So after all the Google Reader craziness I realized a lot of you have no idea what Google Reader is or why I was frustrated it wouldn’t work on my blog. Let me, in a nutshell, share with you.

You will need to set up an account to use it, but that is simple.

Google Reader is an option for you to keep track of your favorite blogs all in one spot. Instead of bookmarking a ton and visiting them each day to see who has updated, all youย  have to do is log into your Google Reader account and you can see what blogs are updated and which ones are not. It makes blog reading much faster by getting rid of all the down time checking blogs that haven’t updated. The drawback is you don’t see the actual blog….on my blog you miss all the tabs, the background, the My Lovelies, etc….you just get the post. Some blogs only show text or titles on Google Reader. You should check it out. But….if my blog randomly stops showing up come back here the manual way I post pretty much every weekday…

UPDATE: Look in the comments of this post…a great idea for how to view the actual blogs using Google Reader, but on your toolbar…I am off to try it. Thanks ladies for sharing!

UPDATE #2: Okay the “next” button in the toolbar…my life is changed. Genius. I owe you all big time for sharing that!

I haven’t announced the Match-a-Roo Zoo winners because I haven’t had time to go through all the comments…I’ll get to it soon!

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  • amy - You can add something called a “next” button to your bookmarks (from google) that allows you to actually visit the blogs that are in your reader (who have posted since you last read). I can’t remember who posted about it recently or how I added it to my bookmark bar (sorry), but it works, and when you’ve read all your blogs it says something like “you have reached the end of this internet”!

  • Lanny Stanard - I’m so with you on this… yes I like google reader but! I must say I love your blog everything about it, I visit everyday to see what your doing next… Thanks so much ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Leo - Google reader changed the way I surf the internet. I love it, love it, love it.

  • Michelle - http://www.sowonderfulsomarvelous.com/2010/06/blog-tips.html

    The next button is seriously the best thing google ever invented! I use it all the time (even right now!) to visit my reads daily.

  • Tuesday Jane - It is a great tool of Google, I used it before I found “bloglovin.com”, I prefer the latter but it depends on everyone’s preference of course.

    You pictures are amazing, they’re all bright and colourful! I look forward to see more, great blog indeed!

  • Kelly - Ditto Amy! When you use the “next” bookmark in your toolbar it takes you directly to the blog post so we can see all the pretty stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

    In reader – Settings – Goodies- 3rd one down

  • Harriet - Thank you! I now know what you are talking about. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have to tell you this, I was directed to your blog a few months ago now and now I have to check it everyday! So when I was away on holiday to California for 7 weeks I was going crazy because I was desperate to check your blog for your latest crafts and beautiful photos. When I got home I spent hours looking through all the posts I had missed while I was gone. I just love your blog!! It is inspiring, and you are an inspiration!!

  • Melissa - Guess what! It has taken me a few weeks, but I have gone through your blog start to end and back to start! Loved it! So much I could comment on and so much I drooled over. I do have one question however, how to your pictures appear so clear on this blog?! Are you adjusting anything in photoshop/lightroom?

  • tasha roe - i am going to have to try out this google reader thingie.
    sounds interesting.

    saw you on ohdedoh again. you are rockin’ it!!

  • AshleyG - I’ve been using google reader since it was created but have never even tried out all the new gadgets like this next button. Thanks for sharing! I would have never known!

  • Mandy - I too recently discovered the “NEXT” button – WOW!!! where has that been all my life! http://craftedition.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-reader-next.html

  • Kacey - This post just changed my life. haha! I just set up Google Reader and the NEXT button is now my new favorite anything! Thanks so much for sharing. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Mary - I have you on my google reader but it still doesn’t pull up your actual posts… it just does the links. ๐Ÿ™ Which is okay at the same time because your blog is amazing and I don’t mind spending time floating around on your site. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Vane - You really should try http://www.bloglovin.com!

Well here are some answers to the questions you asked last week. I am sure to get behind on the questions in the comment section again, I apologize…..

1. How about a tutorial on the Anthropologie pillow?

Well, that would be easy if I had made one at the time, but I was making it up as I went along. Basically I used a small square pillow, wrapped the tea towel around the pillow, hand stitched all the way down one end, folded the other ends and tucked them inside. Finally I made a small stitch on two sides to keep it all together. That is a terrible answer, but hopefully it will give you a jumping off point.

2. Where is the headband from that the cute girl is wearing in the backpack post?

Her talented aunt made it for her. Maybe I can convince her aunt to come over one day and let me photograph her doing a tutorial on it for all of us….beg Jamie in the comments and maybe it will work. Until then, you can find some similar on etsy. Here are some more super cute ones.

What is your favorite lens, camera, photo tips?

You can find a list of all my equipment on the About Me page under the “info” tab. I need to update all that with new pictures, but it has the basic info. My two favorite lenses are my 50mm f/1.4 & 85mm f/1.8. If I am out with the kids and need wide angle and close up shots I grab my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

Here is Sweet P (aka my amazingly cute niece) taken with my 50mm lens.

50mm, ISO 320, 1/200, f/2.8

This is the son of some of our friends…we (obviously) were at the park. I shot this with my 85mm. I love the backlighting. I know a lot of photographers would do a skin correction on his face to remove the yellow cast from the slide. If I actually knew enough about Photoshop to do that, I might, but I kind of like it because it is real….but if I knew how I’d probably like that better!

85mm, ISO 200, 1/160, f/2.0

The 24-70mm is considered a zoom (it goes from 24mm all the way to 70mm)….I use it for most of my indoor wide angle shots.

Here is FireCracker following her brothers out the back door, I am ‘zoomed out’ as far as the lens will let me.

24mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/7.1

This is the same 24-70mm lens, but ‘zoomed in’ as far as I can. This is my friend’s daughter at a BBQ.ย  Yes, she has amazing hair.

70mm, ISO 160, 1/320, f/3.2


Where did you get your kid’s Arctic Cat?

Walmart, about 4 years ago. FireCracker prefers to drive herself.

Have you ever thought of homeschooling your kids? Yes….just like we think about private and public schooling. Our approach to schooling is Kid by Kid, Year by Year….our kids are all so different and we recognize what is best for one at a particular time may not be best for another….or that same child at a different time for that matter.

Where do you get your fabric?

Locally, I shop at Sew Flakes in downtown Broken Arrow. Online I just search around etsy by color or designer. You can find some great deals and many more options online.

On average when do you go to sleep and when do you wake up?

I usually get about 7 hours of sleep a night….often interrupted a couple of times….usually I’m up by 6:30am. My friends are trying to convince me to join them at the gym at 5:30am. If Jillian Micheals would meet me there every morning and yell at me (and promise me arms like hers), I’d be all over it….totally my kind of trainer, I don’t want fluffy sweet Bob talk at the gym.

What are your favorite local flea markets, antique shops?

Southern Hospitality & The Hitching Post in Broken Arrow, The RiverCity Trading Post in Jenks, the Saturday Flea Market at the expo in Tulsa.

Where did you get your baby wrap from?

Loveyduds on etsy. In the photo below my mom actually sewed the Amy Butler fabric over the original fabric that was on it when I used it with Littlest Brother. I just wanted to change it up a bit for FireCracker.

How do you organize your kid’s art projects?

We make way too many to keep. I usually display them for about a week and then recycle, compost or trash them. I keep only a handful each year. Right now they are just in a file folder. I am not one to keep stuff very long….

What is going on with the sweet potatoes you are growing inside?

I am not actually growing them for a long term purpose. I like houseplants, but I also kill a lot of houseplants. Sweet potatoes grow in water really quickly. Basically, I like how they look (roots, potato, leaves, water) so I keep them around until they get too big…then I compost them and start again. Like I said before, I am random….thankfully my hubby loves my randomness.

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  • Sarah M - Here is a DIY of that cute headband from blogger Rubyellen from CAKIES! blog:
    http://mycakies.blogspot.com/2010/01/braided-headband-tutorial.html

    Easy peasy!

    Sarah M

  • Stacia - Love the q & a session. Thanks for the sweet potatoe a, by the way. I googled it. Hit Michaels for $1 mason jars. Rescued some sweet potatoes on the verge on suicide in our veggie bowl and now have similar houseplants on our shelf. They are mysteriously beautiful growing this way. Once again, thanks for the inspiration!

  • Hollie - Thank you so much for your answers! and Jaimie – I’m begging begging begging for a tutorial on the to die for cute headband. They would make the perfect handmade gift!! Please??

  • Tammy Kay - I love what you have done to your couch! The sweet potato is random but cool. Great post.

  • Shannon - What a fun q&a! I hope you don’t stress about doing those for us! I love love your blog no matter what you post, and shoot, you can’t share ALL your secrets! Sometimes people just need to find their own creativity and make something new! You are amazing Ashley! Keep it up!

  • Jme - I’m cracking up that something I made is on your question & answer! ha! I actually saw it on a blog, Cakies…. it’s super easy. Here’s the link:

    http://mycakies.blogspot.com/2010/01/braided-headband-tutorial.html

  • RachelC - I LOVE that picture of L. Her serious face is so cute. Love those CURLS!!

  • Sarah - Thanks for sharing your wealth of information ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shannon - What a fun post! I hope you don’t stress about doing those for us! I love your blog no matter what you post and shoot! You can’t share ALL your secrets! Sometimes people just need to find their own creativity and make something new! You are amazing Ashley! Keep it up!

  • ashley jensen - I am so glad to hear some of your favorite antique shops! I will definitely have to check out the ones in B.A (since I am there a few times a week). There are a couple in Collinsville I visit occasionally but the prices seem high to me. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it needs to be expensive, especially if it isn’t in great condition!

  • Mandy - Coincidence, I just posted about braided headbands today – they’re so easy and fun to make! We did them as a moms group.
    http://craftedition.blogspot.com/2010/09/braided-headbands.html

  • Brooke - Thank you darling. ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate you answering everyone’s questions.

  • Kara P - I LOVE that you don’t want any “fluffy sweet Bob talk” at the gym! haha! That cracked me up and I am totally with you- Jillian is my FAV!!! You should come work out at Cross Fit with Tim and I. It’s in BA, everyone does the same workout, its competitive, its encouraging, and fun!

  • Amy - Thank you for all the answers!!! Is Sew Flakes open on Sundays? I live in Tahlequah so Sunday is just about the only day we make it to the Tulsa area.

  • Holly Lesue - Thank you for being so real! One of the many reasons why I love your blog!

  • Mara - Thanks for the fun Q&A – I agree, I hope you don’t stress over doing those – but it’s so fun to read them when you do. You have such great ideas, and I love your style. I look forward to reading your blog every day ๐Ÿ™‚

  • amanda torres - Jillian Michaels is my kind of trainer too! I don’t need to be encouraged, I need someone to hack me off. She’d do the job. It reminds of childbirth class. The instructor told the husbands to, “Keep encouraging your wife. Tell her what a fabulous job she’s doing.” I told Steven if he did that, he’d get the look of death. I knew I’d be trying my dardest to get my baby out, and didn’t need some mushy gushy pep talk.

  • Elisabeth - Thank you so much for answering questions. I have one more–but no pressure to answer soon! I like natural light the best, but am realizing that I need an external flash for times when I just can’t get it (like photos in the art studio at my son’s school, and nightime projects). Can you recommend one?

  • Jenny B. - Yea! Some of the questions I was thinking about asking got answered! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m very happy to know that you are, in fact, a normal human who needs sleep. ๐Ÿ˜‰ OK, so here’s a question (forgive me if you’ve addressed it in the past, or if there’s a photo somewhere that would make the answer obvious)… Do you have a TV in your home? If so, do you have cable/satellite, or do you just use it to watch DVDs? I’ve often thought my whole life might be more productive without TV.

  • Jenny B. - P.S. I was shocked to read that your house is only about 1500 sq. ft. You work wonders with that wide angle lens! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • giozi - Wow.How many question. And you said that there are more. ha ha ha.
    I was interested too about lens, but I have to confess I don’t understand very well. I’v just change my compact camera for my first reflex.
    Thanks for the tips about it. (lenses)

  • Lacey McKay - Oh what fun questions! Thanks for sharing! I love the photo of Firecracker looking out the back door at the tree. One of these days, I would like to come see that famous tree, and maybe have a little picnic beneath the shade of it.

  • Taylor - I made a headband that looks just like that! I posted the tutorial today. Hope it helps those who were commenting about yours ๐Ÿ™‚

    http://www.maryjanesandgaloshes.com/2010/09/braided-headband-tutorial.html

  • Colleen - I hate to add another question when you’ve already been so nice answering so many above, but I am in love with the headband Firecracker is wearing above in the fabric question photo. The one with the red flower and the thin black band. Wear can I find that? I want one for me and my baby girl. So super cute! Thanks a million. I love your blog!!

  • Kristin - You where on my blog with the headbands! ๐Ÿ™‚ When I linked to you. They are pretty simple and I don’t have a picture tutorial, but I do give basic instructions with the pics. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Desiree - I thought of you today when the landscapers were cutting down a birch tree in front of my apartment. I thought, “Ashley would snag some of that wood and make something adorable out of it.” I really wanted, to but I couldn’t justify grabbing the wood and having it sit in my backyard for nine months before I decided to finally throw it away. I was sad that I couldn’t think of anything to do with it.

  • May of MayDae - Yay! Thanks for answering my question about bedtime and wake time:)

  • amber - Crackin me up that in the picture with big brother, he’s not the least bit concerned that he’s upsetting his firecracker sis. Boys…I love em! And amen to Jillian Michael’s arms.

  • Heather - i like random, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • kim - i think rubyellen from the cakies blog came up with the braided headband…i made some in high school that were very similar but she has a tutorial on her blog!

    now back to reading this fun post!

  • GRACE HAPPENS - hello! just found your blog and am so glad i did. do you mind sharing the source of the red and yellow floral fabric on the sofa? i am in love with it! off to catch up on your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ grace