My One Word for 2020

I have attempted to reflect on 2019 a couple of times yet the words still continue to feel a little messy & imperfect. Quite fitting for a year that felt just like that. But I'll go ahead & try anyway -

Simply put, this year was full of very high highs & many low lows.

In 2019, we celebrated ten imperfect, hard & wonderful, life-changing years of marriage. Being Luke's wife is indeed my biggest life accomplishment. In 2019, we also both turned 30 (they were right - there's just something really stretching about turning thirty)

Our business flourished & our team doubled in size to include the most amazing people I have the true honor of working alongside each & every day.
We traveled a ton (Hawaii, you are an absolute dream & we miss you every day!), ate such good food & stuffed a hell of a lot of living into 365 days. 

In 2019, we also grieved. We learned to live life alongside loss & I am forever changed by this very hard lesson. My best friend moved. We left our church & inevitably the community within. I made some painful yet necessary choices within our business, navigating what sometimes felt like the loneliest journey as a leader. 

I came face-to-face with my food addiction & began the path to healing with my therapist. I committed to close friendships, started a book club & made these life-giving relationships a priority. I honored my day off more times than not, but struggled to figure out what to do when not at work. I became a student in the art of not giving a shit & still continue to learn what it looks like to pave my own path, not the one others would be more pleased with me to follow.

My word for 2019 was grow & without a doubt, I did, in fact, painfully & without choice, do just that. 

It was necessary growth & I believe it's the start of something powerful & undeniably good in 2020. 
As I set my eyes on 2020, I am determined to continue down a path of healing. 
I am stubbornly convinced that this is Not Quite It. There's more growing, more learning, more digging deep to do. 

And quite frankly, I did not choose my 2020 word. My 2020 word chose me.


It's a hard word for me, friends. As I sat down with my therapist & began to uncover what this word might mean for my year & life, I began to full-body sob. I am even tearing up just writing this now. 
Because in almost every aspect of my life, I have failed at discipline. As an enneagram 7, the word "no" is simply not part of my vocabulary. 
Yet here I am facing my own demons & committing to Discipline in 2020. 

For me, Discipline looks like:
- Sitting with my innate desire to always say yes & learning the art of saying no in order to pursue what's most important. 
- Equipped with the knowledge I gained in 2019, committing once again to my Weight Watcher journey & wellbeing. 
- Reducing our travel schedule (yet not entirely - it is our favorite hobby!) for lazy weekends at home, short excursions in our camper & lots of reading/gardening/swimming. 
- Challenging my need for more. While we do save for rainy days, I want to get a little closer to the basics. For starters, I plan to not buy clothing for the next three full months (with the exception of a new pair of jeans I plan to purchase today & a couple of things - such as a rash guard - for our annual trip in February).
- Bring a book, instead of my phone, into the tub with me. 

I am excited, energized & determined to make 2020 count. 

What is your one word for 2020? 
See my words since 2013 here & comment below with yours!


An ALDI Thanksgiving + Brown Sugar Glazed Pumpkin Pie Recipe

This blog post is in partnership with ALDI.

This will be the first year we cook Thanksgiving Day dinner at home & I am so excited to establish our own traditions as a little family. 

We are looking forward to preparing our own feast for the very first time, but I want to make sure we are thoughtful about sticking to our monthly food budget. Thankfully, the selection of Thanksgiving Day ingredients at ALDI allow us to stay within our budget without compromising quality! 

One Thanksgiving Day essential we will not be going without is pumpkin pie! I used Bake House Creations Pie Crust & Baker's Corner Pumpkin Pie Mix - both found at ALDI - to make this delicious pie, but changed things up a bit by adding a caramelized brown sugar glaze on top! 

Below you'll find my go-to pumpkin pie recipe - it's simple to make, but offers up that made-from-scratch flavor. I cannot wait to serve this pie on Thanksgiving Day!

Brown Sugar Glazed Pumpkin Pie
Makes 1 pie
Prep: 10 minutes Bake Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

- 1 Bake House Creations Pie Crust
- 1 can Baker's Corner Pumpkin Pie Mix
- 2/3 cup of evaporated milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Begin by preparing your pie crust. Thaw crust according to package. Unroll & place on pie dish. Create your desired crust around the outside & set aside.

To make your filling, mix together Baker's Corner Pumpkin Pie Mix with 2/3 cup of evaporated milk & 2 eggs in your mixer until well blended. Pour into pie crust. 
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees & bake for an additional 60 minutes. Once the pie is done, allow to cool.

To make your brown sugar glaze, pour 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons heavy cream & 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract into a medium-sized saucepan. Cook on high heat until your ingredients begin to boil. Once boiling, remove from heat & stir until your sauce begins to thicken. Allow to slightly cool. 

To make your pie extra cute, use the second pre-made crust in Bake House Creations Pie Crust to cut out fall-themed shapes. I used a mini turkey cookie cutter & placed each one on a baking sheet, baking at 350 degrees until lightly browned. I then placed each turkey atop the pie once it was cooled.

To eat, drizzle the brown sugar glaze on top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream on the side. Enjoy with loved ones around the table as you share what you're most grateful for! 

I'd love to know - what are your Thanksgiving Day traditions & favorite recipes? Share your thoughts below!

This post is in partnership with ALDI. Click HERE to locate a store nearest you so you can thoughtfully save & enjoy the holiday season!


Four Ways to Recharge During the Busyness of Spring

The arrival of spring beckons a busyness like no other. Easter, Mother's Day, graduation, birthdays, Teacher Appreciation Week - you name it, it's happening in April or May.

And while the calendar may be filled, it's still so important to make time for ourselves to recharge & reboot. 

Today I want to share four simple & affordable ways to care for ourselves during the hustle & bustle of springtime!

1. Get some fresh air: Go for a walk while listening to your favorite podcast, read a book on the patio or simply listen to your favorite jams while walking around the ball fields at your kiddo's practice. Simply moving our bodies & soaking up some vitamin D gives us a much-needed boost. 

2. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers: I say this time & time again, but purchasing fresh flowers is such a simple yet effective way to brighten our surroundings & our mood. Even a grocery store bouquet will do!

3. Get plenty of rest: When I feel over extended, I always make sure to still get plenty of sleep. Last year we tossed our old mattress & replaced it with a new mattress from Solay. It may be a financial commitment, but it has made such a difference in how we rest & how our bodies feel. 

Solay is kindly offering natalie creates readers a FREE Solay pillow ($100 value) when they purchase  a queen or king mattress with code "NATALIEPILLOW" at checkout! Click here to grab yours! Please note - your mattress must be in your cart with your pillow in order for the discount to work.

4. Go out on a coffee date: Sometimes all we need is a date with a friend to make our days feel a little less chaotic. Even when my week feels crazy, I always look forward to time spent in good conversation over coffee with a dear friend. It fills me up so I can serve others well.

Even with limited time & resources, let this be a reminder & inspiration to carve out a little time just for you no matter the season! With just a few bucks, you can grab a coffee with a girlfriend or purchase a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store. Even a good night's rest & a walk can make such a difference!

Comment below & let me know how you extend kindness & love to yourself in seasons of busyness!


This blog post is sponsored by Solay. Please note all thoughts & opinions are my own.

Mother's Day Candles for Every Woman's Journey

As a shop owner, a large part of my day is spent curating beautiful, unique & well-crafted goods for Freckled Hen Farmhouse. Gift giving is my love language so naturally, I love finding the perfect gifts to offer in our shop. 

I search high & low for specific items to stock our shelves & when I come up short, I find a way to make it myself. 

As I was creating Freckled Hen Farmhouse's Mother's Day Collection, it became very apparent that there was only one story being told - the simple, easy, predictable image of motherhood. 

Where were the hundreds of stories of loss, infertility, difficulty & pain? 

While Mother's Day is beautiful for some, it's hard, messy & painful for others. I wanted to create goods that spoke of - not silenced - the journeys of so many.   

Here are just a few -

For the woman who has lost her mother - you are forever her daughter. Your grief is not silenced & your pain is not forgotten. 

For the woman who longs for her own child - we see your pain, sister, & we save a seat for you at the table. 

For the woman who's love surpasses any title, we recognize & celebrate your sacrifices. You are truly incredible.


Who are the women in your life that you can make time to sit with, honor & celebrate this Mother's Day? I encourage you to grab a bouquet of flowers, a candle & coffee for these sisters. We should never walk alone.

Click here to shop the collection now & share your journey (if you feel comfortable) in the comments below.


Thoughts on Shorts & Why You Should Wear Them

Let's talk about something most of us avoid all summer long -

You know what I am talking about. The pieces of fabric sewn together to hide your rear that never quite fit right, neglect to hide your jiggle & awaken your knees from hibernation.

Shorts & I used to be enemies. And based on conversations I've shared with a handful of my girlfriends, you'd prefer to keep shorts at a distance, too.

But here's the thing, sisters - After about mid-May in the South, it gets real hot. And I can't handle another summer of jeans in 100 degree weather. I know you can't either.

So I am encouraging you this summer to Free the Knees! Embrace your thick thighs, rub some fake tanner on your legs if you have to & wear those darn shorts!

I have been where you are & I still struggle to embrace the jiggle sometimes. 

Just last week I was debating on wearing shorts or leggings on my evening walk with my husband. I was picking apart every flaw in the mirror when my husband turned to me & said, "Dang, girl! Your legs look good." 

I kept the shorts on. 

You know why? Because these legs are training for a 5k race. Because these legs are strong. Because no one picks apart our bodies quite like we pick apart our own. And because my husband sees my beauty when I see my flaws.

Sister, your legs are just fine the way they are right. now. - you deserve to feel comfortable & free this summer no matter your weight, your size or your cellulite.

 If you're still not convinced, here are some tried & true tricks I use to feel shorts ready:

+ Wear cotton or linen - It can be tough to find denim shorts that fit just right so I often lean toward cotton or linen shorts like the ones above. Shorts from American Eagle Outfitters have been my go-to for the last few years because they're breezy & compliment the size of my thighs. I've linked some of my go-to styles here. 

+ Go up a size - Don't be afraid to go up a size. You know the denim shorts that practically stick to your inner thighs? You sit down & rolls just below the hem appear? That's because those shorts suck, not you. Grab a bigger size - it's just a number & that number does not define you or your worth.

+ Self-Tanner - I recently bought a bottle of Neutrogena self-tanner & since then, I've wondered where it's been all of my life. It gives me a nice little glow & puts a pep in my step. Here's the one I love & use every week.

+ Rock a heel - Date night or not, find a fun wedge to rock with your favorite pair of shorts. On days when I am feeling less than confident, I put on a cute pair of shoes with a slight heel & instantly feel better.

+ Just put the darn things on- As they say - fake it until you make it. I promise you, you'll thank yourself for the gift of comfort. And soon, you may even learn to love the shorts - & body - you're in.

I'd love to learn about your shorts journey & any tips you may have to feel short ready. Comment below & share!


Protein Waffle & Egg Sandwich Recipe

This blog post is in partnership with ALDI.

Y'all know I have three true loves in this world. 
1. My cute husband. 
2. Breakfast foods. 
3. ALDI.
Who can relate?! 

Today I am excited to share how I am elevating our breakfast game with my favorite new ingredient - Aunt Maple's Protein Pancake Mix from ALDI! 

I recently started training for a race I will be running on my 30th birthday. With this in mind, I am eating high protein foods on mornings after I run, but I do love a good pancake or waffle every now & then. Aunt Maple's Protein Pancake Mix from ALDI (available February 27th for a limited time) allows me to enjoy a decadent breakfast while also being mindful of protein. 

I changed up the recipe on the back of the box a bit by adding in 100% pumpkin puree, which can be substituted for cooked sweet potato if that's what you have on hand. This addition bulks up your mix & allows it to stretch a little more. 

Here's the recipe:
Makes 2 large waffles
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes

1/2 cup Aunt Maple's Protein Pancake Mix
1/2 can 100% pumpkin puree or 1 medium sweet potato
1 cup water

Preheat your Ambiano Belgian Waffle Maker found at ALDI. In a medium-sized bowl, add all ingredients & stir until well combined. Add 1/4 cup of water if your batter is too thick & mix well. Spritz your waffle maker with canola oil & pour 1/2 cup of batter onto the maker & flip. Cook until your waffle is golden on the top - you'll know it's done if it easily slides off the waffle maker in one piece. Each waffle is 3 WW SP with the addition of 100% pumpkin puree - will be more with the addition of sweet potato. 

Once your waffle is cooked, set to the side & fry an egg just the way you like it. Once ready, fold the egg inside your waffle like a sandwich & drizzle with a teaspoon of Specially Selected 100% Pure Maple Syrup found at ALDI. 

Enjoy on a lazy Sunday with family or on a busy morning at home while you work!

Pro tip: If you're not a huge fan of clean-up, make a large batch of waffles for the week & freeze. Layer each waffle with parchment paper on top of each other & place in a freezer bag when cooled. Simply warm in the oven when you're ready to eat! 

Comment below & let me know if you stop by ALDI to grab Aunt Maple's Protein Pancake Mix. I'd love to know what you think of my Protein Waffle & Egg Sandwich recipe!

This post is in partnership with ALDI.


Simple Tips for Staying Hydrated During the Winter Season

I don't know about you, but I really struggle to stay hydrated during the winter months. Without much thought, you'll find me grabbing an unhealthy drink instead of a healthier choice. While it doesn't seem like a big deal, it really is! 

Hydration plays such a key role in our health journeys. When we're dehydrated, we often mistake thirst for hunger & grab the nearest snack. We can also feel so tired & sluggish when we're not intentional about getting our liquids in during the day.

I've teamed up with Red Diamond Coffee & Tea - my favorite source for unsweetened, all-natural tea (no weird additives, just tea leaves & water) - to share a few simple ways I creatively stay hydrated during the winter months. 

1. Keep a large glass in plain sight: When I am working from home, I start with pouring a large glass of Red Diamond ready-to-drink iced tea or infused water to have on my desk while I work. I use a large container so that I don't need to refill it dozens of times throughout the day - this keeps me from having to get up from my workplace every time I need to top it off.

2. Infuse Your Favorite Drink: I love infusing my water or iced tea with fresh or frozen fruit! When I am headed out the door, I grab my to-go bottle & fill it with fruit, ice & a drink of choice. Some of my favorite combinations include strawberry & kiwi, cucumber & fresh mint, and blueberry & lemon. 

This is also a great way to save wilted fruit from going bad. When you notice your fruit is past it's prime, wash it & throw it in the freezer on a cookie sheet. Grab a handful & add to your to-go bottle. 

3. Get Creative in the Kitchen: Lunch & dinnertime are also excellent opportunities to consider hydration. Plan a few broth-y soups with veggies & beans in your mealtime rotation this week. It's a simple way to add a bit more liquid to your diet & keeps you warm during those chilly winter months. 

Comment below & let me know how you stay hydrated during the winter months! 

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