first week of whole30 update

if you don't follow me on instagram (@nataliecreates), haven't read my statuses on facebook & haven't heard me whining in person, you probably have no idea that i'm on whole30! what's whole30 you ask? well, i'm no expert & i've messed up quite a bit (hello, um YES you CAN have sweet potatoes), but this is an amazing resource to give you the basics. some are following my foodie adventures for thirty days while i cleanse my system, rid myself of some pesky weight i've been holding onto despite my very best efforts & jump start my metabolism. i've got a hashtag #whole30crew where you can share your recipe ideas, words of encouragement or elaborate dreams about cake (i've had two pastry dreams so far. i kid you not!) on instagram. 

i'm on day 9 of whole 30 (almost 1/3 done!) so i thought i'd share some recipes i've loved & tips for surviving your first days: 

- we made this pulled pork (minus the cocoa powder & included a bit of liquid smoke) & it really helped to keep the hunger at bay. during lunch, we have been adding scoops of pulled pork to salads for a bit of protein.

- this paleo pad thai was fantastic. the sunshine sauce is amazing. make it right now.

- this recipe for baked salmon with coconut broth was delicious. it was full of flavor & a nice change from our heavier meat entrees. 

- this is an incredible resource featuring tons of whole30-approved crockpot recipes (with some ingredient substitutions) that make cooking dinner easy.

- i've enjoyed eating a sweet potato with dinner. it helps keep me full longer.

- some larabars are whole30 approved if you can't handle your sweet tooth any longer. 

- always make more than you will eat for dinner. those leftovers can be added to tomorrow's salad during lunchtime. the power of leftovers is huge

and don't forget to head on over to tend for a delicious whole30 creamy lemon, chicken & kale soup recipe. with homegrown kale! yay!

exterior house renovation progress: painted brick

i asked for one thing for my birthday- to paint our house. when we originally looked at this house, i told luke that i loved the land, but we had to paint the brick.

the brick was dated & it looked as though the builder used all of the leftovers from previous projects on our house. even our friends & family weren't fans. it was awful. thankfully, my hubby agreed to my request. on my birthday, all of my family came out to our house & helped us paint. it was a terrifying project. paint colors were the single most important topic in my world for weeks. i painted swatches on the back of our house & stared at them for hours. i talked with friends & even did a facebook poll. choosing the wrong color or messing up could really hurt the value of our home.

thankfully, nothing went wrong & we love the color! 

it was a laborious project, but the difference is huge! 

(we are still trying to get that pesky rust-colored residue from the chimney off the roof. home DIYers... anyone have any ideas? we've scrubbed & power-washed.)

we still have several more projects up our sleeve including a new porch, new columns, window shutters, a new orange door, a new screen door & new raised beds. it's just the beginning of our home renovations, but having the biggest project behind us feels so good.

the house was also in need of some landscaping so we removed the dead plants & purchased perennials from our local nursery. 

a couple of hanging ferns & a pretty pot of flowers & we're calling it good... until we save up enough for that porch! 

here are the basics for how we painted our brick:
- two days before painting, we power-washed our house. the exterior needs to be thoroughly cleaned before painting.

- the day before painting, we taped off all of the windows, doors & anything else that didn't need to be painted.

- we used behr exterior latex paint from home depot.

- we borrowed a paint sprayer to do the job. trust me, get a paint sprayer. it's impossible with brushes.

- it took 9 gallons to paint our house. i overbought by six gallons, which was a little frustrating, but my parents plan to paint their house the same color so they're purchasing the leftovers from us. thanks, mom & dad!

- we applied two coats.

- it took us about 8.5 hours total to paint. 

- the paint needs at least 24 hours to completely dry.

thanks so much & i can't wait to show you more progress!

hooray! tend is back!

hooray! tend is back! i just love this space. have you heard of tend? it's an online collective of women gardeners & farmers who share a passion for all things farm, garden & good food. i am so honored to be a weekly contributor! we share our favorite resources, tips, recipes, garden tours & so much more. 


the best birthday

on friday we celebrated my 25th birthday. i remember sharing my 20th birthday in this space. that's a lot of living here with all of you. thank you for following along!

birthdays are a big deal in our family. it's the simple details that we celebrate - birthday messages on our big chalkboard, a fresh bouquet of flowers & a homemade card. luke always does such a beautiful job. do you see his card he made me? he's my handy man & artist. 

this year i asked for one big gift. using the money we had saved along with birthday money from our generous family, i wanted to paint the exterior brick on our house. since moving in i have wanted to do this. i didn't want a party or a big celebration. i just wanted a whole day to paint our house. 

of course, the project was more like several days & around 16 total hours of labor. i'll share more about this home improvement adventure soon, but let's just say, luke is one amazing man. he and my wonderful mom spent hours with me on saturday painting the house. let's not mention power-washing the entire house two days before & taping every single window & door the day before. they love me.

& then on sunday my dear friend & running buddy, kara, invited us over for dinner. except it wasn't just dinner; it was a huge surprise party full of all of my favorite people! it took every bit of me to not tear up like a crazy lady when i saw all of my friends & family shouting, "surprise!" it's top ten in my favorite life moments.

luke & kara coordinated everything. my sister-in-law made cupcakes & friends brought dishes. everyone showered me with the sweetest gifts. my heart is filled to the brim, friends.

sponsor love

say hello to this month's sponsors!

would you like to become a sponsor? just click here! it encourages my heart so for this blog to be supported financially while also assisting in the growth of your own business, shop or blog! april is booked, but may is open just for you

happy day!

our kitchen remodel: before & after

when we moved into our home this past july, i had big plans to turn this place into a cozy farmhouse. sometimes i feel like there are too many unfinished projects & we haven't completed much of anything since moving in. then i look at the "before" photos & i am reminded of how much we have completed in just nine short months & on a budget. 

today i thought i'd share the before & after of our kitchen remodel with you!

when we bought this house, it just wasn't "us." the cabinets were dark wood & the kitchen felt too small. the walls were green & a little too dark for my preference. i am happy to say that our home has evolved from dark & plain to light & cheery!  

being on a budget means you have to prioritize what you want. for example, i wanted concrete countertops & subway tiles. after evaluating the budget, i realized we couldn't justify the expense. there are a few things i would love to change about our kitchen, but it's a space that makes me happy. it's functional & beautiful & i am grateful to call it ours. 

here are a few more details about our kitchen...

it took a handful of girlfriends & me about 18 hours to paint all of the cabinets white ("ultra white" by benjamin moore). we painted the walls a soft light blue ("stillness" by valspar). i got all of the kitchen cabinet knobs & pulls from home depot for around $2.50 - $3.50 each. 

the light fixture is made with a light kit & a vintage basket turned upside down. i decided to remove all of the doors from the upper cabinets to give the kitchen more of an airy feel & to display some of my pretties. 

i collect old things from flea markets, thrift shops & yard sales so most of the items found around our kitchen are vintage. the "everyone loves pie" print is from 1canoe2. the succulents are planted in old coffee cans. 

i had the kitchen cart custom made by our dear friends, noble dwelling. it is made of salvaged metal, barn wood & upcycled wheels. you will find me most of the day cutting vegetables & preparing our meals right here. i also love old jars. i have collected them for years. all of our bulk items are placed in jars found secondhand. 

all in all, our kitchen remodel cost about $300, which includes paint, hardware, and light fixtures. it took us about two weeks to complete this project. i am thrilled with the results & i hope you love them, too!

p.s. here's the link to our coffee bar if you're interested!

new growth, new chapter

this weekend was good. one of those weekends that leaves you thankful for this life & that you get to call it yours. life has been so hard recently. i haven't shared that weight here for the simple fact that i want parts of my life to remain private for the sake of my family & for myself. thankfully i can feel a slight shift as if we're turning a new page & coming out of the dark & a bit stronger, too. spring, you're good for the soul.

the farmers' market opened this weekend. i'm fairly certain our entire town was out & about at the market lingering in the warm sunshine, listening to music & purchasing the good stuff. we brought home a bouquet of flowers & an excitement for what's to happen this season.

i love the newness of spring & the beauty of this season. new life, abundant growth, a new chapter - all around & also within. 

happy monday, friends. this week is a fresh start. let us embrace its possibility!

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