A frigid shoot. Barn style.


by the Artist

On a subzero Saturday morning last weekend, the Carpenter and I met the homeowner at the Bald Eagle Barn https://www.applewoodremodelers.com/baldeagle-barn project. I needed to take a photo of the guys for an upcoming White Bear Press article (hats off to Shannon Riley who wrote a beautiful story) featuring the barn build.

Saturday was at the tail end of the some of the coldest weather we have experienced in many years. We arrived a little early to prepare. I asked the Carpenter to set up one of the kerosene heaters to position directly in front of the guys. (I envisioned hours of photoshop work to fix red faces) He thought it was a crazy idea. But it worked. I came close a couple of times to backing into the flame and melting my snow pants! (hey all for a good shot!)

It took some time to get the lighting and best locations figured out. We had to make due with small spot lights on saw horses.

When we were ready I sent the Carpenter to retrieve the homeowner who had been outside snow blowing his driveway. He came in and said… “I’m just sweating” He proceeded to take his coat off and he was steaming! Clouds of vapors surrounded him. All the years I’ve lived in MN I have never seen that. I thought.. “oh no!” This is a photo challenge I haven’t run into before! Well he put his coat back on, jauntily wrapped a warm scarf around his neck and was good to go. No more steam thank goodness!

After almost one frigid hour I had a good photo. The homeowner was a lot of fun to work with. He has good energy. The Carpenter was a bit stiff.. but then it was so very cold!

Anyway… we got it done and ended up celebrating that night with the homeowner and his lovely wife at a nice place in downtown White Bear Lake. We had a great time getting to know each other and talking about the project and how wonderful it had turned out.

It was a good end to a good day, and what has turned out to be a wonderful project for us and the homeowners. We are blessed. And we have new friends!

You can read the article by clicking here– https://www.presspubs.com/white_bear/news/wright-was-right-form-and-function-fuel-design/article_271abfe2-2fbb-11e9-bf4a-6779106af3be.html Or if you are local it will be in the 2/13/19 White Bear Lake paper edition.



by the Artist

Today is the crews first day back at the barn after a week of subzero temps. It’s been a rough month. November was bitter, December moderate, January bitter, and hopefully if the trend continues February will be kind to us. We’ve been able to keep on schedule up until the “polar vortex”. The Carpenter bought another propane heater and the crew moved inside to finish the Bald Eagle Barn’s second floor loft and staircase.

During the cold snap the Carpenter and the Bald Eagle Barn homeowner, met with writer Shannon Riley from the White Bear Press. The Press is featuring a story about the barn, and the partnership between the Carpenter and the homeowner to achieve his vision of building a special barn on the property, to match his historical home. The article will be out within two weeks. Will give a heads up when it lands.

We hope that there will be others that would appreciate putting up a barn of this quality. The company that creates these barn kits has been wonderful to work with, down to the last detail. I spoke with my father last night and he asked about the barn project. I said it is exactly the type of barn you wanted to put on your property in Pennsylvania. Oh how I wish he were young and healthy enough to have been able to build that barn. It would have been perfect.

I hope you all have been well and staying warm. It sure has been a long winter even with little snow in the Twin City area. I don’t want to start looking for spring yet but I did hear today that the “Groundhog” has predicted an early spring! Oh we can only hope!

Hello Beautiful Barn!

by the Artist

The winter hasn’t been too bad so far. November started out miserably cold, we started the “Post and Beam” style barn near Bald Eagle Lake. December’s weather moderated and we ended up with little snowfall and warmer days. That helped the crew keep a good pace.

Today 50 mph winds slammed in. Thankfully the crew was working on the sunny side of the barn mostly out of the wind. We still have relatively little snow. Mostly just patches of precariously slippery rutted ice on the job site which has made for careful walking. I wanted the Carpenter to build a plank walking path to get too and from the vehicles. Don’t think that advice was heeded.

The barn project itself has had a bit of a learning curve. Challenging as we have not built from a “kit” before (Sandcreek Post and Beam). But challenging in a good way.. like working on a great big grainy puzzle! I think other then working during the winter months the crew has enjoyed it. And it is certainly turning out beautiful and is fitting perfectly with the historic home and cottage nearby. Same architectural lines. It features shed dormers on both sides, and an overhanging “hay hood” (in original barn construction, a hay hood was a projection of the roof on the end of the barn which the farmer would hoist hay up to the loft) on the right side to mirror the home and the cottage. (the cottage was part of the original property.) It is all wood. And is built so snuggly I’m sure it would withstand a tornado! Definitely not “stick frame” construction.

The homeowner will be doing renovations on the home in the future and is excited to start with this beautiful barn to enhance his property and provide much needed storage. In fact it has come to the attention of our local paper- The White Bear Press- who will be doing a feature story on the home in the near future.

So while the wind blows and the flurries fly… we move forward to complete this exciting project. Perhaps we will have a “barn raising” party to celebrate at its completion. In the summer of course… under sparkly lights and fireflies, and the quiet lapping of the lake nearby.


by the Artist


Late last week the “Post and Timber” barn lumber was delivered. Three semi-flat bed trucks from Nebraska. It was bitter cold, an inch of snow lay on the ground… that had seemingly frozen solid overnight. The wind was whipping off the lake. It maybe was 20 degrees if you pointed your face to the sun and stood in the shelter of a wall. What an unexpectedly cold beginning to what we know will be a wonderfully “warm” project.

I drove over to the site to capture some of the frozen action. Thankfully the machine the Carpenter rented to use during the course of the project.. had a heated cab. That came in handy.

I arrived just as the homeowner arrived. I was parked in his driveway and he had no idea who the frozen chick was or what I was doing in his driveway. I quickly introduced myself and we had a nice conversation. He even invited me in to see part of the gorgeous historical home and his plans for it. I will certainly get a full tour later!

I am especially excited about this project because the home is gorgeous and has so much history, the area is full of history- Ma Parker and Baby Face Nelson rented a cottage right down the road during the gangster days. Many gangsters found refuge in the White Bear Lake area.

I have been promised historical facts about the home that I will share in a later post. I love homes that are from another era that have a story to tell. All the lives that have been lived in a home built so many years ago. We won’t know those stories most likely but I can just imagine. Really I can.

You can follow the progress of this project on

Our website


Or on Facebook


A visit...

by the Artist


Last week the Carpenter and I visited a custom cabinetmaker’s workshop. The Carpenter had met Tim at our local gas station where he does his best networking. So on a sunny brisk day we headed to the workshop.. which happens to be very close to Applewood headquarters.

We spent almost two hours speaking with the owner Tim and his employee Ian. It was great to meet another company similar to ours.. where detail and craftsmanship is valued over quantity and shortcuts. It was so refreshing to meet two craftsmen just like the Carpenter who believe in building the best and with the “highest care”. Working with pure materials- all wood, no interior laminates for their cabinets.

I’m hoping that we can partner up in the future, when there is a need for custom cabinets where quality and pure sustainable material is valued.

We start the “Post and Beam” barn build this week. The material is arriving from Nebraska Thursday along with the cold and snow flurries. It was as cold when the foundation was dug and the walls and floor were poured back in October. We are hoping this November cold snap is just a “snap”. That would be nice.

As I sit here writing this it is almost dark at 4:30 PM, and a light coating of snowflakes like powdered sugar have dressed our shingles. Are we ready for this? The darkest days of the year. It is good to think of holidays when family gatherings and festive lights will brighten these gloomy days.

Heading into winter....again

the Artist


… and we have a fantastic opportunity to build a post and beam wood barn. A year ago we had an opportunity to bid on a “Post and Beam Barn” project from Nebraska. During the bid process and after getting the project, the Carpenter did plenty of research to become familiar with all the unique aspects this project will entail. Earlier this fall, he and crew traveled to Nebraska to visit the company that produces barn “kits”, which are shipped across the country.

Unfortunately the project is finally starting and we are now heading into winter… and here we go with yet another outside winter project! Those of you who have followed us remember some of our large exterior renovations that we worked on during the depth of winter… Bald Eagle Craftsman, The Craftsman Project in North St Paul and more recently The Modern Farmhouse on White Bear Lake to name a few. I’ve created a gallery below to show some of our “Building in a Minnesota Winter” photos! Gallery #1

And of course the kick-off foundation work started the week of extremely cold and blustery October weather. (I visited the site to shoot photos on the absolutely coldest day) This project is just off Bald Eagle Lake and it was miserable. White caps, and snow flurries. See Gallery #2. The landscape was prepared- a large maple had to come down, the hole dug, the foundation built and backfilled, and the floor was poured. Now we wait out the 20 day curing time for the cement floor.

This week the Carpenter met his cement subcontractor to get a bid for a garage type barn near our home. If all the paperwork with the township falls into to place we will be building that this winter too! At least the Carpenter is close enough to home for me to run some coffee or hot cocoa to both barn projects!

So watch as this barn gets raised! And if you are in the area the crew wouldn’t say no to a warm cup of coffee!

And here’s hoping for a “warm winter” that has been predicted! (the Carpenter doesn’t believe it!)

Gallery #1 Building in a Minnesota Winter

Gallery #2 Bald Eagle Barn starts!

A journey.

the Artist


I just got home from a family trip to Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t a vacation. My purpose was to see my Father at his new Memory Care “home.” Also help my sister with the work it involves to keep his “life” going outside of the walls of his new “home,” as well as make decisions about his current care. I had not seen him since he fell last December.. and the effects of that fall and his current decline. It has been a horribly long arduous road. Any one who has experienced this knows.

And here I am 1200 miles away trying to be as supportive as I can. My sister sits on the “frontlines”. She has been the first responder. Now the Memory Care staff is and that is a wonderful thing.

It was a week of mixed painful emotions. Part way through the week I thought… he can’t stay here! He is the highest cognitive functioning resident. I sat with him at his table of guys and no one could carry on a conversation… or if they did.. it didn’t make much sense.

I spoke to my sister about bringing him home to live out his days in the home he worked so hard for. He could watch his deer, the squirrels and the giant turkeys.. (you wouldn’t believe how big the turkeys are in PA!). We could remodel the downstairs bath, widen hallways for his wheel chair. Isn’t this a better idea?

But based on the meeting with his nurse… by the time we got the house remodeled, and came up with the extra funds to bring him home (the most expensive option for senior care in his case), it would be too late. (he will continually decline) So with new plans to up his activities and physical therapies we move on.

So we’ve made the best decision we can make for today with tomorrow in mind. This is a hard time that most of us go through… where to have our parents live when they can’t live alone anymore. It isn’t about us, it’s about what is best for them. And for now that is the best decision.

Sharing our life with you.

High five!

by the Artist


The Carpenter and I recently went out for dinner at one of our favorite spots. It was a hot humid night but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the St Croix River action on the deck. We both noticed an attentive “busboy” as he gathered dirty plates, brought water, and carried stacked clean glasses. Now I know it seems odd to notice a busboy at a busy restaurant (as certainly the scenery around us was beautiful). We noticed because he had this aura of energy and pride in what he was doing.

We’ve been in the hiring mode for the past 5 years. We have seen and experienced it all. I do not exaggerate. It has been truly the most difficult part of running our business. The Carpenter can now most of the time spot quality and integrity pretty quickly. But he has had surprises… really some shocking surprises. Guys quitting the morning of their first day, their first week, their first month. Not even showing up. Exaggerated experience. What is going on out there?

On the way into the restaurant there was a “Help Wanted” sign on the door… and even a sign on the table! I’ve seen banners outside businesses, and billboards. It isn’t just the construction industry but that isn’t always so comforting.

At the end of our meal the Carpenter made a point of speaking to the busboy. He complimented him on how he does his job. Then on the way out the door he spoke with the manager. And the manager said that the busboy was a “gem” and was going to be promoted!

Way to go Harrison. No doubt in a world slowly losing the value of a job well done… you will go far!


by the Artist


How have you been? We've had an interesting summer. Highs and some lows. It's part of life and definitely part of running your own business.

Our projects this summer have been interior updates and repairs on a number of projects. Installing Warm Board in-floor radiant heat system, new wood floors/doors and matching millwork, as well as an entry tile floor and interior joist repair. We are also updating a 20 something townhome's millwork (updating light oak millwork and doors) and changing the facade of a marble fireplace to stacked stone. Beautiful veined marble countertops will bring this townhome into the 2000's!

We will be starting a post and beam barn on beautiful Bald Eagle Lake this fall, as well as working through the design/remodel details of converting a suburban home into a couple's dream of owning their own Bed and Breakfast. 

As we continue always to look for great carpenter's to join our crew... we have hired Apprentice Connor Nash. We also will be welcoming a new member to the Applewood family in February 2019, when Adam our lead.. and his wife Katie welcome their first child! 

So as we step further into fall we will have some interesting photos to show you.

Enjoy this first week of the last three weeks of summer. Fall is on it's way!

A house was built while we were away.

the Artist


We did it! Actually got away for two whole weeks. Traveled to our favorite lake in the North woods of Wisconsin. Two. Whole. Weeks. We had to keep pinching ourselves. We worked hard (settling the business, our life and packing) to get away. 

The first night we were settled in enjoying a simple meal- yes hot dogs and baked beans- I sat down and looked out the big picture window of our camper.. at the beautiful lake glistening in the late day sun and I cried. I really did. It's been a stressful kind of year and continues to be so. I knew what I was experiencing was a privilege and a luxury. 

Our first week... peaceful.

Our first week... peaceful.

We spent the first week with plenty of R&R. The Carpenter slept in and napped every day. I took the Snack Manager on many quiet walks. I kayaked to my favorite spots, we ate good ice cream, and I read two books! We looked like bums. Yeah it was the life.

The second week 15+ family members joined us at another site. Our first week was restful the second was fun! We pontooned and floated and enjoyed some good meals together. At times 20+ people joined us- aunts and uncles, boyfriends and girlfriends, and a total of 4 dogs. Everyone got along. Even the dogs.

Able, Sammie, Mazie living the good life.

Able, Sammie, Mazie living the good life.


The Snack Manager honed her swimming skills. Let's just say she is a cross between a goat (her hearty appetite for edible and inedible objects) and an otter. If she could she would have just taken off swimming across the lake. Was fun to see as our last lab was the worst swimmer and disliked the water. (I always thought all labs could swim and enjoyed the water..)

Near the end of the week one of our nephews has a tradition he started a few years ago. During the week he builds a structure to set on fire at one of nightly campfires. It's turned into quite a spectacular event. Each year the structure gets more elaborate. This year the tradition reached new heights. He brought a small air compressor and air gun to camp and built a model house! (leave it to a carpenter to do this).


It was spectacular. 


So this is what carpenters do on their vacations.

My heart is still at Lake Chip.