Tree Rooms Hiding in Plain Sight (Wendell Berry)

Designer Russel Wright had the habit of shaping parts of the land around Manitoga, his home and studio in upstate New York, into “rooms”. Rather than making a room, I love the idea of an outdoor room coming into being simply by finding it or naming it, as happened when I stumbled on some ancient Beeches. Their branches arch down to the ground to define the space around them, making quiet leafy rooms. The feeling of hanging out in them is extraordinary. Wendell Berry nailed it.

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Stenciling Ugly Concrete Sidewalks (and Other Things)

I didn’t realize how naturally brutalist concrete sidewalks are — drab gray, strangely crude— until I saw leaves painted on the sidewalk outside a Harlem plant store. The harsh, dreary slabs were transformed and seemed to be casting light and a feeling of whimsy and charm. It made me wonder why sidewalks are rarely embellished, and how to do it…

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Where to Find Help (Including a Great Website Developer)…

Over the years, I’ve hit periods when I couldn’t figure out how to find the help I needed… Not just a good handiman or office assistant, but expertise that is more difficult to find, like a reliable and affordable website programmer to solve problem I know nothing about. I’ve found stellar people for all realms of my business through two sites, including the Venezuelan programmer (and friend) who services Improvised Life…

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Chloe Cooper Jones on Creating a “Neutral Room” in Your Mind, for Pain Management, Focus and Creative Thinking

We found many compelling ideas in this New York Times interview with Chloe Cooper Jones about her new book Easy Beauty and the disconnect between “our real self and the way that self is perceived”. We’ve been trying out the remarkable technique she learned that she found provides unexpected “agency and peace and power”.

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Things to Consider When Eating Blackberries

When we stumbled on this still-life showing the lifecycle of a blackberry we thought “Ohhh! That’s what we should keep in mind as we eat the luscious fruit which is still in season into late September and early October. Its essential message sparked other ideas to accompany a feast of them.

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The Soulful Evocations of Fried Green Tomatoes

Recently, a gift of two green tomatoes sparked a deep hankering: for fried green tomatoes and their elemental deliciousness, and their evocations of deep summer visits to the South long ago. So I cooked up a batch using the simplest method I know. I was startled by how intensely they made me feel the summer day. Here’s the method, and a few things to do with them, and a movie to watch while you eat them.

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For Those Freaked Out by The Stock Market’s Slide + Prophecies of DOOM (Revised)

As the stock market jitters wildly and the media speculates dire straits, we take comfort in this piece from Jeremy Siegel’s seminal book, Stocks for the Long Run, an essential reference for anyone wanting to understand investing. It’s the memo that brokerage firm Dean Witter issued to its clients on May 6, 1932 after stocks plummeted 85 percent from their 1929 high.

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Tools for Living: Peak Experience Essential Oils

When a talented perfumer I know let slip that he bought some of his base scents from Eden Botanicals, I went to the website immediately. The descriptions of essential oils were much like good wine writing, with notes about terroir and nuances of specific geographies, cultivation methods and fragrance notes. The offerings are a far cry from vin ordinaire essential oils I’d been accustomed to using for relaxation and healing: an order of magnitude more pleasurable, effective, illuminating…

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