Shot of Brandi* Gift Guide: J. Crew

Saturday, November 30, 2013

J. Crew has become one of the Smithkowski’s favorite stores. While I pride myself on scoring some great deals here, Brady should receive an award for the amount of under $20 polos he’s scored at J. Crew.

Not only is J. Crew great for adults, but their kids and baby lines are great for gifts. And who can forget the outlet stores!

Here are my current favorite gift options.

  1. Maclister Boots - $198.00
  2. Lambswool Sweater - $75.00
  3. Tartine Mini-Satchel - $398.00
  4. Sequin Dress - $69.50
  5. Shimmer Earrings - $58.00
  6. Chef’s Apron Set - $45.00
  7. Boys Anchor Sweater - $59.50
  8. Minnetonka Baby Booties - $19.95

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Shot of Brandi* 2013 Gift Guide: Mall Maddness

Friday, November 29, 2013

Welcome to the sixth year of the annual Shot of Brandi* gift guide!

Shot of Mom has always said that this time of year brings out the amateurs – the people that don’t shop all year and come out just for Christmas shopping. Not like us ladies that go on a weekly basis.

I spent some time at the mall the last two weekends and let me just say it makes me MAD! Specifically:

·         The massive amounts of people that are walking around the mall with NO BAGS. What!? You are going to wait all year to come out and NOT buy anything!?

·         Strollers. I’m sorry moms, but stores just weren’t made for your double wide stroller. I don’t like running into you in stores and by the sounds of your kids, they don’t want to be there either.

·         Parking Lots. Just when you think you’ve found a spot, the person who you think is getting into their car proceeds to take 10 minutes to back out. THEN someone comes out of nowhere and tries to take the spot that you’ve now been waiting 15 minutes for!

·         I recently went into Express & The Limited for two specific things: tights and a solid t-shirt. I spent under $20 on both, yet both stores had to ask me: if I wanted a credit card, if I wanted to sign up for rewards, for my phone number and my email address. Both stores got 4 no’s from me!

So in conclusion, what does the mall do to me? It makes me MAD!

The theme of my gift guide this year is Mall Madness. In honor of me being angry and one of my favorite board games ; )

Over the next few weeks, I plan to show a number of gifts for family and friends categorized by different stores at the mall. I may throw in some online stores as well – you never know!

Sit back, relax, grab a glass of wine and let’s shop online. 
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Non-Ugly, Ugly Sweaters

While I’ve blogged about Ugly Sweater parties before, I must admit that I’ve never actually hosted or attended one. But this year, that may just change, so I needed to prepare. And let me tell you, this is no easy task!

At first, I thought I would just go to my staple – But the holiday vest that I liked was $30 PLUS $30 to ship – I couldn’t justify the price.

I then scoured the internet for the perfect sweater. I still haven’t found it (I got something that is OKAY), but here are a few that I saw! Warning – some are adorable, but still pricey! What the heck!?

  1. Lot78 via The Outnet
  2. Mason by Michelle Mason
  3.  Asos Holiday Pattern Sweater
  4. Topshop
  5. Asos Vintage Look Sweater

Urban Outfitters has an um, odd selection of sweaters. Some are a little risqué, but it’s worth checking out!

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Family Recipes: Aunt Linda's Sweet Potato Casserole

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One thing that I’m thankful for this year is coming from a family of amazing cooks – on both sides! You’ve been treated to recipes from Shot of Mom and Godmother Aunt Michelle (Shot of Mom’s sister), so today I wanted to introduce you to Shot of Dad’s sister – Aunt Linda.

Aunt Linda makes the most AMAZING Sweet Potato Casserole on Thanksgiving. This thing shouldn't just be called a Casserole - but a Kick-ass-erole! Legend has it, my sister Jillian once ate an entire plate of this dish.

I decided to attempt it for the hubs’ family two years ago and it turned out okay. Well, I made it again tonight to take with us to New Jersey and it was SO EASY!

You’ve gotta trust me on this one. It doesn’t look that appetizing, but it’s DELICIOUS!

Aunt Linda’s Almost Famous Sweet Potato Casserole
·         3 cups (4 medium) mashed cooked sweet potatoes (I use the canned version – 1 40oz can of yams = 3 mashed cups)
·         ¼ cup of sugar
·         1 stick of melted margarine
·         2 eggs
·         1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix and mash all ingredients together and put into a buttered square Corning dish. Cover with Topping

·         1 cup brown sugar
·         ½ cup margarine, softened
·         ½ cup flour
·         1 cup chopped walnuts nuts (Shot of Mom uses walnuts or pecans or a combo of both)
·         ½ cup coconut

Mix topping together.

Bake 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Without Topping & With Topping (not baked) 


And we can’t forget my in-laws – you haven’t met their tasty recipes yet, but maybe Aunt Donna will share the details on her secret Magic Cookie Bars soon ; )
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Christmas Movie Christmas Party

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reader Dana recently asked me about a potential holiday party theme. Once she got my brain wheels spinning, I came up with a pretty rad theme that I said “I need to blog this.”

So I’m blogging it.

You’ve done the ugly sweater party. You may have done the plaid party. Now, I give you – the Christmas Movie Character Party!

Encourage guests to come dressed as their favorite holiday movie character. Need suggestions? That’s what I’m here for!

·         A Christmas Story: Ralphie, The Leg, Randy in the Bunny Costume. 
·         Elf: Elf. Lol.
·         National Lampoons Christmas Vacation: Clark Griswald, Uncle Eddie
·         Frosty The Snowman: Frosty.

·         Home Alone: Kevin McCallister, the burglars, Gus Polinski (The Polka King of the Midwest)
·         Babes in Toyland: Mother Goose, Bo Peep, Mary Contrary, Jack-Be-Nimble, Jack, Jill or Boy Blue.
·         Charlie Brown: Sad tree, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Schroeder, Patty, Sally.  
·         The Grinch: Cindy Loo Who, The Grinch, Whos from Whoville

·         Mean Girls: No, not really Christmas, but you can do the Mean Girls and Amy Pohler in school skit scene.
·         Nutcracker: Ballerina, Nutcracker, The Mouse, Sugar Plum Fairy

·         Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Reindeer! Sam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives), misfit toys.
·         Miracle on 34th Street: Santa Claus.
·         A Christmas Carol: Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, Ebenezer Scrooge or Tiny Tim.  

·         Last, but certainly not least, my favorite: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas: Go as Otter’s!

I’m sure I forgot some good ones. Help a sister out! 
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