Monica Wants It: A Lifestyle Blog

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...do 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. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

No Bake One-Bite Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake Recipe

An unexpected ingredient makes these chocolate espresso cheesecake come together in just minutes! No bake and just a few ingredients.

My favorite food group on earth is definitely sweets, so it’s no surprise that I am obsessed with desserts. Now that it’s getting a bit hotter in South Texas I am determined to build up an arsenal of no bake desserts that are tasty and quick to put together for holidays and get togethers.

With Easter coming up, I know many of you will host an Easter brunch/lunch, so I developed a delicious cheesecake recipe that is easy to prepare, delicious and beautiful. These mini no bake cheesecakes feature a velvety chocolate and espresso filling that will remind you of the expensive cheesecake slices from your favorite restaurant.

You might be surprised to see that I used Nesquik Chocolate Powder Mix and Nescafe Clasico instant coffee to pull this cheesecake together. These unexpected ingredients can easily pack a punch in your baking in cake batters, frostings and cheesecakes—they’re full of flavor, affordable and likely already in your pantry.

An unexpected ingredient makes these chocolate espresso cheesecake come together in just minutes! No bake and just a few ingredients.

The batter itself is SO delicious, and I had trouble not licking the bowl!

An unexpected ingredient makes these chocolate espresso cheesecake come together in just minutes! No bake and just a few ingredients.

This whole recipe comes together in no time at all, and it’s easy enough for you to enlist help from your kiddos. If you need to make more cheesecakes, simply double the recipe. You could also make these into traditional cupcake size cheesecakes by doubling the recipe.

An unexpected ingredient makes these chocolate espresso cheesecake come together in just minutes! No bake and just a few ingredients.

Recipe Title:

No Bake One-Bite Chocolate Espresso Cheesecakes

Recipe Description:

These mini cheesecakes will be a hit with children and adults alike—the addition of espresso gives cheesecake a gourmet twist.

Preparation Time:

15 mins.

Cooking Time:

5 mins.

Standing Time:

0 mins.


Servings:

Serves 8 (3 cheesecakes per person)

Difficulty:

Easy

Ingredients:

Crust:

½ cup of graham cracker crumbs

4 tablespoons of melted butter

Pinch of salt

¼ cup of granulated sugar

Filling:

½ cup of Nesquik Chocolate Powder Mix

½ cup of La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk (or ½ cup of milk)

1 teaspoon of Nescafe Clasico coffee

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened

½ cup of whipped topping

¼ cup of granulated sugar

24 mini cupcake liners

Toppings (Optional):

Chopped pecans

Sliced strawberries

Directions:

Crust:

COMBINE all of the crust ingredients in a bowl and place into the bottoms of 24 mini cupcake liners set in a mini cupcake pan.

SET the pan in freezer while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

HEAT the La Lechera condensed milk, Nesquik powder and Nescafe Clasico in a small saucepan until ingredients come to a boil. Remove from heat.

BEAT the cream cheese until smooth with a hand mixer.

ADD in the granulated sugar and continue beating the cream cheese.

MIX in the chocolate espresso mixture.

FOLD in the whipped topping.

TAKE out the cupcake pan from the freezer and using a small cookie scoop (or tablespoon) place the cheesecake filling into each mini cupcake liner.

CHILL in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or in the freezer for about 45 minutes to set the cheesecake.

TOP with fresh strawberries or chopped pecans, if desired.

An unexpected ingredient makes these chocolate espresso cheesecake come together in just minutes! No bake and just a few ingredients.

Hope you enjoy this easy and tasty cheesecake recipe that will look adorable and classy on your Easter table. To view more recipe ideas, visit Nestle’s ElMejorNido.com.

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 April 8 at midnight CST—good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am a contributor to 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.

Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Put Up Wallpaper & Not Lose Your Mind

I know most of us that have bought fixer uppers end up having to remove wallpaper, but sometimes adding wallpaper is a great way to revamp a space and deal with pesky textured walls.

Wallpaper is a good choice for a small space such as a bathroom because it’s less wall space to cover so it’ll be a quick makeover.

Today I’ll walk you through some basics of using pre-pasted wallpaper to modernize a space—I’m using it to update my tiny guest bathroom. I ordered the majority of the supplies needed from my local True Value—the products worked well, were easy to use and very affordable.

Supplies:

-Pre-pasted wallpaper (textured wallpaper is great for uneven walls or heavily texture walls—I chose a faux grasscloth)

-Utility knife with plenty of blades

-Sponge

-Seam roller

-Wallpaper smoother

-Wallpaper prep tray

-Zinsser primer

-Straight edge tool

-Paint roller (I always use Purdy roller covers)

-Tube of wallpaper paste/seam repairer

Step 1: Prime your walls.

You’ll want to prime your walls so your wallpaper has a good clean surface to stick to. This is a step you won’t want to skip, trust me.

Step 2: Measure your walls.

 Putting wallpaper on your walls doesn't have to be intimidating. This post makes wallpaper application approachable and manageable!

I am not putting wallpaper all the way from ceiling to floor—I’m only wallpapering about 1/3 of the way so I can do a board and batten treatment. I measured how long my wallpaper would be from the ceiling to the point where I wanted my board and batten to start. Add about 4-inches to that measurement to allow for trimming. I pre-cut all my strips, BUT if you do this make sure your walls don’t have any high points that would require a longer length. I usually take measurements at 3 points on the wall to ensure it all works.

Step 3: Wet the wallpaper.

You can either use a wallpaper prep tray OR use a shower wand and a bathtub. Since I was in my bathroom working already, I opted for the latter. You have to essentially drench the backside of the wallpaper for it to activate the paste.

Then, it’s time to let the wallpaper “book” by folding the ends onto itself like this:

Putting wallpaper on your walls doesn't have to be intimidating. This post makes wallpaper application approachable and manageable, plus it's an easy way to class-up small spaces!

Your wallpaper roll will tell you how long to let it book—for mine it said 10 minutes. Another wallpaper I used last year took 15.

Step 4: Apply your first strip of wallpaper.

I always start at the spot that is most un-noticeable or hidden. By the time you perfect your technique, you’ll be at the spot that’s most visible.

You can use your straight edge or a level as guide, or you can eyeball it. If you have a geometric/striped pattern, I’d do a chalk line to ensure it’s 100% straight or else your pattern will end up crooked at some point. For my wallpaper, I just eyeballed it.

Unbook one half of your wallpaper and smooth it onto the wall making sure to leave about 1-2” of excess  (the bottom half should still be folded in):

Putting wallpaper on your walls doesn't have to be intimidating. This post makes wallpaper application approachable and manageable, plus it's an easy way to class-up small spaces!

Once your wallpaper is on the wall, move it into place making sure you do not stress the paper out by stretching it a lot—it WILL shrink when it dries, so if it’s totally out of place remove it from the wall and try again. When the wallpaper is wet, you have a long time to work with it…but don’t stretch the paper! Trust me on this, folks!

Once you have the top half in place perfectly, unfold the bottom and smooth it out. I use the sponge to soak up all the excess glue and water followed by a few strokes with the wallpaper smoother. Make sure when you use the wallpaper smoother, you don’t move around your wallpaper. Smooth out air bubbles to the nearest edge to let the air escape.

Putting wallpaper on your walls doesn't have to be intimidating. This post makes wallpaper application approachable and manageable, plus it's an easy way to class-up small spaces!

Step 5: Seams, corners and obstacles.

When you’re putting up wallpaper, your seams should butt up together and NOT overlap. A seam roller helps make seams less noticeable, but seams are just a natural part of wallpaper, especially grasscloth.

Corners are a little tricky, especially if your corners aren’t perfectly square/90-degrees (mine are more rounded, oddly enough). Here’s where your edges will overlap a bit by a ¼ inch or so, and you’ll need to use a bead of wallpaper paste to glue the edge down.

Light switches may seem intimidating, but they’re fairly easy with some relief cuts:

Putting wallpaper on your walls doesn't have to be intimidating. This post makes wallpaper application approachable and manageable, plus it's an easy way to class-up small spaces!

Now that I have my X-cut on my light switch area, I can use scissors to trim off the 4 triangles I created. Once the wallpaper is dry, I put the plate cover on, and I’m back in business.

Around things such as door casing or windows, I use my straight edge butted up against the casing to form a straight line for my utility knife to cut off the excess. This is also what I do when trimming the excess wallpaper at the ceiling. Cutting wallpaper will dull your blade quickly—I only use a blade for about 3-4 cuts before switching it out. Seems excessive, but it’s a small price to pay—dull blades can tear your wallpaper and undo all your hard work. Sharp blades are the best.

Overall, putting up wallpaper isn’t nearly as tedious as you might think as long as you have patience and a free afternoon. It’s a rewarding way to add pizazz, color and texture to your walls in a way simple interior paint can’t accomplish.

I still have to do to the board and batten and replace the doors and mirror, but for now here’s a sneak peek:

Putting wallpaper on your walls doesn't have to be intimidating. This post makes wallpaper application approachable and manageable, plus it's an easy way to class-up small spaces!

Since we’re replacing the doorjamb, I went ahead and popped off the old door casing, as seen above.

I’m carrying the board and batten moldings all around, and I think the bathroom will have a simple, bright, beachy vibe. The grasscloth wallpaper reminds me of some of my favorite hotels in the Gulf Coast region where I live.

Putting wallpaper on your walls doesn't have to be intimidating. This post makes wallpaper application approachable and manageable, plus it's an easy way to class-up small spaces!

Wallpaper doesn’t have to be so 1980’s when you use it in a fresh, modern and simple way. If you have any questions, or need some advice, feel free to drop them in the comments section!

I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

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