Installing hardwired, outdoor lighting can be a big, expensive, all-too-often unaesthetic hassle, forcing you to put lights where you really don’t want them, and use commercially produced fixtures that are less than enchanting. One elegant, inexpensive solution is solar lanterns.
My favorites are faux Japanese shoji solar lantern from Allsop available in a rainbow of lightweight polyester that mimics silk. Hang them anywhere outdoors where they receive at least 6 hours of sunlight on the small solar cells located on the top. They begin to glow as soon as dusk falls, and continue until around 4:00 am, when they slowly wink out, one by one.
We are always thrilled to hear (and see) how ‘improvised life’ resonates in our readers lives. Sometimes it’s a “shift” of mindset, sometimes it’s a daring diy. In Julie Houston’s case, it was a major renonovation of the back parlor of her Brooklyn brownstone, transformed into kitchen/dining area.
When children and pets leave — as is nature’s way, aka “the empty nest” — the house goes silent. The element of surprise, embedded in their activities, is gone.
After a few long-delayed home improvement projects (too busy to do them for decades), it dawned on me that I was merely trying to make my own noise, create my own element of surprise around here.
This cartoon was the subject of the New Yorker’s great cartoon caption contest, where readers are invited to submit their caption for the cartoonists drawing. Our favorite caption (that didn’t win) was:
Mistakes were made.
We make so many mistakes daily that it was heartening to see this image of Noah’s miscalculation.
When we stumbled on images of artist/designer Richard Woods‘ show D.I.Y at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London, we literally gasped. LOOK at those floors!. They turn out to be Woods’ trademark vibrantly-coloured and exaggerated wood-grain motif.
…deceptively simple in form, these bold images are produced using traditional block-printing techniques and installed as parquetry (inlaying wood in geometric patterns)…
We’re always on the lookout for cool ways to paint our plywood floors, currently a neutral oyster color, when it starts to wear, or when we want to shift our view… read more…
Designer Laura Handler of Interesting Found Objects spotted this scrawled sign in the window of a Manhattan dry cleaner. The owners identified something they have that would be useful to someone looking for work: a clean set of clothes. They also stated their simple philosophy. Beautiful. Generous.
It reminded us reminded us of Mohammed Ali’s fierce and brilliant rant against the word ‘impossible: read more…
My local market sells a 2.5 ounce box of mediocre kale chips, seasoned with weird stuff like cashews and brewer’s yeast, for $7. Why don’t I just try making my own? I thought, remembering how well my pilot-light-warmed oven dried out paper-thin cross-sections of pear and apple until they became like crispy botanical drawings. So I winged it and it worked first time out (see method below). Kale chips won’t substitute for potato chips if that’s what you are hankering for. But they are curiously satisfying in a crispy vegetal way. They’re easy to make and I have friends who DEMAND that I bring them over when I come.
Since the first try, I’ve experimented with flatish Lacinato (Tuscan) kale and the curly kind (I recommend the Lacinato, which dries with more heft, and flavor), and a number of flavorings. Other toughish leafy greens like collards will work too. I’m still checking them out…wondering what Treviso radicchio might yield. So far kale is best. I also tried a Fast Method which produces chips in 25 minutes or so, and actually may be a tad more flavorful if you don’t let them brown.
(Video link here.) Long-time ‘improvised life’ reader Sahana sent this hour-long documentary about Parcour (also known as free-running) with this note:
“leaping and turning obstacles into stepping stones - …almost like dancing . a philosophy of movement .”
There’s LOTS of beautiful parcour as well as illuminating glimpses into the inside of the practice that is very much the creative process:
It’s all about progression. Every big move starts small.
He had the vision to see what he wanted to do. He understood each component part and kept at it until he landed it perfectly. This model that Paul uses can be used by anyone to accomplish nearly anything.( at about 17:30)
Landscape Designer Pat Brodie recently sent us pictures of her very cool stacked stone bench inspired by a passing vision:
I was at the stone yard with my client looking at stones for her garden when we saw stones randomly stacked on a pallet and I noticed that it was suggestive of a sofa. We purchased the pallet but of course when we got it to the site we had to reinvent the stacking and came up with this very comfortable seat. It makes me laugh.
We LOVE the massive, primal, very inviting bench (with foot rest!) AND the way it came about.
Brodie also devised a clever seat built into a retaining wall. read more…
We stumbled on this fab carrot bouquet in photographer Tessa Traeger’s still life portfolio. We’ve made vegetable “flower” bouquets before but not with quite so much panache. As we wander the farmer’s market, we’re seeing carrots in a new light.
At Remodelista house tour recently, we spotted this this wonderful detail in the Paris home/studio of architect Nicolas Soulier and artist Cécile Daladier: A table made of a custom molded slab of concrete on steel tubing base, with a charming Ikebana-inspired vase inset for Cécile’s flowers. Ingenious, unexpected and charming.
Rainy days always slow me down and tuck me in, seducing me to perform unnecessary housekeeping chores unimaginable in bright sun. When my ancient, duct-taped, binder of recipes tumbled off the top of the fridge in a splat of disorganization, I remanded it to the top of the clothes dryer. Now, a few drops of rain have induced guilt and curiosity. As Japanese poet Ryokan wrote:
Too lazy to be ambitious,
I let the world take care of itself.
Ten days worth of rice in my bag;
a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
Why chatter about disillusionment and enlightenment:
Listening to the rain on my roof,
I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.
I sift through the pages. Fifty years of recipes slip through my fingers, many handwritten in spindly, old fashioned, cursive handwriting by women who have passed from this earth long ago, leaving behind their grease-spattered, thumbed, much loved meals handed down through generations. read more…
Although we quoted Herbert frequently, often making signs of her spare wisdom (‘Simpler ‘is a favorite), we were unable to find out anything about her since her work in the early ’80′s at CoEvolution Quarterly, the companion magazine to Whole Earth Catalog. Then in June of 2012, she abruptly stopped posting.