Too Much Fun: Summer on the Burbstead

Our summer was too much fun. It’s my favorite season, and we try to swim, camp, garden, and travel as much as possible without over-doing it. Lest we seem like ascetics after our post on wants vs. needs, here’s evidence that we have plenty of fun around here.

First, some updates on our burbstead goals:

Our garden was a success. So were the chickens. We just picked apples today, and made some into caramel apples. The wood pile is well stocked with free wood for fires this fall and winter.

I didn’t learn how to can because we were able to keep up with our tomatoes. I helped with the prep for Neil to preserve 16 jars of salsa, as well as making several large batches of fresh pico de gallo. Neil and his brother canned two pecks of jalapenos into sweet-hot slices also known as cowboy candy.


The remote garden was unsuccessful. We just got too busy to take care of it, and it was a very dry summer for us. Maybe next year we’ll build more raised beds or give our community plot proper attention.

We didn’t catch a swarm of bees. Maybe our bait box was too small. We can try again next year. The beauty of the burbstead is that everything is small scale, the learning curve is gentler, and we don’t have to spend much to pursue these fun, productive, kid-friendly hobbies. We also fit in lots of suburban fun which wouldn’t be possible if we had more ‘stead to attend to.

Here’s is a sampling of our activities this summer:

Went on two vacations! The first was to Western New York, i.e. the middle of nowhere. It’s beautiful farm country. It wasn’t our first choice destination, but we didn’t plan ahead well, and still had fun. We visited two different Great Lakes beaches, saw the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Letchworth State Park, went to a war aviation museum, and spent time with the two families we rented a place with.

Our second vacation was a “YOLO” move. Our son will start kindergarten next fall, so we decided to take advantage of off-season prices and four free airline tickets and enjoyed a week near St. Pete’s Beach, FL. The kids were excited about flying and the weather and water were perfect. Until Hurricane Hermine blew in.

Neil's hurricane selfie.

Neil’s hurricane selfie.

Neil had the brilliant idea to purchase an annual family pass to a local museum for $56, because it offers reciprocal relationships at hundreds of attractions across the country, including several near St. Pete’s Beach. It was well worth it just for that week, though we’ll continue to use the pass elsewhere.

Went to two waterparks. We were offered free passes by our generous friends who got them from a work conference. The normal price for one adult is $70! The kids had a blast. The second was a local, much smaller place that we visit once a year. I made the mistake of showing my son in the lazy river, and he wanted nothing to do with waterslides after that.

Celebrated birthdays—three out of the four of us have birthdays within three weeks. We had a family party for our son’s 5th featuring pizza and water balloons. Throwing a Pinterest-worthy party is just not my thing.

Went swimming. My son took his first swim lessons after falling off the dock on our first vacation. We tried to get in as much water exposure as possible without purchasing a pool pass. We visited three free library events at a nearby pool and visited a local lake twice. And of course swimming at the beaches on our vacations. Neil’s sister, who lives nearby, had a pool put in near the end of summer. We were granted a “pool pass” and swam there several times.

Camped four times. We camped with our church Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, Neil went on a men’s retreat, and also camped out with our son one night. We want more camping, though. Camping really opens the door to affordable travel and recreation. We may squeeze in another trip before it cools off here.

Went to a conference.  I’ve been going to the Xenos Summer Institute, a Bible conference, since I was 17, and Neil was going there before we ever met. It’s one of the highlights of the year, and my mom graciously agreed to babysit so we could absorb 2.5 full days of teaching and practical training.

Went to two family weddings. Plus some bridal & baby showers, and Neil’s grandpa’s 99th birthday party!

Went to four funerals 🙁 With another this week. Each one hits home how important it is to live for real worth. Money is just a tool.

Watched a lot of Olympics. Go USA! I was useless the week gymnastics was on.

Went to the zoo. We have a pass to the local zoo—we split it with another family so it’s $50 for the year. We buy one every other year since the 13-month pass gets us through most of two summer, plus one off-season.

Road the local scenic railroad. Tickets are almost $20/person, but if you bike the parallel trail one way, you (and your bike) can ride back for $3. Bikes and trains are two of my kids’ favorite things so this activity is always a hit.

Were visited by two out-of-state family members. My dad and sister both came into town this summer, separately.

I’m always a bit sad for summer to end, but I’m enjoying the more structured routines of fall, as well as the seasonal festivities that are especially fun with little ones. A trip to the apple orchard, hiking, pumpkin carving, and campfires are all in our future.

How was your summer? What do you look forward to in fall?

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35 Responses to “Too Much Fun: Summer on the Burbstead”

  1. Kate says :

    That sounds like a fantastic summer! Sorry about the hurricane, but that pizza and water balloon birthday sounds like the best. I may have to steal that idea for my own party. 🙂

    Also, I love the idea of the burbstead. So fun!

  2. Brian says :

    This sound like a great summer, other than the hurricane and funerals. 🙁

    Letchford or Letchworth State Park? I’ve camped at Letchworth before and took a few laps on the Watkins Glen rack track as a kid when it was closed.

  3. Tonya says :

    Your summer sounds pretty awesome! I feel like mine went by in a blur and I’m not to happy about that. 🙁 I realize I need to take stock a bit more and be present in the moment. I did have a pretty successful garden though!

  4. Amanda says :

    Thanks for sharing your summer adventures! I’m interested in making “cowboy candy” now. We had (and are still having) a great pepper harvest this year. I hope you were able to enjoy FL despite the hurricane.

    We took a couple of camping trips and a vacation to FL as well. We also went to a local amusement park – our kids each went with a group of their friends (they’re teens), so my husband and I hung out and rode rides all day!

    • Kalie says :

      Check out a cowboy candy recipe online. So delicious! We had a good vacation and the bad weather didn’t hit till the end of our week there.

      That’s nice you & your husband could enjoy the amusement park together!

  5. Amy says :

    That sounds like a great summer, minus the funerals and a hurricane.

    I had such mixed feelings about the start of the school year, and the end of summer. I love fall, but not the winter, so saying goodbye to summer is always bittersweet. And like you, I like returning to the structure of school, activities, and my part-time work. But I spent the summer with my daughter, so it was also kind of sad to say goodbye to her on the first day of school…

    For me, the best things about fall are cozy clothes, the colors, apple and pumpkin everything, and getting back to routines. We went to a pumpkin patch on Saturday, and it was fall perfection!

    • Kalie says :

      I agree with your thoughts of the seasons exactly! I’m kind of looking forward to wearing sweaters soon, but I know I’ll be sick of them by mid-winter! But right now I’ve got apple cider and watermelon in my refrigerator–the best of both seasons!

  6. Harmony says :

    I love the way you saved on the train ride by using your bikes – genius! We’re always trying to find less expensive ways to do the fun family activities.

    Two years ago we found a local orchard that is really just some guy’s backyard. He doesn’t do much or spray them with anything, so the apples are not pretty and once in a while you have to cut out a worm. But he hardly charges anything for us to pick tons and tons of apples. We jarred a huge store of applesauce last time, that has finally run out. We’re probably headed back there this weekend. My mom has promised to find her fancy apple peeler, which should help with the applesauce-making process.

    I miss summer already too, but there is plenty of fun stuff to do in the fall. And then, we’ll be inside enjoying warm fires, movies, and I will be happily crocheting through my yarn stash 🙂

    • Kalie says :

      That is so cool about the orchard. We have one (mature) apple tree so our kids can pick from it, and then we often visit an orchard just to walk around and enjoy the scenery. We have one of those apple peeler/corers and it makes apple processing so much easier! Enjoy your yarn 🙂

    • Carole says :

      You can buy a Foley Food Mill (not very expensive) and just core the apples, cook them and run them thru the food mill without peeling them, and you will have applesauce. You will need to sweeten if you wish and add cinnamon or whatever, and can or freeze or just eat. You can do the same with tomatoes if you are making juice or sauce. The peel stays in the food mill, and you will have to dump it once in a while.

  7. Ms. Montana says :

    That sounds like an amazing summer! It can be a bit sad when summer is over, but the fall is generally really nice here. Winter has it’s perks mostly because I am tired from all the stuff that happened in spring, summer and fall. It’s nice to have a rest and get caught up on some books rather than yard work and gardening.

  8. Mustard Seed Money says :

    Summer is my favorite time of the year as well. It sounds like you all really made the most of your summer and in an economic way that made for an eventful fun filled summer.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Kalie says :

      Summer is the best! My husband is especially good at making the most of it. I’m sure we wouldn’t have done as much fun stuff without his encouragement.

  9. DC YAM says :

    Wow that’s a lot of living packed into one Summer! We went on a vacation to Florida that was SO needed with my wife going to school year-round (and working full-time) and all the side work I’ve been doing. We could have done a lot more work on the house but I started another side hustle so been keeping busy with that.

  10. Mrs. PIE says :

    That’s a whole lot of summer fun! I bet it felt like it went past very fast and until it’s written down it’s hard to remember everything that went on.
    I felt like we had a long hot wonderful summer and did a huge amount of fun stuff. I am now inspired to write it down to truly appreciate all the great stuff we did. Top memories include lots of river swimming and hiking Mount Washington with the kids.
    I love fall – it means winter is just around the corner! Now where are those skis?!

    • Kalie says :

      It was fun to write it all down.

      I’m not a huge fan of winter, but I’m glad you enjoy it. Maybe I just need to take up skiing.

  11. Shauna says :

    It’s funny I just started reading your blog, and I’m from that middle of no where place you vacationed in. I am originally from the Lake Ontario region, so growing up I figured all lakes and beaches were like that. And I’ve spent plenty of time at Letchworth. All beautiful places to see. It’s definitely a great area for frugal living.

    I had to look up what cowboy candy is, now I know what to do with the extra peppers I have.

  12. Josh says :

    That’s an awesome summer. We had a tropical storm blow through a few weeks ago for us. Thankfully it only rained all of one day. Our favorite hobby is boogie boarding so we were excited to have some nice waves for a couple days as a result. Otherwise it’s like Lake Placid on most days.

  13. Raj says :

    Nice post and this is truly the best summer it seems mate, I hope you had a great time with your family, I have been following your blog from since few months and I must say your posts are so lively and filled with happiness and joy, I really feel so happy while reading your blog posts.

    keep writing great stuff!

    Have a good day!

  14. Fruclassity (Ruth) says :

    That sounds like a fabulous summer! I love the “burb-steading”. I believe that your kids will have great, great memories of all that you’re doing – and of course they’ll gain the skills involved. Like you, I was useless during the Olympics weeks. But useless can be a good thing on occasion. Here’s to a happy fall : )

  15. Laurie Frugal Farmer says :

    WOW, you were crazy busy!! And that hurricane looks wicked! We had a good summer too, even though we spent much less than we usually do on summer fun. Like, less than half!! We found lots to do for free like camping with friends, doing cookouts, hiking, biking, etc.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s great you were able to cut back your normal summer fun spending to help reach your goals. The free fun you described are definitely our staple summer activities (though it was very hot for hiking here this summer).

  16. abby says :

    Xenos Summer Institute is the best!! Highlight of my summer – glad to have found a blog that is written by someone who has interests in many of the same things 🙂

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