Journal: My All-Time Top 3 Projects

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 02/09/2010 - 13:02

I've loved architecture ever since I first discovered legos, and still enjoy lincoln log play time with my preschooler (who, suprise, suprise, loves to build too!).

That's my daughter, Grace, and my niece, Hannah, building a school while my husband, Jacob and I work on our cabin stairs.
Now that was a big summer project, those stairs!
Our lakefront cabin was our first major building project together.  We built this cabin with no heavy equipment.  Yes, me and the shovel know each other very well.  There is no road access to the cabin.
Everything you see here is hauled in by snow machine or boat
On what I say is the most beautiful boat ride in Alaska.  That's why you see me climb over a boat trailer in our garage - the boat is totally worth it!
I once counted 17 moose in a ten minute boat ride.
But then, in the middle of building our lakehouse, I got pregnant.  So we had to stop, and build a house.
And this is the house we built are building.  Can't wait for the weather to warm up and we can put the river rock up on the front.  It also started snowing on me as I was painting.
My husband and I built this house with our own two hands.  As in we hired nothing out.  Our hands drew out the plans on graph paper, loaded the lumber in the truck, soddered the plumbing lines, pulled the electrical wires, layed the flooring, and all the millions of other tasks that are necessary to build a house.  I remember once my infant daughter was on my back and my niece, then a toddler, was in the Lowe's race car, and I loaded 500 pounds of slate tile into the cart.
And you can hear the pride in my voice as I write these words.  In fact, there is only one thing that I worked harder at, only one thing that I am prouder of
Here she is, sitting on my very first all-by-myself project.  I built these front steps using a really scary heavy circular saw, and they are far from perfect.  But these are the steps that took me from designer to designer AND builder.  And when you become a builder, you also become a better designer.  By knowing how to build, you learn how to design plans that are easy to build.
And this is how I learned to build.


Isabel (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 13:08

Wow, that is sooo amazing that you guys built your own house, I would be very proud of myself too!!! What great example you are! Your little girl is a doll!

michelle (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 14:03

Wow, I am impressed! Congrats on all of your success.

Thanks for sharing the pics and personal triumphs. Love your blog! :)

MaryJanes and … (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 14:07

That's really amazing. My husband and I are getting ready to build a house together. We hope to do almost everything ourselves, including concrete countertops which we are very excited about. He's a carpenter, I am not, so we will have a little help when it comes to the pluming and electric, but we have family for that!

Jennifer (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 14:07

WOW. Thanks for sharing! I love your blog and envious of all your projects. I have a list of things to build after discovering your blog a few days ago. I'm so inspired! My husband has a wood shop, and I've never really been that interested. Yesterday I told him that he's going to have to share!

The Faveros (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 14:43

Wow - I can't believe you built your own house - when I saw this post I said to my husband - "What, you can build your own house - wouldn't that save so much money - why are we not doing this?" He laughed- I don't think he is into it!! I am seriously so impressed - SO IMPRESSED~~

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 14:53

Very very nice. I'm so happy I found your blog. We are building the Stratton bed right now. First bench is done. I'll send in a picture when we are done. We're going to stain is a "forest green" stain.

My first paycheck after college I designed, bought, and built a back deck to cover an ugly cement back porch. My husband could not help himself from helping (he did give me 8 hours by myself before he joined the fun.) The deck made the back yard!
Laura W

Kristen (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 15:24

I am so impressed with your blog, I look at it all the time but this is the first time I have commented. I just loved this post especially the last picture, your daughter is beautiful and I love that you are the most proud of her. You are an amazing person!

Chronicles Of … (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 17:22

Wow! You should be so proud of that beautiful little girl and your beautiful house! This was such a great post!

Cindy (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 17:32

I am in awe of you, I want to be like you when I grow up;o) No, really you are amazing. I have always loved building, but I don't have what you have in the design dept. I love all of your projects, though.

Caroline (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 17:42

I was not expecting that! Wow! What an amazing story! I hope that one day, I too can say that I built my home with my own two hands. But that's a long ways off...

Congratulations. It definitely looks like your hard work paid off!

All My Yesterdays (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 17:46

Such awesomeness to be proud of! Especially the little munchkin...
I love your inspiring blog and will keep watching as your life progresses. And thanks for sharing such beautiful pictures of your Alaskan lifestyle.

CBM (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 17:51

A) I want your cabin.
B) I have never seen a moose (none in Texas!)
C) Thanks so much for your blog! I love seeing your plans and am always inspired to build. More importantly, build by myself!

gr8day2no (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 20:29

That is so great!! I love that you are beautiful, in shape, a wife, a mother and an incredible carpenter!! You're the total package. I think it's so fun that you have such a wonderful skill and talent that is just simply unexpected! Well done!! Keep knocking our socks off!! You deserve to be on HGTV!! I'd tune in for sure!!! Best of luck!!

Kari @ Ucreate (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 20:49

Holy cow Ana!! You are seriously the queen of carpentry. What an amazing gift you have!

Laura (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 20:54

Talk about inspiration! How long did it take you guys to make the house actually live-able? I understand that huge projects like that are almost always still in a work in progress stage.

That is seriously very impressive. I woke my fiance up just to show him that and make him read your post. What does your husband do? And what did you do before you got married? Did you go to school for design or anything? Sorry so many questions! Just really fascinated! And as previously mentioned, very inspired!

PS- My mother is a kindergarten teacher, so I have seen thousands of little kids in my life. Your daughter is precious!!!! So I'm not just saying that. ;)

Blog Buddy (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 21:17

Love your blog! I'm a native Alaskan myself:) My hubby and I live down here (lower 48) in Utah now...but someday I'll make it back:) Thanks for reminding me of how fun it is up there...I do NOT miss the mosquitoes!

Kristi (not verified)

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 03:32

Ana thanks for sharing! You are just so inspiring to many women everywhere (and probably some men too!) and the fact that you do so much yourself is just MOTIVATING!!! Thanks a million times....THANKS!!

Amy (not verified)

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 05:51

You guys are amazing! I wish all the best for you and your little family. Thanks for sharing so much with us!

Ana White (not verified)

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 09:17

Thank you so much everyone for reading my crazy resume! I'm not sure if the opportunity to build your own home exists everywhere, due to certifications, codes, and zoning and other requirements, but we are so happy here in Alaska, and with all the opportunities available to us.

When I was 5 months pregnant, we started the house. We moved in when my daughter was 8 months old. Things would have gone much faster if we were not building paycheck to paycheck, and I wasn't pregnant and nursing, and if my husband wasn't working full time. Also, had to take 6 months off to wait on the weather. I will have to post house plans someday, many people have come over and asked for some graph paper to sketch out our floor plan.

My husband works for Boeing, on computer and electronics equipment. My background is also in computer science, and I worked as a Systems Engineer for a large computer corporation. We are ordinary people with ordinary jobs - well, except my husband, he's got some extraoridanry building skills. The first time I came over to visit, he was building something. I wonder if he planned that?

I wish I could invite everyone to breakfast at my cabin, because that is one boat trip you MUST do in your lifetime. So if you are ever in Delta Junciton, Alaska . . .

Thank you everyone for reading my ramblings!


Kristi (not verified)

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 09:34

We have been loving your site- I found you a few weeks ago and have already marked half a dozen projects I want to try.
I have a four year old named Grace. She and her two baby sisters have been known to go and get their tool buckets to "help" out with various projects around the house. Don't think I have EVER been more proud than the day her Preschool teacher pulled me aside and told me that after a chair broke in the classroom my Grace told her to wait until her Mommy got there to pick her up. Her mommy could fix anything.

The best of luck with your show. I know that when you are selected, it will be a raging success. Will start planning my trip to Alaska- what's for breakfast? Can I bring anything?

Lili (not verified)

Thu, 02/11/2010 - 07:12

Oh Wow!!! You truly are Superwoman. I can't even imagine doing one of your "easy" projects myself. I am so intimidated by it all!!! Love this blog & if I ever work up the courage to build something, I will definately be letting you know.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 18:04

Standing ovation to you and your husband. I am over the moon about finding this site. My husband and I have the exact same taste in furniture as you do and likely the same budget ;)
Plan to start with a bench and a glad our paths crossed!! You rock!!!

Anonymous (not verified)

Thu, 02/18/2010 - 17:18

I'm ridiculously impressed. I can't fathom even considering building something so big and important. I'm looking forward to exploring the rest of your site and maybe getting up the courage to build something for my own home (which someone else built :-) ) Thank you for all the plans; they look fantastic!

Charles and Lynn (not verified)

Wed, 02/24/2010 - 12:44

I cried reading that. That is so amazing what you accomplished, just the two of you. You are really an inspiration. So far I have made the hyde coffee table with your plans, and I am onto the next project already (about 3 hours since finishing the table). My husband is going to get really nervous when I tell him that if Ana built a house, maybe we can too!

Emily (not verified)

Sat, 03/06/2010 - 11:38

You are amazing! I love your blog. I am so pumped to build something right now and fortunately, my husband has every tool you could ever imagine for woodworking in our garage. Now, if I can just figure out what I want to build first, I'll be set!

Thank you for all of the hard work you put into this blog!

Toby (not verified)

Fri, 03/12/2010 - 12:34

Your rock Alaskan woman. I live 15 minutes from a Home Depot and can't do what you do. But you've inspired me - do you have any advice for an impatient wanna be carpenter?

Laci (not verified)

Wed, 03/17/2010 - 02:17

I can't even begin to tell you how inspiring this is to me. Please don't stop writing your journal portions! We are currently adding on to our home, like 3x's our current 900 sq ft. We are trying to do everything ourselves, as my husband is in construction. I remember being 7 mos pregnant and hauling our then 13 month old daughter around in a carrier to pick up all the debris. I need to step up my game, and thank you for reminding me!

Georgia (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 03:18

Are you seriously going to post plans for your house someday? That would be awesome! I would love to build a home w/ my husband, but wouldn't know where to begin! You are the best! I have a whole list of projects to build already. I can't say thank you enough!

Sophie, Inzaburbs (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 04:48

The more I read your blog, the more convinced I am that you will be the next Martha Stewart, only nicer...
When you are famous (I mean, more than you are already ;-) ) remember I said it first!

Paula (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 07:27

Ana, you are an amazing woman! Thank you for inspiring other women to take on tasks that they would never dream of tackling themselves prior to finding your website!

Foster Family … (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 11:11

I have always been interested in building from scrap wood and have endeavored a few small projects, but what a treat to have almost 200 plans of DIY furniture to get inspired by!! I have browsed the comments left here, and I have to say I concur with all the glowing praise, you are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your talent (for free) with such a spirit of goodwill. I'll be making some of these someday when I've got the space but for now, I'll remain excited to see what else you seem to come up with on a daily basis! All the best to you and your family.