This morning, a friend alerted us to the great flash site jacksonpollock.org where you can make your own Pollockesque action paintings with clicks and whorls of your mouse. We found it strangely relaxing, like some high-brow video game; it took our mind totally OFF what we’ve been worrying about to follow (our own) unexpectedly wild movement of color on the screen. read more…
family + friends
We’d figured we had alt-easter gift covered for this year with our seedling-filled Easter eggs, when Cynthia from 50Years50Recipes sent us ANOTHER swell, novel gift. She stuffed plastic eggs with goodies and sent them through the mail, as an invitation to her her niece and nephews to come for an Easter visit (She got the idea from Giverslog.) We were under the impression that the increasingly restrictive postal system had banned oddly shaped packages years ago. Writes Cynthia:
The eggs did arrive, but it took 10 days to get from one end of Mass to the other and two weeks to get from western Massachusetts to upstate New York. So the good news is it works-the downside is that even with first class postage it takes a bit of time.
Into a big glass, spoon really good vanilla ice cream like Haagan Daz’ Five Vanilla Bean, then pour over Guinness or any really well-made RICH dark stout beer; then eat with a spoon.
The possibilities for using different stouts are vast. Check out Beer Advocate’s list of 750American Stouts.
If you are not a Guinness fan or a fan of America’s version of St. Patrick’s Day, you will be once you’ve tasted the float!
It is a perfect grown-up dessert, anytime.
Photo from Drink Eat Travel‘s feature on Kern River Brewery.
Related post: amontillado and other grownup milkshake(s)
quick homemade tropical ice creams (banana..mango…)
smoky, bacon-infused spirits for holiday cocktails
cream biscuits: easy, foolproof and divine (recipe)
the potato chip improvisations + recipe: real onion dip
Last Easter, we posted Ambatalia’s extensive how-to on dying Easter eggs with natural dyes. We have that essential Easter item covered. What to do THIS year? There’s egg-shaped stones painted a la Max Ernst…
Then an image we saw in a Remodelista post about cold frames got us thinking about another kind of ALT Easter eggs. We discovered that halved egg shells are sometimes used as starter pots for seeds to sprout in (supplying the plant with a nice dose of calcium). We thought: wouldn’t a carton of eggs with little seedlings growing in them be a wondrous and surprising Easter gift? Why not?
The process is pretty simple: crack and empty the eggs*, fill with potting soil, add the seeds… Instructables has clear directions and a PDF. If you start planning now, we figure you’ll have some charming little shoots in time for Easter, on April 8th. (See packages will give you a sense of how long a particular seed takes to sprout; beans and cucumbers only take a few days.) read more…
Recently the New York Times ran an interactive feature about Osteria Senz’ Oste, an inn 40 miles or so north of Venice whose name translates “Tavern Without Host” or “Inn Without Barkeep.” The proprietor Cesare De Stefani wanted to create a space that “felt like home”, so he trusts people to pay what they wish for the superb local prosecco and salumi he serves there. The piece was photographed by Todd Selby of The Selby, who is known for honing in on specific and unique details of a space.
We were charmed by this image of visitor’s notes tacked up on a wall.”Why don’t we do that?” we wondered: create a wall of visits from friends and memorable times?
We recalled various iterations we’d seen of this idea: read more…
We are thrilled to publish some of resident photographer Ellen Silverman‘s work from a forthcoming exhibit at the Umbrella Arts’ gallery in New York City, “Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen” her ongoing project.
This past year I travelled to Cuba three times; having a strong interest in food and food photography, the kitchen was a natural subject for me to focus on. I was welcomed into homes where I found sparse spaces, where time has stopped. Due to years of lack of money, supplies and equipment, many Cubans have been forced to adapt and improvise. These photographs reflect the personalities and circumstances of those who inhabit them. If you are unable to come to the gallery please take a few minutes to go to my website and view the photographs online.
Over the years, we’ve published a number of posts about various forms of free music available online. Our favorite are two make-your-own-digital-music synthesizers: Andre Michelle’s ToneMatrix and Pulsate. When you click a spot with within the grid with your mouse, it creates both a sound and a visual pattern. Gradually, you’ll find yourself improvising repetitive riffs that are great to work to. They are addicting.
Perhaps the most popular of the free music compendiums we’ve found is Pates Tapes, hours of cool mixed tapes to stream. They are the masterwork of Charles Pates, who since 1977, has been creating mixes from his remarkable collection of vinyl records. You can choose a tape to suit your mood or what ever’s going on, from Global Mixes, to Blues.
And that’s not all. Check these out:
sagan’s mixtape of the human experience – for aliens
weekend music and games: national jukebox + monopoly revised
kraftwerk mixtape + their new music generating app
bbc’s astonishing world music archive
Earlier this week we asked our readers to cast their vote and help us win a Homie Award for best DIY and Home Design blog. We then realized that you have to jump through hoops to vote, going through a whole rigamarole to register on their website. Not to mention that we’re not exactly a Home Design site, nor a DIY site, were both and more…life design…maybe… or …what?…We’ve decided not to push the voting anymore, but THANKS SO MUCH to all of you who took the time to do it!
Just being nominated brought a lot of new people our way. One sent us this email
I just stumbled upon your blog and absolutely had to tell you how much I love every single thing about it! You guys are an amazing collective with fresh ideas! Bravo!
We figure we won after all.
PS: We’ve discovered that our sweet fan letter came from Tracy Metro and it turns out she found us on her own steam…didn’t even know about the Homies (:
On the great blog Made by Joel, when we found a post that began: “I was drawing…just for fun.” We love to hear about people experimenting, with no particular destination in mind. In the end, he took one of the drawings and turned it into a little pillow for one of his kids.
He also mentioned his favorite fabric pens, and we appreciate the tip. Joel Henriques is one of those amazing souls whose advice we always trust. Looking at his improvised drawings, we’re thinking not only pillows, but shower curtains, placemats, window shades, coverlets and beyond… read more…
My credential as a coffee fanatic came unglued last September. It was all Sally Schneider’s fault. Yes, herself, the creator of this charming blog. I had been complaining about the skyrocketing price of coffee, and whining about the difficulty of finding a decent bean, much less a decent cup, even in New York City.
“What about roasting your own?” she wrote, sending a link to a BoingBoing piece called “How-To: Roast Coffee with a Popcorn Popper.” Within 20 minutes of reading I had won an auction on eBay for a secondhand West Bend Poppery Two. Price: $20.
While I waited for it to arrive, I had to find some green coffee beans. Unroasted, in other words. Google led me to Sweet Maria’s. This website offers green coffee beans for sale over the internet. And it was my first encounter with upper echelon coffee fanatics. read more…
(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.
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…
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…