Blog Cabin

Feb 12

Blog Cabin 2013 Winners Swing by HGTV Headquarters

A note from Kayla: I’d like to introduce you to managing editor Virginia Moon who will be your guide on all things DIY Network Blog Cabin 2014. If you’ve found yourself flipping through the (beautiful!) home improvement photo galleries on and lost in projects on DIY Network’s Made + Remade blog, then you’re likely already familiar with Virginia’s top-notch writing and editing. Please join me in welcoming Virginia to the blog!

blog cabin 2013 winners

Hi all -

I’m excited to be on board as your new guide for all things Blog Cabin! I recently had the pleasure of meeting the winners of Blog Cabin 2013 as they passed through town a few weeks ago. Mari Cabrera-Hickerson, along with her husband Ken, son Alex, and dog Kokaei came by the HGTV headquarters to pick up the keys to their new home in North Carolina!

The family’s cross-country road trip started in Culver City, Calif., they stopped in Albuquerque, NM to visit family, and  pulled into Knoxville, Tenn. on a snowy Tuesday morning. They were going to hit the road to Atlantic, NC after picking up their keys, but plans changed when they were snowed in for the night. The next morning the Blog Cabin winners packed up and headed out, making it safely to their new home.

I was able to catch up with the family during the visit about their plans for the house.  While Mari loves everything about the home, she says “I plan on adding pictures of my grandchildren to personalize it.” The couple would also like to build a garage with a loft  for the grand kids.

Aside from minor changes, Mari wants to celebrate with a family reunion this summer. What a perfect way to share her big win!

Thanks again, Mari, for stopping by. We wish you and your family many wonderful memories in your new home!

Read More About the Blog Cabin 2013 Winner >> 

  • Posted at 9:20 pm on February 2, 2014
  • Permalink


  1. I am so glad the winners have chosen to live at the BC, at least for now. Love the idea we can win a great prize like this and not have uncle sam or other conditions making it not viable to own your winnings. Good luck and keep us posted on the garage upgrades. As a side note: having the second story over the garage connect to the existing house with a "bridge-like" entrance will add privacy and style. But thats me dreaming on my (your) house with a large breezeway underneath…

    kmh on February 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm
    • Great ideas about the garage but we need to consider the septic area, etc. Will try to keep you all posted once we get it underway which may take a while…

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:01 pm
  2. Congratulations Mari and family, we are all so happy that you are actually going to be living in our OOPS your beautiful blog cabin. Crazy weather this winter I'm glad that you made it safely cross country.

    Kayla, we loved having you here on the BC Blog. If you can, please join us in our dreaming and mental remodeling.

    Virginia, welcome. You are going to be one busy woman. We bloggers can be a demanding bunch. If you think of us as a room of 2 year olds you shouldn't have any problems. If we get unruly just throw us a tid-bit, we get distracted easily.

    Eugenia27 on February 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm
    • I still miss this place!

      COOLSMILEY on February 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm
    • Mari won a beautiful home in a fantastic location. I'm so happy that she is able to keep it.

      Eugenia27 on February 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm
    • Oh COOLSMILEY I do too and think of it often. We had so much fun dreaming about living there and I hated that no one was living there and the clock wasn't wound. ???? I am happy that Mari and Ken are there now. I love the Ocean so my heart is still there

      Straybird on February 16, 2014 at 9:13 am
    • Thank you Straybird, I took care of the clock and love to hear it's chime… :)

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:03 pm
    • Thank you Eugenia, we are happy to make this beautiful cottage our retirement home! :)

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm
  3. Mari and Ken: Welcome to your new home! Congrats again to you both! I am not so sure you are enjoying the weather there today or not….my sister and her fam., and my bro. and his family all live in NC…..they got 5 inches of snowfall this morn. and it was terrible road conditions. Hope you all are safe and sound! ENJOY ENJOY!^_^

    HAPPY VALENTINES DAY tomorrow everyone!<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

    amberPA on February 13, 2014 at 7:57 pm
    • Hey Mari and Ken….this will be your first Valentines Day in your ne home! How sweet and romantic!<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3 Maybe it would be lovely to get snowed in! He-hee!<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

      amberPA on February 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm
    • ooops…left out the "w" in new. Sorry!

      amberPA on February 13, 2014 at 8:01 pm
    • Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's also Amber <3 :)

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm
    • Thank you Amber, we're very happy and the snow didn't last that long. We were fortunate driving in to be right behind the snowplow! LOL

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:04 pm
    • You all were very lucky to be behind the plow! It is usually the best place to be.^_^ Glad you all had a happy Valentine's Day! Mine was lovely also, thank you Mari, for asking. Enjoy each other and your home in NC!

      amberPA on February 18, 2014 at 5:30 pm
    • indeed a lucky streak…thanks Amber and have a great week :)

      Macusina on February 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm
  4. A warm welcome of "Howdy" to Virgina, and a sad goodbye to Kayla ( you did a great job, please visit us here on the blog when you can)

    Mari & Ken, Virtual Hugs & a Warm Welcome to the NC Crystal Coast <3… Don't wait too long to try the BBQ, it's so good!
    Enjoy your new surroundings…embrace the flavors, beauty, culture, history, music, dance, and the wonderful people that make the coast of NC a wonderful and beautiful place to live.
    Try those Duck Donuts when you visit the OBX . Climb all the lighthouses to the top, the views are worth every step! Catch your breath as you cross over the Bonner Bridge, looking down on Oregon Inlet,…the view of the swirling marsh, ocean and ribbons of sand is one of the most beautiful views in all of NC. Stand on the Wright Brother's Memorial at Kill Devil Hills and see where the first powered flight in the USA took place. Go see the Lost Colony outdoor drama, and walk through the exquisite gardens at the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo. Oh, and the beauty of Pea Island on Hatteras Island, and the charm of Ocracoke are waiting on y'all too.
    Don't ever miss a chance to go see the wild Spanish Mustangs at Cape Lookout, Carrot Island or on Corolla….there's nothing that compares to seeing those mustangs grazing in the marsh or running wild and free on a beach!
    Probably wipe a tear or two of joy from your eyes as you explore your Amazing new home and property…..
    Have the time of your lives living your dream and making the best of memories in your new Blog Cabin home<3

    Mel on February 13, 2014 at 10:07 pm
    • Still hard to say ado to this place!

      COOLSMILEY on February 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm
    • It really is CoolSmiley…I just loved this BC…and the location will always mean so much to me <3

      Mel on February 16, 2014 at 11:12 am
    • Ah, Mel, what a wonderful welcome to Mari and her family with all your hints to enjoy. Everyone planning on a visit that way should copy your post to their itinerary. I am!

      Wind Chime Girl on February 15, 2014 at 9:24 pm
    • Thank You WCG, and enjoy your visit to the OBX, it is such a special place<3

      Mel on February 16, 2014 at 10:53 am
    • Just checking in again, Mel . That was such a lovely overview of the Crystal Coast area that I could almost go pack my bags for a trip there too !
      Hope it has not been too cold where you live. I keep tabs on the Karen Beasley Center in Topsail, NC…they rescue sea turtles of all sizes ( injuries, infections, fishing net or line entanglements, etc.) but lately they have been braving the cold to rescue sea turtles stunned by the cold….even if there is a blizzard the volunteers amke their way to feed the turtles and tend to them every day. Very inspiring !<3 <3 <3

      LLColeman on February 16, 2014 at 4:34 am
    • LLColeman, we had a wet summer, and are having a wet winter too. Our temps have been about right, with just an occasional below normal temp here and there.
      Spring is right around the corner… and I can hardly wait to see the buttercups shooting up! It's time to start my seeds for home grown tomatoes, which I will set out after the frosts are finished.

      I know Topsail very well, a relative of mine hosts the family 4th of July picnic at his home there. The people are lovely there, and the beach too. I still remember the videos you shared with the blog about the sea turtle rescues and releases at Topsail, and I agree, that is so inspiring!
      I hope you see the link below about the Whalehead Club, its history and renovation. Like you I love to see an old home saved!

      Mel on February 16, 2014 at 11:07 am
    • I didn't mention one of my favorite places to visit at the Outer Banks in this post, only because I had mentioned it so many times last year on the blog. For anyone visiting the Outer Banks though, you need to include this stop!!
      It could be a weekend trip for Mari & Ken, just because you would want to spend a complete day or more at this lovely location. Currituck Heritage Park is like a slice of heaven, you can tour at your leisure the Corolla historic village, climb the Currituck Lighthouse, visit the wild Spanish Mustang Museum along with the Currituck Museum, fish and crab off of the foot bridge, sit at the end of a pier for hours in a gazebo and watch the birds out in the sound. Pack your lunch, and eat at one of the picnic tables under a majestic Live Oak. There is a minimal fee to tour the Whalehead Club, but for free you can do everything else. You can fly a kite, take wonderful photographs, you are free to walk and explore all of this breathtaking acreage, or launch a kayak and paddle all over the sound. Here's a link to a bit of history about the Whalehead club, and some great aerial views of Currituck Heritage Park, though a bit long it gives you an idea of how much there is to do

      Mel on February 16, 2014 at 9:39 am
    • Thank you for the link, Mel ! So glad they were able to preserve that beautiful structure.

      LLColeman on February 17, 2014 at 12:48 am
    • It's such a beautiful home, and property. I'm glad you liked the link.
      Take care LL <3

      Mel on February 19, 2014 at 6:54 am
    • Dear Mel,
      Thank you for the lovely sentiment! We've been lighting that BBQ quite often and really enjoying the area! I will try all the place you've recommended. There are so many to explore!
      Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's day ! <3 Have a great week!

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm
    • You are such a sweetie Mari
      Have the best time discovering your favorite places at the Crystal Coast & OBX. Knowing you are a beach lover I think Ocracoke and Pea Island might rate high on your list <3

      Mel on February 19, 2014 at 6:52 am
    • Can't wait to be able to get a skiff so we can just coast up there but in the meantime we'll take the ferry…so much to see…so much to do! Still in awe. Thank you Mel, have a wonderful week <3

      Macusina on February 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm
  5. good luck mari and ken welcome viginia….. this is the blog cabin for me…i want to go home to fl i am tired of freezing in the winter and this one has been a doozy xx

    felicity on February 13, 2014 at 11:05 pm
    • Thank you Felicity!

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm
  6. Ken and Mari:
    Welcome to North Carolina and enjoy your beautiful new home!!

    Next big tests for you- how you like your 'cue and what shade of blue you will cheer for!!

    Lia_M on February 14, 2014 at 1:09 am
    • Thank you Lia!!! I love all shades of blue…LOL (Oooops, hope I don't get in trouble…hehehe)

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm
    • :)

      Glad you made it safely through the snow and here's going for many happy, blessed years in your new home!

      Lia_M on February 19, 2014 at 12:31 am
  7. Welcome. Virginia! So happy to hear Ken & Mari are safely at their new home!

    Daffie on February 14, 2014 at 7:22 am
  8. Good Sunny morning in Florida. As we watch the snow still piling up the concrete blocks will be going in to build the crawl space in Winter Haven. Workers are on site and the day looks full. It may be cool by their standards but if you are working hard it warms you up quickly in that sun.

    grammagail on February 14, 2014 at 10:34 am
    • The block layers are going full steam ahead this morning. Looks like the block might be 10", I am guessing. They do not look large enough to be the customary 12", but, I might be wrong. It is hard to tell from a distance. Did you notice the brick ties that are attached to the blocks? They are used to hold the brick face onto the foundation. Probably will look a lot like the BC 2013 foundation.

      Have a terrific day.

      Builder on February 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm
    • Figured they would do a similar crawl space with similar weather to take into account although probably not as severe here. I did notice the ties. It is harder to see underneath this time but there are blocks set up to go under there.

      grammagail on February 14, 2014 at 1:29 pm
    • Surprising that there has been no footing placed for the addition at the far end. It looks like they may get the house onto the new foundation before they even star to build it from the ground up. That could make getting the floors even less complicated.

      Ralebird on February 14, 2014 at 3:00 pm
    • It's interesting that many of those ties won't be used. The foundation extension for restoring the sunroom has not been laid out yet. When that happens, apparently after the house is lowered onto the foundation, the wall we currently see beneath the cut off sunroom will be hidden and will not need the decorative brick facing.

      Ralebird on February 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm
    • Oops. I think I'm wrong. It's hard to see because of the camera angle, but zooming in shows the new foundation wall does jut out between the sunroom and the main back wall, but only by two or 2 1/2 blocks.

      Ralebird on February 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm
    • Sunroom, main room and kitchen foundation walls all look to be in their correct place according to the plan. I doubt they would install the brick ties unless they were going to use them. ;) I expect to see brick facade on the concrete block we see lakeside and no extension of the foundation walls further towards the lake. The bolts to tie the house walls to the foundation are also in place.

      It's difficult to see clearly but I agree the kitchen/second bedroom end foundation looks like it's not finished yet.

      Looking carefully underneath there are footings for the central support pilars also which is what the guys seem to be building as I blog :) .

      Last year they lowered the house after most of the foundation walls, including the brick facade, had been built.

      AnniesOwn on February 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm
    • Hi Builder. Without being sure how wide the block is are you able to make a rough estimate about the height the floor of the building will sit above ground level? Or do you think they will be building the foundation walls another course or two higher?

      SID on February 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm
    • That looks like the top of the foundation already because the threaded rod for the tie downs does not go high enough for another course of block to be added.

      Ralebird on February 14, 2014 at 5:19 pm
    • TY

      SID on February 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm
    • Looks like the block will be 32"(4 blocks) above the foundation, so roughly about 16" above grade, providing there is not one more row of blocks, which is doubtful. When laying block, if the quick dry mortar is used, the block layers can go up many rows. Otherwise, using conventional mortar, three rows of block is the limit, until it has time to set. If going too high with conventional mortar, just the weight of the blocks will squish the mortar joints, causing an uneven surface in places. Blocks are very heavy, so the workers are always constantly monitoring a level row. Block laying is a tough, hard job, and very hard on the back. Not too long ago, there was a Holmes on Homes show that explained the difference between regular and quick dry mortar.. You might have watched that episode.

      Builder on February 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm
    • Lots of good info, TY Builder.

      SID on February 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm
    • Wow, look at them go! It certainly pays off to set up your work site before you start!

      grammagail on February 14, 2014 at 1:25 pm
    • I to was watching them set the blocks. I do think that the far end where the kitchen is to be the footers have not been dug. It is possable that they will set the house on what block they set today first. Blocks look to be 8 x16 and will add a single course of bricks to complete the 12" wide wall. As you can see after puting up the wall parts of it were removed to accommodate the removel of the movers beams.

      Jay Michajluk on February 14, 2014 at 11:57 pm
    • Makes perfect sense. I wondered why they set those blocks in place and then took them out! o.0

      SID on February 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm
    • I think by building a complete wall the letting it set some and removing what they needed to, the spacing would be correct to reset the missing blocks after the house is resting on the foundation.

      Jay Michajluk on February 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm
    • Absolutely correct. :)

      DannyF on February 15, 2014 at 3:50 pm
  9. Welcome Virginia! And what a great road trip story about the 2013 Blog Cabin Winners- so exciting to hear more about them. Many happy years to Mari, Ken & family in their new home.

    AndreaMP on February 14, 2014 at 1:06 pm
  10. Lucky them.:) I thought they would have some pics of them in their Blog Cabin home.B):o

    cucumberHOH on February 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm
    • Thank you Andrea!

      Macusina on February 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

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Blog Cabin is the groundbreaking multimedia experience based on a very simple idea: You Design It, We Build It, You Could Win It! This truly interactive series asks Internet users to vote on the design features for a real vacation getaway. Expert hosts will transform a 1990s waterfront home in Panacea, Florida that will become a luxurious home for a lucky sweepstakes winner. Plus, a one-hour Blog Cabin special, hosted by tool expert Chris Grundy, will highlight the incredible transformation.
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