The Social Media Introvert’s Guide to Instagram (plus Cabin Crush’s Top 9 Instagrammers)

Of all the social media outlets, Instagram is my favorite. Despite carving out my own little corner of the inter webs, I’m sort of a social media dum dum when it comes to the rest. On Instagram, I can walk around by myself and look at all the pretty pictures but I’m not required to go the after party and discuss each piece with people I barely know. Nor do I feel the need to consider how the artists would feel if I failed to give them a marker of approval.

In truth, I’m a social  media introvert. I don’t enjoy surface-level exchanges with large groups of people. But I also don’t deal well with lengthy personal blogifestos — I’m much too lazy for that. But I do like pretty pictures that I can observe in secret from my own corner of the party.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like to call attention to myself; I love a good post that makes people go “It’s Kristin! She came out of the corner! Let’s listen!”

That is the way of the rare and recently discovered gregarious introvert. It is the equivalent of finding my spot at the party and making everyone come to my corner if they want to talk to me — which is what I totally do in real life. No mingling for me. This is my spot and I’m having my own little party right here and you are all invited but I’m not moving.

Unless, of course, you have Guitar Hero in which case I will totally come out of the corner but you will have to whisper in my ear when it’s someone else’s turn to play the drums. And if someone else has the microphone then I’ll just grab a hair brush and stand next to them.

So Instagram is my jam. And cabin lovers abound there; visual stimuli goes in, drool comes out. It’s awesome. If you are an introverted outdoorsy nature loving cabin dreamer, you should join us.

If you’d like to follow me and my cabin-leaning feed, you can find me here. Here are some of my latest:

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And here are 9 of my favorites to follow. I’d love to tell you that there’s some secret internet algorithm that makes 9 the most attractive number to use in your listicles — but the truth is that my threshold for technical frustration is exceedingly low so I decided that 9 is the new 10 and then I quit. Explore and enjoy…


Stuganiskogen, stuganiskogen

“Trying to create a cosy house in the Swedish woods.”

I don’t know what’s happening here because I don’t read Swedish. But I do know that I would definitely sleep better under a reindeer hide.



Lotta Jansdotter, lottajansdotter

Textile designer Lotta Jansdotter posts pix of her fresh, crisp, Scandinavian designs. But in July, she hosts the Lotta Jansdotter Aland Workshop and Nature Retreat at her childhood summer home on an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland. This is where the magic happens.


Pines and Cones, pinesandcones

“Off grid cabin life on Äleby Gård, Selaön in Sweden.”

Again with the Sweden. These people just know how to cabin. And how to light candles at the breakfast table.




Cabin Love, cabinlove

“Cabin candy for somewhere far, far away. Let’s be cabineers together!”

I really, really want to be a cabineer.



Cabin Porn, cabinporn

“Inspiration for your quiet place somewhere.”

The elicit name that started the beardie-hipster-off-th-grid cabin movement. The Cabin Porn book is now available at


Camp Brand Goods, campbrandgoods

This outdoor adventure apparel from the Canadian Rockies features photos of beautiful outdoorsy people in beautiful outdoorsy settings.


 Askov Finlayson, askovfinlayson

“Inspired by our region’s history of adventure and culture of creativity. Products of lasting quality and timeless design. Welcome to the North.”

Minneapolis’ own Askov Finlayson is named after a road sign on the highway heading north. Their feed features not just their north-loving products but also images of the north-loving lifestyle that inspires their brand.


Our Camp Life, ourcamplife

More beautiful people in beautiful settings who are constantly on vacation.


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#1 Camp Wandawega, campwandawega,

“A little Wisconsin getaway with a big history. This feed is co-created by the growing creative community who share this place with us.”

And by creative community, we mean people like Land of Nod and other makers of give-it-to-me-I-really-need-that-thing-now design. Plus, Camp Wandawega is an actual camp — restored and operated by aesthetes who are also lovers of all things campy and camp-y. In addition to their cute as a button cabins, you can also stay in a restored airstream trailer known as the Canned Ham.

That makes Camp Wandawega my number one Instagrammer by a landslide.

The ONE thing my cabin needed…

“Is your cabin done?”

This is a question I get almost daily. And I never answer it the same way twice. Some days, the answer is yes because we can eat, sleep and pee comfortably and I’m pretty sure the Finnish Carpenter is never coming back.

Some days, the answer is no because the shower water comes out as a gentle trickle and if you want to change the water temp, you have to go into the dirt basement with a flashlight and a wrench. And there’s a kitchen cabinet door that hasn’t been installed so, if we need something from under the sink, we just take the door out like a puzzle piece and set it on the floor. In the absence of kitchen drawer pulls, we peel the drawers away from the frames with our fingers. The Vintage Bare Bulb Flushmount remains our primary source of light in the kitchen. And, on the days I say no, I may have just spoken with the Finnish Carpenter who swears he’s coming back even though he’s just swamped because the weather has been pretty rough this year and every day it rains it sets him back two days but he’ll try to make it over there sometime this week (…sometime this week….sometime this week…..sometime this week….).

But he never does.

When we pack the car for each trip up north, it still feels like we’re moving in. We still worry that we won’t be able to fit everything into the back of our Jeep and I tread carefully as I put things on the driveway to be loaded, knowing that Mike is judging each item I parade out the door — because our definitions of “necessary” do not match.

When I take the deer head off the wall of my entry way at home and place it on the “to be loaded” stack, he puts his hands on his hips, clenches his jaw, and blows hard out his nose. Go ahead — try it. This is how you know you’re in trouble at my house.

In answer, I say “Why not?”

“Because,” he says. “I don’t want to take something away from here to put it up there. It makes no sense.” Mike likes things done. And if I remove the deer head from the entryway, our house will be undone.

“And then we’ll have a bare wall and you’re just going to have to buy something for here….why?”

Mike has forgotten about the closet full of art in the upstairs guest room that makes him so mad. And the canvases and framed pieces that lean against the stack of rubbermaid tubs in the basement. And for sure he’s forgotten about the two boxes I found tucked in a corner last week, unopened from our last move. And for sure FOR SURE he doesn’t know about my Pinterest board called “Art and Accessories” that’s just waiting to be tapped. Finding a replacement for the deer head won’t be difficult.

I assure him that I can make the deer head fit in the Jeep. I assure him several times. And the deer head goes to the cabin.


I spy with my little eye, a deer head.

But sometimes it’s just one single item, placed just so, that tips you over into the done category, even if you have a long punch list and a Jeep full of stuff that says otherwise. There’s something about that one single item that allows a space to officially claim its personality. And when this happens, you feel it and you relax because, finally, you are home. You are no longer striving to create something because, with this single item, “create” becomes “created.” You and your space have finally found each other, as if the house says “Oh THIS is what you wanted? That’s what I wanted, too.” And, this time, when you curl up on the couch, it’s soft and cozy and you don’t want to get up because the groove fits you perfectly.

For me and my cabin, it was a set of lighted marquee letters spelling the word LAKE, placed carefully on top of the game cupboard.

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When I got home from the cabin, people asked “Is your cabin done?” 

And I said, “Yes.” Even though I can’t take a real shower and I open kitchen doors by putting them on the floor. I tell them that, for the very first time, the cabin feels like ours, for real. because the moment I put those letters up, I stopped looking for what needed to be tweaked. Instead, I swam and I read and I went for boat rides without wondering what else we could do to make this place more comfortable and, magically, the soul of the place transferred hands for good.

In the end, the one thing my cabin needed was heart. The lake is the heart of this cabin. And just because the lake is outside doesn’t mean that we don’t need to feel it while we cozy up inside.

Before the LAKE letters, I had added a few other things that made me happy. None of them gave the cabin “done” status, but they were all rungs on the ladder to cabin perfection.




The Birches Pendant is an old discontinued item from Pottery Barn that we bought two houses ago. It goes with us to every house and I’m going to ask to be buried with it. What you can’t see is the big hole punched in the side during it’s last ride on a moving truck — but still, I refused to part with it. For three years, it’s been sitting on top of an office cabinet, homeless, just waiting for us to buy a cabin.



This is Bjorn and Gus. They sit on a table next to Mike’s side of the bed. Are they necessary? Yes, because they make me laugh. And I picture them talking about Mike while he sleeps.

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After unsuccessfully trolling Etsy for months, looking for kitchen art that I had dreamt up in my head, I finally opened a kitchen drawer and found something fast (“it’s in my hand right now”), cheap (“free – because I already own it”) and functional (always add bonus points for functional). A quick trip to Target provided the $24 shelf upon which my fast, cheap, functional items sit.

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The deer head is so happy here. It’s a cheeky nod to typical cabin design without becoming a complete cliché. And the white papier maché lightens and brightens the dark interior so I don’t feel like I’m living in a Hobbit hole.

I think it’s clear that I tend to nest pretty hard. I need my surroundings to be comfortable and beautiful and, frankly, borderline irresistible. I spend my life in these surroundings, each and every day, and I just think my eye should enjoy everything it lands on (can you say visual learner?). When I look at something, I don’t want my first thought to be “I hope that doesn’t give me cooties.”

This is why I work so hard on the insides. The outsides come next. But, for the time being, I think the outsides will take care of themselves.


Cabin Insides and Cabin Outsides MUST Get Married

This is my new inspiration photo.  We’ve come so far on the interior of our cabin that I now have the mindspace to look at the exterior….and go “harumph.”

This one is currently for sale on Upper St. Croix Lake just north of Hayward, Wisconsin (click here for listing) and embodies the rustic log lodge vernacular beloved by American cabin builders throughout history — but it also has delicate, feminine, colorful touches that give it the European feel that I like so much better. What do you do when you dream about this…..

…..but you find yourself with this?

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Now I have a template and some hope; the inspiration photo has the same log siding and basic log cabin shape as mine which makes it an attainable goal.

The traditional log cabin is, in general, very masculine and utilitarian, as if the lumberjack of old got tired of sleeping outside with the animals of the night and said, “Me lumberjack. Me make house.”

He stacked logs on top of one another to make walls and added a lid so he wouldn’t get rained on. He cut square holes in the walls so he could see the bad guys coming.

And then the lady lumberjack (the lumber jill, if you will) came along and put sheets on the bed. She also added a small table and a bedside lamp for reading when the lumberjack was sawing logs (in the nighttime way). And because her mind was growing numb from staring at all that brown wood, she hung a piece of art on the wall.

My point is that the simple log cabin, simple as it is, can be so heavy-handed that it’s not comfortable. It needs a lighter hand to bring it to life.  It needs delicate touches to elevate it’s presence and make it more comfortable for the eating and the sleeping and the dreaming and the cozying up. It’s hard to do all that on a hard cot with no sheets, surrounded by brown.

The same concept applies to the exterior as well because the exterior tells the story of what lives inside; the interior and the exterior need to speak to each other in order for each to realize its full potential. Photos for this listing show minute details like vintage window latches, door hinges and hardware, and even an old-fashioned telephone that hangs on the wall. Why? Why would these photos help sell this property?

The short story is that these details give the cabin a personality.

The long story is that these details can help you bond with an inanimate object. Instead of a box of logs, this is a carefully crafted structure that was created by people who cared about it’s integrity. The structure assumably housed and protected these thoughtful, creative craftspeople who loved her back in return, filling the structure with a lasting aura that I think is technically called good juju.

Over time, subsequent residents apparently cared enough about the old-timey details that they kept them and repaired them and maintained them instead of replacing them with shinier things from Home Depot. And the good juju grew.

My cabin is full of good juju but I can tell that some people came just to fish and left the lumber jills at home. Despite grandpa’s attention to detail when creating the cabin, the children and the grandchildren may have slept on hard cots with no sheets because all they wanted was to wake at dawn to get some more fish. The cabin was only used for sleeping a good distance from the animals of the night and keeping rain off their heads.

It’s different now. There’s comfort and color and places to read. But the exterior isn’t telling the whole story. And I have some planning to do if I want this cabin to speak her truth. Using the inspiration photo as a guide, here’s my plan:

Step 1: Where possible, add some shutters with European detail. In Scandinavia, it would be a heart cut-out. In Germany, it may be X or Z-shaped cross pieces.

Step 2: Replace windows with more detailed versions, adding mullions and vintage hardware. You may not even be aware of mullions when you see them but look at the difference here:

Step 3: By the same token, look at the difference that colorful trim makes. Adding more color (red? blue? or even more green?) along with white mullions for contrast will lighten things up considerably.

Step 4: Adding a stone fireplace to our tiny footprint is not super realistic but I’m willing to try because, DAY-UM, look at that stone chimney that anchors the whole freakin’ cabin so beautifully. And no, Mike, it is not impossible. (click here to read about Mike’s favorite phrase and why I’m morally opposed to it. Why someone would get off on things being impossible is beyond me but he clearly enjoys it. It’s the strangest fetish). 

It is possible that I could take the stone chimney idea and transfer it to the concrete block area of the cabin (what I’ve been calling “the skirt”).

Step 5: I need some window boxes overflowing with red geraniums that will water themselves while I’m gone (don’t worry, I will find a way to make this possible). Flowers are fun and it’s one of the best ways to bring happiness into your house. Are you feeling down? Go to the grocery store right now and pick up a bouquet for your kitchen or entryway. Voila. You just redecorated your house and had a breakthrough in therapy for the low, low price of $6.99.

Given the money-pit nature of our first year in cabin ownership, I’m guessing these changes are a long way off. But just knowing that there’s a fantasy, waiting to be realized, keeps me content.

If you have a cabin photo to share, I would love to see it and so would Cabin Crush readers. Input is the fuel for creativity! It doesn’t have to be your cabin — it can be the cabin you secretly write about in your diary.  Feel free to share in the comments section or send to me directly. Thank you and have a good summer weekend!

Photo credits:, Betsy Speert, Houzz, vilinikon, stbeck, justmyfieldnotes.tumbler, Studio Shed, White Feather Dream

A Cabin Rehab Re-cap with special feature: Adventures in Ikea Assembly

Our first visit to the cabin this season was both awesome and awkward, a warm welcome home to a place we didn’t yet know very well. It was like that summer camp crush analogy again — but more like seeing your summer camp crush at Target with his mom in the wintertime and he’s still sooooo cute and sooooo sweet but you’re not sure where you left off and if that even transfers over into winter. So you’re not exactly sure how to start a conversation. And even though he’s cute, he looks a little different with his mom. But, in the end, he tells you that he’s going to camp again this summer and you feel that spark ignite and you know it can be the same. You’ve just got to get away from Target.

We turned on the lights, the dropcloths came off the furniture, the rugs went on the floor, the beds got dressed in fresh sheets and then…. I stood back and assessed our progress.


FLOORS:  The Nixon-era Herpes Carpet is gone, replaced by warm almost-hardwood floors —  from the most stressful HoDe visit ever — and a flat weave cotton Blue Diamond rug from The Company Store. I don’t know that a rug has ever made anyone so happy. I might write a whole blog post about this rug and its ability to do a cabin right.

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KITCHEN: The camp kitchen that served as a wildlife refuge for Unknown Creatures from the Outdoors has been replaced by an 8′ x 8′ u-shaped culinary space that my true love Wesley might refer to as a KOUS — A Kitchen of Unusual Size. Or a “One Butt Kitchen,” a term coined by Mike’s almost 100 year old grandma.

Despite its size, the KOUS has a full-sized dishwasher for maximum rest and relaxation. We still need drawer pulls and a piece of art over the stove to transform our KOUS into a KOUC (A Kitchen of Unusual Cuteness).

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BATHROOM: The Bat Poo Tub and mouse traps full of mouse fur were ripped out of the bathroom and replaced by a still-not-quite-functioning shower (if you could sign my petition urging the Finnish Carpenter to come back and attend to the punch list items, that would be great. Thank you for your support. Actually, could you sign this other petition first – urging the Finnish Carpenter to acknowledge the existence of a punch list? Thanks once more for your support. Together, we can accomplish great things).

Even if we can’t shower in the shower, the river oak underfoot and the cedar sauna-like shower walls are nice to look at and a huge improvement over the guano tub. And the new cedar ceiling means that I don’t even look up before I pee anymore.

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FURNISHINGS: During Trash Out, Tammy of the Manly Voice and her wiry cohort Duane removed a dirty whorehouse couch and everything else that dead strangers ever sat on or laid upon. Given its mere 800 square feet, the furniture needs were limited. We have a Danish modern find from HomeGoods for $199 and a leather butterfly chair from Urban Outfitters (also $199). We still need art to make this room feel like our personal family refuge instead of a wooden box that we sleep in.

Many of our other furniture pieces came from Ikea via forged documents at a warehouse in a suburban industrial park — and they required assembly. This portion of our program is called Adventures in Ikea Assembly. I helped by taking photographs.

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Here is a really poor quality photo of Mike assembling our sectional couch with hidden storage that pulls out into a full-sized bed. I took this photo out of fear that the Ikea hinges wouldn’t hold and the whole top half of the couch would slam shut, slicing my husband’s body in two. I will use it for the trial.


The is the Brimnes platform bed, also with hidden storage. So much hidden storage at the cabin. I continue to help the assembly process by taking photos.


It is 2pm. I know this by looking at this pretend watch on my wrist. I bet this will only take a small commitment of my time.


Look! There are instructions. I bet they will be helpful.


This amorphous nonhuman is very nonthreatening. He makes me feel good. and even a little happy. I feel positive about my ability to build this bed.


This is a lot of pieces. I know what happened….they accidentally sent me pieces for two beds. I will donate one to a homeless shelter. I am a good person.


Uh oh.  


What the?


Quick! Show me the picture of the amorphous nonhuman again.  That’s better. I can do this. Goddammit!


Dad, let me try.


No! You are only a child and you can’t even read the language of the amorphous nonhumans in these very helpful instructions!   Oh.  Thank you.


K: Will you go check on Dad?  L: No. He very specifically said, “Don’t touch me.”

In the end, we can eat, sleep, sit and pee at the cabin. We cannot yet shower. But we do have a beautiful lake that will cleanse our bodies and our thoughts and our souls should it be necessary.

And we also have a new ritual. At the door of our cabin — the best door on any cabin that ever existed, IMHO — we hung a picture frame with hinged doors on it. Behind the doors lies a drawing of a little cabin with a plume of smoke curling out of its chimney. Above the drawing are the words “Up North.”

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Upon arriving at the cabin, we open the doors to welcome us, like the opening bell. And upon leaving, we close the doors, marking the end of our time at the cabin….

…. just one weekend of many to come, each one adding a page to our family history.

Enjoy your long weekend, everyone. Say hello to your cabins for me. 🙂

A New Cabin Bathroom Sans Bat Poo

Let’s review:  during The Awakening, in which I make a list of all the things that make me uncomfortable at the cabin, I notice that I look up at the ceiling before I sit down on the toilet;  I am well aware that I share this bathroom with a colony of something that is pooping in my cabin tub. And members of that colony could easily swoop down from the ceiling and get caught in my hair while my pants are down. Pants down makes everything worse.

The bat poop tub had to go. The peeing was just too stressful.


Several weeks later, I arrive at the cabin and see this at the top of our long ass driveway:



YES!!!!  I did a little car dance because I knew the bats had been evicted. See those black flecks? That’s not an outdated design element, that’s the last vestiges of feces. Years of it fermenting and petrifying in my tub, waiting for the day when I lower my naked body into the water and bathe in it. It’s like a sacred spa treatment; I’d like the Fermented Bat Guano Bath for $200, please. I love you, bats, for your mosquito control and sonar abilities but please find your own damn house! Outside!



We replaced the tub with this kickass shower and built-in shelving, hand-built by the Finnish Carpenter (who builds saunas on the side. For more info on Finns and their saunas, click here). The tile is tumbled river rock grouted within an inch of its life by the Finnish Carpenter’s cousin, a man whose demeanor tells me that he prefers tile to people. Which works out well for me and my bathroom.

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It’s sort of a slapdash design that feels appropriately rustic but adequately clean and fresh. The combo of cedar walls and smooth rocks underfoot invokes a sauna atmosphere that vibes well with this forest-y, Scandi-infused locale.


The sink is Ikea’s teeniest option, allowing us to sit down on the toilet without wrapping our legs around the sink.




At the expense of getting a little theme-y, the fish mirror works for a family of various heights. Thanks to puberty, I just recently became the shortest person in my family which causes some disagreement when hanging mirrors. If left to Mike and Liam, all mirrors would be hung so that I can only see my carefully sculpted eyebrows. On my tiptoes, I might be able to see that break in my nose where I got hit in the face with a frisbee. But with the new fish mirror, everyone gets their own fish of appropriate height. It’s so egalitarian.

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The most dramatic part of our cabin reno project was the removal of the Motel 6 toilet paper dispenser.

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As Mike removed it from the wall, Liam and I stood next to him and clapped importantly for the statement that this made. Nothing says cheap hooker like motel fixtures, am I right? Plus, a family of three in an 800 square foot cabin does not require an industrial grade “dispenser” for toilet paper; I’m guessing this artifact had been dispensing the same roll since the Clinton era.

Not only was this removal exciting from a Motel 6 perspective, it also gave me the opportunity to shop for an alternative. This should’ve been another make love to the internet situation, searching for something perfectly elusive, but instead I took the immediate gratification route and drove to the nearest (ha!) big box store……..and………I’m not kidding when I tell you that I’m pretty sure I saw Jessica Biel’s mom at the Shopko.

For those of you who don’t watch the news (aka Entertainment Tonight), Jessica Biel was born in Ely, Minnesota, gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and home of the nearest Shopko.

My toilet paper holder options were so limited at the Shopko that I couldn’t even muster the motivation to take a photo of my choice. But it’s still better than the cheap hooker-influenced design. And I saw Jessica Biel’s mom.  Maybe.  Well, I saw a motherly looking woman with Jessica Biel’s face and I got excited.

So… this a fantasy bathroom? No. But it’s a great example of simplicity and efficiency, form and function, authenticity and crisp workmanship, in the tiniest of spaces. When this cabin was built, no one peed inside. A shower was something that rich people took on Sundays. So to the original cabin owners, this would be the ultimate in luxury.

And the bats can suck it.




Featured image credit: Tim Flach

How Cabin Architecture Relates to Shaun Cassidy

This is a story about a visit to the Lake Home & Cabin Show….

… which I meet Dale Mulfinger, the Cabinologist, and act like a Leif Garrett groupie.

If you are a cabin lover, a cabin owner, a cabin seeker or a cabin dreamer, you are probably familiar with the name Dale Mulfinger.  If not, consider this your introduction.

He is the Shaun Cassidy of the cabin world; Minnesota’s best known – NO! – the nation’s best-known cabin architect and author of five books including “The Cabin,” “Cabinology,” and “Back to the Cabin,” books that should come with a bib so you don’t drool on the pretty pages.

Until I was standing in front of him at the Lake Home and Cabin Show, I didn’t know that a 70 year old architect could summon the same feelings that I had for Shaun Cassidy…….

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…….but that is exactly how I acted. Dumb and stupid and twittery, trying not to fawn but failing, having nothing to say but not going away because I’m trying so hard to think of something, anything, to say besides what I’ve already said six times ( “I really love your books. Your books are great. I love all your books. You write books.”)  So I just stand there with my backpack on my back and my free tote bag made of recycled pop bottles full of brochures and flyers from all the booths I’ve visited. I stand there like I’m on the verge of saying something except that I’ve already used all of the words I know. So I’m just standing there in front of him swinging my recycled pop bottle bag and mumbling non sequitors.

“yeah….so……cabins…..” Just marking time while I try to decide if it’s a good idea or a stalker-y idea to mention that I’ve memorized parts of his books.

I was making a huge impression and I’m sure he will next ask me to marry him.


Long ago, when I was just a cabin baby, he captured my heart with the crushable cabins featured in his books.  There’s this one:




And this one:




And this one is actually his own cabin, held up by what he calls a “Minnesota Redwood.” He went out for a boat ride one day and came home to find that his wife had painted the supporting tree trunk tomato red.




If you’d like to stay in a Dale Mulfinger designed cabin, there’s this one at Ludlow’s Resort in Cook, Minnesota:




Dear Mr. Cabinologist, you have influenced me in so many ways.  In fact, the cabin I’m so lucky to have right now, the one that has become the subject of blog posts and the captain of hearts, is mine because of your words. Case in point……my cabin is not nearby. It’s two hours beyond the two hour limit we had agreed to during our cabin search. That’s not fudging, that’s blowing it out of the water. But when we saw our perfect little too-far-away-cabin in the snow, I remembered a passage you wrote about the drive to the cabin, about how the last 30 minutes is excruciating and you complain and ask each other “Why did we get a cabin so far away?!”  And then, the minute you arrive, the regrets fade away because it’s just so obvious why you’re willing to drive so far…….it’s worth it.

I shared this passage with Mike on our way home and there was very little doubt after that, as if Dale Mulfinger himself had just given us permission to buy this way-too-far-away cabin. It was Cabinologist-approved so it would be ok.

Perhaps the reason his designs and his books resonate so soundly with cabin people is because he is a cabin person himself, consumed with creating a cabin life rather than a cabin showplace. His design ethos is defined by how he lives at the cabin rather than the fancy amenities he can provide. Read this quote about how he spends a cabin day and tell me you don’t want a piece of this action:


“I go to the cabin to be outdoors, to bond with nature, to have quality time with family and friends, and to dabble in building things. I feed the deer and the birds and make crepes for my grandchildren. I repair my boats and occasionally can keep a motor running long enough to make my way down to the other end of our 23-mile lake for a beer and burger. Or I will putter out to a favorite nearby bay for some fishing, return with a dozen bluegills, and spend an hour cleaning them for dinner.

I may consume the better part of a morning teaching myself (again) how to replace the chain on my chainsaw. I will walk down the hill to the shore to cut up a basswood the beaver has felled only to find I have put the new chain on backward. By dusk I will be exhausted from 30 trips up and down the 28 steps to the lake with 40-pound pieces of tree trunk on my shoulder.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ~Back to the Cabin, (page 3)


Just replace “building things” with “weeding things” and the chainsaw with a set of loppers and I think we may be cabin soul mates.

We putter and we daydream and we commune and we sit and we toil all in the name of beautiful places and time that is unclaimed. It is the antidote to the current American Dream in which the list is long and there’s always someone needing five things from you yesterday, five things that will burn down the house if not delivered immediately and in triplicate.

And the fact that this notion can influence architecture and drive an aesthetic movement sort of explains everything about me………..welcome, once again, to Cabin Crush.



All photos are from Dale Mulfinger’s books, available at virtually all Minnesota bookstores and online:

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My Cabin Lighting is Not Pine Cone

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And god said unto the world, “Let there be light……in the cabin. Because the cabin is really dark. And didst thou know that wood walls absorb light? Unlike white walls which reflect light, meaning that lighting in a log cabin should not be smited (don’t look that up because I don’t think I’m using it correctly – said god). And thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s light but, instead, worship at the altar of thine own light. Preferably from such midrange outposts of rustic modern design like CB2 or West Elm. Without an abundance of thine own light, do not blame me if you stubbeth your toe or squint at stuff because that is your own damn fault. “

It’s so true, god is right. We spend so much time talking about walls and floors and bathrooms and kitchens and really the most impactful aspect of my cabin reno (besides a flushing toilet with no bat guano in it) is good lighting.

Lighting is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a big design change. If you hate your dining room, instead of calling a contractor, you should immediately take down the boring, run-of-the-mill fixture that is probably way too small and currently hanging too high above your table. Then grab your purse and get thee to the nearest on-trend home store, stopping only to drop your too-small fixture on the curb for the upcyclers. Look for something that is bigger, bolder, and preferably a little out of place in your home. Too much match-matchy renders many things invisible – one item blends into the next, never daring to speak its truth for fear of being noticed.

The existing cabin lighting is UGLY and insufficient. I said UGLY.  Fugly. I try to remove the offensive fixtures in the cabin during Trash Out but Mike wrestles me to the ground and explains that we will have NO light in the cabin unless I put down the crowbar. And for a moment, I’m okay with that. The darkness, I mean. But then I get up and try to act like I’m not OCD about getting rid of fugly things.

Here is the lighting that was left in our cabin:


See that big gaping broken lightbulb hole? Don’t you wonder how long that’s been there? Yeah, me too. Poor cabin.

And here’s my favorite:


It’s the Vintage Bare Bulb Flushmount; for those aspiring to the “Who Cares? It’s Just the Cabin” motif.

And that’s pretty much it. Three half-assed lights for a three room cabin. Not pictured is a plug-in swing-arm sconce installed right behind the bedroom door; even when it’s not swung-out, the door crashes into the stained polyester shade every time you open the door. And if you were to swing out the swing-arm sconce, it would be like jamming a chair under the door knob. Good luck, robbers!

My obsession with the fugly lighting situation causes me to make love to the internet every night, looking for replacements. As you can see from the photos at the top of the post, I’m not going to the cabin store to get my box-o-cabin lighting. My cabin lighting is not pine cone. I want strong, clean lines with rustic materials.

And I settle on this:

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The paper lantern is from Ikea and it’s the perfect foil to dark cabin walls. It won’t surprise you to know that white paper lanterns are the most popular form of lighting in Sweden, both at home and at the cabin. I don’t actually know if that’s true but it sounds good, doesn’t it? From my vast experience in looking at pictures of Swedish homes and cabins, I feel like it must be true.

The other two fixtures are from CB2.

And here’s how they look:


Honestly, I’m not completely happy and I might have to keep shopping (sorry, Mike). The glass globe in the kitchen is pretty good but gets lost amidst the log walls. The black sconce looks a little clumsy and sheds very little light. I actually LOVE the white paper lantern but Mike HATES it. His biggest complaint is the unsightly cord that swags from ceiling to wall. So I plan to put a bandaid on the situation by replacing the ugly white plastic cord with a fabric covered cord kit like this:

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I purchased the black and white cord on the right but they’re also available in all the funky colors on the left. These are from Urban Outfitters (I’m considering the red one if the black and white doesn’t make any impact).

I replaced the plug-in swing-arm sconce in the bedroom with this:


No more slamming the door into the stained polyester shade! It sits flush against the wall and it makes me happy. Sometimes I go in the bedroom just to visit it.  Everyone in my family keeps asking “Kristin, why a k?” like it’s a completely random and ill-fitting choice. Like where did that come from?!  First of all, sheesh! Eye roll. And second, he who does the shopping gets the letter.

And although my cabin lighting is not pine cone, might I remind you that I Was Wrong About Antlers and we still have this shining beacon of cabin-antler love:


Sometimes I love being wrong.

So this is me lighting a fire under you: get up off the couch and go look around your house. Is there a place where you could have some fun and make a statement with some new lighting?

It just might make you feel like you got a whole new house.

I Was Wrong About Antlers


Here are some words that came out of my mouth recently:

“This is not an antler kind of cabin.  We are not antler people.”

And I say this despite my weird jubilation surrounding the waning trend of hanging faux deer heads on every empty wall.  It’s a totally overdone design fad that I just can’t give up.  AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!

But cabin antlers are different.  Cabin antlers are not ironic or tongue-in-cheek or made of surprising materials like fuchsia velvet (just saw that one yesterday – circled the store 3 times before I finally put it back because I couldn’t think of an empty, un-deer-headed wall in my house on which to hang it).  Cabin antlers are literal.  And that makes them not all that exciting to me.

When people buy cabins, they get super excited about going to the cabin store and getting some cabin stuff.  And the cabin stuff comes in various themes including Pinecone, Moose, Canoe/Paddle, Things From My Grandma’s Pantry, and Antler.  The choices can be really cute – or really predictable.  Like maybe you didn’t even go to the cabin store but you just ordered the Box-o-Cabin from Cabins R Us and set up shop without any thought at all.  It’s not very personal.  My cabin is far too personal to look like everybody else’s. Continue reading →

10 Tiny Houses……and one tiny neighbor.


This is my neighbor.  We haven’t met yet but I intend to introduce myself and become best friends with them based solely on their ability to make me contemplate the words “Totes.  Adorbs.”  I totes doubt that I’m using that correctly but you can’t help what pops into your head, can you?  I picture the people inside listening to NPR and playing Yahtzee and reading big books snuggled under Hudson Bay blankets.  And when the big book gets boring, they look out the picture windows for like hours at a time.  And then they nap. Continue reading →