kind of town....

Monday, June 30, 2008

If you have yet to expreience a Chicago summer, it sucks to be you.

This weekend was such a good Chicago summer weekend, I've decided to show you how awesome this city through my eyes!

Stevie Wonder - free concert at the Taste of Chicago
Me: I am glad I didn't make a sign. Stevie couldn't see it back here.
Sacks: (gives me a strange look)
Me: Oh, I guess he couldn't see it anyways

Chicago Gay Pride Parade - the biggest hit was either the Dykes on Bikes OR my rainbow cookies made from scratch.

While I keep getting shipped out of the city, here is some more fun from earlier this year and previous summers!

Rooftop party with Brian at the Taste of Randolph (it looks like I am wearing a Sears Tower hat)

Visit to the Bean with Amy in 2007

Saturday Cubs game with Brady in 2006

Even the dogs love summer!

The Oak Street Beach - to-go cups, wiffle ball and fireworks.

(photos by me)

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Let the Countdown Begin

Miss Jillian Bonkowski turns 21 in exactly one year!

This one's for you J Bo!

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Secret Stash

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer reminds me of going to concerts in Pittsburgh at Starlake.

Like a true Pittsburgh Girl, I spent most of my younger years consuming alcoholic beverages illegally before the concert. My slick friends and I would disguise our Keystone Ice in pop cans or those green tea bottles that are fully covered in a mint green color.

Kids like me are grown up and creating much cool items for people to disguise their illegal concoctions. This Thirsty Thursday, I will show you some of those options!

Z Gallerie ( has this handy stainless steel cell phone flask that comes with a funnel to “recharge.” As a flask user, I must say that a funnel key. And at a $14.95 price point, this is a steal.

Rather than spend $6 on a beer at a baseball game, smuggle in these double flask binoculars. A steal at $15 from Novelty Hut (, these babies hold 16oz. of alcohol.

This last option scares me a bit. Drinking Stuff ( offer people the option to hid alcohol in a hammer. This flask comes complete with a bottle opener as well. First of all, why would you take a hammer into a sporting event, concert or even a wedding!? Second of all, why would you want a bottle opener if you have to hide the alcohol!? Regardless, this option will help you get “hammered.”

(sources: zgallerie, and
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You'll Go Down in History...Like George Washington

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If you've never been to Pittsburgh, I must say it is truly a unique city.

From the three rivers that surround the city, to the little trolleys that take you up a mountain that over looks the skyline, all the way to the distinct language the natives speak.

Brady and I have become very familiar with the Pittsburgh over the last month. Specifically the Airport. So familiar in fact, my lovely boyfriend pointed out something very interesting. When you arrive at the airport and embark on baggage claim, this is what you see....

Two statues of people we Pittsburghians find important: President George Washington and Franco Harris.
If you aren't from Pittsburgh or a fan of football, you may ask, "Who the heck is Franco Harris?" He was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Team in the 70's. During a pivotal playoff game, Harris caught a pass known as the Immaculate Reception," which is remembered as one of the most dramatic catches in NFL history. This catch, eventually lead the Steelers to a win that landed the team in the Super Bowl (which they won, of course). Harris is legendary in Pittsburgh - my neighbor's dog is even named Franco.

Enough about Franco. The real moral of this story is that, us people from Pittsburgh value these two figures in American history on the SAME LEVEL.

At Amy's rehearsal dinner on Friday, I brought to the attention of my table-mates that there was an odd pairing of statues in the airport. I asked people to name who was there. Everyone knew Franco, but no one could name GW. Guesses ranged from Ben Franklin to "some Indian."

Next time you are in the airport, take a look at these statues. I will bet money that someone is taking a picture of them, just like I did today. But I will guarantee that someone is standing in front of Franco rather than the Founding Father of our Country. As a matter of fact, a mom was taking a picture of her teenage front of Franco tonight.

I'm so proud to be from Pittsburgh.

(pictures by brandi*)
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Damn Right it's Dad’s Day

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Damn right Canadian Club has one of the best advertising campaigns out there.

The brand found that their target (young men of legal drinking age) felt that CC was something “their dad drank.” So they created a campaign with the tag line, “Damn right your dad drank it.” With visuals and quick sayings that reinforce that your dad was a cool guy in his younger years!

Here are some of the ads

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some “Dad” drinks you should be damn proud to order.

CC on the Rocks
1 ½ parts Canadian Club whisky
Ice filled to the brim
Serve in a rocks glass over ice

CC Old Fashioned1 ½ parts Canadian Club whisky
½ part sweet Vermouth
Dash of bitters
Serve in a rocks glass over ice

Joe B4 parts Crown Royal
1 part Ginger ale
Serve in a rocks glass over ice

(Source: Canadian Club)
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Jump Around

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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Knit Together

Monday, June 09, 2008

In 2006 I closed shop on the Brandi Bonkowski Kitting Factory. After a number of failed attempts, that included a scarf more fit for a dog and an unfinished blanket, it was time to throw in the towel (or yarn).While I experienced some frustration trying to teach myself the craft, knitting can be very therapeutic. To learn the ropes of knitting, I suggest hosting a “Knit Together.” Some people also call these parties a “Stitch and Bitch.” Here’s how.

* Call a local craft store to find out if their any of their knitting instructors make house calls. Explain that you would like to host a “learn to knit” night for a group of girl friends and you are willing to come in to the store to explain. That way, you can meet the instructor in advance. Don’t forget to discuss how she would like your room set up and her cost!

* Make a list of items that people need to bring in advance and include that list in the invite. If you are planning in advance, save a ton of coupons for Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics and send each guest some with their invite.

* Before guests come over prepare, some simple cocktails and light appetizers. Casually remind your friends that you aren’t serving a main dish, but rather some apps.

* Arrange the room so that guests can see the instructor. This might be a good night to get your significant other out of the house. If you are really super sweet, buy him a gift card to the local bar or tickets to a sporting event.

* Ask the instructor if there are any directors or instructions that you can print and make copies for everyone. This goes for a pattern for knitting at home.

* Send guests home with a personalized yarn bag. This is so simple to create. Buy some blank canvas bags from your local craft store, along with some stencils and paints. If you don’t’ have nice handwriting with paint, you might want to pick up some letter stencils. On the bags, paint each guests name and a cute pattern. Don’t forget to add some bling!

* Follow up with your friends. Consider setting a deadline, having everyone submit their final project photos and vote on a winner!

Regardless if you succeed at your project, always remember – knit happens!

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Rainbowly Delicious

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I’ve heard about Skittles Vodka, but I thought it was an urban legend. Until now.For this Thirsty Thursday, I decided to google Skittles Vodka and low and behold there were a number of sits giving away a recipe for what I can only assume is delicious.

What You Will Need
Handle of vodka
Large bag of Skittles

Directions* Separate the colors of Skittles
* Select the color that you want to use to flavor the vodka (I’ve read that green and purple taste weird
* Pour out some vodka to make room for the candy (Don’t dump it! That’s a party foul! Drink it of course)
* Place 20-25 Skittles (per 350 ml) into the bottle
* Seal the vodka and let it sit for a day or two
* Strain our the Skittles
* Enjoy!

When I decide to concoct Skittles Vodka, I think that I am going to keep the colors together and buy more than one bottle of Vodka – just incase one has a bad taste.

What a grown up way to play with candy and drinks – reminds me of the good ole days of Zima and Jolly Ranchers.


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Make your Mark

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

When I was in college, my grandma once called to tell me that I needed to watch my cup at parties because there are “roofies.” Obliviously she was watching Primetime or 60 Minutes.

In all honesty, I am a little disgusted looking back at how many germs I probably contracted from college parties. From beer pong balls that fell on the ground, to uncleaned beer taps, it’s no wonder I got sick all the time.

Now that I am a more mature adult, I know there are ways out there to mark your drink at a party. Let’s face it, while I have grown up, I still love a good game of beer pong.

Write it Out. Crayola makes these clever window markers. Kids can doodle on windows and it wipes away with some soap and water. WELL, adults can use these to doodle on wine glasses. You can write your name on the glass (or my friends would probably write something obscene.

Etch-a-Sketch. Plum Party sells the red glasses above in which you etch your name into the cup. For those of you who don’t want to get too crafty, this is probably the best option for you.

How Charming. I don’t know about you, but I think the wine charm fad is dumb. You can totally make this buy buying the wire circles and then adding some beads. The Bead Mine in the South Side of Pittsburgh is great for beads (duh) and charms!

Brass Monkey, That Funky Monkey.
Perpetual Kid sells colorful monkeys that rest on the rim of the glass. They also make a Pink Elephant version that would be great for a post-holiday gift exchange.

Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics sell plain circles that you can craft up to match the theme of your party.

Hello My Name is…
Plum Party makes cute these cute coasters to the left that guests can write their name on. I like this idea because it promotes using a coaster and marking your drink.

Regardless of what option you select, if you have plastic cups at your party, it’s always nice to keep out a Sharpie so that guests can mark their cup if they are a germ-a-phobe. When your name is on the cup, you are also more reluctant to throw the glass away at the end of the night.

(Sources:, )
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It’s Wedding Season

Monday, June 02, 2008

This past weekend, Brady and I attended our third wedding of the month. We have one more to go and then our “Wedding Season” will be over until at least November.

From all of these events, I’ve made a list of some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when you are planning your own wedding or party.

Do: Remember the bathroom.
At one wedding there was this oversized basket in the ladies room with a load of emergency items. Pins, perfume, spray deodorant, band-aids, tampons, lotion, body spray, mouth wash – anything you would most likely have in your bathroom. While I didn’t dabble in the basket, it was nice to know it was there

Don’t: Open seating. I must admit, I hate place cards. They make me nervous whenever I am looking for mine – just incase mine was forgotten. But at a wedding, assigned seating is important. It’s like middle school lunch. If you don’t make it to the cook kids table, you can be left out of the fun

Do: Wear Proper Attire. After this weekend’s wedding, I thought – “When I get married, I is it tacky to put ‘Proper Attire Required’ on my wedding invitation?” I warned my parents that people don’t get as dressed up as they used to for weddings, but I DID NOT expect what I saw on Saturday. Never, EVER wear jeans to a wedding

Don’t: Play all cheesy wedding songs in a group. I get it. The elders love a good chicken dance. While some of those songs must be played to satisfy the older crowd, they songs should be divided

Do: Make a speech after church. After the ceremony on Saturday, the bride and groom emerged from the church after greeting guests and thanked everyone for coming, and mentioned that the cocktail hour started in a bit and that they were going to take some pictures and then be over. While it’s pretty obvious that this was going to happen, it was just the closure that the guests needed to know that it was time to head out

Don’t: Forget the cocktail in cocktail hour. For some reason the bar was closed on Saturday during cocktail hour (I got tipped off early to this so I brought a “to go” cup from the Bonkowski Wedding Tailgate party)

Do: Pitchers! When people go to the bar at a wedding, they typically get more than one drink. Last weekend, the bartenders handed out pitchers of beer and water, so that people didn’t have to carry multiple beers back to the table

Don’t: Spend too much money on favors. After two of the last three weddings, the number of favors left over was ridiculous. Consider making a donation to charity or providing guests with something edible

Do: Snacks. My dad brought up a good point. He said that weddings should have three food groups: cocktail hour, dinner (of course, Ted loves the buffets) and late night snack. My aunt ordered a lunchmeat tray for the after party, which were a total hit. I must say my smores went over awesomely at the bon fire as well

Don’t: Forget the classics. What did all three weddings have in common? Cake, maid of honor/best man speeches, “Shout,” open bar, an edible part to the favor, flip flops for the bridesmaids, bouquet toss, a reading from the Corinthians and most of all no crying brides over something that didn’t turn out right
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