Seeking New Landscapes

It’s been a few days since I’ve written anything…I took a few days off for a family road trip. Actually I didn’t realize I hadn’t written until my mother called and asked if I was okay because I dropped off the face of the planet. Sorry Mom!  Boo is on spring break and I’ve been trying to keep her busy. Hoping to catch up on writing tomorrow and the next few days.

From the Reagan Presidential Library:

Proust Quote via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


We did get a project done….worked on these patchwork infinity scarves for the SNAP 2014 Conference. I’m teaching a sewing class….so I needed samples.  I took photos for a tutorial too….should be up in 2 weeks after the conference.


This Is a Great Truth: Life is Difficult

Reposted from Facebook:

I’ve never done a “throwback thursday” before because, well, it’s just strangely heavy to look at photos pre-cancer, photos before my dad died, photos before infertility. It’s like I’m looking at someone else’s life, not mine. But I was wiping clean a computer drive tonight and found this random photo c. 2010.

This is a Great Truth: Life is Difficult via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo

I swear for a second I didn’t know who it was. This happens a lot. I see a photo that looks familiar to me, but the familiarity is more like seeing a stock photo in a frame. My mind tries to track backwards and acknowledge who it is, but there are gaps in memory, almost like the recording has been altered, as if someone cut out sections of reel tape. Someone edited my life! But the pieces I start to remember over time begin to feel extraordinary, little events woven together in such a way that when I start to try and digest them I’m aware of this force, a force bigger and more powerful than anything I could ever imagine. Huge. Powerful.

When I look at the old me I realize how hard I was trying in life, doing everything I was told I was supposed to do, exhausting just to think about really, and I feel like I was uprooted and chewed up and hastily spit back out. Tornado-like. But that force (surely God and grace all wrapped up and swirly) makes me feel like I can just be now. Just BE. And I’m not scared anymore. That girl in the photo…SHE was scared of life. Phew, that girl was ticking off every box, as if missing a single one would be the end of the world. Ticking off every box so no one would be disappointed in her. Good education. Check. Good job. Check. Big house. Check. Nice car. Check. Gym membership. Check. New electronics. Check. Vacations. Check. And now I realize why it’s so heavy looking at those old photos, because that life was h-e-a-v-y. But I’m not her anymore. Now I feel like I can just be. Don’t hold it in. Stop trying to hold it all together. What’s the worst that can happen? I mean, I guess I could get cancer, lose a loved one, quit my job, and become infertile overnight, but I’m on the other side thinking that can end up being okay too.


From a favorite book, The Road Less Traveled:


This is a Great Truth: Life is Difficult via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #quote M. Scott Peck Road Less Traveled


I can’t wait to hear Nick Vijucic speak this weekend. I’m taking Boo and the whole extended family. If you live in the Palm Desert Area: tickets are going fast but you might be able to snag one….all proceeds benefit the Salvation Army.  Maybe we’ll see you there.

Nick Vujicic Life without Limbs speaking in Palm Desert via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #inspiration #nickvujicic #salvationarmy #lifewithoutlimbs


How to Cut Rounded Corners in Large Quantities

This is probably one of my most favorite tools.  It’s a bulk paper cutter. It cuts rounded corners, diamond corners, etc.  I use it to cut round corners on everything from postcards to business cards to invitations. It allows me to purchase the more economical square corners and round the corners myself.

I’m addicted to corner rounding.


The Akile Diamond Cutter:

How to cut your own rounded corners on photos, scrapbooking, business cards and invitations via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #wedding #diy #scrapbooking


A stack of about 750 postcards took me about 10 minutes to cut:

DIY Die-Cut Rounded Corner Prints and Photos via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo



The cutter has guides that you can adjust so that the paper can be placed quickly into position each time for each stack:

Rounded Corner Prints and Photos via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


Easy to press down (i.e. no blisters):

How to Round the corners of wedding invitations, holiday cards, photos etc with a DIY die-cut


The clippings fall into a small container underneath the cutter.  There’s a small drawer to hold different attachments and replacement rubber pads:

Use a Table Top Punch Corner Rounder to round corners on paper and plastic  via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


I’ve saved an enormous amount of expense by ordering printed items in bulk with square corners and then rounding the corners myself:

(My “Year at the Hemlock” cards…brand new and so pretty. I hand these out when people want to read why we are moving…makes the posts easy to find.)

Order economical business cards and round the corners yourself with a DIY Corner Rounder that punches bulk die cuts


This is how I made my cute little “Lil Journal Project” prompts:

Journal Prompt Set - I made these using business cards and a DIY corner rounder

Cute quotes on the back: CONTINUE READING

Cleaning House: My Favorite Household Cleaner

In my attempt to simplify our lifestyle I’ve also been making a huge push towards greener, healthier home as well.  I’ve always used things like vinegar, lemon (half a lemon for my garbage disposal!) and baking soda but sometimes you just want something a little extra.

This is one product that I can’t get enough of: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Basil Scent

My Favorite Household Cleaner: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Basil Scent #mrsmeyers

I love the clean and fresh Basil smell so much that I wish I could eat it.  (please note: don’t eat it)

I swear someone will buy our house because of the Basil herb scent.


All product picks, reviews and opinions are solely my own.  I only share things that I use in my own home.

How to Antique and Age Wood Instantly for a Weathered Look

How to Antique and age wood instantly with items you p (weathering wood with vinegar and steel wool)

This is one of my favorite tricks that I use with home decor….a simple solution of white vinegar and steel wool.  You can use it to age brand new wood to varying degrees depending on how the solution ages.

White Distilled Vinegar
0000 Steel Wool*

For the sign:
8″ Oil Board Stencils
Black spray paint

*I prefer the fine graded because it disintegrates faster.

Aging Wood: Vinegar & Steel Wool Solution (steel and vinegar wood stain directions) #diy #tutorial #distressed #antique

To make the mixture you pour vinegar into a bowl or jar and add steel wool (without the soap kind!):

How to faux paint barn wood or antique wood with Vinegar & Steel Wool Solution  #diy #tutorial #distressed #antique

The trick is figuring out how long to age it.  A solution left to age just 15 minutes will produce different effect than a solution left aging for hours, months or years.

Here is a solution left aging for 15 minutes where the vinegar has just started to disintegrate the steel wool.  One or two coats of the mixture leaves just a light gray barn-wood like finish:

Aging and Antiquing Wood (Faux Barn Wood) - 15 minute solution #diy #vinegar #barnwood

Leaving the solution to age a few more hours will produce a darker gray finish:

Leaving the solution to age a few more hours will produce a darker gray finish (steel and vinegar wood stain directions)

I keep varying solutions in jars because if you leave it long enough the steel wool disintegrates completely and the mixture is allowed to produce rust, adding a reddish brown tone.

Aging Wood: Vinegar & Steel Wool Solution  (if you leave it long enough the steel wool disintegrates completely and the mixture is allowed to produce rust, adding a reddish brown tone)


Here’s a ten minute sign I made using a pre-cut piece of wood from the hardware store and 8″ Oil Board Stencils:

Making a sign with pre-cut piece of wood from the hardware store and 8" Oil Board Stencils:


I spaced the letters out and taped them into place together: CONTINUE READING

Things I Wanted To Tell You About – Knowledge, Remains, Type Rider and Layers of Color

Armed with Knowledge

Brett and I were invited last week to hear Dr. Ben Carson speak.  He spoke about his view of what America should be.  He had an amazing story to tell…he was the first doctor to successfully separate Siamese twins who were conjoined at the head.  I didn’t agree with absolutely everything he said, but that was one of the points he made….that it’s okay to disagree with people, but disagreeing should open the door for discussion not ridicule. It’s about being respectful.  I thought about that one line as a few couples stood up to leave before he was finished speaking….so that they could be first in the valet line to pick up their car.

What really stuck with me was his challenge to the audience to spend 1/2 hour every day learning something new: world history, religion, physics, civics, algebra, etc.  At dinner with our extended family afterwards we all made a pact to start doing that even if it’s an episode of How It’s Made, a game of trivia or watching a documentary.

As we accumulate knowledge, we begin to solve our problems.
Armed with knowledge, you become a friend of truth.

Maybe I should start a new series around what I’ve learned…since we all know I can’t be trusted with something like a “what I wore” series.

You can read more about Carson Scholars here.


Remains of the Day

Friday was Lisa’s last day. She’s been with me for 4 years. Big changes ahead for her family and mine. Gicela is still working for a few more days but then she’ll be moving on as well. It all seems a little surreal right now.  I spent the weekend trying to figure things out for myself again. The house seems so quiet today.  Maybe I’ll spend another 30 minutes learning something new?  A little look back at behind-the-scenes with Lisa.

Over the past 2 weeks Lisa shipped out over 2,000 pounds of fabric, supplies etc.  Yes 2,000 pounds. There’s hardly a thing left in the studio.  We can’t sell off the furniture or large art pieces until the house sells, but I am still listing smaller items as I go through cabinets and boxes.  Gicela is helping me cut a bunch of fabric for a class I’m teaching at the SNAP Creativity conference.  If we have extras we’ll make them into little kits….because it’s the cutest infinity scarf.


Starting to list some of the big art as I figure out shipping. The Cinderella Button Collage is now listed. Hard to let it go, it’s been a conversation piece for so long.  It’s the first thing people gravitate to in our home when they notice the button detail. Proceeds will help finance some of the new projects I’m working on!

Listing here.

Cinderella button Collage by Lil Blue Boo / Ashley Hackshaw


Lost and Found (by himself)

Last weekend I found this sweet little dog scampering onto the highway.  I slammed on the brakes and ran after him, he stopped right at the curb just as he was on the highway. He sat down and let me pick him up.  Poor guy was overheated….and missing an eye!  After picking Boo up from school I got him some water and put him on a leash, taking him out for a walk to see if anyone might be looking for him.  After a while I was giving up home and started devising a strategy for making some “found dog” signs.  Then, just as I was ready to turn back, he started to pick up his pace like he knew where he was headed.  I let him lead and eventually he led me right to his owner’s door!  She was so happy to see him, she wasn’t even aware that he’d escaped.  We thought for sure his name was “Pirate” but he was actually a “Harley.”




I read really fast, usually finishing a book in just a matter of hours. But apparently my reading comprehension isn’t very good. I already knew that because I used to just pick “C” on tests in school. Take the “How fast do you read” test here on

Then, just for fun I took a screenshot of the reading and THEN answered the questions….still didn’t qualify as speed reader:


Marcel the Shell

I’ve probably shared this before but it never gets old.

I also have shoes and a face, so, I like that about myself and I like myself and I have a lot of other great qualities as well.




I love this poster of typewriters over the last 100 years.  It’s available through Pop Chart Lab here.


Image from Pop Chart Lab


Free Libraries and Typewriters on Bikes CONTINUE READING


I found an old jar of my “antiquing” mixture the other day. Over a year old it was a nice dark reddish color….and it inspired me to put it to use on some pieces of wood we had laying around. Here’s coat 1:

DIY vintage antique sign


Once I figure out where to hang it I’ll share the finished product.

Hope you are having a good weekend!

I’ve got a few posts over at Babble this week:

Ice Breakers: The Best Way to Get a Party Started (with Printable)

What My Grandmother’s Bracelet Taught Me about Writing



Spring Spruce Up Giveaway

Ok, so I rarely do giveaways but I’m so excited to be apart of this one.  Because who wouldn’t want to win a $500 gift card to Home Depot a Canon Camera or one of 4 $50 Home Depot Gift Cards?


I want to win a $500 gift card to Home Depot (or a Canon Camera!) via 6 winners!


Easy entry – just follow the sites you see below (when you login) on instagram.

They are some of my favorite sites and ones I have followed for years….and all have pitched in to make this giveaway possible.

Go enter. Game On. Yes, I already said that…but I’m excited!

P.S. If you don’t have an Instagram account. Go make one. They are free.


The Spring Spruce Up Giveaway

Pewter and Potpourri: The Weight of Stuff

Boo and I spent Saturday going through all of my bins and bins of supplies.

Remember the before with 82 bins of supplies?

ideas for organizing craft supplies via Lil Blue Boo

Here’s the after:

On Saturday we took all the bins out to the studio and went through one at a time…..sorting into piles: keep, give away, donate, sell.   It took 8 hours….and we watched 6 episodes of The Waltons while we worked. I was able to get all the supplies I wanted to keep for ongoing projects to about 10 bins. Boo set up a little shop and tried to sell everything back to me.  I didn’t take the bait.

Lisa and Gicela cut all the remaining rolls of fabric last week and most of them are gone now.  The house looks a little emptier and I feel lighter every day.  I’ve still been listing my “yard sale” items day by day to raise funds for moving etc.  Thank you to everyone who’s made a purchase.  It will help us get through the next year as I begin to “write” for a living.  We’ve had a few showings of the house recently and I know it will sell when it’s the right time (maybe the de-cluttering will help!).

I’ve been thinking a lot about owning stuff lately. When each of my grandparents passed away it was easy to tell what they valued, because they had so little. I can’t imagine anyone being able to go through our house a month ago and single out what I valued. It’s getting a little easier each day I think as I go through the process of getting rid of things.

For the past two weeks I’ve parted with things I never thought I’d part with. Every day I do a pass of the house and pull things to sell, donate, and throw away. A new look at each area changes my perspective each day: do I want that? do I need that? And my ultimate test is: if I died tomorrow, would I care what happened to it? It really whittles things down to the barest of essentials. There are things I’ve saved for years thinking I would use items or supplies for a project…now I just realize I could find the supplies again if I needed to….and I realized that the weight lifted from parting with it is worth much more than the value of the item.  But as much as we’ve already gotten rid of so far, we will probably end up storing some items with my family in N.C., I don’t want Boo to look back in a few years and wonder where everything from her childhood went.

The prayer of confession two Sundays ago I wrote in my journal because I love the message:

We Cling to our possessions

You call us to be pilgrims, to follow you in a journey of faith.
We cling to our possessions, trusting in them for security.
You lead us into unfamiliar places, asking that we trust in your will.


A reader Abby passed this quote along:

Getting Rid of Stuff via




My Aunt left me a message that she’d found something in her drawer that she thought was yet another sign that we were meant to move to the Hemlock.  When I opened up the small package she sent in the mail I found a small bag of potpourri that my grandmother had purchased 31 years ago at the Hemlock Inn gift shop:

The Hemlock Inn Potpourri from gift shop c. 1983

I asked her how she knew that it was from the Hemlock, I couldn’t understand how a bag of potpourri would still be around after so many years.  My aunt explained that my grandmother Marge owned very few things. In fact, Marge’s dresser drawers were empty except for just a few items because she was never able to go outside of the house without assistance, so she never had the chance to accumulate things. She was diagnosed with MS when when she was fairly young. She had many complications from it, including having a kidney removed in the 1960′s.  She stayed in the hospital for over a month and had to learn to walk again.  That’s when she got her first little motorized cart, like the one you see in the photo below:


Top Row: Mom, Perry, Dad, Uncle Steve, Aunt Sharon
Bottom Row: Me, Paw-Paw, Cousin David, Swen, Grandma Marge

The weekend in the photo was the last time that my Aunt Sharon saw Marge .  It was the last vacation we all took together as a family because Marge passed away soon after that.  But we have the photos, and there’s the potpourri, a small $1.75 bag of dried flowers.  Most people would have probably thrown the potpourri away by now. It’s long lost it’s fragrance. But according to my Aunt:

“The Hemlock Inn was the one place where your grandmother was able to shop on her own.  She could make it from the dining room to the office with her walker because they were connected.  Each time we visited she would pick out a few things, usually a jar of pumpkin chips, maybe a few piece of pewter dishware and of course the potpourri.  She kept that potpourri in her drawer. I knew exactly what it was when I found it. And for some reason I kept it all these years, and now I know it was so I could tell you that story.”


And now I know that it was so that I could tell you all that story too.

Back in January, Mort let me go through some of the file cabinets at the inn when we were visiting. I found a few of the original guest registrations in the Hemlock’s records that my grandparents and parents filled out:

On the back of the June 1979 registration are the hand written gift shop purchases my grandmother would have made: 4 pewter dinner plates and 4 pewter desert plates.

The pewter dishes have a whole new meaning for me because my grandmother picked them out and purchased herself.  I can imagine how extraordinary it would be to have that little bit of freedom, to feel that little bit of independence.  I think I take that for granted every single day.

Marge’s Pewter Pitcher:

As I simplify the things we own, the pewter pitcher and the potpourri are being kept.



A few people have asked where I will be writing when we move.  Right here.  You’ll start to see some organizational changes though on the blog to keep things better categorized.

To read all the Hemlock Inn posts to date click here or the photo below:

A Year at the Hemlock Inn Bryson City, NC Ashley Hackshaw  / Lil Blue Boo


These Thank You Notes Are Very Honest

Boo writes her own thank you notes. I told her to just be honest. 

(P.S. Aqua Dragons are Sea Monkeys…the ones that died.)


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