October 31, 2011

Weekend Recap - Halloween 2011

This past weekend is one of BF's faves (if you couldn't already tell from his BF Corner Entries).
He's gotten into biking over the last couple years, and there's a fun Chicago activity that involved both on Friday evening. My work was nice enough to let me work from home on Friday which allowed be to be 'off' at 5:30 vs. fighting the traffic into the city. This was vital seeing as how we needed to be at the event by 6:30 pm.
So what am I talking about? Critical Mass! Basically everyone meets at Daley plaza in the financial area, just down the street from Macy's (Marshall Fields). They hand out maps, and as it gets later people start riding their bikes in the road together till they amass enough people to take over the road. There's no organization; this happens the last Friday of every month, except Friday's was Halloween themed! I've never done this before and BF says sometimes people wear costumes even when it's not Halloween but this was especially festive.
Daley Plaza was already in the festive mood changing the fountain to orange and hanging orange lights for a non related children's Halloween festival complete with free hot cocoa and apple cider!
Bf had joked a few weeks ago about being Pooh for Halloween, and I got excited and wanted to be piglet. So the joke became reality :). I even had some pretty sweet pink pants!
BF's dad even came out to ride with us. He was dressed as an "Occupy" protester.
After the ride, a lot of the riders ended up at Galloway Arms. Thankfully just down the street from BF's apartment. I say 'thankfully' because although I try to support BF in his love for biking, my butt doesn't necessarily agree, and even after ONLY 10 miles (+ the distance to the start and from the finish) I was in a lot of pain. As you may be aware from my Birthday gift for BF, the Nite Ride of 25 miles, I got a pink Schwinn because it had a bigger seat (in hopes of a more comfortable ride), however as BF always says (literally... ALWAYS) "it won't get better until you start riding more). But anywho.
Friday night, my friend MS came in and we proceeded to drink Hallowine (BF found it at Whole Foods and had to get it) and watch scary movies. Typically I'd WANT to put 'scary' in quotations, however I was not kidding. BF found this awful movie called "Trick or Treat". I swear I love him, but he's got something going on upstairs that I'll never understand with his LOVE for scary movies... he typically says it's because he wants to find the 'zipper in the back of the monster costume', however i just don't buy it.
Saturday, BF was kind enough to take MS to breakfast at Nookies as I met up with one of my future Brand Profile companies at Orange with A Peel. Although I didn't order them, I had to share their theme for their silver dollar pancake flight:
Notice the awesome Halloween recipes!
Afterward we all headed up to watch the Purdue game at Red Ivy. Although it started off good, our defense couldn't keep up the energy and we didn't show up for the second half (a sad trend I've been seeing).
MS and I went down the street to Corcoran's for a little while before going back for dinner. She went back out, while BF and I stayed in and cleared his DVR of Dead Files, Ghost Adventures, and Ghost Hunter Episodes. I even got to finally bake my apple pie for us to enjoy. For dinner I made a poor attempt at Hotdog Mummies
Sunday, BF & I watched the original Night of the Walking Dead, before making our way out to his parents in the Burbs for an evening of Italian and My Ghost Stories.
I sadly don't expect any trick or treaters tonight as I'm in a condo/apartment building, but I'm going to have some candy just in case.
What did y'all do this weekend? What did you dress up as? Was it EPIC?!?

October 28, 2011

Holiday Travel Tip: Baggage Fees

BF and I started swapping the major holidays with our families roughly 2-3 years ago. Every other year, we swap who's family we spend Thanksgiving with and who's family gets Christmas. With our families between Chicago & Atlanta, it's the only way we can be equal to both sides.
Also with the distance, we have to fly. BF tried to convince me to drive this year (Thanksgiving is in Atlanta/Greenville, SC) but he's never done that... He recently took a road trip with some fraternity brothers for another brother's bachelor party in Alabama and thought it wasn't too bad.
Except he hasn't taken the trip in winter.... 
Seeing as how I went to Purdue, I had to drive home for Christmas break every year.... driving through the snowy smoky mountains... not fun.

Anywho, back to my tips :)
The holidays for me are planned well in advance and I typically purchase my tickets in August/September. So I'm set for home. However, a couple girlfriends and I have decide on another trip which required a ticket purchase (Keep a look out for my post-trip analysis).
So, we got on our 3-way and scoped out ticket prices from our destinations on Bing.com. I came across several airlines with the same pricing, so it came down to earning mileage with BF's loyalty program. I went to a few of the airlines sights to check out what the additions would be. I noticed when BF and I went on Summer vaca with my fam that his airlines had HUGE additional fees, especially when it came to baggage checking. This being said, the companies can continue to post ticket prices without it so we have to do our own homework (sigh... I always hated homework).
While doing my research, I came across a bit of irony, and I WILL be using the airline names (and screen shots of their policies).

Most (if not all) allowed for one carry on and one personal item for free.
 Both United & Delta have a $25 fee for your first checked bag and $35 second checked bag.

AirTran went a little bit better with $20 fee for the first checked bag and only a $5 up charge for the second (vs. $10 increase for the second bag on the other airlines).

By far the best was Southwest which offers FREE baggage for your first 2 bags... and lets face it ladies, if you can't fit what you need for a week long trip in 2 bags under 50lbs. you might be a shoe-a-holic (or like me, and option-a-holic because I need to have OPTIONS for MULTIPLE outfits :) ).

So bottom line, I'm annoyed I have to waste my time going through all these websites trying to find my true cost (which is double whatever they charge because obviously if you take it with you on the first leg, you'll be bringing it home). Also, most of the baggage fees were at least 4 clicks through the website, and I wanted to make this easier for others.

Do you have any tips when traveling? Depending on the success of trip, I'll let you know if I have any other tips for y'all! I might even include BF (the professional traveler) who spent over a year on the road with his first company out of college.

October 26, 2011

The BF Corner Entry 3 - Happy Halloweenie

Happy Halloween Boys and Ghouls!

I am just about ready.  My costume is almost completed (I am dressing up as Winnie the Pooh and the Prep is going to be Piglet).  The candy is purchased and we are going to be passing out Dum Dums by the fistful this year.  I am interested to see just how many kids I get this year.  At my old place people lined the streets like it was something out of a movie.  This happened in part because I lived in a very family friendly part of town so there were lots of local kids, but kids from some of the more unfortunate part of Chicago would get bused in.  

Thinking back I have had some pretty awesome costumes.  As a kids some of my highlights would have to be Ninja Turtle, Captain American, and Predator.  My college/young adult years have had some real hits too primarily as a Ghostbuster and Mike Ditka.  There is a particular element of pride with the Mike Ditka costume because I actually grew out a real mustache for that outfit.



What the BF is Listening to
- We Found Love (Rihanna)

Alright guilty pleasure time.  I enjoy pop music sometimes.  I wanted to put in something Halloween themed here, but reality is this is the song that has been stuck in my head the last couple of days.  Deal with it.

What the BF is watching - SCARY MOVIES!

As discussed in last weeks article, I am a fan of scary movies.  Over the next couple of days the following things will be watched:

Dracula (1931)

If you ask anyone over the age of 50 what the scariest movie that they have ever seen, there is a high probability that they will answer this movie.  It was the original big bad vampire movie.  No glittery heart throbs running through the woods in this movie.  Bela Lugosi defined what culture thinks of vampires and this is the movie that set all of the rules (holy water, stake through the heart, sleeps in coffins).  Beyond the impact it had on us from a cultural standpoint, it opened the doors for all horror movies to follow after it.  This was the first true horror movie to be released by Hollywood that was a full length feature film and not contain any comic relief.  Along with Frankenstein it launched the Universal Horror films that we still cherish today.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

While zombies have taken over as the biggest thing in movies and TV the last 5 years nothing comes close to the original.  Over 40 years old and it still stands the test of time as a scary movie.  The rules are simple.  Aim for the head and don't get bit.  Before this movie zombies were more thought of as a voodoo possession, but once we heard "There coming to get you Barbara" things changed forever.  Due to issues with filing the copyright to the movie it fell under public domain and is insanely available for people to enjoy it.  Do yourself a favor, watch this one with the lights off.

Halloween (1978)

This is the movie you should be watching on Halloween.  I could go on and on for reasons why you should be watching this movie, but the title of the film speaks for itself.  Light your pumpkin, make some popcorn, sit down and watch this movie.  (Note - If you watch the 2007 Rob Zombie remake over this, I will find you and punch you in the face)

GAME OF THE WEEK - Michigan State at Nebraska

Hmmm does my excitement over the Cubs getting Theo Epstein motivate me to watch the rest of this world series?  No, but I really hope the Rangers beat the St. Louis.  First, I cannot stand the thought of that drunk idiot Tony LaRussa (yes he was arrested for a DUI in 2007) getting another World Series ring with a crappy team that had no business being in the playoffs.  Second, I have some family that lives in Texas and root for the Rangers.

This weeks game of the week is MSU at Nebraska.  While I am going to be watching the Purdue/Michigan game, there should be some channel flipping during the commercials to this game.  After their monster game against Wisconsin last week, does MSU have what it takes to seize control over the Big 10 and beat Nebraska?  Is this the chance for Nebraska to get back into the Big 10 race?  Big questions are going to be answered here.

October 25, 2011

Brand Profile: Tipsy Skipper

The Tipsy Skipper is an awesome company owned and designed by Kearsley Lloyd (HOW COOL OF A NAME IS THAT?!?!). Kearsley has a storied line of experience designing for companies like Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines. Her cool history is even COOL (after Lilly, I figured you couldn't get much cooler but it does!), she's a direct descendant to THE Captain Morgan! Holy Cow! 
Her line of ballet flats and clutches are so cute! 
Link $90
 The high quality, cotton canvas flats are perfect for dressing up or dressing down and come in a variety of colors and patterns.
 Link $70

Check out how Kearsley responded to some of my questions about how she got her start!
When did you first decide to start your company?
I officially founded the company in 2010, but the concept evolved during my education at the Rhode Island School of Design where I studied graphic design. I had fabulous internships at Vineyard Vines and Lilly Pulitzer - designing prints and patterns for their clothing lines. These experiences planted the seeds of Tipsy Skipper as I learned a great deal about the business - from design to production. 

For my Senior Degree Project at RISD, my goal was to create a brand that would showcase my custom prints and patterns and compliment all sorts of products: home goods, women's accessories, technology products, etc. After a final review by a panel of professors and professional critics, I was encouraged to turn my project into a reality. So, without hesitation, I embraced the opportunity, set out to find US manufacturers, and embarked upon the journey of growing the Tipsy Skipper brand!
What is your inspiration?
I'm inspired by just about everything! As a sailor, I love the seashore and get excited by all things nautical. My iPhone has become an indispensable tool for me - wherever I go, I snap pictures of things that grab me - a pattern made by stones in the sidewalk, a clever cocktail napkin, etc. I'm always looking for inspiration, and I usually find it when it's least expected! Primarily, I'm crazy about COLOR!

Where did you first develop your style?
The funny thing about style is that it evolves subconsciously and insidiously, so I can't recall a specific epiphany.  However, growing up on the water, I have always felt happiest and most creative in a coastal environment.  I suppose most people would say I have a classic style with a nautical influence, but the trick is infusing it with fun, quirky accessories and unexpected pops of color. For example, I'm really into big cocktail rings! Nothing like throwing on a pair of white jeans and a top, then dressing them up with a pair of Tipsy Skipper flats and a clutch. It's fun, stylish and practical. 

What do you hope your products will convey about yourself and your style?
My products showcase my personality, but the important thing is that they are versatile and appeal to women with a wide variety of tastes and styles. I like people, and each season, as I design the prints and patterns, I post them online for fans to vote on. It's not only fascinating feedback, but a great way to involve YOU in the creative process and Tipsy Skipper brand. I'm delighted that Tipsy Skipper shoes and accessories appeal to preppy women, yet find their way into the closets of women who would not necessarily characterize themselves that way. I'm pleased that the brand has broad appeal - maybe I'm sneaking a little bit of preppy into everyone's life without really trying!
But, in short, I like to have fun, adore color, and never take myself too seriously - I hope that spirit infuses Tipsy Skipper designs.

What has been the hardest thing about starting your own business?
There's nothing easy about starting a business, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything else.  As a designer, I've had to go waaay outside my comfort zone to learn about things like accounting, shipping, marketing, website maintenance, etc. The sad fact is that, although I would prefer to spend every waking hour designing, I need to wear a variety of hats...and most of them require the MBA I don't have!

What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
I would love to add a men's line - I have a zillion new product ideas! In addition, it would be thrilling to design home accessories and create a Tipsy Skipper lifestyle.
Is there anything else you'd like mentioned?  

It's important to me that Tipsy Skipper products are American-made.  I have yet to see comparable quality in overseas production, and I believe contributing to our country's struggling economy is responsible and patriotic.  My products are manufactured in a number of states by people with tremendous pride of craftsmanship.  Fabrics are produced domestically, too, and although the costs can be higher to remain 'Made in the USA', I'm confident that, in the long run, providing my customers with the best possible quality is the way to go. 

How would you define today's 'Preppy' and how do you think it compare to the preppy past decades?   

The great part of 'preppy' is its timelessness.  It's tailored, sophisticated and, let's face it, looks good on absolutely everyone!  The style is always appropriate, and although we can twist and tweak its elements to make the look our own, the essence of 'preppy' always comes down to comfortable elegance that is quintessentially American.

To Learn More about Tipsy Skipper:
Twitter: @tipsy_skipper

October 24, 2011

Weekend Recap - Homecoming!

I started this past weekend a little early with the delivery of my new couch!
This is my old couch. I got it for free when I moved out of my parent's house. I was lucky enough to find some nice NIU student to come get it for free, as the junking company was going to charge me $135 freaking dollars! 
After it was gone, I came to the sad realization that it was MY couch :(. This is the couch I waited for Santa on growing up, it was the couch that when I stayed home sick from school I watched TV on, it was MY couch! So teared up a little bit.
But then my beautiful new couch arrived and I couldn't stay sad for long! It's a little bit puffier that I remember when I purchased it back in August, but it should hopefully soften up with time.
I was disappointed that I'm being put out by the fact that Macy's didn't feel it necessary to also deliver my new Maya Pear chair with the couch... so that's coming in another two weeks, and I'll have to work from home for that delivery as well...
So that was my Thursday. Friday, after work I made my way to BF's parents house to spend the night in preparation for our trip to Purdue on Saturday for Homecoming. BF & his friend DJ were already there when I arrived and BF's AWESOME mom had picked up cannoli's especially for me.... this is one Italian thing I have sadly become addicted to (I say 'sadly' because it does nothing to improve my figure).
We got up super early (4:15am) on Saturday to get ready and head down to Purdue for Homecoming!
I was super excited because we had decided as a tailgate to do a mini-baby shower for one of the amazing couples; they're expecting a boy in December. They were registered, but I felt like I had been doing that a lot lately for people and wanted to do something unique, fun, and useful. So I had found this idea on pintrest and decided to try it:
It's a Diaper Cycle! Like a Diaper cake, but BETTER! :)
Here's the video I found that helped me create the gift!

The proud soon-to-be parents and their first jersey.
One of the other tailgaters made this AMAZING cake! Looked super professional!
BF's mom came with us. Both his parents are U of I grads (the opposing team for the game).
The theme for this past weekend's tailgate food was Italian... a specialty of BF's family seeing as how they're Super Italians! BF's mom made this incredible Italian Subs that went along perfect with the other's contributions of pasta, pizza dip, and brucetta!
After an exciting game and a little post-game tailgating, we grabbed some den pops and hit the roads home. It was a long day, but super fun!
I came home and got everything together to have people over on Sunday for my Pumpkin Fest! Basically just football, pot-roast, mashed potatoes and pumpkin carving. I totally intended to also have fresh apple pie, but I forgot it in the fridge... WHO FORGETS APPLE PIE?!?!
Pumpkins ready for carving!
Apple Cider on the stove heating up for yummy fall goodness!
Our awesome pumpkins! BF and I are going to be carving more on Thursday!
We enjoyed incredible fall weather, great food, and good football! Overall a great fall weekend!

October 20, 2011

Christmas Present Ideas

As the Holiday season approaches, I've started thinking more about some things that I need. With that comes the inevitable internal argument of 'do I purchase it for myself, or hint at it for Christmas'.... and so family & friends... this is your hint...
I promise I'm a classy lady, but that doesn't put me above gift registries and wish lists to help those I love when they're looking for gift ideas (I, myself, love them for others, especially those that I don't get to see frequently).
I've always been a particularly practical person. I've also been the kind of person who understands realism vs. wishes. Last year's Christmas ideas were VERY much wishes, even though my wonderful family did get me some of them (they're incredible and spoil me!).

So here is my 2011 Christmas List

1.) I always love to have a calendar on my fridge, maybe because my parents always kept a family calendar completely detailed on our fridge at all times. My Google calendar is by far my bible... but I still fill out my fridge calendar.
2012 Lilly Pulitzer Wall Calendar but I also LOVE the Chick-Fil-A Calendars!

2.)  I got new towels last year, and I realized, I think I'd like to get new towels each year... only because they get less plush throughout the year, and I absolutely LOVE new towels.
Link $20 each (x2) - preferably in a pastel color
3.) & 4.) Bless its heart, but my poor Lilly case is getting gross... and unless I get a new a phone.... which would also be nice since my iphone screen is loosing sensitivity. But in lieu of that.... there's this really cool iphone cover by Marley Lilly. It's $59, and the apple green cover with the swirly monogram is just so FETCH.

5.) I love these cut-out necklaces, rings, and earrings. Price $159 LINK

6.) I'd love a magazine subscription to either Southern Living or Martha Stewart Living! Great recipes and craft ideas!

I'm in dire need of a new umbrella:
7.) This one from Vera Bradley is awfully cute in Safari Sunset for $32.

 J.Crew Slippers in nutmeg- $40
8.) My poor Ralph Lauren slippers are dying....

9.) My poor Brighton watch has been getting worn out! It'd be awesome to get a gold/tan colored watch similar to Sister's Tortoiseshell Michael Kors. (Don't know the cost or place to purchase)

10.) The last time I got a new camera was as a gift from my parents when I was heading into my sophomore year of College... (7 years ago... YIKES!). That being said any form of digital camera would be better than what I currently have or my iphone ;).

11.) My Ralph Lauren classic fit oxfords could use some replacements or additions. In any pastels or classic colors, and prices vary depending on purchase location and coupons. ;)

12.) Since LimeWire is no more... I've been buying more and more of my songs on iTunes (I know, don't judge). 
So iTunes gift cards of any value are greatly appreciated!

13.) Pocket-book organizer: I previously mentioned some of the cool organizes for 2011, and I bet the same brands have just as cool 2012 versions!

If I think of anything else I need, I'll be posting... I'm seriously not trying to be greedy or selfish, I'm just trying to assist my loved ones ;)


October 19, 2011

BF Corner Entry 2 - Halloween is almost here

OK so I am more than a little pumped for it to be almost Halloween.  While it isn't my FAVORITE holiday, it is very high on the list.  I feel like it is the one time a year that no one questions me liking scary movies, and ghost stories.  Even the Prep herself will sit down and watch a scary movie with me.  We can't just go full head on into any movie though, because she scares fairly easy.  Overtime I have had to make a ranking system to warn her what kind of movie we are in store for before she decides to sit down and watch it.  It goes as follows:
Level 1 or "See this is still in the spirit of scary movies" - This is typically reserved for non scary movies that have a paranormal vibe to it in some capacity.  She can make it through these fine.  Examples - Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, stuff you would spot on ABC family.
Level 2 (stuff that should be level one, but was scary to her as a kid) - Haven't run into many of these.  Part of this is because I believe she has toughened herself over time.  Once in awhile though I will be left scratching my head on something.  Example - Had to change the channel during the scene where the little girl gets kidnapped by the witches in Hocus Pocus
Level 3 (old monster movies that don't scary anyone, but piss her off) - As a kid I used to love watching the old Universal Monster classics.  If they weren't playing on AMC, I used to get my fix on Chicago's version of the Saturday night creature feature "Svengoolie".  Once in awhile I think that I can slip these in as a Level 1 or 2 with her, but it ends with me turning it off because her patience has run out.  Once in awhile though we do make it through one of these, but she usually isn't happy.  Examples - War of the World (the original), The Invisible Man, The Thing From Another Universe, The Birds
Level 4 (Watches with fingers through the eyes) - While these movies typically are not intense through the whole thing, they typically will have music or something let you know that something scary is about to happen.  If it isn't going to be violence, but just kind of spookiness that is happening she will put her hand over hear face and watch through her fingers.  This is typically is a ghost show or a ghost movie.  This is right around where we end up because everything past here leaves her upset.

Level 5 (Face in Pillow and look away) - This the older brother to the Level 4.  Typically happens when there is a lot of Level 4 moments in a film, or something is going to be especially scary.  Examples - The Exorcist, Psycho, Paranormal Activity (funny side note, the Prep actually likes this movie, or least I am under the impression she does.)
Level 6 or "This is gross" - The Prep doesn't do violence in her scary movies.  The second it comes into play she is ready to peace out.  This is reserved for those movies that have just one or two obnoxious scenes in it.  Example - Misery, Halloween (original), Fright Night (both), Scream
Level 7 or "What is wrong with you?" - Big bad brother to the Level 6.  These movies have lots of people dying in them.  Think Zombie movies, slasher flicks, and stuff with gross out special effects.  These are the ones that I typically enjoy the most.  Only way these ever get watched is if DJ and myself are already watching one and she walks in.  Examples - All zombie movies, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, The Evil Dead. (PREP IN THE MIDWEST NOTE: JOHNNY DEPP ALERT! :) )
Level 8 or "GF don't come in/I will turn this off right now" - Highest level that is in play.  This is for either the truly terrifying or the truly gross.  I sometimes don't even really want to be watching some of these movies.  The whole torture craze going through Hollywood right now feels like it is starting to run itself out, so hopefully we get back to smart scary movies.  While I do feel some of these movies are actually good, a lot of them are crap.  Violence for the sake of violence isn't scary, but the fear of what is going to happen to someone is.  Examples - Saw movies, Hostel, Takashi Miike films, The Devil's Rejects.
Alright time for the weekly breakdown of what the BF is doing.

What the BF is watching - The Walking Dead (AMC Sundays 8:00 CT)

This is one of the best shows on TV right now.  Being a big fan of the comic series that it is based off of I was looking forward to this show when it debuted last year.  It works so well in many ways.  First of and foremost it is a survival story that happens to have zombies in it.  Most movies today are 2 hours max and you are left with so little time to truly expand on the characters in the film.  Often times this leads to forgettable story lines that leave us only thinking of those that are zombie chow and those that lived.  The Walking Dead leaves us really exploring these characters and trying to understand who they are.  As a fan of both series (TV and comic) I am looking forward to this second season.  If it follows the books it should provide everyone with some real human moments, and solid scares!  If you haven't seen season 1 it is already out on Blu Ray and available for Instant Streaming on Netflix.  If you missed this Sunday's episode you can watch it on http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead

What the BF is listening to - Spotify

O Spotify, what would I do without you?  A popular music streaming service that recently made its way over to the US is currently one of my favorite things.  I have every song that I ever wanted to listen to available for me.  I gave the Premium subscription a test spin so I could stream music off of my smart phone.  This was HUGE for my recent road trip to STL with the Prep a couple of weeks ago.  It is free to download though and use on your personal machine.  You are fool if you don't try it.

GAME OF THE WEEK - Purdue vs Illinois (Saturday 11:00 CT)

You didn't think I would force more hockey down your throat did you?  It is Purdue's Homecoming game, which would put it at #1 for my anyways, but on top of it they are playing Illinois.  While other people might look at Notre Dame or IU as our football rivals this is probably the biggest game that I circle every year.  I am literally the only person in my immediate family that didn't got to U of I.  Both of my parents went there, my younger brother went there, and it was pretty much assumed that I would have gone there too.  I have become the Black and Gold sheep of my family.  

Hopefully it is a good game.  I personally feel that they are the better team in every aspect of football, but funny things happen in football, and maybe this is one of those weeks that the ball bounces favorably for the Boilers.

Do you have a particular scary movie?  Please let me know.  I am always looking for new fun ones to watch.  Send us your recommendations and let us know where it would fall on the ranking system that I provided above.  Hope everyone has a good weekend!  Boiler Up!

October 18, 2011

Brand Profile: Frocketees

I recently came across this company of patriot t-shirts, likely rocked by southern fraternity/college guys, but still fun. My favorite is the below:
They also offer an assortment of matching coozies and croakies. Check out what they had to say about how they got started below:

When did you first decide to start your company?
Last summer we saw an opportunity to create simple tee shirts and accessories with a focus on traditional, patriotic designs. It's amazing how difficult it is to find a good, casual tee shirt at a decent price.
What is your inspiration?
Our philosophy since day one has been to design shirts that we would wear ourselves.  We like pocket tees and patriotism, so that's what inspires our design.

Where did you first develop your style?
We grew fond of pocket tee shirts back in college. Our fraternity created tee shirts for every event and they were always pocket tees.

What do you hope your products will convey about yourself and your style?
We hope to inspire traditional American values and patriotism.

What has been the hardest thing about starting your own business?
With Frocketees.com the most difficult thing has been inventory management and production. It's a complicated area and it takes a while to develop good processes. While Frocketees.com is a new business, our parent company, Grandex LLC (http://grandex.co), had many of the other important business processes in place. This definitely made things easier from a start-up stand point.

What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
In addition to new tee shirt and koozie designs, we plan to add a selection of croakies for your sunglasses. 
Is there anything else you'd like mentioned?
Use coupon code PREP an receive 15% off your entire order at Frocketees.com

You can check them out at:
Twitter: @frocketees

October 17, 2011

Weekend Recap - FALL!

It is most definitely fall, as evident by the sharp decrease in temperatures over the weekend. Saturday was the first annual Junior League of Kane & Dupage Counties Readers on the Run. The race was held in Batavia, IL and ran along the river.
I was volunteering and was supposed to be running interference with any Press that showed up, being the PR Chair and all. As such, we had to be there at 6am, which required me leaving my apartment at 5am, which means I got up at 4am... yup...4am...
After setting up lots of tables and assisting in organizing, the 8:05am start quickly approached and I was a last minute back up for the 1 mile marker:
And darn it, I cheered my little heart out for all the runners!
We had 90 runners register and 30 kids. With it being so cold, I think maybe only 50 people showed up, but I think that's pretty good for a first year! And all proceeds went towards books for Smart Steps & Mooseheart. We also collected at least 2 laundry baskets overflowing with books!
BF ran and is sporting his AWESOME Knockaround sunglasses! (PS, thank you for all your support, you'll be getting more pictures soon!).
The goodie bags had amazing deals from tons of local sponsors, that well overvalued the cost of the entry, a rare thing with 5K's these days, at least those that I've experienced.
We had at least 30 volunteers outside of the Junior League show up, most of whom are wonderful students from NIU. We've been working with NIU on a special project revamping our website: www.jlkd.org.
These are the awesome kids who are working our website! They videoed all day to get some great PR footage.
After the run, BF made his way back into the city to catch the Purdue game (we won't even begin to start going into that depressing thing). I cleaned up at home before coming in to hang out with E.S.
We explored the Lincoln Park Zoo, boutiques around Lincoln, and worked up a bit of an appetite.
We stopped at the MeatLoaf Bakery:
BF had told me about this place before, but I haven't had a chance to go visit until yesterday. The basic synopsis is that they're meatloaves shaped like cupcakes and have mashed potatoes as icing!
They had these little baby ones that only cost $5 for 3, so E.S. and I split them so we could taste them.
Afterward we stopped by Molly's because got to thinking about cupcakes:
E.S. on the swings with our cupcakes.
Today we woke up to a raining morning, and grabbed a bite to eat at one of our fave restaurants, Wishbone. I headed out to the burbs, in the hopes of meeting some dude off craigslist to get my couch... no such luck. I'm DESPERATE now, as my furniture is getting delivered on Thursday.
BF & I made a stop at Kmart to purchase stuff for our Halloween costumes before heading to his parents for his dad's birthday dinner; he made incredible homemade pizza!
BF & I stopped at Mollys (I know... twice in the same weekend, don't judge) and got cupcakes for the celebration:

Overall it was a fabulous weekend, with the exception of not yet getting rid of my couch. I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather!

October 14, 2011

Fall Recipes! Version 5

Fifth installment of Fall recipes I want to try.

Cheesecake-Stuffed Peaches

  • 6 peaches, halves and pitted
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. cinnamon-sugar*
  • 1/2 an 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. Trim a very thin slice from the round side of each peach half so halves stand flat on the baking pan. Dip peach halves in melted butter to coat. Arrange peach halves, cut sides up, in prepared pan. Sprinkle cut sides of peaches with cinnamon-sugar; set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Beat until combined. Spoon cream cheese mixture into peach centers.
3. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until lightly browned and softened. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do you have any recipes I should try? PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

October 12, 2011

Wednesday BF Corner - Entry 1

Hello readers of Prep in the Midwest!  The GF has been brave enough to give me a limited run with you guys to share the man’s point of view. Welcome to the BF corner.  Here we will cover all the essentials for the Post Frat Star Midwest Man. 
Can you guys feel it?  Do you smell it?  There is a light crispness in the air and it smells of dried leaves.
It is October, my favorite month of the year.  Football is in full swing. I can officially stop being pissed about the Cubs. Blackhawks start up soon. Soup and chili instantly becomes more tasty, and scary movies are going to be on TV all the time now.
I wish October 32 days in it. 
What the BF is listening to – Pumped Up Kicks (Foster the People) 
This song has been in my head for a little while now.  The beat is steady, repetitive, poppy, and eerie all at the same time.  First, you get sucked in with a little bit of a head nod to the beat, the chorus pops in.  By the time you realize that you are listening to a song about a guy going on a shooting spree you are too hooked to care.  Currently it has fallen under some controversy due to the belief that it is about a school shooting. 
Who is the person in this song shooting?  Marley shot the sheriff, while Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.  End of the day, I don’t care because it is a good song.
What the BF is watching – Sons of Anarchy (FX Tuesdays 9:00pm CDT)
I get hooked on TV shows VERY easily.  This one snuck on me out of nowhere.  It was a Netflix suggestion from my guy DJ.  I destroyed all 3 seasons in less than a week and am now up to date with season 4.  The basic plot follows an outlaw biker gang SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original).  Each season has had its own unique major conflicts, but it provides a look into the biker gang life.  Think Sopranos with Harleys and Kuttes.  This season is shaping up to be a solid one.  The guest stars so far have included Tom Arnold as a sleezy porn producer, Danny Trejo as a drug cartel leader, and DAVID HASSELHOFF
in a role that should make everyone smile.  If this description gives leaves you wondering why the GF would also watch a show like this, don’t worry because she doesn’t.  This is 100% a man show.
GAME OF THE WEEK! – Blackhawks vs Bruins (10/15/11 7:30pm)
Wait! Don’t go away! I know football is on and I love it.  Sadly, I am slightly pissed off at my teams though.  Purdue can’t figure out how to block or tackle anyone.  Also, I fear that tuning into the Bears will make me eligible to be pulled into court as a witness for the murder of Jay Cutler.  It is just a matter of time until we find a note in Jay’s locker saying that if we find him dead Mike Martz did it.  The line can’t block anyone and Martz decides to run 7 step drops with an empty backfield.  Hockey is the palette cleanser I need right now.
If you do not watch hockey you need to start.  Go to a game and tell me it isn’t awesome.  Imagine the flow of and speed of basketball, the collisions of football, the skill of soccer, and FIGHTING! The atmosphere at a game is unreal.
While I am excited for the Blackhawks to be hosting the Jets (formerly the Atlanta Thrashers) this Thursday, Saturday the defenders of Lord Stanley’s cup roll into the Windy City.  Both teams are Original Six franchises and have always resulted in a very good game when they play.
Alright, that probably should do it for now.  Hopefully I haven’t scared any of you guys away.

October 11, 2011

Brand Profile: Otter Bay Company

I recently came across a company originally found in my home state of Georgia! The Otter Bay Company was founded on the basis of trying to create the perfect polo.
 Their main polo is the Keystone is a cotton, micropique, & spandex blend similar to the athletic feel of a Lacoste, but with more breathing capabilities and more structure to provide a perfect mix of athleticism and formality. Perfect for tailgating and work! The best part is... it's so REASONABLE! $60!
They have an AWESOME v-neck for the ladies that has some wonderful colors for all season.. I personally love the orange! $35

The brand is based around their symbol, the Otter.
The Otter Bay Company believe the sea otter symbolizes a lifestyle of relaxation and enjoyment, but at the same time symbolizes an efficient hard worker. With over one million hairs per square inch the sea otter has the finest fur of all the mammals in the animal kingdom. The otter is presented in a relaxing pose, laying on his back, floating on the water. The otter is not smiling but instead gives off an experienced, more serious look. He is a formidable member of society; one to be respected, and admired. His presence has a certain charisma that brightens and adds class to every situation.

I recently was greatly honored to interview the CEO and Founder of The Otter Bay Company to learn a little more of what he felt going through the development of the company, his brand, and where he sees it going in the future.
When did you first decide to start your company and what is your inspiration?
Most people think the reason I started The Otter Bay Company was simply because of an epiphany I had one day about the polo shirt while sitting in my college dorm (Room 763, 7D Hall in Creswell at the University of Georgia). My realization was that the polo shirt was incomplete, and lacked in several aspects ranging from the fit to the feel, and shortly thereafter I set out to make it better. While this is all true, there is more to my story than meets the eye.

I come from a working class family. My parents are both very hard workers and as such they are able to instill the value of a good work ethic in me. Their senses of hard work and dedication would set the stage for all my future successes.

I carried my work ethic through grade school. For most of my friends, school kept them plenty busy, but not me. My first business came along by chance. I've always had a love for computers and technology. During middle school I decided that it would be cool if I could create my own websites, and so I taught myself HTML. By the time high school came around I had become fairly good at designing web sites and so when I overheard a few parents discussing their need for a site I volunteered. After that word of my web skills spread quickly and soon I had myself a business, KEPAT Design LLC (kepatdesign.com).

My great passion in school was running and as I dedicated more and more time to the sport I became very good, winning over twenty-two cross country and track championships. There was one season in which I was favored to win the state championship, but late in the year I fell victim to the perfect storm of impact running injuries, nine of them compounded in one leg. I tried to run but the pain was too great, and I was forced to stop. I was very disappointed, but instead of sitting around and waiting for next season I joined the swim team mid-season. Since my injuries were all impact related I could swim with minimal pain and it kept me in shape. That season I set a swimming record and because of the fitness I gained in the pool I won three state championships the next track season, setting school records in all of my events.

When I got to The University of Georgia I came in with a different attitude than most. My attitude was something along the lines of "If I graduate I have failed." Not to say that graduating from a tremendous University wouldn't be a great achievement, because it is, and one that I respect. I just felt that if I left school without having a business concept or a business in motion then I wasted my time and my parents hard-earned money.

So, when the day came that I realized the knit shirt that I grew up loving had flaws, and many of them, I was fully prepared to devote my time to the notion of innovating the industry, and that's just what I did. The next nine months, while maintaining a 3.4 GPA at UGA, I devoted my 8 to 5 researching and working with overseas manufacturers. And we're not talking the good 8 to 5, we're talking 8PM to 5AM because that's when they were awake.

Where did you first develop your style?
While many people in the fashion industry consider themselves stylists and designers, I am not one of them. I consider myself more of an architect and an innovator. My 'style' is versatile and I developed it early on. Growing up I was the kid who could be taking class pictures one moment and playing tackle football with friends the next. I destroyed clothes on a weekly basis through my active and adventurous nature. As a young boy I had a few "go-to" shirts that I loved and that usually were worn for several days at a time without a wash. I remember the exact moments that most of those shirts met their untimely ends and it was always a very sad day. It is because of those moments that, above all, I make sure the clothes we construct are versatile and can be used for all different occasions, whether it's backyard football with the family or having a business lunch.

What do you hope your products will convey about yourself and your style?
Innovation. You will never see us release clothing for the sake of putting our label on it to make a buck. We look at every aspect, every inch of our products and construct them based on our four cornerstones: versatility, craftsmanship, elegance, and comfort. The reason we're in business is because there are better ways to build clothes and we find them. Our Keystone Polo, for example, features our trademarked 'Soft-Stretch Micropique' fabric which is the perfect blend of micropique cotton and spandex. The inside of the shirt is brushed to make it even softer and to eliminate the need for an undershirt. We added a safety stitch to the tail to prevent tearing, an extra button in the wash tag, and a rigid collar among other things.

What has been the hardest thing about starting your own business?
Rejection. After I finally had a finished product, The Keystone Polo, I took it to countless stores throughout the Southeast where I was rejected time after time. It was tough. I had devoted the better part of over nine months to this product so to hear people tell me it wasn't anything special was really hard, and weighed on me. I'll never forget the felling the day I walked into The Sir Shop in Statesboro, Ga, after being rejected over thirty times and finally had someone, Keith Boyett, see my shirt the way I did, and take a chance on my unknown company, Otter Bay.

Rejection can really weigh on you and make you second guess everything. Some people succumb to it. In fact, many strong individuals, stronger than I, succumb to it's weight. It's easy to give up. The ones who have success are the individuals who can continue to push themselves forward against all the "no's" and against all odds. They win in the end. You never know how much pushing it's going to take and you can't account for that, but what you can do is keep pushing, and eventually you'll break through.

What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
The Otter Bay Company is releasing our fall Collection this month featuring our redesigned Keystone Polo II, re-mastered gameday shirts, and new women's v-necks. While we are not officially releasing our Spring 2012 plans, be on the lookout for some new tees and rumor has it a button-up shirt is on the horizon.

Other products we've explored are shorts, swimwear, dresses, v-neck tees, scoop neck shirts, hybrid polos, and more. We're always getting new samples in, and constantly perfecting our products. We've ordered hundreds of samples of all kinds of designs that we think might be cool. However, we will not release a product until we absolutely love it. There is always a lot in the works here and we are excited to release some very cool and very innovative designs over the next couple of seasons.

Is there anything else you'd like mentioned?
We listen.
We are releasing our brand new Keystone Polo II this month based on improvements that our patrons suggested. Our ears are always open and we thrive off customer feedback. If we make a mistake and you let us know then we give you free stuff.

We interact.
We love getting to know our market and interacting with them. We connect to our customers through social media, through trunk shows, fashion shows, speaking engagements, product giveaways, scholarships and more. I try to be as hands on as possible and frequently respond to customer comments and concerns myself. At the end of this month we are releasing a brand new revolutionary website with all kinds of new features that is based around interactivity.

We give.
We have given dozens of polos to charity organizations. We sponsor volleyball tournaments, charity events, fashion shows, road races and more. I personally created a scholarship program to reward aspiring, young entrepreneurs, The Joan R. Pattiz Award. Our company offers a unique internship program that allows college students from all over the country to work with many of our top executives and learn through shared experience.

A big THANK YOU to Will for his time and insight into his company. I can't wait to see what they come out with next!

As always, if you know of thing you'd like to see, a brand you'd like interviewed, a trend you'd like confirmed, let me know!