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.
love,
natalie

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!
love,
natalie

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!
love,
natalie

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!

love,
natalie

a week of healthy, delicious & affordable dinner ideas


i am always working to feed my family well while sticking to a budget. this week we had our usual $75 to feed the family. throw counting calories & a "diet" or "lifestyle change" into the mix & i am tempted to overspend. 

this week happens to be a busy one, too. the farmers' market is opening up so i plan to support our farmers. i am also hosting a girls' night at our home tonight. that means a bottle of wine & some fun snacks. considering the events of the week, i decided to set aside $30 from our budget for those two expenses. that left me $45 for the entire week. 


i am excited to share some dinner ideas that i incorporated into our meal plan this week that are calorie-friendly, budget-friendly & delicious!


monday: i made pesto pasta with frozen pesto from last summer. every summer i always freeze bell peppers, can tomatoes & freeze pesto. those are my three staples (do these three things if you aren't already, trust me.). pulling out pesto in a financial pinch is the most delicious & cheapest gourmet trick in the book. if you don't have basil pesto, you can make spinach pesto. spinach is in season right now & can be found for an inexpensive price.


tuesday: i served up a baked sweet potato bar. paired with roasted asparagus (also in season right now & so inexpensive), this was a delicious meal. i usually add a little bit of fresh avocado on the side & plenty of toppings, including coconut oil & nuts.

 wednesday: my meal plan for wednesday included a vegetable frittata. having chickens in our backyard makes egg-based meals affordable. i love skinnytaste's low calorie frittata recipe.  


thursday: last night's dinner was a delicious crockpot vegetable soup i made from ingredients we already had on hand. i used a bag of frozen veggies (peas, carrots & corn), one potato, homemade chicken broth & stewed tomatoes from last year's garden. it was delicious served with a side of crackers, roasted broccoli (also in season & affordable) & avocado. 

friday: tonight's dinner is rice and beans. i make this an exciting meal with toppings such as cilantro, avocado, sour cream, salsa & a side of homemade tortilla chips. also, setting the table with a fiesta theme makes eating rice & beans a little more special.

bonus meal: last week i made skinnytaste's calorie-friendly tuna noodle casserole, which was delicious & affordable. i am not a huge casserole fan, but i will definitely make this recipe again.

some tips:
- make your dollar stretch by purchasing fresh foods that are in season.
- lean more toward vegetable-based meals rather than meat-focused meals. they're often healthier & always more affordable. if your family loves meat, try one night a week, like "meatless mondays."
- if you're serving a light main dish, always provide a hearty side such as roasted asparagus, avocado or a large salad. 
- sunday is the day we eat all of the leftovers. this works for our family because it prevents us from wasting food & it gives me a break from cooking.

i love making our dollar stretch while feeding my family well. i hope you found these recipe ideas useful & the tips helpful. let me know if you use any of these meal ideas!

do you have any recipes that are healthy & inexpensive? please share!
love,
natalie

oliver's teddy bear picnic


happy birthday to our little oliver! he is 1 today! i am one proud auntie. 


his mom & pop invited me to his little teddy bear picnic to celebrate. it was the cutest little party. i thought i would share with you some of the details that jenni anne, oliver's mom, put together.


they had the birthday party in the front yard surrounded by lush ivy & big trees. little blankets were spread out for little ones to play on. the baskets were filled with cupcakes & tied with balloons.


a quilt was spread out over the picnic table & baskets were filled with fruits.


little oliver's cake was covered in cheerios & whipped cream. he loved it.


oliver's teddy bears were even invited to the party! now my favorite part- oliver eating his cake!



oliver, we love you! happy first birthday, sweet boy!
love,
natalie

two new additions to the farm


on thursday afternoon, we were greeted with two new babies to freckled hen farm! calamity did such a wonderful job laboring & is fitting into the role of mama quite nicely.


both kids are bucklings. the first boys of our seven kids born this year! calamity had twin bucklings last season so we were very surprised to witness the same this season. the boys are 25% lamancha & 75% nubian. they're so precious.



the boys are yet to be named. i left on friday to two snuggling baby goats in the barn. when i returned on sunday, i saw them in the pastures jumping around as little kids do & hanging out with the older kids. they're little adventurers so their names must be fitting to such. 



it's so wonderful to have so much life happening on the farm. we're loving our little herd of goats grazing the land & greeting us daily.
love,
natalie

p.s. just a little note- we now have five precious doelings ready for sale. if you're interested, email me at natalie.j.freeman@gmail.com! thanks!

01 09 10 11 12
Blogging tips