Life Happens While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

New year, new blog, new fiance, new home.  You read that right, Jefe & Sledge are finally getting hitched! Needless to say it was a rather exciting holiday season as Jefe popped the question right before Thanksgiving.

After the confetti and bubbles in the champagne settled and the parents all had wedding bells on the brain, Jefe and I started to discuss what was next for us.  The big plan if you will.

That led us to Craigslist, an apartment showing and a quick lease signing later, we had the keys to a new place.

So what convinced us to decide to sign a lease while visiting family and planning a wedding all over Christmas break?  Central air.  Refinished hardwoods. Sconces.  A fireplace (nonworking, but it’s beautiful).  FRENCH DOORS.

I’m sure you all want to read a little less and ogle a little more so without further ado, here’s our new place!

 

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Front entrance! White roses line the walkway.

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Our amazing living room!  It’s bright, airy, super spacious yet cozy.

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Great archway in to the dining room.

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A chandelier we don’t hate!  And ALL the lights in the apartment are on dimmers!

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The kitchen is large with plenty of counter space.  The colors have proven a bit challenging as I don’t know how to accessorize two-toned blue floors and buttery yellow walls, but I’m up for it!

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The second bedroom we’ll be using as our home office.  (I can see the Red Sox paraphernalia filling the walls now….)

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And our master.  The place was renovated with such an eye for design while still being neutral enough that we can inject our own style in to it.  Because of this, I don’t even hate the boob light because it matches everything else!

There’s plenty more to come (including our amazing bathroom with pedestal sink and original penny tile floor) but as our place is still COVERED in boxes, we’re not quite ready for the full, non-Craigslist ad pictures yet.

But there’s definitely more to come in the next few weeks!  Sledge is back (and engaged!)

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House Tour!

It’s about time I finally took you all on another tour of the place since we’ve done a bit of updating over the last few months. Let’s get right to the photos!

We’ll start with the master bedroom which really sold us on this place as it is a true master with plenty of space and a walk in closet.  It’s definitely a work in progress in terms of design: it needs a floor mirror, lots of artwork and a rug.  But I really do love the space (how did I live for 30 years without black out curtains?!)

Bedroom 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom 5 Bedroom 6 Bedroom 7

Next we move down the hallway towards the rest of the apartment.  The door on the right leads to our service porch with washer & dryer (and absolutely NOTHING to see.)

Hallway 1

This little clock gallery wall was inspired by a recent episode of Fixer Upper.  Jefe saw a version in a kitchen Joanna designed and LOVED the idea.  We started with the bottom 3 clocks and are just adding as we find unique and interesting ones to include.  Smaller 3 clocks are from Target, silver one is from Ikea.

Hallway - Clock Gallery Wall

Through the doorway on the left is the second bedroom/office.  This room has changed the most recently and we’re really happy with the way its turned out.  It is a great, comfortable space to work from as both Jefe and I do a fair amount from home.  And despite this really being Jefe’s domaine in terms of aesthetics, I can’t wait to finally get a reading chair in here!  It gets the perfect amount of light all day and is arguably the quietest room in the house.

Office 1 Office 2 Office 3 Office 4 Office 5 Office 6

Continuing down the hallway, on the left is the kitchen.  This room is probably the closest to being done.  There’s a few small tweaks yet, like covering the black cord of our new, much needed pendant light and finding a few small items to hang on the wall.  But otherwise I’m calling this space COMPLETE (or until I find something new and decide to rearrange my open shelving).

Kitchen 1 Kitchen - Island Details Kitchen 2 Kitchen 4 Kitchen 3

We’re going to skip the super pink tiled bathroom for the moment (until I can clean it enough to be presentable for photos!) and move on to the dining room.  We’re still on the hunt for a sideboard under the windows (from this perspective you’re back is facing them), but we really have only been purchasing items to a) replace our worn down Ikea pieces and b) that we plan to keep for the long haul.  Nothing has really struck my fancy so far that I don’t think I’ll hate 5 years from now so there’s no need to rush a large purchase like that; I’ll know it when I see it.  So the space is what it is for now.  Nice, spacious and simple with plenty of room for dinner parties where I can get my Martha on.  Artwork is by my extremely talented cousin!

Dining Room

Lastly, we move in to the room where we spend the most time – our living room.  It’s really cozy and perfect during the cooler months.  We’ve been working to really incorporate meaningful pieces in to the space – each of our home state flags, photos from my hometown, a few tchotchkes from our trips.  Not much left in here to do design-wise but hang some more artwork, a mirror by the front door and a mirror to hang up blankets on by the floor lamp.

Living Room 1 Living Room 2 Living Room 3 Living Room - Bookcase Detail 1 Living Room - Bookcase Detail 2

So there you have it for now.  Our little home.  Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Office Space

I’ve been keeping a not so little secret.  I teased it earlier this week but it’s time to confess: we revamped our office… in January.  Jefe had been working from home a lot and apparently had been really discontent with the state of our office.  So on MLK weekend, he sprung on me that he wanted to redo the office.  I hadn’t even gotten to finish the plans I had for the office and we were already redoing it!  Luckily what he wanted was in line with the overall plan I had for the space.  But with all that said, we spent our holiday off work driving all the way to Torrance for a coveted desk we had to have…

As a little refresher, here’s what we were looking at last fall:

New Office Mood Board- Nov 2014

New Office Mood Board- Nov 2014

And thanks to Jefe’s impromptu redecorating request, here’s what we’re looking at:

Updated Office Plan

We had already purchased the rug from Pottery Barn over Christmas thanks to their annual sale and that desk is the major purchase from our day of impromptu shopping.  It required contacting no less than 5 local World Markets to find the one we really wanted (the floor model we saw was just too wobbly and beat up to consider taking it home).  So we drove the 45 minutes to Torrance and got the only one left in the greater Los Angeles area.

During the redecorating discussions I also convinced Jefe to examine and remedy our currently too-short cord situation so that we can shift over the Expedit with the TV to accommodate an armchair by the window and floor lamp; his girlfriend needs a reading nook!  While at World Market we spotted this chair and I’m pretty anxious to add it to the soon-to-be vacated corner.

Charcoal Oscar ChairNow, let’s talk desk chairs.  The day we went shopping, after we had secured the desk, we made a quick stop at Target.  Much to our surprise they had a gorgeous grey linen dining chair with nailhead trim for $85.  DONE.  I was stoked to find something so beautiful within our price range.  I thought it was too good to be true.

Target Camelot Nailhead Dining Chair

 Fast forward two months and our desk is going strong (minus a small nick that I’ll cover DIY solutions for in another post) but our desk chair, not so much.  Apparently you get what you pay for:

Busted - Target Nailhead Dining Chair

Busted - Target Nailhead Dining Chair 3

Busted - Target Nailhead Dining Chair 2

Neither of us have any idea how or when that happened.  Needless to say I insisted on returning it.  Jefe was skeptical as it had been two months and he didn’t have his original receipt.  But I insisted.  One quick trip to Target later and we had our $85 back.  Lesson: never doubt the Target return policy… but be weary of their furniture!

As the chair was DEFINITELY an impulse buy, we hadn’t checked the reviews, which turns out, are quite mixed.  So I did a little digging and after some inspiration from Ellen’s Design Challenge, I decided to give Wayfair a try.

We really had liked the look of the nailhead chair but also knew it had to be sturdier than the Target version, have a slightly larger seat (as the one we returned was admittedly a little small) and have a chair seat height of 19″.  That’s a LOT harder to find than you might think.

But after a full week of research, I landed on this beauty which we are currently awaiting delivery:

Hudson Nailhead Dining Chair

I can’t wait to finally see it in the space.  My only hesitation is that it might be TOO close to the Oscar arm chair we want.  So we’ll just have to wait and see.

For now, we’re still using one of our dining chairs at the desk until the new one arrives.  Not ideal, but it will do for now.

Office Revamp Preview

So what do you think?  I’m really loving the vibe the office is giving off.  A traditional, masculine study with a few feminine touches.

Heat Wave…

For those that don’t know, LA was slammed with an unexpected heat wave this past weekend.  It really feels like summer and has only accelerated my plans to redo our backyard.

Since we moved in last year we haven’t really had a chance to do much with the space but now that the weather has really turned towards summer, I’m raring to go.

Here’s where we currently stand:

Backyard 3 Backyard 2 Backyard 1

Backyard Pano

Most of my plans consist of working with what we’ve got.  I’d like to relocate the trash cans entirely out of the backyard, but that’s not really an option.  So I’m going to scoot them over to the back wall where I feel they’ll be less of an eyesore.  The wall they’re currently in front of only contributes to them sticking out like a sore thumb with that big empty orange wall above them.  As of right now, we have some crawling vines along the targeted back wall and they’ve only been filling in with each week.  I’m hoping in the coming months the vines will really liven up the space.

With the trash cans out of the way, I need to spruce up that giant blank wall.  One of our neighbors added a few free trellis panels they got last year so I’m planning to lean the two of those against the wall.  To anchor them and fill in the space with some visual variety, I’ll add one of the small potted trees in the middle and a bunch of existing potted plants along the base of each.  It will provide a secure foundation for the panels and the plants are varying heights so it will really give that wall some newfound visual interest.

And a really rough mock-up I shared with my landlord to get the A-OK:

Backyard Mock Up

Now with our new rearranged space, we’ll pull out our furniture set and grill for cookouts.  But we can’t just leave it at that, can we?  As most of our cookouts happen later in the day, we’ll need some string lights to brighten up the otherwise dark space.  As there aren’t any outlets, I’m on the hunt for some great solar options.  I really want those beautiful cafe bulb-style lights, but I have yet to find any in great solar options.

And since we’ll be the new place to hang, I’ll obviously need some backyard-BBQ safe dish ware and beverage containers for all of our guests, am I right?  And because I can’t get enough, I’ve decided to go with a blue theme which I think will contrast nicely with all the burnt orange painted stucco of the backyard walls.

Backyard Revamp - Mood Board

solar lights  |  lantern  |  string lights  |  goblet  |  silverware holder

beverage dispenser  |  dish ware  |  beverage bucket  |  table runner

chair pad  |  furniture  |  grill

Minted Is My Favorite Flavor

Artwork.  It’s a tough one to tackle.  It’s hard to justify the expense when you’re on a budget.  The usual haunts – Ikea, Target, World Market – you can’t rely on them for this category like you can for cheap accessories and fiscally-conscious furniture because no one wants to walk in to their aunt’s home and realize that Verna’s got the same fake painting over her couch as you.  Art stands out MUCH more than if you both, say, have the same Nate Berkus serving tray.

Usually I turn to Etsy, but let’s be honest, their site has become such a HUGE place for artists, that it’s often difficult to find something if you’re just in a browsing kind of mood.  It’s great if you know what you want, but what if you just want to peruse or are in the mood to maybe discover some new artists you never would have stumbled upon on your own?

Etsy 4 Million

4 MILLION options!

Enter MINTED.  They recently contacted me about checking out their site.  And I can honestly say with 120% certainty – WOW.  It’s an incredible resource for independent artists to showcase their work as well as us design-savvy folks looking for a bargain on an original piece.

Minted to the rescue

But it’s not just pretty pictures you guys – Minted has a TON of categories to offer, all created and curated by these lesser known, but oh-so-talented artists.  You’ve got your basic photos, paintings, etc. but you can also get custom art, unique stationary (including wedding invites and their latest addition: Save-the-Dates), fabric and home decor!  Had I discovered them a month ago, I totally would have ordered my holiday cards through them.  And honestly it was only a matter of time before I stumbled upon them on my own.  So in the vain of trying to provide you guys with new, exciting suggestions for decorating on a budget, I decided to give them a whirl.

As my apartment is really coming along and I rarely use stationary, I decided to focus on artwork for my much-needed, very bare walls.  After a little perusing I found the best part about the site (aside from the actual artwork) – if you find a print you like, they offer a TON of moderately priced, custom framing options.  No worrying about sorting through a crate of frames to find an un-dinged simple black number from Ikea!

Frame Options

Ladies and gents – you can now order custom-framed artwork from the comfort of your couch, in your matching flannel jammies, ON A BUDGET!  Not that I did that or anything….(yes, I was wearing the matching set version of this while watching the first episode of Agent CarterHayley Atwell, I want to be you when I grow up.)

So what caught my eye?  There were LOTS of options, many more modern than others.  My favorites weren’t necessarily Jefe’s favorites so I had to compromise.  I did end up selecting two photos, one that was perfect for framing in the kitchen and another one without a frame because it reminded me of home just too much to pass up.

Bottles with Frame

Open Door

(I ordered this one without the frame, but left on here to show the edges)

And who can turn down a stunning black & white photo for $20?!  I also decided to test out some of their other categories, so I picked up this new notebook for the office.

Arrow Journal

Overall, the site was super easy to use.  You can customize your searches based on style, shape, type, and color of the artwork.  They also have curated sections that include limited edition pieces.  Also most of the artwork can be shipped in multiple sizes which is great if you find something but are looking to fill wall space that is slightly smaller or larger than the original piece.  Once you select the art, you have ELEVEN different frame options including such awesome styles as reclaimed barn wood, whitewashed herringbone, and my personal favorite: distressed indigo stain.   I did, however, notice that for certain photos or artwork, certain framing options weren’t available, yet that same frame was for other photos.  Not sure what that was about.

Minted Frame Options

As my selected photo was intended for the kitchen, I knew I had to chose a frame wisely.  The distressed indigo stain was coincidentally a PERFECT match to my Melrose Trading Post chalkboard in the kitchen.  That alone was totally worth the cost and honestly, you’d pay just as much for a nicer frame from Aaron Brothers that you have to insert the image (with no matte) yourself.

The first item, the notebook, arrived about 5 days after I placed the order.  Apparently they ship as each piece is ready.

Minted Notebook 1

Minted Notebook 2

Minted Notebook 3

Minted Notebook 4

A week later I got my framed photo and was pleasantly surprised with how thorough the packaging was.  No doubt that it could have been thrown around and jostled heavily and it would have stayed in perfect condition.

Minted Packaging 2

Minted Thank You

And it came with a thank you note and free gift tags!  (Although I’m not sure why I got holiday ones since I order these pieces in January.)

Minted Thanks and Tags

I’m still waiting on the black & white photo, but I wasted no time in getting the other one hung.  My one gripe is that they pre strung the frame for hanging, only allowing me to hang vertically.

Prestrung

Now I know certain photographers and artists will say that they did that so the image can be hung as the artist intended HOWEVER not everyone abides by that.

Framed Photo

The photo I chose for framing I specifically wanted to hang horizontally to better fill the wall space I had intended for it to be placed.  I am not a fan of not at least being presented with the OPTION.  Now as Minted prides itself on supporting independent artists, I get that they strung the image as it was intended.  But that was not my intention when I bought it.  So they lose a point for that one.  They gain back a point for the sheer quality of work:

QUALITY!

Now for the grand reveal in our kitchen!

Minted in the Kitchen

Minted in the Kitchen 2

Minted in the Kitchen 3

I love the image and think that combined with the frame are perfect for the little nook above my stove. However, I wish I would have gone a size bigger.  Regardless, I still love the photo and am so happy with Minted’s service.  I will definitely be using them again.

And just for comparison, my Minted frame’s detail:

Minted Frame Detail

And our our chalkboard.  Very happy accident.  (And yes, Jefe’s aware that it’s his turn to change the message on the board….)

Chalkboard

So head on over to Minted and get yourself some art!  Or stationary!  Or anything really!  And they’re currently offering 15% off Valentine’s Day cards with code HEART as well as 20% off foil art and Valentine’s Day cards with code FOILLOVE!

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.

Falalala

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 😀

Mom's - Dining Room

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

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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