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18 Years and Counting

September 3rd, 2012

Way back in 1994 I was a college freshman in Cincinnati, OH. That fall, I met five other girls with whom I would form a close friendship. Little did we know that 18 years later we’d still be getting together yearly for a reunion. This past weekend was our 17th one. Throughout the years we’ve reunited in different places, rented cabins, at each other’s houses, until we settled on traveling back to the city where it all began.

One member of our group still lives in Cincinnati, thus we all stay at her place. The rest of us drive in from our respective locations in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Not all of us can make it for each gathering, but there are always at least four of us. We have celebrated weddings, rejoiced at births, comforted after divorce, and cried at a funeral throughout the years.

Even though we don’t talk much throughout the year, when we come together it’s like we were never apart. We laugh as we tell funny stories from the past and much time is spent filling each other in on what’s going on in our lives.

It is a weekend filled it lots of laughter, great food, and good company. This past weekend we went to the Findlay market, walked down the by the river, rented a quad surrey and went for a ride in the park. Of course, all the Cincinnati specialities like Graeter’s and Skyline Chili were checked off the list as well.

It’s really hard to believe that I’ve known these lovely ladies for 18 years, time really does fly. It seems like yesterday when we were eating key lime pie out of the pan in our hotel room of our first get together the summer of 1995 the summer between our freshman and sophomore years.

Do you have any friends that you reunite with on a regular basis?


July 30th, 2012

Last week I was over at Red Dirt Ramblings reading Dee’s post about plants she used to hate but now loves. It got me thinking about the plants I love and hate. Daylilies used to be among my hates, particularly the ‘Stella de Oro’ variety. I think I really dislike them because they’re way overused, at least here in NE Ohio. Every shopping complex and retail area has them everywhere. When we first arrived at Chiot’s Run there were a good number of daylilies planted in the garden, most of which were given to my mom.

Why do I dislike lilies? I don’t really know, perhaps it’s because the flowers fade so quickly and look untidy. Maybe it’s the shape of the plants. For some reason I’ve always disliked them.

Although certain day lilies are now welcome in the gardens of Chiot’s Run, I still haven’t learned to love the poor ‘Stella de Oro’. Arborvitaes & yews were also on my list of dislikes when it came to plants, but both have been slowly making their way onto the tolerable and possibly useful in certain situations list.

Are there any plants that you used to dislike but now like?

Friday Favorite: Us

June 1st, 2012

Mr Chiots and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary earlier this week. The funny thing is that we both completely missed it and realized it the next day. We’re not really into celebrating birthdays and anniversaries so it wasn’t a big deal: there’s plenty of fun throughout the year to make up for it. In our 14 years of marriage we’ve lived in 4 different places, the last 10 years here at Chiot’s Run.

We’ve been from sea to shining sea, we’ve watched sunrises and sunsets, laughed, cried and simply enjoyed life. Most of all we have lot of great fun here at Chiot’s Run. Since we both work from home, we’re here 24/7 together, laughing, joking, and loving it – definitely two peas in a pod!

We have big dreams of places we’ll want go and things we want to do, we’re most excited about driving to Alaska someday. Here’s to many more wonderful years and lots of new adventures along the way!

What’s one place you want to go that you haven’t made it to yet?


March 7th, 2012

We finally arrived back at Chiot’s Run at 2:30 am yesterday morning after a LONG drive down to the bottom of the US and back. Last Saturday it was 95 degrees when we were in Naples, FL and when we arrived home it was 17 with the ground covered in snow.

All sorts of wonderful experiences were had, from watching my friend run her first half marathon, visiting Ernest Hemingway’s house, taking my first sea plane ride, eating lots of seafood, meeting some great new folks, all while enjoying the warm sunny weather of Florida. We even had a few hours of relaxation in between our weekends of work and the long hours in the car.

Stay tuned for lots of great photos of lush tropical foliage and flowers. I soaked up a good dose of vitamin D, hopefully enough to keep me going through the busy seed starting season that is now upon us. Even though the warmth of the sun was nice, I’m certainly glad to be back in the chilly north – I’m a northerner through and through. Give me snow, cold weather and some warm woolens and I’m happy as a clam!

What climate do you find suites you best?

Discovering That Which Brings Joy

February 23rd, 2012

We realized that we had a collection – a passion, actually – that required attention. This happens often, and we have learned over the years not to ignore the signs. For that is where joy lies.

Joe Eck & Wayne Winterrowd (Our Life in Gardens)

My childhood was filled with gardens. My parents tended a huge edible garden which we dreaded having to work in all summer long. The house was always brimming with houseplants of all colors, shapes and sizes. Since my childhood was spent in both a northern climate in the United States and on the equator in Colombia, I’ve lived in both extremes of gardening climates. The gardens of my childhood contained everything from exotic staghorn ferns and papayas to common snap beans and marigolds. (I’m the one on the right)

Even though my parents were avid gardeners, I never really was all that enamored with it. My mom let me choose something interesting to grow in the edible garden and a few blooming things for the front flowerbeds. I had a few plants in my room during college and herbs in pots on my first apartment balcony, but gardening wasn’t something I’d even mention when talking about my hobbies. When Mr Chiots and I purchased our home ten years ago that was still the case. I had no desire to garden. For some reason, I still felt the need to feed the soil even though I had no plans of lush gardens nor vine ripened tomatoes. For the first few years, I added chicken manure and mulched leaves at intervals throughout the year and replaced a few uninteresting plants with ones that caught my eye.

After few years of tending the soil and I started to develop a green thumb, before I knew it, I was spending most of my free time in the garden, planting, making compost and expanding the flowerbeds. I found myself frequenting the local greenhouses in search of interesting plants. I woudl check piles of gardening books out of the library. I was discovering that deep down I really enjoyed gardening and the peace and satisfaction it brings.

Five years ago, three 4 x 10 raised beds were built in the back garden “to grow a few vegetables and strawberries”. Little did I know, when we built these raised beds that a new gardening passion would be discovered. My love of ornamental gardening hasn’t been lost, it’s simply been overshadowed for the moment as edibles have taken root. Growing edibles was a natural progression since cooking is one of my other loves (something I’d always mention when talking about my hobbies). Living in a rural area doesn’t mean that fresh vegetables are easy to find. I quickly found out that if I wanted them I had to grow them myself.

Since then, my love of edibles has grown stronger; we even purchased the lots of both sides of us to have more space for popcorn, pumpkins and what ever else interests us. From regular edibles my interest deepened when I discovered the world of heirloom vegetables – and what a wonderfully interesting world it is.

Growing heirloom vegetables can be addictive, when you savor the first ripe ‘Brandywine’ tomato from the vine in July, you want to grow every single colorful variety mentioned in the seed catalogs. Who can resist not having a bouquet of fresh tomatoes on their table in August?

The ornamental gardens at Chiot’s Run have not suffered from my newfound love of edible gardening. I use the world “ornamental” loosely since a well-tended vegetable can be every bit as lovely as a perennial border.  When you take the time to cultivate good soil a strong foundation is developed and the plants that take care of themselves. Besides weeding twice each summer and adding a thick layer of chopped leaves and manure in the fall, my ornamental beds pretty much take care of themselves. They also provide a beautiful backdrop and beneficial biodiversity for the edible garden.

As I discovered my passion for edible gardening, my mom rediscovered her love it edibles as well. When I started growing a few vegetables, she tilled up a section of her lawn that had grown vegetables when I was still living at home.  Like mine, her edible garden grows each year.  I often head over to her garden and we plant and grow a variety of things together there. Since her soil is already well established, it has been a wonderful place to garden as I work in building up the soil in my own gardens to produce more bounty for my table.

If you’ve never grown anything edible in your garden I’d highly recommend that you try.  Even if it’s only one tomato plant on a small stoop you’ll be amazed at the deep sense of joy and satisfaction that comes when you pluck that first ripe fruit from it’s branches.  Deep down I think we all have the need to tend a small plot of soil and provide for ourselves.

How has your gardening evolved throughout the years? Do you have a passion for a particular area or plant? 

Reading & Watching

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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.