‘Round here


Step out the front door like a ghost
Into the fog where no one notices
The contrast of white on white.

TD Here.    I never was much of a Counting Crows fan (much = not at all), but this was the title Shannon gave this post, so here we go.  Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think you can trust a suburban white guy with dreadlocks no matter how jaunty his bowtie. [TMH:  Much of my marital contribution is teeing them up so TD can knock ’em down.]


As the year comes to a close, we’re pleased to report that Via Corona is finally rounding into shape (silly readers, segues are for kids).

As you can see below, her crumbling exterior was replaced with shiny, new HardiePlank(R) siding – “the most popular brand of siding in America” and a fresh coat of sparkly white Cool December paint to boot.

Her lower half also got a slathering of rough coat stucco.  In the fullness of time it will be Cool December as well – a color that looks for all the world like white, but Shannon assures me is not, in fact, white.  Did you also know there’s more than one kind of white?  I know, right?!  Apparently the corporate goons at Crayola sleep on a bed of lies.

A Cool December and there’s reason to believe

Maybe this grey will be whiter than the last

I can’t remember the last time I could lock my front door

Let us hope this addition is done fast

[TMH: and now you know where the title of the post came from.  Having Adam Duritz stuck in your head is some kind of torture.]

Have we mentioned the permitting process in Torrance is broken like Joe Theismann’s femur?  We have? Oh yeah, that one time.  Alrighty then, here are the first visible signs of progress on our “addition.”   First they build the foundation, then they bring the walls out, then we add the doors and you’ve got yourself a family room.

NOTE:  The City of Torrance comes out to inspect and (presumably) approve each stage.  Buckle up, this might take a while.

Welcome to our museum exhibit powder room – now with fixtures [TMH: minus the mirror and cool accessories]!  Mind you, I am forbidden from using the sink because of the potential to splash water on the precious wallpaper [TMH: it’s because the mirror isn’t up yet and TD washes his hands like an alligator taking down a water buffalo].  You might rightly ask, “then why in the name of the sweet chocolate Christ is the wallpaper near the sink?”  Oh,  you can ask.  Just don’t expect an answer that makes any logical sense.  Indeed, let this be a warning to you, potential visitor and/or harried traveler, you may freshen up but do so at your peril.

Oh, and when you’re freshening up, everyone in a nine mile radius will be able to see you through the conveniently placed bay window!  I swear this house was designed by chimps . . . or exhibitionists . . . or maybe the rarest of all – exhibitionist chimps.  [TMH: the only one who is ever going to see you is that neighbor down the street  who inexplicably stops to use the porta-potty in our driveway both coming and going while walking his dogs.  Every day.  WTF?].

We’re going to frost the glass in here and maybe add some kind of window treatment.   I will undoubtedly be restricted from touching the window treatment any way, shape or form. For now though, enjoy the nice view of our construction dumpster.

Speaking of, doesn’t window treatment sound like something that’s much cooler/more important than it really is?  Look up souffle cup . . . box tent . . . desire path . . .  then imagine my surprise/disappointment when I realized the “digital rectal” involves the use of exactly zero devices with digital readouts.  You win this round, doctor. [TMH: What is you talking about?]

As you can see, the kitchen now has a backsplash.  Hell, the wall has a backsplash.  Whereas using the powder room faucet requires the calm resolve and icy precision of a Marine sniper, in the kitchen you can be Red Adair with a firehose.

Not to get off on a rant here, but it’s not lost in my consciousness, or bank account, that we replaced a previous overabundance of tile in the kitchen with an overabundance of different tile in kitchen 2.0. [TMH: Overabundance? By my calculation TD’s shower includes no less than 136 square feet of marble tile.  It makes the kitchen look restrained by comparison].

Someday soon you’ll see we also did this with our replacement shutters which, save a barely noticeable arch at the top, are the exact same shutters as the ones now taking up permanent residence in Davy Jones’ Locker!  Notably, the new ones are black. God forbid we buy a $3 can of spray paint when there are exact replicas for sale at 21st century prices.  Imagine the horror when Architectural Digest comes to Via Corona and we have reused humpback shutters!?  This will not stand.  Good day, sir! [TMH: This from a guy wears athletic slides held together by duct tape.  Those shutters – like the complainant – were 50 years old.]

Ok, now I feel better.  Where were we?  Oh, the kitchen.

Here I’ve asked Santa Trump for an H2B visa – Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.

No question I’m an interloper here, so I’ll treat it like a Cleveland Browns QB and try not to get too comfortable.  Then again, Shannon keeps asking me about a home security system.  Maybe it’s just for this room.

I’m being told this is the court-ordered safe distance I am allowed to inhabit while Shannon is doing that voodoo and that she do so well.

The stools in the photo are, to use a technical term, comfort adjacent.

The master bedroom is in a state we like to call “mostly complete-ish”.  At this point it’s just missing the art which is currently so deep in storage that we’ll be lucky if we don’t have to pay a customs tariff for re-entry into the U.S. when we finally retrieve it all #wedontdogooddealsanymore #Chinaiseatingourlunch.

It’s a bit hard to tell from the photo, but there are 12 effing pillows on our bed.  I have no idea exactly when or how this happened.  One day I had one drool-covered place to lay my head, and the next thing you know I’m bedding down with enough pillows to outfit the entire Duggar clan.  We use exactly 1/3 of them nightly.  The rest are chucked haphazardly about the room so I can trip over them in the dark on the way to the bathroom. [TMH:  the remaining pillows are so that I have options when I finally decide to smother you in your sleep].

To be honest, when we got married nearly a decade ago I had no clue how much of my life would be spent shopping for, buying, placing and discussing pillows.  Needless to say terms like “throw pillow”, “pillow fight”, and “pillow talk” bear no resemblance to visions in my head  [TMH: funny what a guy will do for health insurance].

Make no mistake, our pillow game is STRONG.  So strong, in fact that we now have custom pillows like the one Gracie the Seasonal Reindeer is resting her tiny noggin upon. [TMH: This snap?  Not staged.  The cat actually sneaks into the guest bedroom, snuggles under the covers and naps, Goldilocks and the Three Bears style.]

Shannon has also spoken a great deal about a furry pillow that I’ve yet to see . Not exactly sure when or where it will make its debut (largely because I don’t care), but rest assured it will be feted with Winfrey-level fanfare.

You get a pillow!

And You Get A Pillow!


[TMH: the pillow is hairy not furry and it goes on the couch in the room that hasn’t been built yet.]

Via Corona and me

Look into the future

Yeah, we stare at the pretty vi-ew

She’s lookin’ at downtown

I don’t think so

She’s looking at Malibu

Standing on the back deck

I bought myself a train wreck

When she is finally done

I will never use her powder room

I will never use her powder room

Said Shannon won’t let me use the powder



Want more?  Go here: Via Corona.



Sometimes it is what’s on the outside that counts: Concogalow

I think we’ve made it fairly clear that the photo above is basically Via Corona’s version of a mall glamour shot.  What you think you are seeing is a nice white house vaguely fashioned after the Colonial Revival school.

Up close is a different story.  Good from far.  Far from good.  Pull off the Barbara Walters soft-focus lens and what you thought was a peppy if not plain version of Ariel, The Little Mermaid is really Ursula in her many-tentacled glory.

That was before we literally took a jackhammer to Via Corona’s exterior.  In our attempt to save money, and thumb our noses at nearly every standing OSHA regulation, we created Ursula with cystic acne.  Or, if you’ve never seen The Little Mermaid, we fashioned ourselves a butterface.*

*Slang for “but her face” as in, “Via Corona has a nice body, butterface.”**

**Shannon isn’t so keen on this phrase.

For those unfamiliar with Colonial Revival, allow Yale’s Vincent Scully (no, not that Vin Scully) to summarize, “Colonial Revival got started during the Grant Administration, when America feels corrupted by Grant. There is nostalgia in it, and properly so, in the sense that once things were done better.  And out of it came some of the most important developments in American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright and everybody else.”

Luckily, the scope of work includes a full makeover of Via Corona’s facade.  To be clear, this facelift is both Alpha and Omega on said list.  The hillbilly dirt patch we call a lawn?  The white tile walkway from Yanni’s beach retreat circa 1982?  The artisanal gravel thrown hither and yon?  No, no and no.  They will remain at least for the time being – just in case Yanni comes over.

Originally we thought we’d pull off the siding and replace it with new siding from top to bottom.  This is a pretty popular look in our neighborhood and we were digging it.

Alas, adding siding all the way down proved to be cost prohibitive (think a PhD from beauty school).  So, we pivoted to siding on the second story, stucco on the first.  Party on the top; business down below.

Luckily, this is also a popular look in our neighborhood (it’s Southern California–there is no continuity in housing style among neighborhoods).

Here is the Via Corona exterior task rundown:

  • Replace upper siding with new, indestructible Hardie-board siding
  • Pull off fake rock downstairs, replace with stucco across entire front of house and garage.
  • Replace front door
  • Replace all shutters
  • Replace garage door
  • Reframe windows and doors
  • Power wash, patch and paint wall (sort of like lipstick on a pig but replacing that wall costs the same as a year in beauty school)

Via Corona is an architectural mash-up, like the Colonial Revival style itself.  What with its reliance on decorative crown pediments, fanlights, sidelights and symmetrical windows.  She’s also a little Cape Cod and a dash of Saltbox.  But mostly, she’s just rectangle.  As such, we are continuing with the theme.

The front and garage doors are a nod to the craftsman and shaker details we’ve got going on inside via the cabinetry, interior doors and trim.  We’re keeping the more traditional levered shutters but going straight top rather than cathedral (I love myself an arch but there isn’t a single one to be found anywhere else in the house).  All in black.  We’re also throwing in some other details in black via the lights and accessories that hint at the Beach Plantation style so popular in the South Bay right now.

To summarize we’ve got a white house with multiple textures and black details.  We’ll bring in more color later on when we landscape the yard (hint:  that color will be green).  I like to think of the sum of Via Corona’s parts as a sort of Contemporary Colonial Bungalow.  You know a: Concogalow.  

Yanni seems pleased.


NOTE:  I assure you, this is an actual Yanni quote.

Want more Via Corona?   Go here: Via Corona.

Et tu oatmeal?

First things first.  In a miracle we can only guess was brought on by a post-Thanksgiving tryptophan induced oversight on the part of the City of Torrance, we finally have the addition permit. Oh we, oh we, oh!

Only took six months.

Our builder says it’ll take eight weeks to complete the addition (asterisk: once they actually start it…cough…cough).  So we’re guessing Via Corona will be ready for her close up in April…just in time for the first anniversary of when we closed on her.

A year.  A YEAR. But, oh we, oh we, oh.

Let’s celebrate with some coooookies.

How about iced oatmeal?

As I’ve stated before, I do not have the special oatmeal touch. I’ve tried working with them all: old fashioned, instant, rolled, Irish, wild.  Each time to middling results (especially the wild).

But, that doesn’t keep me from trying.  So, when I saw a recipe claiming to make cookies like the Mother’s old fashioned iced oatmeal cookies, I was all over it.

Alas, mine turned out soft and pillowy while the objective was crisp and crunchy.  It wasn’t until later that I read the author’s note about not over-processing the oats.  Either way, these were a hit.  And we have permits.  Oh we, oh we, oh!

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

from Mother Thyme 

I’m putting her note up front because I did not see it until later and mine were decidedly more rotund than I would have liked:

Mother Thyme: To have these cookies turn out flat, you don’t want to over ground the oats, just a couple quick pulses in the food processor to break them up a bit. If the oats are finely ground, the cookies won’t spread. You want to keep the oats in tact as they create texture.

  • 2 C old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 C light brown sugar
  • ½ C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C confectioners sugar
  • 3 TBS milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment and set aside.
  2. Place rolled oats in a food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds until coarse.
  3. Mix oats with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Using an electric mixer cream butter and sugars.
  5. Add in eggs one at a time then vanilla extract.
  6. Gradually add in flour mixture until combined.
  7. Roll dough into 2 TBS size balls and place on baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown.
  9. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  1. Mix confectioners sugar and milk together in a medium bowl.
  2. Quickly dip tops of cookies into glaze and let excess drip off.
  3. Place back on wire rack until glaze sets.
  4. Store cookies in an airtight container.