While at Craft Weekend I was inspired by a project by Lindsey of The Pleated Poppy. Lindsey’s version is a painting that can be pretty time consuming. When I saw it, I knew my kids would have fun doing something similar. I don’t have much wall space left, so I didn’t want to do paintings – I feel the need to hang those! Instead, we did a similar version on paper with colored pencils.
11.14art-01Lindsey’s tutorial involved measuring and drawing all the lines on the paper. I thought I would try folding the paper instead. AND my fingers paid the price from all that folding. Next, I added the circles for my 5 & 6 year old. You can find complete instructions on Lindsey’s blog.11.14art-04The older two boys wanted to draw their own circles. The perfectionist in me really wanted to help, but that would rob them of the joy in creating on their own. Embracing imperfection is pretty important – and hard for some of us to learn.11.14art-0611.14art-07I have two righties, two lefties and one we think is probably a rightie. It has taken me a while to learn that everything goes much more smoothly when leftys and righties sit without bumping elbows!11.14art-0811.14art-0911.14art-1011.14art-11

After we finished, my kids wanted to do it again. I did not want to fold another paper, so I created a printable version. Just in case you want to make one too and don’t want to deal with all that folding and measuring, you can download the one I made below. If you don’t want the dark lines you can reduce the opacity before printing (and save ink!). Also, keep in mind that your printer may not got to the edges. You could just trim that part off with scissors.

Click on the image to downloadUnderTheSycamoreCircles

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  • Lee - I used to do something similar when I was a kid. With a math compass, put the pin on the edge of a piece of paper and draw a curve across the paper from one edge to another. Then move the pin to one of the pencil lines (where it meets the edge of the paper) and draw another curve. Keep doing that and all the curves will intersect. It’s not as symmetrical as yours but I think that’s what I liked about it

  • Meg - Thanks for the printable! Halfway through reading the post I was thinking about how I should mock it up on the computer and now I don’t have too! I have a 7 hour car ride with my 4 year old tomorrow and this will be a hit! Thanks!

  • Dawn - Yay! Thanks for this! Yesterday when you posted the pic on IG, I thought I want to do that with my son! He will love it! :)

  • BeckyH in MA - I made a Sil. Cameo cutting file for the Cathedral Window pattern. It has the ellipticals and the center part. It’s a bit challenging to put together but lots of fun. I made mine on canvas and added a few layers of Mod Podge. It’s hanging in my craft area. (I placed a picture of it on my Instagram/link today so you can see it).

    If you would like the cutting files, please let me know and I will email them. :)

  • lindsey - the pleated poppy - so fun! my kids love this project as well, but we haven’t tried it with colored pencils (smart mom!). so smart to make the printable!

  • Jessie Dewey - Thanks for the printable!!!!

  • LisaAnn - Thanks for the printable! It’s a cold afternoon outside and this will fit the bill for not too messy indoor fun.

  • Caitlin E - Thanks for the printable Ashley! It’s snowing here in Portland (which NEVER happens! and let’s be honest, it’s mostly sleeting) and my girls will love coloring this while we’re stuck inside.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - What a fabulous idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • meg duerksen - this is super fun! and how hilarious are our matching squash posts?!!!!! i wrote that squash post before craft weekend but i was saving it! and we posted on the same day.
    hysterical.
    miss you a whole bunch girlie!

  • Friday Favorites | Cupcakes and Commentary - […] circle and colored pencil art project, perfect distraction for the kiddo’s week […]

  • Gazco Studio 1 - Fabulous idea.kids love this types project…..

Sunday, I returned from three lovely days in Newton, Kansas at The Craft House. My friends Meg and Kimberlee have been hosting Craft Weekends for a few years now. I’ve had the privilege of helping with several. For those not familiar with Whatever Craft Weekends, in a very basic description it is a weekend of crafting, antique shopping and eating the yummiest food. Meg and Kimberlee host them about once a month in Meg’s old house (The Craft House). You can find out more details about the weekend by visiting Meg’s blog. As much as I enjoy crafting, getting a little time to catch up with Meg and Kimberlee makes it a truly great weekend away. Last weekend, I taught two craft projects and met wonderful women from all over the US. Fun times.

While we were waiting for all the ladies to arrive, I decided to snap a few pictures of the house to share with you. This house is such a reflection of Meg – warm, inviting, colorful, oozing creativity and inspiration. I’m pretty sure you are going to enjoy this tour. The house is set up for Craft Weekends and for renting (quilting clubs, scrapbooking groups, etc. rent the home too), so the rooms are designed to sleep several women.
11.14crafthouse-0111.14crafthouse-0311.14crafthouse-0411.14crafthouse-0611.14crafthouse-0711.14crafthouse-0811.14crafthouse-1011.14crafthouse-1111.14crafthouse-1211.14crafthouse-1311.14crafthouse-1411.14crafthouse-15Isn’t it dreamy! There is something really special about gathering in a cozy home with women to create and take a break from the daily grind. I always leave refreshed and ready to tackle the demands of home again. The waiting list for Craft Weekend is pretty long, but names are drawn in a lottery system so your chances of being drawn are the same as others. I’m working on convincing some of my friends to rent the house one weekend with me. I’d love to get away with them and just hide away in this house together for a few days!

If you want more information about Craft Weekends or renting the Craft House, you can find all that on Meg’s blog. I’m guessing the 2015 calendar is probably filling up, but it wouldn’t hurt to try if you are interested!

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  • Meryl - Thanks for the tour! I keep hoping the stars will align and I’ll be able to make it to one of Meg’s weekends soon. I’m so close and they always look like crazy fun!

  • Melissa @ Bless this Mess - SO pretty! I’m super new to your blog and totally in love. Do you have a tour of YOUR home?! I didn’t find one yet :) Also, what lens did you use to get such nice sharp pictures of the whole room? These ladies sounds like a load of fun!

  • Michelle Hill - wow!! I am swooning over this house!! that room with all the long tables and sewing machines and that kitchen- I can be there all day. What a genius concept to have a whole house hosting to creative, like minded individuals who inspire each other and have fun. If I was in your circle of friends, Ashley, I’d say “yes!!” to your crafting weekend getaway :)

  • Melissa - Love love love! I don’t live all that far away from this amazing place and I keep thinking one weekend I need to get a few friends and sign up. So cute.

  • elma - Just love love her house!! The beds and beautiful quilts and well everything!!! I so wish she would do a mother and daughter weekend:) My 14 year old would love that and I could be the helper!!!

  • christina larsen - That house looks dreamy!!! I would love a weekend away to craft, antique shop, and eat. *Sigh*

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - The house looks just as I imagined it would be. I love that such a thing as The Craft House exists – a place devoted to crafting and chatting with girlfriends? Sign me up!

  • Ashley E - A weekend with friends would be fantastic!!!!!

  • Maloree - Would love to have a home for people like this someday.

  • creole wisdom - Pretty much obsessed. That is all.

  • Heather - What a darling happy place!!

  • Hannah M - How did I not know this was so close to me? Maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to go!

  • Andrea Greene - So I read your post today and saw you were in Newton, Kansas! I grew up in Newton! Not many people know about Newton, so it was a shocker to read! I felt a bit jealous you were in my hometown and I wasn’t there to meet you!:-) I now live in Illinois with my husband and 5 kids, but so fun to read your post highlighting the place I know so well :-)

  • Andrea Greene - Okay, I know this is really weird I am writing again, but after finding an instagram pic of the outside of the house, I think this house is actually on the corner of my old street! I knew the house had been bought and renovated some time back, but didn’t know it would be for such a cool idea as a Craft House. Thanks for sharing and making my day :-)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I feel so blessed that I was able to attend a Craft Weekend! I still have good dreams of that!

  • Sprite - Soooo beautiful!!! I love the garlands strung throughout every room, the maps displayed on the wall, the quilts resting on the beds, and the joyful colors filling the home with cheer! Your weekend must have been delightful! Sign me up if you ever plan a craft weekend. :)

  • Anna - The house looks so fresh and bright! It looks like you could have been the decorator as I see very similar design at play. I love your decorating stye, BTW. I think it’s very fun!

  • meg duerksen - dude. you take the best pictures!
    send me all of these please.
    and get back here. i am currently sleeping in my CH bed while talby and my niece are watching movies downstairs at a crazy loud volume. i miss having you here with me! :)
    thanks for sharing about the house! i want everyone to come and have a getaway! it’s such a fun house and i LOVE getting to share it with others!

  • angela - Meg’s blog is one of my very favorites! I would love to rent The Craft House with friends too!!!

  • you should do this. » whatever - […] and thanks for the photos Ashley!!! […]

  • Gazco Studio 2 - SO beautiful! I’m super new to your online journal and absolutely infatuated.

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.
    Love,
    Susan

  • 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!
    Jeanne

  • 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…..