January 2014 Dress of the Month

Introducing the January Dress of the Month – our 2014 Valentine’s Day dress! In the January dress box you will receive a Valentine’s Heart Applique dress and two double sided trading cards (one for a friend!) to collect or frame. The trading card this month includes Valentine’s Day artwork on both the front and the back of the card.

The January 2014 Dress of the Month via Ashley Hackshaw / lilblueboo.com

The Lil Blue Boo January Dress of the Month via Ashley Hackshaw / lilblueboo.com

*Please note – this is not a club. You can purchase a dress at any time as long as supplies last.


The Tangible Evidence of Hope

Today I sat in the quiet room of the library to try and get some work done. As I sat there another woman came in and sat in front of me.  Whatever she was watching was making her laugh.  She seemed to laugh right when I was just completing a thought. *poof*  I started to get increasingly agitated and annoyed and thought about huffing out or asking her to keep it down.  Each time she laughed I could tell it was one of those uncontrollable ones.  She was trying to keep it quiet but it became worse as she tried to hold it in. I watched from behind as she fanned herself and threw her arms in the air. I just stopped writing and watched. And then I couldn’t stop laughing.

All of the sudden she got up and walked out of the room for a moment. I stared at her computer screen at the table across from me.  I wasn’t trying to snoop but I wanted to know what was so funny. There was an image of the following:

One kind word can change someone’s entire day.

That obviously wasn’t what she was laughing at, but it made me think about what my reaction was going to be.  When she came back in, as she walked past me, I said:

Um…excuse me…ok….I just have to know what was so funny….

She didn’t even pause to think….and gestured with her hand for me to follow her out of the room.  I followed her out of the room. She told me she had given a movie a bad review and she was watching the interviews from it. She’s a movie fanatic. We talked about movies for a while and then parted ways. I sat back down and the writing just came pouring out again.

There are studies that say laughter is really contagious.  Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, right? Well, some of them.

So, I could have huffed out of the room really.  She probably wouldn’t have even have noticed.

I love this definition of laughter:

laughter (noun) the tangible evidence of hope -michael jr. comedian #quote #theyearofjoy #lilblueboo

I got that from Michael Jr.:

Love him.  And I’m even the butt of his joke…I spoke “banjo” as a kid growing up in Clover, S.C.

I think humor is the ultimate saving grace for me. I probably take it overboard at times, cracking jokes and oozing sarcasm at the most inappropriate of moments, then it can become a crutch. But true cheerful, joyful humor has saved me many times over. Sometimes I try to be serious, but I can’t.  And sometimes when I’m being totally serious, people think I’m joking:

Surrogacy Agency: We have a database of pre-screened carriers.
Me: So, you are kind of like Match.com for surrogates.
Surrogacy Agency: Well…um…I guess you could say that.
Me: So do you actually meet all the surrogates in person? Because I’ve heard stories about people going to meet their dates and it’s not even the right gender. Sorry, not stories about you….stories about Match.com. Not that it’s dating. Although, it is kind of like dating if you really think about it.

(total silence)

Surrogacy Agency: I don’t think we’ve ever run into that issue.
Me: Yet…

And so I try to make humor a redeeming quality when I can.

Oh, when I left the woman handed me a post-it note with the movie: August: Osage County.


All posts for the Year of Joy can be found here.

14 days down, only 17 to go.



That was not love. That was a greeting card.

Love is fairly new to me.  I’m just being honest with you.

I used to think I loved, but I didn’t really truly love.

I thought love meant saying I love you.

I thought love was giving advice and “fixing” people.

I thought love meant being a good person.

I thought love was reserved for people close to me.

I thought love was about being compatible.

I thought love had to be careful.

I thought love had to be controlled and protected.

I thought love was effortless and instant, or it didn’t exist.

That was not love.

That….was a greeting card.


Painting by Boo

Love is the bridge. Painting by Boo Hackshaw #theyearofjoy #quote

Some lessons in love:

When I was sick I didn’t want to accept help, but sometimes love is allowing people to help you, navigating around your pride…because of what it can do for others.

When I joined a church I found myself in a slow-moving, conflicted community. I soon wanted out, but sometimes love is adjustment.

When my family members have shown weakness I have been quick to judge, but sometimes love is having empathy.

When a friend turned on me unexpectedly I wanted to give her a piece of my mind, but sometimes love is being silent. Sometimes love is letting go.

I used to have a tendency to treat strangers better than those close to me, but love is as much about planned kindness than random kindness.

Before (and still), when I felt I was right about something I’d fight to the end, but love is compromise, not plowing over everyone in my path.

When I ask someone how they are doing sometimes I wish for a short answer, but love is being willing to share my time and listen.

When someone was having a hard time, I used to avoid them out of fear for the right words, but love is connection. Love is reaching out.

It used to be easier for me to bond with people over gossip, but sometimes love is speaking up…or just not being interested.

Sometimes just the “thought” of donating to a cause would make me feel like a good person, but love is sacrifice.

When my daughter chooses her dad over me I feel hurt, but sometimes love has to be grown and repaired.

I’m still learning, but I do know this…love leads the way:


Love is cultivated and grown.

Love is seeing and doing. Love is courage.

Love is connection. Love is sharing. Love is heart to heart.

Love is belonging. Love is encouragement.

Love is compassion. Love is empathy.

Love is character and conviction. Love is speaking up.

Love is knowing when to be silent.

Love is serving, but love is also receiving. Love is humility.

Love is investment. Love is commitment.

Love is compromise. Love is adjustment.

Love is sacrifice.

Love is forgiveness. Love is reconciliation.

Love is honesty. Love is being authentic. Love is living with an open heart.

Love is about having a sense of humor.

Love is risky. Love is messy.

Love is imperfect.

Love is freedom.


What is love to you?


P.S. Random kindness is still love:

All posts for the Year of Joy can be found here.

13 days down, only 18 to go. I love you.

Vulnerability is Liberating

I think 2013 could be called the year of vulnerability. For me at least.  And I STILL held back.  I feel like I’m full of secrets right now.  My whole world is shifting right before me.  My heart is beating out of my chest sometimes. I’m praying for wisdom on when to share things because my soul is 1 part patience, 5 parts NOW. And on the other side of this screen I’m barely keeping my head above water, it’s like I’m in a tangled web of worldly messes that have to be dealt with.  But at the same time I am stepping out in faith.  I’m listening for God’s direction. The good news: it will make this year interesting and adventurous.

Vulnerability is risky. It can be scary to lower your defenses and open up your life to others. When you reveal your failures, feelings, frustrations, and fears, you risk rejections, But the benefits are worth the risk. Vulnerability is emotionally liberating. Opening up relieves stress, defuses your fears, and is the first step to freedom.
-Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

On being vulnerable and taking risks #theyearofjoy series by Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #joy #quote

Joy comes from being vulnerable and courageous. Even if everyone else thinks you are nuts, step out of your comfort zone. Courage will build slowly. I promise. I’ve been there. Anyway, what is the worst that could happen? Someone might not approve? Take risks for joy. Sometimes just saying YES can set your whole life into motion.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. -Proverbs 19:21



A few vulnerable posts from last year:


The Dark Corners

And for about 14 years, from 1992 until around 2006, I didn’t have any limits. At least I didn’t think I did.  And I was sent to alcohol counseling by my university, my sorority forced me to attend an outpatient recovery program, I was put on probation by my foreign exchange program in China (only because my friend was “roofied” when we weren’t supposed to be out drinking….not completely my fault right?). How many chances does a gal get? Usually not as many as I’ve gotten….

The Dark Corners (on teenage alcohol abuse) via lilblueboo.com c. 1996


Big Stuff vs. Small Stuff

Nothing in my life will ever be exactly as I expected. No timing will ever be just right. Sometimes the joy in life can be hard to find. But I can find the good….anything good….and praise it. I choose joy.


The Ghost of Cancer Past

In the quiet humming of a CT machine, I came to the conclusion that God does not cause suffering, but he uses it to reach us.

Hearing that Jennifer Arnold has a rare cancer brings back all kinds of emotions. I too had that rare cancer.  I was stage 3 Choriocarcinoma..... via lilblueboo.com #cancer #choriocarcinoma


The Quiet Gift of Grace

Sometimes it’s a relief to be NUTS…..when people think you are crazy it takes away the need for explanation.


The Good Girl

I wanted to be liked….and popular…which I thought meant I had to hide things and keep secrets and say things I didn’t mean.  Drinking was like a putty to those little chips…filling in those empty voids.

Why I drank via lilblueboo.com



What Lies Beneath

I like people that aren’t so shiny and perfect.  It’s the imperfect parts that make them interesting.  And it’s way too hard to try and BE shiny and perfect.

Kerouac Quote (from What Lies Beneath post) via lilblueboo.com



Invest Your Life in Other People

There is one day….in everyone’s life….that will be a halfway point…..the day on which you have less days left to live than you have lived already. And I wonder…..have I passed it already?!



Top 10 DIY Projects and Tutorials from 2013

Top Tutorials 2013 - Most Popular DIY Projects and Tutorials via lilblueboo.com

Whenever I set out to make something I never know if it’s something the world will like….but I post anyway, putting myself out there. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t.  The joy for me comes out of creating and mostly sharing. These are the posts you read the most often…and I hope they helped inspire more creativity last year.

Here are the top 10 tutorials read last year:


#1: How to Organize and Print YEARS Worth of Photos.

How to Organize and Print Family Photos #photography Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


#2: How to Make Packing Tape Transfers

How to Make Transfers with Packing Tape - Tutorial by Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


#3: How to Make Paper Mache Animal Heads

How to make paper mache animal heads Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


#4: DIY iPad Cover from a Composition Book

How to make an iPad Cover from a composition book Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


Choosing Health: The Joy of Energy

I want to be healthy so that I have energy.  I want to feel good. I used to crash diet, and starve myself, run marathons and tri-atholons….never with the idea of getting healthy. It was always with a goal of having the perfect body. It was like chasing the wind.   My mother-in-law used to tell me: it’s not what you are eating, it’s what’s eating you.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness….  -Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

There are always so many new resolutions in January to get healthy or get in shape. I stopped those long, long ago.  A heard a guy on the radio yesterday say he’d been in the gym for 10 days straight, and had even forgotten to take the price tags off his gym clothes.  That sounds familiar.  I used to start out with good intentions, but the problem was I jumped in all crazy.  I finally figured out that I needed to just make small changes here and there…otherwise I’d burn out, and quickly.

New Year's Baby Steps on a Healthy Year, Whole Foods, and an Active Family... A wonderful cycle if it's strengthened. #quote #theyearofjoy

Me On Exercise: I try to hike as often as possible…with my husband, as a family, or with a friend. It makes the time pass quickly and I tend to push myself a little more. My goal is 4 days a week and it usually ends up being about 2. Sometimes 1.  A quick walk around the block is perfect sometimes.  Mr. LBB and I both have the 7 minute app. I try to do that at least once a week. One workout fit into 7 minutes. Boo loves it.

Me On Eating: We try to prepare dinner and eat together as a family every night. Not only is it quality time together but we are more aware of what we eat. The preparation changes our orientation to our food. We eat as much raw, living food as possible.  As we make small gradual improvements, they stick. I love visiting the farmers market and trying new vegetables from Trader Joe’s and Clark’s.  I try to stick to the simplest of preparation so that we avoid MSG, preservatives, and sodium.  Food I used to crave seems intolerable now. Boo lights candles at dinner…it’s a celebration of gratitude.  I think the food you eat, and how it’s prepared, should be filled with joy.

Love yourself and love your body by choosing health this year over dieting.

There is joy in energy, and energy in joy.

As a family we’ve started to incorporate little things over the last 12 months to make them habits. And it has to be natural and easy, otherwise we will drift off the path. We tried juicing but it just took too much time. It doesn’t mean we failed, we just shifted our focus to work for us.  Now we use make smoothies with a hand blender. We all have our different preferences too…this one’s mine:


The Green Colada: healthy smoothie recipe with pina colada taste #smoothie #healthy #recipe

I switch up ingredients but this is my basic recipe: CONTINUE READING

Art Prints for Her Bedroom

Wall Art Prints for a Big Girl Room via Ashley Hackshaw / lilblueboo.com


Are you transitioning your little girl’s room from nursery to a big girl room? Maybe it’s just time for a room makeover? I have rounded up some of my favorite art prints for your big girl’s room. One little print can inspire an entire room!


I am a Child of God Art Print for Big Girl Room via Ashley Hackshaw / lilblueboo.com I am a Child of God – Sarah Jane Studios


Free Printable She Believed She Could So She Did Art Print for Big Girl Room | Ashley Hackshaw / lilblueboo.com Free Printable: She Believed She Could So She Did  – Honey and Fitz


You are Loved Art Print for Big Girl Room | Ashley Hackshaw / lilblueboo.com

You are Loved – Lucy Darling Prints


25 Quotes of Joy


25 Inspiring Joy and Happiness Quotes for The Year of Joy - Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #theyearofjoy #joy #happiness #quote


When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. -Tecumseh

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life; the quiet confidence that ultimately everything will be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things. -Kay Warren

Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself. -Mahatma Gandhi

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. -Eleanor Roosevelt

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. -Henri Nouwen

Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness. -Tolstoy

Genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness and so on. For it is these which provide both for our happiness and others’ happiness. -The Dalai Lama

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. -Margaret Young

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God. -Robert Schuller


Sunshine - Joy Quote #theyearofjoy #joy #happiness #quote


A Bonus Check

A year or so ago I got an email from a woman named Erin asking if she could include me in her email updates.  Of course I said yes.  Erin’s 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and she began sending out emails to keep her family and friends updated. Five years later her daughter is healthy and those email updates still continue.

I look forward to Erin’s emails in my inbox.  We’ve never met in person but I’m thankful for her inspiration and joy.

This is an email I got around last September and I asked her if I could share it at some point when I thought the time was right. Erin said yes.  The time is right:


Hello Friends and Family –

I do not have a J-O-B that mails me a W-2 at tax time.
My occupation is Mom to these 3 crazies.

I do not get a paycheck on the 1st and 15th but,
I did receive a HUGE bonus check this week.
3 different people, at 3 different times, stopped their lives for a moment and gave me and Joe a gift.

The gifts came in different forms - a text message,
a random conversation with a stranger at the soccer field,
a tight hug of gratitude in front of our house:
Stories of Mary’s kindness, Sara’s kindness and Anna’s kindness.

Genuine kindness – when you don’t know that someone is watching.
3 moments in our daughters’ lives that we would not have known happened, unless someone took the time to tell us.
I like that.
I want to do more of that.

My job description is to make sure our daughters are good people. So much is involved with being a “good person.”
Most nights after our girls are asleep,
I replay the moments I could have and should have done differently as their Mom.

This week, I accepted my bonus check with pride.

I work hard.

Not all days are good. Some mornings, I start my day yelling at 1, 2 or all of our girls before I even get out of bed.

Moments of pride like this make not-great-moments like that feel like everything in between was worth the time and effort.

A Good Mom Moment.

If you see or hear a kid do something great…tell their parents.
The world could use more compliments!

-Erin M.


Parenting takes practice. We try and do the best we can, and sometimes we fail, but we can restart again. I want my child to learn that grace, compassion and kindness are richer than fairness. I want her to know that life isn’t going to be easy and I’m not going to shelter her. I look for the small moments where she steps forth in her own humble way. Those are my true bonuses like Erin so eloquently wrote. And when I see that in other people’s children I should let them know…because it feels good to know that you are making small strides and that someone else happened to notice.

Grace Disguised (Day 8 of the Year of Joy) Series by Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #quote #theyearofjoy

It might not seem like it, but you too are making small strides. We all are.  Look for your bonus checks, and share the wealth with others.


Thank you Erin:


Photo Challenge: Days 1 through 6

I love seeing all the photos from the January photo challenge! It’s just for January, and it’s still not too late to join in when you can. (I’d get bored if we did it every month, so maybe I’ll throw another challenge in mid year?) Also, I’m easy…no rules about posting everyday. Here are my first 6 days plus some of your photos as well:

@lilblueboo on Instagram


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