Improvised Life » books + zines (material) If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:13:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Improvisation-Inspiring Cookooks + a Fab Close-Roasted Meats Technique Fri, 23 Jan 2015 08:49:19 +0000

Maria Robledo

In the past week, I received two three affirmations that cookbooks I wrote years ago —The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook —are still resonating strongly. Both encourage improvisation, while giving the thinking and logic behind recipes and techniques, understanding that is the essential jumping off point for improvising. Curiously, TWO emails raved about The Improvisational Cook‘s technique of “close roasting” tough cuts of meats, in which they are tightly-sealed with flavorings in foil or a heavy, lidded pot and left to slow-cook in a low oven. I use the technique weekly (more…)

]]> 5
The Cuban Table’s Divine Custard Recipe with Music Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:12:38 +0000

Ellen Silverman

Just as we were getting ready to post another lovely recipe from The Cuban Table, our friend Ellen Silverman‘s brainchild created in league with Ana Sofia Pelaez, we heard the news that relations were getting warmer between Cuba and the US, that some of the embargo that’s hurt the country so terribly may be easing at last.  If you’re confused about what’s going on with Cuba, we recommend reading Vox’s illuminating “9 questions about Cuba you were too embarrassed to ask“. In the meantime, we’re going to dance to this beauty of a video from the documentary Cuba Feliz, and make Pelaez’s  lovely Egg Custard scented with cinnamon, lime and vanilla. (more…)

]]> 1
Weekend Cocktail: The Cuban Table’s Mojito Fri, 12 Dec 2014 09:15:01 +0000

Ellen Silverman

As we start the run up to the holiday season — not to mention the weekend — we thought we’d feature the Mojito recipe from our new favorite cookbook, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History by Ellen Silverman and Ana Sofia Pelaez. Pelaez tells the story behind the delish cocktail that is made right in the glass: (more…)

]]> 0
Delicious Read + Perfect Gift: The Cuban Table Fri, 05 Dec 2014 09:45:13 +0000

At a crossroads in her life, Ellen Silverman traveled to Cuba where she fell in love with its unique culture. That trip catalyzed many returns and ultimately a rich and many-layered cookbook that would truly showcase the Cuban spirit and culture as expressed through its food: The Cuban Table. Here’s a start of our ongoing series on our favorite new cookbook.]]> 2
Marie Kondo’s Philosophy of Decluttering Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:55:03 +0000

Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has taken Japan and Europe by storm. And it seems, it is in the US as well. What sets Ms. Kondo off from other decluterring experts is her underlying philosophy that dictates the work of “tidying”.

An article in the New York Times outlined Kondo’s two basic, somewhat radical/spiritual, tenets:

Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service and… (more…)

]]> 1
Sculptural, Dimensional Textiles—for Couture or DIY Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:00:05 +0000

Zita Merényi

We love designer Zita Merényi’s Provo-CUT collection of seared-and-soldered neoprene garments. Forgoing traditional draping and stitching, these pieces are instead constructed panel-by-panel, pleated together, and heat-joined into dimensional, puffy, future-ish jackets and cloaks punctuated by thick, raw seams and unlikely openings. The gist: synthetic fabics melt, so heat, not thread can be used to join the seams. (more…)

]]> 0
Freeform Architecture LEGO Kit in Monochrome White (+ D-I-Y Alternative) Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:00:30 +0000


Having long been enamored of building blocks both miniature and life-sized for their cool modularity and open invitation to improvise, I find this jumbo building kit from LEGO is the perfect thing for adults to play/plan/build with. Whether to envision a real-life project in small scale or simply get out of your own head for a minute, these blocks are great as an office toy or something to share with a curious, independent kid in your life. (more…)

]]> 0
In Praise of Shadows and Quiet, Muted Interiors Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:00:10 +0000

Petra Bindel/

I’ve been yearning for shadows since June 21st when the world took a tumble towards autumn, trailing crayon-bright, midsummer color and loud solstice revels. Parched by the bleached Scandinavian cottages and austere, no-tint white rooms that are everywhere online, I’m craving soothing darkness and a place to sequester in silence. This stark, in-your-face, white duvet bedroom suddenly hurts my eyes…and my soul. I want more yin, less yang.

Seeking solace, I turned to Japan, and a meditative book of essays, In Praise of Shadows,” by novelist Jun’ichiro Tanizaki. He expresses his nostalgia for the shadowy beauty once so characteristic of traditional Japanese houses, now fallen victim to rapid modernization. (more…)

]]> 7
Introducing Improvised Life’s New Store Thu, 10 Jul 2014 23:05:19 +0000

Over the years, Improvised Life has featured some seriously good stuff, from books about design, art, productivity and poetry to all manner of tools for making and living. Since these wonderful items have been buried in the archive, we decided to gather the BEST of them in one place, Improvised Life’s Store. (more…)

]]> 2
Adirondack + Rietveld Chairs, for Outside or In, to DIY or Buy Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:00:02 +0000

We are struck by the many similarities between the iconic American Adirondack chair designed in 1903 and the Crate Chair Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld designed in the 1930's. We've investigated ones to buy, and plans that would allow you to make an interesting fusion of the two —all great, indoor and out.]]> 2
‘Things Come Apart’ will Teach You How Things Work Thu, 22 May 2014 23:14:07 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Photographer Todd McLellan’s Things Come Apart is an expansion of his original Disassembly Series, and the focus of a book by that name. His images of deconstructed items that have, are, or will be in our everyday lives have a curious effect: They demystify their seeming complexity and afford a big leap in understanding how they work. He gives two very differing views of ordinary objects such as a fire extinguisher or a lawnmower that evoke very different emotional responses. 


]]> 0
Weekend Fun: Oops Cookies Fri, 25 Apr 2014 08:07:08 +0000

The other day, I stopped in at Lady Lexi’s Sweets, a new bakery in my Harlem neighborhood. Lexi’s business cards read:  “Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.”

Among the display stands of cookies, cupcakes and peanut brittle were some bags of cookies with a sign that said: OOPS COOKIES. What are Oops Cookies? I asked.


]]> 4
el Bulli’s Bullipedia: Mapping the Genome of Cuisine Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:00:55 +0000 Since th legendary restaurant elBulli's closure three years ago, über-chef Ferran Adrià and his team at el Bulli Foundation have been working to convert the restaurant to a creativity think tank, with a online resource to helps you understand the inner-workings of food.]]> 0 Ferran Adrià: Creativity Needs Rest Mon, 24 Mar 2014 08:58:36 +0000

Sally Schneider

Yesterday, we thought we had set our favorite Arabia tea cup down on the edge of the bathroom sink, only to hear it smash into the bathtub. Okay, we got the message, we thought: SLOW DOWN. We take small accidents like that as warnings that we are too distracted to be present.

But we got the REAL message the next morning while scanning websites for illuminating ideas, images, and info that would resonate with Improvised Life: CREATIVITY NEEDS REST.  (more…)

]]> 11