Shot of Brandi* Gift Guide

Monday, November 30, 2009

While my mom says that “Black Friday is for amateurs,” it officially kicks off the shopping season. This year, Black Friday marks a milestone for me – my 10-year high school reunion. I did not attend, but it did inspire the Shot of Brandi 2009 Holiday Gift Guide!

Starting tomorrow, I will feature a series of posts that will be themed for different class personalities. There will be gifts for “Best Dressed,” “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Biggest Flirt,” “Class Jock” and many more.

The news tells me that the economy is getting better, but I feel like people will still be thinking of price when making a purchase. So it’s my goal to make each gift option under $100.

If you have any ideas, please feel free to email me your gift suggestion!
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Name Game

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I’m a sucker for a lot of things. Clothes with ruffles, bows and sparkles. Anything Hello Kitty. Cupckaes and food on a stick. The color pink. Shoes. The list goes on.

So when it comes to wine with creative names, taste and flavor are forgotten and my hands go after brands with eye catching titles and bottles.

Here are some creative wine options I’ve recently laid eyes on:

The Coolist recently had a feature on the top 30 wine labels. This is where I fell in love with Boarding Pass Shiraz. The bottle (above) features, well, a boarding pass with an adorable tagline. “Boarding Pass is a free ticket to the taste of South Eastern Australia – like going on a journey without leaving home.”

Any glamour gal will absolutely love Marilyn Merlot. This bottle is perfect for a girls night out or a fabulous hostess gift.

Another great pink from The Coolist – B Frank Wine. With a MadLib-like lable, you can help fill in the name of the wine with a frank statement.

For the person who loves a road trip (or just likes to drink), enter Happy Camper wine. I wish I had this for those days of drinking in the woods at Kamp Keystone.

Looking for a wine for a newlywed friend? Try the Mad Housewife selection. Not only is the packaging adorable, but Mad Housewife won three medals in the International Wine Competition.

Hosting a Naughty or Nice holiday party? Serve Seven Deadly Zin’s
Happy Drinking!

(Sources: Boarding Pass Shriaz via NotCot, Marilyn Merlot, Mad Housewife via web site)

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Entertaining Reads

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I am soooo excited about the five bloggers I will introduce you to on this Tech Tuesday. These fine ladies are a true inspiration for any party planning obsessed gal like myself. Some of the parties these bloggers feature are truly unique and fabulous. You may want to bookmark these ladies and visit them for ideas next time you have an event to celebrate.

Hostess with the Mostess: I discovered Jenn, the author of this blog, back in 2007 when I wanted to her serve as a spokesperson for a program I was working on at the time. While we couldn’t convince the client to use a “blogger” as a spokesperson, we ended up supplying alcohol to a television segment Jenn did in San Diego on Super Bowl entertaining. Long story short, Jenn eventually blew up. She is planning parties for celebrities, is now a paid spokesperson for Chambord and I believe has a book on the way. Jenn doesn’t plan all the events on her blog. She features ideas from her thousands of readers. This site is a must visit for party themes, décor and fun entertaining tools. Jenn, the true Hostess with the Mostess, posts about 2-3 times a day.

Stem Events: The reason I love Amy, the author behind this blog, is because unlink a lot of event design blogs, Stem Events has décor and ideas that are achievable on a typical middle-class budget. Amy is a mid-western gal who regularly features centerpiece and décor ideas, along with some creative party themes.

The Party Dress: This blog had me at its name. I’ll let the “About Me” tell you why this blog rocks. “Simply stated – I am a girl that loves to throw a party. I write about things that get my creative juices flowing in hopes that it will inspire you to create special celebrations in your own life.”

Creative Party Place: To my future MILF friends out there. You must brush up on this blog if you want to roll with the other PTA mothers in the next 10 years. Let’s just say the bar has been raised so high on kid’s parties, you should forget saving for your child’s college and consider putting away a few grand for future birthday parties. From SPAjama parties, to geshia girls to superheros (with custom capes for all the attendees), kid’s parties are the new super sweet 16. I’ve really got to step up my game to achieve my dreams of a one-day PTA president.

Hip Hostess: Not to be confused with Hostess with the Mostess, Hip Hostess is the mastermind of two NYC gals who run an event planning company. In addition to some hip events, these chic gals often blog abou cool finds for home décor and gifts.

(Photo sources: hip hostess, hostess with the mostess, )
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Brandi*'s Newsstand

Monday, November 16, 2009

This weekend, I caught up on my magazine subscriptions/pile of books that has been stacking up in my apartment. Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to solely save the magazine industry by subscribing to a number of titles. Those I don’t get in my mailbox, I sometimes purchase when traveling or if they have an eye catching cover.

Here are some of the magazines that I think are worth the subscription:
* Vanity Fair
* Food & Wine
* People
* Biz Bash (It's a free pub! I love looking at the events!)
Some are just good on a monthly basis. This list includes:
* Rachel Ray
* Martha Stewart (MS puts the good stuff is on the internet)
* Wedding mags (even if you aren't married, they are good to look at for event ideas)

So based on this past weekends mass magazine reading, there are a few awesome things I wanted to share with my loyal readers.

* Every since the big Recession started, people now think more before making a purchase. In the September issue of InStyle, the magazine offers four tips to consider before making a fashion purchase: 1.Is it versatile? 2. Is it seasonless? 3. Is it well made? 4. Is it timeless?

* Lucky Mag gave a shout out to the Web site Sorting with Style. This is a must visit for any obsessed organizer like me.

* While this may be a little late, Harpers Bazaar listed the key pieces for fall. They include: a strong shoulder blazer, sequined jacket (YES!), tailored evening shorts, a micromini, cropped & baggy jeans, a neon vest, doubled-up cuffs, over-the-top bib necklace and touch-chic booties. I don’t recommend wearing all these trends at once!

* New buzz word – hatecation. This comes from People StyleWatch’s “What’s In & Out” section. A Hatecation is a vacation from being a hater and embrasing a more positive, welcoming attitude. I like!

* In the October issue of Glamour, Designer Nate Berkus transformed a NYC studio apartment. I love his tip for storing clutch purchases. Use a magazine file boxes to organize the purses. That way, your options are visible.

* Glamour also had three great tips for all-day energy. 1. Your lunch should be between 400 and 600 calories and full of fiber. 2. At least 20 percent of your plate should be protein (think beans or nuts). 3. Don’t eat more than four hours after breakfast. The longer you delay, the more you may overeat.

* Finally, I leave you with this awesome quote from the September issue of Vogue. In a story on Robert Isabell, the “King of Chic Events,” who recently passed, the last line says, “Some people give parties. Others, like Robert, are hosts to life.” I obsess.

(Sources: cited magazines, Photos: Gawker, thisnext)
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Kiss the Cook

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tech Tuesday has become a real popular post here at Shot of Brandi*. Reader Amy has been a fan of some tips and reader Lauren is lovin’ her new Google Reader.

As promised, I wanted to share some of my favorite blogs with you. Today, I’ll feature some of the amazing food blogs I frequent.

For those of you who are just starting to read more blogs, let me tell you the food ones are where it is at. The amount of recipes, ideas and photos these bloggers give you are so valuable. Once you start visiting these people, you will never go back to a recipe book again – trust me!

The Kitchn: No, I didn’t spell that wrong. The Kitchn is a blog from the creators of Apartment Therapy – a popular home blog. I LOVE the recipes featured here. They are easy to make and the blog includes a ton of pictures.

Serious Eats: Reader Megan introduced me to Serious Eats because they always blog about Chicago pizza places. This blog has some cool food recommendations and highlights food trends from across the country. While a lot of posts are a good thing, Serious Eats posts 8-10 stories a day, so you need to check this one often.

Joy The Baker: Seriously my favorite blog for all things sweets. I want to gobble up every recipe Joy (right) adds to the site. This girl is so young and talented! She just makes me want to quit my job and become a professional baker.

Bakerella: The originator of the brownie pop, check out this site for up and coming desert options. Bakerella is totally ahead of the trends. Of course, my favorite option is to the right.

Cupcakes Take The Cake: This site is food porn for a cupcake lover! While I love the creative cupcakes, this blog tends to post way too many photos and not enough recipes. However, it’s a popular blog worth mentioning.

Finally, while it isn’t a recipe-focused blog, you MUST check out Cake Wrecks. I’ve blogged about this before, but in the words of my idol Rachel Zoe, “I die.” This Web site features cakes gone wrong. There are a plethora of supermarket masterpieces here...enjoy!

(photos: joy the baker,
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Hoot Hoot

Monday, November 09, 2009

Back in the early 2000’s I was a sorority chick. I picked Chi Omega because the girls were nice and liked to consume adult beverages on a nightly basis. I didn’t go through formal rush, so I wasn’t aware of all of the houses colors, flowers and symbols.

When I landed in Chi Omega, I was disappointed to learn that the symbols and flowers consisted of owls, skull & crossbones, carnations and finally the colors yellow & red (or more formally known as cardinal & straw). At the time, all of these things were sooo passé.

In the last five years, things have changed. While yellow & red will most likely never be in style, carnations are back, skull & crossbones are cool and finally owls are taking over the fashion & accessories world. I just can’t walk past an owl decoration without thinking of those scary owls in the Chi Omega house. Here are some of my favorite owls I’ve recently seen.

Hostess with the Mostess has two memorable owl-themed posts. The first is how to make some adorable owl stirs, while the second is an owl-themed baby shower.

So yes, I own this owl from a Sake set (above), but it’s just so cute and from my favorite store – Anthropologie. I also love the Antho owl jewelry.

I know that some of my Kappa friends that read this blog (hi Sprys!) also cherished the owl during their sorority days. If you are planning an owl reunion party, try the owl place cards from Paper Source (right).

I’m not sure if this owl spotted on the Décor 8 blog is spooky or spectacular, but welcome your sorority sisters to your new house with an owl umbrella stand.

This is a must have on my bridal registry – an owl pitcher. I can’t wait for an alumni tailgate to fill this little hooter up with keg beer!

All my Chi Omega readers knew I would be that crazy, owl-lovin’ alum. We all just didn’t think it would happen this soon!

(Photo Sources: Owls in a Tree, Anthropologie, Paper Source)
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Happy Halloween!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween!
Below you will see the big reveal of my costume. I was a.....


I made my felt masterpeice based off of this version from Pottery Barn Kids. I wish I had a shot of the hot pink sequin heels, but this one should do.
Oh and Brady - he was Joaquin Phoenix from his infamous David Letterman appearance earlier this year.

(Photo from Batlimore Sun)
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