Improvised Life » celebrations If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:20:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Día de los Muertos: A Spirited Celebration to Make Your Own Sat, 01 Nov 2014 07:53:17 +0000

Douglas Merriman

Not at all scary or sad, despite an abundance of skulls and skeletons, the annual Day of the Dead festival, on November 1st and 2nd, is a joyous, Pre-Columbian tradition in Mexico—a time for festive remembrances of departed loved ones whose souls or spirits are dropping by to pay a visit. It is a wilder, more spirit-minded cousin to Halloween, that celebrates death in a joyous, meaningful and colorful way.
Although celebrated in many U.S. communities with large Mexican populations, Albuquerque and Mesilla/Las Cruces have a heritage of celebrating with particular gusto, going all out with a grassroots parade on November 2. “Anyone can be in the parade, as long as they paint on a skeleton’s face and have marigolds, either paper or the real thing,(more…)
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Happy Halloween from Improvised Life…Harlem! Sat, 01 Nov 2014 00:48:31 +0000

Sally Schneider

Harlem where we’re headquartered has some seriously inspired Halloween action going on… (more…)

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Halloween Mask Inspiration from Morath and Steinberg Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:00:01 +0000

Inge Morath

Recently, we came across a portfolio of images created by legendary photographer Inge Morath in collaboration with the ever-illuminating Saul Steinberg. In the Mask Series. paper bags and pieces of cardboard totally change ordinarily dressed people into OTHER…. (more…)

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Pineapple and other ALT Jack-O-Lanterns Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:00:48 +0000

Style Files

Haven’t gotten your Halloween act together? Here are some alternatives to the traditional carved pumpkin that you can do in time for Halloween, one of the BEST holidays for the wild creativity that is in evidence everywhere. A re-envisioned pineapple makes the perfect scary face…

…Traditional Cornish jack-o’-lanterns were carved from turnips. Dig this baby: (more…)

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Jack-O’-Lantern Inspiration + Advice from Anni Albers Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:00:17 +0000


Halloween is Friday, and we’re anticipating many examples of The Art of the Pumpkin. As with other materials-for-making, pumpkins inspire what to do IF we “listen to that which wants to be done“, a la Anni Albers. If the message is unclear, or you’re feeling uninspired, here are some unusual jack-o’-lantern examples to spark your imagination. (more…)

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Solar Lanterns Become Wondrous Bubbles Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:27:10 +0000

Photo by Paul Kozlowski

Sensual wave“, an art installation by French architects Marion Moustey and Alexandre Arcens, gave us ideas for late summer-fall gardens lit with Soji Solar Lantern. Susan Dworski first posted about the wondrous, inexpensive solar shoji lights she festooned her garden with.  “Sensual Wave” takes her idea a step further. (more…)

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Sea Shell Printed Cookies and Pie Crusts Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:29:10 +0000

Catherine Gratwicke

While putting together our post on Sea Shell Salt Cellars the other day, we stumbled on this lovely idea: impressing cookie or pie dough with a small ridged scallop (or other) sea shell. Then we wondered what to we recommend that we KNOW will take the impression? H-m-m-m.

Eh voila! Our friends at Kitchen Repertoire’s Sand Dollar Sables look just perfect… (more…)

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Happy 4th of July!!!!! Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:45:20 +0000

As caregiver for our friend who had a big crisis recently, we’ve been trying to go with the flow of things NOT going as expected, and noticing the miracles in the midst. It may be the biggest lesson of an improvised life.

So we’re taking the holiday to hang out with our pal and DO NOTHING except be the laziest dogs possible.


See you next week.

Fireworks to color by Made by Joel

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Our Twelve Best 4th of July Recipes (Just in Time) Thu, 03 Jul 2014 08:28:41 +0000

Manny Howard

The city is quiet already, as many people have blown down in preparation for their 4th of July celebrations. In case you need a few ideas while you do your shopping, here’s some of our favorite summer recipes. Most are easy to make; all are delish and perfect for a summer evening, from Mamma Lucia’s Insalata Di Pomodoro to Stout Ice Cream Floats  (one of our all-time most popular posts). (more…)

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Wine Wise Guy Anthony Giglio Answers Your Questions About Wine Thu, 12 Jun 2014 22:30:24 +0000

EVERYONE we know has questions about wine and the best person we know for answers is Anthony Giglio, aka The Wine Wise Guy, an Improvised Life contributor and of late, wine blogger for Details. Anthony is the guy who pioneered using wine-friendly frozen grapes to chill a glass of wine without diluting the flavor. We excerpted a key fast-chill method for a whole bottle, below. His weekly Details column answers such perplexing questions as Do Those Wine-Aerator Gadgets Really Work?(more…)

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How to Eat a Watermelon (Happy Memorial Day!) Mon, 26 May 2014 07:58:06 +0000

Maria Robledo

Our friend Holton Rower eats baby watermelons by slicing it in half and eating it with a soup spoon: a perfect and refreshing improvisation to start the summer season.

Happy Memorial Day from Improvised Life!

Thanks Holton!




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A Post-It with a Powerful Message for Mother’s + Grandmother’s Day Sun, 11 May 2014 08:08:15 +0000

I’ve always struggled with Mother’s Day. Too pink, too saccharine, too much forced happiness when the reality so often cloaks a good deal of ambivalence, sadness, and hidden anger. That all changed when I opened our Little Free Library on the front fence yesterday and discovered Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi’s extraordinary graphic memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In bold black and white images she tells her story of her life from age six to fourteen during the tumultuous years that saw the overthrow of the Shah, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the horrors and destruction of families and culture during the war with Iraq. Her story, told through a child’s eyes, is packed with (more…)

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The Popcorn Improvisations + a Free 6 Recipe PDF Fri, 02 May 2014 08:49:14 +0000

Maria Robledo

When an ailing friend asked me to make him some grits, I went immediately to Anson Mills’ website to order some. Anson produces the best grits I’ve ever had, favored by chef’s across the country, and nearly impossible to buy other than directly from Anson Mills themselves, because they keep tight, obsessive, and justified control over their products. I bought three kinds of grits to make and to leave with my friend for future suppers. I also ordered a bag of their Appalachian Heirloom Sweet Flint Popping Corn, impelled by the sensuous description:

When was the last time you tasted popcorn that left impressions of sweet corn and honeysuckle rising from toasted corn, and a final palate statement of pure sweetness? When was the last time you experienced perfect light crackle and trace tenderness in a tiny white explosion?

I had to try it. And in doing so was reminded of my popcorn improvisations, when I went haywire experimenting with different flavorings. (more…)

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Happy May Day!!! Thu, 01 May 2014 08:01:00 +0000


There are many explanations for the symbolism of the maypole, around which people dance in celebration of May Day...Here are a few.]]> 0