Author Archives: Under the Sycamore

About Under the Sycamore

As a lifelong adventure seeker, you can often find Ashley Campbell outside searching for a new place to explore with her husband Chris and their 5 kids. She picks up her camera everyday to find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life and insists on baking chocolate chip cookies for anyone who wanders in her door! Ashley homeschools her crew, is the blogger behind Under the Sycamore, and is the owner and founder of SnapShop Online Photography School, where she relishes in the opportunity to teach adults and kids photography.

Under the Sycamore’s Kitchen Reveal

As a family of eight and a constant stream of friends, family and neighbors in our home, we dreamed of building a larger kitchen. The plans for our dream addition were drawn 8 years ago. We saved, waited, dreamed and waited some more. When we broke ground a year ago, it almost didn't seem real. The bliss of starting was soon replaced by the feeling we would never actually finish! A tremendous amount of sweat equity was invested in this kitchen by our entire family. Our kids learned to lay hardwood floors, pour concrete and experience what it is like to live in a construction zone. They also learned firsthand what it is like to be woken up in the middle of the night because an unfinished roof and thunderstorm caused flooding!

We began our addition with simple plans and a lot of grit to see a dream come true.

Eventually, the to-do list got smaller and we were ready for the final step - installing our countertops.

With so many people in and out of our kitchen, I wanted something durable. I also wanted clean lines and a color that was similar to concrete, but easier to care for so we opted for Caesarstone in Flannel Grey.

We worked with Stonecraft International for the fabrication of the quartz. It was incredible to watch firsthand the process of measuring, cutting and installing the counters. We were grateful they welcomed us in and answered all of our questions in the process.

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With counters installed, our kitchen was finally finished!

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It is hard to believe the space that was once our back porch is now a new kitchen. In the photos below, the back windows are where the arch now stands:

We didn’t need a bigger kitchen to welcome people in – we simply wanted it and worked really hard towards making it happen. 

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When I shot the ‘after’ pictures of our kitchen, each angle reminded of the life lived during the ‘process.’ Our family is all sleeping in the house again instead of in a trailer out back. We sit around a beautiful table for meals and I have gorgeous counters I GET to clean.

I’m grateful for our new space, but I am equally grateful for the process it took to get here.

For more kitchen reveals: Room For Tuesday | Sugar and Charm 

Valentine’s Day Inspired Sugar Cookie Recipe

From guacamole to cookies, my kids are constantly whipping up something yummy in the kitchen. Their favorite items to bake and cook are the ones that are most easily shared with friends and neighbors. As a result, cookies are coming out of our kitchen 2-3 times a week. Typically, the go-to option is chocolate chip, but if a holiday is coming up, decorated sugar cookies become the first choice.

All images featuring Flannel Grey 4643

In an effort to build their confidence and skills, I steer my crew towards easy recipes that they can make mostly on their own. There are countless recipes for sugar cookies and just as many options for frosting. In honor of Valentine's Day, we baked simple cookies with a simple icing. However, don't mistake simple for lacking in taste—these are so yummy!

High on the list of importance when it comes to sugar cookies, at least in our house, is using a recipe that creates soft cookies—but also one that allows the cookies to hold their shape. After mixing your dough (recipe at bottom of article), I recommend rolling your cookies out to be about 1/4" thick.

There are endless recipes available online for royal icing and buttercream icing. We usually do a standard buttercream if we want a thick, spreadable icing. If we want a more decorated look, we combine powdered sugar, milk and gel food coloring. For our heart cookies, we started with a thick texture to outline the heart. Once the outline was dry, we thinned the icing by adding a bit more milk. Lastly, we filled in the hearts with the thinner icing. We typically use a butter knife to help spread the icing before it drys. 

Half of my crew likes the sprinkles, the other half does not. While the icing is still wet, you can add sprinkles to the top.

These cookies definitely taste better when they are shared in the company of others! 

Basic Sugar Cookies

  • 1 c butter - room temperature

  • 1 c sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3 c flour

Preheat oven to 365˚ F.

Using a mixer, combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Slightly knead the dough until combined; do not over mix. Roll dough out 1/4" thick and cut into shapes.

Cook 7-9 minutes.  Let cookies cool completely before icing.

For icing: combine powdered sugar, milk and gel food coloring until you reach the desired consistency. Add milk slowly—a little goes a long way!


For more sweet recipes: Paleo Cookies | Banana Chia Seed Pudding