Thank you for comments on my post about goals. To clarify…I wasn’t worried about posting it because I thought it would reveal I am normal….I was worried it could be taken the opposite. To my relief, you saw the real me in it.Β  Thank you. As stated last week, my goal was to get shelves up for my craft supplies. Goal accomplished….and finally a reveal of my craft cabinet makeover!

I found it tucked in a big storage barn. It was sticky, dirty and ugly….but perfectly beautiful to me. A little paint and a lot of work later…

The process involved:

1. Deep cleaning with soapy water. Scrubbing with steel wool.

2. Taping all those little handles. I did not tape the inside label area of the handles…just put scrapbooking paper in to cover the old paint.

3. Spray painting a primer meant for rust and metal.

4. Spray painting with glossy white spray paint…made for metal. I usually buy the cheapest spray paint, I got the more expensive stuff this time. No chipping so far.

The Blue Ribbon Foods box on top of the cabinet is supplies for the current projects I have going on….lots of paint….

30 drawers…they are basically all full.

Above the cabinet I needed somewhere to store things that would not fit in the drawers. Since this is in my kitchen I didn’t want it to look like an art station. I’ve been collecting random vintage kitchen things for a while not knowing where I would use them. Now they are perfectly displayed and put to good storage use. Some of the places I found items are Southern Hospitality, The Hitching Post, Bellalulu, and Lovies. I also have my flower pins from FosterKade Designs & Made4Adoption on display. They are beautiful and remind me to pray for children waiting for families and the families waiting for those children.

Last month I mentioned that when I was working on the sponsor introductions I decided to purchase an item instead of sharing it with you…it was the 3 floral canisters from Lovies. I needed something to hold glues and wanted it to be red, yellow and blue. Perfect. All the canisters, salt & pepper shakers, boxes, and tins hold some type of crafting supply.

Looking at these pictures makes me want to have a day alone in my kitchen to be creative. Just in case anyone is wondering, I slowly acquire supplies. I watch for deals and stick to things that catch my eye. I purchase a lot of small items and a little at a time. It is so nice to have it all organized and in one spot. Now if I could only find some quiet to dive into all those drawers!

While I was taking pictures of what appears to be a bright & happy place to create -the following was happening around me.

She was not happy I kept telling her “no” when she opened a drawer. I could put yardsticks through the handles to end the battle she and I have, but after that much work to make it cute I don’t want to slide yardsticks in it…and I open those drawers several times a day. It may kill me in the process, but she is just going to have to learn to stay out.

I don’t kid when I say my house is one constant sword fight….

So there it is my lovely crafting area…it makes me happy.

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  • ella - I love seeing this. These drawers are perfect and it’s so great you saw so much potential in that junk (treasure), and the shelves are the perfect addition.
    It also very funny seeing your kids act up – they appear so perfect in most your shots so it’s nice to see them ‘normal’ in some photos ;D
    xoxo.

  • Karen Davis - it looks great!!

  • Shannon - Absolutely fantastic Ashley! I love the mix of vintage kitchen and just plain vintage. it really gives it a great vibe and who wouldn’t want to sit down for a few hours and sift through all the wonderful crafty supplies! (love love Martha Stewart at big lots!)

  • Holly - Well, it’s Monday morning and you’ve got me feeling all “swoony” over your craft room. I must do something now. I can’t leave mine the way it is. I’m not feeling very creative, can we just trade houses?

  • Nicole - LOVE it! Nice work!

  • Yanet - LOVE the cabinet! I have a much smaller version of it in our garage waiting for me to bring it out to love it. But like you said it’s a lot of work.

  • Brenda - Poor Firecracker!! πŸ™

  • Sarah - It looks wonderful! it’s so nice to have everything together, isn’t it?!

  • amanda torres - How could you make that precious thing cry? Kidding. She is so precious. Tears and all.

  • Meaghan - I really like the cabinet! All the accumulated craft supplies reminds me of my own mother that converted my bedroom to her ‘crafting area’ when I moved out. Even put a twin bed in there so she could nap in between bouts of creative!

  • marcy - lovely!!!

  • Lanea - Oh, it’s gorgeous! You did a fantastic job. I love the little pops of color from the paper in the label slots, and that Blue Ribbon box is fantastic.

  • april's craft nest - oh wow! it certainly turned out lovely! is your table top concrete? did you make it?

  • Jamie - I have been waiting to see your finished cabinet; I love it! I wish I could get my hands on something like that. Great storage. Your whole craft corner is awesome πŸ™‚

  • Melissa - It looks great! I’m on the hunt for something similar. Thanks for sharing your project!

  • Heather - love the way you used the kitchen accessories to store craft supplies!! love, love, love that!!!

    your drawers turned out fantastic, as did your shelves.

    swoon….makes me want to hideaway in my craft area and play all day long.

    great job!!

  • Kirra Sue - Yea!!!! I loved seeing where your Lovies are! πŸ™‚ That cabinet is so awesome. You are a thrifting queen. The picture of firecracker makes me smile- poor girl. Growing up is hard to do. πŸ™‚

  • Kimber - Oh my goodness, I love this! It’s adorable and it’s totally realistic for crafting (except for the Firecracker part of it {that pic of her crying in front of it will be a priceless memory}:)! Your posts, without fail, always inspire me to do awesome things in life!

  • ashley jensen - All of my craft supplies are in a cabinet in our hall closet. Some things are in a craft tackle box, others are in little shoe boxes, and some stuff is just in there. I saw a set of your drawers (only 4, not 30) at an atique store over the weekend and I just might go back and get them! But I love your little area!

  • Mary Craig - I’ve told you before that my youngest is just a month older than Firecracker and their names are *kinda* similar. She reminds me so much of my Blythe! Especially in that last picture-Blythe had on that same shirt and black leggings last week and often does the roll around on the floor and cry bit, too.

    So impressed with your crafting!

  • Ruth - Lovely and inspiring, as usual!

  • Shannon{photos by shannon} - I love it, the whole area. I wish I had someplace like that here. I just might, soon! I have a room between the livingroom and my daughter’s room that is going to be my studio, bit I have a feeling it will be a multi-purpose room.

  • Raychel - I am on the hunt for a cabinet like that!!! Looks great Ashley!!

  • deb - I love it…I have wanted something like this for ages. Wish I could run across a card catalog from the library, that would make a dream cabinet in my craft room! Maybe I need to search some old barns…:)

  • tam1329 - LOVE LOVE LOVE your new space! that metal cabinet is amazing. I can’t wait to see what you create πŸ™‚

  • Carrie Rosalind - Those look so awesome! I LOVE your crafting space! πŸ™‚

  • mandi - This is awesome! I would never have thought to use one of those old Sunday School roll files for craft supplies! I LOVE IT!!!

    And you know what? I’m for the school of thought that it is better to train your children how to live than to baby proof the world. So you got this mama’s vote of support there!

    One more thing- when I read about you seeing the hair clips and being reminded to pray for the babies waiting for homes and the families waiting for babies, it dawned on me that you (unknowingly!) are praying for us! We are in process of adoption…and it is a slow one. So thanks for the prayers!

  • Mama Zen - It looks fabulous!

  • Kristin - It looks so great, and inspiring. I am working on my crafting area right now. πŸ™‚ I just realized I have one of those drawer things in my garage with only 5 or less drawers being used. I may need to confiscate it and bring it in. πŸ™‚

  • naomi chokr - im new to your blog!! i love everything about it. your craft drawers are awesome! i love it!

  • ingrid blanchette - l.o.v.e!

  • Cassi - I love it. The whole look is great, from the light fixture to the new drawers.

  • Anna - I love your little crafting area! It makes me happy to know somebody else uses their kitchen/dining area to be creative in! I also try to make my area still look like a dining area instead of a studio and I think you did a really good job with yours! Thank you for the beautiful pictures of your area!

  • Laurie J - i’ve used spray paint like once in my life…i think i’m missing out! can’t believe how you transformed that cabinet–amazing.

  • Alice H - Poor Firecracker…she just wants to help you craft. LOL! My baby boy is almost 9 months old. And he loves to get in my cabinets and drawers in the kitchen when I am making dinner. I don’t believe in the locks (they are a pain in the butt for me, darn childproof stuff) so he gets told “no” and moved to a different location a lot.
    It is amazing how you can turn something old and ugly into something bew and beautiful.

  • emily - What an enviable craft cabinet. The cabinet itself is amazing, but those supplies … makes you want to do a project just to open the drawers! And those sword-fighting boys are too cute.

  • gina - that is a happy corner for sure… great job!!

  • susie whyte - i want to go to that little corner and just give it a big hug. πŸ™‚ all of that organization makes me happy. haha.

    thanks for MY post! πŸ™‚ haha.
    i just acquired a huge storage basket this weekend for a mere 6 bucks. i think it’s more rusted than old, so that rust-oleum and i are gonna be good friends. i’m still on a break from buying spray paint at walmart, since the staff has been eyeing me lately. maybe i’ll just send my bff shopping for me. πŸ™‚

  • jennie - I love it! How do you organize your items? I am terrible at organizing and in the process of finding a happy medium with myself.

  • Mirys - Ashley: now that I have a new home (for the 3rd time this year!) IΒ΄m just very excited about organization and decΓ³r.

    ThatΒ΄s a beautiful job that youΒ΄ve done with these drawers!

    Congrats!

    I want some more tips like this!!! I have a mom + a girl + a boy room to organize!!!!!

    MIrys – http://www.diariodos3mosqueteiros.blogspot.com

  • Aja - I love it! What an awesome piece, and perfect for crafting supplies! I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for something similar!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ashley, it turned out beautifully! Great job!

    Thank you for sharing your painting tips. I am about to tackle my first ever painting project of a beautiful old metal rusty green small cabinet.

  • nori - that is absolutely lovely!!! i have that same cracker tin!
    could i fly you out to california to help me with my craft room?? :o)

  • Ali Richardson - It is SO wonderful!!! It looks perfect in that little nook. Great job!

  • Kember - I LOVE your craft stash! Crafts + organization = πŸ™‚
    I have a lot of stuff, but all tucked away and hard to get to. I only have two little ones but completely understand the desire for a day all to myself to be creative. Someday….
    Just have to appreciate the snippits of time we do get.

  • Anya - You did such an amazing job on this! I have an old filing cabinet that I have been meaning to pretty up for a year now. This has inspired me to get my butt in gear!

  • Aubrey - I love that you shared that picture of Firecracker! Once again I can relate to well. With my 4 littles being 6 and under I know THAT battle must be won.

  • a pocket full of posies - *swoon* ….and the glitter drawer- *double swoon*!
    and little “firecracker”- just want to swoop her up and give her a great big hug! little cutie!
    Blessings!
    Jill

  • Jennifer - amazing!! πŸ™‚

  • tasha roe - SO. STINKIN. COOL!
    I am cracking up at the sword fights and fits. Sounds like my house minus one boy. Those boys are going to be the best of friends growing up and through out life. even cooler than the cabinet… maybe. πŸ˜‰

  • Lisa Johnson - brilliance

  • Carolyn - I love your craft drawers! my craft storage is not as nice…just one of those metal shelves you can get at the hardware store…really need to reorganise it (again)… Love the picture of your little girl in front of the drawers. That looks like a face I have seen before in my own toddler!

  • Abby - I love this area…so green all over!! Even more I love the behind the scenes peek…much like the happening around here πŸ™‚

  • meg duerksen - love that you are just trying to teach her to stay out.
    that is good parenting.
    πŸ™‚
    love this post ashley.

  • Natalie - I’m sad for Firecracker too! Can’t you just put some fuzzy cotton balls, jumbo crayons and stickers in the last row of drawers- sacrifice just three of them so she can play and smile?? (I write this while just today I got tired of telling my 9 month old son he can’t pull all the dvds off the shelf and moved them to a different location- tomorrow I’m sure it will be something else!) P.S. I thought the yardsticks would match your kitchen backsplash?

  • giozi - Ohh Ashley I want a collection like yours πŸ™‚ ha ha ha ha is fabulous. Poor your girl, sorry but then I read and saw the photo I couldn’t no hel smile πŸ™‚
    I’m a little frustrated beause yesterday I received a scallopped label punch that I bought on Ebay it was for my girl’s birthday so This came late, even I paid for Priority, well I said, I’m going to use it a lot so is the same, but when I open the box I see that size is TINY, there is no say size for anywhere, but I was waiting something like visiting card size aprox. Now I’m upset. Do you know where can I get one?

  • Jolie - I love your crafting nook, hissy fits, sword fits and all!
    (and can I just say that I was so thrilled with your to-do post – even though I’m still trying to figure out how you get to do all that (plus the usual day to day stuff) with 4 smalls…I only have 2 and I struggle!)

  • Sarah - Beautiful craft cabinet! One small idea to make Firecracker happy… dedicate one of the lower drawers to her. She can then put her things in it, and every once in a while, you can surprise her with a little treat just for her! (candy, hair barrette, note to her)

  • Annabelvita - I am incredibly jealous. So much so that I posted about your drawers (oo-er missus) (is that a joke in american english?) over on my blog, hope you don’t mind: http://annabelvita.com/practical-whimsy
    xx

  • s h e r r y - Oh wow. I just want to look through all your craft supplies…

  • Lexi - I found a VERY similar metal green cabinet in a junk place last week! Brought it home and thought, “oh man what a mistake!” because it needs help in the looking to rough category. But it was just too perfect for organizing crafty stuff. You have given me courage to take the steel wool plunge!! Yours looks fantastic!!

  • Air - I think if you like scrapbooking you might enjoy this website. It’s called http://www.scrapbooksteals.com/index.php

    Everyday at 9am MDT they post a new steal on sale which usually are anywhere from 5% to 80% off retail =]

    Also there are two more sites, called Babysteals.com and Kidsteals.com

  • margaret - Wow! This is a beautiful space! I don’t have an extra room to stash my crafty stuff and have been keeping everything in a little corner of my kitchen! Great ideas about incorporating your crafty stash into every day space.

  • Stephanie May* - LOVELOVELOVE this space! Sooooo gorgeous:) I am wondering though, where do you store all of your fabric? I have tons, and can’t figure out a cute, neat, and clever way to store it. Roll it? Fold it? Drawer? Shelf? Box? I want to be able to see it/get to it easily, otherwise it’s out of sight, out of mind for me:) Help!

  • surplus = happiness & joy - […] I didn’t suffer from overload and just meltdown. Thankfully I had already been inspired by this post. So I knew what I wanted and wasn’t afraid to dig and unpack and grab! Wanna see what I […]

  • Plumber’s Cabinet Revamp « Salvaged Grace - […] dressing room, its’ more humble appearance was slightly out of place. Therefore, inspired by Ashley Ann. I gave my plumbers cabinet a makeover. WP_SLIDESHOW_IMAGES = { load: […]

  • Jen Logan - Thank you for posting this. I recently came across one of these and am so excited to refinish it. It was left in the garage of our rental house when the renter moved out. So happy I found something to stash all my craft goodies in!
    Jen

  • Craft Drawers | - […] hope to transform it to look like this to stick all my craft stuff in. I have a lot of cleaning to do, but I am so excited.  I will […]

  • Heddy - Thank you. I needed this. I have 2 of these from my Grandfather, who was a plumber, that are just waiting for some TLC.

  • Chelsea - I love the blue ribbon foods cart. Where did you find that?

  • Practical whimsy « Annabel Vita - […] Practical whimsy via ashleyannphotography.com […]

To answer just a couple of your questions from yesterday:

1. Yes, my deep freeze has an organization system….the dividers came with the freezer. Awesome.

2. Will I share recipes? If I remember to I will try to do that. We just make stuff we already like…a lot of the meat isn’t cooked before it is frozen…

After yesterday’s post I feel a little funny doing this post today. I thought about just saving it for next week, but oh well. Since some of you asked and Chris keeps prodding I thought I’d share a few of my weekly goals. I’m not too sure about sharing these here. I am quite sure many of you can accomplish all of my weekly goals in half a day, but I can’t. I know one day I’ll look back at these and laugh that I had to be so intentional about what seems like little things. One day my kids will be more self reliant and won’t require so much attention for basic needs. My goals may or may not be totally different then. Who knows. With several young kids in our house it is very easy for the days to just become a run on sentence of fixing food + cleaning messes + changing diapers + tending to hurt spots + nap time enforcing + picking up toys….and repeat 50 times before bedtime.

For me it is easy for the days to become a blur of daily grind repeating itself. I have a list of daily goals that I try to accomplish each day. I also have a list of weekly goals. My weekly goals aren’t anything impressive or big, but they are things that often get overlooked in the daily grind of keeping up with my kids. I have to be intentional about them or they don’t get done.

Each week I give myself one goal in the following areas: Home Organization, Project completion, Something for Someone else, Each Kid

Home Organization: Last week’s home organization goal was to clean out the coat closet. Hated doing it. Love that it is done. This week is getting shelves up in the kitchen for my craft stuff. Next week is clearing out storage boxes under my bed. Eventually I make my way around every little area in the home and then start back at the beginning.

Project completion: As a project addict I always have a couple projects going on. I make sure each week one big one is completed. Last week it was building the add-on to our front porch (I watched kids, my dad & Chris did the building). This week it is painting that add on. Next week it is finishing up my next Design Aglow project.

Something for Someone else: This is the most important weekly goal for me. I want to make sure each week I am doing something alongside my kids that is for someone else. Last week we wrote letters to the boy we sponsor through Compassion International. This week we wrote ‘thank you’ cards for several people. Next week we are going shopping for food to take to our church for Thanksgiving baskets given to those in need.

Sometimes goals go as planned. Sometimes they do not. Last week when we wrote letters to our ‘sponsored son’, Biggest Brother wanted to color a picture for him. He wrote “Bad guys stink. Good guys are the best.” He was so proud and I just couldn’t tell him that it probably was inappropriate to send. So I sent it…with a note to Compassion International telling them they could throw it away, but I had to tell my son I sent it!

Each Kid: I also write down one weekly goal for each kid that I know I want to make sure I do. This week for Big Brother it was work on his front flip on the trampoline. It is a big deal for him, so I want to be intentional with helping him on it because that shows him I value what is a big deal to him.Β  It is more worth my time investment than a lot of things.

Making goals is not a natural thing for me, but in recent years I have found I need it. I don’t really think too long term these days. I know the things I want instilled in my kids when they become teenagers. I want to make the investment in Today. For me to feel like I am living in Today and not just surviving it….I need goals to help me stay focused and to accomplish all that I want to in these years as a young family. It is what works for me. It keeps a level of sanity in my often distracted head.

I hesitated a lot before posting this. Among those of you that only really know me online I think there is a bit of a myth that I have it all together. I don’t. That is so very far from the truth. I’m a regular mom who loses her cool all too often. I feel overwhelmed by laundry. I want to tie my daughter to a chair at times so she stops emptying every drawer in the house. Every time I step on a Lego I want to say something I shouldn’t. I don’t have it all together and I hope sharing my weekly goalsΒ  doesn’t leave any of you thinking I do.

I would also love to hear ideas from you on how you manage to get done the things you want to get done….

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  • Holly - Oh my Goodness!! Are you saying you are actually human like the rest of us? Bless your heart, you are still an amazing woman/mom in my book and you are the best “you” that you can be. That’s enough.

  • Alissa - I think writing down what you want to acheive is important, as it shows you have the intention to get it done. I also reward myself with treats if I get everything crossed off!

  • Kimberly - Thanks for this post Ashley. Nobody has it all together. If they appear to then they are either kidding themselves or they are robots. Your posts help me look past my own chaos though and I appreciate that. I never dreamed kids would be so tough. It’s easy to throw up my hands sometimes and just let them rule the roost. Your posts help me get it together and remember I am in charge. Things like goal making and craft ideas seem simple but it’s a nice reminder.

  • Anna Marie - Thank you for this. It inspires me! I especially like the home organization and time with each kid goal. God bless you, Ashley!

  • amy - love the post…my house is a mess and i am so unorganized…i use to follow “fly lady” things were neater then i should start again…anyways one of her trick is setting a timer for 15 minutes. you can do anything for 15 minutes… set the time wash the dishes when the timer beeps stop or keep going if you want. take a break and do it again… helps break big overwhelming jobs like mountains of laundry into manageable small jobs…

  • Kristin - This is a great post. I get so much more done when I have my to-do list in front of me – otherwise my distractions get the best of me, too. I need to be more intentional with goal setting – I like the direction your goals flow. Very inspiring, thank you!

  • Sarah Whitworth - I appreciate your concern to be real!! But I also appreciate your sharing what works at your house. It is an encouragement. My children are teenagers, one a senior in high school, and will soon fly out of the nest and on to college. While I wish I had a regular goal like you (and maybe documented it so many years later we could share the memories), I, too, feel like I have been intentional in my parenting. And now it is paying off!! My children are not perfect–they seemingly still don’t have how to put their dishes in the dishwasher, but our days are fun and I love each stage they go through. They only get better and better. (Our daughter was one that needed tied in a chair as a toddler/preschooler and she is a fabulous middle schooler now.

  • Barbara - Dear Ashley, I’m from Brazil, and I just love your blog and the fact that you are not perfect, sometimes even with just one son thigs go out of control. Thank you very much just for you exist!
    Sorry the bad english, we speak portuguese in here πŸ™‚

  • Beth@Just{Heart}It - Ashley,
    Thanks for posting this. You know, one of the things that really draws people together is the knowledge (by our own admission) that we all have terribly human moments. While we may not all struggle with the same things (I am an organizational freak, for example, and have no trouble keeping my house organized and clean), we all struggle with SOMETHING (I totally get not being able to accomplish seemingly easy goals every week – all I want to do is finish a book I started with my boys, but between school and their play time, it’s taking forever). No one will begrudge you for being human. We all nod and go, “Yup.” On another note, I love that you try to do something for someone else each week. That is awesome! Sometime in the future I’d love if you would share more of those ideas with us.

  • amanda torres - This was wonderful and inspiring. We all have the ugly parts about us, but setting goals and focusing on what we aspire to be to our kids and others keeps us on the right track. It is very apparent that you truly desire to become the woman God created you to be. Thanks for being you!

  • Daisy - thank you for sharing this with us! It inspires me

  • Asha - I can’t share because I feel like I get nothing accomplished, ever. I have ‘alone’ time for two hours a day when my son is in 1st grade and my daughter is in preschool. I thought, ‘freedom’! I was so excited to have those two hours a day. It’s not enough and I can’t believe I’m saying it. I always feel rushed to get things done, I never relax and when I pick my daughter up, I feel completely distracted because all I can think about it what I wanted to finish while she was in school and if I attempt it, she’s right there, messing things up. Negative, I know but the truth. I can only patiently wait until she’s in Kindergarten next year.

  • Jen - Thank you for sharing Ashley! It can be so hard to get anything else done with small kids…I completely understand. If you don’t mind, I’m totally stealing your goal to do something for someone else. I try, but I need to be more intentional with this.

  • Lauren - I love this post! You used that word I love so much several times…intentional. Sometimes I get so overwhelemed at the big picture (the mountain of laundry, the sink overflowing with dishes, the shoes all over the entryway, the table covered in junk mail) that I don’t even know where to start. I love to hear how someone else tackles things in their own home. I’ll have to try the weekley goals. It sounds like a great way to breakdown the big tasks in your home. Thanks for sharing what works for you!

  • Sara W - Thank you for this post – it lets us know that you are normal like the rest of us. I love the idea of goals for each child – it seems like my school kid is barely home before we head to bed and I’ve hardly had any time with him. This will help that. I also LOVE your idea of doing things for other people. This summer I did mini service projects with my kids to help them think about service but this will help me carry that on into the rest of the year.

  • Mirys - Dear Ashley:

    Yesterday, when I was surfing on the net (just freaking out about my birthday today) I found your blog. And I didnt left you a message even thought I should have done that! So I came back here today to say: thank you!

    YouΒ΄re such an inspiration! You have 4 kids, a husband, take your photos, do your house work, writes a blog and still have good humor!!! ThatΒ΄s priceless!!!!

    I have 2 adorable kids (6 and 4), used to love pictures, have tons of house work to do, write a blog too and try to keep my good humor every single day since last January… when my 35 years old handsome husband died while he was rescuing some people from a crashed car. Now you can understand why I was freaking out yesterday… today is my first birthday as a widown and thatΒ΄s not a good thing…

    But I was trully inspired by your pictures, your good humor is contagious and I felt so much better after I read almost all your posts!!! Yes… I kept you page open on the computer while I was working… bad girl, I know!

    And, today, as a birthday present, you posted about goals! ThatΒ΄s it!!! IΒ΄m making some for myself and I just loved the idea of having weekly goals. ItΒ΄s so much easier to achive them!!! Great idea!!!

    Next week I will stop by to see what do you have as an inspiration for me. Who knows… I might end up taking beautiful pictures again (or, at least, trying to!).

    Sorry for my english. I forget to tell you that IΒ΄m brazilian. English was just “my private language” with my husband. So… IΒ΄m 9 months without practicing…

    Love. Mirys

  • Melissa - Awesome post, love your message. I am inspired by this post to try to set weekly goals. Thank you!

  • gina - Way to keep it real, Ashley! Blogs have a way of highlighting all of our positives: the good stuff of life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think women have a habit of comparing all of their “negatives” to all of the good stuff from others’ blogs. That results in a pretty skewed view of life and how it is for everybody. The purpose of “mom blogs” should be to inspire, but not for women to compare themselves and get depressed that they can’t do it all. I appreciate your honesty this morning, and for letting everyone know you’re human. You are a true picture of grace and humility.

  • Meredith - I love blog entries like this. I love hearing that you are human, too! So often after reading your blog and several others like yours I am amazed at how easy you make it look when often I am struggling to get it all done. It’s a good reality check to remind us that we only see the portion of your life and that there is so much more going on. Thank you for putting this out there for us.

  • tammy - You may want to admit you are just “normal” like the rest of us, but when my kids were your kids ages, (except I only had 3!) I was so fried I don’t think I even *thought* about making goals for years. It really did all just run together. Keep on keepin’ it real, but tell yourself you’re doing great too.

  • ellen - i am so glad you posted this! i have been meaning to come back and ask you to share about how you organize. i always love to hear about how other people order their lives. it is so easy, as you said, to slip into just going through the motions. i love that you focus on being intentional in several areas, especially in doing for others. thank you for being willing to share!

  • meg duerksen - oh man….you don’t have it all together?! what?
    πŸ™‚
    i think that is great to hear.
    makes everyone feel normal.
    i like the home goal.
    i would like to work on that……when the pictures are done.
    i would like to start a lot of things when they are done.

  • Rachel - Wow, thank you so much for this. I only have one baby and yet I get overwhelmed and so frustrated when I can’t cross enough off of my to-do list. Thanks for reminding me to have goals, but to keep realistic expectations of myself.

  • shelley - thank you for sharing. I don’t have kids yet but I find your words, photos, insights and joy for life very encouraging. I had never thought of setting a goal of doing something for someone else every week. I love it. A. Lot. I will be incorporating this into my life.

  • Bekki4 - You know, I love reading your blog because you are living the life we have grown out of. It reminds me of the way things used to be when all four of my children were babies 5 and under. I miss those days, the chaos, the business, the fun! We still have fun now but it is at a different level with the baby now 4. The days follow a schedule, things get done, and while the level of noise had probally increased, there is a slower pace to my days. I love getting a glimpse of your world that many days so resembled mine.

  • Kelly - I appreciate you posting this! I’m the same way with my goals/schedule. I totally understand how things could just not get done with a house full of little kids. I have a notebook that is pretty much always with me that serves as an idea book/schedule/list keeper/prayer journal/etc. There are times we hit a rough spot & I get super overwhelmed and I have to write down an hour-by-hour schedule for our day to be intentional with my time. In fact, my kids are on track break for the next three weeks. (They go to year-round school) So I’m sure more pages of my notebook will be filled with more days like that in the near future πŸ™‚
    I love your idea for having a goal for each kid. My oldest boy is very list/chart/goal oriented and he often has his own list going.

  • kyla hailstone - Thank you Ashley I needed to hear that. Seriously made me cry. I always feel like Im doing something wrong because other moms have it all together. Its nice to know Im not alone. Ive heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well I can’t tell you how many times a day I pick up the same room, the same shoes, wash the same dishes, pick up the dirty socks. But in the end when I hear one (of three) laugh it makes it all worth it ;}

  • Shea - Great post! Thank you for sharing with us. I have a 2 year old and a 2 month old and I’m trying to figure out how to balance everything to give my kids the attention they deserve as well as my husband and our home. And I only have two kids! I like the way you work. You’ve inspired me to buck up and not be so hard on myself and set attainable goals and work towards enjoying a purposeful life each and every day. Thank you!

  • Danielle - Needed this! I just hope I can put some of this to good use!

  • Jamie - I love this idea. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Lexie - Ashley Ann–I love your blog! I discovered it over the summer and have loved reading it! I am a big fan of the planner! I write down everything in my planner, on our family calendar, put it in my blackberry, and also on my calendar at work. That is a lot of places and probably overkill, but it gives me a sense of control and knowledge of everything that needs to take place! We don’t have any kids yet, but I can only imagine what my calendar/planner/schedule will look like when we do! When I had a summer job nannying for 3 kids, I would put each of their activities in a different color according to which child it pertained to…that was helpful!

  • Gevay - Thanks for the dose of reality and for sharing! Our willingness to be real is what helps each other- you know “iron sharpens iron”. The goal idea is great. I can keep up with the laundry and cleaning most of the time, but I rarely finish projects. Setting a weekly goal would help with that. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • katie - i think it’s funny that you hesitated to post it. did you want us all to continue to believe you are Superwoman? i’m overjoyed that you’re not. it means there is hope that i may somehow someday be able to accomplish some of the things that you have (and do). and it means that i would want to be your friend in real life because i wouldn’t feel like crap everytime i was around you (i can’t handle hanging out with people, especially Christians, who make me feel bad about myself). [sorry this is so long!] i’m not a goal-oriented person either, but after i had my 3rd kid, it hit me in the face one day that things aren’t going to just happen. intentional is definitely the best word to use. I LOVED THIS POST.

  • Erin Johnson - Most often I feela lot like you described at the end of your post and I’m thinking that I really need to start setting some of my own daily and weekly goals to make sure that the things that are important to us don’t go by the too busy way side! Thanks for the post!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Okay – so it’s totally not fair for me to add any ideas because I only have one kid right now and she spends 3 days with Gramma doing very intential preschool learning. But when my 2nd comes out we’re planning on me staying home with both kids. I’m super nervous to take on the fantastic job my mother in law has been doing with teaching my daughter and how I’ll emotionally handle not always accomplishing tasks. This will be a big lesson in letting things go and not beating myself up. I had never thought of all the intential things you put into your life and how you raise your kids. The intentional investment in them. And the intential teaching them how to give and be compassionate. Those never crossed my mind. I hope it’s something I can gain over time. Another way of thinking that becomes more ingrained in our lives as we go.

    Until then, the days I do stay home with my daughter I just work off of her need to be with me and help me to get laundry done and I cook extra food during Sesame Street and I clean the house during her nap. Sometimes I skip that when I have a need to sew instead. I do craft projects at night after she’s asleep. And I don’t have big projects to do around the house. If I do (like rearrange all the photos on the wall) they hang around the floor for weeks until my husband gets sick of it and I finish the project in an evening of frustration and tiredness. Not perfect, but it’s me.

  • Monique - Great post. I love goals and lists… it’s one of my sanity savers! I actually used the Christmas Organizer DIY to make a cute “To Do” book where I keep lists of house stuff, photography stuff and craft project to do lists and then compile it into my daily and weekly list. One of my daily goals is to spend 10 min twice a day with each of my kids doing whatever they want to do. It doesn’t sound like much but it gets my head there and usually turns out longer. I spend all day doing things with them but these times are to make me forget about what I enjoy or half heartedly playing cars and to really get in there and do exactly what they want to do because I value them and their ideas. Often my 3 year just wants to be chased and tickled so 10 minutes is long enough to make me sweaty!

  • Kathy T - Thanks for posting this – very inspirational. I need to rethink my goals of ‘getting through the week’. I’m missing out on the little things that i’m going to miss someday.

    I’m not sure what everyone else thinks, but i don’t know anyone who has it all together. IMO, life just doesn’t work that way. I read your blog because you inspire my creativity, take great photos, and are someone I can relate to. You seem very… Human. And Legos hurt!

    Have a great day!

  • sarah - I’m so glad that you posted this. Not necessarily because I thought your perfect, but I have wondered what plan you’ve made for yourself. I’ve found that now that I don’t work, but added 2 more kids to the mix, I have a hard time getting things done. For about 6 months now I’ve realized that organizing my time is just not a skill I’m blessed with. I’ve been seeking outside help for some advice and tips. While there are some great plans out there, I’ve found that mashing my life in their plans isn’t any more helpful. Pulling bits and pieces that work for other people and adapting it to mine is making things a bit less stressful.

    I really like that you add a goal per week or each child. Lately I feel while I’m running around finishing projects, working, cleaning up, and making goals, I’ve left out the 3 reasons why I want to finish my goals.

    Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know that someone else is just trying to keep the pieces all together too.

  • RachelC - @ Mirys — You are so brave to share your story. Happy birthday! May your day be filled with wonderful memories of past years and beautiful dreams for the future. Your husband was a hero. What a wonderful legacy to pass on to your children. May you feel loved today.

  • Heather - i think you’re an amazing mom because you embrace real life and make it work for you and your family!! i appreciate that you shared this. it’s something that so many of us can relate to and inspires us to try something new. and i think the kinds of categories you use for creating your lists is genius. THAT inspires me.

    have a happy weekend!

  • ReAnnon - Love your goal categories. Doing something for someone else each week is definitely something I will implement in to our weekly goals. Simple yet effective. Seeing other mom’s have my same struggles gives me hope and is very encouraging.

  • Jacci in Ohio - Well, for what it’s worth, I benefitted from this post. I’m glad you posted it!

    I consider it encouragement in keeping my home Titus 2 style. Not that I feel like you’re trying to “teach”, it’s more like spurring one another on to love and good works. God cares about our households πŸ™‚ Giving our hubbies clean underwear for God’s glory is a good work! πŸ™‚ Investing in our kiddos for God’s glory is a good work! It all matters when it’s done in love for Christ.

    As to your feelings about posting it – I suppose you mean that you were wrestling with whether or not you were trying to glorify yourself or whether readers would glorify you. You can’t control the heart responses of others, but you can seek to glorify Christ in your own heart & blog, which I know you do πŸ™‚ Any gifts you have are from Him, right? So, I praise God for the heart He has given you for your home & family and I praise Him for the encouragement I’ve received from you to have the same! πŸ™‚

    XO,
    Jacci in Ohio

  • Candice @ChiaSeedMe - I really love this post. Even though none of us really have it all together, things like this can help in the chaos of life. I’m bookmarking this page (and your last one) for when I have children. It’s easier now to accomplish everything I want to accomplish because it’s all I really have to do! But when I have kids I know I’ll need more of a system.

    Thanks for sharing your creativity! It’s so inspiring!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Thank you for being honest. Thank you for showing us what works for you! You are so right about being intentional with time. I need that reminder EVERY MOMENT.

    Have a great weekend,
    Kate

  • mary - this is your best post yet. i’m in the same boat as you – but with only two kids, and i feel everything that you’ve written. i actually sat down with all of my “feng shui” books two weeks ago and rearranged my entire house so that life would slow down! πŸ™‚ it hasn’t really, so i realize now that i’m the one scheduling and committing and doing and flailing and sometimes falling very, very short. i LOVE how you’re organizing your goals. and i feel you; i HESITATE GREATLY sharing some very personal things online when asked because i’m afraid of judgment. but. BUT! THANK YOU!!! i always always breathe easier to hear another mom and wife and lover of life say that it’s not effortless and it does take work and i don’t have it all together all of the time. makes me feel like i’m doing ok, and sometimes even great, but it also gives me fantastic ideas of how to spend more time on the things that are most important. good work girl! thank you again!

  • giozi - I know what is pick up toy all day πŸ™‚
    Today I’m really tired, we are sick, all of us, my chubby didn’t go to school since tuesday.
    Well I continue later…

  • Angeline - Thank you for such an honest post–I’m so glad you decided to go for it! I love the last two–doing something as a family for others and doing something with each family member. No wonder your kids always look so happy…they are learning some great things and getting lots of love from their mom. I hope when I have kids I can be just as intentional as you are about teaching, loving and encouraging them.

  • Ruth - Oh I so feel you on wanting to tie my 17 month old to a chair (and all the rest!) Thank you for sharing, this was a great post. I am a list & goal person too, but I tend to make far too many goals for myself each day and month, and then feel disappointed in myself for not being, well, superwoman.

  • Shannon{photos by shannon} - I love that you don’t have it all together. I am inspired by everything you do and I think that there is no way I could ever do it all with my 3 kids and my life, but you do so much more with 4 kids. The fact that you are not superwoman makes you even more inspiring. I am also a list maker with lots of goals. I love your goals, especially the each kid one. I really need to do something like that. Great post.

  • paige rodriguez - I know that I usually only comment on giveaways :), but I wanted to quickly say, you are SO good at this blogging thing and inspiring other moms as we all try to plug thru life with purpose! I love that you take the time to write posts like this, b/c they get us THINKING. You have really great ideas, and know so much more than you even realize!! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • lifeologia - Love the post. You do seem like super woman – in fact I was surprised you weren’t one for Halloween πŸ˜‰
    I try to write things down and with bigger cleaning up/organizing wait until I’m ‘in the mood’ and just attack just one area in a room or one small room – if the mood continues than the whole house might get cleaned πŸ˜‰
    I will try and set more goals though for alone time and husband/wife time πŸ˜‰
    xoxo

  • Katie - I am so with you. We only have a teeny tiny little two bedroom apartment and some days when it’s trashed I think to myself, “If I can’t even keep our little apartment clean–probably the smallest place we’ll ever live–how will I ever keep a big nice house clean someday?” And then I feel overwhelmed and do absolutely nothing. Haha. Although a couple of weeks ago I made a weekly cleaning chart for my husband and me to use to keep track of all of the things that should get cleaned at least once a week, but usually only get done once every six months. Last Friday when I came home from something I found my husband mopping the bathroom floor. It was a miracle. NEVER in our entire marriage has he ever mopped the bathroom floor without me asking him a few times first. And this time I didn’t have to ask him at all! He just picked that chore and did it! It was a thrilling experience. Haha. Sometimes I think we (I) just need a little external motivation like a chore chart or the pressure of saying a goal out loud or writing it down on paper. Because I, like you, am not naturally driven to make specific goals. But it seems like they’re usually a good idea. Thanks so much for this post. It makes me feel better. πŸ™‚

  • Miranda - I love that you shared this post with us. I operate under a similar system but I think I should be more intentional about thinking of others and focusing on my daughter’s needs! I can easily spend my days maintaining the status quo so it is nice when I get something more productive done. I’m thankful for a life that lets me celebrate very tiny victories!

  • Jenny - I saw these today and immediately thought of you! Maybe they can help you out with Lego organization: http://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk/shop/index.php?page=1576&ret=1035

  • giozi - Me again πŸ™‚

    … Well I have goals, my simples goals, but even this I can’t do that πŸ˜€
    I like to see your frame (Jackie’s picture) throw this I met you.

    I want to do questions today πŸ™‚
    – How many punches do you have? (stupid question he he he)

    – Do you children paint your walls (crayons, etc)

    Have a good weekend

  • Aja - I love this post! I think you’re so smart to write out or have your specific goals in mind.. and I love that you’re so intentional about the goals for your kids! Especially focusing on each one and doing something with them for others.. This is something I definitely want to do with my future children! Thanks for posting on this!

  • chesley - thank you for being real!! i often wonder how some moms get so much done, when my goal is literally to make it through alive! this is a wonderful idea to feel like i’m accomplishing SOMETHING every week!

  • jessica h - thanks so much for sharing! I know you were hesitant, but it REALLY helps to share good advice–that is what women need more than anything!!! This post was a good ‘reality check’ and makes you seem more “real” (ie, imperfectly wonderful).

    You could not have put it better: “For me to feel like I am living in Today and not just surviving it….I need goals to help me stay focused and to accomplish all that I want to in these years as a young family”–it was a lightbulb moment for me!! b/c I have a gazillion ideas/thoughts/prayers/intentions/projects floating around in my head at any moment but NEED to be focused on the NOW moment, not just on the laundry and diapers and meals and discipline, but also on the little sweet nothings and cherished smiles in the “doing” of life together πŸ™‚

  • jaime scott - Thank you for sharing this post. I love your blog (read it every day!) and I relate to you so easily. I have three kiddos 4, 2, and 9mo. and reading your blog inspires and encourages me when I feel like I am drowning in poo and laundry. Sometimes(okay, always) I feel like I am running from one thing to the next and i worry that maybe what is most important is falling through the cracks. I think having weekly goals is a great way to make sure that doesn’t happen. My weekly goal for this week: start writing out weekly goals. πŸ™‚

  • gina - i am like you. i have 5 kids and sometimes the day gets lost in the daily grind of meals, laundry, messes, diapers, etc. I set goals and make lists and have learned to set smaller goals; instead of getting the whole house cleaned i am happy to have the whole house picked up and 1 bathroom cleaned. Planning meals at the beginning of the week helps too so i don’t just stare into the frig wondering what to make. I also run our home on a schedule as much as possible with meals, naps, outside time,craft time, and bedtime at the same time each day.Some days run like a charm and some days not so much. I try to keep it simple and do re-evaluate goals and readjust when needed.

  • ashlee - wow…i dont know what happened to my last comment?! here it is again:)
    its so funny because i feel like i should make huge goals but never really considered making smaller ones. i think it would help tremendously! i tend to wait until the last minute to try and get everything done instead of doing it a bit at a time. i get lost in the grind of having lots of kids as well, but no more. i WILL use that planner that was so cute i had to buy it and make myself daily and weekly goals! thank you for sharing this, Ashley!

  • Natalie - We just went through our 2nd move in 4 months (long story) but I found this long to do list I had written at the beginning of September a couple days ago, and my husband laughed at me as I gleefully crossed everything off the list- either I had a accomplished them, or time had taken care of the necessity (i.e. no need to organize a garage if we moved again to a place without one!) I have 2 kids under 2, and a 3rd one on the way, and I’m feeling very stuck in a rut. Today in particular I wanted to do something fun with the kiddos this morning and ended up waiting around for a Comcast tech to install new cable. blah blah blah- babies crying because they didn’t get to go to the park before a much needed nap time (but a firm promise from mom that as soon as they wake up we’ll be off!)

  • Amy - Thanks for allowing us a glimpse at some of the ordinary parts of your life. For me, these kinds of tips are most helpful – seeing what other moms are doing on a daily or weekly basis to stay organized and inspired. So helpful!

  • jennie - THANK YOU. Thank you for being REAL. I have such a hard time realizing that my favorite bloggers out there are legit. So I appreciate you not being some fairytale. You have inspired me. I hope to make goals like you do! I love your goal to do something for another person:] Thank you THANK you THANK YOU!

  • joy - so, i had this one goal for more than a year that kept intimidating me. finally, i began to tell other people that i WAS going to do it by a certain date (nov 1) – AND IT WORKED. a little bit of self imposed peer pressure and determination NOT to live as a liar. but mostly, i make lists.

  • Lacey McKay - Thank you for sharing this Ashley. The timing is great too because I’ve just recently been thinking “Nothing is getting done around here. Maybe I should make a daily goal…” Just this morning, I was thinking of making myself a chore chart, like the ones you make for little kids. I could hang it on the fridge and it could have a little wheel that says “Monday-kitchen, Tuesday-Bathrooms, Wednesday-laundry, etc” Or maybe I should just pencil in a time frame on the calendar each day for housework! I’m also like you in the fact that I LOVE a good project! But with two little ones running around, I rarely get to make anything. Again, if I was just a little more organized with my time, I’m sure I could fit in a project or two each week!

  • Chelsea - Honestly, I always find it inspiring to hear how other mothers/families manage life with young ones, and I second Mary’s comments from above. It often feels like a circus around our house, and it takes work to even keep that circus going every night. It helps to hear ideas that I haven’t thought of, so thank you very much for sharing what you like to do. I just may steal, (ahem) borrow, your “doing something for someone else” weekly goal. There’s never enough of that in this world.

    My “go to” way of getting things done is sticky notes. I HEART sticky notes. I have them in drawers all over our house. I leave reminders for myself, reminders for my husband, I write down things I can’t do right then but want to remember to do later, etc. That’s a BIG one, I always think of things I need to do, or meant to get done, when I am not in the position to do them (like sitting at the doctors office or in a business meeting) and I have to write them down or I just forget.

    I really enjoy reading your blog, thank you Ashley! Have a great weekend!

    – Chelsea in Missouri

  • Leanne - if I don’t make lists it doesn’t get done.

  • Callie - Thank you for sharing this!!! I also have four kids under the age of 6, so I can relate!!! My days are a blur, and I have no goals, so I really needed to hear and see how to accomplish it! I appreciate you sharing, and I’m a bit relieved that you don’t have it all together…you’re real! πŸ™‚

  • Pam - Thank you for sharing. It was an inspiration. I need to go write down some goals!

  • amanda - thanks so much for sharing this! i was just today thinking about you and how amazing it is that you are somehow able to get so many things accomplished while also being a great mom. i have a 3 month old son and i can’t even get the house vacuumed! you may not have it all together but you are still an inspiration!

  • Lori - I’m glad you decided to write and post this one. Really helpful πŸ™‚

  • tara pollard pakosta - I like that you are being real and honest!
    I am the worlds biggest procrastinator!
    I wanted to do a thing called: “drawer a day” where I clean
    out one bin, basket, drawer, closet shelf , something each
    day, but quicky abandoned that idea.
    I am pretty organized for the most part though since
    I don’t like clutter!
    love your post!
    tara

  • Jenna - What a great idea! I especially love the last two goals. Thank you so much for sharing! As a mom to two boys – ages 4 and 2, and a baby girl (born on Tuesday!) – I am learning to be more intentional. I too get lost in the daily grind and forget to do the things that I want to do with my kids – many of which are way more important than some of the things I “have” to do. Anyway…thanks again for sharing this – it was very encouraging to me!

  • susie whyte - i like that you have planned out goals. i’m not that organized. πŸ™‚ i get in these “moods” where i suddenly want to clean like i would when i was pregnant or all of a sudden need to paint something, so i get everything that needs to be primed out all at the same time and go at it. i need to keep more paint on hand, that’s for sure. i’ve noticed that i have become very ‘spur of the moment’ in the last year, while it’s annoying to some, it seems to work well for me and the kids. i think they like surprises. πŸ™‚

  • Heather - im glad you didnt hesitate to share.. it helps to know how other ppl do things and get things done. and even that sometimes they struggle day to day. it also helps to know im not the only one who tries not to say terrible things when i step on small toys lol… love your blog!!!

  • Cath - Reading this made me believe I could write some weekly goals for myself too! Being in college sometimes I’ve a huge problem: I can’t never say no to my friends that want to hang out, I rarely do something for only myself (this looks kinda selfish but sometimes I really need that). And I made a list of goals that I want to accomplish until my next goal and if I don’t do that, I’ll never accomplish any of them! Thank you for inspiring me =)

  • Alisa - This post is perfect. I am a single mumma of 3, my home is often chaos and I never seem to have the time to craft or finish projects or just connect with each child.. I love your system of goals and might have to try something similar.. do you display your goals for your family to be able to see the weekly goals?

  • Carolyn - Oh Ashley. your husband was right to prod you to write this! Thank you so much for sharing. Even though I don’t know you personally, I am encouraged by reading your blog posts because you keep things honest, humorous, and well…REAL! Looking after children at home can be very isolating…so I really appreciate an insight to the ‘behind the scenes’ of how you do things πŸ™‚ So many blogs out there create an impression of perfection…thank you for being different! It’s a wonderful gift you are passing on to other mothers reading about how and what you do…
    Anyway, thank you too for the photography tips you post. I have really noticed an improvement in my photography..yay! πŸ™‚

  • kristiina - Awesome post! I loved the general guidelines that any of us can pick up and apply to our own crazy lives–with changes that will make it work for us.

    You mentioned something in a post a while back about your mom agenda, or something like that and I scoured your site to see if you had linked to it. But that kind of thing is very personalized..I finally found something that works for me and I can use some of these techniques to help shape my to do list πŸ™‚

    The most important take-away, though: staying present and intentional.

    Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this space for us readers!!

  • Jodi - I think setting goals is really the key to getting things done. I love that your goals always include your little ones. I think seeing it in front of you helps give you guidance.

    Your amazing as always and your ambition is really what sets you apart. I too often wonder “how ashley does it all” but it doesn’t matter, it’s inspiring to all of us!

    I think being a mom is out of this world but I think taking time for Ashley to get her creative yayas out is also as important! Good for you and congrats on your contributor role at Design Sponge!

  • Sheila - I am a new mum, and love seeing what you and your family get up to… you make it look like so much fun! And you make it sound ok that things aren’t always perfect. I love the idea of weekly goals and I am SO glad you posted today’s blog. Like most of the other comments, I am motivated by your ‘intentional’ goals. Thank you.

  • Trio - I think this if the first time I have commented but I read your blog daily and I am always inspired. As a mom to three children three and under (twins and a busy toddler), I appreciate this post so much. I often wonder how I can move through the week with more purpose and accomplishment. I have an ever-growing to-do list and can never seem to get things done. I find myself resenting my children sometimes b/c I never have a moment to myself to get anything crossed off my to-do list. I feel horrible at the end of the day for missing the joy that each day brings with small children. Thank you for being so honest. Thank you for helping me figure out a way to feel a sense of accomplishment as well as an appreciation for each of my children.

  • emily - Those are really good goals. I am totally with you that if I am not intentional, my days will blur into each other. I like the categories you’ve set up and I think I should organize my life a little and do the same. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  • Lindsay - Wow…this is so interesting to me…this post, because lately I’ve become obsessed with reading blogs and although it is my new guilty pleasure, sometimes it leaves me feeling more overwhelmed about all the things I’m NOT doing. There is a disconnect that goes with blogging sometimes. We can make our world’s seem uniquely perfect, because who wants to take a picture of the arguments we are having with our spouse or describe the dustballs piling up on the bookshelves?
    I started a Blog just recently….as a means of sharing the crazzziness that is our life in Canada with my new 4 month old….but i can’t even get past the ‘design’ portion of setting up the blog. haha ! So instead of actually laughing it off…i stress … thinking, “how do they do it??? “. When do they find the time to blog, read blogs, take pictures, make graphics to spice up their pages, feed their kids, CLEAN THE HOUSE, and manage alllll the household duties…?! Omg!

    So thank-you..i feel better! haha
    no tips here… no tips at all. I’m so new to motherhood. I only have one kid and I feel like I’m drowning on most days.

    Thanks for admitting you are not perfect either!!!

    http://www.lindsaygeesings.com – none of the buttons work !!! haha

  • Jenny B. - I’m so glad you shared your goals! I love learning how other people stay organized and get it all done. I used to do the Flylady routines, but haven’t been keeping up with it at all lately. My goal right now is to start my day reading my devotional and spending some time in prayer. I’ve been feeling stretched thin lately, and I realized that I’m trying to get everything done all on my own. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” -Matthew 6:33 (ESV). πŸ™‚

  • Kelly - Thanks for sharing this with us, Ashley. It *is* really encouraging to know how other people do things in real life and just to get ideas and such. I was recently cleaning off my “stickies” on my mac and saw the one I made when my son was a newborn. I remember my goal at the time was to do one thing a day off that sticky and just to rotate through them. I had things on there like “wash hair”, “put on make-up”, “shower” as well as “write thank you notes (which still aren’t done actually), etc.

    Now I made myself some cute little cards with security envelope paper as backgrounds with my husband’s name, son’s name, my name, “other’s”, “bless our home”, “exercise”, “to do today”, & “tomorrow” (prepping for the next day) on them and now I want to add “laundry” and “declutter”. I just rotate through them. It makes me smile though that they’re on fun paper and that making them was a mini craft in and of itself. Kelly

  • lisa and tate - this is such a perfect answer to what has been in my thoughts lately. thank you for sharing. i am a single mom who has adopted a daughter from china. sometime i feel like i only have time to love on my daughter and feed her. everything else is just too overwhelming. i talked to another single mom with adopted kids and have decided that we are going to try the cooking ahead swap thing… such a great idea!

  • Jenni - my husband works at Compassion and knows the full value those letters have to the Compassion children, even if they are a silly picture. Totally love that your family does something so simple, yet so meaningful for another child.

  • Kelly W. - Ashley- This is my first time posting, but I found your blog a few months ago. I love it! You inspire me. This post was JUST what I needed. I have been around the blog world long enough to know that not everyone’s life is probably as perfect as it seems online- mine included! πŸ™‚ It’s a good life, though! I love the idea of goals, and especially the categories you have for the goals. My to-do list can seem so daunting that I lose track of quality time with my kids. I love the idea of goals, because as everyone knows to-do lists rarely grow shorter (or is that just me?). Thanks for sharing this!!

  • Kristy - I stumbled across your site by accident and got hooked on your diy projects. I love to do crafty things and I’m a sucker for junk hunting, but I need inspiration. And photos. When I checked in today and saw this post, I was encouraged as a mom. I really appreciate your positive attitude that’s also so realistic. I’m so glad you took a risk and shared your goals!

  • Treva Super - I loved reading this today!!! Thank you- very encouraging. Most of all, I love you and am so glad that you are the REAL DEAL. Wishing you were my neighbor….

  • Laurie J - thanks for this, Ashley! As a mom of 4 little ones, too…..you just gave me hope that I can get more done in the week than a little blogging and all the “everday” stuff! Weekly goals is an awesome idea!

  • Becki - Thank you. With 3 kids under 5, I feel like my day is the constant stream of…my gosh, I don’t even know. Thanks for sharing how you set your goals…I’m inspired to do the same.
    And one day we will yearn for the days we stepped on Legos, right?!?!

  • Sarah Madgwick - I’m a list girl myself. I like the deliberate way you include something from each category on your list. I may have to start incorporating that.

  • FullertonRegan - I give myself three goals a day, usually small ones too. I write them with dry erase marker on my bathroom mirror so I never forget. Erasing them makes me feel SO GOOD. πŸ™‚

    I only make three because I have a full time job, and too often I beat myself up for not doing more and more. Three is enough to be something, and when I’m done I let myself do other things if I have time — but I always make it a point to pat myself on the back when I’m done instead of riding myself to do even more.

  • Libby - Ashley, I always enjoy reading your blog. Your devotion to your family is admirable. And your photography is so inspirational. Always keep it real. People will appreciate that.

    Thanks for sharing about goals. Very good!

  • Susie - Ashley, I look forward to your posts and am inspired and encouraged by your creativity, but now, I just have to tell you you are adorable in so many ways and I love that the Lord leads you to be honest and truthful in your perspective and posts. High five (slaP!)

  • Lu - I love making goals, because it helps me to stay focused and even more important, it helps me not to forget everything. πŸ™‚ Moreover, it is really fun to cross out something on the list you’ve already done and when having a list, you can always take a look on it and look forward something. πŸ™‚

  • OrangeFarmhouse - Maike - love this post, it’s so you again, was not sure if I liked the blog after the sponserthing, but this post made me smile and see the real you again, so thank you!

  • Missy - Ashley, thanks so much for posting this!! I am such a list person myself and while I know that, I don’t put that into good use as much as I should. After reading this, I am seriously going to Wal-mart in the morning to buy myself a white board for my closet where I can list my goals for the week. What a great idea to break it down as you have. Thanks again!

  • peta - Bless, Ashley. I love your goals. I am inspired. Thank you for sharing.

  • Cara - Wow, what an awesome post! Your blog is a favorite of mine, and you have inspired me once again! You asked for other ideas, so I thought I’d share this post: http://livintheyehlife.blogspot.com/2010/05/meaningful-monday.html I feel God gave me a good idea for what works for our family, but I definitely love the idea of both daily as well as weekly goals!

  • Sarah - i have to keep a list or my mind will go in 100 different directions! I also try not to make too many goals. i can’t get done everything i used to get done. i work full time, commute an hour each day, and have a 20 month old. i acepted the fact that i just can’t do everything i used to so now i only try to set maybe 2 goals for the weekend in addition to my daily goals. it seems much more achievable, and if i happen to get more done (like this weekend!) than i hoped then i’m even more happy about it.

  • Holly T - Where do you write your goals, in a book, on a chalk board, or just slips of paper. I like my to do lists, but I am loving the weekly goals idea. Just wonering where you keep all your thoughts?

  • Brianne Pitts - I love your attitude. I think you are a great mom. A mom that is trying and isn’t always perfect, but keeps trying nonetheless and is working for the bigger picture: making memories with your kids, and giving them the attention they need. I love that. Your post was very inspiring, as are most of your posts. They just make me want to be a better mom, and enjoy my children and show them they are so important to me by giving them my time. Thanks Ashley. Oh, quick question: How do you make meaningful goals for your younger children. I started implementing this idea into my week (great idea) and was able to come up with fairly good goals for my oldest child but was struggling with a goal for my 2-year-old. Anyway, thanks again!

  • Candice Forte - Ashley, you are an amazing woman, mom, and photographer. I am always in awe, even when you have a human moment. This is a wonderful post! I love the idea of having goals. What a great thing to give a day direction and meaning!!! Thanks!

  • betsy berre - thank you for this post. God used it to reinforce what he was already teaching me and changing in me…a desire to make a home, a desire to nurture and care for my husband as well as my kids, and real love for staying at home and spending time and effort making that home comfortable and welcoming to visitors and to my own family.
    so thank you. God used you and your words to inspire me into further action. i made goals too!

  • Goals & Ideas: Part II « - […] on a regular basis and love to read the posts she shares. One of my favorite posts was this one: goals… how to make ‘em and break ‘em. At last! Someone with kiddos, good morals, an eclectic BEAUTIFUL sense of style that shows, AND […]

  • new year resolutions | living well spending less | frugal living | coupons | saving money - […] small, achievable weekly goals. A few months ago Ashley Ann Campbell of Under the Sycamore wrote an amazing post about her weekly goals, and because I am completely unoriginal (and because […]

  • Alarm Clocks and Future Me « burlapandtwine - […] resonate with the simple weekly goals laid out in this amazing blog I […]

  • goals for the week: 1-30-11 « miskellany - […] mamas around the world, is easily overwhelmed by the endless to-do lists of a busy life. She posted this link to a great organization idea for weekly goal-setting. The idea is to commit to one goal per week in […]

  • Friggin’ frigid. |Just Us - […] that…”finger tapping temple”…OH YES! Categories (inspired by a postΒ from ashleyannphotography.com). That was it. I love that her focus is much, much more than just herself. This is […]

  • 10 tips for getting more done each day | living well spending less | frugal living - […] months ago I was inspired by this post on Ashley Ann Campbell’s lovely blog, Under the Sycamore. Β Rather than make monthly goals, […]

  • Melissa - I loved this post! Thank you a million times over. I am a list maker but I am terrible at prioritizing because I do what I like best first then everything else just has to find time- even if it will only take a few minutes. This helped a ton and has my mind going! Thank you again!

  • 10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day | Wrapping You Slim & Healthy with Lisa Gane - […] months ago I was inspired by this post on Ashley Ann Campbell’s lovely blog, Under the Sycamore. Β Rather than make monthly goals, which […]

  • Kandi - Wow thank you so much for this post. My kids are really young and have and need a lot of attention right now, and sometimes I feel like I am not accomplishing enough throughout the day. This post was really encouraging!

  • Lisa Keith - One thing I learned about getting things done, I heard about from a personal coach when I was trying to finish my doctoral dissertation and had writer’s block. I was told to work in 60-60-30 increments. for example: set a timer such as on your phone, and write ( or whatever) for 50 minutes. Then set the timer for 10 minutes and lay down in complete quiet. Then work for another 50 and lay down for another 10. Lastly, take a 30 minute biologic break for bathroom, movement and food. Then if you can or want to, do the cycle again. I found I could do up to three cycles in a row on a good day and I didn’t get as tired as if I just pounded out the writing in 6 straight hours. So, I tell my students to work the 60-60-30 sessions. It helped and I was able to break through my writer’s block and finish my dissertation!!!

  • Avoiding insanity | Home on 129 acres - […] A few months ago I found Ruth’s 10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day. I really liked her advice for setting priorities, using a timer and regrouping. But it was her tip about setting weekly goals in specific categories that really resonated with me. This great idea originally came from Ashley Ann at Under the Sycamore. […]

  • Goals are Good | Alicia Hutchinson - […] couple weeks ago, I came across this post. I loved it. I miss goals. I thrive on goals.  Having a baby can really mess with your […]

Thank you so much for all your kind comments yesterday, I really do appreciate it. I am not sure how I managed to suck so many amazingly kind people into reading my blog, but I am grateful. Thanks for the encouragement!

****Those of that love cooking or have high standards for food should stop reading right now*****

Magazines and design blogs are not the real everyday life that goes on here. Everyday life around here is beautifully chaotic and non-stop. There are a lot of things I really enjoy. Creating, playing, blogging….cooking I don’t enjoy so much. Maybe I’d enjoy it more if three little boys liked variety and interesting foods. Probably not. The thing about cooking for me is it is such a temporary enjoyment. I could craft for 15 minutes and enjoy the product for a year. I could cook for 3o minutes and enjoy it for 10….even then I don’t really enjoy it because I am getting up and down more than I am actually eating.

How do I get a lot done in a day…I don’t cook everyday. We eat dinner as a family every night, but very rarely am I in the kitchen preparing it that day. A few of my friends and I have started cooking once a month. It is wonderful! We each pick 4 recipes and prepare them to go in the freezer. Then we trade. So we each end up with about 16 different meals and a few sides that are all great in the freezer. In the evenings I just have to pull something out of the freezer, let it thaw overnight and throw it in the oven or crockpot the next day.Β  It makes my afternoons and evenings so much smoother and the amount of money we save is crazy.

There are all kinds of Once a Month cooking websites, recipes, tools online. You can get menus and schedules and be very Type A about it. For my friends, we have similar sized families, and kids that are the same ages…so our recipe choices and sizes are the same. We just pick stuff that will freeze well, make it and pick a week to trade. It makes me happy.

I usually pick one day to do my shopping and cooking. This month I finished all 16 meals (4 recipes x 4) in about 2.5 hours….and after I trade with friends I will have 16 great meals and will have saved a ton of money.

When we began doing this (about a year ago) we did make the investment in a deep freeze. I figure with 4 kids (3 of which are boys) a deep freeze will get a good amount of use. I saw an Oprah episode once where a mom taught her sons (I think there were 3 of them) the basics of cooking. The boys loved it and it became a competition. The mom never cooked and the boys competed each night to see who could create the best meals. That is the smartest mom ever….I will follow her lead one of these days!

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  • Katie - This idea is amazing! I want to do this and I don’t have kids yet…ha!

  • Kirra Sue - Um oK. That is AMAZING.

  • Tawnya - could you share and post one or two of your very favorite once a month recipes???

  • jessica - i love this idea ashley! would love to hear some of the recipies that you use! have a great day:)

  • Tammy Kay - I’ve been thinking about doing this with my friends for awhile. Could you share some of the meals that seem to work the best?
    I would love to hear what some of your favorites are.

  • Sarah - Brilliant idea, Ashley. I’ve wanted to do the once-a-month cooking for ages, but thinking about preparing that many meals over a single weekend was always daunting. I love the idea of trading meals with other people. I’ve already emailed a group of friends to see if anyone wants to try this out. Thanks for another inspiring post!

  • tasha roe - i have 2 friends that do this and love it. i just never plan that far in advance or forget to leave the food out to thaw the day before. i guess if i made it a priority it would work. and if i could craft more instead of cooking i am all for it! great angle!

  • Katie B. - Rachel Ray has a new show about once a week cooking.

  • Yanet - Ok the once a month cooking is a great idea! And the mom teaching the boys to cook is just brilliant!!!!

  • Sarah - I’ve been trying to make 15min meals for a few months now but it always ends up being at least 30 b/c of someone pulling at my pants while i’m trying to cook! i’ve heard alot about the once a month cooking but never tried it. looks like i’ve got some research to do! thanks for the push.

  • amy - ok i demand that you and your friends share your favorite recipes!!! ok i don’t demand but i would love it if you did!! pretty please!!! i’ve been wanting to do this forever!! love the idea of getting friends to do it too!!

  • Anna Marie - Please post some of your favorite recipes that freeze well. :o) This is brilliant and I want to copy you!

  • Lindsay - BRILLIANT!

  • Ranee - Yes. So Smart! My sister and I do a version of this and it’s so much fun and so exciting to have a freezer full of food!

  • Gevay - I am dying to try this. A friend and I are making a recipe next week to trade. We’ll see how that goes. Freezer cooking/swapping is a great idea!

  • Christine - That is such a great idea! I might have to give it a try.

  • Alba - I didn’t know about it ;-O
    I’m one of those who loves cooking, but certain evenings I just can’t. I try to cook once a week the basics (soups, tomato sauce, …) and freeze it, to make my evenings less stressfull.
    I would love to know some of the recepies you are using.
    Even with my love for cooking, I think it’s a good idea.!

  • Rebecca - Will you share your recipes?

    I’d love to find a group of single girls to trade meals with. It’s no fun cooking for one – and having a few meals in the freezer is always a good thing!

  • Lindsey - Please share your favorite recipes!!!

  • Shea - Fabulous idea! I really like the saving money part. We go over budget in groceries almost every month. And I’ll send out another bid for recipes please!

  • Brooke Hedin - but where do you find the recipes? i’ve tried a couple of freezer recipes and they turned out gross (obviously i’m looking in the wrong places). share your favorite recipes! i’d love to share them.

  • Steph - Um, I think everyone wants you to share recipes.

  • susie whyte - i’ve never tried it with friends, but i do make meals and freeze them from time to time. i enjoy that–A LOT. πŸ™‚ i may have to try this…it would give my friends and i another excuse to see each other!

  • Tali - I’m curious about that organizer/divider thing that I see in your freezer. I have a deep deep freezer and I struggle with keeping it organized. I’m intrigued by your photo!!

  • Reidunn - I suggested this idea to some of my friends some time ago, they looked at me like I was crazy.
    I knew it was a great idea. Thanks for proving that Ashley.

  • Paulina J! - I told you you were an idea machine. We don’t have children, but this would work for us since we work full time. This would save time money and excuses that we don’t have nothing to eat. RECIPES, RECIPES, RECIPES!!! You shoudl also feature those wonderful friends and their tips.

  • Dena - How much do the recipies vary each month? My husband is picky and I’m not sure there are even 16 meals I could freeze that he would eat. I do freeze leftovers when I make large quantity items… chili, sloppy joes, etc. and those are life savers some nights…. if I remember to thaw them πŸ˜‰ Thanks!

  • Ruthy T. - I knew it…..you had to have a secret for dinner time! How can any mom with 4 kids get anything done in the kithchen if she has to be in it for hours everyday! GENUIS!!

  • Suzy Sholar :) - Once upon a time, I had a food swap with two friends. We did it on a weekly basis, and delivered the food (one night per week) at dinner time. I like your idea of swapping frozen meals… it would make it that much easier to make sure the timing and meals suited your family. It would also work well for people who want to swap, but don’t live right next door to each-other.

    Love the idea about meal-time competitions!!!

    Thanks for the ideas.

  • Alice H - Please do share your recipes and meal ideas…I am a mother to three kids, I work full-time, and the older two are involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities. I would love to start doing something like this with some of my friends.

  • ashley jensen - I have heard of once a month cooking and there is nothing wrong with it! I swap recipes with a friend so we don’t get stuck in a rut eating the SAME things all the time. There are only 3 of us in my little family but we usually have a menu written for the following week and that helps out alot. We rarely fix anything that takes over 30 from start to finish!

  • Anna - This is a great idea!! It’s so much better than ordering take out. I probably can’t do it for the whole month but I can probably cook once a week and freeze it just for then. Thanks for such a wonderful idea for busy moms!

  • meg duerksen - brillant!
    i wish someone else would organize this so i could participate.
    i would love to do it….but don’t want to be in charge.
    πŸ™‚

  • Jane - Ashley, I share your loathing of cooking. I hate it too. The return on the investment of time sucks! This is brilliant! I try to do this as well but unfortunately get caught up in other things often. Home made freezer meals are great. Sometimes I’ve used a service we have in our area called Supperworks. http://www.supperworks.com. You make an appointment and they have all of the ingreditents there, chopped, cut up, grated, etc. ready to go. All you do is assemble. It’s convenient but I find it a bit pricey. Doing it yourself at home is definitely more economical. It just requires a bit more organization and prep work. But a gift certificate for this place was my favourite baby gift after my son was born. They even have a “stork” special where they do the assembly for free if you have a new baby.

  • Rebecca - How do you do it? This is such a simple idea and it is utterly brilliant! Its official you are the best mom ever. If you ever have a bad day, just read this again. Even if I’m still a stranger, you have a friend in Wisconsin. You are awesome.

  • giozi - WOW. Excellent idea, but EX-CE-LLENT !!!!!!!!!!!!
    You won a big kiss only for this MUAAAAAACK !!! πŸ™‚
    I cook every day is really crazy. I’ve neve think cook once a month, is fantastic, only one thing bad, I live in a town and I don’t have car πŸ™
    but your idea is great I’m going to share it.

    I want friends like yours πŸ™‚

  • anne c - wow…literally last night when I was cooking dinner and running around after my 16 month old I was wondering how someone with more than one child (and I did think of you!) cooked EVERYDAY. I feel guilty the nights that I haven’t prepared something…I only have to feed 3 people and that is nothing compared to most! I def. need to find some friends to do this with….and buy a deep freezer πŸ™‚ thanks for sharing ashley!

  • Kaylene - Yea! I’m so glad someone else does this. So often i get crazy looks when i mention i cook a head of time. I helps so much with the weeks and planning. Also i do precook breakfast on wednesdays for the next week, pancakes and waffles freeze well. so do banana breads and applesauce bread, in busy mornings it’s a life saver, just add fruit. I do love cooking and even if it’s just browning meat ahead of time and making the pasta later, still so helpful. Where did you get the freezer divider, that would be fab!

  • Haylee - so glad to hear this works out! i’m starting this with my friends next week.. now i can’t wait!

  • Kaylene - oh, and it can be done for two weeks at a time too, And i just got books from the library on the topic, most came with recipes.

  • Asha - I LOATHE cooking!!! I have two kids and I think it’s my kids limited palate that discourages me to want to cook anymore. Every night is chicken, put anything new in front of them, doesn’t get touched. But I like the concept of what you’re doing because my last thought two minutes before dinner time is ‘darn it, what am i going to make for dinner? is there chicken?’

  • Seamingly Sarah - brillant! We’re going to buy a chest freezer soon so I can start better stockpiling the rewards from our garden. I only can tomatoes and other high acid foods, so I have a ton of other vegetables that I’d like to freeze. But I don’t batch cook often. I don’t hate cooking, I enjoy trying new recipes. But weekly meal plans have really helped with my budget and not wasting food.

  • Ruth - I love this! I need to find a few friends who would be up for the challenge. Do you mind if I post a link to this post on my blog?

    living well, spending less

  • Zoya - I’ve been thinking about doing OAMC for awhile now. We are expecting our 2nd child in a couple of months so i really want to start soon so i can at leat get some recipes done before she arrives and it will be a lot easier than cooking everyday. I would love to hear some of your favorite recopes, as i am looking for some tried and true ones.

  • Moriah - GENIUS!! Thank you

  • caro - great idea!

  • jill - Would love to do this, would you share some of your receipes? Thanks!
    Jill

  • Jen - I’d like to add my vote for recipe-sharing! Please?! I have three boys under 5 and can use all the help I can get! Thank you.

  • Jen - I LOVE THIS IDEA!!!! I am all about cooking a head and freezing meals but had never thought about a cooking co-op! Brilliant!

  • Katie - This is SOOOO me. I love eating, but the cooking–not so much. This would be a dream come true. Thanks so much for the idea!

  • Bekki4 - Isn’t it the best?!! I have been cooking once a month for 10 years. I now cook for two or three months at a time. There are so many other things to do with my time than cook. I do cook when I feel like it, instead of because I have to. I have info on my blog and some recipes if you are ever looking for new ones.
    I would love to see your recipies, I am always on the lookout for tried and true frozen meals!
    We have the same freezer, I love that thing, best investment ever!

  • Heather - have any of the frozen meals turned out a disaster? this is a great idea!! ill have to pocket this one for when i have kids.

  • Tysha - This is the answer to my prayers (and my husbands, too, since he suffers from my kitchen aversion)

    Thanks much!

  • Holly T - Where did you get the blue sorter things for your deep freeze, I need those some kind of bad!!

  • Michelle H - Can you share some of your recipes? With a little one on the way I would love to pre-make a bunch of dinners so we don’t have to worry about cooking when we are home from the hospital. I don’t know where to start with frozen meals though!

  • lisa and tate - What a greast idea!!! Can you provide some of your favorite recipes? Or favorite websites for ideas?

    Also I am very interested in your schedule… how you get it all done with four tinys.

  • Vicki - You know you can take this to the next level and do breakfast this way too…this is especially great if you or your husband have to run out the door in the morning and could eat lunch at your/their desk when they arrive. Pancakes freeze great as do waffles and you can save a ton of money here versus buying the premade frozen variety that are just so time saving in the morning. My personal favorite is breakfast tacos. Make a variety like potato and egg, sausage and egg, beans and rice and cheese and salsa. Make a huge batch at a time, wrap them in tin foil and those bad boys freeze just great and taste yum when microwaved later. It’s a hardy breakfast that will get you through the morning. You could also serve breakfast for dinner some night…kids think it’s just crazy fun!

  • Amira - Hi Ashley,

    Firstly, a belated congratulations on your publication in Women’s Magazine and joining Design Sponge!! Truthfully though, I’m sure we all figured it would just be a matter of time before more people appreciated your talent for all things gorgeous πŸ™‚

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for quite some time now (I think this is my first time commenting), and I’ve got to tell you I was wondering HOW IN THE WORLD you run a household, with three adorable, yet I’m very sure, active kids, ANNNDDD do something like cook everyday. Especially the cooking part because it’s a personal nightmare for me to cook everyday and I only have A (singular!) 2 year old.

    This post, honestly, made me want to cry because it’s such a brilliant idea and definitely a sanity saver. Would you mind, whenever you have the time, putting up some of the Once-A-Month Cooking sites you use? I’m going to Google this whole concept right now too.

    Many, many thank you’s!!

  • Jen - Ashley, I am fully aware of how nerdy this question is going to seem, but are those freezer organizers I see in your deep freezer?? Where did you get those?!?! I think I need some!!!!

  • Ashley - A group of us are doing this next month!! So excited!
    Please do share some of the recipes that you guys love and that freeze well! I’ll be honest…the idea of freezing alot of our meals kind of grosses me out. Does everything dethaw pretty well?

  • jessica h - THANK YOU for the tip! I have heard of a lot of “totally on top of it” moms with 12 kids doing this, but I never thought of doing it with a few kids and a few friends (!) Like you said, you are a mom of four, three of whom are boys {and you live it out beautifully & simply}…so I covet ANY of your tried and true tips on making home life more enjoyable and easier to manage πŸ™‚

  • Lorena Mair - Wow, that is such a great idea! Love it! So do you have any delicious recipies to share which are suitable for freezing?
    I’d love to hear and try it out!
    Also I personally am interested in your “weekly goals”. I think that would inspire us out here to do the same!

  • Carolyn - Such a great idea! This could definitely help the stress levels in the afternoons when I’m trying to get dinner and keep my toddler amused all at once! I love these sorts of posts…well I love all of your posts, but any little organisational tips to help make mothering easier!…
    P.S Congratulations on being published!..and being contributor to Design Sponge…love that site, such great ideas and inspiration.

  • Lisa - Hi Ashley, Love your creative ideas and encouragement. We have four young children and homeschool the two oldest. I found I would never survive without making our own frozen family dinners. We make about 40 meals in about two weekends. Those 40 meals last us about 2+ months when I add a veggie and bread. My favorite recipes that our whole family loves is from the Super Suppers Cookbook. Some of our favorites are Fish in a Flash, Fish Tacos, Salmon Cakes and Mom’s Meatloaf. http://www.amazon.com/Super-Suppers-Cookbook-Judie-Byrd/dp/0696230542
    You have really helped me to become bolder in crafting at home with my kids and given me much inspiration! thanks so much!!

  • Lindsay - I love what you said at the beginning about cooking. I have SUCH A HARD TIME COOKING for my new family….(married a man with teenagers and I had no kids to speak of at the time…now we have a 4 month old). I had to go from looking after myself and eating whenever I wanted to preparing meals for 4 grown-ups EVERY DAY. ugh… and all i want to do is craft! it takes soooo much time to nourish ourselves healthfully. I give ‘cook’s’ a lot of credit, but I’ve always said that people that LOVE to cook and do it A LOT, must not have ANY other interests…b/c it takes all day to prepare amazing meals….and I’d much rather spend the day taking photos, and crafting, sewings and computering. haha

    I will def’ly look into this ‘freezing’ business you speak of. Sounds perfect for us!

  • Lorena Mair - Dear Ashley,
    every year I make my own Christmas cards and every year I find it hard to find a great idea how to make a beautiful stylish DIY card. I have seen on you blog some cards from last year – I tried it but they didn’t turn out as nice as yours – do you have any other ideas or websites you can recommend? Thanks Ashley!

  • Susan Caing - i really like what you said about magazines and design blogs are not the real everyday life and the real thing is beautifully chaotic. i was just wondering how you manage your time. you’re an inspiration. thanks!

  • Jolie - what a brilliant idea – thanks so much for sharing! If it wasn’t the middle of the night, I’d be ringing Megan and Sue and getting them in on it too!!! Oh well, I guess I can wait until morning.
    I love cooking, but the daily grind of it does take its toll…this is a fabulous way of taking the resentment out of midweek dinners when I’d rather be doing something else!

  • Margie - This is brilliant…it’s like a cartoon moment where a light bulb just went on above my head! I need to do this, the drama it will eliminate at dinner time is priceless! Love the new blog look and congrats on all the happenings…designsponge…the magazine etc!!! Love your blog :0).

  • Kristin S - Your freezer dividers are awesome!

    I have lots of friends with big families who do this as well (one friend cooks once a semester and she has a rotation for her kids to choose what is for dinner each night so there’s no complaining).

    If you find others with similar tastes to trade? Brilliant.

  • Raechel Myers - We do something very similar with four other families in our neighborhood. Only in our case, we actually deliver the meals hot to each other’s doors every night. I only cook once a week and make the meal for 20 people (4 adult-sized servings per family). All other nights of the week someone is at my doorstep with hot dinner and sides (and sometimes dessert!) ready to put on the table.

    Last night we had pork tenderloin, squash and zucchini and applesauce. Made even more delicious by the fact that my only meal prep that day was setting the table!

    I actually recently blogged about our supper swap here: http://raechelmyers.blogspot.com/2010/09/coq-au-vin-for-20.html

  • Mirys - Hi Ashley!!!

    ItΒ΄s a pitty that here, in Brazil, people dont have 3 or 4 children anymore… I just love big families (IΒ΄m the oldest of 10 kids!!!) and I love you pratical ideas for life!

    You make living easier!
    Even if I dont trade food with friends, I still can cook once a week and save it for the next 7 days! Brilliant!!!

    Mirys – for the other post on the November 5th

    PS: one of your readers just left me a message in MY blog!!! In English (my special language)!!! Can you imagine how great this is as a birthday gift?????

  • Mirys - Hi Ashley!!!

    Its a pitty that here, in Brazil, people dont have 3 or 4 children anymore…I just love big families (Im the oldest of 10 kids!!!) and I love you pratical ideas for life!

    You make living easier!
    Even if I dont trade food with friends I still can cook once a week and save it for the next 7 days!Brilliant!!!

    Mirys – for the other post on the November 5th.

    PS: one of your readers just left me a message in MY blog!!! In English (my special language)!!! Can you imagine how great this is as a birthday gift???

  • cooking for friends « so glad I’m here - […] Under the Sycamore‘s […]

  • NH - Hi! Love this idea. Just wondering if you’ll ever share the recipes or even just the recipe names. To be honest this is something I find a bit annoying about some blogs. Some bloggers share great things and then keep out part of the details. Lots of people ask and are interested and then it’s like some big secret. It’s something I just don’t understand.

  • emily - ok this is the greatest idea ever!!!!! i have 4 little ones and have a few friends with 3 or more kiddos…totally going to get this going in my neck of the woods!! would love suggestions for fave recipes and fave sites with the best info for getting started with once a month cooking!

    thanks so much sharing…just thinking about it and my stress level has already declined!! :O)

  • Freezer Cooking » Penny Pickles - […] that I like to stock up on when it’s on sale at the store. I follow this blog and she did a post on how she and a few friends do freezer cooking once a month. It cuts down on their grocery bill […]

  • once a month cooking | 30 meals in one day | living well spending less - […] first heard about once-a-month (OAM) cooking here, on one of my favorite blogs, Under the Sycamore. Β The concept intrigued me, but I found it far […]

  • Rebecca - Love it! I am so going to do this–i hate cooking πŸ™‚