A perfect 7.

by the Artist

I started this post this past Friday in very early spring... I'm finishing it today in full on summer. 80 degrees! Yes let's talk about color! The season to be bold. ...

I am not a trendsetter. I'm a trend watcher. A trend emulator. At the beginning of each season I watch for the trends that rise to the top in fashion and interior design. For obvious reasons. This year is really exciting blend of bold fresh colors, organic materials, fringy embellishments, tropical foliage and brass! I'm probably a little more enthused after living with winter white for the past six months! Oh bring on the color!!!

I made a list of what I will call my top 7 picks for Spring/Summer 2018. Seven is perfection right?

1. Tropical-palm fronds, lush foliage real or fake

2. Brass- bright brass is back as well as gold. Pair with saturated wall colors of navy, dark plums and gray

3. Stone and natural elements- organic feeling stoneware, and countertops

4. Colors- Pantone ultra violet, lavender, inky indigo blues, golds, deep teals

5. Embellishments- fringes on pillows, drapery

6. Bold colorful florals- on materials, wall paper

7. Patterns- batik, geometric




Whipping cream.

the Artist


As I sit here at my desk I'm looking outside at mounds of snow that resemble whipping cream to me. We have somehow missed spring this year. The spring birds are back, the goose on the back pond, sits huddled on her snowy nest. The pond still a block of ice will not be welcoming tiny goslings any time soon. The sky is the same hue as the ground. white. sigh.

We collectively here in Minnesota are despondent. We struggle, triumph and endure a long winter. April is our reward. Not this year. We wait for the deep frost of this winter to melt, so we can start digging foundations. Or digging a garden or digging just being outside without a coat! When we aren't looking out the window at piles of snow and bare trees... we continue working on the Orwell Court Project. Presently we are tiling the new master bath, painting, finishing floors and millwork. You can view the project here.

One good thing about a cold spring... I'm back to my house update project. Kitchen and dining area painting are finished. Have lots of plans for the Carpenter to visually open up my tiny galley kitchen to be less tiny, by tearing down the bank of cabinets over the stove and building a custom stove hood.. which along with floating shelves will be a nice focal point. Can't wait! I don't mind living tiny anymore. And I actually love the challenge of using the space we have as efficiently and creatively as possible.

And.. I'm looking forward to enjoying whipping cream in my coffee, rather then on my lawn. I can only hope. 

PS Just heard more "whipping cream" is headed our way for the weekend! 


by the Artist


It's been a rough past month. The Carpenter's Dad was in and out of the hospital and rehab. On March 3rd he passed. He truly was surrounded by family for his whole journey to his new home.. heaven. The Carpenter, his brothers and one uncle even took turns staying overnight with him so he wouldn't ever be alone. It was a beautiful heartbreaking time.

I've been thinking about writing about Miff Olson. To start.. he was a great man. He was a simple man. He stopped to smell the roses. He loved people, and a good small world story. And he always helped where he could. 

Like the time we took on our first huge renovation project- our home. Miff was there doing whatever he could from pulling nails (there was lath board everywhere), sweeping and hauling endless buckets of demo debris– from gutting the entire house.

He and my mother-in-law let us live with them for 8 months till we got the house liveable. 8 months. That was a sacrifice for them. 

He was always encouraging no matter what was going on. And he was a very good listener. I could sit for hours around his table laughing with him. He was a comfortable relaxed guy. And yes endearingly goofy. But most of all he loved unconditionally. He accepted. 

I am going and do miss him terribly. He was a true father to me. But I will see him again. Until then I will stop to smell a flower, say hello to a stranger, and gather small world stories.. for when I will sit around a table with him again.


These hands

the Artist


The Carpenter and I went to Caribou for lunch today. We don't normally celebrate Valentine's and certainly not in the middle of a work day. It was beautiful out. Sunny and almost 40. Downright balmy. 

I initiated taking a break because I am realizing that the years are flying by and all we do is work. We wait for that one big break where everything will suddenly be easy and blissful. Shiny new trucks and work trailers, an abundance of experienced Carpenters waiting in queue. Time for a few months away to someplace warm where no one owns a shovel.

A week ago the Carpenter's father was in the hospital and was a very sick man. He almost didn't survive the mystery illness. (it was never diagnosed). But today he's in transitional care commencing on the long journey to regain strength and health. We have a lot to be grateful for.

And that led me to sitting across from the man with the work worn hands. I've known those hands for 40 years. And they have changed. The Carpenter works harder then anyone I know. Anyone. And today I am taking time to appreciate that. 

So here's to my valentine with the work worn hands. May there be warm days, shiny trucks and abundance. You deserve it!

home sweet home.

by the Artist


Since Christmas my sister and I have been dealing with that inevitable life issue.. aging parents. After a fall which broke my father's hip we have been on a difficult journey which has left us breathless. He came out of surgery with a new set of challenges. We've had to scramble to get home care, as well as get the house ready for his return from rehab. My sister as I say is on the "frontlines" because she lives close to my father. I'm 1200 miles away. It has been difficult for both of us in similar and not equal ways. The new year has not started off well.

My father's desire is to live at home for as long as he can, as independently as he can. This creates a huge challenge. His home is not ideal for wheelchairs or walkers. The hallways, door openings are narrow. The bathrooms are small, or in one case large enough but the shower is not walk-in, the toilets are low. The home lighting isn't good. (I did buy some motion activated lights for a dark upper hallway). There is too too much furniture. The yard is too hilly and tree root bound to exercise, and the road the house is on is too busy.

We had to rent a chair lift for my father to be able to get to his second floor bedroom. He chooses not to stay in a first floor bedroom. And if he did we would need to remodel the first floor bath to accommodate his needs.

It's been a fast education in the past two months. My sister and I have learned a lot. We've had to make decisions we never would have imagined we'd need to make. All this to say.. how prepared are you? If your desire is to stay in your home as long as you can.. is your home ready? 

Maybe we can help you continue to love where you live.

It's on my mind these days.




Chasing the cold.

by the Artist


It's been a trying couple of weeks weather wise, for a good part of the US and here in Minnesota. And in particular for those who work outside. We thankfully are mostly inside right now. Except for one project where we are building an addition, where we broke into the main house this week. That took a run to Fleet Farm to purchase kerosene to heat the new addition, to keep the existing home warm despite the hole in the wall! Also lots of plastic over the opening to keep the drafts at a minimum.

We've had our fair share of outside work during the coldest part of winter. It is always challenging. Always. The Carpenter has frostbite damage to prove it! Everything just takes longer and is harder to do in bitter temps. Why are we in this business? Makes us wonder sometimes! 

Currently we are working on a large sun room addition/master bedroom/bath remodel, master shower project, and next up replacing windows. Life goes on here in Minnesota despite our temps. I've taken the Snack Manager outside for play times every day at subzero wind chills. Somehow she's still puppy enough to not notice her cold paws as long as she has a ball to chase, a stick to chew, or the marsh to explore. Me it's harder to ignore. But as the cold snap continues I seem to be acclimating to it. And I'm originally from New Jersey. So it is possible to survive and thrive in this cold without being made of sturdy midwest stock!

So cheers to living in Minnesota! To having a small construction business in Minnesota and to not only surviving but thriving! 

Some cold construction photos. 




by the Artist


This year is a different Christmas for me but more so for my east coast family. My father fell and broke his hip, and will spend Christmas in rehab. My father's sister is moving into his house while she figures out where she wants to live next after some life changes. In the meantime my sister has been trying to stay on top of taking care of my father's needs- kicking in Long Term Care Insurance, bringing requested items to the rehab facility, and preparing his home for his sister to move in. She carrys a heavy load with me 1200 miles away. So.. there will be no Christmas in Doylestown PA this year. And that is a first. 

I've told both my sister and aunt.. please don't worry about gifts this year. It doesn't matter. Give yourself permission to let it go. I've had years where I didn't put up a tree. And it was okay. I didn't really miss it. 

For me... this Christmas is different too. The Carpenter.. after an extremely busy fall.. continues not to be home very much. (right now as I write this at 6:30 PM he is yet again at Home Depot picking up supplies for tomorrow morning.) So I've been taking care of Christmas preparations. Today I was at Cabella's waiting in a long line of Christmas shoppers when one of their clerks fainted (or something like that) The EMT's came and they helped the poor guy onto the gurney. He could hardly hold himself up. I usually get squeamish when I see medical emergencies, but this time I talked myself through my panic and prayed for him. How awful to collapse in a public place with everyone looking at you.

In the blink of an eye Christmas plans can change. 

I choose to let go. Embrace or at the very least relax into what life is sending my way. I choose to enjoy my "lightly" decorated home, to look forward to spending Christmas day with my Minnesota family, I choose to accept the ordinary and maybe... will find the extraordinary. 

I choose to be present this Christmas. To remember the reason behind why we deck the halls, stand in long lines, hunt for the perfect gift, and spend long hours in the kitchen. There is nothing in the bible that requires us to do so. We need only accept that one precious gift.







There's no time like the holidays to start updating your home!

by the Artist


I have a very small galley style kitchen. When we gutted this old house I chose to have a view from my kitchen window, and so we moved the kitchen to the other side of the house and I lost space. I do wish I had an island but am more content these days with what I have. (but if the Carpenter has a notion to knock out a wall to widen my kitchen I won't complain!)

Two weeks before Thanksgiving with help from friends I repainted the kitchen and eating area a pale warm gray and repainted the red hutch black. I had been living with a sage green that we had used on our last spec home kitchen. No more green.

I bought new curtains, a star shaped foyer light fixture, and new dining room chair cushions. I bought Joanna Gaine's striped black and cream cloth napkins to use on my kitchen window. And a paper mache deer head to mount on the wall. (I did ask the Carpenter if I could have a set of real antlers to paint but that request didn't go far). I've got roman shades to buy, a new love seat and more but I'm off to a good start.

I plan to repaint the entire interior of the house this winter. And update whatever I can without asking the Carpenter to knock down any walls. You know he doesn't have any time for that sort of thing! I do need new countertops but will have to wait for those.

I love Joanna Gaines style. I love a white, black and wood tone palette. I love gold and navy.. bold colors contrasted with pale colors. When we moved in the walls were Ben Moore "Floral White" and my kitchen knobs were gold. I was on trend before anyone else was. And now white and gold are back, and I threw those lovely gold drawer pulls away years ago in favor of oiled bronze. sigh.

I will share my thoughts and some photos along the way. You can hold me accountable to keep on task!




by the Artist


It's been a rough few weeks. Four years of searching (and all that entails) for talented crew members finally caught up with us. Bountiful projects and not enough workers. It brewed a perfect storm. And it landed heavily on the Carpenter's shoulders and mind. He's had to manage the projects and step in to do the work. It's been extremely long days, very late nights and weekends. He's had to juggle the crew to keep all the projects going. And in the spirit of transparency about our build life.. working seven days a week doesn't make for much home life. 

The past two weeks culminated in the longest days yet this week. The carpenter had a project deadline he was determined to meet because he made a promise. He would roll in around midnight and be gone by 7:30 the next morning. Last night he came home at two am. (the homeowners were out of town so he could work on the project late). He is beyond exhausted physically and emotionally. I've never seen such sheer resolve.

Well thanks to two new crew members who came on board in the past two weeks, our lead and the Carpenter's determination, we have met that particular project deadline, as well as keeping up with our other projects within the constraints of waiting for and bringing on new crew. And we are happy to say that we have found two really super guys.

Hiring talented crew isn't easy in this economy and culture. But through it all we believed that if God brought the work.. he would bring the workers and he did!

So I'm looking forward to having the Carpenter back home in the evenings and weekends and he's looking forward to getting some rest!