it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope that all of you have enjoyed a wonderful holiday weekend filled with the celebration of Thanksgiving in places and with people you are thankful for ๐Ÿ™‚ I sit on the couch tonight writing this post for all of you grateful for my home-ownership, my friends, and my ability to physically take on renovation projects at home. I officially wrapped up a BIG project this evening and I can’t wait to share the results with all of you in a couple of weeks on the blog once all of the finishing touches are completed.

Last weekend I was able to do a majority of my Christmas decorating as I knew I wanted to use this long weekend for my big renovation project. I added some final details to my decorations and am in the process of waiting for one more Christmas decor piece that I ordered from Etsy but since we are officially in the Christmas season after Thanksgiving I wanted to share my decorations with all of you to give you some inspiration as your prepare your own homes for this magical season!!

I am not going to add much commentary to go along with the photos but I will list where I got each of the items if you want to snag any of it yourself —

Front door/first impressions:

The left hand photo is just inside of my front door. This ornament wreath I made two years ago for my first post-college apartment and really based all of my future Christmas decoration colors on the ornaments I used to make it. I have embraced mainly decor that is non-traditional Christmas colors

The right hand photo is my front entry. I found the cute “oh what fun!” doormat at Target and I love the vintage car with the tree ๐Ÿ™‚ My plain green wreath is from Menards and I attached a red bow along with hanging this wooden “Be Merry” sign that I bought at Picks antique store last Christmas season

Small details:

On my TV stand I have two signs from Hobby Lobby (Glory to the Newborn King and joyeux noel) as well as a nutcracker from Target, a set of bright colored wooden animals from Target, and the mint green wooden tree behind Luna’s toy basket is from Picks last year as well

Stockings and Bookcase:

I use my banister as the perfect place for stockings. Both stockings as well as both sets of garland (colored pom balls and white glittered stars) are from Target. The fun tinsel trees were also purchased at Target two years ago. I took to the basket trend this year and spray painted a pale yellow basket I no longer used in my living room a metallic silver for the mini trees to sit in.

On my book case I have lots of small decor pieces. All of the bottle brush trees are from Target ( I LOVE these trees; some of my favorite Christmas decorations). The silver/gold one on the top shelf was purchased last year but the pink/red/gold toned ones were all bought this year from the dollar spot at Target. The gorgeous white angel is from Hobby Lobby.ย  The silver angel on the bottom shelf was made by placing a wire angel I got from my aunt over a plain silver tree I bought at Menards. The gold deer and silver star were both purchased from Target a couple of years ago. The “Believe in the Magic of Christmas” sign is from Kittsona. And last but not least the beautiful wooden manager scene at the foot of the angel on the top shelf was a birthday gift from my parents this year. It is made from real olive wood found in the Holy Land and is such a great addition to my decor.

Table top and top of the stairs:

On my dining room table I created a scene with all pieces from Target. The yellow and pink bottle brush trees, the beautiful white and silver wooden deer, and the fun multi-colored advent calendar were all purchased at Target last Christmas season. The wooden and ribbon “joy” sign above the table I just found at Picks this weekend and the turquoise lettering makes it a perfect fit with the rest of my colors ๐Ÿ™‚

The top of the stairs near my bedroom houses my third small tree which is a fun wooden rotating tree I bought at Picks last year. I added some fun garland and small ornaments to it to add a touch of Christmas to the upper level of my townhouse as well!

The cherry on top: The Tree!!!


The real showstopper this year is my brand new tree. I decided it was time to purchase a larger tree since I now had a house that could accommodate something bigger than the tree I used in my smaller apartment. This beautiful white flocked tree I purchased at Walmart. My ornaments and varieties of garland are all from either Hobby Lobby or Target.

The natural wood and glitter star tree topper was just purchased at Target this weekend to tie in with my wooden star hanging on the wall. I also decided to put my large Christmas tree in a basket this year since that is such a new tactic. I bought a plain wicker basket at Target (ensure that your tree stand will fit in whatever basket you choose!!!) and then bought a can of silver metallic spray paint and painted it to match my theme. This is the same spray paint I used on the other basket my smaller tinsel trees are in. I also love my burlap and silver tree skirt which was purchased at Target a couple of years ago so I chose to keep it underneath the basket so it could still be a part of the tree scene.

On my white chair I have a fun multi-colored beaded deer pillow that I got at Target a year or two ago. The silver JOY decor piece on my end table is from TJ Maxx and I have some great smelling pine wax melts in my warmer to keep my home smelling like a real tree ๐Ÿ™‚ Another tip for those of you with an artificial tree: at Target (and probably other places too!) they sell pine/tree scented sticks that can go on ornament hooks and hang inside your tree so you can have that fresh Christmas-y smell from your non-real tree.

I hope that those of you who have already decided to decorate for the season have felt as much joy as I have as I prepare for this magical time of year. Getting my home ready for this season is one of my favorite things to do each year and I hope that you all experience that same warm feeling!! This might be my favorite photo of all. My sweet Luna puppy all tired out at the end of our first day of decorating. Sitting on the couch just like this and looking towards my tree is my favorite place to be this time of year.


Wishing all of you a wonderful week and excited to be back again soon with some more to share next Sunday ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate all of you so much!


xoxo Jen


Financial tips and tricks

Hi everyone! This time of year can be especially stressful on our bank accounts and cards. With Christmas gifts and other holiday obligations and parties we may spend more than we are comfortable with or put our budget by the wayside.

Since graduating from college I have been working to find financial programs and budgeting tips and techniques that work best for me as I navigate my income and prepare and plan ahead for expenses that come with homeownership and my graduate school expenses.

One of the best things I have done so far to hold myself accountable for my finances and budgeting is to buy a financial notebook/planner to consistently use each month and keep myself on track. The planner I use is one I found last year at Kittsona: a local boutique. It has been great for tracking my months financially and setting financial goals.

When I first decided I needed to get my finances on track and commit to better managing my money I spent one month tracking every single thing I spent money on or bought. This month long snapshot of where my money was going opened my eyes to areas where I knew I was spending too much and gave me an idea of how I could cut back or improve.

Then after my spending habit tracking I worked to create my first monthly budget and set parameters for what was feasible for me to spend in different categories. Keeping in mind that some monthly expenses for me are variable (mainly utilities like electricity and water)


Another vital piece to my financial planning came from my reading of a book by a well known financial educator named Dave Ramsey. I received one of his books as a gift from my parents since they believe his advice is sound. Of course this book is by no means the only book to read if you are seeking financial advice. Everyone has a different mindset when it comes to money so find a book, method, or person that works best for you!!

Just to keep things abbreviated I had three major takeaways from this book but it is filled with valuable information for people in varying financial situations.

1) The envelope spending cash system

– One of the main takeaways I had from Dave Ramsey’s book and overall philosophy was the envelope system for cash budgeting. Dave believes that by paying for things with cash you take on a greater feeling for the spending of the money since it is in physical form. Cash is king in his eyes and so adopting this system has helped me to rethink my spending habits as I’m not always swiping away my money.

The basic concept behind this system is to budget out all of your non essential spending categories for the month, add them up, and then withdraw that money in cash. Then make physical envelopes labeled with each of your categories and put your corresponding budgeted amount for that category in cash in the envelope. As the month goes on you take money out if the appropriate envelope for purchases. If you empty the envelope for a certain category then your only choice is to dip into another envelope if you need money for a purchase in the category or choose to go without. This process helps with impulse spending and also helps in the overall facilitation of your budget.

2) The debt snowball

This concept is very straight forward. Once you accomplish your initial savings and emergency savings requirements you start paying down your debt(s) . Dave’s recommendations to approaching debt is compared to the forming of a snowball. Start small and before you know it you have a huge snowball. When you begin to pay down debt start by writing out every debt you have from smallest to largest. Once you have those amounts listed you can begin to pay them down by starting with the smallest and working your way up. As you pay down small debts and start crossing them of your list you will gain a positive outlook and also build your financial confidence.

One thing that’s important to note is that you will need to continue to pay any minimums on larger debt like student loans and credit cards but can focus the rest of your funds on smaller debts to start with. Once you only have larger debts remaining you can start to apply larger amounts to pay off those debts more quickly instead of feeling stuck paying only minimums.

3) The unprecedented importance of early savings for retirement

I won’t make any specific comments on the subject of retirement savings as everyone has different priorities and philosophies but I will stress how important it is to begin saving for retirement early. Those who are in their early to mid 20s like me: whatever you save now for retirement will pay off in HUGE ways when you reach your retirement age. It’s also important to be sure those who are contributing to employer sponsored plans are taking full advantage of any matching opportunities they are giving you.


If these concepts intrigue you I highly recommend buying one of Dave’s books and diving in. He also sells financial workbooks that can help you get started with the physical planning pieces. I also have friends who have attended classes in one of their local churches our other places that are called “Financial Peace University” which teach Dave’s principles in multiple in person sessions.

Finances are not easy and they are certainly not an easy thing to talk about with others. If you’re feeling that way about money you are not alone!! I hope these tips and ideas give you a good place to get started if you have been looking for motivation or a reminder how important it is to be as financially well as possible. Financial wellness is a key to lower stress and a better relationship with money and feeling in control of your spending.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you all have a great week!


xoxo Jen

Whole30 results and recipes

Hello everyone! I am back from what seems like lengthy hiatus from the blog. The month of October was a blur and it’s crazy that we are already to mid-November. I am currently on a trip visiting one of my best friends in Seattle and had the chance to spend some time writing content to publish for the next few weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

The first thing I wanted to share with all of you was some results, recipes, and tips from my whole30 experience that I wrapped up last week. I began the 30 day program in mid-October with my mom and had a great experience during my thirty day reset.

As far as concrete and numbers based results I lost just under 20 pounds during the program. It was amazing to see the ย changes that occurred during the month that aren’t as obvious to others that are commonly called non scale victories. I found that during the program I slept better than I have in a long time and also had a much easier time waking up in the mornings. I have also experienced clearer skin and healthier looking hair. And this is just to name a few!!

One of the largest victories of this program for me was the challenge it gave me to spend more time and energy being comfortable in the kitchen. I have never found myself trying to build on cooking skills or have an interest in being in the kitchen but whole 30 pushed me to get in the kitchen and try new things.

I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I said the month was easy. There were lots of trying and challenging days that I experienced throughout the program but once I got through the initial “sugar hangover” and sickness feelings of the first 5 days everything was pretty much smooth sailing. I avoided scenarios where I knew I would be tempted with foods I couldn’t have and that really made all the difference. After the second week I felt unstoppable and the routines became easier and the cravings lessened.


Here are some general tips for any of you that might be considering a whole 30 in your future:

– Find some breakfast options you enjoy that don’t involve eggs.As someone who doesn’t really enjoy eggs I easily got tired of them and had to find other options that worked for me in the morning.

– Planning and preparing on the weekends (or any other night that works for you) is essential to your success. By making your breakfasts and lunches for the week ahead of time you won’t be tempted by off plan and non complaint foods because you are prepared with foods you can have.

– Do your grocery shopping after you’ve eaten. I went to the grocery store a handful of times while I was hungry. Big mistake!! The temptations are real. Another grocery shopping tip: go to the store fully prepared with your list and one week at a time.

– Potatoes truly are amazing and can be used in so many ways. This was a staple food for my mom and I. We also found that soups were some of our go-tos for larger batch cooking.


Last but not least I wanted to share some of our favorite recipes that we tried during our month long program. most if them we made multiple times as they proved to be really flavorful and filling.

I know I said to find non egg breakfasts but this is a great option that includes eggs.I just found myself wanting something different after the first couple of weeks.

For a non egg breakfast option thing was my favorite. A sweet and hearty meal to start of the day. You can also get creative with your toppings. I enjoyed it next with fresh raspberries on top ๐Ÿ™‚

ย As I mentioned earlier soup was one of our go-to meals. This was by far my favorite soup recipe that we tried. The red pepper flakes added a nice bite and the chicken apple sausage was really tasty.

ย Last but not least I wanted to share this spiralized veggie recipe. You will eat a LOT of veggies during your thirty days so finding different ways to prepare them helps make things more fun. And who doesn’t like adding bacon to something!!??


All in all I am so happy I decided to give whole 30 a try. I love the new energy I’ve found be eating food that is good for me. I’m going to continue eating whole 30 as best I can between now and the holidays while allowing myself to have some of my favorites along the way. Then I plan to full on return to the plan for the month of January to continue my reset and work forward on my journey of becoming healthier. Especially in my food and eating practices and habits.

Thank you for reading and I’m happy to be back with some consistent content for all of you as we head into prime decorating season for the holidays!!!!


xoxo Jen