Improvised Life » celebrations If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 29 May 2015 17:56:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wild Ramp’s Short Season is Almost Over: Cook ’em NOW Fri, 08 May 2015 06:34:04 +0000

Sally Schneider

Thirty years ago, ramps, the delectable leeks that grow wild throughout the Appalachian and Catskill mountains, were virtually unknown except to locals of those areas. Since them, chefs across the country have fallen in love with them, spreading the word of their delicousness, and their availability in markets.

Ramps’ season is short, just a few weeks. If you can get hold of a few bunches, here is a reprise are my favorite tried-and-true recommendations for how to cook them, or put them up for winter enjoyment. (more…)

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Stage a Rooftop Party with Modest Means Mon, 04 May 2015 17:00:24 +0000

Mikkel Vang/Livet Hemma

When Ikea’s Livet Hemma posted this compelling image of rooftop party preparations, we ran the Swedish description through our language translator, with mangled results:

Find inspiration in and deleted from the room where the celebrations will take place. [????!!!]

…With modest means, you can create an inviting atmosphere that makes all guests feel comfortable. We are decorating with candle lanterns, solar lighting and soft textile, which heats the balmy spring evening.

Ikea’s copywriters left out the best ideas for DIYing a rooftop space: (more…)

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Birthday Wishes for a Beloved Improvised Life Contributor Fri, 24 Apr 2015 01:56:21 +0000

Sally Schneider

Today is photographer Maria Robledo’s birthday. We have been secretly celebrating her birth all day, counting our blessings that we got to know her and enjoy all the beauty she finds and sends so generously our way, like the wondrous riff of instragrams we published a few days ago.  In her honor, we send her this fabulous, little virtual Gateau Zebra —a strangely beautiful sculpture —we found, along with a big shout out:

H A P P Y  B I R T H D A Y,  M A R I A ! ! ! ! ]]> 0
Ode to Eggs: Our Favorite Ways to Cook + Decorate ’em Fri, 03 Apr 2015 07:38:42 +0000

Tessa Traeger

Eggs are an ancient symbol of new life emerging, which is what Spring and Easter are all about. So here is our compendium of our favorite egg strategies, both to eat and to decorate. Photographer Tessa Traeger took the beautiful image at top; her portfolio of gorgeous egg photographs is, in itself, a wondrous Ode to the egg and worth checking out. (more…)

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Wines to Drink with Easter/Spring Dinner, via Anthony Giglio Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:02:00 +0000

Maria Robledo

We’ve long relied on our friend Anthony Giglio for advice on wine-and-food pairings. Here are a handful of Anthony’s “Pasqua Picks” to pour with any roast on Easter, chosen with help from his friends at Super Buy Rite Wines & Liquor in his hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey. (more…)

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Stage Your Own Balloon Invasion, Installation, Party Decoration Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:00:36 +0000

Charles Petillon

When we saw artist Charles Pétillon‘s magical installation “Balloon Invasion” —architectural spaces and landscapes spilling with white, inflated balloons — we thought “What an instantly surprising, fun, inexpensive way to totally transform a space”, for a party or otherwise. (Video link here.) (more…)

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Easter Dinner: Herb Salt Lamb, (or Pork, Chicken, Cookies WhatEVER…) Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:36:52 +0000

Anthony Giglio

Last weekend, wine writer Anthony Giglio tweeted the instagram, below, of a pork loin roast he’d slathered with an herb salt recipe I published years ago. The salt — garlic, salt and rosemary and sage chopped together by hand or in a food processor —proved to be an endlessly useful and versatile staple in both my kitchen, and Herb-Scented Tuscan Pork Roast one of my most widely-shared recipes.

I read Anthony’s very rosy Frenched pork loin as lamb and, it being close to Easter, assumed that Anthony had tailored the herb salt to suit racks of lamb, using thyme instead of sage, Provencal style. GOOD IDEA! It’s so easy to do: whip up an herb salt, rub racks of lamb with it and roast ’em.  Et voila: a chic, easy, delicious Easter dinner.

Here’s how to use the herb salt on lamb —whether rack or leg — as well as on just about whatever kind of roast you want to make for the holidays (or on butter cookies for that matter).  (more…)

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Celebrating Spring with Dark Ambiguity of Maximón Tue, 31 Mar 2015 06:54:47 +0000

Greg Willis/Wikimedia Commons

Easter, Passover and the innumerable rites of spring used to make me anxious and defensive. Tales of death, rebirth, joy and sorrow, suffering and salvation, history recited, vows reaffirmed, sacred foods eaten: traditions created to allow tribes to regroup, bond, and go forth again into an uncertain world. Part of me bridled; I wanted to flee the certainty of it all. It felt like a noose, not a passage to freedom.

Until I met Maximón during Semana Santa in Santiago Atitlan in the Guatemalan Highlands. (more…)

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Mystery Wine Dinner Parties + an “Off” Wine Improv Fri, 20 Mar 2015 07:10:17 +0000

Sally Schneider

When friends ask, “What can we bring?” to my dinner parties, lately, I’ve been asking them to bring the “mystery” bottles of wines languishing in their “wine cellars”.  Those are the bottles that promised to be great —once; since they’ve languished for years, it’s impossible to say if there’s something delicious inside, or a wine that’s past its moment.

It’s curiously exciting to open aged Burgundies and Bordeaux’s or expensive Sauternes and taste them, not having any idea of they’ll be a gem, or not. The key (more…)

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Holi: Throw Happiness Around Like Confetti! Mon, 09 Mar 2015 06:09:41 +0000

The Hindu traditional day of festivity known as Holi, celebrated on March 5th, is a religious celebration that has come to signify a lighthearted goodbye to winter and joyous welcome to Spring. Celebrants throw vibrantly colored powders on each other, as though blessings, in a jubilant day of transformation.  Spring is literally in the air! (more…)

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Use Heavy Italian Crepe Paper Like Fabric Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:00:26 +0000

100 Layer Cake-let

When we saw these curiously chic oversized streamers, we thought: what a lovely design element, not realizing they were party decorations. They are so UNLIKE any crepe paper we’ve seen before. The secret is extra wide Italian crepe paper, a whole other order of magnitude than the vin ordinaire stuff. It looks more like fabric. (more…)

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Guest Books…Walls…Chairs…to Spark Memories Wed, 18 Feb 2015 23:06:25 +0000

Sally Schneider

I recently came a diary of sorts that I kept long ago: notations of dinner parties, what we ate, the wines we drank and the guests that were there. I’d bought it on a trip to Venice —a handmade book of days, no year — which I filled in with pencil, interleaving it with thank you notes, wine labels, recipe notes, and polaroids of dishes improvised for the occasion. Leafing through it SPARKED memories of sublime evenings at table with friends.

The book itself is not important — it is the recording of those times that is the valuable practice.  (more…)

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Valentines: Digital, Analog and Otherwise Fri, 13 Feb 2015 16:34:24 +0000

Norman Sunshine

Creating a one-inch expression of love to be utilized by millions is no slam dunk as seen in this short conversation with designer Jessica Hische, who created a Forever stamp for the U.S. Postal Service. (Video link HERE.)

I love the harmonious convergence of digital and analog as seen in her workspace with computer cum hand doodled notebooks — especially her digital/analog Valentine exchange with her boyfriend 1:30-1:56 secs — culminating in her affirmation that stamped and handwritten letters continue to be valuable when sending heartfelt messages and announcements about important life passages. Proving once again that texting doesn’t cut it where our deepest human emotions are (more...)]]> 0 Festive Holiday Beards + Little Richard’s Inspired Do Wed, 24 Dec 2014 02:13:23 +0000

Beard Baubles, tiny ornaments to festoon a holiday beard, have become such a rage, they’ve completely sold out! Who knew that beard decorations would become a sartorial expression. We’re thinking it may have been fueled by Will It Beard, a brilliant tumblr devoted to ingenious beard apparel.

We’ve found a set 30 Small Glass Mini Classic Solid Color Christmas Ball Ornaments at Amazon for less than $10, and have seen them at the Dollar Store as well, so there’s still time to get the fixings for a festive holiday beard. For a simpler approach, check out Little Richards splendid do: (more…)

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