Home for the Holidays – Celebrating Who We Are

Who does have that perfect “nuclear family?”
The holidays can present some tricky social situations to navigate through… Who does have that perfect “nuclear family?” Even though it may look that way from the outside – but who really IS that? Every family has their quirks behind the picture perfect Christmas card photos.

There is no “normal”

Blended families have always been a part of our culture and recognized in pop culture for almost 50 years with the Brady Bunch show being a significant watershed. The classic nuclear family is becoming the exception rather than the norm – with so many people choosing alternative lifestyles, same sex partners and even the lines of gender have become blurred with the transsexual movement. Perhaps the “new normal” is that there is no “normal” – and that’s a good thing. That never existed anyway, even in the most “normal” looking nuclear family.

family of choice

There is the family that you are born into, and the people that you choose to be in you life; your “family of choice.” Sometimes these are blood relatives and sometimes not, sometimes they include both.

The Grandma’s

We believe that the best way to move through life is to show up as our most authentic selves – without explanation or apology. Clare and Su are excited to be grandma’s in the year 2019. They are “The Grandma’s” to their families – they show up as the married couple that they are – and it’s that simple.

The one gift we all want

The holidays are a time in which loss and celebration are entwined… “the first year without a loved one…” when the one gift we all want is the one thing that you can’t have which is to have that loved one back…

Daughter

Clare’s father recently passed away. He was 88. He enlisted when he was 17, served in the Korean War and was one of only a few people from his platoon who made it home. He survived alcoholism. And she was his adored daughter. From when she was first held in his arms as a newborn, she was his girl. He lit up when she entered the room – and in his eyes, she could do no wrong. He would do anything for her. At the age of 8, she brought him to his first AA meeting – and he became sober for the rest of his life.

Hoodie People

They shared so many of the same quirks – one of them both being “hoodie people” in that they both wore hoodies even in the house to fend off the cold – and friends commented upon seeing them both in their hoodies “My God, you look just like him!” 

I don’t understand all these strange terms

He was always willing to try and understand, even when it was hard. Clare’s niece Mee-ya became  angry with him at a family dinner when he made a comment about not understanding what all this new terminology was and not knowing what to say when addressing  people.   “Male or female how are you suppose to know? Are Clare and Su both wives?  I don’t understand all these strange terms, why is it now necessary!?”   Mee-ya was  so frustrated with her grandpa she left the table and went outside . He followed her and said: “Mee-ya I am sorry I upset you. I’m just a  old man. I’m confused and need help with the new ways.”

Loved Ones

He died surrounded by loved ones, his extended family. Including his adopted daughter which he adopted when he was 80 and she was a few months old.

Love is a bridge

It’s a bittersweet holiday remembering a lost father. The gift of life that a parent brings and the closure of their life ending. Love is a bridge to span the gaps between our differences. Love motivates us to reach out and understand more about the people who we love. Love can heal wounds.

May your holidays be a celebration of love with your loved ones.

An Informal, Opinionated, and Brief History Of The Business Of Bed & Breakfasts

The 1980s

The 80’s saw the rise of Bed and Breakfast’s as home owners who enjoyed entertaining, decided to earn some extra cash by opening up their homes as B&B’s. Hallmarks of the owner’s quirks included staying in a room with pictures of the owners family on the wall – or worse – their dolls on the beds. While some did an excellent and professional job, a huge part of the charm was that it was run by amateurs and “not corporate.” Travelers sacrificed convenience for a unique experience.

The 1990s

As the rise in popularity of B&B’s continued, they became more organized – and corporate. “Homes” were built specifically to be B&B’s and they became more organized as income-generating businesses. In some cases, they were also seen as a tax shelter for upper middle class people who were looking for a write off for whom it didn’t matter if they were a viable business or not.

2000’s and beyond

Corporatization and technology came to B&B’s. Booking became more sophisticated – and online booking became an expected part of even a very “low key” B&B operation. Public ratings from Yelp, TripAdvisor and similar crowd source reviews became extremely important. Google search placement and Google Maps meant the difference between a successful business and failing. It became harder for small B&B’s to compete without having a strong online presence. All of these conveinances come at a high price for a small B&B. The advent of AirBnB.com added a new player to the field.

“Those little soaps that you saw… those are cookies!”

Portlandia: Bed and Breakfast – Inspection

Businesses that facilitate travel, and work as liaisons between hotels/B&B’s and their customers have also consolidated and become much larger

Expedia.com and  Booking.com – own many smaller online travel agents such as  Airbnb .com,  Trivago and Home Away. If a small business wants to compete, they need to work with these huge companies which take a hefty percentage of any room that is booked.

At the same time, savvy travelers also became more wary of “fake positive reviews,” photographs that looked “too professional” and obviously paid for advertisements by large companies to boost their web presence. The internet had transitioned from being a level playing field for all businesses to compete with equal access to an increasingly corporate environment with priority given to the paid advertising and those who could pay to optimize their website to be found by search engines.

Dungeness Barn House’s location on search pages had become buried. It was past time for an update. An update on every level and to make it a more streamlined process for our customers, and let us focus more on offering great experiences for our customers – like gourmet breakfasts. And tend our organic vegetable garden.

The website needed to not look like “Grandma’s B&B” and more modern, yet rustic to reflect what the Dungeness Barn House looked like now.

Clare researched different designers and options… Should we go DIY – “Do it yourself” That was quickly ruled out as a “Do it yourself – DON’T” or what Melissa likes to call a “DIYD.” Should we try and slowly update what we have just by swapping out old pictures for new ones? No. The format isn’t right… and it would have to be redone sooner or later. Sooner much rather than later.

Trina Packard of Packard Design Works was clearly the best fit – she understood that we wanted something clean, but warm – to reflect the “high touch” elements of the Barn House. Modern, but also honored the traditions we value. She and Clare did a deep dive into educating Clare about all of the elements that needed to go into the revamp. Clare’s brother Michael Monnin who is a competitive photographer and avid birder supplied many of the photographs. Terms that were initially unfamiliar but now roll easily off of Clare’s tongue: SEO (search engine optimization), OTA (online travel agent), VBRO (vacation rental by owner). She says: “Acronyms… It’s been painful…”

We also wanted the website to be a resource for both locals and visitors to the Olympic Peninsula. While the beauty of this location is breathtaking – many people are not aware of all of the hidden gems and options for inexpensive – and creative day trips.

Some transitions happen gracefully…

Trees turning color in the fall are a beautiful example of that…

Daisies are not…

But in the end…

totally worth it.
Just make sure that you have plenty of chips, candy AND the right designer!

Cultivating Land, Body & Soul

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” -Alfred Austin
“Sustainability” is a buzz-word these days usually applied to either environmental issues or to managing one’s time and work/life balance so that “it’s sustainable” (when it usually isn’t).
What creates true sustainability?
Supportive communities and individuals who contribute to those communities. As much as it is appealing to follow the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” model, and “do everything yourself,” that’s the path to burnout – and is a fallacy. To realize the dream of being independent entrepreneurs with our own bed and breakfast, took the cooperation and support of many people who have become a part of our tribe.

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade. -Rudyard Kipling

One member of our tribe is Israel – who maintains the gardens and helps with all aspects of the grounds. He brings a wealth of information about the plantings of the property from having worked for the previous owners for the past 20 years. Israel is a legal immigrant who started at 16 years old, knocking on doors in the area and offering to work on people’s yards. From that humble beginning, he now runs a successful business and employs three people. His former instructor for English classes is also a long-term client.
Our gardens are a major feature of Dungeness Barn House – in addition to vegetable plantings, we maintain an ornamental garden with roses inherited from the former owners who transplanted the roses from their parent’s garden. Israel’s favorite feature of the garden is those roses – whose fragrance permeates the air. These traditional plantings are integrated with more modern gardening concepts – including vegetable plantings as ornamental beds.

“Garden as though you will live forever.”-William Kent

Being a part of a community is a long-term commitment – and requires an investment of time and energy over a span of years. Gardening is an art form that evolves over time – and encompasses a wide range of variables from seasonal changes to the maturity of individual plants. The metaphors between communities and gardens are interconnected.

There is a bond that happens between the property and the people who put their love, blood, sweat and tears into it. The land binds us together across generations of owners and caretakers who collaborate to create a beautiful and functional garden. We are joined by a common love of the land. A thriving garden is a reflection of the community and our mutual understanding and respect. In caring for our garden, we also care for ourselves.

“Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.” -Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Can Do with Su – Raised Garden Bed Instructions

Dungeness Barn House – raised bed with purple cabbage

Su is the mastermind behind all of the building projects at Dungeness Barn House. She applies her talents and skills from working at Habitat for Humanity and her own construction business to create original designs.
When asked “What do you like about building?” Su’s philosophy of designing and building is to create something out of someone’s idea but that they didn’t know how to make – and “…make it happen. It makes me happy to see them happy with the final result.”

Which is a good thing because Clare is always thinking up new challenges for Su!

Clare wanted raised beds to be designed so that she could “… still garden at 80.” Waist high, and made of materials that will weather well over time, with a deep base to allow for the roots to grow. Bales of straw at the bottom provide organic matter that decomposes into a rich mulch and holds moisture. The beds are drip irrigated because as Su puts it: “I didn’t want want to spend all day watering the garden.” Whatever your age – making gardening easier and being able to easily access the plants (and weeds!) can make the difference between a garden that is maintained over time, versus one that gets neglected because it’s not “user friendly.”

 

Dungeness Barn House – raised bed with nasturtium

The raised beds are planted with a wide variety of vegetables – from potatoes to lettuces, spinach and heirloom-variety tomatoes. Guests are fed from the garden and from local farms from whatever is in season. The Dungeness Barn House chickens supply the eggs!

From the gardens of Dungeness Barn House

Late summer and early fall is the height of the growing season in the Dungeness. Hardy crops: potatoes, garlic, spinach and kales can be harvested even into the early winter months.

Peas and cucumbers are trellised from four corners of two of the larger beds.

Dungeness Barn House raised beds in early spring

Sequim is a cool-weather growing climate – and because the Dungeness Barn House is located on a high bluff waterfront, there are additional challenges of wind and salt air. The gardens are sheltered behind the buildings, where it’s warm enough for roses to bloom in a mild winter.

Dungeness Barn House – raised beds, sheltered

This design is flexible; make one, see how it goes and add on.

Happy gardening!

Dungeness Barn House Raised Bed

Dungeness Barn House Bed and Breakfast at Two Crows Farm
Raised Garden Beds

So my beautiful and wonderful partner/wife, Clare, decided she wants to be able to garden when she’s 80…and figures since she won’t be able to get on her hands and knees any longer, (or most likely won’t be able to get up if she did get down there), she asked me to make these raised beds for her. Now, she can garden (and possibly with her walker later in life) standing upright and the boxes make it easy. So I’ve tried to put together what I did and some of the tips I found while making them for her. I love her creative energy. She’s always got something new for me to try and make.

Materials needed for one 3 x 5 box:

8 – pressure treated 2 x 4 x 8 (base structure)
2 – doug fir 1 x 2 x 8 (trim boards)
2 – corrugated metal (patina or rusty if you like) approx. 27” x 16’ long
2 – bales + 2 flakes (straw per box)
3” screws (make sure for use in pressure treated material or they will rust)
1” screws for metal corrugated roofing (small rubber washer attached)
6 p nails 1 1/2” long
Landscape fabric (under the boxes and over the straw)
1 yard (approx.) (Organic) Soil

Cuts:

4 – 2 x 4 x 57” pressure treated lumber
4 – 2 x 4 x 36” pressure treated lumber
8 – 2 x 4 x 21” pressure treated lumber
2 – 1 x 2 x 32 3/4” doug fir
2 – 1 x 2 x 55 1/4” doug fir
2 – 27” x 56 3/4” corrugated metal
2 – 27” x 31 1/4” corrugated metal

Installation:

Take 1 – 2 x 4 x 57” pressure treated lumber and attach to the inside end of 1 – 2 x 4 x 36” pressure treated lumber with the screws. This forms and “L” shape. You will repeat this step 3 more times. Once you have 4 “L” shapes you will connect 2 of them together to form a box ( [] ). Repeat with the remaining 2 “L” shapes. Now you have 2 boxes.

Take 2 – 2 x 4 x 21” pressure treated lumber and screw them together for the side corners (long side to long side of the lumber). Repeat 3 more times. You now have all the side corner pieces ready to install on the boxes.

Toe nail the side corners to the boxes with the 3” screws. (I placed the side corner cuts opposite of the way the cuts were for the boxes so it would be stronger and it helped for screwing on the metal later.) (I also found it was easiest to screw on one side at a time to the bottom all four corners and then flip the entire unit onto the top (which is now laying on the bottom) and then screw it into place.) (It forms a 3 D box). After all the corner sides are screwed on the box, it should be pretty sound and you are ready for the metal.

Install the long metal on the long sides first with the metal screws. Then attach the smaller sides with the metal screws. (again, I found it easiest to place the boxes on their sides so I wasn’t crawling inside to try and attach the metal to the lumber) (learned that the hard way, ha!) Once all sides are attached place the box upright and you are ready to install the trim.

Since the metal sticks out a bit and can be very sharp, I used the 1 x 2 to hold it in place and protect the edge. Using clamps to hold the 1 x 2 and the metal close to the 2 x 4, nail the 1 x 2 to the 2 x 4 holding the metal in-between. (I used my pneumatic nailer for this, you could also use screws if you don’t have a nailer, although you might need to pre-drill so the wood doesn’t split) Either way, once this step is completed all the way around the top of the box you are ready to install the straw.

Take landscape fabric and place where you are going to be putting your boxes. I use 20 p nails 4” long and fender washers to hold down my fabric as we have a lot of rocks and harder soils. Once that is down and you’ve placed your box where you want it take 2 bales of straw and place side by side inside the box. You will find that there is a gap at the end or they look short and they are, that’s where the 2 flakes of another bale will fill in. Then cut some of the landscape fabric to cover the top of the straw to prevent it from sprouting up into your box. You’re now ready for soil.

It will take not quite a yard of soil per box giving you about 8” – 10” of planting depth. As the straw decomposes, you can fill the space with more soil, compost, manure etc. Thus, reviving the soil each year. You are now ready to plant.

Have fun and enjoy!

-Su

On a separate note, I installed a drip watering system on a timer so I’m not spending hours (although I’d like to sometimes) watering the garden. So far, it’s worked out great.

Any questions you can reach me on my cell at 360-821-9294 or leave a message. I’ll get back to you.

Happy Gardening!