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Deuce Cities Henhouse


Allen Fam Cabin
We are cabin people forever in our hearts, but now in real life too! We are under contract on a small A-frame-ish cabin nestled in a forest that sits above a sparkling lake. If you have ever spent any time around this blog you know I talk about cabins and cabin vibes a lot. For us, not only are cabins magical little getaway places, but they are beloved, sentimental spaces that on an emotional level DO NOT compare to any other type of man-made structure. I’m sure it sounds hippie-dippie, but these little spaces have become the places where life seems to exist on a more supernatural, chill plane to us. We wanted to have our OWN tiny piece of The Lake.

I’ve had a casual Zillow search tuned in for cabins in Western Wisconsin for probably three years now. It was always a someday dream that seemed on the edge of too hard to achieve. Earlier this year we decided that maybe it was time to do an experiment. We slimmed down the budget and started living the day-to-day like we had two mortgages, socking away the money we saved. Too our surprise, we could manage it with a lot more thoughtful spending. This re-evaluation of the budget came at the same time that both Jeff and I began to unplug more often. Mornings before the day starts are spent phoneless, listening to records and chatting about our days before jumping into work. Nights are free of the random screen-thumbing behavior that we’ve been gotten so good at. E-mails can wait. Being in the present has put so much in focus for both of us and hanging with our kids.

After lots of serious consideration it came down to our old philosophical friend: YOLO. Having a cabin is something that we’ve wanted so bad, and now have the opportunity to make it happen. We know how to slow down and enjoy what’s happening right in front of us, right now! Could we wait a few years and have a bigger down payment? Prolly. Could we just keep renting cabins and save ourselves the stress? Yeah. BUT, We are cabin people, in our hearts, this is something we’ve dreamed of doing forever. So, just do it already!

Then one day in the midst of all this Zen Yolo-gizing, a red A-frame cabin showed up in my feed, and the hunt was on. Before we knew it we were pre-approved for a mortgage, set up with an real estate agent, and speeding up north after work on weeknights.

The red A-frame cabin was not meant to be, but we quickly found this A-frame chalet style cabin.

Allen Fam Cabin Allen Fam Cabin Allen Fam Cabin Allen Fam Cabin

Allen Fam Cabin
The cabin was built in ’68, has a vaulted ceiling in the main living area of the house, a fireplace, two cozy bedrooms upstairs, one larger bedroom on the main floor, 2 bathrooms, a basement that is perfect for expansion or a kid den, a large tiered deck overlooking the crystal clear lake, a dock, a fire pit and a forest for exploring.

We did compromise a little bit, the only thing we were really unsure of was the size of the lake and the lack of a gradual incline into the water. The cabin is built on top of a hill, but close to the water which means there is no place for kids to play in the sand, they just need to get in and swim in the shallow water near the shore line. Not the end of the world, but it tugged at us a bit. We could potentially have a pontoon, and we might someday, but for now we will have the paddle boats and canoes that come with sale of the cabin – and that’ll be just fine. We are scheduled to close towards the end of the summer. I’m glad that our summertime calendar is already chock-full of swimming lessons, science camps, and lots of other cabin weekends with our friends and family while we wait.

You guys, YOLO.

in The Cabin
43 comments… add one
  • Katie May 31, 2017

    Love it! Those beams in the living room . Get a big island floatie to anchor out a bit that kids can climb and jump off of and maybe one of those Lily pad things to play on and you’re set!

    • Scoops May 31, 2017

      The beams are pretty great! Oh yeah, those lily pad things are supposed to be pretty cool aren’t they? We’ll get tons of floaties for sure!

  • libby May 31, 2017

    It’s soooooo, soooooo beautiful!! Congratulations! I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    • Scoops May 31, 2017

      Thanks, Libby! Lots to do but I’m in no rush ;)

  • Katrina May 31, 2017

    Yay! I saw this in your IG story and crossed my fingers for you. I grew up in the “Brainerd Lakes Area” and I’ve reached a point in my life where I totally want a little cabin up there, or maybe to even move back permanently someday (my teenage self is horrified by such an idea). Anyway, congrats!

    • Scoops May 31, 2017

      Our favorite cabin (a friend’s parents’) is in the good old BLA, we’ve had so many good memories made there over they years! Don’t forget that your teen self is just a dumb-teen and doesn’t realize how awesome cabins and lake life really are.

      • Bridget Wall June 9, 2017

        We have a place there as well! It is killer. I can’t wait to get up for the fourth!

  • Sheree May 31, 2017

    I’m so happy for you guys!! That cabin is absolutely presh. I hear you on the beach- but the boys will be doing flippies off the dock before you know it (if they aren’t already!) I grew up on a lake in Nisswa and miss it all summer long! I just can’t convince my non-MN native husband that lake life is where it’s at! Congrats, you guys are going to have a blast and I for one cannot wait for the awesome cabin reno posts!

    • Scoops May 31, 2017

      Hey Sheree, I’m hopeful that the boys will be used to lake swimming in the blink of an eye! The good news is the lake doesn’t get too deep too fast, so fingers crossed. There has to be away to convince your husband, who doesn’t like cabins? ;)

  • Jenny May 31, 2017

    We just had the exact same experience and bought one in western Wisconsin in November. It has been WONDERFUL! Waking up before my family to have coffee on our dock is a dream come true everytime. Seeing beavers, muskrat, loons, bear, elk, etc. is amazing. Not having a sandy beach is actually really good for the lake and wildlife, so there’s a positive. Congratulations!!!!

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      Jenny! Thanks for sharing, and congrats on your new cabin! It’s so good to hear that this has been such a positive for you and your fam – I can’t wait for this to be our reality too. I don’t think I could ever regret it this decision. That’s good to know about the sandy beach, I’m learning about lakes here as I go.

  • monica May 31, 2017

    Oh! So exciting and lovely! I am the mom of two teen boys (17 and 14) and at this age the shallow water ad sand would not be wanted- they would love jumping from the doc – not suer how old your kids are, but they will be “jumping off the dock teens” in the blink of an eye! Congrats!

    • Becky May 31, 2017

      Congratulations! The beach is good for babies and toddlers-dock is where it is at for everyone else!

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      Yes! Teens want to jump off the dock, tweens even want to jump off the dock! I think we were worried about our friends and fam with younger kids (ours are almost 9 &6), but I’m not that worried. The water starts out shallow and I know that kids love water ;) I think I’ll put some temporary stairs (2 steps) off the side of the dock near the shore so little ones can get in and out easily. Thanks!

  • Jody May 31, 2017

    YES! So excited for you! It’s wonderful :)

  • Jennifer May 31, 2017

    Oooo, so pretty and cozy! Congrats on the cabin. I have such great memories growing up when my family went to the lake. Fishing and swimming were fun but I also remember the lovely rainy days spent inside, rain pattering on the roof and playing board games together. It’s funny how that much wood can look amazing in the woods but knotty wood paneling in a suburban retro room not so much. The beams and main living room look so inviting! It will be fun to see how you style it (no rush):)

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      Hey Jennifer! That is such a great lake memory! I can’t wait for rainy days too – especially in the upstairs cozy bedrooms with windows that look out on the woods. I totally agree and am a bit not knowing what to do about all the paneling. I think at first we’ll live with it for a good while and then maybe paint some of it white or whitewash the surface. I love the beams and the ceiling in the main room and won’t be touching those. I definetley think we’ll be doing a few small things to start off and make it ours, number one being to remove the carpet and expose the hardwoods in the living room and replace some of the living room furniture – it comes furnished (I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing).

  • Vanessa May 31, 2017

    Cool biz! In reference to the pontoon possibility of the future – my sister-in-law has one (she just got a NEW one last week) and she shares with all of us. It seats 8 people and 5 dogs easily!

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      Vanessa – can’t wait for a pontoon to enter our lives. It will probably wait until next summer since we wont be getting to closing until nearly August. I love me a pontoon though :)

  • Shannen June 1, 2017

    I grew up with a cabin that my grandpa and great grandpa built, in 1965, similar to this one…It even had a an outhouse than my grandma pimped out…I loved it! It was up high overlooking the river, we had a fire pit at the bottom of the deck, many nights were spent around that fire…since moving to ireland 17 yrs ago, cabins, are something I really miss!! Like you I am a cabin person..delighted for you and your family..can’t wait to hear about your cabin adventures and live vicariously through your blog :)

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      Hey Shannen! Your family cabin sounds so great! I love the idea of a fire down by the water, I wish that was more of a reality for us, but instead it will have to be in the side yard at the top of the hill. I am loving hearing everyones cabin memories and experiences. They are such AMAZING places!

  • Melanie June 1, 2017

    YES!!! I saw this on your instagram and got quite excited. I’m a cabin girl at heart. Grew up in Southern WI and spent MANY summer weeks and weekends up north at ‘the lake’. My husband and I are now Minneapolis folk and I hope for an up north ‘at the lake’ future some day too.

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      We always called it ‘up at the lake’ too! My grandparents had a house on a lake when we were kids and I loved spending weeks there in the summertime swimming all day long. IMO, Wisconsin is where it’s at for entry level cabins – your money goes much further than it seems to in Northern Minnesota.

  • Anne June 1, 2017

    Looks beautiful!!! Congratulations! We’ve long talked about buying a place up North with friends to share the cabin responsibilities so this is super inspirational. I know money isn’t the focus of your blog, but your mention of “thoughtful spending” really hit home with me as that’s recently become an obsession of mine…though I’m not sure how good I am at it yet. If you ever write a post about some things you’ve done to trim your budget/corral your spending, I’d love to read it!

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      Hey Anne, great question regarding the budget. If I can figure out a way to share info that will potentially benefit readers, I will do so. For us, we hadn’t re-examined the daily-spending budget and gone over our finances for some time, and there had been upward movement to Jeff’s career – thus extra cash flow as well. Simply, we were living in the moment of having extra money, and spending more than we should’ve been without putting more money away. We started by cutting out monthly bills that we didn’t need, for example we had a spotify account for music, but amazon prime now offers a streaming music service included in our membership, so we canceled spotify. We examined all of our monthly expenses and ended memberships or canceled services that weren’t needed. Not only that, but we didn’t spend all willy-nilly like we had been, this is the “thoughtful spending”. Typically if I’d got to Target I’d probably leave with a throw blanket or pillow and a small toy for the kid who came with me. We don’t do that sort of thing anymore unless it’s planned spending. I also check our balance every day and we talk through what we are planning on spending money on daily. This used to stress me out, but now, to know what has been going on has felt great. Empowerment and control are words that best describe how our new budget feels, and I feel much happier having taken the reigns. Hope that helps, I’ll consider doing a more in depth post in the future.

      • JennieM June 6, 2017

        LOVE THIS!

  • Julie June 1, 2017

    Oooooh! I love it so much! I’m so happy for you guys. If you want to start with a budget pontoon, we auction used pontoons once a month for great prices. Let me know if you want some info. Congrats!

    • Scoops June 1, 2017

      Hey Julie, yeah I’d love to hear more about budget pontoons – we probably won’t be ready to buy until next spring, but I’d love whatever info you have to offer. You can e-mail me at scoops @ deucecitieshenhouse.com Thanks in advance!

  • Jenny June 1, 2017

    Congratulations! I grew up with a family cabin in Northern Wisconsin, and all those summer weekends spent up north were some of the best times of my life. The cabin isn’t just a financial investment, but an investment in creating memories for generations to come. I love your blog, and I can’t wait to see more about cabin life in the future. :)

    • Scoops June 2, 2017

      Jenny! I totally agree, cabins are all about the memory potential. Like I said, we are pretty sentimental when it comes to places and spaces, I know that we’ll love this place on a whole other level. I love hearing from all of you guys about how much a cabin or lake place meant to your being a kid – I hope that my kids will feel the same way. Can’t wait to share more cabin plans and ruminations on cabin life in future posts.

  • Sarah June 1, 2017

    Congratulations! It is just the cutest! I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

    • Scoops June 2, 2017

      Thanks, Sarah! We are super stoked! I’ve got a few ideas about a couple-a little things I’ll have to tackle once we get in! Excited to share more ideas this summer.

  • Girl, you are living the dream! There must be something in the air – we’re on the hunt, too. Cannot WAIT to see what you do with this already amazing space. I felt so relaxed just reading about Cabin Life! Best of luck!

    • Scoops June 2, 2017

      Lady! I am so stoked for you guys to be looking, so exciting! Selfishly, I can’t wait for the internet to have a surplus of cabin posts, it’s all I’ve ever wanted ;)

      Keep me posted, and good luck on your hunt!

  • Catherine June 4, 2017

    Congratulations. Cabin love is real, ‘Up North’ is a magical place. It looks like you’ve found a good one, and your kids will grow up with the scent and the feel of the cabin-lake-woods in their very cells.

    • Scoops June 8, 2017

      Thanks, Catherine! I hope everything you just said in your comment happens. I am so excited to have the opportunity to take care of a place like this.

  • Elise June 9, 2017

    Congratulations, I’m so happy for you! I am the anomaly among Minnesotans, apparently – no desire to own a cabin myself (but I’m not from here). I’ve been to friends’ cabins and definitely understand the appeal, particularly if you have kids. Our next-door neighbors go to their cabin quite a lot and I use those weekends for spray-paint projects so that the smell won’t bother them!

    Good luck with the closing; hope all goes well!

    • Scoops June 25, 2017

      Elsie, I totally get it! It’s like this, I don’t like sushi at all, but most people are really into it.

  • Anna June 21, 2017

    Your cabin is so dreamy! I also have fantasies about lake cabins as we would spend time “up at the lake” with my grandparents as kids. I love how woodsy the Wisconsin lakes are. Did you do a lot of research on the lakes themselves? I always got sidelined by that as I was spoiled by 20 feet of clarity growing up. Congratulations and can’t wait to see what you do with your place :).

    • Scoops June 25, 2017

      Hey Anna! Good question. Our research was limited. Basically we had rented a half dozen of VRBOs in the Hayward, WI area and we knew we what the area had to offer and it seemed much more affordable than the Whitefish chain in northern MN (another spot we were eying). We also knew that we wanted privacy, and with our budget we would never be able to have an ounce of it on a big lake. We found a lake that was small and private but in between two big lakes, the boat launch to one of the largest lakes is in the area is at the end of our road. The best part is that it will be great for dock swimming and 12 feet of clarity! We secretly went swimming when we were making our decision, and it is the best water, no weeds!

  • Karen July 7, 2017


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