Improvised Life If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 27 Mar 2015 06:17:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Easy-Peasy Vinegar at Home: Making, Blending, Flavoring Fri, 27 Mar 2015 06:17:00 +0000

Sally Schneider

After a recent evening yielded several not-great “mystery” bottles of wine, the conversation turned to making vinegar, which I planned to make with the leftover wine. “How do you do it?” a friend asked. “I’ve tried with the vinegar mother someone gave me and it didn’t work.”  A vinegar mother is the live, jelly-fish-like culture that transforms wine into vinegar.

I’ve discovered that —perhaps due to misunderstanding the loaded word “mother” — many people believe that vinegar is some mysterious substance, difficult-to-make, and too holy to mess around with. I’ve been making vinegar in my down-and-dirty, small-space, defying-the-accepted-wisdom-way for years. Not to mention, blending vinegars, as well as flavoring them.


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Fran Lebowitz’s Wise, Hilarious Views on Fashion (and Life) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:50:54 +0000

Getty Images

We have Jason Kottke for chosing the choicests bits of Elle’s hilarious interview with Fran Lebowitz about fashion. But even then, it’s worth reading every bit of her unique LOL commentary. (more…)

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Annals of Bad Design: Strangely Phallic Coffee Table Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:20:37 +0000

Although we are huge fans of using tree parts and the natural world as furnishings, we were stunned to see this wildly impractical coffee table made of what appears to be bundled branches or driftwood of some sort. Is it just us or do they have strangely phallic shapes?

How is this table meant to work,  we wondered, when we want to set our drink down on the table, or something small like dice or coins? Are we given little platforms? And if we want to lounge and put our feet up, how comfortable will it be?

Here’s a closer look:


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‘Be a Spot of Ground Where Something Might Be Planted’ Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:07:13 +0000

Robert Kesseler

Stumbling on this fragment from Rumi’s wondrous poem The Fragile Vial got us thinking about seeds…

Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it.
Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing,
where something might be planted,
a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.

Images of seeds viewed through an electron microscope revealed the myriad forms — all pure wonder —of those tiny beginnings… (more…)

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Magazine Page Envelopes + the PERFECT Multipurpose Business Card Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:00:30 +0000

Sally Scheider

Pamela Hovland, who designed Improvised Life’s first site design, periodically sends us notes in improvised envelopes she makes out of pages torn from magazines and catalogs, whenever she comes across a compelling visual. We were charmed to get her Spring greeting in the form of two letters, both with images of people LEAPING on the outside, and her very cool note card within. (more…)

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5+ Happiness Generating Questions Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:50:00 +0000

As ever, Neil Gaiman nails it. But there’s a question in his wonderful words, one that many people we know have been asking themselves: What Do You Have that Nobody Else Has? What is the particular flavor/quality/aspect/talent/vision unique to you? And even more importantly, what are ways it can thrive in the world?

Ko Im over at Thought Catalog (via 99U) poses additional questions about ones SELF that he says will prompt you to discover patterns that point you toward greater happiness: (more…)

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DIY Idea-Capturing Desks Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:26:59 +0000

Kirsten Camera

Somewhat obsessed by how we remember the past”, MCAD student Kirsten Camara designed the Analog Memory Desk. It has a holder embedded in its legs for scrolling huge rulls of butcher or Kraft paper over the desk’s surface to make “a sort of tablecloth of memory” to record “hundreds of little things that we don’t try to remember every year or even every week”. It can record months, possibly years of ideas, drawings, doodles, mind maps, phone numbers, calculations etc… (more…)

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We’re BACK from Yesterday’s Outage w Apologies + Thanks Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:25:14 +0000

Christoph Niemann/The New Yorker

In the wee hours of Monday morning, our server went down, causing the morning’s post to go undelivered and Improvised Life to be offline for most of the day. This was the worst of a number of outages that occurred during the past month.

Although it wasn’t our fault (it was a DDoS attack designed to interrupt the host’s service), we are sorry to have disappeared, are back, and offer Christoph Niemann’s wondrous rose from a recent New Yorker cover as our thanks for being there. Click read more to see it as a gif in action. (more…)

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Lucio Fontana: The Forthright Mark Tue, 24 Mar 2015 07:54:06 +0000

Ugo Mulas

We keep an image of artist Lucio Fontana approaching a blank canvas in our workspace. He holds a utility knife, ready to make a first cut into the pristine surface, a radical act, as was his puncturing of canvasses with a thick steel pick.

Although he made his slashed and punctured works in the 40’s and 50’s, they still seem like an utterly radical, forthright, rather courageous act. (more…)

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Brilliant Plywood: Stair Chair DIY Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:14:31 +0000

Now that it’s getting to be THAT time of year — the trees will soon be in bud, and warm weather upon us —we yen to hang out on stoops and stairs.

We’re smitten with this StairChair that solves the problem of back support or needing a wide enough surface to lie down and snooze or look at the sky. snooze. It’s just the kind of furniture design we love: so simply made, we can use our x-ray vision to see its structure…

…and hammer some together ourselves…


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Found Objects Music + Attitude for Monday Mon, 23 Mar 2015 07:29:20 +0000

Click to embiggen

At Under the Sun we stumbled on this reminder of the many objects around us that can be used to make music.

Type in Found Objects Music into YouTube’s Search and you’ll find A LOT of interesting improvisations. Here’s a favorite, with a great beat for Monday morning, and a long list of found objects used. (Video link here.) (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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Trees as Decorating Elements in a ModernUruguayan Home Thu, 19 Mar 2015 17:00:43 +0000

R.Labougle/ELLE Decor Spain

In his eco-friendly country home in Uruguay, artist Pablo Reinoso embellished the spare modern decor with tree trunks and branches from the surrounding landscape. He is a man after our own hearts; our NYC laboratory is full of sculptural tree parts foraged from the neighboring park. We especially love the bathroom with a huge trunk embedded in the polished concrete floor; its serves as a towel rack. (more…)

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Lemesoff’s Weapon of Mass INSTRUCTION + Other Brilliance Thu, 19 Mar 2015 05:26:25 +0000

(Video link here.) We are smitten with Buenos Aires-based artist Raul Lemesoff’s brilliant ‘Weapons of Mass Instruction’, a 1979 Ford Falcon transformed into a military-style vehicle/traveling library with a serious function of peace. Lemesoff tours through Argentina’s cities, towns and rural communities, offering free books to anyone interested in his a varied collection of poetry, novels and biographies.

But beyond this singular creation, the video proves Lemesoff a creative FORCE to emulate. (more…)

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