Black Out

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Watching tonight's Emmy awards, I was amazed by all of the glam television actresses opting for black and dark blue on the red carpet. While I am typically not a fan of dark-colored dresses, I am loving the three above. And seriously - how cute is Jayma Mays from Glee?? LOVE her.

In addition to the stars above and below, those rocking the dark look were Anna Paquin, Edie Falco, Jane Krakowski (who said a gazillion times that her dress was "custom made"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kate Gosselin.

I am obsessed with Tina Fey's hair...and speaking of hair, I noticed a lot of people sporting rather plain, loose do's.

While these pictures are a bit small, check out the rosettes on Heidi Klum and Eva Longoria's dresses - I die.

Who was your best dressed?

Read More

Fashion Friday: Birds of a Feather

Friday, August 27, 2010

One fall trend that I LOVE is feathers. While it’s a to die for look, I’m interested to see how people can pull this off in everyday wear. Or maybe you look at it as one investment piece for funky, fun nights? Regardless, here are some stunners.

From L to R: Jay Godfrey from Neiman Marcus, Forever 21 headband, Valentino Bag from Net-a-Porter, Robert Rodriguez from Sacks 5th Ave, feather head piece, Manolo Blahnik from BlueFly, Earrings from Urban Outfitters, J. Crew Jacket, Michael Kors vest from Macy's, Sue Wong dress from Neman Marcus.
Read More

Random Shots

Random things from that crazy World Wide Web…

· The cure for all my moving battle wounds? Cynthia Rowley Band-Aids. So cute and stylish! (image borrowed from Dilly Dallas)

· Back in the day when I was a bride, I was sort of became obsessed with color pallets. Colour Lovers is drool-worthy if you are looking for new color pallets for weddings and home décor!

· I had a heart attack in more ways than one when I read about the Burger King Pizza Burger

· October is the most popular month for weddings now-a-days. Looking for a really unique gift? How about one of these totally fab vintage first dance posters? LOVE! (image borrowed from Cambria Cove)
Read More

Sweet (adopted) Home Chicago

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In the words of the great Frank Sinatra…

Chicago, Chicago--that toddlin' town.
Chicago, Chicago--I'll show you around. I love it.
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago.
The town that Billy Sunday could not shut down.

On State Street that great street, I'd just like to say -
They do things that they never do on Broadway.
They have the time, the time of their life
I saw a man, he danced with his wife.
In Chicago... Chicago... Chicago.
That's my hometown!

After five and a half years, the time has come for me to say goodbye to the Windy City. And while I’ll always be a Pittsburgh gal for life, Chicago will have a special place in my life and I couldn’t imagine a better place to spend growing up after college.

So much has happened since I moved to Chi town on New Year’s Day 2005.

I rented my first apartment and lived alone for the first time ever, I received my own health insurance, I had a cocktail 96 floors above ground in the Hancock Building, I saw six states from the top of Sears Tower, I drooled over real Van Gogh’s, I met a new best friend, I started shopping at farmer’s markets, I watched the White Sox win the World Series, I saw Vince Vaughn, I took a dip in Lake Michigan, I tried Chicago-style Pizza, I saw a game at Wrigley Field, I rode the Navy Pier ferris wheel with my sister, I wait in line to meet Charles Barkley, I watched the Steelers win the Super Bowl with that Best Friend, I jumped for joy when Brady moved to Chicago, I met Gov. Blago at the United Negro College Fund Black and White Ball, I went to a gay bar, Vanilla Ice poured Jaeger into my mouth, I saw Jenn Scheft (the former Bachelorette), Dana begins the tradition of celebrating St. Pat’s in Chicago, I got bottle service, I saw Kim Kardashian’s ass in person, I became a certified liquors expert, I break my finger playing 16-inch/no glove Chicago-style softball, I sat in the famous bleachers of Wrigley Field with Amy, I buy a couch, I saw Kayne preform at Lolapoloza, The staff at Starbucks learned my name, I sat in the audience of Jerry Springer, I started shopping in Whole Foods, I watched the Penguins play in Chicago on my Birthday,I saw Stevie Wonder in concert (but he didn't see me), I was super happy that Sacks moved to Chicago, I watched 4th of July fireworks from Navy Pier and on the beach with my family and Steve, I visited Six Flags, I witnessed Barak Obama make his victory speech in Grant Park, I got engaged!, I forced Brady to go to the zoo…a lot, I watched the Steelers win another Super Bowl, I watched the Penguins win the Stanley Cup at the “Pittsburgh” bar, I get a new job, I watch WVU play at DePaul, I met Kenneth Cole, I get a new/old job, I watched the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, I see the Stanley Cup, I bought a cupcake from a food truck, Brady and I get married, Brady finds a job and we found a new home in Pittsburgh.

What a crazy ride it has been these last 2,058 days, 177,811,200 sections, 294 weeks that I’ve been a resident of Chicago’s Gold Coast. I will really miss Chicago, but things have a funny way of working themselves out and I think the time is right for the Smithkowski’s to say goodbye to Sweet Home Chicago for now.

Looking back, I will highly encourage everyone to move away from their hometown – even if it is for one year. It’s really cheesy to say, but you really learn a lot about yourself, what you like, dislike and what you want in life.
Read More

I've Got Friends in Low Places

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thank you readers Lauren, Amy and Dana for all of your advice!

As an update to yesterday's post...

* My Comcast channel guide is working again! Of course it magically fixed itself when the hubs and I were at dinner.

* The hubs found the remote control. I made it into the bed, under the sheets.

* Reader Amy introduced me to - it puts all of your instant messaging sites into one place, so no more AIM Express!

Shot of Brandi* has the best readers!!!!!
Read More

Tech Tuesday: HELP!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We are gonna do something a little different this Tech Tuesday. I am asking YOU for help. I know, while I have fancy numbers of readers, no one is really reading this thing and I won't get any help. BUT, there may be some stranger out there that is listening!

My tech life is exploding right now and Google can't find solutions to my issues. So here's what I'm looking for...

1. Comcast Channel Guide
On Saturday night my channels on the television guide to my TV disappeared and I can't get them back. It's a Comcast box and I've reset, unplugged, hit buttons, hit the machine, etc. I am forced to manually hit the up button on the remote - and that isn't fun. I had to go from five to 76 just to watch "Teen Mom." Oh and I lost one of the remotes too, but I don't think you can help me with that. No, I haven't called Comcast. I don't have time to sit on the phone for an hour.

2. AIM Express Buddy List
Since Monday, I am unable to see the names of anyone on my AIM Buddy List. They can IM me, but I can't see if they are online or not. Yes, I still use AIM to chat with friends. You probably think I can't see names because AIM is so 1996, but I have co-workers on here too. I've done a lot of searches on this and the only thing I can come up with is that my Java is too old on this computer. Help me little yellow AOL man!

Thank you for any and all help/advice in advance!
Read More

National S'mores Day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy National S'mores Day!!
I may be biased, but I think this is an awesome idea – cookie s’mores. Yeah, I know, it’s messing with the traditional recipe, but who doesn’t love a shortcut!

The directions are a no-brainer:
• Divide a pre-purchased cookie sandwich like Keebler Elves or Fudge Stripe Cookies
• Toast a marshmallow
• Smash the marshmallow in between the cookies

You can also carefully melt the marshmallow in the microwave – but only for about 10 seconds!

Full Disclousure – I work for a PR Agency that works on the Kellogg account.

Photo from
Read More

To Have & to Hold: Part 2

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A few weeks ago, I did a little post on alternative bouquet ideas. Well after I wrote up that diddy, I found some more options that I couldn’t resist featuring. I really feel that brides want to move away from the traditional flower bouquet to something more creative that fits their style!

· Pinwheels: There is something about carrying pinwheels that is kitschy and whimsical. I love how they really bring a punch of color too! (images from bridal survival and green wedding shoes)

· Fans: Summer wedding? Keep your maids in waiting cool with decorative fan bouquets! (images from white dress/black tux, butterfly petals and the

· Decorative Clutches: For the most fashionable bride and bridesmaids, what about a fancy handbag! (images from project wedding, flickr, flickr and beth berry photography)

· Bracelets: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! Bridesmaid bouquets get tossed around, mangled and lost by the end of the night. Why not consider a wrist corsage! So chic and vintage! (images from designed by the bride, wedding obsessions, utah bride blog)

· Ornaments: I am slightly obsessed with winter weddings – the white snow, the twinkle of lights…and the holiday décor! How creative is this ornament bouquet!? (images from nate & Justines super fun wedding, brooklyn v photography)
Read More


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Can you believe it?! This is my 300th Post!

Not only have I wrote 300 blog posts about silly nonsense, ways to get wasted and random musings, but I’ve also hit more than 300 unique readers! I seriously don’t have 300 friends. No, that’s a lie. Facebook tells me I have 390 friends and Spieler isn’t on facebook, so that makes 391.

Among numerous others, I must thank (in no particular order except for the first dude) Brady, Brian, Amy, Dana, Sacks, Speiler, Sprys and Beth for reading my nonsense. You’ve all been there from practically the start and listening to my stories since before blogs were even created!

I do my best to keep this blog on a bit of a lock down because of my job, but looking over my blog stats, I know there are some readers out there that I don’t know. Well, it’s nice to meet you! I hope you enjoy my stories and tips.

Speaking of my blog stats, if you are curious, here are my top three posts:

Top Three Posts:

3. 44th President: My recap of election night. And FYI - my feelings haven't changed.

2. Happy-HallowBradyBirthdayStellersRuleElect: Brady linked to this post on his fantasy football message board, so it totally upped NJ’s state rank in visitors

1. 101 in 1001: This is an exciting one! I can’t wait until 2011 to see how I did!

Oh the state ranks I mention above – Shot of Brandi has the biggest following in…drumroll…Illinois! I hope you all still love me when I put on my ruby slippers and return back to the homeland in the fall. Tear.

So on this Thirsty Thursday, I cheers to you. My readers!
Read More

Shot of Appetizers

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Pat Rone (aka Patron) came to the Smithkowski wedding (and brought some friends). If only he would have brought some little friends…

How cute is this wedding idea via The Knot via Callahan Catering? Mini Pat shots with mini tacos as a wedding appetizer! YUM! To duplicate this, reader Sacks suggest drilling a hole in the cork for the fancy straw. To get the straw down to size, just cut it in half.

As the author of Shot of Brandi*, I of course love creative “shots” for appetizers at a party. Some of my all-time favorites include:

• Mini Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

• Veggie Shots – veggies in a cup of ranch (how easy is this to make!!!!)
• Shots of Milk with Cookie Garnish

(Sources: The Knot, Cup of Jo, Hip Hostess; Photos: Allen Zepeda, unknown, Hip Hostess, Simply Creative Insanity)
Read More

Tech Tuesday: Blogs vs. Email Clogs

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Do people still subscribe to email newsletters? Or are blogs killing them? Or is it that people don’t want a lot of things invading their inbox?

I must say, until this month, I would have asked you if you hung out with dinosaurs for telling me that you saw something cool in a newsletter; however, I feel like a few email cloggers that I subscribe to have really stepped up their game. Here are a few that I recommend:

Buss Buss: A fashion, lifestyle, party and just plain awesome newsletter. They also have a blog, but their newsletters are worth it!!

Who What Wear: This gem makes your inbox more fashionable. We have some similar style crushes in Lauren Conrad, Whitney Port and Rachel Bilson.

Groupon: Invented by a young Chicago dude, this amazing coupon deal a day is now available in a number of cities. The Mr. and I have bought a deal to our favorite pizza shop from here and now I've got Sue Bonk addicted!

Tasting Table: Yummmm. This inbox treat is a mixture of food trends, recipes and new eateries.

Zoe Report: I go bananas for Rachel Zoe’s daily style feature. I love that she sometimes shows high-end goodies and a lower end option. I also love the letter's motto: "Be Glamourous. Everyday."

Some older staples to consider:
Daily CandyKraft Foods

Feel free to let me know in the comments section if I left off a good newsletter!
(all logos from the sites mentioned)
Read More