Cancer in some way has affected most people. It has affected my family. I don’t share a lot of fundraisers on my blog, but every now I do. Today is one of those days.



Once there was a GIRL. With a blog. You know the kind.

The kind with pretty pictures and pretty words. The kind that you

put on your RSS feed so you don’t miss out on the next post.

The kind that lets you into her world and sucks you in so far you feel like you know her. Yes, you know her.

You know her because she’s in every one of us.

She’s your mother and sister. She’s your silver and gold.

She’s the loyal wife, the doting mama, and on her lucky days, she’s an artist.

Capturing details, memories and moments to be treasured. She’s a fellow photographer.

Well today, this girl is none of these things. Today she is a widow.

Today she pulls her hair back into that familiar ponytail, fingers wrapped around

that ever present cup of coffee, and stares in the direction of

where he used to sit. Where he used to sit, all day, every day,

fighting a losing battle called cancer.

Yes, you know her, even if you don’t really know her.

Her name is Valerie Koop.

And she c0uld be any of us.

This is not a story of pity, but a story of courage and strength.

A story of friendship and community that binds us all.

So many amazing souls wanting to reach out, but not knowing how.

Well, here’s how.


Valerie Koop is a fellow photographer and blogger. Her blog is a beautifully woven story of life….even when cancer is a part of it. Early this month her husband, the father of her two small children, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Numerous photographers, crafters, bloggers are joining with Matlida Jane to do an auction in her benefit. The auction is full of all kinds of really great items….tons of fun stuff! You can visit Valerie’s blog here and the auction here.


“Don’t waste your cancer…or your life” is a blog written by Libby Ryder…who is now cancer free. Her blog chronicles her journey and celebrates life.Β  Her friends are rallying alongside her to raise money for her medical bills by running the Music City Hall half-marathon. You can find out information on her team and a video created by her friendsΒ  here. Even if you are unable to support her team, take a break to sit and pour through her blog. You’ll leave inspired.

*I did not write “The House of Koop” story.

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  • becca~CapturingSimpleJoys - my heart aches for her and her family after reading this~headed over to her site now.

  • keely - Thanks for sharing the link to Valerie’s site. I read through her archives this morning and just wept for her. I can’t even imagine…

  • Katie - thank you for posting this…already looked at the auction…hoping to contribute a little bit.

  • Kara - Thanks for sharing. I read through her recent posts and my heart aches for her and her little ones.

  • Seamingly Sarah - Thank you for sharing this.

  • Cassie - One of my good friends who is also a photographer lost her husband to cancer a few years ago. I just can’t even imagine such a loss.

    Heading over to bid!

  • melody - ohh, how I detest cancer. i personally am a two time breast cancer survior. my heart is aching for this young widow. i cannot imagine the loss and heartache she is going through. we need a cure to this awful disease. cancer affects so many and it is time…for a cure!
    thank you for sharing this lovely although heart wrenching post.


  • jami nato - dannnnnnnng. those links’ll make a prego lady cry in 1.4 seconds. or anyone.

    thanks for sharing those links…it’s good to be reminded that God is good even in the midst of heartbreak.

  • tiffani - thank you for sharing this*; the fact that anything can be shared and love, prayer, and support can be poured out on who is most likely a ‘stranger’ is one of those beautiful things about blogging:) thank you thank you.

  • Cory - Thanks for sharing these links. Libby is a dear friend & her story is incredibly beautiful!

  • Mirys from Brazil - Oh Ashley…

    If I missed my husband with the post about bedrooms, can you imagine now???

    I really know this girl. I know this pain. I know the “panic” about being the only responsible for 2 little ones when you seems not to have streght enough for yourself…

    I do know this girl because I was this girl, last january. And I can tell you: she will be better after all this, more determined, more concious of life (if this is possible), more focused in her priorities, stroger. But it will be a long, lonely and cold way in between…

    If she wants to talk, to tell the hole story, to share or just to cry with someone, please, please, please give her my e-mail or my blog. If I can be of some help…

    With love.

  • sonal - I spent hours reading Val’s blog into the wee hours of the night… thanks for sharing her story. I was saddened, inspired, and extremely moved.

  • The Prairie Hen - Dear Sweet Ashley,
    Thank you for sharing… I can tell I am going to love her already! πŸ™‚

    So Touched in NE

Someone asked me recently, “what is the hardest thing about blogging?” I didn’t have an answer at first. I had to think about it for a few days before it really dawned on me what is the hardest thing for me: I wish I could interact more with those that read my blog and other bloggers. Many of you leave comments and with those comments are links to your own blogs. I hate that I can’t spend more time reading blogs and being active in the comment section of my own blog. Many questions left in the comment section go unanswered – that is really hard for me. I makes me feel like I am letting someone down by notΒ getting around to answering aΒ question. It will probably always bother me, but I am dealing withΒ it because I know my priorities.Β I read several blogs where the blogger is immersed in connecting online. I know great friendships can be made online. I’ve experienced it. I wish I could do it more.

I would love to be able to take time each day to read and be inspired by other blogs. I’d enjoy connecting more with bloggers I have already had the privilege to get to know a little bit. I could do those things if I didn’t want to do other things. We’ve all been given the same amount of time each day. As much as I want to connect online with many of you – I can’t. For now, I am spending most of my time connecting off-line. Instead of spending 15 minutes reading lots of blogs, I’m playing with playdough. I’ll be honest, there are MANY times I’d rather be online than deep in playdough, but I know I’d regret that decision one day. Maybe I am not a very ‘connected’ blogger. Maybe people will stop reading this blog because I don’t always answer questions in the comment section. Maybe I’ll miss out on online opportunities. Maybe I won’t have a big, huge blog. I’m okay with that because I know I will never regret 15 minutes of playdough. Is it easy to choose playdough over being more active online?…not always. That is the hardest thing about blogging for me.

I read every single one of your comments….I may not get the chance to respond to all of them, but I do read them. So thank you for leaving them.


I love this picture. They look so little. I have a feeling I’ll be taking pictures at this angle for years to come.


Yeah for cute little faces, homeade playdough and 15 well used minutes.

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  • Caroline - Oh, Ashley, dont worry about it!
    I’ll still be checking your blog at 9pm (singapore time) everyday. it’s a must-do!
    your kids are really lovely, love the last two photos from this post. they’re really gorgeous little ones!
    i wish my future kids would be as adorable!

  • Sarah Frost - where did you get that precious dress?!!!

  • Christy - So sweet! I love that adorable apron or dress so cute. Did you make it ?

  • Valerie - Your photos and dedication to being a Mom will always keep me coming back for more. There is a season for everything. This is your season to raise and nurture your little ones. You won’t regret one moment spent with them.

  • Dana - You have certainly chosen the BEST use of 15 minutes!! These days will pass so quickly and “then” you will have time for all of the other stuff πŸ™‚ Don’t rush these days! Love your photos and your wise words.

  • becca~capturingsimplejoys - you just keep playing play doh! you have your priorities in the correct order. it’s simply a joy to read here and for that i thank you!

  • Rebekah - I read your blog every morning, first thing when I sit down at my desk at work, no matter what. You blog your way! But be prepared if I ever see you in person — I’ll probably run up, talk your ear off, and your kids will wonder who that crazy woman is calling them “Firecracker” and “Biggest Brother”, saying how big they’ve gotten.

  • Jenny Joy - I think I know why soooo many people read and comment on your blog even if you can’t answer every question or connect with every reader. You are yourself. You remain convicted to living your REAL life instead of just an online life. You have genius ideas, but remain humble. You are so creative, and I think we all hope that just a tiny bit of that creative will rub off on us. You really are awesome. Well, and it doesn’t hurt that your photography is PHENOMENAL. Or that there are adorable kiddo pictures. Or that your house is amazing. Just sayin’.

  • Abigail - *laughs* My sister in law and I have decided that before we can have kids we need to become photographers: Just to take pictures of our kids. Your blog is an inspiration!

  • Kimberly - Love love love your blog. I have yet to read your words and not leave with a good feeling, a good idea, or just amazing inspiration in one form or another. I have to say …. are you crazy for showing us pictures of firecracker wearing the most adorable apron I’ve ever seen and not tell us where it came from/if you made it? πŸ˜‰ Ha! Seriously … thanks for sticking with this blog every day. I can only imagine how busy you are but you should know that this blog really makes a difference to a lot of people … myself included!

  • tiffani - i understand what you are saying:) keep up what you are doing b/c i’m sure most of us know that you read comemts but can’t respond. and most of us readers would rather you prioritize them the way you do!-and that’s one of the reason’s you pull people in i’m sure:)

  • Liz - Ashley, they are so adorable!!

  • amy - i rarely leave comments but when i do i never really expect you to respond to it. i think most people know that would be unrealistic for you to do. and i adore that apron firecracker is wearing and i want it! where did you find it… i must have one…so i will be coming back to see if you responded to this.

  • Sara W - Once again, thank you for your perspcective. It is easy for me to get lost in my computer – searching for ideas, reading email and blogs but as you say this is time you will not get back.

  • Fee - I think that’s something everyone can relate to. even without having kids like me… you are spending your time right :)!

  • erica - love the pics of your lil cuties!

  • Tess S - crushing on her apron! beautiful!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - This, by far, is the best way to spend your time! For sure!

    Before we had children, I was in charge of the children’s programming at a church we were planting. On the way home I was mentioning how my hands smelled like play-do. It occurred to me that at the end of the day, I wanted my hands smelling of play-do. That, to me, was the mark of a day well spent!

  • ranee - I agree…well said! I do choose to spend a few minutes checking out your blog everyday because it’s one of the best I’ve found! Thanks for blogging and your great thoughts! And a question…that doesn’t have to be answered any time too soon…what is your table top made of/where did you get it? I love it and am working on a work table in my laundry room and thought it might work to have something like it.

  • Heather - I love your blog. Most of the ones I read are business marketing related but friend suggested yours because I am also a crafty and photo crazed mom in my spare time. I will tell you the way I fit in blogging which I also love is to be part of a group blog. I found 5 other busy professional ladies and we write a collaborative blog. We have actually recently been approached about speaking and writing a book about the “Art of Group Blogging” because it does take some work but it also allows me to post one every two weeks instead of everyday and still feel like I am in an “active” blog. I know you have little precious time but if you want some tips on doing group blogging I am happy to help! My email is above as is my website.

  • Mallory @ R. Simple Life - I too would love it if you had more time to interact with us on your blog, but that is not why I read it. I read your blog because it’s entertaining, because your kids are adorable, because I love getting good DIY ideas from you, and because I LOVE your blog! And I completely understand that you want to choose being with your children over being with the internet. I would too. So just keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll still be reading!

    PS Firecrackers apron is ADORABLE!

  • Charity - Awesome!! Enjoy those babies! Your little fire cracker reminds me of my little 17 month old funny girl!

  • Erin - The Smallest Sparrow - I know what you mean! I think readers are sympathetic. We’re all in the same boat. Not enough time to do it all.

    I LOVE the little yo-yo apron on your firecracker. Where did you get that? Or did you make it? Ridiculously cute…. as is she.

    Oh and if you can’t answer, I’ll understand!!!! πŸ™‚

  • Laurie J - play doh is where it’s at! we broke out the stuff before 8:30 am yesterday b/c it was NO SCHOOL! The thing that makes me a tad cranky is finding bits of it around the house still today… does that happen?! πŸ˜‰

  • Kat - I love your blog! I am trying to spend less time online – since I amsingle with no kids, I have the time, but can get too caught up in the world of blogs and the Internet in general. Keep doing what you’re doing, I love “visiting” you every day! πŸ™‚

  • Rachel - Yesterday…the monogram letter diy was a great idea, but I spied the ruffley pillow decorating the bed. So neat! I’d love to try that! Your pictures are great & I love the diy inspiration!

  • Angie Webb - Oh that last picture of Firecracker is SO cute!! And her apron, is it? Where did you get that?!?!?!?!!!

  • candace - you ARE connected. to your kids. i think that is what brings readers back so often that they feel connected to what you are posting. thanks for all you share!

    can’t wait to see where you got that sweet yo-yo apron πŸ™‚

  • Linda - Spend every minute that you can with your little ones! As a mom with now grown daughters, I can tell you that you will NEVER regret that time—you will cherish it more and more as time goes by so quickly!

  • Lauren Klouda - I completely get it. I love looking for those moments everyday that matter most. As much as I love blogs and blogging… those moments aren’t it.

    P.S. Your blog is still wonderful!

  • Sarah - That apron is way to cute!

  • ellen - first of all, i do think you have a huge blog! you have so many readers who love coming here.

    second, i love the choices you make. you definitely challenge me to really enjoy my children. last year you shared that you set one goal per child each week. i’ve adopted that and i love it because it’s grace filled and totally doable!

    finally, i think you do make some effort to connect. i know it’s hard with so many little ones at home. last year, i copied you on something for my home and emailed you to thank you for busting up ideas of quiet and perfect creating times. you emailed me back and came to my blog and commented. honestly, for me that means more than you interacting here in the comments. i really didn’t have any expectations. i had just wanted to say thanks.

  • Carissa - Amen sister. You can’t get that time back after they’re gone. You are an amazing and inspiring blogger but guess what, I have a feeling the reason most people read your blog is because you inspire them as a mother most. Yay for playdough playing instead of sitting behind a computer!

  • LeAnne W - Good for you! I read your blog because it reflects my life in a way, from a different point of view. I appreciate that you choose play doh and lego men over online time.

  • anna - it is such a hard balance, but I know you are making the best choices for yourself, and your children will reap the rewards!

  • Kristine - love the sweet apron she’s wearing and that closed-mouth smile littlest brother is making. πŸ™‚

  • stephanie - First: Playdough is the devil. Why do kids love it so??? My two are obsessed it and we play almost every day…but admit it…those tiny little specks of dough that show up EVERYWHERE can make a momma crazy! lol. Great post….I find myself choosing playdough or chutes-n-ladders more often that I’d like some days, yet I know it is the right, fulfilling choice. Thank you!

  • Collette - Good for you!!! I love your blog and read it everyday and am so happy you aren’t like so many of the people I read about. They are traveling with blog stuff and going out at night with blog friends and I always think how do they have time for all of that and be a mom and wife??? (not that you can’t have a little time for yourself) I can barely keep up being a mom to 5. You are so talented and creative and I like you even more after reading this post!! Enjoy those little ones they grow up way too fast:)

  • Cassie - I’m with ya. I could spend all day on blogs, and I know people who do. But I know the best place for me to invest my time is with my little guy. Thank you for being so honest!

  • Lesley - adorable!!!

  • Emily Langston - Amen to you Ashley! I am sticking to only checking my facebook and blog when my son is either asleep or when I am at work. It’s unfair for you to neglect your own family just to give an answer to one of us.
    I think your blog is one of my most favorite, because not only do you have AMAZING style, but you are honest and you……
    You have life and struggles and aren’t afraid to show us.
    Thanks for that!!!

  • caro - i think you have a big huge blog, you post everyday!!! and the comments are more than 50, you are a big blogger, have sponsors, last year you had not so many. i know some other bloggers who donΒ΄t post in weeks you do a great job and love read it and saw it. And kids are kids for short time so spend our time with them, they thanks to us later. sorry for my english my spanish is better

  • gkey - dear, you are a GOOD Mama!
    The 15 minutes of play add up over time and turn into something so forever wonderful in the memories of littleKins when they grow up. I have 6 kiddos, and they are not all grown up yet. I can tell you that I have never regretted the little 15 minute windows I have spent over the years. Usually, I reap the benefits of better behaved kiddleywinks for that day because of it. So there, the benefits are two-sided anyway. There will be years ahead for more blog-reading, writing, sewing, scrap-booking, antiquing, decorating, and all the things that ‘call’ to us from our yearning-for-creativity sides.
    Admiring your little fire-cracker’s apron-dress….thinking that would look mighty cute on my little grand-girl!
    Worthwhile Smiles

  • Christy - That apron is absolutely adorable! O I really love it.

  • Annabelle - I guess it’s alright if you are busy to reply. Your blog itself is so inspiring. And I love that you spend so much time with your kids. I thinkit’s precisely so that we fall in love with your blog.

  • Mallory - You’re such an inspiration, Ashley! I adore your blog (it’s one of my favorites). Not only are your pictures AWESOME, you help me know the kind of mom I hope to be one day. Oh, and props to you for dressing your daughter girly, but not the cotton candy, everything’s pink kind of girly. She always seems to have the cutest outfits on!

  • Cherished Hearts Vintage - Enjoy the little ones! This time will fly by far too fast.

  • Linda Johnston - Where did you get that adorable apron. You probably made it you are so creative. My daughter (who is also a firecracker) is just about the same age as yours I would love to find an apron like that. And what it is your recipe for playdough. And I commend you for choice. PLaying with and spending time with our children will always be the better choice. I also have 3 boys who are 9,8,7 they are growing up too fast. I miss their playdough days and my so trying to hold on to my daughters. You are a great example to many.

  • ruth@gracelaced - I’m so glad you posted this, Ashley. I was really *just* saying this to friends last night. That I love to blog, but in order for me to rightly steward my time and be true to what I blog about, I don’t network, surf, or follow many of the rules for successful blogging. And that’s okay. Because I’m playing with playdough too, and making sure the boys have clean socks. Blessings to you, girl!

  • Michelle D. - Love the apron!!! I don’t think I spend enough time actually playing with my kids. Thx for your point of view.

  • Mary Lemon - Adore your blog. Your kids are so darn cute. Your little girl is so precious and love to see what she’s wearing! I’m hoping for a grandaughter next time my daughter has a baby. Love my grandson to pieces but I need a grandaughter too! You’re so very creative!!

  • Elizabeth - great post again. I’m reading your blog and listening to my boys playing by themselves in the next room…so, thanks again…for reminding me to make a better decision with my time!

  • Elizabeth - LOL! OK, my comment sounded bad…what I meant to say, I will continue to read every post you make…but I will choose a better time…your blog is always worth the time I make for it!

  • Joy Frameworks - And that is why I love your blog.

  • Emilie - I rarely leave a comment because I only steal a few moments each day to actually read your blog. And I only have two small children. I also hesitate to write because I can only imagine how busy you are and I don’t want to add to your plate by adding yet one more thing for you to read. But I feel compelled to write to you after reading your post today. I marvel constantly at how much you accomplish, how you manage your time and what you value. A friend introduced me to your blog based on our mutual love for all things Anthropologie. You have inspired me beyond words, both creatively and spiritually. It almost sounds silly that a little blog could do that for me, but it has. You do not know me, but you are MY on-line friend. What you do is more than enough. Thank you.

  • Kristina - Hey Ashley,

    I’ve never commented before, but just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog–your photography is what drew me in first through one of your DIY Design Aglow posts a few months back, but as I kept reading, I love your honesty and down-to-earthness, even though to me it seems that your blog is already pretty “big and huge” as you say. Humble, that’s what I notice! I think I am the most un-networked blogger alive. I post and run. Ha! I’m so surprised to know you do the same. Love your thoughts, artistry, and honesty. You’re a neat lady for sure! πŸ™‚ Kristina

  • Christina - Well said, Ashley. I know it can be hard to choose spending time with your kids over some adult time, but it will be more rewarding in the end, and that is how God would want you to spend your time πŸ™‚

  • Amanda - Your little firecracker and my little wrecking ball, Lilly, are very close in age and so is your son in the pics and my son Gabriel. They are playing so nicely together! I wish my little girl, who is 14 months, could play with playdo nicely like that…instead she eats the playdo. Oh well, someday it will happen.

  • Ana Brightful - I really enjoy reading your blog. I love your little lady’s apron. If you get a chance, could you mention where you got it or where you got the pattern? It’s so cute, I’d love to buy/make one for my little one. I found this one, but I’m not sure if it’s the same one:


  • Elizabeth Horn - You’re a good mommy! It goes by so fast and then they are all grown up. You never get it back.

  • amanda torres - I think I’ll start asking you really detailed questions everyday now that I know it will bug you to leave them unanswered. Nevermind. That would mean I would have to think of those questions and I don’t have time for that. Anyways, I don’t live for you to answer my questions, but I do enjoy your little space on the WWW. It inspires me to focus on what’s really important.

  • hearttypat - hey, i just noticed another fellow Singaporean in this comment box! Well, ashley, i think you’re one of those rare gems who attract people to your blog, i have my own list of reasons why i’d continue to read your blog even if you never commented on mine or address my questions directly to me! Just ’cause you’re that special and every time i read your post, it just brings a tear/ a smile and almost each time, a warm fuzzy feeling. And that for me, is a connection that I don’t get a lot other bloggers!
    Choosing to spend time with your children is absolutely the right thing to do!

  • maggie McKenney - Love your blog & beautiful photos Ash~ that little firecracker is getting BIG and looks like you (adorable)….such a beautiful life you are creating for your family~!!! your blogging post helped me today as i have blog issues πŸ™‚ xo LOL

  • Andrea T - I love your blog!! everything is so pretty and real. I was wondering if one day you might do a post on where you get all of that amazing clothing for your daughter. each piece is cuter than the next!

  • Chelsea - Hi Ashley… I read your blog (and about 3-5 others) each day, it’s just exciting to see what you’re up to, and your awesome photography skills keep me coming back. I’ve also got a creative side, but don’t often get time to work on projects, so yeah, I sort of live vicariously through you and a few other bloggers : ) But seriously, don’t sweat it! Just keep doing what you do, that’s why I follow you, and thank you for sharing you thoughts and ideas. I find this blog to be relatable, inspirational and just plain fun! : ) You rock, your blog rocks and your family rocks! – Chelsea

  • Jess H - πŸ™‚ you do indeed know your priorities, and I’m quite sure playdough tops ‘getting it all done’ in the end. thanks for continually being an inspiration of going against the grain (and helping me to know I am not alone in the playdough vs. blogland conflict I often feel!)

  • Kristin S - You are making the best choice!

    No way I’ll stop reading….

  • marcy - You are so inspiring to me!!!

  • Natalie - I know very little about photography, and right now I am shooting with my video camera- it takes REALLY great HD-video, and really lousy pictures. That’s my hardest part about investing more time in my really shabby blog…but your site brings a smile to my face each morning and teaches me about photography, impressing upon me to capture my kids in these early years. There are not enough photos of me as a kid! So thanks for the tutorials on life, photos, marriage, etc…I’ll keep reading too!

  • Allison kerbo - I saw your kiddos and hubs at Chick-fil-A at lunch. Walked in the door and there they were. I felt a little creepy considering I don’t actually know them or your husband.. but I knew who they were. I thought to myself, hey, there’s ashley’s kids. πŸ™‚

  • Mary - Thanks for the inspiration Ashley. I respect you more elbow deep in playdough than I would if we became BFFs and spent hours online together. Its hard for me to spend my time wisely. There are so many “good” things I could be doing…I have to remember to chose the best. Love you!

  • Jessica Sullivan - Good for you…having your priorities in order! BTW, did you make Firecracker’s apron? It’s adorable.

  • Danyelle - Your daughter’s apron dress is adorable!

  • Cory - I think you’re great. Thanks for your honesty & encouraging me to be more intentional with my time & my son. You rock.
    Also, that little apron is precious!

  • elizabeth highsmith - she’s so big! next week i’ll get a new catch phrase, probably, “she’s even bigger.” from the little snippets i catch of your life here it amazes me how everyone grows, you’ll never regret your 15-minutes of play dough. i love your blog because you’re so connected with YOUR family! i have a very distant memory of edible peanut butter playdough, and i’m really glad my mom alotted those 15 minutes to make that happen. your babies will be too!

  • Megan - I read your blog every day and love it…I hardly comment however and never ask questions as I am a busy mom too…so it seems today out of all days to ask a question doesn’t really make sense! but…. I have made several homemade playdohs and hated them…too sticky or just not right. Yours looks perfect and I’m dying to know what it is! So if you have a link or time… πŸ™‚ but don’t worry I will continue on my quest of finding one I like so no pressure! God Bless!

  • Mindy Harris - so proud of you. i share the same struggle.

  • Leanne - seriously. I can tell you are an awesome mom and that’s what counts. love the angle of those little legs!! so cute.

  • Mariah - Oh my gosh… her apron. I’m dying inside. Oh, no. Here it comes… I think I need to try for a girl. That did it. I’m toast.

  • Kimberlee J. - You’re focused where it counts. I love you for that. And now I can let myself stop feeling bad that I haven’t replied to you, yet. πŸ™‚

  • Courtney - Her apron coupled with her huge smile pretty much melted my heart πŸ™‚

  • Melissa W. - Hey Ashley, I’m sure this has been said in form or another but I felt like I should share. πŸ™‚ You said that we’re all given the same amount of time each day and it reminded me of a talk that a sister gave at my church last Sunday. She said that we’ve all been given the same time, the exact same hours in each day, the only difference is how we choose to use it – and you are making a GREAT choice. πŸ™‚ I strive to do the same each day with my kids and I know that in the long run I’ll look back and be happy that I did. Way to be an awesome mama. πŸ˜‰

  • Megan - it’s so weird sometimes to see pictures of other’s children and home life that are so simialr to my own life…we have the same bag of playdough toys, same green homemade playdough, little feet on chairs…our bag of playdough toys has a few matchbox cars and trucks caked with crusty playdough also ?

  • Ruth - I think what I like most about your blog is how it shows a slice of your REAL life, not your virtual one. Your priorities are in order and as a blogger, I have to say, you inspire me to keep mine in order too. I come back day after day to see what new amazing, creative thing you have come up with and I know that if you were spending all your time interacting online, you wouldn’t come up with half the stuff you do. I know because when I spend too much time online, my content suffers too. Just be you Miss Ashley Ann, because YOU are what keeps us coming back!

    And kudos to you for doing the play-doh thing. The neat freak in me couldn’t handle the mess and I finally donated the whole lot to our church nursery this week. Let me tell you, it felt GOOD to let that go! πŸ™‚

  • RachelC - I just read your min-fig post on Ruth’s blog. AWESOME!!! I love those doughy min-figs, and I love even more that you decorated some like the kids….. the cat-eye glasses one is my fav. BTW — who is the giant dough monster? πŸ™‚

  • Marie-Claire - Having just spent time with playdough yesterday i understand….I’m not a blogger but there is so much i’d like to do that there just doesn’t seem time to do – like being more creative, reading your blog…but playdough it was. A good investment i think. As a mum i think the fact that you take time to blog and you read ALL the comments is amazing. When you replied to my comment the other week i was stoked (i did not expect it!)but it was late here in Australia so i didn’t let you know how much it was appreciated. I love what you let us see of your life and the priorities you stick to πŸ™‚

  • Simies - I realy LOVE your blog and photos!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Hi dear Ashley. I have to tell you, I just love watching your babies grow up. I love you spirit and I love how willing you are to share your crafts and your photo tips. I am still looking for the perfect coffee can and plate combo to make my own cake stand. I am so grateful for you telling us how you get the eye sparkle. You are a blessing to me. You keep on choosing those babies. They are the ones who will be with you when you are 80 years old on your rocking chair.

  • Jodi - I agree. It is the hardest. I am not very good at responding on my own blog either and my followers are 1/100th of yours.
    I haven’t been commenting as much as I used to on your blog either because of those 15 min. I spend way less time online and more time with my 2 girls. I think that if someone really needs a question answered then they will email you directly. I know you always email back!!! But just so you know, you are 1 of 2 blogs I still read daily even if I am not commenting. We are all appreciative of the time you give.

  • Kirra Sue - Personally, I love the way you blog. I love that you blog to document your families life & then you spend time with that family of yours. The connecting & making new friends part is a sweet deal when it comes to blogging- but the people right in front of you. Well shoot- they need you the most. You are so appreciate Ashley! Keep on using your time wisely- it urges the rest of us to do the same.

  • evelyse - i read your and guess what? this is my first time commenting…i think that you have this blog to inspire moms and as a mom to 3 myself-we can totally understand the time thing and trying to balance a million things every day. you are awesome. so there. now go grab that play dough πŸ™‚

  • giozi - About your first picture. I was amazed that there is nothing on the floor, not a single thing, not a toy, if you saw mine …
    I am at a stage of disconnection, I spend more time with my children, I fail the organization that other bloggers succeed.
    You can not imagine how many blogs I follow, but I started to debug, to remove me more than an hour to read. Your blog could not leave it: D

  • giozi - I forgot. I loooooooooove the apron.

  • Jen - I appreciate your honesty, and I LOVE Firecracker’s apron… toooo cute!

  • Cath - You are one remarkable lady… to take the time to create such a beautiful and inspiring blog (that I read every day) and still make time for the beautiful and precious little people in your life… how could anyone be upset over a some unanswered comments? You are an inspiration and a guiding light to so many people across the globe – thankyou.

  • Mamabear - Well said!

  • Valerie - If you really are reading every comment, then I want you to know that I love every single one of your posts. Every one. Thank you for sharing your little corner of the world with us!

  • Johanna W - The most Nobel and incredibly brilliant thing is that you see this NOW, and not later when these moments have passed. It is most okay not to respond πŸ™‚

  • beatriz bernardes - Visito sempre o seu blog. E amo tudo o que vejo.

  • Jen Helbert - you are such a wonderful mum, friend!

  • Julie B - I try to limit my blogging and blog reading to when I’m nursing. It meant the world to me when you commented on my blog. I have no idea how you could possibly keep up with all of your comments. I definitely don’t have that problem! It is so easy to get wrapped up in the online world. Just keep doing what you’re doing, it seems to be working! Besides the world can wait for playdough πŸ™‚

  • liz - these are great I just found your blog very nice.

  • Melissa - Oh my gosh, that apron is adorable!!! And I know what you mean about blogging and comments, I don’t have nearly as many comments as you do, but visiting blogs and commenting can definitely be very time consuming, and is nowhere near as important as spending time with your family!!

  • Kat - It makes me smile to think that I am all the way over in Australia and when I leave a comment you are reading it all the way over the other side of the world. I too wish I could spend more time checking out all the great blogs on the net as this is where I get so much inspiration from. The trouble is then you become so inspired by something that you see that all you want to do is make and create. Then its time spent blogging and time spent making! For what its worth your blog is the only one that I follow everyday. Perhaps that might put a smile on your face??? I love peeping into your thoughts and ideas. Thank you.

  • Sunday Sunshine 02.27.11 « Minnesota Mom - […] The Hardest Thing About Blogging for Me – Under the Sycamore (ain’t that the truth!) […]

  • Susan Caing - i usually read your blog first before starting my work here in my office..=)

  • Jennifer - Thank you for blogging. You have your priorities straight. Thank you for all your inspiration. I too love Katie Daisy because of you!

  • Victoria - What a sweet momma you are. Love your blog and what you are doing- keep it up!

  • shauna reed - i think you have a good plan.
    responding is time consuming.
    my little babies would be right there with you, in all that playdough, on that awesome table, standing on those rad chairs….what a fun mommy. keep it up.

  • Jessica Cudzilo - My favorite post to date. Thank you.

  • WPPI, a sick baby and a new way of eating … | everyday things. - […] really, really, really, as in high-fived-my-iPhone-really loved this post Ashley wrote over at her fab blog, Under the Sycamore. If you’re a mom I think you’ll […]

  • stephanie d. - i have an 11yrold, two at 3yrs., and one 19monthold. i choose playdough everyday bc i now how fast these days go. i’d give anything to have 15mins. of playdough time again with my oldest. i guess now, it’s 15mins. of videogames or skateboarding (if i only knew how) with him. lovelovelove this little apron your cute hunnybunny is wearing…please share! one of my twins is cooking in the kitchen and could use a fancy dancy apron!

  • Jodi - What a precious apron!! Great idea.

  • Carole Histand - Hello it was a pleasure visting your site.

***Yesterday there were a lot of questions regarding photography and lenses. I will try to work on a post next week to answer some of those***

If you were to ask me who my current favorite artist is….I’d say Katie Daisy. If I could convince her to come paint the walls of my home I would. Her art makes me feel happy and thankful. It is fresh, colorful and makes me smile. (Here are the places I sit and stare at her work: Etsy, Website, Facebook, Blog.) If you’ve read my blog for a while you might remember my old background. It was a pattern by Katie Daisy and though I was ready for a little change, I really miss seeing it here everyday.

I recently heard that Target had a line designed by Katie, so I headed over to pick up a few things to make something….I wasn’t sure what. I picked up a gift bag and some wrapping paper. After looking it over I decided the colors would look just perfect in FireCracker’s room (that’s my daughter’s online nickname for those of you new to the blog) so I opted for a little monogram.

I started by using Mod Podge to cover the letter in the wrapping paper. I trimmed the edges with an exacto knife. Then I added a layer with the gift bag. I used an exacto knife to cut along the top following the curves of the design instead of just a straight line. I also cut out a few other flowers from the bag and randomly glue those down.

Where the gift bag was positioned it caused the butterfly to be cut in half. I wrapped over that section with random fabric and trim I had one hand.

I may never have a huge Katie Daisy painting on my wall, but thanks to Target now I can little custom pieces around my house.

I’ll eventually hang the frame on the wall….

While Katie paints gorgeous works of art….I am painting Lego Min-Figs. Ruth over at Gracelaced is doing a series this week related to raising boys. Come check out my guest post today on Gracelaced to find a tutorial on my boy’s new favorite craft.


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  • Lindsay - Love this idea with the letter in the frame. You’re giving me ideas for my own nursery! I mean… not mine…my daughters’.:) Love it!

  • Rachel - I just love your daughter’s room. You have such a great sense of style and design – beautiful!

  • Sara - Wow, those lego men are GREAT! I’m going to go check out your tutorial and try to do these with my son. And how cute that FireCrackers real name starts with a B…I guess the name FireCracker just seems so right on for her in my mind. LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog, read it every day.

  • Shannon - LOVE your ‘B’ for Firecracker! I think I need some of that paper!! I’m now off to see your tutorial…my boys are having a lego party at the end of May!

  • becca~capturingsimplejoys - i LOVE the lego men! my son is as yours and it’s lego everywhere and what he usually chooses to carry in the car or wherever we go. my daughter would enjoy helping make her own letter. she is my crafty one~much more so than me~and i constantly am searching for fun, easy things she can do. she would love that in her room!

  • Rebekah - The lego(wo)man in Firecracker’s cat eye outfit cracked me up! I was giggling at it and almost missed the little stunt man. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Margie - Love the monogram! I also love Katie Daisy…just ordered a large print of hers yesterday for my daughters room…to add to my collection :0).

  • Jen - I’ve seen her work before but never knew whose it was. Thanks for pointing me in her direction – I love it all! Wish I could live in Firecracker’s room. Or have a girl for whom I could decorate. I’ll settle for making lego men with my boys. πŸ™‚

  • melissa - great post~i love the monogram! i picked up one of katie daisy’s frames at target yesterday and then i ordered a few prints for my daughter’s room today after seeing your post!

  • Amy Holgersen - Rumor has it {from a VERY reliable source mind you} she will soon carry fabric, CAN YOU IMAGINE!!!! I told this little birdie, um HURRY up already with it, I have a ton planned.


    ps so i keep hearing from peeps that we look alike? Not sure if I totally believe it, did you see Em’s post the other day? What do you think?

    Maybe sort of…

  • Anna - I had no idea she was in Target now! Heart that! I will have to go pick some stuff up and maybe do some DIYs of my own!

  • Laura - ahhh! they made with w/ cat eye glasses. hilarious.

  • amy - My boys aren’t into legos yet (we’re still in train and dinosaur land), but once they are they are going to FLIP over a project like this!

    I also wanted to stay thanks for stopping over to my blog and commenting. You have no idea how that made my day. You are a huge wonderful blog and I am a tiny little engine that could blog and I really appreciate you being cool enough to say hello πŸ™‚

    (not to mention that I totally have a blogger girl crush on you and am absolutely inspired by you and your {three boys and a girl} give me hope in my 3 boys household πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • Darcy@Somewhatmuddledmusings - We collect B’s for our last name and have them all over the house – and I love how that B is hung in a frame!!! MUST try that next!!!

  • Tara - Lovely idea! Love everything about that room! I’ve seen those letter cutouts at Michael’s and I didn’t know what to do with them. Now, ideas are swirling in my head. Your blog rocks!

  • danielle - oh i love this! i already “stole” your curtains for my daughter’s room (her favorite color is orange) so this would look super cute too!

  • Shannon Jones - I just found you! Being referred from the class forum at Snapshots of a Good Life.
    Just wanted to say that I love your daughter’s room. Where did you get that quilt?

  • Stacey - Wow this is excellent. I love her work as well, and I had no idea that she had some stuff at Target. I’m headed there this morning anyways, so I’m hoping I can get lucky.

    Awesome post, Ashley, as usual! <3

  • hearttypat - haha.. i like those personal touches on the diy legomen!

  • ashley jensen - I have done letters like that for my daughter and a few of my friends kids too. Only I use different patterns of scrapbook paper with ribbon, buttons, flowers, etc.

  • Raechel Myers - Great project – I love Katie Daisy! I have two of her prints in my kids’ room and, believe it or not, I saw her stuff at Target last night and picked up the “spring is here” gift bag and a frame for my own little DIY project on the cheap! The bag was only $1.99!

    I always love what you do – you do such a great job of taking things to the next level with added textures and your own creative spin. Keep up the great work!

  • Courtney Henson - I had no idea Target had a line of Katie Daisy stuff! I love her work and have a couple of her prints hanging in my living room. Her work makes me happy too! I don’t know if my Target is “special” enough to carry it though..if often doesn’t have the cooler stuff that other Targets carry. Very cute little “B” in the frame though – looks great in your daughter’s room!

  • LeAnne W - I’m heading to Target today! Thanks for the great inspiration!! While you are wishing for Katie’s artwork to grace your walls, I’m sitting here everyday, wishing I could have Ashley Ann’s creative pieces scattered throughout my home! I love how your things say “home”.

  • Brook S. - Your decorating style is amazing!! Makes me wish I had a little girl! (although I wouldn’t trade my dirty little boys for anything in the world!!) πŸ™‚

  • Lori - Ooh, love it for Campbell’s room as well. I loove the lego men. too funny. I am going to do that with my little guy who is turning 4 in March. waaaH! I LOVE THAT YOU CUT THAT GIFT BAG – PRETTY GENIUS.

  • Midwest Elle - I think I may be the last person to use modge-podge. I must pick some up and make a monogram myself. SO cute, SO easy, SO going in my home.

  • Erin - Love the “B”!! Looks super cute! And the Lego men are pretty legit too πŸ˜‰

  • Cherished Hearts Vintage - Love the “B”. As for the Lego men, that’s a project all my boys would enjoy.

  • giozi - Simple and really beauty. Ohh I love her blanket too

  • ingrid - so stinken cute! love collecting the letter ‘b’ for our last name and i might just snag this wonderful idea and make one for our home. you are so creative! LOVE her stuff – just got happy mail with some of her stuff earlier this week.

  • Heidi Stukenberg - I have a few of Katie’s prints around my house and they always make me smile when I pass them- so bright and happy! And those lego men-I think your kids must adore you- what a cool mom you are!

  • Brooke Leigh @ First Avenue - Oh goodness! Her work is incredible! Simply gorgeous! I think I will attempt to make an ‘A’ for my daughter Aripsemae’s room! =) If all turns out well, I will send you a finished product!

  • Kristin S - Thank you so much for the Target tip off! Woudl never have guessed that cross over.

    I stalk her etsy shop too.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - NO WAY! My kids are going to freak their freak over those lego men! Can’t wait to read the tutorial!

    And that ‘B’ came out so cute! I love it in the frame!

  • Amanda - I love the bright, sunny colors on that pallet bed, and the PILLOWS! The PILLOWS are AMAZING! Would love to know if you made them or where you bought them?

  • Mariah - Love the salty lego men! I need to find an animal shaped ice cube tray…

  • Francine - Love that B! I’m heading over to check out the lego post. I have a boy who is getting into legos now πŸ™‚

  • Lindsy - Oh my! I love the monogram…I sense a weekend project in the works. And I would love to know about that quilt- it’s gorgeous!

  • Amnah - “B”eautiful. Sorry, that was corny.

  • CharlaL - OMG!!! You have done it again! LOVE the lego men! GREAT idea!
    We have been to a TON of lego parties lately and my son is SET on it. I am thinking this would be AWESOME! Thanks. p.s. LOVE firecrackers letter too!

  • Kristen Duke Photography - my boys love lego’s, what a fun idea!

  • jessica h - Katie Daisy is my favorite artist, too! She lives right here in Asheville, so I’ve read, and I’m dying to meet her soon at a craft fair or something! I didn’t know about her line at Target…how great is that? Her designs make me feel like I’m lying in a sunny field enjoying God’s beauty and saying “ahhhh”…great monogram for the lucky little lady!!

  • Leanne - My boys will think they died and went to heaven to paint their own lego men!! Those are adorable! And I love the monogram in the frame. perfect!

  • Nancy - I wish we had a target in Canada! I hear there are some good finds there.

  • Heather @ Cookie Mondays - Ooooh, can’t wait to see that mini-fig tute!
    Love the frame! I have a tutorial coming up sort of similar, but inspired by Meg’s clipboards!

  • mel - oh gosh ashley…i love you! i wish i’d be creative like that

  • Lisa Westphal - Just saw that Becky Higgins posted this on her FB page! πŸ™‚ ~Nice!!/pages/Becky-Higgins-LLC/301573840173

  • anna - love her style. so sweet. πŸ™‚ meshes well with your style.

  • heather - you rock! just ordered the lego ice cube tray and posted to pinterest. thank you for sharing your creativity with us! seriously! πŸ™‚

  • Reyna - Love!! I also heard that Target is carrying Katie Daisy products, I’ve been wanting to head over there! I love all of the colors and the monogram in the frame is the perfect touch! Just curious, where were you able to get a Katie Daisy background to use on your old blog design?

  • No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane - What a cheerful and creative idea! LOVE it!

  • Cottage Gal - I L-O-V-E the monogram! I am so impressed with how creative you are. And patient too – amazing. I’ve been searching for a unique idea for letters for baby #2 (Due in June) – thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • Nancy LaCoursiere - Wow, I so love these lego men! My boys are 13 and 15 and although they don’t play with them much (my 15 yr old not at all, my 13 yr old a few times a year) they lay upstairs in their little cove…just waiting! They played with them incessantly when they were little so I can relate to all your posts about Lego’s. I showed this to them when they came down this morning, the LOVED it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Lara - where did you get that letter B from and how tall is it? I love it πŸ™‚ My little girl (on the way) will have a B for her name as well! Love your site. So inspiring!

  • Becca - I’m SO glad you shared Katie Daisy’s sites. I need some of her artwork in my daughter’s room!! πŸ™‚

  • Kate - i LOVE this idea! your min-figs are incredible. this is such a great way to get your little guys crafting:)

    when i saw this tutorial i fell in love with it. THEN i thought of another awesome way to use the min-fig mold! it would be great to use them to make homemade recycled crayons! coloring with min-figs would be quite cool. (i’m sure you’ve already done this but it was just something i thought of when i saw the silicone mold!)

  • sonal - I LOVED the mini fig craft!!!! We’ll be doing it at my daughter’s 5th B-day party next weekend. I cannot wait to see the kids painting the little figures!!! Thanks SOOOOO much for sharing your wonderful ideas! Will post photos of my party on my blog after 3/6. Please check it out if you have a chance.

  • Selena Faye - I love this idea! You are so creative.

  • Joey - AWESOME! The lego guys are great! My boys were looking at the computer when I was looking at your post. They were WOWED! πŸ˜€

  • Lego Men {featured} » Just Your Everyday Mom - […] I saw these on under the sycamore blog I fell in love! Β What a great craft for boys! Β As a mother of 4 boys I find it hard to find […]

  • Shelley Davis - Oh I am so sad πŸ™ the Lego ice cube tray is not available in the United States! I love the B letter. Such a wonderful and imaginative way to display it.


  • christa - Where did you find that letter B? It is so thin compared to the ones you usually find… I’ve been looking for letters to make the work “EAT” with for my kitchen. πŸ™‚

  • Bookmarks « 3inunder3 - […] love the way this monogram is […]

  • miscellaneous monday: the monogram edition. « - […] Frame, wire, pretty letter, clothespin: presto! found here. […]

  • Wondrous Wednesday, DIY Picks That Almost Got Forgotten | The Row House Nest - […] I love the idea of making your own personalized monogram letters for a children’s room. If your children are older they could help craft the letters and in years to come it will be a keepsake! Spotted here. […]

  • Cloud9 Design - Hi there! I just found your lovely blog! This is a great diy project you made! Katie Daisy is such an inspiration. I love her work!

    You did an excellent job, and the way you displayed it is precious. Did you make the lovely seat behind the monogram letter B? sO COOL!

    And thanks for sharing this really cute craft! I’ll definately have to try this with my son!


  • Sammie Mongeau - Keep it Simple, Laid-back to Follow and ensue Very CONSISTENT.

  • Shannon Ganshorn - I LOVE the quilt on the bed! I see a lot of fabrics that I recognize. They all look so pretty together!! Beautiful work!