summer fun house sitting gift basket idea

while away on our trip, we have a handful of amazing families chipping in to feed our animals, water our garden, gather our mail, care for our pets, keep an eye on our home & more. 

simply put, this trip would not happen without our village.

so naturally, a gift basket was necessary.

although our home is a modest space, my hope was that our house served as a mini retreat away for the families staying here. i thought it would be fun to gift them a basket of goodies to make their retreat a little more special. 

i purchased those fun plastic totes from target for under $5 each. i filled them with a handful of kid-friendly treats.

i also included homemade strawberry jam, a tea towel & my favorite candles from epantry!

i printed off this fun (& free!) hello summer printable from here & attached it with a colorful mini clothespin. i made custom tags using their last initial & tied it with fun coordinating fabric ribbon!

all in all, each basket cost me less than $20 each & serves as a very small thank you for the incredible generosity of each family!

do you have any fun goodies you like to share with your house guests? please share!

erin's adventure

friends, i am so excited for you to meet my friend, erin of tweetpotatopie! she is an incredibly inspiring creative, entrepreneur & one of my closest friends. today i am wrapping up our mini adventure series with erin's story that's a little closer to home. welcome, erin...
this past thursday, i had a dentist appointment.
although we live in illinois, my dentist is the same one i've had since childhood and is located just over the border, in lake geneva, wisconsin.

at first, i despaired.  all i could think about were the multiplied should-do's and need-to-do's that filled my list for this sunny day.  i could get SO much done in this weather!

as we drove to the dentist office, we passed the lake geneva farmer's market that just to happens to be open...every thursday...and an idea began to form.
as soon as my appointment was over, we scooted out of there in a hurry and made a beeline for the farmer's market.
while we browsed the booths, full of kitschy sports-themed-painted gourd-birdhouses and handmade jewelry, we munched on our homemade lunch that we gathered from vendors along the way...
mason-jar-canned garlic dill pickle spears, butterscotch granola bites, cheesy focaccia wasn't enough to fill us, but it was surely enough to tide us over for a bit!
colton scored a $1 eclair {i think his freckles won him a discount with the baker-lady}, and we even remembered to grab a bundle of fresh lettuces for our dinner salad.

more than all that, though, we had an adventure.
we did!
you see, i think there's this misconception that an adventure involves a road trip...or possibly an extended vacation...certainly some grandiose expense...that could qualify as an adventure, right?? 
and yes, vacations and road trips and disney world and cruises and alllllll that...that all has its time and place.
but let's not forget about the adventures that await us on a daily basis.
adventures that are ours if we'd only take the few extra moments to seize them.
maybe it's as simple as an ice cream cone from your local mom & pop ice cream stand.
our family has a favorite little haunt one town east of us...we've made it an informal sunday evening tradition to drive over there for an ice cream with the kiddos.  it sets us back about twenty bucks...but is more than worth that for the memories we make.
maybe it's taking the extra minute or two to walk through the park, as opposed to rushing for your car and high-tailing it out...
kids are good at this adventure-finding, you know that?  i think if i'd take my cues from them more often, a lot more adventures would find their way to me.
maybe it's actually dipping your toes in the water and really feeling it...and savoring the moment or two of mind-clearing rest.

i don't know what adventure is for you...
although this day's adventures all involved my kiddos, solitary adventures are just as precious to me.
one day it may be a well-deserved pedicure...
another day it is stopping in a new little boutique that i noticed in town.
it's taking the long road home from the grocery store, just so i can get my favorite iced coffee.
it's a three-mile walk stretched to the max, so i can squeeze in two full podcasts, not just one.
here are some of my favorite "mini-adventures," taken from the past several weeks...adapt how ever you see fit!
~on a day when i knew my hubby would be gone for the evening, i took the kiddos to the store and let them pick out any cereal they wanted.  we grabbed two family movies from the Redbox and that night was "sugary cereal and movie night!"  they thought it was great!
~we love hitting up our local garage sales.  you'd be surprised at the treasures you can find!  i've found that it curbs the constant "mom, can i get this??" if i give my kiddos a couple dollars to spend, with the instruction that once that money is gone, they're done buying for the day.  and you'll probably end up with far fewer beanie babies going home with you that way, too.  i'm just sayin.
~i've recently discovered not one, but two fabulous bakeries within ten-ish minutes of my house.  i love stopping in there if i can work it in as "on the way" to one of my other errands.  most times, i take home treats for everyone, but occasionally, it's just for me.
~a few nights ago, i got all the kids ready and tucked into bed, except my son.  and then i asked him if he wanted to play a game of uno.  his face lit up like you wouldn't believe.  it took him completely by surprise.  and really, it only kept him up about ten minutes longer than everyone else, anyway.

really, i do believe that once you open your eyes to the adventure around you, you'll find that some of your most treasured times are the simple, inexpensive moments that caught you unawares.

enjoy!  and happy adventuring! 
thanks so much, erin! you can find more about erin on her blog & instagram.

megan's adventure

you guys are in for a treat today! when i think of the word "adventurer," i think of my amazing friend, megan of meganmodderman. she inspires me to slow down & savor life one moment & just pick up & GO the next. i consider it a gift to call her friend.

please welcome megan...

"oh darling, let's be adventurers."
we love to quote it, wear it on a t-shirt, hang it on our walls. but are they just nice words? an idyllic idea? something always put off until tomorrow? for me, they aren't! i've made seeking adventure, exploring & memory-making a big priority in my life.

you see, i have always carried around a strong case of wanderlust. i've dreamed of african savannah, and the colors of india and tastes of italy since i was a young girl. getting lost in the woods, up on the sand dunes, in a new city sounds fabulous to me. think of all the new things i'd see!

my wanderlust is driven by my endless curiosity. i wonder about differences in geography and societies. i want to soak up other cultures like a sponge. to become a person of depth. to grow by overcoming uneasy or fearful situations. to emerge filled with greater gratitude for LIFE.

want to chase after your wanderlust dreams? start by making it a priority. do instead of dream. set a goal. make a plan. set aside funds. i promise the waiting and the hustle are worth it.
also, seeking adventure doesn't have to involve hopping on a plane. maybe just plan on exploring someplace new near or far once a year, once a month, and once a week. that big city the next state over. that state park you've never been to. that restaurant you've been meaning to try.

image & quote by @dallasclayton
so, what are you waiting for? go inhabit your life more fully. go soak every last drop out of the 24 hours you've been given.

thanks so much, megan!
follow along on more of megan's adventures via instagram!


carrie's adventure

i am so excited to welcome carrie of 1canoe2 to our adventure series! carrie is such an amazing illustrator, adventurer & friend. i consider it such an honor to have carrie in this space & hope you find her story inspiring! welcome, sweet carrie...

When Natalie asked me to share my thoughts on adventure and what it means to me, I jokingly told her that adventure is my middle name. I might not actually go that far, but it is a word that I use frequently, and something I think about a lot. I try to live a life that is adventurous, in my own way. 

For me adventure is about breaking out of routine, seeking new experiences, and not being afraid of jumping into unknown territory. As an artist I have found that it is important. It is necessary. It is the thing that fuels me and my creative process. If there is anything that can kill creativity it is routine and doing the same thing over and over. I need a little adventure to keep me going, and it is something that I am constantly looking for. 

I find adventure in something as simple as trying out a new kind of paint or incorporating a different color palette. 

I find it in challenging myself to experiment with different media or subject matter. I find it in transitioning from small paintings in my sketchbook to forty foot wide paintings on the side of our barn. 

The creative process itself is an adventure. It’s all about starting with an idea and seeing where the process takes you. It’s about dreaming up big ideas and going for it. The outcome is uncertain, which means sometimes it’s a failure. But sometimes it even better than you imagined. 

I also find adventure in getting outside and surrounding myself in nature. I gather a lot of inspiration for my work from the world around me, and I love to travel and experience places that are wild and beautiful. I recently spent two weeks camping on a glacier in Alaska where I learned all kinds of mountaineering skills, summited a few peaks, and basically had an ice axe attached to my hand at all times, for safety reasons. 

It was a huge Adventure, with a capital A! It was amazing, and I LOVED it. I could go on and on about how valuable of an experience it was, but it is also true that I get just as much from exploring the natural world close to home. Hiking at local state parks, taking a walk down a country road, or fishing in the lake on my family’s farm. 

Adventure is essential for me. It’s what drives my creative work, and it leaves me with a sense of wonder about the world that we live in. It’s mostly about breaking from routine, looking for beauty, and going a little bit out of the way to see the world from a different viewpoint than I normally would.
thanks so much, carrie!
don't forget to check out carrie's instagram!

ashley's adventure

friends, i am so excited to share with you ashley's story of adventure! ashley is an inspiring blogger, amazing photographer, incredible teacher & a dear friend. knowing ashley has made me a better person & today it is such a gift to have her in this space! welcome, ashley...

I was 19 and hanging from a tree root over a rushing river in Alaska. Mountains were every direction I looked and I kept telling myself, "Don't slip. Watch your footing." It was a wild summer adventure I had only dreamed of experiencing. When I close my eyes and picture that moment, I can still feel the rush of adrenaline mixed with fear. A few years later, I went skydiving. Then it was a one-time trapeze lesson that turned into a month of classes. For my 30th birthday, I sat in the open cockpit of an old war plane and watched the land creep closer as the pilot took me on flips and nose dives in the air. I love adventure.

There was a time that my definition of adventure included huge trips or big moments. Skydiving. Trips overseas. Helicopter rides over islands. Adventures were big moments, not the little ordinary moments that happened everyday. I had to GO on adventures. 

And then somewhere along the way, it all changed. 

I realized I am ON an adventure. Everyday. Every moment. I can BE on an adventure right where I am today. It boiled down to perspective for me. I could either long for what I once called adventure or I could embrace and see the adventure each day holds. Today my adventure might include baking a pie with my daughter. Tomorrow it might be discovering new worms in the garden or watching my boys figure out how to catapult eachother off the picnic table. 

I still relish every chance I get to GO on adventures, but in the meantime I am choosing to search and find the adventure that each day holds.

thank you so much, ashley!

also, i invite you to check out ashley's upcoming snapshop class opening this upcoming monday, june 22nd! it's an introductory online workshop designed to help you capture the everyday in beautiful ways! she offers a class on both dslr & phone photography... you can find more information here.

01 09 10 11 12
Blogging tips