Baby Sister got a new headband in the mail and she was sleeping when I opened it….which meant I couldn’t try it on her. So I decided to put it on like a pirate’s eye patch, grab a sword and jump out at the boys while they were playing with Legos. This is what they saw (minus the camera):


Yeah, I’m a tough looking pirate. (I think you guys just read this blog b/c I post dorky pictures of myself). Anyway, Biggest Brother went nuts over my eye patch and begged me to make him one. “Stocking Stuffer” ran through my mind and I told him I’d think about it.  Of course, I made 4 (4 kids=4 pirates) and have a little tutorial for you. Now I know many of you could make these much bettter and much cuter, but I was going for speed in making them. Naptimes only last so long you know. I finished all 4 in about 30min.

Step 1: Cut out 2 layers of felt in the shape you want

Step 2: Cut iron adhesive (Heat-n-Bond sheets is what I used). Place a women’s hairband near the top of the patch, between the felt layers.

Step 3: Iron the layers (felt, Heat-n-Bond, hairband, felt). I placed fabric over the felt when ironing b/c I had cheap felt that was melting.

Step 4: Stitch along the hairband and felt to secure it tightly (if you have kids that are ROUGH on everything)

Step 5: (not pictured) Using embroidery thread make simple stitches only the edges and add any other top embellishments12.09pirate-02

3 Pirates and 1 Piratess (that is what a princess with 3 big brothers that love pirates is called. Just filling you in)

The bands are a little big on the youngest two, but I just tied a knot in the back to get them to fit. You could cut them the right size, but then they’ll just outgrow it and you’ll have to make more. These fit adults too.


Since these are going in stockings I couldn’t take a picture of any of the Pirates, but here is one of the Piratess….12.09pirate-09

Just to include it…here she is in the original headband. I got it from etsy dealer Clara Clips (I know you’ll ask)


With her current favorite toy…a gift all the way from Egypt. Thanks Liz.12.09blueband-01

And in honor of my seafaring gang today’s Etsy finds are picked with Pirates & The Sea in mind:


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  • Jamie - Cute! My boy, Cal, loves his Sophie Giraffe too! My mom says I had one when I was little, 32 years ago :)

  • Amy - You are so clever. I have nephews coming for Christmas and this would be perfect. Thanks Ashley..

  • Liz Pray - I am so glad she likes the giraffe. Caroline loved hers…it is a great teether. (Adam calls it a dog toy…weird!) Thanks for the great idea, I am off to find felt tomorrow, it is an adventure for me to locate all kinds of craft stuff here! Miss you guys!

  • Holly - i love them. especially on baby sister. you are a crafting genius!

  • Lisa - Did you honestly have a pack of women’s hair ties hanging around your house, waitin’ for a DIY project? I love it.

  • amanda torres - Whoa! You are one ferocious mama.

  • Jeannette Swan - Love the headband so went to Etsy to check it out – how did you get Breese’s picture out there? What an adorable model!!

  • susie whyte - love it. my kids(2 & 4) have been sucked into the captain hook vortex and talk about him ALL the time. great post.

  • Christmas Happenings « {bmp} - [...] weekend after I had put off and put off the gift I intended to make for my nephew and then I saw this post from the ever inspiration AshleyAnn. All I needed was a little inspiration. It let me to the idea [...]

  • Amy - These are SO cute. I’ve totally lost myself in your blog. (Wait, nap time is over already?) What beautiful kids, fun pictures and great ideas! I’ll add this to my favorites list!

  • My New Favorite | - [...] I’m Not Gonna Do But Is Still Super Cute :: :: :: DIY Pirate Eye Patches from Ashley Ann [...]

  • *** miss chris *** - making these tonight for a couple pirates in Fidge’s class. Perfecto, mama. Thanks. xoxo

  • Pirate PAargty | | Colour GigglesColour Giggles - [...] how cool are these pirate eye patches for all the little guests to the party. You can visit Under the Sycamore for DIY instructions on how to make [...]

  • Jen - Hi! I love your pirate eye patches. Do you sell them? I’d love to get some for son’s upcoming pirate birthday party! Thanks!


I’ve contemplated posting this for a while. My hesitation was that I think for those of you that don’t know me outside of the internet there is a misconception that I have it all together as a mom. I don’t. I goof up quite often. I don’t always show grace or patience. I’m not always fully engaged with my kids. I’m normal. I do try to be very intentional with my kids though. Chris and I have certain things that are very important to us to pass along to our children. One of those things is a concern for all people…selflessness…to know what it is to give sacrifically. I soak in stories from other parents on how they instill life lessons to their kids, so for that reason I’ll share one we’ve been doing. I fully support giving financially to various non-profits that help with hunger, but I know my kids don’t always understand the impact of a check written. To their eyes I am just writing something on paper. So to instill in them the reality that they can help provide food for others we’ve started having “Rice Night”. We do it a couple of times a month.

When I holler “Dinner’s ready”…everyone scrambles to their seats to find this:12.09rice-02

Then we pass around a jar and everyone (including the toddler) puts their money in the jar. Then everyone gets a plate of rice for dinner. We use rice as an example of what many families eat for every meal.12.09rice-03

We explain to the boys that the money we would have spent on our dinner we are now putting in the jar instead. Once we have the jar full I divide the money up among the boys and take them to the grocery store. There they get to buy healthy food, pay for it and deliver it to our church’s food pantry (where they know people who are hungry come to get food). For dinner the only option is rice. However, later in the night if they are hungry I let them snack – I want it to be a positive experience. It has been cool to see how the older two boys now frequently ask “Is it Rice Night yet?”…and they don’t really like rice.

What are some things your family did growing up or that you do now that have impacted your character?

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  • Christina - The first thing that came to mind is that my father used to make us take our shoes off before entering whenever we visited friends or relatives. It may sound silly, but every time I went to a friends house the parents couldn’t believe that this little kid wouldn’t come in the house without taking her shoes off. Now I keep handknitted slippers at the door of our home for our guests.

  • ashlee - that is an awesome idea!! i think i will be adopting that one. quite often we go through our toys, clothes, and home items to donate. We are given so much, and we certainly dont need it all, so we pass it on. I love it because my kids are constantly adding to the donation bags by the door.

  • the inadvertent farmer - We keep gift certificates for fast food restaurants in our car so when we see a homeless person with a sign “Homeless, please help” we can give them a certificate. This makes my kids feel good for helping (“No honey they cannot come home for dinner with us”) and I am assured that it will be used for food as opposed to giving cash that can be used for liquor or other things. Kim

  • Jill Tracy - Wow–this is amazing. You are doing something great for your children. I always try to explain these things to my girls, but a visual is obviously a more realistic approach for them. I want my girls to grow up to be giving and understand people from all different walks of life. I think my oldest is finally understanding that some children do not get food and do not get toys. I have noticed her praying for them at bedtime lately. I think the rice thing may just be the icing on the cake for her to understand.

  • patti - my oldest daughter (she’s now 5) was born in december. so it’s like a month flooded with gifts for her with christmas and her birthday only 2 weeks apart. so, along with other times throughout the year, december is the month we purge toys. we’ve been doing this with her since she was 2. she actively participates in selecting toys to donate to churches and goodwill. we explain to her that it’s important to share and give to others. she totally gets it and it warms my heart to hear her say “i think i would like to give this toy to another kid that doesn’t have toys on christmas.” and i look up and know it’s one of her favorite toys that she’s letting go.

  • Julia Leinen - Thank you for giving to the food pantry. I assure you it is getting into needy and grateful hands, and they are learning about the TRUE Bread of Life.

  • Jeannette Swan - What an awesome idea! I love it!

  • AmberLee - i love this. what a great reminder. it can be so hard to really give kids perspective and I love that they have something so solid to latch onto.

    by the way, I’ve been enjoying your banner and the beautiful pics as they fade in. they totally put me in the holiday mood!

  • Sarah M - I *LOVE* this idea. Thank you. Our kids are very small yet (2 1/2 & 10 months) but this is a great thing to incorporate when they are a bit older to understand poverty & selfless giving. Thanks!

    Sarah M

  • Lisa - I’m going to borrow this idea. I love it! This year we’ve decided the kids get to open the gifts from our extended family and decide which two they’d each like to give away to a child in need. I contacted a local social worker to see if we might be matched with a family so that our kids will have an opportunity to see the excitement on another child’s face as they open a gift that was meant for them to have, but the selflessly gave away. A hands-on lesson of what a blessing it is to give, for kids under the age of 5. BTW, we don’t give our kids gifts at christmas anymore. We decided to have them pick “gifts for Jesus on his birthday)from catalogs from organizations like Samaritan’s Purse. The idea came from here:

  • Candace - Great idea! Two activities from childhood…..

    I remember traveling with my dad to carry groceries to two families living in a two bedroom house. They only had a couple of bananas to eat. I remember looking through a hole in the floor and seeing the muddy ground of the crawl space.

    My mom also worked in a nursing home and we would go often and interact with the elderly people there. They were strangers to us but we didn’t care. They loved it!

    My parents were just loving and giving and we got to see them in action.

  • Trinity - Ashley, I like the idea of putting the money on their plate for them to really grasp the idea of giving. Alot of times we tell the girls we are giving something, but if it was never theirs to begin with, then they never know they are giving it. I love hearing everyone’s ideas of how to teach kids life lessons. My mother was always real good at keeping us involved in giving. She let us help cook the meal, shop for the items, or whatever to give away. She also did a great job at communicating what we were doing. Also, she just incorporated it into our everyday life, so it wasn’t just at a holiday that we gave, but just in everyday circumstances. It is hard sometimes to take a little time to involve the kids. I sometimes get stuck in the “get it done” mode. Thanks for this post.

  • Heather - I think this is an outstanding idea. I have been taking my son grocery shopping and then I ask him to pick something out for the food cart at our church. His selections usually lead to us talking about where the food goes, etc. I think this would be a great thing for our family to do, too. thanks!!

  • sue - My dad would be driving the family car and if there was a snake or turtle in the road, he would stop to help it get across. I now do this myself. Since he did it, I assumed that I was supposed to stop and help an animal.
    Thanks Dad, for teaching me to help all creatures!

  • Rachel C - Never second-guess sharing amazing ideas like this one….be who you are…it’s who we all love.

  • Jaimie - Honestly, we didn’t do anything like this when I was a kid. I think this is really awesome and amazing and doing this makes you more of a super mom than “always having it together.”

  • Dayka - This is such a great idea! I always hope I’m consistent and thoughtful enough to do this when I have kids. Thanks for sharing!

  • abbie - this is a really great idea. thank you for sharing!

  • A Glimmer of Hope… « Finding the Balance - [...] that note, I read this a few weeks ago and thought it was a great idea, especially right now with Haiti’s disaster [...]

  • Jasie - I’m going to try this tonight. Wish me luck. Hopefully the reason behind it will encourage Harper to be more enthusiastic about rice for dinner.

  • Erica Buchanan - Hello There! I run a home childcare and visit your blog for ideas and tips on shooting photos of children in hopes their parents will enjoy them for years to come. Thanks for taking your time out to do this because I know how busy your REALYY are :)

  • Liz R. - hi ashley! i recently stumbled across your blog and am SO impressed by the way you are intentionally raising your kids to be conscious of the needs of others. We started doing “rice night” just after I read this post. I felt like we could do more though… My husband is a youth pastor at our church and we thought about doing “rice night” with all of the kids, but the idea grew. In 2011 our church is having “Rice Night {a different kind of dinner party}”. The money raised will be donated to Children’s Hunger Fund. Thank you SO so much for your creativity in teaching your kids to have Christ centered lives… and by blogging about it you touch more lives than you probably realize. – liz

  • Sam - I am getting ready to teach a college Religious Studies class next week. I can’t wait to share this awesome idea with my students! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Fancy Finds: Powerful Posts | Fancy Nonsense - […] Rice Night- The author shares an impacting family “tradition” that teaches her kids the importance […]


Dear Salar Kamangar,

I found your name and photograph doing a quick little Google Search. From your company’s site I gathered that you are one of the Vice Presidents over Product Management for Google. Under the description of your job I discovered you are over web applications, which include Google Reader. You see, Mr. Kamangar, I love your company. I love to say its name…”Google”. It reminds me of funny glasses from childhood. I love the ease of finding information quickly by “googling it”. I am grateful for your Google Maps. They kept my sister safe and on the right roads prior to her iPhone. Your Google Analytics help me guage who reads this funny little blog. However, in all my love for your company I find myself a bit frustrated. Many of my readers also love your company. They loved the quick access and updates your Google Reader provided them. Mr. Kamangar, a sad day has come. Many, many weeks ago Google Reader stopped reading my blog. I tried “googling” the problem and fixing it. I had no luck. I tried Google Help message boards, but no one seemed to want to help. So now I am attempting to reach you via the Great World Wide Web. I love your Google Alerts which let me know when someone posts something about me. So, I am hoping you are a Google Alerts user too and will find this post. Please help me and my readers find joy in Google Reader again. Thank you for your time and assistance.


Ashley Ann of Under the Sycamore

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  • Alba - If there is anything I could do to solve your google problems… like resend your letter to Mr. Kamangar, please, let me know (you have my email). I will be delighted to help you. It is a pleasure for me to read your blog daily.

  • Beth - This is hilarious beyond belief!

  • Christina - Eye Candy Under The Sycamore

  • Ashley - Come on Mr. Kamangar help Ashley and her readers out!!!

  • Cheree - I hope that Mr. Kamangar responds. I am sad to still not have access to your precious blog in my reader.

  • Charissa - Just a thought Ashley. Could it be a setting on your privacy preferences that needs to be changed? I hope you get it fixed soon too because I keep forgetting to come over and check here.

  • Lisa - I can’t believe it hasn’t been fixed yet! This post is hilarious by the way.

  • Deboleena - Hi Ashley, I have been following your blog regularly for the last couple of months… one, your photographs are beyond awesome… two, your kids make my day (i stay away from home and really miss my nephew and niece) :) , three, your free flow writing style is amazing, and four your outlook towards life impresses me no end :). I usually do not post comments on the internet with my real name… but somehow i felt the need to do it on your blog…i found this post especially hilarious since i am a product manager myself and know how important it is to get customer feedback ….I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile, hoping it would catch the eye of some of my connections working in/with Google :D. …. sorry for the long comment – it’s almost a letter ;) Have a great day.

  • Sarah - Hey! I just happened upon your blog somehow — one of those blog rabbit trails, you know — and I love it! I want to subscribe, but see you’re having trouble with Google Reader. One of my best friends works for Goggle in NYC, and I’ve emailed her the link to this post.

    She responded with this email this morning (12.28.09):

    “I’ll send her info to an internal alias when I’m back in the office tomorrow. We can for sure get some info for her. :)”

    So, hopefully, your problem will be solved very soon. I know I’ll be glad! :)

    Hope you had a lovely Christmas.


  • Amanda - It may have to do with the security settings you have on your blog so that no one can save your photos. Which is great if you don’t want people to save your photos to their computer but if your security settings are too high, google reader has issues with the blog. I had to lower the security settings on my blog so that google reader could pick me up and it looks like you need to do the same :)

  • Lacey McKay - This is too funny. But not for you I’m sure. I wish I could help! I would love for you to be back on Google Reader! I love your blog!