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At The Picket Fence by At The Picket Fence - 10M ago

A couple of weeks ago I began to notice how the light was changing in my house throughout the day, shifting and moving from room to room in a way that was different than it had been even just the week before. It was subtle, but it signaled the very end of one season and the very beginning of another.

I realized in that moment that while I absolutely love all of the bold, dramatic elements of Autumn, perhaps my most favorite aspects are those that are a bit less obvious.

The ones that creep up on you.

It’s the way the fields have a soft golden glow about them as they approach the harvest.

Or the way the mornings suddenly have a bit more ‘snap’ in the air and you reach for your favorite sweatshirt.

It’s the slight curling of the leaves on the trees outside my windows.

Or the way that my hydrangeas go from brilliant white to pale green to having the softest pink tint.

All of this was on my mind this year as I began to decorate my home for fall. I knew that I wanted to try to capture the essence of that subtlety. To have the colors in the decor match the way the light was shifting and the golden hues of those beautiful fields we pass each day as we drive to school.

While being smack dab in the middle of Autumn is a glorious thing to behold, I always have that sense of how fleeting it is and that the long winter months are right on it’s heels and this tends to leave me feeling that old familiar ‘mellan-fall-y‘ feeling creeping in.

Maybe that’s why I love the early days of the season so much. Because we are still in that ‘looking forward to’ stage instead of the ‘oh no it’s going too fast’ stage.

For many, Autumn seems to signal the beginning of an end. We know that the leaves are going to begin to fall and lushness will be replaced with bareness. And yet, we tend to forget that dormant isn’t the same as dead.

It’s just a slowing down, a suspension of time so to speak.

So, as much as I love Autumn and welcome it each year with open arms, I am in no particular hurry for it to show off just how fabulous it can really be.

I’m happy to celebrate the small changes, the subtle ways in which the season unfolds.

And how the most beautiful thing about this new season isn’t what happens in my home but what happens in my heart.

Much love to you friends,

Take a look at last year’s fall tour for more inspiration!

The post Fall Mantel with Traditional Colors appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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At The Picket Fence by At The Picket Fence - 10M ago

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*

When we first toured our home with our realtor, one of my most favorite discoveries was that it had an attic. A real, attic. It’s accessed through a little door in the closet of the game room and while you can’t stand completely upright throughout the entire space, there are areas where you are able to move around without getting a crick in your neck.

In the summer it is like a sauna so I avoid it at all costs, but as the days have begun to cool and the leaves have begun to change I find myself in the attic again, opening bins and pulling out decor that hasn’t seen the light of day since this time last year.

And this leads to an annual tradition I call my “Why do I have so much stuff?!” moment. Every year I try to sort through my seasonal decor and yet I have found myself wanting to pair down even more as each new holiday or season rolls around.

So, to help us in our efforts to minimize, my Thrifty Style teammates and I decided it would be so fun if we could pass along some of those seasonal goodies to YOU!

As I began to unpack my fall decor, I found these mercury glass style pumpkins and realized that I haven’t used them in a couple of years.

I know that one of YOU would love to give them a new home.

And I thought for something a little extra I would throw in a copy of my book ‘Life in Season‘.

The Autumn and Winter sections are my most favorite.

There’s just something about these months when we turn our hearts towards the comforts of home. So, we filled it with stories, crafts and recipes we think will help you welcome these seasons.

So, how fun is this? Not only do you get to enter my giveaway for these beautiful pumpkins and my book filled with inspiration for your heart and ideas for your home, today you also get to enter to win even more fun fall goodies!

Click on the images below to enter to win the giveaways from all of the other members of the Thrifty Style Team.


To enter to win my giveaway, simply leave me a comment telling me what you love the most about Fall. 

*GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED*

Thank you so much for stopping by today friends!

 *Have you ever felt like you are the only one who doesn’t want to live in a farmhouse or have their house look like one? You need to read this!*

The post Fun Fall Giveaway! appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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Did you know that if something is very expensive the kids these days refer to as being so “Gucci”? Now, it doesn’t mean that it has to be the actual Gucci brand. According to my teenage son, it’s just a way to say that something costs a ridiculous amount of money and therefore must be very special. (I’m rolling my eyes as I type this.) Another word that is used regularly around here is ‘dope’. Don’t worry, this isn’t referring to drugs. It’s just another way of saying that something is ‘cool’, a slang word which has actually managed to stand the test of time.

There are many more slang words smattering my kids’ vocabulary these days and frankly it all just makes me feel old. My one consolation is that since it seems like the 80’s are making a resurgence (I’ve seen actual acid washed denim in the stores!!! Make it stop!!), there’s always the hope that words like ‘rad’ and ‘tubular’ might just make a comeback too.

But, the other day as I was scrolling through Instagram, I realized that there is one word that has become almost like a slang word within the home decorating community.

Farmhouse

Never before in my life have I seen that word used so often. It’s almost used as much on social media as the word ‘Fortnite’ is used in my house. And if you don’t know what ‘Fortnite’ is, be grateful. (Hint…it’s a video game.)

I’ve also noticed that people seem to be moving to farmhouses in droves. And, I’ll be perfectly honest, we’ve been looking for property for years. Not because we particularly want to be farmers, but because we would really love the space and quiet that is lacking in our neighborhood.

I was talking with my mom recently about the ‘farmhouse phenomenon’ and she couldn’t help but laugh. Because she grew up on an actual farm. And she lived in an actual farmhouse on that actual farm. So, to her, farmhouse style meant hard work. It meant being up before dawn to head out to the fields and helping her mom pluck the chickens. It meant having her own cow which she named ‘Polly’ and remembering how her dad was constantly looking at the sky, watching for storms.

I understand the appeal, I really do. In fact, it could be said that I have a few farmhouse-y style pieces in my own home. And I think one of the reasons that people tend to gravitate towards this look is because we correlate the word ‘farmhouse’ with a simpler way of life. And in today’s culture, a lot of us are craving more simplicity.

Our amazing real estate agent is swamped with clients who want their own farmhouse experience but we have very expensive slim pickings in our area of Oregon so for some it will always be just a dream.

But, what if that’s not your dream? What if you just want a plain ol’ house in a plain ol’ neighborhood?

What if you don’t want chicken wire hanging inside your cabinet doors or baskets on your walls? What if you realize you are so ‘blessed’ but you don’t want a wooden plaque reminding you of it every time you sit down on the toilet? What if you don’t want a coffee table made from a pallet? What if you don’t even…now, brace yourself…what if you don’t even want your walls covered in shiplap?!!

Well, that’s ok.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think you need me to tell you that it’s ok.

I guess I just feel the need to give voice to the fact that sometimes things might tend to get a tad bit overdone. And when those things are a bit overdone, when they overflow from the shelves of the stores and from those little squares we scroll through on our phones, sometimes we can wonder if maybe we’re missing something. Maybe we’re supposed to really like all of this stuff even if in our heart of hearts we know it’s not our style or our dream or our passion.

Or maybe we actually DO like it but it’s just all too much.

A strange thing happens to me when I see that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. Whether it’s a book that is changing everyone’s lives or a show that everyone is watching or a style of decor that is gracing everyone’s homes, I have this bizarre rebellious streak that rises up in me and makes me NOT want to read that book or watch that show or decorate in that style.

And the sad part is that in and of themselves, those things might be things I would really enjoy having in my life. I might actually find encouragement in that book or joy in that show or pleasure in that way of decorating. But, the minute I feel any kind of pressure about them I just kind of want to run the other way. I’m weird. I know.

But, why do we have this tendency in our culture to take something that starts out so innocuous and beat the life out of it?

That’s really what trends are. They come in with a bang and go out with a fizzle and we’re left with either good or bad memories depending on how much we were influenced by that trend. I had really bad experiences with perms so my memories of that trend are pretty horrifying.

Many of you are thinking to yourself right about now, “But ‘farmhouse style’ isn’t a trend.” And you’re right. Capturing the essence of a farmhouse way of life is something we can all have whether or not we actually live in one.

But, I guess I just wonder if it might just be getting diminished a bit.

This is all my opinion, mind you. We can all do whatever we want in our homes because they are just that….OUR homes so, please take what I saw with a grain (or lots of grains!) of salt. But, I guess I’ve just reached a point in my life and in my decorating where I’m finding that I’m becoming less and less influenced by the trends.

You see, when I first started blogging I was very easily swayed by what I saw online. Just like the popular girls in school, you can be tempted to think that you might need to change yourself in order to be more like them. And I spent a good amount of time trying to get my decidedly nowhere near farmhouse style home to fit in. This was a costly mistake both in terms of time and money. So, I started doing things differently. Enter the aforementioned rebellious streak.

Yes, I do pick and choose trendy-ish things here and there that I like and think will work with my body type or the style of my home and don’t cost a lot of money, but I’m cautious about getting sucked in. To me, the most beautiful homes are the ones that look like they’ve been decorated over time, layer by layer.

And, when you think about it, that’s what true ‘farmhouse style’ is. It’s a home that has weathered storms and welcomed sunshine. Rooms which contain treasured family heirlooms and finds at a flea market. Spaces that are unique to their owners and reflect personality and character that can’t be manufactured.

I’m going to confess something to you. I’ve had this post mostly written for a couple of weeks yet but just couldn’t bring myself to actually publish it for fear of sounding critical. Because that’s not my heart. At all. My heart is simply to encourage all of us as we scroll through our phones and see those little squares with images in them to not feel like we need to make ourselves or our homes fit into those squares whatever the style. Yes, be inspired by them. Yes, glean from them. Yes, get excited when you see something that makes your heart go pitter-patter. Mostly, let’s just remember that the squares will all keep changing as time goes on. It’s the nature of the beast when it comes to trends.

But, one thing that doesn’t have to change is our desire to turn houses into homes that reflect our hearts. And my heart is very happy that you all meet me over and over again as I share my home with you.

Much love to you friends,

The post It’s OK if You Don’t Want a Farmhouse appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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At The Picket Fence by At The Picket Fence - 10M ago

10 years. This summer we celebrated 10 years of living in this house. Somewhere (on an old camera buried in a drawer) there is a photo I took when we walked through these rooms for the first time with our realtor. I snapped a shot of an upstairs bathroom and caught in the reflection in the mirror is the image of me holding my 10 month old daughter on my hip while my son runs from room to room behind me.

Now, here we are, with a 15 year old and an 11 year old and a house that slowly became a home. And I realized recently that I’ve never shown it all to you at once. You’ve seen bits and pieces, rooms here and there, but I thought it might be fun to take you on a tour and begin at the beginning.

The other night as my husband and I were shutting down the house in preparation for going to bed, I was going from room to room turning off lamps and I couldn’t help but think about how much this house has changed.

When we purchased this home, there were no TV shows where entire homes were overhauled in a matter of days or weeks with the results being dramatically revealed to the owners. There wasn’t even Instagram with the temptation to scroll past one beautiful room after another feeling more and more discouraged that while those spaces were so impeccably decorated and up-to-date, my own rooms were solidly stuck in 1992, the year the house was built and the money it took for us to buy the house and keep our mortgage low didn’t allow a lot of extra cash for updates.

And I’m SO very thankful for that! Because, I never once thought that our house would be entirely transformed to my liking in a short period of time.

(living room)

I knew it was going to take time. I knew that we had a young family with young family needs and that those needs took precedence. I knew that we had determined to not go into debt as we tackled updating each room.

And that as my style was evolving, my confidence was building.

My kids love to watch videos we took of them when they were younger. And every time I see their sweet little faces on the screen I feel this stab of pain over how quickly time has passed and how bittersweet this whole growing up business is.

But I also feel a stab of pain when I see the ugly green carpet that used to run through our house. And another stab of pain at how long I actually lived with it.

But, I decorated around that green carpet. And it didn’t take away from my ability to enjoy my home. To celebrate as my daughter began taking those first wobbly steps on it. To watch as my kiddos rode their little scooters around in the loop that took them from the kitchen through the dining room into the front entry and back again. Around and around and around for hours on end, laughing as they chased each other and laughing harder as I did acrobatic like jumps to get out of their way.

Having that green carpet and that beat up wood floor in the kitchen and the cabinets with 20+ years worth of dings and scratches and the splintered deck for those first few years didn’t take anything away from how grateful I was for  this house.

If anything, living with those things for the first few years as we saved up money to begin tackling one project at a time helped me to better appreciate it.

The other night we had some dear friends over for dinner and their precious 13 year old daughter was listening intently as we parents talked about our early years of marriage.

For all of us, those years were lean. Like really, really lean. We shared our stories and laughed our heads off and said we wouldn’t trade those times for anything in the world!

Those lean early years were foundational. None of us would’ve dreamed of being able to go on House Hunters as newlyweds and have ‘shoe closets’ and ‘man caves’ on our wish list. Frankly, I was just thrilled that my parents gave us their 30 year old refrigerator when we moved into our first apartment!

(kitchen makeover)

This tendency these days to want to have it all and to have it all so early in life makes me sad.

Because there is just so much beauty and so much to be learned in the waiting.

And we still have some waiting to do. There are more projects we’d like to tackle in this house.

But, some of these projects have to be delayed thanks to a couple of unexpected expenses this summer including the cost of my first ride in an ambulance.

But here’s the great thing about having to live all of those years with a house that needed updating….I don’t feel any sense of urgency over the projects still left to be completed.

Because I know how GREAT if feels to reap the rewards of patience and persistence and stewardship.

And I want my kids to know that they shouldn’t expect for everything to just come together in their homes or in their lives overnight.

Frankly, I kinda want them to struggle a little bit. I want them to have to wait, to dream without being able to immediately have that dream come true.

(master bedroom)

I want them to have to weigh their choices and experienced delayed gratification.

10 years used to not seem like a long time to transform a house into a home but in our speedy makeover culture, I think we’ve lost a little bit of the appreciation for a slower approach.

(girls bedroom)

So, I’ll just be over here continuing to take my time.

(deck makeover)

I’ll look around and see things I’d still like to change and things that have already been done peacefully coexisting in the same space.

A house is so much like a person in that way, don’t you think?

I’m so grateful to all of you who come along for the ride with me and I’m so excited about what is ahead, both for me and my home.

Much love to you dear friends,

The post French Country Home Tour appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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At The Picket Fence by At The Picket Fence - 10M ago

*This post contains affiliate links*

Oh you guys, you are in for such a treat today! My dear friend Katie Reid wrote a book for all of us who are the doers. The women who like to get things done. We’re the checklist making, school party cupcakes at midnight baking, early morning before the rest of the family gets up waking, meals delivered to everyone in need taking, no rules breaking women…and we’re tired. Tired of all of the striving. But we’re also conflicted about how to marry our natural inclinations for doing with the call of receiving.

Based on the story of the time Jesus spent with Martha and Mary (Luke 10), in her newly released book, Made Like Martha, Katie beautifully captures this tension and offers an empathetic perspective, biblical truths and practical steps we can take to lead us to discovering the freedom to be who God created us to be.

And this week I’m SO thrilled to be helping her kick-off her mobile book club! If you haven’t had a chance to get the book, Katie has graciously provided all of chapter one for you for FREE! Just click here to begin reading.

In the summer of 1981, my parents moved us from Springfield, MO to Los Angeles, CA. At the time, my aunt and uncle were pastoring a church called the ‘Beach Fellowship’ and we began attending. Now, it wasn’t called that because it was simply close in proximity to the beach. No, this church literally gathered ON the beach. We went from wearing patent leather mary jane shoes in the ‘Bible belt’ to wearing swimsuits and flip-flops in the sand. To say this was quite a transition is the grossest of gross understatements.

The Sunday school class for my age group was held in a VW bus. Yep. I can’t say that I missed wearing itchy tights to church but even at 5 years old I knew I preferred the comfort of an air-conditioned room at Central Assembly of God to a hot, cramped van even if it was fun to pretend that I was one of ‘Charlie’s Angels’.

Out of all of the lessons I learned in the Beach Fellowship Sunday School class, the one that stands out the most didn’t involve a Bible story brought to life by a flannelgraph board. No, it happened during prayer time.

There I sat on the long, bench-like seat at the back of the van with the other kids, hands folded, eyes closed, trying so hard to focus on God. But, as the teacher began praying, my mind began wandering. And as my mind began wandering, my eyes opened and I looked around to see what everyone else was doing. That’s when I noticed another child also had her eyes opened and I quickly closed my own eyes again and waited for the prayer to be over.

Then our teacher asked us what we had learned during the prayer or if we had felt God speaking to us in any way. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it must have had something to do with the inside of the van (maybe the ugly drapes?). I do know that my prayer observation did not fly under the Sunday School teacher’s radar because she quickly responded, “Now, Vanessa, how would you have noticed that unless you had your eyes open during the prayer.” Caught. I was caught. I had broken some kind of cardinal rule of prayer by having my eyes open and looking around. The wave of shame and embarrassment that flooded over me rendered me speechless and all I could do was put my head down and count the minutes until I was released from my VW bus prison.

Why couldn’t I do what I was supposed to do? Me, the ultimate rule follower, had broken some kind of mysterious rule about prayer. Why was I so easily distracted? Why couldn’t I just sit still and think high and lofty thoughts about God?

Now, as an adult, it makes me furious to think back to that moment in time and how wrong that Sunday School teacher got it. Five year olds aren’t known for their ability to sit quietly with their eyes closed for an extended period of time.

But, what makes me even more disheartened is that it began to lay a foundation upon which was built a lifetime of feeling like there was something wrong with me. The enemy of my soul really messed with me for many years. On the one side, I got caught up in the vicious cycle of striving. Do more…work more…be more. There wasn’t a meal train I didn’t sign up for.

And, on the other side, I looked over at the people who were so content to just ‘be’. Not only did they not feel the pressure to sign up for every, single meal train, they didn’t even feel one bit of guilt about it. This was so baffling to me. I saw their Facebook posts where they talked about getting away all by themselves for a weekend of rest and worship. I watched as they so easily let things go.

I had sort of a spiritual schizophrenia going on. My innate ‘Martha-ness’ very much competing with what I was certain was the better way to be. The ‘Mary’ way.

These words from Katie in chapter one of ‘Made Like Martha’ so perfectly capture this struggle and the offer of freedom extended to us by our loving Father.

“I didn’t choose to be a doer. I was designed to be one. This temperament-this nature-is here to stay. It’s not to be erased but rather to be celebrated and used for God’s glory. Just because we are designed to do doesn’t mean we are inferior or superior to Mary types.” 

If I could go back in time, I would tell that little girl sitting in the VW bus that it’s ok that she opened her eyes and looked around during the prayer. It’s ok that her natural tendencies are towards doing. It’s ok that her mind wanders a bit when she’s trying so hard to focus on God and that it doesn’t mean she loves Him less than the girl next to her who seems so fully in the moment.

Perhaps if that girl had understood that there isn’t a ‘better than’ when it comes to Mary or Martha, she would have been spared a lot of heartache and confusion. And perhaps, she would have learned much sooner (maybe even before she turned 40!) that she could embrace her ‘Martha-ness’ in a way that would allow her to serve the Lord from a place of freedom and peace and that this would be the best feeling ever.

So, for all of you who are constantly striving and trying and doing…are you ready to experience that freedom? Because throughout the coming weeks of this book club you will be taken on a journey that will have you embracing the way you were created as you learn how to use your giftings to honor God and experience the kind of rest that your soul is craving.

~~~~~~~~~~

Katie and I want to extend an invitation for you to join the ‘Made Like Martha’ Sisterhood Facebook group where we will be having ongoing conversations about the themes of the book and just supporting and encouraging each other on our individual journeys.

AND there is so much more in store for you in the coming weeks as the book club continues and we hear from these amazing women who will be sharing their own stories of how being ‘Made Like Martha’ has impacted their lives. I think it’s safe to say that probably no one else had Sunday School in a VW bus. 

Now, how about a little bit of dialogue? Katie and I would love to talk with you about how you see yourself in the story of Mary and Martha so let’s dig into the following question.

Week One Discussion Question:

  1. Have you ever felt that there was a flaw in the way that you were created? What would it look like in your life to experience freedom in the areas where you are struggling to feel confident in the way that your Heavenly Father has created and gifted you?

I can’t wait to hear from you and I’m so glad you choose to meet me here today!

The post I Am Made Like Martha appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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At The Picket Fence by At The Picket Fence - 10M ago

Clearance. Just the word makes my heart start beating faster and my mind race with the possibility of that glorious moment when you happen upon exactly what you were looking for (and, let’s face it, sometimes things you weren’t looking for) at a price that can’t be beat.

And friends, let me tell you, when I committed to doing our office makeover with as much fiscal responsibility as I could muster, I had no idea how many amazing deals I would end up finding!

First there was the metal cart , then I used the bulk of my budget to go towards the new desk and chair BUT by leaving reviews for items I had previous purchased through Wayfair.com I was able to get credit towards these new purchases which brought down the price considerably.

Then, as my daughter and I wandered the aisles of Hobby Lobby (anyone else kind of get overwhelmed in there sometimes?), we found ourselves in the good ol’ clearance section where I spotted these fantastic metal chairs. They were the perfect fit for either side of the bookcases.

And would you just take a look at that price?! I couldn’t believe it!

A couple of weeks later I was back at Hobby Lobby (we finally have one in our city so I’ve been making up for lost time!) on the hunt for frames to hang over the chairs.

I found these wood beauties which had been $24 each on clearance for $7.50! With some beautiful audubon prints inside, they are the perfect addition to the room.

Now, are you ready for the next crazy deal??! I have beautiful, lined silky drapes in my living and dining rooms that (much to my dismay) I did NOT get on clearance.

But, I knew I wanted all of these rooms in the front of the house to have the same window treatments. So, I put aside my clearance section dreams and headed to the store where I had purchased my other drapes (Bed, Bath & Beyond) to get the two more I needed for the office.

But, would you believe that when I got there I discovered that they were clearing out the entire line of those drapes and they were marked down? WAY down. As in from $49.99 to $10!!! Yes, you read that right. Gorgeous, heavy, lined, silky, 95″ drapes for only ten dollars each!!

I may or may not have done a little clearance jig right there in the store. Ok, I definitely did. Then I quickly called my mom to tell her about my deal because that’s the kind of relationship we have.

They add just the right touch of softness to the space.

As I type these words I’m sitting at my new writing desk and just can’t help but look around this room and marvel at how far it has come. It’s gone from a space that desperately needed to be cleaned out and spruced up and had been taken over by my husband and kids to a room that is not only so much more functional for everyone’s needs but is also just lovely to look at.

And, here’s the thing, because we have some bigger expenses coming our way (the kids’ bathroom needs a full renovation, like, yesterday!), I was very determined to spend as little as possible transforming this office. This meant painting furniture I really didn’t want to paint, making one purchase at a time to spread out the spending and just generally being patient as the room came together slowly but surely.

When you are trying so hard to be a good steward of your resources and you find those rare gems, those perfect pieces at the perfect price, it is just about one of the best feelings ever, don’t you think?

I’m so thrilled to be back with my Thrifty Style Team gals again this month bringing you so many great budget-friendly ideas!

Be sure to pay them all a visit for loads of thrifty inspiration!


The post More Bargain Finds for the Office appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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At The Picket Fence by At The Picket Fence - 10M ago

Every time I do a room makeover I’m reminded of how very different the process is in real life vs. what you see on television. This is especially true if you are working on a budget and I’m always working on a budget.

So, while I would LOVE to say that one month after first starting our office makeover this room is completely done….it’s just not. Between being unable to make decisions, waiting for deliveries, being unable to make more decisions, spreading out purchases to stay on budget and still being unable to make decisions, it’s just going a little bit more slowly.

But, there still has been a lot of progress made folks and today I’m excited to show you some of the recent additions to the room.

We used to have an L-shaped workstation set up in here but, while I kept some of the original pieces and painted them a soft creamy color, I decided I really wanted the second workspace to be ‘floating’ in the middle of the room.

Enter this beautiful writing desk from Wayfair.

I absolutely love the details on this beauty and that the narrow legs help to keep the room feeling more open and airy.

I knew that I wanted a chair that could swivel back and forth between the two desks (the computer my son built from scratch is on the desk on the wall) and found the perfect one (also on Wayfair) but it was…ahem…a little more than I was willing to spend.

BUT, as I stalked it online, one day I noticed that it had gone on sale. And then I noticed that if I left reviews on other items I had purchased, Wayfair would give me credits towards my next purchase. So, all of that combined made this chair not only the perfect fit for the room but also the perfect fit for my budget. Win/win!

I’m still loving the metal cart I found on clearance and having the mix of different wood tones plus metal accents really makes the room feel so much more layered.

Next up I will be hanging the curtains I found for an INSANE bargain price and I can’t wait to show them off to you and hope to have the full reveal of this room very soon!

Thanks for letting me give you this little update on the progress of our office makeover!

The post Office Makeover Update appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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One of my most favorite things to do this time of the year is to open up our windows and hear the birds chirping. Now, mind you, I don’t always enjoy hearing them REALLY early in the morning, but there is just something about their chirping that is so distinctively and cheerfully symbolic of these warmer days.

Recently, though, we began to notice more activity than usual. Our snowball tree was the object of great interest by two particular birds. They were flying in and out all day and we had no doubt about what was happening.

Sure enough, within a few days, a beautiful nest had taken shape. And soon after that, the mama robin could be seen perched upon the nest. When we would get close to the tree, she would be so very still. Hyper aware of our movements and so protective of her babies.

It became part of our daily ritual to check on the nest. We were always careful to keep our distance but we were just so anxious for the impending arrival of new life.

Then, one day, after my son had mowed the lawn he came into the house and said he was pretty sure that the eggs had hatched. The mama wasn’t there and he was certain he had seen the nest moving.

We all raced outside to confirm his suspicions and, sure enough, the little nest was moving and shaking. We smiled and quietly celebrated as though it was a new member of our own family.

The next afternoon I began to notice that there was quite a bit more squawking happening than usual. At first, I just thought that the robins were happily enjoying their new baby but then I began to observe a lot of activity in the tree. Birds of all different varieties were flying in and out of the tree and the robins were doing their best to keep them away from their precious nest. I watched as one of the robins chased a turtledove out of the tree following after it until it flew out of the yard.

And then, in an instant, it happened. What looked like a full-on bird brawl broke out among the tree branches. Mama and papa robin were flying around and squawking like crazy and in the blink of an eye, their tiny baby bird fell out of the tree just as a giant blue jay made his appearance. My daughter and I quickly ran outside (we had been observing all of this from the safety of the house) to check on the baby. The blue jay (rightfully intimidated by us) wisely fled the scene but mama and papa were loudly and wildly expressing their concern. The tiny peeps from the baby let us know that, thankfully, it was still alive.

By now, my husband and son had joined us outside. We were frantically trying to figure out what to do, mama and papa robin were frantically tweeting at us and getting ready to dive bomb our heads if necessary and it was just general mayhem there for a few moments. A quick search of the interwebs revealed that it was, in fact, a myth that you aren’t supposed to put birds back in the nest after they fall out so off to the garage went my husband to get a ladder while the rest of us stood guard over the baby. With gloves on his hands, my husband gently picked up the baby and my son and I held the ladder in place against the tree so he could climb up to the nest. My daughter waved her arms wildly at the parents to keep them from attacking her daddy as he attempted this rescue.

As soon as the little bird was back in the nest we hurried inside and observed the robins quickly flying home to their baby. It struck me that while we were in fact helping them, we had appeared as dangerous to them as that mean old blue jay.

And I couldn’t help but think about all of those times in our lives when God’s sovereign hand of love and protection feels like anything but.

In those moments when the disappointment or hurt or fear feel so completely overwhelming and you can’t understand how THIS thing you are going through could be part of God’s plan for your life.

How do we trust that what looks so bad can ever be good?

The mama and papa bird were only able to see and experience what was happening right in front of them. Their baby was in trouble. But we knew that the end result was going to be better. The baby was going to be safely returned to it’s nest. We couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t happen again, but we could help in that moment.

It seems to me that it’s in the middle of it all, when we can’t see beyond the circumstances, we begin to doubt God’s goodness. And when protection takes the shape of something else…something scary…something hard…something disappointing, we don’t recognize it. Because, in our minds, protection should always look like something safe.

But we were never promised safety.

What we were promised was the strong, mighty hands of our Father carrying us through our times of trouble.

 “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

I can look back at so many times in my own life when the circumstances that seemed so hard in the moment turned out to be God protecting me from something even worse.

What about you? I’d love to hear your stories of experiencing God’s hand of protection!

Thank you for meeting me here today dear friends,

The post A Family Emergency (of the bird variety) appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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When my kids were little, I would regularly turn anything that felt like a chore into a game. Usually this involved me coming up with some very cute and clever (at least in my mind!) song to go with it.

“Let’s see who can pick up the train tracks the fastest!”

“How many toys do you think you can find under your bed?”

“Who can guess how many Lego pieces are on this floor? Pick them up to find out!”

There was just something about turning a task into a fun activity that made it more motivating. For some reason though, now that my kids are in the tween/teen years they don’t find my attempts at doing this as fun. I even offer to make up some songs to go with it! Go figure.

But, I know for a fact that one ‘game’ I will never outgrow is the “how cheaply can I re-decorate this room” game.

So, as I continue tackling our office makeover , I’m determined to find ways to cut costs and enjoy the fun of chasing down a bargain.

A couple of weeks ago I hit up Hobby Lobby in search for storage for this little corner of the office. I really wanted something that was just kind of ‘mine’ since the rest of the office is used by everyone in the family. I wandered around and around and around the aisles and saw so many pieces that would have definitely fit the bill. But not the right kind of bill. You see, I was determined to spend under $75.

Just as I was heading towards the exit, I decided to take one more look at the clearance section and it was there I found it! The perfect metal storage cart on sale for $40!!

It was a little bit wobbly and one of the wheels needed to be straightened out but I didn’t care because I have no intentions of wheeling this baby around the house. No, it’s just going to sit right here against the wall and look pretty.

I couldn’t resist placing a stack of my books, Life in Season, right on top. (if you don’t have a copy yet what are you waiting for?!)

As I’m working on the book proposal for my next book (equal parts terrifying/exciting/exhausting), I’m hoping that as I sit at the desk and look across the room, I will see my first book there and be inspired to keep going.

I also thought it would be so fun to display some of the books written by my friends and I can’t wait to add more to this little collection. I’m so proud of all of these women and blessed to have them in my life!


The boxes on the bottom provide some great storage for photos and cards and other odds and ends and I’m sure I will have fun mixing up all of the decor on the shelves from time to time and definitely with each new season.

Isn’t it funny how something can actually look even more beautiful when you know you got it for a bargain?

Now, I cannot wait to show you how my budget decorating game playing paid off with another purchase for the office but until then, I hope you enjoyed getting a little glimpse at how the office makeover is progressing and celebrating with me on my thrifty find! And are you ready to see more thrifty ideas and inspiration?

It’s time once again for our monthly Thrifty Style Team meet up!

Be sure to click on the links for all of the fabulously budget friendly ideas!

Thank you so much for stopping by today sweet friends,

The post Decorating a Metal Cart for an Office appeared first on At The Picket Fence.

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