This Week's Meal Plan

A quiet, cloudy morning with an armful of recipe books, fresh flowers, my new weekly meal planner (sold at our shop - oh, I love it so!), hot coffee & the laundry basket nearby. 

I find it so important to carve out time at the beginning of the week to set my intentions for the days to follow. A large part of that time is spent meal planning. Our meal planning & prep has looked different over the years, but it still remains one practice I cannot do without.

This week I thought I'd share our meal plan for the week along with recipes & what we're harvesting from the garden. 

Harvested from the garden: Lots & lots of greens. I plan to eat a large salad every day this week. We also harvested radishes, a delicious topping on homegrown greens. I want to also use up frozen broccoli from our freezer because a crop is coming in soon. If we don't end up with a generous amount of leftovers on Sunday, I'll make a crustless quiche with our bounty of farm fresh eggs.

Week of April 17th - April 23rd Meal Plan

Monday: Broccoli, cheese & potato soup with salad 

Wednesday: *Date with Oliver* Flatbread pizzas with salad

Thursday: *Family dinner night with Luke's family*

Friday: Fried rice with chicken wontons (from Trader Joe's)

Saturday: Chili cornbread bake with light salad

Sunday: Leftovers

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead... please share your planned meals for the week in the comments below! 


Simple Tips for Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Every Wednesday afternoon at three o'clock, I pick up my nephew from preschool. When we get into the car, Oliver always asks, "Aunt Natalie, what's our fun plan for today?!"

Our bit of time together is my favorite. I always pull together a fun, seasonal activity we can enjoy together. On warmer days, we head to the splash pad or down to our neighbor's creek. Spring days have us outside planting seeds & flying kites. On rainy days, in particular, you'll find us inside crafting. 

Last year around Easter, I filled little plastic eggs with sour worms & gummy bears. We boiled eggs from the farm & dyed them with the traditional kit found at the big box store. I hid little eggs around the farm & we went on an exciting egg hunt together!

This year, I wanted to dye eggs with more natural, plant-based dyes. Making my own dyes felt a bit daunting (though I am always wildly inspired by my friend, Amy, of Second & Edgemont) so I grabbed the Natural Egg Dye kit from Whole Foods made from fruits, herbs & veggies. It's about $10 & is super simple to use. 

It's so important to start with good eggs when dyeing. If you do not have backyard chickens, I'd recommend connecting with your local farmer or grabbing a dozen from the natural foods store. I am particularly impressed with Whole Foods' commitment to sustainable farms & happy chickens. I grabbed a dozen of their 365 Everyday Value white eggs & they worked great mixed with our own farm fresh brown beauties! 

Before picking up Oliver, I boiled our eggs & set up our supplies. A bit of parchment & white paper worked well to protect our thrifted farmhouse table. I poured the natural dye colors into mason jars, a wonderful no-waste solution for dyeing. Once we arrived back home, I simply added hot water to each jar & we began dyeing!

There are so many techniques you can try to make your dyed eggs extra special. I love this feathered egg tutorial from 3191 & hope to do this activity with Oliver next year!

This time around, we simply drew on our eggs with crayons. Oliver used every color of the rainbow to make little scribbles on his eggs before plopping them into the dye. I loved using white - the wax prevents color from seeping into the shell so you can draw sweet little patterns on each egg. The possibilities are endless!

Once we were finished, we placed each egg into an old egg carton & admired our handiwork. I've been enjoying boiled eggs for breakfast every morning since! 

Such a wonderful afternoon spent with Oliver & an easy, seasonal activity to enjoy with the littles.

I'd love to read your favorite techniques for naturally dyeing eggs! Please share in the comments!

If you're on Instagram, head on over to my account & enter to win Easter goodies from Whole Foods. This blog post was in partnership with Whole Foods Fayetteville & they're graciously gifting a @nataliecreates follower within Northwest Arkansas a bundle of spring goodies!


Simple Daily Practices

I am happy to say we have finally found our rhythm within the home since opening our shop. I knew I wanted to get back to a full night's rest, home-cooked meals & regular exercise. But I also wanted to add in some simple practices that were much needed even before the shop's opening.

I've been experimenting for a few weeks & I am finding that certain, simple practices are finding their place within our days. I thought I'd share some of those daily habits with you...

1. Putting up our dishes first thing every morning: I would get so frustrated every day around lunchtime when I would wash my plate & go to put it in the dishwasher, only to find it was full of clean dishes. I know, first world problems. Now, every morning with coffee in hand, I put up all of the dishes. It makes for a smoother afternoon & an empty sink throughout the day. 

- Drinking more water: Truthfully, I struggle to drink water. Even in the heat of an Arkansas summer, I'll grab an iced coffee over a bottle of water any day. But I am slowly working on this habit. In order to motivate myself, I have been filling up a pretty glass pitcher (a thrifted find, vintage Pyrex) with water & ice. I'll add in fresh lemon, lime, herbs & fruit for a pop of flavor. Somedays I do well & other days I fail, but the reminder of that pitcher on the countertop sure does help. 

- Putting away clothing immediately: Do you have that chair in your bedroom that serves as your chair to hold the mound of clean clothes not yet put up? Yes, us too. And it drove me nuts! The time to put up all. of. those. clothes each week was ridiculous. So I decided to set a rule for myself. Every time I was finished with a piece of clothing that wasn't quite ready for the wash or a piece I decided not to wear that day, I had to take two seconds to fold or hang it up. This has been HUGE.  A simple practice that keeps our bedroom clean & puts my mind at ease. Yes.

- Slowly settling down at night: The evening hours are sacred within our home. They're oftentimes the only hours of the day when we're both together. So I've been working to protect those hours. For an hour or so, just before bedtime & after the completion of chores for the day, you'll find us by the wood burning stove with a book in hand (currently reading the Underground Railroad & loving it!). We make a cup of tea & savor the quiet for just a few moments before settling into bed. I apply essential oils & fall into my pillow for a deep night's rest.

What simple practices are you adding to your day? How are you falling into a healthy daily rhythm? I'd love to read your thoughts & suggestions in the comments!


Garden Workshop at Freckled Hen Farm

When we opened the doors to our Freckled Hen Farmhouse shop, we knew we wanted it to be a place that inspired folks to learn new skills & invest more deeply in their homes & interests. Luke & I have been absolutely amazed by the response to our workshop series!

We are so thrilled to introduce a new workshop for spring - a fun & informative garden workshop at our farm! 

You're invited to our farm, Freckled Hen Farm, just outside of Fayetteville on Sunday, April 30th, for an afternoon of gardening!

Luke, our farmer & horticulturalist, will walk you through the basics of gardening with hands-on demonstrations & plenty of time to answer all of your exciting gardening questions. 

It's going to be such a rich afternoon of soaking up the beautiful farm while learning hands-on skills that you can bring back to your own garden & families!

Topics will include:

- Seeding & transplanting
- Soil health & amendments
- Building a garden bed
- Crop rotation & crop planning
- Mulching & weed control
- Organic pest management

You'll spend the afternoon with Luke & (me!) Natalie in the garden for on-site demonstrations along with hands-on activities + detailed handouts with planting schedules & crop management tips.

We're excited to also give you a tour of our hobby farm, including an overview of our free-range chickens & goats.

Just a few basics...

- The workshop will be held from 2-5pm at our farm, Freckled Hen Farm, on April 30th.

- Registration is $40 per person & spots are limited.

- This is a beginners course so no previous gardening knowledge is required.

- The workshop also includes light snacks & drinks for your enjoyment.

- Freckled Hen Farmhouse tools, seeds & supplies for the garden will also be offered so bring extra cash if you'd like to purchase Luke & Natalie's favorite farm essentials! Enjoy 10% off with every purchase.

We so look forward to having you at our home & farm on April 30th!


Don't Go It Alone

Friends, it is so good to be back in this space. 

I took a brief break from the blog to open our brick & mortar general store. It's been such a gift to open up that space to our dear community (thanks to so many of you who have made the trek!), but it's a wonderful feeling to get back into a more sustainable daily rhythm. I have missed y'all! Thanks for the grace, dear readers, as we transition into this new "normal."

With that said, grab a cup of coffee & join me as I chat about some thoughts that have been brewing for quite awhile...

With the new year motivation behind us & resolutions forgotten, I want to share one big lesson that I learned a couple of years ago.

Don't Go It Alone. 

This nugget of wisdom struck me as I was reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin (a wonderful read & one I'd highly recommend). Within the pages, Rubin chats about the importance of habits & how we can establish new ones once we recognize how we're uniquely built. As I continued reading, I quickly learned that I thrive best in community.

Meaning I am able to establish healthy habits in my life when I can process within community, share my struggles, learn from others' experiences & gain outside motivation.

Friends, this somewhat simple thought was revolutionary in so many ways & transformed how I viewed my journey.

How many of us move throughout life without a solid community to lean into? 

How many of us struggle to lose weight, love our spouse well, parent with patience or build a business?

Imagine what might take place if we shared those universal struggles with folks who get it.

Once that truth sunk in, I signed up for Weight Watchers meetings (more on that soon, I promise), started attending weekly coffee dates with girlfriends & joined a private entrepreneurial Facebook group.  

So perhaps you failed at accomplishing those New Years resolutions alone, but let me encourage you to take a few steps back & identify a group of people working toward the same habits/values/life goals.

Magic takes place when we lean into community, friends.  

Here's your challenge for the week - What is one step you can make this week to lean into community & work toward that big goal?

Want to read more? Sign up for a book club. Ready to lose weight? Join a weight loss group. Excited about a business idea? Set up a coffee date with an entrepreneur in your community!

Whatever it may be, Don't Go It Alone.


Five Tips for Managing the Crazy

I get lots of comments & emails asking how I do it all, how I stay organized, how I run two businesses, how I keep our home so clean, how I love my husband well, how I make time for margaritas with girlfriends, how I stay on budget, how I run a farm & the list goes on.

The short answer - I don't. 
The better answer - You're not alone.

Let me paint you a picture. 

Earlier this week when we announced our (big! awesome! fun!) news of our brick & mortar shop opening, I was suffering from a pretty intense 48 hour stomach bug. I had intended to write our newsletter & create the event the week before, but my to-do list got the best of me & I was buried in work. 

Sunday afternoon came & so did my stomach bug. I thought I could just sleep it off. Oh no, my friends, how very naive of me. Monday morning came dreadfully quick & at the crack of dawn, with my puke bucket nearby & frantic breaks for the potty, I wrote our newsletter announcing our exciting news & fell straight back into bed.

On time? Barely. With grace? I nearly died. 

But here's the thing. I did the work, you got a pretty announcement in your inbox & you had no idea what was happening behind the scenes.

Our life isn't always as chaotic as the story above, but my point is that we all deal with our own versions of crazy. How we manage that crazy is key. 

What strategies do we implement in our own lives that keep us from having to write newsletters at the crack of dawn with a puke bucket in hand? 

How do we find a simpler, sustainable rhythm for our lives that gives us room to breathe & enjoy life's goodness?

I'm not perfect. But I've learned a whole lot amid the crazy. Here's a handful of tips, strategies & calls to action that I use in my own life to keep the chaos at bay. Enjoy!

1. Hire a housekeeper - I talk about this all of the time, but my housekeeper is my favorite person. It's the best investment on our quality of life & I am just so grateful for her service to our family. Create a budget category for this expense & find a housekeeper you love. It is the best gift you can give yourself in the new year!

2. Make time for YES! - Truth be told, I am exhausted by the many books out there telling us that in order to feel less stressed, we need to say no. I believe that's left us feeling disconnected & without community. Friends, I'd invite you to say yes. Saying yes has enriched my life in countless ways & allows me to feel a little more "me" when life feels hectic. Yes to weekly coffee with girlfriends! Yes to reading that book! Yes to movie nights with family! Yes to pie before dinner! Whatever your yes is, make time for it & watch your joy grow. 

3. Sign up for services that you'll use & will actually make your life easier - Signing up for Grove Collaborative & having our favorite home + body care products delivered right to our doorstep every month helps me feel on top of my game when I have zero energy left. Living on the farm makes it tough to go into town for a roll of toilet paper. And let's face it, that toilet paper pack turns into the fun earrings I need for that cute, new top I found on the end cap. It's an energy suck, a time suck, & a money suck.

Grove Collaborative keeps me focused on what we actually need within our home, saves me money & honors my time. The best part? The folks at Grove Collaborative are gifting every Natalie Creates reader a farmhouse enamelware caddy full of Mrs. Meyer's cleaning supplies when you sign up as a new customer & place your first order! I know you'll love & use this service just as much as our family does! 

Click HERE to sign up & never run out of toilet paper again!

4. Take time to plan - I spend 1 hour every Sunday planning out the week ahead. I jot down my commitments for the week (I'm using this monthly planner this year & loving it!) & my list of priorities for each day. I also set aside time within that hour to meal plan & write out my grocery list. This hour leaves me feeling in control of what I can realistically accomplish that week & how I plan to feed my family. Try carving out a little time this Sunday afternoon to plan out your week. Let me know how it transforms your days ahead.

5. Be ok with sometimes not being ok... & ask for help! - When we've implemented all of our strategies, followed all the rules, hired that housekeeper, taken time to plan & we still can't get it all together, admit your shortcomings & ask for help. This is where the grace comes in. This is where your people come in. Shoot an email & ask for a meal, a prayer or a babysitter. I cannot begin to tell you how many millions of times I've leaned into my precious community & they've shown up with paintbrushes, warm food & love. We've all got our own versions of crazy, but we should never expect to deal with them alone.

How do you handle the chaos? How do you manage the crazy? Share your thoughts in the comments, friends!


FREE Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning Kit ($40 value!) for a Fresh, CLEAN Start in 2017!

Are y'all in the thick of new years cleaning, dusting & decluttering? Every square inch of our home is in need of a good scrubbing! 

Well, I am thrilled to share with you all that I have an exciting offer from my dear friends at Grove Collaborative to help you start fresh within your home in 2017!

You all know just how much I love Grove Collaborative, formerly known as ePantry. For three years, we have used their service exclusively within our farmhouse. We buy all of our household goods from Grove Co., including toilet paper, soaps, detergents, toothpaste, shampoo & everything else you might need to run a home!

If you have never heard of Grove Collaborative, they are an amazing company that sends your favorite, all-natural home supplies right to your door! Their products are cheaper than what you'll find at the store & it is SO convenient. 

Plus, their monthly subscription makes budgeting for home supplies much easier. If you're working toward financial sustainability/responsibility in the new year, Grove Co. is a wonderful way to do just that. Our family sticks to an intentional monthly budget & their subscription service has been a wonderful tool for us!

I am SO excited to share that Grove Collaborative just released their farmhouse enamel cleaning caddy AND the Mrs. Meyer's hand lotion! The BEST PART? Every Natalie Creates reader who signs up as a new Grove Collaborative customer & spends just $20 on their first order will receive this cleaning kit (a $40 value!) for FREE! 

If you have yet to pull the trigger on joining Grove Collaborative, now. is. the. time! This offer is too good to pass up, dear friends!

This offer is valid for new Grove Co. customers only, but because Grove Collaborative provides the very best in customer service, they're offering up a hand soap (in the scent of your choice) for FREE to all existing Grove Co. customers. Grab yours HERE!

You can choose just one scent of Mrs. Meyer's goodies or mix & match to try an assortment! We have shifted to using just Mrs. Meyer's products to clean our home... the scents are just too amazing! The free scrubber sponges are equally wonderful. We use these all the time for cleaning up spills & messes. And y'all. I have fallen head over heels for that cute little caddy. It serves about 100 uses within our home & is pretty to look at, too!

Here's a step-by-step on how to easily grab this Free Grove Collaborative deal:

1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative HERE. You will receive the Mrs. Meyer’s offer for free when you sign up!

2. Answer 4 quick questions about your home that Grove Collaborative will then use to customize your first basket- this takes under 30 seconds!

3. Once you’ve answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your household needs by adding or removing items. (This is the hardest part — so many great choices!)

4. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love to receive in your first box.

5. You made it! Click Finish & Pay to place your first order!

Let me know if you have any questions! It's always such a gift to share products with you that I really love to use within our home. I can't wait to read just how much you love your free bundle of goodies! 

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