Growing up I always enjoyed reading. I own every book in ‘The Gymnasts’ book series (Go Evergreen Gymnastics Academy) – just writing that makes me want to flash back to the 80s and read them again. Anyway my reading barely exists these days, but I do have some current favorites. Not only do I love what is on the inside of each of these books, but their covers are just too pretty to be stored on a bookshelf. I love the colors and sans serif fonts:)I picked up Amanda Blake Soule’s “The Creative Family” off Amazon a while back. It so resonated with me. Here’s a short exert:

“I began to notice that when I was able to fit a bit of creating into my day, I was more centered, at peace and fulfilled. All those things made me a calmer, more patient, and more mindful parent….I was determined to find a way to make creativity a part of my life as a mother.” – Amanda Blake Soule

Several of you have left comments asking about my schedule and how I find time to be creative. For me it is a crucial part of who I am, so to put that aside because my schedule as a mom is CRAZY would be giving up a huge part of me. To give that up would also mean I wouldn’t and couldn’t be the mom I am designed to be. Is it hard to find the time? YES!!, but it is so important for me and my family that I make it happen…I can nurse a baby, feed a toddler and cut scrapbooking paper at the same time. I think we all find ways to make the things most important to us happen. Creative projects are also such a fun way to spend time with my kids. Often I have something I want to make and I look for way to tweak it a bit so the boys can create something too.

Along those lines one of my other favorite books right now is Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts. It is seriously one of the greatest books ever written – whether you are a Martha fan or not. I am making it a goal to try every project in the book over the course of the remainder of 2009 and 2010. My crazy life makes it difficult to always think of projects, so when I don’t have the energy to think of something I pick out a project from this book over the weekend, buy the supplies, then try it out over the course of the week. Planning ahead is crucial for me.

Finally is Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern. I can flip through this book for hours just looking at the gorgeous pictures. I also truly enjoyed reading about what inspires Amy and so on. I’d kind of like to cut out the pages and frame them they are just so pretty….

I know this book list is not deep, political, or religious – but hey I have 4 very small children, my mind is too shot for deep books right now! Though I didn’t agree with everything in it, I will say “The Creative Family” was thought provoking, challenging, and encouraging for me – but that is for me and the way I am made. The visual arts have always been a core part of who I am (Fine Arts was one of my majors in college…I took so many pottery classes I nearly have a major in it too) so to give that up now that I am a mom would just be sad.

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  • Marina - I haven’t read the pictured books, BUT ‘The Gymnasts’ series was the best EVER, LOL! I wish I’d kept mine. Something you can share with little B as she grows up!

  • christina larsen - Thanks for sharing those book ideas. I really enjoy Martha Stewart’s ideas and have always wanted to do some of them. Maybe I can look at getting that book and start being creative.

  • rachel denbow - Haven’t ever looked into Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia but since Brett is now working at Border’s and can check out books like it’s a library, it may come home for a little while! I have one of Amy Butler’s pattern books and have always been infatuated with her fabrics and most of the projects. She never disappoints me.

    The Creative Family is another I was more interested in the theory behind making the effort and showing your kids how rich their lives can be through tradition and exploring crafts and their imagination but not as thrilled with all of the examples. However, I admire Amanda for the ability to put these books together while raising kids well and have always enjoyed her blog.

    I love how you validated creative time and experiences in your life and love that even when it seems like there is so much to do, spending time doing what makes you feel alive and excited is still a valuable part of being a healthy woman and mother. It freaks me out a little to know that our rhythm is going to change again soon and that we’ll all have to shift with it and I feel like I’m grieving the loss of some of that time that I have now but your posts are kind of reminding me that it can still be a part of daily life. It’s all about rearranging and fitting it in. Because we need to.

    Oh, Ashley. Some day we should do coffee.

  • amanda torres - I am seriously cracking up! I have that exact same series. I used to have them in my classroom and was secretly hurt when I would suggest them to my students and they would snub their noses. They didn’t know what they are missing. Right now they are packed up in my ‘children’s classics’ box in the attic awaiting Miss Addison!

  • PamperingBeki - Three great books by three of my favorite ladies!

  • DIY {decoupage children’s hanger} » - […] you read my post on my current favorite books, then you saw that I am making it a goal to go through Martha […]

Do you remember these little guys? We started them inside in the early spring and transplanted them outside. The package said they’d grow to be 12ft tall! We intentionally planted them far from the vegetables in the garden so their massive height wouldn’t block sunlight.

They are full grown and beautiful!

I am so glad I planned ahead on planting them far from the garden. It would have been a shame if their massive 12ft height blocked the sun…

Evidently the stunted growth that runs in this family is not limited to humans…

And on a side note…I am going to be away from the internet this week, so if you email or comment just know I won’t be answering it until next week. However, you won’t miss me much. The good ole’  blog is scheduled to post everyday. I think some of you have the assumption that each day I find time to sit down and write a blog post. The reality is I try to write a couple at a time after the boys go to bed (I am so used to saying “the boys”…what do I say now?). Chris took this pic of me as I was writing a few of the posts for this week…it is one of the few times you will see my hair down – notice the rubber band on my wrist for a quick ponytail. After one of my clients/friends (S.V.) stopped by this week with a new haircut, I am thinking about cutting mine off. Her’s looked so great…

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  • bopha - I’m glad that we won’t be missing the daily blogging presence. The sunflowers may not have been massive but they made for a good pic with Rett.

  • sharon - Love your photos. You’re so talented and I love reading your blog :)

  • jenny collier - good idea with the scheduled posting. i might have to do the same!

  • amanda - My hair is always tied back and my husband wonders why I don’t cut my hair more often. When I do get my hair cut I send the pony tail to Locks of Love: Check with your local hair cutters, some give free hair cuts if you’re donating your hair.

  • Yvonne Jacobson - i so enjoy reading your blog…it’s saved to my favorites and i check back daily to see what is happening at your house! thanks for opening your life to us….especially those of us who you have no idea who we are… are both inspiring and encouraging. Just wanted to say THANKS!

  • PamperingBeki - Ha! Those sunflowers are hilarious.

    I planted some this year and only one bloomed. Yep, one sad lonely sunflower.

  • jasie - don’t cut your hair! i love it. i wish my hair were as pretty as yours. on a floral note, we planted a ton of flowers last fall and i’ve had three bloom at different times this summer. i definitely do NOT have a green thumb!

I love to paint. I could repaint rooms every few months just to change things up, but my hubby doesn’t think that is such a great idea. Anyway every time I paint I have a dilemma of what to do with all the paint chips. They are just so pretty:)Well I am going to repaint the kitchen and decided I could use a clipboard to keep track of random things I want to do with the boys. I find that unless I am intentional with our schedule, our days just pass by and my pile of things I want to do just grows and is never enjoyed. So my idea with this clipboard is to be able to keep track of what I want to accomplish that week with the boys…and I can clip any coupons, instructions, etc. to it. Once the activity is done, I just wipe it off and start over the next week.

Littlest Brother standing instead of sitting to eat…and my paint chips prior to picking the color

My supplies:


Scrapbook paper

Paint Chips

Mod Podge

Clear Contact Paper – creates a surface you and use dry erase markers on

Fun masking tape

The Directions

Step 1: Cut my paint chips to the size I wanted. Covered clipboard area with Mod Podge, added the paint chips

Step 2: Cut the scrapbook paper for the top section. Attached the same way as the paint chips.

Step 3: Covered entire board in Mod Podge

Step 4: Added decorative masking tape

Step 5: Cut clear contact paper to size. Smoothed contact paper over entire clipboard

Finished Clipboard

I got the idea to use the Contact Paper from Design*Sponge. There are endless possiblities for customizing clipboards – a lot are a bit too frilly for me, but I imagine they would make some little girls really happy. Below are some links to other versions of custom clipboards. These would make great gifts…

Wallpaper Wipe-Off board on Design*Sponge

Chalk Clipboard via Ohdeedoh – I love this one, it would be a fun project for so many different things.

Clipboard Collage – by Rachel at Bling on My Sewing Machine – LOVE THESE, great for inspiring creativity

Scrapbook Clipboard

Grocery Store organizing clipboard by Creative Organizing

So there are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing….

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  • christina larsen - Love It.

  • ALVN of WhisperWood Cottage & Junkologie - Fabulous job! Love the colors!! The turquoise is beautiful!


  • Emily Beaty - I LOVE your creativity and all the DIY projects.. So fun!

  • Shannon Phillips - Genius!

  • Lisa - yet again, amazed! Be sure and let us see how the new kitchen paint turns out. I’ve been trying to talk myself into a similar shade of blue for my living room.
    This project would be perfect for new schoolwork clipboards for my girls!

  • Lily - Super cute project. I’m so glad I found your blog. I read design sponge all the time and that’s how I came across your blog. Then I realized that you’re a fellow Okie and living in Broken Arrow to boot, me too! Your blog and photography are awesome and your little ones are absolutely adorable! Keep up the good work.

  • Erin J. - That is so fun!! I love the decorative masking tape. I have never seen fun tape like that.

  • Mandy Wichert - Ashley,

    Where do you get the inspiration & desire to do your crafts? I love being creative, and I desperately want to find something I need to make, but over the course of a day, I don’t find much I “need” to make. What gets you going? What’s a typical day like?

  • Karen Brown - I just made a couple of these minus the contact paper for my pantry doors- one for the shopping lists and the other to hang by the family calendar with all the party invites, etc. They are so cute and practical!

    But…my real question is…what does your daily/weekly schedule look like? I have 3 little ones (5,3,11 mom.) and feel like my days constantly slip away and I never get it all done. (We did just make your paper mache bowls and they LOVED them!) I want to be more intentional with my time with them, but haven’t quite figured it out as far as routine and structure. And when do you find the time for all the other mommy stuff like the laundry and cleaning? And your house looks gorgeous and so fun in all the photos you post. Naptime is never long enough to get the housework done and tackle all my awaiting FUN house projects. Any suggestions would be awesome! I admire you immensely for all you seem to accomplish with your children and family, with your friends, in your home and at your church. AMAZING and INSPIRING!

  • rachel denbow - Oooh, I have a similar soft spot for paint chips. I love this idea and how monochromatic it is. And so useful!!!!

    Thanks, Ashley, for continuing to inspire even when regular life is so much more busy with a little one!

  • Ashley - What an ingenious idea! I always feel so guilty throwing away the tons of samples that I gather in the paint section, but now you have given me inspiration to use them for something.

  • Momofthe4 - How do you do it? Love the idea! I think I will try and incorporate this into my son’s room makeover . He is 11 and looking for a tween sort of room. This would be great for his desk area to help him keep up with things! You are very inspiring! Please share your tips on how you do it all.

  • Laurel - My creative juices are definitely flowing – these are perfect for back to school time.

  • patti - what a great idea! i love reusing materials. i’ll have to give this one a go! thanks so much for sharing.

  • ayesha - i have been reading your blog for a while now and love it i would really love the password to your more personal posts just dont know how to get it!!!!

  • Melanie Readnour - I love reading your website Ashley! Would love your password too, but everytime I try to send you an email it doesn’t work. I am a 2nd grade teacher and I am making some clipboards for my classroom! I painted my house all summer and never thought to use my paint chips.

  • Emily Lusk - What a great idea and it looks very pretty! I totally know what you mean about how the days just slip by and you don’t do anything that you wanted to do! I think it is a great idea to write them down and have a plan for each week! I think I am going to start doing that as well! Thanks for such a great idea!

  • Jolene - what a fab idea! Thanks for sharing…I’m adding it to my must-do pile…a list that should be no problem to knock off so long as I get another 12 hours in the day and live till I’m 173!

  • Yet Another… DIY Marker Board! « Ad Astra per Aspera - [...] Wipe Off Clipboard … Recycling Paint Chips from Ashley Ann Photography [...]

  • New Beginnings « Creations - [...] it in a cute way so I’ve the possibility to write what I need to do and erase I got the idea here, here and here. Por dentro cobri de uma forma fofa para que tenha a possibilidade de escrever [...]