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


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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. 




Where have you been?


the Artist

I've been tempted to shut this blog down. It's a challenge to write about our build life that would be interesting to anyone. I started writing in July of 2012. So really this has been a good run. But it is challenging to write about projects and protect the privacy of our homeowners. It is also difficult to write about a potential exciting project for obvious reasons.

So I've been sitting here.. drinking a glass of iced coffee and eating too many pretzels, getting sidetracked on Instagram ... and not writing!

I can say that we have been bidding and in some cases have signed on.. some really exciting projects for the summer well into winter. A home that will be converted into a B&B, a post and beam timber barn to name a few.

On the B&B project I have been working with the homeowner on the concepting of the rooms' themes, and color palette for the whole B&B. If all goes according to plan we will convert a very large attached garage into two additional bedrooms with sitting area as well as remodel the master bath, turn a laundry room into the B&B office etc, and build a large detached garage on the property. I hope to share this journey by late summer.

I spent two days last week helping a homeowner pick out countertop, backsplash, flooring and fireplace stone for her townhouse interior remodel. It can be very overwhelming with all the choices available out there... I try to be a good listener for the decision discovery process. 

I discovered a great flooring tile company- Cap Carpet and Flooring https://capcarpet.com in New Brighton. They have a new expanded showroom with a hug selection of beautiful specialty and standard tiles. Don't let the location and the size of the entrance fool you. It's got some lovely full showrooms. I had some fun there!

So I guess the coffee and pretzel carb overload helped.

Till next time. 


Some photos of our materials trip.



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