Improvised Life If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:54:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 1 Minute Antidote to the Holiday Rush Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:54:49 +0000

Sybille Palmer

Longtime reader and friend Sybille Palmer sent us this poem found in Writer’s Almanac, along with a photo of the newly fallen snow in Taos, New Mexico where she lives. It’s a fine example of Arthur C. Brooks principles for antidoting the holiday rush: embrace experience rather than things…stop for a minute and take in something lovely. (The puppy gets it!)

To paraphrase him: The least “practical” thing in life is often the most important and enduring. (more…)

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Looking for Holiday Gift Ideas? We’ve Got ‘Em Wed, 17 Dec 2014 22:00:18 +0000

Lately, readers have been giving subscriptions to Improvised Life as gifts for friends and family. Just go to our subscribe page and select a year’s subscription to give 650 or so illuminating reads per year.

We also recommend checking out Improvised Life’s Shop for a personally curated selection of compelling books, tools, housewares, and toys that are easy to order, and support Improvised Life. You can also access the Shop by clicking on the drop-down menu above. Some of our favorites include: (more…)

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Holiday Wrapping Paper: Found, Made, Bought Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:56:59 +0000

Sally Schneider

One of our favorite times in the holidays is wrapping gifts, usually done last-minute before flying out to a party, with whatever is on hand. We have some closet space dedicated to found papers, ribbons, fat hunks of rope and interesting colored twines, a vast variety of colored tapes, salvaged boxes as well as Dollar Store shopping bags. We find ourselves going into a sort of reverie when we wrap, letting the materials tell us what to do, Anni Albers style. Over the years we’ve come up with some pretty out-there wrappings (check out these favorites).

Recently, we found some new alternatives to wrapping paper we hadn’t thought of before. (more…)

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Holiday Strategy?: Abundance Without Attachment Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:16:19 +0000

Siglio Press

For those wondering how to navigate the lavishness and commercialization of Christmas, we recommend "Abundance without Attachment", Arthur C. Brooks' New York Times' op-ed in which he tells of the three principles he's learned for handling the painful contradictions of the season and of our aspirational era. ]]> 0
Holiday Hair Do’s Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:05:46 +0000


Human invention and creativity applied to holiday hair-do’s. Pure wonder!

via Chris Eldredge

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An Intro to ‘Bird by Bird”s Brilliant Instructions on Life Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:05:57 +0000

A while ago, Brain Pickings posted on Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, for our money one of all time BEST books about the creative process. Although we’ve written about the book ourselves — including our crazy-favorite quote about being “flanged” — Brain Pickings offers a trove of excerpts that make a fine introduction if you’re not familiar with the book. Here’s just one: (more…)

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LEGO Gifts for Inventions Both Utilitarian & Playful Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:01:15 +0000


Chinese design studio KBme2 believes that there are simple ways to create housewares that could truly belong to the user. They tested their idea our using LEGO, the timeless building tool beloved by both children and adults. (more…)

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Four Principles for Generating Good Luck Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:30:57 +0000

Psychologist Richard Wiseman completed a ten-year study to figure out why some people, even smart ones, are luckier than others. He explains how and what he found in illuminating detail in Be Lucky —It’s an Easy Skill to Learn” in the Telegraph.

The gist: people who generate good luck practice four essential principles. (more…)

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Sally on Splendid Table: Gifts, Table Decorations + Recipes Mon, 15 Dec 2014 22:00:09 +0000

Sally Schneider

Check out Public Radio’s The Splendid Table interview with Sally about her favorite gift ideas for cooks and eaters. Most are inexpensive but give a big bang for the buck.

You can also hear her favorite holiday tabletop decorations (some of which made great gifts as well). (more…)

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Wooden Board Bed Table Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:00:51 +0000

aaseber's instagram

We have used wooden boards as a giant wooden trivet…cool oddly-shaped cutting boards…a bathtub desk low tables and shelves

We hadn’t thought to use one as a bed table… GREAT.


via Aasaber’s Instagram via SF Girl By Bay

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Song for Monday: Hallelujah (K.D. Lang + Leonard Cohen) Mon, 15 Dec 2014 09:18:59 +0000

(Video link Here.) Suzanne Shaker sent us this wondrous video of K.D. Lang singing Hallelujah. We love many things about it: beyond the astonishing rich and forthright voice, and a song of pure joy is Lang singing barefoot before thousands. And when they regale her with praise, she bows long, deeply-moved, expressing the Hallelujah she just sang.

According to the Macmillon Dictionary, in modern English

 “‘Hallelujah’ is frequently spoken to express happiness that a thing hoped or waited for has happened”

It seems like a great way to start the week. (more…)

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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…)

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Mesmerizing Guerilla Action: Balls on Escalator Thu, 11 Dec 2014 22:00:42 +0000

(Video link HERE.) We have a soft spot in our heart for slightly subversive guerilla actions that shifts people’s views in public spaces, or provide a bit of art or science to illuminate.

Colored balls set loose on an escalator make for a wonderful, anonymous “static loop of kinetic energy, redefining location“. No other info given. (We notice the perpetrator picked up all the balls at the end.)   (more…)

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Freestanding Painting Room Screen from The Glass House Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:14:02 +0000

Matthew Williams

In Remodelista’s recent 14 Lessons in Minimalism from the Glass House, we found many good ideas (in addition to a gratifyingly voyeuristic house tour). We especially love Philip Johnson’s inspired idea to mount a large painting on a stand to make an artful room partition.  (more…)

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