I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to this month’s sponsors.

Lots of fun goodies and shops to keep you busy this weekend!

(all site descriptions are written by the shop owners)


Perfect excuse for an early spring, Allora Handmade is full to the brim with rosettes of every color.

Enjoy 10% off with the code: ASHLEYANNROCKS

Catch Allora Handmade here: Shop, Blog, Twitter, Facebook


vintage + industrial + retro + primitive + antique + flea market finds…at least one NEW listing each day…

Catch Bellalulu here: Shop, Twitter, Blog


a great place to find journaling tags, embellishments and stamps for all your scrapbooking needs

Catch Elle’s Studio here: Shop, Blog


HELLO from MuncleFred ART. Jessica, Michaela, Meghan, and Kayla make up MuncleFred ART. In our etsy shop we crochet, paint, sew, collage, and we like to try our hand in a few other things likc clockmaking and arithmetic πŸ™‚ We are loving life, especially life in the craft world, so take a peek at our site if you’d like!

Catch MuncleFred ART here: Shop, Website


My name is Ashlee and I run a wee shop called Tweet Baby Designs. I specialize in teething necklaces, amber necklaces and fabric hair clips, with a little bit of spunk thrown in for good measure.

Catch Tweet Baby Designs here: Shop


the place to find fabulous handmade baby burp cloths, blankets, loveys and other fun items

Catch Leyton Smiles here: Shop, Blog, Facebook


All things cutesie for kiddos….and a few extra πŸ™‚

Enjoy 15% off with the webcode: ASHLEYANN15

Catch Phinnie & Pais here: Shop


Elizabeth Williams creates handmade sterling silver jewelry with freshwater pearls, semi-precious stones and vintage elements.

10% off to all Under the Sycamore readers using coupon code: UNDERTHESYCAMORE10

Catch Elizabeth Williams Jewelry here: Shop, Facebook


A whimsical blend of unique accessories, fine art portraits and party decor.

Enjoy a 10% discount for the month of March with the code: SYCAMORE10

Catch Elizabeth St. here: Shop, Website, Blog



Storkie Express was started in 1990 by a WAHM with a vision for a new type of stationery experience. For over 20 years that vision has remained at the core of what we do: providing high quality, affordable custom printed invitations, announcements and cards, along with an unparalleled customer experience.

Catch Storkie here: Shop Home, Baby Shower Invitations, Graduation Invitations, Wedding Invitations


Send Love. Expect Nothing in Return.

Enjoy a 25% discount using the code: ASHLEYROCKS

Catch Songs Kate Sang here: Shop, Blog


House 8810 offers a variety of unique items for the home and everyday life, for children and adults. We try to accommodate all price ranges and offer low shipping rates. Stop by for a visit, you never know what you might find!

Catch House 8810 here: Shop, Blog, Facebook, Twitter



Heartsmiles celebrates my love for yarn, and is inspired by everyday beauty that makes my heart sing. On my blog I share what makes my Heart Smile πŸ™‚ and how it influences the items in my shop!

Discount for March: Use the code Ashley15 for 15% off

Catch Heartsmiles here: Shop, Blog, Twitter


Clover Threads items are all handmade with the utmost care and love in hopes they will be enjoyed for many years. Perhaps passed down for generations! A blend of embroidery, applique, personalization, and style make each Clover item unique and cherished. Each item can be made-to-order with embroidered or appliqued names or initials and colors to suit your fancy, or the that of the lucky recipient of your gift.

Catch Clover Threads here: Shop


A custom toy portrait is a unique gift for any child (or child-at-heart). Simply email a photograph of the lovey or toy, and Erin will hand-paint a lasting memory of the child’s best friend.

Offering free custom framing for the month of February. Purchase an unframed portrait, mention SYCAMORE in checkout, and receive a complimentary matting and framing.

Catch First Friends Toy Portraits here: Shop, Facebook, Blog


Sweet accessories for sweet heads. Cute hair clips featuring original designs and needlework. Custom orders are welcome!

For the month of March, enjoy a 15% discount with the coupon code: Ashley15

Visit our blog for shop news, diy adventures, and great Etsy finds. Also visit us to find out how to receive an additional grand opening discount (read: Free Shipping)

Catch Sunshine & Lolli here: Shop, Blog, Facebook


I create to bring JOY to women and their families, friends, and home. I am always happy to take custom orders.

Enjoy 10% off your order using the code: UNDERTHESYCAMORE

Catch For the Love of Joy here: Shop, Blog, Facebook, Twitter


stella bella boutique offers pieces that are dainty, bold and everything in between

custom orders are welcomed for individual pieces or bridal parties

Enjoy 10% off of your total purchase with the coupon code: UNDERTHESYCAMORE

Catch Stella Bella Boutique here: Shop, Blog


Julie Thacker Photography specializes in beautiful artistic images that tell an authentic timeless story. Available for travel in the US and Internationally.

Catch Julie Thacker Photography here: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter


Helloooo! My name is Gussy. I sew ruffles and share my adventures of having a handmade biz on my blog. I live in Minneapolis with my husband Zack and puppy Bauer. Inside my shop you’ll find colorful, ruffled accessories: tote, laptop and market tote bags, zipped pouches, make-up bags, wristlets, headbands — even eReader cases.

Enjoy a 15% off discount with the code ASHLEYANN15

Catch Gussy Sews here: Shop, Blog


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  • Ms. Megan - squeeee!! Thank you soooo much for the coupon for Allora Handmade!!! I just bought one of her beautiful necklaces!!
    HAve a wonderful weekend!!

  • Jess H - I’m smiling that House 8810 is now one of your sponsors…they found you!!! I found their website not too long ago, and was about to send you the link b/c you were the first thing I thought of when I saw their fun stuff! too funny!!

Well, I am attempting to answer a few of the questions you’ve been asking recently:


Any ideas where I can get those beakers? I got mine from a guy named Skeeter (see another use for them here). It was a random find, but you can find similar spice jars at home stores.

Do I have to have Photoshop to make those letters? Yes. It is a simple Photoshop template. I don’t know how you would create them without Photoshop other than cutting photos.


Is 09.01.01 your wedding date: Yep!

Did your frames come with glass and velvet matting? Glass – yes, Velvet-not sure…they were a gift from Natasha

Can I move in with you? How well do you handle organized chaos?!

Where is that blue dress from? It is actually grey…from Dillards nearly 2 years ago!


Where is her quilt from? My aunt Sandy made it. It is out of Amy Butler Midwest Modern fabric.

Where is her blanket from? My mom made it…no idea on the fabric. Sorry.


Where is her apron from? I got it at The Christmas Gathering store in November. I tried finding it online, but can’t.

What is your favorite playdoh recipe?

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

2 tablespooons cream of tartar

1 cup water

food coloring

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine it all, cook in a skillet over medium heat, stirring the whole time. When it forms a ball, remove and knead it.


Where are her pillows from? The raspberry pillowcases are from Target (2 years ago). I wrapped a panel of tangerine Amy Butler fabric around them. The others I made from Amy Butler fabric.

How big is that letter “B”? It is about 9 inches tall.


Love your jeans. What are they? Gap clearance rack a few years ago…rolled up dorky like so I didn’t get mud on them πŸ™‚


Are a lot of your photos out of focus when you use a shallow depth of field? Yes and No. Using a shallow depth of field like above (f/1.8) takes practice for sure. The farther you are from your subject the higher your chances of getting things in focus…the closer you are to the subject the more likely you’ll get more out of focus. I rarely shoot a moving subject (like a kid) at f/1.8, but in this case I had great lighting (fast shutter speed) and a good distance for what I wanted to capture. The more you practice at shallow depth of fields the less often you’ll get out of focus shots.

I find a hard time determining if something is in focus or not when I look through my lens. Why is that? First check your diopter (read this link).Β  From there it matters if you are shooting in automatic focus or manual focus. I basically never use manual focusing. I use the lens auto focus…thus can hear a little “beep” when things are in focus.

Can you tell us what you used to edit these lovelies of your babies? I import all photos into Adobe Lightroom. I use Lightroom for batch editing and organizing everything. I do additional tweaking and prepare for web in Photoshop CS4.


Where did you find the Wonder Woman shirt? Old Navy last summer.

How do you keep your photos from being ‘dragged’ and copied online? It is just a safety feature that is part of my ProPhoto blog template.

White balancing: do you leave it at Auto or adjust accordingly? I leave it on Auto 99% of the time. I do make minor adjustments in Adobe Lightroom if needed.

What is the exposure for the photos above? I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this question. I do set my exposure meter on my camera to be ‘overexposed’ just a bit because I find that is tends to be underexposed for my taste otherwise. The settings for the actual photos are included on that post.


Would you mind sharing why you like the 85mm f/1.4 lens? It takes beautiful portraits. It is sharp. It can capture gorgeous bokeh (blurry part of image). I like prime lenses (meaning you can’t zoom in and out) because it forces me to be more creative than just stand there turning my hand.

If you had to choose between the 24-70 and the 24-105 lenses, which would you choose? If you are talking about the 24-70mm f/2.8, I would choose it for the ability to shoot at f/2.8 (blurry backgrounds that I like).

If you could only buy ONE camera lens for everything, but mostly everyday shots of your kids, which would you choose? The 24-70mm f/2.8 (see answer above).


I have always wondered if you photoshop every image you post on here, the colors and clarity are always on spot! Yes. Sometimes it is very minor, like re-sizing and sharpening for web. Other times I have more time and play with more dramatic actions and so on. I do typically adjust the Curves (contrast) on most photos I post online.

Are we supposed to clean our cameras? Yes! Especially if you like to change out your lenses. I am going to get into the habit of having my camera professionally cleaned once a year. It isn’t cheap, but it is surprising how much it affects the clarity of your pictures.

Well that’s a lot of Q&A….and it was all very random!

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  • stephanie @ providence handmde - I noticed your wedding date, too….we were married on 9/08/01 and were on our honeymoon during 9/11…maybe you were too? Such a bittersweet thing. Thanks for the awesome shadowbox tute – can’t wait to try it out. Oh, and I wonder if you could use a scrapbooking die-cutter (Cricut, Silhouette) to cut out the picture letters? I don’t have one, just a thought.

  • Shannon Phillips - Love the Q and A header! Keegan loves the photos of your kids. He keeps talking about Biggest Brother building the snow fort and jumping and climbing on the bed with the ladder with everyone. Ha, oh and he likes to give firecracker hugs on my computer screen. πŸ˜‰

  • Cara - Love a good q&a, love your blog! For the play-dough recipe I use a package (any flavor) of Koolaid instead of food coloring. It works great and smells sooooo good! Grape is my fav but cherry and lime and blue raspberry all turn out bright and fun! Just thought I’d share?

  • kassondra - i just was wondering what your process is for taking the pictures with you in them. my husband has no clue about photography but I want good pictures of me with my kids. usually i set the timer. do you have any tips?

  • anne c - of course i love reading through the whole post, but i am so excited u put the directions for the playdoh! i knew u posted it a while back but i searched and searched for it the other day and couldnt find it. thanks again!

  • Melissa W. - Fun post! I just got an external flash and have been playing with that, trying to learn the ins and outs. πŸ˜‰ Are you still planning on having an online photo class? I’m signed up for your newsletter so I’ll hear if you announce one – just excited! πŸ™‚ Again, great post – such beautiful babies! πŸ™‚

  • Cory - I love the photo tips!! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  • Melissa - Thank yo ufor taking the time to answer these questions! I learn so much from your blog!

  • jenny - hey there,
    i’m a newbie to your blog-love it! i also love your hair…is it naturally curly and if so, what products do you use and how do you style it?


  • Jenny Joy - I know that answering questions like that has to be time consuming, but I’m so glad you did! I have to admit, I asked myself at least 3 or 4 of those questions while I was reading. Thanks for the extra info!

  • Rebecca - Was wondering where do you keep your camera? I find if I keep mine in the bag its not handy when my kids are being cute. Just curious. Enjoy the day.

  • hearttypat - yep! u answered my questions pretty well! that was what I wanted to know! Thanks ashley!!

  • Krista Lund - thanks for the q&a!

  • Angie - I sell those aprons in my baby boutique! Love them!

  • Heather Bowser - You can find beakers here http://www.papertreyink.com/pack_trendytubes.html

    Thank you Ashley for sharing πŸ™‚

  • mariagiovanna - Thank you so much for answering my question (about the depth of field when photographing kids)…I really appreciated it and find your blog to be so inspiring – Thank you for sharing!

  • Jill - Hi Ashley…I was just thinking about having my camera cleaned. Who do you use for that? My camera tends to get pretty dirty when I’m handling and photographing my rusty, chippy old things!
    Thanks! Jill

  • katie - Thank you! I know that took up a lot of your time.

  • Jessica - Hi Ashley,

    I absolutely love your blog and I have been reading for quite a while now. When I first started reading I was just dreaming of being a mom and would store all of your wonderful ideas when it comes to creativity and having fun with your kids. Now my little one is due in April and I am so excited.

    I don’t usually comment but i know that I should. Positive comments always leave a good feeling!

    Anyway, I saw this today and it made me think of you. I think you’ll like it! Have a good day with your adorable kiddos!


  • Rachel - thank you! i always love hearing your perspective as I love your photography, blog!

  • tara furnas - I just happened upon those beakers yesterday at the container store. Love that idea.

  • Jessica - ugh i was told that my first comment didn’t post. oos!

  • Sheena - You said you didnt know what fabric that blanket was…..I dont remember the speficic print name, but its by Joel Dewberry. It might be called, “Sparrow.”

  • Rachel - Thanks for sharing! always been a fan of your photography and im glad to hear all your “secrets” πŸ™‚

  • amanda torres - When I read the camera settings stuff it’s like reading Chinese. I think it’s time to do a Snapshots class.

  • Megan - Thank you so very much!! Can’t wait to make playdoh!

  • Sarah - I am sad I might have missed my chance. My Question is…..Why are you so against using flash? I love natural light, but I rarely see you post anything taken at night. I take a lot of pictures of my kids at night and I feel I have no other choice.

  • Kate S. - Did you intentionally choose a blog template with a photo safety feature? I thought it was strange that someone had obviously tried to drag/copy your photos in the first place and even more odd that they even thought to ask you about the security features. It had me wondering . . .

    I have never tried to copy one of your photos previously, but out of curiosity did so just now, while reading this thread in my feed reader (Sage) and the photos copy just fine. Whatever safety feature is in place in the template must be deactivated by my use of Sage. I thought I’d mention that, just in case you were, in fact, deliberately trying to secure your photos.

  • Lacey - I love the vacation shadow box. I assumed you had cut the letters out of white and then placed them over the photos, so I guess that’s another option since someone was asking (from the 2nd question). I really enjoy your blog!

  • tasha roe - i am totally making those letters and giving them as baby shower gifts from now on.
    and thanks for the shout out. πŸ˜‰

  • Keri ~ Forever Folding Laundry - I love love my 85mm lens, too. f/1.8 = awesome!
    Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
    And that fabric is from my friend Bari J’s Full Bloom fabric line. It sure makes a lovely blanket!! πŸ™‚

    Love your blog!

  • Natalie - We were also married on September 1st! But…2007.

  • Erin - The Smallest Sparrow - Thanks so much for all of this wonderful information! Especially the great photography tips. Super helpful stuff.

  • Shanna - You are such a love. THank you for answering my quesiton…. I need to find myself a Skeeter!

  • Taneesha - Our anniversary is 09/01/01 too! And we have 3 boys and a baby girl! And i love crafts and pictures, well I love to look at them from other people’s blogs:) Thanks for sharing your world with us!

  • Amy - i am excited that one of my questions made your post! thank you for taking the time to answer your readers FAQ’s πŸ˜€ i learn something cool every time i visit.

  • Jennifer - You are my good friend, and I don’t even know you πŸ™‚ You teach me so much! Thank you !
    I am also a photographer and I use lightroom and photoshop too. What is your process for editing from lightroom to photoshop and then bringing them back into lightroom? I know it could be easier than what I do! I edit them in photoshop by clicking Command E in lightroom. Edit in CS4, save and then import the “new edited” version in lightroom. Kind of a pain!

  • noel - love all the design ideas on here!
    for anyone interested, i’m sure those little aprons are available at many store… i know you can find those little girl aprons at my family’s restaurant supply store in north little rock, ar. check them out online at http://www.krebsbrothers.com/ or find on facebook or twitter πŸ™‚

  • Ashley A - Wow! Thanks for the information. I just bought my first 50 mm f/1.4 yesterday, so now I’m verrrry excited to use it! πŸ™‚ When time permits, I love it when you list your photo settings. Love your site!

    ps we share the same name!

  • Scott - Thank you for sharing the link to my diopter blog article. Great Q&A as well Ashley.

  • Krissa - Thank you!

  • Anna - Thank you for your Q and A!!! πŸ™‚ And answering a question I had. I adjust my diopter…wahoo!

  • Carissa - Seriously? Someone asked if they could move in with you. WTH. Just sayin. You handled that with grace of course, unlike I would have. πŸ™‚

  • Carissa - P.S. I have been meaning to ask you about the shot of Big Brother at the f/1.8 which you answered in the Q&A. I was shocked you got that picture at an f/1.8! I need to step up my game and practice on that. I don’t think I could get that clear of a shot at an f/1.8!

  • Pau - I have seen the aprons in Handmade store in LA… if it helps…


  • Grace - Thanks for the Q&A and for answering my question!
    It was like a reverse comment- I felt just as excited πŸ™‚
    As a non-photo person, I didn’t understand most of that stuff, but it’s nice to know I can find good links from you if I take the plunge πŸ™‚

  • dana - wonderful answers. Thank you for all the photography info!

  • cindy - what a fun post! i love q&a’s!
    I have the same apron as your daughter, but in green gingham! people ask me where it came from all the time, but my mom purchased it in a little craft and notions shop. the little one is even cuter!

  • Charity - Hi, I was wondering where you have your photos printed off at? I have been doing lots of baby & kids birthday photos.

Ummm..wow! Thanks for all your kind comments about my room yesterday. Some of them made me laugh pretty good. Thanks!!


It is that time of the month for my contributor posts over onΒ  Design*Sponge and Design Aglow. For those of you new (and old) to my blog you might be wondering how I ended up being a contributor on those two amazing sites….well I ask myself that every month too. I figure I’ll enjoy it until they are done with me!

On Design Aglow I am posting a tutorial for creating a vacation shadowbox

On Design*Sponge I am sharing how to create a custom stencil, like what I used on my sub-floors.

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  • Shannon - I caught the design aglow post yesterday in my feeds and scrolled quickly throught without reading, and immediately starred it to come back and read later, not knowing it was yours! I should have known! You have such great style that even without knowing the author I was enamored by the project! Can’t wait to save some mementos from our summer trips this year to make my own!

  • giozi - I saw design aglow yesterday and I loved your tutorial. Fantastic.

  • Mallory @ R. Simple Life - Oooh, I’m excited for the custom stencil how-to! I’ve been wanting to create one for a wall in my office but was unsure how to go about it! πŸ™‚

  • hearttypat - the things you do! you’re just too creative! that shadowbox looks good! u managed to cut out the letters and include the subjects in the pictures as well!
    { follow our honeymoon on http://hearttypat.wordpress.com ! }

  • amy - i was just making a little shadow box for my kitchen with a couple of recipe cards and a “cake tester” that belonged to my grandma but wasn’t quite happy with how it turned out. i love yours and your little beaker things–i’m thinking that’s what i need for some flour, sugar, etc for my box. love this ashley!
    and seriously? i cannot get enough of your granny chic chair!

  • Joey - What a great idea! Just LOVE the shadow box

  • Melissa Lewis-Midwest Magnolia - I love the shadowbox idea for capturing those memories. How creative!

  • amanda torres - Can I come over just so I can rub shoulders with you? I’m hoping that will give me just a tinge of creativeness and craftiness.

  • Jess H - awesome! I’ve been waiting for that stencil tut!

  • Jenny Joy - I LOVED the Design Aglow tutorial! Fantastic! I’ll keep my eyes open for the Design Sponge one! You’re so cool!

  • Raquel M - You’re awesome! Small picture with a big story! I love it!

  • Rachel - LOVE that shadow box! (and i’ve always been a huge fan of your bedroom flooring) im definitely on my way over to check those out!

  • lauren - eeeeeks! the custom stecil is going to be bad news for my time management! let’s get ready to STENCIL!!! πŸ™‚

  • jennifer blair - I ADORE your bedroom. I didn’t comment yesterday, but it is fabulous. You are a huge inspiration for decorating my home.

  • Sarah - Are those lava rocks in the shadow box? Naughty, naughty! πŸ˜‰ J/K, I know you’re not supersticious. I LOVE the shadow box idea. I’m definitely going to do something similar for our trip to Korea and future vacations. So fun! Thanks for another fun idea, Ashley!

  • christa - I just LOVE that keepsake shadow box. Its so classy looking. Its easy for those to get cheesy but yours look amazing!

  • Kate @ another donkey design - Great posts – love them both – have pinned them both to my DIY file.

  • Jessica - Love the shadowbox idea! Quick question…do you need photoshop to use the Alphabet Frames? Any ideas on how to do the lettering without the templates?

  • Shanna - seriously LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Any idea on where I could get beakers like that?

  • Lesley - I love the shadow box! awesome!

  • sarah - what a great shadow box! such a great idea when you have a zillion photos of the same thing but want to diplay them. love it!

  • Jenny - Oh, I love the shadow box idea. Perfect for our upcoming trip to Hawaii in the next month. Thanks!

  • Pamela - That shadow box is amazing, what a great idea. I am going to try it.

  • CharlaL - To catch up on posting…love your room, love both projects…am consistently blown away by your awesomeness.

  • Iris - I loved this idea!bye