So here's the latest finished outside. The foundation is painted after two tries----first attempt I tried to match the hearth so it was darker brown with black and natural concrete streaks. It looked exactly as I imagined. When AnnaMarie came to look at it though it looked nothing like she'd imagined, so I lightened up the brown concrete stain and made it all the same. She was right, of course--- you shouldn't draw attention to the foundation. We'll probably plant around it anyway.
The great wall has been a pain since day one. Standing it up, insulation, siding the outside, now siding the inside. I want as few seams (butt joints) as possible so getting 20' wide boards up high in a 20' wide house is tricky.