Play That Funky Music

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Grammy’s Night!

If you’ve had the privlidge of hanging out with me in a bar, you will know my new obsession when I am out is playing the jukebox. I really can’t explain why I enjoying throwing a $10 away on music, but lately I’ve been giving Samantha Ronson a run on the turntable.

With the popularity of the ipod, a party must is a rockin’ playlist. So here are DJ Brandi*'s favorite party songs.

* Livin’ on a Prayer: I love this song as much as Tommy loves Gina

* Like a Prayer: No, there is no theme here, but if you’ve never see me act out this song, then you’ll want to play this. It’s worth the $1. Bonus points if I can partner this dance with Erin Young, Lynn Lai, Jillian Bonkowski or Ryan Platt

* Sexyback: While sexy never went anywhere, this JT song gets the booties shakin’

* Jackson: Gotta love me some Johnny & June.

* Don’t Stop Believing: Who doesn’t like this song? Journey is one of the best 80’s musical acts in my mind. This is also one of the best songs to sing while drinking!

* Party Like its 1999: Sooooo senior year of high school!

* Since U Been Gone: That’s for Brian. He’s a rockstar at beer pong when this song is on.

* PYT: I was on a total Mike Jackson kick way before he died. I think it started with American Idol night. Anyways, I can’t stop jammin’ to PYT. Brady will be happy when I learn the words.

* Thong Song: Things get a little crazy when Sisqo starts bumpin’. Let me see that thoooonnnngggg….

* Regulate, Gin & Juice and/or anything Snoop Dogg: This pleases the gangster rap fans and reminds you of your high school thug days.

* Country Roads: Take me home…to the place..I belong…WEST VIRGINIA…

* Party in the USA: Love her or hate to admit you love her, this song just makes things more fun.
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On The Good Ship, Lollipop

Monday, January 25, 2010

Edible centerpieces can be a fun way to spice up your next tabletop if you are looking for a non-floral option.

For a few months now, I’ve been seeing people use colorful, gourmet lollipops to liven up the décor.

Here are some wonderful options from around that crazy World Wide Web.

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Sweet Tweet

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Last night I attended my first ever “Tweet Up.” For those not down with the lingo, it’s basically a social for people on Twitter where you get together and meet in the real world. I went on behalf of the client and stood in the corner and texted on my Blackberry. I’m a loser, I know. It was a very long day and to not bore you with details, I will just say that I woke up in a bed in NYC and still made it to this event. Okay, I wasn’t a total unapproachable b*tch. I did meet one girl that came up and asked “What’s your Twitter handle?” Translation: What is your Twitter name (for your AIM users, your “screen name”).

I digress.

At the Tweet Up, Caipirinhas were on special for $5, so I decided to test one out.

According to Wikipedia, a Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail made with cachaca, sugar and limes. Cachaca is the most popular spirit in Brazil and is made from fermented sugarcane juice. It’s verrrry sugary. In fact, up to six grams per liter of sugar may be added. Cachaca is similar to rum, because both spirits are made from sugarcane, but rum differs because it includes molasses.

The taste of the drink is similar to a mojito – but sweeter. It’s one of those drinks that’s good, but you can only have 1-2 max.

The interesting thing about the name of the cocktail – Caipirinha – is that it is a version of the word “caipira” which refers to someone from the countryside or the American equivalent of a “hillbilly”

Here is a Caipirinha recipe from Caipirinha Cocktail.

- 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons of white granulated sugar
- 2 ounces of Cachaca (Brazilian rum distilled from sugar cane juice)
- Crushed Ice

Cut the lime into pieces (eight pieces is good). Muddle the lime and sugar together in the bottom of a glass (you could also do this in a cocktail shaker). Add the Cachaca. Add one cup of crushed ice. Cover the drink and give it a good shake. Garnish the caipirinha with a lime wedge.

How to serve:A caipirinha cocktail is best served in a wide, short glass with a straw.

(Source: Wikipedia)
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My Favorite Fashion Trends from the Golden Globes

Monday, January 18, 2010

(all photos from

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250 Macarons on the Wall...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This is my 250th blog post!

Rather than celebrate with a cupcake, I'm chewing on some Macarons.

Okay, I'm really not. But for two years now, I've been trying to figure out what would trump the cupcake off its "it" bakegood petestal. Well folks, according to some people in the media, it's the Macaron.

Yes, I know. I told you before that the New York Times said that the trend would be whoopie pies, but it seems like the pies just aren't sticking. They aren't as pretty as macarons.

Starbucks began selling macarons in its stores in December. And if you keep your eyes open, I'm sure you will see this pastry popping up at more events and stores. Let me know if you spot them!

If you dare try and make these cookies at home, here's a recipe from Martha Stewart. It looks a little complicated to me, but maybe I'll try it over the long weekend!

Parisian Macaroons from Martha Stewart

Makes about 16 filled macaroons.
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Macaroon Filling

To make the macaroons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners' sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.

Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

To fill the macaroons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Variations: To make coffee-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops brown food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, blend 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon warm water for the filling. To make cassis-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops purple food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, use 1/3 cup good-quality cassis jam for the filling. To make pistachio-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops green food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, combine 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 tablespoon pistachio paste for the filling.

Recipe reprinted from

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Update: 101 in 1001

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last year, I committed to do 101 things in the next 1001 days. I wanted to give you all a little update on my list.

As you will see, I still have some work to do, but it was nice to cross things off in 2009!

Sorry if it is a little hard to read - I tried to get fancy.
I hope this inspires you not to set resoultions and try a 101 in 1001!

(Source: The Doodles are from Kevin and Amanda. They can be found here and here).
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Biz Bash 2010 Trends

Monday, January 11, 2010

Biz Bash Magazine asked people in the event planning industry to predict trends for 2010. I pulled out seven highlights that I thought were relevant to everyday entertaining. Enjoy!

“2010 is the year of the picnic: guerrilla picnics, high-in-the-sky transatlantic airplane picnics, picnic tables, and, of course, picnics for lovers.” —Josh Hickey, owner, Hickey Shields Design, New York

“Emphasis on interactive events—salsa dance lessons, mixology classes, Wii games, Iron Chef-style competitions.” —Lisa Jebb, partner, Cream of the Crop Events & Logistics L.L.C., Dania Beach, Florida

“Email invites are here to stay. It’s very rare now to see formal invites. And more events tied to charity. There needs to be a cause.” —Pam Dzierzanowski, director of events, Patron Spirits Company, New York

“Fewer linens. Rental companies offering stylish tables that don't require extraneous linens.” —Linsey A. Foster, director of constituent relations, the Art Institute of Chicago

“2010 is going glam. Fabulous, luxurious design, lots of sparkle, chic spaces, and of course, the perfect ingredient—your guest list!” —Stacey Cynamon, co-owner, Lounge Rentals,Toronto
“2010 will see the increase of all things lavish: food, decor, and venues. Recession-chic is out and luxury is back in a big way to escape daily life.” —Bruce Starr, talent and branding maestro, the BMF Media Group, New York

“Food of future events: Kill the buffets and pass all food in mini versions to increase variety and lessen waste.” —Michele Pokowicz, executive director of sales, Mary Giuliani Catering & Events Inc., New York

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Shot of Brandi Randomness

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Each week I see some incredibly cute things that I would love to share with you, but they aren’t cool enough to carry their own blog post. In 2010 I will highlight the cool things in a little wrap up post.

Here’s the first little diddy.

Shot of Brandi Randomness for the week of Jan. 4th

· Giant Eagle was mentioned on Cake Wrecks. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a special time to celebrate cake. I’d like to make everyday a celebration!

· If you Google “Brandi and Brady,” this comes up (hint: it's the picture above).

· Cupcake Pedestals – cute or corny?

· I know it’s 0 degrees in Chicago, but this Apple & Cinnamon Ice Cream recipe from Sweet Paul is making my mouth water.

· And finally, this one is for you Linds.

(Sources: dog photo from web shots, Video from YouTube via Showtime's, "This American Life.")
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Bloody Awesome

Thursday, January 07, 2010

In 2010 I will embark on a quest across the U.S. to find the World’s Best Bloody Mary.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve become obsessed with Bloody Mary’s. Don’t worry – this isn’t my new “go to” and I won’t be a freak and order one the next time I’m drinking with you at a local dive. Rather, I enjoy drinking a spicy Bloody Mary over brunch.

While I can’t share with you a recipe for the perfect Bloody Mary (since I haven’t found it yet!), I thought I would share with you some fun facts about the beverage to help you be the coolest kid at your next brunch table.

· According to Wikipedia, a Bloody Mary is a “popular cocktail containing vodka, tomato juice, and usually other spices or flavorings such as Worcestershire sauce, tobacco sauce, beef consommé or bouillon, horseradish, celery, olive, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and celery salt.”

· The Bloody Mary was said to be invented by Fernand Petiot at Harry’s Bar in Paris, France, and was originally called the Red Snapper.

· There are a few folklore tales about who exactly “Mary” is. One story says it’s after Queen Mary of England. Another says the drink was inspired by actress Mary Pickford. Another story, which is my favorite, says it was named after a waitress who worked at a Chicago bar called Bucket of Blood.

· Speaking of Chicago, according to Wikipedia, the Pump Room (which is a block from my apartment) started the trend of serving the Bloody Mary with a celery stick by the request of a guest. However, one of my favorite local bars Butch McGuires also says they were the first to introduce the celery stick. Do I smell a bar fight!? Butch's Bloody Mary's are good, but they need more of a kick, so I just add more hot sauce.

· The Bloody Mary has a number of variations of the drink that are created by substituting vodka. Some of the more popular options are the Bloody Maria (tequila), Bloody Geisha (sake), Bloody Molly (Irish whiskey), Bloody Murder (gin), Bloody Pirate (dark rum)

The photo I use here is from Poor Little Rich Girls (newsletter). It’s a Bloody Mary from Rockit in Chicago. While their bloody mix wasn’t that great, the fixins bar is Ah-mazing! Shrimp, ham, a plethora of olives…I die!

(Sources: Bloody Mary Info from Wikipedia, photo via PoorLittleRichGirls from Rockit)
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Trendspotting 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

By now you all know that I am an uber nerd. One of the things I love is trendspotting. January is a perfect month for 2010 predictions from beauty to health to fashion.

Here are some of the top trends I’ve seen this week.

· Meat Free is the Way to Be: The Chicago Tribune believes that meat will no longer be the focal point of a plate, rather meals will be dominated by beans, nuts, veggies and whole grains (source)

· Andrew Knowlton, of Bon Appetit (who has deleted a number of my email pitches for work), went on the CBS Early Show to talk about his 2010 food trend predictions. Two items of note: meatballs and comfort food. In terms of comfort food, its classic recipes that your grandma or mom makes – bread pudding, coconut cake, etc. (source)

· Numerous fashion outlets are calling for skirts with volume – I DIE! I’ll be glass to see that bandage skirt look of fall ’09 go bye, bye.

· Sorry I can’t remember which blog I read this on today, BUT in hair trends last year Lauren Conrad sparked a million people workin the mini bang braid. Well in 2010 it’s all about the big chunky braid – but please, NO FRENCH BRAID. I saw this trend in action tonight – Katie Cassidy from Melrose Place was rockin the braid at the People’s Choice Award.

· The LA Times mentioned this something that forecasters have been alerting us - watch out for Alice in Wonderland inspired looks in fashion and beauty. The marketing machine has been seeding this movie for awhile now - the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows showcased the theme and a number of designers have said their upcoming collections are inspired by the movie. This trend will be fun to watch (source).

· According to the American Council on Exercise, two hot fitness trends are Exergaming and specialty exercise classes. Exergaming, or exercise video games like Wii Fit, will continue to becoming popular. Health clubs will embrace the trend and offer classes – hey, they need to get these people to stop working out at home!

· Specialty exercise classes like Zumba, hula hooping, circus-inspired trapeze workouts and bar method classes are creating a fun way for people to workout. People want workouts to be something fun, not rigorous.

· Mintel, a research firm, predicts that gyms will turn to a “pay as you go” format to attract people who want to use a gym, but are worried they won’t get their money’s worth. I’d say sign me up!

· Pantone named Turquoise the “Color of the Year” for 2010. Tiffany’s should be happy. (source)
· AdAge predicts that Netbooks will be the huge it thing to come out of this weeks Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Pretty soon everyone will have one and marketers will be goign after these people (source).
· says that more couples will concentre on having a grand exit in 2010. Look for sparklers, fireworks and crazy dance moves that you will see on YouTube.

(Sources: all cited with the exception of Katie Cassidy Image via Wire Image, cat from, 2010 photo, bon app cover)
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2009 Obsessions

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Thursday closed out one of the most exciting decades of my life. It’s so crazy how things have changed in the last 10 years. I graduated high school, went to WVU, met my awesome future hubby, moved to Virginia and Illinois, and spent five years of the last decade at the same job. Oh and how can I forget…I became a blogger! I’m so excited for what the next ten years have in store.

In what may become a Shot of Brandi* tradition, I wanted to recap my top 10 obsessions of 2009.

10. Blogging: Yes, this was my #10 of last year, but there are two reasons blogging made the list again.

In 2008 I said that I wanted someone to take a tip and apply it to real life. Well guess what? It’s happened! Reader Amy’s mom made reader Beth’s punch recipe for a holiday party and it was a HIT!

Secondly, blogging made my list of obsessions because 2009 welcomed the Brandi & Brady Wedding Blog. Look for more fun posts as the Bonkowski/Smith Wedding date approaches.

Also, Shot of Brandi had 183 unique visits in 2009. SERIOUSLY! I am as shocked as you are. I’m almost at 200 readers! WOW. And to think, the only way people know about my secret web area is through word of mouth (since you can’t find this blog through a google search!). Thank you all for visiting and I hope that I can keep you entertained throughout the years.

9. Dead Celebrities: 2009 will go down as a year of unforgettable celebrity deaths. From Michael to Farrah to Brittany to Patrick… a lot of famous people that I obsessed over passed away last year. Let’s hope that 2010 doesn’t bring us as many surprises.

8. Chicago Style Hot Dogs: January 1, 2010 marked my five year Chicago-versary. Can you believe I’ve lived in the Windy City for FIVE YEARS! But last year was the first time I experienced a Chicago Style Hot Dog. I must say, my first trip to the Weiner Circle with Lindsey and Brady has changed my drunk eating habits forever. No longer will I put up with crappy Chicago thin-crust pizza. I’m eating Chicago dogs all the time! My only requirement is they hold the onions and mustard!

7. Back to Basic Party Décor: While the economy is getting better, people are still looking for ways to save money. Trend forecasters expect this to be something that is here to stay. I love that 2009 brought back party décor that has been considered passé. For example, I love that party planners and entertaining experts aren’t afraid to incorporate carnations and balloons into centerpieces. I hope that 2010 brings on some fresh entertaining ideas!

6. Non-Reality Television: For the last few years, if you asked me what my favorite TV shows were, three of the top five would typically include some form of reality show. Now, I’m not sure if there would be a single reality show at the top (with the exception of Project Runway). Thanks to shows like Glee, Gossip Girl, Big Love, How I Met Your Mother, The Office and 30 Rock, scripted television is BACK! Please ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX – add more shows! Help me fill up my Tuesday and Wednesday with some better programming!

5. Boats: It all started in February. When Brady and I were looking for a wedding ceremony site, we decided on the Gateway Clipper – a boat. We didn’t realize what a great year boats would have! From the “I’m On a Boat” video to Jim & Pam’s wedding, boats are having a good year! I was also very pleased to fill my need to go fishing by taking a boat trip with my family this summer on vacation – and I did not get sick! There’s one big boat ride I’m looking forward to in 2010…wink wink!

4. Fine Dining: When sometimes reader Kristen left my old PR firm, we decided that we would meet up monthly for dinner. Well word has caught on about our little dining club and everyone wants in! Each month we pick a new restaurant with a new food theme. This year, the dining club and Brady’s willingness to step out of a regular food box has allowed me to experience a number of elite Chicago chefs establishments. I’ve tasted Graham Elliot’s signature truffle popcorn and the local fare at The Publican. I’ve discovered the yummy corn on the cob from mercadito and have become addicted to the delicious pizzas at La Madia. I can’t wait to see what new restaurants 2010 has to offer.

3. Skype: For the last two years, I’ve had a web cam on my computer but never used it. Until now. In December I learned how to Skype and now I’m obsessed. Skype allowed my friends to bring Dana from LA to our holiday Christmas party through a computer. It really felt like she was sitting on the couch just chatting it up with us girls. We hooked Brady’s mom up with Skype over the holidays and now my sister is connected. I can’t wait to dye my hair or be unsure of an attire choice, so I can just Skype J Bo in and get her opinion!

2. Bloody Mary’s & Champagne (but not at the same time): While Prosecco is still my go-to choice of alcoholic beverage, in ’09 I became obsessed with Champagne & Bloody Mary’s. I love the lightness of champagne and more and more bars are carrying it by the glass. Suddenly Champagne is being looked at as an everyday beverage rather than a celebratory drink. Additionally, I’ve become obsessed with a good Bloody Mary. I just can’t handle all the sweet drinks anymore and let’s not go into my issue with draft beer. Look for posts in 2010 about my quest to find the best Bloody Mary in Chicago.

1. Pittsburgh: It was a good year to be a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers won the Super Bowl, the Penguins brought home the Stanley Cup. The City was put on a global stage as it hosted the G20 Summit. I know 2010 will be a super year for The Steel City as it will play host to the most awesome wedding to take place ever ; )

(Photo Sources: Michael Jackson image = Photograph by: Brian Bedder, Getty Images via the Vancouver Sun, hot dog =, balloons & carnations =, I’m on a Boat =, Jim & Pam =, Glee = watch glee, Gossip Girl =, Fork =, Bloody Mary =, Champagne photo by vierdrie on polyvore, Pittsburgh =
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