Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Friday Flotsam: Katharine, Calligraphy, Crafty Flowers and More

In Fashion, Feathering the Nest, Flotsam on April 30, 2010 at 5:00 am

1. Finally (well, on May 12th), a stamp of Katharine the Great. Via The Neo-Traditionalist.

2. Eccentric addressing from Queen Quills Calligraphy. Via Habitually Chic.

3. Katy Elliott’s handy roundup of New England antique shows. Photo by Mike Jones.

4. I wish I, like Martha, were inclined to craft giant paper poppies. Via Creature Comforts.

5. Vintage wedding dresses, organized by decade.  Via Bliss.

Bonus Flotsum!

West Nineteenth Street (Yellow Dress) by Joseph O. Holmes.
20×200  art 20% off till midnight tonight.


Is Brass Having a Moment?

In Feathering the Nest on April 29, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I love the look of silver.  Whether plated, solid, or mercury glass, silver has a permanent place in our home.  Case in point, Christmas decorations.  The living room looked like a cross between Paul Revere’s silversmith shop and an elf disco.

Lately, though, I gotta say, I’ve been flirting with brass.

It all began with our den.  My husband wanted a library feel, which called for brass and wood accents.

While hunting for brass I fell in love with the coat rack above.  Ahem, technically it’s called a costumer.   For now it’s brightening up an otherwise spartan guest room.  A friend said it reminded her of Fred Astaire: slender, dapper, and doesn’t it look up for a spin?

So the brass has reached the second floor, and will likely continue its charming infiltration.  What do you think?  Are we in the midst of a larger brass resurgence?

If you’re hankering for a hunk of brass, Katie Armour’s shop always has a cheeky selection, often of the animal persuasion. And her blog, The Neo-Traditionalist, is divine.

While mulling it over, take a peek at our den accessories below.  Click the pictures to link to etsy vendors.

P.S. As usual, since I can’t pick a paint color to save my life, I’m partnering with Amy Meier on the den decor. Stay tuned for a full den reveal this summer.

Brass propeller from luckylittledot on etsy

Fisher Scientific sieves from gardner3863 on etsy

Sailboat statue from katiearmour on etsy

Giant paper clip paperweights from TheCollectorsCloset on etsy

Antique stencil from kelleystreetvintage on etsy

Miniature diving helmet from skyparlor on etsy

Spring Salad: Asparagus, Cucumbers, Grapes and Goat Cheese

In Food on April 28, 2010 at 7:47 pm

For solo, at-home lunches and dinners I tend towards large quantities of flavor-packed vegetables, like a whole bag of broccoli slaw briefly tossed in hot sesame oil and grated ginger, or a plate of green beans topped with a mess of sauteed mushrooms.  It’s the kind of eating that looks weird but hits the spot.

There’s a chance these nights of flexitarian restraint balance the ones when I’m tucking into a big hunk of meat and an even chewier Cabernet.  But honestly, most of the time I’m driven by a hankering for simple vegetables.

If you’re faced with a massive salad craving and there’s nary a leaf in sight, improvise with asparagus, halved red grapes, cucumber slices, dollops of goat cheese, and a grainy mustard vinaigrette (1tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar, drip of honey and a 1/2 tsp grainy mustard).  Oh, and a healthy dusting of Maldon salt.

Then, select two homemade cookies (or dissect two Oreos), pour a tall glass of milk, and fire up the Hulu.  Good times.


In Fashion, Feathering the Nest on April 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Photo by Eric Laurits.  7:26 AM. Lubec, Maine.

Yesterday was planes, trains and automobiles.  Literally.  After taking the red eye from AZ to NYC, the train from NYC to Boston, and a car from Boston to my doorstep, I arrived, tired and rumpled, to find a four foot cardboard tube propped on the front stairs.  Inside: the above photo, printed in large format.  While some might quibble that it’s not exactly home (I live in Massachusetts, not Lubec, Maine), it captures the coastal New England days when the mist smells of salt and the ocean looks like rough slate squiggled with white cap hieroglyphics.

San Diego interior designer Amy Meier introduced me to photographer Eric Laurits, whose series of day-break photos in Lubec, ME (the easternmost point in the U.S.) practically begged to populate the huge empty space above one of our couches.  Check out Eric’s portfolio and blog, and I promise I’ll share the finished product once it’s framed and hung.

In the meantime I also promised you a dress update from the (phenomenal) wedding in Arizona, so here goes!  It’s a Rachel Comey dress I can’t seem to find online, and the shoes are from Zara.

Here’s the vintage broach I wore in my hair, which I received as a bridesmaid’s gift at yet another fabulous wedding:

Friday Flotsam with a Side of Southwest Decor

In Fashion, Feathering the Nest, Flotsam, Food on April 23, 2010 at 3:30 am

Remember that glamourous Southwest wedding for which I was dress hunting awhile back?  Well, we’re here, so expect a dress update next week.  The resort more than lives up to it’s Bacall-and-Bogart, meet-me-in-the-citrus-grove-won’t-you-darling reputation.  I love decor with a strong sense of place.  While that preference puts my own decor squarely in the New England camp, there’s nothing like a jaunt to refresh the eye.

Enjoy a few more shots of the Royal Palm’s chippy, worn-in glamour, and scroll down for the usual Friday Flotsam.

1. I’m devoted to my initial mugs, but these Penguin Classics do make me smile. Via The Neo-Traditionalist.

Penguin Classics Mugs from Art Meets Matter

2. Martha’s crudite centerpice.  Via thekitchn.

3. Mrs. Lilien’s swimtastic roundup.  Get a load of that fuchsia one piece.

4. Mariner’s Supply totes.  Via Design*Sponge.

5. China berry baskets.  Via Creature Comforts.

China baskets, $20-38 at Jayson Home and Garden

Accidental Genius: Bacon Marmalade

In Food on April 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

Bacon Marmalade, $9 for 4 ounces. Email bacon@baconmarmalade.com to order.

History is littered with happy mistakes that change, and even save, lives every day.  The Pacemaker. Penicillin.  Frisbees. Potato chips.

And yesterday, the kind folks over at Tasting Table introduced us to Bacon Marmalade.

Chef Ross Hutchinson stumbled on bacon marmalade in a fit of inspired culinary experimentation.  Rather than chuck a batch of badly burned bacon, he added sugar and vinegar to balance the char.  Then, and this is the genius part that will remain a mystery for all time, he threw it all in a blender and hit puree.

That, my friends, is how spreadable bacon came to be. Take a gander at how it’s made.

The applications are endless: a dab on roasted potatoes, a spoonful incorporated into a vinaigrette and drizzled over tomatoes and blue cheese, or a thin layer on a toasted hamburger bun.  I’m personally pretty excited about riffing on BLTs without pulling out the frying pan.

Buy a 4 ounce jar for $9 at the Brooklyn Lyceum Spring Market (May 1 & 2) and at the Greenpoint Food Market.  Or order via email to bacon@baconmarmalade.com.

Obsessed: Globe-Trotter and Alstermo Bruk Luggage

In Fashion, Flotsam on April 20, 2010 at 5:30 am

Centenary Collection from Globe-Trotter

A couple Friday Flotsams ago included a link referencing some serious luggage by the name of Globe-Trotter.  This is Luggage with a capital L.  One might have to carry baggage, but Luggage is all about what one wants to carry.

Globe-Trotter is handmade, lightweight, stylish and bears an impeccable pedigree: Queen Elizabeth packed her honeymoon garb in it, Winston Churchill carried the 18″ attaché, and Sir Edmund Hillary carted several cases up Mt Everest.  Well, Tenzing Norgay likely did the carting.  If it smelled of steam liner coal, sherry, men’s pipes and carefully folded minks I would not be surprised.

My final point about Globe-Trotter regards the Mt. Everest-scale prices, which begin around $1200 for any suitcase featuring leather straps (and come on, it’s at least half about the straps). J. Crew’s recent collaboration with Globe-Trotter starts at $1600 apiece.

That makes me cough a little.

Enter Alstermo Bruk.

Atlas suitcase with wheels, $727 at Alstermo Bruk

This Swedish beauty has been around since 1804 (take that, Globe-Trotter!).  It’s sturdy, lightweight, and about a third the price: a suitcase can be had for $600, while the versions with straps begin around $730.

Now, that’s not nothing.  That’s a heck of a lot.  But it puts it (barely) within ‘think-really-hard-about-this-for-several-years-while-scouring-eBay’ range.

During home-bound periods, she’d make a punchy side table.  And, oh, to see her round a baggage carousel towards you!

Curried Cauliflower Dip

In Food on April 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

Remember the roasted cauliflower dip awhile back?

I’ve been playing around with using cauliflower as a healthy base for different flavors, and I really love this curry version for warmer weather.

Topped with chutney and served with pita chips, it hits all the right snack notes: creamy (thanks to yogurt), crunchy, sweet, and savory.


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Curry powder
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash or two of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Chutney (optional)


In a large pot, bring 2 inches of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower, partially cover pot, then bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain completely and transfer to a bowl.

In a small pan, saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and salt and pepper. Saute another 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Mash cauliflower into small pieces with a fork. Add onion mixture and stir with rubber spatula to combine. Add yogurt, sour cream, Italian parsley, nutmeg, cayenne and juice from half a lemon. Taste and adjust as necessary – add additional curry powder, salt and pepper to taste.  I love curry, so I was dumping it in at this point.

Top with chutney and serve with pita chips.

Friday Flotsam

In Fashion, Feathering the Nest, Flotsam, Food on April 16, 2010 at 5:37 am

Here are five links to put a spring in your weekend’s step.  The lavender panna cotta with poached rhubarb is on the docket tonight at our house.  Doesn’t it sound delicious?

1. The vintage advertisements (above) of Lara Lamm, via {wit + delight}, via design lovefest.

2. Shanna Murray’s wall decals, via Creature Comforts.

3. Phillippe Roucou’s polaroid scarves, via lushlee.

4. Tartelett’s lavender panna cotta with poached rhubarb.

5. Good idea: using a ladder as a pot rack, via Apartment Therapy.

Make it at Home: Il Gottino’s Pesto di Parma Prosciutto

In Food on April 15, 2010 at 5:35 am

I stumbled on a brilliant idea via Il Gottino’s blog, courtesy of Chef Jodi Williams: create a “pesto” of ground prosciutto, Parmesan and fresh sage.

The blog doesn’t offer a recipe, but a little tinkering uncovered a successful mixture:

1. Put the following in your food processor:  1/2 lb prosciuto, scant 1/4 cup crumbled parmesan, 8 sage leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and a small handful of toasted pine nuts.

2. Pulse a few times until blended.

3. Luxuriate.

Spread on crostini and drizzle with more olive oil and your best balsamic vinegar.  Alternately, use the spread to stuff cherry tomatoes or top fresh figs or melon chunks.  (I used dates in the picture above but would have preferred figs.)

If you have any left over – which is highly unlikely – toss it with whole wheat pasta, fresh tomatoes and roasted asparagus.