Big Macaroni (Baked Penne with Wild Mushroom Ragu)

Wine writer Anthony Giglio’s Sicilian mother-in-law calls my rustic casserole of baked pasta layered with Wild Mushroom Ragu and ricotta salata “the Big Macaroni”. It IS…the delectable sum of 3 parts: pasta + ragu + cheese. You can make the ragu days ahead and use it for a million quick delicious dishes. And you can assemble the Big Macaroni the day before and bake when ready to feed your guests. They will die for its crispy chewy top and molten interior.

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Hotel Henriette: Stay There or Steal Ideas

We’ve written extensively about our usual practice of deconstructing and arranging overwrought hotel rooms. We’ve encountered SO many that were over decorated, stuffy, busy, that we stopped loving staying in hotels. Until we saw photos of Hotel Henriette in Paris, which breaks the mould every which way and gave us a trove of doable ideas for…

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Quick, Improvisational Custom Chai

Masala Chai is the lovely milky spiced tea of Indian Cuisine that has become wildly popular worldwide and is infinitely variable. Long ago, I made my own chai spice mix because I kept encountering ones I didn’t like. I vary the balance of spices according to my mood and embellish it with additional flavorings.  Here’s my basic formula, along with alternate routes and rules you can easily break when whipping up your own

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Make a Scented Aromatherapy Candle in 30 Seconds

There’s a reason legendary New York City department store Bergdorf Goodman offers 329 different options for candles, diffusers and home scents: they can be very effective in reducing stress and calming a room. But they are EXPENSIVE and you can’t modulate their intensity. Check out our surprising method for making a custom scented candle in just a few seconds…

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A Performance Coach’s Questions to Ask in the New Year

Kate Conklin coaches performers, athletes and thinkers to help them work better and excel. In this TEDx talk, she describes her unexpected path from studying traditional Bulgarian singing to investigating big questions about the creative life. They are well worth asking in the New Year. 

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A New View of Losing Years of Work

  When Improvised Life went down over the holidays due to the web host’s mighty and prolonged fail, there was the possibility that data backups had been damaged and six years of work could be lost. Many readers responded with heartening messages and offers of help. Ever-wise performance artist Fast Forward (whom I became friends with years ago…

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Seinfeld and Obama “On Falling in Love with the Work”

During the Improvised Life’s recent extended technology fail, Editor-at-Large David Saltman insisted I watch Jerry Seinfeld’s interview of Barack Obama in the latest episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. NOT just to take my mind off my troubles but to put them in perspective when I was asking the big Whys? and What ifs? Saltman,…

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Happy New Year — Finally!

Improvised Life site has been down since December 26th and it’s been on a wild ride to get it going. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of readers and friends, it looks like we’re going to be okay. We’ve learned many lessons and met some remarkable people, which we’ll report on in the coming weeks. We’ve still got a lot of work to do to make Improvised Life stable (and may experience more up-and-downs). But for now, we’re wishing you joy, health, creativity, abundance and love in the year to come.

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