Catholic Spirituality,  design + style,  Family Life,  feast days,  guest post

Beauty you can touch and see

Today’s guest contributor is a woman whose Instagram feed I’ve stalk-mired for the past couple years, and wouldn’t you know it? She’s a real life friend of one of my very best friends from college. Her interior decorating services make my HGTV-loving heart pitter patter, but it’s the intentionality and joy she puts into her own home that I like best of all. My only critique? If I set up the swoon-worthy hot chocolate station she has assembled for her crew of 7 beautiful babies, my 5 year old sugar addict would be strung out round the clock. I really think I’d find him doing lines of cocoa at 3 am when the baby wakes me for a nightcap. But I digress. Welcome, Jen!

Thank you Jenny, for inviting me! It’s a real labor of love for me to create a home that is magical, memorable, and faith-filled for my family … and to share it with you all of course too!

So how do I deck my halls? To be honest before I ever deck, I do some planning.

When I go about transforming my home in preparation for Christ’s birth, I first ask myself, “How will this vignette or space bring meaning to my children’s Advent/Christmas?” It could be anything from the beauty of the lights to the joy of the taste. My aim is to always honor God and give Him the glory in what I create and to point my children to do the same.

I hope you find inspiration in my answers and the corresponding pictures.

**Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the end to participate in a Giveaway that could transform your New Year!!!**

Christmas Living at HOME

This year I decorated different. I mean way different. I simplified. Normally, I have 2 trees (one I get crazy decorative with–meaning no kids allowed, and one I spruce up after the kids add all their ornamentation). This year I concentrated on the vignettes and I’m letting the tree be beautiful without redoing how the kids adorned it. I mean why? Trees really are beautiful no matter what. Here’s what I did add to the tree though that has made the sentimentality of the children’s work all the more special–I moved our everyday religious statues next to the tree.


That blue light is lit for my hubby who works every Christmas. Boo!




Where’s St. Joseph? Umm, yeah, he didn’t make the photography shoot! But trust me when I say he’s on the otherside of the tree! That guy is so humble! No?


Once I added Mary next to the tree, it got me thinking about a good spot for my DIY Marian Garland (which incidentally was a big hit on Instagram, for me anyway. Like the most Likes ever. Who knew?) And yes, actually, I am a valley girl. I was born and raised in the smog pit capital of the world, So. Cal!


And what Christian home wouldn’t be complete without the Advent wreath. Now here is where I divulge a few of my decorating confessions, *please don’t judge*.

First, pink and purple are, ahem, not my favorite colors. While, I love their symbolism, I always feel in a bit of a pickle about how to incorporate them stylishly with the rest of my décor. I know. It seems petty but that’s why it’s a confession.

Second, I never know where to put it. The wreath that is. I want it on the kitchen table but I don’t want my toddler eating the wax or breaking the sticks either. It takes up quite a bit of center mass too so there are not a lot of options on other table tops… and again the toddler, anyways.

Sooo, I am excited to say that because we moved the Christmas tree to the sunroom this year (forgot to mention that earlier), it opened up a space on the buffet that I moved in order for the tree to fit. All of a sudden with Mary making her presence, the Advent wreath blended seamlessly into the vignette and then it just got even better when I decided to turn the whole buffet into Catholic Central!

In came the nativity and my Mary and Baby Jesus art and those cute little wooden saints dolls my sister-in-law made for us. And voila!?



Really, the saints dolls beg for discussion with the littles as they stand around the nativity. These holy heroes who gave their whole lives over to Christ. They stand in awe and reverence of Him just as we should!




As a child, I had never heard of the Jesse Tree and frankly it wasn’t until I came back to my Catholic roots that I thought to even care. Now, I can’t imagine Advent without it.

Here again, my sister-in-law (Best Gift Giver Ever) made by hand each little ornament that we hang every night. The little girls take turns finding the right number (which will soon get hard since the oldest of the littles is 4) and hanging it on our DIY advent tree. My husband and I made this last year from Pinterest inspiration and Ikea wood scraps. It hangs right near our kitchen table so we remember to do it after dinner and then we sing, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

I throw my hands up in praise and worship at, “Rejoice, Rejoice…!” The girls go crazy for it!






One of the fun parts about decorating for Advent is also recognizing that it’s Winter; this means, “Baby It’s Cold Outside!” Since my kids are avid sledders, and sidewalk shovelers…wink, I’ve got them covered with ye olde coffee (I wish), I mean cocoa station. I adorned it with salivating chocolates and cookies, because well, they just go hand in hand. Don’t you think?

Seriously though, the cookies and chocolates are really a nod at my grandmother who always had her Sicilian cookies on the coffee table all Advent long. It left in impression with me: one of family, warmth, innocence, safety. I was at home when I was there. I want that for my kids now, especially in this crazy day and age. Because we are their temporary home. It’s that glimpse of their home to come and the banquet which they will partake in. I know it may not be “penitential” but I rather look at it as, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”






OK, don’t laugh! I am not my Sicilian grandmother. But who doesn’t love Reeses!


And Salted Caramel from Tuesday Morning : )


And Christmas tree cookies from Food Lion. Just keepin it real!






My 11 year old letterer was honing his skills on this one. Not bad though!

And last but not least a little Santa swag. My aim was to create the excitement and the anticipation that I enjoy of the Santa lure. This is really all we have though and it’s simply a sign I picked up at Home Goods last year that has a slot for the children to write letters to Santa. The overall tablescape is one of antiquated, nostalgia with the vintage faux candlestick and books. It’s just a beautiful scene for the children to walk down the stairs and see.


By the way, did you hear me talk with Jennifer Fulwiler on her Sirius XM radio show? We talked about beauty; how it is neither rich nor poor. It is. Beauty is an attribute of God, therefore we take pleasure in beauty for beauty’s sake but also because it points to the Creator.



Now, go and make beautiful things, and scenes, and vignettes in your home. Show God to the world through that beauty.

eDesign Giveaway

And last but not least… if you struggle putting those above words into action…and some of you really will…and that’s ok… I have a Giveaway you’ll absolutely love, cause you read till the end and that’s all that matters!

What is an eDesign, anyways?

eDesign is a fabulous way to have an In-Home Design Consultation for a fraction of the cost–in this case Free! Hey, Merry Christmas!!! **Shameless plug, it makes for a great holiday gift certificate… I’m just saying**

How does it work?

If you remember my post with Melody, from Blossoming Joy, I showed you how we skyped for about an hour while she took me through her master bedroom and just asked me question after question about what to do, what to hang, this color, that pillow, etc, etc. Then I sent her a write up of the conversation. She implemented nearly everything I suggested.

We had a lot of fun as our kiddos kept popping their heads in and then someone started screaming! At any rate, she posted her “after” pictures from her eDesign and they turned out so wonderful.

Who will get chosen?

If you’d like to enter into a chance to win the eDesign with me just tell me in the comment section why your space needs an interior decorator and why it’s so important to you! I will choose the winner based on your well-crafted answer. Thank you and best of luck!


advent series


  • Suzi Whitford

    Jen, this is beautiful and at such a perfect time! I am hosting the Christmas party for the ladies of church tomorrow at my home and I have 24 hours to get the house ready! You’ve given me a lot of inspiration; I may just do a quick trip to Hobby Lobby or spend a few hours stepping away from my blog and crafting! Last night I painted two little nativity sets for a friends’ girls, I’ll post a picture here: I love these pegs!

    May I apply for the In-Home Design Consultation? I would be thrilled to have someone ‘walk’ me through my home and help me prepare it for my second baby! She is due in February and I feel like my time is running out. I want my home to be beautiful, yet simplistic and baby & toddler proof. Her big sister is now 18 months old. Being a stay at home mom I spend the majority of my day at home, just as the title suggests :), and it would be nice to have each space be simply beautiful. I adore Catholic art, it was one of the reasons I converted in 2009! 🙂 I have yet to write my conversion story, I’ll add it to my shopping/to do list. Regardless, I would love a Catholic mom’s eye to help me prepare my home for the additional love that will soon enter it! Thank you for offering this!

  • CMerie

    Oh I could so use this! Why you ask? Because I have five small children (including a newborn) a need for simplicity and less stuff around but also a need for beauty and functionality. And I am not all that great at seeing the big picture. Sometimes I think our home is more cold and stark instead of warm and inviting. Is it possible to achieve warm and inviting with less stuff? Yeah. I really need this.

  • Cami

    I would be absolutely delighted to have help designing our space! I’m a design-minded gal but I’ve birthed 3 babies in 3 1/2 years and moved 4 times in 5 years. So… I can’t say I’ve had the time, energy, resources or stability to really make our housing a home. But I crave it. And obsess over it. Telling myself that someday I will get it together. As far as Chrustmas… I don’t have many memories as a kid of special decor. I didn’t really have grandparents and it was just my mom and me growing up. We decorated a tree and put up lights. She had a nice nativity I marveled at. I still don’t have a nativity set for our family, aside from our new Little People set recently acquired from Grandma. Mom wasn’t skilled at baking. BUT… I am! And I long for a future time when I can decorate our home to reflect our hearts, and my children will see it’s a special time in how mommy prepares the way. I hope someday the sights, sounds, and aromas will leave a mark in the minds of my young ones so that they will carry the importance of Christ’s birth with them all their days.

  • Ellen

    I gay so much inspiration from looking at pictures like these. Today we are starting our decorating so I’m coming at it with a good energy and some ideas. I like putting the statues near the tree.

    I would love to win a design consult for my dear friend Elizabeth. She is an aunt to over 10 and a godmother to 5 and is so generous with her time, good-looking, and love to all her family. Recently she told me that she is frustrated by her home being so dull and plain. It’s a small house and when she comes home, it doesn’t feel like the cozy trust she would wish. It also keeps her from being as hospitable as she would wish with her large extended family and especially her godchildren. Yet she doesn’t know where to start to remedy this. I can’t think of anyone more generous with others and would love for her to have this gift.

  • Mary Keane

    Jen, I need you to help me know where to begin in my big beige cave! We just moved to a new house, and I’m not at all sure what to do with it. It’s twice the size of our old home, which is a blessing for a growing family, but setting it all up is a bit overwhelming. Another challenge is all the trees. They are lovely but it means very little natural light indoors. All the walls are a pale beige, which I think actually makes things look more dingy. What colors would work for us? The furnishings from our old home didn’t translate well to the new, but like most families we don’t have a lot of extra money for new furniture and such. I would be very grateful to receive help on making a plan for this place. What should I do first? What will make the most impact and most enable us to do what we want to do at home: Prayer, homeschooling, hospitality, reading, sewing, painting? How can we do all that in an atmosphere of beauty and peace? Even if you don’t choose me, thank you for offering this giveaway! I believe even writing out what I just did gives me something of a goal to work toward, even if I don’t yet know how to get there.

  • Kathy H

    Loved this post! I love following Jen on Instagram and dream about the day she might do a consultation for me! Our home has some interesting spaces in terms of layout. I would love advice on how to do our living room since its long and narrow with a fire place in the middle of the long wall and entrances on both ends of the rooms.

  • Julia R.

    Firstly, thank you for sharing your gift! We moved into our old home (87 years to be exact) five years ago and are very slowly settling into these four walls. Decorating is NOT my gift and I suffer major mental freeze at the thought of trying to pull a room together, though I very much want to do just that to “make our home”. I would l.o.v.e to bring new life to my kitchen. Our kitchen is a small space and though it is functional it speaks not to the life of our family, our faith, or the children who fill it with *mostly* cheerful noise. The counters sport items that don’t inspire, the walls are bare, the windows have white blinds with little personality, and we need a Kitchen Madonna. I know it would take just a few subtractions and additions to bring our kitchen to life. Please help us!!!

  • Molly s.

    So beautiful! I would love some help with our home. We just moved in August into an outdated home (teaser: wood paneling and lots of wallpaper) and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IM DOING! I frequently need to ask my husband if my clothes match, so home decorating is not in my blood. But, my husband is in ministry so we are frequently hosting people and I want them to feel welcomed. I want our home to feel warm and…homey, not just ‘wow that’s a lot of toys and floral wall paper’. I want our visitors, and my family to feel comfortable so they can open up their hearts to Christ. Thank you for your post and happy advent!

  • Jamie

    I have a HUGE open family space and HIGH ceilings that utterly overwhelm me! I need some help deciding how to this space and these walls. Thanks for hosting!

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