Cardamom Snickerdoodles

This recipe is a forehead slapper of a “why didn’t I think of that?”

These cookies were also a surprise hit and more than a couple of  people have asked for the recipe (I can never guess what people will fall in love with which is part of the fun).

Think snickerdoodle base with the beautiful bouquet of cardamom and dried currants for a little depth and texture.

These cookies are exotic enough to be interesting but familiar enough that even the xenophobic will like them (though I’m not sure why we should give them cookies).


Cardamom and currant snickerdoodles

recipe by fiveandspice via Food52


  • 1 C unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2C packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 1tsp ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground, or at least fresh)
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C dried currants
  • 3 TBS granulated sugar (for cookie coating)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (for cookie coating)


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the sugars, flour, 1 tsp. cardamom, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs into the melted butter, then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients and the currants into the flour mixture, stirring just long enough for everything to come together into a dough.
  5. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the 3 Tbs. sugar and 1 tsp. cardamom for the coating.
  6. Roll the chilled dough into 1 ½ inch balls then roll each ball in the sugar coating, and place onto ungreased, parchment-lined cookie sheets with about 2 inches of space in between.
  7. bake for 8-9 minutes, until they look golden and cracked on top but still a bit doughy in the middle.
  8. Transfer immediately from the baking sheets to a cooling rack and allow to cool.


Guest bath reveal

I’ve begun to think renovating Via Corona is like running a marathon (or driving to Vegas).  While the distance has been long and we’ve endured considerable chafing in parts I won’t mention, our attitudes for the first 21 miles (in this case, first 8 months) have been mostly chipper.  If our builders are to be believed (eeeehhhhh?), we’ve just rounded the corner on mile 22.  Or as runners call it: the wall.  The downstairs is currently a disaster:  I can see the guts of the fireplace (and the accompanying spider webs), the protection cardboard covering the hardwood has been on the floor so long its begun to curl up at the (no longer taped) edges and there is so much dust everywhere that everything looks like its been run through an instagram filter.  We may only have four miles…or four weeks to go but it’s the cruelest distance.  So, this week I’m sharing something that’s pretty close to being finito: the guest bath.  All sources are listed at the bottom of the post.

As you might recall from the plans, this gem of a washroom sits at the top of the stairs and it is meant to be shared by the three non-master bedrooms.

At move-in, this bathroom offered an array of charming attributes including wall-to-wall carpet, an extra low vanity (with white fixtures), and a front and center commode.

It also had only one point of access.

One of the main reasons for getting ourselves into this mess was so that we could have a comfortable place for guests to stay when coming from afar: foreign countries, other states and the occasional nomad from the valley or Pasadena.

With this in mind, we basically flipped the entire layout so the main guest bedroom had direct access. Before I show you the goods, one word from the war-torn.  If you are renovating and can avoid it, you don’t want to move around your plumbing.  It is shockingly expensive. You could almost get in an entire renovation without moving the plumbing for what it will cost to move the plumbing alone.  We learned this lesson not once, but twice.  We are nothing if not committed to our own folly.

Because design inspiration had to come from somewhere, I started with the floors.  As I explained in the plans post for this room, I originally wanted Moroccan fish scale tiles.  However, unless I wanted to make my own, the mermaid scales  were very much out of my budget.  Honed marble herringbone isn’t a bad compromise if you ask me.  I paired this with polished white subway tile and brushed stainless fixtures.  But then I got tired of all that stainless and threw in some brass (sadly, it wasn’t from Tijuana.  But, we are going to have a sound system where you can play Tijuana Brass while in the bathroom if it’s any consolation).

While the result is significantly more feminine and…pink…than I imagined, it’s a pretty decent improvement over what was.

The once shower-nook now provides tidy access from the guest bedroom (and a more discreet potty locale).

Like every other room in this house, the space is just a little tight.  We’ll warn guests about closing the door completely before using the privy if they don’t want to get hit in the knees with it.

The main compromise (other than the flooring) was the loss of vanity geography.  In retrospect, I wish we had pushed the builder a little harder to do a custom vanity and gain a few inches.  I’m not in love with this fixture, though changing  knobs helped. I think the full-scale shaker styling on the smaller piece makes it look clumsy and I should have gone with plain-fronted drawers.  Oh well, too late to go back.

The good news is that while a petite 36 inches, there is plenty of space to do bathroom things.  Even when one or both Kitchen Gods are supervising (which is most of the time).

When we first started this project, I was naive to the number of bits and baubles required for a bathroom.  From TP holders to sconces, bathrooms have got to be the most accessorized rooms in the house.  I will say I am particularly fond of this little lighting find.  No one will ever notice (or care), but it matches the curtain rod exactly.  When I first found the piece it was way out of my price range.  But I dug around the interwebs enough to not only find it in my budget but also snag free shipping. Alas, victories like this were few with Via Corona.

After site-stalking these hooks for weeks, I finally pulled the trigger and ordered a couple.  I loved the look of one but not the other.  This resulted in trips to five different Anthropolgie locations to find just the right agates (I’m pretty sure it’s really resin but am not going to look too closely).  Yes, someone has control issues.

Though we’re lucky to have natural light in this bathroom, the window is inconveniently placed (unless you want to recreate Amsterdam’s red light district at home–if so, we’ve got a house we’d like to sell you).  For now I’ve hung a curtain that provides coverage but still lets in the light.  This is actually the third curtain I’ve tried out in this space which makes me think drapery may not be what this window needs.  Alas, I’m out of inspirational steam and so this will have to do, pig, until we come up with a better solution.

This room is still missing a piece of art–but that’s in storage and who knows when it’ll be liberated.  Maybe I can start thinking about it when we hit mile 24 and are suddenly inspired with a last burst of home renovation energy.

Wanna see some bathroom guts? This is a slowish loader because I don’t know how to  crunch it…I apologize in advance.


Vanity: Acclaim Vanity
Bath Tub: Mirabelle
Faucet: Delta Ara
Shower/Tub Faucet: Delta Ara
Shower Head: Delta Two-in-One
TP Holder: Delta Ara
Mirror: CB2 Infinity Mirror
Vanity Sconce: Feiss 4 Light Tonic Vanity Strip
Vanity Knobs: Geometric Glass Knobs
Agate Hooks: Anthropolgie Swirled Agate Hook
Towel Holder: Brushed Steel Wall Mount Towel Rack
Flooring: Similar: 
Pain: Benjamin Moore Opal 891
Curtain Rod: West Elm, no longer available, similar: The Curtain Rod Shop
Curtain: Anthropologie Stripes Curtain
Buddy the Cat: not for sale

Is this the end?!?

Mama told me one day it was gonna happen

But she never told me when

She told me it would happen when I was much older

Wish it woulda happened then

– Ricky Bell, New Edition, “Is This The End?” (1983)

See what I did there?  It’s BOTH a pertinent question and the title of a New Edition song!

TD here.

On Monday, January 23rd we met with our contractors for the expressed purpose of finding out just when our long national nightmare would finally come to an end.  As a reminder, we took ownership of Via Corona on April 19, 2016, we hired the builder a week later and work began in May.  We began chronicling the adventure in early June.  We ran out of things to talk about months ago, but now “sh*t’s getting real” so to speak.  Or, maybe not.

Back in June we were wide-eyed optimists who were dumb enough to actually believe it when we were told the house would be complete and the end of October.  Today we are hardened, first world problem veterans with the thousand yard stares to match.  It’s now clear that we, as my friends in Southern Illinois would say, just fell off the turnip truck as it relates to this project.  To be clear, I’ve never actually seen a turnip truck and have no idea why falling off it confers a sort of dull wit, especially when its second cousin, falling off the wagon seems like a pretty awesome strategy.  At least in the short run.  Make no mistake, I would willingly jump off of a moving vehicle before eating a turnip, but I digress.

Back to a couple of Mondays ago.  With our trusty spreadsheets at the ready, we walked the house stem to stern and talked in detail about the final touches in anticipation of their estimated completion date.   After, a brief conference, it came.

“Four to five weeks,” they said.

“Bull$%*&,” we replied in unison, although silently enough so as to be drowned out by a passing turnip truck.  (The driver most likely had stopped to use our outhouse.  This is a thing we’ve observed.  It seems our porta potty serves the same function of most urban public libraries.)

If you’re stuck without a calendar, their due date is March 6.  A hair over three weeks until our world is no longer covered in gypsum dust.  This is just enough time to decide whose side you’re on, dear reader.  Are you all in for Team Shirley Make It or are you ride or die with Team Betty Won’t?


Feel free to base your judgments on current photographic evidence and place your bets on the official end date in the comment section.  Winner gets a dozen cookies from me which truly makes us all losers doesn’t it?

Let us begin . . .

Here’s our spreadsheet as it existed on January 23rd.  You can see there are a few things marked complete.  A few.


Starting on the exterior.  We have stucco and trim here that needs paint.  Also outdoor lighting, the new mailbox, some tweaks to the siding and shutters and a doorbell for the expected seven trick or treaters we will have in the next decade.  True story:  A friend who has lived his whole life in Torrance recently said of Via Corona, “I rode my bike down there when I was like 11, realized it was a dead end and thought that was lame.  Haven’t been back since.”  


We also are in need of stucco on the new addition.  Then you’ve got paint, installing the exterior lights, replacing a tiny amount of decking and 86ing the old dishwasher.  Have we mentioned that the larger deck is no longer in the works during this phase?  Yeah, there’s that.  A casualty of mission creep.


Now we’re on the inside.  It’s a small thing but, the garage needs drywall.  Obviously this previous effort gave new meaning to the word insufficient and no meaning to words like craftsmanship, aptitude and effort.  Someday soon this is where the old refrigerator will live amid what Shannon rightly believes is a growing colony of radioactive spiders (seriously, she volunteered to be the one who parks on the street because the garage is, and I quote, “spidery”).  The rest of the garage is a project for later.  Much, much later.  Think 3rd Trump Administration later.


The aforementioned new addition sits in a medium raw state.  Here we still need paint, lights, flooring, the all-important TV install, a fireplace redesign that I will never fully understand and some kind of ceiling decor design element thingy that I’m assured will be “sick” (as described by the builder).


A new TV and a totally boss speaker system sit ready to make this room an oasis for the insane amount of quality sitting and napping I’ll be doing very soon (once the non-stop construction sounds dissipate).  I truly have a great napping ability.  Everyone agrees that I am a terrific napper, so there’s no concern about my napping, believe me.  And when I awake from a blissful slumber, this will be my view.


Or this . . . actually, mostly this.


There are exactly 77 other jobs great and small (paint touch ups, pieces of trim, minor electrical, patching holes in drywall) that could be accomplished by one handy person and a Thermos of coffee, but that streetwise Hercules has yet to show up to fight the rising odds.

So, there you have it?  Is this the end?  Are you my friend?  It seems to me we ought to be free . . .

Place your bets in the comment section as to when we will be officially complete and earn yourself the treasure of a lifetime.  Who knows?  This could be the greatest day of your life, but only if you follow the words of the immortal Navin R. Johnson.

Take a chance and win some crap.

Want more Via Corona?  Go here: Via Corona


Inspiration on the 110

I spend a lot of time on the 110 freeway.  My daily commute is 22 miles each way: 40 minutes in the morning, 60 in the evening.   This is a statement of fact, not a complaint.  As La La Land so melodiously exposits: if you live in Los Angeles, you commute (unless you are TD and then you just walk down the hall).

[Tidbit: the opening scene takes place on the 105 E expressway transition to the 110 N which is odd because that ‘aint how you get to Hollywood.  Normally this wouldn’t mean anything except this movie is a tribute to the industry which means everyone included in the homage knows exactly where that scene takes place.  Another inaccuracy: Hollywood peeps don’t slum it in the South Bay–no matter how good the jazz.  LA’s South Bay is to LA’s mid-city as  LA is to New York.  Apparently beach living is too easy for the actor set.  Venice being the exception for some reason. And yes, I realize that I may be the only person in LA…nay…the entire country who isn’t totally gaga over La La. For the record, I didn’t like the English Patient either so, there you go.]

But back to my commute.  On the way in, I listen to the radio.  Usually a combo of KROQ and KCRW.  It’s dark and I want to know what’s going on in the world (okay, KROQ isn’t super great for the latter but it’s an institution).  One the way home I usually listen to audible and podcasts.

I don’t know about you but I categorize my podcasts.  There are the ones to which I subscribe in order to learns new things.  There are ones that entertain me.  And then there are the ones that I listen to when I actually just want to think and there is something about the host’s voice that helps me to tune-out and tune in to my own brain.

One of the things I like to think about are new recipes (I’ve never claimed the thoughts were deep).  I find it very enjoyable to think about flavor and texture combinations.  I’ve come up with some really great ones over the years.  The only problem is that about 90% of the time whatever it is I’ve been thinking about immediately flits out of my noggin’ upon arrival at the gym, or home or wherever my after-work destination that day happens to be.

Luckily, this one stuck: basil and citrus in a cookie.  And then I had to sit on it for four months until I had a kitchen.  Mwah mwah.

The original idea included basil and candied citrus zest.  However, when it came down to it, I got lazy and subbed-in fresh tangerine zest for the candied.  To get the flavors really infused, I added the zest and chopped basil to the sugar and allowed everything to mingle for a couple of hours (this would make a fantastic sugar scrub).

The results were a surprise hit!

Basil and tangerine sables

adapted from the French Vanilla Sables in Dorie’s Cookies

makes about 30 cookies


for sables

  • 3-4 large basil leaves
  • 2 oranges or large tangerines, zested with juice set aside
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, on the cold side of room temp and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 C (100g) sugar
  • 1/4 C (30g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used sea but kosher would be fine)
  • 2 large egg yolks at room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C (272g) all-purpose flour

for icing

  • juice from the oranges
  • 1.5 C confectioner’s sugar


  1. Chiffonade (thinly slice) your basil leaves.  In a sealable baggy or small container, combine citrus zest and basil. Close container and shake to combine.  Let sit for at least an hour.
  2. In a standing mixer, cream butter for 60 seconds.  Add-in sugars and salt, beat on medium for 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce mixture speed to low and beat in the egg yolks one at a time.  Add vanilla.
  4. Turn off mixer.  Add flour mixture and pulse on low until the flour stops flying (alternately, cover top of mixer and bowl with a clean dishtowel so that the flour doesn’t fly and turn on low).  Mix on low until the flour just disappears.
  5. Give the dough a few turns with a stiff spatula.  Turn out onto a clean surface and divide in half.  Roll each half into a log about 1.5 inches in diameter.  I find the easiest way to do this is to start the log and then roll it back and forth over a piece of parchment paper by holding the ends of the parchment.  This helps create an even log.
  6. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and let cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours or freeze.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Remove dough from plastic and cut into disks (I like them about .25-.125 thick but cut to desired thickness not to exceed .5 inches).  Place disks on baking sheets with 2″ distance between.
  9. Bake for 16-19 minutes until they are firm to the touch and slightly golden around the edges.  Be sure to rotate sheets halfway through.  Allow to cool on sheets for a couple of minutes and then transfer to cool completely.
  10. Slowly add citrus juice to confectioner’s sugar until you reach desired consistency.  Above I’ve mixed it thin to cover the entire cookie but icing could be mixed thicker (less juice) and drizzled.  Ice cookies and allow to set-up.
  11. Store in air-tight container.