Just call me Jojo…

We hope you had a restful Easter weekend! We’ve been working hard, taking regular breaks from eating Cream Eggs. Check out our lovely Swedish påskris- sticks brought indoors and forced to sprout leaves before their time. 

Have you ever noticed how similar this blog is to the HGTV hit show Fixer Upper?? Well, neither have I, but I like to think there are some likenesses. For instance, the new Joanna (Jojo) Gaines home decor line has received praise from many, although some have scoffed at the price tags of some items. It’s as if people don’t think throw pillows should cost $100. 

High end centerpiece.

Getting crafty


I sewed up some of my new Marimekko PVC coated fabric into a nice tablecloth. This pattern is called “puketti”, Finnish for bouquet. 

Walpurgis Eve is just 2 weeks away.  Will we be ready to burn away the last remnants of winter, and scare away witches and trolls? For that, we will need a fire pit. Time to clear out a nice spot for future fires. We pulled out some random pieces of farm equipment using the tractor, and added them to a junk like further afield. 

What the heck is this thing?!?!

Once the junk was cleared, we got to work mowing down the brambles.  We’d like to expand the yard a bit, maybe that will keep some of the bugs at bay during our fires. 

Very professional landscape planning

Next weekend is fruit tree planting time- we are planning on some cherry trees and a plum tree (notice the tree with the purple plum in the middle). My thought is to have the fire pit look out on the orchard.  And speaking of fruit trees, there some a lot of promising-looking buds on our apple trees. Maybe this will be the year!! 

What are those white things at the ends of the branches? Marshmallows??

I dug out two dead tree stumps to get ready. One of the stumps required a little help from the tractor. But now we’ve got 2 holes ready for new trees. 

It wasn’t all work- we balanced things out with a little kubb (Viking lawn bowling game), and I opened my trusty box of Pinot Grigio.  We also ate up some of our dyed eggs, as well as plenty of candy and chocolates.  And some blueberry muffins. Wow. I guess we ate a lot this weekend. Oops.

Does this shirt make me look more like Joanna Gaines?

April showers are predicted for next week, and we all know what that means. Hey, at least it’s not snow. 



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We need some color!

This is the season of brown, grey, and taupe. Thankfully, itseems winter is solidly behind us now, so prepare for more frequent updates from our farm. Ivan and I got a head start on our agricultural ambitions by choosing and planting some seeds for the veggie patch. 

Warmer days are on their way!

A rainbow of pre-school favorites!

The long, hard winter is a perfect time to make some plans for summer gardening. My dear mother-in-law lent me a slew of books to help me study up. 

But wait- there are more horticultural goals for 2017! I’ve been in contact with a local nursery and it looks like our new cherry and plum trees will need to get planted at the end of the month. A stroll out to the orchard revealed that critters had been menacing the trees! Oh, deer! 

Oh, deer!

All around the lower branches, buds had been nibbled off *Marge Simpson growl of dismay*!!

So the wire fencing makes a comeback this spring- it’s what all the smart apple trees are wearing. 

We are finishing up the last indoor projects. We recently got the flooring installed in the little entryway.  Steve also repaired the plumbing line for the hot water in the bathtub. This is what I call teamwork: I watch Fixer Upper while Steve actually fixes up. And I shhh him. 

Can you please keep it down?

I also did some important Cabin Rehabin work last week when I shopped at the AlwaysMod store closing sale near Minneapolis. My good friend Sue and I got some sweet deals on some modern decor. I was, sadly, unable to convince Steve to invest in this great deal on a sofa. 

What a deal!!

So many European treasures! Such an empty checking account. 😦

Things should start greening up around here soon. 



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Midwinter improvements!

We winterized and locked things up after Christmas, anticipating a long, cold winter. But now we are experiencing a February heat wave! So out to the farm we go. Over the last two weekends we’ve been able to get a few projects started. And some completed as well. Together they constitute major advancements in the fields of technology, agriculture, and sanitation. 

Boop beep boop boop.

Our first advancement comes in the area of technology. That’s me surfing the interwebs on our new wifi connection. This blog post is also being uploaded in record speed thanks to this innovation. 

Watch out!

I’m determined to get the apple trees producing this year. So I’ve been reading up on horticulture- shout out to the University of Minnesota extension service website!  Woot woot! After studying the trees and reading what I could, I realized I’m really clueless. Time to call in a professional.  

Our on-call arborist.

This is my knowlegable mother-in-law. She’s got the greenest thumbs around. She came out today to coach me through the pruning process. It’s about a month before I thought I’d be pruning, but with this unusually early start to spring, she thought it was time to get hacking. 

Dead limbs are no match for my limbs.

With the lower branches and dead limbs lopped off, we should have better luck this year.  Now I’m thinking ahead to compost, and a couple of cherry trees. 

Poor Steve spent this lovely spring day in the gross basement, dealing with shattered pipes. We really haven’t figured out how to keep the basement warm enough to avoid burst pipes every year. Sigh. Maybe we could get a fuzzy bear family to take up residence down there. 

When cutting into sewage pipes, always wear protection.

With temps near 60, we enjoyed some burgers on the grill, in the snow. 

In anticipation of having a functional kitchen sink, I bought this beautiful Japanese dish drying rack over a year ago. Finally, I was going to interpret the instruction manual (in Japanese) and add this beauty to our green kitchen!

At the end of our visit, Steve managed to get the pipes repaired, and to get the kitchen sink hooked up. Yes! Who knew washing dishes could feel so good?!

That’s actual hot water!

And then the moment of truth:

A new standard in hygiene!

Has spring really sprung? That’s anybody’s guess. But at least we have hot water and Netflix, so we’re good out here. 


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Cozy snow days…

5 degrees Fahrenheit above zero. Winter is finally here! Thanks to our new baseboard heaters, we were able to spend a cozy winter weekend at the farm. Time for some Yuletide decor- now doesn’t that window look inviting?

Ivan and I braved the frozen landscape in search of some evergreen boughs to bring back home for my flower pots. Decaying flowers look great at Halloween, but just aren’t very cheery at Christmas time. We even spotted a broken birch branch to add to the mix. 

Martha Stewart would be proud…

But it wasn’t all fun and reindeer games. Steve also started the install of our new 40,000 BTU propane furnace. 


Hey man, you’re letting all the warm air out!

Our hard work was rewarded with the best chicken and dumpling soup ever, at a wonderful little place known as Chippewa Family Restaurant. De-lish!

It’s crazy good!

Further coziness was achieved with our new poäng chairs from IKEA. 

One can never have enough sheepskin…

We woke to several new inches of snow. Just as we thought we had left autumn behind, remembered that we needed to dump our massive pile of fall leaves into the woods so we could take our trailer back home. 

Pull harder!

Even with fresh snow around, it’s hard to resist the call of a massive mound of slightly decomposed leaves.

The leaf moving task ended with tears, as Ivan lost his little shovel in the heap. We were all sad to leave, but a work week awaits. It’s the end of the semester for me, and while I wish I could hide away in the woods, I must instead tackle a mound of grading. Please consider this our Christmas card to you, dear reader! Enjoy this beautiful season, and we will see you in the New Year!

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Come and knock on our door…

It’s time to winterize!  This weekend we turned our attention to prepping the farm for fridged temps. Only we are having a heatwave in Wisconsin- it’s 70 degrees in November! The last time we had a November like this was in 1983, immortalized in the film Purple Rain when Prince and Appolonia ride down a country road on his bike, and she jumps in “Lake Minnetonka”. It’s that kind of day, although there won’t be any toplessness in this blog post. Sorry. 

Hey…don’t get my seat wet

We have heat! Steve got baseboard heaters installed in the bedroom and living room. Maybe our pipes won’t burst this winter?!?!

The front door has been getting worse and worse- sort of peeling apart at the corners. No sense in letting our newfound heat escape. Time for a new door. 

We bid you farewell, crappy door.

This project only took a morning to complete. All little sawzall action, some caulk, and beautiful summer-like weather converged to create the optimal circumstances for success. 

Daddy, can I try the Sawzall??

Normally, I’d be pretty unhappy about the gaping hole in the house on a Sunday morning in November. But with relatively few bugs, warm temps, and our resident handyman, my fears were quickly laid to rest. 

Honey, this plastic sheet just isn’t going to cut it.


American Gothic / Three’s Company

And all this was completed before lunch on Sunday. One of our most productive weekends yet. 

Next week Steve wants to install a proper furnace, and finish up the kitchen sink. I’m dreaming of a couple of comfy chairs for the living area. I think we will be back at IKEA soon, getting our “mys” on. I think there’s a sheepskin rug in our future… and probably some snow. 


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Tree scouting, sink routing

We are well into fall here in Northern Wisconsin. The trees are at peak color, and the evening chill smells of hypothermia. It’s the perfect time of year to do what I call “tree scouting”- looking for the best views from the building site, so we can decide where to place large windows, decks, and the screened-in porch. 

Due to some moisture getting into our bedroom ceiling, Steve fastened a tarp over the trailer. Not only does this make our place look extra cool, it also allowed him to gaze out over the various vistas. Our conclusion: how on earth are we going to remove all these trees so that we can see some trees?!?

We also harvested the final veggies from our sorry little garden. 3 mini cucumbers, 1 mini squash, 3 regular squash. It’s a good thing I don’t have to live off the land. 

fall colors through a moist window

Steve worked on plumbing in the kitchen sink. I walked in and saw this:


What a jokester! After he switched it around, we realized we forgot a part at home. Maybe we will get running water on the kitchen next time. 

Morning at the farm begins with coffee next to the space heater. New breakfast possibilities abound, thanks to our new cooktop. I even made the bold move of bringing actual dishes to keep at the farm. Classy! If only there were a place to wash them…

Boy with foliage

Following our hearty meal, we enjoyed a bit of a hike. We took a long stroll through the woods, all the way back to the lovely Chippewa River. Such a beautiful fall day!

Only a few weekends left before it will be just too darn cold…


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The summer kitchen is complete!

Finally, the big reveal! Last summer we started work on the old spare bedroom, knocking down walls, tearing out the old furnace and carpet. In case you blocked out that image, here it is. 

good times, good times

In the  last few weekends, we’ve made major strides towards completion.

Weekend 1

It started with a trip to IKEA to buy cabinets. [IKEA, if you’re following this blog, don’t feel like you owe me anything for all this free publicity…but we could use some poäng chairs] The process of buying cabinets at IKEA surprisingly efficient. When pressured for comment, Steve noted “they couldn’t make it any easier, really”. Once you’ve got your plan drawn up, the kitchen specialist sends your order downstairs. Then you go eat meatballs and shrimp sandwiches in the restaurant while you wait about 45  minutes for them to pull all the pieces together for you. They had all of it on a cart, which we then wheeled out to our car. Viölä! Pure Swedish magic!

The load was remarkably compact. How can this be a complete kitchen?! Every piece was neatly packaged along with text-free instructions. 

We assumed it would take all weekend to build a kitchen. We were wrong. We were basically finished in about 3 hours time. I’m not saying everyone can build an IKEA kitchen in 3 hours, but for the IKEA-savvy builder, this job ranks somewhere between the Billy bookcase with doors and the large Hemnes dresser. 

Weekend 2

There’s nothing quite like a new fridge. We also had a visit from our good friends Ian and Anika. What luck! I didn’t have to move that fridge! Thanks, Ian!

The menfolk

ta-da! fridge and sink in place!

We got the hole for the sink cut, and the upper cabinet mounted. Drat! The doors were the wrong size- so a trip back to IKEA was in order. 

playdate in the dirt and packing foam

Anika and I enjoying a cold one

Weekend 3

One more run to IKEA, and we were feeling confident that the big reveal wouldn’t be too far off.  We now had the right doors, the hand pulls, and some open shelving. It took about 3 more hours to get the last elements in place. Check it out!

This kitchen will probably never look this clean again.

I’m ready to do some real cooking in our beautiful IKEA kitchen! We still need the electrical outlets, but hey, I still wanted to model use of our new cooktop. 

Imaginary mac & cheese, anyone?

I even got the other wall wallpapered during this trip. 

Crappy drywall taper? try some cute wallpaper!

Before, and after. 

You can’t go wrong with marimekko

And there will be plenty to cook, as those weak little squash seedlings I planted have gone totally gangbusters! 

What’s up, Buttercup (squash)?

Fall is starting to show itself, so I’m thrilled that we will soon have a fully functioning kitchen on chilly days when the grill and picnic table just won’t cut it. 

Next time: plumbing and outlets and actual cooking! Cheers!

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