Improvised Life If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:10:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Real “Jell-O” in Endless Flavors Fri, 24 Apr 2015 06:00:23 +0000

Maria Robledo

For most of my life I never questioned Jell-O, the garish, jiggly gelatin dessert that is the lynchpin of every American childhood, never wondered what the imitation flavors were an imitation of. So it was a revelation when I tried making a homemade “Jell-O”: it had a beautiful color, with a flavor that was intense, vivid and REAL. It was so simple to make I wondered why there was instant; it’s little more than fruit juice jelled with unflavored gelatin, has very little sugar and no additives or colorings. I’ve found it has as much appeal to adults as to children; I serve it for dessert at dinner parties.

Here’s the basic formula and three favorite iterations: Guava-Banana “Jell-O”; Berry, Cherry, Peach or Black Current  “Jell-O”; and Herb-Infused Wine  “Jell-O”


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Birthday Wishes for a Beloved Improvised Life Contributor Fri, 24 Apr 2015 01:56:21 +0000

Sally Schneider

Today is photographer Maria Robledo’s birthday. We have been secretly celebrating her birth all day, counting our blessings that we got to know her and enjoy all the beauty she finds and sends so generously our way, like the wondrous riff of instragrams we published a few days ago.  In her honor, we send her this fabulous, little virtual Gateau Zebra —a strangely beautiful sculpture —we found, along with a big shout out:

H A P P Y  B I R T H D A Y,  M A R I A ! ! ! ! ]]> 0
Why Not Swing Indoors? (And Ways to Do It) Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:00:51 +0000

Tom Mannion

When we saw visitors to a Neoclassical palazzo in Milan playing on swings created by London designer Philippe Malouin, it reminded us of how lovely a swing can be, ESPECIALLY in an unexpected place, with a terrific view. It also revealed a simple way to have a swing indoors if you don’t have beams to securely hang them from: a swing set, in this case painted a chic, minimalist black.

Designer Dominic Wilcox gives a number of strategies for indoor swings. (more…)

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What if We Stopped? Thu, 23 Apr 2015 06:42:50 +0000

Stefan Sagmeister

Yesterday, we stumbled on Seth Godin’s question “What if you stopped?“, and….

…we did stop for a minute to think about it.

What if we stopped publishing Improvised Life?  (more…)

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Max Lamb: 40 Inspired Chairs + His Philosophy of Making Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:46:13 +0000

(Video link here.)  “Exercises in Seating” at the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan, is an exhibit of 40 chairs British designer Max Lamb has made over the past 10 years,  from elemental thrones in stone to boxy wooden chairs and and geometric stools cast in sand. It inspires serious chair lust and illumination into their possibilities. Even more compelling is this short video of Lamb’s process and the WHY OF MAKING…chairs or otherwise. (more…)

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Meditation in A Surprising Modernist Ozarks Chapel Wed, 22 Apr 2015 06:32:45 +0000

Randall Connaughton

For many years, we made a study of sanctuaries of various kinds — from the icon-rich imagery of a Franciscan Church to Buddhist monasteries. Ultimately we found that being in Nature was the best way to center ourselves, clear our head, connect with something bigger. But we had never experienced a chapel like ThornCrown, designed by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright, in the deep Ozark woods…the unlikely brainchild of a retired, rarely-churchgoing alcoholic schoolteacher. ]]> 2
Design Element? A Big Colored Triangle or Two (Issey Miyake) Tue, 21 Apr 2015 17:00:00 +0000

We're smitten with the vivid crimson aluminum triangles suspended in mid-air in the Issey Miyake store designed by Tokujin Yoshioka in Tokyo’s commercial Marunouchi district. WHAT IF we had a huge, light-weight, vividly-colored triangle to move around our space?]]> 0
Christoff Niemann’s “I Confess” Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:01:15 +0000

Christoff Niemann

While we were researching recent pieces about the great Christoph Niemann recently, we came across “I Confess”, his visual confession of all the things he is (or thinks he is), and that WE TOTALLY RELATE TO.

It is a great reminder that you can be Out of Style, Out of Touch, Use the Wrong Screws, Steal Books and not able to Draw Cats or Hair and STILL make incredibly illuminating things that really need to be in the world… (more…)

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Waylon Lewis Makes ANOTHER Leap, Kickstarting a Book + a Publishing Co. Mon, 20 Apr 2015 23:58:35 +0000

(Video link here.) Waylon Lewis, founder of the mega-blog Elephant Journal as been something of a role-model to us, for his rare combo-platter of energy, perseverence, business savvy, fearlessness, generosity, HEART and willingness to LEAP and take risks. Waylon first launched Elephant as a paper magazine, and then made the leap to digital, gradually growing his readership into a massive and very active one.

Now Waylon is trying a new venture and ANOTHER big leap: his first book, which if it flies, will be the start of Elephant Books, an indie publishing house (more…)

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DIY Beautifully Chalky Limewashed Walls Mon, 20 Apr 2015 17:10:58 +0000

Justine Hand

When friends renovated their NYC brownstone, they made wonderfully varied walls — high-gloss painted walls next to beautiful flat, chalky ones achieved by careful plastering — that made the rooms incredibly beautiful. I copied their high-gloss walls in my Harlem space, but wondered how I could achieve the chalky effect of plaster myself. The answer recently presented itself in a great DIY by Justine Hand for Remodelista. ]]> 0
A Powerful Spring Poem with Robledo’s Wondrous Images Mon, 20 Apr 2015 07:20:36 +0000

Maria Robledo

When we stumbled on this powerful little haiku, we thought right away of Maria Robledo’s wondrous flower assemblages…where we found another surprising haiku hidden amidst her Instagrams. (more…)

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Batali’s Savory Lemon Jam Riffs + Lemon Parfaits Fri, 17 Apr 2015 06:40:24 +0000

Maria Robledo

Years ago, I learned a savory uncooked Lemon and Oregano Jam from Mario Batali. Once I learned the basic formula, I found myself improvising on it endlessly,until I devised a sweet citrus jam the inspired many impromptu desserts including Lemon or Tangelo Parfaits that taste like a Creamsicle.]]> 0
Storage Solution: Puzzle Box Thinking Thu, 16 Apr 2015 18:39:27 +0000

Alan Chu

When enlisted to design a compact tea shop in a limited  footprint, Brazilian architect Alan Chu created a giant puzzle box whose color blocks unfold to reveal its wares. Seeing it unfold gives us lots of ideas for maximizing our own storage spaces, and making them visually appealing. With each panel that is opened, the colorful grid becomes 3D. (more…)

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Diane Ackerman: “Live as Variously as Possible” Thu, 16 Apr 2015 06:44:50 +0000

For our morning read, we opened our dog-eared copy of Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses at random and found this perfect, heartening hunk of philosophical cake, a perfect accompaniment to the great DVDP’s luminous gif: (more…)

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