The World Is Run By People Who Show Up

It’s our first Halloween in Bryson City. I’m not really a Halloween person…I don’t think I’ve dressed up since like 8th grade?  I don’t care for Freddie Kruger, ever since he chased me home one night at dusk (I swear he was behind me, but I couldn’t confirm it because I was in crazy-panic-run). Growing up my mom would never let us wear scary costumes. My dad was always dressed up as Moses with the Ten Commandments to greet the neighborhood kids.  Our church banned witches, zombies and skeletons.

Since moving to Bryson City we’ve been going to the Grove Church. Our pastor, Jeff, asked if we’d help out with the Halloween event that they hold each year for the community.  My first thought was: ugh, Halloween, no way.  But instead my fingers texted back: Would love to help! That’s right up my alley.

I had no idea what I was in for.  I was thinking a few pumpkins, hotdogs, churchy people….instead I found myself in the middle of an event on the scale of Broadway. And this year’s theme? Wizard of Oz.



Nothing wrong with Wizard of Oz right?  Except that it’s on the bottom of my list of movies I would choose to watch. I had nightmares for years when I was little about the Wicked Witch. Once she stole my baby sister out of her crib as I watched…one night she stabbed my dad with a sword while he tried to fix the TV.  That Wicked Witch was sealed in my mind. I’m not exaggerating…here’s a page from my journal years ago. Obviously she still haunts me:

And then yesterday, when I asked what I could do to help, the first thing I was assigned:

Could you set up the melted witch with the caution tape?


Really? This event was planned to torture me right?

And as people started to show up I felt myself getting increasingly anxious:

Who would let their kid wear that scary costume? How is dressing up as Freddy Kruger fun? Wait, is it legal to carry a toy gun?

These were many of the reasons I’d been given growing up as to why I shouldn’t be a fan of Halloween. But as I looked around I realized that I should be a fan of Halloween. Why? Because Halloween is community.  It’s the one holiday where people actually come out of their homes. The one holiday where people open their doors to people they don’t know in large numbers and hand them gifts.  I saw my daughter and her new friends walking down the street thanking shop owners for candy. I saw business owners, politicians, and law enforcement mingling among the community and at one point Boo was yelling hello to a deputy she knew across the street. I told a man dressed up as a Cherokee Indian that he would win the costume contest and he told me he had just come from work: the Cherokee Indian Reservation. But he was really nice and thanked me for noticing how well dressed he was.

And Jeff posted this article this morning by one of my favorite authors Shauna Niequist and it summed up exactly how I was feeling after last night:

Sometimes love asks you to change.

It’s so easy to love people who like all the same things you do—who never listen to music that makes you cringe, or who believe all the same things you believe. But love sometimes asks you to lay down your preferences, and dive into someone else’s world for a little while.

Sometimes that world is full of fake spiders.

Sometimes it’s the ballet or country music or Russian novels. Sometimes it’s staying quiet when you want to talk, sometimes it’s giving space when you want to rush in. Love asks what’s best for the person you love, not what’s best or most convenient to you.

Yes, sometimes the world is full of fake spiders. And fake pooling witches.  And big green gates with green glitter as a welcome mat. Here was our church opening up (green) doors to anyone who wished to come in…no strings attached. No rules. No judgement. Just community:


We jumped right in wearing our LoveBryson shirts.  Boo even decided to dress up as a “church volunteer” instead of her butterfly costume. LoveBryson was started by The Grove Church as a way to give back to Bryson City and the surrounding community. It’s a community service-based group that works with established organizations in the area when specific needs come up.  LoveBryson also pioneers its own efforts to make a difference in the community, everything from supplying firewood in the winter, school backpack drives and even installing much needed wheelchair ramps.


And yesterday The Grove Church served close to 1,800 hotdogs to the community:


Sometimes all you have to do is show up.


And make room for others to show up too.  They threw us newbies right in:


I think more people showed up downtown than actually live in all of Bryson City:


Barry from The Filling Station handing out candy:


Debbie (green vest) from Fern Studios and Gallery handing out candy:


Donno from Higher Ground Tattoo:


A few kiddos from The Grove:


The real deal:


I was asked to be one of the judges in the costume contest and this little bag lady won in the 2-11 years old category. She was awesome:


And at Riverfront Park where “Oz” was located people had a chance to play games and recharge.


The director of Boo’s school sent out a newsletter today and it ended with: The world is run by people who SHOW UP! 

I’m not quite ready to show up as the Good Witch of the North yet, and I don’t have to…because there are people like Beth:


And Mary (as Dorothy):


And Rachel:


And Erin and Jeff (lion). Jeff drew and painted the huge “Oz” backdrop for the stage:


I love when leaders think big, like this guy, pastor, Jeff:

A sneak peak behind the scenes of all the prep work that went into the event:


And the result…community:










When I heard Brene Brown speak 2 years ago at The Summit I wrote this down word for word:

The #1 barrier to belonging? Fitting in. 

Make a space for people to show up and be seen, not for who they should be….but for who they are. 

We can’t set it up so that there are check boxes for showing up. 



How to Make Butterfly Wings from T-Shirts

How to make butterfly wings for kids costume using 2 large t-shirts #halloween #butterfly

This month as a Michaels Maker I was challenged to come up with a DIY Halloween costume. I asked Boo what she wanted to be and she gave me an answer that we summed up to be something like a phantom butterfly:

Phantom Butterfly Costume with DIY Butterfly Wings

I wanted to come up with something that was easy to recreate so I used 2 Gildan t-shirts from Michaels (size XXL):

DIY Butterfly Wings Costume

We made the wings and the antennae and bought the masquerade mask from Michaels: move 2

Spray painted costume wings for Halloween

Basically to make the wings I took 2 of the largest size adult t-shirts I could find at Michaels and cut each one as shown (basically using each sideways shirt as a wing):


How to cut t-shirt for butterfly wings


The two shirts cut into two wings: (click continue reading) [Read more…]

How to Make Sharpie Owl Pumpkins



I am a big fan of Mexican art…especially sugar skulls.  I used black and silver Sharpie markers to turn these faux styrofoam pumpkins into owl sugar skulls for my Halloween decor this year.  Michaels is challenging customers to “trick a pumpkin” this year and post the creations to Instagram. Make sure to read more at the bottom of this post on how to enter your own!

If you do a google search for “sugar skull” you will come across a variety of images you can pull ideas from. I make up the doodles as I go along, but starting with the round eyes first:

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas without Carving - Sharpie Doodle Owl

Tip: If you mess up, use a damp Magic Eraser to lightly wipe the area until the mistake lightens or disappears completely!

I used 4 different size pumpkins and made them all their own unique version:

How to decorate a pumpkin without carving it ideas #diy #pumpkin


I used a silver sharpie on the black/chalkboard pumpkin:Decorating a chalkboard paint pumpkin with sharpie


The large pumpkin took around 30 minutes to complete: [Read more…]

A Pumpkin House Number

*Sorry for the lack of posting the last two weeks! I moved to a new server and that took a few days to get all the glitches out. Then I was locked out of WordPress and couldn’t update anything. Finally back on track! Hopefully you find the website a little faster now.  -Ashley

Carving a House Number into a Pumpkin via #pumpkins #mpumpkins #halloween

I usually buy pumpkins that we can use year after year. Sometimes we end up with a fresh one too. Here is a selection from Michaels this year:

Foam Craft Pumpkins via

To carve the foam pumpkin it’s helpful to have a heated craft knife. It cuts it like a knife through butter:


First I cut the lid off:

Pumpkin Carving Tips via #halloween

For this pumpkin I decided to go with our house numbers since we don’t have an illuminated sign at night. I printed out some numbers onto regular paper (just using Powerpoint).

Pumpkin Carving Ideas via


I used a ball point pen to trace them.  A little bit of pressure leaves enough indentation to use as a guide:

Transferring a Design to a Pumpkin via


Then using the heated craft knife I carved the numbers out:

Halloween Decor Ideas via #pumpkincarving #halloween

Add a flameless candle and ready to go!

The great part is that I can re-use it year after year:

Decorating for Halloween Idea via


*This post is in partnership with Michaels Craft Stores. If you would like more information read the disclaimer policy please go here.

Make sure to share your carved pumpkins with the hashtag #MPumpkins.  Tag me too @lilblueboo so I can see what you made!


DIY Halloween Trick or Treat Bags | a Free Printable

Make your own Halloween Treat bags with this free printable download by artist Stephanie Corfee via

Planning for Halloween at the last minute? These Halloween Trick or Treat graphics are great for trick or treat totes, favor bags and even t-shirts.  The free printable is available for download at the end of the post! So many ways to use them: [Read more…]

Make Your Own Glass Clings

How to Make Your Own DIY Glass Clings Using Tape via for party decor, home decor, table decor etc.

This is a follow up post to the image transfers showed you how to make the other day.  I just wanted to show you another way to use them!  Tape transfers are a great way to make glass clings for party decor or home decor.  In this tutorial I made themed glass votive candles for Halloween and a label for a glass pitcher. My supplies were glass votives, regular packing tape, and a photocopy of Halloween clipart. I’m going to quickly go through the directions because you can also refer back to the original post on image transfers as well. [Read more…]

Make a Distressed Trick or Treat Sign (A Tutorial)

a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial via

Another Citrasolv project! Using an wood board, some old book pages and a photocopy Boo and I made an easy distressed Halloween “Trick or Treat” sign to add to our decor. I’ve attached my PDF template that you can print off at the bottom if you like….the image is already reversed and ready for transfer!


a distressed trick or treat halloween sign diy tutorial via

(more after the jump)


First we started with an old board:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 1) via

Using some Liquitex Matte Medium as glue I collaged old book pages to the board to make an interesting background:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 2) via

The finished collage:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 3) via

I painted a layer of Clear Gesso to make the background more absorbent to help with the transfer:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 4) via

My photocopy ready to transfer (please read my full tutorial here on what type of photocopy of printout you need for a Citrasolv transfer):



a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 5) via

I used a few thumbtacks to hold my photocopies in place:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 6) via

Then I applied the Citrasolv to the back:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 7) via

…and used the handle of a pair of scissors to rub the back to transfer the image to the background:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 8) via

I did a few letters at a time so the Citrasolv wouldn’t evaporate too quickly:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 9) via

Distressed and spooky!


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 10) via

The finished sign:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 11) via


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial (process 12) via


Download the template here:


a distressed halloween sign diy tutorial and free download via



Glow Stick Lanterns

Boo and I bought some Fourth of July glow sticks and broke into them early. We cut off the ends and dumped the contents in, and shook the jar to coat the sides. (It’s non-toxic.)

An instant glow stick lantern:


Glow Stick Lanterns Tutorial via

We mixed the red, white and blue together and it made a pink/purple-y color. Monday night I think we’ll make separate lanterns for each color!

Update:  I’ve heard from several readers that adding water to the jar helps to keep the glow!  I’ll be doing that next time!

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