Neutral Nursery Decor Ideas – Restoration Hardware Inspired

My sister Perry and her husband Justin are going to have a little girl in mid-July.  I’m so excited to have a niece! We visited their house last weekend and the nursery just blew me away.  I love the neutral look of it….so serene and peaceful.

A Neutral Nursery - Neutral Nursery Decor and Ideas - Click through for paint colors and details #diy #nursery #nurserydecor #baby


The crib is the Roselle Crib that she picked up at Restoration Hardware Finale Sale:


Neutral Nursery Decor - The Roselle Crib Restoration Hardware Baby


The wall color is Edgecomb Gray from Benjamin Moore:

Neutral Nursery Wall Colors - Restoration Hardware Inspired - Edgecomb Gray from Benjamin Moore


The cute wall prints behind the crib are vintage Winnie the Pooh book pages from an Etsy shop called Cloud Nine Prints. The frames were from Home Goods.

Neutral Nursery Wall Decor Ideas - Vintage Winnie The Pooh Book Pages


A cute little chair and ottoman that was a gift:

Neutral Nursery Decor Ideas - Restoration Hardware Inspired


I love this vintage Winnie The Pooh that was a baby gift. It’s the Kids Preferred Giant Plush Winnie the Pooh.

Vintage Winnie the Pooh (where to buy)  - Baby Gift Ideas


The chair is the washed linen camelback swivel glider chair with slipcover:

Neutral Nursery Chair for Restoration Hardware Baby Nursery


A sequined pillow:

Neutral Taupe Nursery - Sequined Pillow



The vanity was our grandmother’s.  Perry re-painted it with Annie Sloan Chalk paint in Old White.  The mirror was from Marshall’s and she painted it to match:

A Neutral Nursery - using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - Old White


I love how she painted these to look old and uses the vanity as a changing table: CONTINUE READING

A House of Windows

When I was at my sister’s house last weekend she had a huge pile of old windows sitting outside her garage.  At first I was like: hey can I take one of these? But that turned into: hey, can I take all of these? So…on a trip to empty out the rest of the items we had in our trailer we ended up bringing back a truckload of old windows.  Brett sure lucked out when he married me (when it comes to accumulating free junk).

I love this photo of my 8.5 months pregnant sister Perry blowing off the window for me as Sienna darts after a ball. Chaos.


I started searching for projects that used large quantities of windows and I came across this:


I love the video by Half Cut Tea:


Now all I need is a few acres of land and lake!


Meet it and Live it

I love this:

Waterrock Knob - Harvey Broome - Out Under the Sky of the Great Smokies "A Year at the Hemlock" via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


That photo of the Smoky Mountains is one I took yesterday….I’m pretty sure you can see all the way to Tennessee.  Brett has been researching the nearby trails and natural wonders. We are working on some printable “day guides” for the area of our favorite places….that could be an endless project. On the suggestion of a friend we went to visit Waterrock Knob yesterday. It’s a short trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Don’t Boo and I look really outdoorsy?

Waterrock Knob off the Blue Ridge Parkway via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


The real truth is….I am not very outdoorsy….yet. I used to be. When I was in high school I wanted to work for the National Forest Service. Now I cringe when I walk through spiderwebs or tall grass. (and when do the spiders realize they can’t build a web on a path?! It’s endless rebuilding! Unless they are actually trying to catch a human….) Boo and I are getting a little braver each day when it comes to nature. Brett on the other hand has already found a riding group and ventures out to Tsali on his own to go biking.  He was really patient with us yesterday when he took us on a “secret trail” and Boo and I were both almost hyperventilating at the sighting of fresh bear poop (scat?!) every 10 feet.

Waterrock Knob Hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo

Brett and Boo are putting together some more office storage today so I can get myself out of boxes. All my bookshelves are put together and my books are unpacked. Brett’s looking for some old wood tomorrow to build me a desk so there’s a place to put my desktop computer and printer.  Then I have endless tutorials and home decor photos backlogged from the past few months that I never got to before our move….that will take a little catching up.  And I can’t wait to share our revamp of the cottage we are staying in here at the Hemlock Inn.

I’m still trying to find my rhythm here with writing. There is so much to see and do here that I get easily sidetracked.  I’ve been working on a book now for 2 years and I would love to finish it in the near future which will require some serious discipline soon.  Everyone asks me what kind of book it is and I used to say “memoir” until a man told me I wasn’t old enough to write a memoir so now I just call it a “totally true episode”….that leaves room for multiple episodes right? So if I don’t hear from me for a few days I’m probably 1. wandering or 2. off writing for the episode…  (or I’m probably on Instagram @lilblueboo)

I went to the library today to get some work done.  As I was sitting there an older man meandered in, grabbed the newspaper and said to no one in particular in a thick southern drawl:

Well, let me sit down and read some of this here propaganda.

I lost my souther accent years ago but I hear it coming back.

I found the below passage in a magazine in the library. It was written originally in 1919 but was republished in Smokies Life Magazine recently (Volume 5 #1):

First I came here for health’s sake and peace of mind. The grand old hills and forests gave me both. I return to then a fond affection.

Then I got to liking the people. They are a plain, honest, brave and independent folk. They are pure Americans, with true American ideals. They are hospitable, with genuine good will, and not for the sake of gain. They judge a man from his own deeds and bearing; not from his pocket book or family tree.

Towns are few and small. Outside of them, the people are quaintly old fashioned, with ideas of their own, not borrowed ones. They are original, these mountaineers; nearly everyone is a character.

-Horace Kephart, published in All Outdoors magazine, October 1919.


“Then I got to liking the people.” There’s something about a small mountain town that you can never find anywhere else I think.  Everyone I meet is itching to tell a story.  And the buildings too:

Two Silos out of Bryson City off the Tuckaseegee River


I can’t wait to show you what I see. I could spend a whole month documenting the roadside motels that have closed down and are slowly being reclaimed by nature.  I could spend another year sharing some of the stories from the locals I’ve met so far.  And most of them have had some hard lives but most of them make me think of that Thoreau quote:

However mean your life is, meet it and live it.

It will be interesting to see how my perspective changes or doesn’t change over the next year.

I just realized I haven’t been to a Target in over a month….and I can’t think of anything I could possibly need from there anyway.  I’d have to drive to another town to find one if I did.

Ok, enough rambling for today. I still have a letter to write.  If you haven’t signed up for the weekly letter….click here.  A few recent letters if you missed them:

A Little Space to Dream

More Than Resting

The Weight of the Centuries

To Be Yourself


P.S. I’d love to know if you live in a small town. What is your favorite part about living there?







What I Want To Be

For our move cross country to the Hemlock Inn, we took Boo out of school 2 weeks early. Her teacher Mrs. Mayfield sent us a large package today with a letter, work missed and awards from the end of school. Included in it was this essay that Boo wrote for a local essay contest in Palm Desert:


Boo's essay on growing up "What I Want To Be" via Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo

In case the scan doesn’t show up here is the text:

What I Want to Be…
(By Boo Hackshaw)

When I grow up, I want to be a writer. My mom writes in her journal and she writes a blog about our family. I love my mom and what she writes. I like to write stories too. I like to write stories about how my day has gone and how my year has gone.

When I grow up, I want to be kind. I want to be a person who is helpful and who has a smile on their face. I will try to have good manners. I won’t smoke or litter or lie. I would like to be a person who respects others.

When I grow up, I want to be a mom like my mom. My mom gives me gifts of love. She helps me with my homework. She likes to write stories with me.

Growing up is going to be inspiring and imaginative.


She gives me way too much credit in her essay. It’s Brett that does most of the parenting around here.  I feel like I’m mostly hard on her when I need to be giving more gifts of love.  I’m often deep in thought in another universe before I realize she’s talking to me.  Earth to Mom.

I do have three things going for me: I don’t smoke or litter or lie.

Oh, I can’t wait to grow up too…it will be inspiring and imaginative.  That’s a lot to look forward to.

I loved this essay.

Thank you Boo.


Meet Ruby

I made it three weeks as a one car family.  Then I realized I need my freedom to wander on my own, without worrying about the rest of the family being stranded.

Meet Ruby, my new 1982 Chevy C10:

I knew Ruby would need some work….and she did.  16 seconds after purchasing her she died.  I’m not kidding. It was a scene out of a movie. Yay I bought a truck!  And…. I broke it.

Here’s my brother-in-law Justin, Brett and the sales guy Mike pushing her back to the garage:


I had to leave Ruby in Charlotte for a week while she gets fixed up.  She needs a new speedometer and a horn. A rearview mirror too.  Oh and her engine needs to start….she starts when she’s cold at least and runs perfectly until she gets warmed up.  Maybe she’s lazy.   I’ve never been excited about a car before….but I’m excited about this one.  I tried to get her to start by telling her how much fun she’ll have just sitting by the river with me.  Maybe she’s nervous about small town life.  She’ll come around.



Beautiful Things Don’t Ask For Attention

It was a rough day for Boo yesterday…she was grounded. I don’t know what got into her….maybe it’s all the freedom. There’s a wedding tonight and the bride and her family were here yesterday setting up and Boo was so excited to help…and she was a great help…but then she began to get a little snooty, too big for her britches as they say, and then she was disrespectful to the inn’s intern Harper and that was the last straw.  I confined her to the house and then witnessed a full blown tantrum and I’d never seen her so defiant before. She is well beyond her years in being able to turn arguments around on a dime.  After being grounded and realizing that her actions had serious consequences (like not being able to run freely around the inn) she turned back into my sweet, down-to-earth child.

But she is me. She wants to do and see everything.  She craves freedom and independence. She wants to disappear and wander aimlessly. She never tires. I get it…but when it affects others it’s time to reign it in.  I guess that’s why we need boundaries, right?

I stayed up way too late last night…reading Thoreau of all things.  I hadn’t touched Thoreau since being forced to read it in high school but something deep down was urging me to revisit it. I kept having to turn on the light to write down page numbers of quotes to share:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest.”

“It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.”

“In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

“The life in us is like the water in the river. It may rise this year higher than man has ever known it, and flood the parched uplands; even this may be the eventful year, which will drown out all our muskrats.”


let us spend every day deliberately - quote by thoreau


Yesterday was the first day I took my big DSLR camera out…and I only took a few photos.  We watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty the other night and there’s that scene where the rare snow leopard emerges from its hiding place and Sean O’Connell doesn’t press the shutter button.  Watching it I’m thinking: PRESS THE BUTTON. PRESS THE BUTTON!

Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it?
Sean O’Connell: Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Walter Mitty: Stay in it?
Sean O’Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here.

(loved that movie…except I have been singing the line non stop “This is Major Tom to Ground Control….I’m stepping through the door.”)

I’m in these moments…I haven’t felt like I needed to capture them all for the first time in a long time.


I was a little uncertain for the first few days living here….the moisture of the mountains, the spiders and healthy insect colonies of the forest. It was all so new. I wondered if maybe I just wasn’t made for the outdoors. But yesterday, as Brett and Boo were skipping rocks into the river yesterday afternoon (her request) I found this place along the shore where the powerful Tuckaseegee river was flowing backwards because of the current. He leads me beside the still waters. I’m in awe of this place.  The richness of the land and the area. It’s humming with life all the time.  I find strength in the trees and peace from the water.

A year ago I would have needed the perfect office to write from, now I’m writing from the floor of my bedroom huddled next to the dog for the best sunlight. It’s quiet here and Diesel’s sweet panting breath is soothing. And other than that there is no sound whatsoever except for an occasional bird song. I could be the only person on earth right now…..except I know there is a flurry of activity up the hill for a young couple getting married on the property tonight:

rustic wedding

The Road to Nowhere

There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.
– Jack Kerouac

This morning we took a wrong turn and ended up on the Road to Nowhere. It’s a 6-mile-drive into the park that ends abruptly at this tunnel. (you can read the story here).  There’s not really anywhere to turn around so we just kept going.  Why not right?  We were the only ones there when we first got there:

Things to do in Bryson City - The Road to Nowhere Tunnel in Smoky Mountains


Boo and Brett talked me into going in. I walked behind them holding Diesel. One foot in front of the other…careful to stay right in the center…totally focused on the light ahead of me. I felt like I was going to be snatched into the walls. My heart was beating a million miles per hour and I just kept saying the Lord’s Prayer so it echoed throughout.  Funny how things can be scary and amazing all at the same time.

the light at the end of the tunnel

Things to do in Smoky Mountains National Park - The Road to Nowhere Tunnel


Here’s a photo Brett too from the other side:


exhilarated….until we realized we had to walk back through.


a graffiti compliment


So the Road to Nowhere actually does lead somewhere…to an eerie tunnel that feels sinister, earthy and breathtaking all at once.  I totally recommend walking through it…first thing in the morning (that’s the safest time of day in scary movies).

Live Along Into The Answer

I love this quote:


My sister and mother are visiting this weekend. We all sat in the Hemlock Inn library tonight and read aloud from books and worked on a puzzle.  I pulled out a book and found this poem:


I believe
God is in what is happening
in me
I am being freed from the past
with appreciation
and freed for the future
with readiness
a particular hope is shaping
a careful joy is rising
don’t hurry it
don’t analyze it
it is being given
even as
it is being received
I am happening

I love that.
I am happening.
You are happening.
Day by day.
Don’t overcomplicate it all.
Live everything.
That is all.
Peace out.


P.S. I’m finally back to my weekly “Dear Friend” letter…it will be going out starting tonight. If you’d like to sign up click here.

Deep Creek

This morning we went hiking at Deep Creek. It’s located in the Smoky Mountains National Park, just a few miles from the inn.  It’s a pretty popular part of the park because there are three waterfalls that are within a short hiking distance:

Tom's Branch Falls at Deep Creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Tom's Branch Falls at Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Boo loved the falls and surmised that the creek must be a circular loop and that’s where all the water comes from. Love that thought.

At one of the waterfalls Brett was out on the edge of the water teetering on a huge log with his phone and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing until I saw his photo (he’s getting better and better at Instagram @bretthackshaw)….go like this photo and you’ll make his week ; )

Indian Creek Falls at Deep Creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Indian Creek Falls at Deep Creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There were all of these amazing blue little butterflies that kept swarming in the park. After a while they would find somewhere to rest and then they would all take off at the same time and it was like they were being set free in this magical frenzy:


Mort (Hemlock’s innkeeper) was showing us the trails and he found Boo this huge centipede. A week ago she would have screamed and run the opposite direction but she’s getting braver and braver. How does the centipede make all those legs go in the same direction at the same time?!


This afternoon Boo visited Lainey while Brett and I finished painting the master bedroom of our cottage.  I had finished caulking yesterday …and used FOUR tubes on one room….I think I’m a little obsessive about cracks. I’m just not used to all the spiders and other insects in the mountains yet. (I’m basically setting up a “caulk” blockade…and good luck getting past it spiders!)  The cottage used to just be 2 rooms but an additional bedroom was added on in the 1980′s on the other side of the chimney. You can see the chimney in the closet as Brett paints…love the stacked stone:


Thursday is Fried Chicken Night at the Hemlock. It was our first.  We sat with a new couple tonight and a young family we’ve shared the table with for a few days now.  Both families are from Florida. There were two other large tables tonight for dinner almost 30 minutes after the tables were cleared… all the guests were still sitting at the tables talking and laughing.  It’s like instant community.  When I think back to our own table talked about tonight the conversation ranged from train rides to ranches to John Deere tractors to Dolly Parton.  I love the story telling.

Fried Chicken Night at the Hemlock Inn

Fried Chicken Night at the Hemlock Inn


This morning after breakfast we said goodbye to two couples whose stays had come to an end.  This is one aspect of inn life that I didn’t even think about: saying goodbye to new friends.   I know all stays must come to an end but it’s a little sad saying goodbye to the familiar faces you’ve come to know.

Lainey took this photo tonight….so precious of Boo with a few of her new friends holding hands for the blessing.  Brett was late for blessing…hence the empty chair.

Blessing at the Hemlock Inn, Bryson City

Now I’m sitting in the sunroom and there are some lingering groups playing board games and chatting.  I love the muffled sounds of the kitchen being cleaned up and the kitchen door swinging back and forth every few minutes.  Boo and Brett are probably in bed right now.  I’ll make my way down to the cottage with my flashlight shortly hoping I don’t run into a bear.   Tomorrow my sister and mom are coming to visit.  I think I need to find a place to get my hair cut too….did you notice the sideburns?!  They are out of control as I try to grow my hair out. Mort says if I go to the barbershop I’ll get the same “white wall” haircut everyone else does when they go there.  He had to explain that to me. Remember the old tires with the white insides? That’s where it comes from…the hair is cut so short around the ears that it resembles the white walls of the old 1960′s tires.  I’m so tempted to go anyways….there’s one old antique chair sitting in the middle of the shop.  Maybe I could just get the barber to trim it a little just to say I sat in that chair… bad could it be?

Last night sitting in bed I took this photo (go-go-gadget arms!)….


….and then I woke up in the middle of the night and the moon was so incredible all I wanted to do was go outside and set up my camera but the battery was dead.  It looked like the cover of a story book with the moon behind the clouds.  Seriously it was amazing…the glowing of the edges of those clouds against the dark sky. The moon is just as big tonight.




It’s All Clear Now

Last night was Boo’s first big thunderstorm and all four of us (Diesel included) ended up in the same bed for most of the night. I loved hearing the thunder and watching the lightning over the mountains from our bedroom window.

This is why they call it the Smoky Mountains:

The Smoky Mountains


Brett spent the day running errands and planting grass where the new septic tank is.  I spent most of the day caulking and painting the house:


I spent at least 2 or 3 hours filling all the cracks and imperfections with white caulk and it all looked amazing! UNTIL… began to disappear. Wait, didn’t I already do this room? I had used:


Note: It was not clear when it came out of the tube! The clear goes on white at first but and turns clear when it dries.

As a result I ended up at the town hardware store twice today. Look the jars of seeds they have….order by the 1/4 pound and they are put in a small brown paper bag.  The cute old scale from the 1950′s didn’t fit in the photo (and the cute old man from the 1950′s who asked if he could help me). Does it not make you want to garden?


We had a huge thunderstorm during dinner tonight.  The lights went out a few times but everyone just kept on eating and talking.  After a downpour and lots of lightning it was over as quick as it showed up. Brett said tonight’s dinner was his favorite yet with country fried steak, broccoli casserole, biscuits, chicken and dumplings, among other things.  Good grief I need to start hiking asap.

After the tables were cleared we sat in the dining room with another family (who also used to visit in her childhood and decided to come back with her own family) and looked through old photo albums looking at the inn from the 1950′s.  I’ll have to share some of those cool vintage photos with you when I get my scanner and desktop up and running again.

Shuffleboard at the Hemlock Inn Bryson City


We got a new post office box today. Turns out the postmaster is the grandfather of two cute little boys that Boo played with this morning. I love that when I picked up my key they said “welcome to Bryson City.” Later I tried to find the library and my Google Maps took me up a steep hill, via a small road by a place called the Fryemont Inn and the road was so tiny I was sure there wasn’t a library down it.  I did a 40 point turn in the parking lot with a small crowd as an audience, almost running over their sign. That would have been horrible…what if I had a mugshot?!  Sometimes I wish I still had my little Prius because it’s a little less conspicuous. The huge truck with the camper shell and Yakima rack with the California license plates don’t allow me to fly under the radar easily.  The other day we passed this guy in another white pickup FOUR times..and on random back roads:

Me: What do you think that guy is doing?
Brett: I’m wondering what he thinks WE are doing.
Me: Maybe he’s a citizen patrol…out making his daily round of citizen arrests

Brett: I don’t think they have those in Bryson City.

I think I am in love with this small town. This is where I’m supposed to be.  I know Boo feels that. She’s all over the place…even accompanying the innkeepers to town to run errands today. I see Brett getting more and more settled too. And thanks for the ideas about the walkie talkies!  We found our set and used them all day with Boo. She’s still getting the hang of them though: Lainey said Boo was singing “Let it Go” into the walkie talkie as they drove to town and someone else they didn’t know responded.

I’m sure I get some eye rolling over how excited I am about the littlest of things (like the store that sells guns AND ice cream?!)   I can imagine it gets exhausting too:

I love that silo!
I love that old man!
I love that falling down building!
I love that mangy looking dog!
I love that pile of leaves!
I love that purple haired lady!
Look how much water the dehumidifier made!
I love that newly plowed field!
I love that…and that…and that.
I don’t love all those spiders!
I DO love those old pickups!
I love the train tracks!
I love that there is a McDonald’s!
I love this inn!
I’ve always wanted overalls!
I love septic tanks!

I love it all.

I love REAL. And this town is so real to me.

Oh and P.S. the new mailing address for Lil Blue Boo / Hackshaw Family is:

P.O. Box 910
Bryson City, NC 28713

And of course you can just send mail to the Hemlock Inn directly too. They know where to find me.


From the Smoky Mountains,



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