InnHouse Photography: Blog en-us Robert Inn (InnHouse Photography) Sat, 25 Feb 2023 05:39:00 GMT Sat, 25 Feb 2023 05:39:00 GMT InnHouse Photography: Blog 96 120 Stephanie Coleman, Taking Valley Cakes and Bakes to the Top Tier Stephanie Coleman is a native of the Wenatchee Valley and owner of her business Valley Cakes and Bakes.  She operates out of her commercial bakery attached to her home in East Wenatchee.  It is a tiny area but makes it work.  Here she bakes cookies, cupcakes, and cakes to sell every week at the Wenatchee Valley Farmer's Market.  You can also see her work on Instagram - @valleycakesandbakes.  In addition to vending at the market, Stephanie makes custom orders for people to pick up and wedding cakes for a busy summer wedding season.  Her business is booming, and Valley Cakes and Bakes will soon be moving to a larger kitchen in the Rock Island area.  Stephanie asked me to photograph her at work in her current location to document this stage of her business.

Mixing frosting.

Stephanie has been in the cake business for twelve years, getting her start decorating cakes at her first job at Baskin and Robins.  She took a break from cakes and attended the Art Institute of Seattle, studying Interior Design.  Stephanie came to realize Interior Design was not as fulfilling as baking and cake design.  She switched her major and received an Associate of Applied Arts Degree in Baking and Pastry from the Art Institute of Seattle and returned home to the Wenatchee Valley and cake decorating to grow it into a thriving business.

Stephanie's love of cake decorating is evident.

Stephanie says her favorite part of Valley Cakes & Bakes is watching it grow and evolve into what she always hoped and dreamed it would be.  Her favorite part of working her business is the final stages of cake decorating, when all the ideas and elements come together to create the final look.  Especially setting up wedding displays because there is enormous satisfaction in having the extra details to compliment the cake and desserts created.  Stephanie says, "I love stepping back and taking in the final product." The busiest week of 2021 consisted of four weddings and filling 16 custom cake and cookie orders. 


Stephanie is excited about the move to the new location.  She envisions her business growing over the years, employing five or more people to assist her with daily production.  She would like to be the most desired bakery to get custom cakes, special occasion cakes, wedding cakes, and desserts in the Wenatchee Valley and the greater surrounding area. Her goal is to sell at farmer's markets in the area, including Wenatchee, Cashmere, Leavenworth, Quincy, and Moses Lake.  Stephanie says, "At this time, we don't have a cafe/storefront plan, and I don't see that happening in the future. Our focus will continue to be Weddings; Custom ordered Cakes/Cookies, and Farmer's Markets."

When she is not baking, Stephanie enjoys painting, growing houseplants, hiking, fishing, camping with her boyfriend and two dogs.  Not only is Stephanie a popular vendor at the Wenatchee Valley Farmer's Market, but she also volunteers as a board member for the market. "While it's a lot of work, I love being a part of something that serves our community and small business owners like the market."

I always admire people who can run a thriving business and find time to return genuine support to their community and help others.


(InnHouse Photography) Art Institute of Seattle buy local cake artisan cake photography Chelan County custom cakes Custom cookies East Wenatchee environmental portrait farmers market food photography local local bakery local business local food rock island wedding wedding cake Wenatchee Wenatchee baker Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market Sun, 22 Aug 2021 19:21:29 GMT
The Scablands are not Barren at Scabland Farm Jill and Paul Knittel met while serving in the Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  They got married, started a family and eventually moved to the Scablands of Eastern Washington when Paul got a job at a major hydroelectric supplier in the area.  Five years ago they started raising heritage Large Black Hogs and have since begun to grow their business, Scabland Farms, producing pork that is NOT the "other white meat."  This is a breed of hog developed in England during the 1800’s and was more commonly consumed prior to the Second World War. 

untitled shoot-0780untitled shoot-0780 Their dark skin allows them to be outside in the sun being less prone to sunburn.  This pork is not washed out and flavorless like many people are accustomed to coming from the factory meat producers who have hybridized the animals to be not too bold in flavor and survive long enough in concrete enclosed buildings to become meat. 

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Heritage Large Black Hogs are animals who live outside  and romp around in pastures and large pens except when they need the protection of a barn when they are young or during severe weather.  The meat is red (not as dark as beef) but it does have color and flavor.  Like an heirloom tomato, this is a return to what once was.

untitled shoot-0907untitled shoot-0907 Jill and her daughter were kind enough to show me around their farm and let me know which hogs were safe to pet and which ones were not so receptive to human touch.

untitled shoot-0852untitled shoot-0852 There were piglets and protective sows.

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Jill said she always wanted to be a pig farmer, but it has its ups and downs.  Nevertheless, to her, it beats life in suburbia.  She still thinks pigs are cute and becomes attached to some of the piglets and even names some, but realizes she is in the pork business.

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Their business has been expanding in the last year and they have had hogs purchased by Tavolata, Radiator Whiskey, and also the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle to be featured as chef’s specials. 

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Raising pigs is hard work, but I am glad Jill and Paul are willing to do it, and that they come to the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market so I don’t have go to Seattle to to taste their heritage pork!

(InnHouse Photography) heritage large black hog scabland farm wenatchee valley farmers market Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:20:24 GMT
The Artisan Bread Company - Part of the Solution Listen to Your Inner WisdomListen to Your Inner Wisdom “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem” 

Those are the words that characterize what motivates Scott Parsons to do what he does.  Scott is an artisan baker in Wenatchee, who bakes special breads, rolls, and pizza crusts. He sells these in his shop and distributes to restaurants such as Campbell’s Resort in Lake Chelan, Cafe Mela, The Windmill, The Bar - Organic Cafe and Deli and other restaurants in the Wenatchee Valley area. 


Where he is most visible is at the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market selling breads flavored with basil, garlic, dill, olives, peppers, apples and raisins, Bavarian dark rye with caraway seeds, and his very popular rosemary bread.  His products are substantial and flavorful and never leave that cloying sweet aftertaste found in the mass produced over processed bread products at the supermarket.


Artisan Bread Company at Wenatchee Valley Farmers MarketArtisan Bread Company at Wenatchee Valley Farmers MarketArtisan Bread Company

How does an artisan baker survive in these times where many are seeking gluten free products?  Scott says that his bread is made with a long ferment process taking 18-36 hours of fermentation which allows gluten proteins to break down and lowers the glycemic index of the bread.  Pizza DoughPizza Dough


Scott explains that bread is a basic human food and that bread made in the traditional manner is healthy. He has had reports from people who are sensitive to gluten “sneaking” a taste of his bread and finding no ill effects as a result, and many realize that they can have bread made with the long ferment technique. 


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Scott was initially on the track to a career in medicine, but while at Carleton College became keenly aware that prevention of disease was more of a calling to him than treating the aftermath (symptoms) of poor eating habits.  He came to realize through his research, travels to areas inhabited by indigenous people and life experience that eating the right nutritious food is the best way to prevent a number of ailments.  Scott has been a practitioner and advocate of organic gardening and farming since 1972.  This is the passion that drove Scott to be a part of, and promote, farmers markets over the years. 


Be InvolvedBe Involved People need to know where their food comes from, how it is produced and be more involved in the decisions affecting their food supply.  Scott says, “Take care of the environment and the environment will take care of you.  Indigenous peoples have known this for millennia.  It's time to be more than just ‘smart.'  Learn to listen to your inner wisdom, and let the truth shine through.“ 

Let the Truth Shine ThroughLet the Truth Shine Through

Here is a dinner put together with Artisan Bread Company's toasted rosemary bread and Tieton Farm "Sonnet" soft ripened cheese, onion and zucchini frittata topped with tomatoes and basil from Spencer Farm.

After Market DinnerAfter Market DinnerOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you are in the Wenatchee area, visit the Artisan Bread Company or the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market and try the flavorful hand crafted breads made with traditional methods.


The Artisan Bread Company is Located at:

1556 North Wenatchee Avenue

Wenatchee, WA  98801


(InnHouse Photography) Chelan Wenatchee artisan bread bread gluten old world tradition sustainable Thu, 29 Sep 2016 01:32:48 GMT
Start to Finish Lavender Volunteering at the Wenatchee Farmer's Market provides me the opportunity to get to know some of the people who produce the goods sold at the market.  Purchasing a product directly from the person who grew or made the item feels so efficient.  Joseph Downs and his business partner, Stephanie Brook, make products out of lavender.  They make health care/hygiene products, culinary products and gift/craft items.  When I first met Joseph I did not know the depth of their operation The Lavender Boutique.  They are involved with every step of the process from the growing, selection, extraction of essential oils and hydrosols, product and recipe development and crafting those into a finished product.  Having sampled a couple of their spice blends, salt and lavender blend and a refreshing lavender flavored lemonade, I can say their products are excellent, flavorful and well balanced.


   Columbia Basin Culinary-5280066Columbia Basin Culinary-5280066Columbia Basin Culinary the shirt matches the lavender.

Columbia Basin Culinary-5280070Columbia Basin Culinary-5280070Columbia Basin Culinary spice blends,

After the market this last Saturday some of the other vendors and staff from the farmer's market and I were invited to see the Lavender Boutique operation, learn about their process and more about the big guy who sells lavender products at the market.  Joseph is originally from rural Central Washington, but spent a number of years playing professional basketball in Australia.  It was there that he became interested in growing lavender.  As he learned more about lavender he became interested in exploring the many uses for the blossoms and extracts from the plant.  Upon his retirement at the end of the 2012 season, Joseph moved back to The States and began getting involved with large scale lavender growing and gaining more knowledge about the biology of the plant and learning about the different varieties.  Some lavender is good for making soap and other grooming products, but not as good for culinary applications.

Wanting to move in the direction of developing and promoting lavender based products Joseph teamed up with Stephanie to establish The Lavender Boutique.  Joseph is in charge of product marketing, packaging and label design, managing the website, setting up shows and participation in farmer's markets and other selling events.  Stephanie, who is also a massage therapist, has developed the majority of the formulation of the products and recipes.

The farm/venue is located amongst orchards overlooking the Rock Island area and the Columbia River Valley just south of Wenatchee.  They are just establishing lavender gardens organized by the specific end use of the plant.  They will have separate gardens for craft, culinary and health/beauty varieties of lavender.

Young lavender.Young lavender.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   The barn has a couple of copper stills and fruit bins filled with different varieties of lavender. Bins of different varieties of lavenderBins of different varieties of lavenderOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Taking a dried blossom and pinching it between your fingers yields a very strong fragrance.


Joseph demonstrated the process with the new still where he extracts the essential oil and hydrosol from the lavender.  The essential oil is what is used for producing soap and it is very potent.  The hydrosols are used for producing body washes, fragrance sprays and other applications not requiring the concentration of the oil.  For each gallon of essential oil produced, twenty gallons of hydrosol is also produced.  This is done by using steam to extract the oils and hydrosols from the blossom and then condensing the products out of the steam.  Joseph can process about five pounds of blossoms at a time.  After the extraction process is complete the lavender is uncannily dry and devoid of fragrance   - only smelling like damp grass.


Here Joseph packs five pounds of lavender into the basket. 

Packing the basketPacking the basketOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Joseph and Troy (Still Master) clamp down the lid to the still.

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The condenser coils are cooled with water.

The condenser coil cooled by waterThe condenser coil cooled by waterOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oil and hydrosols exit into a glass separator.  The essential oil is floating on the top and the hydrosol is on the bottom layer.  Each is drained off into separate containers.


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They have big plans for his property to make it into an event venue for weddings and other gatherings as well as offering a place for other lavender enthusiasts to learn more about this versatile plant and to learn how to make various products, crafts and cook with it in a commercial kitchen.  If you ever happen to be at the Wenatchee Valley Farmer's Market, stop and visit with Joseph.  He always has samples to smell and taste, and a lot of information to share about lavender.


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(InnHouse Photography) Chelan County Farmer's Market Wenatchee Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:40:38 GMT
The Wenatchee Farmer's Market and Hosting Bees I don't have too much spare time on my hands, but I did sign up to volunteer at the Wenatchee Farmer's Market to provide photographic services.  Nan and I went to the orientation and met a some of the vendors.  It was a great way to take some photographs of people and products and at the same time promote local farming and production of useful goods.   McGregor Farms Honey -5210058McGregor Farms Honey -5210058McGregor Farms Honey McGregor Farms Lavender Honey-5210072McGregor Farms Lavender Honey-5210072McGregor Farms Lavender Honey McGregor Farms Honey, Bees'wax-5210066McGregor Farms Honey, Bees'wax-5210066McGregor Farms Honey, Bees'wax




We met Kim and Mike McGregor of McGregor Farms who were selling honey products from their bees.​  During the conversation they mentioned that they were looking for places to put hives to increase production and variety of honey. We were considering bee keeping as a way to produce honey, help with local pollination of wild flowers and promote bee activity.  Mike and Kim were looking for a place to host hives in trade for some honey.  This was the perfect opportunity.  We did not need too much honey, we want bees in the area and it helps out a local honey producer.  And best of all, there was no work involved other than providing a space and helping mike unload the pallets of hives.  A little over a week ago Mike arrived at 5:00 AM with a truck load of bee hives, six pallets.  Bees are less active in the early morning hours.  I met Mike in our pasture with my skid steer loader and pallet forks and helped him unload six pallets, with four hives on each pallet.  It is great to have the space being used productively.

Today Mike stopped by to check on the hives and shuffle some frames around to make sure the bees had enough room in the hives to keep constructing their combs, tend to the brood and make honey.  Mike had an extra bee jacket and hood for me and gave me a tour of the hives and quick lesson on hive operations and politics.  Yes, even bees have politics.  If a queen is not doing the job, the bees can get rid of her.

Bee Hives-6010005Bee Hives-6010005Mike tending the hives.

 Here the bees are tending to the queen, who is under the pile.

Bee Hives-6010025Bee Hives-6010025Tending to the queen.

Mike checks the status of a frame.

Bee Hives-6010034Bee Hives-6010034Inspecting the frames.

Mike said the bees must be happy in this location since they are particularly good natured, nonetheless, he did have his smoker on hand to calm the bees.

Bee Hives-6010030Bee Hives-6010030Reaching for the smoke. We were able to scoop some nectar off the frames with our bare hands nudging some of the bees out of the way.  The nectar was sweet and fragrant.

Through our volunteering at the Wenatchee Valley Farmer's Market we have had the opportunity to help the Farmer's Market and meet some great people.



(InnHouse Photography) Chelan County Farmer's Market Pybus Market Wenatchee Wenatchee Valley Farmer's Market beekeeping local sustainable Thu, 02 Jun 2016 04:10:53 GMT
Beaver Hill Woodcrafters Our builder, Matt Dolan, has a knack for finding the best people to contribute to his finished product- a home.  If there is anything that epitomizes finishing a home, it is the cabinets that will house the items a family will use everyday as well as heirlooms.  

We wanted something that had a rustic feel, was unique, well made, and made by a human.  We wanted something that looked sturdy that did not contain particle board or staples and would withstand generations of use.  Matt's source for cabinets is Beaver Hill Woodcrafters, owned and operated by Andrew Campbell.  In the planning stages of our home we stopped by Andrew's shop located just outside the town of Plain (near Leavenworth in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains).  Upon entering the shop, I saw not only power tools, but a lot of hand tools and lay out tools.  By hand tools, I mean wooden hand planes, metal hand planes from another time, chisels, dividers, winding sticks, shop made fixtures.  I also noted that these tools were not for special projects, but were used for the general production of cabinets.  How I knew this is that I saw one of Andrew's employees working on finishing up a cabinet and using a hand plane for final fitting. Andrew Campbell-4701Andrew Campbell-4701

In the months since that initial visit to Andrew's shop he worked with us on the planning and what type of wood and finishes we wanted for cabinets in the kitchen, bathroom and a (very low tech - TV only) entertainment center.  He had a lot of good ideas and was willing to incorporate ideas that I had.  There were a few innovations that Andrew worked into the mix, such as toe kick drawers, perfect for storing flat items like platters, sheet pans and cutting boards.  These were a great way to utilize otherwise wasted space.  

Cabinets-4774editedToe Kick drawer and open shelves for cast iron pans.I like the open shelving for cooking pans right across from the stove. No need to open a cupboard door. The shelves are clad with stainless steel to resist wear and staining from oil. I also had angle iron added to the edges for added protection.

We wanted alder with knots in the panels the rails and stiles of the cabinet doors were clear alder.  We also wanted the drawers to be made of solid alder.

Cabinets-4783editedCabinetsAlder with book matched knotty panels and clear stiles and rails. Cabinets-4765editedKnife drawerI did not want knives on the wall or in a block on the counter, but I also did not want them loose in a drawer. My solution was to use a magnetic strip to organize them in a drawer. This also shows the solid wood construction of the drawer.

The cabinets in the master bathroom and low tech media room featured a different finish.

Cabinets-4801editedLow tech media room. Here is a detail of the cabinet top, flattened by hand plane.

Cabinets-4807editedCabinet top.Flattened by hand plane. Vanity in the master bathroom.

Master Bath-4662editedVanity in the master bath.These cabinets are finished to show saw marks and highlight the "imperfections" of a natural product. Featuring the drawer pulls made by Blacksmith Dan Russell.

A couple of months after the installation of the cabinets I visited Andrew in his shop.  He showed me a custom nightstand he was making for some clients and we talked about woodworking as he was handcutting some dovetails. 

Andrew Campbell-4699Hand cut dovetails.Andrew hand cuts dovetails for his client's nightstand. Andrew got his start in woodworking in shop class at school.  He began his professional career working on boats in Anacortes, WA.  He started making cabinets when a friend recruited him to help in home building.  Andrew is an outdoorsman and has worked as a climbing and rafting guide.  He is an avid surfer, but now that he is living in Plain he travels to get his surfing fix.  He related a story of making furniture in exchange for accommodations in Costa Rica (I'm sure surfing was involved).  I'm also sure they got some great cabinets out of the arrangement.  Andrew is very much in tune with woodworking traditions, generous with his knowledge and a true craftsman.

Andrew Campbell-4725Andrew checks the alignment on the teeth of an Atkins dovetail saw.


(InnHouse Photography) Beaver Hill Woodcrafters Plain. WA Wenatchee architecture construction wood working Fri, 29 Jan 2016 15:49:03 GMT
Just in Time for Winter It has  been a while since my last post.  We have since moved in and have been working at getting getting settled and things set up in the new home.  One of these days I will have time to go through the house and do some interior photographs.  For now, I have a few photographs of our first winter.  

We were able to move into the house on October 30.  There was still quite a bit of finish work and cleaning to be done, but it was amazing how perfect everything was laid out.  Each window has a unique view.  I feel blessed waking up every day in this home.

So far we have been blessed with snow.  We've had more snow now than the entire winter last year.

Here are photographs of the house after the first snow.

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I knew the driveway was going to be a challenge in the winter.  Everyone had advice about how to deal with the snow and maintaining a passable driveway. Some people were very pessimistic asking, "What are you going to do in the winter?"  Other people did not think the driveway was going to be a big deal.  Some suggested building a garage at the bottom of the hill and getting snow mobiles or a snow cat to get to the house.  Other people said I would have to chain all four tires on my plow truck.  For reference, the driveway is 7/10 of mile long and has three hairpin turns.  It is steep and gains a bit over 500 feet.  I knew that I would need to get a snow plow for my truck.  Hiring someone to plow that long of a driveway would be expensive, probably over a $100 per plow.  We have had four big snows so far this fall, and winter just got here.  With each big snow I have plowed several times to keep up with the snowfall.  This is so different from the hot dry summer fraught with dust storms, drought and fire danger.

Initially the plowing went easily.  I had set up the truck with a V-plow that allows me to configure the blade to plow to the left or right, in a V configuration or scoop with a controller as I plow.  This plow was more costly than a straight blade.  I am sure glad I went with this set up now.  I am getting better with my technique and am now very comfortable running the plow.  I put studded snow tires on the truck and have a set chains just in case.  For the first couple of plows the studded snow tires were fine.  The last storm had snow conditions that had me sliding backwards down the driveway after my first pass with the plow.  I had to put the chains on and that solved the problem for the time being.

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I also knew there could be an issue with snow storage.  Where do you pile the snow that you have plowed?  I designated each hairpin turn as a location to pile snow and snow berms would accumulate on the roadside.  My snow storage locations are at capacity and the berms that developed on the roadside are so tall that as I ran the plow the snow would have no where to go, it would hit the berm and fall back on to the driveway.   untitled shoot-4342untitled shoot-4342

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We spent the afternoon with snow shovels knocking down the berms and manually pushing snow down the hillside so that there would be a place for snow to go on future plowings.  It was a good workout!

Scientists keep saying El Nino is going to make for dry warm winter.  I am not seeing it.  Cold snowy winters and hot dry summers are what I have seen and what I love.  We have had a chance to snowshoe hike on trails around the property and ski at Mission Ridge a couple of times on some of the best snow they have had in the last few years.  

(InnHouse Photography) Central Washington Mission Ridge Ridgeline Custom Builders Wenatchee Wed, 23 Dec 2015 05:31:14 GMT
Methow Valley Blacksmith Dan Russell Some time in 2004 we were in Winthrop, Washington and happened upon a blacksmith's shop featuring hooks, fire place tools, candle holders and a sundry of other hardware for furnishing the home.  We were in love with the hand made items and bought a number of pieces.  The shop has since closed and the blacksmith retired.  About the same time of our first visit, Dan Russell was getting his start in the very same shop as a part time employee. Dan originally came to the Methow Valley as a biologist working for the US Forest Service.  Dan took seasonal part time work in the blacksmith shop which appealed to him and over time wanted to learn more about smithing.  After the old smith retired and shut down his shop Dan acquired some of the equipment and began to set up his shop and business.  

Dan Russell in Shop-4062Dan Russell in Shop-4062

Living in Twisp over this last summer while building our home in Wenatchee, we regularly shopped at the Twisp Farmer's Market.  There was (and regularly is) a booth at the market with metal wares that looked just like the items we had seen and bought from the shop in Winthrop years ago, but it was a younger guy running the booth - Dan Russell.  We talked to Dan for a few minutes and made the connection to the old shop and that he was the owner of Russell's Blacksmith Shop.  We immediately knew that these items would be a perfect contrast with straight and angular lines of the house we were building.  

We eventually ordered drawer pulls, coat hooks, towel hooks, key hooks, a strop hook, toilet paper dispensers and a poker for the wood stove for the new home.  Dan also makes shelf brackets, unique candle holders, many items I have failed to list and he does custom work.  Dan invited us to his shop to look at and discuss designs.  He described his shop as looking like a castle.

untitled shoot-4108-Edituntitled shoot-4108-EditView of Dan's shop from below.

When the items were finished I returned to Dan's shop to pick them up and take some photographs as he worked. Dan Russell in Shop-3943Dan Russell in Shop-3943

Dan utilizes and anvil and a cutting tool to cut hot metal.

Dan Russell Power Hammer - 3992Dan Russell Power Hammer - 3992 Here Dan is using a power hammer to pound out the initial shape of a leaf pattern.

Dan Russell in Shop-4035Dan Russell in Shop-4035

Again using a hammer and anvil to refine the leaf shape.


Using a fuller to put the veins in the leaf.

Dan Russell in Shop-4096Dan Russell in Shop-4096 Dan uses a ball peen hammer to put a concave and convex shape in the leaf.

Drawer Pulls-3851Drawer Pulls-3851


Pictured above are all the drawer pulls before they were installed on our rustic Shaker style cabinets.  I will post some photos of all the items once installed.  Below is a detail of the wood stove poker handle and hanging hook.

Fireplace Tool and Hook-4109Fireplace Tool and Hook-4109

I am grateful to be able to meet some of the people responsible for making the things that will go into our home.  These are the things we will touch every day and know the items are unique, made by human hands and with care.

Tools and Anvil-4038Tools and Anvil-4038

Dan may be contacted by email at:  [email protected]



(InnHouse Photography) artisan black smith hand made local methow methow valley twisp Thu, 15 Oct 2015 17:02:49 GMT
Catastrophic Fire and Making Progress Much has happened since my last post.  We were in the midst of a catastrophic wildland fire (not in the area of the project, but in the area of our cabin where we are currently living).  We were evacuated for about ten days of uncertainty.  Meanwhile Matt and the various subcontractors have been making great progress on the house in Wenatchee.  

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On Wednesday August 19, we learned of a brush fire that started about five miles away from where we are currently living during the construction.  Initially we thought the fire would be put out quickly due to it being close to the town of Twisp meaning there would be a quick and effective response.  Updates indicated the fire was getting bigger.  I heard air traffic above and went outside.  I could see a large and wide column of smoke rising behind the ridge.  We decided to pack important items and evacuate because five miles is not a lot of distance from an expanding fire in the dry conditions and gusty wind.  There was no evacuation notification, it just seemed like common sense due to the proximity of the fire. We later learned that it was a Level 3 (GET OUT NOW!) evacuation for our area.  We are in an area where self sufficiency and self preservation is up to the individual not some government entity.  The entities were busy with the fire.  Three US Forest Service Firefighters were killed in the initial response to this fire.  This has been the worst wildfire season in Washington in recorded history.


We camped the first night at the house under construction in Wenatchee which is about two hours away from the cabin and the fire.  I thought there was a good chance that we could be evacuated for a week or two, or possibly indefinitely if the fire burned far enough.  The first night was calm, clear and pleasant.  We sat in the back yard area of the house and looked up at the bright stars.  The smoke was blowing a different way and there was little light pollution to get in the way of the view.  After a night of camping we decided showers, beds and internet would be nice if this was a prolonged event.  We spent the next ten days in a motel in East Wenatchee.  The accommodations were Spartan.  The people working there were very nice, but the quality of our stay was dependent on the neighbors of the night.  Sometimes it was quiet, other times not.  One night the upstairs neighbor(s) came in at about 2:00 am and it sounded like they were unpacking a big bag of oranges and dropping them on the floor one at a time.  Other nights it sounded like there were parties starting at 11:30 involving boisterous men, women and children.   I did not take too many fire related photographs.  I really did not feel it was a good idea to be anywhere near the operations.  There was enough media in the area with more access and a more legitimate reason to be .  I did see a Sikorsky S-64 Sky Crain descend onto the Methow River as I was driving by.  This helicopter is able to hover above as little as 18 inches of water and fill its 2,600 gallon water tank within 45 seconds using a snorkel to suck up the water.  The cattle in the lower left corner behind the brush seem unconcerned.

Sikorsky S-64 Sky CrainSikorsky S-64 Sky Crain lifting off after filling out of the Methow River.

Here is the edge of the fire that came over the ridge and within a half mile of our cabin.  We were glad to be able to return to our unburnt cabin.  We also deeply appreciate the hard work of the firefighters and emergency responders and especially the sacrifices made by those who were killed or injured while fighting this fire.


untitled shoot-3385editedNorthern Edge of the Twisp River Fire


Heavy machinery is ready to clear fire lines.


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Meanwhile much has been done on the construction project.  The concrete floors were stained.  This photograph shows the initial process.  They will eventually be cleaned and sealed giving them a mottled and shiny surface.


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Matt and Kyle (K&M Plumbing) drain and clean the cistern for the water system and make it ready for installation of the pump and switches.

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Drywall was installed.  Here is the future kitchen under the loft.

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While drywall was installed inside, Ben and Hilario completed the siding.  We wanted part of the house sided with lap siding and other parts to be sided with panels to add visual interest to the structure.

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All the siding is a concrete product (Hardie) to be insect and rot resistant, and more importantly resistant to fire.  Cutting it is a dusty process which requires personal protective equipment.

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Ben has an audience of the dog gang.

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Mike Ogle (Mogle Excavating) begins the construction of retaining walls between the house and garage.

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Matt’s dog, Schatzi, takes a mud bath break near the cistern. It is always more amusing when it is someone else’s dog.

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It has been an intense couple of weeks that have emphasized the importance of designing a house and surrounding land with fire prevention and safety in mind.  We will be putting in sprinklers to maintain a defensible space, and I will continue to work on the surrounding forest to make it less prone to catastrophic wild fire.

(InnHouse Photography) Wenatchee construction forest Fri, 11 Sep 2015 15:02:39 GMT
Raising the Roof, and Other Things Since the last post the roof has been installed, plumbing and electrical roughed in, and I got to work with boom lift to get some arial shots - no drone needed.  

The roof was fabricated on site and then installed.  The material comes in rolls and is formed into panels with special machinery, much like the process of making gutters to fit, if you are familiar with that.  This cuts down of transportation cost and waste since the panels don't need to be shipped in their long form, and they are made to length per specification. untitled shoot-2900untitled shoot-2900

Here is the truck and trailer with the rolls of aluminum material that will form the panels for the roof.  The entire roof is wound up in these rolls!

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Here is the machine that forms the panels and automatically puts a bead of hot goo under the fold that forms the seam between panels, it then cools and forms a water tight gasket between the panels.

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The panels are extruded and cut to length by the special panel making machine.  This is all done to the specifications of the job.

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The formed panels were stacked in and in front of the garage.

untitled shoot-2922untitled shoot-2922 Joe, the sheet metal expert in the red shirt, gives some advice to Matt and Hilario on the installation of the panel around the chimney.

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Each panel fits together and is held down by brackets.  There is a water and ice protection membrane between the panels and roof sheeting.

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Like the rest of the guys working on the house, Joe brought his dog.  In this case it was a black Labrador pup named Remington.  He did not have to do much that morning other than enjoy the sunshine.

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Kyle, from K&M Plumbing, did a neat job of "roughing in" the plumbing.  Interestingly, Kyle is one of the few people my dog liked right from the start.

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Everything is well organized in the mechanical room.

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The doors and windows were installed.  We went a bit over budget on the windows, but having replaced windows twice in our former house, I know that spending a bit more on the windows that have not let us down will be worth it in the long run.  

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Matt rented a scissor lift to install the windows, but it was malfunctioning so the rental company brought him out a 60 foot boom lift.  That is one cool piece of machinery.  I wish I had one! untitled shoot-3200untitled shoot-3200


(InnHouse Photography) Thu, 13 Aug 2015 03:35:51 GMT
Forest Maintenance - Continuous Quality Improvement Initially I thought it would be fine to allow nature to take its course in the forest.  That there would be little intervention required of me, just sit back and watch the lions stalk the antelope and let nature take its course.  I would be free of lawn mowing, weeding garden beds and other things associated with suburban yard maintenance.  Deer and elk would keep plants trimmed and I would not have to ever weed again.  

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In going through the acquisition process for this land I learned it was "Designated Forest Land" and there are significant tax incentives to maintain this status.  This required having a forest management plan in place for the property.  There was a written management plan the previous owners had prepared in the mid 1990's involving thinning the forest through selective logging to maintain the health of the remaining trees.  I hired a consultant to provide an updated plan to transfer and maintain the status of "Designated Forest Land."  In this survey I learned a few things about this parcel of land that at first looked like nothing more than a fine forest to my untrained eye.  The consultant, in looking at the previous plan from last century, noted that the owner was diligent in following the recommendations and as a result the forest was generally in good shape.  Nonetheless, there would be a lot of work required to continue to maintain and improve the land.  There were still quite a few trees that need removal to allow the most vigorous trees to grow and minimize the risk of diseases that can destroy densely packed stands of trees.  This will also lessen the amount of fire fuel available.  I also learned that most of the road sides (7/10 of a mile of road) were heavily infested with noxious weeds:  diffused knapweed and spotted knapweed.  Knapweed is native to Central Europe and has been rapidly infesting North America for over a century.  One article I read stated the increase of knapweed was 10 percent annually.  Why is knapweed so bad?  Well, it will quickly establish itself in areas of soil disturbance and crowd out native plant species destroying plant diversity and contributes to erosion and silt in waterways.  By August knapweed can be up to 4 feet in height, is dried out and a fire hazard.  Knapweed is able to outcompete native plants because it is a prolific seed producer; thousands of seeds per plant, and these seeds remain viable for up to eight years.  And now for the creepy part... knapweed secretes a growth inhibitor that prevents other plants from growing around it.  There are some sources that caution people to wear gloves while pulling it because it the sap could contain carcinogens.  I have yet to find a source that will definitively confirms this, however.  I wear gloves and wash my hands after dealing with it though.  I did a bit of research and found that there are biocontrol agents available.  These are in the form of a weevil - Larinus minutus - that specifically targets knapweed and has no history of harming other plant species.  The weevil eats the knapweed and lays its eggs in the seed heads.  The emerging larvae then eat the seeds before they can be dispersed.  They over winter and are ready to get back to work the next summer.  I contacted the Washington State University Extension's Integrated Weed Control Project and spoke with Dale Whaley, the Agronomist for Chelan County, and arranged for a bio-control release this summer.  Dale met me at the property in mid June and confirmed that the infestation of knapweed was significant.  He doubted that the bio-control agents would be able to conquer the knapweed by themselves.   untitled shoot-2873untitled shoot-2873

Dale suggested that I also spray the knapweed with a specific selective (and expensive) herbicide that will not affect native grass.  After some limited success with the spraying (thinking at the time it was the lesser of two evils) I resolved to finish the rest of the herbicide early in the growing season next year and be done with that strategy.  I have suspended the use of the herbicide this year since most of the plants have gone to seed already.  With the very limited effect that the herbicide had on the knapweed population as a whole I can not justify in my mind continuing to put more poison into the forest year after infinite year.  I will have to resort to mechanical control - pulling the weeds and cutting them before they go to seed; cultural control -continuing to plant competing grass and other native plants; and the above mentioned bio-control.  I also have to be at peace with the realization that I will only be able to control, but not entirely eliminate, knapweed since it is infesting neighboring parcels of land and is dispersed by wind and browsing deer.  A lot of knapweed is found along mule deer migration trails, and mule deer can migrate up to 70 miles.

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We must think about the long term effects of what we do in the environment. 

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(InnHouse Photography) Mon, 20 Jul 2015 03:12:37 GMT
Putting up Walls I am happy to say that the house is coming together just as envisioned.  This is a result of Ben Taylor's careful rendering of plans and illustrations and familiarization with the building site prior to construction. 06-25 Pano06-25 Pano Once the framing got started the transformation from foundation to enclosed walls and roof seemed very fast.  It went from what looked like a set of "Hollywood Squares" to house in no time.
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Here the massive Glu-Lam beam that will support the roof over the loft is put in place with Matt Dolan operating the tele-handler and Ben guiding it into place.  Glu-Lam is a product made of laminated strips of wood which makes for a strong material that is less costly; does not require the use of a large tree; is more stable in that it is less prone to twisting, warping and cracking.

untitled shoot-0515untitled shoot-0515 Next week is predicted to have a stretch of 105+ degree weather so there is some urgency in getting the roof sheeting in place to provide shade to work on the interior wall framing. untitled shoot-0542untitled shoot-0542

Interior framing seems to be going quickly too.  Here is a view of loft from the great room.

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The great room with the chimney box installed.  The wall sheeting is not all in yet, but the windows will be in the corner and located under the headers. untitled shoot-2857editeduntitled shoot-2857edited

Here are the stairs leading up to the loft with temporary treads in place while under construction. Stairway to LoftStairway to Loft

And finally a view of the mountains from the loft corner.

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I hope you enjoyed this entry.  I will be writing about some plants and animals in the area next.


(InnHouse Photography) Wenatchee architecture construction Sat, 27 Jun 2015 21:42:56 GMT
Taking Shape and Framing the View untitled shoot-2688editeduntitled shoot-2688edited

A lot has happened since the last writing about the project.  The foundation and floors were completed and the framing of the garage and shop and the house has begun.

All the plumbing and propane supply lines were in place and neatly organized.

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The tubing for the closed hydronic floor heating system was installed during the pour of the floor.  The tubes could have a tendency to float a little in the concrete before it sets and since cuts were made in the floor to control expansion and contraction, Matt wanted to ensure that the system was not compromised.  He pressurized the tubing and tested it to confirm that it maintained pressure.

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Footing drains were installed.

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The foundations, septic system and water cistern were backfilled by Mike Ogle - Mogle Excavation. untitled shoot-2430untitled shoot-2430

Mike lives down the street from the project and is an avid skier.  Thus the name of his business - Mogle Excavation.

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There has been a lot of rain this Spring.  

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While the rain is welcome due to the forecast of a dry hot summer, the mud is sticky, slick and hard to work in.

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We had to scramble to get the drain field for the septic system completed before a scheduled inspection, but we got it done with some time to spare.  Even though it was difficult to work on in the mud, it looked neat and orderly in the end.

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Matt and Ben keep an eye on a thunder storm on the ridge.

untitled shoot-2704untitled shoot-2704 The framing seems to be going very quickly, It is thrilling to see what were once ideas and drawings taking physical shape.  This is just as I had envisioned.

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The view from the future bath room.  It is amazing to stand where the rooms are positioned and see the view framed by the windows.

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(InnHouse Photography) Sat, 23 May 2015 18:32:14 GMT
Wisteria in the Morning Light Typically people consider the blossoms the most important part of the wisteria vine when it blooms in the spring.  This vine is about 20 years old.  I had to move it one year long ago, and it spent a winter with its root ball wrapped in a plastic bag, laying in my torn up garden.  I replanted it in the early spring half expecting it to not make it.   Front Porch Spring-2398editedFront Porch Spring-2398edited Over the years it grew vigorously, becoming part of the structure of the arbor that it lives on and providing a beautiful cascade of flowers every spring.   Wisteria-2326editedWisteria-2326edited

This morning I was looking at it and saw the newly emerged leaves in the morning light casting shadows on one another.  I think they are as beautiful as the flowers.

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(InnHouse Photography) Sun, 03 May 2015 18:18:08 GMT
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Spring is here with wild flowers in the meadows and blossoms in the orchards.  

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Prior to staking out the position and orientation of the structures we made sure that the location would afford the intended views of the valley including the distant (small) city scape.  I did not want the house to be on the crest of the hill so that it would be more protected from the wind and not be as visible from the road below.  To do this Matt Dolan brought out his 12 foot ladder and set in the location where the second story deck was going to be.  I climbed the ladder to confirm the view.

It is now time to stake out the foundations, excavate and make the forms for the footings.  This was all completed two days ago (April 6th).  There has been some difficulty with some of the trucks being able to make it up the driveway.  So Mike Ogle (Mogle Excavating) has also had to widen some of the turns on the driveway.  This comes at an extra cost, but it will serve us while navigating the driveway in future winters.  Matt mentioned that there were some strong gusty winds a few days ago.  He set up a wind meter and measured gusts of 78 mph.  The portable outhouse was blown over, but luckily there was no spill.

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Clearing the land begins and it was hard to see this happen, but it is all part of something that will ultimately be good.   Initial ExcavationInitial Excavation

I was amazed at how much dirt was moved.  These piles will be used to backfill the areas that have been dug out and will be contoured to blend with the existing (remaining) landscape.  

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untitled shoot-2121untitled shoot-2121 This a view from the corner of the house looking toward the garage and shop.  The 2x4 structures at the corners are used to nail (string) lines to in order to make sure the forms are  straight.

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This tree was skillfully moved and transplanted by the track hoe operator.  The temperatures remain cool and there is still regular rain and fog, so hopefully it will survive the ordeal.  If not, it will be next year's firewood.  

Pouring the foundations was delayed because the concrete company's field manager was concerned that the driveway would be too soft due to recent rains.  It was easily passable for most trucks, but a truck full of concrete might be a different matter.



(InnHouse Photography) Wed, 08 Apr 2015 22:35:14 GMT
Winter of Ideas, Careful Planning and Preparation for Action. I have been waiting to post because I wanted to have something substantial to say.  This winter has been mild and warmer than usual.  There also has not been too much snowfall.  This concerns me because we are dependent on a decent snowpack and rainfall to insure the aquifers are charged to provide well water.  I am sure the orchardists in the area are also concerned about irrigation water.  It may mean that we will be able to start construction early, but that is a consolation.  Despite this year's low snowfall, we intend to purchase season passes at Mission Ridge Ski area for next year to take advantage of the low early purchase price, to support a local business, and be optimistic that next year's snowfall will be better for some great skiing.  In the late fall I installed some drainage bars across the upper trail to slow erosion.  This trail is mostly used by the local elk herd.

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It was still cold enough this winter to put frost on the gate near the road and make the unplowed driveway a challenge. untitled shoot-1899untitled shoot-1899

Today we met with our builder, Matt Dolan, owner of Ridgeline Custom Builders and Ben Taylor, his designer.  We have spent the last three months working on an efficient floor plan that will serve our needs, desires and keep the footprint of the house as small as possible while still allowing for two guest rooms. We envision our children and their future families and friends visiting us one day.  This is not a "tiny house" by any means, but we are making a substantial downsize (1000 square feet) from our current home.  Matt and Ben have been very receptive to our goals, maintaining a balance of creating a house for comfort and disturbing the land as little as possible.  For example, Matt designed a septic drain field that is efficient enough to serve four bed rooms, but requires substantially less excavation (100 linear feet fewer) by using a product called EZ-Flow that is more efficient and manufactured from recycled material.  

We met Matt and Ben at the property and were able to see how the plans from paper would be laid out, how the house would be situated, and how far down from the crest of the hill we would place the house.  The goal is to take advantage of the view and beauty of the area without creating a structure that will be obtrusive and stick out on the skyline.  

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This is the view of the Wenatchee Valley from the the future upper deck.


Careful placement is necessary to achieve the balance of all these goals.

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This will be the view from the future front door of the house.

Before you tree huggers (trees are a wonderful, renewable resource) get too bent about the impending excavation and building on this natural land, I will assure you that native plants, grasses and trees will be re-established anywhere the ground has been disturbed and we will diligently work at removing a current infestation of non native noxious weeds along the road leading to home site. The rest of this property (98%) will be maintained as designated forest land, and not be subjected to future development as long as it is our responsibility.  

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Please stay tuned for updates on the process.  I will post when there is something meaningful and interesting to write about.  There will be a lot to write about in the coming weeks.  


(InnHouse Photography) Wenatchee construction Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:12:56 GMT
Departure - Site Selection, Stewardship and Taking Possession I haven't written in a while because I have been very busy and focused on a new project.

I am starting a series of blog posts that are a bit more personal.  This has to do with accomplishing something that I have considered a dream, but often pushed it out of the list of possibilities because of the horror stories and discouraging tales from those who have gone before.  We have decided to build a house!  I plan on writing about how we got to this point and then about the process during the realization of this project.  I am hoping to keep these entries short.

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There a lot of reasons why we decided to do this and some back story that would probably not be too interesting to most readers.

My wife and I chose a site based on general location to the amenities of the area.  It is equal in distance to the mountains and town.  The purchase of the land was contingent on feasibility for building a single family home.  We had three weeks to determine if the well (that was already drilled and without a pump) would be productive and provide potable water, if the ground would perk (have enough drainage characteristics) to support a septic system and to have a geologist determine if building site would be stable enough to build a home.  Everything worked out to support a single family home at the building site.  We also learned during the process that the acreage that we wished to purchase was Designated Forest Land.  Initially we had no idea what this meant.  We learned that there is a significant tax incentive offered to private land owners to manage their land in accordance with a timber management plan devised by a forest management consultant.  The transfer of the classification of Designated Forest Land needs the approval of the county assessor's office.  There was already a timber management plan put together by a previous owner in the mid 1990's, but we were required to submit an updated plan to the county assessor's office.  So I had to hire a consultant to examine the old plan and provide the updated plan.  The photo above shows the relatively flat area at the top of the hill.  The black creature in the photo above is my dog, not a bear or anything.  However, I did hear from the forest consultant and others that there are elk, deer, bear, cougar, coyote, and wolves in the area.

So not only are we embarking on this house building adventure, but we will also be managing the forested area on the property.  I would be a steward of the forest!  I met with the consultant and learned a lot about the parcel of land.  I learned about some invasive noxious weeds that had taken hold along the .6 mile long driveway and some other recently bulldozed areas near a neighbor's fence.  

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I had observed some sign of elk on the top of the property and the consultant believed it was a calving area.  He did not think our presence would interfere with the elk activities as they seem to adapt to human presence as long as they do not feel threatened.  I recall seeing herds of elk in the park in downtown Jasper when I traveled there a number of years ago.  There is still a bit of tree thinning to do and I will be able to selectively log these trees to provide some wood for supplemental heat, and leave the slash piles and some of the thinned trees on the ground for animal habitat and to reintroduce nutrients to the soil.  This will help the healthiest of trees to flourish with more room to grow and minimize the chances of damaging insect infestation and fire danger.  I have taken to reading research papers and larger forest plans for restoration being implemented by the US Forest Service.

We are allowed one acre to build on according to the rules of the Designated Forest Land allowance.  I am happy that this area will not be subject to subdivision or other development.  It is my goal to build with the least amount of impact possible, which means hiring a builder who is familiar with low impact building principles such as avoiding building at the crest of the hill and hopefully using some salvaged or repurposed materials so long as the quality of the materials support a building that will not require a re-do, repair or diminish the longevity of the finished building.  That would be the most wasteful of all.  I will also be looking for the most energy efficient products, appliances and building techniques.   

A unique feature of this parcel is the sandstone pillars at the top of the property.  They are visible in the panoramic photograph above and in detail in the photo below.

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There will be no building between now and snow melt in the spring.  After the recording of the sale I set about putting up a gate at the start of the driveway and posting the property with "No Hunting, No Trespassing" signs.  I stopped by the property to plan my projects.  There were several gates in the lower pasture next to the driveway entrance that were left behind by the previous owner.  I determined that I needed to go to the hardware store to get some hinges, signs and nails.  Upon returning from the hardware store I started the installation of the gate.  While I was digging a hole for one of the posts, the neighbor from across the street came over and introduced himself.  He said he used to keep an eye on the property for the previous owner and commented that there was a noticeable increase of traffic up the driveway since it had been put on the market.  He added that he was glad to see the gate and signs going up.  We exchanged phone numbers and he left me to my digging.  I broke for lunch and then continued with my work until the gate was up.  I fashioned a cable with two loops on each end by crimping a sleeve to secure the ends and locked the gate.  Just as I completed this, a small white car containing two teenaged boys and a teenaged girl driver, came down the driveway from the top of the property.  I had not seen them go up, but there was a very primitive and overgrown road leading to the property from the other side of the hill.  I did not think their car would be capable of driving on that road.  I approached the kids and asked what they were doing.  The boy in the front passenger seat said they had been taking pictures.  I asked them how they got in.  They said they drove up the driveway.  I determined they entered the property while I was at the hardware store and had been up there the whole time I was putting the gate up.  The girl asked, "Is this private property?"  I said that it was, and asked how they knew about it.  The girl said she knew about it because it was up for sale (which would be an indicator that it was private property).  I told them that it has been sold and was now posted and gated.  I unlocked the gate, admonished them not to return and sent them on their way.  I went back up to the top and found numerous footprints in the damp soil, and fresh tire tracks from their vehicle and a larger pickup truck or SUV.  It appears I completed a priority project.  The next project will be controlling erosion at the trail (where the footprints were found) at the top of the property. untitled shoot-1320untitled shoot-1320

(InnHouse Photography) architecture construction forest local Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:11:37 GMT
Bathroom Remodel Featuring Victoria + Albert Tub and Fixtures I photographed this bathroom remodel designed by Karen Ellentuck and built by Marymoor Construction.  The elements featured warm wood tones, taupes, grays and yellows creating a relaxing room no matter how gray and stormy the skies might get outside.  

The vanity and cabinets were designed by Jonathan Pauls of Seattle.

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The focal point of the room is the free standing tub and fixtures by Victoria + Albert.



Here is a detail of the simple and functional fixtures for the tub, the Tubo 15 with handheld shower attachment.  Simplicity, elegance and functionality.

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(InnHouse Photography) architecture Wed, 17 Sep 2014 01:30:29 GMT
California City - The Desert Tomorrow Land from Yesterday Central Park-9994Central Park-9994 I went to California City with my oldest son who is working on an undergraduate history degree.  He will possibly write his thesis on the history of California City.  He is interested in the vision that the original city planner by the name of Mendelsohn who wanted to make California City a modern model city in 1958 and what may have happened to the grand plan.  There was an expansive construction of streets, which would have made California City the third largest city in California.  That never happened and much of the grid of streets is now covered with sand with nothing built on them with only street signs erected marking the streets.  The city was developed in the early 60's around a large park which was aptly named Central Park featuring a large lake, waterfall and the sunshade pictured above fashioned in the once futuristic Googie style so popular in the atomic age. 

While exploring we found ourselves on the corner of Von Braun Way and Lindbergh Blvd. near the California City Airport.  In keeping the the Tomorrow Land theme, they were named after an aviation hero and the "Father of Rocket Science."  Lindbergh was clear to the pavement and Von Braun was covered with sand.   The Corner of Von Braun and Lindbergh-0076The Corner of Von Braun and Lindbergh-0076

On our first evening in town we ventured into Central Park which, according to my son who had visited once before, was desolate and deserted.  Tonight; however, there were law enforcement vehicles and a mix of police officers, sheriff's deputies and citizens attending the National Night Out Against Crime.  We arrived just in time to see a California City Police Canine demonstration where the canine officer chased a "suspect" dressed in a bite suit into the demonstration ring.  The suspect was driving a golf cart and the officer was pursuing him in his patrol car.  The suspect stopped the cart and got out on foot.  The officer released the dog from his car which apprehended the suspect to the cheers of the supportive crowd.

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After watching the apprehension of the crook we ventured to the outskirts of Central Park and looked at the Lake Shore Inn which had seen better times.

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The parking lot is now a cracking web of desert grass trying to reclaim it.

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California City never did become the model city envisioned by Mendelsohn.  Much of its working population is employed by the nearby Edwards Air Force Base or the Corrections Corporation of America private prison.  Despite the vast grids of undeveloped streets the population is slowly growing and development of California City continues, it just will not be the futuristic model city as originally planned.



(InnHouse Photography) Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:49:47 GMT
Queen Anne Home Queen Anne Home- DeckQueen Anne Home- Deck

I had the opportunity to photograph a beautiful home situated in a quiet neighborhood blocks away from the busy Queen Anne Ave N.  I had the challenge and blessing of shooting it on a clear and sunny day.  Blue skies, but harsh light.   Queen Anne Home ExteriorQueen Anne Home Exterior

The strong overhead light made for bright interior light.  This home was beautifully renovated and finished by the owners.  The four levels provide a lot of room for a family on a very modest footprint on a corner lot.  I particularly liked the clean style of the stairways and the light coming through the large windows.

The whole top floor consists of the deck, master suite including a the master bath and well appointed sitting area. Queen Anne Home Master BathQueen Anne Home Master Bath

Queen Anne Home Master Bedroom from Wine BarQueen Anne Home Master Bedroom from Wine Bar

(InnHouse Photography) Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:42:50 GMT
Inside 21 Acres Yesterday afternoon I photographed the interior of the LEED Platinum Certified 21 Acres Farm building including the Farm Store and some of the local, organic produce and other products they sell.  


I was there from the middle of the afternoon to the late afternoon which made for ever changing light and shadows in the kitchen and classroom area.  This was due to the the natural light streaming in from the many windows and skylights cutting down on the need for interior lighting in some of the larger rooms.  Some lighting is still needed for work areas and occupied rooms toward the middle of the building or for evening events.  The lights are motion activated reducing energy use for unoccupied rooms.    

Kitchen and Classroom Late AfternoonKitchen and Classroom Late Afternoon

This bright room is good for meetings and medium sized events.

Event Room2Event Room2

21 Acres has a large collection of dishes, utensils, kitchen tools and service ware used for classes, kitchen projects and events.  All the items in this storage area are from second hand sources.  This is an example of a way to consume less by re-using items and keeping them out of the landfill.

Dishes and Service WareDishes and Service Ware

Thanks to Deb Sternagel of 21 Acres for facilitating this photo shoot.

(InnHouse Photography) 21 Acres Woodinville architecture food organic produce sustainable Mon, 30 Jun 2014 05:27:19 GMT
21 Acres Farm Exterior This last Saturday I  photographed the exterior of the 21 Acres Farm located in Woodinville, WA.  I will be returning to photograph the interior at a later time.  

I wanted to photograph at or around sunrise and again the same day at or around sunset and am pleased with the results.  I initially thought it would have been nice to get a shot of the front of the building with all the lights on but on the other hand that might be counter to the message 21 Acres is trying to project, which is sustainable practices and conservation with its Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified main building and the programs that they offer.  The main building was designed by Nancy Henderson and Michelle Rosenberger, of ArchEcology, LLC. Front Elevation Looking South With Sign-Front Elevation Looking South With Sign-


21 Acres is a nonprofit entity that is a combination of a bio-diverse organic farm, farm store, cooking laboratory and commercial kitchen with space for classes and events in support of their mission.  It is a result of the initial quest to find a permanent location for the Woodinville’s Farmer’s Market in 1999.  It took over a decade to locate a suitable site, research and plan the building and overcome obstacles (such as a high water table typical or the entire Sammamish Valley) in order to construct the building to code while staying on their course to implement low environmental impact design.  You can read all the particulars about the building technologies such as a living roof featuring an herb garden, solar voltaic panels, giant air intake ducts utilized to create natural airflow throughout the building, and too many more to mention here.  The building is visually interesting and is constructed in a way to take full advantage of the sun’s path with skylights and solar panels oriented to the South.   This view shows the living roof garden above the kitchen, the solar panels and the large intakes that provide natural air circulation in the building.


Their event space is available for rental with the agreement that the bulk of the food be locally sourced and seasonal.  Food is stored and served on non disposable, reusable ware.  In the kitchen all the dishes, service dishes, and cookware were from second hand sources demonstrating how re-using things cuts down on waste and provides an eclectic-elegant utility.   Back during Night FunctionBack during Night Function© 2014 Robert Inn


21 Acres is a place that combines three great interest of mine; food, shelter and environmental responsibility. 


Get more information at

(InnHouse Photography) 21 Acres Woodinville local sustainable Tue, 10 Jun 2014 18:19:45 GMT
Peonies from the Garden

I wanted to share some flowers from the garden in natural light from a window.  Something so simple can add so much color and life to a room.



(InnHouse Photography) flowers peonies Tue, 27 May 2014 17:21:33 GMT
Rural Drive-Ins of Washington Over the last two decades of driving around Washington on road trips I have come to know a few drive-ins featuring burgers, chili, nachos, ice-cream and seasonal berry shakes.  Zeke's in Gold Bar; The 59'er Diner - west of Leavenworth; Rusty's - in Cashmere. Others have not been so lucky, such as Nan's Pizza and Ice Cream in Soap Lake (my wife's name is Nan so this kind of hurts), Lois's Drive In in Orondo.  Those have been closed since I can remember.  It is sad to see broken dreams.  I like to support the independent establishments and steer clear of the chains.


Twin Pines was featured on Stephen Brooks' web site along with many other images of foggy desolation around Washington State.  Twin Pines Burgers is located at 1901 State Route 970 in Cle Elum not far from I-90 which re-opened today under new ownership.  The goal of the new owners is to provide a quality old timey drive in experience in a clean environment.   Twin Pine BurgersTwin Pine Burgers

A sparkling grill line ready for re-opening.

A Sparkling Grill LineA Sparkling Grill Line

Bring cash because it looks like they will be good, but not super fancy.


(InnHouse Photography) Fri, 11 Apr 2014 05:25:02 GMT
Inside the King County Courthouse I have always enjoyed looking at historical photographs, especially when compared with contemporary photographs.

The following image is posted with permission from the owner and credited: PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, WA).
MOHAI Photo Collection

"One of the state's most notorious crimes, the "Mahoney Trunk Murder" occurred in Seattle in 1921. The victim was Kate Mooers, 72, an eccentric and wealthy woman who married for the third time to James E. Mahoney, 38, a convicted robber. When Kate went missing, Mahoney claimed she had disappeared in St. Paul, Minnesota, but the Seattle police detectives decided to search the waters of Lake Union where Mahoney had rented a skiff. On August 8, a trunk containing Mooers' body bobbed to the surface and three days later Mahoney was indicted for murder. He was convicted and executed for the crime."
Sheriff Starwich, in the striped suit, is handcuffed to the much taller Mahoney wearing the dark suit. The hallways have the same marble floors and panels, but appear much more grand without the drop ceilings and fluorescent lights. 

King County Courthouse - Seattle, WAKing County Courthouse - Seattle, WA

(InnHouse Photography) Tue, 18 Mar 2014 22:40:37 GMT
Capitol Hill Kitchen Remodel I had the opportunity to shoot a finished kitchen remodel for Marymoor Construction.  The house was in a quiet Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle.  This was in an older, well maintained home where design and execution of a remodel can be tricky, but Marymoor Construction was able to work the new kitchen into the rest of the house seamlessly.  It was a clear sunny day and the light coming from the outside was intense, so lighting was in order to balance everything out.  The open design of the kitchen and views into adjoining rooms and hallways added to the necessity for extra lights.  The muted gray and white walls, white woodwork and cabinets along with the stunning black quartz counter tops were a pleasure to photograph.

(InnHouse Photography) Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:38:26 GMT
Roger Brooks - Architectural Photographer I would like to share a link to an architectural photographer who has assisted me with helpful information.  His approach is to use multiple flash or constant light exposures and composite them with his base exposure.  Although I have used HDR and I believe getting a single image with proper lighting is the goal, this is technique is another tool to use to get a clean natural look.  His website can be found at:


(InnHouse Photography) Thu, 13 Feb 2014 05:49:20 GMT
Xiomaro Discusses Photographing Historic Homes on the "Candid Frame" I heard a great interview today on one of my favorite podcasts The Candid Frame. The host, Ibarionex Perello, has a conversation with Xiomaro (pronounced SEE-oh-MAH-ro) who has done several series of photographs of historic homes commissioned by the National Park Service.  These include American Impressionist painter J. Alden Weir's house and Theodore Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill home.  The photographs of the rooms and details of the fixtures and ornamentation show the beautiful patina they have acquired.  Xiomaro's use of natural light and the occasional addition of minimal lighting results in Chiaroscuro which evokes a solemn mood in the viewer.  I recommend a visit to Xiomaro's web site


(InnHouse Photography) Sun, 26 Jan 2014 07:04:42 GMT