J Bo is 23!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

                                                

It’s Thirsty Thursday and sometimes reader Jillian Bonkowski’s Birthday!! You know what that means! Jillian’s Favorite Drink Post! Whoot Whoot!

Today she is celebrating the big 2-3, but little J has been consuming alcoholic beverages for some time now. I mean she is a Bonkowski afterall!

Following in her wise, awesome sister’s (me) footsteps, J Bo is a wine-o. Her go to is Pinot Grigio, specifically Voga. I would assume that trendy Jill was drawn to the sleek design of Voga, but after sharing some with her, I was impressed by the taste. (image source)

Voga is an Italian brand who’s slogan is “If you are drinking VOGA, you are drinking IN style.” In style describes my trendy sister, so this wine is made for her!
As the site says, Voga Pinot Grigio is “full and rich, with fresh ripe apple and bear aromas, and delicious juicy flavors”

Below - feeding J Bo a "bottle." Over the years, it turned into me feeding her alcohol. Please don't call child services - she's really okay ; )


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Tie One On

Tuesday, June 28, 2011



An adorable trend that I’ve spotted is bows on the stems of glasses (via Harpers Bazaar Wedding Event).



This totally satisifies my ribbon fetish.




You can buy inexpensive ribbon (and glasses!) from craft stores and the $1 store!




It’s a great way to use up a spool of ribbon!




Colorful ribbon or a colors to match your theme can help your table pop!




Use different colors and patterns to help guests tell their drinks apart.




And don’t forget the dudes – bowtie cups!http://pinterest.com/pin/3708042/
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Some things never change

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In an effort to rid my life of clutter, I’ve been discarding a lot of things, including old notebooks.  
I stumbled upon this bedazzled gem from 2002 and well…some things really never change.



Exhibit #1 – the Hello Kitty folder. Yes, I still love HK. As I type, the folder looks smashing next to my HK mouse pad.

I was entering my senior year at WVU when I purchased this notebook. And…




Exhibit #2 – While it’s a bit difficult to read, among a list of my transfer credits and school to do’s, you will see this:

·         Welcome back pencils

·         Birthday Committee

·         Send practices with newsletter

·         Fashion show

·         Chi Omega pride day

·         Pledge class dinners

·         Hoots & salutes

·         Lunch

·         Themes:

o   Austin Powers

o   Jungle



Further proof that brainstorming party themes is always on my mind!  

Want some more ideas from my former 21–year-old self? Who knows, they may inspire your next get together!

·         Hold a random acts of kindness week – encourage people to do nice things for other

·         Play dodgeball

·         Have a teeter totter-a-thon. People get on a teeter totter for 30 minute shifts for 24 hours to raise money

·         BYOB Party – Bring your own banana. We’ll have the rest to make banana splits

·         How well do you know ___? Gather a personal item from people in your group/family, hold up the item and have people guess who’s it is. Signature pens, articles of clothing, baby pics

·         Date auction

·         Jello eating contest (we actually did red velvet cake instead ; )

·         Have a Willy Wonka contest – give prizes to someone that finds a golden ticket

·         Flamingo Hop: You pay $5 to put a flamingo in someone’s yard. They must pay $5 to send it back to another person

·         Auction Cool School Items: Parking passes, overnight at a rec center, be the school president for the day

·         Human Slot Machine: Three people, that can’t see each other, sit on a stage with a bucket of fruit. Someone places a bet. On cue, people pick up the fruit. If you get 3 of a kind, you win!

·         Rubber Duck Race: People buy ducks and you throw them into a river, the first one down wins!

·         NBA = no boys allowed

·         Phone number: 304.292.WINE


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Worn on the 4th of July

Friday, June 24, 2011

More than ever this year, I’ve been seeing adorable red, white and blue dresses. I have a staple RWB dress that I don for the patriotic holidays (Memorial Day and the 4th of July), but if you are looking for a classic piece to add to your closet, may I suggest…


·         It took me awhile to accept Lauren Moffatt as a designer. It’s because a weird girl came through sorority rush with a similar name and I couldn’t stand her (ah hem, Meg). And while I still think Lauren Moffat is overpriced, I can’t help but obsess over this darling dress.

·         I love that red, white and blue dresses can be inexpensive. This one from Old Navy is a steal!

·         Another cost effective LuLu’s dress. I’d order this one well in advance. The fabric scares me. It’s that kind you just need to try on.





·         This stripped number from Topshop just might be my favorite dress of the lot. I love it’s shape!

·         Super cute sailboat dress from Etsy.

·         Love the bows on this dress from ModCloth. The sleeves help on those chilly July nights when you are watching fireworks!
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Cut the Cheese

Monday, June 20, 2011

My name is Brandi and I’m addicted to cheese. I’ve always loved cheese, but more recently the serious cheese selection at my local grocery store has my experimenting with new flavors.
If you are a turophile (cheese lover) like me, and have aspirations for hosting a cheese party, here are some tips.

·        Serve the cheese on a cheeseboard with notes for each cheese or slate tiles from the hardware store. You can write the name of the cheese on the slate with chalk.

·         Serve cheese at room temperature

·         Plan on each person attending eating about six ounces of cheese per person

·         Don’t double dip cheese knives – use a clean knife for each cheese

·         Pair the cheese spread with bread and crackers for guests to cleanse their pallets. Oh and of course wine!

·         Start with mild cheese and then move to the bold flavors

·         Remove cheese from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving



Some Wine Pairing Suggestions:

The rule of thumb is that lighter cheese go with lighter wines!

·         Gouda with Zinfandel

·         Gruyere with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer

·         Jarlesberg with Pinot Noir

·         Mozzarella with Pinot Blanc

·         Swiss with Gewurztraminer

·         Brie or Sharp Cheddar with Cabernet Sauvignon

·         Mild Cheddar with Champagne

·         Goat Cheese with Sauvignon Blanc

Oh and my favorite d├ęcor for this type of party? Flowers coming out of old wine bottles and clear vases filled with wine corks! Simple and a bit eco-friendly – reuse!

(Adapted from Food & Wine and Market District Cheese Passport Book)
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Poppin' Bottles

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Lookie here - my first VLOG! (Video + Blog = Vlog).

As you will see, Reader Lindsay shows you how to open a champagne bottle!

If you are looking for a more scientific explanation, here's a step-by-step from Slashfood.

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Runaway Runway

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

At my job that pays the bills, we are always on the hunt for creative ideas to get our clients noticed. One the coolest things I’ve recently discovered? Projection mapping.
 At first, I saw a cool video for Samsung on the side of a church-like building and then, this video from Ralph Lauren just blew me away.

The Official Ralph Lauren 4D Experience - New York from Ralph Lauren on Vimeo.
 


 It starts out a little show and then that runway show will just blow your mind. It gets a little long – just make sure that you see the polo players. Wow.

So what is projection mapping? According to the VideoMapping Blog, it’s a “new projection technique that can turn almost any surface into a dynamic video display.” And boy, does it! If you have a few minutes, you should also check out this Hot Wheels Video!!

In the words of my dad, “Neat.”
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Reader Mailbag Question #2 - Soon-to-be Mrs. Dana

Tuesday, June 14, 2011



This question comes via a scambled text from Reader Dana, who has not mastered typing on her new iPhone. She writes…

Q: What do u thk is the best site for wedding site

Q (translation): What do you think is the best site to build a wedding website

A: The hubs and I are writers. I hold a journalism degree, maintain a blog (hi!)and wrote from my high school newspaper. Yes, I know. You are shocked because of all of my misspellings and grammar errors ; ) The hubs is an avid writer as well. So we knew that we wanted to do something a bit different and create a wedding blog. We also used it as a tool for both sides of our families to get to know the other. So first and foremost, I’d recommend a blog. You can set this up using Blogger or Wordpress and it’s free. The downfall, it’s a bit time consuming.  

If you are looking for other solutions…

·        The Knot: This is the go-to site for all things wedding. A number of my friends used the Knot to inform their guests of wedding details and I love all of the templates that you can pick from. This would be my first recommendation for how easy it is to navigate. However, just keep in mind stalkers like me can find your page and neb on your wedding details. You may consider making it private. Oh and I’m not sure how customizable it is if you are an advanced website-er.


Other sites that the internets recommend:

·         Wedsite – the templates look really cool and modern on this site! But there is a fee - $59 for a full year.

·         Wedding Window – the templates look just as good as Wedsite, but this one is about $79 a year

·         My Wedding – This site is trying to be a bit like The Knot, but it’s another option for free wedding sites. I also like that you can sort the wedding site templates by color – bonus!

·         Wedding Jo Jo – Yeah, the name is a little silly, but the designers are hip and there are free options as well as the paid feature. I also like that you CAN add a blog to this if you want!



Anyone use a different option? Let's talk about it.

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I'm gonna share a secret...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Those who know me would say that I can’t keep a secret. But those who know me REALLY well know that I can. I share a lot, but I just don’t share certain things. I can’t tell you what I don’t share, because well, then I’d be telling the secrets.
You may be surprised to know that I have certain things that I don’t share with you – my readers. Like going through wedding planning, I didn’t share any of the ideas that I planned to use. I wanted people to be a little surprised about my 27 crafts that I pulled off (with a little help from my friends).

I also have some ideas on reserve – you know, for birthday parties, friends’ upcoming showers, weddings, etc. I like for people to be surprised, rather than saying “I already saw that on Shot of Brandi*”

Well today, I’m going to share one of my latest secrets with you. I haven’t used this site yet, but I’m DYING to purchase goodies from – Sweet Lulu. I need to share so that maybe one of you can test it out first and let me know how your experience goes! Here are some of my fav items.






Oh and if you were intrigued by those cupcake pops that I mentioned back in April, here is where you can buy the plastic containers to make your own at home.


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LWD

Friday, June 10, 2011

YES! Summer is here! Memorial Day has passed. You know what that means!? It’s time for a fashion white out!
Right now I’ve been seeing a TON of cute white dresses. That’s probably because I’m specifically NOT looking for one (like I was last summer for post-wedding bar hopping).

Anyways, if you’re in the market for a LWD, here are some white hot suggestions.

This will be in my closet in one shade very soon. Courtesy of Anthro.


J. Crew – this silhouette is also cute in the green!



Club Monaco Milly Dress – this is one store I miss most from Chicago. They really need an e-store. Seriously. It’s 2011.

Taylor Dress from Macy’s – take coupons! You can get this one even cheaper with coupons!

And – the “if money grew on trees” dress – ALC dress fromShop Bop
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Gettin' Juiced

Thursday, June 09, 2011



(source)

I spend at least an hour a week in the local Giant Eagle grocery store. Let’s just say it’s not Whole Foods, but it’s a lot better than Jewel in Chicago. It has a nice balance of organic and regular foods. Thumbs up, but not way up.

Each month, I grab the awesome newsletter from the front of the store. It’s similar to the book that Whole Foods has, 8x10 on paper that smells good, but minus the good coupons.

Let me just say this thing is awesome. It always has the coolest recipes.

In the June issue, they feature beverages from the Smoothie Bar that’s located in our local store. I thought this was good inspiration if you like to make smoothies at home, like me.

Banana Berry – fresh bananas, strawberries and fresh-squeezed orange juice
Blue Mango – blueberries, mango, fresh-squeezed orange juice and pineapple juice
Just Peachy – peaches with apple and pineapple juice
Triple Berry – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apple juice and fresh-squeezed orange juice
Dreamsicle – fresh banana, orange sherbet and fresh-squeezed orange juice
Hawaiian Sunrise – fresh banana, orange sherbet and fresh-squeezed orange juice
Pom-a-Berry – Pom wonderful pomegranate juice, fresh blueberries and strawberries

(All adapted straight from the June 2011 Market District Newsletter)

My go-to smoothie recipe is still one from a past client, Silk Soy Milk:
• Frozen, sliced bananas
• Frozen strawberries
• Silk Very Vanilla
• Honey (secret ingredient)
Since all the fruit is frozen, you just put all that stuff in a blender and hit the go button. N need for ice!

And if you go to the Robinson Market District Giant Eagle, be sure to say hi to Reader Jillian (in the pharmacy) and Reader Aunt Michelle (greeter).
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Reader (and non-reader) Mailbag

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

(source)

My good friends know that I’m an internet ninja – I’m a crazy searcher, but not at the hacker level…yet. So recently a few friends had asked me for some advice. Some questions I was able to answer…others, not so much. So I thought I would share my reader questions over the next few weeks and answer them!

Reader Question #1 – Aunt Donna

Q: Jim (her husband) and I received an invitation to a wedding. But we have no clue who the couple getting married is! We looked up their registry and still no clue. Any suggestions?

A: Like I told Aunt Donna, this happened to my mom recently, but it was a shower invitation. So Sue looked up the registry and found the groom’s name and realized it was her cousin’s son. Easy to not know who the chick is.

For Aunt Donna’s situation, I was a bit perplexed. Here’s my suggestions for her!

·         Look on TheKnot.com to see if they have a wedding website.

·         Look up the people on Facebook.

o   If they show up, see if you have any mutual friends.

·         Search their names in Google. Maybe they have another website?

·         Check out the address on the reply card.

While my tips didn’t work, I’d love to hear if you all have any suggestions for Aunt Donna!

Oh and P.S. - isn't that invitation amazeballs? I've seen this done before where the couple (or bridezilla) includes sand on the inside the invitation box! Messy, but I can't diss someone that takes a theme to the extreme!
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Maria Maria

Monday, June 06, 2011




Working in public relations, I have the luxury of working with celebrities from time to time. Last May, I worked at an event where Maria Menounous, from Access Hollywood, was the spokesperson.

While I just facilitated interviews between Maria and members of the Chicago media, I must say her upbeat personality shined through – and it wasn’t in a fake way! It’s easy to see why she is a likeable television personality.

Maria recently came out with a cute book called “The EveryGirl’s Guide To Life” that is a great idea for a high school or college graduation gift.

Here’s the book description from Harper Collins:

Raised by working-class immigrant parents and later exposed to Hollywood's most elite experts in every field, Access Hollywood's, Today's, and Nightly News's reporter Maria Menounos reveals her EveryGirl secrets on everything: her systems to organize life, manage time, and ascend the ladder of success; her lazy woman's workout; her weight-loss tips (how she lost forty pounds and kept it off); and her guide to styling yourself like the stars—a self-proclaimed EveryGirl, Maria often does her own hair and makeup for celebrity events.

In The EveryGirl's Guide to Life, Maria shares personal experiences and photos from her life and professional journey as well as the various mantras, mottos, and philosophies she's adopted from the world's most impressive women. She gives advice on health, career, relationships, renovations, recreation, and more. From your carpet to the red carpet, Maria teaches the EveryGirl on a budget how to do it all, while living a healthier and happier life.
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Game Over

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Oh boy, isn’t this a busy time of year? In between showers, weddings, bachelorette parties and vacations – it’s also graduation season. College grads have most likely moved out and high school graduations are just taking place.

One thing I love about this time of year is reading the celebrity commencement speeches. Via The Daily Beast, here are some of my favorite quotes from this year’s celebrity speeches.

• “You can’t do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, and spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler, Harvard Class Day


• “I had to come exactly because I might make a fool of myself. I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks”. - Denzel Washington, University of Pennsylvania


• “Don’t bring someone else down to bring yourself up,” - Chelsea Handler, Emory


And finally, from a celebrity in my eyes, West Virginia University Head Coach Bob Huggins.

“I was looking through some things trying to figure out what to say and Newton Baker – who I have absolutely no idea who the hell he is – but he said, ‘The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after,’ and I think that’s certainly true,” – Bob Huggins, West Virginia University
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We All Float On

Thursday, June 02, 2011




Last week when I was on the hunt for a summery beverage, the hubs and I went to dinner and a whole list of luscious liberations were staring me in the face. I couldn’t wait to indulge in on AND share it with you all!

So the outing was at the hip Pittsburgh burger joint rightfully named Brgr. A total play on a “burger” someone from Pittsburgh and a burger that you eat. Love.

Brgr has a menu of adult shakes and floats. I was going to go for the standard adult root beer float, but my hyper waiter directed me to the Bourbon Cherry, so I obliged. You always trust the waiter, right?
Well, he was right. This thing was flipping awesome. For those of you who can’t get to brgr right away, here’s what is in the Bourbon Cherry:

• 1 generous shot of Makers Mark

• A scoop of chocolate ice cream

• A bottle of cherry soda

The drink came in a traditional milkshake glass with just the shot of Makers and ice cream – leaving the drinker (me) to pour in the cherry soda, which I kinda liked. Overall two thumbs up!

Oh and the 100% grass-fed burgers are pretty delish too. Tasty and the perfect size – not too big or not too small (that’s what she said).
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