Blog Cabin

Archive for 'Blog Cabin 2007' Category

Oct 28

Thanks Y’all!

Hi Everybody,

Yea Joyce Bennet! Huge congratulations to you! I hope you will have many wonderful years, meals, holidays, regular days and memories there. I’m thrilled that you have plans to spend Christmas there with your family. I hope it’s your best Christmas ever. We’re all very, very happy for you!

To all of you who didn’t win this year’s Blog Cabin, I understand your disappointment and I’m sorry I couldn’t build a log cabin for each one of you. But the good news is you get another shot at it in 2008. So convert that disappointment into hope and channel all of that energy into ideas for making next year’s cabin even more D-luxe (and green!) You (all y’all) are the crucial component in this.

So, just in case you couldn’t tell, I really loved building this cabin. I mean it was frustrating at times, sure, and man, it was blazing hot up on that roof! (I seriously think I cooked my internal organs up there. No kidding.) But the whole experience was immensely rewarding, largely because of you (all y’all.) I truly felt like we were in this thing together from the get go. As for the construction of the cabin, I hope you know I had your back (sometimes much to the dismay of the subcontractors) because I definitely know that you had mine. (Um, thanks for helping me out with that little window issue.) Reading your comments and suggestions has been my favorite part of this whole Blog Cabin experience and I will miss it terribly. This is my last blog entry, so before I go I want to make sure to give you all a big, fat thank you for all of your help.

Thank you (all y’all.) I mean it.

Keep checking back here frequently because the Blog Cabin 2008 team will be posting regular updates and asking for your opinions on everything.

It has been such a pleasure. Keep in touch, ok?

Amy Devers

Oct 26

And the winner is …..

Blog Cabin bloggers,

Take a second to congratulate Joyce Bennett and her family for winning the 2007 DIY Blog Cabin — a Smoky Mountain paradise. Joyce’s name was chosen from more than 3.2 million entries.

Thanks to all the participants and bloggers for making this year’s Blog Cabin a whole lot of fun. It’s been an amazing year — you designed and DIY built it. I am a bit envious that Joyce and her familly will be able to enjoy this cabin for many years. I can only dream about owning a cabin as great as this one.

When Joyce answered the phone and found out she won the Blog Cabin, all she could do was scream with excitement.

“When I got off the phone I was celebrating by shouting and my husband (Bill) wanted to know what was wrong with me. I told him I won the cabin,” she said. “I am so thankful that I won this beautiful cabin in the Smokies. We can’t wait to spend Christmas in the cabin. We are on the mountain top with this exciting win!”

Click here to see video of Joyce and her family seeing the cabin for the first time.

Joyce, pictured below with her family, is a grandmother of two and is retired from First Tennessee Bank. Joyce, center right in photo, and her husband have been married for 42 years. They have three children and two grandchildren.


Thanks again for making DIY Blog Cabin a great success in 2007.

Ron Lubke

Sep 19

Wow. You’re good.

Hi Everybody,
Wow! Your food talk is amazing! You’re the best food-talkers ever. Don’t stop, please. I can tell you guys are as in to this as I am and that makes me so happy.

Sometimes, in a sweepstakes situation, people just want to win in order to get the monetary value of something. As soon as they win, they sell the prize to the highest (or most convenient) bidder. Well, it is a random drawing, and far be it for me to suggest what you should do with your personal property.

But I have to admit it makes me feel really, really good when you guys daydream about life in your new log cabin. You know, because we all put so much effort and heart into the building of it, it’s really nice to hear you celebrate the real (non-monetary) value of such a special home.

One week from tomorrow night you’ll get to see the cabin completely finished. (I’m so excited to show it to you and see what you think of it! I would show you right now if I could, but then I’m the type that would give you your Christmas present early because I’m too excited to wait.) In the meantime, we’ve got some porches to screen in, some landscaping to do, some special painting, and 3 more DIY guest experts. Yea x 3!

Until then, please keep sharing your log cabin fantasies with me. For all the hard work I put into it, your stories are the best reward I could possibly imagine. (Ok, I’m getting a little sentimental, I know, I’m still tough though. It’s just that I actually care about that darn cabin, and all y’all too.)

Keep in touch!

Thursday night you’ll get to see Jason Cameron build this bench.

Sep 7

Blog Feast

Hi Everybody!
Ok so you saw the kitchen, what do you think? Can you imagine yourself cooking delicious food and hanging out with your family and friends there? (Gotta love the open floor plan, yes?)

I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a cook. I’m way more comfortable in the woodshop than I am in the kitchen. But I do love to eat, and I love the ritual of mealtime.

I love the gathering of people (whether it’s just the two of you, or a houseful of close friends and family.)

I love the pre-dinner drink. (Cold beer in the summer, red wine or scotch in the fall, a Manhattan during the holidays.)

I love the smell of garlic being sauteed, the sound of vegetables being chopped… the sizzles, sounds and smells that permeate the whole house and add warmth (both literally and figuratively.)

And then there is nothing better than sitting down together with your favorite people and enjoying their company and a nice meal at the same time. It’s an easy formula:
Good food + good people + good conversation = Can’t be beat. (You thought I was going to say “good times” didn’t you?)

I can’t imagine a more perfect setting for the aforementioned than our cozy Blog Cabin. And believe me, I’ve imagined the scenario a few times because I’m so in love with the place. But alas, the cabin is not mine. But it could be yours, so I’m going to have to live vicariously through you.

Have you thought about the first meal you would cook in your new log home? Indulge me, please. Tell me all about how you picture your first Blog Feast in graphic detail. Mmm.

In October when the winner is announced it’ll be autumn in the Smokeys, which means it’ll be getting dark earlier and the air will be crisp. You may want a fire in the fireplace…

By the way, I’m free for dinner.

Sep 4

The road of good intentions should be paved — including the Blog Cabin driveway

It’s been a long time since I have visited the Blog Cabin. So, I decided to impress my new boss with a drive through the mountains to take a look at the cabin.

It was a great afternoon — hot but no humidity. The drive was amazing. I sometimes forget how spectacular the Smoky Mountains are. The cabin did not disappoint. It is beautiful. I wish I was eligible to win it. I want to move to the mountains now and commute to work. The cabin is perfect except for one thing — an unfinished driveway. It will soon be paved.

First, let me tell you about my new boss. She is smart, patient and pretty much perfect. You will understand why I am kissing up after reading the rest of my blog post.

We get to the Blog Cabin site and the driveway has gravel on it so I figure, my big six-cylinder truck can make it up and down just fine. I’m feeling pretty good driving my truck on the winding country roads. The only thing missing was Willie Nelson on the radio.

After our tour of the cabin, we start up the driveway to leave and guess what; my studly truck can only make it up about two-thirds of the driveway before the back wheels start spinning. I bet I tried to climb the driveway 10 times before I sheepishly called a tow truck to rescue us. Talk about embarrassing experiences.

To make matters worse, a group of folks drive by to check out the cabin and here I am providing laughs for what seemed like a 100 people (actually it was four). What are the odds of people driving by right at that moment? We were in the middle of nowhere. Plus, it cost me a $100 to get the tow.

Typically, people don’t remember me after meeting me the first time. I’m pretty sure my new boss won’t be saying that. I’m the type of person who doesn’t make much of a first impression –neither good nor bad. I’m pretty quiet and introspective so it takes awhile for people to get to know me.

While driving back to the office, I figure my dreams of advancing my career are dead, and I need to practice saying, “you want fries with that?” So if any of you fellow Blog Cabin bloggers are hiring, let me know :)

My new boss was great about it. She really has the patience of Job, and fortunately a great sense of humor. I’ll be catching holy hell about this for months if not years. Before I even got home, she sent an email mocking me. I like her style.

Never fear, soon there will be a perfect driveway to go along with the perfect cabin. In the meantime, I’m sure this experience will replace my stress dreams of having to go back to high school to take one more course. Now, I’ll be dreaming about tow trucks and gravel roads.

The irony in all this is that my favorite song is “Car Wheels on Gravel Road” by Lucinda Williams.

Ron Lubke

Aug 30

Chris and Simon’s Day Job

All of you DIY Blog Cabin fans out there know Chris and Simon as Amy’s side-kick contractors, helping her build this amazing Smokey Mountain cabin retreat. I know them however as my contractors, working on one of the most bizarre renovation projects you can imagine! You can visit my blog to read more about the day to day challenges.

As part of the renovation to “Belleaire,” we’re building a giant 18 x 32 foot screened-in porch! And in the spirit of timber-framers Chris/Simon, we’re building it out of solid 10×10 and 8×8 Cedar posts. The porch (which is almost finished) is turning out beautiful.

Click here to see a video on the construction of the porch, hosted by Chris!

Aug 29

Behind-the-scenes excursion

As you know our Blog Cabin is situated in Kinzel Springs, just outside of Townsend, TN in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. It’s an area the locals refer to as “the peaceful side of the Smokeys.” Now, if people feel the need to designate an area as being “the peaceful side” the first thing I think of is that somewhere there must be a side that rocks.

All work and no play sucks. So in the name of adventure, expanded perspective, and new t-shirts Chris, Simon and I took off one evening on a pilgrimage to Gatlinburg. I didn’t know much about Gatlinburg before I went, still don’t, but here’s what I discovered:
- The local cuisine is chiefly pancakes and fudge.
- It is a popular honeymoon destination.
- It is a popular vacation destination for the people of Ohio.
- You can see traditional clog dancing on the sidewalk.
- The main drag is good for people watching.
- It hasn’t changed much over the last 20 years.
- It is adjacent to Pigeon Forge (which is a different story.)
- It is the fashion capitol of the world, as you will see from our new t-shirts.

I don’t want to misrepresent the virtues of Gatlinburg, I’m sure there is a lot of mad-Gatlinburg-flavor that I didn’t have time to explore. It should be noted that my experience there was very targeted; we were just there for an evening and we were on a mission for airbrushed t-shirts.

Here’s the story:

It was a warm evening and the sun was going down as we pulled into town on the main drag. We had the car windows rolled down and Simon and Chris were regaling me with an amusing anecdote from their last visit to Gatlinburg that involved a sweet honeymooning couple from Ohio. A car pulled up next to us at a light and, having heard part of the story, asked if we too were from Ohio. They were and they were on vacation. Chris revealed that he was indeed from Ohio, Dayton specifically, and we exchanged pleasantries before the light changed. That’s the kind of friendliness you can expect in Gatlinburg.

After parking the car we set about determining which of the many souvenir t-shirt shops was the one for us. I don’t remember the name, but one seemed to beckon us with its neon signs and glamorous window display. Once inside, we all split off to find blank t-shirts in our size. I was making my way back to the artist’s station when I overheard Chris asking the airbrush lady if she could paint the grim reaper riding a unicorn on his t-shirt. What? Brilliant! Of course I knew instantly that that’s what I wanted too. We all did. In a flash, collectively we understood that no matter what else we tried to think of, nothing could possibly be more glorious and satisfying than a t-shirt emblazoned with the grim reaper riding a unicorn. Hot damn!

But Chris, ever concerned with quality and craftsmanship, wanted to make sure we were entrusting this important composition to a competent artist. Unaware that he was challenging her to a duel he casually asked, “Is your grim reaper pretty scary?”

Cue the music:

She stiffened. Without shifting her cold, steely glare from Chris’ eyes she wordlessly drew her weapon, an 8 x 10 portrait of the grim reaper, from beneath the counter and raised it to eye level for Chris’ evaluation.

Chris unflinchingly shot a quick glance at her grim reaper and, satisfied with its fierceness, returned her glare while saying with force and purpose, “That suits me fine.”

Whew. Even though we all gave her complements on the scariness of her reaper, she must’ve still felt a little threatened because she went on to explain that she’s been doing this for 24 years. In fact, she was one of the first 4 airbrush artists in Gatlinburg. She’s not that into skeletons and such but horses are really her thing because she used to board and breed horses a long time ago, back in Florida. But then she was implicated in a horse theft and so she moved to Gatlinburg. Clearly she was more than qualified for the job at hand.

And there you have it. Combine her airbrush prowess with Chris’ inspired vision and Simon’s valiant generosity (he sprung for all the shirts) and you end up with the most awesome outfit on the planet.

It just doesn’t get any classier than this. I feel like a princess.

Aug 23

Blog Splinterectomy

Aug 16

Enter the sweeps


Don’t forget your chance to enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win the Blog Cabin. Also, don’t forget to watch starting Aug. 16 at 9 & 9:30 eastern. It will be on every Thursday through Sept. 27.

You can enter daily by clicking here.


Ron Lubke

Aug 16

Today is the big day!

Hi Everybody,
Now that the cabin is finished, I took off to Italy for a much needed vacation.

Here I am in Rome. The architecture here is a little different than the log homes in TN.

But I’m checking in to remind you that Blog Cabin premieres tonight! Yea! Two new episodes will air back to back each Thursday at 9 and 9:30 pm EDT. Plus, even more importantly, the sweepstakes starts today, double yea!! Be sure to enter yourself to win and don’t forget that you can enter again each day, so make it part of your regular routine. You know, like flossing.

Also, please write in with feedback. I’d love to know what you think of the cabin, the show, me, the contractors, the camera angles, the materials, techniques, the area, the everything. Constructive or complimentary, sing to me please!

In return, I will sing to you. As promised, here are the answers to the questions you’ve blogged about.

Q. 1.Did you guys put tiered stairs off of the balcony to have access to the backyard?(for safety issues and so you wouldn’t have to walk all the way around the house)

A. No, it wasn’t the highest priority on the list because the winners will most likely spend most of their time enjoying the back yard from the screened-in porch. All of the outdoor living area is in the front yard. Also, we did landscape in some earthen steps leading down the slope to the storage area under the house, so I feel we covered those bases.

Q. 2. Someone asked me if the cabin comes furnished.
(I’d just be happy being cuddled up asleep on that window seat.)

A. Yes it does, partially. We’ve included the basics like beds, dressers, couches and appliances so you can use it right away. But we were careful not to fill it up with too much stuff because we knew the winner would want to move in plenty of their things in order to make the space their own.

Q. Here is the question that has been haunting me for months……….

Who EXACTLY is “Goldilocks and The Three Lip-Lickin’ Bears”?

A. I don’t know exactly but I suspect she’s a nice lady by the name of Hilary Ireland, who is also interested in the Blog Cabin and who is gifted at drawing parallels between her life and the popular children’s tale. I don’t know who the 3 bears are but I’m betting that it’s her family, in any combination of offspring, pets and husbands.

Q. Please induldge us with the cabin name posted out in the front yard (ex. BLOG CABIN or whatever was decided on).

A. I didn’t pick a name yet. In fact, I decided it was so important that, in true Blog Cabin spirit, it should be put to a vote. The poll is up on the DIY Blog Cabin main page. Make sure to vote for your favorite!

Q. Hey Amy! I’m back! With a fourth question! During the month of June we bloggers were brainstorming for a name for this beautiful hand hewn “Blog Cabin Retreat”. And we noticed the very artistic wewela (meaning hummingbird in the Cherokee language). Who painted this beautiful hummingbird? Was it the lady who resides there in Kinzel Springs?

A. Actually, we had a local woodcarver by the name of Gene Webb carve and paint the main support post in the house. It looks great! This doesn’t mean the house is named “Welela Lodge” but it is an option on the poll, so it could be if enough people vote for it.

Gene Webb with his rattlesnake masterpiece.

Keep your questions coming. I’ll ponder them while I’m in Florence.
Ciao for now,



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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