Snapshots from our couch…and random stuff

So there were several questions yesterday and I am going to answer them all here:

1. How do I keep my camera out of the mud? I only snap a few photos and then sit it on counter inside. I can reach in and grab it without actually going in the house. I don’t keep my camera with me the whole time. I just get a handful of shots I like and then put the camera up so I can be with my kids and not behind my camera.

2. Where is the doll from in the rocker in FireCracker’s room? the etsy shop Goodbye Blue Monday…though the shop is closed now. Anyone know anything on that?

3. Who is the green fabric with the flowers by? Heather Bailey, it’s called Rose Bouquet in Emerald

4. The photos of you and your newborns….how are they done? They are mounted prints. You can ordered mounted prints from Mpix.

5. Is that a picture within a picture of a little girl we haven’t met (pointed out not asked as a question)? Nope, that is a little guy that Chris met while in Haiti. You can read about him by clicking here.

6. Is that a new Wonder Woman shirt? Nope, my mom got it from Old Navy last year. When FireCracker had her long hospital stay she refused to wear anything but her red Wonder Woman shirt, my mom got her the purple one so I could wash the red one!

7. What are you using for the shelves in your kitchen, living room, & landing? Red oak boards. I get them for cheap at a local saw mill and then my grandpa planes down one side. The underside stays rough, but the top is smooth. The idea is for the top to be easy to dust, but I never dust. I redecorate.

8. What is the pink lace fabric? Well, glad you asked. The pink was from a Target sheet and the lace is an old curtain. I sewed them together to make a pillow. One of my only sewing projects that worked the way I hoped it would.

He turned four. I remember the days I thought four was so old. Four is so little to me now. Just a little guy. A four year old little guy who melts me…and makes me reevaluate my parenting mindset everyday. How can one kid be the easiest and the hardest in the same breath?


It has been dark and rainy all week here…with exception to that short break where my kids buried themselves in mud. On his birthday I asked him if I could snap a few pictures of what he looks like now that he is four. He gave me about 2 minutes. We couldn’t go outside so we sat in front of the window.

I didn’t fix his hair…obviously. Soon I’ll take all the boys outside somewhere for their yearly posed pictures – that are torturous for all of us. Once a year. I didn’t tell him what to do, I just snapped away.

Photo tips: Blur in your pictures can be caused by several different things. The most common is too slow of a shutter speed. My shutter speed was fast enough to get sharp images when he was fairly still, but once he started jumping up and down, he got blurry. To fix this I could have increased my ISO and sped up my shutter speed.

Another cause of blur can be related to your aperture setting. When you shoot around f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2.0 and f/2.8 the depth of field (area of the photo that is in focus) can be pretty small depending on how close you are to your subject. In the photo below (f/2.8), I was so close to him that the depth of field really only included his mouth and nose. His eyes, which were farther distance from me than his nose & mouth, were just out of the depth of field and as a result are blurry. It might be hard to tell, but once you get used to looking for this it is easy to see.

Here’s a closer version…do you see how his nose and mouth are sharper than his eyes?

An easy way to fix this is just to move back a tiny bit from the subject. All of these photos were shot at f/2.8, but if you notice the ones where I am farther from him – there is a lot more in focus. The closer you are to your subject, the smaller the area that is in focus (depth of field).

He’s getting older. He asks every single day when I am going to go to China to get his baby sister. He is so anxious and excited. I cherish the deep love he already has for her. I cherish him.


The next SnapShop course will be April 22nd – May 13th. You can find more information and sign up by clicking here. This will be the last SnapShop I will be doing until the fall.

I currently have a handful of openings for April available. I am also booking for May and June, but not beyond June at this time. For more information on advertising, you can contact me via the “contact” tab on the top right corner of the blog.

And just for fun….here are some links I’ve enjoyed recently:

Why Everybody Needs to Make Art Everyday by Ann Voskamp

Don’t Waste Your Time Trying to “Find” Your Style by Promise Tangeman

Spring Mantle decorating ideas by The Lettered Cottage and their readers

Homemade Sugar Cubes with Ruffles & Stuff

Mail a goodie filled plastic Easter egg (as is, no box) by The Giver’s Log



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  • Linda - Love those pictures! I ordered a doll for my daughter for Christmas from goodbye blue monday and it never came in. I followed up on it and saw the shop had closed…Goodbye $50. I think I’m more disappointed that my daughter doesn’t have the doll though.

  • Kezia - I have a four year old brother – four is such a fun age, I think:) Happy Birthday to your son!

  • anna - my younger daughter turned four today – i think she’d get along like a house on fire with your 4 year old. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    i love four…

  • Belinda - Goodbye Blue Monday etsy shop is closed because the failed to fill their Christmas orders. I along with many others did not get their orders and received no explanation. I was left out of pocket two dolls. Very disappointing!

  • Mandi - It is sad how little four seems now that I have a 12 year old! My four year old was almost named what your four year old is named because it is Daniel’s middle name! Instead we went with Daniel’s first name as Big Boy’s middle name. Thanks for all the photo tips! I have been practicing a lot since snapshot, but still struggle with blur from aperture.

  • Danielle - Happy Birthday sweet boy.

  • Carrie - I love that now that I have taken your Snapshop course (thank you!), I understand the words aperture and shutter speed and can actually track along with the helpful suggestions in your blog posts. Yeah!

  • Ashley - what a disappointing thing to hear about that site not sending out people’s orders … I just found a link yesterday on another blog with a free tutorial from Black Apple on how to make a doll that looks very similar … I’m going to try it for my daughter’s first birthday in May … p.s. really enjoyed the SnapShop class ๐Ÿ™‚

  • kiley - Thanks for the photo tips! My biggest frustration lately is out of focus pictures like of your son’s eyes…can’t see it on my camera display…and I feel pretty happy about my shots until I see the larger image on my computer screen.

    Have a blessed day!

  • Shelby - Ashley, I’d love to hear from a pro how you typically get photos printed from mpix. We have some amazing pics of our 2 year old from a pro but she doesn’t do the printing, and I’m not sure how to specify my order. Any tips or best practices you can suggest?

    Happy birthday to the little man!

  • Beth - “the easiest and the hardest”…..that’s our son, too….and how we’ve always described him. but now, at 20, and we’re still using those descriptive words….well, it’s not quite as cute or fun anymore.
    you know what they say….little kids, little problems…big kids, sometimes the sheriff shows up at your front door to ask a few questions ๐Ÿ™

  • Brooke - he’s such a ham for the camera, he’s gonna be a charmer one day for sure!

    I love that you not only share these great pics but teach us with them too!

  • heather - i love when you share links you’re loving.
    those are all SO good!!

  • Heather - Went to old navy a few weeks ago and saw a girls wonder woman shirt in case someone was asking because they wanted one.. Of course I smiled and thought of firecracker when I saw it!

  • erin from candy kirby designs - i was so sad that goodbye blue monday closed shop because i wanted more of their dolls! so i made myself a pattern and a tutorial so anyone who wants to make one can! it’s in my shop:

  • stayday - I also ordered 2 dolls for christmas and they never came, it’s like they dropped off the face of the earth. I issued a dispute with paypal and got my money back no worries.

  • Ann Voskamp - I love how you make art, friend.
    He uses you to kindle us all! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Light on!

  • Mary - just wondering what you typically use for your metering mode, think that’s what half my problem is. I use spot metering, but wonder if that doesn’t narrow down my area of focus too much sometimes. I get more pictures soft than I do sharp!

  • Geneva - Hey Ashley, I have been a long time reader but this is my first time posting (woot!). I am in love with everything about your blog and your family. I am so excited to see your baby girl soon and to follow your family’s excitement upon welcoming her home at last!
    But the real reason i finally decided to comment today is what I found on apartment therapy that i thought you had to know about. You may have already seen it, but just in case:
    Have a great day! God bless.

  • Recently and Links « - […] A great, easy tutorial on getting portraits of your kids inside(hint: have them face a […]

  • Meghan - I also ordered a doll from goodbye blue monday which never came. I almost filed a dispute with Paypal, but heard from the shop owner ONCE saying my doll would arrive soon. I waited and my 45 day limit to file a complaint lapsed and almost immediately after that the shop closed and I’m out $50. I filed a complaint with the federal bureau for internet crimes, but that’s about the only recourse I had. On a happier note- gorgeous photography!

  • Jenny - So thankful Emily linked your blog! I need these tips terribly. I took a class years ago but feel like I must have forgotten some things because my pictures just aren’t cutting it. (Of course, you and Emily definitely have a gift and eye for this stuff!) Thank you for sharing these tips. I really appreciate it!