How to Make DIY Recycled Business Cards

How to make recycled business cards using a stamp via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy


I have a love hate relationship with business cards. I never order them because I can never decide what I want them to look like or how many to order. I haven’t had business cards in so long that I just end up writing my information on napkins and scrap paper for people. I decided to meet myself halfway and just make them as I need them….using things I might throw away anyway:

Upcycled business cards using boxes and mail via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

I cut bits of scrap paper from boxes, mail and books using a paper cutter (or scissors):


All the papers range in size:

Back of recycled business cards via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy

Old book covers, mail boxes, greeting cards, etc:

A variety of my recycled business cards via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy


And stamped them with a stamp I ordered from Vistaprint.  It’s the self-inking 3.5″ x 1.5″ stamp. (Note: if you click advanced editing options towards the bottom you can create a custom stamp, you can also just upload a Photoshop file)

Stamping my Recycled Business Cards  via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy


I love how eclectic they are:

Recycled Business Cards made from mail and discarded boxes via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #businesscards #recycled #diy


Sometimes I use a bit of decorative tape (or masking/washi tape) to add a little interest: CONTINUE READING

Sinatra, Concrete and Pinyon Crest

We drove up the hill today to Pinyon Crest to visit our friends Ann and Jeff and their daughter.  They took us on an awesome tour….I felt like we got a full history of the area and all the homes. Here we are at the windsock point above Frank Sinatra’s old helipad:

Pinyon Crest Santa Rosa Mountains Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


We visited a concrete house that has been a project of another friend’s dad for a number of years. I’d heard about it over and over but had never seen it in person.  It blew me away.  I felt like I’d stumbled upon the ark or even the set of Mosquito Coast:

Concrete House at Pinyon Crest


This might be one of my favorite houses ever.  16″ poured in place concrete walls.  The shape is conducive to being a wind harp but I need to talk to the owner to do a little more research on that. The huge pipe was salvaged from an old ship and will serve as the water heater.  The ceiling beams are set upon large industrial looking brackets.  The smaller ceiling areas were poured with palm fronds at the bottom leaving a cool effect. (More about the concrete house here)

Concrete House at Pinyon Crest

And there’s Sinatra’s getawat, in the middle of nowhere. It’s for sale if you have $4 million. It includes a heliport.

Frank Sinatra's house in the Santa Rosa's


Boo got to ride in the back of a pickup.  The highlight of her day.


We didn’t make it to Shumway Ranch. I’ll have to set aside a day for that soon. Nina and Steve Shumway were one of the last homesteaders in the area (maybe the last).  I did find a photo of the Shumways in the September 1939 issue of the Desert Magazine. It took them 5 years to meet the requirements of the government before they got the deed to the property, and first they had to build a three mile road. That sounds like a lot of work. The ranch was given to the Living Desert and now just sits there.

(download the full PDF of the 1939 magazine here)

Shumway Ranch Nina Shumway Santa Rosa Mountains



Into Plein Air


I signed up for a plein-air painting class…it was an all-day workshop by a local artist named Diane McClary. I’ve always wanted to paint out “in the open air”….. I figured if I signed up for the class it would make me get out there because it was on the calendar.

Plein Air Painting Palm Desert

@lilblueboo on Instagram

There were six of us in the class. Most of the other students are regulars.  The workshop starts at 9am at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitors Center. First there is a demonstration by Diane, she does a value study in black and white first:

Diane McClary Painter Plein Air


Then she does a version in color:

Diane McClary Painter Plein Air


I think I should start an ongoing What I Wore series. I wonder if anyone would take it seriously:


What I Wore
Free red umbrella

99 cent sunglasses to match
Camouflage hat (brandless)
Apron left over from Boo’s beauty salon party
Red Converse
White t-shirt and jeans

Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


It was fascinating to watch Diane paint. I think I learned more from her in just a few hours than I think I ever learned in my studio art classes in college. She talked us through every step and how she chose her colors for mixing etc.

Plein Air Painting at the Santa Rosa Visitors Center


The color recipes were very helpful, like mixing black and yellow to get green? That is just not intuitive unless you see someone do it:


I love the plain air easel and palette.  It folds up and the paints will stay workable for a while. That makes things so much easier.  Diane has a guide to placing your paint (on the supply list) on her website here.

Plein Air Field Easel


Diane’s finished painting:

@lilblueboo on Instagram


We were positioned right at the trail head so we saw lots of hikers:


After lunch it was our turn to paint. Everyone else did a black and white version first.  I like to get straight to the good stuff…I skipped that part.  As Diane approached my painting I warned her that I was breaking the rules. She said it didn’t matter as long as I was having fun.



Here I am about halfway through: CONTINUE READING

St. Patrick’s Day Inspired Food

St. Patrick's Day Food Ideas via Ashley Hackshaw / #stpatricksday #green #partyfood

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner! Here are 10 fun food and treat ideas you can serve that your friends and family will get a kick out of.

St. Patrick's Day Food Ideas: Green Candied Popcorn by Find Your Happiness via Ashley Hackshaw /

Green Candied Popcorn via Find Your Happiness


St. Patrick's Day Food Ideas: Shamrock Tortilla Chips by Pizzazzerie at Spiced via Ashley Hackshaw / #stpatricksday #green #partyfood

Shamrock Tortilla Chips by Pizzazzerie via Spiced


St Patrick's Day Food Ideas: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies by Life in the Lofthouse via Ashley Hackshaw /

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies via Life in the Lofthouse


An Invisible Ocean

….of to do lists. I don’t know where the day went. There’s so much to do.

All of your comments are so supportive about our move. Thank you so much for that. I feel like you are right there with me. I’m starting to look cross country and imagine our possible stops along the way once we embark on that journey. I definitely want to make it up to Lindsborgh, KS and see the old house my grandfather grew up in again. And then Graceland. And I love tourist traps. I’ll never forget when my family was visiting Scotland around 1997 and my dad drove right past the Loch Ness Monster Museum because he and my sister were late for a tee time.  Who doesn’t stop for the “Nessie” museum?  Now I have to go all the way back to Scotland one day.

Speaking of large creatures, I watched Water for Elephants the other night.  I cry through 2 scenes every time:  when Rosie moves the stake to get to the lemonade, and when they figure out that Rosie doesn’t speak English.  As big as Rosie is, she reminds me of Diesel. He’s always looking at me like something has been lost in translatino. <—-that was supposed to say “translation” but translatino is so much better so I’ll leave it. Poor Diesel is getting so old. He will be 13 this year. One day he’ll be acting like a puppy but then he’ll sleep the next few days away. I’ve been worrying about him. We baby him a lot these days:


And then he goes and attacks the poor mail lady.

I shared this on Facebook last week:

Today our mail lady came and as she was leaving I just had this feeling I needed to give her our last Random Acts of Kindness painting. She gave me a hug and had tears in her eyes.

“Thank you. My father-in-law just died. I’ve known him since I was 5. That’s why I haven’t been here for the last few days. It’s been really hard being back today.”

At work no one acknowledged her loss, even though they knew why she had been gone. They did manage to acknowledge that she would not be getting paid for the days she was gone because her paper work wasn’t filled out. Ugh. She’s the nicest woman. Sometimes when I’m not home the first time around, she’ll double check on her route back to see if I have a pickup. Today she asked if everything had been okay mail-wise while she was gone. She takes so much pride in her job. It’s really refreshing and I try to recognize it whenever I get the chance.

I guess I just needed to share that story, maybe just as a reminder that you never know what someone else is going through.

Trying to remember this every day as I run around like a chicken with its head cut off, to make sure I am attentive to others.

I’ve been trying to slowly pull out items to sell to go towards our move.  I never realized how much “stuff” we had with the business.  We are finishing up orders but then I need to get rid of all the equipment too. Each of the machines weighs between 200 and 250 pounds. And I have so many things I’ve collected over the years….because I just like strange and odd finds. Then I need to go through all of Boo’s dresses too.  I was thinking about just putting all the artwork on eBay one day.  I never thought I could part with something like the Mona Lisa but now I’m just ready to let it all go.  It gets a little easier. I find myself sorting piles and then suddenly I pause for a second and then just throw the whole pile out.  I told my friend Megan I should sell the big chicken feeder that sits in our living room “because I’d always be able to find another one, right?“  But she said “you never know, what if there’s a run on chicken feeders one day?” Omg. What if there is run on chicken feeders?

We had a realtor over this afternoon to talk about listing the house. Up until now it’s been for sale by owner. I guess Boo was bored because I saw this note that she had been passing to Brett.

I love the pick-how-many-minutes-until-she-leaves:

In April I’m heading to the SNAP Conference in Utah to teach a sewing class. So excited about that. I’m sharing a room with Dana, Delia and Katy. What if I snore or something?  I feel like I need some cute PJs for such a slumber party…instead of my yoga pants I sleep in every night.  Maybe I should sleep in my contacts so I don’t look so nerdy in my glasses?!  This will be good for me….I’m usually such a hermit at conferences after the sessions are over.  Dana is so outgoing and fun…I can ask her all about her new house. And excited to meet Delia and Katy for the first time. I’ll bring snacks. That’s always good.

The last time I went to SNAP was in 2012 when I was on a business panel.  This was right when I was finishing up chemo.

I’ll never forget when I gave my friend Shari a Choose Joy bracelet at the conference and instead of Choose Joy it read: Plead for the Widow.  Random.  Shari runs an amazing art gallery in Jackson Hole, WY….she gets to see Warhols, Picasso’s, etc….every day.  I sent her Sea Monkeys as a gift recently, because who wouldn’t want Sea Monkeys?  Turns out she’s scared of them. Sorry Shari.

My Sea Monkeys died:

Rest in peace little Sea Monkeys.
You were loyal, selfless, tiny, fearless somethings.
You rose from a packet. You fought hard against the tiny current.
You will not be forgotten.


Oh, I’m working on revamping the website and making it easier to navigate going forward!  That’s a little daunting and way over due. I’ve let my WordPress go stale and nothing is quite working right anymore.  I’ve been putting it off forever.  So you will probably start to see some changes soon. Hopefully for the better.  It will help me stay on top of my newsletter better ….have you seen my RSS feed email lately? Yes it’s pretty lame and all the photos are wonky. Sorry about that. Anything you find annoying about blogs that I need to stay away from?

So much needs to be done and yet I’m not anxious about it all.  Just a little impatient at times. And trying to keep lists of really important things like health insurance, mail forwarding etc. Even trying to figure out the best way to get high speed Internet at the Inn.

Thursday I’m taking a plein-air class.  An all-day workshop up the mountain.  Outside with an easel, painting the landscape.  Something I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to.  I’ll take a bunch of photos too.


How to Make Personalized Burlap Bags

Gift Idea for Bridesmaids, Wedding Party, Graduation Etc: How to Make Personalized Burlap Bags via Ashley Hackshaw / #burlap #diy #tutorial #wedding #rustic #diywedding


Love burlap…and I love these burlap bags from Dharma Trading. I thought they’d make great gifts or even stylish reusable grocery bags:

Use Blank Burlap or Jute Bags via Ashley Hackshaw /


Burlap or Jute Bags
Supersoft Transfer Paper
Ink Jet Printer


There are several ways you can personalize the bags:

1. Silk screening or freezer paper stencils. (see my Beach Bag Tote tutorial here)
2. Spray paint with stencils
3. Fabric applique
4. Transfer Paper

I chose transfer paper for these particular bags because I wante pretty detailed graphics and it takes way too much patience to hand cut a stencil for something like that.

First, I created this little “Groceries” graphic in Photoshop. If I’m making a graphic that prints out onto multiple pages I usually use Powerpoint to size and print it because it turns out easier to visualize and match up. I printed out the graphic onto Super Soft Transfer paper:

Use special iron on paper to transfer image via Ashley Hackshaw /

Transfer paper from Dharma Trading.


I carefully cut out my graphic and made sure the two sides matched up, placing them face down onto the burlap bag.  Pressing a hot iron for a few minutes (careful not to burn the paper or bag!) transfers the image to the bag: CONTINUE READING

Moving to the Hemlock Inn

I know you’ve been waiting for the rest of the story. I had to wait until I really felt like I knew how to tell it, to explain the enormity of it.

Our house is for sale. The clothing line will be closed at the end of the month and Brett* is walking away from his business in CA.  We are selling almost everything we own except for sentimental family items.

And at the beginning of the summer we will be moving from the California desert (with population 600,000+)…..2,159 miles to Bryson City, North Carolina (population 1,500)….to live at a small, country inn:

The Hemlock Inn

It’s a story that starts 35 years ago, when my grandfather first visited the Hemlock. As a family, we visited the Hemlock in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983.  We stopped going after my grandmother died, but I always thought about it.  Our stays at the Hemlock were the only vacations I really remembered as a young child.  We’d gone to Disneyworld, the beach….all the usual stops….but none of those created the vivid memories like the Hemlock did.

Fast forward 30 years, to last summer.  Boo and I were flying back to the east coast to visit my family in Charlotte, North Carolina. I really wanted to do something different with her and the first thought that came to my mind was the Hemlock, only I didn’t know if it was still there.

I looked up the Inn and was surprised to learn, not only was it still there, it was still owned by the same family.  I made reservations for Boo and I….my mom, sister and my brother’s family too.

In July, driving up the long winding driveway to the Inn I didn’t know what to expect, and it was like I was driving into my past. I had so many images in my head, but childhood memories can sometimes be like little warped vignettes.  As we pulled into the gravel parking space, right up front, it felt like I was coming home to a place that had been secretly pulling at me for years.

Moving to the Hemlock Inn in Bryson City, NC via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo

I felt a shift in me at the Hemlock last summer.  I asked (jokingly at the time) if Mort would rent me a cottage for a few months the following summer so that I could finish up a book I’ve been working on.   On the plane ride back to the desert I pulled out a book that turned out to be the last book my dad was reading before he died (another long story). As Boo slept next to me, I wrote in my journal:

Journal 8/21/13 – I’m dreading going back to the desert. My heart was left somewhere between the Hemlock Inn, Linville and Charlotte.  But what would we do?  Where would Sienna go to school? Where would we live? God, please give me some answers. Help me see the direction you want me to go.

It must have been obvious, because when Brett picked Boo and I up at the airport, the first thing he asked was “you didn’t want to come home did you?”

Back in the desert, life went back to normal but I kept thinking about the inn. I kept in touch with Lainey and Mort every so often. I found Boo playing Hemlock Inn with her Barbies, she had named Barbie and Ken, what else but: Lainey and Mr. Mort.

Around October, I got an email from Lainey:

Lainey: Dear Sweet Ashley, You have been on my mind lately. Have you sold your house yet? Ha. No pressure. There is a log cabin for sale on the property next to us (that we used to own). I may send you a picture of it. We also will likely have the little cottage in the woods available. It is a cute one with 2 bedrooms. I am still dreaming…and scheming! Ha.  Around October,

Me (literally a few minutes later): Crazy. I was JUST thinking about you!  That’s so weird….seriously…..we have been talking about moving back to NC one day. There is a property for sale next door to my mother. What are the schools like there? Sure send me some photos.


Lainey trekked out in the rainy, cold weather to snap a few photos.  I showed them to Brett and his reaction was: Is there an outhouse to go with it?!

Near the Hemlock, Not the Hemlock


I didn’t want to lead Mort and Lainey on so as exciting as it all sounded, I told them to not count on us staying for more than a few weeks during the summer.  It was fun to think about, “dreaming and scheming” as Lainey would say, but there were too many things holding us back.


Then November rolled around, and all those things holding us back seemed to miraculously resolve themselves.  It felt like we were being shown over and over that the Hemlock wasn’t just a big dream, it was meant to be.  Then one day:

Brett: I am okay with moving.
Me: You ARE?!  Me too! Whoa. I’m think I might hyperventilate. I’m calling Lainey RIGHT NOW…..before you can change your mind.

It was in December that I called Lainey.  I told her that I wanted to explore options for living at the inn. Lainey said she couldn’t believe that I had called, because of the timing.  Mort was discouraged and wondering what the future was going to be.  We’d talked before about how much times had changed and small inns were struggling.  How does a small, rustic inn survive in a modern culture like ours?  How do you convince a world that craves new things, more things, accumulation to choose simplicity over technology and extravagance?  I didn’t have all the answers but I did know that I had this clear vision of a thriving Hemlock. I just had the gut feeling about it. I’ve stayed in lots of places over the years, inns, historic hotels, B&Bs all over Ireland and Scotland, but the Hemlock is different for some reason: it’s as if it has a pulse.

As we discussed options for living in one of the cottages I explained that we didn’t want to just live there, we wanted to help out. Maybe Mort and Lainey could let us have honorary “assistant innkeeper” titles when they needed us to. We didn’t want to be just guests, we wanted to immerse ourselves in the beating heart and inner workings of such a place…because when I’m there I feel like the Hemlock represents all that is right in this broken world we live in.


There was just one small hitch in the whole plan….Brett hadn’t yet been to Hemlock Inn or Bryson City.  He was going off of photos, stories and Boo’s new memories. He said, “I trust you” but I wanted us to make the decision together and in order to make such a huge commitment, we needed to visit as soon as possible….so we flew mid-January to the Hemlock.

We knew that the inn would be closed the weekend we visited but Mort and Lainey welcomed us into their home (with fresh cookies out of the oven!)  We talked for hours and hours by the fire about dreams for the inn and what our life would be like living there. We visited the elementary school and were greeted by, “oh yes, Lainey stopped by yesterday to let us know you might want a tour.” We drove all over Bryson City, touring and talking to locals, looking for things like the post office and the hardware store, envisioning what our life might be like there:

Small Town Life: Moving to the Hemlock Inn in Bryson City, NC via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


And of course we looked for the obscure backroads too:

Me: Stop!  Look at those old gravestones!
Brett: You know why I love exploring with you?
Me: Why?
Brett: Because you choose all the places….you can find stuff in the middle of nowhere. And I just get to experience it.


(the memory I have of taking the above photo is me lying down in a graveyard while a woman stared Brett down in our rental car)

Long story short: Brett was sold.  He loved the small town of Bryson City. He loved the Hemlock. And he loved Mort and Lainey.


So now our house is for sale. I discovered flowers and a heart this morning left by the sign by a friend. I’ve been slowly selling almost everything in it….except for sentimental items I’m keeping for Boo, and of course my millions of books.

Brett: So I guess I need to hire movers just to move your books cross country?


A close friend recently said to me: I know you aren’t related to the innkeepers, but the way you talk about it, it’s as if the Hemlock’s DNA runs in your veins.  You need to go and tell the story.

I want to tell the story.

So we are moving to the Hemlock Inn for a year, maybe more. We have no plans for life beyond the Hemlock yet.  We will be living on the grounds of a small inn where guests come and go.  Mort says I will be the “writer in residence.”  I like that.  I am a story teller, so I’ll be telling the stories of our life at a 1950′s motor inn and small town life through writing, photography and film.

We’ll be living in a small cottage called the Woody cottage….that has a whole story too….but I’ll get there.  I’m excited to redecorate the cottage and make it our own.  Boo is more excited to renovate the treehouse that Mort and Lainey’s boys grew up with.

Boo, Brett and I will be eating most of our meals at the Hemlock and it will give us a chance to meet new people and hear their stories.  Mealtime is one of the highlights at the Hemlock: breakfast is at 8:30am and Dinner is at 6:30pm every night except Sunday, and you know it’s time because there’s a dinner bell, usually rung by a young guest.  All the guests eat together at large family style tables with lazy susans in the center, and only after a short blessing is said. I can’t wait to sneak into the kitchen to share some secrets and maybe learn to cook a dish or two myself….or even just how to cook in general.  Everything at the Hemlock is made from scratch. The inn even makes its own breadcrumbs….I thought breadcrumbs just came in a can. See how much I have to learn?

The Hemlock Inn - The Place with the Lazy Susans - Bryson City NC Smoky Mountains via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo

Because things move slowly at the inn, we’ll have plenty of time to explore the surrounding area and really immerse ourselves in the small town life.  The Cherokee Indian Reservation is only a few miles away.  Maybe I can finally meet Princess Patty again. Deep Creek will be visited often.  There’s hiking, fishing, tubing and kayaking.  The Tuckasegee river runs right through town and the Nantahala Outdoor Center is nearby. Fontana Lake and Dam are pretty close. Brett will be exploring the mountain biking scene (we made sure to meet the owner of Bryson City Bicycles when we visited in January).  I’ll have fun making detailed maps of my obscure, eclectic local road trips…looking for things to photograph and explore…because those are the best kind.  I want to plan on having workshops/retreats on writing, blogging, photography…..all things creative.  Boo wants me to recreate the treasure maps that Mr. Shell, Lainey’s father, used to make for me when he was the innkeeper years ago.


It can be a little scary stepping out onto such a new path, but at the same time I think we are rewriting everything we’ve ever been taught about success and what’s important in life.  We are moving our daughter from a wonderful private school, from every opportunity in an affluent town, to a very small town with very little industry outside of tourism. But for so long I’ve felt caught in this conflicting world of messages, I’m breaking free for good.  Part of a prayer of confession in church one Sunday not long ago:

…we are bound to the regimens of calendars and limits of bank accounts…

The message was about being open and saying yes to where you are being led.  Making our own lives available to others.   Making our world a little smaller and become increasingly un-attached to things, all the while connecting ourselves to something larger. There’s that saying: truth which is told is quick to be forgotten, but truth discovered lasts a lifetime. I think that’s the best education we could ever give Boo. I want my child to become faithful in the little things, so that one day she will realize those little things are really the big things. I’m on a mission to engage myself deeply with the world, and to teach her (and Brett, a willing participant) along with me.  Boo asked me last night if she could have an iPad….I told her she could have snowshoes instead. She liked that idea. She’s never seen a leaf change color, witnessed a change in seasons, or even worn a winter coat. It will be a whole year of firsts. Boo said visiting the Hemlock was her favorite part of the whole summer.  Now she’ll be living there….and it will be part of her DNA too.

Moving to the Hemlock Inn - Leaving our current life for a new one at a small Motor Inn in Bryson City, NC  via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo

I’ve always wanted to live in a small town with lots of places to explore nearby.  I’ve always wanted to have small, intimate workshops and retreats…and the Hemlock gives me an instant venue to work towards that.

The Hemlock isn’t for everyone.  The rooms are simple and rustic, no TV or phones.*  Guests might have to share a dinner table with a family they don’t know (yet).  There’s no spa or room service.  It’s a rustic, country inn.

*There’s WiFi in case of emergency.  How would I blog and share without Internet?

But the Hemlock, with 26 rooms nestled on a mountaintop, and 57 acres overlooking the often “smokey” valley, sets itself apart from the expensive vacation spots we are sold 24/7 on the TV.  The Hemlock is a special place, an unchanging retreat from a changing world. Time stands still. You forget to count the days.


You might be wondering what Boo thinks about all of this.  We were nervous to tell her because she loves her school and her friends. I finally found the perfect chance when we were watching an episode of the Waltons one night:

Me: That looks kind of like the mountains of N.C., like where the Hemlock Inn is.
Boo: It does.
Me: What would you think about moving to the Hemlock Inn?
Boo: Would it be like we are trading our life for the Waltons?
Me: In some ways.
Boo: Do I get to ride a schoolbus?
Me: If you want to.
Boo: Then…..yes!


I hope some of you will come and stay, visit for a while.  Enjoy the view and southern, home-style cooking.  Boo will be directing Hemlock “summer camp” I’m sure.  We are looking so forward to changing leaves and snow as well.  Brett will probably be building something, conquering the bike trails, or fishing:


“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect”
―A River Runs Through It


And you’ll probably find me right on the front porch:


You can find more photos and stories I’ve written about the Hemlock at the following links:

The Hemlock Inn

Joyful Simplicities

Where We Forget to Count the Days



A few helpful links:

The Hemlock Inn

Bryson City & The Smoky Mountains



P.S. If you love books about small town life, read the Bryson City Tales.  It’s a true story written by a young doctor’s first year of medical practice in Bryson City.  The Hemlock Inn and the Shell family are part of the story.  A fun read.  There are 2 follow up books to it as well: Bryson City Seasons and Bryson City Secrets.

Moving to the Hemlock Inn - Leaving our current life for a new one at a small Motor Inn in Bryson City, NC  via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue BooWhere We Forget to Count the Days Hemlock Inn in Bryson City, NC


*Note: Mr. LBB will now be Brett.  We felt it was better to make that change so you get to know him a little better over time.  Boo is still Boo.



Boo Blogs: On Life

Editor’s Note 1: Boo says she wants to be a writer when she grows up and has been writing a lot lately. Mostly about horses, Santa Claus and tigers. But, she wrote a blog post last night. I’m not sure it quite fits in editorially to my theme, but maybe a different perspective is good.  When I first read it I had visions of that movie I am David. She wrote it out below, but I liked the personal touch of the rough draft so I’m posting a photo of that.

Life is fun, life is boring.....  #boohackshaw #firstblogpost via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo

Life is fun age 1-8.
Life is boring 9-18.
Life is very hard 19-39.
Life is hard 40-69.




Editor’s Note 2: I asked what comes after age 69 and she said:

“People start shrinking.”

“Grandma plays kickball, but I’m not sure what other old people do.”

“Maybe you pay more taxes.  It’s hard to pay taxes when you don’t make any money though.” CONTINUE READING

Closing a Chapter: I Can See It

So part 1 of my news was that we are selling our house…and pretty much everything in it.

Part 2 of the news is that….

-ok….nervous to actually type it-

-deep breaths-

….by March 31st, the Lil Blue Boo clothing/handmade shop will be closed down.

I’m still going to be writing everyday but I’m heading down a different, more creative path. And one with a lot of uncertainty!

More living…more writing…more sharing…

There are a gazillion reasons why I’m making such a huge change, but mostly I can pinpoint to the fact that I’m not the same person I was when I started the handmade part of it all.  When I was first diagnosed with cancer back in 2011 the business was just starting to take off, but getting sick pretty much halted any growth after that point.  I was able to keep up with things as best I could but it lost a lot of momentum. And slowly, over time, my heart slowly distanced from the business.  And, well, I don’t think you can do anything well if your heart isn’t in it. The thing is…hard times can turn out to be a blessing.  It just takes a little time to realize it. I think the hard stuff can make you brave. And bold.  The hard stuff can make you okay with uncertainty, and can make you relinquish control. And I think the hard stuff can un-attach you to things you never thought you’d un-attach from.

In a recent Bible study, it hit me that God uses the least likely of things to bring about something profound.  And, yes, usually it’s the hard stuff.  But we begin to realize that we are growing when we start to see that there is a huge shift in what impresses us.  I’ve seen that huge shift in myself. I’ve seen that huge shift in my husband. I’ve seen that huge shift in my whole extended family.

Closing a huge chapter in my life.  This quote is exactly how I feel.  Quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo  (click through to read more....)



Looking back, the Lil Blue Boo Clothing story really started back in 2009.  I started out just sewing for my daughter Boo who was 2 years old at the time.  I remember staying up in the late hours of the night sewing until I couldn’t see straight.  I could make close to 8 dresses a day.  Then, a year later, I had employees and industrial machines…..and we could make a dozens of dresses a day.  I designed and drew every single pattern, picked every fabric for softness and made sure all the inks were the safest and most eco-friendly.  It was truly a labor of love.

It wasn’t always easy.  For a long time there was a small group that were relentless in trying to hurt the business using social media. Women in similar situations would email me asking for advice. My advice: Never engage the haters. Never stoop to their level.  Kill them with kindness. If you don’t feed them, eventually, they just disappear over time.  But what I found is that there are many more good people out there in the world than there are bad.  Some people are misguided and take out their unhappiness on others and that’s why we just show them kindness.  They are the “extra kindness needed” people. If they came out of the woodwork today I would thank them, because they lit a fire under me to create a successful business against all odds.  But there are varying degrees of success….and for me today it’s not monetary.

Over the years, we put so much love into all of the pieces we made. Everything was always hand silk screened, sewn locally, packaged locally….truly handmade.  We worked with some amazing photographers that are all just good people too.  I think that’s important: work with good people. Everything that goes into your work should come from a good place.  These photographers….I’ve seen their kiddos grow over the years, every so often I would have to adjust the dress sizes accordingly.  They’ve become friends, almost like family:

Monika Mcsweeney Photography
Laura Winslow Photography
DrewB Photography
Tickled Pink Photo
Linda Pelk Photography
Christina Anglum
Paint the Moon Photography
Olivia Hooper
One Memory at a Time
Misty Smith


And all the fun collaborations with other artists over the years: Amy of Evy’s Tree, Mel of Melamoose, and Carly of Little Light Prints. And of course  Stephanie Corfee.  Her artwork is all over Lil Blue Boo.  She’s so talented.  And she’s a true friend. I know we’ll be working together again in the future.  And thank you to all of you, my loyal customers, old and new, for supporting handmade.  Thank you for all of your constant encouragement.  It’s because of you that I’m taking another step.

So what does all this mean right now?

First, the hardest part, I won’t be able to keep Lisa and Gicela on. They are like family.  They’ve been the best employees I could have ever asked for.  They arrive early every day, work hard, and rarely need guidance.  They also put up with all my crazy ideas and weird eccentric quirks.  It’s hard to find people like that these days. I’m forever grateful to both of them.

Second, it means that I’m reducing a few thousand square feet of creative history down to hopefully a few boxes. Throughout March we will be liquidating all the bits and parts of a small clothing business.  (We’ve begun a “Liquidation Sale” here. It’s going to take over a month to go through 2,000 sq ft of crafty/DIY/art etc so just check back periodically as we list things every few days.)  I have an entire studio of industrial machines, rolls of fabric, cutters, mannequins, thread, patterns, work tables, silk screening equipment etc.  If anyone is looking to start a clothing business in the area (Palm Desert, CA)…or add to one….email me.

Lastly, my family and I are stepping out into a very uncertain future. I’m closing down what has been a livelihood for our family up until now.  Our lives will change completely. But at the same time it feels like a huge sigh.  That’s the faith part.  Some people we’ve already shared out plans with don’t fully understand, but honestly I know beyond words that we are making the right decision. I’ve been zapped by the mother ship*.


The Oscars

Watching the Oscars tonight, my favorite awards show. I would love to be an Academy screener…I watch at least a movie a day…I think I could fit them all in.

Love this infographic courtesy of Mediarun:

Oscar Dresses by Year via Mediarun

Courtesy of: Mediarun
A few Oscar dress tidbits:
Gwyneths’s 1999 Ralph Lauren (Movie: Shakespeare in Love) was knocked off within days. Gwyneth was credited for bringing pink back into fashion.  (source)
Susan Sarandon’s 1996 Dolce & Gabbana (Movie: 1995 Dead Man Walking) was designed to match her hair color. It was also the first time a celebrity had worn a Dolce & Gabbana to the Oscars.  (source)
Jodie Foster (Movie: 1988 The Accused) bought her 1989 Oscar dress off the rack, like the rest of us.


My all time favorite Oscar winners for Best Picture (even though I love them all):
The Artist (2011)
Gladiator (2000)
Braveheart (1995)
Schindler’s List (1993)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Ghandi (1982)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Ben-Hur (1959)
Gone With the Wind (1939)


In college, Mr. LBB looked eerily similar to Jared Leto.

If I had to pick a favorite dress, I’d pick Hilary Swank’s 2005 Guy Laroche dress. I wouldn’t wear it though, unless I looked like Hilary Swank in it.

People always tell me I look kind of like Hilary Swank. Maybe it’s our front teeth.

My favorite actress: Diane Lane.

My favorite actor: Denzel Washington. CONTINUE READING

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