Friday, September 18, 2015

Xiao Gong Zhu means Little Princes

Having Elin, Yessi's niece visit us from China for one month is perhaps the best visit I've ever had.

Elin, the cutest Chinese ever
This young girl, not even 6 years old had never swam in natural water, had never climbed a tree (or seen big trees in a forest), had never pet a cat or ridden a motorcycle.

Benton, the cutest Aussie ever!
We fixed that!!
Elin wearing a mask at Chachokum
During her month here in America, Elin had many many opportunities to try activities which she would have never had in China.
Elin admiring the beauty of Anacortes and Puget Sound
 Myself, being a kid at heart, took this as an amazing opportunity.

Elins first night ever camping in a tent.
 Soon it became a game for me, to find new ways to challenge her, to engage her, to stimulate her, all the while not speaking the same language.

Elin first lesson on splitting wood, getting the axe out of the piece of wood!
 I would split wood, (no pun intended) and she would want to help.  But you can hardly let a 5 year old swing a sharp axe.  So I'd bury the splitting maul in a wet piece of wood and tell her (if you can get it free you can try to split wood!"

Elins first time on a bike, ever.
With these challenges I presented her, she shined.  She saw opportunity and jumped at it.  sometimes she passed the test while other times she didn't.  She never did get the maul out or get to split wood!

Elin on the Ferry headed to Whidbey Island
 But she certainly had a desire to participate and was easily coaxed up a tree or onto a swing.

Elin climbing a tree for the first time ever.
 She even participated in the butchering of our too aggressive roosters and the subsequent BBQ
Elin buries the Rooster head
 She attended Calyx summer cam with a bunch of not chinese speaking children.  Lisa, the facilitator, was confident in kids abilities to communicate without language and she was indeed correct.  Elin did great at camp and had a wonderful time.

Elin helps with the Roster clean up
 I sometimes wonder what it is that children have that we loose as adults which prohibits us from having fun and interacting just because we cannot speak the same language.

Elin and Yessi in our Garden
 It seems with every lesson I taught Elin, I learned a lesson too.

Elin and Xiabo, her first interaction with a cat, ever!
 The time while she was her was fantastic and I look forward to not only her return, but for her little sister Celine to visit us as well.

Elin and Mia after a day at camp Calyx
 Perhaps someday I will be lucky enough to have them both visit for an extended period.  Wow, would we have fun!!
Elin at the Park
 As you can see, Yessi and I had so much fun with Elin, that we have way more pictures of the Cutest Chinese Girl ever than we have words to describe how much fun we had!

Elin creating another wonderful piece of art.
This particular one for Ferris and Jaime.
 So with this I leave you with a few more pictures and the thought that perhaps children can teach us as much as we should teach them!

Elin, a boy and his dog!
 Elin, the Cutest Chinese Girl I ever saw.

Elin and Joan
 And my family agrees.

Elin swinging at the FrEdLey residence
 And our neighbors agreed!


 And her Grandma and Great Aunt agree.

dbBrad and Elin both admire a BAPOW
(Bad Ass Piece Of Wood)
 Elin, the Cutest Chinese Ever!

Elin and Yessi on the beach
 Elin, Xiao Gong Zhu
Elins first time playing in the ocean surf at La Push, Beach 2

Elin at La Push, washington coast

Elin and Yessi at 5400' in the Olympics, Hurricane Ridge

Elin running down Hurricane ridge, Olympic National Park

Elin eating a Sunday in Port Townsend

Elin on the Quad

Elin in front of the Entry gate at the FrEdLey residence
Another one of Elins wonderful art pieces.

FrEdLey residence on Tiny House Nation

The FrEdLey residence in Langley Wa is going to be (was already) on Cable TV.  This little house has been picked up in numerous publications but is finally getting it's shot at Prime Time!


ScreenShot of TinyHousNations Season Finale on FYI
showing one of my favorite views of the FrEdLey residence.
The house is great, worthy of it's own show.  However, for this first time around, the FrEdLey residence will be just a 3 minute snippet in the middle of another show.

FrEdLey residence, as seen on TV!
Actually, Tiny House Nation builds all their own tiny houses that are then filmed for TV.  It's actually quite an honor to even make it onto the show since it wasn't one of their projects.

dbBrad talking in front of the cameras for TinyHouseNation

Regardless, working with the crew at Tiny House Nation and getting a taste of Reality TV and even 3 minutes on Cable TV is fantastic.  Thanks to all who helped including the FYI channel, the producer, the wonderful camera guy and Alicia Cabral, the associate produce.

The TinyHouseNation film crew

To view this episode of Tiny House Nation on YouTube, go here.  http://youtu.be/IVCaR71GpQE


Friday, August 28, 2015

Kois remodel. Great client, great crew, awesome results.

The crew from L2R,
Mike Rothman, Brad Hankins, Josh Jones II, Kevin Bodle
Lisa, Mary and Aaliyah may be the best clients I've ever had.  Of coarse, if you've been following my blog for long, you'll know that I said that about Fran and Ed (my parents) on the FrEdLey home, about Perry and Judith Lovelace who helped put dbBrad back in business, about Monica Uhl on her basement remodel.

Lisa and Aaliyah in front of the dbBrad mobile shop and hardware store!
That's what happens when you do good projects for good people--clients become friends.  This has become our new motto!

Kitchen Before, hidden behind wall,
no natural light or view and, well,
just pretty old.
Lisa's house has been in the family for decades.  Her grandfather lived in this house as did her mother.  She visited this house in the summers as a child and has many memories here.

Now, her Daughter Aaliyah is bringing in the 4th generation of family memories for this Bush Point residence.




New Kitchen with modern fixtures and cabinets,
Open floor plan and natural light and minimal
uppers with a 40" x 9' multipurpose island
However, build simply with do-it-yourself modifications over the years, the house had a cabin on the beach feel and an old house smell.  Our goal was to bring the house up to date including new windows, insulation, gas fireplace, heat pump, new utilities and new finishes.

The living room before with kitchen behind.

Same fireplace, new insert, mantel and hearth.
We carefully removed all the bad stuff in the house, saving as much as we could.  Many of the wood scraps were reused later for  trim, shelves, etc.  We left the lights and cabinets, tubs and toilets in the bathrooms.  We tried to leave the Kitchen cabinets but one by one, logic said get this out of here and eventually they were all gone.

The Entry.  First thing I said is
lets get the car away from 
the front door and make 
the Entrance special.
We reinforced the attic for future solar panels and we reinforced the floor framing with earthquake hold-downs.  We did 2 extensive french drains to help control the massive amount of groundwater that flows across this site and we've added plants for beauty, screening, wind protection and habitat.

The new front porch under construction.  Notice the
concrete stairs and ramp are gone and the
front door is no longer hidden.
New windows and double protected waterproofing details now protect the house from the winter storms that come off the water and hit the house pretty hard.   Additional insulation in the floor, attic and any walls we had to visit will keep the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Old bath, nice enough but after
50 years, needing an update.

New counter, sink, fixutre and mirror,
old cabinets and lights.
Beautiful clear fir floors give the house an elegant warm feel that no laminate flooring can ever achieve.  Steel counters provide a durable timeless look and help to hold down the Ikea Cabinets.  The thing with Ikea is there stuff is well designed and works great, but falls apart if it isn't attached to the walls.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Has it been a year already?

It is hard to believe it's been a year since Yessi and I were married.  It's also difficult to believe it's been almost a year since I did a blog posting! So much has happened in the last year:  purchasing a piece of property, re-opening dbBrad design build, finishing off our existing building to create an office, navigating the complicated process of immigration and getting Yessi's 'green card', and lots of gardening!

Our party invite by Yessi
And now it's time to show off all our hard work.  Last year at this time we were planning a wedding, it seems only fit that now, one year later, we are planning a party.  Same invitation list, new venue!  Hope you can join us for another celebration at our home on the edge of Saratoga Woods.

Yessi and Brad sitting on our entry steps.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Yessi putting together a Hot Pot feast.

Ludo and Flore's last night in Seattle was a wonderful evening.  After two years of not seeing them, we've had a week hiking together and it's like we were never apart.  Always smiles and always fun from those two.

Brad, Ludo, Flore, Fran, Ed, Yessi all camping in the Cascades last weekend.
Our excursions around Mt Rainier were well supported by Fran and Ed, and Greg and Deb.  So, in celebration and thanks, Yessi planned a wonderful meal, one of her favorites.  Hot Pot!

Brad and Yessi in Seattle's International district shopping for HotPot.
We all gathered at Greg and Deb's in Seattle, our closest home, collectively, to Sea Tac.  Ludo and Flore had an early flight the next day, about 5am.  As it turns out, we dropped them off at the airport around 1am, after dinner and entertainment.  The entertainment was watching Ludo and Flore try to put two years worth of possessions, mostly hiking, into 4 little bags!

Yessi's amazing Hot Pot spread.
The Hot Pot was the best Yessi has made yet.  Shopping at Uajimia in the International District, we were able to get many of the thinly sliced meats and odd vegetables you just don't see in most American grocery stores.

A panorama of the outside of the Hot Pot table including from l2r
Yessi, Fran, Deb, Flore, Ludo, Greg and Ed.
Thank you to all who helped show my good friends Ludo and Flore a great time in and around Seattle.  And thanks to Yessi for the wonderful meal and for being at the Invicargill North McDonalds at 5:45pm on April 21st, 2012, so I could meet you.