Friday, October 30, 2009

It's 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 30th.

If you are like my fiance, you still don't have a Halloween Costume.

For those of you who are still trying to put something together at the last minute, may I introduce you to some suggestions from KnowYourMeme.com.

I discovered this link via the Thrillist newsletter and I fell in love. If you remember a few weeks ago on a Tech Tuesday, I introduced you to what a meme is. So you should all be educated!

Here are some of my favorite suggestions:

* Aretha's Hat: I know this gem was from way back in January, but who could forget Aretha's fashion choice at the inauguration?
* Keyboard Cat: Okay, we all know this video is fake, but who doesn't love Keyboard Cat!? He even has his own line of t-shirts! I would dress as a cat with a blue shirt and wear a keyboard around your neck.

* Star-Face Tattoo Girl: This story wasn't as huge as the others, but this chick said that she "fell asleep" while getting this tattoo. I like stars and all, but this is extreme.

Happy Halloween!

(Source: knowyourmeme.com)
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Monster Mash

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If you are looking for a last minute item to bring to a Halloween party, may I suggest an alcoholic punch.

I somewhat love the idea of bringing a punch to a party. You are contributing to the stash of drinks, you can transport the beverage in a pitcher and pending on the spirits brands you select, it can be cost-effective.
Here is a recipe for Green Monster Punch from the HalloweenForum.com. I would recommend serving the punch in a plastic cauldron. To really kick things up a notch, add some dry ice to the table (but not in the punch!).

Green Monster Party Punch
- 3 packages Lime Kool-Aid
- 1 bottle Vodka
- 1 bottle Fruit juice (any)
- 20-25 pieces Fruit, mixed
- 1 gal Sherbet (any flavor)

Mixing instructions:
Mix all ingredients(in any order) in a large tub, which can hold several gallons. Stir so that the Sherbert is completely dissolved. With the exception of the kool-aid and sherbert, as much or little of the other ingredients may be used.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

According to the social media Web site Technorati, there are more than 112 million blogs and 175,000 new blogs are created everyday.

Let me first of all ask you to re-read that line and let it sink in.

Secondly, thank you for reading my blog.

So most of my readers are tech-savvy enough to know what a blog is. Based on qualitative research, I know most of you read Shot of Brandi, some celebrity blogs and a few other sites here and there.

For someone like me, who is required to read the media everyday for my job, blogs is a word I say probably up to 100 times a day. Marketers want to target bloggers because more and more people are turning to blogs to get opinions on products and to discover new things.

Yes, it’s all a bit overwhelming, but blogs can be very helpful. For example, if you like to cook, there are a plethora of blogs that feature recipes and new kitchen gadgets. Are you a slave to fashion? There are bloggers that devote their space to posting their daily outfit and demonstrate how they achieved the look. Do you lust over cupcakes like me? Yes, there are a number of blogs for that too.

What I am trying to say is there is something to tickle everyone’s fancy in the blog world. Here’s my advice on how to find a good blog.

* Google a keyword of something that interests you and add the word BLOG. For example, try “baking” and “blog” and you will find “Sweet Treats Baking Blog” and “Jenny Bakes.”

* Google also has a specific blog search option. At the top of the Google homepage, there is an arrow that gives “more” options. There you will find the blog search. My search for “baking” and “blog” actually turns up one of my favorite baking blogs – Bakkerella.

* Alltop.com is a blog directory. When you visit this site, you can search by subject and AllTop will give you a list of blog that cover your desired topic.

* After you find one blog that you like, look at sites the blog recommends as “favorites.” Chances are your new favorite blogger is active in the blog communities and may have some good online “friends” with amazing web sites.

* Do you have a magazine that you LOVE and wish you could read more of? Visit the publications’ web site to see if they have any blogs. The same goes for your local newspaper. These outlets often have a whole batch of content that never makes it into the hard copy of the publication.

These are just a few tips for finding blogs about your hobbies or things of interest. I leave you today with my best advice for becoming a blog reader: Start small. Pick five or so blogs that you find and read them on a weekly basis.

(Sources: Technorati, Photos: Best Blogs Image from Time.com, blog image from worldbank.org )
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Readin' About Reader

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My name is Brandi, and I’m obsessed with my Google Reader.

I’ve mentioned my love for Google Reader on my very first post of 2009, but I’m not sure if you all know what it is.

So according to Wikipedia, a Google Reader is a “Web-based aggregator, capable of reader Atom and RSS feeds online of offline.

Here’s the Brandi way of explaining it.

So let’s say you see a blog or Web site that you like. Back in the day, you would bookmark the site, or save the URL and visit it to read new content.

Well now there is this thing called RSS feed. That means, you can subscribe to the blog almost like email. When something new is posted, you will get an alert.

Or, this is where Google Reader comes in. The Reader is basically a hosting site where you add in the links to the blogs/Web sites you want to read and the Reader updates itself when a new document is posted.
In a nutshell, once you have a Google Reader page set up, this is what you do:
1. Find a blog you like
2. Copy the URL or address
3. Paste the address into your Google Reader (where it says "Add Site")
4. Continue to add more blogs (if you would like)
5. Select a custom category for your blog
6. Check your reader often

Like I said, it’s almost like email in the fact that you can read new posts and save old ones. I pasted an example to the left. Please note that this is NOT mine (I do not read about sex). I just posted this so you can see what the dashboard looks like.

Because I read non-stop for my job and for my own enjoyment, I spend about an hour a day going through some amazing articles on my Google Reader. My blogs are divided into subjects like:
- Home Decorating
- Entertaining
- Wedding
- Cooking
- Fitness
- Nutrition
- Job Related

If you have a desire to read blogs more often, I highly encourage you to set up a Google Reader account and check it at least once a week. I obsess over the Google option, but there are other sites out there that allow you to host RSS feeds.

In the next few Tech Tuesday weeks, I’ll tell you how I find new blogs and share with you some of my favorites listed in the categories above.

Happy reading readers!
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I’m Still Feeling Corny

Monday, October 19, 2009

As a follow up to last week’s post about candy corn cocktails, I wanted to share a few more ways to incorporate candy corn into your Halloween entertaining.

In a 2007 feature, Yum Sugar showcases the Tick-or-tini – a cocktail in which the different spirits layer to create a candy corn martini. To achieve this look, it takes some crazy mixers and careful pouring.

Infusing vodka is super popular, so The Food Network decided to infuse some with candy corn. This recipe really intrigues me. I just might start brewing a batch next weekend.

Life is a Banquet has a lesson in candy corn pudding. This is totally adorable.

Of course my home girl MS has a candy corn pom pom craft (right). This would be adorable hanging over a Halloween candy buffet.

And finally, I saw this trend a few years ago and in the words of my new idol, Rachel Zoe, “I die.” The candy corn vase filler from Hostess with the Mostess.

(Photos: YumSugar and Martha Stewart - links above)
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Isn't My Drink Corny?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The hot subject around food blogs right now is Candy Corn. There are a ton of recipes floating around that teach you how to make your own batch of the candy treat. There are bakers experimenting with cupcake toppings and cooks using CC as an inspiration for dishes.

Of course one recipe that piqued my interest was a Candy Corn Cocktail.

Here is a version from DrinkMixer.com. If you follow the link, there is a video that shows how to make the drink.

Candy Corn Cocktail
3/4 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz creme de cacao
1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps
2 oz orange juice
1 tbsp dark cocoa powder
First, ring 6 oz Martini glass with orange juice then with Cocoa powder. Pour 1/2 cup of ice into shaker, then spirits, and Orange Juice. Shake vigorously and pour into glass. Garnish with Orange Peel Twist and 3-4 pcs of Candy Corn skewered on a plastic sword.

(Candy corn photo from Wikipedia)
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Treatless Trick of Treat

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

During my years as a Trick or Treater, I always loved it when a neighbor would surprise us kids with a non-candy item. You know, like a tooth brush or a coupon for a Wendy’s Frosty. I guess I just like it when people think outside of the candy box and come up with something creative.

If you are looking to give kids something that doesn’t satisfy their sweet tooth, here are some fun, inexpensive items to hand out this Halloween.

· Pencils or Erasers
· Play-Doh
· Stickers
· Fruit Snacks
· Coupons (i.e. movies, mall, stores, etc.)
· Apples
· Raisins
· Crayons
· Glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces
· Popcorn balls
· Vampire teeth (so hot right now with Twilight and all those vamp shows)
· Erasers
· Temporary tattoos
· Bubbles
· Packs of hot coco
· Yo Yo’s
· Juice boxes or boxes of milk (yes, it is shelf stable)
· Festive note pads

A lot of these items can be purchased in bulk from a place like Sam’s Club or online at Oriental Trading. For smaller batches of Trick or Treaters, you could even purchase some items from the Dollar Store.

If this post made you miss being a kid and getting all of that delicious candy, visit my post from last year on Trick or Drink - the 21+ way to celebrate the holiday!

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14 Years of Dance Lessons

Friday, October 09, 2009

And I bust my moves out on Chicago TV! If only "American Bandstand" were still around.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

Oh and the guy gave me his card and asked me to come back next week. See Brady, I can dance. And Dana, Point 1 Brandi. You've never danced on TV in your pj's.
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Ha Ha Halloween

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Today is October 7th. Maybe this post is a little late. Then again, for my fiancé and his friends, this post might be a little early.

Here is it kids. The annual Shot of Brandi* Halloween suggestions.

Dead CelebritiesInsensitive? Maybe. Overdone for ’09? Maybe. Easy? Yes.

· MJ: Totally obvious. Shout out to Brady’s mom who said that she liked my previous MJ post and may use one of the ideas for her upcoming Halloween party!

· Farrah Fawcett: So I typically think Charlie’s Angles is uncreative, but this year it’s Shot of Brandi* approved.

· Patrick Swayze: This is my favorite idea, but of course denied by Reader Brady – I wanted to be Jennifer Grey and Patty Swayze from the final night at Kellerman’s. So easy for a guy – just black on black. For the lady – a pink girly dress and ‘80’s hair.

· Ed McMahon: Go to Kinko’s. Get a giant check printed. Buy some balloons and suddenly you are the Publisher’s Clearing House prize team. Bring along your own video crew (thanks Reader Brian)

· Golden Girls: As a tribute to Bee Author, dress as the Golden Girls. I'd so be Rose.

2009 has been a big year for ladies in music – which inspires some great costume ideas.

· Beyonce’s Single Ladies: Three girls. Three black body suits. Enough said.

· Lady GaGa: Everday is Halloween for GaGa. Pick a look – my vote is for the Kermit the Frog look.

· Jessica Simpson: I love you J, but you had a rough year that can be made fun of easily. Wear too small daisy dukes with a tight flannel and hold up a missing dog sign. I’m mean.

· The Cast of Glee: While this might be a little tricky to execute, dressing up as The Cheerio’s is easy! There are also costumes from the group songs – like the “Push It” pep assembly.

· Dancing with the Stars: An easy couple costume.

· Ellen: Be sure to wear your dancing shoes.

· Biggest Losers: I’m so mean. Buy the shirts from NBC and stuff yourself silly with pillows.

Pop Culture

· Octomom: With the Jon + Kate madness, people have forgot about the trainwreck that is Octomom.

· Kate + 8: Speaking of Kate, with a quick wig, you can be Kate!

· Susan Boyle: Reader Brian rejected this idea of mine, but I love the idea of a guy dressing up as the YouTube sensation.

· Swine Flu: This is Brady’s idea. Dress up as a pig with a surgical mask.

· Vampires: Duh.

So 2008
· Sarah Palin
· Playboy Bunnies – enough already.
· Amy Winehouse
· Britney Spears (this one was over years ago)
· Spencer & Heidi

Well darling readers. I just want to give you the heads up that my costume is not included in this list. You’ll have to wait and see what I whip up for 2009.

(photos: sillygrrl.com, freewilliamsburg.com, jbtvguy.com, happyhourmom.com)
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