This One Time, At Band Camp...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

As I mentioned, last week I spent five days in Canada at a work leadership Camp. I realized that I’m beyond blessed to work for a global company in which more than ½ of the campers were from a country other than the United States. Also, daily I reminded myself that this is even more beyond cool considering that the company was founded in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Let’s just say that I was one proud ‘burger.

At camp, you are put into teams of people from all over the globe, assigned a challenge for a real-life client and then given between 18 – 24 hours to come up with a plan and present it to the client and 20 of the top leaders of our company. While I won’t go into any more details of it here (I don’t want to mess with my company’s social media policy), let’s just say that I still riding on the high of the fact that my team won!

When my office leadership invited me to camp, they said “When’s the last time you’ve been to camp?” I guess I’ve been to a few camps in my life. I’m still scarred from my experience at Brownie Camp in 3rd grade (the sound of animals scampering through the wooden floor of our hut is forever etched in my head). Then I thought – well I guess the last camp I went was with my high school drinking buddies – Camp Keystone. Affectionately named after the beloved Keystone beer (we kept it classy in ’99 with Keystone Ice). Some friends told parents that it was named after our love of Pennsylvania – the “keystone state.” But for my bosses, I put on my adult, professional hat and said - BAND CAMP!

Yes, I went to band camp. Three years of camp at California University of Pennsylvania (yes, that’s for real too). At our high school, it was cool to be in the band and to NOT be a cheerleader. I actually quit cheerleading to try out for the majorette squad. That’s a fancy name for one that twirls batons. We had a strong group of 22 baton twirlers, 22 dancers (we called the Spartanettes) and 22 flag twirlers.

So yesterday I presented my key camp takeaways to my office, so I wanted to share them with you – my loyal Shot of Brandi* readers and some new friends that may have found their way on this blog ; )

This one time, at band, er work camp. Canada hit record heat waves and we were in four trainings with 100 people and no air conditioning. While I was super, duper hot, I just kept thinking of band camp. That my current situation could be so much worse. Like remember when people were falling over from blowing too much air into their saxophone? I just needed to sit and listen to people with water and snacks.

You’re Going To Drop the Baton. My group one the challenge, but more than half way through developing our plan, we realized that part of our idea was off – a part I needed to present. So I went in front of the room of 20 of our most senior leaders and just sold it with personality and a bit of faking it. The point is, you are going to fail at something – or work on a program or idea that isn’t 100% perfect. Just do your best and remember – people don’t always buy ideas, they buy people. Sell it with a smile.

Twirl Fire – Be bold, be brave, do something! Face your fears – whether it is presenting in front of people, letting your voice be heard, putting together budgets – do something out of your comfort zone.

You Aren’t Always Going to Get it Done – My senior year, our band never finished our second half time show (a tribute to Frank Sinatra). Rather than push us into extra practices, our band director accepted the fact that we would only have one show vs. past years when we had two or three. You need to decide what you have time to do and do it well. At camp, we needed to create a program budget…at 2:00 a.m. We knew there was no way to make this budget accurate, not to mention it was in Euros, so we decided to go with a pie chart to show what present of the budget we would spend where. It seriously took 5 minutes and we could focus our time somewhere else.

Add Sparkle +_Glitter to Shine – You all know that I’m obsessed with Glitter. In fact, I mentioned that in my camp bio and it was called out in front of everyone. (Note, you are going to get embarrassed at some point in your life, career, etc. – embrace it, own it and laugh it off). When a teammate found glitter in the camp supply room, she snagged some for me and you know what? We used it! It became a team joke. We made glitter signs with our program theme! More importantly, we made a note to all 20 people that we were presenting to and had the hotel slide it under their doors. Then, we sent a follow up note via email. We were the ONLY group to follow up before and after. The note was simple on construction paper that took less than an hour to glue and handwrite. The point is a little effort goes a long way and everyone loves shiny objects.

Camp Friends – Last, but mostly not least, camp is always about making memories. Three of my former band camp friends were my bridesmaids last year. And I’ve been emailing with the global friends I met at camp daily – and we are planning to meet up again in the future.

“The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer”.
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Pink Ponies

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I work in public relations.

If you don't, you'd probably say that you know what PR is. But do you really? I've heard my parents explain it like I was in advertising or just name where I work and people say "oh yeah, that's a good company." At one time I think my dad had people convinced that I sold alcohol. I guess that's kinda cool ; )

Over the past five days, I spent some time at a life-changing "camp" that taught me new PR skills, social skills languages, and most importantly allowed me to meet the most AMAZING people from all over the globe. I'm talking friends from Dubai, Russia, Costa Rica...America!

I'll discuss more about that soon, but while participating in a 24-hour challenge, I found this video and it pretty much sums up what my job is. A client has an issue, we brainstorm creative ways to solve the challenge, we publicize it, we execute the idea and then we measure the results.

I'd gladly accept this client any day ; )
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I Like Capes, but I Hate Snape

Friday, July 15, 2011

Today is a day of mixed emotions for me. It’s that weird feeling that you get when you graduate high school or college and you say good bye to your friends. You know that you’ll see them again soon, but things won’t be the same.
Tonight, I will see the final Harry Potter movie. I know I’ll laugh, I’ll cry and or dress up (or all of the above), but regardless, I’m excited and sad all at the same time. I know that I will see my Hogwarts friends again – it’s just next time they will be filming a new movie in Pittsburgh or singing on Broadway. Things won’t be the same.

In honor of the HP finale, there is one trend hitting the runways that may be inspired by Hogwarts – capes. These are different than those ponchos that were popular  back in 2003 ( just tossed mine this past weekend!).

Raoul – Saks – Love this color and shape! I’m sure there will be more cost-effective options similar to this out there very soon. 

Rachel Zoe – Nordstrom – BANANAS! Love this cape from Rachel Zoe! Great color and perfect for WVU and Steelers games ; )

Marni – Outnet – This cape is a very versatile. Wear during the fall, wear to work in the winter – it’s really wearable.

Juicy Couture – Similar to the Marni cap, wear this during day and night!

If you want to add some HP pizzazz to your cape, add these cleve buttons from Etsy:

From L – R
1, 2,
3, 4, 5
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Infusing Good Spirits

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Infusing vodka is something that has been on my to do list for awhile, so with Reader Lindsay and sometimes Reader Melissa's Birthday (Yeah! Melly's is today! Happy B-Day Mel!) this month, I decided to DIY them some birthday gifts - infused vodka!
To prepare for this project, I purchased mason jars, a handle of vodka and some special ingredients. Then, I started brewin'.

First up, the "healthy" one - Strawberry Infused Vodka. I took inspiration from a recipe online magazine - The Party Dress. Basically you take some strawberries, wash them, cut them up and then throw them into a mason jar. Then, fill the jar with vodka. This one should take about two weeks to ferment nicely.

Next up was my favorite one - Bubble Gum Vodka. This recipe I found on a cute blog called Taylor Takes a Taste. For this brew, you pour one shot to one piece of bubble gum (I used Double Bubble). My mason jar got about 7-8 shots of vodka.

For my "gift" I placed the two mason jars into a perfect little basket and then - voila! My DYI birthday gifts! After draining out the bubble gum and strawberries, the vodka is best enjoyed on the rocks (if you are brave), or with Sprite of lemonade!

I plan to make some more flavors later this year! Next up a good savory one for bloody marys!

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Wine Rhyme

Monday, July 11, 2011

For those of you that know me well,
Know that writing poems is something I find swell.

I write poems inside cards and to enhance gifts,
I write poems to sometimes give friends who are feeling down a little lift.

Last weekend I bedazzled a poem that I found on the internet,
This craft is so easy, it won't cause a sweat.

Six wine bottles were decorated by my mom with bows,
My perfected printed lables were tied on for show.

A gift to go with wine glasses for a bridal shower,
One that is perfect for the couple to enjoy during happy hour.

Below I'm sharing this poem with you,
Printing these lables and stealing this idea is something that you should totally do!

Instructions for this Craft:
  •  Buy six wine bottles that go with the poem below (i.e. bubbly for wedding night and anniversary, red for a fight)
  •  Print out the lables (I would cut and paste the jpegs below)
  • Add in the couples name into the blanks
  • Decorate the bottles
  • Add the lables to the bottles (I punched a hole into the lables and then tied them on to the bottles with ribbon)

You could also switch this up with bottles of alcohol, beer, etc. Whatever your budget is! I've also heard of bridesmaids each buying a bottle and then presenting the bride with the bottle and reading their label at the shower. Here's a pic of my creation.

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Satchel are the hottest handbag trend sweeping the blogosphere right now. Not only are satchel-style handbags totally cute, but they are also practical – freeing your hands for shopping, talking on your phone or transporting your morning latte from Starbucks to the office.

If you are an avid fashion blog reader, I’m sorry that you are seeing satchels yet again on this blog. If you are seeing this for the first time – look and fall in love!

The most popular bag on the blogs is the Cambridge Satchel. I love the array of colors AND the ability to monogram. Is a hot pink, green, yellow or purple BJS calling my name?  I think so.

Love this Rachel Zoe pick from Piperlime. It’s wearable now, but also fall chic. This bag has tailgateability!

This baby blue Kate Spade bag is super yummy!

Last, but certainly not least, a lovely lemon satchel from ASOS.
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Love & Music

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

“Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.” -Ronald Reagan

Last weekend we attended the nuptials of my cousin Nick and his new wife Janice. They both are music teachers, so the wedding was full of cute musical touches.

My favorite detail of their wedding was the kiss song. So there’s that tradition of clinging your sliverwear against your glass to make the couple kiss. Well as an alternative to that, the couple asked that tables stand up and sing a song with the word love in it to make the couple kiss.

With a musically-inclined guest list, at least 5-6 tables participated in this game with songs like “Love & Marriage” and “Love Shack.”

It’s a totally cute idea that can be adopted at any wedding!
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I hope you all had a happy 4th of July!
The hubs and I had an active weekend of weddings, brunches, luau’s and wings – lots of wings for some weird reason!

The luau was to celebrate the homecoming of a family friend’s daughter that lives in Hawaii. She comes home for a few weeks each summer, so friends and family celebrate with a luau!

I decided to make the most festive dish I could think of – SAND! Reader Brian knows that this is one of my favorite recipes, so I thought I would share it with you all. And seriously – it’s so stinkin’ easy!

Sand is the sister dessert to Dirt, but instead of Oreos you use Vanilla Wafers. I decorated my top layer with “waves” aka Cool Whip with blue food coloring and some palm tree and flamingo drink stirs. However, I forgot the cocktail umbrellas and gummy fish! I like to also use the gummy fish in the layers of the sand. Be Creative!

 Sand Recipe from
2 boxes of vanilla cookies (Vanilla Wafers)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
3 sm. boxes (12 oz. total) Jello instant French vanilla pudding
3 1/2 c. milk
1 (12 oz.) Cool Whip
8 inch children's sand bucket with plastic bowl

Crumble cookies into a fine texture, set aside. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, set aside. In a large bowl, mix pudding and milk until smooth, fold in Cool Whip, fold in cream cheese mixture. Mix thoroughly. Butter sides of the sand bucket. Alternate layers of cookie crumbs, then pudding mixture. End with at least 1 inch cookies on top. Insert shovel and chill for 2 hours.
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