Working on a wedding

Laughter, giggles, sewing, hot glue, red threads everywhere, chalk, music, wine, snowshoes — a fun wedding work weekend!

My girls came home to Birkwood for a serious work weekend (which we named Birkwood Brouquet). We turned Birkwood into a flower/sweat shop … working on a wedding to do list for the perfect day. The girls arrived Friday — stopping at Lynns Candys for caramel wrappers, JoAnns for material and other essentials and Charming Charlies for bling. Not much working on Friday, but Saturday was a full day.

Our biggest goal and most time-consuming was finishing the bridemaid’s bouquets which we had started during deer hunting season. With each bouquet ball using about 40-50 ribbon roses, we had our work cut out for us as we need 4 1/2 more balls to go. Here’s how we made them:

Cut and stitched strips

Cut and stitched strips

Pulling threads and gathering

Pulling threads and gathering

Rolling and hot glueing roses

Rolling and hot glueing roses

Finished red rose

Finished red rose

We cut red strips of material 2 1/2″ wide and sewed a gathering stitch on both long edges. We then cut them in various lengths (12″-18″) so we would have a variety of flower sizes. We then gathered them (pulling the threads so the material puckered). They were then folded, rolled and glued making a perfect red rose. Once we got a lot made, Kait would start glueing and pining

Finished bridesmaid bouquets

Finished bridesmaid bouquets

them into styrofoam balls. We had also made some grey roses using ribbon to add along with a loop. A few gems and bling was added and wal la! We figure we used about a yard of red material for one ball.

This project took the most time and we had lots of red threads everywhere. Jim even joined us in the basement later in the afternoon … I think he was feeling left out. Though we did put him in charge of washing all the glass bowls to be used for centerpieces and the snack table. He also wrapped and packed them.  What a guy! That’s why I love him!

It was snowing hard most of the day while we worked, so I was happy to get the girls to take a break and go snowshoeing for a little bit.

We finished up with the roses, ate a great meal (thanks Jim), and watched a movie. I think there was more wine involved too!

Sunday morning, while Kait finished the red balls with the bling, Leah worked on the chalk boards programs. I had painted some boards I got from my neighbor with chalk paint a few weeks ago. I think these are going to work great! We then worked on Brian’s boutonniere and two for the dads. I think we’re going with similar flowers for the moms and will incorporate into wrist corsages.

Well we got a lot accomplished and know that Leah is happy for that. There’s so much that goes into this wedding planning. Getting excited!!!

chalkboard writing

A sneak preview of Leah's wedding bouquet.

A sneak preview of Leah’s wedding bouquet.

Snowshoe break with my girls

Snowshoe break with my girls


Working Birkwood

This is the workshop and boiler room.

This is the workshop and boiler room.

Hooks in progress to be sanded or whittled.

Hooks in progress to be sanded or whittled.

These hooks are waiting to be poly-coated or may dry to rub oil in the decayed looking ones.

These hooks are waiting to be poly-coated or I may dry to rub oil in the decayed looking ones.

I was finally able to get back to doing some of my hook making this week. I have been busy playing with family and friends! Anyway, I helped my husband take down an old maple … my job being the one on the tractor pulling the rope that’s on the tree to make sure it falls where it works best to cut up. Not too hard to do, but a mouthful to explain. Anyway, the snow in the woods is sugary … a sign that spring is coming. After cutting up the tree into logs and hauling them out of the woods, I look over the branches to see what unique hooks this Maple has created.

Back in the workshop, I begin making these into usable hooks … some large, some small … cutting them into a useable length. Then taking my hatchet and a hammer, I split them. Sometimes they split fine, but not always and there’s a curve to them. I either hand chisel them or use an electric hand planer to make them lay flat. Usually I get a pailful of hooks that I take out to the fire ring where I sit whittling the bark off and shaping them…but it’s a little windy today, so that part of the process will wait for another day. I have a back load of hooks to sand, so that will be my job today. Sanding is a tedious job and I use an electric sander at first (using my ear protection and dust mask), and finish off with hand sanding. I love to see the beauty of each hook as it’s sanded down. I love when there’s some ‘spalting’ — fungus invading the wood and leaving marks which gives them character. I’ll share a future post on spalting as I’m just learning about it myself. Some of the hooks, I leave more of the bark on … so it’s just sanding down the edges. So I got several done today … some unusual ones that I’m excited to see how they’ll finish off.

I was also able to get some hooks photographed and uploaded to my Etsy store. Finding the right light and composition isn’t always easy. I like to show how my hooks can be used, but I also don’t want to cover up the hook with like a coat or towel. So I was happy to get several shots. I am able to use my graphic design ability in touching them up in Photoshop before uploading them. I need to work on writing up my descriptions. I’m still learning as I see how others do their writings on Etsy. But it feels good to have these accomplished this week. If any of you have a chance, take a look at some of my new hooks on my Etsy Shop.

Fun at Birkwood!


The past two days, we hosted my niece and her five children at Birkwood, ranging in age from 11 to 2. We are so blessed to have them ‘want’ to come visit. But, of course, there’s plenty of fun here at Birkwood.

Within minutes of arrival, the kids found the rubberband guns and we had a war on snowmen, the moose, and a few alligators on a tv show. As this was late Sunday nite, the gun fight didn’t last too long.

Monday was a full day. Luckily this Minnesota morning wasn’t too frigid, 24 degrees and not too much of a wind. We were able to sled and snowboard down our pond hill, take a four-wheel ride pulling the big sled thru the woods. Over to the neighbor’s hill for one long run with the big sled and a solo snowboard run by the oldest girl. Is it 9:30 yet? Everyone inside for a warmup and a boardgame, then outside to see if we could make our lunch over the campfire. The wind has n0w come up, so it’s not as comfortable outside. We were able to grill a few hot dogs and a couple grilled cheese sandwiches while also doing some more sledding and snowboarding. While thinking of heading inside, there was a collision along with a bloodied lip and tooth. So back inside for a few hours for some ice and consolation for both the victim and the one that crashed into him. Accidents happen … how did my parents do it with seven of us! l

So we put on a movie for the two boys while us girls did some crafting. I had seen an article on making paper beads and flowers. We cut and rolled paper, making some pretty cool beads. Looked at ideas for other paper flowers, did a little show and tell of some my recent projects (quilts, hooks and chalkboard painting) and a few hours flew by.

When the little one went down for a nap, my niece and four of the kids took off on snowshoes while Uncle Jim took watch. I had found a pair of small plastic snowshoes at Goodwill and they fit the four year perfectly. He was so proud that he could snowshoe with us big kids! Off we went through the woods making new trails. Not so windy in the woods, but smaller legs make for a short walk. So I took the two older ones back and we grabbed the 4-wheeler and sled and offered taxi service to the others. After dropping off the snowshoes and picking up a snowboard and sled, we thought we’d show mom the ‘big’ hill at the neighbors. A couple awesome runs and we high-tailed it back home … the weather has definitely gotten colder.

So it’s back inside, got the pizza dough started and then some Mexican Train dominos. The kids hadn’t played, and they caught on and it was a hit. So we played before and after making our pizzas. Then it was ‘hot tub’ time! So me and the four kids got our suits and ventured out across the deck into the steam hot tub. While in there we of course had to play a game … rock, scissors, paper. Loser had to jump out of the hot tub and do something silly… I do wonder if the adults inside thought we were sane! After drying off and getting on our pj’s, we played Beat the Parents and the kids did beat us!

The next morning (temp is now minus 5), we got in a few games of dominos, as going outside wasn’t going to happen. We then decided to make some chocolate chip cookies. While baking I lost my cooks to a rubberband battle going on in the loft with Uncle Jim … lots of noise and lots of fun! I’m sure we will be finding rubberbands around the house for the next year!

After a quick lunch, they were packed up and gone. So quiet now, but I do think I see a rubberband!

Blog note: This journalizing of my niece’s visit isn’t quite what I plan for this blog, but want to remember this fun time. I did buy a book recently on WordPress and am working on learning and building this site up with more categories and options. My plan is to document life at Birkwood, be it my hook business, my graphic designs and crafts, recipes I try or create, etc.


Finally! For a snow lover, this recent snow storm brought us around 6 inches of fluffy stuff. I know that’s not much compared to what people out east just got. But I haven’t been able to snowshoe for a few years (less snow last year). My neighbor and I usually walk each day and we took a nice hike through the woods on our snowshoes today. Their Bassethound Betsy wasn’t quite sure of those things on our boots as she tried tripping us up now and then. It was a winter wonderland … quiet and white … life is good.


While it snowed yesterday, I made an amazing roasted chicken dinner. Our neighbors had given us some sweet potatoes and a rutabaga. I added some carrots and cherry tomatoes along with some Penzy spices. Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into large chunks)1 rutabaga (peeled and cut into large pieces)
1 bag of small carrots
1 container of cherry tomatoes
A whole chicken (or we used legs and thigh pieces) (I like to skin my pieces of chicken, but my husband prefers not too on his)
Penzy’s Northwood seasoning, smokey paprika and salt
Olive Oil

Place the vegetables in large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and add around 1 Tbsp of Northwood seasoning, 1 tsp. smokey paprika and salt.

To the chicken, I rubbed additional Northwood Seasoning on the pieces. Place the root vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan and place the chicken on top. Place in a 450 degree oven … uncovered for the first 20 minutes, covered for an additional 40 minutes. Note, I added the tomatoes the last 15 minutes. Onions would be a good addition. I just didn’t have any on hand.


Hooked on Birkwood


Welcome to my first post. My life took a turn last November when my job as a graphic designer for a newspaper ended. It was a dream job … living up north and able to work from home. But life changes and I’ll change with it. I use the name ‘Birkwood’ in my blog and Etsy shop as my husband and I are two ‘Birks’ living in the woods, hence ‘Birkwood’. And I am hooked on my life here.

As I have been making wood hooks for years for friends and family, I recently decided that I would follow that path and try to sell them. We live in the woods and heat our home with wood. We have a nice variety of oak, birch, maple and more on our property. I love gathering branches and whittling them into a one-of-a-kind creation. Check out my Birkwood Etsy store for a sampling of some of my hooks.

As I build this blog, I hope to share other ways I’m hooked on Birkwood with sections on our gardens and some of my unique garden art projects. I also love cooking and baking so will share some recipes too.

Wish me luck on my new adventure!!