He came. He went. He was wonderful.

My sister took the above photos. She had a better view than I did. Here’s my view:

Well that was my view if I looked straight ahead, but if I looked down I could see a big screen and tiny little cowboy singing my favorite songs. Next to me were four 20/30 something guys that had way too much to drink. I really wanted to sit them down and have a ‘mom’ talk with them. I wanted to explain that the reason they were at a country music concert without any cowgirls by their sides was because they were acting ridiculous. No cowgirl would put up with that. If they had been sober enough to listen I could have helped them. I really could have.

I could have stayed all night singing along. That is saying a lot. I am not a big fan of large social gatherings or a big fan of staying up late. I avoided all social functions after 8pm in college because I thought they were overrated. Brad Paisley….totally worth staying up late. It was his last concert of the year and it WAS SO GOOD! I didn’t want it to end. Most of the concert Chris just looked over at me with a ‘my wife is cute, but crazy’ grin. Our seats were horrible. We were on the very top row…as in no one behind us. It didn’t matter. In fact it was kind of nice I could sing along and the only ones that could hear me were either drunk or married to me.

My mom watched my four kids and my sister’s baby so we could all go. Those are ages 0, 1, 2, 4, 6 (well 0 is 4 months). She is a rockstar Nana. I sent her a text before Brad came on stage and she already had all 5 in bed asleep. Today is my mom’s birthday…she’s pretty awesome.

Happy Birthday Mom!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Shannon Phillips - Loren and I were straight across from you also on the very top row! I got a little queasy at times being that high up. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am so glad you and Chris got a night out on the town. I bet it is really hard to have someone else put all your sweet kiddos to bed. I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving sweet friend!

  • Jane - Glad to hear you had such a great time, despite being in the “nosebleed” section (do you call bad seats this too, or is it just a Canadian thing?)and the drunk goofs. And yes, Nana is totally awesome for watching all those little people!

  • Shannon - Sounds like a fun time regardless of the seats! Your mom was very sweet for taking them all! My Grandma always takes the kids(yes, her Great-grandchildren!) so sometimes she has my 3 and then my cousins 2. I don’t know how she does it.

  • Kimberlee J. - I love Brad Paisley, too! I haven’t seen him in about five years, though, so I am living through you this morning. Thanks!

  • Anna Marie - Big Brad fan here as well! I think him and Kim are just so cute! And do you know the story of their wedding? So fun and also cute!

    Happy birthday Ashley’s Mom!!!

  • Ruth - Lucky you for having such a great mom! Glad you had fun.

  • RachelC - Yeah Brad!

  • Stacey - Awesome.. I had similar seats for Taylor Swift at the start of 2010 and my friend Melissa and I were probably the only 20somethings there. We still had an awesome time. Live music just moves you. Looks like you had a good time! :)

  • Anna - Yay for Brad Paisley! I heart him…esp. all his older songs. love!

    Your mom is a rockstar!!! 5 kiddos in bed?! That is amazing! Happy birthday to her!
    PS, it’s Gavin’s 2nd birthday today too! Yay for November 24!

  • Lindsey Jo - i love brad paisley! when we saw him, we had similar seats to yours, but at concerts all that matters is that you can hear them, right??

  • mandi - haha! i hear you on not liking big crowds or being out past 8! I was at a baby shower the other night and I kept getting blinded by all of the headlights. It was then that I realized that I rarely leave the house after dark. Nerd!

  • Michelle - Oh how I love Brad Paisley!! I totally agree, I could’ve stayed at his concert all night! It was so awesome!!

  • Christy Patton - Ashley you are so awesome! I am very thankful this year to have Corbett in my class and I just want you to know I feel blessed to have been given a chance to get to know your family. Thank you for being you! God Bless!P.S. I love the cuff you made, it was way better than a new shirt!

  • Tricia - What fun, and Happy Birthday to Rockstar Nana!!

    xo*tricia

  • Krista Lund - what a lucky girl! you deserved a night out!

  • Katy - Brad, Brad, Brad. :) LOVE him! We saw his concert when he was in Tampa a couple months back.. He is awesome! Glad you and Chris got to have a night out!

  • Erin - I really like this post, everything about it is just endearing…you wanting to give a mom talk to drunk cowboys, you singing at the top of your lungs no matter what the location, and of course Brad P.

  • Brooke Whitis - I’m so glad you got to go!! I love Brad! I know that look, from my hubby :) I also do not like social gatherings….even though I sort of do…they are usually just too much for me in big doses. Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

  • Tweets that mention Brad Paisley {Country Musicโ€™s Entertainer of the Year} ยป ashleyannphotography.com -- Topsy.com - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Billy Bob Jethro and FullThrottle Country, Holly Norman. Holly Norman said: Brad Paisley {Country Music's Entertainer of the Year … http://bit.ly/fLlNcx […]

  • Kristin S - What a fun date!

    I last saw BP in concert about 9 years ago at a small Strawberry Festival in Plant City, FL. The crowd was tiny and he was amazing. We sat on bleachers belting out all the songs. He sat on the stage on a stool.

    Hm, there’s a theme. My first Amy Grant concert was in 1980ish and she was on the stage on a stool and an acoustic guitar too!

    I love a good guitar player and could listen to Brad play for hours on end.

    Please tell me you have his Christmas album. LOVE it!

  • shelby - I love Brad Paisley and I would sit anywhere to listen to him!

Since I was going to be on stage in front of 2500+ women I thought it was a good excuse to go get a new outfit…or at least a top. However, I always have a 1 and 2 year old with me. Trying on clothes with those two is basically impossible. I tried working out at time to go shopping with Chris’ schedule, but he worked late nights and stores were closed by the time I could have gone. Since shopping wasn’t in my future I decided to take advantage of nap times and make myself a new accessory to wear with an old outfit….I made a cuff….also known as a wide fabric bracelet.

Disclaimer: Here is my annual “I don’t really know how to sew” disclaimer. I have never used a pattern, I don’t know technical terms, I am sure there are 100 ways to do this easier…you can take my rough instructions and perfect it.

Supplies:

Fabric – I used an old headband and a scrap of heavy quilting fabric scored at an estate sale

Trim – mine, again, was scored at an estate sale

Button – mine was from my button jar (the ones that are replacements in case the original falls off. One day the original will fall off and I will remember what this button is supposed to go on. It will be too late then.

Iron-on fabric adhesive – the kind that fuses on fabric with an iron, double sided

Step 1: Cut fabric to desired length…leaving extra on the ends

Step 2: Iron top band under, pin

Step 3: Sew down top bands long edges

Step 4: Sew down top trim

Step 5: Face tops of cuff together, pin, sew together 2 long edges and 1 short edge

Step 6: Turn right side out, pull out corners using tweezers, iron down (using my kitchen counter turned ironing board)

Step 7: Decide the size of your cuff. Yes, I am so technical….I didn’t use a tape measure for anything.

Step 8: Cut a rectangle of fabric to make an edging on one end of the cuff. Cut iron on adhesive to fit.

Step 9: Attach one side of adhesive, peel off backing, fold down sides like you are wrapping a present

Step 10: Iron it all together so it sticks…this is just to keep things in place until you sew it

Step 11: Sew down edging

Step 12: Create a fabric loop for the button. I just folded over a long skinny piece of the fabric and stitched it down the middle.

Step 13: Measure circumference of button to make sure you don’t make the loop too small

Step 14: Decide where you want to attach the loop

Step 15: Handstitch the loop

Step 16: Sew on the button

The inside of mine looks pretty rough, but I was making it up as I went. Next time I think I’ll use snaps or figure out a different way to attach the loop and button so you can’t see in on the underside. I used the large button to hold down the other end. It is far from perfect, but it works.

Chris asked if I thought someone might take this design and sell it on etsy….if you do, just send me a version to enjoy!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Hollie - I can’t wait to make one – love the shoes – I have them too! Thanks for the instructions…

  • Shannon Phillips - I Love it! I have an arm cuff bracelet from Target that I wear almost every day. Now I have lots of ideas swarming in my head to make some of my own. Thanks for the inspiration. I won’t be selling them on Etsy but I will keep them for myself or give them as gifts.
    (My Christmas crafting list is getting out of control!)

  • Krista @ Blue Eyed Yonder - Your endless creativity amazes me. What a fabulous DIY, so hip and chic. I am a sucker for anything with buttons. I just scored a big jar of colorful vintage buttons. I might just have to try this one out. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lori Plyler - Great cuff! I love the fact that you used what you had on hand. I’ll be bookmarking this tutorial for future fun. Thanks.

  • JoLynn - That cuff is cute! And so are the shoes in the background…I am admiring them and wondering where you got them from? :) Very cute!!

  • Rebecca - A clever and wise way of using nap time.

  • Shannon - I love it! And I really like those shoes too, where are they from?

  • Danielle - That is so cute! I just wish it was as easy to sew as you make it look! My sewing machine hates me…

  • Aunt Sandy - You know, for someone that has never sewn before, you are putting us ole timers to shame. Another great idea to add to your growing list of amazing DIY’s.

  • Tiffany - I make ruffle cuffs and sell them on etsy! etsy.com/shop/oopsadaisydesigns

    SOOOO cute :)

  • Sarah - oh i love cuffs! Your’s looks great and i love that fabric! i’ve been wanting to make one out of leather; i’ve been waiting to score a great real leather belt at the thrift store to make one with…still patiently waiting:)

  • melissa - love your blog! When I was Christmas shopping on etsy I found these http://www.etsy.com/shop/ponderandstitch … very similar and very cute! Thanks for sharing your ideas I always love them!

  • Anna - so cute and creative! love it!

  • the whyte house - Oh, Ashley…your MacGuyver sewing skills make me smile.:) Very cute!!

  • Tricia - Oh good golly, that’s adorable!!

  • ashlee - love this cuff!! the fabric is amazing:)

  • ashlee - I love this cuff! it is so so cute:)

  • amber - That’s so great! Especially seeing that there are others in the world who get an idea, then get to it in hairy ways:)…but I think it looks perfect just the way it is! Thanks for sharing…

  • Alyson - i totally love this cuff… i’m excited to scour through my fabric scraps for a cute color combo.

    but, my favorite part? the mustard yellow ruffly-toe shoes from target in the top photo, that i’ve been tearing my closet apart to find… i think i probably gave them away. i used to wear them almost daily. they were my favorite! ah, the perfect yellow shoe… :)

  • Tati - I like it!! I’m a little clumsy, but maybe I try :)

  • Cassi - That one turned out really good. The yellow pattern fabric is great!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ashley, this is beautiful! The vintage fabric is lovely. Your attitude about someone taking your design is amazing. It challenges me and humbles me. You are so giving and gracious.

    p.s. your annual disclaimer encourages me. It makes me want to get a sewing machine and go for it!

  • Laurie J - love the cuff and think you are so generous to offer your creativity to etsy crafters. I’m sure someone will recreate it! Me–I can’t sew to save my life but am wondering if it could be made with a glue gun? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Rachel - I love it! And the fabric and embellishments you chose? PERFECT! Thanks so much, I’ll be linking.

  • e l l a - Well Miss Ashley,
    I think you need a fashion category on your blog now ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Super Cute!

  • Allison - Looks great! You should sell those on etsy!

  • Krista Lund - very cute idea and it would make a great gift!

  • margaret - Cute! What a great gift idea for two nieces that I’ve been racking my brain about!

  • Aubrey - Your husband thinks like mine. He’s been bugging me to start an etsy shop for awhile now. I like the shoes too. Where are they from?

  • giozi - I like it. I’m going to share it in my Facebook :)

  • Tweets that mention diy {fabric cuff} ยป ashleyannphotography.com -- Topsy.com - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by giozi, Danielle Huddleston. Danielle Huddleston said: So cute! http://fb.me/KdWISjEA […]

  • Carolyn - so pretty! thanks for the idea…now if only I could get my sewing machine to work (the joys of learning a new skill…I just want to yell at my machine even though it is definitely user error!)
    P.S sorry for my double up comment yesterday. I think that was computer error!

  • SeaminglySarah - I LOVE the color combos. I feel like I struggle in that area. That or the color combos I put together are for someone else to love and I can covet other’s. Who knows. Great job!

  • jill - i LOVE IT, CAN i BUT IT, i DON’T SEW! gREAT JOB!
    jILL
    http://WWW.CAMPFUNK.BLOGSPOT.COM

  • mandi - I was thinking of making something like this with a little pocket on it so my sister can slip her key and credit card in when she goes walking (she lives in San Francisco). Wouldn’t that be awesome!?!

  • Kelly - You know what? I was thinking how cute and hip you looked in the photos of you on stage! :) Kelly

  • Amy K. - I made a bunch of somewhat similar bracelets & used a ponytail elastic for the button loop… no worries about it being long enough! I don’t blog, but you can see a pic here: http://pinterest.com/pin/160722280421389307/

  • DIY Shirt Cuff BraceletDo What You Love, Love What You Do! - […] Ann DIYed a project that stuck in my head a while ago. It was the fabric cuff bracelet. Well, I thought I could make my own version with the cuff from these old polo shirts! […]

For the past 8 years my church has put on an event called A Christmas Gathering. It is hard to describe…there is a bit of food, some idea seminars, giveaways for everyone, LOTs of women, music and despite our best efforts it is always a late night:)The first one we did there were about 65 women in attendance…now it is about 2500 (two nights of about 1250 each night). Women are crazy!

My friends Meredith did a seminar on Traditions, Linda on chocolate dipping, Marlyn on Gadgets & Gizmos, and Lori did one on decorating for the holidays on a budget.

Lori made these cute roses, I can’t wait for a few moments to sit down and make some. You can find the directions here. After every seminar everyone in the crowd received a giveaway. See the glass hurricane on Lori’s table…everyone went home with one of those!

I help in random ways every year. A couple of years I have done a seminar on photo tips or diy gift ideas. This year I was asked to host a little diy contest. Entries were submitted online, narrowed down to three finalists and the finalists presented their ideas on both nights. A winner was chosen by the audience each night.

Here are the ladies, with myself and the wonderful Denise Lopez, presenting their ideas:

I thought I’d share a few more pictures of their ideas. I am so thankful I didn’t have to choose the winner…they were all super fabulous!

First was Kara Paslay and her “Book Sculptures”. Kara created all kinds of fun items using discarded books.

The second finalist was Ashlee Baker (Tweet Baby Designs). Ashlee submitted an adorable sewing kit in a canning jar. I loved this idea for a gift. I think it would be great for just about any generation of girls.

And the third finalist was Marie Darby. Marie submitted customized lampshades using 8×10 sheets of vellum.

You can visit the girl’s blogs/websites if you have questions about what they created. If you’d like to reach Marie, you can email me and I’ll get you her email address. For those curious, Marie won both nights. Congratulations Marie!

I also got to meet a few blog readers. AND I finally got to meet Lacey McKay of A Cherry on Top Photography. We have emailed a lot and know several of the same people, but had never met in person. It was so great to finally meet her! I think I rambled a lot, but I was going on no sleep and more coffee than usual. Sorry Lacey if I scared you. I am working on convincing her to do more advanced level photography workshops so all of you that keep asking me to do a SnapShops Level 2…start emailing Lacey. (Do you think she’ll stop being my friend after posting that?!)

*********

In the past 8 years I’ve changed in regards to how I feel about the Christmas Gathering. For the first few years I looked forward to the actual event and all that would take place in the company of all those ladies. Though I still enjoy the event, it is the process of preparing I have grown to love. An event like this takes thousands of hours of work in planning…mostly done by volunteers. Those volunteers working tirelessly to pull off an event this size are some of my dearest friends.

When you get 2500 women attending something there will always be lots of laughing, fun and typically some grumbling and complaining. It used to really bother me to hear women complain when I knew all the hard work my friends put in to make it a great night. I try to ignore all that these days and celebrate how incredible the women in my life are. Every time I went up to the church this week I saw my friends, the women that know me the best, doing jobs that they will not be thanked for. They were baking, decorating, organizing, cleaning, folding, setting up, pricing store items, and the list goes on and on. They stayed up all hours of the night, pushed babies in strollers while setting up food tables, and gave their best at jobs that are only noticed when they aren’t done.

As I watched my friends over the past few weeks I realized how grateful I am for their influence in my life. I could have friends that are self absorbed and more concerned about what they are wearing than on how they can help others, but I don’t. I have amazing women in my life. Those amazing women are the moms to my children’s friends. My kids are going to be influenced by friends who are raised by incredible mothers.

I live a very rich life.

*********

This is my favorite picture from this year’s Gathering. My friends and I had a girls night and made 2500 mini cupcakes….so much fun.

I live a very sweet life.

Happy Monday….I hope it is sweet.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Amy - What a great event! I lurrrve the lampshade idea & sewing jar & that wreath is ah.m.a.z.i.n.g.! I love your quote “gave their best at jobs that are only noticed when they arenโ€™t done.” having played both the roles of planner and volunteer, I know what it is like to pour your heart into something only to hear others complain, although most of the time those complainers did nothing but show up. Donโ€™t let them get to you :-)

  • Gevay - I wish we had a night like that around here. I would be there in a heartbeat. I am sure all of you and your friend’s hard word is noticed by the Most High and it’s His opinion that matters the most!

  • Jen - oh my goodness! i am in heaven right now! i am completely inlove with the book pages wreath, how original. so many talented ladies <3

  • Jenn W - This is the 4th year my friends and I have attended The Christmas Gathering. It is great every year!! It was also 4 years ago that I started reading your blog, after seeing your presentation at The Christmas Gathering. It is such a fun evening and a great way to start the holiday season. Thank you all for all of the work you put in to making a great event.

  • Sarah - I wish we had something like this where I live! looks like soooo much fun; alot of work i’m sure, but soo much fun!

  • mandiesmithsegura - Wow! This looks like such an inspiring event! Thank you for sharing, Ashley!

  • Kathy - I hope I’ll be in town for it one year. My mom has told me how wonderful it is! Love the creativity of all the women involved!

  • Katie - What a great event…I wish we had something like that around here! Thanks so much for sharing…makes me extra thankful for my girlfriends this time of year :)

  • Tricia - What a fun event! Such a blessing to have friends like the ones you have, and to be a part of something so great! Thank you for sharing. Not just because it’s fun to see the pictures, but because there are great lessons to be learned here. There are great reminders of the kind of women that we all want to be, and a little extra motivation to avoid being the kind we don’t want to be.

    xo*tricia

  • Jen - That is a wonderful event. Thanks for sharing. You do have a rich life.

  • Caitlin - I love having close friends that spur me on in Christ and have kids my kids age! It’s truly a blessing. Looks like a fun event! I love the wreath and the sewing kit ideas. :)

  • Lee - Oh my goodness, what a tremendous event! Thanks so much for sharing. I have to figure out that book page folding – and love the lampshades :) Very wise words about the volunteering. As a “serial volunteer” – my husband’s phrase – I appreciate kind thoughts!

  • Sarah - … and those cupcakes were DELIGHTFUL! thanks for all your hard work.

  • Marangelie Caballero - i enjoy reading your blog so much. beautiful photos, crafts, ideas, children. i do not know you personally, and i know you are a women with faults like us all, but i do look up to you. i hope, if the Lord wills it, to one day pour into my own children the way you do. you inspire so many. just wanted to say thanks!

  • Alissa - I think that is so wonderful! It would be amazing to go to an event like this.

    I will definitely be making a few of those glittery roses for Christmas decorations!

  • Casey - wow! the lamps shades are amazing! I love that idea of having pictures on it. Looks like it was a fun event

  • Anna - Wow, that event looks so amazing and fun! Wish I lived just a teeny bit closer to have attended! You are very blessed to have amazing women in your life! I long and pray for that and the Lord is slowly but surely answering those prayers! Cherish your friendships…friends make your life just a tad bit sweeter. :)

  • kelsey i - can’t wait to try some of these great ideas! here’s one i thought you might like!

    http://blackeiffel.blogspot.com/2010/11/globe-chandelier.html

  • Kara - This year was my 2nd year to go to the Christmas gathering and i so appreciate all the work that goes into it. I used to work at a church so I understand all the b4 stuff that goes on and is not noticed by everyone. Please tell ur friends that I had a blast and am so grateful for a night with women where we can just sit and laugh. Such an awesome night that I look forward to every year now.
    Question–do you know where the “Special day plate” was from? LOVEd that idea :)
    ANd I saw u walking around b4 with ur husband and I was going to say hi but I know u were super busy!

  • Jess - Oh my word! Those cupcakes look divine!
    What a fun event to plan AND to attend! I think I’m going to have to try those roses – they are too cute!
    Love your blog – you do a great job!

  • CharlaL - If the gathering were a holiday it would be my FAVORITE holiday! I look forward to it like no other girls night the whole YEAR!!! I used 3 pages in my new notebook!! Which was a FAB idea BTW! Please let your friends know how much me and my friends ENJOY all you do! Thanks for all your efforts! Those cupcakes were AWESOME! I put my hurricane on the mantle THAT night when I got home! I loved voting on the next big thing and am already trying to figure out how to do the lampshades!!

  • Alice H - I have got to get a hold of Marie!! I want to make a lot of those photo lamps!

    You guys do an amazing job at getting everything set up! I always have such a great time going. Maybe next year I can be a part of it.

    Those cupcakes were yummy!

  • emily anderson - yah ashlee baker! that is the cutest sewing jar, eva.

  • hearttypat - awww… your blog always give me that nice fuzzy feeling inside. For some reason, my mac hasn’t been able to load your blog for the past 2 weeks. I was upset, real upset, I’m just glad your blog is back up again! Now, i have to catch up on your posts! Thank you for making my day, as always!

  • Sara - Any chance you could ask Marie to do a tutorial here? That would be absolutely amazing!

  • Christina G - I love that lampshade!! Do you think that you could show us a diy or have her guest blog with a diy for that?? It would make an amazing Christmas gift for me to make for several family members!! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • Krista @ Blue Eyed Yonder - So much creativity! This sounds like an awesome event, so much fun! I love the book art. I made something similar this year with my Halloween display.

    http://blueeyedyonder.blogspot.com/2010/10/handmade-halloween.html

    Who knew books were good for more than reading? Lovely work ladies! :-)

  • KaraM - Oh man, this year was my first time to attend A Christmas Gathering with my girlfriends. We had SOOOOO much fun! Everyone was so good and so funny. My favorite was the Picture Lampshades.

  • allison - as one of those people who regularly volunteers for events – i so hear ya about the people who have no idea how much work goes into an event, and have the nerve to complain. i pity them. really. they have no idea how much satisfaction someone can feel when you volunteer. i am grateful that i can do it. and that’s thanks enough for me! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  • Jessica Cudzilo - Any way Marie could guest post and share her DIY here? That would be fantastic!

  • Kristy C - It looks like the nights went well. I was thinking about you and the other amazing women both nights hoping you all would feel your work paid off. Also, I love those lamp shades!

  • Carolyn - It all looks wonderful! I especially love the book page wreath and the cute, little sewing kit…the muffins look delicious too :)

  • Jenny B. - What sweet sentiments about your friends! I’ve discovered that the best friends are made through working together on something bigger than yourself. Oh, and by the way, my 21-month-old is now shouting, “Cooookiieeee!” after seeing the mini-cupcakes picture. Thanks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Joy Balsbaugh - Is there a how to for the lampshades? those are amazing! Or a website where she sells them? thank you for the wonderful post!

  • Kelly - yea for making 2500 mini cupcakes! love it. I recently did a post also about working together with selfless friends. Such a blessing! Kelly

  • Pam - I would love to know how to make the vellum lampshade. Would you have directions or be able to get them for me? I believe Marie Darby was the creator.
    Thank you

  • Rebeckah Cardiel - I don’t even know you or all the ladies who put forth such great work, but I’ve gotta say….indeed, you do live a very rich life! It’s nice to see someone who appreciates the blessings she has, and can give back, too. :) Hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas, and all the best this new year can bring.

    <3, Rebeckah

  • Friday Favorites | Just a Spoonful of Sugar - […] Jar Gifts: Here are 12 ideas for homemade Christmas gifts in jars! Photo courtesy of ashleyannphotography.com via My Blessed […]

  • 28 Homemade Christmas Gifts for Friends or Family - The Taylor House - […] Sewing Kit in a Jar from Tweet Baby Designs […]