Sangria: With A Shot of Brandi

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The other day I was looking to vary up my typical wine drink and was craving a good sangria. So I thought – do I have the ingredients laying around? What goes into a typical sangria?

Of course the last ingredient is a favorite of this blog!

So now that you know the basic recipe, it’s time to get funky. Here are some other variations of Sangria.

·         Strawberry Sangria: 1 bottle of red, 1 pint of strawberries, 1 shot of brandy

·         Raspberry Sangria: 1 bottle of red, 1 pint of raspberries, 3 shots of Chambord

·         Mexican Sangria: 1 bottle of red, 1 cup of tequila, ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup lime juice, 2 limes or 1 apple sliced

·         Red Sangria: 1 bottle of Spanish rioja, 1 orange (sliced), ¼ cup brandy

·         Five Fruit Sangria: 1 bottle red, ½ cup brandy, ½ cup triple sec, ½ cup sugar, 1 orange (wedged), 1 lemon (wedged), 1 lime (wedged), 1 red apple (wedged), 1 peach (wedged), 1 6oz bottle of club soda

With all recipes – mix all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and refrigerate or serve!

And I always like to leave you with a bit of history of a drink. Sangria hails from Spain. The traditional base wine is a red Bordeaux from France – or a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. Now, it’s more common for people to use a Spanish Rioja or other red as a base.

Sangria Blanco is white Sangria and uses a white wine as a base.

(Source for history and recipe inspiration: Wine Intro)
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Master of Science in Glitter

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My diploma says that I have a B.S. in Public Relations, but those of you that know me know that I have an unofficial minor in glitter.

Yes, glitter.

I’ve been studying the subject for about 24 years now…right after I stopped eating paste.

I’ve always considered myself an expert in the field of glitter - until Monday.

Browsing the aisles of Michael’s, I spotting a new glitter section. I’ve always known there were various shapes and sizes of glitter, but did you know they have official terms!?

Recollections at Michael's has defined the types of glitter as:

  • Fine
  • Extra Fine
  • Chunky
  • Microbeads
  • Tinsel
  • Extra Fine 
So when you are shopping for glitter, now you know that not all glitters are created equal! 

Oh and as my aisle shot shows, glitter isn't cheap. For large glitter projects, I recommend working with this foil glitter in a jar - which is found locally in Pittsburgh at Pat Catans. If you must go to Michael's, be sure to take a coupon! 

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Wildflowers in a Mason Jar

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

For the last several years, Mason jars have been the hot item to serve beverages in at weddings, rehearsals and picnics. Last year we saw food in a jar start to pick up steam and I even used the jars to infuse vodka. Now, thanks to Pinterest, people are doing some crazy, cute things with the popular jars.

Before I show you some of the rad ideas, let’s first take a step back in history. Why are they called Mason jars?

I consulted with my friends at Wikipedia and the Mason jar was invented in 1858 by John Landis Mason – a Philadelphia tinsmith. Ball Corporation was an earlier manufacturer of the jars, so they are also called Ball jars. Kerr is another common brand in the United States.

The jars were created for canning to preserve food. While the jars typically come with a lid, they are also sold separately because the lids are intended for single use when canning.

There is even a song by the late, great John Denver called "Wildflowers in a Mason Jar!"

Now that you know the history behind the Mason jar, here’s how you can creatively use them.


Pre-made drinks


Photo centerpieces


Sewing Kit Gift

I used them as silverware holders in March!

They also look awesome spray painted!

Glow-in-the-dark lights – all you need is some glow in the dark paint!


Shot of Mom makes cake-in-a-jar treats!

If you are looking for some more ideas Tip Junkie has 50 gift ideas in a jar and of course there is a "things in mason jars" Tumblr. 

You can order Mason jars online or purchase them at your local gardening or craft store. I saw a limited supply at Michael’s for $1 today! 
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Happy Memorial Day Y'all

Monday, May 28, 2012

The "y'all" is because I spent my Memorial Day Weekend (and then some) in the south on the beaches of the Outer Banks. It was a glorious few days filled with family, wine, food, beer, kite flying, wine, dancing, corn hole, wine, history, seafood and wine.

I hope your weekend was filled with as many awesome things!
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Will The Real Kim Crawford Please Stand Up?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

First it was Shot of Mom. Then it was Reader Amy.

Everyone is drinking the Kim Crawford wines. And loving them! So of course, I’m all like “Who is Kim Crawford?” Mom said she is some Australian. Amy and a waitress had no clue who she was. I said it sounds like some lady selling jewelry on QVC. So to solve this mystery, I got on the case.

Well it turns she is not a she after all. 

She is a HE!

According to the Kim Crawford website, he is from New Zealand and a co-founder of the wine along with his wife, Erica. After graduating school in 1983, Kim had no luck seeking a creative career so started a winery – right at the time New Zealand wines were becoming hip across the globe.

In 2009, the Crawford's sold the brand to Constellation - which is why it's distribution is up and hence popularity! Speaking of popularity, Kim Crawford has been a sponsor of NY Fashion Week. Keep up the good PR moves KC - it's working! 

Pending your liquor store or what dinning establishment you are frequenting, the Kim Crawford varieties include Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

(source: Kim Crawford Wines
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Wine NOT?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Before you start reading this, I’m asking that you don’t get all heated with me today on this topic – Boxed Wine.

For the record, I don’t discriminate when it comes to boxed wine. I enjoy it. Just not the Sangria version. It made me break out into hives. I feel like there is a time and place, like picnics or tailgates, to serve boxed wine. BUT there is a time and a place NOT to unleash the box and that includes weddings or special events.

Look, no matter how many upscale brands switch to the box, many of your guests will just think its passé to see the bartender pour vino out of a Franzia box at a wedding. For some guests, it may be the one thing that they remember. Not all of your hard work on place cards and centerpieces. It will be that the caterer served boxed wine and immediately cheap thoughts go into their minds. I know weddings are expensive and guests won’t likely be able to tell the difference, it’s just that stigma of boxed wine being “cheap.”

Boxed wine may not always be your cheapest option either. Talk to your local wine store – it may be most cost-effective to purchase cases of vino!

I asked my friend Trish her thoughts on this issue and she said that she thinks that boxed wine is “smart financially” and “can be done tastefully.” I couldn’t agree more!

So here’s my suggestions for doing boxed wine tastefully!
  • Pre-pour the wine glasses in the kitchen – this can save time for your bartender too!

o   Use the boxed wine as a passed drink during cocktail hour
  •  During the reception, make sure the box is hidden
  •  Pour wine into glass carafes
  •  Use the boxed wine to make a sangria and then serve from glass pitchers or the self-pour jugs
  • I also saw this wedding featured on Snippet & Ink (which inspired this post). It looks like the bride and groom spray painted the wine bottles silver to hide the brand. You could do this and just keep refilling the bottles in the back (it’s a lot of work. I may have experience doing this in college with a non-alcoholic beverage)

Or there’s another option – don’t give a crap what other people think! Tell them to shut up and drink! And for the record, if I’m at your shindig, I’m gonna drink whatever’s being offered (and may tap the bag) and I won’t judge!
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Corky Decor

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It’s no lie. I drink a lot of wine.

Over the last few years, I thought about saving my corks and writing the drinking occasion on them. Well, the writing part failed, but I was able to save several corks.

Then I got the idea that I’d make a wreath out of the corks. I had several corks saved (40ish), but I knew that wasn’t enough to make a full, large wreath.

Then I was at Target and spotted wine corks in the plant section. So I grabbed a box and began making my wreath. During the process I found that one box of corks just wasn't enough, I needed another (and another glass of vino!).

I purchased a straw wreath from a craft store. These wreaths are tricky because they tend to shed a bit when you remove the plastic, but because I was going to hot glue the corks, I needed to take off the plastic or it would melt. So I carefully removed the plastic and quickly wrapped and hot glued some ribbon.

(This was about 100 corks!)

Next up, gluing the corks. I alternated the plan corks on the base of the wreath and saved my used corks for the top.

(Now up to 290 corks!)

Ta da! The wreath isn’t totally done – still needs some fun used corks, but it’s getting close. The wreath is rather thick and won’t fit on my door hook, so I saw an idea online to add ribbon like I did here. I’m not loving the bow, so I may make another.

The craft cost breakdown

Wreath: $6.00
Corks: $20 (not counting the wine consumed : )
Ribbon: $4
Glue sticks: I had on hand

Oh and yes, I totally know that you can buy wine corks online too. Just do a little Google search. The corks from Target were nice because there was a bit of variety in shape and size! 

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5 Shots for Friday

Friday, May 11, 2012


I’m going to try something new here. It’s not a new idea, a lot of bloggers do this, but I’m going to share with you five links of things that I think are awesome every Friday!

 The Shot of Brandi* Five Shots for Friday!

1.     Looking for a last minute mom gift in Pittsburgh? Visit the Phipps Conservatory May Market this Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
2.     14 recipes for cheese dip from Serious Eats. You’re welcome.
3.     10 ways to make sangria from Martha Stewart from The Kitchn
4.     Slightly obsessed with the concept of customized lollipops from Etsy
5.     Finally, I hope that you’ve all seen the youngest MENSA member announce that she had to poop her pants on The Today Show
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Mommy's Time Out

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When browsing the wine aisle on a recent trip, I spotted a wine called “Mommy’s Time Out,” and thought – this could be PERFECT for one of my new mom friends. Well guess what? It’s also a perfect gift for your mom on MOTHER’S DAY!

It may be tricky to find this at your local wine store, so I’d recommend calling ahead! The Mommy’s Time Out website is not very fancy (nor helpful).

Bota Box is jumping on this moms + wine trend with a blog called “Moms Who Need Wine.” While I’m not typically a fan of branded blogs, this one is semi-cute. They also have a Meetup group finder – a perfect way to find moms that like to party! 
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SoMe Some Manners

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

In between reading porn, I mean 50 Shades of Grey, I’ve also been studying up on manners by reading the 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette: Manners for a New World

When the original Emily Post was penning her famous books as early as 1922, she wasn’t thinking about rules for Facebook, Twitter, Email and Blogging. Thank goodness Post had grandkids, because they’ve updated the book to help us navigate etiquette rules when dealing with social media. Here are some tips from Emily Post to consider!

(Sources:Emily Post's Etiquette: Manners for a New World and
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Best Bets from the Met

Monday, May 07, 2012

Tonight was the “Oscars of New York” – the Costume Institute Gala at the Met. I’m drooling over a number of looks, but these three are my favs!

Gwyneth Paltrow, January Jones and Jessica Alba.

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It's The Freakin' Weekend, Gonna Have Me Some Fun

Saturday, May 05, 2012

It’s the weekend. If you are ever looking for me, you can just camp out at Target. I’ll eventually show up.

You see, we have a Target .5 miles away from our apartment. It never fails, B and I tend to lose each other and then I always end up angry when he can’t find me. When I “disappear,” B should know that I’m likely in the office supply or card section.

On a recent trip, I discovered the Mara-Mi line of party goods. This stuff is just way too cute. The colors and patters are party perfect and at a super reasonable cost!

You can also buy some of the items online. Here are my favs.

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Happy Cinco de Drinko (aka Mayo)

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Fashion Friday: The Brooch is Back

Friday, May 04, 2012

For today’s Fashion Friday, I wanted to brooch a subject that I personally love – BROOCHES! Not only do I love the extra bling a brooch provides, but I love the story behind the pins. My budding collection is above!

I like to think that this trend is being led by Her Majesty of Brooches – Queen Elizabeth – as she celebrates her Jubilee and the upcoming summer Olympics. Oh and we can’t forget Kate Middleton too. That girl has been rocking pins since her Canadian tour last summer.

I was reading up on the Queen’s brooch collection and some of the pins have great stories behind them. Here’s a little history lesson to make you sound super smart during the Jubilee!

Back in 1905, a man by the name of Fredrick Wells discovered a 3,106 carat diamond near a mine in South Africa. Yes, Beyonce, this ROCK weighed more than a pound. The HUGE diamond was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan who opened the mine. So when you find something this huge, you’ve got to sell it – which is exactly what happened here.  The diamond was sold to the Transvaal government and then presented to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday in November 1907 (making everyone else’s birthday presents look pathetic). Being a nice guy, Eddy had the rock cut into a plethora of pieces that would then be featured in crowns, jewelry and several brooches.  

The most famous cuts from the Cullinan are III and IV. The pear shaped 94.9 carat diamond is known as Cullinan III, while the 63.6 square-cut diamond is IV. Queen Mary rocked this rock a number of fashion forward ways – on a crown, lower on a sash, as a brooch, etc. Queen E rarely wears it, but when she does, she typically sports it as a regular brooch. It’s also known as “Granny’s Chips” because it’s made from “chips” of the larger Cullinan Diamond. (Source: Royal Order of Spendor)  

If you are wondering, the value of this brooch is £50,000,000 – OR 80.83 MILLION DOLLARS.

You often see the Queen wearing the Flower Basket Brooch (top right). I like the simple story behind this one. It was presented to E to mark the birth of Prince Charles – a fancy push present! (Sources: Royal-Jewels and photo from Royal Collection)

Speaking of milestone presents the Williamson Diamond Brooch (bottom right), featuring a 23.6 carat pink diamond (in the center), was gifted to Princess Elizabeth in 1947 as a wedding gift. It was later cut and set by Cartier in 1952. (Source: Royal Collection)

To the left of the Williamson Brooch is one of many bow brooches E has in her jewelry box (er, vault). This is the Lovers Knot and a piece from Queen Victoria’s bow collection. The Queen V bows feature a trio of brooches. (Sources: Royal Collection and Royal Order of Splendor)

There are SO MANY more jewels that I could include here, but the last one that I wanted to share is Prince Albert’s Sapphire. It’s also known as Queen Victoria’s Wedding Brooch – as it was presented to V the day before her wedding…in 1840. This fabulous brooch has been passed down through the generations and is often worn by E (I think because it’s so patriotic!)

Whether its Queen E or Kate Middleton leading the brooch revival (it was also all over the runway a few years back), celebrities are now hopping on the train, which means next up is us average style-obsessed consumers.

Here are some stars rocking brooches in a variety of ways:  

 Rose Bryne (the pic is a little old)

Here are some brooches that you may consider adding to your collection.

When B and I made our marriage official, I knew that I wanted to do something to personalize by bridesmaids bouquets, while adding a little bling. So I set out on a missing to find brooches that matched their personality or an inside joke that we shared. The brooches were then used on their bouquet as well as mine (the martini glass was “something borrowed” from my godmother!).

While they all held special meaning to the bridesmaid, one that I especially adored was my friend Melissa’s. She loves Kennywood (a local amusement park) and I was able to find an amusement park brooch! I picked up most of the bling from the garment district of New York while on a business trip!

(Photos from the fabulous Studio Bash)
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Mint Meets Margarita

Thursday, May 03, 2012

It’s almost here! May 5th! Cinco de Derby! The battle of the margarita and mint julep! 

I've shared the basic recipes above, but if you are looking for a few last minute holiday mash up drink recipes, you’ve found the right place. Here are some good South meets South of the Border Sips.

  • ·         1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
  • ·         1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ·         4 cups crushed ice
  • ·         1 1/2 cups good-quality tequila
  • ·         1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 8 limes)
  • ·         1 cup Triple Sec

In the bottom of a large (2-quart) pitcher, crush together mint and salt, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon. Add ice. Add tequila, lime juice, and Triple Sec, stirring vigorously. Serve in short tumblers or wineglasses.

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 12 large fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup blanco or reposado tequila
  • 1/4 cup club soda

In a highball glass, mix lime juice, sugar, and mint. Mash mint leaves with the back of a spoon until the sugar dissolves. Fill the glass with ice. Add tequila and club soda; stir to blend.

  • ·         Leaves from 1 medium bunch of mint
  • ·         1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • ·         1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ·         1 1/2 cups silver tequila
  • ·         Ice cubes
  • ·         24 ounces chilled club soda

In a large cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the sugar and lime juice. Strain into a small pitcher and stir in the silver tequila. Fill 6 highball glasses with ice and pour the cocktail over the cubes. Top each drink with club soda and serve.
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