This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Celebrating Sweetness

March 26th, 2013

It’s no secret that Mr Chiots and I LOVE maple syrup. Typically we make our own, sugaring is one of our favorite activities. This year it wasn’t in the cards, with the move, travel and lots of work, we just didn’t have the time. Not to worry though, we got our fix of sugaring this past Sunday on Maine Maple Sunday.
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We visited two different sugar houses with our neighbors. One that usually makes around 80 gallons of syrup and one that makes around 600.   The difference in the two operations was amazing. Here is what maple sugaring is all about in Maine.
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Around here, maple syrup is our main sweetener. I use it in just about everything from pumpkin pie to hot cocoa.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy maple syrup?

Cultivate Simple 23: Permaculture, Beyond the Basics

March 25th, 2013

Bill & Lauren Errickson from Singing Nettle Farm & Conscious Elements Permaculture talk about permaculture, beyond the basics from the The Permaculture Process Podcast. Like them on facebook if you’d like to keep up with what they’re doing.
Bill & Lauren
From Mr. Chiots – Some of the things that Bill & Lauren mentioned reminded me of an episode of The Permaculture Podcast: An Introduction to Nutrient Dense Farming with Mary Johnson If you want to hear more, check it out.

Books of the Week

Quote of the Day: Laura Ingalls Wilder

March 24th, 2013

All around the little house, in the Big Woods, there were little sounds of falling snow, and from the eaves there was the drip, drip of the melting icicles.

In just a little while the trees would be putting out their baby leaves, all the rosy and yellow pale green, and there would be wild flowers and birds in the woods.

Then there would be no more stories by the fire at night, but all day long Laura and Mary would run and play among the trees, for it would be spring.

Laura Ingalls Wilder from (Little House in the Big Woods).

It won’t be long my friends, until it’s time to spend every waking moment working in the garden. Until then, I’m trying to enjoy some relaxing. Every day I grow a little more excited, my gloves are itching to get dirty.

Have spring chores already taken over your days or is your garden still asleep?

One Size?

March 23rd, 2013

One of the things you learn to love about growing your own is the fact that not all things are created equal and one size does not fit all. When you harvest your homegrown veg, every head of broccoli looks different, tomatoes are different sizes, things are not exact cookie cutters of each other. The same goes for eggs from a flock of backyard chickens. They come in all shapes and sizes (and colors if you’ve got the right hens).
backyard eggs in all sizes
I also notice that the shells vary in shades of brown and the eggs are shaped differently as well. Some have shells that are thicker than others, I guess it depends on the chicken that laid that egg. There is as much individuality among the eggs as there is among the chickens in my flock.
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There’s a definite beauty in variety, it certainly makes things more pleasing to the eye, but there are other benefits as well. The smaller eggs have a higher ratio of yolk to white, that means they’re perfect for custards or ice cream. Noticing the difference and learning to appreciate each thing for what it brings to the table is quite nice. Now, if I go into a grocery store I’m actually taken aback by the uniformity. Around here, one size definitely does not fit all and we like it that way!

What’s your favorite “imperfect” home produced food?

Friday Favorite: Maximizing

March 22nd, 2013

I’m definitely an efficient person, always analyzing how to get the most out of everything, whether it be my time, or my garden. Before eating a blood orange the other morning, I grated off the outer layer of peel to try for my pantry. When I eat a grapefruit, the peels are thrown in my vinegar jar to produce citrus vinegar for cleaning.
grapefruit vinegar
lemon zest (1)
The beauty of citrus, is that the zest can be mixed with salt or sugar as well to preserve it. By doing this, you will not only maximize the money you spent on the citrus, but you’ll have a wonderful staple for your pantry. Lemon or orange salt is perfect when cooking, a dash of citrus will often brighten all the flavors in the dish. Citrus sugar is also heavenly in scones or other deserts.
lemon zest
If you plan on saving the peel, make sure you’re buying organic fruit and wash it with a non-toxic soap before zesting. You should never throw out a lemon/orange/grapefruit peel with the zest still on it. Might as well maximize your grocery dollars in any way you can!

What’s your favorite type of citrus?


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.