Monica Wants It: A Lifestyle Blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

DIY Landscaping for Newbies

I'm so proud that the boxwoods we planted last year are still alive and well! Yay! It's been a year since we did our first major landscaping project, and I can safely say that it won't be our last. I'll never be as fabulous as my grandmother who was born with a green thumb, but I've come to value how landscaping can make a house more beautiful. We've added flood lights recently to accent the landscaping, as well as soaker hose under the mulch that I still need to bury some more.

Up until now Daniel and I have focused on landscaping the front of the house because it's the part most visible, and I since I now have a bit more confidence in my gardening abilities I expanded into planting flowers in a planter. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

My go-to product for healthy shrubs and flowers is SCOTTS MIRACLE-GRO:

It's what my mom uses on all of her beautiful plants, and it's easy to find here locally. Affordable, easy to use, and foolproof are my criteria when purchasing items for my yard. Daniel is the designated weed eater around here, and he loves Round Up products.

Now that the front yard is off to a great start, I'd like to plant some things in the backyard around the bay window to bring in more color, textures and beauty since our back patio is adjacent to that area.

After a stressful day, I love spending time watering the plants and enjoying the fresh air. It's a mega stress reliever for me, and it also helps me not spend quite so much time in front of the TV. Pee Wee runs around chasing butterflies in the backyard, so hopefully more flowers will attract more cute things for Pee Wee to chase.

My inspiration for the backyard centers around the concept of raised beds. I want to enjoy the flowers outside, but I'd still love for them to be high enough to enjoy the view from the kitchen/breakfast nook area.

Photo credit: My Daily Randomness

I also love this easy DIY window box! I want to make one for every window of our house- how gorgeous is this?

Photo Credit: Jessica N Designs

Daniel and I still haven't decided which direction we'll take just yet, but you can be sure we'll share the before and after on the blog. If you need garden ideas and tips, make sure to visit

Enter to win one of two gardening starter packs below! The pack comes with 10 gardening pods, floral shears and garden gloves.

Remember to always read and follow label directions for the referenced products.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Scotts . The opinions and text are all mine.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dark Chocolate Espresso Popsicles Recipe

A popsicle recipe using only three ingredients: skinny cow candy, condensed milk & instant coffee. So easy and it sounds delicious!

You’ll notice a trend in my dessert creations—chocolate and coffee. The two pair well together and it always tastes like a gourmet creation from a fancy bistro, right?

Desserts that come together without any baking or fancy ingredients are always my go to, and today’s Dark Chocolate Coffee Popsicles are easy to make with just THREE ingredients.

I do love baking, but I also love using common ingredients to make tasty delights. I think desserts that are cold are a hit beginning in the month of May—with Mother’s Day BBQ’s, Memorial Day grilling and weekends spent on the patio comes the need to stay cool in the heat.

I really love these popsicles for Mother’s Day because my mom loves coffee and chocolate, as most moms probably do. I think my mom would think these popsicles are heaven on a stick! Here are the three ingredients you’ll need for today’s recipe:

A popsicle recipe using only three ingredients: skinny cow candy, condensed milk & instant coffee. So easy and it sounds delicious!

Nestle Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters, Nestle La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk and Nescafe Clasico when mixed together create a sweet and chocolaty popsicle. I want to use condensed milk in my coffee from here on out—look at how beautiful and creamy it looks. It’s also very sweet, so feel free to add more or less sweetened condensed milk depending on your taste.

A popsicle recipe using only three ingredients: skinny cow candy, condensed milk & instant coffee. So easy and it sounds delicious!

I’ll walk you through the simple steps below.

A popsicle recipe using only three ingredients: skinny cow candy, condensed milk & instant coffee. So easy and it sounds delicious!

Recipe Title:

Dark Chocolate Coffee Popsicles

Recipe Description:

Take the concept of iced coffee to new heights by adding in chopped Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters to create a creamy popsicle perfect for hot summer days.

Preparation Time:

10 mins.

Cooking Time:

2 mins.

Standing Time:

8 hours


Serves 4




¾ cup (6 ounces) of La Lechera Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 ¼ teaspoon of Nescafe Clasico coffee

10 ounces of water

2 bags of Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters


Popsicle Molds (one that makes 4)


HEAT the 10 ounces of water in a microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until hot.

MIX the Nescafe Clasico coffee into the hot water.

ADD in the 6 ounces of sweetened condensed milk into the coffee mixture and stir until creamy in color.

CHOP the Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters into bite size pieces until you have a crumby texture.

MIX the candy pieces into the coffee.

POUR the candy and coffee mixture into the popsicle molds.

FREEZE for at least 8 hours—sweetened condensed milk mixtures tend to take longer to freeze.

REMOVE popsicles from the mold by running warm water over the mold for 30 seconds and pulling the handle upwards to remove the popsicle.

A popsicle recipe using only three ingredients: skinny cow candy, condensed milk & instant coffee. So easy and it sounds delicious!

The Skinny Cow Dreamy Cluster pieces melt into the coffee mixture, so you have a hint of chocolate in every bite, but you’ll really enjoy lots of chocolate at the top of the popsicle since some of the larger chunks will sink down while freezing—it’s so tasty!

To view more recipe ideas, visit Nestle’s I’m also giving away a $50 Visa gift card to one of my lucky readers. Enter using the widget below—giveaway will be open until May 4 at midnight CST—good luck!

I am a member of the Nestlé El Mejor Nido and help spread the word about Nestlé El Mejor Nido. As a team member, I receive product and incentives in exchange for participating in Nestlé El Mejor Nido brand related activities and spreading the word about their products.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Portland Trip Recap & My National Award #PDX

Oh, Portland. I love(d) you so.

Well, except for all the darn rain. How do you #PDXers do it?! My gosh. Albeit the rains were short lived and light, so I suppose things could be worse.

All the rain aside, Portland, Oregon is hands down one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. The gorgeous trees, beautiful rivers, gardens galore, and all of the NICE people. People say Texans are nice, but I'd say the Portland folks have us beat. You all are ridiculously nice.

I won't bore you all with a totally detailed recap, but I HAVE to hit on some highlights.

Killer Burger
The best meal, and quite possibly the best burger, I've ever had the pleasure of eating was at Killer Burger. I had the Jose Mendoza, which has a ton of green chiles, cheese and bacon, y'all. Hubby had the Epic Burger, and it totes lived up to it's name. Besides tasting helluva good, the prices were affordable. No overpriced, downtown prices. Cocktails were also very tasty and unique. Five stars!

The Jose Montoya burger from Killer Burger in #PDX

Food honorable mentions: Pieology in the Pioneer District and the pretzel with cheese/mustard dip from Deschutes Brew Pub. Oh, and a shout out to Henry's Tavern for having Dos Equis on tap. This Latina girl was thankful!

Most overrated place: VooDoo Donuts. Seriously, Krispy Kreme is better. 

Japanese Gardens & International Rose Garden
The day we went here I was having a crazy stressful day (it would later turn out to be the best day of the trip, but I'll get to that in a bit). The calm and the stress release I felt while walking around such a beautiful place cannot be adequately expressed in words. I just completely let go of my stress. It could be that I was breathless from all the stairs (I really felt how unfit I was in PDX), but it was breathtaking. Literally. :)

Japanese Gardens in #PDX

The International Rose Garden wasn't full of roses just yet, but it was still worth the visit. I can only imagine how beautiful it is once the roses bloom later this spring. Maybe one day I will make it back and smell the roses.

Accommodations (Hotels)
The purpose of my Portland trip was to attend a national marketing conference, so I had to stay at the host hotel. For one night of my trip the host hotel was fully booked, so we ended up staying at the Kimpton Hotel Vintage Plaza on Broadway. The hotel had re-opened just three days prior to our arrival after an extensive remodel, so it was in brand new condition. It was swanky, y'all. The hotel isn't one I could afford to stay at without Hotwire or Priceline, but if you can afford it. Each room is themed after a vineyard, and is so gorgeous and modern. You can see the nifty nightstands and beautiful headboard below. I will say, the room was a bit small. It was in the heart of downtown with easy access to many eateries and bars. Two thumbs up!

The rest of our time we stayed at the Marriott Portland Waterfront. Meh. The room felt very 1995, but to be fair they're undergoing a remodel. The construction noise started at 7:45 am and wouldn't stop til about 5 pm, which was a smidge annoying. I also thought the location was a bit out of the way, and it wasn't near the streetcar nor MAX line. And the final nail in the coffin--the bar cannot make a decent margarita. I wouldn't recommend this hotel, but the manager (Bill) is nice and really does listen to his customers. 

I won a national award!
You guys...I won a national award! At the conference I was at they hand out national awards (gold, silver or bronze) for various marketing, PR and advertising work by community college professionals. I entered a Facebook campaign I executed in May 2014 and I won the GOLD in the social media marketing campaign category. The campaign cost $212.75 and brought in over $30,000 of revenue to the college. *Pats self on back*

I was super, duper shocked to win gold. Truth be told, I was really hoping I wasn't having a Taylor Swift moment and Kanye was gonna bust out telling me Beyonce had the best social media campaign of all time.

But, it was all true and legit! Here I am below with my Paragon Award. Daniel has named him Perry the Paragon, so it's a running joke now at work. Sometimes marketing peeps don't get any credit for their hard work, so this award means the world to me. I feel validated. I'm going to take it to all my work meetings now and place it on the table when someone thinks I don't know what I am doing... like a boss.

Besides eating, award winning, sight seeing and getting rained on, my husband also got to explore all the great craft beers available in Portland. He loved it so much he brought NINE bottles/bombers home, and that meant that Monica couldn't bring home any wine. Boo.

Here's my hubby totally in cloud nine at Bailey's Tap Room.

It also happens I was there on one of the last days for the famous PDX carpet. It was neat and a bit nostalgic. And here's a tip if you go to Portland-- PDX (airport) has the most affordable souvenirs ever. I thought they'd all be closed since we were leaving at 6 am, but nearly everything was open. They had a shirt for $10 that I paid $25 in a downtown gift shop. Blah.

Some other things we did were go to Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (a waste of $46- it's best for children), ride the underground part of the MAX line from the Oregon Zoo, go to City Target, peruse Powell's Books, drink at Fatheads Brew Pub, and walk more than I ever thought possible. 

Portland- I miss you! Any of you been to PDX (or live there!) and want to add your must sees and must eats? Drop them in the comments section.

DIY tutorials are coming your way later this week, yay! xoxo.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Black & White Striped Curtains

Remember the post about my absolutely tragic experience with painting curtains? And remember I was lusting over a gorgeous pair from Overstock and they were out of stock?

Well, so many of you commented, emailed or pinned those curtains, so here's a PSA from me to you... They're back in stock! Click here to go buy them and save yourself the pain of sewing or painting striped curtains.

Striped Dupioni Grommet Top Blackout Curtain Panel Pair

I bought them yesterday (squee!), and I should get them sometime next week, so as soon as I put them up I'll do a photo shoot and review. If you want to buy them and earn cash back, make sure to sign up for Ebates. You get a percentage back every time you make a purchase (I got 6% back on my curtains!), and every quarter you get a big fat check. I'm getting over $300 back in May because I shop online a ton. I also use it to book my hotel stays.

Also, I have a giveaway going on for a $50 Visa gift card. The lucky winner could be you. Be back Wednesday with my Portland, Oregon trip recap...I'll give you a quick synospis: it rained. 
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