our home is tiny, but our welcome is big.

it feels so good to be living in our home again. 

i spent a bit of time this past weekend fluffing little corners, shopping around our home & adding one big piece (the hutch of my dreams!) from an estate sale. 

in just five days, the canning gals will be joining me at our farm for the canning workshop! i am all kinds of nervous & excited. it's easy to start nitpicking every flaw of our home when expecting such lovely guests, but i am challenging myself to seek joy rather than discontentment in our quaint space.

our home is tiny, but our welcome is big. 

and of course, a little bit of real life for you... xo.

this moment.

THIS MOMENT: a friday ritual. a single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment i want to pause, savor & remember.

if you'd like to share your "moment," leave a comment with the link. xo!

book love: better than before

in january, i decided 2015 would be the year of more reading. 

i have held tightly to that commitment & have thoroughly enjoyed my new hobby. i've always loved reading, but college left me exhausted from required reading & endless textbooks. it's been such a gift to snuggle close to a book at night with tea in hand, falling back in love with the many stories i've dearly missed.

i've read some incredible books over the last six months, but one that has completely changed me from the inside out is better than before by gretchen rubin.

even if we've failed in the past, gretchen encourages her readers to master the art of habits by implementing strategies based on how we interact with the world & our own personality types. she then shares ways to make those habits even easier so that they become natural rhythms of our everyday lives.  

better than before has also helped me to better understand the people around me & how/why they make the choices that they do. i feel better equipped now as a wife & friend to encourage & interact with those closest to me. 

friends, i hope you'll snatch up a copy of this book & let me know what you think!

for more reading inspiration, check out elise's book report posts & shannan's book list. i visit these two places often.

what's one book you've recently read & loved? i'm on the hunt for another good read!

the easiest way to can tomato sauce

y'all. it's been crazy town over here. 

while in europe, we had a major leak in our tub causing our one & only bathroom to need a complete remodel. think soggy floors & mold in the walls. so, we've been camped out at my in-law's for over a week. 

of course, we've got tomatoes coming out of our eyeballs. in between tiling floors & picking out new paint, i've been spending lots of time in the kitchen. 

thankfully for you & for me, i've found the easiest way to can tomatoes. this recipe breaks all the canning rules, but it's perfect for those busy days & it gets the job done.

the easiest way to can your tomato sauce

tomatoes, stems chopped off
dried herbs
lemon juice

1. gather as many tomatoes as can fit in your largest stainless steel pot. scrub your tomatoes & chop off the stems. 
2. put your tomatoes in the pot, skin & seeds included (see- we are breaking all the rules, folks!) 
3. put the stove on low, place the lid over your pot of tomatoes & allow your tomatoes to simmer for 24 hours. stir occasionally & yes - this requires that you go to sleep with the stove on.
4. wake up in the morning, check the tomatoes, stir a bit & crack the lid on the pot. this will allow moisture to escape. 
5. allow the tomatoes to cook until most of the moisture is gone - about five hours - & the tomatoes are a mushy consistency. 
6. at this point, prepare your jars & lids. 
7. using your immersion blender or food processor, process your tomatoes to your desired consistency. once a tomato sauce-like consistency is reached, add salt & dried herbs to taste.
8. add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to your pint size jars & 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to your quart size jars. the amount of jars you need is based on how many tomatoes you process.
9. fill your jars with tomato sauce & process in the water bath canner.
10. label & store until winter. enjoy with pasta & sautéed veggies. 

my friends, i hope you find this recipe helpful! let me know if you try it! it makes canning tomatoes much more manageable during the crazy days of summer!

self-employment: top lessons learned

this month i celebrate one year of quitting my comfy day job & entering the world of full time self-employment. 

deep breaths, y'all. it's been a journey

today i want to shed some light on self-employment & the big lessons i've learned in just one short year. grab a cup of coffee & join me for some deep talk.

1. DO SCARY THINGS: many have asked how i took that big giant leap from day job to all-day-every-day job & i'm not quite sure that's the right question. taking the leap was fun; taking the next step remains the scary part. 
it just felt right to jump into the self-employment world. my business was becoming too much for the late night hours & i knew i needed to fully commit. once the newness of the move wore off, that's when the scary part took hold. 
"will people continue with me on this journey?" 
"how do i keep growing, keep changing, keep creating?" 
and if we're all being honest..."how do i pay the bills?"
in those real moments, we quickly learn that's the scary part. 
the good news is we're equipped with our people & we're the expert at our own businesses.

2. BE YOU, NOT SOMEBODY ELSE: you're the expert at you, stick with that. sure, experimenting & trying new things is good, but always check back with you, not the copy of somebody else. 

3. MAKE THE MOVE WHEN YOU ARE MAKING MONEY: my business is so much more than the modest income i make at the end of the year, but like most people, i carry financial responsibilities. one of my top pieces of advice is to only move when you are making money. i've found that so many people believe that once they're in it full-time, that's when they'll finally be able to support themselves. sure, more hours often means more money, but those late night hours before taking the jump into self-employment are really important. set a financial goal each month & once you've reached that goal consistently, put in your notice & join the world of self-employment. trust me, you'll be much more equipped to succeed.

4. BE YOUR OWN CHEERLEADER: i cannot stress enough the importance of being your own cheerleader. doubt is normal, but doubt should never linger. never be afraid to share what you do, who you are & why you matter. so often i hear people talk about their fear of being too "sales-y" on their social media platforms. friends, this is your job. use the tools you've got! we'll all be on the sidelines cheering with you. 

5. YOU ARE WORTH IT: the first month i joined the world of self-employment, a huge company reached out to me with an amazing offer. the thing was, they didn't have a budget to pay me for my work. i thanked them for the opportunity but declined their offer. friends, you are worth it. just like any other job, you deserve a paycheck. take your work seriously & others will take you seriously. just a heads up - a couple of months later, the same company approached me again but with a budget.

6. SAY NO: does this new opportunity make your heart beat faster? do you feel passionate about this offer & are you ready to get to work? if not, say no. too often i have said yes to things because saying no felt too hard & i have immediately regretted it. saying no means you've got more time for those amazing opportunities that really excite you! be choosy, there are only so many hours in the day.

7. ASK FOR HELP: you can't do it all so ask for help. in the beginning, i hand-cut, sewed, packaged & shipped every single product i sold in my online shop. i could only maintain that level of crazy for so long before i felt burnt-out & exhausted. i now pay contract seamstresses & assistants to help me & it's been a total game changer. what i miss in extra income, i make up in fully living. 

8. MISTAKES ARE OK: friends, you will mess up & that's ok. you won't always get it right, you won't always sell out & you won't always do your best. in all honesty, this was a hard one for me to learn, but learning to protect my self-confidence against my business confidence was key. friends, don't let those business mistakes become part of your own personal mistakes. mistakes are ok & you are more than ok.

my self-employed friends, what are your top lessons learned? please share!


just as a reminder, my etsy shop opens tomorrow (thursday, 7/23) at 8 am cst! photos above are sneak peeks of what will be available for purchase, including our new kiddo bow bands! i can't wait to see you there! 

for the love of summer accessories

y'all, i can't stress enough just how life-changing the capsule wardrobe project has been for me. over the last year it has helped me to let go, buy less & rebuild a well-curated wardrobe that's simple, comfortable & me.

today i thought i'd share the love for accessories! having just a handful of classic, well-made pieces along with a fun variety of accessories makes getting ready each day so easy.

i got this simple dress from old navy & i wear it every week. i love pairing it with my tan saltwater sandals or my turquoise sandals (as shown) for a pop of color.  

the beaded statement bracelet from noonday collection is also a staple in my wardrobe. it matches everything, it's easy to wear & noonday holds a dear place in my heart.

i also recently discovered a deep love for better life bags. just like noonday collection, better life bags gives back. they equip women struggling from various employment barriers with a career at better life bags sewing each unique piece. it's absolutely amazing & every bag is so well made. i just want to hug these women! 

i have also found my way back to my first true love, the stud earring. don't get me wrong, sisters. i love a good pair of big earrings. but truly, the stud earring is so versatile. 

i just recently discovered kurandza & fell head over heels. kurandza is a purpose-driven fashion company that empowers women in mozambique through education and employment opportunities. i love wearing their stud earrings with a simple chambray dress or a pair of jeans & a tee! plus, they're only $20! win, win!

the friendly folks at kurandza want to love on natalie creates readers with a generous discount of 20% all week long in their shop. simply enter "nataliecreates" at checkout for the discount!

also, there's a fun giveaway over at my instagram for a $50 kurandza shop credit! just head on over to @nataliecreates for the details, y'all! it's simple & fun!

clearly, i am no fashion blogger (i have some serious respect for those out there that are!), but i do love feeling good in my clothing. my biggest hope is to inspire you to take a bit more time to cultivate a wardrobe that makes you feel great. 

for the love of summer style, what are some of your favorite accessories currently in rotation?

homegrown cherry tomato soup

we're swimming in baskets of cherry tomatoes, y'all! 

if your meals look anything like ours right now, you're enjoying those delicious sungold cherry tomatoes with every. single. meal. 

here's the part where i introduce you to my newest cherry tomato recipe obsession.

homegrown cherry tomato soup. 

i know it doesn't look like much, but it's taste makes up for it's looks (i promise).

this recipe uses up what's already in the pantry while offering a punch of sweet & slightly sour flavor. it's heaven in a bowl & a perfectly appropriate meal for those 100 degree summer days. luke even agreed. 

homegrown cherry tomato bisque

serves 2 large servings

1 berry basket of cherry tomatoes, preferably of the sungold variety
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
10 large garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 yellow onions
handful of fresh basil or 1 tablespoon of dried basil
3 cups chicken broth
sprinkle of parmesan cheese, optional

1. preheat the oven to 500 F. in a medium sized bowl, combine the tomatoes, vinegar garlic, 3 tablespoons of olive oil & a generous sprinkle of salt & pepper. mix well. transfer the mixture to a baking sheet, making sure to pour juices evenly on the tomatoes. bake for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes are lightly charred on the edges.

2. in a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil & sauté the onions. add the basil & cook until the onions are soft. stir in the roasted tomatoes & add 3 cups of chicken broth. bring to a boil, lower the heat & allow to simmer for about ten minutes. 

3. once the flavors are nicely combined, using your immersion blender or food processor, blend the soup to your liking. sprinkle salt & pepper to taste & serve. we added a handful of parmesan cheese to ours, which was nice. 

enjoy with a hunk of good bread & a green salad! 
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