Carmen Shenk is a retired chef and restaurant owner who has lived with her husband and dog in 125 sq ft since 2014. She is a speaker, author, and coach helping people navigate the transition to a simple life in a smaller space. Her new book, Kitchen Simplicity, shares her philosophy of purposeful simplicity that makes living tiny a joy.
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Carmen Shenk was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She earned her B.F.A. in fine art at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. Shenk is a lover of color, food, words, and yarn.
Shenk has worked professionally in fifteen art media, most recently in weaving in the Japanese Saori tradition using reclaimed fabric, found objects, and hand dyed fabric and yarn. She has
won awards in drawing, mixed media, collage, and jewelry design; and her art glass is in private collections around the world. Shenk was the Bronze Medal Grand Prize Winner in the 2005 international jewelry design contest hosted by Fire Mountain Gems and her jewelry designs have been published on the back cover of various industry magazines, and on the Artbeads.com blog. Her artwork has been a part of many group exhibitions, and five solo exhibitions.
Shenk owns a pipe organ conservation company www.Geshenke.com and works alongside her husband, Certified Pipe Organ Builder, Xaver Wilhelmy, who is known as the first to build pipe organ pipes with glass www.FlagPipes.com.
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Tucked into a historic building in picturesque Staunton, Virginia was Wilhelmy’s restaurant, Jimmy Anderson’s Casual Gourmet. Offering inspired southern cuisine in a stylish, old-world European setting just 1.3 miles from the nationally-acclaimed Blackfriars Theater at the American Shakespeare Center and a short walk from ShenanArts at the nTelos Theatre. Jimmy Anderson’s Casual Gourmet hosted classical and jazz piano dinner – concerts featuring world class musicians at their 1963 Steinway Concert Grand.
The demands of running two businesses meant the newlyweds weren’t seeing each other as much as they liked. Therefore, they sold the restaurant and in 2014 they purchased a tiny house of 125 square feet as a way of pushing the reset button on their frazzled lives. Tiny house minimalism gave them the opportunity to recharge, reset, and restore their vision and purpose. Shenk began blogging about her experiences in her tiny haven-home, followed shortly by beginning work on a novel as well as the book that became Kitchen Simplicity
. Wilhelmy continued his work as a certified pipe organ builder and is currently working on a project that will bring his original design glass pipe organ pipes into a congregational setting for a client in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
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Shenk and Wilhelmy enjoy driving vintage cars including her 1979 MGB and his 1969 Opel Rekord. Together, they are hard at work at turning a 2001 Ford transit bus into their tiny haven-home (Vinnie 3) and this time they will have 128 square feet… three more than their first tiny haven-home.
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