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If you drove down Pearl Street on February 9th, you would have seen quite a spectacle. On one side of the road, 40 people stood with glasses of sparkling cider in hand, looking toward the sky and cheering with tears in their eyes. Across the street, the final beam of the Carriage House, signed by many who were involved in getting the structure to where it is today, was being hoisted into the air by a crane. Majestically perched atop the beam were an evergreen tree and an American flag.

This exciting and emotional event is called a topping out ceremony: a long-standing tradition among commercial construction builders around the globe. The ceremony is a way to celebrate the highest beam reaching its home at the pinnacle of the building and a way to commemorate a milestone in the building’s construction. Originally started in Scandinavia, topping out began as a way to honor the wood materials that went into the project and to express gratitude for the trees that became the structure of the building.

Over the years, the topping out tradition has been expanded to serve as a ceremony to honor the workers on the project. Typically, anyone involved in the project’s planning and construction is invited to join the celebration. For our event, we were thrilled to involve the whole Wren & Willow team. And since no celebration is complete without food and drink, Taco Street joined in, too, to help commemorate the momentous occasion.

We were so honored and excited to have the News Tribune join us at the event. The TNT's Debbie Cockrell wrote a wonderful article covering both the event and Wren & Willow’s history. Check it out here or click the video below!

After years of planning, preparation, and sleepless nights, it is hard to believe we have already reached this stage in the construction of the Carriage House. Thanks to the tireless efforts of so many, it is more magnificent than we could have ever dreamed. And as we see the walls now outlining its form, it is so exciting to think about all of the happy memories we will share in this building, both with the Wren & Willow team and with all of you. To us, the Carriage House is more than just walls and wood, screws and steel; it is the culmination of many, many dreams coming true right before our very eyes.

If you would like to take a tour of the Carriage House, please let Laureen know by contacting us or by giving a call at (253)227-8189. She would love to show you around!


Tacoma firm marks construction of office,

retail, public space with ‘topping’ ceremony

A Tacoma business is branching out with new services with a building that will offer a little bit of everything not just for itself, but the general public.

Wren & Willow, a general contracting, construction and design firm, celebrated the completed framing of its new building across from its current home at 5104 N. Pearl St. with a “topping out” ceremony — placing an evergreen bough on top of the building for good luck in a ceremony Tuesday.

“It’s just this symbol that you completed the the highest point when it first started,” company president Laureen Skrivan told The News Tribune in a recent interview.

The new building, called The Carriage House, is inspired by structures of the past that served to house carriages, stables and tack, sometimes including a second story with living quarters.


Pignoli Cookies

Pine nuts, which come from pine trees, are a key ingredient in this delicious cookie recipe.


7 oz. Almond Paste

½ C. Granulated Sugar

½ C. Powdered Sugar

2 Large Egg Whites

½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 Tbsp. Flour

Pinch of Salt

1 C. Pine Nuts


Combine almond paste and sugar in bowl. Beat on low with mixer until texture resembles small crumbs. Add egg whites and vanilla. Beat on high for 3 minutes or until the consistency of a smooth paste. Add flour and salt. Mix until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Add pine nuts to a shallow bowl. Drop batter 1 tsp. at a time into nuts. Quickly lift out and onto parchment, nut side up. Bake 14-16 minutes or until golden. Gently slide parchment paper off pan and onto wire rack. When cookies are completely cooled, peel gently off of parchment. Store in an airtight container between wax paper. Yields 30 cookies.


Plant and grow your own tree (hey, maybe one day it will be part of a topping out ceremony too!), and indulge in a tree-scented candle, an adorable notebook and some gloves to help you plant. Tree, gloves, and notebook from GardenSphere in Tacoma.


An artist's rendering of the Carriage House

Images by Nathaniel Gutierrez, Stephanie Bower, and Food Network.


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