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

Over and Under – House Progress

This is my new little office space as we work on the new house: an abandoned lazy boy, a piano bench desk, a tiny space heater, and a large window to look out of.  It’s kind of nice not owning any furniture…clutter free…open and bright:

new office

Below my “office” there has been a lot of work to get the plumbing up to code. It took a few days for Brett and our friend Erik to cut that huge trench in the basement floor just to get to the existing plumbing. It looks like a huge mess but it will mean all the plumbing is fixed.  It’s nice having a basement where plumbing and wiring can be easily added and removed!


Then there are the efforts to stop the leaking roof. We knew it was leaking when we went into all of this. It just makes sense to replace it now rather than later. We decided to go with a charcoal gray metal roof, and they are installing it right over the existing shingles:


Brett’s spent a lot of time in the attic and basement. And he found this great old sign. Just Thru Town it says.  The old owners used to own a pharmacy in town so it probably had something to do with that:


There were three HVAC systems in the attic, left behind over the years. The current heat source is a boiler that runs off of oil and runs water through baseboard heaters. Very expensive to run so we are installing something more efficient and hoping to get natural gas eventually:


This is my subtle hint that I’d love to cut a hole in this wall so that I can see out the big living room window from the kitchen.  Back me up on this everyone.


Not much else to report today.  Just keeping ourselves really busy getting ready for the holidays and working on house projects. Boo and I helped Mort and Lainey decorate the Hemlock Inn’s Christmas tree yesterday so I’ll share that as soon as I get a good photo of it.


Simple Sharpie Journals and Matching Gift Wrap


Holiday gift idea: Sharpie Journals with matching gift wrap #gift #diy #michaelsmakers

Oh, this is one of my favorite little projects ever. I was trying to come up with something that would appeal to almost anyone for a holiday gift idea…and who can’t use a journal or notebook? These little journals are very inexpensive from Michaels…with a coupon I think I ended up paying under $3.00 each:

Blank Journals from Michaels Stores to customize

You can sketch a design or trace one using white chalk transfer paper (in the aisle at Michaels with all the other transfer papers):

Using Transfer paper to add a design to a journal

I used a metallic Sharpie marker to draw the sketch that I transferred:

Sharpie Project Idea: customized journal or sketchbook

Another transferred design:

Drawing Antlers on a Journal

I used the transfer paper to draw these lines to write my text upon:

Adding a quote to a journal

A damp paper towel will wipe the white transfer chalk right off once the design is finished:

DIY journals using sharpie markers

A few of the designs I created for holiday gifts:

Christmas Gift Idea DIY


How to make a customized journal gift


Written in the Stars DIY Journal - Sharpie project idea

A great quote:

Dead Poet's Society Quote on Journal

I used a roll of black kraft wrapping paper for the wrapping:

Using Black Wrapping Paper - Chalkboard Wrapping Paper

And the same Sharpie to create the designs:

Creating your own DIY Wrapping paper

Some natural colored twine is almost gold itself and matches very nicely:

DIY Sharpie Doodle Gift Wrap

[Read more…]

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