How I Avoid Homestead Burnout

We are back from vacation, and it was so, so wonderful.  Honestly, some of the most perfect days – a mixture of gorgeous weather, good friends, family, amazing food, beautiful beach days, ocean life (dolphins, seals, a blue whale!!!), our kids trying new things like boogie boarding and snorkeling – all in the magical place where my husband and I met and fell in love.

Toyon-Ella Toyon-Ev Toyon-Fog

As we got ready for our trip, my personal stress level was very high. Packing for vacation is always challenging, but this time I felt particularly harried about getting the homestead ready for us to leave it in the hands of a (very capable) housesitter.  My garden was getting decimated by cabbage worms, rabbits, and drought; our “water catchment” system has not been refilled by rain in weeks, making us resort to filling up barrels at friends’ houses; Brian was hand-toting hundreds of gallons of water from the pond so we could keep plants and trees alive; and to top it off, it was 90+ degrees.  Add in rehearsals, work deadlines, two young children, and you can see how it might feel a little overwhelming.

But, thankfully, as soon as we boarded the train, my worries about our homestead evaporated, as they always do when I go away.  On our 40 hour train ride, we read books (The Man Who Quit Money and New Dawn on Rocky Ridge), listened to Sparkle Stories, watched the scenery, ate, and just recharged.  When we were on Catalina, I left my phone in our room and just played.  (It’s why I have hardly any photos!).  And when we were hanging out with my awesome sister-in-law Lynne, we just basked in her incredible hosting.

Recently, while lurking on a popular homesteading Facebook page, I read a heated discussion about balancing travel and homesteading.  There were MANY of the opinion that when you have a homestead, you should be content to stay home; that travel and homesteading simply do not mix. Of course there were some good arguments – experienced homestead sitters are hard to find and can be expensive to hire, your homestead is likely more lovely than your travel destination – but there was also a hint of judgement in some of the comments as well, suggesting that those that like to travel are just not cut out for the homesteading life.

I completely disagree with this sentiment. As much as I love my homestead with all my heart, the way I avoid homestead burnout is by leaving.  I have to get away to recharge, to be able to come back with fresh eyes and say, “Look at all we have accomplished here.” Having not done any travel all summer, it was hard to gain this perspective, and I was getting a bit mired in self-criticism for not having a bigger, better garden, or canning more, etc.

Coming back home can be a bit rocky. There are many moments where I wish to be beachfront, sipping a cocktail and eating scallops at my favorite seafood restaurant.  But a few days into our homecoming, now that I’m finally unpacked, I can envision a cold frame for fall greens, and think about planting garlic, and plot where our new sheet mulched garden should be.  I am recharged and ready to approach the next few months with renewed vision.

 

 

Super Simple Felt Balls

Today I’m bringing back one of my favorite how-to posts: making felt balls.  For those with young children, this is a perfect craft.  You can do it outdoors, the mess involves only soap and water, and kids are mesmerized by the tactile sensation of rolling fuzzy wool in soapy water. I hope you enjoy it!

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Felt balls are awesome!  They are great for throwing practice (soft – nothing gets broken!) or for open ended play. (They’re round bales of hay! No wait, they’re freshly baked rolls!)  And they are the kind of craft that is great to make outdoors on a warm sunny day.

So here’s how to do it:

1. Get yourself a nice wad of carded, clean wool.

2. Loosely form the wool into a ball.  It will shrink down, so make a bigger ball than you’d like of your finished product.

3.  Fill a bowl with the hottest soapy water that you can stand to put your hand into and roll that wool into a soapy round messy ball!

See that ball forming!  Keep rolling!

4. Now, get another bowl of very cold water.  Squeeze out the hot water and soap and immerse your ball into the cold.  Keep forming it into a ball as you go.  Alternating between the hot and cold will make your wool ball shrink and tighten.

Look!  Easy enough for an 18 month to try!

5.  Keep alternating back and forth between your hot and cold until your ball is tightly bound together.  Let dry in the sun or inside for a few days until it is completely dry.  Sometimes I like to affix loose parts of the ball with a felting needle.

Voila!

Now go throw that ball around!

Peach Peel Jelly

I am happy to welcome Heather, of The Homesteading Hippy.  Heather has such a great selection of blog posts about urban farming, canning, raising livestock, recipes.  She is also the author of two (!!) eBooks – The Urban Chicken, which I reviewed earlier this year, and a new (free) eBook called Cooking From Scratch.

Today, she shares with us her recipe for Peach Peel Jelly. Welcome, Heather!

With the “waste not, want not” mentality that I like to have and with peaches in full season, this recipe for peach peel jelly is one you’ll want to keep nearby!  First, start by getting some ripe, delicious peaches and rinsing them off.

As you are canning your peaches, and removing the skins and other parts you don’t want to can (brown spots or soft spots) save them into a large pot.  When you are done with the peaches, fill the pot with the scraps with water to cover.  Bring to a boil for 30 minutes, and then let sit covered, overnight.

The next day, strain the peachy water through a cheesecloth or jelly bag.  Don’t squeeze!  This could make your jelly cloudy.

This is what will come out…gorgeous color, right???

Take 3 cups of your peachy water and add 1 box of pectin.  Bring to a rolling boil, then add 3 cups of sugar.  Bring back to a boil and set the timer for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Spoon the foam off the top, and ladle the hot syrup into hot pint jars.  Water bath for 20 minutes, remove and let cool.  Store up to a year.

Enjoy that peachy goodness!!

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Heather of The Homesteading Hippy is living the rural life, in an urban setting.  She and her family live in a small town in Northern Indiana where they garden, keep assorted poultry and rabbits.  Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,and  Google+.