Friday, October 24, 2014

Pattern 159: Light On Two Sides Of Every Room

our bedroom on Cottonwoodlane

First, an apology and a celebration. This is only my 10th post during the Write31Days challenge, and quite possibly my last post for the month of October. At the same time, wahoo, I posted 10 times during October! That’s more than twice as many posts compared to any other month this year.

I won’t bore you with details about my excuses---suffice to say we move into our house in ONE WEEK! We are painting non-stop and giving our new home as much TLC as we can before all our things, which have been in storage the past four months, arrive this Tuesday. We also sold and gave away a TON of stuff before we moved, so we’ve had to make lots of purchasing decisions this month. Any one of these decisions would be a fun opportunity on its own, but having to make them all at the same time is plain crazy-making.

I will continue exploring Christopher Alexander’s book, A Pattern Language, and linking those posts to the introductory page, even if it takes me a year to write 31 of them.

web our house is a very very fine house

All of the images in this post are from my favorite room in our home on Cottonwood Lane, the master bedroom. It’s fun to see clues as to when images were taken. That first image is one of the realtor’s photos in June of this year---I thought it funny that they closed all the shades for the shot. The second image is from 2008---I spy a different chair in the sitting area, the blue JC Penny glider that might not be pretty but that was perfect for nursing my babies. The black box/bag on the floor is a nursing pump.

I loved this room for many reasons. It was big enough to include a crib or bassinet or the kids’ bookcase after we moved the playroom downstairs. Yet it remained a bit of an adult oasis in our kid-dominated house. I loved the soothing blue (Benjamin Moore November Skies). We only hung art and photos on one wall, which kept the room extremely calm in its simplicity. Most of all, though, I loved its light.

According to A Pattern Language’s Pattern 159:

When they have a choice, people will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty.

And so Christopher Alexander recommends that you build so that each room has outdoor space along at least two walls, and that you then place windows so that light falls into every room from more than one direction.

Christopher Alexander pattern 159 Light From Two Directions

Wouldn’t it be nice if that were always feasible? It would be if we all built according to Pattern 109: Long Thin House. But in deep houses, it isn’t unusual to find rooms with only one source of natural light.

There are ways to compensate---you can use mirrors, or open up the floor plan so other rooms’ light contributes. Start paying attention though. Look at your home and notice which rooms have light coming from more than one direction. I think it’s a bit overstated---“unused and empty,” but I constantly notice this now, and feel the difference it makes.

Alexander spends a lot of time on light and windows (Pattern 107: Wings of Light; 128: Indoor Sunlight; 194: Interior Windows, 180: Window Place, and many more). As we looked at houses over the past six months (hundreds of houses!), light was second only to location on my priority list.

You can add windows but you can’t change location. But adding natural light is no small undertaking, and I believe the least appreciated aspect in first-time home buyers. “This pattern, perhaps more than any other single pattern, determines the success or failure of a room,” writes Alexander.


I was delighted to find this discussion of Pattern 159 on, though their work-around options clearly fall short compared to the images that contain Pattern 159.

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This post is part of Myquillyn Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How I Learned to Cook: Part 3


Wouldn’t it be nice if I could conclude by saying that I am now a great chef, supremely confident in the kitchen and experimenting with my own recipes? I’m not. I still get flustered and distracted easily while cooking. Still get overwhelmed while trying to plan a week’s worth of dinners. Still prefer the ease of baking compared to trying to get different dishes done at the same time.

But I am a cook. I learned, thanks to teachers and mentors, and the opportunity to try again and again. If you do anything almost every day for ten years, you can’t help but get better at it.


It’s only a story to me because I never expected it, for so long consciously avoided it. And now I consider it a gift to be able to feed the ones I love, to gather friends around a table.

I saw how cooking in no way limited what else Brian might do. And once we had children, I suddenly cared twice as much about what ingredients we used and where our food came from.

So many of my fondest memories are centered around a table. I grew up in a household where, if Dad was home for dinner, all of his children had better be too. On Saturday mornings, my mother would make a large Irish breakfast and we would spend hours around that table, listening to stories about my mom growing up on Adams Street in Chicago. You can’t grow up Catholic without seeing the sacred in gathering around a table and breaking bread together. In Russia, we learned that even more keenly. When we came home, we lived for a few months with our best friends, also newlyweds, and took turns making dinner together every night. In Oregon, my friend Alison welcomed us into her home and to her family’s table so many times.

2013 05 15_food sweet and sour stir fry

I miss being able to call my mother with a quick cooking question, or getting a call from her about a great recipe she saw on TV and could I please find it online and send it to her. That’s how the hot corn dip I bring to everything joined our repertoire. I didn’t learn at her knee like some girls do. She was a busy cook and I wasn’t interested, but as adults it was one of the ways we connected best. I have probably called my friend Angie for her salad dressing with rice vinegar and a dash of Tabasco at least six times (why do I keep losing that recipe?). In Utah my friend Annabelle embraced cooking and baking, as well as inviting people to dinner---a lost art! And every time I bake her rum cake or make a salad with pork loin now, I think of her. I love the community of cooking, and the way food and memories intertwine.

2014 02 pork_loin_salad_ipad_photo_by_DOK

I have cherished recipes in my mother’s handwriting, my grandmother’s, my mother-in-law’s. I’ve loved Nora Ephron’s writing since I read Heartburn at sixteen, and eventually came to love Nigel Slater and Laurie Colwin as well. Michael Pollen and Molly Wizenberg, Ree Drummond and Jenny Rosenstrach. They have been my teachers and companions in the kitchen too.

web cheers on mothersday breakfast

Ultimately, more than my mom or Brian, websites or cookbooks, these three faces have been my motivation and teachers in the kitchen. I hope someday they’ll be welcoming Brian and me to their table, where we’ll toast to new celebrations, play movie lines and try to get each other to say the word “what”---and there will be plenty of food and love for everyone.

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This post is part of Myquillyn Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language, and this tangent, linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

How I Learned to Cook: Part 2


Source: Find more great chalk lettering art by Valerie McKeehan there.

Welcome to back to my little detour during this month-long series on Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. I am obviously not going to get 31 posts written by October 31st, but you know what, I already have more posts (9) this month than any previous month this year. Progress, not perfection, my friends. And that same philosophy was the key to learning to cook for me.

2012 08 10_0287 food

If anyone doubts that food tastes better at home, start with pico de gallo. There are few things that taste as good, or are as easy to make, and the large batch stuff from restaurants will never compare.

I enjoyed Brian’s cooking, and started, just barely, learning to cook while we were in grad school together. My job provided room and board on campus, but only for one. So we used my food card for lunch (and lots of Ben & Jerry pints), and Brian made us dinner. When he was gone during the summer, fighting wildfire, I experimented. I have no idea where I got the recipes (I didn’t own one cookbook), but I do remember making calzones for my friend Angie (there’s a photo from that meal somewhere!) and trying to make taco salad for my friend Triz. It was the early 90s and salad served inside a bowl-shaped fried tortilla seemed brilliant to me. Triz, whose taquitos still reign as the best ever in my memory, asked me why I didn’t just start simply. I was struggling to lower a metal can into the hot oil in order to shape the tortilla like a bowl as she said that, and thought she might have a point.

on mt graham

Our kitchen in a USFS cabin on Mt. Graham in Safford, Arizona, the summer after we were married, 1994. It was actually bigger than the kitchens in our apartments on campus.

In 1995, we left for two years in the Far East of Russia as Peace Corps volunteers. And that is where I really learned to cook. Brian worked for the Russian Forest Service, helping establish a bare-root nursery in an area that had been devastated by wildfire, and I taught English to 5th through 11th graders at the village school. This meant that I got home about 90 minutes before him. So starting the fire and starting our dinner fell to me.


Our sweet house on Dachnia Street.

The fact that we had only two small burners and our wood stove, no refrigeration beyond our windowsills and front porch, and no running water beyond what we carried back from the neighborhood well, meant that the pressure was off. It was actually easier to cook with the limited ingredients I could find in our village, or on our monthly trip to the city. There were no expectations. We were both grateful for any meal either of us put together.


My friend Olga’s mother, pictured above, taught me to make pelmenyi. My colleague, Valentina Nikolaevna, taught me to make borsch. Fellow volunteers, spread out as we were, shared recipes. I lost about twenty pounds my first year as a volunteer, but gained most of it back by the end of the second. We adapted. Some aspects of Russian culture reminded me of my Irish relatives. Everyone was always offering you a cup of tea, and regardless of how little any household might have, they always set a grand table for visitors. We learned that even if our vocabulary and grammar  limited communication, food was a great bridge across cultures.


A polaroid photo sent to us with a thank you note from a group of US forestry advisors who showed up unexpectedly at our door one day in Selikhino. They had been drinking with their Russian counterparts since that morning, and I remember trying to wrangle something to feed them. Here’s my gourmet dish, tomatoes with shredded cheese. I’m grateful for the photo---the only one I have of that kitchen.


When we left Russia after two and a half years, we were sure of so many things. That we would never again complain about doing laundry in the US. That we would always buy fresh bread and loose tea, and make pelmeni at least once a month. Now, with sliced bread on the counter and box of PG Tips tea bags in the cupboard, we’re lucky if we make pelmeni once a year. But our time there did have a lasting impact in many other ways.

My friends in Russia taught me that the best cure for homesickness is being welcomed into another’s home. That bread and wine (or more likely Russian champagne) are better at overcoming language barriers than any pocket dictionary. That the best dessert is often a small bite of chocolate. That there is always room for one more at the table. That a cup of tea is the best medicine for almost all troubles.

I learned that cooking was a gift, and just as in gift-giving, it was the thought and intention that matter more than the recipe or the result. All of these were lessons I could have learned in my parent’s home, but sometimes you need to travel far from home to see the wisdom of your parents.

When we returned home, I still didn’t consider myself a cook but the difference was that I finally wanted to cook.

If you’re still with me on this self-indulgent trip down my culinary memory-lane, look for part 3 on Thursday.


31 Days button

This post is part of Myquillyn Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How I Learned to Cook: Part 1


webfood no noise chickenbalsamicquotes

A side tangent this week, as part of my Write31Days series on Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. His kitchen patterns, whether it be the layout, the table, the windows (and he discusses each of those), all stem from his argument that the kitchen is the centerpiece of a home. Today, at age 44, I fully agree, but I spent much of life trying to stay as far away from the kitchen as possible.

224 italy

My parents, in Italy in 2004 I think. Aren’t they adorable?

One of my goals in life was to never learn to cook. My mother spent most of her life in the kitchen. She had nine children, one with special needs, and was married to an adorable Irish man, who never cooked. My dad loved my mom’s cooking, mainly because she cooked to his taste, and he was loathe to eat anywhere else or anyone else’s cooking.

webthanksgiving at mom's

It’s funny to me that I didn’t appreciate the craft that went into cooking, but I did always appreciate the time and attention my mom gave to setting her table. My mom set a beautiful table, as did my grandmother. Arriving at my Nana’s apartment, the table would already be set with linens and tea cups.


I remember buying those dishes in the above photo, one at a time from Pier 1, during the summer of my sophomore year of college. The A1 sauce and White Zinfandel crack me up. Decades before Instagram, I was already taking photos of our meals---well, not the food, just the pretty tables.

The first time we went out, Brian made me dinner. A man who cooks! This was completely novel to me. I made him dinner once that year, for Valentine’s Day, and it was a disaster. I misread the recipe, added 1 teaspoon of cayenne rather than 1/8th, to a stir-fry dish. Chivalrous man that he is, Brian ate it anyway. *Swoon*

 Thanksgiving 1999

Our apartment in 1998.

When we got married, Brian chose most of the items for our kitchen. He was the cook. I was more of a baker than a cook, so I chose the white Kitchen Aid mixer. Twenty years later, it’s still a workhorse in our kitchen. We still use the same Calphalon pans that Brian picked out, and the same Dansk blue dishes that we chose together, the same Chicago cutlery knives we received as a gift. I am grateful for the Midwestern tradition of wedding showers, and how our friends and families helped set up our home. I’m grateful for Brian’s insistence on quality over trendy, and my mother’s motto that if you take good care of things, they last.

The main equipment of our kitchen hasn’t changed, but our roles in it have. I went from a woman determined to never learn to cook to one who normally cooks six nights a week. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll discuss how I got past my fear of cooking, and why I’m grateful that I did.

31 Days button

This post is part of Myquillyn Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Christopher Alexander Kitchen

I’ve missed two days in a row of the #write31days challenge, and I couldn’t let a third one go by.

Look at this perfect representation of Alexander’s patterns, the archetypal characteristics of great spaces that actually contribute to the liveliness of a space (rather than being trendy or “picture perfect”). “Liveliness” might not be the right word---“spaces create a more personal, human quality of life in the spaces we inhabit,” is how Lisa McGarry defines them.

DSC_0913-550x364 (1)

Do you recognize it? If you are participating in the Write31Days Challenge, then you probably know this kitchen belongs to The Nester, Myquillyn Smith. She’s the author of The Nesting Place, and originator/host of the writing challenge.

She’s also the designer of this glorious kitchen, which isn’t even quite finished in the above photo (originally seen in this post). That’s what I love most about Myquillyn; she shows her process even more than the result. When she was featured in a magazine, her blog showed the behind-the-scenes reality. Her blog is “awesome sauce” as my oldest would say, and I love her book too (though I’m only about halfway through it).




To truly appreciate the work that has taken place, feast your eyes on the kitchen as it was last year when they bought the house:


Originally seen on this post at

And five months later:



They tore down two walls to open up the space and avoid the isolated kitchen that we discussed in Pattern 139. It looks like they will have a formal dining space off to the side, but look at that island---that this is the big table that Alexander describes that serves as the central heartbeat of a home. The natural light and sunny counter, and more patterns coming next week.


Myquillyn even named her inspiration board for the room: Modern Farmhouse Kitchen.

And there isn’t a ceramic chicken in sight.


31 Days button

This post is part of Myquillyn Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pattern 139: The Farmhouse Kitchen

“…In many cases, especially in houses, the heart … is a kitchen or an eating area since shared food has more capacity than almost anything to be the basis for communal feelings.”

kenison's kitchen


The above kitchen is from the home of Katrina Kenison, one of my favorite authors. Her memoir, The Gift of an Ordinary Day is about so much more than building a house, but also describes her family’s journey from living in a suburb of Boston to living in the country, and building this home. Look at those windows and those sunny counters! Do you think she’s read A Pattern Language? I get the impression she has read everything!

“The isolated kitchen, separate from the family and considered as an efficient but unpleasant factory for food is a hangover from the days of servants.”

servants kitchen

Source: PBS “Dowton Abbey” and the blog Cahier du Jour

The problem Pattern 139 describes:

In traditional societies, where there were no servants and the members of a family took care of their own food, the isolated kitchen was virtually unknown. Even when cooking was entirely in the hands of women, as it very often was, the work of cooking was still thought of as a primal, communal function; and the "hearth," the place where food was made and eaten, was the heart of family life.


As soon as servants took over the function of cooking, in the palaces and manor houses of the rich, the kitchens naturally got separated from the dining halls. Then, in the middle class housing of the nineteenth century, where the use of servants became rather widespread, the pattern of the isolated kitchen also spread, and became an accepted part of any house. But when the servants disappeared, the kitchen was still left separate, because it was thought "genteel" and "nice" to eat in dining rooms away from any sight or smell of food. The isolated kitchen was still associated with those houses of the rich, where dining rooms like this were taken for granted.


[…] there is in this kind of plan…the hidden supposition that cooking is a chore and that eating is a pleasure. So long as this mentality rules over the arrangement of the house, the conflict which existed in the isolated kitchen is still present. The difficulties which surround the situation will only disappear, finally, when all the members of the family are able to accept, fully, the fact that taking care of themselves by cooking is as much a part of life as taking care of themselves by eating. This will only happen when the communal hearth is once more gathered round the big kitchen table, as it is in primitive communities, where the taking care of necessary functions is an everyday part of life, and has not been lost to people's consciousness through the misleading function of the servant.

Did Alexander lose you there? It’s my favorite line in the book, so I think it deserves repeating. Basically, we keep designing kitchens as if the cooks of our families were servants, tucking them out of sight. We just want to focus on the eating. We bring light and attention to beautiful dining rooms instead of the workspace of the kitchen. This isolates the cook and deadens what would normally be the center of the home. The servants’ kitchen of Dowton Abbey might not be a great example, as the money spent on design have made it a work of art---but it is still more factory than hearth.

The solution is for “all members of the family…to accept, fully, the fact that taking care of themselves by cooking is as much a part of life as taking care of themselves by eating.”

Yes! It took me an embarrassingly long time to come to that realization. I started to share that story, but I’m going to move it to a separate post, a part 2 on Pattern 139, so that those who are just interested in design can skip it.

And the solution:



We are convinced that the solution lies in the pattern of the old farmhouse kitchen. In the farmhouse kitchen, kitchen work and family activity were completely integrated in one big room. The family activity centered around a big table in the middle: here they ate, talked, played cards, and did work of all kinds including some of the food preparation. The kitchen work was done communally both on the table, and on counters round the walls. And there might have been a comfortable old chair in the corner where someone could sleep through the activities.


Make the kitchen bigger than usual, big enough to include the "family room" space, and place it near the center of the commons, not so far back in the house as an ordinary kitchen. Make it large enough to hold a good big table and chairs, some soft and some hard, with counters and stove and sink around the edge of the room; and make it a bright and comfortable room.

When I first read the title of this pattern, I pictured my mom’s kitchen, which had a country/farmhouse theme and lots of ceramic chickens. She lived on a farm in Ireland for a few years as a child, and I think her design preferences often recalled those years.

homemaking 1

Source: my mom’s beautiful kitchen

However, Christopher Alexander isn’t recommending blue gingham curtains. He has distilled what works from numerous and diverse kitchens, and found the commonalities among the best. And by best, we aren’t talking about the prettiest. We’re talking about a room that works, that gives back to the people who live there.

Everyone always ends up in the kitchen at parties anyway, right? You might as well design the space to entertain. A table big enough for crafts and homework. Lots of light and plenty of chairs. That’s a kitchen that would delight both the farmer and the cosmopolitan!

31 Days button

This post is part of Myquillin Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language      linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pattern 199: A Sunny Counter


Pattern 199: A SUNNY COUNTER

Today’s pattern, 199: A SUNNY COUNTER, reveals the biggest flaw in our previous house, and one I try to remember when I feel sad about leaving all that we did love about the house.

The problem the pattern confronts:

“Dark kitchens are depressing. The kitchen needs the sun more than the other rooms, not less.” p. 917


Don’t be fooled by photography. Above is our kitchen in Moab, which in this photo looks brighter than the kitchen at the top of this post, but you can see the natural light hitting its counters. Sadly our kitchen received very little natural light. It was my least favorite part of the house, though there was still much to love about it. The house itself had great light, but the kitchen did not. In many ways, it was a galley kitchen, with all but the sink along two walls. I actually liked that it was a small kitchen when we first moved in. I was 34 years old, and honestly hadn’t spent that much time in our kitchens.

To put 2004 into perspective, you should know that I went back to work when Aidan was 18 months old. I taught high school English at Crater High full time, taught courses for Southern Oregon Online Schools, and also had a job with the Oregon Writing Project at Southern Oregon University as their technology liaison. That seems crazy to me now, but I was afraid to give up the jobs that allowed me to work from home for the first 18 months of Aidan’s life. I wanted to take a year sabbatical from my classroom teaching job again, when we had a second child. So even though Brian and I had been alternating who cooked each night for years, I gave little time or energy to cooking.

Once we moved to Moab, and I left teaching, I became the main cook and Brian became the main breadwinner. Brian still cooks the Thanksgiving turkey, and occasionally grills or makes pasta, but the kitchen became my domain.


I often wish I had known at 34, when we were building the house, all the things that would matter most to me in a kitchen’s layout. Here you can see the lone source of sunlight. That big wall---why in the world is the window so small? Brian and I talked about someday expanding it and moving the sink and counters to those walls, but then we’d reconsider. Our boys might need to go to college someday, and kitchen renovations are crazy expensive.

I thought the slate tile was gorgeous, and it was, until I stood on it all day cooking for a party and could feel that hard stone all the way up my spine. Because it was full of groves, it was also a beast to clean. Sweeping was pointless. I had to vacuum and get down on my hands and knees. It destroyed string mops. And that Colorado slate counter top. I have no excuse for that other than 1) we thought we would stay in Utah for five years at most, so we didn’t want to pay for natural stone, 2) we were in a rush to make decisions on every surface and aspect of that house all at the same time, and 3) I was clueless.

Pinterest didn’t exist in 2004. I immediately regretted the countertops, which just made the kitchen darker. We were planning on putting in light stone eventually. The irony is that our new home has granite, but it is black.

Kitchen 1

The MLS “BEFORE” photo of our kitchen in Golden.

Hopefully by this time next week, those cabinets will all be white. But the granite will have to stay for now. I’d love butcher block counters, but Brian isn’t a fan. Nor is he a fan of Carrera marble, which would be my next choice. Neither of us are fans of spending money if we don’t have to, so the dark granite will stay. For now.

The solution the pattern presents:

“Place the main part of the kitchen counter on the south and southeast side of the kitchen, with big windows around it, so that sun can flood in and fill the kitchen with yellow light both morning and afternoon.”

The authors also provide this super technical sketch to illustrate their point:


Bizarre and charming at the same time, isn’t it?

“Give the windows a view toward a garden or the area where children play - Windows Overlooking Life (192). If storage space is tight, you can build open shelves for bowls and plates and plants right across the windows and still let in the sun - Open Shelves (200). Build the counter as a special part of the room, integral with the building structure, able to take many modifications later - Thickening The Outer Walls (211). Use Warm Colors (250) around the window to soften and warm the sunlight.”

Above is a good example of the way each pattern builds and intertwines with other patterns, as Alexander refers to four other ones in that final paragraph.

open shelves

Source: 1912 Bungalow

Having shelves across the windows isn’t ideal, but it is a much better alternative to one lonely window just above the sink.


Source: Expressive Modern: The Interiors of Amy Lau

Our new (to us) kitchen might be on the northwest side of the house. However the window does have a view of where the children will play, and I’m grateful for all the light those French doors provide. We’ll be taking out that cabinet above the dishwasher, which I hope will allow a bit more light from the window. The window has a big herb box, which I feel I should be grateful for but am not. The upstairs deck is over the patio right outside the window, so there is very little direct sunlight. I like defused light, but I’m still not sure about the herb box bump out.

We’ll take down the florescent big box, lighten the walls and cabinets, add hardware and some open shelves. We’re excited. I’m 44 now, and know two things I didn’t ten years ago: natural light is essential for any room to feel alive or welcoming, and the kitchen isn’t just a workspace for cooking. It is the center piece of a home.

Tomorrow we’ll dive deeper into the unique role of the kitchen by looking at Pattern 139: The Farmhouse Kitchen.

31 Days button

This post is part of Myquillin Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language      linked here, and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why I chose A Pattern Language for #write31days

“The purpose of all architecture, writes Christopher Alexander, is to encourage and support life-giving activity, dreams, and playfulness. But in recent decades, while our buildings are technically better--more sturdy, more waterproof, more energy efficient-- they have also became progressively more sterile, rarely providing the kind of environment in which people are emotionally nourished, genuinely happy, and deeply contented.”

-from the description of Alexander’s newest book, The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems (Center for Environmental Structure)


Our home on Cottonwood Lane.

I finally got my very own copy of A Pattern Language this spring, and immediately wanted to do a blog series on it. I also wanted to write a sort of love letter to the house that had been our home for ten years. I’m one of those people who often don’t know what I think until I write. So I wanted to write about what makes a house a home, to clarify what we would want in our next house. But there never seems to be time.

Myquillin’s 31 Day Writing challenge is the perfect fit, because I don’t have to write one massive post trying to say it all. There is another post tomorrow. Short and sweet suits this challenge best.

There still doesn’t seem to be any time. We close on a new house in one week. I want to put together vision boards for each room there, and figure out what needs to happen before we move in and what can just linger on a “someday” list. We will be painting and ripping out trim during most spare minutes and then unpacking most of October.

So, as much as I want to dive deep into Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, this series will be small bites. For the next week, I’ll be examining his patterns that relate to the kitchen. And in the course of looking at his patterns, I hope to better understand our own goals, what matters most to my family in making a house into a home.

31 Days button

This post is part of Myquillin Smith’s Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts on A Pattern Language here,and other blogs participating in the challenge (and writing on different topics) here.

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