Okay this just a test shot....

by the Artist

We had a photo shoot in our home yesterday. Our local "White Bear Lake" magazine http://whitebearlakemag.com/ is producing a "Home" edition for it's March release, and Applewood is one of the featured builders! We are excited for this opportunity to be introduced to our community!

This all came about in a most "interesting" way. I made a decision to contact the editor one day. I regularly read the magazine and I've seen our local builders featured. The thought came to me... I think "our story" would be as interesting as any other builder's story and experience. I placed the magazine by my computer and stuck a "Post-it" note on it that said.."contact this editor". I then got busy not sending the email.

A couple of weeks later... the editor contacted me! She found our website and liked the "Carpenter and the Artist" angle. So here we are! We sat down one cold morning at our local Caribou with a young writer for the interview. The magazine then "vetted" our story. An Art Director asked for additional photos of some of our projects. And then yesterday.. a formal shoot.

I was a bundle of nerves. I ran around prior to the shoot looking for "props" for our home to spruce it up. (don't ever wait till the last minute to do this) I bought some new clothes.. we had to look "seasonally" correct. I sent the photographer photos of our living room so he could see what he had to work with. I couldn't help myself... I've been on many shoots as an Art Director. I know too much! ;)

The shoot went well. Joel the photographer brought Sarah an Associate Art Director whose presence helped me calm down. She could be "me" since I couldn't see how we were looking. I hope they didn't think I was a pain... I tucked my camera out of sight and grabbed it when I could to capture the moment. And at the end shot a couple of pics of me and the Carpenter... just because we were looking so spiffy.

Now when the month of March arrives.. not only will we celebrate the Carpenter's birthday and the end of winter.. but also the release of the Home edition of White Bear Lake magazine! 

We look forward to sharing our story.


by the Artist


On the occasion of one of our crew member's birthday yesterday... I thought I'd write something about Andrew our "Assistant Carpenter".

He is a younger brother of our Lead Carpenter Adam. He graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead last May with a degree in Construction Management. (this construction thing seems to run in the family.. the Carpenter's youngest brother is a carpenter too!) While he searches for his first position he's been gaining hand's on experience in the construction field with us.

We are happy to have him for awhile. He's sweet and always has a smile ready to share. He's easy going and a quick learner. He gets along well with his "co-workers", and our homeowners. In fact one day I was at the job site and met the homeowner and her grandchild. The little guy was just coming in from a ride in the car, all nestled in his car seat. As we stood there chatting I noticed that the little guy was staring with a raptured look at something past my shoulder. I turned to see what he was looking at... there behind me stood Andrew... grinning right back! That kind of says it all!

I am so thankful that our crew is kind and conducts themselves well on our projects. This is priceless in this day of rude social manners and customer service. 

The company where Andrew lands will be blessed to have him. In the meantime we'll keep him as long as we can. 

PS I shot this photo of Andrew cleaning up from sheetrock "mudding" (as I call it) last week on one of our projects. He is learning the business from the bucket up!

Cross that off your list!

by the Artist


I've had a super busy week. Who hasn't you say. I have done color consults for two of our projects. One a kitchen project (Deerhills Drive- http://www.applewoodremodelers.com/recent-projects/) we completed early fall. This was my second consult. The original gray we chose was just too blue. Sometimes you just have to live with a color for awhile. We offer design assistance as part of the project. And even if the project is long finished.. if the color doesn't work, we make it right. 

The second consult was for a current project- Floral Drive. We are helping to finish a number of interior renovation projects, that were never completed.

This was my first time at the project. I met one of the homeowners. She has been living with unfinished projects for quite some time. A number of factors have contributed to the situation. I felt her frustration. She just wants it to be done. It didn't start with us.. but we need to be sensitive to the situation and do our best to move quickly and as quietly as possible. The kitchen is completely unusable, the ceilings had to be scraped, the sheetrock work finished, walls painted, wood floors installed. With sheetrock taping and mud, the house is closed up and humid, and there of course is dust. 

Remodeling is stressful. Even if you know you are getting the kitchen of your dreams. Or the bath worthy of a King and Queen. If you live in the house during the remodel you will live with mess and stress. We want to be sensitive to that. Today made me aware of that again. We are working in a private home. 

Getting back to the consult.. the homeowner had great samples for me to look at. New chair material, a new area rug, a countertop sample, even a floor plan of the project! That was so helpful. The Carpenter brought the chosen flooring with two stain samples. We were able to choose wall colors, and even talked about window treatments. I hope that helped the homeowner. She was able to cross some more decisions off her list! And that brings her that much closer to living in a beautiful completed space!


A weekend project.

by the Artist

The Carpenter spent time in the cabinet shop this past weekend creating custom craftsman brackets for our Bridge St project. I took photos and videos. Will share photos here of the creation of one of the side bracket sections. When complete the bracket will finish the gable end of the garage peak. It will have a "post and beam" look which is the finish detail the homeowners picked from the ideas we submitted.

I asked the Carpenter why he had to spend his weekend working. I said... "well couldn't you have spent less time supervising on the job site and some time here in the shop during business hours?" He said "no." He is always on the job sites. It's his "MO". (I ended up hanging out with him for awhile... taking photos and cleaning the shop.. if you can't beat 'em.. join 'em!)

I know he enjoys getting into the shop and doing some custom work.. and so that is why I found him there. I asked if he could have "ordered" the bracket detail. He said..."yes.. custom woodworking shops could have created what he needed from his design". But this would be a good way to keep project costs down and have an opportunity to be creative.

I did pick out some smaller brackets from a catalog for another area of the house that I'm hoping the homeowners will order to complete the design elements of the renovation. That would make this designer happy! 

I won't be able to get final photos (we will show the unpainted bracket finished in position via our Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.924098774343969.1073741922.342655239154995&type=3 which is being installed this week) till spring because the brackets and front door need to be painted to complete. Always hurry up then wait!

And last... I didn't get photos of the Carpenter creating the "pattern" for this side bracket. That in itself was quite the process. Including showing to scale how the final bracket would look to the homeowners.

This was the first time I have witnessed how a curved bracket is made. How do you "bend" wood? Now I know!


The little sketch in the gallery is mine which we submitted with other architectural detail ideas during the bid process. It shows my concept of the craftsman bracket on the garage gable peak. 

Capture the present.

by the Artist

The Carpenter took the day off. It is New Year's Day. He made plans to meet four of our Minnesota nieces for coffee at his favorite coffee place.

This has become somewhat of a tradition for him. He realizes that time is speeding by and soon the girls will leave their nests- start careers, marry and have families of their own. He has always enjoyed their company and loves them dearly. He knows the value of capturing the present and noticing the details. 

Just like on the job sites. He notices the details. To a fault. Nothing gets past him. I'm sure that can be bothersome to our crew at times! 

As we enter our 35th year of business our basket is full. We've had an abundant fall and the new year looks even more promising. A lot of exciting things are going to be happening which I will share soon.

In the meantime we will continue to be mindful of the present, notice the details and enjoy our family, friends and customers!

Oh and if you need someone to look out for the details... you know where to find that guy.

Happy New Year!

Some moments with our Minnesota nieces...


Dinner on us!

by the Artist

Last night we hosted our first Applewood Christmas dinner! It is something I've wanted to do.. have our crew over to our home. Spend time together in a quiet environment without the pressure of work- the sound of saws and compressors. It is also the first time we've had a large enough crew to have a party. Along with the guys came girlfriends and a fiancee.

I spent the day preparing. Stops at two grocery stores then home to start the meal. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen. The Carpenter came home in time to start up the grill. He on special occasions buys good steak at a local meat market. And he's perfected his grilling technique. I am usually the grill master around here but not for these special steaks!

It was a good night to get to know our newest crew member and his girlfriend. They are originally from Hayward Wisconsin -which if you're a regular reader of our blog- is the destination for our camping vacations. We heard some interesting things about our favorite camp spot. And also found out some interesting things I'd rather not know. I'd prefer to keep my rose colored tourist glasses on!

In the end it was a good time. It's been a busy busy time for us this holiday season. We definitely shared our home more then past years.

It's gonna be a quiet New Year's Eve... I'm liking that.

Wrapping it up.

by the Artist

It's a short week for our crew. Christmas. The Carpenter made plans last weekend to "wrap-up" the Bridge St project. All he needed was good weather and a healthy crew. It looked doable. It wasn't. Illness, rain and wet snow made a short week even shorter. But he knows how to be flexible. He and the crew pulled all the equipment not being used from the project and brought it over to the next project. Then he sent the guys home to start their Christmas celebrations.

We will finish up the garage gable craftsman architectural beam detail (which they are building custom) and a few odds and ends, between Christmas and New Year's. Despite the warm, wet fall this project is coming in on schedule. Very thankful for that. 

I've been busy keeping the "home fires" going and preparing to host Christmas Day for 23 family members coming to Applewood headquarters! We're having Italian fare (what else for a bunch of Swedes and Norwegians?) Yes... this New Jersey girl likes to shake it up a bit! 

We're looking forward to sharing our little home for Christmas. And these days I don't even mind that it isn't a big home. The more programs I watch about living in "Tiny houses" the more I appreciate my "small house". Why would I need more? It is enough. I don't even worry anymore about accomadating 25 of us in two days. It is what it is. It's more about spending time together and remembering why we are celebrating at all.

From our home to yours.... may you have a blessed Christmas with your family and friends.

See you in the new year!


by the Artist

I've been noodling on what to write. We're finishing up our large exterior remodel... the Carpenter has been busy working on bids. The weather has been gray and gloomy. No white or real cold yet. We are thankful .. except along with the warmer temps comes rain. And that stops work.

I've been busy gathering gifts to mail to my east coast family. Should have been in the mail by now. I'm not thinking about that! I've decided this year not to fret over anything. There is too much pressure right now. How can a person be merry? I'm working on that.

There is one thing other then gifts I put effort into this time of the year. Decorating. Along with not fretting I've decided to keep it simple. And also to ban red. My sister-in-law says my decorations resemble the movie "Frozen". Hmmm. 

I can't help that I love navy blue. This love affair with blue started when we built the "Blue House" in downtown White Bear Lake. http://www.applewoodremodelers.com/the-blue-house/ That first year I declared "I'm embracing blue"! and have loved it ever since.

This year I bought some beautiful stripped ribbon in navy and white which matches my porch pillows. I thought I was finished decorating but I kept messing around with my front porch. Just hasn't felt right. Till today.

I decided to drive through our old neighborhood where we used to live in the "Blue House." I just love the eclectic cozy homes there. I always admire one home. The homeowner does a lovely job with her decor. Christmas is no exception. It's cozy and artistic and welcoming. She always has a wicker chair by her front door with greenery and candles nestled around.

That's it! I knew just how I was going to finish my front porch! I had "trash picked" an old wicker chair which has been sitting out in the shop. It needs a new seat. It looks like it's from the 1930's. I had planned to paint it navy. 

Well it's now sitting by my front door. Nestled in with candles and a basket of greenery and one of my navy and white porch pillows. Brilliant. I am so happy. I can't help myself. It just gives me a thrill to create a pleasing display. For me.

Oh and that trash picked wicker chair?? It's red. I guess I can break my own rules!


a visit to the site.

by the Artist

I stopped at the Bridge St exterior reno today. I had mentioned that I might stop to the Carpenter and he always then looks forward to my visit. It is a miserable rainy snowy sleety day. I felt bad seeing the crew working under such wet conditions. They couldn't wear gloves because they would just get wet right away. Adam kept blowing on his hands to warm up. 

The only reason they were able to work is because they were on the front walk way under a roof. But their table saws had to sit out in the elements covered up with tarps between cuts. I know the Carpenter felt bad but it had to be with a number of lost days to due to rain this month. Plus they are on the home stretch of the project. So bags on!

When I walked up to greet the newest crew member I said... "it's days like this that no one would want your job... but it's on beautiful days that everyone wants your job". Jason gave me a big smile and said he didn't mind the weather... was just happy for the work!

I asked Adam what he prefers to work in.. rain or snow. He said hands down.. snow. Because unless it's a wet heavy snow... rain is wetter then snow! crazy.

As long as I was there I walked around and shot some pics. As I pulled away I wished I had thought to bring some warm coffee or cocoa. All in a days work for our crew!


Boughs and bows.

by the Artist


Our cabinet shop was taken over this past weekend. The Carpenter graciously gave up the shop for our sister-in-law's "Holiday Greens Party". From Friday night to Sunday night groups of women came to create sweet holiday greens arrangements. Fresh spruce and white pine and all sorts of specialty greens were supplied, as well as festive picks of berries, swirly sticks and yards of glittery ribbon. The women brought their favorite containers and baskets.

Arrangements were made from tiny vases to large outside urns. It was fun to see how much joy the women got out of having an opportunity to be creative in the mysterious area of floral design.

Leading up to this event we spent hours cleaning the shop. Sweeping and wiping and vacuuming tons of saw dust. Shelves that had not been cleaned in 17 years were cleaned. We polished and shined and strung up Christmas lights. (even the deer antlers hung high on the wall got in the spirit) Afterwards, when I walked into the shop it was the first time it smelled clean. ever. I want to keep it that way. An unrealistic goal?

With our new employee newly onboard... I decided with the freshly cleaned shop it would be a great time to establish some shop rules. Now that I share the space for my painted furniture venture... "A Painted Apple"... I need it to be as clean as possible. So some clean rules will come in handy. yep.

The Carpenter ended up not only contributing his space but helping with the party. He cut tons of spruce and white pine, lugged water jugs (no water in the shop) and helped women carry their arrangements. He was a super help. The first night I noticed he had sat down and was enjoying watching all the action. He was amazed at the event and how much work was done to create it and how much the women were enjoying it. He ended up helping the whole weekend!

So it looks like the cabinet shop will now be wearing multiple hats- cabinet shop, floral workshop and painted furniture workshop. Not bad use of a relatively small space!

If you would like to be a part of this event for next year... just contact me through this website and we will put you on the email list to receive the invitation.

Now on to the shop rules...