my favorite from-scratch hot apple cider recipe

Happy first day of Fall, y'all!

With the arrival of Autumn, our home instantly becomes cozier. Stunning bright leaves scatter just outside our windows & we begin tucking pumpkins into every corner of our home. 

We also find ourselves being more intentional about making time for family around the farmhouse table. 

Today I thought I would share my favorite from-scratch Hot Apple Cider recipe to accompany you & your guests during the Autumn season!

Natalie's Favorite From-Scratch Hot Apple Cider Recipe

- Roughly 2 pounds of apples  (this recipe is a wonderful way to use seconds from the farmers' market!)
- 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 cinnamon sticks (plus more for serving)
- 1 teaspoon allspice

1. Place roughly two-pounds of apples in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover your apples completely.

2. Stir in sugar, sliced orange, cinnamon, cinnamon sticks & allspice. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Your house will smell amazing!

3. Strain apple cider through a fine mesh sieve & pour back into your pot.

4. Serve in my new favorite ceramic mug with whipped cream & a fresh cinnamon stick!


P.S. Our new "Home" mug launched today at the Freckled Hen Farmhouse & I love it so much! It makes such a lovely gift for friends & a wonderful treat for you! xo.

simple ways to freshen your home

every time i return from a trip, i feel a hint of discontentment with our home. yet oftentimes the littlest tweaks are quite significant in changing the feel & mood of a space.

today i thought i would share a little list of simple things i love to do within our home to make it feel fresh & new again.

1. light my favorite candles - there's nothing quite like the warmth & coziness of a candle burning. i love the gather candle from our shop & burn it in our kitchen next to the sink.

2. make the bed - luke & i begin each day by making the bed together. it's a quick bit of time to connect & chat about our goals for the day while we fold the blankets & pile on the pillows. also, it's such an easy way to calm the chaos of home. 

3. flowers in unexpected places - go out to the garden & harvest a bouquet or grab one from the grocer. create mini bouquets throughout your home in the most unexpected places - the bathroom, your bedroom dresser, atop the coffee table. every time you turn the corner, you'll smile!

4. set the table - gather your favorite linens, a bouquet of flowers, a candle & your favorite china. set the table & ready your family for a wholesome meal together. it's the simplest way to reconnect with your family & ground yourself to your sacred place.

how do you freshen your home & it's corners? please share in the comments!


late summer wishes

with the start of school in our neck of the woods, we feel a slight shift toward fall. while i love the autumn season, i adore summer & never wish to rush it's presence. 

today i thought i'd take a moment to write out our late summer wishes before the season's end. a simple way to remind myself - & perhaps you! - that there's still so much living to be done before the days grow shorter. 


- take susie q, our beloved camper, on an overnighter 
- one more trip to the beach this september 
- ride bicycles on our local trails
- take long walks in the evening
- visit the local fruit stand for fresh fruit
- jump in the river & enjoy a day of adventuring
- wear sandals, shorts & tanks as much as possible
- practice shibori dyeing & make cloth napkins for our home
- walk around the farmers' market with coffee in hand
- host a canning swap at our studio
- eat basil pesto pasta & caprese salads 
- sit on the porch in the morning
- soak up the sun in the backyard pool
- watch a film at the drive-in movie

what are some of your late summer wishes? share your list in the comments!


our favorite recipes for preserving the garden bounty

i often find it's difficult to sit down for even just a bit during the summertime to share my thoughts with you in this space. with these august days oh so full in the garden & in the kitchen, i'm lucky if i can even fit in a shower! 

but with rain coming in & a decently checked off to-do list, i thought i would carve out a moment or two to sit with you & share a handful of my favorite recipes for putting up the garden bounty. it's what's on my mind right now as i am sure it's on yours, too. there's always a basket of produce waiting on me, which is indeed such a gift. 

i've blogged about most of these recipes, but it's always nice to have one place to go & find my most used recipes. happy canning & preserving! 

- my easiest, go-to tomato sauce: this sauce can be used with pasta or on pizza. it's very versatile. the recipe is a slow-cooker recipe, but i've also cooked it on low atop the stovetop. 

- heather's salsa: i've made lots of jars of this salsa this summer & we love it. i look forward to popping open a jar of this fresh tomato goodness with tortilla chips in the dead of winter. 

- the most delicious sweet pickles: i love this simple cucumber sweet pickle recipe from smitten kitchen. it's straight-forward & easy. simply pop them in the fridge when you're finished - they'll last for a couple of months. 

- pickle everything with this go-to recipe: okra, sugar snap peas & more... i use this recipe as my go-to for quick pickling almost everything from the garden.

- canned dilly beans: we love dilly beans! can them & enjoy them in the winter with a good meat & cheese plate. don't forget a good loaf of homemade bread, too.

- our family favorite cucumbers & onions: this is a summer potluck go-to & a favorite dish among my family. simply combine ingredients & let them mingle for just a bit before serving. it's a delicious, fresh addition to almost any meal from grilled burgers to salad. 

- chop & freeze almost everything from the garden: to freeze berries, peppers, fresh corn & more, simply wash & chop (if necessary) your produce. lay on a baking sheet & allow to freeze completely. once thoroughly frozen, place in a labeled plastic freezer bag & store in the deep freeze until ready to use. tip: i keep a deep freeze supply list on clipboard hanging from the wall next to our deep freeze so we don't lose track of what's inside.

- my favorite crustless zucchini pie: skinnytaste's zucchini pie is a favorite of ours. i made a few for freezing this summer with our extra zucchini & they will make the perfect quick & affordable dinner this winter. to process the zucchini, i pulled out our food processor, which makes the work much easier.

- my favorite basil pesto: i love this basil pesto recipe because it does not use nuts, which cost a small fortune when you're processing the quantity of pesto we do. once my pesto is made, i freeze it in small jars & ice cube trays. once the trays are frozen, i remove each cube & place them all in a labeled plastic freezer bag.

let me know if you use any of our go-to recipes for processing & preserving your garden bounty!


in the garden: july 2016

i blinked & july disappeared. 

it was a busy month full of canning tomatoes (soooo many tomatoes), filling farm orders, freezing corn, picking cucumbers & so much more. 

while the month totally slipped by & i was unable to share our garden in july, i thought i would do a little recap & share some of the highlights.

in the garden - july 2016

so many cucumbers made into pickles this month. check out this basic recipe for quick pickling almost anything.

the first of the green beans! hip, hip hooray!

i am a basket hoarder. luke doesn't complain, though. come july, every single basket is in use.

cantaloupe vines are spreading throughout the garden & we should have a few good ones by september! we planted late, but it will be nice to enjoy something new from the garden late into the summer. 

we have yet to really see any squash bugs *knock on wood*, but one of our zucchini plants did bite the dust due to a vine borer this morning. quite a sad day, but we're still harvesting plenty from the other plants.

our flower beds are doing so well this season! we are harvesting bouquets of flowers for throughout our home & other's most days of the week. it's truly my favorite part of our garden. 

do you follow @floretflower on instagram? she is such an inspiration!

just another day in the garden harvesting this season's bounty... grateful, thankful!

what is happening in your garden? please share!



p.s. do you live in or around the grand rapids, michigan area? i am collaborating with the wonderful found cottage & amazing megan modderman for a pickling workshop on the evening of august 13th! only 8 spots remain & registration ends thursday! 

click here to register, friends! i'd love to meet you in person & hug your neck!

summer fun money

hi, sweet friends! today i thought i'd share some thoughts on a recent addition to our summer budget. 

if you've followed along, you know that luke & i implement an adapted dave ramsey budget. we have done this since we were engaged & we are grateful for the discipline this practice has taught us. 

this summer we decided to add a "summer fun" category to our budget. oftentimes during the summer months, we take advantage of the beautiful weather & a freer schedule with weekend outings & adventures. 

this summer we wanted to make sure we had the freedom to say yes to those fun opportunities while also continuing to live within our means. we decided to implement a "summer fun" budget category & it has made such a difference!

we set aside $60 each month to spend on extras including picnic lunches, fun pool toys, movie theater tickets with our sweet nephew, camper supplies, canoe & boat rentals, farmers' market treats & more. 

it has been such a gift to plan for these little outings without later worrying what budget category we'll pull from to cover the unplanned expense. it's also allowed us to be more intentional about taking advantage of the beautiful summer months!

do you set aside money within your budget for summer months?

i'd love to read your thoughts on how you manage extra summer expenses within your family!

wishing you all a lovely start to your week & a bit of (budgeted) summer fun!


susie q: before & in-progress

one month ago, our 1997 13ft shadow cruiser camper lovingly named susie q joined our family! see the first blog post HERE. 

we've slowly made small changes inside over the last few weeks to better fit our family & our own aesthetic. today i thought i'd share some before & in-progress photos!  


& NOW:

it's amazing what a can of paint, some fabric & pops of color will do!

with the exception of the floor & carpet insulation around the top bunk, i painted every square inch of susie q. in total, it took me about 20 hours. i coated the laminate cabinets & faux wallpaper walls with this primer first. once it was dry, i painted two coats of white primer + paint all-in-one from the hardware store. it's holding up very well & stains wipe off easily with a magic eraser!

i also painted the front of our mini fridge in chalkboard paint & love doodling cute quotes & phrases to the front!

my biggest splurge inside the camper was having the cushions professionally reupholstered. i was able to find a great coupon to joann's fabric store for the gray linen blend fabric, which cost about $125 in the end. the trim fabric was found at hobby lobby for just a few bucks. it cost $200 to have the cushions reupholstered so i spent about $350 on this project. 

it was well worth the expense, though! the new cushions zip off for easy cleaning & i love how much the new cushion colors brighten the space!

i was able to shop our home for most of our accessories & artwork. it's so fun what you'll find when you start shopping your closets & drawers! 

above - i cut a piece of cork board to size for the side of our nightstand & added postcards, fun photos & more of places we love & adventures we've been on. we plan to add to the board as we travel to different places!

my sweet cousin gifted me the cute tea towel when she heard about our camper! i was able to find a cheap hook at walmart to hang it near our sink.

i also added fresh flowers & candles throughout our space. woven baskets & cute plastic plates are great for corralling like-items together. 

i am always on the lookout for extra camper storage solutions. i found this great wire bin at walmart on sale for just $6. it hangs over the door of our closet for storing books, magazines, coloring books & color pencils.

most everything else came from inside our home. the mugs are from 1canoe2 & the globe print is from meg's shop.

we still have a handful of changes to make, including curtains, but it's always so nice to see a little progress & lots of hard work!

what do you think, friends?

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