There is a gate leading to a small field close to our house. We took family pictures there a few years ago, when we were waiting for our youngest to come home:

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As we pass by on walks, the open gate beckons my oldest daughter to come explore. I’ve snapped a few shots with my phone recently and keep thinking, “I need to bring my big camera on a walk.” So, I did. Granted the walk is more like a few steps out the front door.

28mm lens, 1/320, f/1.8, ISO 100

4.15walk-185mm lens, 1/320, f/1.8, ISO 100, 85mm lens, 1/500, f/1.8, ISO 1004.15walk-285mm lens, 1/400, f/1.8, ISO 100, 85mm lens, 1/500, f/1.8, ISO 1004.15walk-485mm lens, 1/800, f/1.8, ISO 1004.15walk-685mm lens, 1/800, f/1.8, ISO 1004.15walk-785mm lens, 1/500, f/1.8, ISO 100, 85mm lens, 1/500, f/1.8, ISO 100 (Hey big sister, I have a TEENY piece of grass stuck on my finger. Can you help me out?)4.15walk-850mm lens, 1/320, f/1.4, ISO 1004.15walk-1050mm lens, 1/320, f/1.4, ISO 1004.15walk-1150mm lens, 1/400, f/1.4, ISO 1004.15walk-1250mm lens, 1/400, f/1.4, ISO 1004.15walk-13

And then they were done and scooted away. Well, one scooted and the other ran screaming behind because she wanted the scooter.

flourish

Registration for both of my April/May online photography courses (SnapShops for phone & DSLR) is open, courses begin on Monday. Both courses are my approach to capturing my days with my phone & DSLR – going over composition and storytelling. The phone course also covers tips, tricks and apps related to phone photography. The DSLR course is for the beginner wanting to better understand how to use a camera – going from Auto to Manual. Click here for more information on each course and to register.

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  • Jenn - beautiful pictures.
    i love walking adventures that take you unexpected places

  • Angela - The two are my favorite. She looks like such a sweet big sister, showing her the scooter and then in the last photo, she zooms away. Love it.

  • suzy - So absolutely sweet. They look like they play well together.

  • Abigail C - These pictures are awesome! It’s so cool to see your daughter twirling! Are you going to re-shoot the chair line up picture with her in it? I think that would be really cool.

  • SueY - Beautiful pictures! What type of camera bag do you use to carry your lenses for your walks?

  • Eva - First photo is the one that had led me here some years ago…Thank you for your blog and lots of inspirations. One of them is to take yearly picture of all our family. Eva from Czech Republic

  • donna - I miss that baby “Firecracker” and her boots, but am enjoying the journey of her becoming a “Young Lady” thanks for taking us along.

  • Marilyn - Did you switch lenses when you went from 85mm to 50mm or do you have a zoom?

  • joanne burrows - What a special memory for her!!!

  • Simi - Hi Ann,

    I read your blog on and off, your love for your children and motherhood is what makes me keep coming back.

    I love your photography too….only these will remain when they are all ‘growed up’ ….

    Could you please tell me which camera you are using currently?
    I am trying to go for a big good buy so would appreciate help making up my mind.

    Good luck with everything you do.God bless.
    Simi

  • Amy - Ashley,

    I may have missed it, but did you ever take an updated photo in the field again with little one sitting in the chair the balloon was tied too?

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh those girls. I just love their friendship.

Ignorance is bliss.

This holds true for many of the recipes my grandma passed down to me.

For years, decades really, I ate and ate the desserts she made.

No one can make a blackberry cobbler like she did.

Most holidays she made Millionaire Pie. I think she found the recipe in the newspaper a really long time ago, it was a classic at Furrs Cafeteria.

4.15MillionairePie-1

I always helped her make the rolls for holiday meals. I also watched her make different cobblers and cookies. One thing I never watched her make was Millionaire Pie. The first couple holidays after she passed away no one made her pie. I think we all just forgot to make it because she always did. I missed it and decided to make about 2 years ago. Ignorance is bliss.

The pie called for a lot of butter, powdered sugar, whipping cream, pecans, pineapple, vanilla and raw eggs.

Basically, it should be called Butter Sugar Pie because that is primarily what it is. I was shocked the first time I made it. Not so shocked that I have stopped making for holiday meals.4.15MillionairePie-2This year I laughed making it thinking about how different baking and hospitality was for my grandma. I am sure she made it for friends and family without anyone thinking twice about raw eggs being used and all those calories. She baked what tasted good and what my grandpa requested.  She weighed maybe 80lbs when she was soaking wet and was fireball. I miss her.

For the record, I used eggs my chickens laid that morning…and all that butter and sugar tasted pretty good with my coffee. Not that I ate a piece for breakfast after I got home from Crossfit. That would not make any sense.

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  • Southern Gal - That looks and sounds like deliciousness. I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and supper. Oh, those grandmothers! Yours sounds amazing. We discussed my husband’s grandmother’s cooking over our dinner table on Easter. We miss her pound cakes which she baked and sold for about the last 20 of her 92 years. No one has attempted to make the recipe because, well, we would all gain about 10 pounds just looking at the thing! And don’t you know grandmamas have the magic ability to take out all the calories of the food they prepare? I’m a grandmama now so I have to learn that secret trade. 😉

  • Peggy - I don’t think it is right to talk about this delicious desssert and not share the recipe! It sounds fantastic!

  • AshleyAnn - Peggy – if you click on the name of the pie at the beginning of the post it is a link that takes you to the recipe

  • Ashley - I love this… all four of my grandparents are still alive and I’m trying to soak up every minute I can with them. Writing down recipes and stories. Love that you have this memory of your sweet grandma!

  • amber - Lol! Yes to your last 3 sentences! And my Naw was a baking rockstar too. Their house always smelled amazing. She passed on her taste for the sugar block of the food pyramid to me. Ha! Love this…

  • Trisha - This made me giggle! I’ve NEVER had a piece of pie or cake for breakfast either! (wink wink!)

  • Tiffany - Oh goodness, Ignorance is bliss. I have those thoughts sometimes too about the raw egg (hello! cookie dough, cake batter) and then the hysteria (you shouldn’t, you can’t, you wouldn’t!). I know some of it is for good reason, but sometimes you have to have a little taste.

  • Emily - I regularly have pie for breakfast…when we have pie. It’s not that different from a pastry :-) I say you enjoy it!

  • Alice H - I miss Furr’s!! Before my grandpa Bob died from cancer, we would go there at least once a week. I love that pie!

  • susie - Isn’t that funny! There were a lot of treats that I loved as a kid, when I got older I asked for the recipe and realized how much butter and sugar were in all of them! They don’t taste quite as good when I make them myself!

  • Amy Cornwell - That looks divine. Yum. And sounds delicious with a cup of coffee 😉

  • Kim B. - Ok so now I have the old Furr’s jingle in my head . .. “Furr’s Cafeteria . . making up your mind . . is half the fun.”

  • Suzie - I think that pie looks delicious! As for the calories, eat um! I am a firm believer in eating “real” food. So bring on the butter and sugar and raw eggs. Especially farm fresh eggs. My mouth is watering as I think about it. Have an extra piece for me. What a special memory to have of your grandmother. They are all a very special breed.

  • Marianne L - It makes perfect sense to me!

  • Diana - That looks like something I’d have to try before knowing what was in it! I love baking but often tell people they don’t want to know the butter & sugar contents. Luckily calories don’t count on holidays! Or at Grandma’s house. =)

  • Kelleyn - Yes! Where is the recipe! :)

  • Jolene - That’s why you exercise, right? So you can have pie like that 😉

Yesterday I hosted my first family holiday dinner, excluding Chinese New Years. We started the CNY dinner a few years ago, so it is a relatively new tradition for our extended family. Easter. Thanksgiving. Christmas – those are the holidays my grandparents, parents and Aunt & Uncle host. They are the holidays seeped in tradition and memories. I love holidays and traditions. They provide perspective and a strong sense of belonging. Roots run deeper than the memories. I am sure there are things I do every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter that I don’t even realize were passed down to me from several generations back. I love that. I want that for my kids.

So, I hosted this year. I forgot basically everything I was supposed to have….like lemons for the tea and salt & pepper for each table. I was putting butter plates out at the last minute and forgot all the plates of pickles. None of it really mattered, but it is funny how much I take for granted until I am the one doing it. I’m claiming Easter next year (hear that family)…and I’m going to have some cute salt & pepper shakers on each table.

Over the last year I’ve looked back at photos from family holidays. I realized I take a lot of day to day life pictures, but not that many when my whole family is together. This Easter I wanted to capture the little details that make my heart smile – things I want to remember about what Easter dinner was like in 2015.

I decorated with doilies and hydrangeas. Both remind me of my grandma. My oldest daughter actually picked out the flowers. She called them “Marrying flowers” because brides carry them when they walk down the aisle. I think of grandma’s hydrangea bush. I want to remember both.4.15Easter-1I want to remember how he read up until the final moment when the first family member walked in the door and the minute the last person left, he had his book back out.4.15Easter-2I want to remember how she found a spot on the counter because all the kitchen chairs were moved to another room and the dog would try to eat her food if she sat on the floor.4.15Easter-3…the way they snuck a bite of their Great Grandma’s cranberry salad when they thought no one was watching and how Chris still uses that old mug I made him in college….4.15Easter-5….how she is just like her momma and can get away with anything when she flashes that irresistible grin…4.15Easter-6…..how my mom tried to make bunny shaped rolls like she saw on Pinterest, but it didn’t work so well….4.15Easter-8….the way she drank massive amounts of water because she had no interest in anything we were eating…4.15Easter-9….the girls sitting cutely waiting for dinner to begin….4.15Easter-10…the boys acting like vultures while their Pappy carved the ham….4.15Easter-11….my family. Chris’ family. All gathered together (except those living out of town)…4.15Easter-12…little girls running into my garden to hunt eggs filled with coins, just like my sister and I ran through our grandparent’s yard hunting for eggs filled with coins…4.15Easter-13…my girls in dresses and tennis shoes because the ground was wet….4.15Easter-14…my nieces and the delicate ways they have stolen my heart….4.15Easter-16….my boy, who always has at least one shoe untied. Always…..4.15Easter-18…my 9 year old, who didn’t want to carry a bucket because his eggs would fall out and his older brother, who probably should have done the same…4.15Easter-19…my sister capturing the girls with an iPhone. One day this will be so fun to look back on, one day iPhones like this will be obsolete…4.15Easter-21…the girls. There was a time that I had 3 boys and a brand new baby girl. It made me so sad to think that my kids would not get to grow up close in age to my sister’s kids. Thankfully, I can’t see the big picture. Four girls – each a year apart. I didn’t know it would be this good…4.15Easter-224.15Easter-23…an empty room at the end of the day. The overwhelming sense of gratitude for family and belonging despite all of our rough edges. The gift of knowing there is always room at the table for me, no matter how bad my mood is or what dumb thing I’ve done. We came together to celebrate an empty tomb and a risen Savior. I’m so thankful there is room at His table for me too.4.15Easter-24

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  • Susie - Happy Easter, Ashley!

    That was just written so beautifully that I had to comment! So lovely that you share these intimate moments online! Enjoyed and loved it!

    Doesn’t even matter that I’m Jewish and living in Israel. Your prose and photos just speak to me! Each and every post! Thank you!

  • Emily | Gather & Dine - You teach me so much about appreciating the little things and savoring the present moments. Thank you for a glimpse into your family’s Easter!

  • Paige E - Love these! And didn’t the sun cooperate for pictures outside! I didn’t take any yesterday. I hope I can get past my lack of a good camera, my dark season of life sorting through loss and broken dreams and remember even when my heart feels hard as a brick, my Savior has room at his table for me. Thanks for sharing your precious family.

  • Michelle @ life to table - Such a beautiful post. I loved reading all the details and why those pictures mean so much to you. Your family is beautiful and blessed. Happy Easter!

  • Holly - Ashley-What a beautiful post! I read your blog every day, and can’t tell you how much I enjoy it. I love the pictures of your kids and house and more importantly, the meaningful messages you post about life and ways to honor Him. I appreciate how open and honest you are about everything and you inspire me to be a better mom. Thanks for sharing your beautiful life with readers.

  • Jenny B. - Beautiful, Ashley! I love the picture of the girls together and your comment about not knowing it would be this good. :)

  • Krystina - I hosted my first Easter this year myself. I forgot to pick up my camera because I was so preoccupied getting everything together and making sure everyone was comfortable, I regret that now. That’s my goal for next year. I’m just happy this year I fit 2 folding tables worth of people in my little apartment and didn’t burn the ham!

  • Jess - Ashley, I just loved the tidbits you shared about each child. So special. As a mom of two girls, the girl cousins pic really made me smile.

  • Heather - This was so beautifully written, it brought tears to my eyes. This post inspires me in so many ways, one, to record text with photos…somehow. I’ll have to figure that out. I’m always inspired by you but hardly ever comment, had to this time :)

  • Laura in Sacto - Beautiful photos!

  • Tanya - Awesome! Happy Easter!

  • Jamie - Your comment about the iphone pic is so true! I LOVE LOVE LOVE looking at old pics and seeing old packaging of things, how huge our old TV console was as a kid, seeing the phone hang on the wall with a round dial and long curly cord, all those kinds of things. My kids think the old house phone is hysterical. I made a point to take a pic of each of my newborns at the hospital on my bed with a package of Pampers in the background solely for the packaging memory! I thoroughly enjoy all of those old pop culture type of things. Fun memories!

  • Marie - Beautifully written! I’m thankful for my seat at His table as well! Happy Easter! ????& I also just want to say thank you for hosting your camera classes! I learned so much last spring & it made my heart so happy being able to take sweet Easter pictures of my son & love the way they turned out!

  • Diana - Love this! And love the idea of doing things the same way as our ancestors, whether we know it or not!

  • Anne - What a beautiful post Ashley! I just had to comment. I love how you appreciate the little things and capture your family so perfectly. Thanks for writing and letting us get a glimpse into your life. You inspire me.
    Happy Easter!

  • Julie - Beautiful post, and my favorite part was the part about your savior. Made me sigh a happy sigh.

  • Lori - What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing, so creatively, your heart. It blesses me. (And I’m grateful for a spot at His table, too. :-> )

  • amber - Goodness I love this. Thank you for sharing your sweet family. Happy Easter:)!

  • ellen patton - Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy Cornwell - This makes me tear up. So many wonderful things to remember and cherish. Thank you for the reminder to do this myself. <3

  • Sarah - This is so beautiful Ashley. You always put it just right and then your photos blow me away to top it off. Thanks for sharing…

  • Rach - I cried. Because these are the sort of everyday moments full of courage and bravery and heart that need to be celebrated.

  • Jenny - Great post! I love all the pictures! You will definitely cherish every single one of these. I am now without grandparents and wish I had taken so many more pictures at all our get togethers.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Happy Happy Easter! Beautiful!

  • Laura - Goodness, this is just so good. Exactly how I feel about belonging in a famiily and making your own mark in the traditions and memories of those you love. Thank you for your perfect way of bringing me back to the important parts to focus on.

  • Mandy - That was beautiful girl! I miss those Easter egg hunts at your grandparents house! Ah, those were so much fun!
    We had a big hunt in our yard and though we didn’t have money inside (though I told everyone how that’s how you guys always did it and how it was so great! :)) We now have chocolate bars that the adults have to find AFTER they find their certain number of eggs. Super fun!
    Miss you friend! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  • Friday I’m in Love | The Gilbertson Family - […] favorite bloggers is Ashley Ann (I know I’ve mentioned this before) and I really loved this post this week. It captures the small things that could easily have been overlooked on a busy Easter […]

  • Alicia - Ashley- this is gorgeous. You give me such HOPE as to what family can be. Thank you. I cried! I don’t even know you & I CRIED!!! Just simply beautiful!

  • Jeanette - Thank you for this. Family is beautiful and messy and it’s so good when we can come and be together because/despite all of it. I’m so glad He always has room at the table for me. I needed to read that.