recipes: strawberry-rhubarb confit and syrup for improvising

I was playing around with with rhubarb and strawberries which are in season now and discovered two delicious “base materials” for improvising. Simmering strawberries and rhubarb briefly in a sauterne-like white wine syrup released their flavor to make an intensely-flavored “juice”. When I strained it, I discovered that I had not only made strawberry-rhubarb syrup,…

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our lesson in pink (paint)

  We never would imagined how beautiful and NON-kids room pink walls could be until we saw pictures of a house designed by the great Mexican architect Luis Barrigan in 1947. Pink upon pink balanced by yellow, wood, dark floors…. expanded our view of a color we’d inadvertently made short shrift of… With thanks to the…

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guest blogger tim slavin on ‘american pickers’

We’re totally addicted to the History Channel’s “American Pickers” for many reasons but mostly because it taps into our primal need to hunt, hoard, share, trade, wander, and tell stories. Antiques don’t magically appear in your local antique store or flea market. They are foraged and found and repaired by people like business partners Mike…

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metal washer and attic insulation dress

For the yearly fashion show given by Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx, Isabel Cohen wired together hundreds of metal washers to make the halter top for her floor-length attic insulation skirt (inspired by jellyfish tentacles). It was her answer to the show’s challenging theme: “Create an outfit made of anything but fabric”. The show…

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woodpile as art

Alastair Heseltine is a Canadian artist who makes art and objects by interweaving wood (he especially loves willow). We were knocked out by his woodpile and by his artist’s statement; we don’t know when we’ve seen one that said so much in so few words: “I am a sculptor working with mixed media relating to…

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canal house cooking: home cooks as indie publisher

The other day,  Maria Robledo sent over some cookbooks with a note: “2 women are doing this lovely diary type home cooking book and one is CHRISTOPHER HIRSHEIMER.” Maria and I both worked with Christopher years ago when she was the food editor of Metropolitan Home and then Saveur. Christopher is famous for having become…

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inspired makeshift: a year of personal fashion

Makeshift is a wonderfully expressive term for “making a shift”:  shifting your thinking to come up with a creative solution that accomplishes the task at hand in a unexpected way. When you find you don’t have something you need, you improvise a substitute or “shift” what you are making to accommodate it. Makeshift is one…

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on things “not looking good while you’re working on them”

In a 2008 New Yorker profile, artist John Currin said something about the process of painting that knocked us out because it is SO much about improvising, about making anything where you’re not entirely sure where you’re going: “…a big part of painting is getting used to things not looking good while you’re working on them. “…

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sawhorse table redux: art as table base

A few years ago, I clipped this image from Reference Library, the always-surprising visual blog that rarely gives explanations. It said simply: “Michelangelo Pistoletto  Struttura per parlare in piedi (Oggetti in meno) 1965-66 This is just about my most favorite thing.” In English, Pistoletto‘s artwork is called “Structure for Talking Standing Up”, part of a series he…

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binder clips for d-i-y shelving and other improvised solutions

Our recent call for accessible clip/clamp ideas for securing stacked boxes (wood, cardboard, plastic) to make d-i-y  clipped-together shelving got a big response, all offering the same solution: large binder clips. These cheap, ubiquitous clips seem to be the go-to solution for many niggling problems. Wine writer Anthony Giglio wrote: “I have improvised with these binder…

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