Beauty Locked In Every Grain

Why work with wood?

Philip KempfComment

I work all day in the virtual world, staring into a computer screen for the better part of 8 hours. Sometimes the glow of the screen can just seem to cause the eyes to glaze over. There's nothing physical about it and at times it's really hard to connect what I do in my day to day with its direct impact on the physical, real world.  Don't get me wrong, it pays the bills and I work for a fantastic company and an amazing set of people and am truly blessed to be where I am at.

While all that is true, it just doesn't satiate that inner desire of mine to create......to design, to build, and craft something beautiful with my hands. Working with wood gives me all of that and more. I take something that is raw - dimensional pine lumber - and work it into something that is gorgeous. That transformation is something that is really satisfying...the ability to create something beautiful and then share it with the people I love.

The sharing part, though, is really the best part because sharing is all about people. You get to pass on to them a part of you through your work, and may even inspire them at the same time. That's just really neat to me.  I get to share it with family, friends, and YOU! It's fun, a blessing and a moment of pride. Sharing beauty is good for the heart and soul. In some small way I like to think it raises everyone up just a bit.

But best of all, the works I build have the potential to become part of someone's life.....A place where they can place their coffee for a fireside chat,  somewhere to rest that glass of fine wine, a brainstorming base to plan the adventures of life ahead.....you get the picture. 

I think the ability to create is one of man's greatest gifts from God. When we create, we experience a beautiful part of our being that directly reflects the likeness of God - the Creator. We get to share in that ability to make something stunning, to fashion something with our hands. It's an incredible gift, and one that we're all meant to enjoy, whether it be through woodworking, painting, crafting, sewing, cooking...the list is endless.

There are so many gadgets, electronics, that keep us all in the virtual world. At times all of these "connections" seem to make us feel more disconnected with what is real.  Escaping to my woodworking shop allows me to escape from the virtual world of buttons, screens, and apps into a world of sawdust, the smell of pine as the saw slices it and the innate natural God-created beauty of wood. 

All I am really doing is complimenting what is inherently beautiful in itself. I am just highlighting what is already there. 

My father was a fantastic engineer by trade and an excellent carpenter. I worked with him on several jobs but haven't been able to fully appreciate the work until now. I just wasn't at a stage in my life when it interested me much. But I sure appreciate it now. 





The Beauty of Confidence


As she came running up to the new playground, she stopped and stared in awe.

There in front of her was a 14-foot high rope structure, akin to a large spider's web.

After taking it all in for a moment, she immediately took off towards the ropes, began to figure out how to muscle her way up onto the structure, and then quickly and adeptly monkeyed her way up to the very top.

On the ground, an old grandfather watched in surprise.

The 8 and 9 year-olds asked her how she had gotten all the way to the top!

For this little girl was only 3 years old, you see. And this little girl, I am proud to say, is our own Bernadette.

In spite of her age, Bernadette is fearless.  She absolutely oozes confidence in every aspect of her life - physically, socially, academically, you name it.  There is not a person who walks by whom she will not wave to and strike up a conversation, seemingly unaware of any age difference: "Hi, how are you doing today?  I'm Bernadette, what's your name?  I really like the lights you have by your driveway! They look like the Christmas lights on the Christmas tree in my room!"

On the playground, she's constantly testing her physical limits, seeing how high she can climb, how long she can hang, how high she can jump from without getting hurt (I step in and give some guidance in this area), how fast she can run.  Things I get used to seeing her do all the time, I realize are actually fairly extraordinary for a child her age, when I hear her peers (and even older children!) telling their mothers they are too afraid to try it.

At home, she is totally capable of making her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich, start to finish, packing it in a glass storage container, and putting it in her backpack; making smoothies all on her own, except that I plug the blender in for her; bringing us breakfast in bed, all of her own accord; getting out and mixing together ingredients to make cookies, with very very little guidance from me; getting out food and plates and feeding her baby sister breakfast, before we even ever get out of bed; mopping the floor; cleaning her room; cleaning her bathroom sink; unloading the dishwasher and putting away the silverware; setting the table...the list goes on.

This girl will not shy away from any challenge or adventure, which is absolutely remarkable to me.  However, the thing that is even more remarkable to me than her actual bravery, is the fact that I am the one raising such a confident child.

To say that I was not the same as she is when I was young would be the understatement of the century.  I was well nigh the exact opposite of her.

I was painfully shy and sensitive, always afraid people wouldn't like me, too scared to try new things for fear of failing, and worried about absolutely everything.  I remember one occasion as young as third grade, my class was going on a super fun field trip to one of those re-enactment places, where we'd get to dress up in period garb, feed chickens, sew handkerchiefs, churn butter, and all that cool stuff.  However, when the morning came that we were to leave, I was literally in tears and frozen in terror, because I was 100% sure that if I left to go on this field trip, my entire family would die while I was gone.

So I stayed home.  And I never got another chance to go to this place that I know I would have enjoyed immensely.

I was told for years that I had a God-given musical gift and I should take piano instead of just playing by ear, but I put it off forever because I was afraid I wouldn't actually be good at it, and the teacher would get mad at me and smack my hands with a ruler (those stories had to be true, right?!).

In the same vein, I always assumed I was un-athletic, assumed I had a horrible singing voice, assumed I was dreadful at acting, assumed I couldn't dance, that I was far too timid and incapable to ever travel out of the country...

In a word, I was frozen by fear.

I can't even tell you how much I missed out on because I was too scared to try, too scared to fail, too insecure to think I could possibly excel at something other than academics.

Thank God for His mercy, because He put me through some major growth when I went away to college.  I realized that He was a loving friend, not a demanding dictator.  Once I learned that He wants me to be happy, to achieve, to dream, to excel, to be free, I can't tell you the difference it made in my life.  I truly feel I never really lived until I went away to college.

I tried sports, and found I'm actually naturally athletic (including having some pretty sweet linebacker skills).  That showed me a new passion and something I enjoy immensely to this day.  I took a ballroom dancing class, and found I LOVE to dance, and it comes quite naturally.  I took voice lessons, and found out I have perfect pitch.  I then went on to eventually get one of the lead roles as the part of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, proving I could indeed act, dance, and sing - all at the same time!  I studied abroad in Austria, proving I was competent enough to travel around Europe, get by with little to no knowledge of the native languages where I was traveling, AND make it back home alive.  Oh, and I happened to have the most amazing semester of my life.  And...I went hang-gliding in the Swiss Alps.  What!!

Being confident and fearless doesn't come naturally to me.  I have had to work very hard at it, and God has been good enough to allow me to succeed in the things I have gotten up the gumption to try.

But even though I have made leaps and bounds in the areas of confidence and conquering fear, it is still something I struggle with daily, and it causes me very real pain.  I still assume people don't like me, which makes it very hard to make friends, and makes me hesitant to even look at someone and say hello, because I think they won't want to talk to me.  I still get the nagging feeling I am actually incompetent, despite all of my hard work, good grades, research, and clientele feedback, which makes things very difficult for me professionally.

I have let the Devil turn me into a scaredy-cat one too many times, and I know how painful it is. And how difficult it is for me to break out of that nasty cycle.

Which is why I am so, so, sososososoSO amazed, grateful, stunned, and yes, proud, that my daughter is the exact opposite of me in this regard.

I know that personality certainly plays a big role, as she is an extreme extrovert and I am not, but I know that my mothering has helped to foster that tendency and make it bloom.

I know that there is enough in life that Bernadette will be scared of on her own, so I have done my darndest not to add to that.  Instead of telling her she "can't" do something because she is too little, I have always said "Go ahead and try, and I will be here if you need me."  

Instead of "Don't run down that hill, you can barely walk and you'll fall down!"  I said "You have fun running down that hill!  And get right back up if you fall!"

And, pertaining to one of my biggest pet peeves....I do not say "Slides are for sliding DOWN, not climbing UP," I praise her for her strength, perseverance, and for thinking outside of the box.

I have tried my utmost to nurture her natural confidence, and to let her discover how wonderful she is.  How strong she is.  How smart, capable, and thoughtful she is.  

And that confidence, and the beauty that comes from it, truly shines on everyone she meets, and makes our small corner of the world a better place.

I know that Bernadette will do truly great things in her life (once we can figure out how to harness that dang stubbornness and independence ;-) ).  But I know that there will be things that happen to her, situations she faces, that scare her.  And that is ok.  And God and I will be there for her.

But I'll be darned if I'm going to add a single second of worry or fear to her life because of my own fears.  God has made her a beautiful, talented girl, and I am both proud and humbled by the fact that a mother with so much deep-seated fear and insecurity could raise such a beautifully confident, fearless daughter.

Thank you, God.  Truly...thank You.

Sketchup: A Graphic Modeling Tool for All

Philip KempfComment

So I mentioned on my website that we use a 3D modeling program called Sketchup to design our pieces before they are crafted. It's a really cool program and I wanted to share it with you all. What may come as a surprise to you is that this program is FREE. Yeah, free. It's a former Google product that has had everything from landscapes to jet engines drawn on it. In case you were wondering, I don't do the jet engines part.

It's extremely useful for all kinds of different applications.  I have used it mainly for my wood-working designs. Karen and I have reviewed together many a design on this program. I have tweaked and edited a bunch of coffee tables before Mountain Stream (our first and only product for right now) was born. 

Because all the models are created to a real scale, it allows you to get a really great idea for the proportions of the model before you ever have to build it. This help can you help get an excellent feel for what needs to change or remain the same.  

So, is it hard to learn? Yeah, there is a bit of a learning curve. But there are all kinds of tutorials out there on Youtube and overall it's pretty intuitive. It used be a Google product, so that says a lot about its quality. There's nothing here that can't be learned with a little determination and go-getter-attitude.

I mentioned before its versatility. I have built an entire scale model of my house on it! (see below) This has really helped me with my vision of our landscape design for our house and it's way easier to see the way the plants would look before going out and buying them all and digging up the front lawn. The benefits and features of this program are overwhelming.

There is an upgrade version that you can purchase but the basic package is free. I have only used the free version and have felt that it has completely satisfied all of my needs. Check it out it! It could probably help you with a bunch of your projects. 

New Nightstands!


They're done, they're done!  I'm so excited!

Look how cute our room looks now!

Philip started building these nightstands to go with our bed before we even moved into our house (almost a year ago).  He was building them in my parents' garage, and he ran out of stain and just never got around to finishing them for a long time, as he does have quite a few other important things to occupy his time.  The cats didn't mind, though - apparently, on top of being super nice nightstands, these pieces also make excellent kitty forts.

I think they look quite stunning, don't you?  I just LOVE that my husband can make me beautiful things like these!  Our room feels so much more legit now.  I feel we are finally settling in to our house and making it more "homey", which I am so excited about.  I almost feel like a real live grown-up! ;-)

What do you think of them?  Would you like us to sell something like this?


Mr. Darcy Didn't Have Facebook


The other night after the girls were finally asleep, Philip and I were unwinding to a little Pride and Prejudice.  We have been on a bit of a period drama kick as of late, and this Jane Austen classic is always a hit.  

We have remarked to each other in the past how it feels sometimes like we were both born into the wrong era, but this feeling hit me especially strongly as we watched the scene where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are dancing together at the ball thrown by Mr. Bingley.

I gazed in admiration at the enormous, ornate house; the beautiful dresses and tailored suits of the guests; the fine china they all dined upon... I noticed the beautiful, classical music being played, the lovely real dancing that was going on.... everything was so purposeful.  There was a proper way of doing things, and people took pride in doing them correctly, well, and beautifully.  There was a specific way of interacting with others, one that seems to have almost been an art form.

Don't get me wrong, some of these apparently common and acceptable forms of interaction (such as blatantly insulting each other in front of everyone...yikes!) freak me out and I would be sooo uncomfortable having to deal with.

But honestly, I covet a lot of the culture of the early 19th century.  For one, I definitely wish balls were still the standard form of socialization!  Can you imagine, instead of getting invited out to the bar or club for drinks with your friends, you receive a beautifully written invitation to a ball at your wealthy neighbor's house, and you get to get all fancied up, dance real dances to beautiful music (not the incredibly horrific shaking, jumping, and writhing to beats that make your brain want to explode that qualifies as "dancing" today)... I would love it.

As I thought about it, I realized one of the driving factors behind my pining to be BFFs with Lizzie Bennet (no, not getting to know Mr. Darcy - I've already got my own!) was not the fanciness, nor the formality of her time, but rather the meaningfulness in their lives.

There was no TV to watch, no Netflix to binge on; no Facebook for dwelling on the number of "likes" you got or didn't get, no Instagram for taking pictures of your food instead of just eating it; no smartphones to stare at blankly instead of engaging with the person standing next to you in line...their lives were real, they were their own - they were not owned by technology.

They had real, meaningful relationships with the people around them.  They learned piano, voice, drawing, languages, reading, writing, poetry...they were filled with witty remarks, because they exercised their brains.  They walked to town, and visited friends out of town for weeks at a time, and went to call on each other.  They sat around the parlor and knitted, or read, or sewed, or just existed...!

In this age of social media, I find I crave meaning and simplicity so much.  I'm sure you have heard before that the insane amount of "connectedness" that social media has brought has actually made us more disconnected than ever, and I have certainly felt that in my life.  Especially as a stay-at-home mom with two little ones under the age of reason, at times I have been frantic just to be assured there were still other people in the world.  That I was still an actual person whom people saw, and cared about, and knew about, and not just a lonesome poop-wiping, dish-cleaning, food-cooking machine.

So, I turn to Facebook, because it's the easiest thing.  The thing about social media, though, is that not only do others see you, but you see others...all the others.  And all the things they are doing, and who they are doing them with, and how much fun they are having.  And how many people are not BFFs with you, or didn't invite you to this or that, and soon you are measuring your worth based on the number of "likes" you get.

This, friends, is not cool.  And I've had it up to here.

In this new year, I want to live my life.  My real life.  I want to be fully present in every moment, fully experience the joy behind every baby smile, soak in the hugs, the laughter, the tears.  Read more books, do more crafts, build my pottery wheel, start drawing again.  Get back into practice on the piano, start singing again, catch up with dear friends more often.

I know this will be a challenge, because social media is pretty much the only way people stay in touch these days, and it is everywhere.  But I want to change that.  I want to take the time to call a friend and really see how she's doing; to hear the excitement in her voice as she tells me about her wonderful new boyfriend, the sorrow as she tells me her grandmother likely won't make it through the week.  True emotion.  Real life.  Will you join me on this quest?

Many people argue that our times are the greatest yet, because, look at all the technological and medical advances we have!  We are more connected than ever, information is at our fingertips, we are living longer than ever!  But our connectedness is virtual, I think we own and value information much more when we have to work for it, and we may be living longer than ever, but do we really have more life than ever?

I say no, we don't.  Despite the number of years we are living, I think we truly experience far less life than the Bennet sisters did.  Sure, it may have been more likely that one of them suddenly come down with cholera and keel over, but I bet they would have lived a fuller life than we when we die at 70, 80, 90 years old - overstimulated, over-worked, sick from eating fake food all our lives, even sicker from all the drugs we were put on to help with the other sicknesses, tired of all our fake relationships, our fake Instagram photos and Facebook posts...

I vote for going back to the simplicity and meaningfulness of Jane Austen's time, where people truly lived, rather than putting on the appearance of living. 

What do you think?



The Blessings of 2015


Merry Christmas!  Yes, even though the stores (and probably all your neighbors) have taken down their decorations, the radio stations have stopped playing Christmas music, and society is already on to the next thing, it IS still Christmas!  Right now, I am sitting by our gorgeous, glowing Christmas tree, watching Philip and Bernadette roast marshmallows over our crackling fire, and trying to relish this season despite the fact the rest of society has already passed it by.

A few days ago, as 2016 was approaching, I was reflecting on the past year and was really blown away and humbled by how truly amazing it was for us.  Really, it was just awesome.  We got to know, cherish, and snuggle Anya (who was born at the very end of 2014), we finished and moved into our beautiful custom home, Philip has been excelling at work, I felt I finally found my groove and have been able to genuinely enjoy motherhood, we launched this business.....!!!  I know this sounds cliche and you may doubt its sincerity, but I truly just can't believe what an awesome family and life I have been blessed with.  I love our home, the joy and fun my husband brings to our family, the dynamic between all of us, the laughter, smiles, and snuggles we share...it's just awesome.  I feel so undeserving of everything God has given me, but I try my best to make Him proud and glad that He did give me so much.

We have been incredibly blessed this past year, and we are so excited to see what 2016 will bring.  We hope that you have had a blessed Christmas season as well, and that you have felt the warmth of loved ones, the joy of the infant Jesus, and seen the excitement of Christmas in reflected in the eyes of a child.

Now, go enjoy Christmas while it lasts!

Do You Agree to These Terms?

See how artsy this photo is? I promise it has nothing to do with the fact we own barely-smart phones that can't take photos in low light.

See how artsy this photo is? I promise it has nothing to do with the fact we own barely-smart phones that can't take photos in low light.

This past Friday night, I got to go out on a wonderful, romantic date with my husband to the symphony's Christmas Magic performance.  It was so beautiful!  There was a vast array of different types of pieces they played, from classics like the Nutcracker Suite, to olde English (you need that extra "e" or it's not authentic old English) Christmas folk songs, to the song from Home Alone!  It was an extremely enjoyable evening alone together, away from our babies, and we even stayed out till almost midnight, like big people!  I was pretty impressed with us.

The reason we were out so late, was because Philip asked my mom if she'd babysit extra late because he had a surprise for me after the performance.  In true Philippian style, he gave me no details as to what to expect!

After the symphony was over, we began driving back out of town, and he told me we were just going to go get some appetizers, nothing special, because he figured I'd be hungry.  Cool, I like food!  Sounded good to me.

We pulled up to Outback, because it's one of the few restaurants that actually has food I can eat in spite of all my intolerances, and it was PACKED!  Apparently it was graduation weekend, so we really didn't think we'd get a seat before they supposedly closed in 20 minutes.

Luckily, because everyone was there with huge groups, we got a table for 2 no problem!

 After Philip had dropped me off in front of the restaurant to find a parking spot, he came walking up holding a gift bag, which made me very excited.  A present, for me, right before Christmas??  What treasures could be awaiting me?!

After we sat down at our table and ordered, Philip handed me a black folder first.  "Read it," he said, "and you'll figure out what's in the bag."

I opened the folder, and inside was a contract for the position of Designer and Communications Director of Timberlocked.  As I read through the contract, it detailed the responsibilities entailed, the technical skills, benefits (such as "Exercising your beautiful and professional talents," "Working as a family," and "My extreme gratitude), and a signing bonus, which included champagne, chocolate, a romantic picnic, and a special gift.  

There may have also been something included about "allowing yourself to be kissed and hugged by your coworker all the time."  Not that my husband does cute stuff like that or anything.

After I had finished reading and smiling at the extremely flattering phraseology, I looked up and saw Philip gazing at me.

"I know a husband/wife business team may seem very unofficial, but I wanted to show you how seriously I take you.  I believe you are extremely competent and talented, and I have the utmost faith in you.  I think we make a great team and can do great things together, but I need a real commitment from you.  So I wanted to draw this up so our arrangement and teamwork is all laid out and you know exactly what your part will be in this.  I believe people live up to what is expected of them, and I know I can expect excellence from you, because you are extremely capable.  So...do you want in?"

Now, champagne sounded really good right about then, and I was super curious what the "special gift" was, so I decided I should say "yes" and sign the contract.  It clearly had nothing to do with the fact that my husband is the sweetest man alive and is constantly encouraging me and building me up, urging me to greatness, despite all my own insecurities and self-doubts, and I would love nothing more than to do great things by his side.  And that he made me cry.

So, we made it official!  After some discussion as to logistics (taking care of two tiny ones by yourself all day doesn't exactly afford reliable quiet time to work), I put my Herbie Hancock on the line (Tommy Boy, anyone? No? Ok, don't worry, I know it's really John. Calm down).

Philip then pulled a small box out of the gift bag, and when I opened it, inside I found a whole set of Timberlocked business cards Philip had already had printed up for me, including my official title.  I guess he was confident I'd agree to his terms!

So we're really doing this thing.  With my husband's help, I will keep working on my confidence in my abilities, and I too will expect great things from myself.  I already know I can expect great things from Philip, so that's a given.

I am so crazy blessed to be married to this man and to have started this journey with him.  Thanks for coming along with us!

-Karen Kempf, Designer and Communications Director

(see how fancy that sounds?!)


The Launch

Philip KempfComment

It's kind of hard to believe this day is actually here...we are really going live!  You will actually be able to see our brainchild, our labor of love, the dream we have been working towards...this is it.

And when I say "we," and "our," I mostly mean my husband, Philip's.  Yes, I have been there since the beginning to brainstorm, critique, make suggestions, help with designs, and do a little of the physical labor (read: paint tea onto wood), but Philip is really the one who has poured his heart, soul, and sweat into this business and our products.  He is the one who has provided the driving force, the dedication, and the "go-get-'em" attitude that is absolutely crucial in launching your own business.

When I say that my husband is amazing, I want you to understand that is an understatement.  He is truly the most wonderful, giving, hard-working, selfless, loving, thoughtful, joyful, dedicated man I know, and I literally never even dreamed I would meet someone like him, let alone get to marry him!  I am so blessed to have been by his side to help him dream up and start this business, and am incredibly excited to see where it takes us.  I believe in Philip and in our products 110%, and I just know you will love them!

Philip's love for all things beautiful and his dedication to excellence truly shine through in what he builds, and those are traits that he expresses every day (a particular day comes to mind, which included a sunrise on the beach, a special lunch, an air boat ride, holding a baby alligator, parasailing against the backdrop of the setting sun, and a sparkling diamond and emerald ring...but that's another story for another time!).  The man dreams big, and I love him so much for it.

So, here is the product of many hours of brainstorming, tweaking, testing, building, and of course, laughing...

Welcome to Timberlocked.  We hope you love it here.