(Video link here.) This video of Josef Albers‘ paintings from his series “Homage to the Square” is from a show opening at the Centre Pompidou in February. We find it a delight: refreshing and illuminating at the end of a long day. It wakes our eye to color AND gives us endless practical inspiration for applying paint in our own spaces.
We’ve long been a fan of keeping found rocks and stones around the house. They make visually wonderful “sculptures” and they have many impromptu practical purposes, to keep a door from blowing closed, act as bookend, smash garlic or spices or weight a butterflied chicken cooking in a skillet...
I am a fanatic. Or at least I thought I was, until my fanaticism led me to meet some real fanatics. Luckily for the rest of the world, I’m not a fanatic about big things, like, say, Hitler was. I’m crazy for a tiny joy that makes me feel great every single day: coffee. (Click on the link to listen to Moondog’s ‘Coffee Beans‘ while you read.)
My first taste of fine coffee, and coffee fanaticism, began in Israel. My great aunt Sara had grown up in Jerusalem and made coffee the old Arab way, completely improvised, as befits a nomadic people. No fuss, no muss, no equipment. It was brewed right in the cup. She was very precise in her instructions, downright fanatical: read more…
(Video link here.) We love this installation at one of Issy Miyake’s stores: computer-controlled electric fans sending little gusts and sculpting an ethereal fabric. We wish we could translate the idea to home but think it’s beyond our reach. BUT we could take the idea of the etched-looking floor that we saw early on in the video, read more…
We had just been mulling how much we HATE the design of shower curtain rings, that make it so difficult to remove the shower curtain for washing. Then we thought: how nice it would be to have shower curtain rings with clips instead of closed loops, so we could just clip up a big swath of fabric.
As often happens when we start to mull a question, an answer appears in our field of vision, like this picture at Plastic Sans of “nouvelle” shower curtain rings made with Ikea curtain clips and binder rings. Great!
(Then we found these stainless steel Ikea curtain clips which come in separate parts – the ring and the clip. We’re wondering if there’s a way to attach the clip part directly to a shower curtain ring…) read more…
We just read about the passing of Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press. Founded in 1951, Grove became infamous for publishing controversial, avant-garde, and “obscene” works by writers like Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac, D.H. Lawrence, and Henry Miller. Rosset’s risk-taking as a publisher was admirable, even if it was sometimes off-the-cuff; his New York Times obituary recounts his decision to publish the The Autobiography of Malcolm X before even reading it. Whatever his process was, though, it worked. And as he told the Times a few years ago: “Should we have had more of a business plan? Probably. But then the publishers that did have business plans didn’t do any better.”
With Rosset’s vision and gumption, here’s what might not have come into the world:
The yearly Homie Awards recognize the best home design and cooking sites, selected by popular vote. Although we are often told ‘improvised life’ defies categories (on Remodelista’s Newstand we’re listed under ‘D-I-Y and Renovators’; in The Say100, we’re in ‘Shelter’), we invite you to VOTE for ‘improvised life’ in the Homie’s Home Design and How-to categories.
Just being in the Homie Awards sends traffic our way and helps people find us, which is like fuel to a website. Winning a Homie Award would like being shot out of a cannon.
So we’re asking you to vote; it only takes a minute and will help support our efforts. The first deadline for voting, to get us on the Top 6 Nominees list in each category, is this Friday, March 2 (until midnight EST). We’d really appreciate your support.
Please note: we are listed as Improvised Life. AND WE’VE JUST DISCOVERED, YOU HAVE TO REGISTER OR LOGIN TO VOTE. (Sorry to all those folks who got snarled up…the Homie’s are proving to be very confusing and badly organized….But we’d like to win one anyway.)
Vote for ‘improvised life in the Home Design category
Vote for ‘improvised life’ in the D-I-Y category
If you need reminders why your support is so important, here’s some of our “best ofs”: read more…
Last October, we wrote about our friend’s advice to start the day reading something uplifting or illuminating rather than jumping online; since then, we’ve put the idea into practice. More often than not we read poetry, often out loud, and lately have found ourselves totally smitten with the odes of Pablo Neruda, which express a zen-like awareness of the detailed life around him. We love Ode to the Watermelon, and Ode to Things, and especially Ode to the Present (below), which we find puts us right HERE.
(Video link here.) The story behind this extraordinary video is brief and understated:
On an unseasonably warm November night in Manhattan on our way to get ice cream, we stumbled upon what appeared to be a vintage shop, brightly lit display window and all. As we began to walk in, a man sitting out front warned us that we were welcome to explore, but nothing inside was for sale. Our interests piqued, we began to browse through the collections the man out front had built throughout his life. This is a story of a man and his home.
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In last month’s Atlantic, Sara Jenkins tells the story of her family’s annual olive harvest in Tuscany, which is, ultimately about taking risks and learning as you go. The Jenkins family has a rich history in food–Sara runs Porchetta and Porsena in New York City, and her mother Nancy Harmon Jenkins is the author of six cookbooks. Nancy and I spent some time traveling together in Italy, and I remember her always being game to drive off check out a market she’d heard of or wander into new places in search of adventure. It’s not surprising to me that Nancy and her family would take on the task of growing and harvesting olive trees, an indisputable challenge. read more…
A recent CHEAP, GREAT Ikea find: the Smarta bowl. We bought the 8″ one for $6.99 and then went back and bought the 10″one ($12.99), great for big salads. They’ve got a lovely, very modern shape and looks much more expensive than they are. We’ve found a million uses for them, like plunking in hyacinth bulbs with dirt and roots right out of their ugly plastic container (Spring is coming!)
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…a bit of inspiration from one of our favorite books, Calder at Home: The Joyous Environment of Alexander Calder, by Pedro Guerrero. The book documents the artist’s amazing way with the most ordinary household objects, including le toilet. Who else would think to paint the underside of a toilet seat and make a visual SURPRISE, or a charming little design on the floor, not to mention fabulous toilet paper holders…