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!

10.14bday-06

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

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  • 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,

    Judit
    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!

I like disclaimers. So here are mine for today:

I’m not an interior designer.

My sewing skills are on par with my five year old’s.

I’m not fancy.

I like simple, fast, cheap and no-fuss.

This diy post is for those of you like me.

In our ‘guest room’ we have 4 rectangular windows. The room is up high and if it were just us, I’d go without curtains since we don’t have neighbors super close. However, I think guests like a little more privacy! I wanted something very simple on the windows that would really only be used when we have an overnight guest. I also needed it to be affordable and easy to make.

10.14tabcurtains-01

Supplies:

  • Twin Sheet set (mine is from Target)
  • Ribbon (mine is from my friend April’s shop, Southern Hospitality)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • a mom that can sew straighter lines than you (at least if you are me)
  • Eye hooks10.14tabcurtains-03

Step 1: Cut and sew panels that cover each window, overlapping the edges of the windows a bit. Originally, I planned on doing this…but I only sew a semi-straight line. My mom knows this. Thankfully, she agreed to do the cutting and straight line sewing for me. The curtains turned out much better as a result. Mine would have been all wonky.

Step 2: Cut the ribbon into strips about 2 inches long

Step 3: Pin the ribbon in place and test on your window before you sew them down.

10.14tabcurtains-05

Step 4: Sew the ribbon tabs to the curtain. Obviously, I am not a perfectionist on this…my ribbon is folded over a bit on the backside. Don’t look mom. No one will see it (except you right now), so I don’t really care.

Step 5: Hang your curtains. To hang mine, I just screwed eye hooks into the drywall about 1 inch above and outside the window. I also attached one hook in the middle (see later pictures).10.14tabcurtains-07

See how straight those curtains are?! That would not be the case if my mom had not intervened.10.14tabcurtains-0910.14tabcurtains-11And there you go. I am sure a publisher will be contacting me soon to ask me to write a sewing book.

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  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - I love using sheets in unexpected ways! I think the curtains turned out great!

  • Paige - Ha ha ha ha!!! They are super cute and right up my skill level!

  • Renee - Perfect. Our sewing skills match and I keep saying I’m going to sew curtains for my boys’ room (out of some old flat sheets)…

  • Kristin S - So smart!

    I sew the same way. While I like to follow patterns, every time I do it comes out “wrong”. I’d rather freestyle and then it’s not “wrong”.

  • Kirstin - Love them!
    So, I guess I am a detail person…
    Is there one hook in the center or two?
    Wondering if both panels hang on the same hook when the curtains are closed?
    Thank you!

  • AshleyAnn - Kirstin – just one hook in the center that they both hang from

  • Ann - It looks great! I love your idea’s. Where did you get the pillows on the bed?

  • Kimberly Oyler - feeling preeeeetty cool because I already have this sheet set. :)

  • carol - love the supply list! Had a little bit of MH to it!

  • Cathy - haha, well maybe not a sewing book, but a home design book! I am following your blog and instagram for a while now and have to admit when I first saw pictures of your house I was like”wow, that´s how you can live, soooo cooooool”
    Here in Europe (Austria) styles and ways of decoration and even design are totally different and since I discovered the US “farm, thrift, DIY” way of decorating I am in love :O)
    keep doing what you are doing!

  • fina - cute! is that the bed you once wrapped with fabric strips? if so, did you remove them for a particular reason? i’ve been meaning to try something like that since i saw your post and am wondering how it held up. thanks!

Rain poured down on Saturday, which meant football games were cancelled. The boys around here groaned a bit, but I was secretly thankful I didn’t have to sit in the cold all day. With a completely empty day ahead, we took advantage of doing things we don’t get to do every day. For my oldest daughter, if I have spare moment she wants to fill it with crafting or sewing.  She could make crepe paper ruffles all day long. I snapped the photo below with my phone and posted it on Instagram.
10.14sewing-02When I took and shared the photo, I was struck by her concentration face, not the fact she was sewing. She has used my machine for last two years by herself. It surprised me a little when others asked about her sewing. It made me think too. Just a couple days before I shared a photo of my mom, sister and I after a birthday dinner. When I shared that photo, someone asked about if Lesley and I got our creativity from my mom.

10.14sewing-01Both of my parents are creative and artistic. Their talents play out in different ways. For as long as I remember my parents have never said they couldn’t build, make or sew something that I asked them to build, make or sew for me. Combined I really don’t think there is anything they couldn’t create. They’ve also never told Lesley and me that we couldn’t. If we wanted to try it, they encouraged it. I don’t remember being told I was too young to use a hammer or that little girls don’t drywall their bedrooms. So, when my daughter began wanting to use my sewing machine at 3 years old, I think it just made sense to me to let her try under my watchful eye. It was what I was taught. Naturally, my parents took safety into consideration and so do I. My dad still always makes sure I wear my safety googles and ear protection when I’m building with him. I’m thankful for parents that encouraged me to try my ideas instead of telling me it was too hard, too messy, too risky. I’m also thankful they didn’t do it all for me. They gave me tools, instruction when I would listen, and let me learn.

I hope when I have a 14 year old daughter she doesn’t decide she wants smooth walls instead of textured ones. I remember the mess I made as a teenager with drywall mud and sanding it. I still can’t believe my parents let me…I’m guessing they might not have believed I’d actually do it. Nonetheless, I’m guessing I’ll probably say “go for it” if one of my kids asks one day. I might have made a mess, but I also learned a tremendous lesson being empowered by my parents to tackle such a big house project. I want to empower my kids like that…I just hope empowering them turns out to be less messy for me than it was for my parents!

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  • AndreaB - So wonderful to have such freedom and offer it too! I remember as a little girl my mom would do the majority of her baking by herself because we would make too much of a mess or she could do it quicker without us, and I must say I seem to have some of those tendencies – I need to concentrate on affording the freedom and the associated experiences and joy with my littles. thanks for the post Ashley!

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - These days people are so afraid of EVERYTHING that they choose not to give their children license to learn by living freely. As a parent, it’s just easier to say “no you can’t” than to provide a watchful eye while they learn by doing. Kudos to you for being a ‘yes’ mom!

  • Sara - Such an encouraging post! Thank you! I’d love to hear more stories of projects you and Leslie did as kids.

  • Georgia - Love this. I grew up an only child in the 60′s & 70′s. It was unheard of for girls to do “boy” stuff back then. Yet my Dad let me help him with almost everything. When I was in high school, we put a new roof on the house. That and many more projects gave me the confidence to try lots of things. As he aged, those skills paid off for him as I could do repairs around his house. Even then, I could take a picture of something he couldn’t physically go to see and get his advice on what to do. I treasure those times.

  • kimberly oyler - you dry walled your bedroom when you were 14??? man, your parents are awesome.

  • Meg - Thank you for this post. It is a great reminder that even if it slows the process down it is always great to let our kiddos help with our DIYing when they ask to help. I think it is time to replace their plastic tools and get them so real tools!

  • maverickmom4 - My three yr old can crack an egg like nobody’s business and I love that she is always asking to help me. It never occured to me to tell her no if she wanted to help empty the dishwasher or help sweep. It’s ok if they don’t do things perfect, that’s how they learn. Love this post!

  • Lynnie B - I am the person I am today because of my mom letting me explore and learn as a young child. Today as a grown woman, I’m not afraid to jump in and try anything….at least once! ;0) Thanks Ashley, great post!!!

  • Robin - I love that you taught her how to sew. I think my 4 year old daughter would love to do this too. I need a new, simple machine. What do you and your daughter use? What did you start out teaching her how to do? Thanks for the advice!

  • Keshia - I read your blog almost everyday. Lately, I’ve been feeling lost and waffling in my convictions. I come here and visit your blog and just like that, I’m convicted and know exactly what I need to do. Thanks for sharing your family and being such an inspiration!

  • Carrie - Ashley- this post is so inspiring to me. When I saw the picture of your daughter and her sweet sewing face, I was so struck with the love pouring out of your photo. I could feel how much you cherish her, not only by nurturing her passions but also being PRESENT to record them in such a beautiful way. Sometimes unconditional love from a parent is not as easy and natural as they way you describe the relationship you have with your amazing parents and the relationship you have with your children. Having grown up with a childhood filled with “conditional” love, as a mother now I am always searching for the answers, having had no model to follow. I so wish I had a mother who would have said yes when I wanted to learn to sew! For the record, because all mothers need to hear it from time to time, you are an inspiration and are an amazing parent!!