Improvised Life If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:15:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Quick, Easy Mortar-Made Sauces Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:15:10 +0000

Maria Robledo

To illustrate just how useful it is to have a mortar and pestle —and to accompany our essential post about this great, ancient tool — here are some favorite mortar-made preparations: simple, a-la-minute flavored oils for dipping bread, drizzling on grilled fish,  or jazzing up soups and stews.

I set the mortar on the table for guests to spoon the oil right into their bowl. When the oil hits hot food, the heat catalyzes a blast of lovely perfume. These sauces couldn’t be easier to make. Below you’ll find a Method for Improvising as well as recipes for Lemon Oil and Chive Oil. (more…)

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Mortar and Pestles to Buy or DIY (and Ones Not To) Fri, 06 Mar 2015 06:09:09 +0000

Sally Schneider

Recently, Jim Dillon asked me to recommend a good mortar and pestle. It is a fine request as they are incredibly useful, yet misunderstood tools. I’ve been mentally panning most of the mortars and pestles I see for year because of their ineffective —yet often beautiful — design.  So here are some mortar and pestle basics, my recommendations for buying or improvising your own, AND recipes you can make this weekend. (more…)

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Repair Essential: Bondic Liquid Plastic Welder Thu, 05 Mar 2015 17:59:36 +0000

(Video link HERE) Does your headphone phone jack have a loose connection? Did the stem of your eyeglasses snap? Tired of trying to repair them with weak glue or duct tape?

We said YES to all those questions and were thrilled to find Bondic, a liquid plastic that “welds” broken items. It fits right in with our philosophy or repairing things rather than throwing them away. (more…)

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View Shifter: Mister Rogers’ Perfect, Tiny Meditation Thu, 05 Mar 2015 08:14:14 +0000

(Video link here.) Every so often, we check in with artist/educator Paul Zelavansky’s YouTube channel, where we find salient, carefully-edited clips of Mister Rogers’ wisdom. They are as transformative for adults as it is for kids. Zelavansky opened our eyes to the power of Rogers’ work.

“Taking a Breath” is a perfect .58 seconds to view any time you need a shift.

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Tom Sachs’ Video Homage to Plywood Will Help You Create Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:00:48 +0000

(Video link here.) When we stumbled on the sleek, illuminated video, Love Letter to Plywood, on Kottke, we hadn’t realized it was by artist Tom Sachs. Of all the plywood “makers” we know, he is among the most inspiring. The guy seriously understands and works the stuff, from his plywood “concrete” block, to his black plywood clad fridge (below).

A few years ago, we posted his video Love Letter to Plywood. Since then, he’s updated, refined it, added to it to create not only an homage, but simple lessons that will help you work with it: essential plywood understanding will pour right into your head in the most pleasureable way.

It might inspire you fashion a chair like the wonderfully odd throne by Ross Anderson… (more…)

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Desmond Tutu on “Random Kindness” and Becoming “Life Artists” Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:08:59 +0000

Over the years, we’ve written often about the great Anne Herbert, the extraordinary writer that long-ago coined the phrase “Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty“, and the curious little book of that name that was published in the ’90’s. Long out-of-print, its charm and power continued to resonate, inspiring an updated edition, now with full-color drawings by its original illustrator, Mayumi Oda, and a moving Forward by Desmond Tutu that is, in itself, rich with wisdom. He writes: (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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Morning Wakeup: Kid’s Dancing to Eddie Kenzo’s Jambole Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:28:39 +0000

(Video link here.) Here’s our second inspiring video of kids dancing to Eddy Kenzo‘s new song, Jambole. Play it full screen and LOUD.  The music will get you dancing. And the kids are a testament to the INFINITE number of MOVES YOU CAN MAKE!

(Dig that little girl in the pink dress!)

Pure JOY.

Listen to more Eddie Kenzo HERE.

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Lamp Shade from Single Sheet of Paper Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:02:07 +0000

Yasuko Furukawa

When we saw Japanese design studio YOY‘s beautifully minimal lamp shade made out of a single sheet of paper, we thought YAY!. We could make a version of that lovely paper shade now that we’ve found a pleasing and bright LED bulb. Since LEDs don’t get hot like incandescent bulbs, we can fashion shades out of paper without danger of fire. (You can hold an “on” LED in your hand without getting burned. We even tested out the idea, placing a sheet of copy paper on some lit LED bulbs for half an hour, without even a scorch mark.)

YOY’s shade is a perfect concept for our love of mutable and makeshift lighting, that we can change as we like. (more…)

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August Sanders, Brian Eno and May Sarton on Sowing Seeds Mon, 02 Mar 2015 07:41:35 +0000

August Sander

August Sanders‘ farmer got us wondering What new seeds do we want to sow today? 

And before we knew it, the powerful image segued with a quote by Brian Eno about his process of composing: (more…)

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Weekend Magic: René Lavand + Li Po Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:18:25 +0000

(Video link here.) David Saltman of The Houdini File alerted us to René Lavand, the extraordinary artist of illusion who passed away recently. His performance of the classic “cups and balls” is mesmerizing. Lavand, who has only one hand, performs with the grace of a dancer, weaving a hypnotic spell as he whispers “siempre tengo tres” (I have only three).

After he lost his hand in a car crash at the age of nine, Lavand taught himself magic (more…)

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I-Beam Shelving and Side Tables Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:04:33 +0000

Sally Schneider

When a friend once suggested we use 12-inch lengths of industrial steel I-beams as “brackets” to hold shelves, we couldn’t quite imagine what he was thinking. UNTIL we spotted the fabulously rusted I-beam shelving at metal fabricator while wandering through East Harlem last fall.

When we saw the makeshift shelving the owner had improvised to store his materials, we GOT it.


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Morning Read: Random Wisdom Found in Kid’s Books Thu, 26 Feb 2015 07:17:27 +0000

Paul Klee

Several months ago, two Little Free Libraries appeared in the park across the way. Since then, we’ve found a number of children’s books with big messages about the creative process. In Art for Children: Paul Klee, Ernst Raboff’s description of Klee’s painting of a treehouse opened our eyes to the many elements of the painting we were blind to, guiding us INTO it.  (more…)

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Jump…Fly…Let Yourself Fall (Sebastião Salgado) Wed, 25 Feb 2015 22:00:21 +0000

Sebastião Salgado

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