Cleaning House: My Favorite Household Cleaner

In my attempt to simplify our lifestyle I’ve also been making a huge push towards greener, healthier home as well.  I’ve always used things like vinegar, lemon (half a lemon for my garbage disposal!) and baking soda but sometimes you just want something a little extra.

This is one product that I can’t get enough of: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Basil Scent

My Favorite Household Cleaner: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Basil Scent #mrsmeyers

I love the clean and fresh Basil smell so much that I wish I could eat it.  (please note: don’t eat it)

I swear someone will buy our house because of the Basil herb scent.


All product picks, reviews and opinions are solely my own.  I only share things that I use in my own home.

How to Antique and Age Wood Instantly for a Weathered Look

How to Antique and age wood instantly with items you p (weathering wood with vinegar and steel wool)

This is one of my favorite tricks that I use with home decor….a simple solution of white vinegar and steel wool.  You can use it to age brand new wood to varying degrees depending on how the solution ages.

White Distilled Vinegar
0000 Steel Wool*

For the sign:
8″ Oil Board Stencils
Black spray paint

*I prefer the fine graded because it disintegrates faster.

Aging Wood: Vinegar & Steel Wool Solution (steel and vinegar wood stain directions) #diy #tutorial #distressed #antique

To make the mixture you pour vinegar into a bowl or jar and add steel wool (without the soap kind!):

How to faux paint barn wood or antique wood with Vinegar & Steel Wool Solution  #diy #tutorial #distressed #antique

The trick is figuring out how long to age it.  A solution left to age just 15 minutes will produce different effect than a solution left aging for hours, months or years.

Here is a solution left aging for 15 minutes where the vinegar has just started to disintegrate the steel wool.  One or two coats of the mixture leaves just a light gray barn-wood like finish:

Aging and Antiquing Wood (Faux Barn Wood) - 15 minute solution #diy #vinegar #barnwood

Leaving the solution to age a few more hours will produce a darker gray finish:

Leaving the solution to age a few more hours will produce a darker gray finish (steel and vinegar wood stain directions)

I keep varying solutions in jars because if you leave it long enough the steel wool disintegrates completely and the mixture is allowed to produce rust, adding a reddish brown tone.

Aging Wood: Vinegar & Steel Wool Solution  (if you leave it long enough the steel wool disintegrates completely and the mixture is allowed to produce rust, adding a reddish brown tone)


Here’s a ten minute sign I made using a pre-cut piece of wood from the hardware store and 8″ Oil Board Stencils:

Making a sign with pre-cut piece of wood from the hardware store and 8" Oil Board Stencils:


I spaced the letters out and taped them into place together: CONTINUE READING

Things I Wanted To Tell You About – Knowledge, Remains, Type Rider and Layers of Color

Armed with Knowledge

Brett and I were invited last week to hear Dr. Ben Carson speak.  He spoke about his view of what America should be.  He had an amazing story to tell…he was the first doctor to successfully separate Siamese twins who were conjoined at the head.  I didn’t agree with absolutely everything he said, but that was one of the points he made….that it’s okay to disagree with people, but disagreeing should open the door for discussion not ridicule. It’s about being respectful.  I thought about that one line as a few couples stood up to leave before he was finished speaking….so that they could be first in the valet line to pick up their car.

What really stuck with me was his challenge to the audience to spend 1/2 hour every day learning something new: world history, religion, physics, civics, algebra, etc.  At dinner with our extended family afterwards we all made a pact to start doing that even if it’s an episode of How It’s Made, a game of trivia or watching a documentary.

As we accumulate knowledge, we begin to solve our problems.
Armed with knowledge, you become a friend of truth.

Maybe I should start a new series around what I’ve learned…since we all know I can’t be trusted with something like a “what I wore” series.

You can read more about Carson Scholars here.


Remains of the Day

Friday was Lisa’s last day. She’s been with me for 4 years. Big changes ahead for her family and mine. Gicela is still working for a few more days but then she’ll be moving on as well. It all seems a little surreal right now.  I spent the weekend trying to figure things out for myself again. The house seems so quiet today.  Maybe I’ll spend another 30 minutes learning something new?  A little look back at behind-the-scenes with Lisa.

Over the past 2 weeks Lisa shipped out over 2,000 pounds of fabric, supplies etc.  Yes 2,000 pounds. There’s hardly a thing left in the studio.  We can’t sell off the furniture or large art pieces until the house sells, but I am still listing smaller items as I go through cabinets and boxes.  Gicela is helping me cut a bunch of fabric for a class I’m teaching at the SNAP Creativity conference.  If we have extras we’ll make them into little kits….because it’s the cutest infinity scarf.


Starting to list some of the big art as I figure out shipping. The Cinderella Button Collage is now listed. Hard to let it go, it’s been a conversation piece for so long.  It’s the first thing people gravitate to in our home when they notice the button detail. Proceeds will help finance some of the new projects I’m working on!

Listing here.

Cinderella button Collage by Lil Blue Boo / Ashley Hackshaw


Lost and Found (by himself)

Last weekend I found this sweet little dog scampering onto the highway.  I slammed on the brakes and ran after him, he stopped right at the curb just as he was on the highway. He sat down and let me pick him up.  Poor guy was overheated….and missing an eye!  After picking Boo up from school I got him some water and put him on a leash, taking him out for a walk to see if anyone might be looking for him.  After a while I was giving up home and started devising a strategy for making some “found dog” signs.  Then, just as I was ready to turn back, he started to pick up his pace like he knew where he was headed.  I let him lead and eventually he led me right to his owner’s door!  She was so happy to see him, she wasn’t even aware that he’d escaped.  We thought for sure his name was “Pirate” but he was actually a “Harley.”




I read really fast, usually finishing a book in just a matter of hours. But apparently my reading comprehension isn’t very good. I already knew that because I used to just pick “C” on tests in school. Take the “How fast do you read” test here on

Then, just for fun I took a screenshot of the reading and THEN answered the questions….still didn’t qualify as speed reader:


Marcel the Shell

I’ve probably shared this before but it never gets old.

I also have shoes and a face, so, I like that about myself and I like myself and I have a lot of other great qualities as well.




I love this poster of typewriters over the last 100 years.  It’s available through Pop Chart Lab here.


Image from Pop Chart Lab


Free Libraries and Typewriters on Bikes CONTINUE READING


I found an old jar of my “antiquing” mixture the other day. Over a year old it was a nice dark reddish color….and it inspired me to put it to use on some pieces of wood we had laying around. Here’s coat 1:

DIY vintage antique sign


Once I figure out where to hang it I’ll share the finished product.

Hope you are having a good weekend!

I’ve got a few posts over at Babble this week:

Ice Breakers: The Best Way to Get a Party Started (with Printable)

What My Grandmother’s Bracelet Taught Me about Writing



Pewter and Potpourri: The Weight of Stuff

Boo and I spent Saturday going through all of my bins and bins of supplies.

Remember the before with 82 bins of supplies?

ideas for organizing craft supplies via Lil Blue Boo

Here’s the after:

On Saturday we took all the bins out to the studio and went through one at a time…..sorting into piles: keep, give away, donate, sell.   It took 8 hours….and we watched 6 episodes of The Waltons while we worked. I was able to get all the supplies I wanted to keep for ongoing projects to about 10 bins. Boo set up a little shop and tried to sell everything back to me.  I didn’t take the bait.

Lisa and Gicela cut all the remaining rolls of fabric last week and most of them are gone now.  The house looks a little emptier and I feel lighter every day.  I’ve still been listing my “yard sale” items day by day to raise funds for moving etc.  Thank you to everyone who’s made a purchase.  It will help us get through the next year as I begin to “write” for a living.  We’ve had a few showings of the house recently and I know it will sell when it’s the right time (maybe the de-cluttering will help!).

I’ve been thinking a lot about owning stuff lately. When each of my grandparents passed away it was easy to tell what they valued, because they had so little. I can’t imagine anyone being able to go through our house a month ago and single out what I valued. It’s getting a little easier each day I think as I go through the process of getting rid of things.

For the past two weeks I’ve parted with things I never thought I’d part with. Every day I do a pass of the house and pull things to sell, donate, and throw away. A new look at each area changes my perspective each day: do I want that? do I need that? And my ultimate test is: if I died tomorrow, would I care what happened to it? It really whittles things down to the barest of essentials. There are things I’ve saved for years thinking I would use items or supplies for a project…now I just realize I could find the supplies again if I needed to….and I realized that the weight lifted from parting with it is worth much more than the value of the item.  But as much as we’ve already gotten rid of so far, we will probably end up storing some items with my family in N.C., I don’t want Boo to look back in a few years and wonder where everything from her childhood went.

The prayer of confession two Sundays ago I wrote in my journal because I love the message:

We Cling to our possessions

You call us to be pilgrims, to follow you in a journey of faith.
We cling to our possessions, trusting in them for security.
You lead us into unfamiliar places, asking that we trust in your will.


A reader Abby passed this quote along:

Getting Rid of Stuff via




My Aunt left me a message that she’d found something in her drawer that she thought was yet another sign that we were meant to move to the Hemlock.  When I opened up the small package she sent in the mail I found a small bag of potpourri that my grandmother had purchased 31 years ago at the Hemlock Inn gift shop:

The Hemlock Inn Potpourri from gift shop c. 1983

I asked her how she knew that it was from the Hemlock, I couldn’t understand how a bag of potpourri would still be around after so many years.  My aunt explained that my grandmother Marge owned very few things. In fact, Marge’s dresser drawers were empty except for just a few items because she was never able to go outside of the house without assistance, so she never had the chance to accumulate things. She was diagnosed with MS when when she was fairly young. She had many complications from it, including having a kidney removed in the 1960′s.  She stayed in the hospital for over a month and had to learn to walk again.  That’s when she got her first little motorized cart, like the one you see in the photo below:


Top Row: Mom, Perry, Dad, Uncle Steve, Aunt Sharon
Bottom Row: Me, Paw-Paw, Cousin David, Swen, Grandma Marge

The weekend in the photo was the last time that my Aunt Sharon saw Marge .  It was the last vacation we all took together as a family because Marge passed away soon after that.  But we have the photos, and there’s the potpourri, a small $1.75 bag of dried flowers.  Most people would have probably thrown the potpourri away by now. It’s long lost it’s fragrance. But according to my Aunt:

“The Hemlock Inn was the one place where your grandmother was able to shop on her own.  She could make it from the dining room to the office with her walker because they were connected.  Each time we visited she would pick out a few things, usually a jar of pumpkin chips, maybe a few piece of pewter dishware and of course the potpourri.  She kept that potpourri in her drawer. I knew exactly what it was when I found it. And for some reason I kept it all these years, and now I know it was so I could tell you that story.”


And now I know that it was so that I could tell you all that story too.

Back in January, Mort let me go through some of the file cabinets at the inn when we were visiting. I found a few of the original guest registrations in the Hemlock’s records that my grandparents and parents filled out:

On the back of the June 1979 registration are the hand written gift shop purchases my grandmother would have made: 4 pewter dinner plates and 4 pewter desert plates.

The pewter dishes have a whole new meaning for me because my grandmother picked them out and purchased herself.  I can imagine how extraordinary it would be to have that little bit of freedom, to feel that little bit of independence.  I think I take that for granted every single day.

Marge’s Pewter Pitcher:

As I simplify the things we own, the pewter pitcher and the potpourri are being kept.



A few people have asked where I will be writing when we move.  Right here.  You’ll start to see some organizational changes though on the blog to keep things better categorized.

To read all the Hemlock Inn posts to date click here or the photo below:

A Year at the Hemlock Inn Bryson City, NC Ashley Hackshaw  / Lil Blue Boo


These Thank You Notes Are Very Honest

Boo writes her own thank you notes. I told her to just be honest. 

(P.S. Aqua Dragons are Sea Monkeys…the ones that died.)


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


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