Our Medicinal & Culinary Herb Garden

Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love spending an entire day out in the garden weeding, watering, planting & harvesting. The longer summer days are a little more forgiving, allowing space for experimenting & learning.

Over the last four years, we've been slowly growing & expanding our garden to fit our family's needs. We've added a fresh cut flower garden & plan to introduce an asparagus patch along with a wide variety of berries this fall!

This summer I am slowly cultivating a culinary & medicinal herb plot. We usually sneak in herbs among our perennial flower beds next to the farmhouse & annual herbs around the tomatoes, but this year I am excited to dedicate a space just for them.





Here's a list of what's currently growing:

- Basil
- Rosemary
- Lavender
- Thyme
- Oregano
- Lemon Balm
- Sage
- Chamomile
- Hyssop
- Bergamot 

I am excited to experiment with the use of hyssop & bergamot in the future. Not only will they be wonderful dried, I'm excited to see their benefits for our garden pollinators! I just harvested chamomile from our herb plot & have begun drying it for a tea blend & infused oils. 

The garden is such a wonderful space to explore & learn. I hope to add more herbs as my little space grows.

What are some of your favorite herbs & their uses? Please share in the comments!


Loving Lately: Fresh Flowers, Podcasts, Fermentations & More

Hello, friends!

How are you doing? How is your summer coming along? Are you taking time to enjoy the season & soak up these gorgeous, long days?

I wanted to check in with you & share a handful of things/lifestyle changes/home routines I am currently loving. I personally love reading suggestions from others so I hope you enjoy this little update.

Loving Lately List...

- Harvesting fresh flowers from the garden... As a little girl, I dreamed of having my own secret garden brimming with blooms. Now every morning or evening that I harvest a fresh bouquet for our neighbors, friends & little shop, I am overcome with thankfulness for this life. 
I've been sharing my flower farming journey over on Instagram with the hashtag #freckledhenblooms if you'd like to follow along!

- Mornings & evenings on the patio... We've spent years cultivating this cozy little space on our patio & we love it so much. We spend many nights out here eating dinner & many mornings sipping our coffee.

- Finishing books... I finally finished The Underground Railroad. It was a difficult yet important read. I am so grateful to have space for reading in the evening once again. I'm trying out a new book club & excited to start digging deep into When Breath Becomes Air. I'll let you know what I think!

- Podcasts... I may very well be the very last person to have heard about this specific podcast, Happier by Gretchen Rubin, but I am loving it! I have read all of her books & have thoroughly enjoyed them so it's such a gift to listen in on her tips & thoughts regarding habits & our overall happiness.

On the topic of podcasts, I'm also giddy to share that there is a new season of Elise Gets Crafty & I am a guest once again! Elise interviewed me in 2014 so it's exciting to be back on to share an update about our farm & the business! Click here to listen. 

- Dinners from the garden... Once the abundance of the garden has been harvested & washed, I often have a tough time finding creative ways to use it all within our weekly meal plan. This summer I am making an honest effort to use our farm fresh vegetables. Last night I made egg roll bowls with our homegrown cabbage & onions. I also plan to make broccoli & cheese soup later in the week. What creative ideas do you have for using up the abundance of vegetables from the garden during the summer months?

- Fermentations... Tis the season for fermenting! Luke is working on a batch of sauerkraut as I type this (using our amazing kraut lid - I'd highly recommend this tool if you're a gardener or fermenter!) for adding to brats on buns with a garden salad for dinners. I'm giddy to also be taking a kombucha class this month, too! We've made kombucha in the past, but I've always struggled with bottling. I'm excited to glean some tips from the experts.

- Natural Deodorant... We had a bit of a scare within my family a couple of weeks ago, which left me re-evaluating all of the products I use in my body care routine. One product I have found & love is Schmidt's natural deodorant stick (I like the lavender scent!). I've been telling all of my friends, but I thought I would tell you, too, ha! It doesn't completely eliminate sweat like the other weird brands, but I still feel fresh hours later. So far I've gardened & went to the river with this deodorant on & I love it. You can find it at most stores now (I think I even saw it at Target!), but here's a link to Grove Collaborative, which is where I buy mine. You get a whole bunch of freebies when you sign up so that's fun!  YAY for making conscious decisions, y'all. 

- Hammock season... We hung the hammock & opened the pool for the season! I love spending so much time outside during the summer months. I see many naps in this cozy spot under the tree in my future!

What are you loving lately? Share in the comments!


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.

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