Ice, Ice Baby

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Right now I am having difficulty typing this posting because my fingers are frozen stiff. Ladies and gentlemen it is cold in Chicago.

Speaking of ice cold, lately I’ve been reading that ice is the new couture food. Wait – is ice a food? I guess it is if you are one of the stars of the new 90210. Regardless, right now it seems that ice has declared war on the cocktail for the top spot as “it” happy hour fashion accessory. Companies are launching products to make the ice stand out over the drink. Here are some examples.

Rockstar Ice: Channel your inner Slash with guitar ice from Uncommon Goods. These would be totally cute in a signature drink made with Rockstar energy drink. Many at a Guitar Hero party?

Ice Princess: Hosting a princess party? That probably means you have a small child. Or you are a 27-year-old that acts like a child. Regardless, these fairy want ice cubes from World Wide Fred are perfect for the adult beverages.

I’m King of the World: Above is of the most buzzed about new ice products out there - the Gin and Titonic. Drown down a drink with these fun cubes from Perpetual Kid. This set comes with four ocean liners and four ice burgs.

Rrrrrrr: If you are a Chi Omega or a Pirate, you will love this ice option. Spoon Sisters sell Bone Chillers – a cool skull and cross bone. These are perfect for a pirate party or toasting another losing season at a Pittsburgh Pirates tailgate.
Remember earlier this summer when I mentioned alcholo-pops? Well I had some batch left over and I poured it into my star ice mold for some quick shooters. They were also a tasty way to chill a glass of champagne!

These options are just the tip of the iceburg of the plethora of options for keeping your favorite beverage cold. Keep your eye out for ice bling, ice kabobs, slim ice sticks for your bottled water, etc. Search these sites for some cool options.

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World's Best Boss

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Office is one of my favorite television shows. Watching each episode, I find myself laughing out loud and last night’s season premier was no exception.
This week, I’ve discovered that The Office’s web site is just as funny, it not funnier, than the show. Here’s what the masterminds at NBC Marketing did to pump up the show.

Andy & Angela’s Wedding Site: A rite of passage for any engaged couple, Andy and Angela have an official wedding Web site. Visit for updates on the wedding, attire, shower, etc. I love the fact that Andy has turned into a Groom-zilla.

Serenity by Jan: Looking for a gift for a fan of The Office? Look no further than Serenity by Jan. The site offers “hand-poured, creamy, highly aromatic candles.” This is no joke. You can really purchase the candles via the NBC Store. You must read the testimonial section.

Sex and the Electric City Blog: Resident party girl Meredith blogs about her adventures in Scranton – “The Electric City.” Meredith reveals that her dieting strategy for the Dunder Mifflin weight loss challenge was sticking to only clear spirits.

Dunder Mifflin Infinity: The homepage of Duder Mifflin, this site allows you to apply for jobs at the world’s famous paper company. If you remember, Infinity is the program that Ryan unsuccessfully launched last season before he was fired.

There is much more to explore on the NBC site and the many micro-sites. If you have time, be sure to check out the deleted scenes!

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I'm Board

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Playing a board game at a party is as old as sliced bread and Elizabeth Taylor. But lately I’ve noticed board “gammers” popping up everywhere. There is a bar in Chicago called Gutherie’s that people flock to just to play a variety of games supplied by the bar with groups of friends.

This weekend, reader Brian is having a party that will feature some board game playing. Earlier this year, I read a trend piece that at-home entertaining is expected to hit an all-time high in 2008 because of our economy. Do you think that board game usage will also rise? I do.

So while we tackle the subject of board game, let me feature my top five.

5. Monopoly: There can’t be a list of the best board games without mentioning Monopoly. It’s one of American’s greatest games. From the game pawns to the famous street names, this game is hours of fun. And I mean hours.

4. Scrabble. Another classic game that almost anyone can play. Of course you are going to dominate Scrabble if you are a big wordy nerd, but at the Bonkowski Christmas this year we proved that you really can play this at any age. Our range was about 15 to mid-40’s, with a 7-year-old giving her input.

3. Trivial Pursuit. This game is guacamole of board games. Don’t say you hate it until you’ve tasted (played) it. Yes, some of the questions are really hard, but it isn’t impossible. I personally like the 90’s and 20th Anniversary editions.

2. Scattergories. For me this makes the list because it doesn’t involve spelling. It’s all about the word association. All players are given a card with 10 categories. A die with the letters of the alphabet is rolled. Let’s say it lands on “S.” You must come up with a word for each of the 10 categories that begins with S. You get double points if you put in a double S. For example, if the category was “Actresses” and you put “Sissy Spacek” you would get two points. The game has 10 rounds and the person with the highest score at the end wins!

1. Outburst.
This is my number one choice because it’s so easy my grandma can play. The game is somewhat like “The Family Feud.” One team is given a card with a subject and 10 answers. The other team must shout out answers while being timed. A point is earned for each correct answer. Card subjects range from “Beatles songs,” to “fast cars,” to “Broadway shows.” Speaking of my grandma, Brady and I were once playing against her and got the catageory “Things you blow.” Brady’s face got as red as her hair : )

To make the party a bit more interesting, you can easily turn any of these games into a drinking event by doing the following:
- If you miss a question, drink the amount that is on the dice
- However many answers you don’t get right, drink
- If you lose, drink
- Or just drink. A lot.
(Photo Sources:,,
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Drink a Beer, Drink a Beer, Come Drink a Beer with Me

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I’ve always found it very odd that Oktoberfest begins in September. Advertisements for Oktoberfest’s always popped up in September and I just assumed they were building some early buzz. To my amazement, they were always around the 20th of September. Here’s why.

Back in 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen. To commemorate their marriage (on October 12th) a great horse race was organized on October 17th.

In 1819, Oktoberfest organizers agreed that the festival would be celebrated each and every year without exception in Bavaria. Later, Oktoberfest was celebrated for a longer period (16 days) and pushed forward to September so that the weather would be better. Festival organizers figured that the hotter the weather, the more beer people would drink.

Over the years, the festival showed new innovations. In 1880, electric light illuminated more than 400 booths and tents. In 1881 the first bratwursts were sold and in 1891 beer was served in glass mugs.

The Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries takes place on the first Saturday of the festival and showcases decorated hose teams of the breweries and bands that play in festival tents.

The beer served at Oktoberfest is a pale lager and contain a higher alcohol-content than a normal beer. American versions sold maybe a little more malty in flavor. Traditional Oktoberfest food includes sausage, sauerkraut, apple pancakes (also known as Äpfelpfannenkuche) and roast ox tails (gross). If you ever make it to an Oktoberfest, don’t forget to buy a stein – the must have souvenir.

Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th birthday in 1910. Today, more than 16 million people attend Oktoberfest in Munich and Bavaria.

In Pittsburgh, they have a fancy little beer fest at the Penn Brewery that Sprys, Steve and I once attended. It would have been more fun if we were drunker and with more friends, but it was still an experience. When visiting Brady once in Denver, I saw some good ads for an Oktoberfest in Denver. I bet that would have been fab since Denver is one of the big beer cities (home of Coors Light).

Look for Oktoberfests to begin this week and run through the first weekend in October. Cheers!

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So Obsessed

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Below are my Brandi* Obsessions for the moment. Brandi* is going to talk in first person today in honor of it being Wednesday because Brandi* thinks it’s funny that Suede talks in first person on Project Runway and Brandi* is obsessed with PR.

Bow to the Wow: On Monday, it was Brandi*’s dog’s birthday. Brandi* is a bad sister and forgot to send a present. Maybe Brandi* should have sent something from J.Crew’s new CrewMutts Collection. In honor of all pets out there, Brandi* loves the “Labor of Love” Pet Photo Booth project by artists Justin Peiers and Yvonne Doherty. The pair is documenting Australian owners and their pets in novelty settings. The photos are just too funny.

Apple of my Eye: It’s that time of year folks. Next week marks the start of fall and candy apples are in full effect. Brandi* typically buys her candy apples locally, but Gourmet Candy Apples has some wickedly delicious options. Brandi* also likes the fact that candy apples are very easy to make at home. Consider hosting a candy apple making party by purchasing a variety of apples, sticks and toppings like melted caramel and chocolate and sprinkles, nuts, sprinkles, mini-chocolate chips, mini-M&M’s, crushed candy like Snickers, Butterfingers, etc. The list and fun goes on and on.

BeDazzle: For the last week, Brandi* has been drooling over jewelry. I think it’s because Brandi* is trying to scale back her shopping addiction during this rough economy. Brandi* thinks a good way to settle her crave for new looks with accessories, like jewelry. For the longest time, Brandi* has been obsessing over a nice locket. Finally, a great, somewhat affordable option from Maya Brenner. This will be on Brandi*’s Christmas list. Oh and Fuss’s line is totally fuss-worthy and a must see for DIY inspiration.

Air Force Ones: Reader/Favorite Blogger Brian and Brandi* went shopping last night. Brian purchased a pair of kick ass Nikes. Brandi* now wants a pair of casual tennis shoes. Brandi* really wants the ones that Brian got, but doesn’t want to appear that her and Brian are “going to Kennywood” by wearing the same shoes. Brandi* is now obsessed with finding a good pair of sneakers. Help Brandi*

FYI – for that reader I don’t personally know, I dot my I’s with stars. When I was in 3rd grade, I got pissed off at people for spelling my name Brandy, so I started dotting the I’s with stars so they would see it and this little thing has stuck. Really, no lie. I can even pull out some kindergarten artwork in which I dot my I with a heart.

(sources:,,, mayabrenner.colm,
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Evite is so 1998

Sunday, September 14, 2008

For amazingly ten years, Evite has been the go-to source for sending out an electronic invitation to a party. In fact, the site it used by more than five million people every month. It’s easy to create an invite, easy to RSVP and has cute designs to match your theme.

More than ever, party pros are recommending using electronic invites as a way to “go green,” because you are not using paper to send snail mail invitations.

Today, there are some new sites that are getting into the electronic invite biz with some cool services. When doing research for this post, I actually stumbled upon articles and sites that are dedicated to bashing Evite becuase of its outdated graphics and little to no innovation.

Pingg: This site takes the services on Evite up a notch by giving users the option to have their invitation printed, stamped and mailed by Pingg. The invitation images are stylish, real photographs and include themes for a number of holidays. Pingg’s birthday invites are really the ones that stand out - love the cupcakes!

MyPunchBowl: If you like what Evite has to offer, but are looking for some fresh recipes and party tips, MyPunchBowl is your new best friend. With a similar look and feel to Evite, MyPunchBowl offers host and hostess the option to allow guests to weigh in on a party date.
I especially love the invite options for hosting a casual drink night. The images are contemporary and fun – including this shout out to the red party cup. While creating your invite, party tips and recipes are offered via an avatar named Penelope. If you are hosting a potluck party, there is an option for you to list what you are bringing so there aren’t duplicate dishes.

Designed for dudes, Manvite offers invitations for events like Drinking Beer, Watching Sports, Cougar Hunting and Lap Dances. I think this site is a good idea, but I really don’t know how many guys will take the time to sign up and create an invite to “Play Madden.” And honestly, you won’t see a sample pic of an Manvite on here because I didn’t feel like signing up for this service. And, unless you sign up, you are really cock-blocked out of seeing what this service has to offer. Regardless, it’s a new option.

Socializr: Somewhat new to the scene is Socializr. Created by the founder of Friendster, this is the most fashion-forward of the electronic invitation sites because of its integration with social networking sites like MySpace. I found the images for invites to be a little “cheesy,” however there is the option to upload your own design.

Regardless of what the old-fashioned etiquette experts have to say about electronic invites, I think certain situations call for a party notice via e-mail.

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Fancy Pants Fashion Week Recap

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New York Spring 2009 Fashion Week is wrapping up. While I couldn’t be there and probably never will be, I’ve been living my life vicariously through a number of fashion blogs via my life-changing Google Reader.

In PR, in almost every brainstorm, someone tosses out “Sample at Fashion Week,” or “Have a party during Fashion Week.” If the idea makes it into a plan, clients never buy into it. Three of the items I've listed below are smart, creative and awesome ways to incorporate your brand/company into the Fashion Super Bowl.

Here are some of the things from the past two weeks that I am loving.

· There’s No Place Like Home: Next year, The Wizard of Oz turns 70. To celebrate the anniversary, Warner Bros and Swarovski partnered with a number of designers like Betsey Johnson, Christian Louboutin and Gwen Stefani, to recreate Dorothy’s ruby slippers. A posh party for the shoe-obsessed took place on the eve of Fashion Week to debut the shoes – which will be on display at Saks Fifth Avenue through Sept. 14th. The shoes will then be auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. This reminds me of the time I donned the red bling shoes to play the part on a homecoming float where I earned the nickname “Drunk Dorothy.” That’s another story.

· Where’s Waldo: Props to the PR agency that represents the “Where’s Waldo” books. For the brand’s 21st anniversary, they placed Waldo at all the fashion events. To the left, Waldo takes in the Charlotte Ronson show. Waldo popped in the audience of a number of shows.

· Fancy Feet: In other shoe news, Havaianas just became a brand favorite of fashionistas walking around all week in 6-inch stilettos. The flip flop company gave out free customizable shoes. Seriously, I know flips may be a fashion faux pas is certain situations (ah hem, you don’t wear them to the White House Northwestern Lax Team), but flips have kept me going in bars and weddings by giving my feet some relief.

· Always in Fashion: The real trends coming out of the week are skirts, color and one-shoulder dresses. Oh, and another trend – the models are “bigger.” When I say bigger, I mean size 2-4 rather than all zeros! Looking at all of the pics from the shows, my clear favorite attires were from Lela Rose, Phillip Lim (of course), Project Runway and &&. I love the looks below.

From left to right: Peter Som, Lela Rose, Herve Leger, Monique Lhuillier and Philip Lim

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Pop Culture Halloween

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Halloween is here.
Cheesy pop up stores are getting ready to open there doors. Candy is on sale. Chicago weather is cold.
Each Halloween, I make it my goal to come up with a creative Halloween costume. My two rules when selecting my attire is that it is NOT SLUTTY and it’s CREATIVE. Halloween is not an excuse to parade around town wearing underwear (unless you are Will Ferrell in “Old School”) – especially if you are a girl.

Some of the best Halloween ideas are inspired by pop culture. Looking back on 2008, let’s explore some good options for DYI costumes.
- Prego man
- Madonna & A-Rod
- Polygamist
- Lindsey Lohan & SaMANtha Ronson
- Tom Brady on crutches
- Cast of Gossip Girl (guarantee this will be a college co-ed favorite!)

Over the years, I’ve seen some very unique ensembles that include:
- Box of Franzia
- A group of shots (Red Headed Slut, Irish Car Bomb, White and Black Russians, Flaming Dr. Pepper, etc.)
- The PRT (WVU shout out!)

There are also a number of costumes that should be outlawed for overuse:
- Slutty anything – Disney characters, girl scouts, witch, devil, etc. Just don’t do it.
- Brittney Spears (that means K.Fed too) – Actually, I am going to make one exception here. I did see a group of people that dressed as Brittney Spears at a different phase of her life (Hit Me Baby One More Time, Oops I Did it Again, MTV Awards, etc.)
- Madonna – with the exception of Madonna & ARod together as mentioned above
- Michael Jackson
- Pee Wee Herman
- Ghost Busters
- Dick in a Box

I still haven’t come up with my 2009 idea. I really want to be Hannah Montana, but again that isn’t too creative. My mom thinks that Brady should be Tony Little – the guy from the info-mericals. You know, the one that sells the Gazelle machine. Again, I am being lame, so please send suggestions!

Shot of Brandi* readers – I challenge you to get creative in 2009 and burn the slutty outfits (that means you Dana)!

(Picture Sources:,
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What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Monday, September 08, 2008

By: Brandi Bonkowski

Last week, I spent my summer vacation in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with my parents, sister and her man friend. Here are some of my key learning's.

1. "This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun." - Clark Griswold. Family vacations can be fun. Well, at least vacations with The Bonkowski's. We build sandcastles, drank by the pool and did the annual family dinner at Hooters. Looking back, the pool happy hours were awesome. Each day had a different "special" from our condo bar - sparkling wine, daiquiri's, mojitos, Effen cocktails, flavored beer! Yummmm.

2. "Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip" - Let's face it - no matter how much or little you pack, you are going to get yelled at. Right when my parents picked me up from the airport, I got verbally abused for packing too much. (I am being dramatic, don't call child services). I thought I did good - one medium suitcase, a duffle bag and a carry on for a week's stay. This included two outfits per day, gym clothes, beachwear and shoes. When we finally checked in, I made a list of things I needed at the grocery store - this list included a toothbrush. This item caused an uproar from my parents. They ridiculed me for forgetting such an important item. For the record, it wasn't that I forgot, rather my brush that I brought got sand reside stuck on it from my carry on bag. Gross. Jillian also felt the verbal pain - but lifting her suitcase caused arm, neck and back pain.

3. "I can dive. I can swim. I can float. I can fetch. But the little dog paddle. Is the stroke I do best." The fam stayed at the same place we started heading to back in 1984 when I was just three years old. It was from this pool (combined with good ole RTP) that I learned how to front dive, back dive and cartwheel into a pool. Having not dove into a pool since 1999, I was a tad nervous to take a leap. On the second day I just went for it. My mom said it was a six, while J Bo gave me a seven.

4. "Take a picture with your camera phone, take a picture with your camera phone." Someone once said, at the end of the day, all you have is the pictures. I think that was justifying the high cost of wedding photos. Regardless, when you are on a family vacation, don't forget to take a lot of pics. I took my camera everywhere, but I wish I captured more memories. I guess there is always...

5. "No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one." It was really hard to get out of bed and go back to work today. The weather in Chicago sucks (yawn), it's raining, I have to do billing. But the thought of another week of relaxation at the beach next summer is something to look forward to!

6. "It's raining, it's pouring, The oceans are snoring." Buy a bottle of water before you get on the plane. I was drove out of Myrtle Beach on Thursday night rather than Saturday morning due to Hurricane Hannah. Little did I know, I would sit on the runway in Charlotte for two hours because rain from Hurricane Gustav was hitting Chicago. I was very unamused that USAirways did not hand out water to use disgruntled passengers on the plane. Pack snacks.

T-minus 284 days until next Myrtle Beach vacation : )
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