Striking a Balance

Being on leave for a reasonable amount of time is kind of tricky. Note I said tricky, not difficult. There’s a difference. I’m sure if I said five weeks of solid time away from work was difficult, I’d be hearing the scoffs and scorn from here. But making the most of five weeks, striking a balance between delicious slothfulness and hyper-productivity takes a fair bit of effort. More than I realised.

Think of it this way. If we had gone on holidays, we’d think nothing of an afternoon spent in a pub or gazing out over gorgeous scenery drinking something nice and reading/knitting/talking. More than afternoon, in fact. We’d spend most of the holiday just like that and be very happy doing so, away from domestic duties and any sense of obligation.

Because we’ve decided stayed home (for most of the time; we will have some very short breaks away) the dynamic is different. Easter was quiet and indulgent but after that we felt we needed to get on with stuff, like sorting out the garden, cleaning out the garage (what a huge job that is!) and so on. Honestly we could find jobs to do every single day that we’re home together but that’s not entirely the point of this break. For me especially, this break is about having as much creative time as possible and while I’ve been knitting like an obsessed madwoman on my nephew’s jacket, I haven’t felt there’s been enough other creative time. I’ve explained this to Sean and I think we’re on the right track now.

I began today by baking bread. I knew from the start that this was something I wanted to do more of while I had the time. It’s a very attractive loaf, don’t you think? It’s Nigella Lawson’s basic white loaf (next time I’ll add less salt. It was tasty but could have had half the amount of salt in it).


I spent the morning sewing, but I’ll save those projects to show for another day. There will be more sewing. It’s lovely to be stretching out and planning more time consuming projects.

One of the reasons we stayed home instead of going away was because we worked out we could do one of our favourite holiday activities right here.  If we’d gone away, we’d have gone to a wine region. We have a perfectly wonderful wine industry on our doorstep that we never explore because, well, I have no idea why.


We kicked off with a couple of Murrumbateman wineries this afternoon, Jeir Creek and Clonakilla and it was fun! So much great local produce! All the things we’d do on holiday but minus the airfare and accommodation costs! It’s harvest time and the vines are looking very much at the end of their season. This afternoon a wine maker said, as he poured me a glass, is there a greater sound in the world than a wine glass filling? I’m pretty sure it’s one of the loveliest sounds I know.


I think our decision to stay home and explore our own region was a good one. Long drives through great scenery and coming home with bottles clinking in the boot of the car are all good things. We’ll be able to get our jobs done on domestic days, have days where we indulge, get to know our region a little more and all the while come home to sleep in our own bed.

The creative stuff remains a key priority for me. I need very much to be able to look back at the end of five weeks and feel like I made stuff, that I achieved an output  I can be proud of. But that all sounds very earnest doesn’t it? It’s not meant to. I’m wanting to relax too. I’m just lucky I find creativity and productivity soothing and relaxing, especially if I’ve got a glass or two of wine to look forward to at the end of the day.

Before I go, one last thing. You know the pumpkin in the last post, the one that Alice adopted as her new best friend? They’re still very attached. I received this photo from her mum  yesterday.

alice's pumpkin

Her mum plans to cook the pumpkin this weekend. I am almost inclined to buy her one she can cook so Alice and Punkin can keep on being so very attached.



19 thoughts on “Striking a Balance

  1. You sound like you’ve got it worked out perfectly!

    Please do buy Fi a pumpkin; it’s no fun to have your new best friend taken away, especially when you’re only two!

  2. That bread does look tasty!

    It’s so much fun to explore right where you live, and go to all those places that you drive by and think “I ought to stop there someday.”

    In fact, I use that as an itinerary sometimes – when I think “We ought to go there someday”, I keep a list so we DO go there.

  3. AAHH!! You didn’t tell me you were gonna kill it! (favorite line from Charlie Brown’s Halloween). I’m thinking a stunt pumpkin should be subbed in. 😉 Good for you for staying at home. There’s so much wonder all around us that we just don’t have time to take in. What a wonderful system that allows you two to have so much time together. Jason and I can’t hope for that til retirement. Hmm…if only there weren’t so many spiders and snakes, I might consider a relocation. 😉

  4. There is no greater sound that the ‘plink plink plink’ of wine into a glass. Except maybe the ‘pffft’ of a deftly opened champagne bottle.

    I’m lucky to have a five day weekend every week, but it is hard to strike a balance between doing too much and not enough. Enjoying watching your break..

    And that punkin – just too cute! Aren’t little ones so eccentric in their tastes? I hope she doesn’t get upset when they eat him..

  5. I think staying at home is a great idea, especially as we really do have some fabulous places to visit right here! The wineries around Bungendore are good too! The bread looks delicious! Enjoy!:-)

  6. Just try to make sure that you’re contented with how much – or how little – you achieve during your time off work. It would be awful to get to the end of it and feel you’d ‘failed’ in some way. Enjoy yourself – whether it’s through activity or relaxation.


    Perhaps this is (or should be) a Martha free zone, but I think a gal who went to prison and taught ‘lifers’ how to make tollhouse cookies is on to something.

    I loved making bread unit my marriage went sour – no not sourdough, but coeliacville – which means no gluten which means no stretch. But you can fiddle around with this recipe for gluten free results.

    This is a good fun bread (very aerated) which is time and efficient and has a thrill factor. Like those puddings where you mix dry ingredients and then pour boiling water over the back of a spoon on them.

    As to breaks. I think there is always a flat bit in the middle of all time. A flat spot in a day, a flat spot in a week, a flat month in a year (September) and some flat years in a life. When you start posting links to Martha, we’ll know you’ve hit the flat spot 🙂

  8. Some of those issues you’re facing are the same as a stay at home mom does: defining the relaxing time versus the “work” time. It gets tricky. And when you only have five weeks, the temptation to fit it all in must be even trickier. But it sounds like you’re open to course corrections, adjusting as you go, and striking a good balance. Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “get the most” out of our time. I don’t know what the answer is. I always find myself wishing I could be satisfied with what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, instead of thinking of all the other things I “should” be doing. Or could be…

  9. We have some lovely local wineries here, too (I know! in NJ! who knew?) that we take for granted. We’ve bought some good wines from them and should really go and visit. It would probably be interesting.

    I love Alice’s attachment to the pumpkin. When Em was small, she had a small plastic snake that she just loved. “Bubba the Snek” she called him and carried him everywhere. It’s funny what kids attach themselves to. Not cuddly dolls and bears but snakes and pumpkins. I wonder if that shows a really creative mind?

  10. That bread looks tasty!

    Balancing productivity and relaxation during a break is really hard I think. Having said that, it looks like you’re well on the way to having the mix just right for you.

  11. Love the StayCation, that’s a great way to see good stuff on the cheap, like your local wineries etc. Not to mention sleeping in your own bed! Sounds like perfection to me!

  12. I see that cutting mat under that loaf of bread! And I find everything can use far less salt. You need some, to bring up the flavor, but most recipes have too much.

    We’re not planning a vacation this year, but I did ask my husband to take one day off each week during the summer, if possible, so we can take longer day trips than I’d take with the kids on my own, or maybe even overnights. I love where we live, and there’s always something to explore.

    As you know, I’d never cook that pumpkin!!

  13. It is a hard balance to strike, the doing and the being, as well as feeling as though craft is also doing, that that is productivity. Let alone the time sharing thing. I find it hard to relax when other people are around. I’m sure you’ll get it right though. The local exploring is a great idea, enjoy.

  14. Well I am on 9 weeks Long Service leave and just love it when my folks will leave me alone to get the knitting work done instead. I send them to the caravan and stay at home with the dogs to get my stuff done instead of having jobs given to me like cooking or garden work.

  15. envy. envy envy envy.

    I’m going to be watching your break through the eyes of a green-eyed monster.

    Having just had 11 days off work to stay at home and bake bread and craft I’m finding the time-eating pressure of work something of an inconvenience. So many plans, so little time 😦

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