Monica Wants It: A Lifestyle Blog

Monday, August 31, 2015

Print Your Own Ribbon At Home: Epson LabelWorks Review

I get lots of random emails from companies pitching stuff to me (like one asking if I plan on writing about World Coconut Day..?!), but I got one in July that got my attention because it involved printing my own ribbon at home. Ribbon? Home? Personalized? Sign me up! So, the kind folks at Epson sent the LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit for me to review and try out.

A blogger's review of the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit which allows you to print your own personalized ribbon at home in minutes! Perfect for crafts, gifts, and parties.

First Impressions: I love that the kit is literally a kit. The container is reusable and it's easy to carry around the printer, cartridges, manual, etc. for a crafting party. You even have a bit of room to add tape, scissors, measuring tape (you'll see why below) or other crafty supplies.

A blogger's review of the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit which allows you to print your own personalized ribbon at home in minutes! Perfect for crafts, gifts, and parties.

The kit I received came with two ribbon packs-- a gold on navy ribbon and a black on beige (ivory-ish). There are lots of other colors, including gold on black, which is (of course!) the one I want next. The ribbon is 1/2 wide by 16 feet long, so it's a beefy size that's perfect for personalization. The "ink" and the ribbon are all in one spool. The kit uses 6 AAA batteries, or you can use an AC adapter.

A blogger's review of the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit which allows you to print your own personalized ribbon at home in minutes! Perfect for crafts, gifts, and parties.

Initially, I installed the navy ribbon to just play around with functions like text size, frames, graphics, fonts, etc. I quickly printed these two ribbons. I was really surprised that the gold was as nice and bright as it was. It's not a dull faux gold/mustard color, it's legit gold. Not super shiny, but a nice matte finish.

Some test prints using the gold on navy ribbon cartridge and the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit. Print your own ribbon at home for gifts, crafts and parties. A tutorial is included, in addition to a thorough review and tips.

As you can see, I used a frame on the top one and smaller text. On the bottom, I inserted a graphic. These graphics come pre-loaded and there are a ton of them. There's icons for occasions like birthdays, weddings, babies, plus more everyday stuff like arrows, smiley faces, and sports stuff. Honestly, these graphics aren't super fabulous, but they are cute enough. I don't think I'd personally use them that often, but I wanted to at least try them out. 

Monica Wants It reviews the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit. Print your own ribbon at home for gifts, crafts and parties. A tutorial is included, in addition to a thorough review and tips.

After those initial trials, I was ready to get down to business. One of my 2015 goals was to stop being a closet blogger. What I mean is that in my "real life" I don't really tell people I am a blogger. I am painfully shy about it, although I do believe I provide good content. So, I've decided I want to host a launch party for my new blog design once it launches in late 2015. It'll be a black, white and gold soiree (obvi!), and I want to give my guests cute favor boxes filled with treats. 

I bought these cute boxes at Hobby Lobby for $2, and I wanted to print MWI and my URL on some ribbon to wrap the boxes. This required a bit more thought because I needed to make sure the ribbon was long enough to wrap around the box. What I did was use a piece of white cheap ribbon (the 44-cent spools from Walmart) and wrap it the way I wanted it. I then undid the bow and measured the ribbon length in inches. It was 23.5", so I rounded it up to 24". This ribbon is used just for getting the measurement since you must use a ribbon cartridge to actually print the ribbon (see my 3rd pic in this post).

Monica Wants It reviews the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit. Print your own ribbon at home for gifts, crafts and parties. A tutorial is included, in addition to a thorough review and tips.

A great setting on the Epson LabelWorks printer (the button with the A in the magnifying glass over on the right hand side) allows you to see the length of the ribbon BEFORE printing it. I had typed out "MWI    MONICAWANTSIT.COM" in the middle font size, font Roman, and the length as is was 3.5". I then divided 24" by 3.5" to get how many copies I needed (more on that in a second).

Monica Wants It reviews the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit. Print your own ribbon at home for gifts, crafts and parties. A tutorial is included, in addition to a thorough review and tips.

The total was 6.85, or 7 copies-- BEFORE printing, you can tell the Epson LabelWorks printer how many copies (as few as 2 or as many as 9), or repeats, you need it to print. It's the button that looks like a bunch of stacked pages (copies) in the far right corner. I hit that button, press 7, and then press the green print button. 

It starts printing away! Woo. It took maybe a minute to print the 7 copies. It's fairly fast.

Monica Wants It reviews the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit. Print your own ribbon at home for gifts, crafts and parties. A tutorial is included, in addition to a thorough review and tips.

I LOVE IT! The fonts included are pretty awesome considering this little printer doesn't connect to a computer. It has both serif and sans serif fonts, script, UPPERCASE, shadow, outline, italic, bold...so many options. When you add in that you can customize font size, too, well...it's amazing. And useful. 

Once my printer finished printing, I pressed the blue arrow on the bottom and the green print button to advance the ribbon another inch so my text wouldn't be RIGHT on the edge. I then punched the big green button on the side to cut it. I measured it to see if my math worked properly, and it was right at 26 inches. YAY! Success.

Print your own personalized ribbon at home with the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit. Monica shows two different examples, plus she gives thorough tips and ideas for getting the most out of each ribbon cartridge. Perfect for parties, gifts and crafts.

I do want to point out a HUGE advantage of the Epson LabelWorks printer...it doesn't HAVE to be used with just their ribbon cartridges. They also sell regular label cartridges and iron-on cartridges perfect for moms who need to label sports uniforms or also perfect for Etsy sellers who want to brand their cloth items. 

Print your own personalized ribbon at home with the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit. Monica shows two different examples, plus she gives thorough tips and ideas for getting the most out of each ribbon cartridge. Perfect for parties, gifts and crafts.

Pros:
-Easy to use, lots of options that are easy to access
-Versatile uses (ribbon, iron-on, labels)
-Portable 
-Can print in horizontal or vertical orientations (Vertical would be great for DIY Christmas ribbon ornament hangers)
-Lots of fonts, icons, and frames
-Can print on up to 2 lines
-Can save up to 30 designs for repeated use
-Easy to plan your length before printing (use my tip above^^)
-Printer can make copies/repeats for you
-Quick, quiet

Cons:
-Ribbon cartridges are a bit $$. They average $20 each. I would be able to make about 7 ribbons out of one cartridge based on my example above. I'd likely have 25+ guests, so I'd need another 4 cartridges which would be $80.
-You cannot use your own ribbon...you have to use a ribbon cartridge. 

Overall, I do recommend the Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit for people wanting to make small quantities of personalized ribbons for parties, showers, holidays, crafts, etc. The printer itself is a great investment that will last many years for many different uses. Thanks to Epson for providing this kit for me to play with-- I can't wait to see what other crafts I can come up with!

What do you all think? Who wants to come to my launch party? 

Be back soon with a pumpkin tutorial. (No kitchen update this week, sorry guys!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kitchen Renovation: Week 3 Update

New here? Read about my kitchen renovation part 1 or part 2

I think I'm doing this a bit backwards. Today's post will be about kitchen inspiration. Why? Well, because we decided to take a break from the kitchen reno this past weekend. We needed a weekend of just NOT dealing with it.

I took naps. I started pulling out my fall decor. I watched a marathon of Beachfront Bargain Hunt. It was glorious to just not work, truth be told.

I have some General Finishes milk paint samples on the way in both the Snow White and Seagull Gray colors, and once those get in I'll go back into kitchen reno mode. We do have a spot to patch up on the kitchen ceiling near the sink. We'll install the track light again and the new chandelier (which got here today...the box is sitting on my dining room table). After that, it's time to commit one way or another. Stain or paint?

Here's my conundrum: Is it a home reno sin to paint over high quality oak cabinets? Will I hate painted grain? Those are the deep thoughts I have about 42 times a day. I know staining is easier, but I'm also not one to shy away from some hard work if the results are worth it, KWIM?

These are the kitchens that have me dreaming of gray or white cabinets with brass hardware. Source is under each photo:

Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com


Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com


Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com

Burlap and Blue (Design by Caitlin Wilson) Those coral accents...in love.

Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com

Design Manifest (Faucet can be found here)

Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com


I know some of you are dead set against two-toned kitchens, so I know that no matter what I pick I will have people who had hoped I had gone in the opposite direction. In terms of resale, I think some buyers will hate it, but on the other hand, some buyers may think it's unique and trendy. The brass hardware can easily be swapped back to the satin nickel hardware we have now, so the brass isn't permanent. 

And because I am an accessories maven, here are my some fab (and cheap!) gold/brass kitchen finds:

Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com
Brass Cake Stand // $17.99

Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com


Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com

Steve Vase // $12.95

Brass kitchen inspiration via monicawantsit.com

Gold Barware // $79

Hopefully the next post about the kitchen will involve me showing you all some painted/stained samples of oak, the newly installed chandelier, and the finished ceiling. I should just flip a coin, but chances are I'd flip it over and over getting me right back to indecisive lane. 

I'll be back soon to show you all how to print your own custom satin ribbons...this little gadget is so amazing. Can't wait to make custom ribbons for all the things!

Phase 1: Monica Wants It Kitchen Renovation Checklist

-Open up the kitchen layout (done!)
-Remove Popcorn Ceiling (done!)
-Paint Air Vent (done! $4)
-Paint Ceiling (in progress- $88 for paint & supplies)
-New Light Fixture for Bay Window/Breakfast Area (done! $133)
-Possible(?) New Fixture to Replace Track Lighting (keeping current one)
-Stain/Paint Cabinets
-Paint Walls
-Add in 4 More Recessed Lights
-Add Open Shelving  (adding a TV)
-New Cabinet Hardware
-Misc. Accessories/Supplies
-Table/Chairs/Bench for Breakfast Nook
-New Roman Shades for Bay Windows
-Add Moldings to Peninsula and Breakfast Area

Budget: $1,500 
Total Spent: $225 to Date

Monday, August 24, 2015

Caramel Pumpkin Fudge Brownie Recipe

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FunSizeMerienda #CollectiveBias
These three ingredient caramel pumpkin brownies are so easy and come out tasting like a decadent piece of fudge (with far less calories!)

It's pumpkin season, it's pumpkin season! I am so excited to bring to you today these THREE ingredient brownies...yes, three. This is such a fantastic recipe because it's easy and it doesn't require any measuring at all. 

This type of recipe is really one that would be great to do with children-- whether they be your own, or you could borrow your nieces and nephews for a fun afternoon or after school baking session. My niece and nephew are at the perfect age to do fun things like baking, and these brownies are the perfect merienda (light snack typically served between lunch and dinner). They're very moist and come out almost fudge like, so they won't have the same consistency as a traditional brownie. 

These three ingredient caramel pumpkin brownies are so easy and come out tasting like a decadent piece of fudge (with far less calories!)

I remember growing up my grandma would make herself a HUGE cup of coffee every day when I got home from school as her merienda tradition. Y'all...it was seriously the biggest mug I've ever seen, and she'd have her coffee with a piece of pan dulce (pastry/sweet bread) while watching her Spanish soap operas. It's a memory that always makes me smile from my childhood, and I'm fairly confident she's the reason why I must have a merienda, or my three o'clock snack and drink every day. 

These three ingredient caramel pumpkin brownies are so easy and come out tasting like a decadent piece of fudge (with far less calories!)

A favorite go-to snack of mine is fun size candy, especially the M&M's, which are my ultimate favorite. My colleagues at work also share in my chocolate addiction, and fun size treats help us get our chocolate fix in a pre-portioned size. 

BUT...Fun size bars are also great for baking! The bite size bars are easy to cut or put through the food processor for tasty additions to cookies, cakes, bundt cakes and cupcakes. You can find the big bags of fun size bars in the candy aisle at your local Walmart. Take half to work and leave the other half in your pantry for quick treats.


My latest favorite candy is the Milky Way Simply Caramel bar. I like to let it melt into my coffee for a coffeehouse inspired drink. This candy was the inspiration for this whole brownie.

The richness and creamy caramel means a small serving will satisfy your sweet tooth. I'll also share a easy pumpkin spice cream cheese glaze that is perfect with these fudgy brownies, but they are good on their own, too.

Caramel Pumpkin Fudge Brownies 
9 servings
-1 box of family size (19.5 oz) dark chocolate brownie mix 
-1 (15 oz.) can of canned pumpkin
-8 Milky Way Simply Caramel  Fun Size Bars

These three ingredient caramel pumpkin brownies are so easy and come out tasting like a decadent piece of fudge (with far less calories!)

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pour the brownie mix into a bowl.
Step 2: Mix in the canned pumpkin. Stir until there's no brownie mix visible.
Step 3: Chop up the Milky Way Fun Size Bars and mix into the batter.
Step 4: Pour the batter into an 8x8 or 9x9 greased brownie pan. 
Step 5: Bake for 35-40 minutes (some ovens may be done around the 30 minute mark) and let cool for 30 minutes before applying cream cheese glaze.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Glaze
-4 oz. cream cheese
-1/2 cup of confectioner's (powdered sugar), sifted
-1 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice
-3-5 tbsp of pumpkin spice coffee creamer (or milk)

Step 1: Beat the cream cheese and confectioner's sugar until smooth. 
Step 2: Add in the lemon juice and creamer. Beat until smooth. If a more runny glaze is desired, increase the amount of milk.

At first these brownies will seem like they're not cooked, but they're meant to be more like fudge and less like a dry brownie. They're thick, and there will be caramel pockets in each brownies followed by that subtle hint of pumpkin. Pumpkin, dark chocolate and caramel go so well together. 

These three ingredient caramel pumpkin brownies are so easy and come out tasting like a decadent piece of fudge (with far less calories!)

I personally feel that icing is a must on these brownies, but you could omit it. I have a huge sweet tooth, so icing is never optional to me. 

These three ingredient caramel pumpkin brownies are so easy and come out tasting like a decadent piece of fudge (with far less calories!)

If you'd love more back to school merienda/after school snack ideas, please head over here. Lots of great ideas from moms and other bloggers for some tasty treats and fun activities.

Please pin this recipe to help spread the word about these amazing three ingredient brownies or share on your fave social network. I'll be back on Wednesday with a week 3 kitchen update. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Home Decorators Aldridge Dining Table Review

Want a Restoration Hardware style dining table? This blogger found the aldridge dining table that shaves $1500+ off the RH price. Full review and details at monicawantsit.com

I've had my aldridge dining table (in the gray finish) from Home Decorators Collection (owned by Home Depot) since October-ish of last year. I snagged the table when it was on sale with free shipping during Labor Day 2014, plus I stacked a coupon code on top of it AND I checked out using Ebates to get a percentage back on my purchase. All in, I think I ended up paying between $700-$800 with tax. Not too bad for such a gorgeous table.

Chances are you're looking to upgrade your dining table in time for the upcoming holidays, so I hope this review helps you make an informed decision. 

I didn't choose my dining table easily...I debated for over a year and scoured the web, stores and catalogs to find a Restoration Hardware inspired table for a WAY lower price. I found a lot that had the beefy style, but lacked in quality. I found some that were great quality, but in the wrong color/finish.

Want a Restoration Hardware style dining table? This blogger found the aldridge dining table that shaves $1500+ off the RH price. Full review and details at monicawantsit.com

For me, the aldridge dining table was the happy medium of everything I wanted-- beefy, antique gray finish, weathered/rustic, glamorous, durable, and most importantly, affordable. 

The Restoration Hardware tables always felt like they were unfinished or unsealed to me. They had a chalky finish which I thought would be a nightmare for things like red wine or spaghetti sauce. It felt as if it would be absorb any stain or liquid, and I wanted none of it. I wanted a table that could withstand crazy game nights, Thanksgiving feasts, arts and crafts, and Sunday brunches. 

In some of the reviews on the Home Decorators site they complain about the finish feeling/looking like plastic. I'd respectfully disagree. To me it looks like a table that's been properly sealed to ensure a lasting finish and protection from food/drink. It's not shiny, but it's not matte. It's a satin finish. There is a lot of texture to the table, which Daniel doesn't love, but it feels just right to me. Dings and scratches would just add to the character, so it's perfect for kids.

Aldridge dining table review: Restoration Hardware style for a lot less. Table seats 6-10 people.

The leaf in the center is SO EASY to open, and I love that it's self containing. No need to store boards or extensions. There's a visible crease, and no the table (with or without the leaf) isn't seamless when it's all opened. However, I usually have runners and a tablescape on there, so for me it's a non-issue.

Aldridge dining table review: Restoration Hardware style for a lot less. Table seats 6-10 people.

Assembly was straight forward, but it did require my awesome father-in-law to come help my husband flip it over. I'd safely say it'll take a minimum of two people to flip it over. It's heavy, sturdy, but oh so beautiful. The table comes in several boxes, and I recall getting 80% of it one day and then the other parts about 1-2 weeks later. Having to assemble it wasn't a deal breaker for us because we were thrilled to be able to get our heirloom quality table at such a bargain price.

My favorite part is the gorgeous trestle base. It instantly stands out and makes the table a total stunner (ignore my studio light in the background...I was multi-tasking).

The aldridge dining table is about HALF the price of the comparable Restoration Hardware version. This blogger gives a full review of everything from the quality, finish, comfort and durability.

The table with the leaf closed comfortably seats 6 using only the sides. If you add captain's chairs at the ends, I think the person would hit their knees on the base, but it depends on the chair and the person. We only have 6 chairs right now, and it's plenty roomy. With the leaf in, this table EASILY seats 8 (4 on each side) or 10 (4 on each side plus captain's chairs with plenty of room). Once the leaf is in, the ends extend further out creating more space for the captain's/head chairs. 

Our chairs are from World Market, and we snagged them on clearance as they were being phased out. This chair from World Market would also work, as would this one from Home Decorators. A matching bench would also look stunning and give a more casual look.

The aldridge dining table is about HALF the price of the comparable Restoration Hardware version. This blogger gives a full review of everything from the quality, finish, comfort and durability.

We give this table four out of five stars: we knocked off half a star for the crack/seam when the leaf is closed (it seems a tad too large- we wish it were smaller) and we knocked off another half for the ends not being too comfy when the leaf isn't out.

Hope this helps answer any questions about the table that you may have. Overall, we saved over $1,500 from the Restoration Hardware price, so the aldridge dining table from Home Decorators Collection is a BARGAIN and a luxe for less home run.

If you have any questions about this table, please leave a comment and I'll reply. :) Happy dining!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Kitchen Renovation Week 2 Update

We're on the second week of our kitchen renovation (read week 1 recap here), and I'm a wee bit stressed.

It is safe to say that in a kitchen renovation you will:
-Cry
-Laugh
-Cry some more
-Second guess your decisions
-Love something and then hate it
-Hate something and then love it
-Fight with your spouse
-Contemplate selling your house as is
-Feel sore
-Wonder why you did this to yourself
-Clean repeatedly and find dust in odd places
-Clean some more and then clean again
-Eat out a lot
-Miss out on social outings
-Have to neglect your DVR

We're still working on the darn ceiling. Scraping the ceiling was the EASY part-- it's getting it into good shape that is the hard part after that. We got one portion looking FLAWLESS (it looks really good):


Then there's this one section near the sink that is a hot mess.

We need to sand some more and get it looking good, but at this point I feel like all we've accomplished is getting part of the ceiling finished. Plus, there's so much dust and clean-up when you work on ceilings...I'm SO OVER IT, y'all. 



I'm a perfectionist at heart, so I really want this ceiling to look perfect. So, we'll keep working at it until it is nearly perfect.

I want to thank all of you who chimed in with your opinion on whether to go espresso/java or white. Espresso won by a landslide, but I still honestly have not made up my mind. I love the dark kitchen for its modern aesthetic, but a white kitchen looks so crisp and dreamy. I'm doing some test swatches to figure out my game plan, and once I commit I will post about it.

Luckily choosing a new chandelier for the breakfast nook area by the window wasn't that difficult. I ended up choosing this chrome chandelier beauty from Overstock.com.


The chandelier will be placed inside the medallion I fell in love with at Amazon. I think ceiling medallions are an inexpensive way to give mega oomph to light fixtures.

I also settled on a wall paint color IF we end up going the dark cabinet route. Revere pewter by Benjamin Moore (color matched at Sherwin Williams) is the most gorgeous greige color. It's creamy, dreamy and just perfection. I think it'll even look good in a white kitchen, so I suppose I'm set on this wall paint color regardless. Originally, we wanted open shelving in the area seen below, but now we're thinking of adding a small TV so we can be entertained while cooking. So excited!


My goal was to have this done by mid-September, but I am thinking that might be a tall order given the ceiling dilemma. Here's an updated breakdown of our budget/projects:

Phase 1: Monica Wants It Kitchen Renovation Checklist

-Open up the kitchen layout (done!)
-Remove Popcorn Ceiling (done!)
-Paint Air Vent (done! $4)
-Paint Ceiling (in progress- $80 for paint & supplies)
-New Light Fixture for Bay Window/Breakfast Area (done! $138)
-Possible(?) New Fixture to Replace Track Lighting (keeping current one)
-Stain/Paint Cabinets
-Paint Walls
-Add in 4 More Recessed Lights
-Add Open Shelving  (adding a TV)
-New Cabinet Hardware
-Misc. Accessories/Supplies
-Table/Chairs/Bench for Breakfast Nook
-New Roman Shades for Bay Windows
-Add Moldings to Peninsula and Breakfast Area

Budget: $1,500 
Total Spent: $222 to Date

I'll be back on Wednesday with a review (finally!) of the aldridge dining table from Home Decorators that we bought last year. We've owned it almost a year, so it seems like a good time to attest to its durability and quality. See ya Wednesday!