Kippen House Chicken Coops Make Backyard Baryards Modern

A Seattle architect has invented a chic coop perfect for urban backyards.

The shabby chicken coops of Old McDonald’s farm might look out of place in the city, but thanks to architect Traci Fontyn, owner and founder of Bothell’s Kippen House chicken coops (, urban dwellers can still enjoy fresh, organic eggs from their own small lots. These cool coops combine chicken housing with human gardening for a fully sustainable system that not only looks sleek (we love the modern, Scandinavian design), but is simple to maintain. Standard coops ($875 fully installed) are 3 feet by 6 feet 7 inches by 4 feet, and made from outdoor-tough cedar, local fir and pine. (Custom-designed coops are also available.) Each includes space for a garden (on the roof of the coop or as a vertical garden down the side), wall panels made from your choice of material (wood or wire), and a locked nesting box to keep those eggs safe. The best part? The self-sustaining mini ecosystem created by the design: The garden feeds the chickens, the chicken manure helps the garden grow and—provided you feed and water them like a good farmer should—both the garden and the chickens will feed you, too.

Valentine’s Day Family Traditions for a Lifetime of Love

Valentine’s Day Family Traditions for a Lifetime of Love

"I wanted my husband and I to be our children’s first valentines, to shape their impressions of this holiday and teach them it’s not merely about romance, but about love"
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Years ago I was shopping with my daughter and being helped by a pleasant young woman. As she and I chatted, a man came into the shop, holding a small bouquet and a card, and stopped at the register. The young woman excused herself. She and the man spoke quietly for a moment, then he handed her the card and the flowers, kissed her on the cheek and left.

“That was my dad,” she said. “I broke up with my boyfriend a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t looking forward to Valentine’s. But ever since I can remember, he has gotten me something, and my mom has done the same for my brother, so we always have a valentine. It’s nice.”

“That’s so sweet,” I said, and right then and there decided I wanted to do this for my kids.

living room

I’ve said before that too many parents mistake childhood for an extended cruise and cast themselves as the activities director, so it may seem surprising that, of all holidays, I’m suggesting you make sure to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children.



Can we agree—no matter how lowly you rate the importance of this holiday—that when you don’t have a special someone on February 14, it can leave a bit of a mark?


I wanted my husband and I to be our children’s first valentines, to shape their impressions of this holiday and teach them it’s not merely about romance, but about love.

To do this you don’t have to buy special decorations or bake extravagant treats. You get to decide what fits you and your family.

We keep it fairly simple. If it’s a school day, we make a special breakfast. One year it was strawberry smoothies served in goblets and doilies on the plates. Paul’s specialty is Belgian waffles, and several years he has made those. Last year one of the kids had an early-morning surgery, so it was simply cards on their plates at dinner and small boxes of chocolate.

I have fun selecting cards for each of the kids: a beautiful one for Lydia, jokey for Christopher and anything dogs or puppies for Eden, with a priority on pugs.



Perhaps you and your family would prefer to make your own cards. Maybe you enjoy baking and decorating to the max; that’s just not my thing. We all get to decide how to celebrate.


It’s seems like such a small thing, and yet it’s these little traditions, these small securities and expressions of affection, that wind their way into and around our children’s hearts. And when our children go out into the big, wide world they remember, no matter how they fare romantically, that they are ever and always beloved.

In Sleepless in Seattle, a romantic comedy all about romance and love, what is it Tom Hanks’ character says about the first time he touched his wife’s hand?

“It was like coming home.”