Pakistan’s First Female Architect

Editor’s Note: This blog celebrates the contribution of women. inspired by the men of the lives. This week we feature Pakistan’s first female architect, in a country where it is exceptional for women to advance academically. This is a good read from Dwell Magazine, and my husband is an avid reader. I encourage you to explore Dwell and visit often to get unique ideas on architecture and sustainability.

As profiled in our “Women of Influence” roundup in our July/August 2012 issue, Yasmeen Lari is the closest thing Pakistan has to a design superhero. After years working as an architect, designing buildings for a wide range of clients, from corporate campuses to low-income housing, she left private practice in order to focus on issues close to her heart, including developing sustainable and vernacular disaster relief housing and dedicating herself to writing, research, and her work with the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, the ambitious nonprofit she developed with her husband. Here, we ask her  questions about her architectural work, her philanthropical passions, and the unique challenges of working in her homeland.


Were you really “the first female architect in Pakistan”? What does this mean, and can you give us some context?

Yes. I believe it is so. It was not really planned. When I returned from England after my studies I found that I was the first one. There were very few qualified architects at the time in any case, so I was also one of the few qualified professionals in my field. At the time that I took up my architectural studies, only selected professions seemed to be open to women —for example, medicine or education. Today, of course, the situation has changed entirely; not only are women in diverse professions, some very tough ones even, such as pilots, but they excel in their studies and are doing well in almost all fields that they choose to be in.

Tell us a bit about your background. What drew you to design, what road did you take to get where you are today?

In early days I had taken up drawing and sketching but did not really know much about the requirements to become an architect. My father had been a bureaucrat (he started off in the Indian Civil Service, when Pakistan and India were ruled by Britain), and after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, he became known as one of the most dynamic in the field. When I was growing up, he was responsible for developing huge tracts of desert into urban centers as well as heading the planning and development organization of the historic city of Lahore, and he often discussed the limited number of professionals in architecture and planning disciplines. I guess that stayed with me and when I went to England for my studies at the age of 15, I opted to take up architecture.

How has the architecture and design scene evolved in Pakistan since you were a student?

Having been trained as an architect in the West, for me there was a period of unlearning as I tried to relate to the reality of the country, and roamed our amazing historic towns for inspiration.

During the early days of my career, most people were not aware of the role that an architect played in shaping the built environment. Today, the profession of architecture has become much stronger and there is now acceptance of the essential role of an architect. As president of Institute of Architects at the time, I had the privilege to lead the movement for creation of legislative measures to provide recognition to the professions of architecture and planning through formation of Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners in 1983.

Most of us who had begun their careers during the 20th century had been influenced by the modern architectural movement taking root in the West. More recently, there is a focus on regionalism and search for more appropriate local alternatives. However, most buildings, especially for the corporate sector continue to be international in character.

As a result of the research that I have carried out on vernacular methodologies through construction of almost 2,000 sustainable shelter units since 2005, a great deal of technical information for building sustainable green structures has now been developed. Because of the vast data that is now available through our work in the last six years, it is my hope that architects in Pakistan will begin to use our findings to design buildings that incorporate local materials and improved vernacular techniques.

Read more via this bloglink: Pakistan’s First Female Architect/Dwell Magazine

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Espresso on the road

Thanks to Ramon Alivio of San Jose, CA for this share.  This came early this morning Saturday. One of many do it yourself “Espresso” machines for your car. Yes your car! At least the gentleman got off the road prior to brewing!! la machine expresso pour la voiture – espresso machine for the car – handpresso auto La première machine expresso pour la voiture !  I guess the next thing they will put in is a mini fridge and a microwave. Ha ha! Troopers watch out.

Watch Video:


Living Naturally: Simplicity Can Be Very Time Consuming


clothes laundryA Reblog  By: Kelsi | Today, I went outside in the frigid spring air to hang some clothes on our line, and I almost stepped on a rabbit.  I really have no clue how this happened, because furry wildlife a.) are generally scared of moms with intimidating piles of clean laundry and,  b.) don’t frequent the city much and we live in the middle of it all, next to an elementary school.

(hmmm…as I am typing this, I’m realizing that if I had to choose between visiting an elementary school playground or a grassy yard with new spring shoots in their garden, well…I can’t blame the critter.)

Nonetheless, I was trying to knockout the 437 items on my to-do list today and so this wasn’t a leisurely stroll into the yard.  This was me at full speed, on a mission to hang this load to dry in under 3 minutes.  Our line is only about 7 feet outside of our back door, so the poor bunny didn’t even have time to react until I was right  there, less then a foot from his nose.

At this point one of us screamed and we both bolted.

Please rest assured that the rabbit is fine and my heart has started beating normally again.  And let me clarify that I do not have a fear of rabbits, but in my defense, I am not fond of mice or rats, and from the corner of my eye, all I saw was quickly moving fur.

I went back to my speedy line-drying marathon and inevitably started wondering why on earth I was wasting time line drying my clothes when I have a perfectly good dryer inside…which snowballed into thoughts of, “Why on earth am I baking bread this afternoon? I could easily go to the store and grab a loaf.” And,  “The beans are still soaking! I forgot to turn on the burner!  Guess we’re not having black bean soup for dinner…shoulda just bought CANNED beans…”

There is no easy way to live simply.  And by simply, I mean getting back to the basics, living frugally, cooking at home, producing your own food (even if it’s just a tomato plant on your patio!) and eating un-refined, non-processed food.  Last week, our article focused on facing the reality that “living simply” looks different for each person, and can change with the seasons of our life, so we can’t compare how “hippy, crunchy and frugal” we all are, because we are all living completely different lives with different circumstances, budgets, living arrangements, etc.

There are several blogs that I love to read that talk about their expansive gardens, acres of wooded forest and that sweet little stream behind their house. *sigh* If I look behind my house, I see school buses and a playground.  But this is where I am, and although it’s not a rolling prairie, it’s MINE and I adore it!

This week, I’m realizing that “simplicity” takes TIME.  That elusive thing that disappears before our eyes.  There is a careful balance that we must find between simple living, frugality and, quite frankly, our sanity.  

This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list of how to save time doing chores, or kitchen tips that I’ve learned along the way.

It’s simply a question:

Is what you’re doing worth it?

Decades from now, I want my memories of this time in our life to be full of days spent playing in our yard (sans the bunny!), afternoons snuggled up, reading on the couch, and time spent TOGETHER.  Not memories of my lacto-fermented bean dip and my questionable sourdough starter.  These things can easily dominate our time and our thoughts, and as we talked about last week, that defeats the purpose!

If you take a look at the rest of our Living Naturally Series, you will see that we are firm believers in returning to the basics and bringing everything back HOME; from  nutrition, to herbal remedies and frugal living. However, the key to remember is that this is your HOME and FAMILY – they are the reason you are doing all of this, and if all of this “simplicity” is taking you away from them, then something is out of balance.  The seasons will ebb and flow, and of course there is work that has to be done. However, snuggling with my kids is worth the trade off and if that means that I sometimes dry my clothes via machine instead of line, then so be it.

Find the “simple balance” that works for you in this season of your life – not “simplicity” like you see on this blog or any other, and not your “someday fairy tale life”. Find the rhythm and strategies that work for YOU, NOW –  and balance your time; ask yourself “Is what I’m doing worth it?”  And if the answer is no, then that’s OK!  Don’t be afraid to change it up and prioritize.

What changes have you made? Was it worth it?

Like what you’ve been reading?  Support us by checking out our Market at for vintage-style, simple children’s clothing, toys and diapering needs! __________________________________________________________________

Make Eat Simple: Great Food Website Nominee

Nominated by: Blogger “The Drive Thru Guy”

I am proud to be a Food Stories Nominee For Excellence in Storytelling over at Food Stories Blog! I was nominated by Vicky Leung from Menu By Vicky. Thanks Vicky!

Here are the requirements:

1. The nominee should visit the award site here and leave a comment indicating that they have been nominated and by whom. (This step is so important because it’s the only way our judges will know who is being considered for the monthly presentation).

2. The Nominee should thank the person that nominated them by posting & including a link to their blog.

3. Share one random thing about yourself in your blog post.

4. Select at least five other bloggers that you enjoy reading their stories and nominate them for the award.

5. Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog, including a link to the award site (

Food Stories will put together a team of judges to review all nominees and to select a Food Stories Award Winner for each month. More information to come on what fabulous opportunities await for those lucky winners!

Something random about myself: I make my own beer at home, saves piles of money. I like beer, what can I say?

My nominees are (in no particular order):

The Bitchy Waiter – Great food service stories

On Station Two – More great food service stories

Make Eat Simple – Great food website

The Slightly Cranky (Former) Waitress – Ok, ok, so not food service stories anymore, but great archives related to food, and great dealing with the general public stories.

Jodi Ambrose Blog – Have recently seen some great recipes here!


Thanks very much! We are so honored!


Adios Amigo

Posted by in Kids, Nannying, Travel


Hope you are all safe and sane after the full-moon. Round here in Provence the air was just filled with the electricity of moody maniacs. Drivers on the road racing as if it’s F1, the locals kvetching in the village square about the emmerdeur at the next table who’s done them in, and the baby… baby acting all terrible-twos. Cuddly-huggy-kissy the one minute, happily shaking his booty to the MDNA album, and the next minute he’s possessed by the spirit of Voldemort. Scary. Very scary.

I’m starting to believe the theory that full moon can affect people’s mood. Nope, I have no scientific research results to confirm my feeling, but just to be safe I did avoid the big outdoors just a bit more than usual. Well, that was until 4th of July summer sales started!

Guilty, I cannot really say that I’ve kept my shopping urges totally under control until the summer sales. But seriously people, a mere grocery shopping trip to Carre Four (which is the Disney Land of Supermarkets in France) tears my emotions between glee over the cheap, high quality clothing on the grocery shelves (so much stuff I didn’t realize how much I NEEDED), and nausea over the children in Africa dying of hunger while another french family is picking up a 880g jar of Nutella to snack on. It sounds trite, and yet…

Anyhoo, somewhere a french family will also be picking up a steak from the Boucherie de Chevaline (horse meat butcher), and their donkey sausages from the market. They keep both horses and donkeys as pets. UGH!!!

So there!, you can always find a valid reason for reversing the pity and a reason to feel somehow superior to ‘the other’.  Read on and click this link to go to Blog Adios Amigo.