher. Next let them cool a bit and press them through a sieve if desired (you can leave in the seeds if you’d like, I strain mine out). You’ll end up with elderberry juice.
I ended up with about a gallon of elderberry juice from my stock pot full of berries. At this point you can refrigerate the juice if you’d like for a day or two before you make the syrup, or you can proceed and make the syrup right away.


1. Bring boiling water canner, half-full of water, to simmer.
2. Prepare jars, lids and rims for canning.
3. Measure 10 cups of prepared juice into pan and add in 1/2 cup of lemon juice.
4. Measure 8 cups of sugar into bowl, set aside.
5. Mix 1/4 cups of sugar (from bowl that you set aside) and mix with pectin in a small bowl.
6. Stir pectin/sugar mix into fruit juice, add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to keep foam down.
7. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that can’t be stirred down), stirring constantly.
8. Stir in remaining sugar and return to a full boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. (remove a small amount of syrup from pan and cool quickly on cold plate to test consistency, you want it to by syrupy but not too thick).
9. Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of top. Wipe jar rims and threads, cover with lids and place jars in elevated rack in the canner. Water must cover jars 1 or 2 inches above lids. Cover and bring water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove and cool on rack.
Just a note: Make sure you’re picking real elderberries and not ink berries. If you’re not sure, find someone who knows and have them help you. As with anything else, make sure you’re not allergic to something before you eat a big helping of it. Also make sure to check the seals on the jars before storing them.

What kinds of delicious syrups/jellies did you make this summer?

Goin’ to Gramma’s

December 23rd, 2008

Lucy is a pretty smart dog.  She had tons of phrases she understands, like, “Want to go on a walk?”, “Is it time to eat?”, “Are you hungry?”, “Go for a ride”.  One of her favorites is, “Want to go to gramma’s?”.  When we utter those words she perks up and excitedly runs to the back door and starts whining.  She knows that grandma has a great big yard to run around in and spoils her rotten with treats and that often her cousins are there to play with (our nieces & nephew).  She always has a blast playing with her cousins (whether human, feline, and canine).   Our nieces love to dress her up in all their dress up clothes and our nephew just likes to try to ride her around like a horse, this Sunday was no exception.


On Sunday she want to my parent’s house with us for our Christmas celebration.  Lucy always gets gifts for her cousins as well, they thought it was great that Lucy sent us out with her allowance to buy their presents.

Do you include pets in your holiday celebrations?

A White Christmas

December 22nd, 2008

Yesterday morning we woke up to a dusting of snow, which was perfect because we celebrated Christmas with my family. So we enjoyed a white Christmas.

It turned out to be a beautiful day with lots of sun, although super cold (in the single digits with a windchill in the negative double digits). There was lots of great food and great family fun! We always celebrate a homemade Christmas with my family, all gifts have to be made or used (except for a few gifts for the kids). It’s always fun to see what homemade items everyone has come up with. I always make cinnamon rolls for all the families so they have something delicious to pop in the oven on Christmas morning. I even found these great tree-shaped pans to put them in this year instead of the usual aluminum square.

I also made reusable cloth shopping bags for everyone this Christmas. I had a great time stitching them up earlier this week.

In the afternoon we also made birdseed pine cones with our nieces in the afternoon for their homemade gifts for everyone. They really enjoyed giving something that they made themselves.

Now only one more family Christmas to go and our own personal Christmas celebration and the season will be finished.

How many family Christmas celebrations do you attend?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.