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Give Me Your Thoughts

January 29th, 2012

This blog was started many years ago as a place to keep track of what I was doing in the garden, my garden journal of sorts. It has grown into so much more, a narrative of my journey towards the simple life and a community of friends. There are a lot of you that stop by each day to read about my life and a few take the time to comment (which if you write a blog you know what a joy those comments are). You’ve journeyed with me through the expansion of the gardens along with its successes and failures. You know what I eat, my favorite things, and the things I’m passionate about. You have become my friends and I thank you for that.

We’re currently in the process of redesigning Chiot’s Run.  Mr Chiots has been spending some time in the evenings coding the new website with new features.

I wanted to extend the invitation to you for your thoughts and ideas. Part of the reason I post each day is because I know there are thousands of people that stop by; you are an integral part of this blog. Those of you who read and those of you who take the time to share your knowledge and thoughts in the comments.

How can I make it better?
What would you like to see? a better search tool, more resources, bigger images, more links…
What topics are you interested in hearing more about?
Some people have been requesting greeting cards, postcards and prints – anyone interested in seeing those or other items available?


34 Comments to “Give Me Your Thoughts”
  1. Henry on January 29, 2012 at 6:11 am

    I would love it if you had an index with all your great recipes and home-tips. That would make finding things easy
    Thanks for a great blog! Always enjoy reading it!

    Reply to Henry's comment

    • Susy on January 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      I’ve migrated most of my recipes to Eat Outside the Bag and am working on a better organizational system for them over there. That way they’re all in one place & much easier to find. Then all my gardening/home stuff will be over here. Better organization and easier navigation to find evergreen information is something we’re really focusing on for this redesign.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Kathi Cook on January 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I really can’t think of any changes. I like it the way it is, but I’m sure whatever you have in mind will be great. I especially love that you blog every day (although I am sure this must sometimes be hard to do).I also really enjoy your “Friday Favorites” and “Quote of the week”. Thanks!

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  3. tj on January 29, 2012 at 9:39 am

    …I can’t think of a single thing I’d change really. I’ve always loved it here and have always felt you’ve always covered a wide range of topics as well as make it easy to find past posts, easy to read, and your site is easy to navigate too. And might I add I am loving the little slide out box at the bottom right of the page reminding me of past posts I may have missed. Nice addition. :o)

    …I’m confident that whatever you two have cooking up for a new site will be nothing short of spectacular. And thank you for being a friend to us as well! ;o)

    …And btw, I love the cat peeking out under the computer monitor. Our two cats do the same thing here, not to mention, playing and knocking papers, pen, etc…off the desk. *sigh*giggle*

    …Have a great day you two!

    …Blessings :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

  4. Denimflyz on January 29, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I would love to see your savory recipes you so lovingly make magic with. I would like to see a section of your South American recipes also.

    Its funny how all of us strive for the same things (simple living, more whole foods, gardening etc) but yet each one of us who follow you or have blogs take the concept and insert our differences in it, thus makiing it a whole with a twist!

    Love the kitties, mine do the same, only a little more destructive.

    I love how you and Mr. C. take your beautiful talants and share with all of us. I am not sure how you can improve on something you do so passionately.

    Thank you for sharing

    Reply to Denimflyz's comment

  5. Melissa on January 29, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I don’t think there’s a whole lot of change needed. Although re-designs are always fun. Things I do really like– always liked the book list on the side. Gives me good reading ideas. The recipe index is a good idea. Would make it easy to find those great dishes you post. maybe add more garden specific posts- But then again I’m a die hard gardener so of course I would say that!!! :)

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  6. Allison on January 29, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I like your layout now :) I thin it is proportioned nicely — just don’t add too much! some blogs have so much ‘stuff’ on them that it detracts from the content! I am trying to slim my down too as I speak!!

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • Susy on January 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      I agree – less is more! We’re working on ways to incorporate more the evergreen information without cluttering it up. Although I think one of the reasons my blog doesn’t look cluttered is because I don’t have ads – they’re so annoying! No ads on the new blog either!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Karen on January 29, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Please keep your “what I’m reading and watching” column ~ I’ve added so many great books to my personal library because of you!

    Reply to Karen's comment

  8. Christine McCormick on January 29, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I love the how to’s. Making sauerkraut, etc. the tutorials are a wonderful resource, and tell us more about Chiots run in the process.

    Reply to Christine McCormick's comment

  9. aruna on January 29, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I really love your blog. The only thing that I would love to see is a section titled “What I am doing today” or something like that. For example, today I am working on tapping my maple trees or planting onions. I am never sure when the right time to do these thing. I know I live in different area so the timing might be different, but it might be around the same time range. I love reading what you have done and I always that I wish I had started my onion seeds back in January. Thank you.

    Reply to aruna's comment

  10. Kim on January 29, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Let me start by telling you what I like most about your site. It is comforting to come here. The colors, font, and placement of text to picture are subtle things, but make a difference. Kind of like coming into a comfortable and welcoming home.

    There is little I can think of to change other than what has been mentioned by a few others…links to recipes. This includes food and other recipes you have given over the years. I return to salt scrubs and other fun things as gift ideas frequently.

    Thanks for all you and your husband do and for letting all of us into your world. It really is a great place to visit every day.


    Reply to Kim's comment

  11. Jane on January 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I love your blog also. I do have one suggestion, along the line of “keeping it uncluttered.” I would remove the poll. It looks like a gimmick for a beginning bolgster (such as myself) to get more people engaged with your blog. You already have people meaningfully engaged. It seems superfluous to go for this (IMHO) superficial engagement.
    Just a thought. Now that I think of it, this would be a good topic for a poll…LOL!!

    Reply to Jane's comment

    • Susy on January 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      I do love a good poll (one of my secret likes). I used to change them often, but I focus my time in other areas now. I probably will get rid of it or make it more relevant like: What do you want a How-To post about – etc. More to find out info for future topics & what people are interested in reading about.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • KimH on January 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm

        I love polls too

        to KimH's comment

  12. KimH on January 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I havent been around here too long, but it didnt take any time at all for you to become my favorite daily blog.
    I love the date links & blogroll’s, but most of all I appreciate the the category list and the “What Im reading” list the most. ♥ I have read some wonderful books thanks to your list at the time. I love your Flickr photo stream too. Your photos just make me feel good. :)

    I wish you had an ongoing list or section for “What Im reading” though. I know you’ll have had a book up there that I either want to reference or check out & I cant find it, even though I know you have a section called Books. That is only for posts, if I understand it correctly.

    If I think I might be interested in reading the book, I’ll now add it to my library “future read list” which works for me most of the time, but it would be great if you did have a keyword search function here.
    That is the only thing I’ve ever wished you had here, a better search function, especially were books are concerned.

    I think I would enjoy a link to the seeds you’re using and resources they came from if possible. I know you reference them in the blog if you’re writing about them, but it’d be nice to see them all at a glance. But then again, perhaps a really good keyword function would work just as well. ;)

    I think it would be lovely to offer greeting cards, etc, for those who wish it, but I tend to make my own most of the time. You never do know what I might be compelled to buy, some days. ;)
    Its always interesting to see what someone else is doing, including making/crafting and I dont know that I could honestly say there is anything I’d like to see here that I dont already. I love your blog. ♥♥

    I love that your blog is full of resources, and that you always have a question to pull your readers into commenting and the sense of community you foster here.

    I cant really think of anything else I might wish to say, except Have a great day!! :)

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • Susy on January 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      A dedicated library page is something I’d love to do as I’d like to keep track of books I’ve read to. Will take some time to get it populated and try to remember all the books I’ve read over the past couple years.

      Better searching to find information is top on our list for the redesign!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Seren Dippity on January 31, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        Have you considered linking to a site such as I’ve started cataloging all my books there. I like them because I can keep up with books I own, books I’ve borrowed from the library or from friends. They have a feature where you can scan the bar code and it enters all the info for you. Much easier than re-inventing the wheel. There are other library catalog sites, this is just the one I’m familiar with.

        to Seren Dippity's comment

  13. Jennifer on January 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I agree with the other comments. I read every day- the color and photos are beautiful and lovely to look at. It must be difficult to post every day, especially with more than 1 thing going, but I really appreciate the information you give, and the food for thought. It makes me think about many of the things I do, and gives me a model for some of the things I’d like to do.

    Reply to Jennifer's comment

  14. Victoria on January 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Impressive! My first visit to your blog was 2 years ago. You provided great canning advice & gave me the confidence to grow & prseserve my own. If you were to re-org, I’d think about indexing a few main catagories and then making sub-catagories. Good luck with the re-design & the new cooking blog. You’re sharing a great message, keep up the fabulous work!

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  15. janet on January 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I reader through the google reader rss feed, so I rarely see the actual website design. I do stop by the actual website occasionally to see the what your reading sidebar. As for website feature, I always appreciate good search features and/or good “tags.”

    I really like the how to, or the learning experience posts. Along with this would be more details on how you organize your homesteading adventures, garden plans, planting dates, etc (and perhaps more importantly how you decided on those plans and dates). I also enjoy the progress reports, when you give an update on something you talked about previously. Like, the status of you getting chickens, which I can’t believe you don’t have but know that you’re not “allowed” to have.

    I could also see you doing a series of “challenges” with blog readers, challenging yourself and others to try something new in their homestead experience. For example, I’m afraid of fermenting. I know people do it safely but I’m just afraid I’ll get sick! I made lacto-fermented asparagus last year and then didn’t eat any of it because it wigged me out…

    Also, I think it would be appropriate to talk more about the natural gas situation in your area. I don’t live near anything like that, but we definitely having mining issues going on right now in Wisconsin, and I’m interested to hear what is going on in Ohio and people’s reactions to it.

    But, overeall, I’ve been following your blog for over a year now, maybe even 2? and I think the changes made over that time have been positive. I really, really enjoy the daily posts and the variety.

    Reply to janet's comment

  16. Mich on January 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I have to say that I love your blog and since I ‘found’ it I drop by everyday to read it :)
    So…I’m sure whatever you do to ‘redecorate’….your blog will still be great.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  17. Songbirdtiff on January 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I truly cannot think of anything I would want to add to your blog. I love visiting daily, and your photos are so beautiful.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  18. risa on January 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    A feature I’d want to see retained is the linkback to commenter’s latest posts — it’s a great way to explore and meet other like-minded folks

    Reply to risa's comment

  19. Alyssa on January 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I love what you already do, but I would be even happier if I saw more gardening posts, how-to’s and techniques. I’m interested in being a better gardener, so the more wisdom you share the happier I am. Thanks!

    Reply to Alyssa's comment

  20. Kimberley on January 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Hi there
    I’ve always been curious about the layout of your garden. I trawl the web and flickr looking for garden layout ideas and love looking at pictures of gardens as they progress. That would be the only thing I would add to your already wonderful blog.
    Thanks, Kimberley

    Reply to Kimberley's comment

  21. Jaye Whitney on January 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    List/index of recipes and paper goods, i.e. cards etc….I think the site is perfect, but would really benefit from these.

    You both do a great job.

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

  22. Sofie Dittmann @thegermanfoodie on January 29, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    More in-depth, step-by-step how-tos. Your seed tutorial was a good inspiration, but for somebody completely new to the process I need a step-by-step kind of thing, not something more general. Makes sense?

    Reply to Sofie Dittmann @thegermanfoodie's comment

    • Susy on January 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Yes – how about more videos of how-to’s?

      Reply to Susy's comment

  23. Miranda on January 30, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Better search… i’ve tried to search may times in the past and have almost always had a hard time finding the post i’m searching for. Otherwise: keep up the good work! (and maybe post specific blueprints for that sweet rain barrel system Mr. Chiots built for you!)

    Reply to Miranda's comment

  24. Caroline on January 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I’ve really enjoyed reading everything you write, and your photos are beautiful. Thanks for creating an enjoyable space.

    I love when you show us how to do something. Or how you do it. Whether it’s organizing things, how to make something, or how to grow something. I like to say, “Oh! I can do that!”

    Reply to Caroline's comment

  25. Rocky Top Farm on January 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Agree with many comments. Love the idea of step by step video I really want to do more winter gardening but need help and your blog is my first resource! Also please keep it simple. It is what I love most! Also love that you share tips and products that are part of a simple life, which is so my desire. I chase three boys and a husband and a busy volunteer schedule so I really enjoy getting on your blog and finding great ideas that I probably wouldn’t look up on my own at this time in my life. I read very few blogs, two in fact, but I would read more if I could find more like yours. So thank you! And am excited to see what you have coming our way!

    Reply to Rocky Top Farm's comment

  26. Donna B. on January 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Honestly, everything is pretty much fine with the journal. For obvious reasons updating the coding to keep up with internet standards is always a plus [I still need to look into RSS feeding for my own art site, I still use old skool coding and haven’t updated my java whatsoever. /shame]
    You are mainly keeping up with the things that I would suggest. My only quip doesn’t actually involve your blog – but the Ethel Blog is almost unreadable @ work… but we’re also using outdated PC’s with limited access for sites since it’s a bank network… [like how .png files aren’t transparent. It aggravates me to no end! hehee]
    OOOH! Prints available. That I’d be interested in also!
    Either way, I bet the final changes will be wonderful!

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  27. The Sorry Gardener on January 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I’m glad you’re making your recipes easier to find, even if it means moving them to Eat Outside the Bag. I refer to your sourdough bread recipe several times a year and have trouble finding it on the first try on this site. I also read many of your book recommendations, but I only see those when you mention them in posts since I follow you by RSS.

    But the thing I’d most like has nothing to do with blog design. It would be for you to return to the voice you’ve had most of the two years I’ve been following you.

    I know you’re juggling a lot with Chiot’s, Ethel’s, Eat Outside the Bag, and Dabbling (plus Twitter and FB), but I miss the pace of your old posts here, which used to shine with your passion for life and for learning and for giving new things a go. Since the tiny trailer trip in August, your posts here seem a bit rushed and you sound as harried as the rest of us. Your “old” life used to seem so well balanced and somewhat magical, and you sounded happier and more fulfilled. Some of your “old” voice is still in your Ethel’s posts, which I understand since you’re being paid for those. But I miss you here.

    It was also easier to follow what was going on in your life every day when you were only posting to Chiot’s. Now I feel like I have to follow you on Ethel’s and Eat Outside the Box and Twitter/FB to fill in the gaps of narrative that used to be on Chiot’s. For example, I didn’t know what you were referring to in your Chiot’s posts about fracking and possibly moving to a new state until I bounced over to FB/Twitter. I’m glad for your success and your gumption to do it all. And I know bloggers have to be “everywhere” now, but that’s a lot of places to follow you when I have so many other bloggers that I also like to read.

    Reply to The Sorry Gardener's comment

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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