I’ve been having ‘issues’ with one of my babies. Sadly, I knew the problem was beyond my realm of understanding or ability to fix. I got lots of recommendations from friends I trust and I loaded up the car to meet a woman who could hopefully help me. Before I left I told Chris I really wish she had a NannyCam so I could check in throughout the day to observe what was happening. Driving to her place I was so nervous. I didn’t know her. Could I really trust someone I don’t know with a part of myself? I pulled in, parked the car and slowly walked to her door. I could see her smiling through the window. She was petite with little hands and her face was full of wisdom. I explained the issue we were having and she said she could help. I trusted her. With a bit of sadness and hope for a bright future I left. She said she’d call me soon to let me know what will need to happen…..I miss my camera. 🙂

Yeah, my LCD went out on my main camera. My point and shoot went for a little unprotected dive in the Pacific Ocean so I don’t have it either. I do have a backup dslr, but I get frustrated with it (yes, I know that is totally snobby to say, but I’m just being honest). A friend gave me an unused iphone. It isn’t connected to phone service, but it takes a fun little picture. I’ve been using it a lot lately.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Our church is collecting food for Thanksgiving baskets to pass out to those in need of a little help on the holiday. The boys always enjoy shopping for the food to donate. This year we invited Chris along. I try to be very intentional about including the boys on things like this, but I’ll be honest it is so much more work to involve the kids. There are moments I question whether it is really worth it. Not whether it is worth it to donate food (because it obviously is), but is it worth all the hassle to include my kids in the process.

As we pulled into the parking lot a DOWNPOUR started. We had one semi-broken umbrella for the six of us. We made it in the store completely soaked. Is this really worth it? The boys were so excited that instead of walking down the aisles, they were dashing to see who could get to the food first. Is this really worth it? Littlest Brother wanted in and out, in and out of the basket. Is this really worth it? “You’ve sure got your hands full,” a well meaning lady said. Is this really worth it? They boy’s argued over who got to unload the shopping cart. Is this really worth it? The kids had fun, but I was stressed. Is this really worth it?

After getting everyone dressed and the food bags packed on Sunday morning the boys all decided they wanted to carry a food bag. Instead of 2 heavy bags I now had 1 heavy bag, 1 medium bag and 2 nearly empty bags to carry into the church…along with diaper bags and a baby….without Chris (he gets there before we do). Is this really worth it? A friend saw us and he offered to help. Littlest Brother sat his bag down in the middle of the parking lot because he changed his mind and didn’t want to carry a bag. Is this really worth it?

We dropped off the food in the first grade classroom. Later my son declared his class did not win an ice cream party for bringing the most food. He was bummed about ice cream. Is this really worth it? I reminded him we didn’t take food because of an ice cream contest and asked him why we took it in the first place. “We took it so people that don’t have food can have some. We took it to help others.” It was worth it.


I know this post might seem a bit negative, but it just realistic. Getting my kids involved in things that make them aware of their world and ways to impact it is of crucial importance to me. However, just because it is important to me doesn’t mean it happens easily and we always have rosy experiences. With young children it involves work, patience, dedication and usually a bit of stress. A lot goes in right now on my part and it usually doesn’t feel like much comes out….but I am confident what is hard work today will be more than worth it in their tomorrows.

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  • jessica - i love this post! always a familiar chant at our house “is it really worth it?”. this weekend we will be attending our second annual “Thanks for Giving” party with all proceeds being donated to the local food bank. i have also decided to take my kids shopping for groceries for this event…i think you are right…it is worth it.

  • Marie - As a mom, I totally get what you are saying about going through the every day hassles w/ your kids and questioning yourself about whether its worth it or not. But I am confident that when your children look back at their beautifully documented childhood, thanks to their VERY intentional mother, THEY will know it was worth it!!

  • Allison - Thank you for your patience and dedication to the cause of raising children who will be a blessing to the world… as hard as it may be! You are the type of parent to be commended daily for taking your job and responsibility seriously. “Well done, Ashley!” You will end up with very grateful and thankful children who LOVE their mom and appreciate your hard work.

  • maryliz cawley - your sweet fam is in my prayers!!!

  • Kari - Great post…the thought running through my mind right now relates to Christ and how sometimes I wonder if He looks at us, His creation, and thinks, “was it worth it?” As He watches over us and see’s fighting, stealing, families falling apart, hearing people using His name in vain…was it worth it? As He died on a cross for all of us and then to have people reject Him. As He left us the greatest love letter ever written, the Bible, and see that most people have it tucked away on a bookshelf…was it worth it? As He tugs at people’s heart to accept Him as their Savior and they walk away…was it worth it? Praise God, I’m so glad WE are worth it! Awesome post Ashley!

  • Katie - My students came up with this logo we use in our class: “We do the right thing because it feels good.” There are no extrinsic rewards for doing what is right. We have a group of students who walked to the local food pantry, came back to school and raised awareness to other students. Once all the food is collected, they will then bring the food to the pantry so they can learn first hand the importance of helping others. I love that you are doing this WITH your kids. It makes the difference.

  • laura - great post!

  • Ruth - Oh Ashley, I fight that same battle every day. A couple of years ago, mid-temper tantrum, I came to the realization of why there are so many rotten, spoiled kids (turning into rotten, spoiled adults) in the world: being a good parent is HARD. Teaching your kids to be polite, productive, giving, & loving humans is so much more work than just giving in and letting them have their way, and not working to teach them the valuable life lessons that happen every day. But you are so right, it IS worth it!

  • Kara K - Thanks for keeping it real. I have four young children,as well. It’s not always easy being intentional but it’s certainly worth it. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • amanda torres - I feel closer to you, fellow Aldi shopper. I love that place. In and out in under 30 minutes. I am so glad you thought it was worth it. Your kids will be so grateful when they are older for the seeds you and your husband sew now.

  • Meaghan - This post really struck home. Of course, I don’t have children yet as I’m still in college, but I’ve been having doubts about my major — And I’m supposed to graduate in May! I’m not happy and have been asking myself “Is all this worth it? Is all this worth my unhappiness?” Still coming to terms with it. Thanks for an insightful post!

  • Juleah Brooks - Thank you for your honesty. It would have been so much easier for you to post these precious pictures and write how you and your family are doing a wonderful thing and how it is a great family project. But your honesty breaks down that wall of deceit. I really appreciate your transparency.

  • Tess S. - it IS worth it.

  • Nicole @ Here's The Diehl - LOVED this post! Yes, it’s totally worth it, even though it was much harder to do it the way you described. It’s the same with chores around the house: it would be much easier for me to just put their clean, folded laundry in their drawers, but a) I don’t want them to think that clothes just magically appear in there and b) someday, they’ll be husbands, and I don’t want their wives to wonder why they were never given any responsibility around the house.

    Bravo, mama!

  • Jme - this is so good! We went to walmart last night to get toys for tots and food for baskets too. Maya insisted on taking her shopping cart and baby in. walmart was CROWDED! Maybe 2 people smiled at her shopping cart, but the rest were annoyed looks because she was obviously in their way. She picked out a stroller to give, and it kept falling out of her shopping cart, adding to the chaos. She kept yelling “this for maya.” And I kept explaining that it wasn’t for her, it was for another little girl who would love it. She put it in the toys for tots box, and then decided it was hers again, almost knocking over the whole box of toys. I explained again about giving, exhausted and wondering why I didn’t secretly put it in the box without her looking. She finally said, “that for friend, maya give”…. worth it. sorry for long comment, just wanted you to know how much I relate and how thankful I am for other moms to relate with! and for cats born at the same time:)

  • Mariah - sigh… I know how you feel. And, no. You did not sound negative. Just normal. You’re a great example!

  • Heather - i know just what you mean and i don’t think this is negative at all. i always feel like i take one step forward, two steps back with my kids, but it’s that the one step forward makes it all worth it. so glad you shared this side of getting your kids involved in their world.

    p.s. i hope your camera comes home safe and sound, and working 🙂

  • Angela Carter - your honesty and it’s worth it attitude are what keep me coming back to read!
    there isn’t a normal person out there who doesn’t ask “is it worth it”. heck, i think i ask myself that a thousand times a day.
    keep on keeping it real…

  • Holly - When your children are grown, have kids of their own, make them read this post. THAT will be worth it.

  • deb - It’s worth it…every frustrating moment. My children are 20 and 17 and are now repeating good deads they did as small children without me even prompting them…that makes a mom feel “It was worth it”
    Enjoy the frustrasting moments with HOPE!

  • Rebecca - I can relate to this post on so many levels with having the kids involved.

  • Dacia - I didn’t think it came across as negative, just like you said – honest. The last line made me choke up. I was reading, reading, reading and when I got to “It was worth it” I cracked a smile and my throat choked up simultaneously. hah! lovely read. )

  • maribeth - so true! every word-from the shopping experience to the expectations of children to the reality that you have to make a concerted effort for your children to understand giving to others. thank you for sharing an experience that reminds us all to be thankful for what we have and, that when you have young kids, even the most heart felt activity is not always easily accomplished.

  • brooke milne - Thanks for posting this. I visit your blog often and see all the amazing things you do and what an amazing mother you are. It’s good to know that you are human too 🙂

  • SeaminglySarah - So true! So I have to admit I did my first lesson in giving with my 2.5 year old daugther this year. We got an Operation Christmas Child box at church and I took her to the Dollar Store to pick out stuff for the box. I even thought it’d be fun to make the box for a girl her age, so she could correlate the idea. Well she correlated the idea really well, into thinking the toys were for herself and she would just be sharing with the little girl who didn’t have any toys. She cried when I took the toys away and put them in the shoe box. Then the shoe box spent the next week in our house tempting her. Then she cried when we delivered it. Parting with toys is so hard…And yes, part of me wants to do these things alone until she’s older, but here’s the long road of learning ahead of us. =)

  • Jenny B. - Oh, Ashley, thank you so much for posting this. I needed the reminder and the encouragment!

  • Amy - I really love your blog! Thank you! Seeing your pictures and hearing your stories is such an encouragement. We too were just at Aldi yesterday getting Thanksgiving food for the food pantry at our church. : ) Don’t worry, your kids will remember these things years and years from now.

  • jessica h - amen! great post 🙂 thanks for keepin’ it real & inspiring, sister!!

  • valerie - It must be a ton of work, but I like hearing about the things you do with your kids. I’m trying to file them away in my head for when my son is a bit older. Thanks for the inspiration and the reality!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ashley, thank you for being honest. Thank you for being real. You are so inspiring and encouraging to me. I sincerely appreciate all you do.

  • Natalie - Wow- can’t tell you just how much I needed to read this today! A lot of what keeps me home and not serving others is this mentality that “it’s just not worth it.” 2 babies under 2, one on the way…it’s never easy or convenient no matter your status. That doesn’t mean we should let Satan win! Time to get my hands dirty.

  • Mandi Smith - Ashley, this post was awesome! It is sometimes very hard for us to remember the worth it moments when satan tries to through up so many barriers and tries to make us feel discouraged and frustrated in the process. What a great job as a mother for you to push throgh that anyways and help your children to show Christ’s love to people who needed it! Keep up the good work Mama!

  • Dina - I ask myself that question multiple times a DAY! God asks us only for our faithfulness but am I so silly to ask for progress and success when it comes to raising children?! :} Looking back to my childhood, I can say that yes, everything of importance that my parent’s taught me has stuck, including helping those in need. The only thing I can’t pass on to my kids is Aldi’s…we’re north of the border!

  • gina - This is not a negative post. Or maybe i just say that because it sounds a lot like my house! Sounds like real life to me.

  • Shelley - Do you have time to read all of these comments?=)

    I have been deleting so many feeds lately of mommy/craft blogs that seem to be written by very talented people who resent the very kids they spend so much time creating things for and blogging about. You can do a lot for your kids and still not spend time with them or invest in them.

    I LOVE your blog because you DO love your kids. You don’t miss the big picture. It is so encouraging to read! That last paragraph was beautiful! I wish there were more moms like you.

  • tasha roe - hope everything works out with the kiddo! being a parent can be so tough sometimes…making sure the right decisions are made. i’ll be praying that His wisdom and grace guides you through them.

  • Jessica - I love this post! I think this all the time … especially around Christmas. I make cookies, and the kids are only interested in decorating for 2 minutes and I’m left with the rest. I make handmade gifts for the kids, and their favorite gifts are store-bought toys. I have to force them to make cards for the grandparents … and I always wonder if it’s worth it? And this is a nice reminder that I am not alone, and it IS worth it.

  • Courtney - yes, it IS worth it. you are a great mom. thanks for being real and honest. hope your camera gets fixed SOON! what a hard time of year to be without it!

    question: what do you use to layout your pics for your blog?? i like to post a lot of pics, but then it takes forever to scroll through them all. what do you use to layout multiple pics (and add fun text??) thanks!

  • Jen - Hang in there, Ashley! It is so worth it…even when it’s hard to see the big picture. It’s tough around this house lately too.

  • Lizzie - I admire you. You seem to work so hard for your kids and their positive growth.

  • patti - i feel your pain. on halloween, i dropped my camera and busted my 50mm lens into 2 pieces. i cried. my husband bought me a new 50mm lens…wait for it…on HIS birthday last week and said “this is what I wanted for my birthday.” – today, i downloaded photos from my camera and noticed that there are 2 huge black dots on every single photo. must be something on the lens. switched lens’ – nope…still happening. so, i will be taking my precious baby into the shop this week. i’m supposed to be taking family photos for 3 families in a couple weeks. please let it just be some dirt. please? hang in there, ashley! (by the way…loved the rest of this post too.) 🙂

  • tamara - not negative…truthful and helpfull to all of us I know how you feel

  • ria - Hugs! Consider yourself hugged! You are so very inspiring. It is nice to know that there are other moms out there that struggle through some days just like me. You are right. It is so worth it.

  • Krista Lund - love this “real” post…iphone pics and all.
    i face this a lot with my own kids….will they remember (ages 3 and 9 mos) that trip to the beach? trip to disneyland? sometimes i think i am having more fun than they are LOL! at least i snapped 100s of pics!

  • Shea - Woman! Get out of my head! Thank you for this post. I needed it.

  • Emma - Was it worth it? Thank you so much for posting this. I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old and used to make the effort to take both to everything, however lately I have been leaving them with the other half while I ducked out to do what I needed to do. You have put things into perspective for me again. Make the effort and the rewards will follow 🙂

  • KaraM - Wonderful! I know everyone else is saying it, but still! I’m a local volunteer coordinator who has no kids. So, when parents call me about involving their kids in serving the community…I usually tell them something I learned on your blog! Or I just refer them to your blog! 😀 I suggest “Rice Night” all the time. Thanks for the resource.

  • Jasie - personally, ashley, i LIKE reading the realistic posts. i sometimes wonder how on earth you can do all that you do with four kids. i’ve enjoyed the behind the scenes with B in your lap, or having a fit on the floor while you try to paint or take pictures. it somehow makes it seem a little more do-able for me… if that makes any sense at all.

  • Wendy - thank you. for this. and all of your posts! it came at a really good time…

  • Brooke - I don’t think this post was negative at all, just real! I think it is so important to be intentional, even when you don’t want to. When it would be way easier to do it yourself, sans kids. But why did you bring your kids into the world? To raise them to love the Lord and show that by giving and loving people and meeting needs of people. So, you are keeping your focus on that…even when it’s hard. way to go!

  • andy - thanks for being authentic

  • Tonia - You shop at Aldi! 🙂 I knew I liked you for a reason! 🙂 Thanks for being genuine.

  • Mirys - Dear Ashley!

    It´s TOTALY worth it!

    Here is an idea for you (as if you needed ideas… silly me…). It is very typical in Brazil to have fun theme birthdays parties when you are young. And, of course, it´s very usual to receive gifts from friends…

    So twice a year we have a lot of kids toys, kids clothes, kids shoes and an incredible amount of other new stuff at home = result of Gui (6 years old) or Nina (4 years old) birthday party. It was so much more than what we needed that I decided to create a new kind of party: with SOCIAL GIFTS!!!

    The first experience with it was at Gui´s birthday (theme: soccer) and we wrote at the invitation “there is no need of gifts for us. Thanks to God we have much more than necessary. But there are some kids at an orphanage near our home that needs clothes. Please, be part of our TEAM and bring an used clothe to donation.” I thought just few people would embrace the idea but I didnt care: “if we collect 10 or 12 Tshirts it will be OK”, I thought.

    BUT OUR FRIENDS WERE SO SO SO SO SO AMAZING THAT WE COLLECTED ENOUGH TO GIVE TO 3 DIFERENT PLACES (orphanat and elderly homes)!!!!! Some friends brought 20 pieces of clothing with a perfect red ribbon! Some brought adults cloths as well! Some brought towels, sheets, blankets! Some buy many hats and other kind of warm things to use in the head (it was our winter and it was very cold here).

    Next birthday party all the friends asked “so Mirys, what will be the social gift this time?”. I answered so many of those questions that I decided to ask for cookies (it was a “tea and cookie” party with “Strawberry Short Cake” as theme). And again we received to many packets of cookies that we´re able to share with 4 institutions.

    But I usually go to the institutions only with the birthday kid! So we can comment the experience, share thougths, I can explain the meaning of what he/her is doing and say that I´m very proud of him/her. And he/her appreciates very much this “exclusive” getting out with mom!

    Maybe you could try TWO visits to the supermarket next year: with the big ones and with the small ones. There are a lot of friends and family who will perfectly understand and support this idea and (more important) be the baby-sitter to the others that will not be on the supermarket tour!

    See you soon!

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

  • delish - thank you for being so real and sharing your experiences. many of us moms can identify with that post, and it’s good to be reminded that yes, it is worth it…and maybe not even in the way we think it should be. thanks again!

  • kristiina - This was a lightbulb post for me…..something clicked. Mine are 3 and 4..Putting in the effort NOW is the most important thing we can do for our kids. I’m going to start with saying ‘yes’ when they ask if they can help me make dinner. (Baby steps…….) Thanks Ashley!!

  • Sarah Hill - What a great post! I have been reading your blog for about 7 months now and I absolutely love it everyday. I have 3 children 4,2 and 9 months and I can’t tell you how much I have gotten out of your posts, from things to do with them on rainy days to important messages to teach them like this one. Not only that but the sheer realization that they are only young once and it is so important to create memories. I wish that I was half as talented as you but you have inspired me to try and be more creative and I think my children really reap the benefits so thank you for that. Also I have realized how much I love pictures of my kiddos so thanks to you our camera now goes everywhere with us. Keep it up! Thanks a million:)

  • Ruth - In the middle of a completely disastrous trek to SuperTarget today to buy food to donate to our church’s Thanksgiving dinner, this post came to mind. My 18 month old managed to fall out of the cart, conk her head (much to the horror of all the other shoppers), then, after I had soothed her wounds and strapped her down, proceeded to scream hysterically and without stopping for the entire trip. Towards the end, I finally couldn’t take it anymore, so I let her out to walk with her sister, where she proceeded to throw everything within arm’s reach onto the floor and dump my cup of water onto the floor. As I reached the check-out, I was about to lose my mind, and then suddenly I remembered what you had written, and I just had to laugh. It’s worth it. (And thank you!)

  • Sara - awesome post, thank you for this. On a random note I have a naive question about your camera…you mentioned that your backup is a dslr…isn’t the one that broke also considered a dslr? I am new to learning camera technology so I really have no clue. My husband surprised me witha dslr for my bday, and although it is a VERY simple,basic model I thought a dslr was as good as it gets. Like I said, it’s a naive question.:)

  • Kathy Stell - Don’t forget…..Seed, Time and Harvest. No one said the work was lite or the road was smooth, but the Harvest will be grand!

  • Abby - OMG! This post is totally us…minus one …all the way down to the mildly annoying “you sure have your hands full” well done!

Last year I managed to convince Shannon Phillips of Imago Vita Photography to take family pictures for me. At the time our kids were 3 months, 18 months, 3 & 5 years old. I told her I would take some of her family…yes I am a genius. She fell for my trap and took pictures of my crazy family. She got a workout and now that I think of it…it wasn’t too much later that she announced she’d no longer be doing family sessions. Hmmmm.

We finally got around to my end of the deal. Shannon is a phenomenal photographer. She has a way of capturing love between a couple that is unlike anyone else I know.  She is a kind and gentle woman that you leave her presence smiling. I count it an honor and privilege to be her friend. I am not sure who was more nervous about this session: Shannon because she was in front of the camera or me because I was photographing her!

Onto some of the photos….

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  • Rebekah Jean - Love the photos. Shannon has an adorable family and the pictures are fabulous! Great job once again! I love the coordinating colors in their outfits.

  • Loren - LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! Ashley you did amazing capturing their precious family! SO adorable!

  • the whyte house - 2 posts on here and one on design aglow…all in ONE day?? i LOVE it. are you trying to say you’re not posting next week? 🙂

    such a great job on the photos. love the “b”, i mean the “p”. 🙂

  • Katy O - Could Keegs be any cuter?!? These are fantastic! And the couple shots of Nathan and Shannon are so sweet.

  • Lesley - I love the one where the little guy is swinging!

  • Carrie Sowell - Those are awesome! Shannon, you have the most TINY legs I’ve ever seen! You’re one hotta momma, and and I’m glad Ashley got to get you on the other side of the camera!!!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh, these are beautiful! I LOVE the warmth you captured.

  • Candice Forte - Oh I love these!!!!!

  • Shannon Phillips - Okay so I am in awe over here! Thank you so much for your kind words and for these amazing photos that I will cherish forever! I cannot thank you enough. Seriously, I love you girl. I think that my favorites are of the “p”.

  • Holly - Beautiful pics, beautiful family!

  • amanda torres - Two of the best photographers ever! Wonderful job, Ashley. Shannon, you look amazing and so does your family. Ashley, I’ll totally take your family’s pictures in exchange for my family’s pictures. What? You doubt my skills? Kidding!

  • Jane - Wonderful photos! No huge surprise there. 😉

  • Jennie Frake - So pretty!

  • RachelC - gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!

  • Melanie - Shannon, I love your boots!! (I said that with an Okie accent!!) And the photos are just great.

  • Jeannette - I’m looking at the post after yesterday taking my kids downtown to try to get pics for a Christmas card. I miss pics by Ashley Ann!!!

  • meg duerksen - so good.
    she is so beautiful.
    and skinny!

  • jessica h - gorgeous! you captured so much–great job!!

  • Krista Lund - gorgeous session and family! they are very lucky to have you capture them!

  • Bonnie presley - Okay what a small world this is or maybe it is just Tulsa! I live in Atlanta and have been following your blog for a while now and absolutely love it! My husband and I use to live in Tulsa( that’s where we met and grew up) and Nathan and Shannon are some of our best friends!! My husband has been best friends with Nathan since highschool! They are such an amazing family and you captured such love among the three of them, I know they will cherish these photos for a long time! On a side note I have to say I love all the fun ideas you have for boys. I have three little boys too and it is great to hear your fun things you do with your boys!

I have a file box full of tear sheets of projects I’d like to try. In January 2006 (yes, that was nearly 5 years ago) I pulled out an article from Martha Stewart Living on Dot-Painted China. The minute I saw it, I knew I wanted to try it. I’ve meant to do if for quite a while now but I was stuck at finding the paint. I know craft paints, but I just never seemed to find the time or remember to look for paint for china.

I’ve gone to a few of those paint your own pottery places and honestly am usually disappointed with the results. The paint seems to be too thin and not as detailed as I wanted. We are a form & function house, so I needed something easy to clean and durable. FINALLY I found the perfect paint. Martha did not share with me in her magazine the pointers for finding the paint supplies, so I will share with you what I have found that works.


China, Ceramic, Porcelain….it needs to be able to go in the oven and cook at 350. My bowl is from Walmart, plate from Target.

Pebeo Paints:

Porcelaine 150 1.2 paint pen – for larger dots

Porcelaine 150 0.7 paint pen – for smaller dots

Porcelaine 150 paint (comes in a small little round container)

Porcelaine 150 outliner (comes in a small tube with fine point end)

There is also a little set that that has applicator bottles and fine point end you can attach to the bottle. This works great for making dots and fine details with the colors of paint that don’t come in pens.

You can get the paint at Micheals, dickblick.com, and other craft stores.

Martha has tips for transferring a pattern onto the china before painting it. For me that was just another step to figure out, so I skipped it and just started freehanding it as I went…while looking at Martha’s designs for inspiration. I started with the large paint pen to get the basic design and then filled in details with the more fine point pen.

After you finish painting the dish needs to dry for 24 hours. Once that period is over you cook it in the oven for 35 minutes at 300 F. Double check your paint instructions, especially if you use a different brand of paint. Also be sure to remove any stickers from the bottom…you don’t want to cook those!

To keep it real…I painted these with a 1 year old on my lap. She is still working on cutting 4 molars and really likes to be held. I took this picture to remind me one day of what creative endeavors were like during this phase of life. One day I won’t have little ones on my lap when painting…I think I’ll be okay with that.

1,000,000 ways to make this cute as a gift.

There are so many ideas floating in my head now, you’ll be seeing a lot more of this kind of stuff soon!

Keep in mind not all paint is food safe. I’d do most of your painting on the outside of bowls, cups, mugs. If you paint the top of a plate like I did, you can use it to serve wrapped food (like cupcakes) or use it for decoration.



In other diy news, my monthly post on Design Aglow will be up sometime today

…what my ‘studio’ looked like to get the product shots 🙂

Have a Great Weekend!!

UPDATE: If you make a mistake it is super easy to correct. The plate you see in the post was actually my practice plate. It was full of all kinds of colors and designs. Once I was done practicing I just washed it all off and started over. The paint can be washed off until you bake it…then it is set for good. My plate has been through the dishwasher too…and still looks quite lovely.


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  • RachelC - Oh wow…..those look GREAT!!! All the more impressive with a child on your lap….I think maybe even I could paint dots….well, sans child, of course! Cool idea.

  • Lindsay - GREAT gift idea. The good thing about Martha and Real Simple and the like is that they don’t go out of style! Crafts are crafts and they are great for years to come!

  • Betsy - I just used those exact pens to make a celebrate plate to use for family birthdays and other extra special days. I remember seeing that dot project and wanting to try it, so now I know what I’m going to do with my leftover paint. Yay!

  • Nicole - those look awesome! adding to my never-ending list of ‘to do’ items!

  • Emily @ Charles & Poppy - I LOVE the curtains in that last photo….I think they are made from Amy Butler fabric? Did you make them? Buy them? Have them made?? I WANT!

  • Leslie - I totally ripped out the SAME article way back when and have yet to do the project! You’ve given me a great reminder and motivation to tackle it!

  • Krista @ Blue Eyed Yonder - How stinkin’ cute! The possibilities are endless. I have some yellow bowls similar to the ones pictured in the magazine. I can hear them clapping in the cabinet; they want pretty dots too! Thanks so much for digging this project out of your pile and sharing it with us.

  • Wendy - I ? This!!!!!! Yours turned out so fabulous and this project has definitely been added to my “to do” list ?!

  • the whyte house - Thank you!! I’ve been racking my brain to figure out what to do for my in-laws for christmas. Oh, the wheels are turning! 🙂 I can guarantee it’s not gonna look as intricate as yours, though!

  • Ruth - Gorgeous! I love crafts that don’t look crafty (i.e. tacky). And I love it that Firecracker was on your lap the whole time, though I’m amazed she didn’t try to grab the paint!

  • Betsy Jo - Another Ashley Ann page to bookmark! I can’t WAIT to work on a version this project!! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  • Jamie - Ashley, I remember seeing this idea in Martha years ago! I thought it was so cute but forgot all about it until now. Thx for sharing your tips bc these would make a great gift!

  • Sadie - WOW. Seriously? You amaze me! LOVE the plates and bowls…..one of these days I will be like you!

  • Dana - What fabulous fabric is your curtains made of in the ‘studio’? Yellow with white chrysanthemums…….

  • anne c - you even make dots look great! love it. my brain is in overload of all the cool ideas you give us!

  • Heather - i am always a fan of all your crafts.. but these might be one of my favs!!! soo cute! and with a toddler on your lap thats impressive!

  • Mariah - Love it! Great idea for Christmas!

  • Hannah Bunker - I love it! I have this same project on my to-do list! I bought the plates and paint a long time ago and just haven’t gotten around to it. I love your design!

  • Heather - how did you know that your plates would work in the oven?? and has the design lasted a wash or two in the dishwasher??

  • Dacia - wow I love this! I may have to save ‘rip’ (or bookmark) this post for me to try it out. they came out great!

  • Jill E. - this are amazing. what a great gift looks so high end and with a kiddo in your lap very impressive.

  • Heather - now MY head is spinning with ideas!! the design you created is sooo cute. thanks for sharing all the details. happy weekend!

  • Shannon - Oh AShley! This is absolutely stunning! What a great way to gift handmade. Truly beautiful. I wish I could rip this off the computer to stash in my “need to do” pile!

    And I love the behind the scenes on your Design Aglow post. That post was fantastic, by the way.

  • Erin - I love your DIY projects. And so timely for Christmas gifts. Please do post more!!! 🙂

  • Trinity - Awesome!!! There is a good little crepe place in Shawnee that has really really good tiramisu crepes. Yummy!!

  • Anna - Wow, I love this DIY! It looks like a design that you would be able to buy at the store…maybe you should think about that … 🙂

  • valerie - I’ve always wanted to try that too and never have. Yours look great! I could never do that so neatly with a kid in my lap. Ha ha.

  • Rebecca - How did you get the dots consistently the same size in diameter?

  • gina - your freehand is amazing!! I need to get a “kid in my lap shot while crafting” too, but my 14 month old is grabbing everything in her reach. Have a great weekend!

  • christina larsen - love that.

  • Elizabeth Beattie - You read my mind! I was just thinking last night that I wanted to do “something” with the large ceramic white platter I have. This is IT!!!

    You are a genius! Thanks so much!

  • Krista Lund - great timing as these will make wonderful christmas gifts. you rock!

  • Leanne - I LOVE that plate and bowl you painted! I may have to try this!

  • amber - I LOOOOVE that! So going to give those to a couple of special girls for Christmas…as long as I can make them look that good:). You’re so awesome.

  • ashlee - I LOVE this idea!!! i think i will make plates for my kids…they each can have their own plate and bowl:) and the fabric on your curtains in the last shot is one of my FAV amy butler prints, but its sooooo hard to find!

  • stephanie - Great job. I love seeing the behind the scene shots. Thanks

  • Tweets that mention diy {painting on ceramic and porcelain} » ashleyannphotography.com -- Topsy.com - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by csrock, Jennifer Raymond. Jennifer Raymond said: diy {painting on ceramic and porcelain} » ashleyannphotography.com http://bit.ly/9YkK5i […]

  • Candice - Oh my heck…I LOVE IT!!! So cute! I just went to Michaels yesterday, but I see a trip again in my very near future!!!

  • giozi - I bought some plates to do something similar a year ago, but the end was awful, ha ha I deleted all, besides something wasn’t clear to me, the time at oven.
    Maybe I need some pens 🙂

    I saw the christmas card but I don’t understand very well the tutorial, is late here and I’m really tired so I’m going to look it if I can tomorrow at morning. Tomorrow is grandmom day, so we are going to her home at Barajas 🙂 long that my town.

    Have a nice weekend Ashley 🙂

  • caro - love the idea, but here in my country you can’t get that pencils.
    Sorry me, lucky you.

  • Carolyn - oh my!…so I know you’re just like the rest of us…but this is amazing!! you painted that beautiful pattern freehand?!…with a child on your lap?! fantastic work! I will have to put this type of project on my quite long to-do list.
    …and ‘mmm” is right – the Tiramisu looks delicious!..even if it is still only breakfast time here in this part of the world 🙂

  • Kristy C - I just took a group of students to a paint already made pottery place and I really enjoyed it! This idea gives a whole new spin to it. I don’t have an actual file that I keep these craft ideas in, but it does go into a file in my mind. I can’t wait to try this!

  • Kristin Guillory - ohhh my, this is soooo beautiful!!!! I want to try this so bad now!! maybe a trip to hobby lobby tonight..hahah

  • erin - I remember seeing this project & drooling a bit over it.
    Thanks for giving us all the additional pointers (that Martha never seems to remember to tell us…)
    I may try this for holiday plate gifts!

  • Seamingly Sarah - Okay – I totally want to do that, but on fabric. I wonder if they make fabric paint in pens? Lovely and delicious ideas circling in my head now.

  • Desiree - Those look great! They sound so simple, too! Thanks for the great Christmas gift idea!

  • Jessica P - I love this project! And that fact that you could freehand it with a baby on your lap is all the more impressive! Thanks for sharing.

  • Kristin S - And now this link has been added to my “craft ideas” note in Outlook. Maybe I’ll get around to it in 5 years.
    Great idea!

  • Lynn - Ashley, What a great idea!! Thank you for showing how you did it!! I love it, I just tried it today and can’t wait to bake it tomorrow!! How cute!! I couldn’t free hand it as well as you but the transfer paper worked well!! I want to find a platter for cheese and crackers or something that I can cook and make this work! That would be a great gift addition to anyones china!! Thanks again and keep them coming, love reading your daily posts!!

  • ashley jensen - I saw this when you posted it Friday and I just now thought of a question…how easy is it to wipe off if you make a mistake in the process? I will be doing this for my Aunt’s Christmas present thanks to your post!

  • Becka @ Life as an Artistpreneur - Love these! I would love to do one with a flock of tiny birds. Although I’m afraid I’m not nearly as good at freehand as you are. Mine might end up looking like ants…although that might be cool too. 😉

  • Yanet - Oh, this is how I craft oh so many times! With a baby on the lap (even if the “baby” is 3 or 4).

    Great idea for Christmas gifts. I use a similar idea to personalize popcorn bowls for friends or family members.

  • Kelly - These are fun and I’m glad I’m not the only one who has had ideas of projects I want to do for multiple years. 🙂

    My husband is a big fan of tiramisu and for his first birthday we were dating I made one for him, the first I’d ever made. I proudly stuck candles in the top and when we went to blow them out a HUGE cloud of cocoa blew up and settled over me as I was holding the tiramisu out to him. 🙂 Someone captured a photo. Such a fun memory. Kelly

  • presente com bossa | Decora Casas - […] Imagens via […]

  • presente com bossa - […] Imagens via […]

  • Kitchen Progress » A Beautiful View - […] plates I painted myself. I found the idea on my go-to spot for creative […]

  • Jer - I tried this project today and bought the same pen — the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 fine point. I wasn’t able to get it working consistently. It took a really long time for the paint to come out and when it did it was all blobby and the paint wouldn’t come right to the tip of the pen, so I wasn’t able to make any dots… any suggestions for getting the pens started and working consistently?? Thanks…

  • Cari Bella - I think we were separated at birth. I love your ideas!

  • How To Paint Ceramic And Porcelain Tableware | Shelterness - […] minutes in the over at 300 F. Although these things might vary depending on the paint brand. Visit Ashley Ann Photography for more details and more […]

  • Kristen Buley - LOVE.IT!

  • Billie - This perfect since I can’t find the dishes i want. I will just make them. Thanks for the info.

  • diy: tile coasters - […] my dad informed me looks like a sun bear. hah. & another awesome paint on ceramic type link: under the sycamore’s painting on ceramic diy now for some lemonade…  + props: pugly pixel’s blog overlays This entry was […]

  • Centsational Girl » Blog Archive » Dot Painted Dishes - […] a great project on Pinterest a few weeks ago and I’ve had in on my mind ever since – it was these fabulous dot painted plates and bowls by Ashley Ann at Under the Sycamore.The idea of dot painted porcelain dishes sat with me for weeks […]

  • cailan - What! Since when did you continue to put out amazing projects into the weekend? You just don’t quit. 🙂 I love it – so pretty.

  • Valerie - I did something similar to these except in an alice in wonderland theme on white tea mugs that I bought at the thrift store. I am not that great of an artist and am not able to freehand it but I instead bought some graphite paper from the art store to help me with this. I taped the graphite parer to my mug (graphite down;) and taped my image over the graphite paper and traced it, this left a light pencil like image on the mug that I was then able to paint over. I didn’t actually use the pen because I found that the tip was too large for my liking so I instead used toothpicks to paint my design on and it worked perfectly! I gave them to my sister and they are her favorite mugs to drink tea out of!

    good luck!

  • KC - Those plates and mugs look great. Just had a question though can you eat out of those plates and mugs???

  • diy blogs | Pearltrees - […] diy {painting on ceramic and porcelain} » ashleyannphotography.com In other diy news, my monthly post on Design Aglow will be up sometime today …what my ‘studio’ looked like to get the product shots […]

  • Thiptop - I Love your idea and Work,I wish to do as you too,so inspiring me! Thank U!

  • The Art of Darkness » Blog Archive » The Lost Link Dump of Atlantis - […] set has been sold, but if no more are forthcoming the design looks reasonably easy to DIY. This tutorial gives some general tips on painting ceramic […]

  • danielle - I wanted to stop by and let you know that I featured this on my “What I Bookmarked This Week” post today stop by and see – and grab a button if you’d like.

  • tracy_a - lovely! thanks for making this clear – and thanks for the info about washing/redoing – makes it more likely that I will do it!

  • Nancy - Um, the product information on Dick Blick and the Pebeo site both say that the markers aren’t intended for eating surfaces…

  • Meghan - I love this idea and the way you’ve executed this! However when I’ve looked into doing similar things before on ceramics there’s always a warning on the paints (including the one you link to) that recommends you not use it on the surfaces that directly come in contact with food. For me that includes the little saucer you show cake being eaten on. Just thought I should point that out.

  • truebluemeandyou - You cannot eat off plates or drink out of cups (if your lips come in contact with the design) where the marker is. There is a European product and others other than Pebeo that are food safe. I don’t think people read past the “non-toxic” part of the description. I’ve stopped posting all ceramic tutorials using this marker.

  • 25 Simple Handmade Mother’s Day Gifts - […] DIY Dot Painted Ceramic Cup – Under the Sycamore  […]

  • » Weekly Pinterest Finds – April 24th Lovely Home Life - […] DIY Custom China Patterns I thought this was a really cool idea and a fun way to personalize the dishes you use daily.  Find the tutorial here. […]

  • Denise Smith - Do you think i could use these pens to “paint/decorate” my ugly backsplash tiles in the kitchen??? :))))

  • Crafting for mothers day, a double roundup | Marie, Oh Marie - […] and blue 4. fingerprint jewelry via Sarah Ortega 5. bathroom labeled jars via The Idea Room 6. painted ceramic dishes via Under the […]

  • summer pinterest challenge: bright, flowery art + our dining room « Two Live Colorfully - […] So, I scoured my Pinterest boards for some inspiration and found this ceramic dish art. […]

  • Knock Off Anthropologie Monogrammed Mug | airplanesandtreadmills - […] Inspiration from here, here, and here. […]

  • Marutxi - I love the results and very helpful your blog 🙂 Thank you very much

  • Niru dhar - When you put the porcelain in the oven ,do you put in on BOTH UP AND DOWN heat to bake or JUST the above one only?

  • Christmas Gift Giving Guide: Marcy, The Etsy Queen | The Accidental Okie - […] kids to work making keepsakes for grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers. Inspiration, Tutorial, Tutorial, […]

  • Ellise - These are darlin’! I’ll definitely have to try this! Awesome Christmas gifts!

  • im6234 - Sorry ifthis has already been asked or answered but how long does the design last.

  • AshleyAnn - im6234 – Mine designs still look great…

  • Tamar - I have made plate with the outline paint. It is puffy. The paint is food safe so I had figured that people would eat off of the plates. Do you know if there is any sort of clear coating that can go on top of the paint? I’m worried that with cutlery the paint will get chipped off. Your dishes look beautiful, thank you for sharing!!!!

  • I Love Gifting - This is pretty Ashley and it would make for such a lovely gift too.

  • Countdown to Christmas: Last Minute DIY Handmade Christmas Gift Ideas - […] Floral Suitcase from A Beautiful Mess | 5. Ruffled Cardigan DIY from Welcome to the gOOd life | 6. Ceramic Dish Set from DIY from Under the Sycamore | 7. Shrink Plastic Key Chains from How About Orange | 8. Pretty Needlebook […]

  • melody - Hi I have about 20 pounds of china paint in every color you can think of FOR SALE.. My grandma was an art teacher and just passed receantly and I dont want her stuff to go to waste. I dont paint at all. So please if anyone is interested or knows some one who would be please contact me. My name is Melody phone is 801-886-7589 please send the word out. Thanks for reading

  • Jolene - Did you put the design on both sides of the bowl or just one?

  • Brenda Kirk - I found a stack of old meat platters in a box of old wrapped stuff that I found along the road on trash day in Cleveland, Ohio, about 6 years ago. Obviously, They had been packed up for a number of years, and were so covered with dust that the designs were covered up. I decided to take a shot at cleaning them; mostly just to see what they were like. I found one that was badly chipped and had some pretty good “crackling” on it, but the shape was so intriguing that I could almost envision a scene painted on it. I am no artist by any means, but decided to research possible ways to embellish them with some easy, yet decorative designs. I had no idea how or what to use on them, but have run across this page and thought that if it could be done, I should be able to handle it, too. So, I want to thank you for bringing the project a try. I think I should be able to find some suitable paint at the local craft store, so I am now quite anxious to find out if I am talented enough to make it work. Normally, I do things like sewing, making jewelry and have even tried my hand at working copper into designed plaques, but this idea seems quite unusual, and I don’t believe I have ever seen anything done like what I have in mind. Thank you so very much for making the information available to me.
    Hoping for another art form in my life,
    Brenda (BJ) Kirk

  • Christmas Gift Giving Guide: Marcy, The Etsy Queen - […] kids to work making keepsakes for grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers. Inspiration, Tutorial, Tutorial, […]

  • 31 Painting Techniques for Interiors and Art - […]  How to Paint Designs on Ceramic Dishes ~ Take plain white dishes (dollar stores carry them) and buy special paint pens to customize your […]

  • Megan @ Two Live Colorfully - I loved this little flower doodle so much that I put it on a giant colorful canvas!!!


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  • 44 Beautiful and Useful Painting Techniques - Tip Junkie - […] How to Paint Designs on Ceramic Dishes ~ Take plain white dishes (dollar stores carry them) and buy special paint pens to customize your […]

  • Angie - I did all of the steps and I can still chip off the paint..why??

  • necla - harika boyamalar ellerine sa?l?k ashley:)

  • Mother's Day Gift Ideas - […] Painted Teacup […]

  • Links Worth Sharing - Week of October 29, 2011 - Simply Frugal - […] DIY Painting on Ceramic and Porcelain […]

  • Tré Cavil - Love the paint on the china. Beautiful accents!

  • Jason - That’s a great idea to spice up your dinner ware.

  • Valerie - Just wondering if you think the little pot of paint is thick enough to cover up an old marketing logo on a mug? Or would the old logo still show a bump through the paint?

  • ray - hi this great stuff
    how do cover a logo on a plate
    i have many plates

  • denise - i want to stencil fleur di lis on white plates.what paint would I use? i want to be able to use them as well as the cups and small plates.does the paint come in a jar ?????yhanks

  • J P Patnaik - There ia requirement for spray paint for porcelain insulators 33 kV out door sub station
    Pl send the catolog if any
    J P Patnaik

  • J P Patnaik - There is requirement for spray paint for porcelain insulators 33 kV out door sub station
    Pl send the catalog if any
    J P Patnaik

  • Teresa Schieckoff - I would like to find stuff go colour with sharpie markers

  • 31 Painting Techniques for Interiors and Art – Tipjunkie - […]  How to Paint Designs on Ceramic Dishes ~ Take plain white dishes (dollar stores carry them) and buy special paint pens to customize your […]