Presence over Perfection This Holiday Season + FREE Mrs. Meyer's Kit

As we enter into one of the busiest yet most meaningful seasons of the year, I want to pause & talk honestly about holiday hosting & gifting.

I've recently fallen into the trap of comparing my life, home, clothing & more to those perfectly-curated houses, outfits & families you find in droves on Instagram & Pinterest. Surely I'm not the only one. 

It's left me feeling a little less than as I go about my every day. What I used to find joy in - such as wrapping gifts for friends during the holidays - I now compare to "holiday gift wrap ideas" results on Pinterest. 

 Friends, I'm here to encourage you (& myself!) this season to decorate your home, host your people, wrap your gifts & do what you do imperfectly. Let's aim for presence over perfection as we host & give generously this holiday!

When you come over for dinner this season, expect to find dog hair on the floor, mismatched cloth napkins & a simple meal most likely from the crockpot. What we lack in Pinterest-y tablescapes & Instagram-worthy dishes, we make up for in meaningful conversation & love. 

I'm SO excited to share with you a wonderful company I have used & loved for years & years. Grove Collaborative helps me realize just how easy it is to say, "I can't do it all! This sister ain't perfect! I need help!" They make it easy by sending my favorite all-natural home supplies right to my door. The products are cheaper than what I find at the store & it is blissfully convenient.

Grove Collaborative just released their gorgeous red apron for the holidays (which I had monogramed & plan to do the same for gifts for all the gals in my family this Christmas)! Every Natalie Creates reader who signs up as a new Grove Collaborative customer & spends just $20 on their first order will receive a beautiful apron & a bundle of Mrs. Meyer's cleaning supplies (a $35+ value) for FREE!

A limited number of these sets are available so grab yours HERE right away! When you click above, you'll learn a few facts about Grove. Your cart will then be filled with a few recommended items (which you can totally change to whatever you need or want!). Once you've made your selection of goodies, you'll finish & pay. In just a few short days, you'll receive your first glorious Grove package with your freebies & purchased goodies inside! Simple, right?!

If there's anything we can take off our plates this holiday season as we host, decorate & give, it's the trip to the store to buy toilet paper. Can I get an amen? Let's all remember, sweet friends. Presence over perfection.

Join me this season in hosting friends & family on a whim, making a comforting meal of crockpot chili, hanging twinkle lights from the dollar bin & saying yes to freebies that make life a little easier!


 P.S. This offer is valid for new Grove Co. customers only, but existing customers can grab a few sponges for free right HERE. Unfortunately, Grove Co. does not currently ship to Canada, Alaska or Hawaii.

Drying Homegrown Herbs

I am finally reaping the rewards of my newly planted herb garden (I talked more about it in this post)! Throughout the summer I harvested herbs here & there for roasted potatoes & homemade salad dressings, but with the change in seasons comes the need to beginning drying & storing my homegrown herbs for the winter months.

After my morning walk, I headed out to the garden with my basket & shears to harvest the first of many baskets full of herbs. 

I keep this little twine stand with scissors conveniently in our dining room hutch for tying bundles of flowers, last minute gifts & freshly harvested herbs. It truly does have so many uses. I also keep a plethora of baskets nearby - can you ever have too many baskets?!

Once I brought my herbs inside, I bundled them up with a simple tie of twine. 
From left to right - hyssop (for winter tea), oregano, lavender (I love baking with lavender), bergamot (also for homemade hot teas!) & rosemary (my favorite)

I then hung each bundle on my herb drying rack (found here). Each time I walk by my herbs, I squeal in delight - the rosemary smells heavenly! 

I will say, it is best to dry herbs in a dark, cool space. Unfortunately our small home doesn't have a dark space that is not already being utilized. Thankfully, this little spot receives diffused morning light only so it has worked great.

Once my herbs are dry, I store them in my favorite Weck jars. If you don't like the clamps, you can always use the wooden lids, which are equally lovely. 

I appreciate the look of these jars & think they make such wonderful jars for gifting during the holiday season. Lots of relatives will be receiving Freckled Hen Farm culinary herb blends with a little wooden spoon this year!

I'd love to read your thoughts on drying herbs at home. What are your favorite methods & blends? Please share!


My Top Five Favorite Podcasts

With the arrival of August comes the desire to make little habit changes that are sure to positively affect the coming season. 

One habit that I've made room for in my daily rhythm is listening to podcasts. I usually listen while I clean the house, run errands & complete repetitive tasks for work. It's an enjoyable way for me to pass the time while staying productive. I also love the conversations that come about with Luke (a podcast junkie!) & friends simply from what I've heard.  

Today I thought I'd share just a handful of podcasts I thoroughly enjoy. I'd also love to read your favorites, too, as I am hoping to add a few more to my weekly rotation! Enjoy!

- How I Built This: I love entrepreneurial podcasts that inspire me to do my work better. I am so motivated by the stories on this podcast of amazing entrepreneurs who built successful businesses all the while taking big risks & often times failing along the way.  

- Elise Gets Crafty: Another entrepreneurial podcast but all about small business. I have actually been interviewed by Elise twice (here & here) so I may be a little biased (ha!), but I love the work that Elise is doing to shed light on the gifts & hardships of being a small business owner & creative.

- Happier with Gretchen Rubin: I am fascinated by habits & the power of choice. I love Gretchen Rubin's books so I knew I'd love her podcast. It does not disappoint! While her voice drives me a little crazy, there is a wealth of knowledge to be enjoyed with each episode.

- S-Town & Serial: Excellent podcasts with a storyline that captivate you, leading you to learn about everyday people living their complicated lives. If you're interested in reading a book but don't quite have the time, this is an excellent way to fuel that desire. 

Honorable mention: Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert though she's no longer recording

Do you listen to podcasts? Share your favorites in the comments below!


Summer Meal Planning + Caprese Salad on a Stick Recipe

Let's talk about summer meal planning.

I find it's more difficult to plan our weekly meal plan during the summer months. Perhaps that's counterintuitive to what you may think given the abundance of vegetables growing in our garden, but that's the very reason why it's so tough! I am constantly on the search for creative ways to use up our bowls of tomatoes & piles of squash, aside from my usual canning & freezing for the winter months ahead. 

I've shared several tips & tricks for budgeting & meal planning (here, here & here), but I've never shared how my system adjusts during the summer months. 

As with every season, I assess what we have. I check my pantry, dig around in the freezer, walk the garden & talk to Luke about what we'll be harvesting this week. Once I've got a pretty general idea of what ingredients we already have on hand, I make a plan.

I pull out my favorite cookbooks (I'm a huge fan of Simply in Season & the Skinnytaste cookbooks), check my recipe box, gather saved recipes from magazines & scan my saved images on Instagram (I love that new feature!).  

Once I have my recipes, I check our weekly calendar of events & plan our meals out for the next seven days (this is my favorite meal planner to date - it has the detachable shopping list, which I love). I typically only plan dinners & fill in our lunches with leftovers/sandwiches/salads & breakfasts with peanut butter toast/eggs/smoothies. 

Here's this week's meal plan:

M: Peach & Tomato Salad (from Better Homes and Gardens)
TU: Zucchini Garden Chowder (Simply in Season)
W: Pizza Lasagna Roll Ups (Emily Bites)
TH: Grilled chicken with squash & basil salad (Simply in Season)
F - SU: Camping! (Separate meal plan)

I typically only jot down the main meal & add in fresh sides as we harvest vegetables from the garden (sautéed zucchini, roasted new potatoes, cucumber salad, etc). 

As for potlucks, picnics & special events throughout the week, I make a note of sides & desserts I will need to bring.

Last week I brought along this delicious caprese salad dish to book club & thought I'd share the recipe with you!

Caprese Salad on a Stick 

- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Handful of fresh basil
- Mini mozzarella balls
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Course sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- Toothpicks or mini serving sticks for taste-testing 

Pierce one ball of mozzarella on your mini stick or toothpick followed by a leaf of basil, half of a tomato, another leaf of basil & a second ball of mozzarella. Place on a cookie sheet & repeat until you have enough tomato/basil/mozzarella sticks for your gathering.

Drizzle olive oil & vinegar on each stick. Sprinkle salt & pepper to your preferred taste. Transfer the sticks from the cookie sheet to a pretty serving tray. Refrigerate or serve immediately. Enjoy!


How do you use up the abundance of produce in the garden during the summer months & plan your weekly meal plan? Share your thoughts below!


Hostess or Housewarming Gift Idea on a Budget!

Today I want to share a simple & inexpensive gift idea with you! 

You all know just how much I love gift giving! I've written endless blog posts about intentional gift ideas for little money. It's such a tangible way to share love with those who need it most without spending beyond your means. 

This little gift basket is the perfect treat for a hostess & a sweet way to say "welcome!" to your new neighbors. 

To make this gift bundle for free (or very little) simply:

- Find a basket you may already have around your home. Don't forget to look in your closets! If you come up empty-handed, stop by your local thrift shop. You will always find a wide variety of woven baskets for less than a buck or two.

- Gather a bouquet of wildflowers, harvest a bouquet from your garden or purchase one at the farmers' market & place in a mason jar. I always keep a stash of jars specifically for gifting bouquets during the summer months. Nothing brightens someone's day like fresh flowers!

- Tuck a bottle or two of hand soap, dish soap & lotion in the basket. Especially for those just moving into their home, there's nothing like already having a bottle of soap on hand to calm the moving crazy!

- Add a pretty ribbon & card for a personal touch!

It's the perfect excuse to treat your favorite hostess or new neighbor while grabbing the essentials for your own home! 

Click HERE to sign up!! Click HERE for additional details!

I hope you love this sweet & simple gift idea utilizing free & inexpensive supplies you may already have to bless someone in need of a little cheer!

Let me know if you make this basket & surprise someone this week!


*FREE* Mrs. Meyer's Summer Fun Cleaning Kit!

Friends! It's one of my favorite weeks of the year! It's that extra special time when I get to share my adoration for Grove Collaborative & the millions of ways they make our life easier & better each & every day!

For just a moment, pretend I am Oprah sharing my Favorite Things with you! hehe! 

If you've been around these parts for any time at all, you know just how much we love Grove Collaborative. For almost four 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 cozy home! I even just discovered my new favorite (& safe!) deodorant, which I order monthly. 

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. Cue the happy farmer who never runs out of toilet paper!

Plus, their monthly subscription makes budgeting for home supplies much easier. If you're working toward living within your means, 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 ceramic farmhouse sink tray! 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 Summer Bundle for Free!

If you have yet to pull the trigger on joining Grove Collaborative, now is the time! Your kitchen sink needs this cute tray!

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 the adorable sink tray for 25% off 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! Did I mention the tray is perfect for corralling all of your favorite cleaning supplies & brushes next to your kitchen sink? 

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. 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.

3. 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! 


Recipe: Berry Cherry Crumble

We've made quite a few food changes in our home over the last two years (more on that soon, I promise!). One of those big changes includes regulating our processed sugar-intake. Of course, we love dessert & would never eliminate it from our diets. But as with all things, moderation is key. 

I love a delicious slice of cake or pie just like the rest of 'em, but I've come to appreciate & even crave the simple sweetness of fruit. There's nothing quite like in-season berries during the summer months!

In celebration of Berries & Cherries Sale at Whole Foods Market (starting June 28th through July 4th!), I thought I'd share my favorite ever-evolving crumble recipe! You can use any berry that you like, mixing & matching whatever you may already have in the fridge or freezer.

I so appreciate that Whole Foods Market offers a wide variety of fruit that is organic, responsibly grown and/or local because you will find cherries & some berries on this year's Dirty Dozen List! Whole Foods has a commitment to supporting farmers and their families who address sustainability, soil health, pesticide use, worker welfare, water quality & so much more. Plus, who doesn't love to save a buck or two during this upcoming week's berry & cherry sale?!

I plan to bring this crumble recipe with us to the river this weekend for our family's Fourth of July festivities! It's also a delicious addition to any summer potluck or enjoyed on the front porch during the heat of the day & it's so much easier to throw together than baking a fancy pie.

It's quick to make with simple ingredients & was inspired by my friend, Amanda (@awilsonwellness on Instagram), & her yummy blueberry crumble. I must mention, she's a wealth of knowledge if you're looking to incorporate more whole foods into your daily diet. 

I hope you enjoy this crumble just as much as our family does!

See below for recipe...

Berry Cherry Crumble

- 4 cups of berries & cherries (pitted), fresh or frozen... I used frozen cherries & fresh blueberries both from Whole Foods & their quality was amazing!
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup halved pecans
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- dash of cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mist a pie dish with olive oil spray & layer your berry/cherry mixture inside the dish. Set aside. 

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together oats & almond meal. Sprinkle the pecan halves on top, crushing them in your hands as you add them to the bowl. Add maple syrup, olive oil, vanilla extra, salt & cinnamon to your bowl & mix until your oats are wet & the ingredients are lumpy.

Spoon your lumpy oat mixture on top of the fruit until a thin layer is covering most of the berries & cherries. Bake for 40-45 minutes until your fruit is bubbling. Turn on the broil & allow to cook for 3-5 minutes until the top oat layer is golden brown.

Enjoy with a delicious scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the front porch!

Do let me know if you try this recipe with your bounty of berries & cherries this season!


*Disclosure: I have a partnership with Whole Foods Market & was compensated for my work, but all words & opinions, recipes & inspiration are my own.
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