Good Friend

Left Boo with my mother and sister for a few days and Brett and I spent the day at the new house working.  This was my entire morning…cleaning grout and caulking.  A paste of Bon Ami and water did the trick and it looks like new again:



I buy the original formula…mostly because I like the vintage packaging. I’m easy to market to. Love this old vintage Bon Ami ad:

Bon Ami Ad


10 hours of hard labor from 9am to about 7pm today and I’m so tired this is all I can write. I’m going to watch Violette.  And maybe learn French in 2015.

Christmas Cheer

The last week has been a blur with lots of highlights sticking out.

Me: Where did all these gifts marked “to Boo, from Santa” come from?!
Boo: Oh, I made them.

Boo and I made a trip to the thrift store last week and she came upon the “FREE” bin.  All of my gifts from her suspiciously look like what she scavenged from that pile. I love that she’s resourceful at Christmas.

We made a quick trip to Mississippi to see Brett’s mother, sister and family:


We drove to Canton, MS one night to see the lights and parade:


Boo altered her Christmas list to include a puppy after spending a few days with 4 dogs…including this polar bear of a Pyrenees named Alex.


She didn’t get the memo that Santa is not bringing puppies this year

Me: We already have a dog.
Boo: I know, but I want a nice dog.

Diesel got a spiffy new haircut for his pre-Christmas gift:



And spending Christmas back in North Carolina with my family.  We haven’t had a Christmas with my brother and sister since moving to California in 2006.  My sister Perry is hosting this year:

It will be my niece Leighton’s first Christmas:


Creating new traditions for this family like making cookies: (do not touch the Gingerbread Man)


My mother has an elaborate Christmas nativity play planned with the grandkids.  She spent all last week planning out the costumes at the inn with us:



Have a very Merry Christmas!



The theme of the week at the House on Hospital Hill is drywall.  The metal roof is almost complete and so that means we can start fixing up the inside of the house without having to worry about water issues:

charcoal roof

Remember the wall I decided to take out on a whim? Brett and friends put it back together for me. Since this photo was taken the new hole edges have been finished with drywall and mud. We were lucky to find a small bundle of wood flooring to match ours at a local lumber mill to patch the floor.  It was all worth it…the new opening changes the layout and feel of the whole house:


Brett ripping out an old roof leak yesterday. That’s my grandfather’s old stool we’ve dragged all over the country.


We took out all the old boiler baseboard heaters which has required quite a bit of patching in the floor and walls:


Fixing all the walls has been my job…I’m becoming an expert in matching knockdown patterns using a piece of terry cloth and a vinyl sign. I’ll share that sometime after Christmas.  Keeping my lungs clean:


Trying to narrow down a “whitish” paint color for the house but still don’t have one that works with all the natural light we get. Modern Gray was too lavender, and Tahitian Vanilla was too yellowish. Still testing.

paint color


Outside a friend has been dropping a few trees so that we can hopefully get a garden planted this spring. Timber!


Sorry these posts are just short and sweet…way too much going on with the holidays right now.  You can also follow along on Instagram under #thehouseonhospitalhill.

All HOHH posts can be found here. 

That’s our progress for now!

The Christmas List

I always look forward to seeing what Boo puts on her Christmas list each year.

Four years ago she specifically asked for an office water cooler. It was so random we thought she’d forget about it. She didn’t.

Three years ago she wanted a bunk bed for her dolls. She got a handmade set from Brett.

Two years ago she asked for an American Girl doll, she was very specific: PF-1221 is the SKU number. She cried with joy when she found the box under the tree.  It made us cry too.


Last year she asked for Saige (an American Girl doll), and doll hair extensions. We tried to talk her out of it, gave her a dozen other ideas.  She nodded okay, but apparently only to appease us.  I miraculously intercepted a desperate-toned letter in the mailbox addressed for Santa a day later:


This year she’s asked for a doll typewriter, a doll wheelchair and a handful of books.

Her list is never very long, and she is always very aware that she might not get anything she asks for. But I hope she’ll ask for dolls and books forever. (Oh please ask for dolls and books forever.)

She loves her Keri Smith journal…so I ordered these for her…really wanting to order them for myself:

How to Be An Explorer of the World 


The Pocket Scavenger


We rode the Polar Express train last Friday and she had a blast but she still doesn’t really care for Santa. She got really nervous when he approached and she politely just said a “hi” and “thank you” as he handed her a bell.  She breathed a sigh of relief as he moved on to the next row.

polar express

She and I read all the notes that other children had left for Santa and we chuckled at this one (we do not know Abigail, but she loves cats):


We spent today picking out gifts for family and teachers. She was so thoughtful about each one, insisting on wrapping the gifts and writing the cards herself.  I spent part of the day making ugly Christmas sweaters for Brett and I and when I was done she exclaimed: Oh, they are beautiful! Not quite the reaction I was going for, but I love her enthusiasm.

And then there’s the tree she picked for our house:


It’s a twig.  Simple and perfect. She’s very proud of it.

Oh, and she’s been playing with her old Nativity set for a few weeks now. She calls it her “activity set” and spends hours telling us (and anyone who will listen) the story of Jesus’s birth.


She knows more details about Christmas than I could ever remember. And tonight she was asking Brett and I to “Google” what the chemical makeups of Frankincense and Myrrh are. Because those details might be important I suppose.

We are so blessed.

Easy Picture Frame Vanity Tray

DIY Vanity Tray using a Photo Frame


I made this easy little picture frame tray for my fall decor but now it doubles as my vanity tray.  It’s easy to keep clean and dust free and can be made out of any photo frame:


Picture Frame Tray

A collection spot for jewelry and perfume bottles that usually clutter my dresser:

Organization Ideas for Bathroom and Bedroom

Here is the same tray when it was being used to decorate the dinner table for fall:

fall table decor ideas and wedding table decor #wedding #falltabledecor #entertaining

I started with a raw wood frame knowing that I was going to distress it:


I used a “barn wood” technique that I’ve shared before on the blog: How to Antique and Age Wood Instantly.


I used my vinegar and steel wool concoction on the wood: [Read more…]


“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

I had the chance to take a workshop by Ellen Bass recently.  I learned so much from her about process: writing things down, the act of writing engraves the idea on your mind. Be willing to disturb the story you know.  I write almost everything down…so much so that it borderlines on hoarding. Everything is interesting. Everything contains poetry. Like the fact that the sun came up today, for the 4 bazillionth time is amazing in itself.  A miracle in fact. How does it even know where to come up each day? Like, what if one day the sun decided to reverse course?



t-shirt by A Happy Girl

Today’s word of the day for an advent series I’m doing (The Grove Church) is ACCEPTANCE. I think Ellen’s words sum it up perfectly:

“to love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you I will love you, again.”
Ellen Bass

My Own Shutter Opens

I used to take my camera everywhere. To capture everything.  But now I’m finding that the more I leave my camera behind, the more I see…and the more I remember. And like Annie Dillard puts it:

…my own shutter opens…

Remember when we were limited to 24 exposures on a roll?  This summer a man asked me to take a photo of his family in front of a waterfall and I started clicking away until I realized in horror that his camera was a film camera.  I probably used up half of the roll on that one shot.  I wasn’t really paying attention to the shot I was getting either.

The difference between the two ways of seeing is the difference between walking with and without a camera. When I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading the light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment’s light prints on my own silver gut. When I see this second way I am above all an unscrupulous observer.
-Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


You missed that. Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. You are missing the events unfolding in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you.
 -Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking

I miss the excitement of getting the film developed, and I miss the feeling of only having to take a single photo. I want my photo albums to be smaller and thinner.  It doesn’t mean I did less, it means I felt more.


The spaces where it feels like God is exhaling, where the earth becomes gentle, sometimes just for a millisecond.

The river.



Just a thought for today:

A.W. Tozer Quote

Wall Gone

I woke up this morning, grabbed a hammer and headed out the door to the new house. First I went and grabbed coffee because I promised roofer Larry that I’d bring him a cup first thing. And then….

I took the wall down.

I took a little more work than I thought it would because one side was concrete plaster. Brett helped me pull down some of the heavier pieces. Now the house is brighter. I can see the mountain view from almost every room of the house.  As Steve Jobs would say: People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. True story.


I won’t bore you with daily progress here, just the occasional house update posts, but you can follow more often on Instagram if you are curious at #thehouseonhospitalhill

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