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. 


LATE SUMMER WISHES

- 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!

love,
natalie

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!

love,
natalie

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!

love,
natalie

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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!

love,
natalie

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!  

BEFORE:



& 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?

love,
natalie

weekend garden happenings + a floral workshop!


this weekend was such a good one. i arrived home from a week on the coast of california to bright sunflowers, an abundant garden & a sweet husband. 


on saturday, we spent the morning in the garden. we harvested over 100 bulbs of soft-neck garlic & about 30 bulbs of the hard-neck variety. they're all now hanging in our barn to cure. 



we also dug up potatoes! we were a little late in planting our crop this spring, but they produced quite well! we gifted some to neighbors & will eat or sell the rest. there's nothing quite like a fresh potato! i plan to roast some this evening along with beets & broccoli. 



the flowers in our garden are absolutely stunning this year! this is our second summer to plant sunflowers & zinnias along the dirt road for our sweet neighbors. it's now a tradition! 


also, friends! if you haven't heard the news, we're opening up our sweet & cozy freckled hen farmhouse studio for a floral workshop with stephanie of mosey posies on july 30th! you can register HERE.

stephanie will teach us how to create wildflower crowns & arrange mini bouquets of flowers! we will serve herbal iced teas & shortbread cookies + treat you to a sweet swag bag brimming with lovely goods. it's such a fun & intimate way to learn about flowers from one of our local experts! spots are limited so register soon right here. xo!

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isn't it such a wonderful time of year? comment below & share your garden happenings with me. 

love,
natalie

Making Sauerkraut at Home


Luke here. Every year I look forward to harvesting cabbage from our garden so that I can make sauerkraut and kimchi. I absolutely love making these vegetable ferments! They are fun to make, delicious to eat, and really good for you! Plus, they are a great way to make use of excess produce from the garden.

In this blog post I'll walk you through making sauerkraut and I'll also throw in a link to my favorite kimchi recipe in case you want to get adventurous!



Sauerkraut is incredibly simple to make. All you need is cabbage and salt! You can add other ingredients like caraway seeds, juniper berries, carrots, or beets, but really all you need are those two ingredients. In reality you also need some microbes to make the fermentation happen, but they come with the cabbage so you don't have to worry about them!

In case you're not familiar, traditional sauerkraut is made though a process called lacto-fermentation, where lactic acid bacteria and yeast consume sugars in the cabbage to create by-products of lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and wonderful flavors. It's the microbes that do all the work, but you have to make sure you create the right environment for them to do what they do best!

Here's what you need:
Note that 5 lbs of cabbage yields roughly 1 gallon of sauerkraut

- Cabbage
- Fine sea salt*
- Caraway seeds**

*roughly 1/2 Tbs of salt per pound of cabbage
**optional, roughly 1 tsp of caraway seeds per pound of cabbage


Start by slicing the cabbage as thinly as you can manage and chop into pieces about 2-4 inches long. A vegetable mandolin really helps with this, but I've always just used a large chef's knife. Weigh out the cabbage to determine how much salt to add. Measure out 1/2 Tbsp of fine sea salt for each pound of cabbage. Add the sliced cabbage into a bowl in layers sprinkling each layer with salt to evenly distribute all the salt you measured out.


Next you need to bruise the cabbage by squeezing it or pounding it with a wooden kraut pounder until water squeezes out and the cabbage turns slightly soggy. Now you can mix in the additional ingredients like caraway seeds. I use 1 tsp of caraway seeds for each pound of cabbage because I really like the flavor and it reminds me of rye bread. But you could add juniper berries, sliced apples, beets, or carrots instead. Whatever you think will taste good!


After your cabbage is bruised and additional ingredients are mixed in, pack it into a glass jar by pressing down on the cabbage as you pack to squeeze out all the air bubbles. This is where a wooden kraut pounder really comes in handy to help you press down the cabbage, especially when you use a large jar. You can sometimes find these wooden pounders at antique malls, but we also sell them in our shop. I like to use quart jars for my kraut, but you can use any size. Just make sure the size is appropriate for the amount of kraut that you are making.

Continue to pack the jar until full. Press down the cabbage so that the liquid brine rises above the level of the cabbage. Finally, check for air bubbles in the cabbage and try your best to squeeze out the bubbles or pack the cabbage in tight enough that the air escapes.


Now its time to lid your jar. I am 100% sold on these stainless steel Kraut Source lids that we now carry in our shop. They make this step so much easier and less messy than the alternative. It is rare that I come across a kitchen gadget that is this elegant and effective.

But if you don't have a Kraut Source lid you can still make great kraut! You just need a smaller glass jar or weight that will fit inside the mouth of your mason jar to weigh down the cabbage while your kraut ferments. The key is to keep that cabbage submerged under the salty brine so that mold doesn't grow on the exposed cabbage leaves. This is something the Kraut Source lid does for you, but with a little creativity you can find something in your kitchen that will do the trick. If you do not have one of our lids, a trick is to fill the smaller jar with water so that is is heavy enough to weigh down the cabbage. And I would recommend covering the top with a kitchen towel or cheesecloth so that flies don't get in your kraut.


Now just wait! Let your kraut ferment at room temperature (65-75 degrees F) for 5-7 days or until it tastes just right. I would recommend sampling your kraut every day to taste how the flavor changes over time and to know when it's time to halt the fermentation.

When the kraut is done, just put a lid on it and pop in the fridge. This will halt the activity of the microbes and keep your kraut preserved for as long as a year. But hopefully you'll finish it off before then!


If you can't get enough and need more recipes and fermentation inspiration check out these two books by Sandor Katz. They are the best! I got my kraut and kimchi recipe from Wild Fermentation. His newer book, The Art of Fermentation, includes some great backstories on how these delicious foods were discovered. Michael Pollan has called Katz his "fermentation guru" so that says enough!

And as promised, here is my kimchi recipe taken from Wild Fermentation.

Happy fermentations! Reach out if you have any questions!

- Luke

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