Looking after my mental health

18 October 2016
We've had so many visitors lately my head is spinning. Add to that my adorable grandkids and a new puppy and I'm starting to feel as if I need a few days with nothing to do. Those "nothing" days are valuable to all of us but from my experience, few of us get them. I make sure I have them now and have discovered that all the work I should have done during that time is always waiting for my return when I'm ready to get back into the swing of things. It's much more difficult to do that when you have a young family but even then you can give yourself a mini break, leave the beds unmade for a couple of days, forget about the laundry and serve your family eggs on toast for dinner. The world won't collapse while you take care of your own mental health.

You probably won't be surprised at this but when I have my mini breaks, I still work, but I only do what I love to do. Being creative and working on projects that make our lives better gives me a feeling of self-reliance that builds my confidence and helps me feel in control and on track.

I've had soap making on my to do list for a while now but still haven't made it; I hope today is soap day.  I'm going to make my normal four ingredients soap using calendula-infused olive oil as my main oil. We suffer from eczema in my family. I have it and some of the others do too. I've found this soap to be nourishing on my skin and soothing on my eczema. I hope that if I tackle it with homemade soap before the hot weather starts, I should be able to get through summer with minimal itching and no cortisone cream.

Rosella cordial.
Making a blanket for Grace.

I made yoghurt the other day. I buy culture online now. It makes a great thick yoghurt and it's cheaper than buying a live yoghurt starter from the supermarket. I used to freeze yoghurt to use as a starter but now I always forget to do it. The frozen culture works well for me. Instead of using a warm oven or yoghurt jars wrapped in towels to ferment the yoghurt, which is how I used to make it, I now use an Easijo insulated jar. I bought the insulated container when they were on special at the supermarket a few months ago, and it's working well. I don't use their powdered product. Fresh milk from the local dairy and frozen culture gives us good quality, delicious yoghurt for a really good price.  Yesterday, after the yoghurt was made, I divided the batch in two, flavoured half with honey and the other half with good raspberry and blueberry jam. I'll make another batch in the next day or so and use it to make a savory fresh cheese for bread and crackers. Hanno loves it and I haven't made it for a long time. It's good to get back to these things and to enjoy the time I spend making them.

I discovered many years ago that when I make cakes, soap, gifts or another set of dishcloths, when I repair and recycle, when I budget and organise, along with all that, I make the life I want to live too. Each small creation, all the meals and bread and cordials, all the knitting, sewing, mending and gardening, bit by bit, it all adds to this wonderful life we've built here. I wonder if you feel the same way.


  1. Hi Rhonda, Interested in how you make the yoghurt. I have been buying the EasyYo packet mixes. Where do you get the frozen culture from?

  2. Rhonda would you please share your recipe for the cheese made in the Easiyo maker?
    Thank you!
    Jan from Bridges on the Sunny Coast

  3. Hi Rhonda I am so glad you wrote about mental health days I believe they are essential to maintain a balanced healthy life style. One of my friends has such a busy lifestyle that every 12 weeks she schedules what she calls a pajama day. I find days at home in my apron getting done whatever I get done gives my brain a rest from all the whirlwind of life and thats enough for me.

  4. Totally relate to you in this Rhonda Jean. When I want my life to be more peaceful I read my Amish books. A few months ago I pulled myself out of everything and away from the pressure from people who had no understanding of where I was at and expected me to be involved in this and that in the community , and I stayed at home and grieved and it was the best thing I ever did. I was carrying everyone else but I was drowning myself . I feel better in me mentally now and can do some of the things I used to love doing once more.

  5. I understand the need to stand back and regroup. Unfortunately my family doesn't. I hope you feel much better soon.

    1. I don't know your circumstances, Suze, but your family doesn't have to understand it for you to do it. You might not do it the way I do but taking breaks when you feel like them or need then is a good start.

  6. It always feels good to get back to basics and do something you love. I know the first time I made yoghurt I was so proud of myself and it was such a feel good thing to do. Regards Kathy

  7. Hi Rhonda,
    I too can relate to this post! When I need a break I like to pick up the knitting needles. I do have a question about your yogurt making practice - I haven't made yogurt before so this might be a dumb question. Could you please tell me how you adapted your yogurt recipe (http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com.au/2007/06/make-your-own-yoghurt-yogurt.html) for use with the EasiYo yoghurt maker. I'm guessing you just pour the warm mix made in step 3 (once it reaches 45 degrees) straight into the EasiYo insulated jar? is that correct? Thanks :)

  8. Hi Rhonda I am really interested to find a nice natural yoghurt to make for myself. I have the Easiyo maker but don't like the taste of the sachets. Wondering if you could do a share your contact for the yoghurt and a how too recipe. I just have to say that I read your blogs and have read your books and I am slowly learning to live a simple life. Thank you for all the inspiration you have given to me.
    Donna from Elimbah.

  9. Can also relate to looking after our mental state Rhonda. Self talk helps me. When I start feeling overwhelmed I give myself a break in the form of - 'ok so the bathrooms won't be cleaned today or the floors need a clean but not today etc. and it will be ok.' It is like I give myself permission and it works for me.

    Love the look of your raspberry/blueberry yoghurt too.

  10. I so understand the need for a break! I've got some commitments I need to see through in the next couple weeks, but I'm promising myself a bit of a break after that--not from *everything* as I'm sure the kids and my husband would still like food and clean clothes--but from as much as possible. :)

    A friend recently gave me an eczema salve that she received in a swap, and it has worked incredibly well on my hands--they're rash-free for the first time in years. I don't have the recipe, as the person who made it hasn't gotten back to my friend, but the label said it was made with olive oil, coconut oil, tea tree essential oil, lavender essential oil, and Roman chamomile essential oil. Just wanted to mention it in case you want to try to incorporate some of those ingredients into your soap or make your own eczema salve.

  11. I agree - never underestimate the need to nourish our mental health.

  12. O totally agree with you Rhonda, those jobs will be there when you have had a rest, and you will be all the more ready for them, when you start. Wonderful blog as ever. Woo xx

  13. Yesterday I was going to do things that 'needed' doing, in my own mind, but then decided to do something creative instead. I have been somewhat depressed and doing something creative helped to lift my spirits. Chores can always be put off for a bit. They will still be there after a little break. Now, I look forward to taking care of them.

    All of your goodies, edible, healing and creations for others look wonderful to me.

    Love & hugs to you dear Rhonda ~ FlowerLady

  14. HI Rhonda, I also agree with what you have said. So very important to have a bit of me time.
    Could you share where you buy your culture. I prefer a thicker yoghurt. My home made yoghurt at the moment is quite runny so your method sounds just what I'm looking for.
    Blessings Gail.

  15. I have been up grading since 5:30 a.m. I only slept six hours last night; but, I wanted to spend my husband's birthday with him and this was the trade off: get my work done so we can play. However, the break with him with do my soul good, too. We will go "junking" and have pizza for lunch. Then, to bed early for me and the sense of meeting all my obligations. And, tomorrow will be easier for what I've done today... I guess that is how I take my breaks... I work like crazy to get rid of immediate things (like grading) so I can play.... knitting does that for me, too! :)

  16. I agree, too. We have a vacation house that we own in partnership with others and the partial weeks that we go there I just let the chores go here at home. They will be here when I get back. It is a wonderful break in my routine. Your yogurt looks delicious. I feel that way every time I sit down to delicious simple food prepared at home. Even a sandwich on my homemade bread is a wonderful meal. I am an eczema sufferer too and find that lavender hydrosol is a soothing comfort to my skin. I don't know if you can find it there but it is the water left after the essential oil is extracted. It is wonderful for any irritated skin issue, burns or insect bites. I have it in a small spray bottle so it is easy to mist it on the skin. I get it from hopewelloils.com here in the USA.

  17. I just told my husband my major accomplishment of the day will be to take a shower :) Jan

  18. You are busy in such a fun way! I also have eczema and I have struggled with depression for decades. Taking care of our mental health is very important, as it does affect our physical health. You have a lovely blog.

  19. I like to spend a few hours free time, knitting or reading a book. I feel it refreshes me and makes me a better person! I too would love your recipe for the yoghurt you now make and which culture to buy.
    Interesting blog as always!

  20. HI Rhonda, I'm so glad you wrote this post. In my mind, mental health is *everything*. It's not unusual for us to gve our teenager a mental health day, stay at home, let them have a sleep in, relax and re-boot. I do that for myself to, on my days off I might have a mini holiday, like reading the saturday paper! Learning how to relax is very very important. I feel like knitting now, but there is no pressure on myself is there? All the best, Jenny from f.creek.

  21. Hi Rhonda.
    Your yoghurt post has me drooling and wanting some. I've been saying to myself for weeks now that I need to get back to making yoghurt...well yesterday I got the Easi-yo flask out of the linen press and as far as the bench. One step closer. :)

    I use powdered milk to make mine and add extra skim milk powder to produce a thicker yoghurt.
    For the culture I use about Two Tablespoons of the EasiYo powder that I store in sealed container in freezer or fridge.
    If one looks at the ingredients list it shows that milk powder is about 99% and culture the resultant tiny fraction left.

    Note that I only make the Natural I think it's Greek style yoghurt. I really need to check up my recipe and quantities seeing that I haven't made it for a very LONG time.

    There is always tomorrow.
    Today was garden catchup day:)

    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney

  22. Rhonda,
    Thank you for this message. I think it helps to be aware of signs of being overwhelmed. I find myself getting depressed, then it is usually a bit late. I like to stop and consider my list of nourishing activities (walking, knitting, reading, cutting flowers for the house,calling my kids, etc.)before depression sets in.



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