Monica Wants It: A Lifestyle Blog: February 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Master Bath {Renovations}

We demolished our bathroom.

That’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. Although if you knew what brought on our demolish rampage, you might feel a little differently.

You see, it was last Saturday or so and I was sitting on my butt all day thoroughly enjoying the Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family. Then something struck within me that made me feel like I needed to do something. So, I got up and decided to give the master bathroom a good scrub down. As I started working on that, I thought to myself:

What if instead of completely gutting the bathroom, we gave it a facelift and did a full reno in a few years?

With my new idea in mind, I went to tell my husband who was basically sick with the flu and delirious due to many doses of Nyquil. He liked the idea, and so we went to the bathroom to remove a panel of those faux tile thingies. Ugh, who the hell thought of those? Probably the cousin of whoever invented wood paneling, right? Geez.

And…we found a hot mess under the faux tile panel surrounding the shower enclosure. The drywall was moist and I could see mold.

So much for that idea.

And then Daniel says something that only someone who has had too much Nyquil can say:

Harry Potter is so strong and keeps going after Voldemort. We can demo this bathroom and make it nice.

People, I cannot make this stuff up.

While the thought of just saying a few spells is tempting, it’s not going to be that easy.

image

image credit: cheezburger.com

With the power of Harry Potter in us, we started to demolish our bathroom. And by demolish I mean daintily remove our ugly linen cabinet and vanity. That’s all. We still have a shower stall and toilet in there because we don’t have the tools to demo those just yet. And truthfully, we’re keeping the toilet since it’s a fancy Kohler one and perfectly good. A sledgehammer is on my shopping list for this weekend to tackle the heinous shower stall though.

image

The photo above shows what 8 hours of Harry Potter will do to a man with the flu. And it also shows what I mean by faux tile panels.

I don’t quite know what to do next. Once we have most of the bathroom down to the studs, it’d be a lovely time to get the pros out for estimates. We are pretty sure we need a plumber, electrician and a tile dude. Finding pros in my tiny town is proving to be quite a feat. I find 4 different numbers for one pro and they’re all disconnected. If something goes wrong on this reno, am I going to be able to get in contact with him to get it fixed? Oh the stress. Am I overreacting?

Part of me just wants to put the vanity back and live with it, but now that I’ve seen moisture warped walls and mold, there’s no turning back. Also, I am 99.9% sure that nothing has been done or upgraded in this bathroom since it was built in 1979. With the exception of wallpaper being put OVER wallpaper and faux tile panels.

Fugly y’all. Just ew.

Now I need a new vanity, a shower stall with fixtures, and tile.

Vanity Contender, via Overstock.com:

image

Shower Fixture Contender, via Overstock.com:

image

Tile Contender, via Floor & Décor Outlets:

image

My biggest conundrum right now is do I want a shower stall with a pre-fabricated base (which requires moving of the drain by a plumber) or do I want a custom shower pan created around the current drain?

Pre-Fab Shower Pan:

image

Custom Shower Pan:

image

So, that’s where we’re at.

I am worried that no matter how much research, prep and work I do on these pros, I will end up with a shoddy bathroom. Which then makes me decide to DIY this whole thing, but I have no experience in doing so…then I really might end up with a shoddy bathroom.

Maybe it’s time to stop watching so much Holmes on Homes; it just leads to contractor paranoia.

Dear Harry, what have I gotten myself into?

Help.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wine & Dine {Recipe & Review}

My husband and I love to eat out, but doing that too often drains our bank account and expands our waistline. So, we try to eat in as much as we can at home. We make the usual things like pasta, chicken with wild rice or grill up some burgers. But sometimes you want something special to eat that is tasty, affordable and makes the meal feel a little fancier. We love to do that sort of thing on Wednesday nights because we love to watch comedy Wednesday together on ABC. It’s 2 hours of laughing, cuddling together and forgetting about work stress.

And one way to forget about stress?

Wine.

My husband and I both like wine, though I’ll safely say I like it a lot more than he does. He only likes the sparkling kind, which works out great because sparkling Moscato-type of wines go with anything. I love to try new wines, and I tend to usually buy wine that’s about $8-$15 a bottle. Depending on the stress levels at work during the current week, I tend to have wine about 3-4 times a week with my dinner.

Yesterday we headed to Walmart after work to put together a quick, bistro inspired meal to have with some tasty wine. Usually we look at recipes and pick something to make, but this time we just decided to walk around and see what inspired us. We took the Sandra Lee (from Food Network) approach and decided on a semi-homemade meal. Ingredients that are already prepared + some creativity=restaurant quality meal at home.

For a lot less.

I decide on sliced french bread to create our bistro style mini sandwiches. This will be great with wine!

Daniel and I decide on the arugula and spinach organic salad blend. Arugula is spicy and tasty. Perfect!

Any good salad needs yummy tomatoes. Plus it'll go great with wine/bread.

Daniel and I ended up settling on mini roast beef & cheddar sandwiches paired with an arugula & spinach salad garnished with grape tomatoes. For dessert, a vanilla strawberry shortcake. And of course, wine. This meal is affordable (you can easily serve 4 people), healthy/fresh and QUICK to make.

Mini Roast Beef Sandwiches:

-Roast Beef (we bought the one from the deli)

-Brown gravy (optional)

-Sliced french bread

-Shredded cheddar

Salad:

-Arugula & spinach organic salad blend

-Grape tomatoes

-Dressing

Dessert:

-Angel food cakes

-1 cup fresh strawberries

-2 tbsp Torani french vanilla syrup

-Whipped cream

-Chocolate chips (optional)

If you’re making this right after you get home from the grocery store, make sure to chill your wine in the freezer so it’s cold and ready by the time your meal is done.

Heat your oven to 200 degrees, and put your sliced french bread on a cookie sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes.

DSC02823

After the 5 minutes is done, take out the bread and garnish each slice with a pinch of shredded cheese. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Then turn oven off and leave bread in oven until you’re ready to top with roast beef.

DSC02828

Meanwhile, warm up your gravy according to the package instructions (we bought the gravy in a jar since we like the ease of storing leftover gravy). Once your gravy is warm, add in roast beef. Let cook on medium for about 5-7 minutes.

DSC02831

Once your bread and roast beef are warmed up, prepare your salad. This is such an easy, yet flavorful salad. We halved the grape tomatoes and put them in a bowl with the arugula and spinach salad. Add in some salt, pepper and about 2 tbsp of dressing and toss until everything is coated.

DSC02837

DSC02843

Then grab a plate, load up half of it with your healthy salad, mini roast beef sandwiches (I drizzled mine with gravy) and enjoy with a glass of wine.

DSC02855

DSC02892

The wine we picked out for our TV night bistro meal is Moscato D’Asti by Bella Bolle. At $7.97 it was an affordable way to jazz up a simple salad and sandwich meal. It has a nice, yet subtle sweetness to it that makes it a wine that will be universally liked by anyone. Some people don’t like reds or pinot grigio, etc. This wine is easily palatable by anyone. It’s bubbly, refreshing and classy. It would also be great for a girls night in movie night or to use in a spiked punch. I’ll be buying this wine regularly from now because my husband actually really, truly liked this wine.

It must be the bubbles.

And since I have the world’s largest sweet tooth, I had to whip up a quick dessert. This takes 5 minutes, tops.

Take about 2 handfuls of strawberries and cut off the green stuff. Then slice them up into bite size chunks.

DSC02865

Put strawberries in a microwave safe bowl and add in 2 tbsp of Torani sugar free vanilla syrup. Make sure all the strawberries are coated and microwave for 1 minute.

DSC02869

Then you just top the angel food cake with some strawberries and whipped cream. I garnished mine with some chocolate chips, too. The vanilla syrup tends to drip down and soak into the angel food cake which makes it so delicious.

DSC02878

And then it’s time for another serving of wine in my most favorite wine glass.

DSC02895

Having wine with dinner at home makes an everyday occasion into a special occasion. With wines as low as $2.97 at my local Walmart, it’s nice to know that adding wine to our grocery list won’t break the bank. And it’s also so much more affordable than wine at a restaurant. My fave wines are Moscatos, but another really good one is the Barefoot Sweet Red.

image

It is amazing, and I don’t even care for red wine. If your dinner guest doesn’t like wine all that much, then the sparkling wines are a great option. Need some wine on the go (legally, of course)? Then look at these new wine pouches.

These lovelies are new. They are also pretty convenient for picnics or girls night in.

I may buy some wine pouches next time I need some for girls night in.

How often do you have wine? Where do you buy it from? Any brands or wines you’d recommend to a gal like me?

This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  All opinions, photos and ideas are all my own. #cBias

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ms. Brown & NYC Sights {#MMSMuseum Travel}

Today is my final post about my NYC trip. Sad face.

The whole point of the trip was to meet Ms. Brown at the M&M’S Museum of Chocolate Art, and I must say that as a media studies junkie, I love what Mars chose to do with Ms. Brown. They have created a persona/character that is witty, funny, intelligent and a WOMAN. I know people might be like, It’s a candy character, why take it so seriously? But honestly, I do. I feel that in our media and advertising sometimes companies and agencies choose to be cliché or engage in gender stereotypes, and I love that Ms. Brown is a strong, educated candy character. The thought that went into creating her “credentials” was very evident at the M&M’S Museum event.

MMSMuseum180

MMSMuseum182

MMSMuseum188

MMSMuseum189

MMSMuseum190

And I also feel Vanessa Williams is a perfect choice for the voice behind the high-heeled candy officer. Her voice delivery was superb in the Super Bowl commercial that aired earlier this month. Have you seen it? Want to see it again? Click on the video below:

Sassy. Bold. Smart. And all while wearing high heels. Even I’m a little jealous.

MMSMuseum217

Meeting Ms. Brown was definitely the highlight of my trip. The M&M’S Museum event was fabulous and again, I thank Collective Bias and Mars for the opportunity and privilege of letting me attend.

While I wasn’t busy swooning over chocolate, I was swooning over all there is to see and do in NYC. It was so cold (bbrrr!), but I tried to make the most of it. How often do I get to be in NYC? Not very often. I got to go on a Sex & the City bus tour, which was truly a great way to see the city and some of my favorite places/spaces from the show. I adore the show; I never get tired of the reruns. Ever. While waiting for our tour bus, we got to peek inside Bergdorf’s. The Chanel section? Ohmyheavens.

MMSMuseum051

Gorgeous chandeliers inside Bergdorf’s:

MMSMuseum046

MMSMuseum052

And finally we went on the SATC tour.

This is in front of the Plaza hotel where Carrie tells Big goodbye as he goes into his engagement party.

MMSMuseum059

Then we visited the restaurant that hosted Big & Carrie’s rehearsal dinner:

MMSMuseum081

MMSMuseum084

MMSMuseum094

MMSMuseum105

MMSMuseum082

MMSMuseum089

Had a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery where Miranda and Carrie sat outside and ate a cupcake:

MMSMuseum121

MMSMuseum123

MMSMuseum125

MMSMuseum122

And also visited the bar Aiden owned (the bar was called Scout in the show):

MMSMuseum131

MMSMuseum134

I would highly recommend the tour even if you aren’t a SATC fan because you get to see so much of the city! Our tour guide was great, and I feel it was a worthwhile way to spend 3.5 hours. So much fun. After the tour, we visited Times Square and M&M’S World.

MMSMuseum159

MMSMuseum165

MMSMuseum173

And on Wednesday I went out exploring on my own for a bit since I had such a late flight:

MMSMuseum227

MMSMuseum232

MMSMuseum233

MMSMuseum230

MMSMuseum246

MMSMuseum248

MMSMuseum250

MMSMuseum257

MMSMuseum276

Such a lovely city, isn’t it? I am counting down the days until I return to NYC for BlogHer 12. I hope to finally be able to walk around Central Park. What are your favorite sights in NYC?

All photos were taken with the Sony NEX-3 camera, which you can read about over here.

Remember you can find Ms. Brown all over the web:

M&M’S Website
M&M’S on Twitter
M&M’S on Facebook

This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  All opinions, photos, M&M’S and ideas are all my own. #MMSMuseum #cBias

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Master Bath {Renovations}

We demolished our bathroom.

That’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. Although if you knew what brought on our demolish rampage, you might feel a little differently.

You see, it was last Saturday or so and I was sitting on my butt all day thoroughly enjoying the Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family. Then something struck within me that made me feel like I needed to do something. So, I got up and decided to give the master bathroom a good scrub down. As I started working on that, I thought to myself:

What if instead of completely gutting the bathroom, we gave it a facelift and did a full reno in a few years?

With my new idea in mind, I went to tell my husband who was basically sick with the flu and delirious due to many doses of Nyquil. He liked the idea, and so we went to the bathroom to remove a panel of those faux tile thingies. Ugh, who the hell thought of those? Probably the cousin of whoever invented wood paneling, right? Geez.

And…we found a hot mess under the faux tile panel surrounding the shower enclosure. The drywall was moist and I could see mold.

So much for that idea.

And then Daniel says something that only someone who has had too much Nyquil can say:

Harry Potter is so strong and keeps going after Voldemort. We can demo this bathroom and make it nice.

People, I cannot make this stuff up.

While the thought of just saying a few spells is tempting, it’s not going to be that easy.

image

image credit: cheezburger.com

With the power of Harry Potter in us, we started to demolish our bathroom. And by demolish I mean daintily remove our ugly linen cabinet and vanity. That’s all. We still have a shower stall and toilet in there because we don’t have the tools to demo those just yet. And truthfully, we’re keeping the toilet since it’s a fancy Kohler one and perfectly good. A sledgehammer is on my shopping list for this weekend to tackle the heinous shower stall though.

image

The photo above shows what 8 hours of Harry Potter will do to a man with the flu. And it also shows what I mean by faux tile panels.

I don’t quite know what to do next. Once we have most of the bathroom down to the studs, it’d be a lovely time to get the pros out for estimates. We are pretty sure we need a plumber, electrician and a tile dude. Finding pros in my tiny town is proving to be quite a feat. I find 4 different numbers for one pro and they’re all disconnected. If something goes wrong on this reno, am I going to be able to get in contact with him to get it fixed? Oh the stress. Am I overreacting?

Part of me just wants to put the vanity back and live with it, but now that I’ve seen moisture warped walls and mold, there’s no turning back. Also, I am 99.9% sure that nothing has been done or upgraded in this bathroom since it was built in 1979. With the exception of wallpaper being put OVER wallpaper and faux tile panels.

Fugly y’all. Just ew.

Now I need a new vanity, a shower stall with fixtures, and tile.

Vanity Contender, via Overstock.com:

image

Shower Fixture Contender, via Overstock.com:

image

Tile Contender, via Floor & Décor Outlets:

image

My biggest conundrum right now is do I want a shower stall with a pre-fabricated base (which requires moving of the drain by a plumber) or do I want a custom shower pan created around the current drain?

Pre-Fab Shower Pan:

image

Custom Shower Pan:

image

So, that’s where we’re at.

I am worried that no matter how much research, prep and work I do on these pros, I will end up with a shoddy bathroom. Which then makes me decide to DIY this whole thing, but I have no experience in doing so…then I really might end up with a shoddy bathroom.

Maybe it’s time to stop watching so much Holmes on Homes; it just leads to contractor paranoia.

Dear Harry, what have I gotten myself into?

Help.

6 comments :

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wine & Dine {Recipe & Review}

My husband and I love to eat out, but doing that too often drains our bank account and expands our waistline. So, we try to eat in as much as we can at home. We make the usual things like pasta, chicken with wild rice or grill up some burgers. But sometimes you want something special to eat that is tasty, affordable and makes the meal feel a little fancier. We love to do that sort of thing on Wednesday nights because we love to watch comedy Wednesday together on ABC. It’s 2 hours of laughing, cuddling together and forgetting about work stress.

And one way to forget about stress?

Wine.

My husband and I both like wine, though I’ll safely say I like it a lot more than he does. He only likes the sparkling kind, which works out great because sparkling Moscato-type of wines go with anything. I love to try new wines, and I tend to usually buy wine that’s about $8-$15 a bottle. Depending on the stress levels at work during the current week, I tend to have wine about 3-4 times a week with my dinner.

Yesterday we headed to Walmart after work to put together a quick, bistro inspired meal to have with some tasty wine. Usually we look at recipes and pick something to make, but this time we just decided to walk around and see what inspired us. We took the Sandra Lee (from Food Network) approach and decided on a semi-homemade meal. Ingredients that are already prepared + some creativity=restaurant quality meal at home.

For a lot less.

I decide on sliced french bread to create our bistro style mini sandwiches. This will be great with wine!

Daniel and I decide on the arugula and spinach organic salad blend. Arugula is spicy and tasty. Perfect!

Any good salad needs yummy tomatoes. Plus it'll go great with wine/bread.

Daniel and I ended up settling on mini roast beef & cheddar sandwiches paired with an arugula & spinach salad garnished with grape tomatoes. For dessert, a vanilla strawberry shortcake. And of course, wine. This meal is affordable (you can easily serve 4 people), healthy/fresh and QUICK to make.

Mini Roast Beef Sandwiches:

-Roast Beef (we bought the one from the deli)

-Brown gravy (optional)

-Sliced french bread

-Shredded cheddar

Salad:

-Arugula & spinach organic salad blend

-Grape tomatoes

-Dressing

Dessert:

-Angel food cakes

-1 cup fresh strawberries

-2 tbsp Torani french vanilla syrup

-Whipped cream

-Chocolate chips (optional)

If you’re making this right after you get home from the grocery store, make sure to chill your wine in the freezer so it’s cold and ready by the time your meal is done.

Heat your oven to 200 degrees, and put your sliced french bread on a cookie sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes.

DSC02823

After the 5 minutes is done, take out the bread and garnish each slice with a pinch of shredded cheese. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Then turn oven off and leave bread in oven until you’re ready to top with roast beef.

DSC02828

Meanwhile, warm up your gravy according to the package instructions (we bought the gravy in a jar since we like the ease of storing leftover gravy). Once your gravy is warm, add in roast beef. Let cook on medium for about 5-7 minutes.

DSC02831

Once your bread and roast beef are warmed up, prepare your salad. This is such an easy, yet flavorful salad. We halved the grape tomatoes and put them in a bowl with the arugula and spinach salad. Add in some salt, pepper and about 2 tbsp of dressing and toss until everything is coated.

DSC02837

DSC02843

Then grab a plate, load up half of it with your healthy salad, mini roast beef sandwiches (I drizzled mine with gravy) and enjoy with a glass of wine.

DSC02855

DSC02892

The wine we picked out for our TV night bistro meal is Moscato D’Asti by Bella Bolle. At $7.97 it was an affordable way to jazz up a simple salad and sandwich meal. It has a nice, yet subtle sweetness to it that makes it a wine that will be universally liked by anyone. Some people don’t like reds or pinot grigio, etc. This wine is easily palatable by anyone. It’s bubbly, refreshing and classy. It would also be great for a girls night in movie night or to use in a spiked punch. I’ll be buying this wine regularly from now because my husband actually really, truly liked this wine.

It must be the bubbles.

And since I have the world’s largest sweet tooth, I had to whip up a quick dessert. This takes 5 minutes, tops.

Take about 2 handfuls of strawberries and cut off the green stuff. Then slice them up into bite size chunks.

DSC02865

Put strawberries in a microwave safe bowl and add in 2 tbsp of Torani sugar free vanilla syrup. Make sure all the strawberries are coated and microwave for 1 minute.

DSC02869

Then you just top the angel food cake with some strawberries and whipped cream. I garnished mine with some chocolate chips, too. The vanilla syrup tends to drip down and soak into the angel food cake which makes it so delicious.

DSC02878

And then it’s time for another serving of wine in my most favorite wine glass.

DSC02895

Having wine with dinner at home makes an everyday occasion into a special occasion. With wines as low as $2.97 at my local Walmart, it’s nice to know that adding wine to our grocery list won’t break the bank. And it’s also so much more affordable than wine at a restaurant. My fave wines are Moscatos, but another really good one is the Barefoot Sweet Red.

image

It is amazing, and I don’t even care for red wine. If your dinner guest doesn’t like wine all that much, then the sparkling wines are a great option. Need some wine on the go (legally, of course)? Then look at these new wine pouches.

These lovelies are new. They are also pretty convenient for picnics or girls night in.

I may buy some wine pouches next time I need some for girls night in.

How often do you have wine? Where do you buy it from? Any brands or wines you’d recommend to a gal like me?

This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  All opinions, photos and ideas are all my own. #cBias

2 comments :

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ms. Brown & NYC Sights {#MMSMuseum Travel}

Today is my final post about my NYC trip. Sad face.

The whole point of the trip was to meet Ms. Brown at the M&M’S Museum of Chocolate Art, and I must say that as a media studies junkie, I love what Mars chose to do with Ms. Brown. They have created a persona/character that is witty, funny, intelligent and a WOMAN. I know people might be like, It’s a candy character, why take it so seriously? But honestly, I do. I feel that in our media and advertising sometimes companies and agencies choose to be cliché or engage in gender stereotypes, and I love that Ms. Brown is a strong, educated candy character. The thought that went into creating her “credentials” was very evident at the M&M’S Museum event.

MMSMuseum180

MMSMuseum182

MMSMuseum188

MMSMuseum189

MMSMuseum190

And I also feel Vanessa Williams is a perfect choice for the voice behind the high-heeled candy officer. Her voice delivery was superb in the Super Bowl commercial that aired earlier this month. Have you seen it? Want to see it again? Click on the video below:

Sassy. Bold. Smart. And all while wearing high heels. Even I’m a little jealous.

MMSMuseum217

Meeting Ms. Brown was definitely the highlight of my trip. The M&M’S Museum event was fabulous and again, I thank Collective Bias and Mars for the opportunity and privilege of letting me attend.

While I wasn’t busy swooning over chocolate, I was swooning over all there is to see and do in NYC. It was so cold (bbrrr!), but I tried to make the most of it. How often do I get to be in NYC? Not very often. I got to go on a Sex & the City bus tour, which was truly a great way to see the city and some of my favorite places/spaces from the show. I adore the show; I never get tired of the reruns. Ever. While waiting for our tour bus, we got to peek inside Bergdorf’s. The Chanel section? Ohmyheavens.

MMSMuseum051

Gorgeous chandeliers inside Bergdorf’s:

MMSMuseum046

MMSMuseum052

And finally we went on the SATC tour.

This is in front of the Plaza hotel where Carrie tells Big goodbye as he goes into his engagement party.

MMSMuseum059

Then we visited the restaurant that hosted Big & Carrie’s rehearsal dinner:

MMSMuseum081

MMSMuseum084

MMSMuseum094

MMSMuseum105

MMSMuseum082

MMSMuseum089

Had a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery where Miranda and Carrie sat outside and ate a cupcake:

MMSMuseum121

MMSMuseum123

MMSMuseum125

MMSMuseum122

And also visited the bar Aiden owned (the bar was called Scout in the show):

MMSMuseum131

MMSMuseum134

I would highly recommend the tour even if you aren’t a SATC fan because you get to see so much of the city! Our tour guide was great, and I feel it was a worthwhile way to spend 3.5 hours. So much fun. After the tour, we visited Times Square and M&M’S World.

MMSMuseum159

MMSMuseum165

MMSMuseum173

And on Wednesday I went out exploring on my own for a bit since I had such a late flight:

MMSMuseum227

MMSMuseum232

MMSMuseum233

MMSMuseum230

MMSMuseum246

MMSMuseum248

MMSMuseum250

MMSMuseum257

MMSMuseum276

Such a lovely city, isn’t it? I am counting down the days until I return to NYC for BlogHer 12. I hope to finally be able to walk around Central Park. What are your favorite sights in NYC?

All photos were taken with the Sony NEX-3 camera, which you can read about over here.

Remember you can find Ms. Brown all over the web:

M&M’S Website
M&M’S on Twitter
M&M’S on Facebook

This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  All opinions, photos, M&M’S and ideas are all my own. #MMSMuseum #cBias

0 comments :