Maria’s Robledo‘s instagram of ramps reminds us that the wild leek that grows throughout the Appalachian and Catsill mountains in spring won’t be around much longer. Like many truly wild foods, they possess mighty powers to fortify the body and lift the spirit. Buy ‘em while you can get them. If they’re in good shape, they’ll keep a couple of weeks in the fridge with their roots in a jar of water, and the whole bunch covered loosely with a plastic bag.
We’re heading to the farmer’s market Saturday morning to get a mess, to braise them with olive oil or bacon or pancetta fat to serve as a side dish or with pasta OR to whip up a huge batch of Ramp Butter, which we’ll eat now on great bread, or throw on peas, asparagus, pasta, eggs, mashed potatoes or… We’ll freeze the rest, rolled into logs and wrapped in plastic wrap, to enjoy for months to come.
If you don’t know about the wild West Virginia ramps festivals, check out our post here. At one many years ago, a ramp-intoxicated friend was inspired to throw a ramp into a bottle of good bourbon. He brought the ramp-infused bourban back the following year. Under the Appalachian stars, we swigged a strange new moonshine that tasted of onion, chocolate, caramel, earth.
(Video link here.) Balance is a mesmerizing video of Rigolo Swiss Nouveau Cirque artist Maedir Eugster, creator and master of the “palm rib balance”, in which he builds a living mobile out of palm ribs and a single feather. It had to have been carefully plotted (the palm ribs appear to be notched) and rehearsed over and over (with many spills and failures). Still, it has the feeling of improvisation because Eugster has to be so IN THE MOMENT, feeling every air current and movement, adjusting himself constantly to maintain…perfect balance.
I see these outdoor junkyard tubs featured here and there, but I liked the rustic simplicity of this one, from a diy featured at Houzz: salvage transformed into elemental luxury.
We had one years ago on our back deck in Malibu. I found an old tub for $5 in a junk yard with a flaking ocean scene painted on the rusty sides. I bought a rubber stopper for a dollar,propped it up up on a couple of bricks to level it, and filled it with a garden hose. Helluva a lot cheaper than a hot tub. Or a real pool. No humming filters burning electricity day and night, no chemicals. In fact, no plumbing at all! When we pulled the plug, we watered the surrounding trees.
If you like, skip the stilted, overlong 2:22 minute set-up of this video about the food International Space Station astronauts eat…Jump right to 2:23 and Momofuku chef David Chang improvising with pouches of freeze dried shrimp, asaparagus and cheese grits (among other things) in an attempt to jazz up the fare for astronaut Chris Hadfield. It is the ultimate in the always-entertaining chef’s challenge: “make a dish out of what’s in the fridge” (in this case, pouches).
And then stay tuned while Hadfield shows the one constraint Chang didn’t factor in: lack of gravity…and watch him gobble weightless asparagus.
While walking in the park across the way, I passed a tree stump left behind after Hurricane Sandy. Overwhelmed with fallen trees, the Parks Department had done their best to remove the huge tree bodies with chain saws that struggled against massive trunks; the cuts were often roughly-made or incomplete like this one: a tusk was left protruding from the akimbo trunk. I’d walked by it dozens of times and never seen the possibility that had been right in front of me all the time. I had only to turn our head at an angle to see, ready-made, a chair. read more…
Recently, we went looking for a 24-inch round metal bistro table for our Harlem terrace and hit a dilemma: whether to buy the pricey classic Fermob table (top photo), made in France, (THE table used in many public spaces), whose durable finish we’ve tested in the guise of a rectangular table we’ve stored outdoors for 2 years OR
…a good-looking knockof (bottom photo), made in China and $100 cheaper. It’s 2 pounds lighter, a concern due to the high winds up here, and we have no idea how the finish would hold-up, or how it looks in person as opposed to a photograph. If it looked cheesey or flimsy, sending it back would be expensive. On the other hand, Terrain, the store that sells it guarantees it for a year. Reviews we read for other Fermob knock-offs complain of easily-scratchable powder coating and flimsy construction. Terrain claims their matte, powder-coated finish is really durable.
Part of our improvised life is making the most of our money, and we LOVE finding less expensive routes to well-designed stuff. It’s a personal challenge we find immensely gratifying WHEN we succeed. But we’ve learned the hard way that going cheap can often be expensive read more…
(Video link here.) Paulo Goldstein sees himself as a craftsman in his approach to repair. It seems to us, he has the viewpoint of an artist, and certainly his repairs reflect a rare sensibility. We found this short video incredibly illuminating, for the many levels of living he addresses. Here’s the gist, but there’s way more in this 5 minutes:
REPAIR IS BEAUTIFUL began with the idea of solving frustration. A broken object delivers frustration because it doesn’t achieve its functionality, but the same principle applies to a broken system that caused the financial crisis, which has affected our lives since 2008. In a time of uncertainty, taking things into our own hands and having the feeling of control back can be very therapeutic. Repair is Beautiful aims to give back this feeling of control – by scaling down a major society problem to a human size and projecting frustration upon broken objects that can be repaired through design and craftsmanship. The final outcome is a collection of intriguingly repaired objects imbued with new meaning and functionality. The once rejected objects reflect the environment that created them and call us to question our society as a whole.
Check out Goldstein’s director’s chair repair inspired by a suspension bridge:
We found this wonderful image on Maria Robledo’s Instagram. Ohhh, what a great method of storing receipts (emptying pockets or bag then-and-there.) Thrown into a space between books —some amazing ones at that— they take on a curious beauty.
We have a box in an easily-accessible file cabinet that we throw them into to collate later. Whose got time to scan and organize ‘em?
Wandering around Harlem recently, we spotted this structure in the back of someone’s brownstone. It appears to be a clever combination porch and treehouse, literally built AROUND the tree growing in the yard.
Whoever made it clearly didn’t want to mess with the old tree growing very close to the house. So they found away to…embrace it. read more…
We have a nasty patch of rubble in the back alley guarded by unsightly bent pipes that protect a gas meter. Every fall I throw a packet of wildflower seeds down, scratch them in, and wait to see what the rains will bring. It’s different every year. Nasturtiums and poppies duke it out neck and neck for starters (below). Quickly followed by the big guys: penstamom, coreopsis, feverfew, lupine and cosmos (above). read more…
Stumbling on this wonderful image of sculptural black-painted chairs on a wall of the La Gran Francia Hotel in Granada, Nicaragua got us thinking about ways to store un-folding chairs. This assemblage is a more playful, freeform take on the Shaker-esque practice of hanging uniform chairs on hooks (below).
Then, moving too fast as we scanned Remodelista, we mistook Williamsburg’s (and now San Francisco’s) store The Future Perfect as someone’s HOME, and thought, how cool is that: line up interesting chairs, and even a bench or two on a shelf, like a display of sculptures. read more…
We’ve just discovered photographer Maria’s Robledo’s crazy-beautiful Instagram, a trove of images that will make you SEE the everyday differently and put you right in the moment. Only Maria could have come up with this simple, curiously moving arrangements of pussy willow blossoms (which people usually just throw away once they’ve been knocked off their stem). The image shouts SPRING. It seems the perfect accompaniment to this 4-line gem of a poem by Su Tung-p’o written over a thousand years ago:
Pear blossoms pale white, willows deep green – when willow fluff scatters, falling blossoms will fill the town. Snowy boughs by the eastern palisade set me pondering – in a lifetime how many springs do we see? read more…