corners: the elephants in the room

I wanted to finish this post I've been thinking about lately before we start the downhill slide into the Christmas crazies. That's a super-collective we, by the way. 

What is it about the elephant? I love the elephant because it is peaceful to look at and easily iconic. When I was in India, another lifetime ago, I had the pleasure of watching a trained elephant in a Hindu temple realize he needed to relieve himself, back up ten feet to the gutter, and take the biggest pee I've ever seen. I have a photo I took of that moment somewhere, I'll have to find it.

I know people who have even more elephants in their houses than we do, which is amazing. Once you spot one, there's always another. People with kids usually have at least three times as many elephants, but almost everyone has at least a few.

Here are the ones I found just on a cursory run around the house this morning. Beat that!

 I made this little guy. He used to have a lot of friends.

 Key to the "chokeables" cabinet.

 One of many, many elephant toys (not to mention books).

 Older Fisher Price.

 Elephants on blankets, more where these came from.

One of the first gifts I bought for Stella. Windy had the same idea.


The mobile I made for Stella out of five beautiful stuffed elephants. I treasure it and will hand it down to her, if I can ever find it again.


building blocks

I'm not one for putting the cart before the horse, ever, really. But I've been writing and posting photos (uh, blogging?) here on "corner blog" for six months and have been thinking about how to spread the word a little further. While brainstorming a few promotional "buttons" last week, I got some feedback from an old client who has amazing personal style and great architectural vision. She is also a creative director at a major advertising firm, so I thought I should give her idea a try. 

Her idea of "analog type in digital spaces" was appealing. Initially I set some more traditional children's blocks up on my dresser, in front of my giant wall of burlesque costumes. It ended up feeling too dark and too stuffy. I tried placing the blocks in front of my giant collection of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue magazines, but the light wasn't good, and that situation is unmovable.

Then I remembered I had an alternative, these gorgeous Alexander Girard blocks given to Stella by my friend and former employer Barbara. It took a while to arrange them in a way that read well, but I didn't mind, I was playing with blocks!

This one could use a crop on the bottom for sure. And it's a little overexposed.

Each shot has a little something wrong with it (especially that greasy looking but delicious Philz coffee in my cup). The flowers are from David. He brought them back for Stella and I after a coffee run this morning. Oliver destroyed my block logo the second I walked away from the table, so I don't imagine I'll have the time or gumption to set this up again anytime soon.

Tell me, which one do you think?



For this East Coast transplant, being anywhere besides New Hampshire during the holidays has taken a lot of getting used to. We eschewed our usual Thanksgiving trek to Arizona this year in favor of a visit with David's sisters in southern California. We had a lovely time with my sister-in-laws and their families, especially Stella, who was at her prima's side every waking moment, but the cultural differences between the northern and southern parts of California had me wanting to stay under the covers all day (the comfy covers my sister-in-law Cecilia provided). At the holidays you can really feel how far you are from where you came from, and being in the O.C. can put a pretty fine point on that.

David's sister Monica and her husband Chris took us to Laguna Beach, where they live, on Friday. This was a real treat. We got some good air and some good lunch, and rested up for the return home.

Which was a breeze. David had us in the car by 5:45 a.m. and walking in our front door at 12:30 p.m. Nice. I spent the car ride reflecting on the obvious, overt cultural differences between what I've seen in southern California and the bubble of the Bay Area. Honestly, I'm sort of shocked. I try very hard to leave little impact on our environment, but I falter, often. I look like (insert name of a champion for the environment here, I can't think of one right now) compared to what I saw there. Between this and all of the news regarding holiday shopping yesterday, I feel like I'm gasping for air. 

Happy to be home.


holiday baking, and a corner blog giveaway!

The "good-excuse-for-excessive-baking" 2011 season is now upon us. This used to be the cue for me to embark on a three day self-indulgent orgy/marathon. I would take so much pride in the fact I baked nine different kinds of cookies, and one year I actually counted the over 1,300 cookies I baked as I went along. I would freeze them all and package them up in customized assortments for everyone I knew, near and far.

Until one year when I started eating them faster than I could get them out of the house. Literally, I ate through pans of chocolate mint squares as fast as I could make them, especially out of the freezer. I love cold cookies.

I ended up baking replacement cookies for the batches I had already labored over. What a time cruncher, and so disheartening. If I had made all that effort, I really wanted something to show for it.

This book, "Christmas Cookies" holds the key to almost all of my recipes. It was my mother's. She made a few recipes from this book now and then, but she obsessively made one particular type of cookie every year, a jam-less, old-timey eastern European linzer cookie with a crumb topping, which isn't from this book. She would freeze them by the bucketful on the back porch of our house. So rustic. I suppose this is where the bulk Christmas cookie making compulsion comes from.

If you are into timeless, delicious cookie recipes from all over the world, this book is for you.

Published in 1986 by Oxmoor House

 Clockwise from top:
ribbon cookies
chocolate-mint layer squares
wreath cookies
chocolate twinkles
sand crescents
bourbon balls
spritz cookies
raspberry thumbprints (center)

*biscotti recipe found elsewhere

I am not kidding you.

My great grandmother Anna Keresturick Adamson's linzer cookie recipe, written inside the front cover of my cookie book by my mother. Maybe I'll try to make them this year.

Much to my friends' chagrin, I threw in the towel two Christmases ago. It was a hard call, but after the previous year's consumption, I knew my body couldn't handle the load anymore. It was really sad telling friends and the guy at the corner store and all the contractors and laborers I loved to give these to that there weren't any cookies that year. I had been doing it since 1997, give or take. It was sad for me. But it was definitely for the best.

Now I bake a few loaves of stollen, mostly for unwilling recipients, and a few batches of sugar or gingerbread cookies so Stella and I can bake together. Although after last year, that royal icing is my new addiction. It is so good.

 The largest piece of dough I've ever handled.

Who wouldn't want to eat these?

Giveaway! I have an extra copy of the Christmas Cookies book I'd love to give away to someone in my readership. If you'd like to have it, just let me know in the comments area below, and I'll pick at random on December 1st! Happy baking!


stella's room at apartment therapy today!

I've been waiting for this for several weeks, and am excited to say that Stella's bedroom is being featured at Apartment Therapy today!

Click HERE to read the article!

It was interesting being interviewed for the article, and realizing how little of my formal architectural training informs what I do in my own home anymore. Also answering the question of what I would do  if money were no object. If money were no object, we'd be living on a farm high on the hills of Point Reyes Station overlooking Tomales Bay. But it was really fun and the writer, Richard Popovic has his own Daddy blog called "All Dad, All Day" over here, so check him out!


bored games

It's common knowledge around this place that Sundays we don't leave unless we're invited somewhere, more or less. The car wash across the street never opened for the day, which meant it was going to pour, and it did. 

A moody day deserved some moody shots of us doing un-moody things like reading toy catalogues. I opened up the game cabinet and we played with Colorforms and a block set we rarely use, and also a cute little game we used to play all the time when Stella was three or four, called Piccobello. I just looked at this link online and was shocked at the price tag. Too bad, it is a game of little skill and no strategy, but the little wicker laundry baskets and tiny clothes pins are so adorable. 

The sun came out in the afternoon, so I switched lenses, but stayed firmly planted on the floor until it was time to make some chicken soup and hit the sack. These are the best days of my life, folks.

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