Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Laguiole Flatware

In Feathering the Nest on January 29, 2010 at 8:30 am

Laguiole flatware, $289 for 20 pieces at Williams-Sonoma. Beware, this is a light-weight version!

On the blessed day we upgrade from my husband’s bachelor-days flatware, we’re going with the lustrous curves of Laguiole Jean Dubost.

Laguiole (which I just found out is pronounced “LAYOL”) is the name of a small village near the south-central city of Thiers, France. The village’s name came to be associated with the knives made there, but it has never been trademarked and suffers from loosey-goosey usage by a whole host of manufacturers. Though major home and kitchen stores sell it, buyer beware: they often don’t provide information on weight and some of the reviews report dinky utensils.

French Only is a terrific source for learning about and buying authentic Laguiole.  They also sell via eBay.

Personally I’m hankering after the Laguiole Jean Dubost hefty 25/10 weight 40 piece set in either black or ivory. “Jean Dubost” is a high quality, well respected family brand.  It would look so satisfying against our dark, burled dining table. And yes, they’re dishwasher safe.

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How to Make Kale Chips

In Food, Uncategorized on January 28, 2010 at 8:30 am

Did you know you can transform kale into a salty, crunchy chip imposter?  It’s true, and the ensuing addiction is pretty darn healthy.

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Separate one head of kale into leaves and remove tough stems.  Wash and DRY thoroughly – extra moisture will inhibit crisping.  Break into small pieces, toss with olive oil and sea salt, and spread in a baking sheet.  Bake for 15-30 minutes depending on your taste for char.

Some variations: dust with cumin and curry powder for an Indian bent, or with a bit of vinegar for salt-and-vinegar fans.

These New York Naturals Vegan Kale Chips are a slightly less healthy version I’m itching to pick up next time I’m in New York. Available online or at LifeThyme, Westerly, and Perlandra, and discovered via NYMag.

MacBook Goes Under Cover as BookBook

In Flotsam on January 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my sturdy laptop case.  It’s made of neoprene so it will probably last forever.  It’s black, and boring, and I bought because I needed one and didn’t have time to do the research.

So I’m seriously, desperately coveting this incredible laptop case by TwelveSouth, discovered via MadeByGirl.

The rigid leather hardcovers of the BookBook house a velvety padded interior for your precious MacBook.  Each is individually, and therefore uniquely, hand-distressed.    Double zippers allow you to charge it even in the case.  You can also keep the BookBook on when you’re using the laptop, though that will blow your “this-old-piece-of-lit” cover.

Too much goodness for words, so see below for more pictures and check out deets at TwelveSouth.

Wardrobe GAPs Filled

In Fashion on January 25, 2010 at 8:30 am
Belted utility jacket, $79.50 at the Gap

Belted utility jacket, $79.50 at the Gap

Patch-and-repair easy straight jeans, $79.50 at the Gap

I’ve ignored the Gap for years, overwhelmed by the stripes and underwhelmed by the fit.  While I’ve had my blinders on, head designer Patrick Robinson has been reworking the fit (especially the jeans) and issuing some truly useful and affordable basics.   So far I’m thrilled with the two I picked up over the weekend.

The patch-and-repair easy straight jeans are a slightly slimmer version of a boyfriend jean, for those of us with hips who never caught onto the whole denim-sack-hanging-from-your-widest-point trend.  Besides flattering the figure, they’re so comfortable my skinny jeans are questioning their job security.  I’m also wearing the belted utility jacket incessantly, paired with the jeans, a bright scarf and these wedges.

For All My Pregnant Ladies

In Food on January 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

Neuchatel's Swiss Chips, photo courtesy of Happy Lady Eats

And for all of us who live with daily sweet-salty cravings, pregnant or not, feast your eyes on Neuchatel’s Swiss Chips, courtesy of Happy Lady Eats.  I love her exuberance.  For instance, she suggests pairing these with scotch on the rocks.

Wooden Button Coasters

In Feathering the Nest on January 21, 2010 at 8:30 am

Oh come ON!  How can you not love an Alice-in-Wonderland scale button coaster?

Since my marriage is one part slob (me) and one part neatnik (him), using a coaster is one of the small concessions, along with his studious denial of the chaos that is my closet, made to keep the peace.

And if our coasters were huge buttons, it might even seem fun.

Anya Hindmarch for Barbour

In Fashion, Uncategorized on January 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Very exciting.

I’ve been hearing the siren call of Barbour’s carbon-finish international motorcycle jacket for quite some time now.  I just dig it’s whole traditional with a twist attitude.  I already wear riding-inspired gear to the complete befuddlement of my neighbors, who keep asking if I’m headed to the horse farm.  Why not throw a motorcycle jacket in the mix?  My husband, deeply excited that I might wear something so conservative, made the rounds in Boston to find one.  Lo and behold, they were sold out and so was New York. We found a red quilted international on drastic sale.  I promised to wear it.  On ski weekends.  (And no, I don’t ski either.  But I do apres-ski quite well.  And snowshoe, adequately.)

Dejected?  A bit, until I heard luxe handbag designer Anya Hindmarch will debut a four-piece capsule collection for Barbour this fall.  Here’s hoping there’s an even zippier version of the International in the mix.  I’m willing to wait.

Warm and Hearty Vegetarian Roasted Cauliflower Spread

In Food, Uncategorized on January 14, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Food and Wine’s toasty, sesame-y, gingery spread is perfect for this time of year, when everyone’s detoxing from holiday cheese plates and sick of hummus.

It’s good enough to eat with a fork for lunch, which is exactly what I’m doing right now. Read on for recipe . . .

Ultimate Snow Boots

In Fashion on January 12, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Pajar Grip Boot, $195 at endless.com

I am so happy with these guys (also available in brown, cream and white).  Why?

The styling is terrifically functional, without any frou-frou fur trim.  The stylistic restraint is perfect if, like me, one more piece of fake fur would land your cold weather look squarely in Nanook of the North territory.  And yet it’s not boring or entirely traditional either.  The slim profile doesn’t bulk up the leg.  The laces ensure a snug fit but don’t have to be retied every time (I’m able to pull them on and off without unlacing).  An authentic shearling lining actually keeps feet warm.

Finally, they are blissfully light, which means you can tramp around all day in them without any discomfort.  I pounded New York’s pavements for a full day of 20 degree weather, and my feet were happy.  A couple times I’ve found myself still wearing them while cooking dinner.  They are that comfortable; you just plain forget you have them on.

Did I mention the patch?  Besides lending your daily grind an official air, the patch’s maple leaf refers to the brand’s Canadian heritage.  And they know a thing or two about cold up there.

For Everyone Who Is Ridiculously Cold

In Flotsam on January 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Cashmere Hot Water Bottle, on sale for $19 at Restoration Hardware

A cashmere hot water bottle will change your winter.

Afraid the turtleneck and pocket detailing are a bit twee? True, pulling off a turtleneck with panache is a rare ability among humans, let alone inanimate objects. But once you’re snuggling up with this on the couch or grazing a toe against it in after it’s warmed your bed, you will forgive any preciousness.  And your heating bill will thank you.

Popping it in a Baby Bjorn for hands-free toting seems totally rational, so you could say I’m attached.