TIPS for When You Don't Have the Perfect Vase

There’s just something about a house full of fresh flowers, right? Between Pinterest and friends who are crazy-talented, I’m learning little-by-little to stop wishing for a magical fairy to deliver gorgeous bunches to my doorstep each week…and instead figure out how to arrange them myself!

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Here’s the thing though, I got rid of almost all my vases a few years ago because I was so tired of storing them and decided to start thinking outside the box instead. I wanted to use items that were more multi-purpose, things I already had around the house.

From that, this quickly become my favorite way to display my little flower obsession:

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Yep, it's a candle holder. I grabbed several of them awhile back when they were on clearance at Target and now use them (and others like them) all. the. time.

Here’s a little secret for both keeping the flowers standing tall…and creating a beautifully full arrangement without purchasing a ton of stems (which if you’re not careful, can get spendy).

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All you do is tape a grid onto the top of whatever large-mouthed vessel you choose or have on hand (Ideally, I’d use floral tape but I’m a big fan of washi tape because I always have it on hand).

You'll notice you can slightly see the tape on the side after all the flowers have been placed into the holes, but I kind of like it. Maybe it's just that I like black + white stripe...no matter how it's displayed.

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Major blog-tutorial fail...I was so excited about getting all these pretty little flowers arranged that I forgot to take a "during" photo. Oops!! But you’re smart, you get the jist of it, right?

Simply place the shorter-stemmed flowers toward the edges and those a tiny bit longer, toward the center.

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Continue filling your vessel until you can no longer see the taped grid and you'll have a perfectly full arrangement that looks straight out of a magazine!

Don't you love how the tape holds the flowers into place in their own little squares so they don't flop around?!

(you can see I use these candle holders as vases a TON!)

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floral tips:

1 | It's just my personal preference but I typically take off all/almost all the leaves on a stem. If you need the extra fullness, by all means leave it on there. But I like the flowers to be the main attraction and not distracted by the greenery.

2 | Another personal preference is cutting the stems down further than you'd think, enough that they don't show very much. The flowers clump together so beautifully when they're short!

3 | It's easiest if you put water in before the flowers. Especially when using washi tape (which is made of paper)...true to form, water and paper do not mix so be careful or the tape will come right off!

4 | To increase the longevity of your arrangement, make sure to remove any leaves/greenery that will be in water.

5 | I love when roses are fully open, almost looking like english roses. If you’d like your tightly closed rose buds to look this way, too, use warm (not hot) water when placing them into the vessel.

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Grocery store flowers never looked so beautiful!! Let me know what you think!!

Take Joy,

Teresa

Tips + Tricks to Get Your Schedule Under Control

People are always tell me how organized I must be since we have six kids and I have my fingers in all sorts of stuff.

Know what I whisper back? “Don’t say that in front of my husband or he’ll die laughing.”

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I’m not, you guys. I’m just not mega-organized in all aspects of my life. The biggest source of struggle for me?

Scheduling.

But guess what…I have some fantastic tips on how to get a grip on it all!

Our kids after-school sports/activities schedule is on a separate calendar on my phone but I needed something for the every-day.

You know, so I don’t schedule trips on days they don’t have school, or don’t double book a doctor appointment on the same day I have a speaking engagement, that sort of thing. I needed to get a better grasp on things because I was drowning in double-bookings and scheduling things poorly, which wasn’t allowing me to accomplish all I needed to do.

Maybe you’re the same.

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Or perhaps it’s not work-stuff that’s bogging you down, but mom-hood in general (hand raised here!!). You know, things as simple as scheduling a get-together the night before your son’s huge science project was due (oops). Or maybe being excited your mother-in-law was coming to visit before realizing it was finals week for your oldest and they would be holed-up studying the whole time and not able to play.

A few months ago, my dear friend Lindsay Sherbondy (also known as Lindsay Letters) sent me a wall calendar unlike any I’ve ever had. A wall calendar? That’s it? That’s your amazing organizing tool?? (**yawn**) I’ve had one since high school.

No! No you haven’t!

This is different…and so is how Lindsay taught me to use it.

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But here’s the thing: it’s not just what we use…but how we use it!

First of all, let’s talk about how pretty it is. Everything Linds makes is like the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen. So there’s that. But you also have an opportunity to select all sorts of options so it fits perfectly in your space AND perfectly fits your needs.

  • weekly, monthly, yearly, quarterly, seasonal

  • kids schedule, kitchen (with foodie illustrations), traditional

  • calligraphy or typography

  • vertical or horizontal

  • wall-peels or framed (PS there are TONS of different framing and sizing options)

  • huge-sized, tiny-sized

  • big budget, small budget

Are you freaking out about all the options yet? I know…how do you choose, right?!

But here’s the great part: Unlike most calendars that are made of paper, this one is covered in plexiglas which means it basically lasts forever (there is also a wall-peel option, check that out too!).

After the month, quarter, year, or whatever, is over…you simply wipe it clean and start afresh!

Ok ready for some tips on how to use it to stay mega-organized??

tips:

I certainly like that dry erase and wet erase markers can be used for different purposes but what I LOVE is the ability to use more than just pens to help me remember various things. Because of the way my brain works, other materials such as washi tape, post-it notes, tags, etc easily pulls my eye toward exactly what needs to be done and highlighted… basically separating or classifying various projects and topics.

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Want to understand better what I’m talking about?

Head to this quick little video and see what I mean!

What do you think? Was that helpful? I sure hope so…because it’s truly been invaluable for me! And if you’re wondering, my calendar is The Quarter Cal.

I don’t have a ton scheduled for the rest of September but I know there’s a lot of travel, etc coming up in October and November so I went ahead and started those months a little early to make sure I’m set up for success!


Also…

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Lindsay’s crazy-creativity (and her dry humor…she’s just so fun. Check out her IGstories)…then I’m so excited to have changed your life for the better.

Head here to see more of her AMAZING hand lettering and artwork!

Take Joy,

Teresa

Our Hearts are Healing (he's home)

Although I mentioned it briefly on social media this summer, I haven’t talked much about the fact that our oldest is home. Why, when I cried out to you about him leaving, would I not shout from the mountaintop that we’re together once again?

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Well..quite honestly, I AM shouting from the mountaintops! I’m just doing it at home instead of online. The internet is an interesting place and being authentic and open via blog and social media is important to me because I know I’m not the only one going through hard-stuff. I never want anyone to think my life is easy or perfect or unattainable.

Because they truth of the matter is…

We have been through some hard, HARD stuff over this past decade.

I know it’s easy to use social media to highlight the good and gloss-over the bad. Or the flip-side and highlight the bad because of drama’s sake (I’m lookin’ at you, reality tv). Other times, we target the hard stuff for a good reason like wanting prayer.

What I’m wrestling with though is the difficulty of doing any type of deep sharing when I’m not the only person in the story. I struggle knowing how much to tell people when the story is not entirely my own. I want to tell details because that’s the kind of person I am, one who wants to portray honesty and reality.

But the plain truth is…the details do not belong to me.

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What I can tell you is that we follow a BIG, MIGHTY, and GOOD God.

We have a Father in Heaven who truly is involved in our lives and cares deeply about all aspects as we go through them. This REALLY, REALLY hard time when our oldest left became a sweet part of our story because it strengthened his faith and the knowledge of what family really means.

So those of you with children (parent, spouse, etc) who have left, know I grieve with you.

Keep falling to your knees. Don’t give up praying that the Lord only allow them to go so far. Be as available and loving as you can if they do intermittently call, text, or message. I know not all stories end up in a good place like ours currently is, but when I initially posted this post, I cannot begin to tell you how many messages I received about children/brothers/sisters/even parents being gone for 15-20 years and now having relationship again.

After decades, they came home.

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I’ll be praying it’s not that long for your loved one. But as for us, we will continue serving the Lord…no matter how many hearts reside within the walls of our home.

Would love to share more. Perhaps one day he’ll give me permission.

Clinging to Joy,

Teresa


Want to hear more about our story and how God flipped it all upside down (in the best way possible)? Click the link for Beautifully Interrupted and see how an interrupted life can be more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Be the Difference-Maker + Creating Action When We Feel Helpless

A few years ago, one of our children lied and said I was abusing them because they were so homesick for Ethiopia. Not comprehending how love and family worked, they figured if they made things hard enough for us, we'd put them on a plane and send them back. As Child Protective Services opened a full-fledged investigation on me, they threatened not to take this singular child from us, but remove all our children from my care.

I cannot even begin to explain the loss and fear surrounding my heart at the idea of that possibility. Thankfully, these amazing individuals whose job is solely to ensure the safety and well-being of children ultimately saw through this lie and found a happy, safe, and thriving family...and a child with trauma who was struggling in a very significant way.

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A parent's worst nightmare

As we know though, our outcome isn't the reality of other families. While watching the news and seeing images of children and parents ripped from one another's arms, I think back on those weeks of panic, dread, and fear. It's a parent's worst nightmare...and every child's greatest horror. And yet it's actually occurring right here in our country. Shoving aside all politics, we're all heartbroken and enraged that our greatest terror is happening right now....at this very moment.

While chatting with a friend today, I was reminded of a section of my book and how pertinent it feels right now in light of the story that is unfolding between us and Mexico....

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Do nothing?

Last summer, our oldest son Abreham (then 17), worked at a car wash. It wasn’t particularly close to our house and he had yet to get his driver’s license
so he took the light-rail each day. While walking
under the overpass that led to where he’d buy
his ticket and hop on the train, he’d often see a
homeless man. Day after day, he’d smile and say
hello as he passed the man. One morning though,
Abreham was struck with the realization that this man had a story,
and, just like the rest of us, he needed hope and community.
Stopping to have a conversation with him, my teenage son wanted
to know the narrative that was this man’s life.

According to the man, he struggled with family issues and since he was relatively new to
our country, he didn’t have a community or anyone to go to. This
man came into our country legally, but no one wanted to hire a dirty
homeless man who didn’t speak English well. The Lord spoke to my
son’s heart that day and urged him to buy the hungry man breakfast
at the nearby McDonald’s as well as a ticket for the light-rail. Why
the train ticket? Because Abreham was determined to get him a job
at the car wash. And you know what? He did. And it wasn’t the only time our oldest son did something like this.

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Abreham didn’t work at that car wash for more than a few months, yet when he’d hear of
someone who couldn’t find a job, he’d tell them to come by and tell
his boss that he was the one who sent them. He did the same thing
for a friend’s sixty-five-year-old mother who came over from Ethiopia
and also hardly spoke any English. He knew fluency wasn’t a prerequisite
to wash a car. He dove into these people’s stories, knowing each
was different, and because he listened to the Lord’s prompting, he
helped change the narrative in their lives.

How often do we do something like this? I’ll admit . . . I never
have to the extent Abreham has. Maybe it’s a different type of bravery
that I haven’t tapped into yet, but watching my son sure has made me
pay closer attention to how I can also enter into the stories of people
I encounter each and every day.

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Where is God in all this?

I remember awhile back someone
telling me she struggled with all the devastation we hear about every
day in the news: human trafficking, the global water crisis, children
dying from hunger, domestic violence, and so many more horrible
things. As she shared this struggle, she asked, “Where is God in all of
this?” The other woman with us looked at her and gently said, “What
if that’s why we’re here? What are you doing about it?”

Gosh her comment woke me up: What am I doing about it? I can’t complain and
yet do nothing.

Sometimes God walks us through the valley, or through seasons
in general, to show us something. Perhaps Abreham’s short time at
that car wash was just to help this man. Maybe my friend was struggling
with all that she saw on the news because the Lord wanted her to
wake up and take action.

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Are we entering into the stories of others, or just regurgitating what we're hearing? Are we stepping in and truly making a difference in the lives of others around us?

My friend felt angry and wondered where God was in all she saw around her, maybe you wonder the same thing. But you know what? Perhaps the reason your emotions are running high is because the Lord is asking you to be the difference-maker.

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As a mom of children with trauma...

Helping these children is paramount. As it is, the trauma of being taken from their families and placed basically in huge warehouses full of other children, will be something that will follow them for years to come. It's an atrocity. As a mom of children with trauma, I can tell you how significant it is and how it swirls around in so many aspects of their lives.

During one of our trips to Ethiopia, we encountered about a thousand people in a haphazard line that wound itself around buildings and down the block. These folks looked weary and exhausted. It was obvious that they had stood in line a significant amount of time...hours, even overnight. Why? Because they were trying to receive permission to come to the US. I was embarrassed and even a bit angry at the realization that I got to skip the entirety of this massive queue, as were our Ethiopian children because we were already granted an appointment to receive a Visa and passport for our newest little loves. These people must stand in the heat, with their children, haphazard tents but mostly no covering from the elements, limited access to food and water, and wait for days...with only a chance to be granted permission to come to our country.

Again, putting politics aside...this post isn't about that.

This is about the people. 

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Just like it made me sad, embarrassed, and angry that I got to go to the front of the line, I'm also sad and angry that these dedicated Ethiopians (and others like them worldwide) often don't get to come to our great country...and yet because Mexico is our neighbor, they are able to scootch themselves on in.

I'm not saying the Mexican community shouldn't be here, of course, I'm not. What I am saying, however, is that while thousands of individuals throughout the world have no other option than going through the proper channels to start a life in the US and yet others sneak in, we're all wanting a better life for our children. And with that as our focal point, we need to stand beside those who cannot fight for themselves and get these children back in the arms of their parents.

Put away your politics, put away your social media rants.

Don't get angry and yet do nothing to affect change.

Let's help these children. Contact your legislator today.

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Be a Difference-Maker.

Take Joy,

Teresa

The Prettiest (book release) Party Ever

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I can't believe it's been nearly a month since Beautifully Interrupted released into the world. The party held in my backyard just days before it officially, launched was one of the most spectacular + meaningful days of my life. I'm so humbled to tell you that friends flew in, found sitters, and even canceled weekend plans simply to help figure out how in the world to make a balloon installation.

It. Was. Perfect.

Except that I forgot to take silly photos of us laughing and playing and getting everything ready...and us in the midst of the party when it was in full swing. Bummer!!

Even so, I have about five and a half million photos to share of the most spectacular day. To those of you who came, helped, and supported...I don't know how I'll ever be able to explain how much it mean to me.

Ready for the fun pics??? Ok good.

Let's just start with the cake...because I'm pretty obsessed with it.

I've recently found the most incredible little bakery here in Denver, aptly named Happy Bake Shop because walking through its doors makes me instantly happy. The owner is as kind as she is a gifted baker and every morsel I've eaten is to die for (including the vegan and dairy-free cupcakes).

**Totally off-topic but our family munched on Happy Bake Shop's Lemon + Elderflower cupcakes while watching Megan and Harry's wedding...the royal couple's wedding cake flavor. It was sublime).**

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The gorgeous flowers are from my dear friends over at Something Styled (see the pics below of the darling + happy centerpieces they also made).

The flowers were placed on the cake by yours truly...took me a couple tries to get it to look the way I wanted. I was crossing my fingers that I didn't destroy the cake in the meantime (I kinda put a lot of holes from the stems all over the place)...thankfully the flora covered up all my puncture holes and the end product was fantastic! The adorable sprinkles are from Shop Sweet Lulu.

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The fun coral and peach frosted rosebud cookies are also from Happy Bake Shop (True story: there were only a few cookies left over after the party and I hid them in the cabinet behind the quinoa. Yes, I hoarded them for myself...THAT'S how good they are, hahahaha).

We sprinkled rose petals on the lemon bars as well as all over the beautiful charcuterie board. The Raspberry Rose spread for atop the fancy cheeses was just as pretty as it was tasty!

My sweet husband surprised us with the adorable donuts that morning, and sprinkling some edible gold stars on them, made them even more party-worthy!

The floral napkins and hexagonal paper plates can be found in these links!

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See this gorgeous girl below? This is my best friend (of 20 years), Kiesha...she's going to kill me for including this photo but I don't care because she basically planned the whole event all the way from DC. You know she needs a shout out.

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When you expect nearly 100 people for a party, somewhere to beautifully store glassware is always a big concern. After brainstorming a few ideas, I decided to bring down this caned bookshelf I found at Goodwill a few months back. It was so cute, I just loved it set up next to our drink table.

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Have you ever heard of One Hope Wine? We received a bottle a Christmas or two ago and have been in love with the mission (and the yummy wine) ever since. If you don't know their story, click here. We're so honored that they came alongside us to celebrate this special day!

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Our mimosa bar was complete with Rose Lemonade, and a whole slew of juices (FYI, healthy mint-infused green juice is SO not good with a little bubbly poured in. Just don't do it. It's disgusting. You're welcome.)

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Because I knew some children would likely come (i.e. my own six), I wanted something entertaining for them...and for us...so I asked if perhaps my dear artist-friend Jessie would be willing to paint "floral tattoos". It was just so fun. The kids loved it and so did the grown-ups!

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Can we just talk about our photo backdrop for a minute?

Using some PVC pipe we typically use for the screen on our outdoor movie nights, I hung a yellow and white checked vintage sheet and covered it with paper streamers of differing colors, widths, and lengths.

And then...the FLOWERS!!!! I'm still freaking out and pinching myself that working with Katya Paperie became reality. Katya handmade hundreds of paper flowers to be mailed out to the Influencers (other authors, Instagrammers with larger followings, etc), along with my book.

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She also handmade these massive beauties specifically for our party. Can you even handle how gorgeous they are???

Sweet Katya also made this singular large rose for the Book Signing Table. It was the perfect accompanyment for the gorgeous flowers friends brought as gifts.

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Speaking of the Book Signing Table...let's just go ahead and swoon over it. Ready??

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I know. Those balloons. I can't believe this actual thing is in my own backyard. It's too pretty, I can't handle it. This kind of thing is only on Pinterest. No it's not...it's in MY actual backyard. WHAT?!

I just cannot believe it.

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Erin, the sister of my friend Sarah (from Something Styled, and did all our live-flowers) is just as crazy creative as her flora-loving sibling. Erin asked if I needed help with anything and I sent her a Pinterest photo asking if she knew how to make a balloon installation (fully expecting to her to shrug and say no).

Instead, she texted back a list of all the things I needed to purchase and came over the day before the party, spending hours sewing them all together and stringing them with fishing line. There are over 200 balloons in this baby, believe it or not.

Check out a bit of the balloon setup in this little video (below) that I sent to a friend who was unable to fly in for the event.

The little details are my favorite part... from the vintage sheets used as table cloths, to the Anthropologie tea cups and saucers with tiny plants inside, the lawn games with matching pieces, and floral everything.

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We scoured our local nursery for anything pink, coral, blush, and peach and planted the colors of my book cover throughout the front and back yards.

My mom and I kept laughing as we remembered Father of the Bride and how they took a hair dryer to the tulips after it snowed...because we had several inches a week prior to this big event and I was just so nervous it'd happen again.

May in Colorado...you just never know what you're going to get!

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Here's another little video taken as the party was just beginning.

And PS these flowers from Something Styled really just made everything come together. See those tiny daisy-looking things? Those are chamomile!! Who knew that's what they looked like?

Aren't they the cutest?!

For some reason sections of our lawn didn't come back this spring and we didn't have time to roll out new sod before this event, so I had to think outside the box on how to detract from the large patches of dirt in places where lush green grass should be growing!

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I decided to purchase a bunch of outdoor rugs from World Market and build a little "living room" area. By piling up and spreading out these rugs and brining out some of our furniture from throughout the house, we put together the sweetest little sitting area.

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We also brought out the plants from my office and bedroom to help bring more life to the space and used the caned screen to detract from some broken parts of our old fence behind.

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The lawn games from Rustic Road Designs were another really fun element to the party, especially for the kids who came.

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We stored the pieces in cute baskets next to each game and loved seeing kids of all ages laughing while playing around.

And also loved that I was able to specify what color I wanted the Giant Connect Four pieces and Cornhole beanbags to be (in this case, I wanted black + white)!

We've used the lawn games for several parties lately and have been really impressed by how they're holding up...even with kids stepping all over them. Not that I'd recommend kids walking down a Cornhole game, but they're super sturdy and beautifully well-made. We just love them!

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I still can't believe after several years of waking at four in the morning to write before the kids wake, my book is a reality and my release party actually took place.

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My heart still beats fast when simply seeing the cover because this is my heart poured out onto page. And while it feels like I'm standing naked before the world to see and judge, I feel excitement and peace, knowing it was a book the Lord asked me to write...He definitely interrupted my life once again.


A big, HUGE thank you to all who came to support me and gave time and product to ensure this party and Beautifully Interrupted's release, was a marvelous success. Especially Crystal Miller Creative for all the gorgeous photos!!

Something Styled . Happy Bake Shop . One Hope Wine . Rustic Road Design

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NOTE: If you have photos of your own from that day, or any of you reading the book, please post on social media with the hashtag #beautifullyinterrupted. Can't wait to see your photos!!!! xo

Take Joy,

Teresa

P.S. I'd be SO honored if you'd consider posting photos from the party on your Pinterest page!! OR even doing an Amazon review of the book!! Thanks sweet friend! xoxo