Ladies who Lead + ChariTea

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A month or two ago my sweet friend Brandi invited me to have lunch with an incredible group of women here in Colorado called, Ladies Who Lead.

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As I sat at lunch hearing their mission and stories, I thought "I should not have been invited, what am I even doing here?! This is so cool."

I mean these women are legit. They're all passionate, Jesus loving women who are doing major world changing things.

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Things like founding their own organizations in empowering the marginalized and formerly enslaved (check out Beautiful & Beloved's shop) and working in Uganda empowering women (especially single mamas and widows) to reach long-term sustainability for their families (Beauty for Ashes Uganda), and a dozen other things.

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You know who I also met??

This girl.

Courtney Skiera-Vaughn...the visionary behind a.k.a. HOPE and ChariTea.


Shortly after getting married, she and her husband Chris traveled to Uganda serving the less fortunate. The life-changing experience helped open their eyes to how they could help and decided to partner together to found both organizations.


Their hearts beat deeply with the aim in assisting a specific group of children in the Naguru slums on the outskirts of Kampala. Mostly orphaned and many displaced as refugees, they have been driven from their homes and largely forgotten by the Ugandan government and foreign aid-workers.

These kids have fought to survive civil wars with terrorists, genocide, death, and trafficking, as well as the tough life living on the streets and in the slums. Their mission is to help provide security, meals, education, love, and hope of a better life for them.

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There is so much about Courtney that I adore...her mission, vision, her passion.

And knew I had to work with her.


After a few texting conversations about some fun events I have up my sleeve, sweet, {{ sweet }} Chris brought by a crazy generous sampling of the tea that Courtney had sent him over with.

We tried it for the first time at June's Evening to Nourish.

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We poured several varieties and ohmygosh...each one is phenomenal.

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And gorgeous. I mean, this spiced hibiscus one is PINK!

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Smelling this Jasmine Rose tea totally reminds me of all the Blooming Night Jasmine growing in our garden when I lived in California as a little girl.

Isn't it fun how scents just take you back?

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I'm saving all these others for Imani's birthday party next month.

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Because she wants to have a Tea Party birthday party.

I can't wait to show you all I've collected for it!

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We did decide to have a little tea party today though while I took all these pictures.

We just couldn't resist.

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With so many varieties of tea to choose from, not to mention all the health benefits, it's time to take tea to a new level.  Tea is the perfect beverage to take on adventures whether that be a weekend camping trip, a bike-riding excursion, a day surfing, or even to the library for a late night cram session.
You have an activity?  We have a tea for that.  Show us where you take your tea with #teaontop.
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Tea has been around for 4000 years, but we believe now is the time tea can help change the world. And you can be a part of that! 100% of the proceedsfrom your purchase goes to a.k.a. HOPE Inc.  Check out Our Cause to read more about how your purchase directly affects children across the world.


All our teas are Specialty Teas and USDA organic certified because you deserve only the best ingredients.  Our black tea blends are fair trade as we partner with local farmers in India to bring this quality tea to your cup. Any questions about a specific tea?  Check out the circle markers for each of our teas in the Our Tea section.
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how I include our kids at dinner parties

Having a servants heart and a great work ethic are huge in our family.

And though my Evening to Nourish events are geared around us grown-ups having the ability to have time away from the pull of our children, my kids help throughout.

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It's become sort of a family event, really. Though some things take longer because I'm showing and instructing them how to do something, it's also a breath of fresh air having their assistance.

We work together setting the table and deciding what looks good.

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I take their opinion into account and often let them make final decisions (like how the centerpieces should be displayed and how the appetizers should be placed on the table).

I'll remind them what order the silverware goes in next to the plates, and how the water glass should be just above the knife.

But if it's not perfect...not exactly spaced correctly, or something's a touch out of place, I leave it.

I feel that fixing it shows I don't truly appreciate their help and that it's not good enough. I want them to have confidence in their work and know that they ARE good enough and that I love their efforts!

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During my dinner parties, they're also in charge of bringing out the food, refilling water, and clearing plates.

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Again, learning how to give selflessly is so important.

As is learning how to interact with adults.

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I ask that they all wear "nice" Church-type clothes. Six-year-old Laith often comes down buttoned incorrectly and I may ask if he wants to fix his shirt so it lays correctly... but if he doesn't care, I generally leave it.

I want to foster excitement for these evenings. Not feel like they have to be perfect and everything surrounding the evening needs to be perfect, either.

I don't want to take the fun out of it all and I'm afraid if I nit-pick, that's exactly what's going to happen.

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For the most part, I ask the kids to stay inside unless they're checking to see if we need anything.

Every so often however, they'll see one of their favorite people (a teacher, friend's mom, or sunday school teacher) and want to spend a little extra time at the table.

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I decided to pay Abreham $15 for the evening because he was going above and beyond cleaning. Sweet buddy wouldn't take it, but every month I'll continue to offer.

Since our dishwasher is small and many of our party plates, etc need to be washed by hand anyway, the countertops are filled. Cleaning up at the end of the night after everyone has gone is my least favorite job.

But having our sweet son helping out, with a joyful spirit, changes my perspective.

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A friend had a conversation with him as she was leaving for the evening and posted his comment on Facebook along with a photo of him working. What he said to her was, ".... I used to not like to work hard, I didn't think it was important... but now, I see that I am special to God, because I am able to work hard... to help people..."

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I hope all our kids...mine and yours...understand that.

It's a hard concept to learn, especially when they're young and are still learning to live outside themselves.

But it's so important for who they grow to be, both now and in the future.

let them help

 What do you think? Do you make having people over into a family-affair?

How do you help foster a spirit of serving and hard work in your family?

I'd love to know!! take joy-signature-new-pink


Evening to Nourish - June (menu + recipes)

Earlier this week I shared our Evening to Nourish table I'm sharing our menu and recipes!

Don't forget to subscribe to the blog via email so you have access to the printable menu (both the above version as well as a blank one) and printable place cards, as well!


I'm SO sad I didn't take photos of the food! Y'all...TOTAL blogger fail.

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Baby Elsabet ended up having the flu that day and my sweet friend Kendra came over to help prep but just held Baby Girl for a few hours while I cooked, instead. I think they both were in heaven, savoring all those cuddles.

As you can imagine, the day ended up a lot crazier than planned! Especially being summer and having all six kids home anyway. Woo! Insanity.

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Since I don't have photos of our food to show, I'm linking directly to the recipes I found online.



(click here to see the Pin Board)

Street Tacos Pinterest

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Barbacoa Beef Street Tacos (in the Crockpot!)

(I used Chicken instead...but still used the beef broth, etc.)

It was amazing.

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Instead of doing another meat taco, I wanted to make sure I had enough for my veggie loving friends.

So instead I used black beans, freshly sliced avocado, and chopped pineapple.


(Managed to take this photo before adding the chopped pineapple)

The incredible looking Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette on the below photo is every bit as good as it looks.

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Street Tacos

All my friends wanted the ladies, here it is!

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After blending the yumminess up, I poured it into little jam-jars, placing several on the table so our guests could put it onto whatever tacos they wanted.

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Mexican Chopped Salad

Mexican Chopped Salad

Oh.My.Gosh this was good! Totally making it again soon.

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I always like having a fun little cocktail for dinner parties.

Margarita Sangria

When I found the recipe for a Margarita Sangria (we called it a Sangrita), my mouth instantly started salivating, I knew I'd found a winner!

I forgot to add the cilantro at the last minute, so we had it without. Next time though, I'd love to try it with that beautiful herb!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

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Everyone hated the food. Obviously. haha.

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There really wasn't a leftover to be seen.

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For dessert, we had blood orange sorbet with a touch of Whipped Cream Vodka on top.

It was simple and yet a touch fun and decadent.

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Think you might host your own Nourish event?

If you do, I'd love to hear about it!!

take joy-signature-new-pink

An Evening to Nourish - June (table decor)

Last Thursday night was June's Evening to Nourish!

And ohhhhmygosh it was amazing.

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The theme (if you want to call it that) of the evening derived from finding this gorgeous wrapping paper over at Tiny Prints.

And...get's editable.

I realize the paper is supposed to say something like "with love, the Anderson Family". Or "Happy Birthday" since after all, it is gift wrap.

But instead, it lended itself perfectly to displaying the name of our evening..."An Evening to Nourish" and repurpose it as a table runner.

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 The paper is thick and glossy and I really think if it hadn't rained (actually poured + thunder stormed) at the end of our night, I'd have been able to use it as a table runner again another time.

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Once again, I lucked out in finding some great flowers in the Clearance section at our neighborhood grocery store.

Do you ever look there?? I find the best deals!

Using this technique, I bunched the flowers together into old soup cans that I've been saving.

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I didn't have enough silverware to set the table for all the ladies coming (I swear my kids are throwing them in the trash or something), so my sweet friend AnnMarie brought over hers to mix in.

I love that it all looks a little mismatched yet coordinates because it's like in color and style.

Just like my plates!

I'm collecting vintage floral china and have been frequenting antique markets, garage sales, and thrift stores looking for random one-offs. I have far from a collection, but I now have enough to mix in with my regular China.

My most recent find was this week at Goodwill (for 25 cents)!!

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Several months ago, Joss & Main showcased a great collection of wedding tableware and I couldn't resist getting a few things, like these laced (painted) tea lights and wooden place card holders.

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Aren't they so fun?! Though truthfully anyone with a branch and a saw could probably make them.

(If you do, tag me on the photo...I want to see!)

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I absolutely love pairing polkadots and stripes so I had so much fun playing around on Illustrator making our menus and place cards.

We had Street Tacos and Mexican chopped salad, and blood orange sorbet for dessert.

And yes...don't worry...I'll be sharing those recipes (and more!) later on in the week.

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I will send out both blank menu cards as well as one with our menu on it, in case you would like to use the same recipes we did!


Caviar Dreams, Bebas Neue - Menu Cards

Coneria Script - Place Cards


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how to (inexpensively) decorate for a dinner party

I absolutely love setting a beautiful table. Like's one of my favorite things in the world (is that weird?).

And I think many people think it takes a lot of money to make it look lush and elegant.

But you know what??? It totally doesn't.

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A few tips and reminders before we delve in...

1. Goodwill, the dollar store, garage sales, and flea markets are your best friend.

2. Things do NOT need to match. As long as the grouping is like in color, size or style, have at it.

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Goodwill and other discount type stores are a fantastic place to find candle holders, all except perhaps one of mine cost around $1.99.

I love that they're all different and adore that it's not matchey-matchey, as if I went into a single shop and purchased their whole display.

Just like your home shouldn't look like a big box store, neither should your table.

It should rather look like things have been accumulated over time and have history and a story.

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Candle sticks can obviously be purchased anywhere from expensive boutiques to the dollar store. I often get mine at Ikea. They drip like crazy, which I kinda like. But make sure they're on a surface that won't be ruined by wax.


I've mentioned before how much I love using wrapping paper as a table runner.

Have you ever used it for this purpose?

It's such an inexpensive option full of color and pattern. AND you don't have to wash it or worry about wine spilling or candles dripping!

My favorite places to purchase the wrap is HomeGoods, Target, and Paper Source, in case you're wondering.

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Our water glasses are from Ikea ($1.99 each!), as are these beautiful floral wreaths I have around my gold lanterns.

The wreaths were a little sparse so I simply hot-glued a few more blooms to thicken them up and make them feel not only fuller, but more expensive looking.

Remember, things don't have to be expensive to look expensive!!


I didn't have a big budget for fresh flowers so the wreaths were a perfect reusable solution (I have them in various places in our home now that the party is over. See here and here.).

Though I loved how the table was looking, I was still itching for something fresh and real. Some green.

While at the grocery store loading my cart up with items for our menu, I happened onto a bunch of fresh herbs! They were only about $3.00 a piece and since I want some in our garden anyway, it was a perfect solution!

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My little helper and I simply placed them in some white pots I had around the house...remember, since they're all the same color, they instantly feel unified and look great though they're different sizes and shapes.

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This particular evening I used white linen napkins (purchased at HomeGoods for $6.99 for 10), though I am completely obsessed with beautiful paper ones. You'd definitely think me a hoarder when you see the bin-full I have in the basement.

I always keep an eye out, whether I have an event coming up or not. Having fun paper napkins on hand is perfect for the impromptu celebration when a child comes home with an A on a test...or a breakfast party, too!

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For dinner, I used our china (get those babies out of the cabinet and USE THEM!!!) but for our appetizers, I set out vintage dessert plates I'd received as gifts, and found at Goodwill, garage sales, and a dangerously fantastic vintage shop I found in the mountains.

These are inexpensive! They are one-offs and most don't have a match!

But ohmygoodness they're so fun because they add history and uniqueness to the party!

And though they're all different patterns and shapes, they all have a floral motif and are approximately the same size...which again, is what unifies them.

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So let's talk. Don't have china? Or your plates don't go with your theme, perhaps?

Paper plates. All day. Let me say it again.


I use brightly colored and patterned paper plates at fancy-ish dinners all the time. Often I'll place a charger beneath to make it feel a little more substantial and grown up, but paper plates, people. It's where it's at.

Chargers can be purchased so many places. From the dollar store to HomeGoods to Macy's or probably Bed, Bath and Beyond. They don't have to be expensive. And they can be woven, painted silver, gold, all sorts of fun right there.

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For our champagne lemonade cocktail, I set out mismatched punch cups found at Goodwill. They're so cute and vintagey.

We use these cups for tea parties with our little girls, too. I've even used them for desserts and cups of fruit. And as planters for little pansies (like this)!

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I realized while setting the table that I'm missing flatware!! Oh. My. GOSH are you kidding me?! Which child is throwing away our forks and spoons?! Sigh. Hope they still sell our pattern.

Anyway, because I had what The Nester calls "a lovely limitation", I got creative and grabbed some vintage silverware and mixed it. And now I'm obsessed. I love that it's different and adds variety and just makes it feel homey and pretty.

I'm totally adding more fun, vintage silverware to my "lookout list" when at Goodwill, garage sales!

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As for name cards, I don't often use them. This evening I did however and made some myself on Illustrator.

They turned out so fantastically that I'm thinking about sharing them with you! But I'm having some computer issues and sadly sharing them will have to wait another day.

HOWEVER...simply buying some cute tags in the dollar section at Target and writing your guest's names on them, would be a perfect finishing touch. You could tie the tag around the fork or place it in the middle of the plate, taped with some washi tape so it doesn't fly away in the wind (if your dinner is outside like ours was).

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 And don't forget dessert! I mentioned this when I shared my recipes from this party, but mismatched teacups and saucers are such a great way to add personality to your dinner.

If your dessert doesn't work well in cups, offer tea or coffee to finish off the evening!

Or perhaps use them on the table and place votive candles inside!


 I hope these posts about our An Evening to Nourish event (more here and here) inspires you to open up your home, as well.

proverbs 27.17

To have deep conversation, to be cared for, to be loved and listened to. To go to bed at night feeling nourished…body, mind, and soul.

Oh's just so important.

take joy-signature-new-pink