So here is the 4th project for this week. The main part of this project I did in 15 minutes…while the boys were watching WordGirl and FireCracker was downing her breakfast. I like messing with Hobby Lobby t-shirts (because they are cheap and thick) and for the first time I tried heat transfer vinyl. It was fun! I like it better than doing freezer paper stencils and fabric painting.

Step 1
: Big Brother picked out a bright blue shirt and I wanted to tone it down just a bit. Before I began the design portion of this project I soaked the shirt in bleach water for a bit. It didn’t do a whole lot, but it did take the edge off the brightness.

Step 2: Pick your design. If you have a CriCut machine it can perfectly cut vinyl…so yeah for those of you that own them and boo for those of us that don’t. In my head I wanted something similar to Chris’ old boy scout t-shirts…just a simple graphic. At first I was going to use the road sign graphic for camping, but then I went okie.

Step 3: Decide how big you want the graphic to be

Step 4: Cut out a pattern for your graphic

Step 5: Flip your graphic over and trace it on the vinyl portion of the heat transfer paper. The paper has two sides, one is very glossy and one is more matte. The matte side will be the one to adhere to the shirt, the glossy side will be the one that touches your iron. You will now use an exacto knife to cut out the design. You want to only cut the vinyl layer, not the glossy base.

Step 6: Using your exacto knife remove all the excess vinyl so you are left just with your design

Step 7: Flip the graphic over so the vinyl is touching the fabric and the glossy side is up

Step 8: On a medium, no steam setting use firm pressure to iron on the design.

Step 9: Peel off the glossy top. The discoloration on this shirt is water from leaning over to pet a stingray. You know…normal stuff for an okie.

Step 10: Attempt to get your 4 year old to pose in his new shirt (which he LOVES). I purposely let him wear it to the Aquarium with his cousins…thinking I would for sure get a great candid shot of him in it. I tried.

In unrelated news, his sister loved the aquarium. She looked tiny in the shark tunnel and she tried her best to catch a shrimp.

She also liked the turtles. I will say the Oklahoma portion of the Aquarium was a great reminder why I don’t swim in lakes.

Alligator Gar. No thank you.

My brother-in-law noodles. No thank you. I totally stole this picture off my sister’s blog…here is the post of what she made with that catfish. She cooks. I craft.

(Noodling means he stuck his hand in a hole in a dirty lake and pulled that fish out bare handed by sticking his arm down its throat. Seriously. SERIOUSLY)

Some of the cousins. I have 4 nephews and 4 neices on Chris side. They are a fun bunch.

FireCracker kept up with the big girls just fine.

And on our way towards the car I finally got him to semi cooperate. My design isn’t for everyone, you could do all kinds of crazy things with yours…in 15 minutes or less.

The heat transfer vinyl is from Expressions Vinyl…the $25.00 giveaway ends tomorrow. Scroll down to Tuesday’s post to enter.

For those of you with a CriCut, here is a great video tutorial.

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  • laura - cuuuuute. i need to make a tennessee one for my little man:). i love it when you give the boy ideas:).

  • colleen - THANK YOU soooo much for using an exacto! My husband is a high school teacher and i am a stay at home mom and one of those cricut, silhouette thingies is just not in the budget!(without skipping meals!:) So, i will be using my handy dandy, cave man exacto and lovin it!

  • Kari - My neighbor caught the huge alligator gar that is displayed at the Oklahoma aquarium. I think he caught it at Red River. I cannot imagine being in the water with that thing! EWWW! I love the tutorials this week!!

  • Molly - I had to google Alligator Gar. Oh my goodness. Had you told me what it was, I would have thought you made it up. CRAZY.

  • Lesley - Ha! There’s something really funny about seeing that pic of the hubs on your blog. Something about it just doesn’t fit!

  • Sarah M - I think I threw up a bit reading about that fish. People actually DO THAT??!
    In other news, that shirt turned out great! lol
    Sarah M

  • crystal - what camera settings did you use for the shark tank photo? Mine never seem to turn out good!

  • lifeologia - Great family fun. I love the underwater tunnel 😉

  • lifeologia - Ashley, one more thing. I want to thank you for inspiring me to get myself into photography again. I just did a great pregnancy photoshoot for my friend and it went so well. I would love for you to see it and give me the seal of approval.
    I started a photography business about 3 years ago but for many uncontrollable reasons it didn’t work out – but now I think I can pull it off :)

    I keep seeing beautiful photo shoots you do and I’m reminded of the excitement as a photographer – so thanks for secretly pushing me into it… ;D

  • sarah - WOW. I saw noodling on a tv show and thought it was a joke. That’s hilarious. I’m loving your DIY’s this week. Thank you.

  • Tracy - Ashley you have the greatest ideas!! I must say you also have some pretty cute kids too!

  • Asha - Thank you for the giveaway! I would love to try this. We are getting a Hobby Lobby here (New Hartford, NY) soon and I can’t wait!!!

  • missty - Just did my first heat vinyl project last night. In love!!! Can’t wait to get more colors.

  • Rachel - The DIYS this week are fantastic! I love how the shirt came out. Thanks so much for the great idea, I’ll be linking.

  • Kyla - What a cute idea!

  • shana beth edington - where did you get the heat vinyl??? :) Joanna has clear but where did you get white??


  • shana beth edington - That was Joann’s not joanna :)

  • 6 ways to savor the tail-end of summer | Simple Mom - […] Heat transfer vinyl stencil […]

  • Albert - i am speechless. Only word comes to my lips is WOW..Genius tricks and super design. These photos says all about heat transfer. Nice and beautiful photographs.

  • 6 ways to savor the tail-end of summer | Simple Mom - […] Heat transfer vinyl stencil […]

The word is out today…I am joining the ranks of Design Aglow as a contributor. I will be doing a monthly diy post on the Design Aglow blog using their products. I have been using Design Aglow products for a couple of years now, so it is really exciting to be a part of something I am already a fan of. Each month I will do an exclusive post there, but I’ll let you know here so you can check it out. It is a bit intimidating over there….all the contributors are rockstars of the photography industry…and then there is me. My first post went up today. Here is a peek at it. So far all those photography rockstars have been kind in their comments…which lets me breathe a sigh of relief!

UPDATE: For those a bit confused…Design Aglow is primarily targeted to professional photographers. Photographers can find resources, products and inspiration to propel their businesses forward. Most of the products I use from Design Aglow are templates, actions or files used in Photoshop. For instance, Design Aglow sells templates for birth announcements (which professional photographers use and sell to clients). I might take one of those announcement designs and turn it into a t-shirt. You do not need to be a professional photographer to purchase any of their products, but for most of their products you do need to own and have basic Photoshop knowledge. This is a summary taken from the Design Aglow site:

“From information and products directed at professional wedding and portrait photographers, to Photoshop actions, templates, fresh marketing materials, album design and seminars for the boutique wedding and portrait studio, Design Aglow is the marriage of art with a collection of resources for the cutting edge contemporary photography studio.”

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  • Angela - Ugh.. I think you’ll fit right in with the rockstar photographers!

  • stephanie - I saw that! Congrats on joining their fabulous team!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh Ashley, Congratulations! That is super fantastic!

  • Ellen - Love it, you have a defined touch to your projects that put your creative signature to it. Know I have a new blog to follow.

  • Tricia - love it! I found you through design aglow and I’m amazed at your creativity and your amazing time managment! I have 2 little ones and I can’t get one room together! oh well! right?! congrats!!!!

  • Jessica P - Congratulations! You will wow those other rockstars.

  • Allison Waken - Congratulations! I’m a huge fan of Design Aglow as well – so exciting!

  • Janica - Super post! Loved all of the products you displayed:) And yeah for us…one more spot to check out your creative genius!!! Congrats.

  • julie - you are my fave. ever. so deal with it. so excited that they have you! they are the lucky ones.

  • Jasie - I haven’t checked out the website yet, but I think YOU’re a rock star. The other contributors are not just being kind, they see in your what WE see. Congrats!

  • Jodi - This is amazing. You deserve it! Congratulations and thanks for another place where I can stalk you! Brilliant!

  • Haylee - WOW! congrats! Design Aglow is my number one go to for new designs, products and tons of information for my photography! So happy for you!

  • Sarah Mattingly - Loved your post so I had to come check out your blog. Glad to say your post worked too. I purchased three new items from Design Aglow….want to guess which ones? Can’t wait to see your next entry.

  • tangie - ummm…. thinking YOU are a rockstar!! found you at DA — love your blog!! i used to be creative… now i need help… lots. THANK YOU!!

  • Jamie - I am now going bananas over that button print. I have looked at all this Design Aglow stuff and have no idea what it is or how to use it. Do you have to be a real photographer or have certain programs to use their things? It all looks so cool but just can’t figure it out! Congrats on your new venture :)

  • Liene - Great posting at Design Aglow and great DIY again! To me you are the DIY and photography rockstar!

  • Shannon - Congrats Ashley! Your first post was a-mazing, of course! Can’t wait to read more. Plus I love that idea! I am not sure why I have never done iron on paper before. Gotta head to Joanns and use some coupons!

    Oh, and FireCracker is out of control cute in those pics. Her little legs are getting so long and lean, you can tell she is growing up!

  • photo recovery - Congratulation you have been awarded a rockstar stature but I would say you are the cutest rockstar.

  • christina larsen - Awesome.

  • Sarah - oh please! you are a rock star! Congrats!

  • Lesley - Congrats! You are going to be a great add to the DA team!!! So proud.

  • Megan H - Congratulations and great post!

  • rachel denbow - Yay! Congrats, Ashley! I’ll be browsing often now to keep learning how to be a better photographer! Thanks for the reason to expand my horizons!!!

  • StacyAnn - Congrats girl! Love Design Aglow, Love your stuff, PERFECT! BTW I’m a big fan of yours! Time to come out of the blog stalking shadows :) and tell you how much I look forward to your posts every morn… you and my cup of coffee! :)

  • Jess - I’m loving all of your DIY projects! I don’t consider myself ‘crafty’ by any means, but your projects are so simple and so great – I think I just may try a few! I loved the button template onesie idea from your Design Aglow post, that’s my favorite idea!

  • sarah jonsgaard - I know this is a silly question but I am not sure I get what the Design Aglow website is and what it is for but I would love to be able to make things like you. Thanks.

  • Julie Frame - Thanks to Design Aglow I found your blog today and I AM THRILLED! Just love what you do! Congrats!!! Looking forward to your posts here…and there!

  • rebekah - yay!! and CONGRATS!!! love LOVE design aglow and can’t wait to peek at your posts each month! :)

When I said these would be simple FAST projects I wasn’t kidding! I don’t drink my coffee black, I girlie it up with cream & syrups. The syrups always come in great bottles…perfect for bud vases. Here is a quick craft for keeping glass out of the trash and cutely displayed instead! I am almost embarrassed to actually post this because it is so simple, but hey this one is for the moms that have about 4 minutes to craft…

Step 1:
Get your bottle

Step 2: Clean your bottle

Step 3: Wrap several layers of masking tape around it, trim tape with an exacto knife

Step 4: Add a band of scrapbooking paper, use double sided tape on one end to hold it together

Step 5: Add another layer of tape to keep the paper secure

Step 6: Add some cute ribbon trim. I used a paper trim and held it in place with double sided tape

Step 7: Add a thinner piece of trim and tie in a knot

Step 8: Find some pretty flowers

And you have one cutely re-purposed syrup bottle…and one that matches my blog background (thanks again  Katie Daisy)



I have been asked A LOT about how I get pictures with me in them, in focus and using the self timer. Well it is all about my focus button. The default focus button on your camera is your shutter button. This means you press it half way down to focus and all the way down to take the picture. Having one button serve two functions can be annoying at times. Have you ever tried to focus on something but your camera goes back and forth and just won’t focus where you want AND take the picture? One solution to this is to change the focus button on your camera. I can’t tell you have to do this for all your cameras, but you should be able to do a Google Search to find directions. In camera terms in it involves changing your “AF” button. On most of the canon models you can find it in your Menu under Custom Functions. I believe it is Custom Function 4. It should say “Shutter/AE lock button”. I use option 3 “AE/AF, no AE lock”

I will say there are differing opinions on using back button focus. I love it and will never go back. It does take a little while to get used to it. Try it out, do some Google Searches and you can find all kinds of discussion boards about the pros and cons…and better descriptions of all the AE/AF options. This only works on manual modes. If you are an automatic shooter it won’t work.

Here is a play by play on how it works. The back focus button only works when you are in the manual shooting modes (Av, Tv, M, P, S, A). Here is what my camera did on fully automatic when I tried to focus on the area of the table I would be standing. It wanted to focus on my son’s hand moving in front of the camera…and the picture is DARK.

This shot is using manual settings, the back button focus and the self timer.

In order to get in self timer shots, I set up the picture and focus on an object that is the same distance from the camera as I will be.

Once I have everything set up, I use the self timer again and I step into the picture. Depending on my aperture setting, I am careful not to change the distance I am from the camera compared to the object I focused on.

Another great aspect of back button focusing is your camera doesn’t jump around when you try to focus. I can still focus on exactly what I want using automatic lens focus (with manual camera settings). It can be so annoying when your focus and shutter are the same button!

In this picture, the camera is set on automatic mode. I was trying to focus on my son, but the camera kept jumping to focus on the crayons in the back.

Here I used the back button focus to capture the crayons without the annoying lens jumping. Using the back button focus is kind of like using MF on your lens…only it is AF on your lens with more control.

And here I focused on Big Brother.

Don’t forget the Lemon Poppy Shoppe (where I got the ribbon for this craft) and Expressions Vinyl giveaways are still going on (enter on Monday & Tuesday’s posts)

So there you go..a simple diy and back button focusing. Today I changed your lives.:)


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  • Casa e Cose - …but Crafts like that is perfect for someone like me who does not have any patience what so ever! thanks!
    And the photo thing explination even better. We have a CANON and we never seem to get it right. Will try with your advice.


  • Lisa - Thanks for the info on focusing and using the self-timer…Although, as I don’t have your brilliant photography knowledge, I’m fearful of tampering with my camera’s settings…However, for the less technically inclined, I have found that setting the camera to the ‘landscape’ (the one that looks like a little mountain), which focus everything in both the foreground and background, often works well when using the self-timer.

  • giozi - I love the today DIY and your pics.
    I must to buy these tapes too… ha ha ha. In fact now I have some in my Etzy favorites.
    When I see your pics I think that I need a Reflex very soon, is vital to me now, ha ha ha if I want to be better I need it, and I only can practise in manual mode. Whit a compact I can’t.
    Thanks for your tips again 😉

  • Julie - I agree with Helena. Sometimes I only have a few minutes to be creative! Something simple like this makes it easy for me to get my crafty fix and not feel like I neglected the things that make the house run or my kiddos. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • karen davis - WOAH back button focusing…. LOVE it! Trying it out tomorrow… thank you thank you thank you!

  • Lisa Johnson - Hooray for 4 minute crafts! I love this!

  • Mandy - I’ve known about back button focus but always been nervous to try it (what if someone else needs to use my camera) – – but your pictures are convincing me to make the change – thanks for all the tips!

  • Rachel C - Super cute vase! Don’t be ashamed to post the 4 minute craft projets. Those are my favorite!

  • Joy Andrews - I wish I could come to one of your pix clinics-but I can try and learn via blogging-Thanks for your time!

  • Maike - OMG you really did change my life with this super camera tip! thanks love it already

  • Melissa - For the last year, I have thought that my camera didn’t have back button focus and I was jealous of everyone that did. Turns out I do have it! Thanks so much!!!

  • erin - thanks so much for the focus tips. i sort of knew about this, but now i will take the time to work on it. during our recent vacation af was giving me so much trouble!

    this may be my first comment here, but i have been reading for quite some time. love all of your crafty ideas, photography, and humor. keep it coming!

  • Katie - The craft is great, but I’m super psyched about the photo tip!! I hate having to try to focus with the shutter button only to find that the camera wants to focus on everything but what I want to the focus to be. So excited to try the back focus button!!

  • Samantha - Seriously, Ashley. You did just totally change my {photography} life today! I always hate using my timer {I have a Canon 20d too} with me in the photo because the focus is NEVER where I want it. Ahh-mazing. I never knew that was possible!!

  • the inadvertent farmer - Lol…at first glance I thought that was an alcohol bottle. I figured since I was redoing a Corona bucket today that it only seemed fitting your were doing something similar!

    Now I see that it is a syrup bottle…which turned at darling! Kim

  • Jenna - That a great idea! I need something for my bathroom to add some color and this is the perfect thing. I am thinking of making three and putting them in an old thin crate. Thanks for the idea!!!

  • Jen - I switched to back button focus a year ago and agree, it rocks! Keep the DIY projects coming. They are great :)

  • Laura - Thanks for the photo tip! I’m such a visual learner so seeing the examples along with the tutorial is awesome! I can’t wait to give this a try!

  • Yolanda - I switched to back button focusing a few weeks ago and I love it 290%. Love the simply dressed up bottles. And your tutorial on Design Aglow today was sublime. You are one creative force. A font of inspiration.

  • Stefanie - Kids!!! Get ready! We’ll be takin’ some pics tonight! :-)

  • allison - This simple DIY is just what I needed for today! I’ll take a study break this afternoon, and pick some flowers on my way home. I am loving these quick projects :)

  • Deidre - I found you today through the Design Aglow blog and wanted to thank you for the focusing tutorial. I have been struggling with focus for quite a while (forever as a matter of fact). I tried this out today, and it works like a dream! I was afraid it would feel weird or would be hard to get used to, but I actually find it to be much easier! Thank you, thank you! Also, I love the button lettering on onesies. I am definitely going to try this with newborn/baby clients! I will be reading your blog from now on!

  • julie - dude. where is the masking tape from. i needs it.
    also, I changed to back button focusing about a month ago and it weirded me out at first, but now I loves it. Loves. It is fun telling the camera who is the boss.

  • nori - THANK YOU for that tutorial on focusing with the timer. i can’t say that i totally get it… but it’s not you, it’s me. i’m a total beginner- i’m still learning f stops, aperture, etc… it’s all greek to me. :o) that combined with the fact that i’m beat = confused girl. i’ll come back to it tomorrow when i’m well rested and i’m sure it’ll make more sense then. again… THANK YOU so much for sharing that! i can’t wait to absorb it and test it out.

  • Jennifer - This is SO pretty!

  • Karen - I love the simple DIY projects- they are perfect for those of us who can only craft while the kiddos are napping. Love the giveaways this week!

  • Colleen - Love this diy project. So super cute! Where did you get your washi tape?

  • Tammy Kay - I’m super duper excited that you shared this. I’m trying really hard to understand the manual mode. I’m really hoping that you will put together an online workshop because if you do I will be the first to sign up!
    THanks for the tutorial, yay!

  • Kerrie - Wow.. I love your crafts!! And the Canon tip — I think it might just change me! :)

  • Sarah - Where did you get the pastel colored masking tape? All I can find is the blue paint tape. Help! I want to make one of these. :) Keep the easy-peasy, super fast crafts coming.

  • Ari Morris - I’m going to have to try that for sure! thanks for all the tips, you are fantastic, Ashley!

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  • Cynthia - THANK YOU for your thorough explanation of this!!! I’ve been hearing so much about “Back Button” focus, but not fully understanding the benefit, but now I do. :)

    Love your sight!!!!!!

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