Thank y’all for being wonderful readers and for bearing with me as I migrated to Honeyed Homestead from Casula Mellita. I felt that the time was nigh for making some changes to the site, and I hope you like the new layout and formatting. Because December has catapulted by as quick as quick can be, I want to recap December Happenings on the homestead before I disappear for the rest of the year.

I find myself, somewhat embarrassingly, needing to post a roundup nearly three weeks into December without writing a single post since December 1st. On a related topic: I’m writing this post on I-335 in Kansas en route to our backpacking trip in Big Bend National Park where we will finish out the year.

Writing this post has been on my to-do list for days. Possibly a week.

Do I have excuses? Sure.

Some of them are even interesting or momentous enough in their own right.

Two Blogs for the Price of… Two Blogs: Exciting December Happenings

For starters, I was working on the relaunch of Honeyed Homestead as I migrated the site to this new one. That sure just about devoured the first week of December. Immediately after removing the “coming soon” page, I jumped into working on a new website project with a good friend of mine.

Yep, why have one blogs when you can have two?

So, in addition to moving all of Casula Mellita to Honeyed Homestead, I am now the proud co-writer of Year of Gratitude. I had the idea for the blog back in early November while so many people began writing and talking about what they were grateful for in their own lives. I thought why should we focus on gratitude only one day or month a year? What about a whole year of gratitude? From there, I just could not shake the idea of creating a journal writing prompt- and response-based blog focused on gratitude, mindfulness, and happiness. I approached a friend of mine, and she was enthusiastic as I was. We rushed to prepare the blog for launch by New Year’s, but our real deadline was before I departed for the backcountry).

Year of Gratitude is now live. I’m very proud of the site, and jokes aside, having two blogs actually does make sense. I write predominantly about homesteading-related activities here, though I also write other aspects of our sustainable lifestyle, including our hobbies. Amid the gardening escapades, I write about making quilts for the house and our backpacking vacations like the one I’m headed to now, laptop balanced on my lap as I tap, tap out a slow sentence at a time to prevent carsickness from setting in (or from losing my spot in the current audiobook, Dispatches from Pluto).

Year of Gratitude is about committing to choosing joy. Committing to choose joy doesn’t mean sticking your head in the ground either. The 52-week challenge offers weekly writing prompts to get you reflecting and writing about your life as it is now. In reflecting and writing about your life, the goal is to improve your quality of life. (The idea isn’t wholly nuts—plenty of research backs up gratitude journals). I know that now that the Year of Gratitude is ready to roll on January 1st, I’ll better be able to manage the work of writing for two blogs. So, my goal for the purposes of Year of Gratitude is to be, well, more grateful, mindful, and happier in 2018.

For Honeyed Homestead, though, my goal is to keep cultivating my suburban homestead. I want to keep writing about the new pests, seeds, crops, and livestock throughout the year. Focusing so specifically on gratitude, mindfulness and joy—attitudes I have worked as hard to cultivate as my physical garden—just doesn’t mesh as well with my other content. That focus certainly doesn’t mesh in the way I’d envisioned for the content and setup of Year of Gratitude. If you’re also interested in gratitude, mindfulness, and happiness, I hope you’ll join me there too.

December Happenings & Preparing for Big Bend National Park on an Elimination Diet

Beyond the frenzied and frustrating website work, I also was just as frenziedly running the food dehydrator. On the far side of Thanksgiving, our backpacking trip was much closer. The impending departure was all the more closer because we have to treat all of my backpacking food as if I were still 100% on the Whole30 elimination diet.

Although I’ve been slowly introducing foods back into my diet, I’m not done. Moreover, cashews are the only food that I feel entirely comfortable without trying again. Cashews weren’t even a Whole30 requirement but an extra precaution. From here, I’ll have to take more and better notes. On the downside, last night proved that I am likely some degree of intolerant of dairy. Worse, the day after I introduced gluten was a genuine struggle. Boo.


This Georgian chicken stew looked a lot better before I dehydrated it. I have high hopes for the trail though because it was delicious when I tasted it.

So, with about two weeks on the road and in the backcountry, feeding yourself when you can’t eat most food is going to be a challenge. So, in addition to banging my head in website-related frustrations, I’ve dehydrated a significant amount of backcountry food. I’ve made sweet potato bison chili (made with my own purple sweet potatoes!), Georgian stew, moussaka, and shepherd’s pie. I also pureed fruit, dehydrated it, and added in coconut milk powder for fruit smoothies. Other go-to Whole30 trail staples include Larabars, Wild Zora Meat & Veggie Bars, and Epic jerky. I should be eating well, even if I am eating foods that I haven’t exactly eaten in the backcountry before.

Garden-Based December Happenings at the Homestead

Don’t worry:  Even in a December filled with blog migrations and set-ups, strange elimination diets, visits to Arkansas to see the in-laws, and a dehydrator running non-stop in preparation for vacation, I still worked on the homestead. I’ve been up to my ears in hauling mulch and compost. This is, after all, a homesteading blog.

December happenings included laying down more cardboard to finish more of the side yard kill mulch.

We laid down more cardboard, enough to cover most of the side yard, in preparation for more kill mulch. Then we borrowed a truck, conscripted some friends, and hauled three truckloads of mulch and two of compost. Mostly, we managed to strew it about the yard appropriately. Our January project, however, will be to make the yard appear a bit less like a haphazard eyesore.

The December happenings included hauling a bunch more compost and mulch around the yard.
We finally tired wheelbarrow that we found abandoned at our once new-to-us house. Were both amazed it lasted this long.

It’s been a busy few weeks, and I’m looking forward to completely unplugging from the internet and cellphones. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be in Big Bend National Park. I’ll happily venture off with all my diet-approved foods, a good book or eight to read, and miles of trails to hike.

Thank you for 2017 and for enduring the radio silence of all the December happenings. I’ll see you when 2018 rolls around!

The December Happenings included our moose menorah and celebrating Chanukah/Christmas with family in Arkansas.
I hope whichever holidays you celebrate are warm and whimsical.

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