talents-01We were baking cookies. Really, she was baking cookies and I was just reciting the recipe from memory. As she added ingredients, she asked, “Mommy, what are your talents?”

I hesitated for a moment. Listing off your talents to someone else is an odd thing to do. I’d prefer others tell me what they see in me, but my daughter needed me to speak with confidence about myself. In our home, we talk about gifts, talents and interests frequently. Celebrating our differences is a core value for our family. As she asked the question, I realized I spend most of my time talking about her talents and her siblings’ talents. She wanted to hear about mine.

The cookie dough formed and I shared with her the things I consider my talents, but more than that I talked about the things that bring me joy. Watching her face light up as I spoke about the things I like doing reminded me how important it is for and to my kids to see me happy. Conversations with my big kids – I had no idea they would be this good.

These growing up years are so fun. The questions they ask and the insight they provide make motherhood the greatest adventure I’ve known.
talents-02talents-04My youngest daughter has a keen ability for mixing patterns and dressing opposite of the weather. On cold days, she wears shorts and a t-shirt. On a 70 degree day – she wears tights and a winter coat…inside. And someone left the walking collar on our dog. Happy Wednesday friends!

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  • Diana - My 3 year old only wants to wear shorts all the time, claims it’s 90 outside (there is now on the ground). Your comment about your youngest made me laugh. I get it.

  • Heather - Your post today was so beautiful in its simplicity and observation and reflection of your children and life around you. You stop me every time you have a post like this because it was so similar to a day in the life of my house and yet you gently remind me to appreciate this time as I am also sometimes unexpectedly surprised how much I love each new phase we end up in as my children grow up. Thank you. Thank you for always seeing and pointing out the beauty.

  • Heidi - I hope you add a post scrip to your list of talents for your daughter. Please include the ability to write and connect with people (in-person and remotely) by the sharing an honest transparency of love and inclusiveness.

    Here are some of the topics you wrote about that have deeply affected me:

    1. stay at home moms and working moms
    2. home school and public schooling
    3. your post about taking space and being silent during tragic times
    4. teaching your kids to think of others and share with ALL kids internationally
    5. the joy and struggle of young children
    6. taking huge risks as a family to make changes in your lives and make the world a better place
    7. the immense love of your family and how your children have grown up seeing their grandparents and great-grandparents IN THEIR LIVES REGULARLY!!
    8. your awareness of your introversion, but willingness to push when needed and also embracing it

    I am not sure if you and I agree on politics and/or religion. If we do, great. If we don’t, great. I don’t feel the need to polarize myself when I read your writing. I don’t need to claim a side. You allow safety for ALL! THAT is a talent not many people have. The world needs more of you!

  • gHina - Hi Ashley, this post is just beautiful <3
    I am your reader for many years and I'm from the other side of world from you, Indonesia.
    I agree with Heidi, I would say your biggest talent is inspiring others about family, how you support each other and be with each other regularly. I feel like I want to have 5 kids everytime I read your blog! 😉
    Another one is your ability to capture moments with your photography. Your photo on daily life is priceless!
    I hope I can meet/get in touch with you personally one day, because I have tons of question to ask you.
    Love from Indonesia 🙂

  • Sara - Thank you for encouraging and inspiring me to be a more intentional mom. Thank you for sharing your heart.


My mom out does herself each year with the costumes for our Chinese New Year celebrations. The traditional celebration includes a lion dance. We missed that memo the first year and ever since we do a “Year of the ______ Dance.” My mom and kids make the mask each year. This is the Year of the Rooster. My eldest daughter decided it needed to be a ‘fiery rooster,’ so she added red feathers. We’ve had a few fox and coyotes attacks in our chicken coop….lets just say when she added the red feathers ‘fiery rooster’ was not what first came to mind!

I did not take many pictures this year. We served Hot Pot and I was in the mix of everything and completely forgot to even bring my camera in the room. I snapped a few before with my phone and a couple during the dinner, but not much.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIn the course of one day my friend Ruth gave me a new plate and my mom brought over a rooster mask. They work well together, don’t you think?!1.17CNY-1It is hard to believe our first Chinese New Year celebration was 5 years ago. We were a family of 6 waiting to find out who the youngest Campbell would be. It was also the year my second-born decided to karate chop the dancing lion at the restaurant we were celebrating at. Good times.


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Traveling and visiting new places in on the top of my list of favorite things to do. I’d jump on a plane to just about any place in the world if given the chance. Crossing oceans and even state lines is not always possible, so I take advantage of exploring my home state too! My friend Ruth (of Gracelaced) was visiting from New Mexico and we decided to make a spur of the moment trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Merc opened at the end of October. Though I wanted to visit sooner, Facebook posts from friends with pictures of long lines and 2 hour waits to eat caused me to hold off a bit.

The Merc is bringing new life to the little town of Pawhuska. The building was built in 1903 and has been the home to a mercantile company, a realty company, a telephone company and even one of the nation’s largest department stores. Over the last few years it was renovated and restored by Ladd & Ree Drummond.

Ruth and I spent a couple hours wandering the store, chatting in the bakery and, of course, grabbing lunch. We also snagged a photo with Marlboro Man.

The second story of The Merc is the bakery…and candy bar. You can also walk around a corner and watch all the baked goods being made. The area is really spacious and inviting. I took advantage of a pre-lunch cookie and latte.
For those not familiar with The Pioneer Womanwriting that seems funny to me, she is like Oklahoma royalty – her husband is known on her blog, books and show as “Marlboro Man.” I was not expecting to see him. It was lunch time and he was strolling around the restaurant, grabbed a seat right in the middle and sat down for lunch. Ruth and I agreed there was something so humble and charming about him. Watching him with customers and employees was one of the highlights of our visit.

Things to consider if you are planning a visit to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile:

  • Pawhuska is about an hour from Tulsa, 30 minutes from Bartlesville, and 2 hours from Wichita. Those are the 3 largest towns/cities nearby.
  • The busiest hours are 11am-2pm. We arrived right around 11am on a Wednesday and there was about an hour wait to eat in the restaurant. We walked around the shop, enjoyed the bakery and then got back in a much shorter line to eat lunch.
  • If you are going during the busy hours on a cold day, pack a jacket in case you have to wait in line. I did not do this. An incredibly sweet woman working the outside line brought me a pair of gloves – I think they were hers!
  • They serve tea and lemonade. Go for an Arnold Palmer, you won’t be disappointed.
  • I would recommend planning a few hours – take your time around the store, sit in the bakery, enjoy a meal.
  • All the employees (that I met) were warm and gracious – great examples of Okie hospitality.
  • Go with a friend – everything is better with a friend.
  • The drive to Pawhuska is beautiful in the spring, summer and fall. Don’t race to get there, take advantage of less traveled roads and a slower pace.


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  • Amy M - I would love to do that trip someday! I love Pioneer Woman and y’all had an extra special visit seeing MM! Glad to hear he was as humble and unassuming in person as they seem on the show.

  • Alice H - I love PW and MM! I am a tiny bit obsessed with her. When I went I got to take a pic with Ladd also. And I met her daughter Paige. She was working upstairs. The food was delicious and I loved the store. I cannot wait to go back. And I really want to see Ree when I do. Glad you and your friend had a good time.

  • Tammy - I’ve been trying to come up with an excuse to make the 8-ish hour drive…is there anything for husbands to do nearby also, to make a weekend out of?

    I also need to see how close it is to Independence KS, so I can check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder site maybe.

  • Christine - How fun!! Glad to see how far she’s come. i started following her blog right before she really took off. A bit jealous I must add. Looks like a beautiful place. Have a great day!

  • Joanna - While researching sites for my husband and I to take a cross-country bucket list road trip I came up with the idea of visiting the Merc (me being an avid PW fan) on our way back to Arizona. I so enjoyed reading your post on your visit to the Merc and so many other places you’ve traveled to. We plan to visit eight or so of the National Parks in UT, CA, MT and WY as Far East as Niagara Falls before heading home. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures, info, and tips!