Last week I shared a DIY – today, I wanted to share the significance of that painting.

11.14gracelaced-01“Live a quiet life and work with your hands.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Painting by Ruth Simons of Gracelaced

On a road trip in June, every few days we would get cell service. I didn’t mind being without technology, but it was fun to check in on friends when those cell bars would light up. I remember scrolling through instagram and noticed my friend Ruth was sharing about three women that inspired her. She listed my name, which I had to read twice because I was a bit confused. She then described me as a women “who lives a quiet life and works with her hands.” Her words spoke more encouragement to me than she will ever know – despite my attempts to express it to her.

Those words…a quiet life and works with her hands….those are words that I’ve clung to for decades. There has always been something deep inside me that wants exactly that – to live a quiet life and work with my hands. Over the last several years I’ve struggled with how to reconcile living a ‘quiet life’ and being on social media. Often with writing a blog and being on other social media channels, my life can feel loud. It is a weird feeling some days for me. I am not one to wave the flag that social media is the demise of all things – obviously. I believe, like most things in this world, there is lots of good to come of social media and lots of bad. I don’t think the issue is social media in and of itself, but more what we do with it and the role we allow it to play in our lives.

Blogging is a tremendous joy for me. It has connected me to the stories and lives of so many of you. It is a place where all my interests can collide – photography, writing, diy, activism. It never feels draining or like something I HAVE to do. This random blog is a creative outlet for me during this season where daily life often trumps hands-on creating. And yet, this thing that has become so much a part of me is read by others making my life feel loud. If I think about that too much, I start waging an internal battle of making all my social media accounts private. Then come back to the thought that the most beautiful thing we can offer others is just ourselves, in all our vulnerable, messy and glorious uniqueness. Offering my randomness here probably won’t change the world, but maybe it might bring a smile to someone’s face. Maybe a mom will feel encouraged that she is not alone. Perhaps a college student will find a new diy project that gives her a creative outlet during the stress of studying. Maybe in sharing how photography helps me to see beyond the mundane to the marvelous, someone else will be encouraged to look for that beauty too.

Ruth saw something in me that I hope is true, but social media can make it muddy for me – she sees a woman who lives a quiet life and works with her hands.  She took the time to speak words of grace and encouragement to me. She had no idea I long for those words to describe me. She saw something good in me and she shared it. I feel like it is increasingly common in our culture to look for the ‘bad’ in others. It seems like searching out for the thing to discredit others is more popular than searching for the good. I want to be like Ruth – to look for the good and not stop there…I want to speak those words of life to those I am around.

You never know what your thoughtful and kind words could mean to someone else. Will you join me today in looking for the great in others and taking the time to let them know what you see? It is going to be a good day…

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  • Alicia - Ashley, you genuinely are one of the most beautiful, encouraging, motivating women I’ve never met! This post speaks volumes to me with my recent feelings on social media. I’ve decided to focus on where the encouragement comes from. Not even sure how I originally found Ruth (through Instagram), but you both are a great source of that encouragement. Your words genuinely help make me a better mom, wife and friend. I am more grateful for you than you will ever know!

  • sara - I think that your blog quiets me. It is the first thing I read in the morning. It helps me put into perspective what is really important. To me, whether you personally are struggling or not, you have put your family and helping others in the front of your life. So when I get irritated or stressed at work you blog helps me to remember that it isn’t a big deal, family is more important, the litte stresses at work are not as big as they seem. Sometimes I go away with tear in my eyes, but always a sense of how important your family is to you which reminds me how important my family is to me. So I just wanted you to know that I appreciate that you are blogging and even if that doesn’t feel quiet it helps me feel quiet.

  • Melody - What you do DOES change people! The beauty you bring with your words, your photos and your space. Like a lovely, inspiring piece of artwork. Your encouragement. Your perspective. Your love for your kiddos. I can think of many things that I do because I gleaned them from you. I love it that you and Ruth are friends…two of my favorite people on the internet!

  • Dawn - You are a light to me! Your kindness, gentleness and love for your family speak through your words and photos.

  • Steffany - Ashley –
    I am like Sara. Your words are the first thing I read to start my day. They are calming, inspiring, and significant. It is a blessing to read your words, to be allowed into your mind, and for you to share your heart with those of us who hear it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Debbie - Ashley, your words ring truth to me today. I, too, have been noticing that more people are speaking negatively of one another rather than lifting them up. I am consciously working hard to be aware of this so I do not partake in these conversations. Thank you for your post. Hope you have a great day!

  • Erin - Ashley, Your blog is not loud, it is beautiful. It is a constant reminder to me to slow down, enjoy each moment, drink coffee with two hands:) and many other wonderfully simple daily things. Reading it everyday helps me maintain that feeling and helps me with my own goals in life. I must also add that since finding your blog I have been inspired to bring back my own crafting roots and pass them on to my 4 year old daughter. This blog is a blessing of sorts, using social media in the best way possible. Thank you!

  • Steph - Your blog brings a smile to my face, and I feel good even in the moment I remember to click over to your blog because I know what I find will leave me feeling peaceful. Even when you’ve shared your struggles, it felt good to listen and know that a fellow mother was reaching out and sharing her pain and feeling some release from it. It also makes me feel good about the world when I see a family who loves one another as fiercely as yours does. It is wonderful to see children appreciated for being themselves. It’s all good here. I like it here. Thanks for creating this space.

  • Steph - PS just to spread the love, I reached out to another blogger today who could not be more different from you – she is going through something horrible lately, and shares her pain with such frankness and raw open expression. That’s another good thing in the blog world, and I appreciate all of these strong women who inspire me to do a little more with my time or smile bigger or cry harder.

  • Erica - I am so grateful you share yourself “in all your vulnerable, messy and glorious uniqueness.” Your perspectives on life, motherhood, creativity, and photography have encouraged me throughout the few years I’ve read your blog. Though I am a stranger to you, I view you as a Titus 2 woman in my life, a mentor speaking truth and love in how to love our husbands and children and tend our homes. It is life giving. There are not enough positive, godly messages out there for young women and new mommas, so thank you. :)

  • amber - What a tremendous gift, to have friends see in you, who you hope to be. I love that! I have loved your blog for such a long time now, & I think one of the biggest reasons I love to come here, is for small reminders of what a great journey life is. We get a small glimpse into how you make that a priority in your own life. To see beauty lived out is inspiring. You make your quiet life an encouragement to us all, to find mundane a gift & family the most important. And I’m grateful for that!!

  • Shannon - Ashley, This article is beautiful! I’m so glad you share yourself on this blog, sharing your quiet life. I don’t share myself enough. But you encourage me to do so. The following words you wrote brought me to tears this morning: “the most beautiful thing we can offer others is just ourselves, in all our vulnerable, messy and glorious uniqueness.” I’d like to make myself a piece of artwork with that written on it to remind me to give more of myself. With your name quoted, of course!

  • Jeanne Washburn - Hi – I enjoy reading your posts every day. Each one is beautifully written, quiet, and inspiring…in fact, so inspiring, that I have started my own blog…and, it appears, I share the same concerns that you do – am I being too loud in this world? But it is a creative outlet that I have needed to fuel for a long time…I am excited to write and take photos with my little point and shoot (I have especially enjoyed your photography posts and would love to upgrade). But does anyone read this…I don’t know, but that’s OK for now. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Kari - “Maybe a mom will feel encouraged that she is not alone.” This is why I read your blog every morning. I work full time and have two kids (4 and 4 months). I struggle every day hoping I am doing the right thing for my family. Reading your blog makes me feel like I’m not alone. It reminds me to make the most of the time I do have with my kids when I’m at work. You don’t know it, but you encourage me every single day.

  • Vénusia - Thanks for sharing. I also really like this verse and want it to be my moto. I also struggle with blogging and everything social media. I’m thinking the same about balance. So, just to say your not the only one feeling like that and that I appreciate reading someone else feeling the same.

  • Helen - Beautiful post.

  • Remaliah - Ashley, I’ve been reading your blog faithfully ever since I came across it and, honestly, it’s one of my most favourite places on the internet. I love your writing, your creativity, your style, the photos you share of daily, honest life. I, too, am quiet, and you reassure me :o) Thank you for all you share in this beautiful space. I hope you stay here :o)

  • Susan - Ashley,
    You are a tremendous voice, yet in the quietest of ways, as an advocate for family, for change, for God. I thank you for being willing to use your gifts to serve. You live big, but you are not loud.

  • Georgia - Your blog is always a delight to me. It is the only one I ready regularly. I still see you as living a quiet life. You just share it with a few 1000 blog readers. :)You encourage many to live a quiet life and make a difference.

  • Jeanne - Please don’t stop sharing. I look forward to your posts. You inspire me to be a better,more adventurous, more creative and more present mom to my 5 kids. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

  • sharee a - thankyou for sharing your heart here! as a fellow momma of five young ones,homeschooler, and lover of photography, i look forward to reading your posts alot… today the Lord used your words to soften my heart and forgive and ask forgiveness toward my sister. i know the Lord uses your blog to help and change others and i pray you never allow other’s negativity or a need to be private,that does not come from God, to silence His Voice through you:)luv, your sister in Christ

  • Karen Russell - Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly like you any more than I already do, you go and say something that makes me like you even more.

  • Rhonda - I’m on the same wavelength as both Sara and Steffany! Your life seems quiet and lovely to me. It totally inspires me to focus more on what it is important.

  • Jessica - I love your blog and hope you continue to share your life and insight! I am sure it is hard to have everything about yourself so public but as a devoted reader and former photo shop student I have greatly appreciated it. I am stay at home mom with two little girls and sometimes the blogs I read are the only adult interaction I have till my husband gets home from work. Thank you for allowing us into your world and keep up the great work!

  • emily - I completely agree that you never know how your words affect people, let me tell you, your space here has affected me so greatly over the last several years. At a time when I was struggling to rediscover who the Lord created me to be as a new mom, I found your blog and found a desperately needed creative outlet in photography. I poured over your tips and when you listed your settings I studied. And I’ve gone from a beginner to being ccapable enough to have my own little business and to create art using my everyday life which has blessed me more than I can describe. I love how normal and real you stay here. I know that takes so much courage. Thank you!

  • Courtney - While I certainly understand the pull to make all your social media spaces private, I would be sad so lose your perspective on life and family and and and….. You are lovely, Ashley. The internet is loud and brash. Your space is a calm among the storm.

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - I’m so blessed by your heart, friend. And honestly, I’m grateful that we “get” each other in the ways that matter. Thanks for being such a real friend to me. Love u.

  • Jennifer - On the topic of searching out the good in people… Here’s a Valentine’s Day project that my 11 year-old son’s amazing teacher let me do with his class last year: I printed a list of all the students in the class. Each student got a copy of the list, and next to each name (including their own, if they wanted!) they were to write one thing they liked or admired about the classmate. The lists were sent back to me, and I compiled an anonymous “love letter” for each student, listing all the good things that his classmates saw in him. I think it was a powerful exercise, and it could certainly be done among a family or with a youth group or in other settings.

  • christina larsen - I struggle with leading a quiet life but being willing to do the work God might be calling me to. I have always had my social media private. I guess this came from being a therapist for so many years and wanting to protect my family. Yet, I have also struggled with “putting myself out there”, because we are all supposed to be a part of each others stories. I have always enjoyed reading your blogs and know many other women feel the same. The creativeness and randomness of your blog is why I like it. One day you have photo tips, the next day you have created a beautiful chicken coop in your back yard. Continue to be the bright light in so many peoples’ lives’. Your family continues to be woven into the fabric of so many, you encourage me to do the same.

  • Amy - Hi Ashley,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years, and the other night I had a dream . . . My family was at some sort of fairground or amusement park on a bright, sunny day, and I began to scale a mountain-like structure with many obstacles. I was getting very physically drained, when I looked down and saw you sitting with your family, looking up at me and encouraging me with your eyes. I woke up and thought: what a fitting picture. I am always so encouraged by your blog and your quiet ways of building up what is important inside of me and cheering me on. You and I have such similar families and goals, so I’m always connected, but more importantly I appreciate that your humility. I smell grace, and it’s irresistible. Thank-you for blessing us with your blog.

  • Caroline - I love the things you share with us for many reasons- your amazing photography skills and awesome DIY projects being near the top of the list, definitely! Yet the important thing here is that you are sharing your FAITH with this ‘audience’ of people, your gratefulness for His provision in your life for things both big and small. You’re feeding the desire for young women like me who think they just might be called to adopt but are eager to see and learn more about what that call to live out the Gospel looks like. You’re challenging those of us who are given to complaining or idleness to rejoice and be glad, and to make something beautiful out of something mundane! You’re teaching young mothers how to be gentle and patient with their children, relishing their opinions, creativity, and fleeting innocence. The day you no longer feel you’re being authentic, the day you feel that you’re boasting in or of yourself, stop sharing. But until that day (which I pray will never come), please be encouraged that you are a wonderful picture of a woman who indeed lives a quiet life and works with her hands, as I suspect all of us long to be. You are both wise and whimsical, which is the rarest of breeds in this world. Thank you so much for choosing to encourage us all the way you do. :)

  • jami nato - that is so true of you. praise God that he knew social media was going to be a part of our everyday lives, that he was prepared for it and that he equips those of us on the inter webs to be encouragers and proclaimers of his name. private or on social media, he is in all this.
    you’re a treasure on the internets.

  • Ashleigh Blatt - I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again, I adore you and the blog you write. Tonight is the first time in two weeks that I am able to sit down and read in the quiet. You see, my dad passed two weeks ago. Of course the sadness and grief is all encompassing but now the memorials have passed as has the travel and life is starting to get back to “normal” again. I have a laundry list of things to do that is so completely overwhelming – I am dodging all responsibility tonight and seeking out comfort and goodness. I need to clear my mind, center and find some goodness. And so here I am – with 10 blogs in my feed to read – here I am. Thank you for the gift that you are and the gifts that you share. XOXO

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I so needed this today. This past week has been not the best for me. I’ve been surrounded by mean comments for some reason. Yes, let’s join together to be kind!!!

  • gHina - Well said, Ashley!
    My nema is gHina and I’m on the other side of the world from you. Everytime I read your post, it is either I cry of joy, or smile with encouragement :)

  • Sara W - Beautiful words! And something the Lord has been laying on my heart – building one another up and freeing women to be exactly who they were created to be! Thank you for expressing this.

  • Misty - Ashley, I’m personally so glad that you keep your social media channels open. I rarely read your blog posts as you publish them. Instead, I save them for mornings when I’m having an especially rough time being mom, usually Mondays. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always read you posts like they’re spoken in a very soft, soothing tone of voice. It’s this soothing tone and your inspiring words that help me reach peace within myself and start my day over on a good note. As a mom of 4 boys who wishes she was back in Oklahoma I’ve found your interactions with your kids, especially with your boys, inspiring. As someone who desperately longs for a daughter I’ve found your entire adoption story inspiring, enlightening, and beautiful. Even the difficult things seem beautiful when you write about them. It definitely helps me see the beauty in my own life at times that I’d usually only see the bad. Thank you for living you life so open. Despite your willingness to share I still have the impression that you live a very quiet life and work with your hands.

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - Beautiful post!!

  • Sherry - Someday, I’d love to sit in the sun and drink coffee with you and just talk…(while your five and my five play.) Just sounds dreamy and oddly relaxing. Thankful for you and your calm perspective.

  • Gazco Studio 3 - Awesome Article.
    I like this…..


My friend Ruth Simons is an incredibly talented artist. How she finds time to mother six boys and paint is baffling to me. Recently she sent me one of her original paintings that she knew was so significant to me. I’ll write more on that later – still trying to form my words in a way that makes sense when read on a computer screen!

I have a stockpile of frames, but none of them seemed right. As I waited to find the perfect frame, I placed the painting on some scrap wood that was waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. And the two just looked perfect together. Thus, this super simple diy was born.


  • piece of glass that matches the size of your art
  • scrap wood (mine was cut from the top of a cabinet)
  • furniture buttons (or something similar…be creative)
  • hot glue gun
  • drill


Step 1: Place your art on the wood and find where you want to position it

Step 2: Mark spots about 1/2″ from the outer edge of the glass and about 1/4″ above (top) and below (bottom) of the glass

Step 3: If you are a perfectionist, measure to make sure it is all even. I didn’t actually do this, but included the pic for those of you that like everything just right11.14frameboard-03Step 4: Drill holes the diameter of the metal part of the furniture buttons (or whatever you are sticking in the hole). Don’t drill all the way through the wood, just enough to fit whatever you are attaching.

Step 5: Make sure everything fits11.14frameboard-05Step 6: Put your art and glass in place

Step 7: Add a tiny bit of hot glue to the holes and then push the buttons in. The hot glue will help hold things in place, but isn’t so strong you won’t be able to pop the buttons off.11.14frameboard-07If you are displaying this somewhere with a risk of it getting knocked down, you will probably want to attach the fabric buttons stronger (maybe gorilla glue). I placed mine on a high shelf. You could also add picture frame hooks on the back to hang it from the wall. I’ve created similar things just using clips to hold artwork, but since this is an original painting I wanted the extra protection of glass.11.14frameboard-0911.14frameboard-11And just because who doesn’t want a chance at winning $250 to a hardware store? Well, there are probably some people, but I am not one of them. I’d rather win $250 to True Value than the mall. My pallet daybed diy was chosen as part of Bob Villa’s Thumbs Up competition. I sure wouldn’t be bummed if you decided to go cast a vote my way…no email or anything required. :)


Happy Friday

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  • Liz - I love the verse she used… “Live a quiet life..” So, so good! Her art is amazing, too.

  • Sarah Wolfe - I voted :) And you have to love that Ruth! Her painting looks perfect how you have arranged it.

  • erin - love this hanging/framing idea…
    i’m always looking for ways to display artwork creatively.

    also, boom! voted for you. #insertfistbumpemoji

  • Angie Merchant - I love that verse! I have it hidden in a special place! BTW I voted!

  • sarah - oh I love everything about this diy! one of my winter goals is to get some new pictures on our wall and I might just have to incorporate this into the space. I will also be ordering this print. I love that verse!

  • brittony - that is a gorgeous work of art. thumbs up for the daybed!

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - Oh my dear, this is my kind of project! It will surely be in my house sometime soon :)

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - And I forgot…. I voted- great project! Good luck!

  • Debbie - Love it!

  • Laura In Sacto - My goodness, your friend, Ruth is amazing. She has quite a talent. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jelena - This is one of those great ideas that doesn’t make sense to most people. IT is creatieve and different! Print is lovely, but for me the buttons rock!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - You’ve always got my vote! And Ruth? That girl is a gem. she encourages me at just the right times, with just the right words. LOL – I actually have a post about her in the works.

  • kimberly oyler - “I didn’t actually do this, but included the pic for those of you that like everything just right” that made me laugh. also, i thought you were going to drill through the glass, so i held my breathe until i finished reading because i was so nervous. double also, you got my vote. ;)

  • Jessica - Your pallet bed better win- best project on there! :)

  • Luisa - How creative! It turned out beautiful!

  • Emily | Gather & Dine - I think it’s funny that you find your friend and all that she does baffling, because I find you and all that you do baffling! I have no idea how you maintain this blog, teach snapshots, have 5 kids and homeschool all at the same time. You do an incredible job though! I still recommend your snapshots course to everyone who asks how I’ve improved my photography :) Voted for you!

  • Candy Hartmann - Hi! I just stumbled on your blog & I really enjoyed looking around! Love your décor!

  • Gazco Studio 2 - Along these lines, so great! Her craft is stunning, as well.

One of the fun aspects of blogging is coming into contact with individuals that use their talents, skills and interests in ways that benefit others. I’ve had the honor of meeting (virtually, because I am a semi-hermit and like to stay home) several small business owners that challenge me in how I run my business. Obviously, there are WAY to many to share on my blog, but today I wanted to highlight three totally different ones that might interest you.

I remember when my oldest learned to read. He had an amazing kindergarten teacher and I was in complete awe of her ability to teach my son to read. She was animated, full of songs, engaging. As a result, when it came time for me to start teaching I was more than intimidated. With 5 kids at totally different stages in reading, we use a lot of different curriculum. Most of our curriculum is stuff you can find on Amazon or at a homeschool bookstore. However, I’ve recently started using parts of the All of Me Literacy program. I have not dived into all the curriculum provides – it is a complete curriculum starting from letter recognition. Most of the files can be downloaded. Melanie, the creator, is also an ESL teacher and designed the curriculum to teach ESL worldwide. Melanie is passionate about teaching children to read, especially those struggling. The curriculum is very affordable…and she willingly donates downloadable materials to worthy causes. The photos below only provide a glimpse into about 2% of program.

11.14allofme-0111.14allofme-02I was introduced to Dignify last year when working on a Christmas related project. The story behind Dignify is beautiful. I can’t do it justice…click here and then scroll down to the part where it says “It All Began With A Wedding Gift”.  Kantha blankets are hand-stitched in Bangladesh from six layers of sari cloth by women who were previously on the streets in dire circumstances. The kids fight over who gets to use it because it is so soft. When I see them wrapped in it, I often wonder about the woman who stitched it. I wish I could hear her story.

11.14dignify-0411.14dignifyMy girls recently got two little lambs from Live Sweet Shop. They came with their own bags, bows and skirts. The girls have been playing with them non-stop. Part of the proceeds from their purchase goes towards helping families adopt. the receiving family changes each month). 11.14sweeties-0111.14sweeties-0211.14sweeties-0311.14sweeties-0411.14sweeties-0511.14sweeties-0611.14sweeties-07Those girls and their little lambs…melt me.

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  • Tara Adams - Thank you so much for this post, I have just purchased a kantha blanket. One item crossed off the Christmas gift, and with such a good purpose behind it.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - Thank you so much for ALL these suggestions!

  • Shelley @ dignify - Yay! Thanks, Ashley – of course your photos make the throw look better than ever!

    I think that your blanket must have preceded this practice, but now all of the blankets come with a label stitched with the seamstress’ name. So anyone who buys a blanket now can go online and read her story. It’s amazing!

  • Michelle Hill - This is why I absolutely love the blogging world. Never have I felt so inspired and motivated by such passionate, wholesome people. I’ve done more soul searching by reading words of others and then reflecting on myself than I ever have. It’s almost life changing what this blogging world can do. I love when writers praise and support each other…and appreciate and encourage the (kind) words of their readers.
    I will forever be appreciative of your candidness.
    Thank you for this post.

  • Shira - Your blog makes me smile EVERY day (and usually through happy tears lurking at the edges). We come from dramatically different religious backgrounds, but I really love your perspective, as love and life are something everyone can share with each other, and it’s something you do well. If you’re ever having a crap day and wondering if you make a difference, please know that you do. Thank you for keeping this up – I look forward to your posts, and am inspired by your loving family.
    - Longtime lurker/never r. comment but here,

  • Susanna - Thank you so much for sharing. I have always loved those kantha blankets and now have a great reason to purchase one! It’ll be an early Christmas present for myself.

  • Madison Vining - What a sweet surprise to wake up to! Thank you Ashley!

  • Ruth - Thank you for this post – I have been looking to add some colour to our new living room and have just purchased one of the beautiful blankets. I love to have items around our home with a story behind them… And perfect for a cold Michigan winter!! :)

  • Lindsey Bonnice - Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for featuring our Sweeties!! It’s so special to see them here and I love how much the girls are enjoying them!! Hope they continue to bring smiles to their beautiful faces! Xoxo Lindsey

  • Carrie Rowe - Such cuties!!!

  • Emmy A - You were so right. Firecracker was never meant to be the youngest. She was meant to be a big sister.

  • Melissa @ Bless this Mess - YAY!!! I’m a sentimental old fool and have been looking for something special to give myself this year. I don’t really need things but I like things. I just ordered a lovely orange and green blanket and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to wait until Christmas to get it out. Thank you so much for sharing. I had no idea such a thing existed and I love it.

  • Currently... Fall Edition - Bless This Mess - […] know about this wonderful company called Dignify. Ashley at Under the Sycamore mentioned Dignify in this blog post (beautiful pictures too) and I was totally smitten. Here’s what Dignify does and […]

  • Gazco Studio 3 - Amazing….
    Thank you for sharing this…….