Chris and I went to college together. He was a ‘social chair’ of just about everything. Everyone knew him. Everyone loved him. He loves to talk with people. Connect with people. Any event on campus…you knew Chris Campbell would be there and would probably be the last to leave. I on the other hand avoided all large group events and spent a ridiculous amount of time tucked away in the art department. I knew about 10 people (that is a tad of an exaggeration, but kind of true). He and my roommate Mandy went to several events together because I preferred to be alone in my room verses in a massive crowd trying to be social. We got married our senior year and shortly after were the Homecoming court nominations. Chris, naturally, was nominated for Best All Around Guy or Homecoming King (I can’t remember which one). And Mandy, who is like the girl version of my husband was nominated for Queen. Both were obvious choices. Everyone knew and loved them. Then the funny happened. Since I had just married Chris and was roommates with Mandy…they somehow got me nominated for Homecoming Queen. I still laugh when I look back at the pictures.

I’m pretty sure when people went to vote they were baffled by name on the ballot…they had probably never heard it before. I spent most of my college days in the yearbook room or art studio. Little known fact about me…I have enough credit hours in ceramics I could have majored in it if it had been a major at my college. During my college years everyone I knew ended up with some random bowl or mug from me at some point. Chris and I originally had about 20 pieces in our home. Each year a couple get broken. We have four kids. Over the last 6 years I’ve seen a lot of this….


All those hours and hours sitting at the potter’s wheel. I now have one little lonely mug left to show for it.


One mug and great recipes for scones, that is. My professor, Julie Blackstone, used to make us scones, cucumber sandwiches and other “tea time” treats for our final each semester. We’d all sit around with our mugs, sipping tea and celebrating another year of creativity. They were the best ‘finals’. I happily skipped out on all kinds of social events in college, but I never missed tea with Julie.


My little mug hangs in our kitchen. I suppose I could tuck it away so it doesn’t get broken (because I know eventually it will). It makes me think about how fleeting my days are and how I should fill them with purpose and doing what I love not just what everyone else is doing. I’m not sad I didn’t go to Midnight Madness Pancake Breakfast or whatever those things are called. I spent semester upon semester alone at a potter’s wheel. I learned so much about myself in that art studio. During those quiet hours, I learned so much about how God is constantly molding and shaping me. A lesson I remind myself of often these days. I’m a mom and for now the days of quiet hours at a potter’s wheel are gone. My days are loud and active and full of social events with little people. And I am overwhelmingly grateful for that, broken ceramics and all.

….and I think these 4 little people would totally vote for me as their Homecoming Queen.

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  • Cat from Constant in Chaos - I loved this story! So neat how things happen and work out. God is amazing! πŸ™‚ Happy Weekend!
    xo, cat

  • Jamie - you’re such a great storyteller!…I love this little place of space! πŸ™‚

  • MelissaM - I love this Ashley. I wish I had taken more art classes for that purpose-just Drawing 101 and two years of calligraphy at OBU fro me. πŸ™‚ Who was your roommate, by the way? I’m wondering if I know her. πŸ™‚

  • MelissaM - for, not fro. Although my hair could’ve passed for a long fro back in the day of hot rollers, scrunchies, and banana clips. πŸ™‚

  • colleen - Thanks. great thoughts. I wish you would expound on the things God taught you about how He works with us as you sat at that wheel. I love the scriptures that talk about God as the potter and us as His clay, and especially the new testament ones that say we hold this treasure in earthen vessels. I am not a potter… not sure i have the patience to be. Would LOVE to learn from your experience “at the wheel” the truths about God that HE wrote upon your heart during that time!

  • molly acord - Would you mind sharing the scone recipe?!?! It looks soo good! πŸ˜‰

  • Celia - WOW! Your pottery is beautiful! It’s obvious you were quite talented with that. Love your post today!

  • Beth@Just{Heart}It - Best.Post.EVER.

  • Ana M - from Brazil - I love the way you put feelings into your words !!! It’s amazing how you can be able to do that …
    I wish I could meet you in person…I think we could be great friends…:):)

  • Laurie J - if we know our kids would vote us homecoming queen than we know we’re doing something right! and I love the reference of God’s shaping and molding in our lives. so true. thanks for the great reminder!

  • Betsy - I like this. πŸ™‚ Happy Friday!

  • Courtney Connelly - Ash, I have one of your ceramic bowls you made in college sitting in my kitchen right now, it is a sweet reminder of our years of friendship. I would be upset if my bowl ever breaks!

  • Mallory @ R. Simple Life - Now I want to see both homecoming pictures AND wedding pictures…

  • Liene - Great story!

  • Yanet - I love the way you write. Do you ever think about getting a potters wheel? Try not to laugh too hard at the question.

  • Cindy - Homecoming Queen…AWESOME! You have so many little surprises tucked away :). I can totally see it!!! Get perspective. Happy LAST snow day!!!

  • Mandy - I love it; you are too funny! I’m sure you got yourself nominated and you definitely knew a lot more people than you give yourself credit for. As for midnight breakfast…. those were fun times and I’m happy to say that we did get you to come out once, maybe twice. I am SURE that you had more fun than you thought you did just because you were with us! πŸ™‚

  • Jen - my husband tries to buy those kind of mugs (like the one you created) every time he sees them. since we have about 30 mugs and neither of us drink coffee i always discourage him from it but this sweet story made me wish we bought them all…what if someone like you was making them!?

  • amanda torres - I super duper wish I could tap into my art inner self, but I afraid it’s buried so deep inside I might not ever find it. The idea of pottery and the wheel excites me. Such a cool mug and I’m glad you have one remaining. However, the molding job you are doing with your kids is one that will never break, just like God molds us.

  • Jess - Suddenly, my bowl of cheerios is looking so mundane next to that scone. Yum! What a sweet story, I cherish my college memories – I met my husband there too. And now that I teach HS, I get so excited for my students to go. There is so much to learn about yourself there! Well said Homecoming Queen!

  • Kristen Duke - so where did you go to college???

  • Sara W - Pictures – I think we need some old pictures to see this! πŸ™‚ Sounds like you knew yourself well and did what you loved. Not all college students choose that.

  • Jenny Joy - I love this story. It inspires me in a million little ways. Just sayin’.

  • jami nato - funny…i would hope my kids would vote me for homecoming queen, but they might choose the dog. she’s much sweeter than me.

  • katie - Ashley! You knew more than 10 people! Ha! That was the good thing about OBU… you pretty much knew everyone because it was so small. And I always thought you were so sweet and nice. I loved this post! πŸ™‚

  • katie - i love this post.

  • danielle - Ok, girl… you are such a tease… bust out those pictures!!!

  • Lori - I love this story- too funny!!! What a great way memory hanging on your cup rack. I love scones – please share the recipe if you can. I made one vase in pottery class. one. wish I knew then – what I know now. (that i like creating…I should have quit socializing in Art class and got to work making more vases).

  • BriBedell - Love this post πŸ™‚ Makes me more than happy to have 2 more kids to add on to the two I already have!

  • Jenny - I was just noticing all the smiley faces in the comments on this. I think so many people are blessed in a deep way by the things you write. I am!

  • Trish - This is the sweetest post! love it… thanks for the reminder that it’s just things of this world and if they break… they break!

  • Carrie - I can relate to this post. I actually did major in Ceramics when I was in college… everyone I knew at some point was gifted a pot or a mug or a bowl at some point. I have a small selection of pots left from my throwing days. I keep them out as a reminder of that quiet hum of my potters wheel. It’s been 4 years for me since I last made a pot. The last class I took was when I was pregnant with my first. I sometimes miss the hum of that wheel, and the quiet place my mind went when I was throwing. It to has been replaced by the laughter and screams of my two daughters running around my house. Thank you for writing this post, it really spoke to me.
    I think I need to find a place for my potters wheel and find that quiet once and a while πŸ™‚

  • Megan - what a wonderful post! thank you for sharing! it inspires me to delight who the Lord has created me to be!

  • MG Atwood - I want to see homecoming photos as well, and want the recipe for those scones! Nice story..I’m sure it seems like yesterday.

  • Jessamy - I love this post. So sweet.

  • Lesley - I need to walk through my house and count, but I know I have at least 4 of your ceramic pieces still intact!

  • Kingsley - As usual, your post leaves me pondering….What is your writing “process?” Your post seem so honest and spontaneous. Do you set out to write for a blog audience or are these personal thoughts from a journal? Thank you for sharing and for always leaving me inspired. You have a true gift (well, several actually!) πŸ™‚

  • Heather @ Cookie Mondays - What a great story, Ashley!
    I am also a huge introvert married to the COMPLETE opposite.
    Funny how that works out πŸ™‚

  • Rebecca - How about sharing the scone recipe with us? Love your blog.

  • Anna - Lovely story. You have a great knack for sharing something as simple as sitting at a potter’s wheel into a memorable and heart warming story. And your ceramics are wonderful. I took two classes in 3D work (3d design and then clay) and i hated both. That is the only area of art I am horrible at. You are an all around artist: drawing, designing, sewing (and just cause you dont know the technical stuff, doesn’t mean you’re not good at it!), crafting, diy-ing (i guess that’s an art now!), and so much more! You are wonderful, Ashley Ann!

  • Michelle - I remember my year of ceramics at OBU with Julie too. I definitely had some God-moments sitting at the potter’s wheel realizing how He so patiently molds our lives. I loved that time so much!

  • Natalie - Did you know Chris before college, or did you meet in a Ceramics class?

  • Benzie - Wow! You’re story has so many similarities between my extroverted husband and my introverted self! Except I lost myself in the darkroom -in the days before digital I hand developed all my black and white prints. I found myself truly able to worship though my art. I will always treasure that time. Thanks for sharing!

  • CharlaL - I don’t know you personally, just through the blog, and battlecreek..But You have my VOTE! I love the way you are so intentional, and with that I am off to see a movie with my fav little people~ πŸ™‚

  • Minnesotamom - What sweet words. I was the social butterfly in college. Around my Junior year, I started praying that God would give me a gentle, quiet spirit (with such as the holy women of old adorned themselves). What I didn’t expect was that He made me an introvert! I used to get my energy from bustling around crowds, talking to everyone. I would leave large groups just exhilarated. And within a year’s time, that wore me out. I wanted to be with one to 3 people, no more, and I’m still kind of that way. So strange.

    Blessed by your art, dear.

  • Mirys from Brazil - Dear Ashley:

    I wish I could write like you do (as you wish you could manage making a clean and cool photo album)… I always think I have so much to say… and try to write an story with my voice and one with the voices of each of my kids (the 2 other musketeers)! When I look at it, I have so much thing written that I wonder if people are gonna read it! πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, you are a great storyteller!

    Have a nice weekend.


  • Jessica E - This just made my day. Such beautiful words!

  • mer - *love* this… just when i needed a reminder that the path i am on is the perfect fit for me. thanks!!! cheers to filling our days with purpose and enjoying our little loves πŸ™‚
    p.s. you totally get my vote too!

  • Tara - such a charming post:)

  • girlrobot - i went to hs with your husband and the way you describe him is exactly how i remember him! πŸ™‚ i did not know him very well but he was def one of the most popular guys in school. it’s so funny that he ended up marrying an introvert like yourself…i think it’s a great story. πŸ™‚ love your blog!

  • Georgia - make a mosaic πŸ™‚

  • Georgia - make a mosiac πŸ™‚

  • Stefanie - The irony – you still sit at the potter’s wheel but you are working on your best masterpiece yet….molding 4 beautiful children into incredible adults. And, based on all I’ve read on your blog, I’d say you are doing (once again) a fabulous job!

  • the whyte house - Chris Campbell?? A social butterfly?? Nooooo. I had no idea! πŸ™‚
    Believe me, if Tyler Beck hadn’t of been so sweet and quiet(he was a mystery to the women and there were more girls than boys at the I-High :)), Chris would have won Mr. Redskin in 10th grade, too. haha.

    Such a fun story!

  • Shelly - Reminds me that I used to paint a lot and hadn’t painted anything in about 25 years. This year my two grown children wanted paintings for Christmas that I had painted. It felt so good to paint again. My three youngest kids want paintings now for their birthdays this year. My youngest is seven. So whether I want to or not I’m painting again. It will come to you again sooner than you think.

  • Kendra - This is beautiful! You always manage to tie your creative endeavors to some sort of life lesson or observation, but it’s always entertaining and not preachy. How do you do that?? πŸ™‚ I love your blog. Have a great weekend!

  • Leanne - I want to see the homecoming picture! love the way you wrote this! thanks for the uplift!

  • jennie sanders - You are a silly girl! You were well know in high school wheter you realized it or not. I always thought you were cool in high school and in college!

  • Ashey McWhorter - I love this post! Thanks for sharing! God is good! πŸ™‚

  • Kat - Your posts always make me stop and reflect on whats happening in my life. It is hard to imagine snow and blizzards when I’m in the middle of an Australian summer. We don’t even get snow where I live, you have to drive 10 hours interstate during winter to go to the snow here. And Homecoming King and Queen is not something you hear of here. Some people and things are different, but I do have 3 boys and the art I get. If I haven’t done anything creative for a little while I start going through the house or looking on the net for some inspiration and ideas for something to make…then I’m happy for a little while… and then!!!

  • Sandy - I love this post, adorable.

  • allison - Lovely, lovely thoughts! I enjoyed reading this πŸ™‚

  • gina - Can’t wait to see what you do with the broken shards of your pots. πŸ™‚

  • april's craft nest - love this post. i totally get it!

  • Kelly - I love finals like that! I had a music prof who was an older gentleman and a bachelor. He would home bake treats for us for every test. πŸ™‚ My piano teacher who was from Japan would have all of her students over every semester and make a big Japanese feast for us. Only chopsticks were on the table at first and later in the meal forks would be handed out. It’s because of her that I can now eat with chopsticks. πŸ™‚

    I love your attitude about all of this and I didn’t comment on that post but I LOVE that you won the Homies AND what you did with your prize. God is working through you to touch many people, directly and through your influence, ideas and getting us all to think. I was just telling someone about your rice night idea the other day. Thank you for being clay in His hands. Kelly

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Seriously. You are amazing.

  • Dara Steward - I love this post. Thanks for sharing. It is encouraging and inspiring. I’m also a fellow OBU alum, there many of the same years I think, but never crossed actual paths. Whatever the reminders may be of “glory days”, I am with you. May we be encouraged to press forward where God has us today. I have two little men which I am blessed to share my days with. Thank you for being you and inspiring me to be me as God created. Your blog has been an unexpected blessing!

  • Erin Leigh - so sweet. love the metaphor of the potter and the clay, how God uses everything to speak to us. loev this story!

  • Danielle - You are seriously the coolest person ever. It sounds trite, but I’m very sincere.

  • Grace - I can relate to being holed away in the ceramics room during college! Ours wasn’t fully insulated so it got prety cold! My friends never understood my joy in spending hours there- but I loved it & needed it. That was certainly a lovely time of my life!

  • Grace - oops, typo: *pretty

    Thanks again for your honesty & sincerity! This post really rang true for me in so many ways!

  • Shannon Phillips - Okay so I just started crying while reading this post. Ha. I am such a girl lately. I too had a deep love for the potters wheel in college. I still dream of having one in my nonexistent workshop. I can just picture you when your kids are all grown sitting at the potters wheel smiling at how fast time goes by and how sweet life has been to you.

  • Trinity - Just the other night I wore my shirt from our hall in Taylor that said “Movin’ on up to the east side” on it. I wore it to bed by the way, not out anywhere! The girls were reading it and asking me about college…good times. And, I agree with Mandy, you got yourself nominated cause people like you…..

  • Jessica Namynanik - You are the only blog writer that could write ten pages of stories everyday and i would read them all twice!
    I love the idea of making pottery everyday and drinking tea. Thank you for sharing such a great story and a reminder of how we should live our lives doing what we love to do and with a purpose. I love the similarities that making pottery has to how God molds us like you said. Thanks Ashley!

  • Jessica P - Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kelly - Take the broken pieces and reassemble them into a mosaic for your new room!

  • ashley jensen - So I am guessing Chris went to Union? I just assumed since you were high school sweethearts that he went to B.A! I was like “why do I not remember him (because I am very good with names/faces) and if he was so popular then why isn’t he in our yearbook?”

  • Heather - ashley- i loved this post! i love hearing the different things that God uses in each of our lives as opportunities to “talk” with us.

    happy sunday!

  • TK - Oh this post is just beautiful……poignant, sad, funny but above all beautiful – thankyou for sharing, TK xx

  • Anita - I saw you over at Yanet’s and I thought I’d stop by and say hello to a fellow Martha fan. I too have 3 boys, I remember how hard it was to keep find stuff to keep their attention. I must have done something right as all 3 are still into art in one form or another πŸ™‚

  • WEM - One word = mosiac!


I take a lot of pictures. I take pictures for me. For my family. For my friends. Mainly, I take pictures for my kids. I want to document their years. I want to document our life as a family. One day my 4 year old will forget how he slept with Lego men cuddled next to his face. One day my daughter won’t remember how much she loved crashing her doll strollers into walls. One day my 2 year old won’t recall how much his baby sister frustrated him (or maybe he will!). And one day my oldest will no longer have to stand on his toes to get milk out of the fridge. I document their days for them.

It is highly important to me that they enjoy the pictures I take now…not just when they are older and looking back at their childhood. Each year I create albums of our pictures. I make two copies of the albums – one that is safely tucked away and one that is out for my kids to enjoy. (No, I don’t make 4 albums…too costly…they will have to share one day. Or if I win a bunch of money I can go back and order them each a copy!) I don’t stress when they are looking at them. I don’t get mad if a page accidentally gets wrinkled or torn. I want them to enjoy the albums. As they enjoy the albums they enjoy my camera. They recognize that the photos I take aren’t just stored away where they can’t enjoy them. They know the pictures I take are for them…that a book will be made that they can enjoy anytime they want.


The book comes with a note that says “Happiness has arrived.” It is true. When we get our albums and we look back at the day to day of the previous year…happiness does arrive. We have so much fun reliving the little moments.Β  Moments that would have been forgotten are remembered.


Every January MyPublisher runs a great coupon that lasts about 8 days. Every January I rush like crazy to create albums of our pictures from the previous year…trying to beat the deadline. This year the coupon was 60% off an order $200.00 or more. The MyPublisher albums are limited to 100 pages each and I can never fit an entire year in 100 pages. As a result I order “Book 1” for the first 6 months and “Book 2” for the second six months. On top of that I order a second copy of each book. That means a total order of 4 100 page books….well over $200.00. 60% off is a big savings when your order is that big. Ideally I would create the pages throughout the year and avoid the January crunch, but that is idealistic.

I have used MyPublisher for 5 years now. There are so many other companies out there I’d like to try, but I just can’t find ones that offer the coupon savings that MyPublisher offers. Have you found some companies that are easy to use and offer great coupons? I really, really, really want to make an album like this next year.Β  We shall see. For those of you that do digital scrapbooking…where do you print your books?

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  • Stephanie - I love your albums! I wanted to know if you journal at all in your albums? Do you document the stories behind the pictures for your kiddos? I use Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus software for my digital albums and it’s so easy to use!

  • Melissa - What an awesome idea! Love that you make 2 copies to enjoy now and later. Also LOVE that you are in the photos with your family! Reminds me to get in front of the camera too! Thank you for sharing the coupon info, maybe I’ll get started for next year πŸ™‚

  • Catherine - I remember your post last year about your 2009 books and it has inspired me to do the same. I do yearly boks for my kids but nothing for the rest of the pictures I take. I use Picaboo and they have wonderful coupons all the time. They just lowered the prices on extra pages too.

  • Lacey R - Ashely, I remembered seeing this book review post back when I used to digiscrap. I looked it up for you: HTH!

  • amanda torres - When I see your cool photo books, I realize I need to get my pictures off my computer and do something with them!!!

  • Lee - Gorgeous. 100 pages is a lot, that’s fabulous. I know so many hold far less. Thanks for the tip πŸ™‚

  • Samantha S. - I love the albums! πŸ™‚ And… I love Paislee Press. If you are looking for a simple way to delve into digital scrapbooking, there is a great little template set from Biograffiti called My Life and Story. It’s simple to insert a few digital scrapbooking papers and elements and you’ll have a page that is truly your own. I print our books with Shutterfly and Persnickety Prints. And I throw in a couple of digital scrapbook pages in with their already set template pages – easy peasey! Also… I know you aren’t a scrapbooker, but Becky Higgin’s Project Life kits are AMAZING. πŸ™‚

  • Liene - Beautiful!

  • Deb @ PaperTurtle - What a great way to preserve and enjoy your photos, Ashley! I LOVE that you print an extra copy that your kids can look at over and over again without the worry of it being worn out. It was fun seeing the photos of your kids enjoying the photo books too! πŸ™‚

  • Loren - Awesome, I’ve never been a scrap-booking person but making a digital family ‘year book’ is a fantastic idea I could absolutely get behind.

  • andy - love it
    i just use snapfish and try to work on it through out the year
    love the idea about printing 2 though

  • Mirys from Brazil - Oh my Gosh, your pics are soooooooo much inspiration!!!!

    Thanks for writing this blog and (without knowing) leading me back to my photos (it has being a sort of great therapy after the suddenly death of my husb… the pics of my kids make me laught and that is just great!).

    Dear Ashley, I comment in our blog (The Diary of the 3 Musketeers) about the best blogs we read… and I mentioned yours! Hope you dont mind! But lots of my friends understand English, so they can read you. Even if they canΒ΄t understand I think your pics worthy a stop by here!!!

    So, if you want to see what we wrote about you, please be our guest at

    Kisses and blessings.

  • Alisa - Awesome albums! I love that you make one for the kids to enjoy. I use MyCanvas to make our albums and am always so pleased with their products.

  • pam - I your photo books. (and I love the curated photo package too… adorable!) I’ve only ever made one photo book, our honeymoon album. burb. I like it, good quality. πŸ™‚

  • Elle - Great idea! I’m really looking forward to starting albums once Little Miss Kickypants makes her appearance. I hadn’t ever considered making two copies – thanks for the tip. And, as always, your photography is beautiful.

  • Jen - I’ve used mypublisher in the past as well, and I have to say, they have the best customer service!

    I love your idea of printing 2 books. I will have to start doing that to have one away for safe keeping!

  • Erin Leigh - This is so inspiring. The best part is seeing your kids faces as they look at them… now! Not later. all of my pictures are on the computer and one of his favorite activities is looking at pictures on the computer, I’ve got to do this!!! Thanks for sharing your life, photos, family.

  • Erin Leigh - I love this idea! All of our pictures are on the computer. I’ve got to get create these so we can all enjoy them NOW. Love that you don’t stress over wrinkled pages, that they are to USE, to enjoy. thanks for the inspiration!

  • hearttypat - hey ashley, i love it that you do this every year and i such good taste too to say the least!

  • Ryan - I use MyPublisher! I always make photo books for our families at Christmas. I order one book around early November. Then, pretty quickly after that, My Publisher runs a special where you can order as many reprints as you want for $25. So, I order a ton of those and give them away as Cmas gifts, since we have a $25 limit on gifts anyway.

    The downside is Christmas is always where the next year’s book starts, but we’ve gotten used to that!

  • the whyte house - LOVE the 2010 book 1 cover. so cute.
    i just made one last night on i like the layouts that they offer and that it’s stress-free, even with me arranging it myself. i’ve tried shutterfly and it’s a big headache. i haven’t seen a lot of coupons in my inbox from blurb, but they do paypal and i’m a huge fan of paying now, not on my credit card. πŸ™‚ mypublisher slams me w great coupons, so i definitely know what you’re talking about! here’s my blurb book. it’s an 8×10 portrait book, with about 40 pages. i upgraded my paper, but it runs about $30+$7 to ship.

  • Jennifer Blair - My mom made lots of albums for us growing up. We have so many precious memories. I’m so glad she took the time to do that. Your kids are going to be so thankful that you did this for them!

  • ashley jensen - I would love to make a book like that one day. I just go through my folders and print my favorite pictures from every month and put them in albums. I even write the date on the back of every single one! It’s better than nothing and Kiera loves looking at them too.

  • meg duerksen - i have $250 of credit at mypublisher waiting from gifts i received….but i never get it done!!! i must do it! this is amazing ashley! wish my books looked as good as yours!

  • Vy - has a flat rate book sale every so often. Their current one ends today. You can get a 100 page book for the same price as a 20 page book. I made a 8×11 book of our vacation for $35 shipped. I’ve only used them for canvases (which always turn out great!), so I’ll have to let you know how the quality is. Definitely worth checking out though!

  • Trish - oh my word… so inspiring! I NEED to do this. so thankful that next weekend I get the whole day to scrapbook and I’ve decided to go digital! Since I am so far behind I am starting with 2010!

  • Christie - I love your photographs – such an eye for beauty and for your children to have that for years to come is awesome. I, too, love photography but have yet to figure out the ole manual settings. πŸ™‚ But I still like to have books made of what I photograph. I use Blurb which has a lot of creative freedom if you want (or not) and gives you up to 440 pages in one book!

  • Sarah - Ashley – we loooove reading your blog but due to security issues we still arent able to see pictures… do you think you’ll ever go back to “the way it was” πŸ™‚

  • Danielle - I do this for the grandparents every year but not for us! I really need to, maybe this is the push I needed to get it done!

  • giozi - I did a little album via Flickr, and it never came, but they gave me back the money.

    I want to do one. I was printed individual pictures but now I don’t have where to put it.

  • Kendra - I’ve used every year for the past 5 years and have been happy with the result. You can make a book up to 440 pages i believe (and i usually hit that number every year). A 440 page book costs about $85 i think. This year I was able to find coupons on for blurb….so I bought a few and got each book for half off. Hope that helps!

  • Beth - so i feel like a copycat who didn’t copy cat after reading this post. you see i posted a blog late yesterday or possibly early this morning, like 1am, that reads EXACTLY like this one in most ways….weird. clearly we feel very similarly about our photo books and the awesome discount they offered this year.

  • Krista Lund - i just received 100+ digital scrapbook layouts from Persnickety Prints yesterday. (they had a sale + free shipping Superbowl weekend). i rushed out to get page protectors and got them put in an album. last night we sat around looking through it and it was wonderful!
    i’ve had digital scrapbooks printed from Shutterfly. i liked it, but i think My Publisher has better quality.

  • Emily Lusk - you have given me the inspiration to finish the book I started 2 years ago!!!! πŸ™‚

  • Meadowlark -

    I don’t know the cost for such a large book, but when I do a review on, I often get a coupon for a free 20 page hardcover book. I don’t have little kids at home any more so I just use a book for each event – vacation, hikes, etc and have quite a collection. I’ll have to check prices for this place now. Thx

  • RebeccaH - I have made a few digital albums, and I’ve always gotten the books printed at Shutterfly. I know that’s not very earth-shattering news, but they have been fantastic quality! And I can upload my own digital layouts as the full page in the album. Love that. Plus they offer a decent amount of flexibility for the cover and jacket. If you sign up for their emails they will send out coupons, and often they will do 50% off, or free shipping, or $xx off of an order. The great thing is that they will let you combine multiple coupons. At Christmas, I ordered 6 8×8 hard cover albums, and with coupon combos it ended up costing me a total of $45.

  • Ann - Love Love Love your happiness! I received one from my husband for Christmas. I laughed and cried simultaneously throughout the entire album! Great minds….

  • Christi S. - i have made several books for my daughter, esp. when she was a baby and she absolutely LOVES to look at them. she’ll say “that what i used to play with when i was a baby” i havent ordered any books in a couple of years. i do my yearly calendars and that’s hard enough to get out by christmas. i totally need to order more books for keepsakes and for my daughter to look at (she’s 3 now) i’ve always just used shutterfly. i know i see deals all the time on the coupon sites to get one free when you buy one. Picaboo is always having great deals. i also use zazzle for a lot of my printing needs and it’s excellent excellent quality. Mpix is of course good too. oh and digital scrapbooking is another obsession you should look into…

  • Janelle Vano - LOVE this!!! A book every year and a special copy for the kids to enjoy….so smart!!! But, it also makes me sad for all the years that I didn’t have a digital camera…and I didn’t have enough money to purchase a lot of film. There are so many years in my 15 year olds life that I feel are just gone πŸ™

  • Katie - This is the one and only new years resolution that I have for this year…to do something with my pics. Thanks for the inspiration! I have heard good things about blurb…I am not techy so I want something user friendly. I also want to do a book for each year!

  • Jenny B. - I LOVE your photo books. I also love Liz’s! I get my pages printed individually and put them in an album because I never feel like I have a whole year completed enough to get a book printed. I’m hoping to get it done this year, though. I’ve used Persnickety, Scrapbook Pictures, and How Fast Time Flies for individual pages. I might use Shutterfly for the book. They have 20% off sales frequently. I’ll probably do the 8×8 size. Steph at The Daily Digi did a huge photo book review last year. I’m excited to see what you do! πŸ˜€

  • becca~CapturingSimpleJoys - Love your books and I seriously need to check it out, I haven’t put anything in an album since my kids were born! Terrible I know but since digital I just haven’t taken the time. I remember pouring over albums as a child so I know how special they are to kids. It’s fun for them to see pictures of themselves. I really need to provide that for MY kids πŸ™‚

  • Tami - You’ve inspired me! I’ve had this project sitting in the back of my mind for forever and I just needed this kick to get started. Can I ask what size book you get/recommend?

  • Wendy - What a great idea! I have given up on scrapbooking, so I definitely need to do something like this. Thanks for posting!

  • Cali - Hey- love your blog.. first time commenting though. πŸ™‚ I tried using MyPublisher once- but I had so many pictures, and 100 pages didn’t cut it for me.. and it was so expensive (unless you get the good deals I guess) so I’ve been using Blurb- and I love it! I just printed off a book that had 320 pages- and it only cost me $83! I think the quality is great (at least good enough for me, and I’m pretty picky). So- food for thought anyway. Blurb’s software is a little hard to manipulate, but I finally figured out how to make it look how I wanted it to look. Anyway- I’m happy with it, and wanted to pass along the info. Love your books!

  • Emily @ Write Twenty Eleven - Your blog is absolutely heartwarming.

  • mary Sue - I love these books! I do the yearly book too but always try to cram it into 20-30 pages. I miss so much! Next time I will splurg on a bigger book. I also do a Birthday book every year. My kids keep them in their room and show EVERYONE! It helps to cut some pictures out of the yearly book:)

  • Dena - Ashley, I remember your post about last years books and how I thought I should do that too.

    Question – do you get the classic or deluxe books? Thanks!

  • Danielle - I do something similar, although I just get one copy and use Blurb book. I’ve loved the result! I love that it makes me get my digital images printed instead of just staying in the computer! I’m hoping to finish proofing mine today!

  • Katie - Oh… how I love your photos!! Out of all the blogs I follow your pics are the what I aspire to be like!! Maybe because I also have lego loving little boys. Do you still plan on doing a online snapshop?

  • Lauren - Beautiful. Such a good idea to put one away for the future! I just ordered two wedding picture books, one for my mother and one for my husband’s mother. Get this- they have the SAME exact birthday! I ordered them from and got two for the price of one, literally. When you sign up they give you a two for one coupon. Couldnt get much better than that!

  • erica - i’ve used to publish a (much smaller) book for my son every year and LOVE it. but will definitely have to check out myPublisher. you have beautiful photos, kiddos and keepsakes. thanks for sharing, happy thursday!

  • Danielle - oh! i am stoked that you posted this. and i have something funny to tell you. i got an email yesterday from someone who reads my blog telling me how much they have in common with me. she said, “we love all the same things: jesus, being a mom, mustard yellow, ashley ann…” and a few other things. i spit out my drink laughing that my love for you and all you do comes across so strong on my blog πŸ˜‰

  • Dacia - one day, when I have kids, I hope to be a great mom like you. πŸ™‚ i will try my hardest to capture memories and make books like these for my kids, because i know it will be something they will treasure forever. you have the cutest family!

  • Candice Forte - I am making photoshop layouts and sending them to snapfish and shutterfly (also making two copies of each). So I guess I am digitally scrapbooking. I am sure they are not as well printed as the place you are using. those are beautiful books! Then again you take some of THE most beautiful pictures! I use my Coke rewards points to redeem two free photo books every year:)…so that is why I use snapfish for now…until I also win a lot of money:).

  • Mirys from Brazil - Another great idea!!!!

    IΒ΄m thinking about making photo albuns since my first boy was born… so they will forever see them with their father!!! What it used to be, what they love to do togheter, etc.

    (above: something I comment on another space but I thought it was better say it twice than risking you dindΒ΄t see it…)

    Today, at our blog, we publish the blogs we read the most. I know you do not understand Portuguese but IΒ΄d like you to know that we indicated your blog as one of the best blogs for us!

    Because lots of my friends understand English and even if they dont, your pics are so great that my friends should stop by here every now and then!!!

    So, if you want to check what we said about you (we have a translation button on the top of the page), go to

    With love and admiration

  • justine @ you're so martha - what a fantastic idea! i have all of my photos just sitting on my computer, i don’t get any printed anymore except for framing, which makes me sad. i will have to start doing this, especially when i have kids. and your idea to have two made is great.

    how do you get all the photos of you with your kids? is your husband a willing photographer or do you use a tripod a lot? my husband gets annoyed with all my picture taking and it’s rare for him to take my photo–i’m worried that when i have kids, i won’t be in any of the photos!

  • Tina - Beautiful pictures! I love the idea of photo books. By the way I was reading Womans Day March 2011 issue and they have your updated vintage TV table in there page 22. Awesome!! Great way to get acknowledged for your work. Keep inspiring us all.

  • Cassie - I use Blurb! I think the software is easy to use, and they have a lot of coupons for free shipping. I think their books are already priced really fairly, and I think the quality is great. Our 2010 album and our wedding album (3 years later, whoops) just came last week; always one of my favorite packages to open!!

  • tasha roe - that is so crazy awesome!! i love it!!

  • e l l a - Beautiful Ashley.
    I am so behind – the reason is that I started WITH captions and write ups for layouts.
    Big mistake. It slowed me down so much. I have to do it your way and have photos only or else they will end up done during my retirement.
    I now need to meet a deadline of the end of February for my book b/c I bought a deal on Groupon for Wish me luck! ;D
    PS. I am sooo inspired by Paisley Press’s book – gosh I would need a solid few days off just to do that…. it is breathtaking though πŸ˜‰

  • Kate - Love your books. I also use and love mypublisher for their great quality, and rates. A few times I’ve received books with defects and mypublisher provided awesome customer service, overnighting me reprinted books. Fun fact, mypublisher’s gift cards work with their promo codes and are also applied to shipping costs. Today they’re running an ad for 40% off gift certificates, which means…I typically get a 75% savings. Use coupon code MYCUPID to get the deal until Valentines.

  • Andrea Burnett - Oh my god. Your albums and you and your site and your kids and everything you do is/are amazing. Wow. I’m so blown away at your beautiful photos. Now I feel like crap about how I always take photos of my kids (I have about 2500 of them) but haven’t taken them off my iPhone yet (in 4 freaking years!!). I need to get on it! Anyway, my compliments. You have exquisite taste. If you ever consider doing a book and need an agent, let me know.

  • Diamonds On My Soles - I do a big photo album at the end of every year for my family too. And I love the excitement that comes when it finally arrives … even though I know exactly what it looks like before I open it. I always use photobox. And every year (for the past 4/5 years at least) they run a 2 for 1 offer, so I get to fill another big photo album for free! πŸ™‚

  • Shanna - I do digital scrapbooking and if you use paislee presses templates it will be SOOO easy for you to do!!! Especially if you buy them now, fill them as you go… you will be set in Jan! I LOVE her style and I believe she allows for the binding on eachside in her book tempates so you dont have to worry about anything being cut off. oxox

  • Nancy - I use BLURB. I always get a hardcover book with 80 pages. A 20% off sale comes up often costing me under $50 per book with shipping. Affordable, good quality and easy to do.

  • Tysha - Oooh! That makes me so excited – I stayed up WAY too late several nights last week doing our family album. This is the first year I’ve used my publisher – in the past I used Photoworks. I have done smaller books (ie one of each of my kids’ first year) through blurb. but the deal with my publisher was $35 for a standard book – unlimited pages. So I saved like $80 bucks! Good idea doing two books…I had to weed a bit and thin out our year to make the 100 pages. Looks so fun! I can’t wait until my happiness arrives soon. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

  • Miranda - Your books look great. I use MyPublisher too and liked the results!! I just started using Picasa (free) and Persnickety Prints too! Defintely nothing wrong with documenting your kids all day everyday – I do the exact same thing! πŸ™‚

  • Tweets that mention happiness has arrived {My Publisher} Β» -- - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Beverly Coop, lovedaily2011. lovedaily2011 said: happiness has arrived {My Publisher} Β» Ann – Love Love Love your happiness! I received… […]

  • Amy - those are amazing!

  • blujeanmama - I’m so impressed. It’s the thing I never get around to or at least never enough to actually be able to order the book. Perhaps I’ll wonder over and finish a book and order it. Then I can relish in it!! PS Your pictures of your kids looking at the pictures are adorable.

  • Anna - I need to take more pictures of my family like you do…but my son is always running away…and so is my fiancee! Boo!!

    I love your albums…they are so lovely!

  • anna - this is amazingly cool ashley. I think it’s such a great idea, I really need to get my pics off my computer and into a lovely book like this so my girls can enjoy looking at them all. πŸ™‚

  • Maegan - Loved your books last year, love them this year. I’ve been waiting to see if you stuck with My Publisher or not. I don’t have any experience with book publishing but have loved learning through the comments. And I’m sure you will let us know if you find something you like better, right?

  • kristin - i love this idea… especially since it is only photo based. so often i feel like i have to explain each photo or journal or scrapbook. this is totally more my style… love it!

  • RaD - I usually use shutterfly because I have gotten some sweet deals sent to my e-mail. 50% off photobook orders (usually limited to $30 or more), free shipping, 30% off, free cards, free calendars, free prints (usually any time you purchase anything you’ll get a deal for free prints), etc.

    60% off is still a better deal I’ll admit, but since most of my photos are already uploaded to shutterfly, I have an easier time cramming in whatever project I’m getting a discount for because I don’t already have to upload pictures.

    I haven’t tried blurb yet, but they have some pretty good prices too and I’ve heard the books are really decent. Some of the people from the project 365 I participate in use blurb for their 365 books.

  • Lauren - Love these books, Ashley, I tried them out last year when you mentioned them. I agree, My Publisher is awesome! For me it works, and I have passed the word along. If you don’t mind, I am using your idea to document each year. I am trying to catch up on our last few years of photos!! Thanks again for the recommendation!

  • Susan - I love My Publisher. And right now you can buy yourself a 40% off gift certificate, then wait until a great deal comes along and use it. They often run a deal where they do 20% off or you get a free duplicate copy of the book. Work those deals!

  • Minnesotamom - I used Snapfish this year for ours and was underwhelmed. I will definitely try My Publisher next year!

  • Lindsay - So, one day will you do a post on how the bleep you have time to do everything you do???? Seriously. I want to know. I’m floored. You have the same amount of time I have and yet… get so. much. more. done. Really. How do you do it? Don’t hold out. πŸ™‚

  • shawna [of styleberryBLOG] - Hey Ashley–my book came yesterday! I used Blurb & am pretty happy. I am a pro photog, but this is my family album. It’s 320 pages. & I used a groupon, so it ended up costing me $50. It would have been $85 full price, with gallery wrap cover & standard landscape layout. I will definitely use them again next year. I just posted mine on my blog: Your look great. But I would prefer one book to two! πŸ™‚

  • Andrea - I love your blog and lurk daily!!! Your posts are so timely. As I sit hear my 3 1/2 year old son has just run up and asked me to feel his muscles! These are the moments to capture. Thank you for sharing, for inspiring and for being real. Your blog is a daily must!

  • Lori - Your photo books are beautiful and will be cherished for years to come. I’m inspired to do the same, only my books will be “backdated” as a dig through the photos of my children’s youths. Some will even be pre-digital as we didn’t have our DSLR until 2001. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Anita - Love it, thank you for sharing.

    With the numbers of photos you take, would you share your post processing flow? I get overwhelmed with the number of photos to go through, so not much gets done.

  • MelissaM - This is just what I needed for my final push to work on Maven’s (7 month old) birth pictures and our family photo books. I have been dragging my feet since he was born! I print our photo books from which takes me to the Creative Memories digital center. I use their free software to make the books (that also edits pics like photoshop, but easier, and has tons of digital elements like “paper, stickers, cutting tools,” etc.). They hold up to 100 pages and start at 5×7 size up to 12×12 size. The digital center archives my projects too. So if I ever needed an additional copy, even in years to come, I can always go back and print more books. I can share the books with others who can also order and print them themselves. In addition to the free Storybook Creator software, they have a gillion (little exaggerated) digital kits to purchase or download for free to personalize different themes like Disney, wedding, baby, travel, heritage, celebrations, etc. The prices are great compared to other sources out there and the quality of art work is unbeatable. I make a “Merry Christmas” book for each of our kids each year with just 20 pages of snapshots from the previous year and Matt writes a poem from he and I. Lily is old enough now to really enjoy it. I will post pics of it on your FB page (the entire books are on my FB page). Then I make 5×7 bragbooks of family professional portraits (by Kelly!) for grandparents, which they LOVE. I love the $17.95 price. They also run sales & specials on printing and digital downloads throughout the year as well. May be a little too much information, but if it helps someone who is trying to get their photos off the computer and into a photo book then it’s worth it! πŸ™‚

  • Tara - I love your idea of keeping one book out for the kids to enjoy and one stashed away for safe keeping!

  • Kelly J. R. - I use to make travel photo books of our vacations. This year I also made a “2010 Year in Review” book with photo highlights from each month. It will be fun to remember when we painted the barn, planted the maple tree, adopted our dog, etc.

  • kel - I love these! I use and really like them, pricing is pretty good too, but your pictures look nice and bright, blurbs seem to come out a little darker. Do you ever write stuff with the pictures? if not do you wish you did? I journal with my pictures but because of it I seem to get really behind. If I didn’t I wonder if I’d stay caught up, though I’m afraid if I don’t journal I’ll forget special moments.

  • kim peach - awesome books! Where is that cute wire basket from in the picture towards the top? Restoration hardware baby has a wire hamper i am in love with (not for $100) and I would love to make one. I’m having trouble tracking down a tall wire basket.

    any help would be awesome!

  • Grace Tolman - I have been a stalker of your blog for some years now. I enjoy browsing through your site but never had the guts to speak to you until today…
    I love your book and of course the photos, but I have a question…what about your words/journaling? I know what they say about “photos speak a thousand words” but sometimes they don’t complete the sentences. I know you’ve put a lot of feelings/emotions on your blog posts about your kids, are you going to document those in a hard copy?
    I’m a srapbooker and that’s one of the things I love about scrapbooking is being able to preserve not just the pictures but my words/feelings/emotions on a tangible document/page/paper.
    Please don’t think I’m criticizing you. I’m just curious to know. Again I’ve been a fan and was just wondering. πŸ™‚

  • Anndee - I use Walmart! I digital scrapbook throughout the year. One for each boy and our family album. I stick with the 8×8 size to keep it simple for my head. Anyway, walmart’s prices are such you dont have to wait for the sale and their quality is pretty decent. Stitch binding – biggie for me. I totally agree that having the pictures in BOOK form is so important for the kids to enjoy. Sometimes I even catch my 8 year old looking at his. I enjoyed your post – as always.

  • Loretta - Your books from last year inspired me to do a gift for my very busy daughter. She works full time and goes to nursing school full time so has not been able to scrapbook/document her sons first 3 years. I am in the process of making her a book for each year and will be giving them to her on Mothers Day this year. My Publisher is very user friendly and it’s been alot of fun. Thanks for the inspiration πŸ™‚

  • Amanda Medlin - You have inspired me to go this route. I am definitely not a scrapbooker and it takes too long and stresses me out to print all of my pictures individually and place in albums. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jessica Lynette - I haven’t read the comments so maybe someone suggested it – but have you checked groupon? They run fabulous deals from photo printing sites. Canvas on Demand offers canvases for $35 shipped – a $126 value.
    I can’t remember a US photobook deal, but a recent one in Canada was a $115 credit for $35 – I printed a 115 page book for the $35 + a little extra for the additional pages. Companies in the US run similar deals, but I used the Canadian company because my sister practically lives next door to them and can pick it up for me so I save on shipping costs and will just pick it up from her when we visit!

  • Laura Delegal - You are very talented and capture life so vividly. Love the joy in all your photos.

  • Kelly - you are such an inspiration! i am totally doing this when i have kids. it is worth every.penny. LOVE them.

  • Stephanie Campbell - I print my books at Shutterfly. I get coupons for a FREE 20pg. book five or six times a year. (You can add more pages but only the first 20 are free – the rest are $1.00/pg) I NEVER have the book ready when the offer comes and my husband (Chris Campbell) cringes because he knows I cannot let anything free slip through my fingers so it is a mad dash to the exp. date. My goal is to do each month as it ends so it doesn’t take me 10 days at the end of the year. I’m 6 years into having kids and I still haven’t actually managed to do it, but it is still my goal. Also, I make one book for each child each year – then they each have a book that celebrates them.

  • Sandpiper - I absolutely love the picture of the dirty bum & feet!! Great idea!

  • Bernice Shupe - So glad somebody else loves to take a lot of pictures of their family! I have seven sons and have taken so many pictures of them! Lots and lots and lots of them. I put them all in boxes (labeled for each child) and have given most of them to their wives as they have gotten married. But I love your idea of the scrap book – even a duplicate for them to have and use! Great idea!!!!!! Blessings to you! πŸ™‚

  • Lauren Klouda - The albums you already make are amazing. Wonderful. I am a bit jealous. Your captured memories are so important. I wish I had the talent for that…

    That is a gift to your kids that is just amazing!!!

  • Kristen Perreault - AshleyAnn- I have been stopping by for quite some time now and love getting a glimpse into your world. Love the honestly and generosity of your spirit and enjoy your pictures so much!! I too have (had) a photography business and have struggled to find the balance of Mommy, wife, work and keeping a home after having my son. Thank you for sharing your perspective so honestly regarding these topics and many others. Seeing your yearly books (something that I have been working on but am having a hard time keeping up with) is an nice inspiration to keep working on mine and to hopefully get it finished soon!

    Thanks for posting…

  • Cathy Bennett - Thank you, Ashley for such a beautiful post!
    Other bloggers & photographers who are interested in reviewing our website, please let us know.
    You may contact me at
    Thank you,
    Cathy Bennett
    Director, New Products & Communications
    MyPublisher, Inc.
    New York, New York

  • AshleyAnn - I just wanted to note that I was not asked by MyPublisher to do a review. After posting this, MyPublisher found my post and contacted me….

    thanks for all your input!

  • Turn Your Blog Into a Book {A Tutorial} » C.C. Miller Photography - […] 3.Β  My Publisher – this is what Ashley AnnΒ  uses to do her books and of course theyΒ look amazing so if you want to check that out as an option, you can go here.Β  […]

  • zammaz - dh complained for years after I started taking digital photos that we couldn’t look through photo albums anymore. When my niece told me about mypublisher, I started going through the old pictures and making a book for each year. Since November, I’ve done three books (out of 10 needed). Plus, I made an album for my parents of pictures from every visit since our first child was born (16 years). They loved that Christmas gift! Like you, I find mypub has awesome deals. The last one I got was 70% off, plus I used gift certificates my husband got me for 40% off…so it was a huge savings…enough that I splurged for the lay-flat pages! Loved your pictures – and your idea of getting two of each. And, you’re right these photo books are happiness. πŸ™‚

  • Lisa - Love the books πŸ˜‰ Could you tell me if you order the classic or deluxe?

  • PhotoBookGirl - I just happened to see MyPublisher’s Facebook link to your page today. Beautiful photos! I happened to make my first photo book with MyPublisher as a gift for my mom about 6 years ago, and from then on, both she and I were hooked. About a year ago started a blog on photo books and began exploring other companies. I do lots of in-depth reviews and also track photo book deals too (including the Groupon and LivingSocial deals which tend to offer the highest savings). Recently I gathered a year of research into a comparative post on paper quality. Hope you find it helpful!

  • Family photo book » Unruh Photography Blog - […] about someone spilling on it or tearing a page. (This idea was not mine. I heard about it through Ashley Ann and loved […]

  • Amanda - Ever since you posted about you albums I decided that I was going to make one for this year. I’m so done with putting endless about of printed pics, in mass, in an album. Why not have a nice book for the same or lower price. I was so excited about the deal right now and finally finished tonight. Thanks for the heads up and the beautiful pics for inspiration! Were you happy with the printing quality? I was a little worried as I’m watching my album upload and its says its only uploading 128mb worth of pics. What? The majority of the almost 400 pics in the 100 page album were taken with my DSLR. Shouldn’t it be uploading a lot more memory?! What is your experience?

  • Tara - I saw this on pinterest and thought to myself, “No way, that would take way to long…” However, the idea just stuck in my head and wouldn’t stop. Then I got the email from MyPublisher with the great deal. I was a computer zombie all last week and finished a mix book for our family for every year since 2006 (when my first kiddo was born). THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU, For the inspiration to get this done!

  • slowing down summer » - […] I’m going to need to pull an all nighter this week to get it done. For those that asked, here is a post about our 2010 albums. This year I am making it with Blurb…because I wanted the whole year in one book. Previously, […]

  • photo book – enjoy those captured moments! | Midwest Magnolia - […] reminded me of when I decided I wanted to do this after reading a post by Ashley AnnΒ from Under The Sycamore, an amazing photographer, about how she does these books for her family each year. Β I wondered what […]

  • Julie - I love the really big book by mypublisher, but makes a great 12×12 book and they offer a great deal at least once a year-unlimited pages. You pay for a 20 page book and the other 80 pages are free. With shipping, 4 of them will cost about $225, and it’s easier to use then Mypublisher and doesn’t take your memory space since you do the books on their site with free, unlimited storage.

  • Kimberly Locke - You motivated me last year and I’m getting ready to order my first book πŸ™‚
    I made a baby book for my daughter. I love it!

  • Leah Mullett - I searched something about Mypublisher which led me to your blog! Love your albums! I also use Mypublisher but curious how you can ‘combine’ your orders like you listed above! It only lets me order one album at a time! Maybe I’ve been making a mistake and wasting so much money all along! Please let me know how you combine all your albums so that you can use that coupon! Thank you!!!!

  • Gina - I had the same problem with MyPublisher’s 100 page limit, so I completely started over with Blurb for a 240 page book. The quality of Blurb was excellent and they have frequent coupons as well.

  • jota jara - Travel through time

    my blog jota jara.


Thanks for your comments yesterday. Just to clarify…I’m good with my random style. I think I try for “clean & classy” because I appreciate how others pull it off in their homes so well. I am a big supporter of the idea that a home should reflect the ones that live there. Not everyone likes to decorate. Not everyone likes pictures hot glued to their walls. Not everyone likes PotteryBarn (well maybe that one isn’t true to some extent!). Anyway, thanks for your comments….you guys are so encouraging! In the picture below (top right corner) you can see a bit of all that ‘junk’ I nailed to the wall last week. I need to spray paint some frames and then I’ll share more pictures of it.

For those of you that live in areas that feet of snow is normal….well around here this much snow means kids can’t walk to bus stops (they don’t have proper attire for the cold), every 1/10th mile a car is stuck in snow, all the grocery stores shelves are empty and guys with big trucks want to show off their 4 wheel drive on the roads. I’ve actually enjoyed the break from routine, but I’m ready to get back in our groove soon.

Just to note, the markers on the windows are Crayola Window Markers. The boys have really enjoyed them.Β  Our wonderful neighbor cleared our driveway. Aren’t great neighbors the best. I remember asking my mom’s next door neighbor for sugar a few years ago and the teenage son was baffled by the idea that I asked to borrow sugar. He had never heard of neighbors doing that…made me sad. I have great neighbors…who kindly give me an egg or sugar when I’m making cookies and realize I don’t have all I need…..and clear our long driveway with a smile, asking nothing in return.

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  • Laurie J - whoa! being a wisconsin girl I had no idea snow could be so paralyzing to you southerners. mercy! thanks for the glimpse and hope life returns to “normal” soon. esp w/ 3 boys you need FOOD!

  • Cassie - I laughed out loud when I read “Not everyone likes things hot glued to their walls,” as I hot glued something to my wall yesterday and thought, “Hm. Wonder if I’m supposed to do that.”

    We’re getting cabin fever here in Chicago, too…time for spring!

  • Elizabeth Highsmith - you’re baby rock’ the puffer jacket, seriously i’ve never seen anyone wear it better,

    baby girl so adorable and boys so cute!

  • RachelC - Great pics!! I love the miniature “indoor” snowman and firecracker all snugly in her puff coat.

  • Tracie - My family moved in September and we’re still getting to know our neighbors. In our last neighborhood, we had a neighbor who was a contractor. He would clear all the driveways on our street during the storms. We also borrowed sugar, eggs, etc from neighbors and loaned stuff to them in return. It was wonderful to live in a place where we all helped each other. I’m looking forward to meeting the new ones when the weather gets warmer.

  • amanda torres - Funny you mentioned about asking stuff from your neighbors. I don’t hesitate to ask, but my neighbors never ask me. Hmmm, either they’re always prepared or they’re like the teenage boy.

  • andy - love the pics
    your little girl on the table:precious
    the tiny snowman is cute too
    looks like you guys are having fun and keeping busy.
    stay warm
    we are suppose to get some tonight but not that much
    we had a lot last month and schools closed for a week

  • Jaimie - Haha is your kid drawing on the window? And I love the GIANT gloves on Firecracker.. this really made my morning, thank you.

  • Stephanie F - I grew up with neighbors we knew like that. It was great. Now I don’t even know my neighbors names. That is sad.

    We live in B.A. and are also growing tired of Snow days. Just saw the forcast for next week and my spirits have been lifted. 60 deg. on Monday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tammy - I’m from Ohio but spent one winter in Broken Arrow. We still laugh about how the town shut down as soon as the first snowflakes fell. But then, a tornado would come through there and no one thought anything of it.

  • tessa - I’m glad my daughter isn’t the only child that thinks the table is put there solely for her to sit and play on. Makes me smile. πŸ™‚

  • Aja Vaught - I here ya! I somehow thought maybe just maybe this storm would miss us. But no. We have run out of things to do and the kids have no desire to go and play in the snow anymore. Blue skies ahead though…it will be on the 60’s next week for us! YAY!

  • Aja Vaught - Plus, the time of from work is hurting everyone!

  • Mallory @ R. Simple Life - I moved to Oklahoma this summer from Colorado, and before that, I grew up in Michigan. When we found out we were stationed in Oklahoma (hubs is Air Force) he convinced me that I would not need to buy the new winter coat from Old Navy that was pretty much free. “We won’t nee it!” he said.

    Looking out at the two feet of snow that fell last night and made it pretty funny to watch my dog try to find a spot to go to the bathroom, I think he was wrong.

    Thanks for reminding me that I love snow! It’s so much easier to remember that when you see it through kids eyes, and Firecracker is adorable in her parka. Stay warm!

  • Andrea - We had the Window markers before and they were great! Our kids loved them and they clean up really easily. πŸ™‚

    The snow pics are great!

  • Krista Lund - while, i love your color photos (so clean and bright!) the b&w, antique photos are amazing!

  • Jessica - Your pictures are stunning!

    I live in Connecticut. And while we are generally used to snow in the winter, my kids have had 11 snow days so far in the past month and roofs are collapsing all over the state because of the weight of, oh, 50 inches of snow. Ugh. I can’t wait until spring…

  • Danielle - I have loved the unexpected snow! Not everyone agrees but I love the change. I am from the north originally and I miss having a real winter!

  • Jenny Joy - I’m in Kansas. I can totally relate. I love snow, but at this point, I’m over it. Over it I tell you. But, I guess I’ll absolutely appreciate the warm of spring. πŸ™‚

  • Tricia - 7 days! We had 5 days in a row off last week. I was ready for normal again too. My kiddos love the window markers. They think it’s rebellious. I roll with it. πŸ˜‰


    p.s. we have one of those fantastic neighbors too. I looked out the window to see him plowing last week and when I went outside, he said, “I just thought that it would help you”. How awesome is that?!

  • Gevay - I have no idea what you all are going through. I live in south Florida and last week we were sweating! But I will say your kids are so cute in their winter gear!

  • Lauren - I just found your website last week from apartment therapy and LOVE it! It sure doesn’t hurt that we are living in the same area, probably the same town. I can only tell because of places you refer to. Anyway I love the pretty snow, but am ready for routine to start again SOON! It’s good to know I’m not the only one feeling this way!

  • PJ - How do you create the photo collage with the overlapping images? Do you use a template that you can share?

  • Aubrey - Good neighbors are the best!!! I have one of those. I also try to be one of those too.
    On another note…my little girl has the same dress. I live it, classic.

  • Alisa - I’m another who CAN’T relate- central cali coast girl here…you all can jump on a plane and come visit, lol! I grew up here, and my husband thinks I’m crazy when I say “can’t we just move somewhere that has seasons? I get a little tired of always knowing it will be 60 this week. I know, always greener on the other side, lol!

  • giozi - I love all the faces that always do your little boy.

  • amac - Glad you’re enjoying the downtime with your family! I miss snow! It’s already in the 90s where I live. But it’s fun to see the the snow in the beautiful photos you take πŸ™‚

  • Amanda - Newton has 18 inches! How much do you guys have?? I can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen this much snow! A big tractor showed up at our house today and cleared our driveway – just a friend with a big toy. I think the driveway was cleared in 4 minutes flat.

  • Mercedes - Hey! I live in a mountain, on a cliff, by the sea in Baja California, Mexico… we have an amazing weather here all year, but we do live very far away from anything else (an hour from the city) and have to go through 15 minutes of dirt road before getting home, so when it rains very strong (once or twice a year) the road washes down and we are always afraid we will get stock for days (the roads can not be repaired until dry)… we have very few neighbors, but they are definitely like family to us! Take care!

  • Mercedes - p.s. also… it was just my birthday and hubs got me a 50mm lens… I am soooo excited! thanks for the tips! i love your pics!!

  • Stoich91 - CUUTTTTEEE!!!!

  • Carla - I love seeing your pictures. Your little firecracker’s expressions just bring a smile to my lips every time! She’s just so stinkin’ cute! (as are your boys, but something about her just oozes cuteness!) I’m like you, I admire those that have those classy looking bedrooms/homes where everything’s put together & so lovely. I’ve decided mine will never be that way because that’s just not me and I’m becoming ok with that!

  • Meredith - Ashley, I read your blog every day and love it! As soon as I saw this tshirt I thought of you. Seems like it would be perfect for you (if you don’t already own it).


  • Seamingly Sarah - I couldn’t agree more with the decorating conundrum. I love to look at how other’s decorate their homes, but when I come home, my style is not matching and minimal. I’ve recently started trying to embrace that instead of pining over other styles and beating myself up over it.

  • Laurie Magotiaux - Being a gal from Manitoba Canada… we are quited used to piles and piles of snow but it doesn’t mean I don’t sympathize with communities that aren’t ready for the dumps of snow that the states have encountered this winter. I hope you get dug out soon. Your kids are lucky to have such a creative and patient mom to help the days pass more quickly.

  • Jess - Great pics! That b&w series is so cute! You make snow days look good! I can’t tell if I should love our sunny 55 degree weather and trips to the park, or your piles of snow and days off of school… Ha!

  • Emily B - Can you come entertain my 5th graders?!? πŸ™‚

    Also, my class LOVES window markers. The window crayons are even brighter and better than the markers, in case you don’t have them!

  • able mabel - 7 days at home?! Wow! Do you have to make up the snow days at the end of the school year?

  • Mirys from Brazil - Our Dear Ashley: the pics are great (as usual!). Congrats!!!

    Today, at our blog, we publish the blogs we read the most. I know you do not understand Portuguese but IΒ΄d like you to know that we indicated your blog as one of the best blogs for us!

    Because lots of my friends understand English and even if they dont, your pics are so great that my friends should stop by here every now and then!!!

    So, if you want to check what we said about you (we have a translation button on the top of the page), go to

    With love and admiration

  • Caitlin - We have a mondo mirror in our kitchen that my 4yo son loves to draw and write on with dry erase markers. πŸ™‚

  • cj - i LOVE your website! and your kiddos are adorable, too!
    quick question- how did you create this collage of photos? to make them look like they were actual photos laying on the screen, overlapping each other? it’s amazing!

  • Trysha - Oh my goodness! That last photo of your darling boy deep in concentration is adorable!