Maybe you can help explain this…

On a regular basis people mention to Chris that they like my blog and regularly read it. Not a big deal. Simple conversation.

On a rare occasion does someone tell me that they read my blog. And if they do it is like a confession with a bit of embarrassment.

Why is that?

If you read my blog and see me somewhere, please introduce yourself and say “hi”. Writing a blog is a very one sided conversation most of the time. I read each and every one of your comments, but I am rarely able to squeeze the time to respond. It is so fun for me to meet people that actually like this blog. It is a fun creative outlet for me and is still surprising that people choose to read my craziness. So if you are local and you see me…say “hi”. If you attend the Christmas Gathering tonight or tomorrow night…I’ll be there, say “hi”. And that is that.


Since I can’t leave a post ending that way, I will answer one question that comes up in the comment section a lot. How do I hang plates on the wall? I use Disc Adhesive Plate Hangers. I get mine from Hobby Lobby, but I am sure they are sold many places. They are so easy to use and easily removed when you are done.

The Christmas Gathering is tonight and tomorrow night. I have been working a lot on that this week. I’ll post some pics tomorrow of some of it – including my biggest diy mistake thus far. Once I get this weekend behind me I am starting in on decorating my bedroom. Chris was getting concerned about me…it has been about a month since I was last working on a room…here’s some of what will be in my bedroom’s future:

Well this was short and sweet but I am off to get things ready for tonight…1200+ women tonight…it will be crazy.

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  • julie m - O

    I had no idea such a thing existed…now my walls are going to be covered in plates!

  • colleen - Am praying for you and the women of your church right now. Our “BIG” woman’s Christmas event at my church just finished last night. 4 sessions, about 1,000 women! It is so much fun, but exhausting. Can’t wait to hear all about it. Don’t know what your weather is like but here in Birmingham, Alabama it has been in the 70’s so i needed a little push into the Christmas season!

  • brittany - Ashley, I read your blog every day – I see you about once or twice a year. When I ran into you at DFW airport I was impressed with both Chris & your parenting of your little ones. I knew they were at the end of their “goodness” and you were hanging onto sanity with both hands. (I know the balloons & doughnuts were a double blessing!)I want to say that your kiddos were so good on that flight to Tulsa! Your blog inspires me to be a better mommy and it reminds me that even though they are bigger, they still need an engaged, loving, ready to celebrate the every day parent. I appreciate you & I KNOW you’ll have a great time tonight!

  • Reidunn - I love your blog, and I would for sure walk up to you and say ‘hi’ if I ever was in your corner of the world and spotted you on the streets. For now I can only tell you via email or the comment section.
    (But maybe people feel like they are stalking you, and thats the reason for their embarrassment?)
    The colors you’ve chosen for what I’m guessing will be some kind of wallpainting, look great. Good luck with both the room makeover and your christmas gathering.

  • Holly - All I can say is “people can be weird”. If I saw you I would probably hug you and start babbling about how much I love your blog and your eyes would dart from left to right trying to find an escape. Anyhoo, I’m getting rid of my claw-like plate hangers right now and getting those disks, how cool is that? Have fun tonight!

  • Shoshana K - I’ll say it loud and clear…I LOVE YOUR BLOG. And reading it makes me happy. I cannot wait to see the next posts and check it almost everyday. Keep it up and don’t stop!!!!!

  • Melissa - I would most definitely say hello to you if I ever saw you but unfortunately, I’m miles away in Indianapolis so the chances are unlikely. And actually, I would probably run and give you a huge huge hug if I ever saw you. And say thank you for being such an inspiration and beautiful person!

  • Kari - I love your blog! I’m glad you’re on facebook too! You are an inspiring young woman, who is not only very talented, but a wonderful example to mother’s around the world! Thank you for taking time out of your crazy, busy day to connect with the rest of us, via Under the Sycamore!

  • amy - i have one of my grandmothers wedding plates that i’ve been wanting to hang but didn’t think it was possible.. thanks for that!

  • Gevay - I too love you blog and being in South Florida the chances of me seeing you are slim to none, but I am with Holly and Melissa. I’d be so ridiculously excited to see you, you’d probably run for the hills. Thanks for sharing your life with us and giving us all inspiration to strive for a simple but beautiful existence.

  • Amy - I am with Holly!! If I ever saw you I would start talking to you like we were BFF’s, “so how is that pallet bed working out? I tried the doiley canvas bags, did yours bleed a little around the edges? So what how is the teething going, have you tried…” HAHA! Love the blog, it is how I start each weekday!

  • Kim - Although I live NOWHERE near you (Washington D.C.) I am sure that I would act the same way. The best way to describe it would be that even though I think you would be entirely friendly and approachable I wouldn’t want to come off as crazy or stalker like! It’s almost that even though you share your life on your blog there is still quite a bit that I am sure is quite a bit that you don’t and I wouldn’t want to seem intrusive. I met PW when she was here signing books and as much as I thought I would remain cool I totally blabbered on. But I will gush for a second and say I found your blog from a link on smitten kitchen and it’s the first blog I read every morning. I don’t have kids yet but will hopefully start a family soon and I love your realism about having kids. I also love the photography pointers (as well as the photos) and I am doing two of your DIY’s for Christmas presents!

  • Crystal - I LOVE your blog!!! A friend invited me to the Christmas Gathering last year & I’ve been hooked to your blog ever since!!! You do amazing DIY projects and I love your photography tips!! I will be there tonight, so if I see you, I’ll be sure to say hi, well that is if I can get through the mob of other people wanting to talk to you! Ever think about hiring a security guard? Ha!

  • Sabrina L - I love your blog and read it daily. I have no idea what I would do if I ever saw someone whose blog I read in real life. I think I would feel like some crazy stalker who has somehow managed to infiltrate myself into your life. :) So maybe that’s why people come off as embarrassed!

  • Shannon - For me my favorite bloggers are like celebrities! If I saw you on the street, or anywhere for that matter, I would probably clam up and act like a teenage girl seeing the Jonas Brothers. Ha!

    I hope your church activity goes well tonight, and can’t wait to see what all that paint and vintage art is going to be for your room! And thanks for the tip on the plate hangers! I find them online, but I hate paying shipping, knowing they are at HL is very very nice!

  • Anna Marie - Oh girl, if I ever made the almost 5 hour trip down there and I saw you, you better believe I would come up to you. I would also want to get a picture with you so I could do some blog bragging πŸ˜€ Better yet, I would contact you ahead of time and tell you that I am coming down and arrange a coffee date or such (or a play date…my 3-yr-old would fit right in with your kiddos). Yes indeed! I actually have a dear friend in Tulsa so maybe one day it could happen. You never know! Have fun tonight!

  • CharlaL - I wouldn’t Care WHERE i spotted you. I would NOT only introduce my self, I would probably HUG you!!!! Hoping some of you crafty genius would rub off on me!!

  • CharlaL - p.s. watch out tonight…WILD HORSES couldn’t keep me away!!!

  • Andrea - I enjoy your blog so very much! I have told many that you are my favorite photographer of all times. I have never met anyone who has a blog that I follow. I think I would be star struck if I ever ran into one by chance. I love knowing that you enjoy comments. Sometimes I feel that leaving a comment to someone I do not know is a bother to them. Please keep sharing your amazing life!

  • Becca - Okay okay, I haven’t met you yet, but I did meet someone who KNOWS you… about that? He works (or worked) at a camera or photography store in tulsa….Todd Walker. He is the photographer for my husbands new business venture and I CONFESSED to him that I followed your blog and you were also out of the Tulsa area. He said, oh I know Ashley….she used to come in my store! So fun! So my husbands new business is actually based out of Tulsa (although we live on the SC Coast) so hopefully i’ll make my way there sometime. THEN I’d love to meet you!

  • Steph - I am SO GLAD you posted where to get those plate hangers! Thank you! I’ve looked for them, but hadn’t found them. The plates I have hanging on my wall are hung with those springy hooks, and I don’t care for them.

    BTW: I read your blog (new find for me), and I really appreciate you. I like to surround myself with creative people like you because that makes ME more creative, and if there’s one thing I want to make sure of it’s that I continue to grow in creativity. Otherwise life would be so boring!

    If I may ask, what are the two images you posted for your “bedroom to be”? Are they old pictures, lithographs, postcards? They’re fabulous! If I had smooth walls, I’d have my DH use them to paint a mural for me!

  • Jen - Hi there~ I live in Iowa, so the chances of running into you in person are pretty slim, but I do kinda feel like I’m a “stalker” because I’ve never met you, yet feel like I know you! Your blog is truly inspiring and I’ve shared a lot of your posts with my teacher colleagues. We are a Leader In Me school which is based on Covey’s 7 Habits and a big emphasis is finding those “big rocks” in your life and making sure they are a priority. You live by that model and are a great reminder to me when sometimes my “big rocks” become pebbles! Keep inspiring:)…and your photographs are beautiful!

  • Jenny - If I am ever in OK I will hope I run into you so I can actually meet you and tell you in person that reading your blog is often the highlight of my day at work. :) Thanks for always being so honest – I think that is part of what makes this blog so special and makes so many people come back for more.

  • Shannon - I probably won’t ever run into you because I live in a tiny little town in upstate NY lol, but I would love to although I would probably clam up. I am very shy and I think I would view you as a celebrity and not know what to do!

  • Sabine - Ashley, I can’t imagine that there are people out there, who have the great opportunity to see you and don’t say HI. Or maybe they want to, but are just to shy. I’m pretty sure that I will never have the luck to meet you out on the streets – I’m living in the middle of Germany – however, I feel very lucky that I stumbled over your blog! I follow your life day by day, and I enjoy it sooo much! Take care, Sabine

  • ashley jensen - Well seeing as I kinda know you since we went to school together I would definitley say hi!! I just wish I would have known you better back then because I think you are a wonderful person. I am not ashamed to read your blog! But I agree with others that have mentioned the “stalker” feeling! Oh and I just saw the cutest plate I wanted to buy to hang on the wall but hate the springy claws so I didn’t get it. I will go buy it now since you posted the plate hangers from Hobby Lobby! *squeals*

  • anne c - so funny..I have been wondering about the thanks for clearing that up! also, I probably wouldn’t just be able to say “hi” if I ever ran into you. I would need a big ole hug…I mean, I would ask if that is ok first. since I live in SC it isn’t likely I will just run into you..but maybe one day :) if i’m lucky! p.s. I have always wanted to hear your voice too…haha. anyway, have fun tonight!

  • KaraM - The Christmas Gathering!!!! Me and my friends will be there tomorrow night. We’ll say hi! To answer your question: maybe its that we all figure you hear it all the time! πŸ˜€

  • Sissel Byington - I wish I were in Tulsa for this event. I’ll be in Pittsburgh, which isn’t all that close. 1200 women in one room, just think of the vibe and energy… it!! Have a great time. If I ever see you around……I’m saying HELLO!!

  • Sarah - I will be at christmas gathering tonight and I will make sure and say hi! Maybe most people dont say anything is because its like youre a celebrity and we dont want to be the annoying fans. I do love your blog and your husband has been a great mentor to a friend of mind. So for all of that, thanks!

  • Mary Craig - I read your blog everyday- its’ my favorite- and if I saw you in real life I’d probably get really shy and intimidated and be afraid to talk to you! Dumb, I know. I’m 34, not 14. But, that’s probably why a lot of people don’t speak up!

  • erika - I read your blog through Google Reader. It was referred to me by my best friend who also reads it. I can’t remember how she found your blog… She lives in Tulsa (where we both went to HS), so I want to say it’s some sort of Tulsa connection, but it’s been awhile, so I can’t recall.

    Anyway, just wanted to say “hi” since I don’t think I would ever run into you while out and about. πŸ˜‰

  • Lacey McKay - How funny that you posted this because I woke up this morning thinking “I might get to meet Ashley Ann today!” My next thought was “What in the heck am I going to say to her?” HA! I’m nervous about meeting you!

  • Julie B - I’m glad you said something because I would probably feel a little shy coming up to you. Although if we both had all of our kids it could be quite overwhelming to anyone around us. 2 adults 8 kids all under 7. I’m sure someone would say we had our hands full, lol! I’m surprised I haven’t seen you yet, according to your photography we frequent some of the same spots.

    Oh and a big thank you for telling everyone about those plate holders. A few months ago I was considering them vs the traditional ones and I opted for the traditional simply because I had no idea if those would work. I have about 10 more plates to hang and I am for sure getting those. In fact I better hit up the Hobby Lobby today before they are all sold out!

  • Haley - Well I don’t know that we will ever cross paths but I love your blog and read it everyday because you are so creative and just awesome in general and I love a good diy project! Haley in Idaho :)

  • Danielle H. - Well, because of your wonderful post about The Christmas Gathering in October, my aunt and I bought tickets for tomorrow night and will be driving up there from Dallas. I would have never introduced myself simply because I wouldn’t want to seem “stalkerish” or wouldn’t want to “bother” you. So, I’ll try to scope you out tomorrow night! So excited!

  • LaurenS - hey ashley! you don’t know me, but i sorta know you. we’ve never met, but i think you know my husband will stewart from obu. i think him, you, and chris were around the same age??? i also went to obu but am a few years younger so we never met. anywhoo i read your blog and i love it!! and if you don’t remember will then forget i ever wrote this while i crawl in my shell. :)

  • cheree - The blogging world is a strange and wonderful place. If I had the chance to meet you in person, I totally would. Since I live in several states away from you, I settle for talking about your blog posts with my sister – we always joke that you are our “friend” even though we don’t really know you. We do live through your projects and ideas and creativity. It inspires us to improve our own lives in creative ways.

  • Mariah - Hi Ashley. I read your blog. I’m confessing! :) I think maybe people don’t say anything to you, because when you read someone’s blog that is as personal as yours, you almost feel as if you know that person. Which is strange, because logically you know that you do not. I am pretty sure that the Pioneer Woman and I are BFFs, only, we’ve never met. So it would be a little awkward if I met her on the street and tried to give her a hug and tell her how cute her kids are. I am betting it’s the same with you. People obviously love your blog, but might feel like a stalker telling you how much they love it, and how cute Firecracker is, and how they love your new diningroom chairs, and so on. But the next time I see you at Starbucks, or Target, I’m saying hi!

  • Tracy - Hi Ashley! I read you blog everyday – I am a friend of Sarah W. in KY! I actually got my sister hooked on your blog too! Thanks!

  • Michelle - I love the disc hangers too and use them in my dinning room. . . but just wanted to caution folks about using them with plastic plates. . . they don’t work with plastic (no matter how cute the plate is). Otherwise they are awesome!

  • ingrid blanchette - here is a hello from a daily reader in! l.o.v.e your blog!

  • Kristen D - it’s because you are a celebrity of sorts in people’s mind. I saw a popular Utah blogger at Costco one day. I think I had the celebrity shock and didn’t dare say hi, even though I read and enjoyed her blog everyday. I also think that everyone else must bug her and so I wanted to give her her privacy. If I saw you, I would probably want to do the same thing, although, now I know that you would want me to say hi, so I would try (without seeming like a crazy lady).

  • Danielle M. - I agree with Mariah – it’s a little awkward (for us shy folk) to go up to someone and confess that you’re a HUGE fan or their blog, their work, their kids and their baby girl nursery design… it’s a bit like admitting that you’ve been spying in the dining room window all these years.
    But thanks for putting the question out there! Now I know that if I do ever see you in person, I’ll be sure to say hello!

  • hillary - i would love to meet you and wish i lived in the same town as you so i could see you out and about. i’ve heard from a family member where you go to church and have thought about visiting in hopes to see you but i’m just as shy as everyone else seems to be and would probably feel stupid coming up to you! maybe just maybe someday i’ll get the chance! :)

  • Liz R. - Well, if I ever see you walking around San Diego, I’ll be sure to say hello!

  • Lisa Johnson - Hi Ashley! I’ve been reading your blog from WAY back now. In fact, Bekah and I were talking just the other day- we remember being “introduced” to you during the December ice storm of 2007 when my then-engaged to my brother-in-law friend, Brooke, showed us your website when we were all gathered one night late at church because it had electricity and we were all bored at home :)
    We’ve been devoted fans ever since! I remember feeling a bit awe-struck when I got to meet you for the first time simply because I felt like a stalker :) But, seriously, when we’ve been to your house, I always feel like I’m about to visit Oprah or something. Haha
    Keep up the great work on the blog! It’s my absolute favorite, and I can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up for the bedroom!

  • meg duerksen - a plate hanger?!! that is brilliant.
    i had no idea that existed!
    thank you ashley!

    you will do great tonight.
    i wish i was there to see it.

  • Marie - If I didnt live across the country, and happened to bump into you somewhere, I would be sure to ask you if you were the babysitter and follow by telling you, “Boy, you have your hands full”!! All kidding aside, its probably strange for people to see you around, and know you and your family, and what your house looks like, etc., even though YOU have no clue who they are. Maybe they think it will creep you out. But if I am ever in your neck of the woods and see you around I will be sure to say hello!

  • stacey - Mrs. Ashley Ann,

    Plain and simple i am a fan of your blog. The asthetics of your blog drew me in and your content hooked me. I’m not a photographer but I enjoy looking at your pictures. I dig your style. Your use of colors and all things reused is my current decorating inspiration. :)

    Honestly I’d probably be a little sheepish if I ever saw you because it feels a little stalker-ish (I live in MS so the chances of our meeting is slim.) BUt it’s good to know you’d welcome the invitation.

    I do have a quick question. What craft book would you reccommend? Martha Stewart’s Craft Encyclopedia?

    Thanks so much for sharing your life in the blog world!


  • Moriah - Your blog is a morning routine for me. Cup of coffee and your blog the moment I get to work. :-) And, I wish I was local, I feel like we could be friends… wait that sounds a little funny, but really, I love the inspiration, the diy projects and comparing our little ones, who are about the same age. Thanks so much and good luck tonight, wish I could be there.

  • Amy - I love your blog and tell everyone I know about things I read from you but I think I might be embarrassed too. Not embarrassed that I read it but that I would seem like a stalker that would talk like a crazy person to someone I don’t know but read about everyday. Maybe that all that it is. I love your daily life and your words of wisdom and that there are still families that value God as much as my family. Thank you so much for sharing your life and family.

  • Jennie Frake - Blogs are kind of a weird thing. It feels like you are snooping around in someone’s diary or flipping through their picture albums in their living room. It takes a lot of confidence (…and time) to put your life out there for everyone to see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a long post about something important to me and deleted it and posted a pic of Molly instead. I think we all love you for your openness. Yes we all love your creativity, inspiration, DIY posts, adorable kids, and funny stories but most of all its just refreshing to see the day-to-day stuff. I used to just follow your blog for photography inspiration but I like that its always changing. Keeps us on our toes! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ryan - I will say this much: I’ve had the chance to meet a few well-known bloggers in my life. The other bloggers I’ve met have not been as gracious or warm as the lovely author of Under the Sycamore.

    So, everyone should stop and say hi when they see Ashley out and about. And, when she’s with her kids, make sure to ask if she’s the babysitter. :)

  • bopha - so, are you also saying that it’s okay for me to say hi to your sister’s husband, since I stalk her blog as well?

  • Ashley - People always say to me (especially friends) “I have a confession, I read your blog all the time.” Umm, ok that is what it is there for? Cracks me up almost every time.

    If I ever saw you out and about I would definitely say hi. But since I’m a bit north of you I guess I’ll have to settle with leaving you a comment.

  • melanie - Wow that plate hanger is from Niwot, CO? That’s my neck of the woods! How cool.

    Oh and if I were ever lucky enough to run into you IRL, I would totally shriek and give big hugs and THEN confess my blog crush on you. So don’t be freaked out. xo

  • Rachel Ann - If I still lived in Oklahoma I would march right up to you and say “hi”! I’d tell you how much you inspire me to become a better photographer and to be more ‘crafty’ but then I’d start picking your brain about Hawaii. The week after you post about your family going to Oahu I moved there with my husband from Oklahoma City. I know you get a million comments and questions, but if you get a chance I’d love your recommendations on places to explore on the island! It was so refreshing to see the Ace Hardware when you made your post. We actually found that store on the island and my husband shouts “There’s the Ace that AshleyAnn blogged about!” It was funny, I think he got a little embarassed about how excited he was. We are major projecters and crafters, and will continue to follow your blog forever!!!



  • Christina - I LOVE reading your blog.. mostly because you give me hope that I can be creative too. :) I live in California, but if I lived in your town and saw you, I’d say hi!

  • Beth I - I am sure that people just don’t want to seem like a crazy stalker if they see you somewhere. That is my guess.:)

    Love the plate hanger tip…didn’t know these exsisted either. I love having those kind of ah-ha moments.

  • giozi - Yes yes yes I want to see your big mistake, he he he I’m bad he he he.
    I love your blog, but you know that. I love it since first time that I read.
    Today I’m very very veeeeeeeeeeeeeery happy.
    I was 3 days with fever, I was feeling awful, Yesterday I had 39,2ΒΊC and I don’t feel good to do a post, but today I went to the doctor, I came with my antibiotics, and now, 2 hour later that I drank everything I feel good. I FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL GOOOOOOOOOOD. so good, so nice πŸ˜€

  • Alice H - I will be there tonight!!! If I see you in the mix of all us crazy women, I will definitely say Hello!

  • chantelle - Hi Ashley,
    I wished I lived closer so I may run into you! I live in Saskatchewan (try saying that three times fast!) in a snow lovers paradise, unfortunatly I am a beach lover land locked with the love of my husband!(SK ishoem to both of us!) Snow-today we have had 4+ inches an it is only noon. Uhhg. I love ALL your crafting tips and hope you write parenting segment someday-just like your top 10 photo tips I’d drink up a top ten toddler tips! We travel a bit so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you at airports!

  • jennie - you are so funny! I know exactly how you feel!

    So, HI! i’m jennie. I’m not local. I live in AZ and am ADDICTED to your blog. i check it everyday. sometimes multiple times. am i sounding creepy yet?? haha I adore you

  • Holly Panter - not local
    total lurker πŸ˜‰


  • Kara - I will be there tomorrow night..if I see u I will be sure and wave! So excited to sit w a room full of women and enjoy a girls night out!

  • Sarah - I am not local. From WISCONSIN! Love the blog. Regular reader.. and if I can not squeeze the time in… when I do get on here… I check all our your posts I missed!

  • jennie sanders - i absolutely love your blog! I’m glad you shared the fact that you would like us to say hello. I guess we all feel pretty dorky because i feel like i know you so well through reading your blog. But actually i’m a stranger!well sort of. We went to first baptist together and obu but i am a few years younger than you. i remember you and Chris from college. He actually invited me and my friend Myra to your wedding the weekend before and we came!!!sorry! random info there.

  • FullertonRegan - Ha! You know, I HATE it when people tell me, face-to-face, that they read my blog. I don’t mind getting an email saying that, but I got SO EMBARRASSED when people tell me that in person. It’s like I write it only for myself and strangers and there’s a comfort in that, but if someone I know has read it I freak out and feel exposed. Isn’t that weird? If my closest and bestest girlfriends read it then no biggie – they know more about me than I’d EVER share on the internet – but all the co-workers and acquaintances and stuff? Total heebie jeebies!

  • Kristy C - I hope all goes well tonight. I have no worries, I know you and the other women of the church are amazing and it will be an amazing two nights!

  • caro - i understand those people who didn’t tell you ” I READ YOUR BLOG “, because is like gosssip, we know about your life and we love know about it. (My english is not good yet, sorry) I’ll be ashamed. But I love your blog. From Chile, Caro

  • Alecia - Hey Ashley, just a hi from Southern California – I love your blog and have read it daily for a long time – its the first thing I do after my son goes down for his nap. Would you do a blog post on gifts you have made for Chris? I am stumped as to what to make for my husband for Christmas this year. Thanks!!

  • eeny - I would definitely say “hi” if I ever see you. But I guess chances are very little as I live in Germany =)

  • the whyte house - huh.
    i chalk it up to your love of meg. a lot of people love her and read her blog, as well. however, she’s shy, so when people come up to her and say “hi, i read your blog”, she openly admits that she’s a shy gal and it kinda makes her feel weirded out. when i saw her husband last year, i so badly wanted to tell him how much i enjoyed his wife’s blog, but she’s said that he’s a shy guy, too, so not wanting to traumatize him, i refrained. :)

    you, however, don’t mention that stuff. so maybe if they’ve read it on meg’s they think all bloggers are like that?? i don’t know…or else your readers are holding back their excitement so they don’t seem like a stalker. oh, that could DEFINITELY be the case! haha.

    i would never think about not saying “i follow the blog” to either you or chris, but that’s only cause i know a little more about chris. i mean he was always a walking pep rally at the I-High…he’d walk into choir and the class would immediately be in a good mood. and with you being married to him i would just assume that God designed an equally gifted wife, just as outgoing as him, and expect you to happily greet blog readers… but that’s just me. :)

  • Dana Reeves - Can I just say that somehow I stumbled across your blog and I just LOVE it!!! You are one talented lady!!! I enjoy looking at all your many photos and projects. Thanks, for being so down to earth and warm to all us.

  • Renay - So the other day, I was just imagining these plate hangers. I was thinking that someone needs to invent them….haha…I had no idea that they were actually invented already!!! And to think that I thought that I had discovered every nook of Hobby Lobby….guess not. I need some.

  • Courtney - So if I ever saw you in public…like I would…I live in Florida, I would lavish you with praise and glory, crafty and a Mama of four littles…oh my! You are a walking, talking, crafty deity in my book! Love the adhesive plate hooks…must find those soon!

  • Heather G. - This was a great post. We have never met. I believe I ran across your blog about 6 months ago from Smile and Wave. Ever since, I check in on you a couple of nights a week. I did start feeling guilty and wondered why I hadn’t I did. I don’t feel guilty anymore! :)

    Your blog is fantastic! I have shared it with my girlfriends, and a cousin too! Your kiddos are so entertaining and I love your style. Keep doing what your doing!! :) ~ Heather

  • maegan - I use those same exact plate hangers for my plates. Love them! And if I am ever in the Tulsa area, and I see you, I will for sure say hello!

  • Jezreel - Hi Ashley :)

    i enjoy reading your blog. i live here in the Philippines and everyday, i read your blog everyday.:) keep inspiring through your work. God bless you and your family. (my first comment here :) )

  • Danielle - Ashley, I know I said in my email that I thought it was creepy that I check your blog on the daily. However, that isn’t necessarily the creepy part. The creepy part is that I’d love to be a fly on the wall in your home. I think you have the funniest posts and most adorable photos of your family. When I think of having children in the future, I want to do things with them that you do with your children. So no, reading your blog isn’t creepy. I love it. However, wanting to be a fly on your wall might be a little weird haha! I hope that the Christmas Gathering went well. I’m sure you hit it outta the park!

  • jade - Okay Ashley… why did I not know about these??? Goodness gracious. Thanks hon! xo

  • Noel - Love your blog, Ashley. I read it regularly in Hong Kong!

  • Brooke Whitis - I’m not sure if I commented yet or not…but can I just tell you…if I lived in OK, I would be your (forced) best friend. I just would. You wouldn’t be able to get rid of me. I would just follow you around, watching your awesome design, photography and parenting. Weird? Maybe. But doesn’t the bible say that women should raise up and teach younger women? So what if we’re probably the same age? :)

    Seriously though, I hope last night went well!

  • emily anderson - i would for sure be fist pumping with you if i saw you on the streets.

  • Natalie - interesting comments! I’m relatively new to your blog- but if you’re ever in Chicago I’d come to where you are and tell you thanks for blogging! I’ll tell you I dream that my blog would be half, even a fourth as interesting as you- but I am not crafty, stink at taking photographs, and seldom think of fun things to write about. I also update it about once a month- not the best way to retain readers- although my life IS an open book. I never learned the art of being reserved. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

  • sonja - It is such a strange phenomenon, the blog reader dilema. I have friends that I KNOW read mine, but never will say a word. Strange. It makes me feel like they don’t like the blog, but then, why do they read it?

    Anyways, I’m kind of new to your blog, and it’s one that I keep returning to! It’s wonderful. I’m Canadian, so the chances of us ever meeting are super slim, but I think I would say hi!

  • Carly - I think people get shy and feel like they’re meeting someone famous in a situation like that. I ran into my husband yesterday by chance at the grocery store during his lunch break and got all giddy like I was a teenager talking to the popular boy I had a crush on. It could be like that for some. :-) I love your blog and craftiness though.

  • Joy - I enjoy your blog and cheerful inspiration and encouragement. I am especially inspired by your discipline in taking time just to “be” with your kids. Love that, and it inspires me to stop and breathe. If I saw you in person, I would probably be a dork and not say anything, cause I would be feeling like a crazy stalker. I think this phenomenon is no reflection on you, but on people like me prone to awkward goofiness.

  • Crystal - I really enjoy your blog!!! Seriously, you have great ideas and I even hope to do some at some point in this crazy life. Thanks for sharing yours. :)

  • Melissa Biggs - I love reading your blog too. I read it all the way down here in Australia. Your blog is so inspiring. Thanks for sharing it with us…

  • michele - seriously. if i ran into you on the street, not only would i say i read your blog, but i’d probably follow you around and beg you to take me home with you so i could see your amazing house and land and kids, then force you to pull out your camera so we could have a photography play date, then i’d want to craft something. so there.

  • Sherly - Hi Ashley,
    I think your blog is so wonderful & inspiring! I love love love reading it. And if i ever see you (in the US or here in Shanghai) I’d definitely say hi.. πŸ˜€ Thank you for sharing your blog.

  • Becky - Okay, I LOVE your blog and I read your blog, and we have never met – but if you insist on making new friends I will make my presence known.
    Also, if I saw you I would recognize you and I would definitely say hello, it always is just a bit harder for me to say hello via the interwebs.

  • Becky - And in the interest of full disclosure, a few weeks ago I tried to make that cute Christmas planner but mine turned out pretty ugly.
    So I used YOUR pictures when I wrote about it on my blog.
    But I did SAY they were yours, and linked back to your blog.
    Whew. Got that off my chest. :)

  • Angela Butler - Thank you for this post!! I thought about asking you “How do you hang your plates?” but it seemed pretty trivial and such a bother for you. Needless to say I am thrilled! My daughter told me about your blog and I have been reading it for about a month. I enjoy it and thanks for all the ideas and info.

  • Sharon Arnoldi - I read your blog, I share it with friends, I absolutely adore it. I’m in Colorado so I’ll probably never run into you but your crafts are so cute and fun, photographs amazing, posts are so relaxing for me in my current crazy life. When I have kids I will definitely craft with them and I will probably be referencing your blog for ideas πŸ˜‰

  • Heather - I’m in Canada and check out your blog regularly. I love your photography as well. Thank you for all the lovely inspiration that you provide here.

  • phoebegrant - I stash the blogging in google reader and savour them en masse when I have time to browse. I yearn for a storage cabinet like yours – completely renovated of course! Another shy English girl.

My 2 year old loves puzzles. He works on them over and over and over again. Quite frankly I am worn out with puzzles and as a result he can now make them by himself simply because I cannot do one more puzzle. He’s is pretty impressive with them.

Sometimes I am so distracted by checking off my ‘to-do’ list that I don’t fully absorb how amazing it can be to sit and watch his little mind work. I want to break in and put it together so we can pack it up and move on to something else. He doesn’t care how long it takes to finish. He just wants to finish and declare his pride in doing it himself.

Photography has been a gift in my life. It provides focus and attention to things I can easily overlook…like cute chubby hands.

Sidenote: the camera repair shop called to say there was all kinds of stuff going wrong with my camera and that it was really dirty (shocker). The part that needs to be replaced Canon won’t sell. She was confident and creative with a new solution, so I am trusting her.Β  I have let go of my snobby attitude about my backup and am getting used to it again, kind of.

His Great Grandma called me yesterday to say that my Grandpa has some new puzzles for him. My grandpa is a builder and craftsman. Littlest Brother’s favorite thing to do at my grandparent’s house is work all the wood puzzles built by my grandpa. So Grandpa made him some more for our house and can’t wait for Christmas to give them to him. Pretty special. I’ll be sure to share pictures of those….I could do a week’s worth of posts on all the things in my house that were made by my grandparents. Maybe I will.

His brothers were playing wii in the background while he worked puzzles. He’ll be the genius among them one day.

Now to get him to be so excited about crafting….

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  • Holly - What a sweet post and such a sweet boy

  • RachelC - What a great memory. I definitely think you should do a post on all of the things in your house your grandpa has made. That would be cool.

  • allison - Yes, please do a post about things your grandparents have made!!

  • Johna - I too love to watch my little 2 year old’s chubby little fingers at work.

  • Shannon{photos by shannon} - He’s so sweet. I love seeing my kids work at things they love too. I hope their creative juices are always flowing. I hope your camera comes through okay! I only have one dslr and it is my baby…I don’t know what I would do without it.

  • amanda torres - Those chubby hands are so adorable. I just want to pinch them.

  • Gevay - He’s so adorable. It’s amazing to watch the gears turn in their little heads. It’s such a blessing to have children!

  • Ruth - What a cutie pie! It is so cool to see such intense focus on such a little guy. My oldest daughter was the exact same way at that age and now, at 4, can easily do 100 piece puzzles all by herself. I actually had to buy some puzzles for her preschool class because the biggest ones they had were 24 piece. As always, the photos are lovely, and I agree with the previous comments–would love to see the things your grandparents have made.

  • Jill E. - wow what amazing thoughts to go with these pictures that look great. glad to here there is hope for your camera. love the other boys in the background playing wii.

  • Mariah - Chubby little hands make my eyes leak…

  • Dacia - I had a great moment teaching one day, as I watched one of our students put together parts of a puzzle. It was a HUGE milestone for him! It was pretty amazing. :)

  • Diana - We have those same two puzzles and our kids love them too!! What a good boy!

  • Nicole Robinson - My little one LOVES puzzles too. She will work them for hours on end!

  • jessica h - I love 2 year old chubby hands so much!! I have not even introduced my chubby-handed guy to puzzles, maybe I should! What a cutie yours is! Thanks for the reminder again this morning not to miss the moments “in between”–the great ones. Photography, although I know very little about it technically speaking, has also definitely been such a gift to me to be able to “see” things more clearly :) (Your photos with your backup are still stunning!)

  • Allison - He is one smart two year old to be able to put those together! Seriously- that is quite impressive for someone his age.

  • E L L A - He’s so cute. My daughter is actually loving Cars at the moment – I need to get her a puzzle like that one.

    You are doing pretty well with the backup camera at the moment. And I know what you mean about seeing things better sometimes through a photo. Love those chubby hands.

  • Mandy - So Sweet! My oldest daughter was the same way with puzzles when she was a toddler… I can totally relate to being puzzled out! But, it’s so great for their little minds! Keep challenging him, pretty soon he’ll being doing really hard ones! I love watching their little wheels spin while they figure them out!

  • MGF - This is so great to see. My youngest son. Loves puzzles. The older two boys could care less. Cool to see these slight differences in them

  • jeny - i’m wondering about your table top … how’s it holding up? i love the ‘mondern casual’ vibe from it and want to implament this in my home as well. have you had to seal it since the finished product?

  • Rachel Beasley - Sweet, Sweet!! And I have to chuckle at your boys in the background because that could have been taken at our house…one boy standing in front of the TV and one on the coffee table. Awesome.

  • giozi - Hi Ashley. Your little boy is adoralbe like always. I like to see only he today, is something so special. And I love his little hands too.

  • Anna - so sweet!! He is too adorable!

  • Sonya - So sweet! When did he start showing an interest in puzzles? I would LOVE to get my 21 month old son (same sweet chubby hands) interested, but was afraid to try puzzles so soon.
    Oh, and your pics are still great even with the back-up!

  • Yolanda - Wow. My three-year-old can barely put the simplest wood puzzles together. A jigsaw would absolutely flummox her. Great work by your little guy. And who can tell that it’s your back up camera when it’s you behind the lens? These are as emotional and as warm as ever.

  • Jessica - Oh, how I love these pictures. His little chubby fingers placing that last puzzle piece…priceless.

  • Chandra - I can’t believe he’s 2 and putting puzzles like that together. Simply wonderful & amazing! I’m inspired to buy a set for my 20 month old.

  • jaime scott - I’m not usually a commenter, I prefer to stalk your blog silently. haha!! But every once in a while, I make an exception and leave a comment. :) anyway, i love your blog. Today, you wrote, “Photography has been a gift in my life. It provides focus and attention to things I can easily overlook…like cute chubby hands.” And i totally agree with you. I’m not a professional photographer by any means (maybe one day though!), but I love to take pics of my kids and a few months ago, I wrote a blog about how photographing my kids changes my perspective and helps me see what’s really important. If you’re interested (and it’s okay if you’re not!), here’s that blog have a great day!

  • Jenny B. - How precious! I love the little chubby hands and how the colors pop off of your concrete table top. You are so blessed to have your grandparents in your life. My grandpa was also a builder and woodworker. He built the house I grew up in and the one he and my grandma lived in, which was just down the street from ours. I really miss him and wish my boys could have known him (he passed away when I was 16). P.S. We have those puzzles, too. My 5-year-old likes to put together every single one and line them all up. I’ve tried to get good photos of him doing it, but I just haven’t been able to get it right yet. The angles end up looking weird, or the focus is off, or just bad composition. :) Anyway… I’ll keep trying!

  • Tressa - Ashley – I have followed you blog for quite some time. Thank you for sharing your life as a mom and for the tutorials on your beautiful projects! You inspire me and make me want to be more patient and fun with my kids and I am thankful for your example. Your blog is a breath of fresh air every single time! THANK YOU!!!

  • Rachael Schepemaker - He is definitely going to be an engineer some day!

  • MommaHen (aka Amy) -

    I’ve been sitting here reading your blog for …I don’t even know how long. It’s fabulous! Your lil’ fam is soooo stinkin’ cute! Okay, I’m sounding a little stalker-ish. So, I’m just sayin’ ,” LOVE the blog!”

  • Kellie Ann - My younger brother also did puzzles like that at an early age. I definitely think it’s a sign of high intelligence, creativity, and spacial ability.
    All those puzzles, among other things, surely helped my brother: he skipped a grade in elementary and graduated from UC Berkeley last year with his Master’s.
    Keep up the puzzles if your little boy loves them :)

  • Carolyn - I don’t have much patience for puzzles either. I get so frustrated when my 21 month old daughter does her number puzzle. I sit there reminding myself to be positive and encouraging whilst she tries to fit the number 3 in the number 8 spot..*argh!* :)
    I love that second last picture of your son working away on his puzzle whilst the older boys play in the background. A very independent two year old you’ve got there!

  • Gina (Gina Hickman Photography) - I love puzzles and only 1 of my 3 girls likes them (and she’s almost 20 now but still loves puzzles)…

    You should totally get a photo puzzle made for him – maybe a puzzle of him putting a puzzle together!!!

    Check out this cool link to have photo puzzles made

    Love your blog Ashley!

    :) Gina

  • Wendy - that last little “concentration face” brought tears to my eyes-so adorable!

  • Alissa @ Gift Homemade - Jigsaw puzzles are the best! I think it’s also a great learning tool too :)

  • Sandy - How cute he is what a sweet post.

  • Allison - My boys love puzzles too and our favorite ones are also wood. They are 3 levels deep and my 3 year old loves them. I just thought maybe you would like to take a look see… These puzzles are so neat!! They are made locally in Missouri and are FANTASTIC!!

  • Syndi Miles - I know that you don’t get a lot of time to answer questions, but I know sometimes you answer a few in your blog and I wanted to know what camera repair shop you use?

  • Kristen - What a cutie! I’m actually really impressed that he can put those together all by himself! That’s pretty good!

  • Courtney - I think you’re sort of a genius. I have BOXES and BOXES of puzzles in the play room and game closet but never once thought of dumping them into ziploc bags to save space! Sheer genius…

  • JennyP - I enjoy reading your blog and try to take time daily to be inspired by you! So thanks!!! Reading this post makes me think of a thought I found, printed and put up in my kitchen it reads…”Taking Joy in the Moments…take a little more joy in the doing than the getting it done!”

  • s - I love the photos of your son doing the puzzles! My youngest adores puzzles – mostly the floor size ones. I need to get him some smaller table sized ones for xmas – he really does enjoy them! And, I’m trying not to be jealous of the wooden puzzles – dang I wish I had your grandpa!

  • Kim - I’m impressed he’s doing these puzzles at age 2. He’s already a genius! :) Darling photos. Love those sweet little hands–so darling.

I am on the ball this year – at least with one gift. I have this hope that my kids will love to draw, but usually they’d rather sword fight. In the past I have bought blank journals for them to fill and this usually peaks their interests more than construction paper. This year I am giving the older boys art journals that are customized just a bit. It is hard to find ideas for boy gifts that are handmade. Girls are easy. Boys, not so much. Here is what I made:


* A blank journal. I got mine at Barnes & Noble. For my boys it is easier if they can flip the cover completely over. The bound book type of journal frustrates them when it keeps closing on them.

* Wood grain contact paper (which you if you made these, you might have it one hand too)

* Letter stickers

* Blank notecards

I made this up as I went along so I don’t have any exact measurements.

These instructions aren’t the best, but hopefully the pictures will help.

Step 1: Lay contact paper under the journal to decide what size you want it. Cut sides to determine how ‘big’ you want the front pocket to be. Fold the center section over. This will create a pocket on the front. Cut off small edges.

Step 2: Flip journal over. Peel off backing of remaining contact paper and fold sides over to make it all stick. Pull it tight when you fold it over so the pocket in the front isn’t loose. Add stickers for initials.

Step 3: In the front pocket I added some drawing prompts. For my 4 year old I wrote out some of his favorite characters and books. For my six year old I copied text from some of his favorite books. The idea is that they will select one prompt from the front cover of the art journal and then draw what is on the card. For mine most of the prompts involve something dangerous, disgusting or dirty. I imagine if you girly this up for the opposite gender your prompts might be quite different.

I did flip mine over to see if the paper would fall out. It didn’t. I imagine if you put a lot in the front pocket or thick items it would eventually stretch out and make it loose.

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  • Hollie - Genius! I will make one of these for my son for Christmas. I love handmade and it is harder to find things for him / boys in general.

  • Rebekah Jean - I love this! That wood grain paper is really cool and I love the way you used it on those journals. It’s fun and just manly enough to work for boys! =)

  • The Prairie Hen - Dear On The Ball,
    What a lovely idea! My kids ADORE art projects and drawing so this would be perfect for them. I love the thought of adding a few paint chips for some color. My turkeys are always snatching a handful when we visit the hardware store— highlighting their favorite colors of the moment.

    Something like this might even inspire me to break out the drawing pencils myself.

    “How was your day dear?”
    “What did you get done?”
    “—is that a horse?”
    “No! It’s Felicity in the yard swing, trailing her bare toe in a bed of roses. I would think that’s pretty obvious! A horse!?”
    “Ummmmm, yeah. What was I thinking?—— What’s for supper?”

    Cuttin’ N Pastin’ in NE

  • amanda torres - Props to the prompt idea! So great for drawing a future writings! Love it.

  • Danielle - Awesome Idea!

  • tasha roe - super fun idea!!

  • ella - I love the use of veneer vinyl. I just picked up some the other day and I was thinking what to do with it….
    Thanks for the inspiration πŸ˜‰

  • Tracey - Oh my goodness, I just had to comment because the sight of that little Archie’s glass brought back so many memories! I had that growing up!

  • Heather - cute! where’d ya find the contact paper?

  • Jen - This is perfect for my son. Thank you for the great ideas.

  • Anna - what a great idea! i agree…there are never any good diy ideas for boys…so sad! :(

  • Katie @ explanation required - So incredibly fun! I can’t wait until my little one is a little older and able to “journal” like this!!

  • elizabeth - Thank you-Great Idea! I totally agree about the lack of handmade “big boy” gifts. I would be so appreciative of more of your great project ideas :)

  • Elizabeth - My son loves to draw…one of the series of books my children always loved was the Doodle books…your boys might like them…they are doodles that are started..but not finished..there are lots of different books….check them out…

  • Stephanie - Great Idea. Boys are difficult. I have 2 nephews and I’m glad I have 4 girls.

  • graceybug - Love this idea! I agree that finding stuff to make for boys is hard. I think this might be the new cover for my son’s school journal that holds his thoughts & has his reminders (behavior wise) in it.

  • jessica h - agreed–great craft gifts & sewing projects for boys are few and far between compared to those for girls! Instead of wishing for a girl to shower with homemade goodness, I should get on the ball gettin’ creative for my boys! If you have any other ideas (especially for littler tots), please do share! This one was great, especially the prompts–they’ll love them I’m sure!

  • Shoshana K - That’s hilarious! I bought the same exact sketchbook because it was such a good price. I use mine for collages and inspiration but is there any way you can do another makeover, but a girls version? But not for little girls. More for young adults? I was wondering what to do with it because plain black is too boring…

  • peta - I love this! what a creative idea. i might make something similar to this for the children in my class next year.

    Can i ask about the lego book please? my son would appreciate a book like this.

  • handmade ideas. - […] now for my little dude the star wars love runs thick and deep so I know if I have any chance of him taking a second glance at what I made Star Wars would have to be incorporated somehow. one of my go to craft sites helped me out. she has some star wars lovin’ boys herself and came up with this diy boys art journal. […]

  • Helen + Bill + Mirys from Brazil - Excelent Xmas presents!!!!!

    You and your brilliant ideas…

    Kisses and blessings.