I'm Adopting!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have you ever wanted to own a polar bear? A zebra?

If you are as zoo-obsessed as I am, your answer is probably yes.

Because it is rather difficult to provide a foster home for a tiger, I totally suggest adoption. Instead of a large smelly animal, you get a nice certificate that says you are a parent. Looks great in any office.

Back in college, I adopted the Great Horned Owl from the Pittsburgh Zoo on behalf of my sorority. To my dismay he passed away in the spring of that year from West Nile disease.

Here are some places were you can “adopt” and exotic animal:

Pittsburgh Zoo – Rest in peace Mr. Great Horned Owl http://www.pittsburghzoo.org/zoo.asp?ContentID=25

Lincoln Park Zoo – While I will always be faithful to my zoo in the ‘burgh, this one is very awesome. Free admission and cool animals!

WWF – Not to be confused with the World Wrestling Foundation, you can get a cute fuzzy animal with your donation here. Why should you buy one? Because Stone Cold said so.
Heifer International – This is a shameless plug for an organization I help here in Chicago. With Heifer, you buy and animal for someone in a poor country. They turn the animal into a business and then must “pay it forward.” Bill Clinton talks about how wonderful this cause is in his book “Giving.” Some chick even wrote a book about how her parents received a goat. The money they raised selling milk from the goat enabled her to go to a local school. Because she got an education, she came to the US and went to college. How about that!http://www.heifer.org/

(pictures by Brandi*)
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"That is my Sharpie - it has my name on it"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I am not sure who started the trend of customization, but I LOVE it.

While I haven’t personalized anything for myself, there are a ton of companies and sites out there that allow you to customize almost anything. I read that this movement started because people refer to everything as “my (fill in blank).” I do this myself. If you have ever had the privilege of allowing me to tour you around Chi-town, you will hear me say “That’s my Chipotle, that’s my Starbucks, that’s my Anthropologie…”

Here are some of my favorite sites that allow you to make their product your own.

My Fruit Roll Up: If I was a 10-year-old (which my boyfriend says I act like sometimes), I would love this in my lunch. A customized Fruit Roll-up:

My Candy: Then there are the M&M’s that are advertised everywhere. My former boss proposed to his girlfriend with these things.
http://www.mymms.com/ (photo from mymms.com)

My Tissues: I actually worked on the launch of this - personalized Kleenex boxes. I think this is perfect for weddings or a kid’s artwork. Since I have neither planned, I would consider making a box to match my bedspread! http://www.mykleenextissue.com/
(photo from mykleenextissue.com)

Board Game: If you are like me and LOVE board games, this is for you (or someone you know likes board games!)
http://www.tdcgames.com/MYO.htm Its a make your own Monopoly.

Bobble Head: You can be like Dwight on the office!


Last, but not least….

Sharpies: I think that my co-workers would chip in to buy me this, because “I only write with Sharpies.” I am OBSESSED with Sharpies. Right now I have 14 of them on my desk.
(photo from site below)https://secure.newellrubbermaid.com/sanford/consumer/sharpie/personalizesharpie/personalize_landing.jhtml

Personalize away!
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Who's got Spirit(s)?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I've been pulling together new tips, so I thought I would give my one reader a preview of some spirited gift ideas!

  • Visiting your significant other’s family? Bring a hot chocolate basket that everyone will love. Include gourmet hot cocoa, cute mugs, marshmallows and peppermint sticks. For an added touch, purchase a bottle of coffee liqueur from your local spirits store

  • Rather than buy your bridesmaids a gift, organize an experiential gift such as a cocktail class. Contact a local bartending school to see if they offer sessions. If not, reach out to your favorite bar keep at a local establishment. Purchase a variety of spirits and learn how to mix up the season’s hottest cocktails (photo from istockphoto.com)

  • Attending a Stock the Bar party? Enhance your gift by bringing the glasses that accompany your spirit. For example, if you are bringing… Tequila? Include margarita glasses. Bourbon? Rocks glasses. Coffee Liqueur? Irish coffee mugs. If you don’t have a coordinating glass, consider chic napkins, drink stirs or chic drink charms

  • Consider a festive spin on the traditional shower gift. Is the bride-to-be registered for a blender? Purchase the blender with a bottle of tequila, margarita glasses, gourmet salsa and a chip tray with a Mexican feel

  • For a personalized house-warming gift, order a stainless-steel beverage tub that can be customized with the couple’s last name. Fill the bin with staple spirits everyone can use (photo from personalizationmall.com)

This is just a little sample of the "spirited" gift ideas.

I love the idea of a theme basket ALL the time. Here are some of my other favorites...
  • This is sterotypical, but a Movie theme. Use movie or Netflix gift card, popcorn, a cute popcorn bowl. I love Dale & Thomas popcorn (photo from DaleandThomasPopcorn.com)

  • Five years ago, my sister said that she wanted to scrapbook. I felt like a proud mother whose daughter wanted to follow the same career path. Anyways, I made her a scrapbooking/craft basket. This can totally be done at the dollar store. I bought cool sissors, stickers, papers and tape. This would also make a nice shower or engagement gift. Or you would do a basket of sewing supplies for someone who is going to college
  • Welcome new neighbors to your area with local maps, directions to the closest grocery store and a gift certificate to an eatery nearby
  • Create a kitchen or bar collection - great for first-time renters, compile a collection of kitchen or bar basics and place in a decorated cookie jar or re-usable basket
  • A travel theme is super cute too. Luggage tags, guidebooks a gift card to get pictures printed or for those international jet-setters a language lesson would be totally usable. On a side note, i once couldn't find luggage tags to save my life, so I printed my address on some hot pink paper with a little Hello Kitty next to my name. Then I took it to Office Max and got it laminated!
  • For a friend's shower, I made a cookie basket. It had a cookbook, cookie cutters, sprinkles and a frosting recipe all in a mixing bowl
If you are making a theme basket for a gift, think out side of the bath & body box : )
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I will use chalkboard paint

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I will use chalkboard paint
I will use chalkboard paint
I will use chalkboard paint

Chalkboard paint is like one of the best recent inventions next to the ipod. This stuff is fantastic.

I started seeing people use the paint in magazines on things like terracotta pots. One idea involved spraying the pots and then writing someone’s name on it as a place card for a dinner party. You could top it off with a cute pack of seeds.

After seeing some recent work, it is safe to say that chalkboard paint has “arrived” into the world of cool things with the Carol Crafties of the world. Here is some proof.

Wood Items (image from joanne.com)
Picture Frames: Ikea sells those cheap wooden picture frames. You could totally spray paint those and then write things on them. My boss actually has one with her son’s picture in it that someone probably paid like $12 for. DYI it for like $7 max (and you could probably make more than one and sell it at the Holy Trinity Craft fair for like $8 each).

Tray: This would be totally cute to write a little breakfast in bed message on. Or if you are having a party, you could customize the message to be like “Go Steelers,” or “Happy Birthday.” I’m just sayin’.

There are many more wood things like tissue boxes, bird houses, etc. Same goes for paper Mache items.

Vases (image from iloveuma.com)
I personally wouldn’t pay $40 plus shipping for this when you can totally make it after a quick trip to Pat Catan’s.

Wall Art (image from Martha Stewart.com)

Of course Martha has out done us all with chalkboard paint. Check out this wall calendar she did for a home office. Outstanding.

I also entertain the thought of doing the M.S. idea on a bare kitchen wall. You could buy a picture frame and then spray paint the wall inside. That so much more chic than those chalkboards you find at Office Max.

If you decide to buy some of this wonderful paint, may I suggest the kind that is magnetic. I mean if you painted a wall with that stuff, you could totally buy some cute magnets to hang things on. Super fun.
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C is for...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My first post is going to be of something I love (or rather am obsessed with) - CUPCAKES!

Why do I love cupcakes?
They are awesome
Cupcakes are cute
The are controlled portions (who cares about that though)

They are awesome

I've dabbled in a number of varieties. From 10 cent cupcake sales at Burkett to homemade ones with that Rainbow icing. Oh, and I can't forget the time I tired to make Sprinkles cupcakes without a mixer. But my favorite ones thus far are from a little place in Lincoln Park, IL called Swirlz.
What is not to love about Swirlz cupcakes. Their slogan is even "Cupcakes Make People Happy." Two red thumbs up for their Red Velvet cupcake.
View the delicious-ness here: http://www.swirlzcupcakes.com/

Yes - C also stands for cookie. I am dying to try some from Elieni's in New York. They are just so darn expensive, I have yet to pull the trigger. If you take a peek at the detail this chick puts into her final product, it is insane.
Total Cuteness: http://www.elenis.com/

(Photos from Swirlz & Eleni's)
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Your daily shot

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I am not 100% sure why I am committing to this. I said I would start a blog in 2007 when it was the cool thing to do. Then it got moved to 2008. I kept pushing back the launch date because I wanted my blog to be hyper organized and informational.

Let me back up a second and tell you where this blog idea started.

Part of my job for the last 3 years has been to read about party trends - especially those get-to-gethers that involve alcohol. Each day I read five to 10 stories that deal with entertaining. I see a lot of ideas - some super, some sad. I have been saving the "super ideas" in a plethora of word documents.

I also LOVE to read magazines. I am always discovering new home goods, party themes and games in my favorite pubs. To keep track of the ideas, I end up pulling out the clip and savin
g it.

So one day I decided - why waste paper. All this information would make for a great blog.

Like I said earlier - I wanted it to be hyper organized. I wanted to make each day of the week a topic - a new party theme, a new Web site, a new tips...

Then I read my friend Brian's blog.

I realized that blogs don't have to be so uniform. Blogs are better when they are spontaneous. When I am finding the ideas in the daily stories that I read, I am going to share them right away. This is where you will find them.

A Shot of Brandi was the perfect name for this blog. Each day you will find a quick hit from me!

Before I begin this journey, let me remind you that I may have graduated with a journalism degree, but I am probably one of the worst spellers. I also love to use hyphens at inappropriate times and probably don't use comma's right. Please just bare with me. The content might be a B-, but the grammar is going to be a C+ on a good day.

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