Vintage Inspired Art Supply Boxes

Craft Room Organization - Vintage Inspired art supply boxes via and #michaelsmakers

This month’s Michaels Makers theme is New Year’s Craft Resolutions. The challenge was to start the year off with craft resolutions and since we just moved into our new home I get to start completely from scratch again with my creative space. Michaels wanted me to share my creative space and since I haven’t even had a chance to unpack I thought I’d share the huge space I left behind in California…remember this?

Click here to see a detailed post on my old creative space.

Art Studio space ideas

Now I’m starting over with a much smaller space but I’m more inspired than ever. This month I thought I’d start with a few handmade boxes with a vintage inspired theme to hold various art supplies.

Art Boxes05

Michaels sells various sizes of pre-made unfinished wood boxes like this one:

pre-made unfinished wood box

I created an image using plain text and printed it out onto regular paper.  Here are the images I used as jpegs if you would like to save them and use them:

Free art template for wood art box crayons


Once they were printed I taped each in place over a piece of transfer paper. I used the kind of transfer paper with white chalk on the other side because it leaves just a faint line when you apply pressure to it. I traced each letter carefully with enough pressure to transfer the image to the wood:

How to create perfect letters - transfer paper

Then using black acrylic paint and the tiniest paint brush I filled in all the letters.  I have a VERY shaky hand so if I can do it, you can do it.  Since I am going for a distressed look it doesn’t matter if the letters are perfect anyways:

How to paint letters - the art of lettering

Once the black paint dried I used a brush and rag to apply a coat of wood stain:

Staining wood - Rustoleum Golden Oak Stain

It will take a few hours for the stain to dry but here are the finished boxes:

How to organize a craft room or creative space

Love the look of these and they will look great stored anywhere: a shelf, a desk, a table.  A great idea for a gift too:

DIY Crayon or Pencil Storage Container

Filled with crayons:

Crayon storage idea - How to organize kid stuff

Here is the “Artist Supply Co” box:

Making a vintage inspired paint box

Filled with all of my watercolor painting supplies:

Organizing art supplies and painting supplies

Not just organization…home decor accent too:

Vintage inspired organization - DIY art boxes


More organization posts I’ve done here: [Read more…]

The Flight Wings

These…are my brother-in-law Gene’s flight wings:

Flight Wings - A Gift

They were a special gift to Boo last week after she said the pledge of allegiance at his retirement ceremony.  Imagine all the missions those wings have been on.  Boo was brought to tears when Gene gave them to her.  She also teared up throughout his whole farewell speech.  We all did.  It was so moving, and funny, and moved us all from tears to laughter to tears.  I asked him for the transcript and have shared excerpts of it throughout this post.

First of all, Gene has the best sense of humor. He had us all laughing at the start:

“Not sure I’m on my A game. Christy changed my yogurt and it’s the “fruit on the bottom” kind. Would it kill them to go ahead and mix the dang yogurt. Program note…for my fans, I will not be playing the guitar during the ceremony, sorry.  For my family, I will not be river dancing. I’m sure you are all relieved to hear that.”

I was really bummed that there wouldn’t be any irish dancing….Gene has mastered his imitation of Michael Flatley.

It was a super quick trip to Niceville, Florida…we drove down just for a few days. The only thing I really remember about the long, long drive is passing a bonsai tree store. (Must return to bonsai tree store.)  The road to Niceville is very nice:

Niceville, Florida on the way to Eglin Air Force Base

The morning of the ceremony we were whisked off to a really big hanger at Eglin Air Force Base and given strict instructions about photography.

Me: So…no selfie from the cockpit?
Man-with-official-looking-badge: No.

My nephews told me that if I took an unapproved photo men would come out of holes in the ground to tackle me within seconds.  Is that true? I love secrets!

Restricted Area at Eglin AFB

Boo got a personal tour of the F-35 from her Uncle Gene who has flown quite a few Air Force planes in his career. I learned that the finish of this plane is top secret…but I’m pretty sure the concoction may include Annie Sloan “Paloma” chalk paint:

The F-35 Lighting II - Eglin

“This is truly a bittersweet moment. I didn’t realize how bittersweet until the day finally arrived. It is scary and exciting to start a new chapter in our lives but at the same time when I stop to think that I will no longer be on active duty in the Air Force that I love it is a bit hard to take. Almost exactly 22 years ago I was driving cross country out to Vandenberg for Missile training. Then 18 years ago about an hour away at the Pensacola Naval Air Museum I was getting my wings.

As I was putting my notes together I was listening to some tunes and a song by the band “Third Day” came on, it is called “This is who I am.” The first verse is:


You see, this is all I ever wanted to do in my life. I take that back, I would have liked to have been the lead guitar player in KISS, but that’s not going to happen so… In 1986 my fate was sealed when Top Gun came out. I saw it 16 times in the theater went to the Army/Navy store and bought a flight jacket and a motorcycle and was ready to go. I think I even used the line on Christy when we met that “if the government trusts me, maybe you could.” It probably didn’t sound as good when I said it…

I’ve clearly passed that gene on…when Duncan was about 18 months or 2 years old one day he was in the car with his grandmother Kathy going by Barksdale AFB on I-20 and some airplanes flew over the car. Kathy said “Look Duncan, some F-16s or something.” Duncan’s reply was   “A-10 Hogs Grandma, A-10 Hogs!” I think his first three words were Porsche, Dada, and A-10 Hog.

Seriously though, I have truly lived a dream.

As Tolkien wrote:

This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so;
and not a mountain of gold can amend it.
Yet I am glad that I have shared in your perils – that has been more than any man deserves.

The ceremony was held in the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin. We got there really early and Boo had a chance to practice her pledge:

Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin

“For as long as I can possibly remember I wanted to fly in the Air Force, but, like most people in uniform, I never did it for me.

I never did it to get medals or free meals on Veterans Day.   I did it so others didn’t have to. I did it because I believe in the greatness of America, for that flag, for the Constitution. I did it to make my mom and dad proud, and to confirm that they raised me to make a difference.

Christy and I were fortunate to attend the Special Operations Warrior Foundation dinner a few weeks ago. They raise money for SpecOps warriors who have paid the ultimate price for their country. AFSOC/CC Lt Gen Heithold spoke about something interesting. We are the real 1%. There are 300 million people in this country and only about 3 million men and women serving in the military.

We have been at war for more than half of my career and this war is not going away anytime soon. A few months ago we got a briefing on ISIS. We saw a propaganda video that had 6 to 9 year old kids being trained for and shouting Jihad against America. All of you in uniform and those who will be continue to answer the call, I for one am grateful.

I get it honestly.  On the 7th of October 1780 Arthur McFalls and his brother John fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in the Revolutionary War, on September 19th, 1863 his grandson and namesake Arthur, my great-great grandfather, was killed fighting with the 58th North Carolina Regiment on the field of battle at Chickamauga in the Civil War. My brother David left our home for the Navy when he was 17 years old and served on the USS Nicholas. My uncle, Lt Col Robert Abernathy was a fighter pilot. He flew 3 of the airplanes in this room. The P-47, F-105, and perhaps the most legendary fighter of all time the P-51 Mustang. I idolized him growing up as he would regale me with stories about shooting down ME-262s, strafing boats along the Rhine and flying Thud Ridge in Vietnam.

Having this ceremony in this room, surrounded by these planes, with the mighty BUFF outside, is a perfect way to end this chapter of my life.”


That’s the mighty BUFF, the B-52, and Gene back in the day.  Boo got to see one up close at the Air Force Armament Museum. Any plane that needs wheels just for its wings is huge. [Read more…]

Crystal Clear

How thin and insecure is that little beach of white sand we call consciousness. I’ve always known that in my writing it is the dark troubled sea of which I know nothing, save its presence, that carried me. I’ve always felt that creating was a fearless and a timid, a despairing and hopeful, launching out into that unknown. -Athol Fugard

A quick trip to Florida. The sand in these beaches traveled all the way from the Appalachian mountains…to the gulf. Tiny pieces of quartz, crumbled from mountain sides, polished while traveling down river thousands of years ago.


It was 30 degrees and windy…but just to look at it:


…in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth. -Rachel Carson


Home Sweet New Home

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. -Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

A few nights ago we slept in our new house. I woke up to the morning light streaming in through new $5 blinds and it just felt like home:


I haven’t written in a whole week…because there hasn’t been any time. We’ve been busy. Seriously busy. I still can’t believe how much we accomplished in just a few short days.  On kind of a whim I decided that I wanted to be in our new house at the very first of this year.  My mom was visiting and kept Boo entertained while Brett and I spent the last week finishing up projects, cleaning and painting.


I picked one color for the entire house…a light gray:


The entire month of December we had spent removing old radiator baseboard heaters…and they left a huge mess that needed to be patched in every single room…walls and floors:


There were three old heaters in the attic…all that weight is probably why there was a crack running through the ceiling. We recycled every piece of metal in the house and made a huge dent in a new furnace cost:

three heaters

We fixed the plumbing in the house and added new floor joists where old ones had been cut and weakened:

floor joists

And the new roof finally stopped all the leaking in the ceiling so we replaced drywall and patched those areas too:


Fast forward through all that to this past week: After selling off all our belongings in California we are basically starting from scratch (except for a gazillion books and boxes of art supplies). We don’t even own pots and pans. My mother gave us a few pieces of furniture that she had moved up from her house in Florida after my dad died. Our friend gave us a bed they didn’t want anymore, which is by far the nicest bed Brett and I have ever owned. I posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram and opened up a can of worms on whether or not it should be painted. Don’t worry it’s not painted…. yet:


We thought we would stay at the inn for at least a year but I’m like a river…I bend and turn constantly. Following the river’s path. We decided to go ahead and move from the inn since they are closed from now until April.  I knew in my heart one night … as we drove up the long winding drive: no lights, no cars, the inn was quiet and dark and suddenly in a deep hibernation.  It was going to be a very quiet winter up there for the three of us and I needed a little more space to work:

Me: So what do you like the most about the new house?
Boo: That I don’t have to share my bedroom with your books.

We were living in only 900 square feet and loved it but the best case scenario would have been to have a little more living area…which the new house has. We had started to move some belongings out of the cottage at the inn to make a little more space and we just kept moving and moving and decided it was right to just move it all. Move in. And we are extremely grateful to the entire Hemlock family for welcoming us in this past year. We got to experience behind the scenes at an inn, multiple weddings, and even the birth of their first granddaughter. Over ONE HUNDRED of you came to visit us at the inn and many of us still keep in touch. A few of you stopped me in the street just to say hi. I love that…meeting and putting names to faces. It was bittersweet leaving the little cottage we have called home for the past seven months. It seemed so empty when we left. Just a cottage again, not a home. And this past week I spent two days cleaning and painting to make sure we left the cottage better than we found it. Over the months we lived there we painted and caulked every single inch, cleared out the brush, planted grass, brought in gravel to make the driveway bigger and even installed a new septic system. That’s what we are taught right? To leave things better than we found them. If anything I hope we did our part in helping spread the word about this inn that marked my childhood so deeply and know will do the same for Boo.  I love that little cottage…it definitely has one of the most beautiful views.


And then there’s the view from our new home.  The first night at our new home felt just like that: home. For the first three nights we sat in the living room with the lights off and just watched the city lights below:


Phew. It’s been a lot of work. My whole body has been sore and I have bruises all over from “hard” labor.  It feels good but I’m due for a day of rest I think.  I didn’t think we’d be homeowners again so soon but this is the direction we’ve been led in…to these mountains. To our house on the hill.

Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with al it’s stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home. -Annie Dillard, Tinker at Pilgrim Creek

I love this town. I love our church. Brett has found work he loves (more on that later). I continue to write and create and attempt to make a living at it all. And we will forever be growing up and growing old. Last Sunday at church I had this deep feeling of knowing why I have said yes to so many different directions: each direction is a blessing.  Now to keep listening to find what these blessings are to be used for. They will be used for something good, to tell a better story with our lives this year and to encourage others to do the same.

God, take my soul to that place, where I may speak without words. -Rumi


For all The House on Hospital Hill posts click here.  

For all Hemlock Inn posts click here. 



The End of the Season

Last night was the last dinner of the season at the Hemlock. The inn closes down for the next few months.  George, the cook, made a traditional New Years Eve dinner: greens for prosperity, black eyed peas for luck.  We are very grateful for all that we have and all that the Hemlock Inn has provided.  Exactly one year ago our move to a small town, to live at an inn for a year, was just a tiny “maybe” idea.  Over the past 6 months we’ve met guests from all over the world who visited the Hemlock and keep in touch with many of them still. We’ve immersed ourselves in the the small town of Bryson City and discovered the beauty and tranquility of the Great Smoky Mountains.  This all reminds me of what that man said to me at my first revival a few months ago:

You need to know….that in these mountains… are in a place of safety and refuge.

The Hemlock Inn


I still feel that here.  2015 will be a great year. Much love to you all. Thank you for following along with me on this journey.

This View

The road to our house winds up a hill towards the hospital (i.e. “hospital hill”)…and overlooks the small town. The morning light through the clouds makes it seem like a scene from a story book, like maybe from the Mitford series. You can see the Great Smoky Mountains passenger train warming up and the courthouse in the distance.   The small hill in the background is “schoolhouse hill.” The white building in the lower left is the old Nehi bottling plant…now it’s RC Cola…but you can still see the “Nehi” ghost letters left behind.  (and I mostly notice this because I love Grape Nehi).

I pinch myself each day. I really live here in Bryson City:

Bryson City


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.