10.14tray-01Cold weather is approaching. For some, this means fall has arrived. For me, it marks the end of spray painting season. I’m taking advantage of the final days of warm weather to spray paint anything and everything. Typically, I make a stock pile of all the things I want to spray paint and then paint them all at once.

Over the weekend, I tackled several projects…one was giving a facelift to a few serving trays.


  • Wood trays – my grandpa made one, the black one was from a craft store
  • Spray Paint – I used White & Blue Ocean Breeze
  • Decoupage
  • Shelf liner or vinyl wallpaper (so they are waterproof) – mine are both retro finds
  • Scissors or an X-acto knife

Step 1: Spray paint your tray


Step 2: Cut your paper to size. I chose paper with a vinyl finish. This will allow me not to worry if anything wet gets on the trays or if something is spilled.

Step 3: Add decoupage to the tray and smooth out the paper.10.14tray-0510.14tray-0710.14tray-0910.14tray-10This was such a fast, fun and easy project using supplies I already had on hand. I’m thinking I need to make a few more this week…Happy Monday.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - I just love adding beauty in unexpected places! These turned out great! Thanks for sharing!

  • angie - good morning… what a fun diy… love the retro coverings that you used… they turned out so cute! makes me want to go thrifting to find the perfect tray… thanks for sharing!

  • Cathy Shealy - Great project I love the tray with the fan pattern. Which one did your grandpa make?

  • Diana - These are adorable. Now I really want to make one!

  • amanda - These are so fun Ashely!!! Maybe next year we should put our piles together and have one big painting party!!!

  • AshleyAnn - Yes, Amanda! We definitely need to do that!!!

  • kimberly oyler - this is pretty cute.

  • Kerry - These are so fun — on my “to make someday” list ; )

  • meg duerksen - i love the yellow one!!! and i love the gummy toothy smile. and i can’t believe you got a puppy!!!! so so so cute. miss you like crazy girl.

  • Meghan - These came out great! I’m curious about the pinwheels that are nestled in that mason jar. Do you have a fun tutorial?

  • Deneen Pancari - I laughed about your comment..”For me, it marks the end of spray painting season” I enjoy looking at your IG feed and reading your blog! Chickens are awesome!!


I’m a semi-goal person. This means I like attainable goals, not ridiculous ones. I like checking things off lists. I like working hard towards something and achieving it. I consider myself a practical girl – reasonable, realistic. This plays into the goals I set. I make them reasonable and realistic…but ones that just don’t happen unless I work towards them.

Last spring I set a fitness goal. It was totally random and probably only makes sense to a handful of people. Some people set goals to run a 10K or a complete their first triathlon….I decided to work towards a muscle up on the rings. I was told by my Crossfit coach that it was a realistic goal for me. In a basic sense, a muscle up is a move where you go from hanging on the rings to supporting yourself above the rings. You can do this with a swing (kipping) or without a swing (strict). I’ve been working towards a kipping ring muscle up. My goal was to be able to do one by my birthday.


I’m pretty sure I’ve watched every online instructional video. I’ve tried countless exercises that build up to the muscle up. I’ve gotten a million tips from those that can do them. I’ve recorded my attempts and replayed them looking for what I need to change. I even bought rings so I could work on drills at home because I can’t exactly spend all day at my Crossfit gym.

My birthday was this week. No muscle up.

My coaches keep telling me it just needs to click in my head. Like riding a bike.

I learned to ride a bike really fast. I really want that clicking in my head to happen soon.

I’m used to setting goals, working hard and achieving them. This whole muscle up thing has drove me crazy. Instead of scanning Pinterest for crafts, I’m scanning it for muscle up tips. Seriously. I need to get this muscle up so I can return to hot glue guns and mod podge.

While I’ve been practicing, my boys have joined in too. My eight year old (pictured below) is pretty determined to do one too.

10.14rings-0210.14rings-0310.14rings-0410.14rings-0510.14rings-07When I showed up at the gym the morning of my birthday a good friend surprised me with balloons attached to Ring Pops – in honor of my ring muscle up goal. I didn’t meet my goal. On the way home, another friend called to ask me if I got it. She didn’t know what a muscle up was or why it was a big deal to me, but she knew it was and she was cheering me on. She also encouraged me and said she was sure I’d learn something from this experience and have a blog post to write about it – she knows me so well!

So, I didn’t meet my goal. I set a new one. My 8 year old made a wager with me if I can’t do it by Christmas. Christmas it is.

I may not have done a muscle up this week, but this week was a reminder of how fortunate I am to have good friends and family. People that love me enough to cheer me on even when I am doing something that doesn’t make any sense at all to them. As much as I would have liked to reach my goal, I’m thankful for the conversations I’ve had with my kids as a result of not reaching it. They’ve seen me doing strange drills from rings on the stairs, they’ve glanced over to see me doing dips on park benches and they’ve joined me in swinging all crazy from a tree. They watched me work hard and not make my goal. I’ve had to process my frustration in front of them and with them. It is easier to tell them to not give up and work hard…it is a lot harder to live it out in front of them. Harder, but better I think.

Now, they are going to watch me not give up and they’ll be the first to celebrate with me when I get it before Christmas. I’m going to get it. I am not letting my son win!


**I shot the images above from a really low angle, so he looks higher than he actually is.  Also, please no Crossfit controversy in the comments. That is not the point of this post. Thank you:)

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Liane - Those photos are amazing! Well done on not giving up on your goal! That’s my biggest problem, I get discouraged and give up so easily. Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book! :)

  • Paige - AWESOME post! Its so hard for me to let my kids experience failure, yet its such a huge life lesson. Even greater when they see us go through it. “In this life there will be trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” You can do it, Ashley!
    PS I’m so thankful I don’t know what the crossfit controversy is. Exercise in any form is so good for the body! We will need a picture of the gun show come Christmas!

  • Bernie - I didnt have my glasses on when I began reading, and I initially thought this post was about GOATS! I too, like to make lists, just to cross things off (in RED pen, of course)! If I do something that is not on my list, I write it down, just so I can cross it off. Good luck on your muscle up goal, but is it REALLY that important to you?

  • Carrie - I think it’s great that we can have serious goals and fun goals. The point is to be learning and trying new things, and I think that’s awesome. I’m 32, and my goal is to do a handstand someday. (And I know you are already the queen of those.) :)

  • Jennie - Your comment about scanning pinterest for muscle up tips made me smile, because ever since I started crossfit earlier this year, my craft room has been abandoned and my pinterest searches are 90% crossfit related. (I’m still working on strengthening my shoulders before I attempt a muscle up- great job on being so dedicated and close to your goal!)

  • christina larsen - hope you reach your goal. keep on swinging! :)

  • Heidi - Thank you for posting about a goal that didn’t happen! I’m working on a few (non-cross fit) related goals, and they’re proving super hard, and sometimes the internet feels a little discouraging because everyone is singing the praises of working hard and thereby accomplishing on schedule. Even though my goals are in a different realm, you’re hard work, determination, and trying again are encouraging! I hope it all clicks for you soon!

  • Elizabeth Highsmith - My brother has rings in his loft apartment. He tells me I need to be able to do one pull-up, “You’ve gotta be able to pull yourself up onto the helicopter in a crisis, otherwise you’re shark bate.” I’m shark bate you are so not! I’m going to pray you get it and praise Him when you do!

  • suzy - I know you did not achieve your goal, but congrats anyway! Congrats on being a great example for your kids of working hard and striving. Congrats on giving them an example of what it means to fail, but not give up completely. Congrats on being a good example in fitness and working through all of this with them. It is a great example and a victory of being encouraged by one another. Awesome!

  • Steph - Such a good point, working out frustration in front of kids must take some serious restraint and patience! A mutual learning experience :) Best of luck on your goal, what a cool and unexpected one it is!

  • Jenny - You Can Do It!!

  • Jill - i am sorry you did not reach your goal but glad to hear that you just reset the clock and are working towards it. i have been doing crossfit for two years and have never tried a muscle up ( just touched the rings for the first time a month ago, literately touched) they scare me so much but i know so many people, especially women and strong women, who have a very hard time with mu. i think its a mix of confidence and upper body strength as long as you keep working towards it you will get it!!

  • Karen - Setting goals is awesome! It’s a great example for your kids to see you work for it. I’m a runner and it took me a long time to reach a certain time I was shooting for. My kids were super proud of me when I did. I hope you both get the muscle up! I’m rooting for you!! Keep us posted on your progress!

  • Kim - In the meantime, you’re swinging and working those muscles! Yay!
    I am the child of a perfect mom. She could, and can do anything. I’ve never seen her fail….although now, as an adult, I realize there must have been tons of fails. She never shared that part of her. She never pushed me to be perfect, but her example did – and boy did it make me feel crappy to not live up to that standard. Again – good for you, you’re a great mom!!

  • Sarah - This verse was in my devotional this week,”Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” Prov 24:16. We’re works in progress, good for you for persevering!

  • ellen patton - Thanks for keeping it real.

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - I think when we fail we learn so much more than if we meet our goals all the time. So I try to fail often, ha ha, totally kidding! But I do try to think of this when things don’t go the way that I expected. Btw, love the photos! I am a tree nerd and this must be your Sycamore for “Under the Sycamore”, beautiful! My favorite tree lately is the ginkgo. The leaf shape has stolen my heart again. I’m glad I don’t have the stinky balls on my sidewalk though, ha, ha. You can see a lot of photos of tress on my Instagram lately if you like. The maples are a close second right now, because of the fall colors. Have an awesome day!

  • Laurie - Happy birthday and good for you. I laughed out loud that you had to post “no crossfit controversy”. SMH!!! You rock.

  • Kimberly Oyler - I would like a live demonstration of your ring skills tomorrow please. :)

  • michele - Stop thinking about it so much.

  • Jeanine - Wishing you all the best on your muscle up! I am still working on pull ups!!! At least you are young-try it at 53!
    I hope you don’t mind me asking about this, but I am so hoping that you are doing a best of my days for 2015. I gave several as gifts and it’s amazing how many people are still doing their lists! Thanks so much!

I was trying to think back to age 5. I have a handful of memories, but one sticks out the most. I remember painting a self-portrait in my kindergarten class and my teacher walking up behind me. Full of excitement and animation she oooed and aaahhhed over it. I don’t remember her exact words, but I remember how she made me feel. That day I believed I was an artist. 5 was a good year.

Next, I jumped 10 years to see what I remember about being 15. I remember A LOT about 15. I remember the cute boy I nicknamed “Prep Boy” that was always at his locker outside my Oklahoma history class. I remember driver’s ed and the first time my dad took me on a road with other cars. 15 was a rad year.

Ten years later, I was 25 and a brand new mom. I remember more about 15 than I do 25…probably due to lack of sleep and being a bit in shock by it all. 25 was an amazing year, an absolutely amazing year – so much better than 5 & 15!


Well, yesterday I turned 35. If 5 was good, 15 rad, 25 amazing – 35 is all those things and more. I woke up to cards and surprises all over the house. I love getting older.

10.14bday-01We celebrated my way – just staying at home, eating my favorite meals that I didn’t cook and doing projects.10.14bday-02

The kids were in art supplies all day and Chris hung some old cabinets in our new laundry room. I hung a planter. It made me ridiculously happy.10.14bday-03

Sometimes people ask me the question, “What do you hope for in 10 years?”

I can never answer that question.

As a 15 year old, I would have never even known to dream for what 25 ended up looking like for me. My 15 year old mind could not comprehend the goodness of what 25 would hold for me. At 15 I had never heard of email…

As a new mom at 25, I could have not imagined I would be given 5 amazing kids over the next 10 years. I had no way of dreaming that photography and blogging would enter my life or that I would teach online. At 25 I had never heard the term “blogger”…

At 35, I don’t have big specific dreams for the next 10 years. I dream loosely because my dreams tend to be too small – even when they feel HUGE to me. I want to keep dancing with Jesus and I have a feeling my 35 year old mind cannot conceive or even begin to dream up the goodness of 45….10.14bday-05

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • becky d. - Belated birthday wishes! It looks like you had a fabulous day celebrating your life with the people who mean the most to you — a perfect birthday!

  • Chrissy - Happy Birthday!
    Wow, I can’t believe that you are younger than me! I guess I just assume everyone did what I did–married late, had kids late. I am glad you enjoyed your day, and hope the next year (and more) is filled with joy and surprises.

  • Judit - Happy Birthday, Ashley!

    You are such an inspiration as a woman, as a mother, as a photographer, as an artist. I dedicated my psychology BA thesis to you last year, bc. you gave me the idea to think about adoption and adoptive parents.

    Greetings from Budapest,

    sleepdeprived mother of three, wife, psychology MA student, blog-reader

  • danielle - Happy Birthday! Sounds like a great day :)

  • Katie - I just turned 35 this year too and I cherish all the years. I’m not someone who is saddened by growing older…I have earned these years ;)…and they represent hard work invested in myself, my marriage, my kids. Happy birthday!!

  • jodi - Happy, happy birthday! I hope yesterday was the best one yet! Your family is so beautiful and an encouragement to so many. I love the way you love your kids and challenge all of us to love ours better…your gentle voice of encouragement touches many…keep up the great work…God is using you mightily beyond what you know! Here’s to 10 great more years!!

  • Michelle Hill - Happy Birthday, Ashley!!
    You truly deserve the best. Thank you for sharing your life with us. you are truly inspiring. We can only be so lucky to be part of your journey. Cheers to another awesome decade to look forward to!

  • Paige - Happy happy happy birthday, Ashley! Enjoy the next adventure! Love your happy heart!

  • Sue Symens - Birthday blessings to you! May God continue to bless your family. I love reading about your family and all the adventures big and small. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jenn - Happy birthday!

  • kristin - this is just how my conversation went with my husband as we have recently passed our ten year anniversary. i have some loose dreams and thoughts for the next ten years, but the last ten have not gone how i thought they would (so much better than my unformed dreams/thoughts).
    i am going to share this with him, since i think that he was worried about my question on how i thought the last ten went. it wasn’t supposed to be a ‘scary’ question, just a moment where we marvel at where and what God has brought us.
    i’m new to reading your blog, and it is a blessing to me! thanks, so much, for sharing some of your life to the ‘net. :) :) :)

  • Lacey Meyers - I’m so glad to hear you had a wonderful birthday … you and your life are so deserving of celebration. It is such a blessing to feel BLESSED to get older, isn’t it? I find that year by year, God’s Grace and love become more and more evident, and it becomes more and more obvious how much I need Jesus. <3 Happy Birthday, Ashley!

  • Molly - Happy Birthday! I just turned 33. and i would agree! things just keep better and better. i think it is the fact that we don’t plan these lives God does and he has a more amazing plan than we could ever imagine.

  • Hannah - Happy birthday! One thing you can guarantee about turning 45…you won’t look 45. :) I wouldn’t have guessed you were 35! And I remember I started reading your blog back in 2009 (& came to a Snapshot in 2010 or 11?) so that means I’ve been reading since you were 30. Crazy to put it into perspective like that. Time flies! :)

  • Kari - Happy Birthday! I’m so glad you started blogging. You are such an inspiration to me. Every morning I drink my coffee and read your blog. You remind me daily to just stop and appreciate what I have in life. Here’s looking forward to sipping coffee and reading your 45 is better than 35 post.

  • Lynn - Happy Birthday Ashley!! Sounds likes you had a great day with your family!!

  • ellen patton - life only gets better! i have a card to send you; would you email me your address? patton_ellen@hotmail.com

  • Jenny - Happy Birthday! You are just the sweetest blogger and I always love stopping in and seeing what you all have been up to. May the next 10 years bring lots and lots of blessings your way! :)

  • suzy - Happy Birthday! Life is good no matter the age! Keep loving where you are at! Thank you for being a gift to so many and inspiring other to live fully where they are at in lives.

  • Cathy - Happy birthday!! I love those type of birthdays! They are the best. Glad to see I’m not the only ones who enjoys the little things in birthdays. I love your laundry room cabinets too!

  • Emily - Happy Birthday!!!

  • Leila - Happy Birthday dear Ashley!

  • Debbie C - Happy birthday Ashley! Your life is truly beautiful. May there be many more blessings over the next 10 years! I am so thankful that you became a blogger…such a gift to all of us.

  • Carrie - Happy Birthday! Thanks for your inspiring blog and the reminder that we are not old at all :)

  • Lisa - Oh I just love this perspective!

  • Dena - Happy belated birthday! Love your perspective.

  • Eva - Happy Birthday Ashley! Your 35 is amazing….full of such goodness and riches. I turn 40 next year, and my 30 year old self would have never dreamed up the goodness that has been bestowed upon me these last 10 years. Our God is amazing!

  • Angela - Happy belated birthday! I love getting older too! I’m so glad that God gives more than we could ask or imagine because I, like you, have little dreams that God blows out of the water in the BEST way. I’m so glad to know you were loved on and celebrated yesterday!

  • Heather - Happy Birthday! I just celebrated mine on Monday (33) and I have to agree that these days are some of the best! I’m mom to two girls, 6 and 3 with lots of balls to juggle, but so many un-imagined blessings. AND I will be charging for my first photography session in two weeks. Ahh! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Kaylan McCord - Happy birthday to YOU!! I just love your blog and your perspective. Have fun today!! <3

  • Maria - Happy Birthday, you beautiful, beautiful person!

  • Haley - Happy birthday Ashley! Beautiful post. I have loved getting older and can only hope to have as much awesomeness as you do when I turn 35.

  • Brenda - A very happy birthday to you, Ashley! May you continue to delight in the journey that unfolds in the years to come, and in the Father who delights in you! Blessed by the words, images, perspective, and heart you share on here.

  • kimberly oyler - look how young you guys are in that firetruck picture!! and yet you still look just like yourselves. adorable.

  • amy jupin - happy birthday my lovely friend.
    again, you’ve shared with me perspective, a gift that you’ve given me time and time again.
    i’m so grateful for you.

  • michele - Happy Birthday! I love your birthday posts. The airplane ride post was amazing and spending time at home being with the ones you love is just as amazing. I am so thankful you had a kindergarten teacher who affirmed your gifts. I love to hear inspirational teacher stories. Also, I loved my thirties! My children were little, it was the 90′s and I began to understand how much Jesus loves all of us. Please keep sharing. Reading your blog is always a special gift.

  • Diana - One of the best reflections on getting older than I have heard! Belated happy birthday and many blessing in the coming year!

  • Kristin - Happy birthday!

  • Angela - Happy Birthday! It sounds like your day was perfect. I’m with you—little things like hanging a plant in the right spot and new cabinets are where it’s at. Loving those simple things!

  • Olivia - Happy Birthday! I am so glad you were able to spend the day exactly as you wanted to!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Happy Birthday sweet girl. Thank you for making my life more beautiful.

  • Meredith - Happy birthday! We share October birthdays. :) You’re an inspiration! Thank you for being a blogger.

  • Venusia - Oh yeah ! Getting older is so good ! God is good ! Turning 33 soon !

  • Amanda - Happy Birthday, Ashley! I’m so thankful for your 35 years and all that God has brought you through, both great and tough. I’m also so thankful that he has given you the voice and ability to share yourself and your family with the internets.

    I’m approaching my 28th birthday and your post was encouragement to keep dreaming big dreams but to keep my heart open to the bigger dreams God has for me.

  • Sarah - I love this! Happy birthday! And I totally understand what you mean. It really touches me that the only thing you want to do on your birthday is hang round home with your kids and doing homely things with your husband. That is the coolest.

  • Sonya Campbell - I LOVE when others are excited to get older! I turned 40 last year, I can’t even describe how awesome it was. My family gave me kid party with musical chairs and pin the bellybutton on the cabbage patch kid!! BEST DAY EVER!!!

  • jenny - so lovely :) you always inspire me! i am a dreamer of big “little” dreams too!