Sometimes you feel like a nut

And now we break for pie!  No house stuff this post.  We’re kicking it slow jam style with some actual baking.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we are renting a small apartment while Via Corona undergoes her transformation.  The apartment isn’t much to look at, but she’s safe, clean and in a great location.  I wasn’t kidding when I said we put 80% of our stuff in storage.  They say you don’t miss your stuff.  I miss my stuff.   I also miss baking.

I know, your closet is bigger than my rented kitchen.  But, if I’m being honest, I could probably bake anything in this kitchen just as well as I could at our last place.  Time has been the issue.

Recently though, I had a thought about pie.  And as I’m sure you know, once you start thinking about pie, it’s hard to stop.  During my TMH tenure I’ve made lots of fruity pies but not much in the way of custardy pies.  The reason is simple: I far prefer fruit pies to the rest of the pie catalog.

This technically began as a fruit pie.  Coconut is a fruit.

Coconuts made me think of chocolate and almonds.  So, a crust of almond meal it was. With coconut oil in solid form serving as the fat source (it totally worked).

The take on the crust in this picture was too thick.  The recipe below allows for a thinner crust.

I determined the chocolate should come in the form of ganache.  It’s easy to spread and saying ganache annoys TD.  A lot . Ganache.  Ganache.  Ganache.

For the coconut cream filling I replaced three-quarters of the dairy in the original recipe with full-fat coconut milk.

Almond crust, ganache liner, coconut cream filling.  You with me?

I lined the crust with ganache.  If you want less chocolate, don’t.  But.  Please.

Next up: coconut cream filling.  This is a custard that thickened up so quickly as I was whisking it over  low heat that I didn’t have a chance to photograph it in-process.

Top with another layer of ganache.

Add a final layer of whipped cream.   I used whipping cream because I had it but you could also use coconut cream (like from the fruit…not the filling) for added coconuttiness.  Top the whole thing with toasted coconut and almond slivers and Bob’s your uncle.

Because I was losing my light, I only let the who shebang chill in the fridge for about an hour.  I got good light but smeared pie.  Not sure if that’s better than pretty pie in bad light.

By the time I was finished making the pie I wasn’t interested in trying it.  Then, the next evening I had some after dinner. As I was eating my sliver (it’s ridiculously rich), I caught myself thinking, ‘man, this is really good.’  Make it.  I know it looks like there are a lot of steps–but they’re easy and can be spaced out over a couple of days. You’ll thank me.

Almond Joy Pie

Almond Flour Crust

adapted from Fountain Avenue Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C blanched almond flour or almond meal.
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 TBS coconut oil in solid state (throw it in the fridge if need to firm-up)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9-inch pie pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Toss or whisk to combine.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix.  Then scatter-in bits of the coconut oil.
  4. Toss mixture using a snapping motion with your fingers until you can press the mixture together into a ball.
  5. Press dough firmly into the pie pan carefully working it up the sides.
  6. Prick with a fork all over and bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

  • 1 C whipped cream
  • 1 C bittersweet chocolate chopped (chips will do in a pinch)
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream until little bubbles form around the perimeter.
  2. Remove from heat.  Add chocolate, swirling cream until chocolate is covered.
  3. Sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk cream and melted chocolate until smooth.  Whisk-in butter, vanilla and salt.
  5. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until cool (at least 60 minutes)

Coconut Cream

adapted from Epicurious

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 TBS all purpose flour
  • 1 C whole coconut milk
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 1/2 C sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Whisk together 1/2 C sugar, eggs, egg yolk and flour in a medium bowl.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan, bring milk, coconut milk and coconut to summer over medium heat.
  3. Starting with 1/2 cup, gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly,
  4. Return to saucepan and cook until pastry cream thickens and boils, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and mix-in vanilla.
  6. Transfer to a medium bowl, press plastic wrap directly on to the surface of the cream to prevent skin.
  7. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Topping

Ingredients

  • 2/3 C sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 C slivered almonds
  • 1 1/4 C chilled whipping cream
  • 2 TBS sugar

Directions

  1. Toast coconut in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned.  Cool completely.
  2. Using an electric or stand mixture, beat cream and sugar until peaks form.

To Assemble Pie (finally)

  1. Spread layer of ganache over pie crust.
  2. Carefully layer pastry cream on top of ganache layer.
  3. Top with a layer of ganache.
  4. Top ganache with whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle toasted coconut and slivered almonds over the top.
  6. Store in the fridge.

All that you can’t leave behind

TD here!  Against her better judgment, TMH turned over the keys to the kingdom this week.  

Fair Warning:  This post really has no point.  It’s simply a grab for cash to augment a continually escalating budget.  If you are looking for renovation progress, recipes or salvation, check back next week.  Or maybe the week after.  Now, on with the show!

Here’s the harsh reality of renovation budget planning:

1.  Create an absolute worst-case scenario budget

2.  Add 30% to that number

3.  Light that budget on fire

4.  Who do you think you are anyway?

Since we’ve had no takers on the indecent proposal scenario, it’s come to this.

Welcome to:

Crap from Via Corona

This week and this week only we’re offering you (yes, you!) the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a genuine chunk of Via Corona history.

That’s right, we’re selling the actual items the actual previous owners actually left in the house!  You can have it all!  My empire of dirt!

Before you get all up in arms about our responsibility to return all of this to the original owners, you need to know that we gave them an additional week to move out after closing on the house.  My generosity knows no bounds!

Before the bidding begins, please remember that these treasured items are sold as collections only.  No substitutions.  Meet or exceed the minimum bid in the next 48 hours and this vile garbage valuable loot could be a heaping pile on your doorstep in as little as 7 to 10 business weeks (shipping and handling not included).

LOT #1:  THE HUSTLE & FLU COLLECTION

We begin the bidding with a menagerie of medication.

If you’ve been under the weather in the last 20 years, do we have the collection for you!

As they say South of the border, “patada el tempora de frio y gripe en el culo”  with this fine collection of vintage medicines (handy Spanish translator HERE for those of you who didn’t take two semesters of Spanish at SIU).

This collection has everything!  Three bottles of Zicam Nasal Spray (two unused!).  Zicam claims it actually shortens the cold.  Great news if you had that cold in 2007 because these babies expired in July of that year!

Let’s say you had strep throat, pneumonia or a pesky skin, middle ear or urinary tract infection a decade ago.  I’m assuming Gimalxina would have handled it, but who knows because the instructions are completely in Spanish.  So go ahead and shove fistfuls of Gimalxina in your pie hole if you want.  The only way you can die from ingesting this much amoxicilina (whatever that is) would be to choke on the bottle cap, because this bottle . . . (dramatic pause) . . . ALSO expired in ’07!

And while we’re . . . um . . . South of the Border, say Montezuma took his revenge on you – again back in ’07.  I’m sure this unopened box of Imodium A-D would have been just what El Medico ordered!

“But TD”, you say.  “I’m an insufferable hipster and only do vintage.  Do you have any antique medicines?  Stuff from before the turn of the century?”

Three words:  Ab-so-lutely!

The year was 1997 . . . the Packers beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Bill Clinton was President and the average cost of a new house was $124,100.  In August of ’97 an unused jar of Vicks Vaporub expired, but it did not die in vain.  It still has the pungent odor of your grandma’s nightstand, so smear a gob of this goo on your chest and breathe freely like the American hero you are you magnificent bastard!

At this point you’re definitely thinking a collection that includes an adult diaper and a feminine napkin can’t get much better, and on that point you’d be 3000% wrong!  How about Norelco Cool Skin electric razor with charging station (power cord not included)?  To say nothing of the Hollywood Beauty brand carrot oil to control split ends (Warning:  bottle coated in carrot oil).  How ’bout a Sweet 16 sheer bandages from Long’s Drugs (a company ceased to exist in 2008), a genuine lemon flavored sucker of unknown provenance or Coricidin!  Coricidin!  Coricidin! They’re all here!

Act now and we’ll throw in trace amounts of a 2 oz. can of Isoplus Oil Sheen Hair Spray, “The Hair Doctor in a Can”.

Minimum Bid for Lot #2:  $912.37

LOT #2:  THE PUG LIFE COLLECTION

We probably should have called in the Torrance Bomb Squad to handle this weapons-grade stick of comedy/sexual dynamite.  See, it’s a pug . . . but it’s wearing lipstick?!

Next Valentine’s Day you are guaranteed to become instantly irresistible to males, females and everything in-between when you unleash  Pugs & Kisses!

Dinner?  Chocolates?  Roses?  Don’t be a chump.  This card is like stuffing Tom Jones and Teddy Pendergrass in your mailbox.

This lot comes complete with genuine, sun-damaged yellowish envelope*.

*Stamps not included (postage, food or tramp).

Minimum Bid for Lot #2:  $1,500

LOT #3:  THE IT MAKES YOUR MOUTH TURN GREEN COLLECTION

This barely-used Comet Variety Pack comes in Regular, Club Size and Nacho Cheese Bilingual flavors.

Club Size Comet let’s you “step up in da club” as the kids say with the only environmentally-surly cleanser that’s both highly corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract and kosher!

And don’t wait until the wall goes up, make your grimy tub great again with Bilingual Comet with Blanqueador.  Whether you scrub in English or Spanish you’re sure to see a scratch-free shine from here to wherever the manufacturing jobs went!

Order before midnight tonight and we’ll add the random can of Ajax which is proudly made in ‘Murica (or Connecticut) by hard working people like you.

Deal with it, Kemosabe.  Sh*t’s getting real.

Minimum Bid for Lot #3:  $24.31 (or 450 pesos)

 LOT #4:  THE RUB A DUB DUB COLLECTION

Never in your life has a set of moderately used toiletries made you so appealing to the opposite sex.  This fabulous package includes:

Conditioners!  Conditioners!  Conditioners!  We lead off with a 40 oz. bottle of Dove Cool Moisture Cucumber & Green Tea Conditioner (approximately 12 oz. remaining), a 15 oz. bottle of Alberto VO5 Extra Body Conditioner (you’ll get a good 4 ounces here!), a full 9 oz. of a 12 oz bottle of Pantene Pro V Heat Shield Conditioner and finally, as the French say, the piece of resistance – the Bad Boy of Bargain Conditioners.

Yep he’s the one slouching in the back making your heart beat just a little faster.  From the curvature of the bottle to his handy pump dispenser, this controversial 40 oz. bottle of Kirkland’s Signature Hydrating Conditioner says, “I got you, follicle!”  Controversial, you ask?  Indubitably.

A summary glance on the Interwebs suggests you can’t even buy the 40 oz. bottle anymore.  It would appear that BIG CONDITIONER sold out to the Commies and now you can only get it in the metric 1 liter (33.8 oz.) size.

The price tag says, $14.65, but can you really put a price on sticking it to BIG CONDITIONER?

Felonious Funk:  Felons reading this post need ever worry about dropping the soap again with this half-used 8.5 oz. bottle of Neutrogena Rain Bath Refreshing Shower Gel.  Even the Aryan Brotherhood will notice that fresh scent (here I’m guessing).

Clear the Air:  Finally friends, reek no more with out fine collection of air fresheners.  Here we’re offering a mostly full 7 oz. can of Arm & Hammer Deodorizing Air Freshener or try Glade’s Suddenly Spring Sorpresa de Primavera scent for the times you might need to “suppress your primavera” if you know what I’m saying.

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  Act now and we’ll throw in the moderately-used-yet rarely-cleaned shower caddy in the photo!

Minimum Bid for Lot #4:  $50

LOT #5:  THE LET THERE BE LIGHT COLLECTION

If you’re a Philly sports fan, this lot is your jawn!  We’ve got 25 batteries.  Mostly of the popular D cell variety in a plastic box to go with a flood light and an ironically non-functional flashlight.

You wanna chuck batteries at Peter Freaking Bourjos for hitting a buck-ninety-five?  Now you can!  With this veritable sh*tload of Cold War Era batteries, it’s a safe bet your arm will get tired long before security wrestles you to the ground!

Minimum Bid for Lot #5:  $220, $221 . . . whatever it takes (see what I did there?)

LOT #6:  THE WINSTON WOLF COLLECTION

Say you shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?  Your crime scene will be spic and span in a jiffy with this exciting double lot of cleansers.

Windex, Cascade, Raid, Lysol, Dawn, even WD-40 . . . they’re all* here!

*Spic and Span and Jiffy not included.

At this point you’re asking yourself, “Am I even man/woman enough to own this many half-empty cleaning products?”  The short answer is probably not.

But what it we threw in three serving platters and a digital telephone modem?  Fact is, you’d still probably be a pantywaist, but you’d also be a pantywaist with exactly two cans of roach spray.  One for you and one for that special someone.

Minimum Bid for Lot #6:  Make us an offer.  As long as that offer is north of $1,000 simoleons, it’s done.  Done like the dinner you’re serving on those kick-ass platters.

LOT #7:  THE FAMILY JEWELS COLLECTION

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, get ready to reach for your wallet.  We’ve saved the best for last.

Set a course for adventure with two pair of moderately clean men’s knit boxer briefs, size medium (only one previous owner!).

Can’t decide to rub or scratch?  Do both with this genuine Las Vegas combo back scratcher/massager (Made in China).

Finally, you’re the King of the World with seven photos of a Windjammer Cruise you did not go on!

Order in the next 20 minutes and we’ll throw in that funky stain on the carpet absolutely FREE.

Just look at that sweet, sweet Windjammer Bar, dammit!  There’s not another living soul in any of these photos, so make up some story about the time you were on a ghost ship!

Look at you, you’re not even sure how to act right now.  And why are you still reading this?  Make moves, my friend. Make moves.

Minimum Bid for Lot #7:  $100,000

I’m sure TMH will be back next week to add some much needed class and decorum to the proceedings, but let me remind you that I’m serious as a syphillis about selling this crap.  

Everything must go and operators are standing by so don’t just stand there Tiger Mom-ing or Leaning In or whatever you call it.  See, see you future.  Be, be your future.  May, may, make your future!

As long as I’m shilling, one last thing:  Season 2 of one of my shows, the BattleFrog College Championship premieres next Thursday at 9:30 PM ET on ESPN.  Episodes 2 & 3 are both at 8:00 PM ET Friday and Saturday also on ESPN.  My partners and I worked really hard on it for a very long time and it would make me happy if you would watch it. Not to put too fine a point on it but, Via Corona’s future kind of relies on you and all your friends watching but hey, no pressure!  

Next up, Episode 5: Zhushing the rectangle

For a list of all Via Corona posts: Via Corona

Talkin’ ’bout my renovation…

We bought a house in a pretty nice town

(talkin’ ’bout my renovation)

Hear the peacocks all around

(talkin’ ’bout my renovation)

Everything needs to be replaced

(talkin’ ’bout my renovation)

Via Corona’s a total disgrace 

(talkin’ ’bout my renovation)

This is my renovation

This is my renovation, baby

 . . . okay . . .we may have recently seen The Who in concert.  On a school night no less.  Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and my Dad are all the same age, but I digress . . .

Today’s post is a joint effort.

We looked at houses all over Los Angeles  proper for more than a year.  It likely comes as no surprise that I (TMH) developed a Google Doc to track the highs and lows of the 100+ open houses and showings we attended.

Of that 100+, there were exactly six in our price range we thought we might like enough to actually buy.  There is hesitancy in this statement because the market here moves so quickly you often have to bang out an offer while you are seeing the house for the first time.

Of those, we made offers on four.

Three of the four sold for more than the list price–including one that went for $200,000 over asking.

Nope.  Not a typo.

We went into escrow on two.

We bought one.

Buying a house in Los Angeles is a tough gig.

Unless you are a gagillionaire (and LA is crawling with ’em), compromise is the name of the game in Los Angeles.  Compromise is the sassy neighbor of settling.  Compromise insists you surrender to the reality that being responsible, dual income adults will net you a bend-over-and-take-it tax rate but won’t necessarily yield an affordable dwelling.  Swimming pools, movie stars indeed.

Compromise gently  waterboards you until you accept that you’re ultimately going to pay far more than you wanted for far less than you’d hoped.   Once you finally give in, it then becomes about finding the house that sucks least.

How the idea of “sucks least” is operationalized depends on the buyer.  In our case it was about finding a house with enough space to host guests, located anywhere South of the 10, North of the 710 and preferably West of the 405. (Note:  For those of you who don’t live in the Southland, read a handy primer on why we refer to our freeways as advanced articles HERE.)  

At this point we’d like to give major props to our fantastic agent, Ashley Sackerman Bell.  Ever patient and helpful, Ashley effectively helped us buy two houses: Via Corona and the one we cancelled escrow on last minute.  I consider myself a pretty practical person and not especially prone to hysterics.  But man, there were moments…like when after two inspections confirming the presence of disturbed asbestos at “the house we didn’t buy” the sellers claimed it was our word against theirs (and their word refused to confirm or deny the presence of asbestos).  Luckily we figured out very early on that all we had to do was call Ashley and she’d be the constant voice of reason.   She put up with a haunted clown house, obnoxious selling agents, one dirty old man house owner, a pretty paltry house budget by Los Angeles standards and most importantly: us.  If you are looking for an agent, Ashley is your real estate professional.   

As you may have guessed from that anvil we’ve been beating you over the head with for the last three weeks (subtlety: not our strong suit), we didn’t instantly fall in love with Via Corona.  Though, she did offer up this beauty:

If you can’t tell, our little nymph  here is actually tiled into the wall right outside of the powder room.  Permanently.  We’re not sure if she’s returning the urn or stealing it like some kind of distaff Indiana Jones.  We’re going with the latter though because it makes her seem way more bad ass.

But.  But.  We (well, at least one of us) really do believe that with some love and attention, Via Corona might just be able to toss her glasses, shake out her ponytail and become suddenly, stunningly beautiful.

As soon as the structural engineer confirmed that the house wasn’t going anywhere, we started calling builders and contractors.  To be very, very clear: we have zero DIY ability.  I (TMH) can manage a project and a budget like it’s my job and TD can come up with more adjectives to describe “fixer upper” than the OED (most of which rhyme with spit bowl).  But, as we’ve said before, “almost” isn’t the same as “being” fixed.  So, to the professionals we defer.

Finding a builder was like a fairy tale – if that fairy tale is Goldilocks and the Three Bears–and the bears are actually 10-12 hirsute men (where are all the women contractors?).  Being home renovation neophytes, we were floored when, upon committing to a major renovation, a pair of Canadian twins with giant teeth  (that’s TD talking…the original sentence read “attractive Canadian twins”) didn’t just magically show up at Via Corona prepared with 3D renderings and witty sibling banter.

Stupid HGTV.

More on the builder-selection process once all this is said and done.  They say you aren’t supposed to talk during a no-hitter.  So, out of an abundance of caution, we’ll be shutting up for the whole game.  Including the drive home.  At least when it comes to dishing about our builders.

But, that won’t keep us from sharing the project list.  if you’re scoring at home, here’s the entirety of everything our current contract says we’re taking on:

  • Plumbing (all of it)
  • Electrical (all of it)
  • Rewire for cable, wifi and alarm systems
  • Sewer (done…dodged a major bullet, doesn’t need to be completely replaced or lined – they removed a root that looked like a decent-sized platypus)
  • Exterior cosmetic (anyone want a crapload of fake river rocks?)
  • Living room addition
  • Replace and reconfigure deck
  • Downstairs powder room
  • Guest bathroom–including moving everything around to create an en-suite
  • Master bathroom–including moving everything around to create a shower that wasn’t made for an elf
  • Juliet balcony off master.  Maybe. But don’t hold your breath
  • Walk-in master closet
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Fireplace
  • Raise the 6’8″ ceiling in foyer (complete with 110% chance of finding asbestos!)
  • Raise the 7’0″ ceiling in upstairs hallway
  • Replace ALL flooring, baseboards, door and window frames
  • Replace all interior doors and hardware
  • Replace front door
  • Replace garage door
  • Interior paint through-out
  • Trim trees

So basically, like Demi More at 40, we are replacing the entire house with younger, newer parts.  Adjusted for inflation, Via Corona will still cost more to rejuvenate–like five Demis as much.  So, if you know any millionaires looking to make an indecent proposal…either one–or both of us would be into it.

Via Corona is the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s a miracle she don’t have mold (talkin’ ’bout a renovation)

She ain’t gonna die, but she sure is old (talkin’ ’bout a renovation)

And just because we were so proud of ourselves that we did SOMETHING on our own (we’re still patting ourselves on the back), here is a picture of what was formerly the master and smaller bedrooms’ reach-in closets.  Hello future walk-in closet!

UP NEXT WEEK:  “All that you can’t leave behind”

Next Up: Episode 4: All that you can’t leave behind

View a listing of all Via Corona posts: Via Corona

BEFORE

Before we start tearing up the place, it probably makes sense to show you what Via Corona looks like in her current state.

You know house porn?  Well, to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, “…I know it when I see it and the (house) involved in this case is not that.”

Here are Via Corona’s current stats:

  • Built in 1966
  • 4 Bedrooms
  • 2 1/2 baths
  • 1921 square feet
  • 7,000 sq foot lot (give or take).

A word of explanation.  Some of these shots are taken from the MLS listing and others were taken with an iPhone.  It will be very clear which are which.  What’s more, the pictures were taken at different times during the previous owner’s move process and then immediately after we took possession.  None of the furniture, furnishings, digital clocks, wheelchairs, exercise bikes or wigs belong to us.

We’ve been calling her Via Corona because that’s her street address.  The street and adjacent properties are sort of etched into the side of the hill so that the houses are only on the down slope side.  Via Corona sits on the corner.   When the original plans for the house were submitted to the city in 1966, the lot was actually located on the other street the house borders.  We don’t know how much later Via Corona the street came into existence but we are amused by the fact that she stands on her own.  Via Corona precludes no “street,” “lane,” “avenue” or “boulevard.”  She’s just Via Corona.

You’ve already seen the picture but it’s the only decent shot we have of the outside.  I like to refer to the style of the house as “rectangle.”  That tree in the lower left hand corner is named Stanley.

The previous owner was a tile layer.  And man, he must of loved his work because he brought it home with him.  Everywhere.  Also, that cupola needs a weather vane.

This fantastic shot includes not only a rusty gate but also a rusty mailbox and an excellent view of the “Arizona” rocks used throughout the front.  Yeah, I know, 1982 called and wants its white tile back.

Haunted house front doors.  Complete with matching wasps’ nests (upper left corner of the door).

And we’re in the house.  There isn’t much of a foyer.  You basically walk in and have to go to the right or left. Note the expansive height of the ceiling.  Not.

This is what you see when you go to the right from the front door.  This is a professional shot…if you couldn’t tell.  Here is what it looked like after closing:

Charming right? Those giant windows are just off to the left in this photo. Turning around:

And now we’re looking into the dining room and kitchen.

Looking back toward the living room from the kitchen.

Same angle, professional glamour shot version. Sadly, that digital clock was not among the treasures the previous owners left behind.

This my friends, is the kitchen.  The footprint is just about 12X12.  You thought we’d go for something larger didn’t you?  I see it as an opportunity in efficiency.

Just can’t get enough of that tile.  Moving along.

Here we have the laundry room.  The door on the left leads to the kitchen.  The ovens are immediately to the left as you exit the laundry room.  We have big plans for this little room and they don’t include keeping the linoleum or the current entry point from the garage.  You know what they do include?  A proper fire door.  Safety is important.

We’ve come nearly full circle.  There is a doorway between the dining area and beginning of the kitchen that nearly completes the oval.  But wait…before we go upstairs…

What’s mauve and brown and has an oddly placed window?  This powder room. It’s  hard to see in this picture but the the ceiling is coved and frosted.  It literally looks like someone spackled the ceiling with seven-minute frosting and then went to town with an offset spatula.  We may or may not be keeping it.

Do you want to go upstairs and see my fish tank?

Immediately to the right at the top of the stairs is the guest bath.  No, your eyes do not deceive you, that vanity really is knee height.

Straight across the hall if you are standing in the doorway of the guest bathroom is what will be TD’s office.  This shot was taken during one of the inspections when the owners were packing.  What you don’t see is a set set of wigs just outside of the shot.

Okay, let’s head to the left down the hall.

This little light of mine.  I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine…let it shine…let it shine…oh wait.  At the very end is another bedroom:

Why yes, that is a shop light installed in the ceiling.  There is a matching one above the matching desk on the other side.

Same room but the glamour shot.  The views from the three bedrooms on this side of the house are pretty remarkable.  We’re going to use this as an upstairs family room/den.

Head out the bedroom and to your left is the only bedroom on the front of the house.  This too is a professional shot.  This will be the official Via Corona guest bedroom.  We will begin taking reservations in early fall 2016.

Okay back down the hall to the opposite end of the house (you’ll pass the guest bath on the left and the office on your right).

Master bedroom.  Lipstick on a pig glamour shot.

Master bath.  You thought I was kidding about the tile.  Okay, out of the bedroom, take a right.

And it’s time to go downstairs.

Let’s go out on the deck (off of the living room).

You’ve also seen this professional shot before.

Looking back toward the house.  Living room to the immediate left, dining and kitchen at 11:00.  Sometime in the (hopefully) near future, the space all the way up to the post will be living room when french doors to the new deck.

Off the deck at sunset.  Bad iPhone shot.

Standing back in the front of the house.  This will be a  patio some day.  Right now it’s a cracked chimney, and two leaning walls.

And there you have it.  Our own sysiphean boulder in house form.  Mama mia, what have we done?

 

 

 

And now for something completely different…

This is the true story… of two people… who chose to buy a house…work on a renovation and blog about it… to find out what happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting real…The Real World: Hollywood Riviera.

TMH’s perspective:

Let me catch you up.   A week after our house went into escrow last December, we went under contract on another house.  She was gorgeous.  And, you could see Ferris Beuller’s house from the backyard.  A dozen inspections and a super stinky pool guy later, we just couldn’t make it work with the sellers (that house is STILL hasn’t sold…so, we weren’t crazy).  We cancelled the contract on the house we were buying less than a week before closing on the house we were selling.  We hustled, put 80% of our stuff in storage, got lucky and have temporarily returned to the geography of our misspent youths: Hermosa Beach.

This is the view from our apartment.  The ocean is three blocks away.

But, that’s not my point.

A couple months later.  TD’s 50th birthday. We go into escrow on another house.

Still stinging from the almost purchase of a house that was asethetically beautiful on the outside but rotten (and probably haunted) on the inside, we took a different approach.  Or more truthfully, I talked TD into it.  Okay fine,  I wore him down with ROI algorithms and promises of an outdoor kitchen.

This time we passed up the pretty but mean girl for the diamond in the rough.  The ugly duckling.  The Cinderella.  The Laney Boggs (or Janey Briggs if you prefer).

Here is how I feel about this house (just pretend Rene Zellweger is talking about this house, not Tom Cruise):

Here is how TD feels about it:

TD’s Perspective:

Fine, 50 and F&#@ed Up

Conventional wisdom tells you  to buy the worst house on the nicest street.  We did them one better.

We bought the worst house on every street.

For miles.

In every direction.

It was a flirtation that came on like the impending bankruptcy it inspired – little by little, then all at once.  One day you’re flush with disposable income, the next you’re the proud owner of a 50-year old, bona fide, four-alarm dumpster fire.

And whether your world-view is biblical (“pride goeth before the fall”), homespun (“no good deed goes unpunished”) or just plain practical (“just don’t f&$# up”) it’s clear at this stage our decision to sell our condo and ride this horse is, at present, the financial equivalent of, “hold my beer and watch this!”

Allow me to enumerate the positives of Via Corona:

1.  It has a nice view off the deck

2.  You can see the Goodyear Blimp take off and land from said deck

That’s it!  That’s the list!  Everything behind the deck is, to put it mildly, an utter disaster.

All together now

As you can see, we have very different perspectives when it comes to this house.  Early on, we realized that we had two choices: butt heads, take it too seriously and probably get divorced as our nest egg dwindles to jelly beans OR make fun of ourselves.  We’re attempting the latter.  And, being grumpy gen-exers in a millennial world, we decided to take you along for the ride.

Welcome to TMH 2.0…Real World Renovation Hollywood Riviera.  We haven’t quite worked out the format.  Sometimes TMH will write. Sometimes TD will write.  Maybe we’ll write together on occasion.  I’ll even throw in a recipe or two baked in our rental kitchen (get out your kaftans and fondue pots).

Each Thursday for what our building contract says is the next couple of months (which we interpret as for the unforeseeable future) we’ll bring you weekly updates.  It should be fun.  Or maybe it’ll be a train wreck.  Which should be fun.

Welcome to Via Corona:

Episode 2: Before