Improvised Life » garden If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:20:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Beaver Brook’s Mind-Expanding Deep Woods Retreat Tue, 07 Oct 2014 21:32:39 +0000

The folks of Beaver Brook, “a forest preserve shared by a community of friends in Sullivan County, NY,” have put a creative twist on the traditional woodsy escapes we so lust after. Check out the wooden hot tub overlooking everything…

…and the curvaceous little skate park flanked by acres and acres of trees…

Everything communal and everything D-I-Y, you can take a look at the newly-erected skeletons of ambitious new buildings and Andy Goldsworthy-esque art installations on their official website. It offers inspiring ideas for any country retreat.

We especially love the burnt path installation by Snarkatecture, above.

via (more...)]]> 0 Weave a Grapevine or Room Screen Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:00:33 +0000

Sally Schneider

In a recent ramble around New York, we came upon this classical iron fence, transformed by grapevine. The fence acts like a loom or structure through which someone wove grapevine in and out to make for much greater privacy and a warmer, more organic feel.

And of course, that got us looking up grapevine (which we use for smoking foods; stay tuned for a post on that), and how to use it, and then imagining other applications for it… (more…)

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Permanent Hopscotch for Spontaneous Skip + Jump Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:30:17 +0000

Virginia del Giudice

Photographer Virginia del Giudice has been sending us sightings from her travels in Amsterdam of random brilliant “everyday” improvisations the Dutch have come up with. Here’s a favorite: numbered tiles formed into a hopscotch grid and placed permanently on the sidewalk, for a quick spontaneous skip and jump on your way to do an errand or go to work.  Totally charming and do-able.


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Urban Taxi Farmers 2014 Wed, 10 Sep 2014 22:00:48 +0000

David Saltman

Five years ago we began profiling an intrepid group of urban farmers, all of whom have the day job of taxi driver.

They’ve “borrowed” pieces of unused open land in various corners of New York City and turned it into bread and butter – or rather into corn, beans, tomatoes, grapes, herbs and whatever else they can plant on tiny scraps of earth along abutments and train tracks: wherever their peripatetic profession spies land that no one else is interested in.  The are high on our list of smart, fearless urban improvisers.  (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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Trees with Ladders: Tree Climbing for Adults Wed, 03 Sep 2014 22:20:11 +0000

E. Sanders

Every day we go to the park across the way and enjoy the huge, hundreds-years-old trees. We WISH we could climb them, as we did as a kid, and wondered, in our minds eye, WHY NOT just put a ladder up to one to give our creaky adult selves a boost up. Then we stumbled on images of L’Arbre aux Echelles — The Tree with Ladders — an installation by French artist François Méchain.]]> 0
Cedar Planked Salmon for the Grill Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:47:37 +0000

Sally Schneider

Our friend Holton Rower has been learning about cooking salmon on a cedar plank on his Weber grill through trial-and-error, a method we totally endorse.  His first go wasn’t completely successful but it was clear that the cedary smoke is a perfect marriage with salmon. If you don’t have wood coals to cook over, cedar planks are a great way to achieve woodsmoke flavor. Holton learned quickly and his recent try was a huge success. Here’s how he did it (and what he/we learned). (more…)

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DIY Twig and Branch Fence Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:27:01 +0000

Sally Schneider

New York City’s Madison Avenue in the 70”s is among the toniest areas in the city. We were wandering there when we suddenly noticed this unlikely fence made of branches and twigs: a beautiful, unexpected DIY right dab in the middle of luxe (and a relief from the usual iron fencing!

Look close and you can see that it is simply branches and twigs of varying sizes woven and cross-hatched, with uprights secured in the soil, to form a stable fence.  (more…)

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Concrete Block Planters and Raised Beds Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:00:25 +0000

Zac Benson

In addition to a cool shipping pallet table, we found another great DIY at Urban Garden Center: a concrete block planter (below). We’d seen images of them before like the one above that houses succulents and at this Pinterest devoted solely to concrete block gardens. The basic idea holds lots of possibilities, some rough, some curiously sleek. (more…)

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big shipping pallet and concrete block outdoor table Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:10 +0000

Sally Schneider

Last weekend, we walked down to the Urban Garden Center to check out the pig roast they hold every Saturday in the summer. You many remember that the garden center is directly across from the two buildings that collapsed in Harlem last winter after a gas leak explosion. It was practically decimated and we wondered if they’d come back. We’ll they made it through and we bought ornamental grasses for our planters from them a couple of months ago. Ever industrious, they rebuilt their rough-and-tumble party pavilion and launched a weekly Harlem Seoul Pig Roast, serving a mashup of Korean/Southern Barbeque. The pavilion is made of all sorts of found and rustic materials, including mismatched chairs and junk store finds.

We especially loved the huge table made of shipping pallets and concrete block, two of our favorite building materials. It could easily seat twelve AND weather the elements.  (more…)

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How to Think in Haiku (and a Haiku about Grasses) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:41:12 +0000

Sally Schneider

At the very end of May, we planted grasses in the planter on the Laboratory’s patio. Since then, they’ve grown like wild fire, along with the Morning Glory vine we plunked into their soil to further screen us from our neighbors. We love watching the grasses move in the breeze; they seem to constantly change and catch the light in new ways.  The other day, we read a haiku by Issa that revealed a quality that we hadn’t been conscious of:  (more…)

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Water Lily-ish Sculptures and Other Floating Possibilities Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:27:46 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Japanese artist Toshihiko Shibuya has placed ‘water pallet’ floating on a square pool of water at the Sapporo Sculpture Garden, Painted with pinks, blues and greens on the underside of their base, the white circles glide on the surface of the basin, reflecting a colorful hue when they overlap.

What a lovely idea. Of course, we tried to figure out how we could do that (assuming we had a pool to begin with). (more…)

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Instant Treehouse or Picnic in the Sky with a Hanging Tent Tue, 15 Jul 2014 23:00:53 +0000

The Hanging Tent Company

If this isn’t the absolute essence of the escapist wilderness whims we had as children, we don’t know what is….

We wonder what it would be like to lay still in one of these floating spheres and listen to a slight wind coming through the trees. (more…)

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Our Search for Lego-Like Adult Building Blocks Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:00:32 +0000

We have been so hungry for “adult” Legos with which we could actually make some home projects that we’ve checked out all sorts of possibilities, including giant plastic storage boxes in the shape of Legos, with “Lego” embossed loudly on the top. NOT.

The closest we’ve come is TogetherFarms modular blocks made from recycled plastic and food-safe. They are being marketing for use for making planters and raised beds. (more…)

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