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May 26th, 2012

Mr Chiots and I really enjoy doing things ourselves. We’re especially excited when we get to tackle a new project and can do something we’ve never done before. This weekend we’re redoing our main bathrooms. It was in very sad shape, the vinyl floor was torn and the cabinet was falling apart. We considered simply adding new vinyl floor, but decided we really wanted to learn how to lay a tile floor.

After looking at all of our options, we found these 1″ Hex Marble tiles that were only slightly more expensive than regular white porcelain. Since our bathroom is only 25 square feet, it wasn’t that expensive to buy enough to cover the floors.

On Thursday evening we tore out the old floor and got everything ready for tile and painted the room a pale robin egg blue. Yesterday we set the tile, today we plan on grouting, and tomorrow the new sink and cabinet will go in. If we were planning on staying here I would have put a heating system in the floor to warm in up in the winter.

Laying tile isn’t that difficult, but it does take more time than installing other types of floors. Now we have another DIY skill under our belts, next up wiring the upstairs and installing drywall!

What kind of DIY project have you always wanted to tackle that you haven’t yet?

Friday Favorite: The Front Hillside Garden

May 25th, 2012

Mr Chiots and I have lived here for ten years. I wasn’t much of a gardener when we purchased this little place so long ago. Even though I didn’t foresee myself becoming the avid gardener that I am now, I still added chicken manure and mulch to the flowerbeds each year. This is what our little house looked like when we bought it back in 2002:

This is the only photo I have, it’s from the survey they did when we purchased the house. I wasn’t much of a photographer back then, that hobby has evolved along with my love gardening. This is what it looks like now:

The first garden we started changing here at Chiot’s Run was our front hillside. Originally it had a few rocks in it and that was it, along with a very annoying ground cover. We gathered rocks and slowly built rock walls to terrace the front hillside. I planted Mediterranean Pink Heather, creeping thyme and a variety of other plants along with a few flowering trees.

This front hillside is finally coming into it’s own, though the trees are still small. This year the peonies I planted three years ago are blooming and starting to fill in. Later in the season these will be replaced with daisies, mint, floribunda roses and hopefully globe thistles blooming.

I want to encourage you to take lots of photos before you start any project. It’s good to take them every year as well. Here I am 10 years later wishing I had more photos of our house from the first five years we lived here.

Do you take lots of photos of projects along the way? Is there anything about your home or garden you wish you had more photos of?

Chiot’s Run Garden Tour
The Middle Garden
The Side Garden
The Front Hillside Garden
Mr Chiot’s Mailbox Garden
Garden Tour: The Front Garden

High Mowing Seed Giveaway

May 24th, 2012

A couple months ago, High Mowing Seeds asked to me to try some of their seeds in my Northeast Ohio garden. Since I love High Mowing and their organic seeds, I said sure. Then of course I asked for a giveaway for my blog.

I opted to have them send me a Heirloom Vegetable Collection which includes: Detroit Dark Red Beet • French Breakfast Radish • Red Russian Kale • Green Arrow Shell Peas • Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash • Rouge d’Hiver Red Romaine Lettuce • Boothby Blonde Cucumber • Ruby Red Chard • Red Cored Chantenay • Brandywine Tomato. I’m especially excited about trying the squash and cucumbers, bot new varieties for my garden.

They have a few other wonderful collections including:

  • A Bee’s Garden Organic Seed Collection
  • Garden Starter Organic Seed Collection
  • Heirloom Vegetable Lover’s Collection
  • Kid’s Garden Organic Seed Collection
  • Kitchen Herbs Collection
  • Easy Salad Greens Organic Seed Collection
  • Summer of Sunflowers Organic Seed Collection
  • Three Sisters Organic Seed Collection

Tell me in the comments which collection you’d like to grow in your garden and you’ll be entered to win that collection. Winner chosen, thanks to TJ from Humble Origins is the winner.

I love that High Mowing has a special Seed CSA in December where you can purchase seed shares at a reduced rate and use them to purchase seeds for the coming growing season. To keep up with what they’re doing, head on over to their Facebook Page.

So which seed collection would like to have for your garden?

For The Love of Harvests

May 23rd, 2012

This time of year the harvest basket starts to fill with delicious goodness. No longer is it just greens of various shapes and sizes and a few straggling overwintered leeks. Last week we picked our very first strawberry, just one delicous berry and which we split. Then Friday evening, Mr Chiots harvested a few handfuls. On Monday – an entire bowlful. These are ‘Earlyglow’ strawberries from Nourse Farms that I planted five years ago.

Yesterday morning we had strawberry shortcake for breakfast (here’s my recipe for anyone who wants it). No spongy sweet cake, we’re a lightly sweetened biscuit family, which is crumbled into a bowl, topped with strawberries and smothered in milk.

I also harvested my first garlic scapes yesterday, which we enjoyed sautéed over swiss chard. Can you believe swiss chard has never graced my plate before?

What are you enjoying from your harvest basket this week?

Old Timey Fun

May 22nd, 2012

Last fall I planted Fall Green Manure Mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. It was ready to cut a week ago, but I was waiting for Mr Chiots to do a little maintenance on my scythe.

I got this scythe from my dad, who got it from his grandpa Hatfield (his mom’s dad). He said that as a little boy he loved watching my great grandpa use it to trim the ditches and other areas on the farm.

It took us a while to get it adjusted to what we thought would be a good fit. Then it took us a few swipes to figure out the best method for cutting. All in all, it is much quicker than using a weedwacker or other power tool. 500 square feet was cut in about five minutes.

It was a great time figuring out how to adjust and use this old tool. It’s very old to be sure, quite a treasure to still be using it.

One of the reasons I garden is for peace and quiet, so I’m rather old fashioned when it comes to the tools I choose. I love using a push mower when I can, everything is watered by hand, soil is turned with a shovel not a tiller, leaves are raked with a rake. I also don’t really find that it’s faster to use power tools and they can cost a pretty penny.

What’s your favorite garden chore to do manually?

If you’re interested in reading more about Scythes, how and why to use them, etc. Head on over to Scythe Connection for some great reading!

Seeds and Sundries
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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.