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There are so many fun accessories in Imani’s room.  Sorry to say though that it’s mostly just things I’ve acquired through the years. That Big Ben clock for example, was on my desk in my first apartment. And lets just say that was a looooong time ago.

abc posters

The yellow frames were simply inexpensive poster frames from Hobby Lobby. I not only spray painted them yellow, but the entire backing as well, since my vintage inspired paper was not a typical size.

| frames . . hobby lobby | vintage inspired posters . . paper source 1, 2 |


| apothocary jar . . walmart | faux plant & planter . . ikea {couldn’t find plant online} |

The runner is from Target, a few summers back. Almost everything else atop the dresser is from Goodwill and antique stores.


| flower . . diy tutorial here |


| dresser . . ikea | flower drawer pulls . . anthropology {similar} |

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| chevron ores . . Homegoods | paper lanterns . . z gallerie {no longer online. these are similar} | poufs . . prost to the host |


| bed . . ikea {we painted it yellow} | pillows . . target |


| chevron throw . . homegoods |


| book shelf . . homegoods |


| polkadot sheers . . amazon | yellow curtains . . target |


| gold circle stickers . . office depot | map . . paper source |

wall paint

| wall paint color . . elephant pink |

“If you’re not getting a lot of sunlight, you need to create warmth. Pink is what you want. It’s beautiful and flattering to any skin tone. But even if you go through every single paint book, there’s not a pink you can use, because they all look like bubble gum on the walls. So here’s the lowdown: Buy Elephant Pink and White, mix them half and half, and you’re set. It’s the perfectly balanced pale pink.” -William Diamond, House Beautiful

{we did cut it with some white but it was maybe 1/8 not 1/2}

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imani's room

Imani’s bedroom is my favorite room in the entire house. It is bright & cheerful and full of vintage pieces with pops of color mixed with loads of straight lines.

It’s the kind of room that makes you happy the moment you walk in.


Back when we lived in San Antonio several years ago, we had this fantastic playroom. The floor was cement so I painted huge colorful polka dots all over it {with a stencil} and hung paper lanterns by brightly colored ribbon from the ceiling. It was truly a fun room.

I still love the paper lanterns and have again used them once again. This time pairing tissue paper poufs that I saved from a baby shower I did for a friend awhile back.


Hm. This photo is pretty grainy, sorry about that. I’d retake it but Imani is in bed sleeping.

Anyway, this special piece is a shadow-box I put together when my mom gave me one of my baby dresses, along with my dad’s baby rattle. When my mother-in-law also gave me her grandmother’s {or great-grandmother’s??} infant-sized gold cross necklace, I knew I needed to make it into a special piece to keep forever. {My nursery was light blue gingham, so that’s why I chose blue for the background}


These two little guys were total scores from a baby boutique that was going out of business a few years ago.

They were originally in my office, but I think they’re way more fun up here.


Imani knows not to play with this one. It’s just to “look pretty” and houses her stuffed animals, since it’s about to fall apart and was probably painted with lead paint anyway.

It’s fun to think how old the baby is now who once was pushed around in it. Sixty, years old? Seventy??


This chair was a big splurge when I was pregnant with Anton. The guy at the store convinced me it was important to have a rocking chair you can grow with.

I was sold when he told me it was wide enough to sit side by side with your child when they got older, so you could cuddle and read books together. {Well, that and the fact that it reclines and my head sits at the perfect height so I don’t get a big crook in my neck after accidently falling asleep in it and waking up 6 hours later.}

It’s one splurge that was SO very worth it.

africa quilt

Oh how I love this quilt. It’s the first one I ever made {well, honestly and the last. they take forever!} and sewed it while taking a class at the most fantastic quilting shop. One where the instructor had a sleeve tattooed up her arm. Needless to say, it’s not your grandma’s quilting store.

Get this…I dragged Ben along with me. Yes, it was a “date weekend” and Ben made his own quilt. The other ladies hated him because he was better and faster than the rest of us. {I often call him “my seamster” – he can now sew anything. How many guys-guy type men can do that?!}

I wanted to personalize it for Imani so I appliquéd the shape of Africa on the center rectangle and hand sewed a felt heart over the spot where Ethiopia resides.

These dolls make their way up and down the stairs every day. Sometimes they sit in the zebra chair next to the fireplace, other times they’re lovingly carried upstairs…by the hair. The one on the left was handmade by a friend when we brought Imani home. The one on the left is a traditional Ethiopian doll from the Mercado in Ethiopia.

One of my favorite things in the entire room is this gorgeous pillow with Imani’s name embroidered upon it. It also came from a sweet friend when Imani came home from the orphanage. It’s timeless and even more beautifully delicate in real life.


I truly hate blinds so most of our windows have not only drapes that can be closed at night, but gauzey sheers {from Ikea} so neighbors can’t see inside even during the day, yet the sun is still able to stream through.

These yellow blackout shades {which in no way actually make the room dark} needed a little something, so I found these gorgeous polkadot sheers online. I adore the scalloped edges. So perfect for a little girl’s room.

When the sun streams through,  the lighting in the room feel so dreamy.


I wanted a big white dresser with straight lines and love what we found. I thought it needed “a little something” so I changed out only the top knobs.


I think if I’d replaced every knob with the flowered ones, it would have been too much and more foo-foo than I was going for.


Another of my favorite pieces is this pink vintage baby scale. It’s another find from that baby boutique that was going out of business.


Upon it lies vintage baby shoes, a cupcake candle from my mom, a favorite discontinued Stella & Dot necklace, several old books, and because every room needs a little greenery {even if it’s faux}, a little plant.


Though this is currently Imani’s room, once baby Elsabet starts sleeping though the night {Lord let it be soon!!}, she will be in here as well.

So these diapers in the huge apothocary jar are obviously hers. I love how cute they look and how easy they are to grab.


This little bouquet of flowers was made with extra faux flowers after a project left only little buds. I hated the idea of throwing them away, so I just piled them together and wrapped the stems with ribbon.

Goodness how this book was the find of the century!!

I have looked {and looked and looked} for vintage books with some color in them!!! {I’m talking colored kids in them, not that the book was IN color}

And it’s the most precious story. I love that the little girl looks so similar to Imani. We love reading it together.


Yes, another book in my decor {surprise, surprise}. But I had to purchase this one when I saw it was called My Little Sister. So sweet to put in a room our girls will share soon.

The blocks are a fun and recent addition, as is the singed fabric flower that I had made awhile back {tutorial here}.

imani's room

Isn’t this little guy so sweet? I got him for 90% off because his rear-end is cracked. {I tell ya, I love my deals!}

The felt flower from Anthropologie is a fun addition because Imani is obsessed with purple right now.


I’m still trying to figure out what to do with her duvet. She was just using that cozy chevron blanket to cuddle up with at night, but now that the weather is getting colder, I wanted something thicker to keep her warm.

But the white is a little too stark and boring. Not sure yet what I’ll change it to. Any ideas?!


I love this heart print above her bed. It was signed by all my closest friends in San Antonio when they threw me a shower right before bringing Imani home. It’s a treasured piece.


These ores were originally purchased for Ezekiel and Abreham’s room but they wanted to pin up the Ethiopian flag on the wall where I was going to put them.

So they have a permanent home in here instead. {I think they’re cuter in here anyway}

imani's room - vintage cheerful

This wall was a mystery to me for awhile. I knew I wanted to use these darling child-sized mannequins that I bought forever ago when I had an online shop for baby clothes, etc, {because they’re so darn cute}, and thought it was a good spot for some of Imani’s books {though the shelf still needs to be hung}. But I just wasn’t finding the right thing to fill the rest of the space.

So I made my own.


It’s way more fun in real life, but I simply bought a big canvas and found a map with colors that complimented her room.

I taped it on, purposely a tad haphazardly because I didn’t want it to look perfect, and then stuck a bunch of circle-shaped gold stickers around the map. I then decoupaged the whole thing to finish it off. There’s a lot of texture and shine on the piece. I love it.

. . . . . . . .

I’m so happy with how it turned out! She loves it and so do I.


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While training with my boxing coach a few months ago, we were chatting about needing to expand our globe.

She was referring to our bodies – range of motion, endurance, that sort of thing.

But it impacted me in an entirely different way…I realized that’s exactly what I was trying to do with my life.


Here I am, a mom. A mom of a whole slew of kids and it’d be so easy to get into the mode of simply being mother.

Now let me stop here. I love being a mom. L-O-V-E it. BUT that’s not all I am. And I need to show my children that there is so much more to me.


Those of us who are moms, will agree…it’s sometimes hard to get out of that mode.

As Carrie {my coach} puts it…

“When we are born, we have no edges to our physical {imagine standing in the middle of a bubble and how far you can reach/kick/squat} or emotional globe.”


“Through trial and error and life experience, our globe develops”


“If we don’t continue to stretch the boundaries of our globe, {both physical and emotional} our globe gets smaller and more rigid. Less adaptable.”


I don’t want that. I don’t want a small globe.

Teresa m

I want my kids to see a mom who is always seeking to grow. Someone who remembers who she is, at her core.

Teresa j*

A person who doesn’t become too comfortable in life, but helps our children to understand it’s ok to go outside our comfort zones and try something new. That learning truly is fun.


So I don’t let myself get too comfortable. I’m always taking classes: {to name a few I’ve done lately} visual design, learning how to become a better writer, calligraphy classes, and a few seminary-type courses, as well as challenging myself to things like you see in the photos above. The Spartan Race, Goruck {light} challenges, and even things like boxing.}

There have been days where I’ve gotten up at 4:30am just to log on to my computer and do a few tutorials and online videos to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. I was exhausted yes. But my best friend coffee was warm in my hand and I felt like I’d accomplished something by the time the first child woke up and sleepily wandered downstairs to find me.

I’m not listing ANY of this to say, “hey! look at me! I can do it all!” Because as you know by my recent post about being Weary & Worn, you KNOW that’s not true!

But I genuinely feel there is some sort of happy medium. It’s important for me to not lose who I am. I’m more than just a mom. And if you’re a mom…there’s more to you, too! Your children need to see that. Your husband needs to be reminded of it. Even your friends {especially the ones who don’t have children} need to see it.

. . . . . .

Truly, it has refreshed my soul to know that I can be the best mom I can be, while continuing to grow in who I am as a woman.

Go find something that intrigues you or that you’re passionate about and do it! You’ll be so proud of yourself that you did.

instead of...


We’re not just moms. Plain and simple.

We both know there’s SO much more to us.

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I’ve seen so many fun recipes lately using cauliflower. I however, think it’s disgusting. Bleh.

BUT because I’m always asking my kids to try things several times, and because some of the photos I’ve seen using said cauliflower looked incredibly scrumptious… I decided to try one.

And it was really, really good!

baked cauliflower cheese sticks


First of all, do you know what it means to “rice” the cauliflower? I didn’t.

Basically just grab your cheese grater and go to town as if you were grating cheese. It obviously ends up being tiny little pieces that resemble rice.


Place the riced cauliflower into a microwavable bowl and microwave until softened, about 5 minutes.


Heat the oil in a small skillet over low heat and add garlic until softened and is making your house smell heavenly.


Once your cauliflower is softened, add the garlic mixture, lightly beaten egg white, Italian seasonings, and 3/4 of your low fat mozzarella.

{make sure to leave 1/4 of the cheese for the topping}


Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan cooking spray, Make sure you line your pan with parchment paper {not aluminum foil like we used, oops…it totally stuck to it}.

Stir and mix well, then spread onto your prepared pan.


Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven, flip the loaf over so the bottom side is now on top, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Add the remaining cheese and a sprinkle more of the Italian herb seasoning.
Place back in the oven until the cheese is melted and golden.

Cut into pieces and serve hot or warm.


I would have taken prettier pictures & am usually a “no elbows on the table nazi”, but this was the kind of day we were having. It was a busy one and we’re exhausted.


Isn’t this totally a “Moooommm, stop taking pictures please” smile?? love it.

baked cauliflower cheese sticks with marinara sauce {recipe}


  • 1/4 of a large head of cauliflower “riced” {after it's riced, it should be about 1.5 cups}
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 large egg (white), lightly beaten
  • 1/2 Cup low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning, divided
  • Marinara Sauce for dipping


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan cooking spray, then line with parchment paper {not aluminum foil like we used, oops}.
  2. Place the riced cauliflower into a microwavable bowl and microwave until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a small skillet over low heat and add garlic until softened and is making your house smell heavenly.
  4. When your cauliflower is softened, add the garlic mixture, lightly beaten egg white, Italian seasonings, and 3/4 of your low fat mozzarella. {make sure to leave 1/4 of the cheese for the topping}
  5. Stir and mix well, then spread onto your prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven, flip the loaf over so the bottom side is now on top, and bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. Add the remaining cheese and a sprinkle more of the Italian herb seasoning.
  9. Place back in the oven until the cheese is melted and golden.
  10. Cut into pieces and serve hot or warm.


{next time I'm going to quadruple this recipe. it really doesn't make much}

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So forgive me for being judgmental about cauliflower.

Totally trying another recipe using it soon!

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When I was in jr high I had calligraphy class. Oh how I loved it…my handwriting was gorgeous.

But enough time has passed now that I’ve forgotten most of it and my handwriting has gone from gorgeous & artistic to messy & hurried.

I found this class the other day and am so excited about it!

calligraphy 6

Check out some of her examples…

calligraphy 4

{um yes, if I had gorgeous handwriting like this, I would rejoice!!!}

calligraphy 5

{can you imagine being able to address letters like this? fantastic.}

calligraphy 3

{this is what sold me. i want to make it myself! and i want that gold acrylic!}

calligraphy 2

{wouldn’t you love to make this rather than buy it?}

calligraphy 1

{yes it is.}

Do you want to sign up for this class? Do it here! You can even buy it as a gift for someone. How fun is that?!

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2013-10-06_2131Don’t you love when God reveals things to you? Here I sit on the couch, with my laptop propped up against me as I try…ever so hard…to ignore the pounding of the men putting on our new roof. A roof that was supposed to have been done months ago, but whatever. At least it’ll be completed before we begin to get snow and have to wait till next spring.

I am worn out today. Weary. Exhausted. Ben has been out of town a ton lately and the kids haven’t napped in days because of all this roof stuff. I’m not shy to admit it. I need a break.

I prayed {and prayed and prayed} that they could somehow sleep today. That the Lord would close their ears to all this banging, hammering and walking around above their heads. Because I was about to lose mine.

And you know what? Though I keep checking on them, they’re out. Completely out. {thank you Jesus}

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Have you ever heard the song, Worn by Tenth Avenue North {hear it here}? I play it over and over these days. If fills my soul with so much hope and promise that though I’m beat down and exhausted, I’ll make it through as I continue to seek God’s face.

With lyrics like, “I’m worn, even before the day begins.”“I want to know a soul can rise from the ashes of a broken life”, it fits so well with what I’m feeling and seeing as we continue to settle in with our newest adopted kids.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Well lets be honest, a lot of the time I don’t. But that’s when I’m reminded of this:

John 15_4-5

I need to learn to REMAIN in Him. If I become disconnected from the vine, there’s no way I’ll be successful and bear fruit. I won’t make it, neither as a good mom, a loving wife, nor simply plain ‘ol me {because face it, if I’m not being filled, there’s now way I can do well in all the other aspects of my life}.

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But how do I do that? How do I learn to remain in Him? Truly, I need to follow Him, rather than leading myself and controlling everything. I can’t see all, know all, do all. But He can. And He does.

“And as we follow, God produces fruit in us like peace, love, compassion, and super-natural strength, allowing us to be better than we were the day before. Allowing us to be more like Jesus.”{1}

Don’t you want super-natural strength? I do.

In my Bible Study this morning, we referenced Isaiah 43:2. And though we were talking about our True Identity as a daughter of Christ, rather than Weariness, it struck my heart so heavily as I read His promise to me {us}.

Isaiah 43_2I know He will be with me. Deep down, I know that I know it. BUT it doesn’t necessarily mean I always feel it or remember it. It’s written right there in black & white though. God promises to be with me. That the waters will not sweep over me and though I may be walking through the fire, I will not be burned. Maybe I’ll even be refined {Zechariah 13:9, Isaiah 48:10}. I sure would love to be shiny beautiful gold at the end of my time in the fire. Does that make sense? {sorry, I know I’m speaking Christian-eze here}

You know what’s so cool though? I went on to read the rest of Isaiah 43 and check out what it says in verse 5…

Isaiah 43_5Where do we live? The West.

Where are our {adopted} children from? The East.

We’ve actually put verses 5-6 on our Christmas card the year Imani came home {Which sadly is the last time I’ve sent them out….sometimes you have to let things go. But fingers crossed I get them in the mail this year}.

I’m slowly finding though that through my exhaustion, He is breaking me with a Sacred Brokenness that is not a bad thing or something to be fearful of, but rather a blessing. {2}

 When I close my eyes, I imagine myself kneeling before Him as He sits upon His throne. My head is bowed, hiding the tears and bags under my eyes, my arms outstretched, loaded full of my weakness, weariness, imperfection, and my desire to control everything from my children’s behavior to keeping up a perfectly clean house.

Here God, take it. I can’t handle it.

It’s too much.

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You have said, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” {3} Help me open my heart to receive that, Jesus.

Lord, help me to remain in You. Help me remember that apart from You, I can do nothing. You say that if I remain in Your love, that Your joy will reside within me {4}. I need that, Lord. Fill me with Your love. Help me to show my family Your light and Your love. Draw me closely to Your side, Father.

I’m so thankful that nothing is a surprise to Him. He already knew that I couldn’t do this all on my own. I can’t and you can’t.

Have you ever noticed this in the margin?

take joy

This passage really spoke to me when I was doing my morning quiet time one day last spring. As I read it, I realized I needed to “take joy.” To grasp it tightly and not let go of what the Lord offers me, though I may go through things that are less than fun {sometimes waaaay less}.

It says, “Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.”

So I say to you, find joy through the struggles, through the weariness. TAKE JOY. Grab it with both hands and don’t let go, for the Lord has promised us great things if we come to Him. {and yes, I am SO looking in the mirror as I say this}

Matthew 11_28-30

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. . . . . . . . . . . . .

{1} comes from Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist by Amanda Jenkins.

{2} this was taught to us by Nancy R Buschart in the course I’m currently taking called, Vine, Vision & Voice.

{3} Jeremiah 31:25 {NIV}

{4} see John 15:9-12 {NIV}

Do you love instagram as much as I do? I think it’s so fun. I’m slightly addicted.

Do you follow us? If not, find us at hugsandpunches.

dance class

Imani has just started dance class. It might be the cutest thing ever. She’s super into it.


Our weather here in Denver has been so weird. One day it’ll be 80…the next, we’ll be wearing sweaters and building a fire. We did a lot of playing with trains this day.


Abreham had Districts for track this weekend. Love those Ethiopian genes!! He finished his mile {1st place} at 5:54, can you believe how fast he is?! It was so fun to cheer him on!

lemon bars

I love that our church has a coffee house in it. Ben got up to go to the bathroom & came back with a lemon bar treat for me. Love him.


I COULD NOT do all I do without such an amazing husband. He’s the absolute best father, encourager, accountability partner, and love of my life.


Oh laundry, how I hate you and how you’re never. ever. finished.

Family Room

Spent some time organizing the family room & kids study area. I get so tired of clutter. Love things all having a spot.


Imani: “Mommy! Take a picture of me!”

Shoe Munching

Elsabet is all over the place these days, rolling around, chewing her toes and alllllmost crawling. Goodness I love her!

Photo Shoot

Ezekiel was asked to be in some advertising for the physical therapy group Laith has been going to for his arm. He left beaming, saying he wanted to do more modeling. Hmmmmm maybe we’ll get college paid for after all!

Sunset Magazine

It’s a rare, rare occurance that I get to flip through magazines. That’s why I love waiting rooms & doctors offices.

Who’s with me and wants to move to this house???

Cub Scouts

Anton & Ezekiel have just started Cub Scouts. Did you know there’s a Manners Badge?

Love that.

little dancers

I was making dinner tonight and had Pandora on. I look over and see this. Precious.

Wish it was a clearer picture but apparently when you’re dancing to Nat King Cole, you can’t stop for photos!!!


Come follow us!

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apple pie

Ok, I have to be honest here. It’s not even October 1st and I’ve already made this recipe 3 times.

It’s amazing…and super easy.


We love apples at our house. The recipe calls for Braeburn & Granny Smith but we use whatever tart and sweet apples we have on hand.


The kids love watching me peel apples like this. They wait anxiously to see if I can do the whole apple in one coil. Sometimes I can & I get an applause. Sweet kids.

I just wish they’d eat the remnants.


Make sure when you’re cutting the apples that you get them reaaaallly thin. I forgot that little detail once last winter and the apples were all crunchy. It wasn’t great. And we had company that time. Bummer.


I’ve found that the easiest way to coat the apples with cinnamon & sugar is to toss everything in a large ziplock and shake, shake, shake!


Another trick that I’ve found is super easy is just melting the butter in the pie dish by putting it in the oven as it warms up to 350 degrees.


Once it’s all melted, pour in your brown sugar and mix it all together.


Once it’s decently mixed, pat it flat with a spoon or spatula.


I forgot to take a photo of the crust before it was placed inside the pie dish but I generally use a pre-made one from the store. You can get them gluten-free or just the regular kind, depending what store you look in. They should be in the freezer section.

Imani loves to help pour the prepared apples atop the crust. Love how serious she is.


My sweet helpers. We’re all very pink today.


Next is the top. Again, I generally use pre-made dough but there are so many recipes out there if you’d like to attempt your own.

Sometimes I can’t find rolled pie dough so I’ll just put the same crust used on the bottom, onto the top as well {they’re typically sold in two’s anyway} but though it tastes fine, it doesn’t look as pretty.


Martha Stewart would probably cringe, but I just fold and just kinda make the top fit in haphazardly. I like that it doesn’t look perfect.

On one of the pies this time, I took out our tiny little cookie cutter leafs to made a design on top. It’s the first time I’ve done it and think it looks so fun! And as long as you know how to press down a cookie cutter, you can do it too.

Or, ask a 4 year old. Betcha they’d be happy to help.

apple pie

This is generally what I do on the top though. I just cut a criss-cross star shape to vent the pie as it cooks {super important, by the way. otherwise it’ll just crack open itself}.


Ok yes, this is a terrible picture. And yes, I got some yolk in the egg white.

But have you ever tried taking a photo with your left hand while cracking an egg at the same time? And NOT dropped it IN said egg? Just sayin’ it was hard.

Anyway, once the top of your pie is on and cut for the steam to release, brush egg white all over and sprinkle sugar on top. This helps the crust to become a touch crunchy on top & gives it that beautiful color and shine once cooked.




deliciously simple apple pie {recipe}

deliciously simple apple pie {recipe}


  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples
  • 2 pounds Braeburn apples
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon {I use more cinnamon than recipe calls for.}
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter {I use half the butter recipe calls for}
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Peel apples, and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch-thick wedges.
  3. Toss apples with cinnamon and 3/4 cup granulated sugar.
  4. Melt butter in a pie dish as the oven preheats
  5. Add brown sugar, stir until mixed and sugar is somewhat dissolved. Pat flat with spoon or spatula
  6. Place one piecrust in pie dish over brown sugar mixture.
  7. Spoon apple mixture over piecrust, and top with remaining piecrust.
  8. Whisk egg white until foamy. Brush top of piecrust with egg white; sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar.
  9. Cut 4 or 5 slits in top for steam to escape.
  10. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly, shielding with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.
  11. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes before serving. Serve with butter-pecan ice cream.


recipe adapted from Easy Skillet Apple Pie Recipe {}

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falling for fallIt has been SO fun to see all the home tours online lately. Whether finding them on Pinterest or all the inspiration from the Finding Fall Home Tour, it’s been so wonderful to get a peek inside the lives of others {maybe I’m part nosy, part loving the inspiration}.

Anyway, I thought I’d share our home as well. We still have so many things left to do on our punch-list since beginning our big remodel so keep in mind it’s not perfect {I’ll probably not show you the hole in the ceiling of our kitchen, but now you know it’s there}.


Lets start at the front door. I know I’ve mentioned it before but, it’s ridiculous to me how expensive wreaths are. Even at Hobby Lobby or Home Goods, you could easily spend $50-100. No thanks.

So I created mine for about $15.

You can find these olive branch wreaths at most craft stores. I got mine for $4.99 & went around the faux flower section putting together a few that seemed fall-ish without being full of fall leaves and such. I often like hanging them inside when I’m done with them on the door {for example, this one is now in my office}.

I had scraps of gold paper left over from a previous project so I just re-cut and strung them into bunting that is attached using silver glittered clothespins.


I wanted something a little outside the box, so I thought it’d be fun to put this unfinished white frame behind.

What do you think? Is it fun with the frame?


I got these silver lanterns at Target for 70% off {I paid under $5 each} and have LED pillar candles in them set on a timer to go on when it gets dark. Its so fun seeing them glowing through the windows at night.


These pretty gourdes won’t last long out here because they’ll be eaten soon, but they look gorgeous for now!


{wait. I feel like that was kinda cheezy. ah well, come in friends!}


We call this our “Shoe Bench” which I bought awhile back because I was tired of the kids getting the stairs dirty while tying their shoes. They still gravitate toward the staircase {why???} so every day I have to remind them “we have a shoe bench! stop getting my stairs muddy!” and then I throw in a “please?!” for good measure.

What. Full disclosure here!


By now I’m sure you know I looove decorating with books {see here & here}. I’m always finding more {as if we really need more} at Goodwill and other thrift stores. It’s amazing how beautiful some of them are without their paper jackets.


Across the room from our Shoe Bench is this beautiful carved table which a friend & I found at an antique store in Seattle, long before I was even married. It weighs as much as my car because of the marble top, but it’s the perfect surface to show off some seasonal decor.

Until a few days ago, it showcased handmade pinwheels in a big silver container. It’s fun to change it up.


{sources} The pumpkins, wooden containers, and candles all came from Target. Some recently, some in the years past. The cardboard A is from a craft store & has floated around different areas of the house, depending on what I’m “shopping the house” to decorate for. The white vessels are from Home Goods, like 6 years ago, and the mirror was a gift from my parents when I moved into my 1st apartment.


{sources} Our couch, though originally from Crate & Barrel, was a Craigslist find from when Ben & I got married. The coffee table is also a Craigslist find. As for the pillows…the cream colored ones are from Pottery Barn, the chevron are from Hobby Lobby, and the fun Smile pillow is from Home Goods.


{sources} The silver tray on the coffee table is from Goodwill, the faux plant is from Ikea, and the white soup bowl was handed down from my momma. Everything else has just been accumulated through the years from various places.

dining room


Now that our dining table uses the leaves alllll the time, rather than simply when we have guests {big family = big table}, I’d love to get a larger rug for in here, but since rugs are expensive…that’ll be something I’ll have to wait on.

{sources} The table and chairs are from Restoration Hardware {outlet} long, long ago before they got their new look. The fantastic buffet is from the Paris Street Market {and my favorite without-the-kids place to go}.


{sources} The glittered turkey is from Home Goods, the white pumpkin from Target, the arrangement of gourds, pinecones, etc is from Hobby Lobby {but I also added other things from our “fall decor” bin to fill it out a little more. The grey and white table runner is from Z Gallerie, which sadly I don’t see on their website anymore. The yellow and white cloth is actually a dish towel from Ikea.


{sources} the frames are from garage sales, the books are handed down to me from my grandfather’s library. The silver sugar bowl was also handed down from my grandmother.


{sources} Once again, the books are from a thrift store, the leaves from….uhh…probably Hobby Lobby. The faux fern is also from Hobby Lobby {several small ones put together}. The runner is from Home Goods, the pumpkin from Target, the rolled sheet music was a free/cast off piece from a thrift store that I just tied ribbon around.

Have you heard of the book is The Art of the Handwritten Note? It’s so beautiful. Maybe you need it {I think you do!}. And I love the silver wire basket that all my goodies are in. It was originally from one of those all-in-one spa gifts you see everywhere at Christmastime.


The Anderson tag is simply cut tag board with our last name spelled out in silver glitter letters and tied with chevron ribbon {from Hobby Lobby}.



I love our kitchen {especially when it’s clean}! I always wanted white cabinets, I’m so happy with how it all turned out.

As you see, we have mismatched chairs right now. They’re all recovered with the same fabric, but I’m SO anxious to get benches so we all fit better. Ben wants to build them but since we have {ahem} like NO extra time these days, it might be awhile.


I am completely and totally obsessed with these hydrangea. Can you believe they’re NOT real?! This silver container was given to me by my mom. I think it may have also come from a garage sale {we certainly love our deals}.



Isn’t this a fantastic print from Jones Design Company?! So fun. I added yellow chevron ribbon around the opening of the mat because well…because I just love yellow.


This beautiful dried arrangement is from Target and originally had hot pink flowers on it, as well. It just wasn’t making my socks go up and down {haha have you heard that saying? i  love it.} so I cut those off. Now I love it. It’s perfect for this spot.


Being able to grab things from our yard makes me so happy.


We knocked out this wall so we could make a butlers pantry, of sorts. I love the microwave drawer {so do the kids}.


Would it be weird to say that my Nespresso machine is my best friend? Maybe just a little. But she is these days.

family room


The carpenter who built our mantle may have thought my chevron fireplace was weird {see here, here, & here for how to}, but I still love it.


I always look forward to seeing what Pottery Barn Kids comes up with for holidays. This fun gold glittered “Give Thanks” bunting was from their Thanksgiving collection last year. I couldn’t wait to get it out again.


Most of what’s up here on the mantle is from Goodwill & other thrift stores, believe it our not.

. . never. ever. believe that good stuff is only at expensive stores . .

master bedroom


I’ve mentioned before how hard it’s been to figure out what to do with our Master bedroom. It’s finally starting to come together though, which is super exciting.


I’ve had this leaf thing for years and years and never knew what to do with it. But I’m really liking it here, leaning against the mirror.


Being a Stylist for Stella & Dot means I have lots of jewelry to organize & display. They’re basically pieces of art, so I love having them out.


When you want a new look but don’t want to spend any money, think outside the box!

I turned around the canvas in our bedroom as well as the one above the mantle in the family room. I like seeing the structure of the back & think it’s rather pretty this way!


You can’t really tell from these photos, but the fern {also faux since I can keep NOTHING alive…i have the biggest. black-thumb. ever.} is in a champagne bucket that I haaaad to have when we were registering for our wedding.

Not sure why I thought we’d be drinking champagne enough to actually need a bucket, but I love using it here because of it’s height and the shine it brings to our bedside table.


I really enjoy looking around our house for things to use for other purposes {so does Ben since it means I’m not buying anything!}. I bought this vintage cheese grater at a fun shop in Breckenridge a year or two ago. For fresh flowers, simply place your vase inside. But these are faux so I obviously don’t need to worry about that.

. . . . . . .

{{ So what do you think? }}

Did you enjoy snooping around my house?? haha.

What are you most excited about for fall?


Do you remember the Pottery Barn pillows I have on our couch? Well, I bought them forever ago and have never used these two. They are GORGEOUS and even prettier in person. I just love all the texture in them. Perfect for fall.

Do you want them?!

Pottery Barn Pillows

{inserts not included}

pottery barn pillow coveringsenter

To enter, simply become a subscriber to Hugs & Punches by email {see right hand blog margin} & comment on what you’re most excited about for fall!

{don’t forget to look for the confirmation email after subscribing. you must click on the link sent.}

All entries must be submitted by midnight October 1st, 2013. A winner will be chosen at random.

. . want more entries?? or already subscribe?? . .

. For an additional entry, share this giveaway on Facebook, leaving a separate comment to tell me that you did so.

. For an additional entry, pin this giveaway on Pinterest, leaving a separate comment telling me you did so.

{this giveaway is now closed}

yaaay Trisha Haywood for being the lucky winner!

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This subject is very close to my heart because though we don’t have any kids with Special Needs, our family IS “different” and though we haven’t really been faced with the whole color thing, we have had many {maaaaany} ignorant comments by both adults and children that could easily hurt my kid’s hearts, were they to hear {and sometimes they have}.


Wonder is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s a kids book, to be sure…and yet I was quickly drawn in as I read about the main character, August and his challenges and strengths as he finds his way through middle school.

Auggie was born with some cranial abnormalities and the story takes you {sometimes heart-wrenchingly} through what it’s like starting 5th grade at a new school, having been home-schooled up until then because of so many surgeries and hospital stays.

I CANNOT wait to read this book with my kids.

genuine compassion

It is something that must be learned, something SO very important to have in order to make a difference in this world.

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I found this post awhile ago and was so excited that I found it again…this momma has the sweetest heart and it was SUCH a good reminder for me that Ben & I need to have more conversations like this with our kids.

Some of ours kids COMPLETELY get it…others…well, they’re still trying to figure it out.

{originally found on}

the talk

Dear Chase,

Hey, baby.

Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.

Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.

Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.

Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.

Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.

Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.

Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.

Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.



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Don’t you love this mom? Don’t you wish YOU’D written it?? Me too.

empathy & compassion

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