200th Post & Exciting News!!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's hard to believe, but this is my 200th post on Shot of Brandi*. Kinda like my Bicentennial Blog entry.

Thank you to all of my readers who send topic ideas, suggestions and say "Are you going to blog about this?" I do it all for my reader(s).

Because I love each and every one of you so much, I wanted you to be among the first to visit Brandi* & Brady - The Blog.

Like Shot Of Brandi*, our wedding blog is on double, secret lock down. You need to type in the URL to find it and names and pictures aren't able to be found via search engines. Here's the URL for you to jot down or bookmark...

Don't fear friends, Shot of Brandi* will still deliver you random stories and lame drink recipes.

This second blog is an outlet for Brady and I to share wedding details with our family and friends so they learn more about us, our important wedding details (location, hotels, etc) and meet our awesome wedding party. And no, it isn't going to be one of those crazy blogs that tells everyone what napkins we selected and what's in the hotel guests gift bags.
Feel privlidged - we haven't emailed this out yet! You are getting the first look.

As we celebrate the Shot of Brandi* Bicentennial (fitting it's the week of the 4th of July), I want thank you all of my friends for your support, encouragement and page views! Here's to 200 more!

(photo: free clip art now)
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Candy is Dandy, Liquor is Quicker

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Candy drink garnishes have been popular for some time. A few years ago, bar chefs experimented with Pop Rock drink rimmers, and fellow bartenders took off running with creative candy garnishes.

In honor of National Candy Month, here are some creative ways to garnish drinks at your next cocktail party…

· Add a gum ball to a glass of champagne. It’s a grown up version of adding Jolly Ranchers to Zima (RIP Zima).
· I LOVE the look of rock candy on a stick. Place it horizontal over the rim of a martini glass.

· This can be tricky, but at Valentine’s Day, add a Hershey Kiss to the top of a martini glass. To balance the Kiss, you may need to chisel it a little bit.

· For Easter, you can float a Peep on top of your beverage.
· Garnish a crème-based drink with a sugar cut out cookie, like a star, heart or dress.
· Put Red Hots into a cinnamon-flavored drink. And of course, garnish a peppermint drink with a Peppermint Patty.
· Any stick-like candy, like Twizzlers, make a fun garnish in a tall glass.
· Add a blow pop to a high ball glass.
· During the holidays, add a candy cane to a Irish coffee drink
· For blue drinks during the summer, add in some gummy fish.
· Garnish peach-flavored drinks with those yummy peach rings. Slice the ring so you can hang it off the side of a martini glass.
(Sources/images: bleucotton.com, flickr, )
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Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June is National Candy Month. So in its honor, I wanted to feature my favorite candy shops that you can visit in person or online.

Sarris Candy: The Pittsburgh favorite, I have a lot of fond memories of Sarris’ Candy. This is where the Easter Bunny shops, so each year I would have the coolest and most delicious shaped chocolate. Their pretzels are also to die for and their parlor is too cute! I even looked into having my bridal shower here because a candy theme would be way too fun.

Dylan’s Candy Bar: The brainchild behind this masterpiece is Dylan Lauren, the daughter of famed designer Ralph Lauren. I’ve blogged about Dylan’s before, because I’m obsessed, but just to remind you, this place has almost any candy created and the cutest accessories to match. If you can’t make it to New York, Dylan’s delivers the cutest treats. I especially like the Barbie line! Oh and Dylan’s also has a party room!

SweetHarts: Melissa Joan Hart has created a candy store with a cute name and an awesome look and feel. However, I feel like this LA candy store is trying a bit too hard to be a west coast Dylan’s.

Mr. Kites: Brady and I visited our local candy dude this past weekend for some ice cream on a beautiful afternoon. When I moved to Chicago Mr. Kite was one block away, right next to a flower store – perfect for dudes who like to romance their ladies. But due to a building renovation, Mr. Kite was forced to move a block away. If you ask me, this is a blessing, because his new shop is much better. Mr. Kite sells a number of homemade goodies. However, I don’t fancy his chocolate, but I think it's important to give your local business owners some love.

There are also a number of online stores to satisfy your sweet tooth of fill up a candy bar at your next party.

· Candy Warehouse: The name of this site says it all. I like how they organize candy by the type of event you may be hosting.

· Hometown Favorites: This site contains nostalgic candy and it even breaks down the treats by decade. I was a little upset they didn’t have Garbage Pail Kids in the 80’s.

(sources: Photo: collage by Michael Albert via sensationalcolor.com, dylanscandybar.com, nachophoto.com,)
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The Most Random, Pointless Post

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In 2003, J Bo and her friend Sara took me on a drive to see "a castle." During the 20 minute car ride, they couldn't stop raving about this house. It was still under construction and not in a gated community like some other houses in the area.

We approached Beech Ridge Drive and there were some huge house...in the $1.6M range - which is insane in Pittsburgh. And then we saw it...I mean you can't miss it. It really is a castle.

My mind works like the new Bing ads, so when I saw pics of Mario Lemieux's house, it made me wonder what happened to the castle. So Bing, I did some research.
The house is owned by a real estate developer. After some digging, I found out the following:

* The house is an estimated $20M, so as you can imagine, it puts the $1M neighbors house to shame. Maybe that is why one is for sale.

* It has and is 32,400 square feet, 34 rooms, 18 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms and has 13 fireplaces. I'm not sure I know 21 people that I could invite over that would all need to pee at the same time. Oh and the garage can hold 15 cars (and I don't think they are talking Matchbox cars)
* The owner, Joe Nocito, is an entrepreneur and real estate developer. One of his companies makes reinforced tape. TAPE? REALLY?
My hacking skills found this pic from an online forum. Please look at this modern-day castle compared to the house next door...

Regardless to the amount of digging I do, the owner, the contractor, the builder, the designer...all refuse to comment on the house. Leaving the inside dwellings a mystery.
While I live in my two-room apartment in Chicago, I am surrounded by million dollar homes, but none compare to this castle. I've just never seen a "home" this big. Maybe when I finally make it to Europe, I'll have something to compare it too.
For my out of town readers, next time you are in the 'Burgh, I'm happy to take you on an adventure to see the castle.

And to all - I apologize for the randomness of this post. But you should know by now, I'm the most random person you'll meet.

(Sources: wtae.com, hubpages.com, Post-Gazette.com, )
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Fast Food – Meals on Wheels

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Heading into 2009, bacon was the hot culinary trend. We’ve seen chocolate covered bacon, deep-fried bacon, bacon cupcakes…you name it. There are even bacon band aids.

Well, blame it on the recession or Twitter, foodies are now embracing the food cart. In fact, last week The Wall Street Journal wrote a story titled “Food Truck Nation.” The first paragraph really sums things up by saying…

"A new generation of lunch trucks is hitting the streets. They serve high-end fare such as grass-fed beef hamburgers, escargot and crème brûlée. As they rove cities like Austin, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, they alert customers to their locations using Twitter and Facebook. Their owners include highly trained chefs and well-known restaurateurs."

Reader Amy is throwing up in her mouth over her fear of food carts, but a lot of reporters are giving these pop up eateries glowing reviews. And the food is said to be excellent. I’m not talkin’ hot dogs folks. These carts are decked out with vegan burgers, fancy treats, gourmet tacos, etc.

Here are some more examples of Food Carts in the media (and in an area near you):

Back in May, the Associated Press featured LA food truck Kogi BBQ

San Francisco is a mecca of all things food, so of course they have some awesome food cart options. Check out this story in the San Francisco Chronicle that features the Magic Curry Kart, Crème Brulee Guy

The Web Site Jaunted covered LA’s gourmet food truck scene with The Border Grill Taco Truck.

The Clover Food Truck in Boston serves organic and vegetarian foods to MIT students. Gosh, all we had at WVU was the hot dog man (right).

Even Sprinkels Cupakes is even jumping on the bandwagon, with an on-the-go truck!

(Sources: Wall Street Journal, chow.com, jaunted.com, AP/google.com, eatinla.blogspot.com, Sprinkles Cupkcaes, Photo: WVU’s own DA and AP (Matt Sayers)
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Skype, Skype, be dybe

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My junior year of college, my dad called me around the 15th of each month and completely bitched me out about the amount of my cell phone bill. $300, $200, $150…while the amount was getting lower, it continuously exceeded the 100 mark. After about six months, dad eventually called and said “I owe you an apology.” My At&t plan actually expired and I was getting paid by the minute for each call I made. While this was just one example, let’s just say I was a talker in college and frequently ran up high cell bills. Things would have been easier if I just kept my Lego landline phone (above). Or, if Skype existed back in 2000.

Dana – you may not want to read this Tech Tuesday update. You probably could have guest blogged this subject.

From Oprah to MTV to Perez Hilton, everyone is using Skype. This downloadable tool works with your internet connection and allows you to make calls to other Skype users absolutely free of charge. You can talk as long as you want and there is no worry about cost!

The creators have made Skype easy to work with – you can import your contacts from a variety of email accounts and access it from your Blackberry or iPhone.

Skype has a crazy amount of features like call video calling, file sending, instant messaging, call forwarding…you name it!

So if you have friends or family living around the globe, Skype is ideal for you! It’s also awesome for long distance relationships and for keeping in touch with kids when they go off to college!

(source: skype and some amazing web site that I can't remember)
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I Got My Flippy Floppies

Monday, June 08, 2009

Flip flop season is officially here. Did you hear me girl who rides bus 151 – please stop wearinyour winter boots. It’s June!

I’ve been reading a lot of craft sites and I keep coming across cute crafts to help bling out boring flip flops. In fact, I spotted this picture today on HuffingtonPost.com of BFF’s LC and LO bedazzling some flips. So, today I wanted to share some tips to add some spice to your toes.

If you were fortunate enough to score some $1 flops at Old Navy in May, you have a good base to start craftin’. If you didn’t, no worries. Old Navy’s regular priced flip flops are like $2.50.

Bling Bling: LC and LO are showing you an easy way to add pizzazz to your feet. Buy some simple gems from the craft store and glue them to the shoes. While tacky glue is show, I may recommend a hot glue gun. Just make sure you gun doesn’t get so hot it melts the rubber on the flops.

Fancy Feet: Sue Bonkowski has mastered the art of ribbon flip flops (thanks to Bubba’s mom). I am the proud owner of some customized Steeler and Mountaineer shoes. To achieve this look, purchase a variety of ribbons in different colors and sizes that match your theme and knot them around the shoe. This version is from ModMomClub.com.

Smells Like Roses: J Crew is currently selling like $30 flips with a flower attached. You can sooo make that at home by affixing a faux flower to the shoe with some hot glue. Some strong thread and a needle will also do the job. The example to the left is from ElleGirl.com.

If you have any other creative ways to bling your flips, share them below. This reminds me of back in the day when we used to puffy paint our Keds…oh the ‘90’s!

(Sources: ellegirl.com, Photos: ellegirl.com, modmomclub.com, wireimage.com)
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Tony 4 Hire

Thursday, June 04, 2009

When I walk to work, there are regulars that I see. There is the "Can I have a Dollar" lady that pees on the bus, the guy that used to play the piano, the guy that carries all his items on his back and finally the crazy shopper lady that is 80 with a wig. My goal has been to capture pictures of my "friends" and share them with you.

Well, the day has come where one of my regulars has his own Web site. Readers, meet Tony...
Tony is constantly driving up and down Michigan Ave with his top down during all weather. If he isn't crusin' the streets, you can find him running with his shirt off. And with that hair, how can you miss him!

Next time you are in town, I just might splurge on the $150 "ride around the block" for you with Tony. That beats an Architecture Tour or a carriage ride!
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“Sticking” to yesterday’s hockey theme, I decided to feature a drinking apparatus today vs. an actual drink recipe.

Today, I give you, the history of The Stanley Cup curtosy of Wikipedia:

The History
• Named after Fredrick Stanley, the 16th Earl of Derby (in Canada), who was a big ice hockey fan back in 1888. Fred Stan (that’s what I’ll call him for short), attended the 1889 Winter Carnival in Montreal where he saw the sport first hand. That’s when Fred Stan became real active in the sport. One of his sons, Arthur, played a key role in forming the Ottawa Hockey Club.
• Arthur persuaded his dad to donate a trophy to the Hockey Club. And one March 18, 2892, Fred Stan issues a letter that said, “I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion (of Canada)”
• And that’s the birth of the Stanley cup!
• Often referred to as “Lord Stanley’s Mug”
• It’s the oldest trophy in professional sports
• In 1896, the Winnipeg Victorias started the tradition of drinking champagne from the top bowl after winning the championship.
• Only one of two trophies in pro sports to have the winner players, coaches and management engraved on it. The other is the CFL’s Grey Cup.

Traditions• A new cup isn’t made annually. Each team keeps the cup until another champion is crowned.
• Upon winning, the team’s captain picks up the trophy and skates around the ice with the cup. Each player then gets a turn to do the same thing.
• Each player then gets to spend a day with the cup, however I once heard it’s more like a week (don’t worry, its accompanied by someone from the Hockey Hall of Fame). IN fact, this is how I met Lord Stan. A former Penguin brought it to the bar at the top of my street in Pittsburgh. I did indeed touch the trophy and in fact, my dad hoisted it above his head (we have a photo). Looks like we will both never win one, because…
• A big NHL superstition is that no player should touch the cup until his team has rightfully won it. Some players often refuse to touch the Division Cup prior to the Stanley Cup games.

As expected, because championship players can each individually spend some time with the Stanley Cup, it’s been in some interesting places….
• The cup served as a baptismal font for Sylvain Lefebvre’s daughter
• A star on the small screen, the cup appeared in an episode of Guiding Light
• Lord Stanley rode a roller coaster at Universal Studios (Hollywood)
• In 1962 the Stanley Cup was dropped into a fire by the Toronto Maple Leafs during a party. The cup was in bad shape and needed to be repaired at the expense of the team.
• Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin ate oats from the cup thanks to the New York Rangers.
• Pens fans will appreciate that in 1991 the cup was tossed into Mario Lemieux’s pool. FYI – it doesn’t float.

(Sources: Wikipedia, Photo: Wikipedia, BestSportsShots.com, )
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Ain't Nothing But A Penguin Party

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It’s somewhat weird to be watching hockey in June, but I can’t turn off the tv because my Pittsburgh Penguins are in the Stanley Cup Finals.

If you are a fan like me, there are a number of ways you can add some Penguin flair to your Stanley Cup Party.

Penguin Head: Plum Party has some adorable Penguin hats that are conviently wearing blue (the Pens throwback color). At $1.50 for two, you must stock up on some of these guys. I would recommend bedazzling a Pittsburgh logo on to the hat – or adding a Pens sticker.

Penguin Hat Craft: Kids coming to your party? Oriental Trading has an adorable craft kits. If you are a craftster, you can by the materials to make this vs. the actual kit (that will help with timing too!)

Penguin Food:
- Themed sugar cookies are soooo easy to make. If you don’t feel like baking them from scratch, you can always

- With some creative pan usage, you can whip up this cute penguin cake.

- I LOVE these Penguin olives from Sagespot on Flickr. This app can be put together easily with two olives, a tooth pic and a piece of cheddar cheese as a nose and a strip of cream cheese for the belly. You could also use carrots in place of the cheddar cheese.

- For an easy penguin treat, create these cookies arranged from Oreos. No baking required!

Penguin Pinata:
While you never want to beat up on your mascot, there is a sweet Penguin Pinata you can fill with candy.

Lord Stanley: Yes, you too can have a Stanley Cup at your party with this inflatable version courtsey of the NHL. Not everyone can "meet the cup" like a certain blogger (when she was wearing a Hooters t-shirt).

I was daydreaming this theme last week and one of my favorite blogs, Hostess with the Mostess, actually posted a Penguin party on Friday. Click here for some adorable ideas she put together for a shower that can be applied to Pen’s party such as the olive app and cookies.

Oh and of course…LET’S GO PENS!

(Sources: HostessBlog.com, PlumParty.com; Pictures: polarconservation.org, twosisterscakes.blogspot.com, jenniferhardie.blogspot.com)
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Let's Go on a Picnik

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Happy Tech Tuesday!

Today I want to introduce you all to Picnik.

According to the site, Picnik is “photo editing awesomeness, online, in your browser. It’s the easiest way on the Web to fix underexposed photos, remove red-eye, or apply effects to your photos.”

While you can utilize a bunch of the site’s editing tools, I really love the ability to bling out my pics.

I found one of my favorite pics below and bling it our using the following tools on Picnik.

Cinema Scope





There are a number of ways you can incorporate Picnik into your life – invitations, emails, power point presentations, etc. All images can be saved as jpegs.

Picnik is free, but there is a monthly paid version if you are like super into it.
(Source: picnik.com)
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