Gift-a-Day: Shop the Gas Station

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Your time is up bitches! But you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging without another gift suggestion! Today’s advice – shop the GAS STATION! It’s always open and can be an amazing gift resource!

·         Like I mentioned yesterday, go for the gift cards!
·         Lottery tickets and scratch off tickets
·         Our local gas station that I’m obsessed with (ask Brady about my drunk adventures there), has FLOWERS! The perfect gift!
·         In some areas, 7-11 sells wine! Yes, wine!

Oh and this picture? Look at the fun things that you can get in CVS! (circa 2009) 
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Gift-a-Day: What's Left?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Still have someone on your list to buy for? Well shit. At this point, I almost don’t even know what to tell you. I mean I’ve been trying to help you for 23 days now!

Here’s all I got left for ya:
·         Gift Cards: Everyone sells them and a lot of places are open through tomorrow.
·         Malls are still open tomorrow. But I don’t recommend going there unless you have something in mind – maybe gloves, a hat, scarf, etc.
·         Food: Cookies, candy, liquor? etc.

My brain is FRIED. I’ve got my sequins on and I’m out readers ; )
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Gift-a-Day: Holiday Spirits

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When in doubt, buy liquor. That’s one of my go-to’s. I always feel like one can’t have too many bottles on hand for an impromptu celebration or party.

Here are some fun suggestions!

·         Original Gangster Brandy: I mean, this one is a must for any Shot of Brandi* fan! While Brandy isn’t for the faint at heart (lol), I just love the name of this one! I like to think my rapping skills (or wrapping skills this time of year LOL), can earn me the title of OG. I also love the XO on the bottle (totally a Chi Omega thing!)

·         Disposable Flasks: LOVE this idea from Restoration Hardware. Why didn’t someone think of this earlier!? You can sneak the flask into the game and then throw it away! Genius!

·         Layer Cake: I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about how I got my days mixed up and missed Reader Meg’s cookie exchange and have 72 chocolate chip covered oreos in my fridge. And how I would have got to see Reader Molly. UGH. I teared up, drank wine, laughed, and then ate a cookie. I digress. This is the bottle of vino that I was going to take to the party. Maybe I should have just gone in my sweats!? LOL.  Anyways, Layer Cake is a good dessert wine!

·         Swanson Vineyards: They have the cutest names – Lucky Night, Thrilled for You, Expensive – so cute.  

From Vintage Shot of Brandi*:
·         Cupcake Wines
·         St. Germain
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Gift-a-Day: Handmade Arcade

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We are in red (and green) alert! 3ish days left to shop!
Today I want to highlight some DIY gifts that you can whip up if you are just sick of the stores.

·         CD of Music: Each year my special VIP readers anticipate the release of the Brandi*’s Holiday Favorites CD. Back since maybe like 2005, I’ve been burning holiday jams onto a blank recordable CD. I create a fun label and tie it with a bow!
·         Baked Goods: Cookies, truffles or cupcakes. Enough said. 
·         Framed Pictures: Easy, right?

And some ideas from past SOB posts:
·         Bead Wreath
·         Flip Flops
·         Vodka
·         Playdough
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Gift-a-Day: 4 for 4 days left!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Four shopping days left!

Here’s my best advice. Don’t go to the mall without having something in mind before your trip. It’s a waste of your time and a waste of parking spot for others if you are just going to “hang out.” (that means you 14 year-old-girls at the mall on Sunday).

So what does that leave left to buy if you didn’t benefit on one of those last minute online delivery deals?

What about a subscription? There are a lot of fun ones out there in which you can just print the certificate. Some examples:

  •    Stationary - I LOVE this! From Merci Beaucoup, you can join a monthly stationary club
·         Magazines - you can print subscription certificates via or I actually went to Barnes & Noble to buy one of those magazine subscriptions as a gift (maybe for a reader!) and they don’t sell them any more, so online is the best way to buy them!

·         Wine Club – You can do a 3-month membership through Williams-Sonoma OR PA Wine & Spirits. Note that the Williams-Sonoma club doesn’t deliver to PA! Darn Control State (aka the state controls the liquor)

·         Movies – Yeah, Netflix has a bad rap right now, but it’s the biggest name on the market.  

·         Candles: How cool is this – Yankee Candle Company offers a candle of the month club! (It looks like the link isn’t working right now, but stalk or call this site if you are interested!)

I also joined a new monthly club awhile back and I can’t wait to tell you about it soon!

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Gift-a-Day: D-Day for E-Shopping

Monday, December 19, 2011

So here we are. You have five shopping days left until it’s officially Christmas Eve. Or if you live in Pittsburgh, you basically have four days because the Steelers are on at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

There are still some sites that are offering guaranteed arrival by the 23rd, so here are some gifting options from who’s still shippin’!

·         FTD & 1-800 Flowers: When in doubt, send flowers. I’m sure people will appreciate the floral centerpiece. Especially if you are absent from the celebration.

Do NOT order flowers from either of these places. They have horrible customer service. Shop local. Call your local florists ; )

·         Bloomingdales: Time’s ticking here. You’ve got until 4 a.m. to order these adorbs sparkle gloves. 

·         Best Buy: You have until 10 a.m. on Tuesday to place an order from Best Buy. May I suggest an iPod Shuffle? They are awesome for working out and are under $50!

·         Nike: This one is fun – Nike knows its dude customers and is offering guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve if you order by Thursday at 11:59 p.m. Coupon code: SWOOSH. Oh and someone on my list may or may not be getting this shirt ; ) 
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Gift-a-Day: Babybook

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I’m at that age where Facebook has become Babybook.

One thing that I’ve seen in a number of nurseries is this adorable, personalizable chair form Pottery Barn Kids. It comes in a number of colors to match your favorite tot’s room.

While it may be a little late to get one of these made in time for the holidays, it’s good inspiration for baby showers, births and birthdays.

Oh and as an extra bonus – I’m going to a baby shower today and part of the gift is THIS book – Piggy Goes to Prada! This beautifully illustrated book is filled with fashionable nursery rhymes like “There Was An Old Lady Who Lived In Her Choos.” LOL. 

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Gift-a-Day: Come Fly With Me

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I’m doing a bit of traveling today, so I was thinking – what are some things that I use while traveling that could be good gift options.

·         Luggage Tag: I remember when I went on a hunt for a luggage tag and ended up disgruntled that they all cost like $15-20. So I printed my address on hot pink paper and took it to Office Max and got it laminated. Now that I’m a big girl business traveler, I think it’s about time for an upgrade. This Tiffany blue tag is under $100 and bright enough to make your bag stand out on the luggage carousel.

·         One Night Roller Bag: Flying from Pittsburgh means you are more than likely required to connect in another airport before reaching your final destination. That also means small planes with small overheads. To save time and space when you are only traveling for one night, a small roller bag is a necessity and something that I’m in the market for. It helps free my hands vs. traveling with a duffle. This Vera Bradley is the perfect size, but not the perfect price. ( I’ll wait for a sale!)

·         Computer Bag: I LOVE my computer bag. It’s by a brand named Belkin, which is kinda funny because it sounds like he high end Birkin lol. This thing is so fab because it isn’t a heavyweight like other computer bags out there and it’s easy to get your computer in and out through the security line. Oh and the price!? Unbelievably cost effective!  (PS – I bought mine at Target – I wouldn’t normally encourage Walmart shopping, but this is the only place I could find it online. 
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Gift-a-Day: Posh Pages

Friday, December 16, 2011

While the name Laurence King Publishing may not mean much to you right now, after you read this post you will realize that this London-based publisher produces some of the most stylish books on the shelf.

If you are looking for a gift for your fashionable friend, look no further to the books produced by Laurence King. Here are some of the popular titles that make great coffee table books (p.s. I know shopping time is ticking so note that you can buy most of these in book stores and randomly I’ve seen some at places like Urban Outfitters and Anthro).

·         As the book summary says “A visual feast of 400 dazzling images.” Do you even need more?

·         This book explains how some fashion trends were invented. This kinda reminds me of how I recite that scene from Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep tells Anne Hathaway that she is wearing an ugly turquoise sweater because it was on runways years before.

·         This book encourages creativity with illustrations

·         This is my fav! A game that allows players to play iconic clothes off against each other. 
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Gift-a-Day: Shaken N Stirred

Thursday, December 15, 2011

For that cocktail-ista on your list, how cute is this Lilly Pulitzer Shaken N Stirred necklace? The 36 inch chain features three charms, including a lime and martini glass. This is also another option under $50!

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Gift-a-Day: Sweet & Savory

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last year a colleague gifted our staff with a box of salted caramels. I don’t discriminate when it comes to sweets, but let me just say that I was skeptical about the combination of salt, caramel and chocolate; however, I became an addict at first bite.

Salted caramel is totally my flavor of 2011. Thank you to Starbucks to furthering my addiction.

Today’s gift is the candy that started it all –Salted Caramels from Edward Marc chocolates based right here in Pittsburgh. Shop local my friends!

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Gift-a-Day: Eye Do

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I swear. Every time you log onto Facebook this time of year, someone new is engaged. It’s like November starts engagement season!

If you are looking for a gift for that newly bling wearing friend, may I suggest the Going All The Way Romantic pallet from Too Faced. This collection features pretty eye shadows with cute names like “I do,” “cut the cake,” “honeymoon” and “ever after.”

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Gift-a-Day: Hello, Hello Baby, You Called?

Monday, December 12, 2011

I remember one of my favorite Christmas gifts growing up. It was my own phone line. You see, I thought this was the coolest thing ever. If that phone in my room rang, I knew it was for me – and not my parents. I had my own answering machine. My friends wouldn’t need to worry about how early or late to call. It was like getting a mobile phone before they existed.

I miss those days of talking to my friends on my Lego phone (Yes. This phone). It’s nice to have that phone receiver.

So naturally, I’m a fan of one of the hot electronic gifts out there. It’s a mobile phone receiver. They come in some pretty rad colors and are under $50!

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Gift-a-day: Goldwear

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Did you ever think about the fact that almost all silverwear is silver? I mean I guess that is where the name came from, but it’s a simple item that has really never changed from its basic design. Yeah, there are some new handles and the spork, but the knife, spoon and fork are the same. (I’m talking the real deal here and not plastic).
Well via the Sweet Thing Blog, I discovered GOLD silverwear, or rather in this case utensils! From Cambridge SilverSmiths, this goldwear comes in a fancy case - and they are currently on sale. How festive would this be at your holiday table?

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Sundays with Sue: Caketail

As you can imagine, Sue has been hitting the holiday party circuit. While dining with some colleagues at The Cheesecake Factory, the group decided that a red velvet cheesecake cocktail would be delicious. So after some web searching, Shot of Mom realized that someone beat her to the bar with this recipe.

Red Velvet Cake Martini

·         1 1/2 oz 3 Olives Cake Vodka

·         1/2 oz vanilla vodka

·         1/2 oz dark creme de cacao

·         1 tsp Hershey Choc syrup

·         Splash of creme.

·         2 drops red food color.

Mix all in shaker with ice. Drain into chocolate drizzled martini glass.


(Shot of Mom found this recipe online, but altered it a bit so I don’t have a source)
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Gift-a-Day: Games, Games, Games

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One of my favorite gifts to give is that of a board game! I feel like you can never have enough. They are the perfect way to pass the night with a group of friend. The games keep the conversations going and the alcohol flowing!

I haven’t really seen any new games out, so I thought today I would go with three of my favs.

·         This game I simple. You roll a die that reveal a letter and you need to come up with words in different categories that match that letter.

· Ask reader Brian how excited I get about Outburst. Basically there are 10 answers to a category. You need to answer as many as you can. For example, name Disney movie characters. I like to turn this into a drinking game and you need to sip for the number that you don’t get!

·         WARNING. When I tried to find this on the net, all these CRAZY high prices kept coming up. I think my mom got her’s for like $20.

·         I recently played this game and it was a ton of fun. You get a word and you need to give clues until your team can guess the word. You keep passing the plastic thing around and the person who ends with it loses!
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The Nutcracker: Act Eight – Spanish Hot Chocolate, Chinese Tea, Russian Candy Canes

Friday, December 09, 2011

Oh now we’ve come…to the end of the road…haha. This the last day in the annual Shot of Brandi* gift guide. However, I’ll still be blogging a gift a day until the 25th.

Today is a three in one option -– Spanish Hot Chocolate, Chinese Tea, Russian Candy Canes.

SPOILER ALERT! So in the play, Clara becomes a heroine. She saves the prince from that bastard Mouse King. That calls for a celebration, right? Well they throw an around the world party of sorts. There is Chocolate from Spain, Tea from China and Candy Canes from Russia.  So today, that’s what I will feature!


·         This Mexican Hot Chocolate kit from Dean and Deluca is the perfect option. You know, Mexican Hot Chocolate is the original hot chocolate. It was enjoyed by the Mayans and Aztecs (for realz).

·         You all know that I’m obsessed with Dylan’s Candy Bar. So for those who want some original hot chocolate, you gotta go with Dylan’s. It’s too cute and so tasty!


·         I’m an everyday tea drinker, so of course I love this adorable Tea Forte gift set! I stick to an iced venti unsweet black tea on the week days, but on the weekends I brew at home and experiment with some different flavors.

·         Shot of Mom is a big hot tea drinker, so we brought her back some English Breakfast Tea from London. She is now obsessed. We purchased the tea from Harrods and you can buy it online here.  


·         So I did some searching to find the best candy canes and all that came up was Hammond’s. They are either really that good OR have good search engine optimization (i.e. their name comes up first!).

·         Going to be away from family during the holidays? Why not send some flowers to your loved ones! I like this candy cane arrangement from 1-800 flowers.

Well readers – that’s it for the annual Shot of Brandi* gift guide! I’ve heard some feedback from you all that this may have inspired some gift ideas! I hope that it does. And just think – when you haven’t any inspiration, brainstorm outside of the box. By forcing myself to think in these categories, I have some ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of for people otherwise!

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Gift-a-Day: Crushing on Chevron

Earlier this year, Missoni made their popular chevron designs very desirable and attainable for us average Janes with their Target partnership. (FYI – there are a few home items back on sale here).

Clutch bags are a fashion staple and I LOVE this option from Hammocks and High Tea because it is reversible! Its kinda like a mullet - business on the front, party inside! If you are wearing a basic black dress – spice it up with the chevron side. Looking to go a little classier – try the metallic. Also – the bags are made in the USA! 

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The Nutcracker: Act Seven - Sugar Plum Fairy

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I like all of the characters in The Nutcracker, but this one may be my fav - the Sugar Plum Fairy! It’s one of, if not THE most popular song from the play.

·         Reader Amy is a big fan of Baked by Melissa cupcakes. Well, Melissa has really stepped things up with her chocolate-covered cupcakes. Yes, you read that right. And they are deliverable! Order. Now.

·         Like I said, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies  is one of the best songs from the play. Why not buy a CD of the music to get you in the festive spirit. Here’s one from the Boston Ballet.

·         After watching Toddlers & Tiara’s tonight, I decided that moving forward I will rename Christmas, Glitzmas. For that person on your list that loves some bling, wrap your gift in this Sugar Plum Fairy stocking from Target.

·         Cupcakes include sugar and you know I love cupcakes (I had to work this in here somehow!) so how awesome is this cupcake time from Fred Flare! Amazeballs.  

·         While putting this post together, I started wondering – what the effe is a sugar plum. Google searches (and Williams Sonoma) tell me that they are a “legendary symbol of everything sweet and delectable…” – sign me up! They also contain Brandy ; )

·         There is also a company out there called Sugar Plum Chocolates. Seriously look at what they sell. This is the Chocolate Everest (they also have the Chocolate Kilimanjaro). After a base of chocolate, this thing contains popcorn, chocolate dipped potato chips, peanut butter cookies, chocolate dipped Oreos, chocolate dipped biscotti and chocolate dipped pretzels. Wowza.

Oh and since it is Thirsty Thursday, here’s a delicious looking cocktail called Sugar Plum Dreams. I’m dreaming of this drinks…

FYI - Tomorrow is my FINAL Nutcraker post. That will make one reader happy that told me that all the posts were too difficult to keep up with. Bah Humbug!
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The Nutcracker: Act Six - Angels

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Okay seriously. This angel stuff was totally more difficult than I anticipated. Let’s just say after my searches for this post, I can’t get images of freaky angels made from yarn and ceramic out of my head. Creepy.

·         Sadly, when I think of angels, I think Victoria’s Secret. Buying bras and undies for the women (i.e. friends and lovers) can be a bit awkward…you don’t want to get them a big size to imply that they are large lol. That’s why PJ’s are safe. Here’s a cute Angel sleep shirt from VS.

·         One of the most talked about (and advertised) perfumes right now is Thierry Mugler’s Angel. A star freak, I love the bottles for this collection!

·         I LOVE the idea of stuffing stockings with nail polish or buying some as a hostess gift with a mani gift card. This Essie shade is called Angel Food. Yummm.

·          Okay so not all angel décor was freaky. I thought that these wooden angels from Etsy were cute! And totally DIY-able!

·         Via Nordstrom is this cute angel necklace. The card behind it reads: “Make a wish and put on your necklace. You’re never alone on the journey of life…wear your necklace as a reminder that your angels are with you for every twist and turn.” Sweet for a family member of friend!
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Gift-a-Day: Pitter Patter of Little Feet

Don’t get too excited out there – it’s clearly not any feet of a Smithkowski kid. After last weekend the only thing I’m birthing is like three bottles of wine (maybe more like four or five). BUT if there was ever some patter around our pad (via the stork), I’d hope that kid was wearing these awesome Trumpette shoes.

Trumpette, the maker of those adorable kid socks does it again with these super cute Silly Soles. What kid wouldn’t want to prance around in patent leather polka dot shoes!?

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The Nutcracker: Act Five – The Mouse King

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Of course today’s gift options are going to revolve around one thing – a pet mouse. HA! Just kidding.

Did you know the play was originally called “The Nutcracker and The Mouse King?” Yeppers, it was! That’s because the Nutcracker and the Mouse King battle in the play. I won’t tell you what happens in this fight of food and kitchen utensils ; )

It’s around a mouse’s favorite food (and mine) – CHEESE.

·         From Pastoral, an adorable Chicago shop that ships across the US, an awesome cheese medley.
·         Pastoral and a number of other places like Pennsylvania Macaroni offer Cheese of the Month Clubs.
·         I LOVE these state cutting boards. In fact, the West Virginia one I on my Christmas list!
·         Of course Crate & Barrel has a number of cheese accessories that make an awesome gift. Some options include a cheese board with cutter, cheese markers and an individual slicer.
·         I discovered Magnolia Lane in Nags Head earlier this year and I just love its adorable, painted dishes. How cute is this festive cheese tray!?
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