Pull Up a Chair

July 11, 2014

Has anyone got any ideas for a controversial post I can write that will kick my current most controversial post to the curb? My piece about “comfort nursing” my daughters, which I wrote over a year ago, was picked up yet again on a large Facebook group, and I got called mother of the year and child abuser within a span of minutes. I am neither, but I’ve got to admit, the former is a little more edifying.

On the one hand, I don’t mind that post getting more mileage — but on the other, it’s been such a small part of my parenting so far that it’s weird to be out front and center on the issue. That’s how it goes in cyberspace, I guess. I’ve probably got some other hot topics up my sleeve to write about, but nothing seems to get attention like breasts — and babies.

Speaking of breasts (sort of), I finally ordered a bathing suit — a recommendation by a SlowMama reader, actually — and I’m hoping it comes today; I’m a little tired of swimming in public in sports bras. I’ll let you know how it works out, but don’t hold your breath for a photo!

And speaking of babies, we got to meet a brand spanking new one on Wednesday: Friends of ours had a beautiful baby girl last week, and we brought them a meal. The girls were thrilled to hold little Lucia, and she actually fell asleep in H’s lap, which H was mighty pleased about.

It’s been hot here this week, so today I’m offering a refreshing drink my brother made us last weekend: a caipirinha. It’s very summery, and an ode to Brazil, who could probably use a little love after that thrashing they got in the World Cup. As for my high and low of the week:

High: I’ve been trying out some new parenting strategies, and they seem to be working — or working better, anyway. I’ll write about them eventually when I have a better grasp of what exactly I’m doing.

Low: Feels like I haven’t seen my husband in, I don’t know, forever? We’ve been like two ships passing in the night lately.

Bonus question: Do you enjoy posts about controversial/hot topics, or do you prefer lighter reading when you’re perusing your favorite blogs? 

Grab one of those Brazilian drinks and enjoy your weekend, friends. See you back here on Monday!

Image: Zoe SaintPaul


by Margaret Cabaniss

As the unmarried “mama” of our bloggy contingent, I’m the last person who should be giving marriage advice — but psychologist John Gottman is a different story. His decades of research into what makes for happy relationships translates today into an ability to predict, with 94 percent certainty, whether a couple will split up or stay together, after observing them interact for only a few minutes.

Not only that, but Gottman says there’s one very basic trait that separates the “masters” (those couples in happy relationships) from the “disasters” (those who are unhappy, or who eventually split up). The secret sauce in happy marriages? No secret, really: It’s kindness.

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”

Sound familiar? Read on:

Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there. People who give their partner the cold shoulder—deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally—damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued….

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved.

It seems so obvious, and yet relationships today fail at a depressing rate. Maybe because we tend to think of kindness as a concrete act: giving a gift or a paying a compliment, say. But according to the Gottmans and other researchers, the kindness that makes for lasting relationships is an attitude built into every interaction — particularly those times when we’re stressed, angry, tired, or generally feeling anything other than kind.

As the Atlantic author points out, kindness is better viewed as a muscle: The more it gets exercised, the stronger it becomes. And there are a couple of concrete habits we can cultivate to build the kindness muscle:

One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down. . . .

“Even in relationships where people are frustrated, it’s almost always the case that there are positive things going on and people trying to do the right thing,” psychologist Ty Tashiro told me. “A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even if it’s executed poorly. So appreciate the intent.”

So true — and equally applicable in every relationship (with coworkers, siblings, friends, parents), not just romantic ones. Another:

Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. One of the telltale signs of the disaster couples Gottman studied was their inability to connect over each other’s good news. . . .

We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality. How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.

This one surprised me, but it makes sense. As a congenital worrier who sometimes greets other people’s big plans with a list of questions about what could go wrong, the article was a powerful reminder of just how damaging that sort of response can be.

There’s lots to think about here, and I’m curious to hear what you think. Does Gottman’s research ring true to you? How do you practice kindness? What do you find critical in building strong relationships?

Image: via Pinterest, source unknown


Palm Tree Swing
I was reading a post recently — can’t remember where at the moment — and the blogger mentioned that she remembers her mother being “stressed out” a lot, so she consciously tries not to be like that herself as a mom. It got me thinking: How stressed out do I come across to my daughters, and what can I change in order to be more relaxed and cheerful with them?

Parenting can be stressful, of course, and some people are more prone to anxiety than others, but I think there’s a lot we moms (and dads) do without even realizing it that make us stressed out around our kids. I know I can get into a habit of being grumpy, waiting for the next whine session or challenging behavior, and get lost in expectations and routines that aren’t serving anyone. You?

So what are the things we can stand to chill out about? The list probably varies, but I’m guessing many of us feel stressed about similar things. Food is usually a big one: Getting good meals on the table is hard enough, but add to it all the issues that can come up with kids relating to eating and nutrition, and it can get a bit crazy. I think one of the things that helps me the most is putting things in perspective. Talking to moms with a lot of kids is one way I do this; they’ve usually learned a thing or two about kids and food, including how to deal with tough issues that come up.

A big area I stress about is mess. I’m not even close to a neat-freak, but when there’s stuff everywhere and I can’t see the floor, it affects my sense of well-being. I try to let go and detach, but I also need to have strategies to make tidying up easier for all of us. That means finding new storage solutions, as well as helping my daughters pick their things up when it’s so out of control that they don’t even know where to begin.

Speaking of mess, I decided a while back not to care too much about how my girls look. I let them dress themselves (except for church and special occasions where I get more involved). If they get dirty, they get dirty; they can change if it bothers them. They wash up in the evenings, but only shower once or twice a week. Taking a more carefree approach to this kind of stuff means I’m not after them all the time about staying neat and clean, which means happier kids — and happier mama.

Generally, I think being less stressed as a parent is about regularly examining my attitudes and habits with my kids. Stress is inevitable, but I want my children to remember me as joyful, fun, and peaceful, rather than a giant ball of anxiety.

What stresses you out most as a parent? How do you manage it? Any tips to share?

Image via LoveThisPic

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Vintage Samsonite
For the past six months I’ve been looking for something I can use to store the growing collection of my daughters’ hair care products. Herbal tonic sprays, hair milks, detanglers, brushes, and hair bands end up all over our house, and I’d like one place to store them downstairs, which is where I tend to remember (just as we’re going out of the house, of course) that I need to get some kind of product on those adorable heads or I will be that mom.

Inside Vintage Samsonite Bag
Then last weekend I took my brother and sister-in-law to a favorite second-hand furniture store in town, and while I was wandering around, I stumbled on some vintage Samsonite luggage. One small piece was so cute that I immediately began devising a plan to justify the purchase, when it occurred to me that it might be a perfect short-term solution to the homeless hair care products problem. And so I became the proud new owner of a vintage red bag. I love the color.

Vintage Name Tag

Samsonite Initial
This is like something my grandmother would have traveled with as a carry-on bag. Although well-used, it’s in great shape, and I love that the original owner’s name is still on the tag, and her initials are on the silver fasteners. It’s fun to think about who this woman is (or was), and where she might have traveled with this bag.

Storing Hair Care Products
Have you ever used luggage for something other than travel? Would you ever buy a piece like this just for fun?

(Oh, and if you’ve got any tips for a hair-care product carrier, do spill the beans! Ultimately, I’d like a portable carry-all type bag, not too deep, with a little structure to it, and one main area with additional pockets and compartments.)

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul


Baltimore is known for its quirkiness, and the American Visionary Art Museum‘s Annual Fourth of July Pet Parade is the perfect embodiment of quirk. We’ve rarely missed one since we moved here. (It helps that the museum is right around the corner from our home.)

AVAM Pet Parade Poster
This is no ordinary parade, and these are no ordinary pets. Their humans — many dressed up in Independence Day–themed costumes — dress them up and “parade” them in front of an admiring crowd, vying for wacky awards and honorable mentions. Most of the entrants are dogs, but over the years we’ve seen turtles and other reptiles, birds, a firefly in a mason jar, and a piglet. This year we spotted some goats.




The human contestants are called on stage one by one to share their pets’ names and any fun facts, tricks, or quirks about their furry/scaly/feathered friends. A small dog wearing some googly eyes was peeking out of the basket in the photo below; behind, you can see Fifi, the AVAM’s giant pink poodle “kinetic sculpture,” who makes regular appearances in local parades.

AVAM Pet Parade Stage
There was a Cuban food truck on hand serving the crowd. It might not be hot dogs and apple pie, but ethnic food always seems pretty American to me.

AVAM Pet Parade
In spite of the fact that our girls are still pretty wary of dogs, they handled being in a crowd of festive-looking canines quite well.

AVAM Monkey on Dog's Back
AVAM’s Pet Parade always makes us smile and gives us another chance to say “only in Baltimore.”

What did you get up to this past weekend? Are there any “signature” events in your neck of the woods at this time of year?

This post was inspired by Design Mom‘s newly resurrected series, “Love the Place You Live.” Be sure to check out the link-up at her site for more posts where readers explore fun places and events close to home; if you’re a blogger, too, I hope you’ll join in!

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul


Pull Up a Chair

July 4, 2014

4th of July

Happy Friday, friends — and happy Fourth of July to my American readers! Hope it’s a safe and happy day wherever you are. We have plans with family this weekend and otherwise are laying low, since B was down with a terrible case of food poisoning last weekend (and the earlier part of this week) and we could use a few days to catch up on some things and just be.

Today definitely calls for an celebratory drink, though, so join me and grab a 4th of July Wine Sparkler from The Kitchn. Don’t they look light, refreshing, and fun? As for my high and low this week:

Low: Although he’s finally on the mend, B’s illness seemed to last a long time. I’ve been sleeping with the girls a lot, which rarely provides a sound and restful sleep. I also usually get a couple of short breaks on the weekends, but since B was out of commission, it wasn’t possible — plus I was trying to take care of him as I could, which, on the heels of the girls’ birthday festivities, felt like a lot. (Whenever I solo parent for a while I think of all the single parents out there — how do they do it??)

High: Luckily, I had no where much to be this past week — some play dates, errands to run, visits with family members — but otherwise, it was pretty low key. I’m totally digging the summer schedule with no homeschooling activities, lessons, or other regular appointments to keep up with. Can’t it be summer break all the time?

Bonus question: Are you watching the World Cup? If so, who are your teams? I’m not watching — I’ve never been much of a sports watcher, except for the Olympics — but I think I could get into it. I heard the U.S.-Belgium game was such a nail-biter! Also, I had to laugh: Last Sunday the girls and I joined a few friends at a small Ethiopian restaurant for lunch, where it was our small group and about 25 Ethiopian men glued to the the TV screens, yelling and cheering for the game. Ethiopia wasn’t even playing! It does seem like the World Cup is becoming a bigger and bigger deal in the U.S., though.

Alright, friends: If you’re not out at the pool or grilling burgers right now, grab a Sparkler above and tell me how you’re doing! I hope it’s a safe and happy weekend for you and yours. I’ll see you back here on Monday.

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul


by Margaret Cabaniss

SlowMama's Summer Recipes
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good recipe round-up around these parts, but the Fourth of July — a.k.a., America’s High Holy Day of Summer — seemed like as good a time as any. The SlowMama archives are positively busting with great summer dishes; here are some of my favorites that seemed particularly grill-worthy:

Homemade Sodas

Homemade Sodas
You’re so fancy.

If you prefer your lemonade sans gas, try Ann’s basil variety — still one of my favorite summer drinks.

Boiled Peanuts

Make them for the nostalgia factor, make them because they’re best eaten when it’s a million degrees out — just make them. (Or, if you prefer your peanuts Thai-inspired, go with these chili lime peanuts instead.)

Guacamole Salad

Recipe: Guacamole Salad
I make this side dish every chance I get in the summer. Would go great with some grilled chicken and corn on the cob…


Another tomato-based side, but a little more Italian-y. If you’re lucky enough to be seeing fresh tomatoes at the market or in your garden already, make this one immediately.

Summer Ceviche

A little something different from your traditional burgers and dogs. This would be amazing as a starter.

Quinoa Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Roasted Pepitas

Ann’s technique for making perfect quinoa is the secret to this dish’s awesomeness. A great change of pace for a summer potluck.

Curried Chicken Salad

chicken salad plate
I just made this one last weekend, and it felt like it was gone five minutes later; it’s a total crowd-pleaser. Throw a couple extra chicken breasts on the grill, and you can pull it together in no time.

Triple Berry Pie

Triple Berry Pie
Still my favorite summer pie, hands down — and we’re just about entering peak berry season, when it really shines. (And look how patriotic it is!) If you prefer something a little more traditional, though, try Zoe’s recipe for basic pie crust — and don’t forget the dairy-free coconut whipped cream!

Chocolate Mint Pudding Popsicles

I completely forgot about these! This is definitely happening.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookie plate
Can’t have a cookout without ‘em.

I feel like there were so many other recipes I could have added here — the watermelon granita Ann posted just this week, for one, or a Pimm’s cup, or even this peach crisp… Got any particular favorites? What’s on your July 4 menu?

Images: SlowMama

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Beachside Reading
Summertime calls for a stack of good reads, whether it’s the latest bestseller at your bedside, e-books in the kitchen, novels at the beach, or browsing favorite magazines while waiting in airports. My contributors and I love to read and wanted to share what’s on our own book lists right now as we look forward to a little R&R this summer:

Zoe’s List

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese

I’ll feel like less of a loser if you haven’t read this book, since it was beginning to feel like I was the only person on the planet who hadn’t. It’s a national bestseller and a gazillion people recommended it to me, but for some reason it took me forever to get around to it. Anyway, I’m so glad I did. The book focuses on twin brothers born of a strange and secret union between a British doctor and an Indian nun; the boys are orphaned and raised by two Indian doctors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before one comes to the United States. While I stumbled a bit on the brief romantic and sexual parts of the book (they were a bit stilted and not equal to the rest of Verghese’s prose), I loved the historical and cultural context of the story as well as the creativity of the plot. This is a perfect beach or vacation novel — an easy read, compelling story, and full of interesting characters.  If your book club hasn’t done this one yet, stick it on the list! (Paperback edition; Kindle edition.)

Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton

You may already be familiar with Stanton’s work from his hugely popular website Humans of New York (HONY), and last year he (smartly) put together a coffee table book of some his photos. B picked up a copy for me, and every night we’d look at a few pages together, mesmerized by the images Stanton has captured. I love the short descriptions with each photograph almost as much as the photographs themselves. This book brings home what makes New York City a one-of-a-kind place, and what makes people so unique while at the same time so similar. If you giving this book as a gift to someone who loves photography, NYC, or people-watching, it will definitely up your cool factor. (Hardback edition.)

The Telling Room, by Michael Paterniti

This is an unusual story about a larger-than-life Spaniard, a family legacy, a betrayal, an obsession, and a piece of cheese. It’s also about the writer — a journalist who, after eating a sandwich in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wound up in Spain living among the people and mystery he was intent on investigating. Given its best-seller status, I’m far from the only one who’s grateful that the talented Paterniti finished his book (though it took him many years). If you’re drawn to travel and food stories, crazy characters, and great writing, this one’s for you. (Paperback editionKindle edition.)

Cooked, by Michael Pollan

I finally started this book (got it last Christmas), so I can’t say with certitude what I really think just yet, but so far, I’m a fan. I’ll pretty much read anything by Michael Pollan: His work is always engaging and informative — and hey, it’s always about food. This one is no exception: In Cooked, Pollan explores the four classical elements of fire, water, air, and earth and how each has been used to transform “the stuff of nature” into delicious food and drink over the centuries. Pollan travels the country learning about grilling, fermenting, and baking from some of the best cooks, and he has a lot to thoughtful things to say about how food is the pinnacle of culture. (Paperback editionKindle edition.)

The Telling Room and Cooked

Ann Waterman’s List

All the Money in the World, by Laura Vanderkam

Unlike most books about money, this one focuses on spending money, not just saving it. Money is a tool, Vanderkam explains, and spent intentionally, it can help to bring us happiness. What does “intentional” mean here? Well, Vanderkam encourages us to think about what makes us happy: For instance, would you rather have a large wedding with all the bells and whistles, or would some of that money be better spent on things like a housecleaner or regular evenings out with your husband later in your marriage? Neither choice is necessarily good or bad in itself; Vanderkam’s point is that you should think hard about what your money can be used for and whether it’s bringing you closer to what truly makes you happy. (Paperback edition; Kindle edition.)

The Spaghetti Shots, by Courtney Westlake

Do you have an SLR camera and keep telling yourself you’ll read the manual one day and really learn how to use it? Forget the manual and download this e-book that explains your camera’s functions and settings in the simplest of terms and helps you catch those everyday moments that really capture your family’s life. I promise you’ll be taking better pictures in no time! (Kindle edition only.)

Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)

Do you have a hobby, passion, or side business that you never seem to have time for? This collection of essays is a quick read and shows you how to organize your day to make the best use of your time and maximize your creativity by finding ways to make it a priority. After implementing a few ideas, not only did I have more time for one of my favorite creative outlets (writing), but I was more productive in general. The best part about this book? You can borrow it for free on your Kindle device. (Kindle editionpaperback edition.)

Margaret Cabaniss’s List

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

The backlash has begun against this Pulitzer Prize winner, but I’m sticking with my initial impression: It’s gorgeous and I loved it. (I even did the “read something else halfway through to drag out the ending” trick.) The story follows the life of Theo Decker, beginning with the moment that he suffers a sudden, violent loss as a 13-year-old, and through his many wanderings (literal and otherwise) in the years that follow. It’s sprawling and messy but undeniably powerful in the way it describes love and loss, beauty and suffering, and (most of all) our desire for meaning and transcendence in the face of…well, life. My favorite thing I’ve read so far this year; highly recommended. (Paperback editionKindle edition.)

However: If you’re not up for an 800-page doorstop this summer, try Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, instead: A sort of Gothic “murder mystery in reverse,” it was the first time I encountered Tartt’s writing and knew she’d be one to follow — and it’s a much quicker read.

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

I’ll admit, I had to pull up some reviews of this one to remind me of bits of the plot (in my defense, I read it last summer) — but its portrait of a crumbling Italian port town in the 1960s, and the sweet love story that blooms there, definitely stayed with me. Of course, in between the gorgeous flashbacks are smash cuts to the modern-day reality-TV world…links that I promise make more sense in the context of the book. There are too many characters and places and even eras to recall them all here, but through them all, Walter does an excellent job weaving the touching with the hilarious. The perfect thing to read at the beach while pretending you’re on a beach in Italy. (Paperback editionKindle edition.)

Bonus selection: Walter’s The Financial Lives of Poets — a “you have to laugh, otherwise you’ll cry” take on the 2008 financial crisis — isn’t so picturesque as Beautiful Ruins, but it’s every bit as funny, and might have even stayed with me longer. For a story about one man’s misbegotten plans to develop a website that delivers the financial news in free verse, it’s surprisingly moving.

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis, by Thomas Goetz

I recently saw this recommended somewhere else and decided I had to add it to my reading list for this summer. While I’m only a few pages in so far, I have high hopes, since it’s got everything I love: pop history, Conan Doyle, infectious diseases… The combination of Sherlock Holmesian suspense and mystery surrounding the birth of modern germ theory just sounded too intriguing to pass up. I hope to have a full report soon – but if you’ve read it, tell me about it in the comments! (Paperback edition; Kindle edition.)


Well, friends, there you have it! We’d love to hear what you’re reading (or hoping to read!) this summer; leave us all some suggestions in the comments!

(I am an Amazon affiliate, so if you purchase one of the above books using the links provided, you are helping to support this blog. Thank you!)

Image via Pinterest


by Ann Waterman


No matter how much care you take trying to find the perfect watermelon — knocking it, feeling its heft, checking for field spots — sometimes you end up with a lemon: It’s flavorless or pulpy, and then you’re just stuck with a lot of fruit. It used to get me down, but since I’ve discovered granita — a semi-frozen dessert that’s refreshing, cool, and perfect for summer — I’m almost excited when I land a less-than-perfect watermelon, since it gives me an excuse to make this delightful dessert.


This recipe for granita (adapted from Epicurious) couldn’t be simpler. While some versions call for straining out any pulp, this is a quick and dirty version that can be made in minutes (not including freeze time). Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 cups seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped mint

Place all ingredients in a blender (an immersion blender would probably work in a pinch) and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into 9×13 baking pan and cover with plastic wrap (or a lid, if you have a pan like this). Place pan in freezer, keeping it as level as possible. After an hour, stir the mixture, breaking up the frozen chunks. Place pan back in the freezer.


The granita will be ready to eat in two more hours, but you can keep it in the freezer for up to 3 days — perfect if you’re having guests and looking to get some of the prep out of the way. To serve, scrape granita with a fork or metal spoon to create ice flakes. Garnish with a spring of mint, if you want to get fancy. It’s endlessly adaptable, so feel free to play with the amounts of sugar and lime if it’s too sweet for your liking.


Still have more watermelon to use up? Check out my friend’s recipe for watermelon margaritas, which are sure to become a summertime favorite.

Images: Ann Waterman


Modern Communal Living

June 30, 2014

Villa Van Vijven
Last week, Margaret sent me an article in Dwell magazine about a group of five families in the Netherlands who banded together and hired an architect to create a modern commune of sorts — one building with five different units and shared (as well as private) garden spaces. I’m always fascinated by ideas like this and love to see the designs people come up with.

What strikes me about this place is that even though the residents commissioned, financed, and agreed to the housing project – no easy feat! — and they share gardening and landscaping, they lead pretty independent, private lives, claiming they don’t see each other every day and are good neighbors more than friends. In this sense, it’s not really a commune, nor even a community with a shared life. But it’s definitely a group of people who share certain values about design, lifestyle, and living space who came together to make it happen.

Van Vijven Private Gardens
I must admit I could totally go for something like this – though my first inclination would be to do it with some of my siblings’ families (and possibly a few friends) whom I’d love to have as neighbors. Of course, I’d have to institute Sunday potluck brunches or dinners, and maybe family movie nights on the lawn. Frankly, it doesn’t seem all that different from how we live now — in a small row house, attached to other row houses, with a gated green space shared by 11 families — except this one in the Netherlands is much grander, intentional, rural, and modern. (Okay, so maybe a little different than what we have now, but some of the concepts are the same at least!)

If a group of people can successfully build a house together that they’re really happy with (imagine the patience of the architects!), it seems to me they could pretty much do anything together after that. Still, issues can always come up: residents not pulling their weight around the property, personality conflicts, and personal issues messing things up (divorce, death, illness, relocation). But some of those things probably get written into whatever agreements are drawn up.

Even with the potential pitfalls, I’m still a big fan of the idea. The balance of independence and community, as well as an intentionally designed space you love, seems like a great combination.

Does this idea of modern communal living appeal to you? What would be your ideal number of residents and your ideal house design? And, of course, who would you choose to share the place with — family? friends? strangers? And where?

Images: Dean Kaufman for Dwell