Happy New Year

Happy New Year friends!  I hope everyone had a restful and relaxing holiday.  I’m still nursing my second cold in the last 3 weeks so it’s been slow going on the restart here at Chez Sledge.

What is it about the last 2 Decembers that they just flew by?  Another holiday season, I blinked, and next thing you know Jefe and I are hauling our sad, dry skeleton of a Christmas tree to the curb for recycling. We had all sorts of plans this year, most of which we accomplished.  It did, however, leave little time for blogging.  So here’s a little recap of the Holidays with Sledge:

Black Friday – Jefe and I continued our tradition for the 5th year in a row of braving the masses at Disneyland.  It truly is the happiest place on Earth and best place to start getting in to the holiday spirit.  Everything is covered in lights, ornaments and general festiveness.  This year we decided to try out a few new restaurants as we’ve done all of the rides so many times.

After watching CHEF, we were craving beignets and heard raves about those shaped like a Mickey at Cafe Orleans.  Our lunch was delicious, especially Jefe’s Croque Monsieur, but we were left so full that there was no room for beignets.  Sad Mickey :-(.

For dinner we trekked over to California Adventure to Carthay Circle.  It looked like something you’d find in Beverly Hills in the 1920’s.  Just a stunning combination of art deco meets spanish mission.  And the food was good enough to rival any trendy restaurant in Weho.

Disneyland - Sleeping Beauty's Castle

Disneyland - Jefe & Sledge

 

The next day we piled in the car and headed to our favorite tree lot to pick this year’s winning Noble Fir.  After little deliberation, we decided on the fullest pine tree I have ever tried to decorate.  He stood about 7 feet tall.  We debated whether we could have gone taller, but the 8-9 foot Firs were not looking nearly as Noble.

Chauvet Farms Tree Stand - Culver City

The Noblest of Firs

We invited Jefe’s parents over that night to help decorate and quickly realized that next year, we can definitely go with a taller tree thanks to our 9-foot high ceilings, but I’m still more than pleased with this year’s selection.

Holiday Coffee Spread

 

A holiday coffee spread to invigorate for tree decorating!

So the next 24 hours we spent decking the halls.  The only new addition to this year’s festive artillery was a $2.99 traditional star tree topper from Ikea and a few ornaments from Disneyland.

Morning Coffee Done Right

Hines Ward Ornament!

 

Xmas Tree 2014

Stockings

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Nutcrackers!

 

More Nutcrackers

 

Nutcrackers!!!

Holiday Cards

 

Little Village

The following weekend Jefe and I jetted off to New York to celebrate my birthday and decorate tree #2, Jefe’s brothers.  We did it last year and it was so fun to be able to continue the tradition this year.  I also managed to drag Jefe to the ballet for the first time to see “The Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center, did some holiday sight-seeing, did an awesome #museumhack tour of the Met and caught up with my high school friend Beth!

The Met

NY Public Library Lions

Rockefeller Tree

The ballet!

SM #1 and #2

This brings us to mid-December already!  After 5 months of living in our new place, we finally decided to host a housewarming / holiday / birthday party.  Things were a little harried prepping for guests so I didn’t manage to get any photos but I can say that Trader Joe’s can make a mean appetizer.  You really can fool anyone in to thinking something was homemade when it’s fresh out of the oven and artfully displayed on a Santa platter.  I’m pretty sure 95% of the food we offered came from TJ’s.  Seriously, it’s the best way to host – no cooking, just artful arrangements.

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Falalala sign courtesy of Oh Joy!’s line at Target

By the following week, Jefe and I were packing our bags to head back east.  Within the span of 7 days, we slept in 5 beds and traveled via UBER, plane, train and mom’s automobile.  We made merry in Los Angeles, Lancaster and Tyrone, PA and New York City.  It was quite the whirlwind.

Family Cousins

Cousins reunion in Tyrone, PA

Jefe & I Xmas Eve 2014

Jefe & I on Christmas Eve

Casey & his Elf

My brother Casey and his “elf on a shelf” (our nephew Raylen)

And here’s a little tour of my mom’s place all decked out.  I get the Christmas love honestly…

Mom's Dining Room

No fireplace means stockings go on the chairs 😀

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I love me a good tartan tablecloth!

Mirror on display

I love this old window-turned-mirror.  Wouldn’t be Xmas without some lit garland though.

Mom's Xmas Tree 2014

Excuse the lack of focus.  This was prior to 9am and I hadn’t had ANY coffee yet….

And some of Christmas in NY (Jefe was so bummed he missed the Met #museumhack tour, we went again!):

The Met - Again!

30 Rock

Time Warner Center

And then I caught the plague which had me laid up on my mother’s couch for the next 5 days.  New Years Eve was spent with my family, one good friend who braved my contagion thanks to a hearty dose of antibiotics, and a piping hot mug of green tea.  No champe this year for the Champe Champ.

Then Jefe and I headed back to LA where we undecked the halls and dragged our poor tree out to the curb.  Nothing makes me sadder than seeing Christmas trees on the side of the road.  Their time is so short….

Packing Up

Leftover Candy Canes

We have a lot of candy canes to get through in January….

Boy and his toys

Jefe got distracted from un-decorating by a Christmas present…

And to wrap it all up, one final shot of our beautiful tree of 2014:

Christmas Tree 2014

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Sledge is Back… Again!

For those readers still sticking with me, thank you!  I know it’s been awhile; the day job has taken a bit out of me the last few months but the flip side is all of those hours came with a long-awaited promotion!

But I’ve missed all of you and my little design projects.  So there’s definitely going to be more to come in the next few weeks, especially with Christmas right around the corner!

For now though, here are a few little teasers:

Fall Dining TableAnother quick fall update to our dining area.  I saw that great footed bowl at Target a few months, but couldn’t bring myself to spend the $40 on it.  Flash forward to 2 weeks ago and it was $10.95 in the clearance section.  Bam!  New bowl for my gourds.  Jefe knew he couldn’t fight it.  Home decor on clearance is my Achilles heel.

 

Fall Flower ArrangementTrader Joe’s has been selling some knockout fall bouquets the last two months.  For $8 I can get two of them that are overflowing, pop them in my glass pitcher and I’ve got a beautiful, full fall arrangement.  The yellow candles are also from the Target clearance section for $1.99 for a set of 2.  I may have grabbed more than one pack…

I’ve got a fun DIY dry erase board coming your way that is perfect for any Boston Red Sox fan in your life (yes, that is Green Monster Green for those wondering).  Jefe got this as one of his birthday presents this year.  Instructions to follow (along with our plans for the very unfinished office).

Dry Erase Board Preview

 

And last but not least, a little preview to my first holiday project of the season:

West Elm Design Love Fest DIY Garland

Will have more for you guys next week!

 

 

Falling for FALL!

Autumn is my jam.  Nothing makes me happier than a crisp fall day mixed with cable-knit sweaters and hot apple cider.  But sub-80 degree temperatures is as close to fall that this Angeleno is gonna get.  We were blessed this weekend with highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s – I even had to grab a throw last night while reading!  Go ahead and roll your eyes East Coast readers – after the heat waves we’ve been experiencing, 60 degree temps feel down right frigid.  And I’m loving every minute of it.

With that in mind, I’ve been fully embracing this bit of fall we had this weekend.  I spruced up the place with a few pumpkins, some burnt orange mums and my favorite fall table runner.  I even splurged on a glass pumpkin candy dish at Target which is regularly $7.99, but was 20% off thanks to my favorite new app – Cartwheel.

Mini pumpkins!

Mums & fall runner

Pumpkin Candy Dish

 

I grabbed that Yankee candle too (Apple & Pumpkin Picking scent) as I needed a more fall “smell” in the apartment but it’s not my favorite.  I’ve tested countless pumpkin-sceneted candles in the last few weeks but have yet to find one I truly love that doesn’t give me a headache.  I’m open to any recommendations if you have found a good one!

Pumpkin Candy Dish & Candle

But the main purpose of today’s post is to actually share a recipe with you!  Anyone who has ever done Weight Watchers is probably very familiar with this one, but for those that aren’t, I wanted to share the world’s EASIEST pumpkin muffin recipe.  Now that a huge figurative weight has been lifted off me at work, I’ve decided it’s time to refocus on some literal weight and get my ass back in shape.

Now for the recipe.  You’ll need:

  • 1 box of spice cake mix (any brand will do)
  • 1 can of pure pumpkin
  • 1-2 egg whites (not necessary, but it gives the muffins a bit more of a cake-like texture and makes them a little less doughy)

Spice Cake mix

Canned Pumpkin & Egg Whites

Follow the directions on the cake mix box for cupcakes.  Most boxes recommend preheating your oven to 350.  While that’s preheating, mix together the pumpkin, cake mix and egg whites.  The batter will make anywhere from 12 to 18 muffins, depending on how large a muffin you want.  I err on the side of smaller muffins as I know I’ll be eating more than one no matter what size they are.

Next I scoop the batter in to the pan.  To make clean-up easier, I line the pan with cupcake liners.  It also will keep them from sticking together once they’re done as I just store them in a large ziploc.  For easiest portioning of the batter, I prefer to use my ice cream scoop.

Pop them in the oven.  I usually set the timer for 15 minutes, then check them with a toothpick (or knife if you don’t mind the gapping hole it will leave, which I don’t).  As I’m still learning the intricacies of my own oven, I popped them back in for another 4 minutes. Once they’re done, let them cool for a few minutes before devouring.  They’re not the prettiest things, but they sure are good.

Pumpkin Muffins!

For those of you counting points, if you divide the mix into 18 muffins, 1 muffin = 1 point.  But if you’re like me and eat 3 in one sitting, 3 muffins will set you back 4 points so just make sure you’re doing the math accurately.

As I’ve been making this recipe for years, I have altered it a few times.  Once I even slathered them with some WW friendly cream cheese icing and passed them off as pumpkin spice cupcakes for a pot luck.  No one knew they were eating half the calories of the real things.  So feel free to jazz them up however you see fit.  As I’m a total baking novice, I can’t advise on how they bake if you, say, throw in some raisins or nuts, but I’m sure they’re just as tasty.

My favorite way to eat them is for breakfast with a piping hot cup of coffee and my Steelers on TV.  It makes for a perfect Sunday!

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Hiatus & a Project!

So I inadvertently have been taking a blogging hiatus.  Work has been nuts and as of my last post, Jefe and I were traveling.  A LOT.

Since then, I’ve felt less than inspired as I grew so tired of seeing the same stuff online recycled over and over and felt the pressure that if something wasn’t “Pinterest Perfect” that there was little point in blogging. But I do love writing.  And designing – be it for myself or my limited group of family and friends who are crazy enough to unleash me on their own homes.

With that all said, I have a new life update that will include a LOT of projects in the future that I will do my best to write about and recap in semi-real time: Jefe and I moved!  Now, don’t get too excited dear East Coasters, we haven’t moved that far (yet).  We’re only went a mile east and 2 blocks north of our last apartment.

You may ask – why bother if it’s really that close in the same hood?  #1 = square footage.  We gained over 300 extra square feet back by upgrading to a 2 bedroom.  #2 – PARKING.  I finally have a garage space to call my very own!  No more fighting for a spot and worrying about early morning moves to avoid street cleaning.

There’s also a million other reasons like the 3 walk-in closets, a backyard, etc.  But I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  And note these are all 100% before pictures as we’re still unpacking boxes and I’m not quite ready to share the place in it’s current state.  I also have HUNDREDS of ideas of how to make this place a true stunner that we can call home.

Bedroom: It was painted grey by the previous owner.  And we would have loved to keep it.  But our landlord is pretty strict about paint and we didn’t want to inherit the financial responsibility of required professional painters down the line.  So white it will be (But we’re keeping the navy blackout curtains.  Nap time just got 1,000 times better.)

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Second bedroom: Our future office.  I’m already worried this is going to turn in to a bobblehead museum, but one challenge at a time Sledge.

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Bathroom: So this may be the one down side – we’re downgrading from 1.5 pure white bathrooms to a single with pink tile. Luckily, a non-clear shower curtain can cover 75% of it.

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Hallway: Closets. Closets.  Closets.  I think I just heard an angel sing.  The grand total is 3 walk-in closets and 2 linen closets, one of which we’ve already turned in to a pantry.

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Kitchen: What it lacks in counter space it definitely makes up for in storage space.  And new appliances are a definite perk I was afraid we weren’t going to find again.  And although I’d prefer stainless steel, I honestly don’t mind the white, especially with what I have in mind.  Winner winner, chicken dinner.

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Living room: All the space we could need and then some.  I’ll just need to create some sort of fake mantel/shelf getup for the Christmas stockings.

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Dining room:  No longer will we have to cram into a tiny space between our dresser in the living room, the bedroom door and the sliding balcony door.  We shall have a whole room for eating and entertaining.  And it’s got a walk-in closet.  I am officially spoiled.

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Backyard: The landlord told us no one ever uses it and we’re welcome to set up a grill, furniture, etc.  My head is bursting with ideas, I can hardly stand it.  I’m already envisioning dining al fresco, Parenthood-style.

Parenthood Outdoor Dining

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So there you have it friends, the new space.  We moved in two weeks and although we still have a ways to go, its already starting to feel like home.

I’ll be back soon with ideas and plans for each of the rooms; I can’t wait to get started!  But for now, I’ll leave you with a preview of the first real project in the new place:

Instagram - Kitchen Islands

Hello again

Hi friends.  I know it’s been awhile.  And I could give you a long list of excuses as to my absence, but I figured I’d just give you a fun pictorial recap instead.  Since we last spoke I….

….went Rose Bowling and found the nightstand I’ve been lusting after (and since Jefe was on a plane, I prayed he’d like it)….

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…. attended the swanky office Oscar party with my very dapper Jefe.  Only one celebrity setting (Mr. Entourage himself, Adrian Greiner), but we had a great time minus my killer Monday morning headache….

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… Jefe and I headed up the coast to Santa Barbara to celebrate year 4 of being partners-in-crime (and I guess love, too).  We stared as some gorgeous shoreline, feasted, and drank our way through wine country.  We may have returned with a case of wine….

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… Hit up an LA Kings hockey game (they lost)….

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…. Went to Pittsburgh for one of my college friend’s wedding.  It was great being reunited with so many of my lady friends and I finally got a change to teach Jefe all about all things Yinzer: The Church Brew Works, Pamela’s, Carnegie Mellon University and all of its many weird traditions.  We even managed to squeeze in a Penguins hockey game thanks to some stellar seats from a coworker who’s also a Pittsburgh native….

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…. Saw MUPPETS: MOST WANTED at the El Capitain Theater that included a live pre-show with Kermit & Miss Piggy….

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…. Headed to the Getty with my good friend John after a failed attempt to head to the Huntingdon Libraries & Botanical Gardens (thanks AAA and UberX for getting us out of South Pasadena in one piece)….

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….Took a bite out of the Big Apple with some of the most adorable little people in our lives.  I got to meet my best friend’s little girl Addie (short for Adeline), and spent some quality time with Geoff’s brother’s family.  We also got the opportunity to see Audra McDonald in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” and I can officially check off seeing her perform from my Broadway bucket list….

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…. Went to ANOTHER LA Kings hockey game (we lost again and Jefe realized that we’ve lost every game he’s ever taken me too…..)  But we had a great time as it was fan appreciation night, the Kings played a great game that led to overtime and 2 rounds of shoot outs….

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…. hit up the Rose Bowl Flea Market with my friend Chelsey.  I came home empty handed (minus the breakfast burrito and delicious watermelon juice in my stomach), but Chelsey grabbed 2 refurbished dining chairs and Jefe found the vintage sports equipment seller who’s been MIA the last few times.  He walked away with a great leather baseball glove and an old catcher’s mask.  I did happen to find the barnyard I think Beyonce came from:

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All of the above was in addition to a few crazy months at the old 9-to-5 day job (and by that, I mean 9-9ish really).  So pardon my blogging absence.  I’ve also gotten a little tired of all the same interior decor and DIY I keep seeing rehashed and recycled everywhere and just needed a breather from the blogosphere.

Anyways, I’m back and hope to have some new home updates for you guys soon.  First on the agenda – not killing my new little succulent.  I have about as black a thumb as they can come so I’m doing my best to revamp my gardening ways.

Happy Friday!

Share Your Heart

Last night I ducked out of the office (before it was even dark!) and headed over to West Elm for one of their DIY workshops.  This particular event was Valentine’s Day themed – crafting paper hearts to be sent to St. Jude’s Hospital where they will string them all together in an attempt to create the world’s largest paper chain!  And for each heart we created, West Elm donated $1 to the hospital.

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The actual crafting was free and they provided all of the supplies.  While there, I met some great people including a group of visual merchandisers for Macy’s, West Elm’s store manager and CJ, a stylist who runs their Instagram, @westelmla.

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There were also some great-looking refreshments, but as I’m still sticking hard core to my Weight Watchers plan (down 3 lbs so far!), I opted to just capture it on film.

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So let the crafting begin.  For my first heart, I knew I wanted it to be purple-themed in honor of my childhood friend Jill and all the kids like her at St. Jude’s.  I started out with a giant sheet of purple tissue paper.  I started doing a little ripping for a “rough edge” and needless to say, the finished project is not my best work, but I think the kiddies will like a heart option that isn’t pink or red.

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Next up, I snagged the roll of gold tape about as fast as I could and some letters for a little Jefe + Sledge action (that’s Geoff & Mallory for those new to the blog).  Of course, I opted for stripes.

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And lastly, I came across this ribbon at the bottom of a supplies bucket and knew exactly what to do with it – a little Kate Spade inspiration for a sickeningly sweet, picture perfect pink heart.

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So that about rounds out the night.  Here’s a little hint at what this store’s portion of the paper heart chain will look like strung up in St. Jude’s.

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If you want to catch some of the other hearts created, check out West Elm LA’s Instagram feed or search for their hashtag: #shareyourhearts.

Back In the Saddle Again

So turning 30 was kind of a big deal for me.  I made the ridiculous mistake of placing all sorts of arbitrary professional and personal deadlines upon myself that were not entirely within my control to make happen.

That said, the day came and passed without the world ending or me spontaneously combusting.  I came out on the other side with more realistic goals and outlook on life truly as an adult (what is it about hitting the big 3-0 that makes us feel like a “grown-up”?!)

So with that in mind, one of my goals this year is to get healthy.  As they say, it’s only downhill from here, so now’s the time to seize the day: lose the weight, gain muscle and finally conquer a 5K.

Yesterday I went back to my first Weight Watchers meeting in months.  I got a new weigh-in book and am starting with a clean slate.  I ventured over to Target and picked up some healthy snack options along with some stylish new workout gear (it’s all 40% in store right now)!  I swear by these pants, which I own FOUR pairs of:
C9 Champion Reversible Capris
Then I snagged one of these guys as I didn’t want my running sneakers to be the only thing with a pop of neon:
C9 Champion Pullover
And in an effort to drink more H20, I grabbed one of these Camelbak Water Bottles.
Camelbak

As I plan to be spending more time in the gym, I knew I needed some new tunes to pick up the pace.  I’m LOVING Lea Michele’s new single “Louder” and Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”.

Lastly, I used the remnants of my holiday bonus to pick up a pair of new sneakers from Sports Authority.  They’re the exact same pair that I already own, but chose a another fun color combo to spice things up.
 Nike Dual Fusion Run 2 Sneakers

So this is me, putting it out there – I’m motivated, am back on plan and know that I can do this.  It’s one of the few things I can control right now and look forward to sharing results.

And if anyone is up for joining me for a 5K this summer, I’d love to find a running buddy as I’m a bit slow for my Jefe.