Monica Wants It: A Lifestyle Blog: March 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Giving Old Habits New Life #QuakerUp

Variety is the spice of life, and throughout my partnership with Quaker Oats this past 6 weeks, I've been thrilled to get the opportunity to try new Quaker products (like their Warm & Crunchy Granola below) and ideas to help me add variety to my everyday life.

QuakerUp01

With anything in my life, if something is working for me, I tend to stick to it. On the flip side this doesn't mean that I don't get bored sometimes. For example, the kickboxing exercises I do are really effective, but can get a bit boring week after week. What are we to do to get that first day "new" feeling back again and keep moving forward?

When any routine starts to feel boring to me, I know it's time to freshen up my routine in small ways that will still help me reach my goals whether they are fitness, lifestyle, or work related ambitions. I wanted to share my ideas with you to see if maybe it'd spark some ideas for you.

-Change of scenery…literally! If you always workout, blog, or read in the same spot, change it up! Workout outside, go blog at a coffee shop, or go read on a bench in the park. Getting out of your comfort zones can help refuel your soul and help give you that extra oomph in your day. I usually blog in my home office, but sometimes I take my iPad outside and enjoy the view:

DSC_0317

-Bring a friend! Almost any activity can be more fun with a plus one, so make time for your loved ones in your everyday activities whether it be a Zumba class or inviting a friend over to try out a new recipe you discovered. You get to spend quality time with someone you love AND you can accomplish an everyday task like exercising or eating in at home.

-Same food, different way: we've all eaten certain foods a certain way, so think outside the box. Always take granola with you for a morning snack or a weekend hike? Why not use Quaker Warm & Crunchy Granola to coat some pineapple kabobs to throw on the grill for some extra crunch? Or use Quaker Warm & Crunchy Granola as a topping/crust on a coffee cake or cheesecake instead of frostings, glazes, crusts, or crumbles. Granola doesn't just have to be for yogurt and fruit parfaits! If you need some recipe inspiration, try out these tasty delights from Fitness Magazine.

QuakerUp02

You can do little things daily that will help you reach your goals and fight boredom all at the same time. Plus, for me personally, finding new ways to use foods in my pantry helps me be creative in the kitchen and eat out less, which is a huge boost to many of my goals.

What do you do to make routine things and/or foods feel new again?

It's important to mix up your routine. Try mixing things up with Quaker Warm & Crunchy Granola, with the satisfying crunch of granola. Visit quakeroats.com to discover all the delicious ways you can mix it up in the new year! Official Sweepstakes Rules

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Social Fabric Experience as a Latina Blogger #MyColectiva

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This post has been compensated as part of a recruiting program for Collective Bias.

ColectivaLatina_LogoAndSite #shop

I’m so proud to announce that I am part of the ColectivaLatina Advisory Board! It’s the latest addition to the awesomeness that is Collective Bias, and I am hoping my experiences and thoughts as a Latina blogger or bloguera will be useful and help pave the way for more opportunities for my fellow Latino/a bloggers. I couldn’t be more excited or thrilled to partner with them because I believe in them, and more importantly, I feel they believe in me. This new division will focus on bringing the Latino/a stories together with brands to create campaigns that will resonate with Latino/a consumers. To me this is exciting because it’ll bring about some amazing authentic content and some diversity to the blogosphere.

 CL Logo #shop

I’ve been a member of Collective Bias/Social Fabric for about 2.5 years, and I owe much of my blogging success in recent years to the community. I’ve participated in opportunities that would likely have never come my way without being a part of this very supportive, positive, and authentic community. One of my favorite opportunities was participating in the launch of Ms. Brown in 2012 in NYC and meeting Vanessa Williams! Never in a million years did I think I’d get to be a part of something so fun, special, and exciting.

Ms. Brown NYC Launch #shop

Ms. Brown NYC Launch #shop

I’ve also worked with brands that I love and trust such as Elmer’s, Sony, Milk-Bone, and so many others. Many of the craft and recipe projects I’ve done as part of a shoppertunity/campaign are some of the most popular projects pinned from my blog thanks to the increased traffic and exposure that comes from being a member. They tweet out our posts, they highlight the best posts in Issuu magazines, and they generally just help drive eyeballs to your excellent content. (Photo below is a recipe I developed for the Petit Jean campaign) We’re compensated very fairly for our hard work and efforts, and the extra income has helped my family a lot.

Breakfast Casserole Recipe #shop

What’s even better is that sometimes the brands will even highlight your content on their web portal. Kmart highlighted my Frugal & Fab Halloween Décor post that I did for a Kmart campaign. That’s super amazing, and I remember being over the moon thrilled with seeing my blog highlighted on a national brand’s website. I’ve also been featured at Walmart.com, so all these little things combined result in a HUGE increase in my traffic and content quality. They encourage, educate, and motivate us to improve ourselves by providing opportunities to learn more and be mentored by other bloggers.

Kmart #shop

As a Latina blogger, I feel like I have many chances to showcase my work in the community, and I also feel like I matter. My content matters. My ideas matter. My blog matters. Those are all very important to me. Not all the opportunities have a Latino/a focus, but with the variety of campaigns that they offer, there’s truly a place for any Latino/a blogger. I think there will be many great things to come from this new addition to Collective Bias, and I know my positive experiences will continue. Plus, I’m excited to forge forward in new campaigns that allow me to show off my Latina roots.

I invite you to join us for the #MyColectiva twitter party on Wednesday 26th at 9-10pmET to learn more about ColectivaLatina. We will be giving away $550 in Visa gift cards during the party. To participate RSVP here: http://cbi.as/f0u4v

If I’ve convinced you that you need to join ColectivaLatina or the community in general, please click here to submit your application to be one of us! We’d love to have you, and there’s always room for newbies in the community. By diversifying and growing, we’ll all be better and stronger bloggers. I hope you’ll join!

Follow @ColectivaLatina on Twitter and remember to use the #MyColectiva hashtag!

Monday, March 17, 2014

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

I'm stoked to be posting a great recipe today as part of the campaign I'm part of with Quaker Oats. While I absolutely love their ready made products such as their Real Medleys line and their Warm & Crunchy Granola, I love, love, love baking.

I searched through the many delicious recipes at the Quaker Oats website, and I fell truly in love with the thought of a skillet cookie. Problem is that I didn't really want the typical oatmeal raisin or oatmeal chocolate chip kind of cookie. I wanted something that incorporated two of my fave baking ingredients: dried cranberries and white chocolate. So, I took the skillet cookie recipe and I Monica-fied it to something truly tasty, gourmet, and totally delish!

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

These two ingredients + oats is a match made in heaven. You have the sweet/tart cranberry mixed with creamy white chocolate that's all accented by the texture of oats. Other than being yummy, oats really add depth to desserts (especially cookies).

The best part is that this skillet cookie recipe is SUPER easy to make for you and your family. I opted to use a cast iron skillet because it creates the most delicious crust that is simply divine for these sorts of recipes. You can use any 10" skillet, but make sure it's oven safe.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

Ingredients:
-1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) butter, softened
-1/2 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
-1/4 Cup(s) granulated sugar
-1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
-3/4 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
-1/2 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
-1/4 Teaspoon(s) Salt
-3/4 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
-1/2 Cup(s) dried cranberries
-1/2 Cup(s) white chocolate chips
-1 Large egg

Instructions:
-Beat butter and sugars together until creamy.
-Add in egg and vanilla extract. Beat together well and then add in baking soda, flour, and salt. ix well.
-Mix in the oats, cranberries, and white chocolate chips. Once everything is nicely mixed, put your batter into a non-stick skillet or greased cast iron pan.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

-Put in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Do not overcook as the cookie will continue cooking in the skillet.

-Cool for about 15 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream if you'd like.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

I wanted to dig right in-- it was really hard to wait! My skillet cookie came out very crumbly and delicious. Perfect treat for a Sunday night dinner!

The whole time I was baking, I had a pair of eyes intent on getting a piece of the cookie:

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

He loves human food more than dog food, and I can't say I blame him. ;-)

The next time you need to whip up a dessert, remember that Quaker Oats is a great addition to almost anything. Cookies, bars, cakes, cobblers, streusels...the possibilities are endless. Leave a comment in the widget below telling me your favorite way to enjoy Quaker Oats and you could win $100!

What is your favorite way to use oats in your baking? If you need some ideas, click here.

Good days start and end with the fuel of Quaker Oats. Visit quakeroats.com for recipes and to learn more about all the Quaker products! Comment below for a chance to win $100. Official Sweepstakes Rules
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Omron #WalkItOff Challenge!

Walking is one of the simplest ways to have a healthy mind and body, and it can be free or inexpensive. Whenever I'm feeling like I need a fresh workout regimen, but I'm too short on time and energy, I usually resolve to consciously begin walking more. Plus, investing in a pedometer like the Omron Alvita Ultimate Pedometer (HJ-325) can help track your progress, which makes walking a fun game/challenge.


I was lucky enough to get one of these pedometers to try out, and it's an awesome tool that motivates me to walk more. The design and interface is super simple and modern, so this pedometer is perfect for nearly everybody.

What I love about walking is that you can sneak it in just about anywhere. At work, school, shopping, and even at home, it's super easy to get more steps in everyday if you have tools and techniques that make it natural. It's recommended that people walk about 10,000 steps a day...that may seem daunting but with my tips and tricks, I think you'll find it's easy and natural to accomplish.

-At work, I try to take short 3-5 minute walks once an hour to stretch my legs. Plus, walking around outside can help me snap out of a post-meeting funk and put me in a better mood! I can walk off negative energy, and that definitely helps improve my mental health.

-While shopping I try to park as far as I can. This means I get lots more steps in, and it makes my car less susceptible to those pesky cart dings. If I'm at the mall, I'll park on the complete opposite side of the mall wing I want to shop in that day.

-Getting steps in at home seems to be the most challenging, but I find my step count goes sky high when I am cleaning. Rather than spend half an hour exercising and an hour doing household chores, I'll really put extra effort into my household chores. All that vacuuming, floor mopping, laundry, dusting, and outdoor work adds up to many, many, many steps.

Making the decision to walk more is great, but if you'd like to track your progress, I'd recommend the Omron Alvita Ultimate Pedometer. At about $30, this pedometer is an investment that will last years. The battery is easy to replace, it tracks steps (regular and aerobic), it tracks calories burned, and you can review data from the past 7 days to see if you need to bump it a notch (as you can see, on this day I didn't meet my goal at all...time to walk some more!)


The pedometer easily and discretely clips onto your waistband or purse, or you can stow it in your pocket (and yes, the step count will still be accurate!) Bottom line-- walking more is beneficial to all of us. We can walk off stress, anger, and any negativity that's bringing us down. Just think about it...when we walk, we usually walk forward. Leave all that icky stuff behind you and walk it off.


Lately, stress has been a big factor in my life, and I think it's better to walk away my emotions rather than eat them. :-) This pedometer is keeping me accountable and in tune with my activity levels. When all else fails, walk it off!

Do you enjoy walking? Do you find it helps with your mental and physical well being?

Every step you take is in the direction of a healthier lifestyle, so start tracking your progress with Omron’s new Alvita Ultimate Pedometer (HJ-325). Special technology allows you to stow it in your pocket or purse and still get an accurate step count, while also offering the traditional option of wearing it on your hip. Like Omron on Facebook and challenge yourself to walk it off!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Omron. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Weekly Weight Loss Update: March 13, 2014

Howdy, everybody! If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that losing weight is the hardest thing for me. I obsess, I give up, I get motivated, I begin, I quit, and so on and so forth. Rinse. Repeat. On March 8 I turned 29 years old, and it sort of hit me that I set out a grand list of things to accomplish by the time I was 30 and now that moment is less than a year away.

I need to get on with it. So, I’m committing myself to writing weekly weight loss/healthy living posts that hopefully will help keep me accountable to you all. I’ll be publishing them on Mondays after my Saturday weigh-ins. Feel free to bug me via Facebook or Twitter to keep me on track. Now, I think the reason I’ve failed repeatedly before is because I become obsessed. I over think it. I over do it. And that form of madness is only sustainable for so long before someone just quits. I mean think about it…it’s not a livable lifestyle.

During my birthday weekend, one of my BFF’s booked a wine tour extravaganza for me (look at the pic above…It was AMAZING! More about all that in another post.) and of course pictures were taken. I saw a photo where I was like, “DEAR HEAVEN AND CHRIST THAT CANNOT BE HOW I LOOK!!”

I look MASSIVE. Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself and thought, “Lord. No, this can’t be. No way. Their iPhone must be broken, and I must delete that photo immediately.”

But I didn’t delete the photo. It’s on my phone, and it’ll be something I look at when I want to give up.

With that as my new found motivation, I’m slowly getting back on track. And by slowly I mean I’m not jumping back into Turbo Fire and eating 1200 calories a day again like I did last year. I’ll never eat that few calories again ever.

But here is what I am committing to doing daily this week:

-Walk for 30 minutes every single day. I really firmly believe walking is the magic exercise program that can help anybody lose weight. I’m a huge fan of walking indoors utilizing Jessica Smith’s free workouts via her YouTube channel. My TV has YouTube built in, and she offers tons and tons of FREE videos. I could do a different video each day for a month and not do a single one of them twice. They’re great for beginner’s, but she also has more challenging ones for intermediate/advanced exercisers. I’ll be doing a separate post about Jessica Smith soon because I love her and her workouts THAT much. This video is one of my faves.

-Drink 4 bottles of water per day! This one is HARD for me, because I’m just not naturally excited about water.

-Tracking everything I eat even if I screw up or go over my calories. I’m trying to stick to 1800-1900 calories a day, and for once in my life, I’m not worried about the calories I burn from exercising. I should be active daily regardless of how many

Potential challenges this week:

-I’ll be at a conference from Tuesday-Saturday in NOLA. I tend to over do it at conferences because, hello, all that free food.

-Stress. Even though I’ll be in NOLA, I’ll still be working, and I’ll be blunt—my job is sooooo stressful right now. I cannot divulge much, but I could write a best selling book. (I won’t though.)

What are your goals and challenges this week? They can be weight loss related or not—I’d love to cheer you on!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Additions to My Daily Routine #QuakerUp

I'm back with another post thanks to Quaker® Oats about the changes/additions I've made to my daily routine in order to meet my goals. One of my biggest goals in 2014 is to make my life simpler and less stressful.

Usually all the things involved with cooking, exercising, work, and home are enough to really stress me out, so something I am trying to do is stick to a schedule. This is totally new for me because I’m usually just flying by the seat of my pants, and then I’m upset I don’t have time for anything “fun”. I used to waste so much time.

This new schedule helps me knock off all those important things on my to-do list such as cleaning, meal planning, exercising, and keeping up with other household chores. Now I don’t have to spend all weekend cleaning the house anymore!

I'm also trying to cut back on the amount of time I spend on my phone during the weekend. Being unplugged can be so freeing, plus it allows me to live in the moment and accomplish more things!

The other unexpected perk of my schedule method is that it leaves me with time to add in other fun stuff to my days that I thought I didn’t have time for. Now I have more time for cuddle sessions with my dog, more time to catch up on my DVR, and more time to spend with my hubby.

DSC_0449 (2)
Adding new things to your daily routine can hopefully help spark some extra energy, ideas, and life into your everyday tasks. As I’ve mentioned in my other Quaker posts, creating a series of good habits can be easy and can positively impact your life. The biggest change to my daily routine is making sure I have wholesome food and snacks easily in reach no matter where I am. Luckily, Quaker sent me some free products to help get me started on that quest. If you have a similar goal, make sure to try out Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal. It’s portable (as you can see above—I stick one in my purse when I want a quick breakfast on the go), delicious, and affordable.

Below is a photo of all the yumminess found in Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal. As usual, the flavor that reminds me of apple pie is my favorite!


I'm hoping these new additions will lead to a happier Monica in 2014. It's fun to get to try out all these new Quaker products, too. They fit easily into my everyday routine and make me feel empowered to keep moving forward with my goals!

Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal+ hot cereals are made with real fruits, nuts and multigrains. With five unexpected flavor combinations, you will discover the one that's right for you. Explore all the flavor combinations at quakeroats.com. Official Sweepstakes Rules

What a great opportunity. I was provided with a free cup of Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal+ so that I could provide my honest opinion about this product. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Overcoming Challenges #QuakerUp

Sticking to your eating plan is hard (and rewarding), and I think we can all agree it comes with its challenges. My biggest challenge right now is my work schedule. The last week of January, for about four days in a row I worked from 8 am until 11 pm with only an hour lunch break. I sometimes also skip lunch, work til 8 or 9, and then I rely on takeout food.

Working long, long hours leads me to be stressed and tired, which can lead to me making poor(er) choices. For me, and likely for many of us, making sensible choices is easier when we’re not tired and over stressed. What’s even more difficult is that sometimes I have to bring work home, or I have lots of blog posts due, so I literally feel like I am constantly working.

QuakerUp01

Part of overcoming this challenge for me involves keeping wholesome snacks on hand. Quaker® sent me some of their new Quaker® Real Medleys Bars to try out, and they are a great treat. They come in three flavors: peach almond, apple nut harvest, and cherry pistachio. In my opinion, the peach almond is the tastiest. I love the taste of peaches.

QuakerUp02

At 160 calories, these don’t take up too much of my calorie allowance. Plus, they help cure my sweet tooth. It never fails that when I feel really stressed at work, I always reach for something sweet. These bars have now replaced my candy bar/vending machine run. Also, when I reach for one of these bars I am reminding myself that I am in control of my choices. Having snacks and foods on hand that help me stay on track is an easy way to face challenges like a busy work schedule or late night cravings.

Something else I do to combat the challenges I have because of a hectic work schedule are to take a walk outside for five minutes for sunshine and air, take a full hour lunch break away from my desk, and try to be as productive as I can in order to avoid late nights at the office. I also write a to-do list nearly everyday when I get to work so that I know what I need to accomplish in order to leave at 5 pm and get home to my family a little sooner. All these small habits help me overcome challenges.

QuakerUp03

If you haven’t tried the Quaker® Real Medleys bars, I’d encourage you to pick up a box on your next grocery store run. I keep a box at my desk at work, plus I have plenty at home, too. Enjoy!

Quaker Real Medleys Bars come in three delicious flavors and made with real ingredients such as fruit and nuts. To learn more about Quaker Real Medleys Bars and other delicious Quaker products, visit quakeroats.com Official Sweepstakes Rules
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I Won’t Go to Home & Garden Expos Again

I love home and garden stuff, truly do, so it seems totally natural for me to go to a home and garden show/expo and have a great time. Right? It’s like the mecca.

Except that I didn’t. On February 15, the hubby and I woke up early and headed to the big city for the day for the Corpus Christi Home & Garden Show. After paying $5 to park and $15 to get in, we were ready and pumped to talk to local companies and businesses that could help us achieve the projects we’ve been dreaming of.

And it sucked. Now, this isn’t my first time attending this shindig. Daniel took me MANY years ago to the same home and garden show to meet Frank from Trading Spaces. Even at age 19 I was OBSESSED with DIY/interior decorating shows, and by golly, I friggin loved Trading Spaces (except for that heinous hay room…ugh, Hildi was the worse designer on that show). I loved it so much I bought this DVD for Frank to autograph:

Ah. Memories. But I digress.

The Corpus Christi Home & Garden Show was a colossal waste of $20 and about an hour of my time. Now, $20 may not seem like a lot, but when you literally spend $20 and GET NOTHING out of it…well. That simply sucks.

Unless I missed the memo, when did these expos become a convention for weird magnetic bracelets that will improve my back pain, 1000 foot hoses that coil into something the size of a tennis ball, and things that look like Swiffers but are SO MUCH BETTER than Swiffers and therefore cost $100. Oh and ridiculously expensive pots and pans that make the Calphalon set I want seem like chump change.

WHEN?! WHY?! Sob. Bring back the good ole days!

Oh and let’s not forget the timeshare resort sales. All. Over. The. Expo. They have you fill out a short questionnaire of about 42 questions so you can take a spin on their wheel and win an inclusive vacation to nowhere because you’ll be stuck in timeshare “presentations” the whole time.

Y’all, remember I PAID to get into this expo. I’m here because I mean business.

Apparently I was the only one. Of the few (as in like 3) legit vendors there that were local and not “As Seen on TV” sales peeps, not a single one has called to follow up with us. Not one. That’s because I let my hubby talk to the business owners, and I stayed on the sidelines. Around these parts, the fact that I am a woman doesn’t bode well for me getting return phone calls from contractors and such. Several told us they would follow up with us on Tuesday or Wednesday. Of which week, I do not know.

And the nail in the coffin? Well, as I mentioned earlier, about 9 years ago I met my beloved Frank, so if nothing else I expect to meet a DIY/HGTV-esque personality or see an amazing demo thing. Nope. Didn’t get that either. Instead, they booked some dudes from “Tanked”. Haven’t heard of it? It’s like a fishing show or something. The poor guys looked desperate to speak to people, and there was no one

Sigh. Therefore, I’ve decided to not ever attend that kind of expo around here ever again. I totally wish I could get my $20 back to spend on just about anything but this darn expo.

Do you go to home and garden expos? Did the one I went to just suck because it’s a small market? Talk to me y’all.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Giving Old Habits New Life #QuakerUp

Variety is the spice of life, and throughout my partnership with Quaker Oats this past 6 weeks, I've been thrilled to get the opportunity to try new Quaker products (like their Warm & Crunchy Granola below) and ideas to help me add variety to my everyday life.

QuakerUp01

With anything in my life, if something is working for me, I tend to stick to it. On the flip side this doesn't mean that I don't get bored sometimes. For example, the kickboxing exercises I do are really effective, but can get a bit boring week after week. What are we to do to get that first day "new" feeling back again and keep moving forward?

When any routine starts to feel boring to me, I know it's time to freshen up my routine in small ways that will still help me reach my goals whether they are fitness, lifestyle, or work related ambitions. I wanted to share my ideas with you to see if maybe it'd spark some ideas for you.

-Change of scenery…literally! If you always workout, blog, or read in the same spot, change it up! Workout outside, go blog at a coffee shop, or go read on a bench in the park. Getting out of your comfort zones can help refuel your soul and help give you that extra oomph in your day. I usually blog in my home office, but sometimes I take my iPad outside and enjoy the view:

DSC_0317

-Bring a friend! Almost any activity can be more fun with a plus one, so make time for your loved ones in your everyday activities whether it be a Zumba class or inviting a friend over to try out a new recipe you discovered. You get to spend quality time with someone you love AND you can accomplish an everyday task like exercising or eating in at home.

-Same food, different way: we've all eaten certain foods a certain way, so think outside the box. Always take granola with you for a morning snack or a weekend hike? Why not use Quaker Warm & Crunchy Granola to coat some pineapple kabobs to throw on the grill for some extra crunch? Or use Quaker Warm & Crunchy Granola as a topping/crust on a coffee cake or cheesecake instead of frostings, glazes, crusts, or crumbles. Granola doesn't just have to be for yogurt and fruit parfaits! If you need some recipe inspiration, try out these tasty delights from Fitness Magazine.

QuakerUp02

You can do little things daily that will help you reach your goals and fight boredom all at the same time. Plus, for me personally, finding new ways to use foods in my pantry helps me be creative in the kitchen and eat out less, which is a huge boost to many of my goals.

What do you do to make routine things and/or foods feel new again?

It's important to mix up your routine. Try mixing things up with Quaker Warm & Crunchy Granola, with the satisfying crunch of granola. Visit quakeroats.com to discover all the delicious ways you can mix it up in the new year! Official Sweepstakes Rules

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

0 comments :

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Social Fabric Experience as a Latina Blogger #MyColectiva

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This post has been compensated as part of a recruiting program for Collective Bias.

ColectivaLatina_LogoAndSite #shop

I’m so proud to announce that I am part of the ColectivaLatina Advisory Board! It’s the latest addition to the awesomeness that is Collective Bias, and I am hoping my experiences and thoughts as a Latina blogger or bloguera will be useful and help pave the way for more opportunities for my fellow Latino/a bloggers. I couldn’t be more excited or thrilled to partner with them because I believe in them, and more importantly, I feel they believe in me. This new division will focus on bringing the Latino/a stories together with brands to create campaigns that will resonate with Latino/a consumers. To me this is exciting because it’ll bring about some amazing authentic content and some diversity to the blogosphere.

 CL Logo #shop

I’ve been a member of Collective Bias/Social Fabric for about 2.5 years, and I owe much of my blogging success in recent years to the community. I’ve participated in opportunities that would likely have never come my way without being a part of this very supportive, positive, and authentic community. One of my favorite opportunities was participating in the launch of Ms. Brown in 2012 in NYC and meeting Vanessa Williams! Never in a million years did I think I’d get to be a part of something so fun, special, and exciting.

Ms. Brown NYC Launch #shop

Ms. Brown NYC Launch #shop

I’ve also worked with brands that I love and trust such as Elmer’s, Sony, Milk-Bone, and so many others. Many of the craft and recipe projects I’ve done as part of a shoppertunity/campaign are some of the most popular projects pinned from my blog thanks to the increased traffic and exposure that comes from being a member. They tweet out our posts, they highlight the best posts in Issuu magazines, and they generally just help drive eyeballs to your excellent content. (Photo below is a recipe I developed for the Petit Jean campaign) We’re compensated very fairly for our hard work and efforts, and the extra income has helped my family a lot.

Breakfast Casserole Recipe #shop

What’s even better is that sometimes the brands will even highlight your content on their web portal. Kmart highlighted my Frugal & Fab Halloween Décor post that I did for a Kmart campaign. That’s super amazing, and I remember being over the moon thrilled with seeing my blog highlighted on a national brand’s website. I’ve also been featured at Walmart.com, so all these little things combined result in a HUGE increase in my traffic and content quality. They encourage, educate, and motivate us to improve ourselves by providing opportunities to learn more and be mentored by other bloggers.

Kmart #shop

As a Latina blogger, I feel like I have many chances to showcase my work in the community, and I also feel like I matter. My content matters. My ideas matter. My blog matters. Those are all very important to me. Not all the opportunities have a Latino/a focus, but with the variety of campaigns that they offer, there’s truly a place for any Latino/a blogger. I think there will be many great things to come from this new addition to Collective Bias, and I know my positive experiences will continue. Plus, I’m excited to forge forward in new campaigns that allow me to show off my Latina roots.

I invite you to join us for the #MyColectiva twitter party on Wednesday 26th at 9-10pmET to learn more about ColectivaLatina. We will be giving away $550 in Visa gift cards during the party. To participate RSVP here: http://cbi.as/f0u4v

If I’ve convinced you that you need to join ColectivaLatina or the community in general, please click here to submit your application to be one of us! We’d love to have you, and there’s always room for newbies in the community. By diversifying and growing, we’ll all be better and stronger bloggers. I hope you’ll join!

Follow @ColectivaLatina on Twitter and remember to use the #MyColectiva hashtag!

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Monday, March 17, 2014

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

I'm stoked to be posting a great recipe today as part of the campaign I'm part of with Quaker Oats. While I absolutely love their ready made products such as their Real Medleys line and their Warm & Crunchy Granola, I love, love, love baking.

I searched through the many delicious recipes at the Quaker Oats website, and I fell truly in love with the thought of a skillet cookie. Problem is that I didn't really want the typical oatmeal raisin or oatmeal chocolate chip kind of cookie. I wanted something that incorporated two of my fave baking ingredients: dried cranberries and white chocolate. So, I took the skillet cookie recipe and I Monica-fied it to something truly tasty, gourmet, and totally delish!

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

These two ingredients + oats is a match made in heaven. You have the sweet/tart cranberry mixed with creamy white chocolate that's all accented by the texture of oats. Other than being yummy, oats really add depth to desserts (especially cookies).

The best part is that this skillet cookie recipe is SUPER easy to make for you and your family. I opted to use a cast iron skillet because it creates the most delicious crust that is simply divine for these sorts of recipes. You can use any 10" skillet, but make sure it's oven safe.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

Ingredients:
-1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) butter, softened
-1/2 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
-1/4 Cup(s) granulated sugar
-1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
-3/4 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
-1/2 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
-1/4 Teaspoon(s) Salt
-3/4 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
-1/2 Cup(s) dried cranberries
-1/2 Cup(s) white chocolate chips
-1 Large egg

Instructions:
-Beat butter and sugars together until creamy.
-Add in egg and vanilla extract. Beat together well and then add in baking soda, flour, and salt. ix well.
-Mix in the oats, cranberries, and white chocolate chips. Once everything is nicely mixed, put your batter into a non-stick skillet or greased cast iron pan.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

-Put in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Do not overcook as the cookie will continue cooking in the skillet.

-Cool for about 15 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream if you'd like.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

I wanted to dig right in-- it was really hard to wait! My skillet cookie came out very crumbly and delicious. Perfect treat for a Sunday night dinner!

The whole time I was baking, I had a pair of eyes intent on getting a piece of the cookie:

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Skillet Cookie #QuakerUp

He loves human food more than dog food, and I can't say I blame him. ;-)

The next time you need to whip up a dessert, remember that Quaker Oats is a great addition to almost anything. Cookies, bars, cakes, cobblers, streusels...the possibilities are endless. Leave a comment in the widget below telling me your favorite way to enjoy Quaker Oats and you could win $100!

What is your favorite way to use oats in your baking? If you need some ideas, click here.

Good days start and end with the fuel of Quaker Oats. Visit quakeroats.com for recipes and to learn more about all the Quaker products! Comment below for a chance to win $100. Official Sweepstakes Rules
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Omron #WalkItOff Challenge!

Walking is one of the simplest ways to have a healthy mind and body, and it can be free or inexpensive. Whenever I'm feeling like I need a fresh workout regimen, but I'm too short on time and energy, I usually resolve to consciously begin walking more. Plus, investing in a pedometer like the Omron Alvita Ultimate Pedometer (HJ-325) can help track your progress, which makes walking a fun game/challenge.


I was lucky enough to get one of these pedometers to try out, and it's an awesome tool that motivates me to walk more. The design and interface is super simple and modern, so this pedometer is perfect for nearly everybody.

What I love about walking is that you can sneak it in just about anywhere. At work, school, shopping, and even at home, it's super easy to get more steps in everyday if you have tools and techniques that make it natural. It's recommended that people walk about 10,000 steps a day...that may seem daunting but with my tips and tricks, I think you'll find it's easy and natural to accomplish.

-At work, I try to take short 3-5 minute walks once an hour to stretch my legs. Plus, walking around outside can help me snap out of a post-meeting funk and put me in a better mood! I can walk off negative energy, and that definitely helps improve my mental health.

-While shopping I try to park as far as I can. This means I get lots more steps in, and it makes my car less susceptible to those pesky cart dings. If I'm at the mall, I'll park on the complete opposite side of the mall wing I want to shop in that day.

-Getting steps in at home seems to be the most challenging, but I find my step count goes sky high when I am cleaning. Rather than spend half an hour exercising and an hour doing household chores, I'll really put extra effort into my household chores. All that vacuuming, floor mopping, laundry, dusting, and outdoor work adds up to many, many, many steps.

Making the decision to walk more is great, but if you'd like to track your progress, I'd recommend the Omron Alvita Ultimate Pedometer. At about $30, this pedometer is an investment that will last years. The battery is easy to replace, it tracks steps (regular and aerobic), it tracks calories burned, and you can review data from the past 7 days to see if you need to bump it a notch (as you can see, on this day I didn't meet my goal at all...time to walk some more!)


The pedometer easily and discretely clips onto your waistband or purse, or you can stow it in your pocket (and yes, the step count will still be accurate!) Bottom line-- walking more is beneficial to all of us. We can walk off stress, anger, and any negativity that's bringing us down. Just think about it...when we walk, we usually walk forward. Leave all that icky stuff behind you and walk it off.


Lately, stress has been a big factor in my life, and I think it's better to walk away my emotions rather than eat them. :-) This pedometer is keeping me accountable and in tune with my activity levels. When all else fails, walk it off!

Do you enjoy walking? Do you find it helps with your mental and physical well being?

Every step you take is in the direction of a healthier lifestyle, so start tracking your progress with Omron’s new Alvita Ultimate Pedometer (HJ-325). Special technology allows you to stow it in your pocket or purse and still get an accurate step count, while also offering the traditional option of wearing it on your hip. Like Omron on Facebook and challenge yourself to walk it off!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Omron. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Weekly Weight Loss Update: March 13, 2014

Howdy, everybody! If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that losing weight is the hardest thing for me. I obsess, I give up, I get motivated, I begin, I quit, and so on and so forth. Rinse. Repeat. On March 8 I turned 29 years old, and it sort of hit me that I set out a grand list of things to accomplish by the time I was 30 and now that moment is less than a year away.

I need to get on with it. So, I’m committing myself to writing weekly weight loss/healthy living posts that hopefully will help keep me accountable to you all. I’ll be publishing them on Mondays after my Saturday weigh-ins. Feel free to bug me via Facebook or Twitter to keep me on track. Now, I think the reason I’ve failed repeatedly before is because I become obsessed. I over think it. I over do it. And that form of madness is only sustainable for so long before someone just quits. I mean think about it…it’s not a livable lifestyle.

During my birthday weekend, one of my BFF’s booked a wine tour extravaganza for me (look at the pic above…It was AMAZING! More about all that in another post.) and of course pictures were taken. I saw a photo where I was like, “DEAR HEAVEN AND CHRIST THAT CANNOT BE HOW I LOOK!!”

I look MASSIVE. Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself and thought, “Lord. No, this can’t be. No way. Their iPhone must be broken, and I must delete that photo immediately.”

But I didn’t delete the photo. It’s on my phone, and it’ll be something I look at when I want to give up.

With that as my new found motivation, I’m slowly getting back on track. And by slowly I mean I’m not jumping back into Turbo Fire and eating 1200 calories a day again like I did last year. I’ll never eat that few calories again ever.

But here is what I am committing to doing daily this week:

-Walk for 30 minutes every single day. I really firmly believe walking is the magic exercise program that can help anybody lose weight. I’m a huge fan of walking indoors utilizing Jessica Smith’s free workouts via her YouTube channel. My TV has YouTube built in, and she offers tons and tons of FREE videos. I could do a different video each day for a month and not do a single one of them twice. They’re great for beginner’s, but she also has more challenging ones for intermediate/advanced exercisers. I’ll be doing a separate post about Jessica Smith soon because I love her and her workouts THAT much. This video is one of my faves.

-Drink 4 bottles of water per day! This one is HARD for me, because I’m just not naturally excited about water.

-Tracking everything I eat even if I screw up or go over my calories. I’m trying to stick to 1800-1900 calories a day, and for once in my life, I’m not worried about the calories I burn from exercising. I should be active daily regardless of how many

Potential challenges this week:

-I’ll be at a conference from Tuesday-Saturday in NOLA. I tend to over do it at conferences because, hello, all that free food.

-Stress. Even though I’ll be in NOLA, I’ll still be working, and I’ll be blunt—my job is sooooo stressful right now. I cannot divulge much, but I could write a best selling book. (I won’t though.)

What are your goals and challenges this week? They can be weight loss related or not—I’d love to cheer you on!

4 comments :

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Additions to My Daily Routine #QuakerUp

I'm back with another post thanks to Quaker® Oats about the changes/additions I've made to my daily routine in order to meet my goals. One of my biggest goals in 2014 is to make my life simpler and less stressful.

Usually all the things involved with cooking, exercising, work, and home are enough to really stress me out, so something I am trying to do is stick to a schedule. This is totally new for me because I’m usually just flying by the seat of my pants, and then I’m upset I don’t have time for anything “fun”. I used to waste so much time.

This new schedule helps me knock off all those important things on my to-do list such as cleaning, meal planning, exercising, and keeping up with other household chores. Now I don’t have to spend all weekend cleaning the house anymore!

I'm also trying to cut back on the amount of time I spend on my phone during the weekend. Being unplugged can be so freeing, plus it allows me to live in the moment and accomplish more things!

The other unexpected perk of my schedule method is that it leaves me with time to add in other fun stuff to my days that I thought I didn’t have time for. Now I have more time for cuddle sessions with my dog, more time to catch up on my DVR, and more time to spend with my hubby.

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Adding new things to your daily routine can hopefully help spark some extra energy, ideas, and life into your everyday tasks. As I’ve mentioned in my other Quaker posts, creating a series of good habits can be easy and can positively impact your life. The biggest change to my daily routine is making sure I have wholesome food and snacks easily in reach no matter where I am. Luckily, Quaker sent me some free products to help get me started on that quest. If you have a similar goal, make sure to try out Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal. It’s portable (as you can see above—I stick one in my purse when I want a quick breakfast on the go), delicious, and affordable.

Below is a photo of all the yumminess found in Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal. As usual, the flavor that reminds me of apple pie is my favorite!


I'm hoping these new additions will lead to a happier Monica in 2014. It's fun to get to try out all these new Quaker products, too. They fit easily into my everyday routine and make me feel empowered to keep moving forward with my goals!

Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal+ hot cereals are made with real fruits, nuts and multigrains. With five unexpected flavor combinations, you will discover the one that's right for you. Explore all the flavor combinations at quakeroats.com. Official Sweepstakes Rules

What a great opportunity. I was provided with a free cup of Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal+ so that I could provide my honest opinion about this product. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Overcoming Challenges #QuakerUp

Sticking to your eating plan is hard (and rewarding), and I think we can all agree it comes with its challenges. My biggest challenge right now is my work schedule. The last week of January, for about four days in a row I worked from 8 am until 11 pm with only an hour lunch break. I sometimes also skip lunch, work til 8 or 9, and then I rely on takeout food.

Working long, long hours leads me to be stressed and tired, which can lead to me making poor(er) choices. For me, and likely for many of us, making sensible choices is easier when we’re not tired and over stressed. What’s even more difficult is that sometimes I have to bring work home, or I have lots of blog posts due, so I literally feel like I am constantly working.

QuakerUp01

Part of overcoming this challenge for me involves keeping wholesome snacks on hand. Quaker® sent me some of their new Quaker® Real Medleys Bars to try out, and they are a great treat. They come in three flavors: peach almond, apple nut harvest, and cherry pistachio. In my opinion, the peach almond is the tastiest. I love the taste of peaches.

QuakerUp02

At 160 calories, these don’t take up too much of my calorie allowance. Plus, they help cure my sweet tooth. It never fails that when I feel really stressed at work, I always reach for something sweet. These bars have now replaced my candy bar/vending machine run. Also, when I reach for one of these bars I am reminding myself that I am in control of my choices. Having snacks and foods on hand that help me stay on track is an easy way to face challenges like a busy work schedule or late night cravings.

Something else I do to combat the challenges I have because of a hectic work schedule are to take a walk outside for five minutes for sunshine and air, take a full hour lunch break away from my desk, and try to be as productive as I can in order to avoid late nights at the office. I also write a to-do list nearly everyday when I get to work so that I know what I need to accomplish in order to leave at 5 pm and get home to my family a little sooner. All these small habits help me overcome challenges.

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If you haven’t tried the Quaker® Real Medleys bars, I’d encourage you to pick up a box on your next grocery store run. I keep a box at my desk at work, plus I have plenty at home, too. Enjoy!

Quaker Real Medleys Bars come in three delicious flavors and made with real ingredients such as fruit and nuts. To learn more about Quaker Real Medleys Bars and other delicious Quaker products, visit quakeroats.com Official Sweepstakes Rules
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I Won’t Go to Home & Garden Expos Again

I love home and garden stuff, truly do, so it seems totally natural for me to go to a home and garden show/expo and have a great time. Right? It’s like the mecca.

Except that I didn’t. On February 15, the hubby and I woke up early and headed to the big city for the day for the Corpus Christi Home & Garden Show. After paying $5 to park and $15 to get in, we were ready and pumped to talk to local companies and businesses that could help us achieve the projects we’ve been dreaming of.

And it sucked. Now, this isn’t my first time attending this shindig. Daniel took me MANY years ago to the same home and garden show to meet Frank from Trading Spaces. Even at age 19 I was OBSESSED with DIY/interior decorating shows, and by golly, I friggin loved Trading Spaces (except for that heinous hay room…ugh, Hildi was the worse designer on that show). I loved it so much I bought this DVD for Frank to autograph:

Ah. Memories. But I digress.

The Corpus Christi Home & Garden Show was a colossal waste of $20 and about an hour of my time. Now, $20 may not seem like a lot, but when you literally spend $20 and GET NOTHING out of it…well. That simply sucks.

Unless I missed the memo, when did these expos become a convention for weird magnetic bracelets that will improve my back pain, 1000 foot hoses that coil into something the size of a tennis ball, and things that look like Swiffers but are SO MUCH BETTER than Swiffers and therefore cost $100. Oh and ridiculously expensive pots and pans that make the Calphalon set I want seem like chump change.

WHEN?! WHY?! Sob. Bring back the good ole days!

Oh and let’s not forget the timeshare resort sales. All. Over. The. Expo. They have you fill out a short questionnaire of about 42 questions so you can take a spin on their wheel and win an inclusive vacation to nowhere because you’ll be stuck in timeshare “presentations” the whole time.

Y’all, remember I PAID to get into this expo. I’m here because I mean business.

Apparently I was the only one. Of the few (as in like 3) legit vendors there that were local and not “As Seen on TV” sales peeps, not a single one has called to follow up with us. Not one. That’s because I let my hubby talk to the business owners, and I stayed on the sidelines. Around these parts, the fact that I am a woman doesn’t bode well for me getting return phone calls from contractors and such. Several told us they would follow up with us on Tuesday or Wednesday. Of which week, I do not know.

And the nail in the coffin? Well, as I mentioned earlier, about 9 years ago I met my beloved Frank, so if nothing else I expect to meet a DIY/HGTV-esque personality or see an amazing demo thing. Nope. Didn’t get that either. Instead, they booked some dudes from “Tanked”. Haven’t heard of it? It’s like a fishing show or something. The poor guys looked desperate to speak to people, and there was no one

Sigh. Therefore, I’ve decided to not ever attend that kind of expo around here ever again. I totally wish I could get my $20 back to spend on just about anything but this darn expo.

Do you go to home and garden expos? Did the one I went to just suck because it’s a small market? Talk to me y’all.

3 comments :