So talk about last minute, but I figured I’d go ahead and invite any local ladies to

Espresso: A shot of conversation tonight.

The theme is You…making a difference – I am doing a little segment at it.

You can get details here.

I am not much of a speaker, but the other ladies are so you should come hear them!

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  • Erin - You underestimate your speaking abilities! Just bring the sequin mic. See you there :)

Many of you have asked questions in the comment sections and I have not answered those. At this point I am so far behind it feels impossible to check up. So, if you asked a question about something on a specific post and are still waiting for the answer, please ask it in the comments of this post. Next week I will try to answer those all at once.

Well I am going to have to close this post down! I think this is all the questions I can tackle for now. I’ll do this again sometime, but for now please don’t add anymore questions!

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  • Melissa - I love your style and creativity.. I would love to see more of your kids rooms and how they are decorated.. if you feel comfortable that is.. thanks!

  • dena - random ? what type of ribbon/binding/materials did you use for the straps on your dresses for Africa. Our church is having a night to make them and I was trying to think of what material would hold up the best. Thanks so much!

  • Stephanie - I love all of your candid photos of your children and was wondering what lens you use most? I know this is probably a stupid question, but is there one lens you would recommend everyone have?

  • Lisa @ ellebows - Do you have a blog button that we can post on our own blogs? Hugs, Lisa

  • Mara - I am always so impressed with the vibrant colors in your photographs. What sort of post-processing programs, tools, and/or actions do you use?

  • Tess S. - i have all the same questions as above, and i asked a few days ago if you met Meg from WHATEVER. I thought one of you had mentioned something about meeting eachother. I’d love to see pictures if you did!

  • natalie - I love your blog and your photographs! I am new to photography and your site is great inspriation for me. One question for you: Do you do a lot of photoshop work to your images or do they come out looking this great out of the camera?

  • Jodi - yes….many.

    what camera and lenses do you use? are your kids in school? how do you organize your day and have time to blog? i find that i just can’t keep up on both and i ending up posting about once a week. and last one….i can’t seem to find a way to subscribe to your blog? am i missing something?!

    thanks for indulging!

  • Jodi - oh and where do you get your globes from? i am on the hunt for some for my kiddos playroom!!

  • Lauren - Your children are adorable! Do you guys plan on adding more to the family in the future?

  • Sandy - I love the chalkboard above your couch! Where did you find it or how did you make it? Where do you get your creative inspiration?

  • Michelle Thomas - First, I LOVE to visit your site-you’re so fun!! I’m a total amateur photographer (not in the business just take pictures of my little boy) but I am really trying to learn as much as I can to better my pictures. 1. What camera settings did you use in your ‘Snow and Ice’ post? 2. What is your favorite lens/camera setting for shooting active kids? 3. Do you host any online photography classes? I’m in Columbia, SC. Maybe an online Snap Shop?
    Thanks SO much!

  • Alba - I have the same question as above, would you host any online photography classes? or the Snap Shop online? Whenever you have time. I’m in Barcelona, Spain, you know, it’s quite a trip to your place. Thanks

  • Mateja - I’m with Michele re ‘an online snap shot’, if that’s doable… :)(being from Europe I think I’d have a wee bit of a problem flying over to attend a proper ‘live’ one) looove your blog, btw! and your kids are adorable…

  • Margie - Thank you for the tips for the shoe photograph, it turned out really well! I do have another question…..what would be a good setting for taking pictures outside in early morning and late afternoon light? An online snap-shop would be fantastic, your photography section of the blog is kind of like that already….I have been referencing it a lot as I try to master my dslr!

  • Rachel Ridd - I am super curious about how you did your fireplace. Are those real logs are painted on?

  • kelly - i would also like to know about the fireplace. And also I love the green and blue bedding and was wondering if I could get the name?

  • Chelsea - What sort of DSLR camera would you recommend for a beginner? I’ve been wanting to make the switch from my regular digital camera but am unsure about which camera to buy. Your photographs are amazing!!! Thanks for sharing your world :)

  • Becca - Hey! I have similar questions to others but one is your photography. I have a canon digital rebel xti and am trying to learn the “creative settings.” Its quite a learning curve for me as I got very used to using automatic everything and focused my attention on catching expressions, angles and moments. What setting do you most use and how often do you use your flash? If you don’t use a flash, what setting is required? I just love your blog and got it from Meg’s Whatever blog. You both seem so wonderful and real and that is nice to read about.

  • Zoe C - I love your website, it is so inspiring! I’m just starting to mess around with a DSLR and am with the others on online snapshops as I’m in the UK. But you must be so busy, I don’t know how you do it, amazing!

  • Michelle - I would love to know where you got that black hat with ear flaps that your daughter is wearing in your 10/2/09 post. That is the cutest winter hat I’ve seen. Also where do you get your daughters clothes. Thanks!

  • Jasie - First, I second Melissa’s question. I would love to see how your bedrooms are decorated. I get so stumped with Harper’s room. Even my own! I’m ready for a change and I’m drawn towards your style.

    Second, the stretchy headbands you use. Are they just cut/sewn pantyhose?

  • amy - i find myself bowled over by your creative energy (photography, crafts, charity, etc) and yet still you are a mommy to 4 little ones. do you sleep? when you do find the time to do it all? i found your blog from your AT kitchen renovation–which is so beautiful and inspiring, by the way.

  • julie - can you please, pretty, pretty please host an online snap shop?
    or move to california.

  • Kristi - I agree with everyone else. I would love to hear lots of tips about taking better photos. I just got a dslr about 5 months ago and still trying to learn. I just bought a 50mm lens and love how I am finally getting the blurry background. But I also get a lot of completely blurry photos. How do you get the crisp photo?

A conversation with my 3 year old (when his best friend/big brother wasn’t home)

Him: “Let’s do something fun.”

Me: “What do you want to do?”

Him “Play the wii.”

Me: “No, we could make cookies.”

Him: “No, that’s boring.”

Me: “You could make a painting for your room.”

Him: “No, that is boring.”

Me: “We could make playdoh.”

Him: “No, that’s boring.”

Me: “We could melt crayons and make hearts for Valentines.”

Him: “No, that’s boring.” Me: “Okay, what is not boring?”

Him: “Playing the wii.”1.10crayon-01

I got out the crayons and decided to start shaving crayons and melting them anyway. This the face sitting across the table from me as I played.1.10crayon-02

He watched me shave the crayons (with an old cheese grater).

He watched me lay out a towel, then wax paper, then pour the shavings on top, and then cover it with another piece of wax paper and another towel.

He watched me iron it just until the crayons melted.1.10crayon-03

And his pout turned into a grin and my idea wasn’t so boring anymore.1.10crayon-07

This is a bit messy of a craft, but fun nonetheless (the towels I used did get stained just fyi). Several people have asked me about how I get my kids to do craft projects. Well, sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it takes me starting it out by myself before they realize how much fun my idea is.1.10crayon-11

I will say my initial idea was cute hearts in various shades of red. Big Brother wanted to add blue. I’d like to say I agree without hesitation, but I usually hesitate. I told him, “Hearts aren’t blue.” He responded, “Mommy, hearts are whatever color you want to make them.” I could stick to my guns and have cute hearts hanging in the window or I could give in to the blue. I gave in. Encouraging his creativity and imagination are more important than picture book designs.1.10crayon-12

I cut out hearts to hang in the windows…he cut various shapes, strung them and wanted them hanging in his room.1.10crayon-13

And on a totally random note…look what I found online!

9. MargaretsHopeChest

Yep, my quilt for the Margaret’s Hope Chest Craft Hope Project. It was my first quilt ever and I am pretty proud of it…even if it looks a bit sad and ugly in this photo among all the hard core quilts! Some little guy or girl is warm today. Pretty cool. The next project is making scarves for college students that have aged out of the foster care system. I don’t know how to knit, but hopefully I can figure that out soon to get a scarf there by the Feb. 14th deadline. Check it out here!

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  • Shannon Phillips - I think that your quilt looks awesome. I lived in Grand Rapids for 5 years so I know that it can be a very cold place. Someone is surely snuggling up in their very beautiful work of art made with the hands of an amazing woman of God!

  • Jo - Hey ashley,

    I have a question! I did the hearts last night! BUT! It IS suppose to be a double sided heart right? Like wax on top, melted crayons in the middle and then wax on bottom and then cut the shape of your heart? When I did it I thought um… this doesn’t look right. But maybe I did it correctly.

    Thank you!

  • Susan - Cute idea! I’ve done it before, but never thought of cutting it into heart shapes and hanging…we just have blobs!

  • AshleyAnn - Jo – that is what I did. There is probably a more ‘correct’ way to do it, but I was just trying to occupy my 3 year old!

  • Erin - I like the convo you two had…boring

  • Moriah - How do you come up with these great ideas!? I love this one!

  • Jo - Lol! :) Great, thanks for responding!!

  • Jo - BTW- did you happen to make the curtains hanging in the picture above? Or just buy them? I love white curtains, but i never can find any thick enough!!

  • tiny twig - LOVE this project! it’s now officially on the docket for next week. :)

  • AshleyAnn - The curtains are a shower curtain from Target that I cut in half!

  • Brooke - Oh I totally understand – my 3 year old loves the Wii too. Crafts just don’t compare, well until you get them started, like you said :) I love those crayon hearts! Super cute.

    Love your blog.

  • Kelly - We just made these this last weekend and they are hanging from from the chandelier over our kitchen table. And our’s aren’t all red and pink either. My boys added orange, green & blue :)

  • rachel denbow - our sons are of the same opinion these days. Trying the crayon project soon!

  • Michelle - My childhood best friend and I used to do a similar project–we used an electric griddle and laid wax paper on top. Then we drew on the paper using whole crayons, which melted when they touched the hot griddle. Probably more dangerous, but less messy for sure!

  • Jodi - you should have your own tv show.:)

  • Kaitlyn - Thanks for the great idea! Super simple and quick. We made ours today. They look so neat in the sunshine. Keep those ideas Rollin sista!

  • Jen - I think this is my new favorite project. I love the hearts against the window – such a beautiful look! Definitely going to have to break this out the next time I babysit!

  • stephanie - ah! i see my quilt too!!

    love all the crafts that you do that involves the kids….and i think the blue heart looks pur-ty ;)

  • maegan - I love the melted crayon project! I used to do it when I was little. I plan on doing a VERY simple crocheting tutorial (I am no expert) on Monday if you want to stop by. Those are the plans.

  • Nicole - I have a question that might be considered silly: Do you take the wax paper off after you melt the crayons? I want to do this for my bedroom, lol.

  • AshleyAnn - Nicole – you leave the wax paper on. I suppose if you were able to make it really thick you could peel back the wax paper. Ours have wax paper on the both sides with the melted crayon in the middle.

  • Emily Bergquist - You have just inspired me in multiple ways and I am so thankful for your blog! And by the way, I love the blue in the hearts, it gives them a wonderful Eric Carle look!

  • Nicole - Awesome! Thanks so much.

  • linda geertsen - Hi Ashley!

    I just knew it! I know we are meant to be friends. So, I was browsing the collage of thumbnails and saw that the MY quilt is to the left of YOUR quilt. Coincidence? I think not. We are meant to be friends. :)

    All kidding aside. Thanks so much for the guiding me to Craft Hope. I LOVEd every second of the experience.

    If you are wondering, I did “quilt” the top together–the quilt squares happen to be of the same fabric. It looks just like one piece in the photo.

    Thanks again!


  • Deb - Just wanted to let you know I’m another mama who likes to be crafty with a 4-yr-old boy who likes wii. I do the same thing to try to entice him in… sometimes it works, sometimes not. Thanks for ideas and for pointing me to Craft Hope!

  • Jenn Chushcoff - I just discovered your site- fantastic! Thanks for sharing these ideas. (Love your photos too.)

  • Candace @ NaturallyEducational - These are beautiful and I love the story! Do you have a dedicated craft grater? I imagine you must!

  • Must Make Monday – Valentines « The Handmade Experiment - [...] Under the Sycamore‘s rainbow hearts garland is so pretty and we love kids crafts around here. [...]

  • Emily Flippin Maruna - HI,

    Great post! They look so cheery! I’ve written about it in a Must Make Monday blog post on Valentines –


  • MES PETITES MAINS // magazine » L’atelier du mercredi : Valentin/Valentine - [...] guirlande de cœurs cirés chez AshleyAnn mais aussi chez Jill. Ne soyez pas effrayés par l’étape « j’écrase les [...]

  • ~ Junkyard Jennifer - My kids and I made these today. Thanks for the great tutorial! They were a lot of fun and I love how colorful they are hanging in our windows. (Hoping to take pictures to post tomorrow.)

    ~ Jennifer

  • Scenes from our Valentines Day | - [...]  Wax Paper Hearts. I intended for this to be a project I could do with the kids, but it really ended up being mostly a project for me. The kids did enjoy watching me make them and melt the crayon wax with the iron, and I thought they turned out to be a fun valentines decoration! [...]

  • Makridou Angela - Brilliant, creative ideas.

  • You Melt My Heart - [...] lots of variations recently, but was inspired to make a Valentine’s version after seeing this post on The Crafty [...]

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  • Crayon Project – {Partial Fail} Sassy Mouth Photography | Sassy Mouth Photography {The Blog} - […] also includes growing plants (from seeds!!) staying on top of chores, and lots more. This crayon project seemed easy enough, and I had all the parts, plus a box of old crayons from when Lilly was little. […]