Universal connections to ‘home’

Architect Charles Stinson’s “Connections” ($70, Wise Ink Creative Publishing) is more than a showy cocktail table book packed with pretty pictures of houses.

“By reading the clients’ stories, you learn the possibilities of how you can live more connected to nature, light and space,” said Stinson.

The Twin Cities-based architect has made a name for himself locally and internationally with his trademark warm, modern aesthetic, defined by sleek horizontal lines, flat rooflines and expanses of glass.

In “Connections,” Stinson not only showcases some of his firm’s architectural achievements, but also weaves in the clients’ tales of building their dream homes from inception to completion.

The stories and photos give an inside look at an array of impressive residences, ranging from a tropical oceanside getaway on the Cayman Islands to an expansive mountain retreat in Vail, Colo. “The clients found out they both loved Frank Lloyd Wright homes on a first date,” said Stinson. “And they dreamed of living in the Colorado mountains.”

You may have even driven by the book’s nine Stinson-designed homes in Minnesota, including an “urban treehouse” across from a Minneapolis lake and a suburban modern limestone beauty built by dermatologist Dr. Charles Crutchfield and his wife, Laurie.

The arresting photos by Paul Crosby, illuminating the fine craftsmanship, natural materials and details in every space, give a sense of what it would be like to lounge by a steel-clad fireplace or prep a meal in the coolest kitchen ever.

“Architecture is about living in harmony with nature and your surroundings,” said Stinson. “And allowing in light and views that soar.”

Last Glögg tour of the season

Take an exclusive after-hours tour of the “Handmade Holidays” exhibition at the American Swedish Institute to discover holiday traditions from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and the Czech-American community. Listen to stories about the handmade details and decorations inside the embellished Nordic holiday rooms. The event features light bites and glögg cocktails, 7 p.m. Jan. 10, 2600 Park Av. S., Mpls. Tickets are $55; $50 for members at asimn.org.

Home improvement expo

The holidays are history and it’s time to tackle your list of home-related projects. At the Home Building and Remodeling Expo, industry pros will share their expertise and design trends on cabinetry, countertops, flooring, sunrooms, additions, decking, basement finishing, smart home automation, energy-efficient windows, siding and landscaping. Hours are 2-7 p.m. Jan. 4, 10 a.m. -7 p.m. Jan. 5 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 6. Hyatt Regency, 1300 Nicollet Av., Mpls. Cost $3; under age 18 free. minneapolishbrexpo.com.


Butterfly boot camp

It may be hard to think about gardening in the current climate, but before we know it, plants will sprout through the ground. Learn how to attract butterflies to your floral and green spaces. Find out how some insecticides harm butterfly populations. Anoka County Master Gardner Jan Welsh shares a variety of butterfly facts and tips on shade gardening, 2 p.m. Jan. 13. Free. Bachman’s, 6010 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. bachmans.com.

Tips on growing apple trees

Envision stepping into your yard to pick an apple instead of trekking to the grocery store. Horticultural educator Annie Klodd will lead a seminar on growing and maintaining your own apple trees. She’ll discuss how to select the perfect spot and how to plant, prune and protect the tree from pests, 1 p.m. Jan. 26. The $56 fee includes Arboretum admission and supplies. Advanced registration required at arboretum.umn.edu.