A Toasty Playlist indeed.

3 Oct

Fall has set in here in Wisconsin.

What a magical, wonderful place we live. The colors in the trees are changing daily – popping with vibrancy and vigor. Bright red, yellow and orange reminding us how brilliant and magnificent God is. How wondrous that man nor woman had absolutely nada, nothing, zip to do with this changing of the seasons. The temperature slides down to where there is just a whisper of summer left caught in the breeze (if you’re paying attention) and heated seats come on in the car.

This is when I start thinking of beef stroganoff (ROF has awesome recipe) and sipping Cabernet 🍷 by the fire. Or slow cooker wild rice soup 🍲 or make this, this or even ROF has a special martini recipe!

I want to be snuggled in a chunky, rolled neck sweater, black tights and kicky boots 👢. I’m so thankful for the hilly Wisconsin roads leading me past apple cider farms, corn mazes and Supper clubs with the waft of Friday Night fish fry in the crisp air.

So here is a wonderful, wonderful playlist. But this is what you must be doing whilst listening. You have to be in a toasty fall mood. You must be chill with yourself, loved one or friends. This is background music to listen to by the fire and maybe sipping a brandy old-fashioned. Go ahead, listen. It’s awesome for this season upon us 🍂!

Click here

3 Tips on How to Talk to People You Don’t Know

27 Sep

One thing I’ve been blessed with is an absolutely fantastic career.  

One big part of this career over the past 26 years has been having meaningful conversations with clients, potential clients and other people I don’t know very well.  I’m sure there are a lot of people who can say the same thing.

I thought that it might be helpful to jot down some observations + tips for those people who maybe don’t have the opportunity to do this as often as i do.  If there is one thing i hate more than people who walk too close behind me it’s small talk.  Otherwise known as chit-chat. Life is just too damn short for it.

1. BE GENUINELY INTERESTED.  This sounds like a no-brainer, but for me it takes work. Seriously.  I have the attention span of a gnat – just like my dad did.  So it’s a conscious effort for me to pay attention let alone be genuinely interested. What kind of work does it take to be genuinely interested?  For me, I always want to know the background.  So when I’m meeting a car dealer for the first time (my clients)  I really want to hear a story – their story. How did they get to where they are today?  I’m usually hooked right there.  So whether you’re at a casual party talking to the stranger next to you or at a baby shower, wedding, new job – dig deeper.

interested

2. ASK A TON OF QUESTIONS. This is the most important one right here.  When talking to people you don’t know, never make it about you. Get other people talking.  I ask so many questions that it is downright crazy.  But turning the focus off you and on to them is what can make you enchanting + memorable.  I’ve wondered before if this just makes me controlling – because I tend to avoid uncomfortable silences and want to jump right in with the questions.  Who cares is my conclusion on that.  Plus, if you think you’re uncomfortable talking to people – I bet they are too.  So take the pressure off for both of you.

My mom is super good at both #1 and #2.  She genuinely cares and she DOESN’T TALK ABOUT HERSELF – she wants to hear from you.

When you are conscious of this, you really pay attention when having a casual conversation of who is doing the majority of the talking.  I fill you in, you fill me in… blah blah blah.  But when you don’t know someone, it is a lot less intimidating to get them talking.  With luck, you’ll meet someone who reciprocates and starts asking you questions back.  Who knows? It may be the start of a great friendship.

Have some questions at the ready -in your hip pocket – to whip out at any time.  I actually have a “go to” question that i’m not going to share.  It’s one I ask just about anyone. ROF knows what it is.  It’s something I genuinely want to know and it gets them talking.  

20140319-020850.jpg

3. BE REAL. BE VULNERABLE.  Just relax. People are all people.  If you’re feeling nervous, then chances are – they are too.  Unless you’re claire underwood.  But, people really like it when you’re yourself.  isn’t it a relief when the person next to you at the baby shower, helps themselves to some tasty shrimp cocktail and a big fat glob of sauce hits their white shirt or worse?  If that happens to me, I’d laugh it off and make some crack about splattering some on the rest of the shirt, to even it out.  I’ve just given other people permission to be themselves.

a332c4f479d88b6f39982b07ecde61b9

 

I hope this helps even just a little bit.  Would love to hear any other advice you might have.

Here comes Fall! Recipes + Tunes

23 Sep

Today is the first day of fall – my favorite season. And no, not because of pumpkin spiced anything (have advertisers gone nuts with that obsession or what?) I actually love maple flavor better than pumpkin. There is nothing like the crisp snap of the air here in Wisconsin, the fired-up feeling on Saturdays when the Badgers play at home and the leaves begin changing at their own free will.

More than anything, I wish I was up north. If it were up to me, I’d be up there from October 1 straight-time until December. I just can’t take the drives up there for granted. To me, they are awe-inspiring! The turkeys scavenging for who-knows-what along side the road, the crops getting ready to be harvested and the big moon highlighting it all. But we’re starting to renovate the cabin up north so we’re going to be MIA up there for a little while.

Here are two recipes I’m going to be trying this weekend and what we’ll be listening to while making them.

I think you’ll like this playlist, it’s what you want to be listening to as the temps drop, sweaters come out again and you can smell the waft of the casserole coming from the oven. Maybe play some cards too. ROF is beating me by a couple of hundred points right now which is downright depressing but I keep going back for more torture.

Why don’t you join me in making these recipes? We’ll all post our pics on FB or IG and we’ll give ourselves ratings on what we thought. OMG fun times ahead…

photo courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

(#1) BROCCOLI CHEDDAR CHICKEN + RICE CASSEROLE

I love this food blogger and excited for her new cookbook to come out! Half Baked Harvest is Tieghan Gerard and her blog and IG is awesome. I’m going to try this recipe this weekend because it combines 4 things I love the most: broccoli, cheese, rice and it’s a casserole. Not that I don’t love chicken but I am just indifferent towards it (sorry, chicken.) Casseroles are the best – we just had a delicious one at my Aunt Sally’s house in Long Beach, California. After I make this I’m going on a diet.

(#2) MORNING GLORY MUFFINS

So, now that I’m on this diet, I’m going to have one of these for breakfast. But will probably slather butter all over it. There I go predicting my behavior again! I’m actually not familiar with this blogger yet but stumbled upon this recipe and thought I’d try it. Does this float your boat? I like the whole hodge-podge mess of ingredients in here. Let’s give it a roll this weekend.

fall muffins
Here is my playlist. It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. And I do.

ENJOY!

Be Encouraged

15 Sep

My Favorite Things

12 Sep

It’s 3am and I can’t sleep. I was mistakenly awoken by ROF thinking Ruby was whining outside our bedroom door. She wasn’t. We left her snoring on the couch downstairs after we watched a Homeland episode and promptly fell asleep afterwards. She is still snoring away in a very unladylike fashion down there. She sounds like an 85 year old man.

I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what I’m loving right now. If I’m loving it, you might too. But I’m weird- so watch out!

Before we jump in, I have to say something. I’m absolutely loving my life right now. And not because I finally got the outer wrapper off my piece of sharp cheddar cheese in the dark. And certainly not in a Pollyanna-ish isn’t-life-grand type of way. And not even in a “ I’m grateful for everything” kind of way. But life is real good.

I think many times, if we don’t have control of our thoughts, they can run around unsupervised in our heads and play tricks on us. Make us focus on what we don’t have, how we don’t measure up, how behind we are in life. And it is all BS. We are where we are supposed to be – good or bad.

I’m also not ashamed or embarrassed about saying how much life is good for me right now. Because if there is one thing i know, it will change. It always does, right? And I know that so it’s ok. So I’ll proudly declare …life is real good.

Ok, let’s get to it. Enough talking. Here’s what I’m loving …

I can not get enough of these recipes! I’m full-on going to start making her fall dishes. She also has a cookbook with another coming out soon! Check it out on Amazon.

The only podcast I’m listening to in my car is this one. It is life-changing. If you are into Byron Katie and The Work or just want to learn how to think better thoughts to feel better feelings to do awesome things – start at episode #1. But #2, I actually printed out the transcript and took notes all over it. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS FREE!!

My nephew’s fantastic wife introduced me to this group and I’m loving them! Can’t wait to tell her they’re actually playing in Madison soon. The song 6’s to 9’s is favorite and when I start to get drowsy driving -which happens quite a lot- I play it super loud and lip sync into my thumb. It wakes me up.

We’re doing some travel over the next few months that I’m excited about now. I just booked our anniversary dinner here. Let me know if you’ve been here and if you have any other recommendations. I’m super pumped to be headed to Atlanta for Thanksgiving to be with family. If I can, I’m going to sneak in a peak at the HQ of this store that I love love ❤️ love.

This year, we were able to cross something off my bucket list and it is thrilling to me. We bought a little red cabin in the middle of a national forest 🌳 on a lake in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. For those of you who know, then you know … why it was on my bucket list. I can’t even describe. ROF and I are having a ball and we’ve just started our first renovation project with it. You can follow along IG @littleredcabinupnorth. Feel free to watch us NOT knowing what we are doing. But I’ve reached out to some of these unbelievably creative “up north” IG accounts here, here and here.

Lastly, I just learned how to play this. Addictive!!

Perfection Robs You of Joy

5 Sep

Striving for perfection has always been seen as an admirable goal. Whether it’s getting into the right schools, cleaning your house just right or toning your body, perfection is what we want. Or is it?

e6eed9fecc6000b450927a33803d5144

Here are four reasons not to strive for perfection:

1. When we are hyper-focused on perfection, there is a chance we may miss the things that would give us joy.

In her 2012 article in Harvard Magazine titled “Effortless Perfection”, Isabel Ruane wrote: “Last winter, I had wondered how I could ever reconcile my guilt at having relaxed my work ethic with my certainty that doing so had allowed me to grow in other ways. I had worried about where my duty lay: to Harvard, for offering me an education and paying a great share of its cost; to my parents, for raising me, guiding me, and making sacrifices for me; or to myself, maybe more in need of reflection and friendship than a spotless transcript. Now I realize I was worrying about the wrong “duty.” My duty to the world isn’t to be perfect. It is to take care of myself as best I can so I can give back to the world the love and care it has given to me. If slacking off was what I needed to make myself happy and available to help others, then this decision reflected no disrespect for my parents, for Harvard, or for my own work ethic.”

2. Perfection is subjective and abstract.

There is nothing wrong with having personal goals and wanting to achieve them. I try to achieve my personal best every day. With my career, my personal life – everything. Having goals is what guides my day-to-day living. On Sunday, I write out goals for the week and if I achieve them- to me that is rewarding. But this is MY personal best with which I connect with perfection, not yours. It becomes judgement when we start projecting our “strive for perfection” on others.

46742869c6cb54721771d4128cf3b299

Perfection is subjective because with social media and just media in general, everyone can photograph and video their best foot forward – always.

Some blogs that i follow, you’d think they only live a life of crisply curated + snapped recipes and coiffed living rooms. They can build the perfect career and host the perfect dinner party – not a boring dinner party but a bollywood-themed movie night complete with belly dancers. To me, the takeaway is that they are PERFECT. and that un-truth can bring someone down. Ok, sometimes i’ve been brought down by it. Ok, sometimes I may contribute to it. <sigh>

So good for danielle guenther who photographed brilliantly the not-so-glamourous life of parents. she says “capture the moment, because in the end, all we have are the memories.”

7356173_orig
1362499_orig

3. Perfection is Unattainable.

You’ll never get there – ever. As a Christian, we believe that only Christ is perfect. Why oh why can’t i remember that?

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” Michael J. Fox

4. If you strive for only perfection, you may fly by the lessons that failure teaches us.

“Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.” ― Leonard Cohen

c40db15fefe695cda71cb70fb208f83e

World’s Best Margarita Recipe

30 Aug

Look no further. The best margarita recipe is here. Once you make this, you’ll never, ever use a mix again. These, hands down are the best drinks to usher out the summer.

if you want a plain, delicious margarita recipe, see this. But if you want to shake things up a little bit (that’s cocktail humor) then read on…

Jalapeño Margarita

My boy, ROF, is the best drink maker, I guess you’d call that a bartender. You can watch all his drink videos here.

Here is his video and the recipe follows. This is from a couple of years ago when we lived in Dallas. So it is Dallas approved!

ONE BATCH FOR FOUR:

6 Limes – juice them. Have more for garnish

1 cup Jalapeno simple syrup – recipe follows

1 cup Cointreau liquor – orange-flavored liqueur

1 cup Herradura tequila – or any tequila

Pour all into a large pitcher and stir. Pour into four glasses filled with ice and garnished with a lime.

Jalapeno Simple Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers (washed and stemmed)

Make it:

  • Add the sugar and water to a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved
  • Slice jalapeños lengthwise and add to the pan
  • Bring to a boil, stirring frequently
  • Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and simmer for three minutes
  • Remove from heat and let it steep for 20 minutes
  • Strain to remove all of the pepper

Enjoy! Let me know if you make these! Happy Labor Day!

16 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR SIG OTHER

27 Aug

READ IF YOU WANT TO CONNECT MORE WITH YOUR LOVE-ER.

I read in a very good book once that the most important decision you make in a lifetime is who you choose to be your spouse. They don’t teach you that in school.

Think about it.

You could be very far away from that decision right now. It doesn’t make it less important. Your focus might now be on yourself, your kids or your career. But your kids know about love and how to treat a spouse from…you. It’s not like you sat them down and taught them like maybe you did with the birds + the bees but they notice just the same.

Couples activity

It was important for me to find the right spouse before I had kids. And I’m not telling you that because – la-dee-da I found a great spouse – (which I did) but because I sacrificed having kids for the great spouse. Which I am 110% ok with how that worked out. For me, finding the right person took a while.

I tell you all this because ROF and I have a blast together. We really do. What I want for you is to have some ideas to connect, re-connect or just keep being you – together. Please let me know if you guys try any of these. In fact, snap them and tag #joyseekerscollective

DINE AROUND YOUR HOMETOWN

Each of you picks a different place for an appetizer, dinner, and dessert. It’s more fun if you can walk to these places. At the end do a “review” of best service, presentation, taste, etc…

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Take turns picking a cooking, art, exercise, financial planning, mixologist, bird watching or anything type of class. This gives you something to talk about and creates memories.

TOP 100 MOVIES OF ALL TIME

ROF and I did this a while ago and didn’t finish. That’s a lot of movies. Quite honestly, I couldn’t get past the stupid Charlie Chaplin movies (!) But we worked our way up from the bottom of this list in order. It was fun watching some movies we would have never seen otherwise. Like Network or The Deer Hunter. Our nephew joined us for a summer and he loved joining in too. I even kept a book on what we thought of the movie.

watching a movie

PLAY CARDS

Seriously, how do couples get along without playing a regular game of gin rummy with each other? I don’t even know. ROF and I call this (jokingly) our “couples activity.” We have played an annual game of gin for the past 8-9 years in a row. From July 23 – July 23rd every year. AND YES ROF HAS WON EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR. We keep a book of our on-going score and jot a couple of notes next to the date on what we’re doing. We have played cards all around the world! Paris, NYC, Napa, Dallas, Toronto, Hawaii (we were asked to stop playing in the Maui airport because it was considered gambling!) ROF and I have a certain way of lovingly talking smack to each other while we play and we have some good laughs. When we want to play a quick series of 3 hands, we call that a “Q3” and we’ll do a “Q3” anywhere – anytime!

VOLUNTEER

COOK AT HOME TOGETHER

We use PLATED to easily cook meals together. We have fun doing it too. ROF is in charge of chopping (he’s very good at it…especially onions) and the meat and I’m in charge of the sauces and toasting things. I’m very good at putting things in the oven…haha. We’ve cooked over 226 Plated meals! We have our favorites but we especially like learning new techniques.

ROAD TRIP

Just get in the car and drive. And talk. Make a plan to visit an area or just throw caution to the wind.

DAY DRINK + ERRANDS

I don’t recommend this if you don’t drink. And this for sure shouldn’t be an every-weekend-kind of activity. But we did this once and still laugh about it.

ROF has his list of errands that he does on Saturday mornings if he is home. You know, dry cleaning, post office, taxidermy pick-up – regular errands. Sometimes I join along for company and we might stop for lunch.

On this one particular day, we decided since it was a beautiful, crisp, fall afternoon and there was a Wisconsin football game on, we decided to have Mexican food and a margarita or two. Then finish our errands.

fun.

HOLD HANDS (ONLY IF YOU TYPICALLY DON’T)

INTERVIEW EACH OTHER

I actually don’t know anyone that would literally do this but I’ll add a twist. On our second date, ROF and I did a volunteer project with his office in Dallas at a camp. It was a drive out there so he asked me to bring three questions on notecards and he would do the same. I still remember 2/3 questions he asked. One that we talked about for a while was: “What is the biggest lie you’ve told”

GET SCARED
PLAY MONOPOLY

SHOPPING CONTEST

Go to a garage sale, flea market or farmers market and choose an amount of money – like $5 and have a contest who can get the best value/deal/item for that amount. It’s obviously very subjective, which is what makes it so much fun.

Of course, I play this game with myself every day with more money and I always win and get in trouble for shopping too much.

IMPROMPTU PARTY

Ina Garten, one of my faves, wrote in one of her cookbooks that even when she and Jeffery didn’t have any money and were both in school she still had dinner parties. No one cares as much as you do that the placemats and napkins don’t match and everyone has different drinking glasses – they are just happy to be there and be served.

So the two of you just decide to have a Sunday dinner, Saturday brunch, Friday happy hour or weekday leftover party and invite people over last minute. Those are mostly the most fun parties to have.

WEBSITE GIFT-OFF

See shopping contest, but do it on-line. Send each other a secret gift for agreed upon price.

HOW MANY GRAPES?

I am super grasping at ideas now. But it is very telling how many grapes your sig other can fit in their mouth. Here is the chart:

10-15 grapes: This person is very intelligent. Especially if they can figure out how to eat all those grapes without taking them out of their mouth.

5-9 grapes: This person likes the finer things in life. They are also most likely to burp after removing the grapes even if they didn’t drink or eat anything.

1-4 grapes: This person needs help. They are most likely lying that they can’t get just one more grape in. Don’t trust this person or let them order on their own in a restaurant.

The Basis for Joy

26 Aug

If you’ve ever worked for me, you know there is something I say all. the. time.

START FROM THE BEGINNING

In a business situation, I think about this when I’m giving my boss or a client an update. You can’t assume their head is where your head is at the moment so don’t just jump right into a conversation. Pause and start from the beginning – or tell a story – one that has a start, middle and end. Or in business, a problem, a solution and a result.

On a personal level, I’m going to start from the beginning with you. Right now. This is how I grew up with a heart for joy.

When I was in junior high, we lived in a suburb of Flint, Michigan. My dad worked for Buick Motor Division, so it made sense for us to be there. It was a nice suburb where I was given many privileges. The ability to play outside for hours with friends, take dance and tennis lessons, roller skate to Diana Ross and swim in our neighbors pool.

During this time, we had a black lab named Maggie. We trained her to do her business down “at the dirt.” We had a huge backyard complete with a walking path through the trees and a little stream with a bridge. My parents didn’t want Maggie to ruin the yard so we used to walk with her off leash through the backyard to a wide open space with… dirt. That is where she did her biz.

Maggie, being a young lab, never did anything quickly so sometimes you were out there at night for quite a while. This time is what I remember being very pivotal for me and how I found true joy that would become a part of me forever.

At 12 or so years old, I would (very vocally begrudgingly) take Maggie out to the dirt at night before bed. I’d have much rather been watching MTV. But I would slip on some flip flops and whistle for Maggie who would run with me through the yard. We were careful to make sure the sprinklers weren’t on having learned that the hard way.

I’d stand out at the dirt and be overwhelmed by the star studded sky. I felt so small in comparison. I used to raise my 12 year old hands over my head, close my eyes and think to myself “I can go as high as that.”

How my young soul knew to think that and think it with conviction and with my whole body, I don’t know. Actually, I may have an idea but we’ll talk about that later.

I CAN GO AS HIGH AS THAT.

This has been in my head and as part of me for as long as I can remember. It is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it formed a GROWTH mindset in me. I can do what I put my mind to and I was meant for big things. A curse because I’m never satisfied that I’ve reached “high enough” yet.

I share this experience with you because there are lessons we can pull from if you didn’t have a similar belief or experience growing up. Here are 3 things to consider:

  • Confident hope stated as truth breeds true everlasting joy
  • Having a grandiose goal that you reinforce daily points your brain 🧠 in right direction
  • You have to believe this yourself – it can be reinforced by others (parents) but it has to come from you

So what do you do with this information and how could it help you now?

  1. Where do you want to go? Even if it is as vague as “up.” I told myself over and over that I was going somewhere.
  2. What do you know to be true about yourself? You work harder than everyone else, you’re driven by honesty and integrity, you are passionate and driven towards … what?
  3. Put together your own mantra of sorts that is short and focused on where you want to go. It can be grand and open or very focused. confident hope. Here are some examples:

I got this

I can finish with honors

I can go as far as I want

I’ll make x next year

I can go as high as the sky

Let’s go back to the beginning. This is where joy started for me. This confident goal to myself. And I’m doing it. One of the most special comments ever made to me was from a mentor and boss I had in the agency world. One of the most important people in my life as far as influencing me to be a good leader and manager. I had made some sugar scrub as a weekend project (hahaha) and brought some jars in for some of the guys wives. And he said to me: “Amy no matter what you do whether it is making sugar scrub or leading our social media department, I know you can do whatever you put your mind to extremely well.”

The last thing you can do is if you are reading this and you have kids- give them the tools they need to have this kind of set up in life. One that sets joy up as a base at an early age in their life.

Award-Winning Spaghetti (Non) Recipe

23 Aug

Happy Friday, y’all! First off, if you are used to following a recipe to a tee, you are going to have fun with this hearty pre-fall meal. There is no need for measurements here – make it your own!

Next, this is a great dish to throw in the freezer and the thaw and reheat. I have three huge jugs of it in my freezer right now.

I made this because I bought 7 tomatoes to make a recipe but didn’t end up making it. I didn’t want to waste them. This sauce kind of resembles chili and can probably be eaten as such but my mom prolly wouldn’t approve. This is her recipe and she makes it a lot. She informed me that spaghetti is her favorite meal and always has been. Trust me, she knows what she is doing.

HOW TO MAKE THIS A COUPLES ACTIVITY

  • Get all your ingredients together
  • Plug into this playlist
  • Split up responsibilities
  • Play cards
  • Kiss
  • Drink red wine while cooking

Gather:

  • 2 parts 80/20 beef
  • 1 part mild or spicy sausage
  • Carrots (Chop up)
  • Celery (chop)
  • Onion (chop)
  • Sweet peppers (chop)
  • Bunch of red ripe tomatoes (or buy canned, whatever)
  • Ton of spices (more on that later)
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 2 jars pasta sauce

Cook:

  • The beef and sausage in some oil, breaking it up into small pieces until no longer pink
  • in separate pan, cook the onions, peppers, celery carrots and garlic in a little bit of oil- cook until soft. Throw in some salt and pepper
  • Combine the veggies and meats and let them get to know each other in the pot. Pour in the sauces and soup. My mom made me rinse out the jar with a little water and pour that into the mix
  • If you are going to use fresh tomatoes like us, it’s a pain. Just kidding! First score the bottom of the tomatoes in a cross cross fashion with a knife. Barely pierce the skin. Throw them in boiling water for a little while – until you see skin start to scrinch up. Then remove and dunk in ice water. Then the skin should peak right off. Don’t wear white pants like mom did. Ha.
  • Now toss in lots of spices. Sage advice: you can always add more but can’t add less. Spice examples: tarragon, cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley – just smell and if you like toss it in
  • You can also toss in some red wine. Here is one I like that you can get at grocery store.

Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer. Simmer for a while – however long it takes to beat your husband in a couple hands of gin.

Taste, taste, taste and add more seasoning.

Pour over any kind of noodles and you’ve got yourself lots of sauce for lots of future meals! If you make this – tag me in your IG.

Lil tomato juice on her leg…

Why I Seek Joy.

22 Aug

Recently, I transformed this blog from The Appreciator to Joy Seekers Collection. And to be completely honest, I’m not sure where I’m going with it. That’s not completely honest. I kind of have a plan but if you are going to be a champion of seeking joy – you better be good at it.

Right?

And I’m not sure I am. But we’ll get back to that.

As you may or may not know, Joy is not the same as happiness. Joy comes from somewhere within you. Something external makes you happy. So don’t strive only to be happy all the time. Because if you do – you’re dependant on factors in which you can’t control. You can’t control the diagnosis of cancer, or the death of a loved one or a freak disaster. So if you are riddled with one of these issues or a million more – you’re not happy. You can be happy waking up, then the day just beats down on you and draws that happiness out of you.

But joy.

finding joy

Oh but joy comes from within. If you have joy in your life, you have a different outlook. A different mindset.

I’ll give you a personal example. I have a lot of them. There was a time in my life about 19 years ago to be exact when everything I knew crumbled around me. A lot of you have heard the story of my dad’s death but this has to do with when my dad divorced my mom. That was harder. Hard times seem to come in triples or more. This is what was going on with me at 30 years old:

  • My dad announced to our close-knit family that he was leaving my mom for another woman after 30+ years of marriage. This completely shocked us. My dad wasn’t like that!
  • The first ad agency I went to work for after college and where I built my career – lost the core piece of business and I had to help let go almost 15 people several of them, close friends. I had a job but clearly needed to look elsewhere
  • I fell through a glass table early in the morning (long story) and had to get stitches in my knee (owww!)

My whole world had crashed in on me. My family which was my mom, sister and brother were blown away by my dad’s announcement. And so hurt. My dad and I were really close and I couldn’t wait to marry someone just like him. Charismatic, a leader, funny and someone people respected. As he led my family around to 9 different cities and houses all we ever had was each other. This was so uncharacteristic. You can read the whole story here.

But this is about JOY.

I had no happiness at this time. I was beyond sad, let down and deflated. And what I’m going to say next is really not revolutionary. And maybe a little nutty. But it’s an example. I used to look at the trees outside my mom’s house and my apartment in Chicago and think about them. How long had they been there? How rooted they were in the ground. How God cares for them as He cares for me. And I started to think that I could get through this time as the trees had gotten through storms and drought and even new construction. I stared at these trees. I became grounded like these trees and it gave me hope. That I could get through this and one day, I’d be looking back on this situation. It made me wonder what part I could play in this drama in my life that could be positive.

That hope turned into joy as I discovered parts of me I never knew I had. Like forgiveness. Forgiveness is a form of joy because you are letting go of really negative feelings. Some of which may have existed inside you for a long time – keeping true joy at bay. Like hatred, betrayal and plain stupidity. When you forgive you look at life and a situation differently. Your focus moves from the person you’ve been hurt by to trying to understand the entire situation in a less personal way. When I did this I understood that my dad’s ego was bruised by retiring early. He lost his sense of identity and when a person in a leadership role loses his followers he is left with nothing. This is no excuse but my ability to try and understand this about his decision made me stop just being hurt by his stupid actions and take control of my feelings. He had screwed up, big time but I didn’t.

Amy Fulford, joy

OK. So that was really deep. If you’ve read this far.

I seek for joy to be the cornerstone of who I am. I’m not there yet but I have a pretty good perspective. This can be a goal of yours too – no matter what issues you have now (newsflash – you’ll ALWAYS have issues!) whatever your upbringing was or troubles you face.

With this Joy Seekers Collective, we’re going to go on this journey together in the coming weeks and months. Sign up now to come on board!

3 Ways to Point your Brain in the Right Direction

4 Aug

Study up on MINDSETS. Read or listen to this book by Carol Dweck. It will call you out right away if you have a fixed or growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities cannot change. These people work to prove their intelligence and talents versus working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success. It’s extremely limiting. You could also call this “this is just who I am” thinking. I personally can’t identify with this.

A growth mindset is when people have an underlying belief that their intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can get smarter (note: and not just from formal education), they realize that their effort has a profound effect on their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

I’m all about this. The book is captivating to me. It’s not so cut and dry. But I will tell you that my insane curiosity keeps me in the growth mindset and I’m so happy about it. I’ve surpassed all my career goals and guess what – I barely graduated high school. I squeaked by! I won’t bore you with the reasons why but “it was what it was.” If I had a fixed mindset, then that is the mentality that would have stayed with me for life. Barely getting by. But it wasn’t. I ended up working very hard, having goals to drive me, graduated college early with honors and getting hired by an ad agency in Chicago.

So… are you in a fixed mindset? You need to train your brain to think differently. Like right now. Time is a-wasting. How do you do this?

I don’t know. I haven’t read that far in the book yet. haha. So read it. But here are my thoughts…. take it or leave it.

1.USE YOUR MAGIC WAND. I can not take credit for this. I got this from Stephanie, my coach, who did this with us this week at our incredible Breakthrough Mastermind conference. I got a lot out of it. Answer this: You have a magic wand. It can change anything. What would you change/add to your life? Write it down, but write as if you already have it. This last part is what really did it for me. Seriously. Even just writing it and saying it out loud opens your brain to “wow, there are other options out there!” I’m going to make myself semi-vulnerable and read to you a bit of mine:

The way I handle stress is amazingly productive instead of harmful. I eat only one piece of chocolate a week and drink only one glass of wine.”

Thinking that and then writing it gave my brain the “whatsupwiththat” kind of vibes you’re looking for in this experiment. Do it every day. Train your brain to believe you already have what you want and you will naturally start to strive for it.

2. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE FREE. For reals, remember, and this may be hard for the fixed mindset types, but you are free.

  • Free to leave your job and find a better one
  • Free to tell yourself YOU DON’T DESERVE THIS
  • Free to dream bigger than you ever have before
  • Free to understand that you are not the situation you are in. You are you. Move. Now.

In order to understand that you’re free, you need to do things that make you feel free. Here is what will get you in the mood to think this way:

  • WATCH JERRY MCGUIRE
  • GO ON A ROLLER COASTER AND FLY THROUGH THE AIR
  • DO SOMETHING COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
  • MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU WANT ON ONE SIDE AND ONE THING YOU’RE GOING TO DO EVERY SINGLE DAY TO GET YOU CLOSER TO THAT GOAL

3. IT’S NOT WHERE YOU START, IT’S WHERE YOU FINISH. One thing I’ve learned as I near the big 5-0 years old is the older I get, the less I care what people think. I believe a lot of anxiety is caused by the misperception that people are judging you all the time. I hate to break it to you but people only care about themselves for the most part and aren’t judging you. Knowing that it’s not where you are, but where you’re going. No one knows your situation. No one knows your potential like you. Make some big goals for yourself, work tirelessly for those goals and get your brain pointed in the right direction.

brain

Follow Me – 9 people to watch, listen to or try to be

6 Mar

It’s no secret that I’m an insanely curious person. I don’t know how I got this way but one reason is that I refuse to be content. It’s a blessing and a curse.

As a marketer, it’s a blessing. I’m absolutely blown away at the pace marketing has evolved. It seemed the first 14 years of my career was spent just talking about what percentage of the tv budget would run what percentage rotation of a particular spot. I’m glad I started working with influencers about 12 years ago. Forget celebrities, now anyone with a POV can gain thousands of followers. Staying curious has helped me keep pace and relevant.

However, as a competitive person being curious can be a curse. It can stymie a girl’s creativeness if you try to keep pace with these crazy successful influencers!

Here are a few people I love to follow on IG or watch on YouTube:

FOOD

Nocrumbsleft – Teri Turner

theDefineddish – Alex Snodgrass

Juliaandchild – Julia Flowers

BEAUTY/HEALTH

Allana Davison

Wendy’s Lookbook

Sarah’s Day

LIFESTYLE

Damsel in Dior

Atelier Dore

The Everygirl

Stay Curious!

Stuff I Grabbed

1 Mar

I didn’t even clean these up for you, but I don’t think you care. Right?

I grabbed this from my favorite blogger, Jo. We’re not really on a first name basis. She doesn’t know I exist but that’s ok. This is the Proust Questionnaire. I have a fill in the blanks book with this. Fun to gather your friends and family’s answers.

Have you written your note yet? Ruby and I did. I just got an idea from this. I’m going to tell you about them every time I get one. It’s called “Be an Angel.” Connecting lonely people with people who need love and support. Like perhaps the elderly with the sick. Just to be pen pals or email pals. Ok… moving on…

I grabbed this from another favorite blogger. I love this whole look. The simple print, the textures of the pillows, the plant. Want to remember for future decorating decisions.

Did you get into this Netflix documentary? ROF and I did for sure. The one thing about documentaries is that they are one sided. You think you are getting the facts, and you might be, but only ONE SIDE of them.

I learned this in college when we watched Roger & Me in a class and discussed it. It was hard for me because I had lived in Flint and my dad worked at GM. So my dad came in my class of 120 students to give the other side of the story because he knew all the players including Michael Moore. I was SO PROUD! My dad was such a charismatic speaker. He was such a neat, fun person. I miss him so much my heart physically hurts.

Anyway, I still think Avery is innocent.

This needs no explanation. This is my life. Frozen. Yesterday for fun I knocked icicles off my garage with a baseball bat.

I grabbed this because it’s the cutest damn thing ever! One of my most favorite peoples in the whole world – Jackie Grubb Marshall – is a great yogi and her little girl joined in!! Xxoo makes my heart happy.

Has to grab this craziness because I LOVE SERENA!!! I want a sweatshirt that says that. I wish I could be friends with her and just glean a teensy bit of her badassedness.

I got to spend last week at Maui Prep in Hawaii. I loved this nugget of wisdom.

This makes me sad. I’m not going to on and on about it. I grabbed this as an idea for a small cabin we almost bought up north. It’s been a goal of mine for years to have a place up north. We had an offer on a great place and lost it. I know, wasn’t meant to be. Still sucked.

Duh!!

I want this perfume. All the hype!!

So I made some AMAZING and easy salmon from Plated this week. The seasoning was outstanding so I chatted to get what was in it. I love that they throw in “spices” just to keep ya guessing. Lol.

That’s it! Stay Curious!

What I’m Reading Right Now

24 Feb

1. ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear

I believe that it’s important to be aware of your habits so that you can introduce new ones – ones that instill a healthy mindset.

I’m very aware of certain habits I have that I want to change. They are hedonistic habits that I’ve had a long time. I can see these some of these habits in my parents and even to some extent my grandparents. It’s that “If it feels good – do it” attitude. If one glass of wine tastes good- three would be better. Or I’ll stuff myself on 3/4 of a steak vs only be satisfied with 1/2.

Full confession. Geez. Don’t judge.

This book is a life changer. Especially if you want to be more aware of your habits;

I bought this book on tape and have listened to more than half of it. Then I bought it because I want to highlight and make notes.

I’m such a 🤓. Buy it here.

2. Ladders Article

Ladders.com or on The Medium app is always good for a jolt of realistic advice. Read it here.

3. On the Blogs, I’m reading this:

Really want to make this.

Reading about her struggles with anxiety was very interesting because I would have never guessed she had any issues. I met this blogger a few years ago when I attended her photoshop class. I love this piece on her way to show self-love.

There is something about peeking in other women’s purses that is fascinating to me. Like I’m going to find something revolutionary or something. And I’m talking about articles like this – not me actually peeking in purses.

I’m so excited! I can’t believe this collaboration.

This is how I’m going to lose weight. Love this girl.

Anyone want to try this workout with me? Not in the same room, but you know, streaming online. I’m a bit obsessed with this woman on IG.

Make it a great week!

2 Things I Learned Yesterday from a Walk with my Boss

21 Feb

My boss would kill me if he knew I wrote this but I know he doesn’t read my blog and I won’t divulge who he is so it should be ok.

So, I’m in Hawaii working on a side project for my boss. Rough life, I know. I love it. Yesterday I told him I’d meet him at 5am to walk the pathway along the ocean. About 2.5 miles. Forget the fact that I haven’t exercised in over 4 months – this is because of 2 words: POLAR VORTEX.

Good excuse. Yes, I’m aware of my excuses thank you very much.

But I said yes to this because A) I never get to spend quality time with him and B) you say YES to most positive things because that is how you should live your life (says me.)

Waking up at 4:30am to walk at 5am is one thing but when it is raining – that is another. This is lesson #1.

He meets me and throws me an umbrella. That’s it. I PERSONALLY WOULD HAVE HELD OUT MY HANDS AND SHRUGGED. WELL, TOO BAD. IT’S RAINING!  COFFEE?

LESSON #1

When it’s raining, grab an umbrella and keep going. That also means when times are tough and you don’t know how you’re going to get through:

  1. This damn Wisconsin winter
  2. Your divorce
  3. Didn’t get the job
  4. Didn’t get the guy or girl
  5. Don’t want to work out

So we walked and I did fine. It did start to pour pretty good and we were dodging huge puddles but the water and air were warm so it really wasn’t that bad. Keep in mind it was pitch dark with the exception of the lights from the restaurants and resorts. So I kept repeating over and over in my head “Please don’t fall. Please don’t fall on your face.” Because that would completely be something I did. After all, I did greet him with HOLA instead of ALOHA.

Sometimes I want to kick myself.

LESSON #2

NEVER GET TOO BIG FOR YOUR BRITCHES. And treat everyone as you would want to be treated. As we walked the grounds, he stopped and spoke to all the people that worked at the complex. He knew them all. He also told me that he meets with an older gentleman that works there most mornings real early to just chat up all things life. As we walked and he drove me places, he stopped and chatted up everyone. My boss is a very successful entrepreneur with over 55 businesses.

One of my favorite entrepreneurs is Sarah Blakely. Follow her right now on Instagram. She’s a hoot. She said once that money amplifies who you are. If you’re a jerk before you have money then you’re a bigger jerk with money. If you’re generous and caring before you have money, then you are more generous and caring with money.

BONUS LESSON

Don’t burn bridges and pay attention to everyone around you. My boss and I met 22 years ago when we were both 27 years old. He worked for Ford and I worked for their ad agency, J. Walter Thompson. And here I am 22 years later, after a full and awesome career, working for him and having the time of my life.

3 Cool Things.

6 Feb

Here are three things you need to know about on this blustery Wednesday…

1. THE BEST GIFT

GOLDBELLY – it ain’t cheap, but for those of you craving pizza from “back home” or ribs from Kansas City – this is your place. What a great gift for someone! This site has bagels from New York, Chicago hot dogs and so much more.

2. WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT TRADER JOES?

So this is the only retail place where I don’t mind if the person checking you out comments on everything you’re buying. I love the folks that work at Trader Joes. They are so damn happy. And knowledgeable. If I’m buying some seasoning or sauce, the checker will say “I love this on eggs, what do you put it on?”

Do you want to be a TJ’s fan but go there and are just swept away by the choices and the crowds? Curious by all the buzz out there? Here are my tips on what to buy and when to buy it. Believe me, it’s worth going – you’ll be addicted like me.

ON WHEN TO GO:

Don’t go on a Saturday morning unless it is first thing when they open. The best time to go to TJ’s is when you can sneak it in during an “off” time. Have a doctors appointment at 3 pm? Do a quick TJ’s run afterward.

ON INSIDER KNOWLEDGE:

Follow some key IG accounts to get the scoop on the latest and greatest products. TJ’s is ALWAYS evolving and bringing new products on and taking them away (drats!) Here is who to follow on IG:

  • traderjoeslist
  • traderjoesinsider
  • traderjoesobsessed

Check out their funny newsletter – the Fearless Flyer each month where they highlight new items and specialty items.

ON SLEEPING WITH THE FROZEN FOOD STOCK GUY:

ROF has had to put me on a frozen food moratorium more than one time. One time he said to me “ARE YOU SLEEPING WITH THE GUY WHO STOCKS THE FROZEN FOOD SECTION AT TRADER JOES ????” He’s kidding, of course. I mean, you would probably get some good insiders tips though.

It’s no joke that the frozen food section is off the hook. (do people say that anymore?) and you can google lots of opinions but I’m going to give you the only one that counts – mine. Here is what to load up on there:

  1. Almond Croissants – frozen. These have been a staple at our house for guests or if I just want the house to smell good in the morning. It’s a frozen dough that you let rise on an oiled cookie sheet the night before on your counter. Pop them in your oven in the morning and POOF – breakfast. They also have plain, chocolate and a new ham and cheese version.
  2. Mandarin Orange Chicken – frozen – a TJ employee favorite and mine too. ROF even likes it even though he first turned his nose up at anything frozen. Just grab a couple bags. Perfect for a quick dinner with side of broccoli and rice.
  3. Organic brown rice – frozen-we always have these on hand along with the jasmine rice. It’s cooked to perfection then frozen. Three minutes in the microwave brings this yummy rice with a bite back to life. It’s a no-brainer.

4. Steel Cut Oatmeal – Frozen – At only 150 calories each, pop these in the microwave for 2 minutes, stir and then another minute and you have yummy goodness for breakie. I always toss in some fresh blueberries and a couple of pistachios

5. Shrimp and Walnut – Frozen This is so good with the lemony sauce that comes with it. Throw it together with jasmine or brown rice

 

Just put this stuff in your basket:

1. Everything but the bagel spice

2. Umami spice

3. Multi-grain bread (so yummy!)

4. Unexpected Cheddar cheese

5. Sesame rice crackers (get a bunch!)

6. Shelled pistachios

7. Dark chocolate peanut butter cups

3. THE BEST GIFT FOR GIRLS – ever!

Pick 4 words that are favorites or describing words. Man, this is cool! What words would you pick for me?  Here is what I would put:

Woody Allen.

Sav Blanc.

Ruby.

Appreciator.

Be Encouraged

20 Dec

to be creative.

Maybe you need these too?

Stuff I Grabbed…

13 Dec

Sharing my latest messy, screen grabs of things that caught my eye. I love the word Accoutrement so I Grabbed that. Check out the SUPER CLEVER egg campaign-!! Look at that fireplace design below-wow. Have fun + always be curious…

Do it all with love.

5 Dec

This is a great quote. Don’t know who said it but it inspires me in so many ways.

1. When I dread something

How I want to do everything and anything is with truth, love and thoughtfulness. That is what I strive for but don’t always reach. Whether it’s a menial task I feel is beneath me, or an overwhelming one where there is no end in site I try to handle it all the same way – period. Because how you handle one situation is truly reflective of how you handle them all.

And be careful… people are watching and more importantly- learning from you.

When I dread doing something I rush in and tackle it. Sometimes. Sometimes I procrastinate. When I choose to put it off, that is when this quote inspires. Procrastination is not reflective of everything I do so I move and tackle it head on.

2. Helps me think versus react

I want you to think about something.

What percentage of your day is reacting and what is thinking?

Think about it. Do you open your email each morning with the intention of plowing through and emptying it out? And then you are stuck just reacting to what people want from you. Before you know it, you look up and the day is half over. Sound familiar?

Don’t be a reactor. It doesn’t take a lot of brain-power to be a reactor. Now, the Wayne Dwyer in me is going to come out – but when you react to other people’s moods and issues you are giving them undeserving power in your life. They are a jerk and they ruin your day? YOU control who takes up valuable space in your head. THINK about that.

How you think about one thing is how you think about everything…

Be a thinker, not a reactor.

3. Start from the beginning

Now this is one example of how I handle one thing. Which turns into each and everything. If you are reading this and have worked for me at one point, you’re for sure rolling your eyes. With every single situation you encounter- start from the beginning. When talking to your boss, your employee, your kids, your clients – tell the whole story and start from the beginning.

Everybody loves a story!

Reactors tend to get worked up and jump into the middle of the muck and try to get out. Stop. Deep breath. Set it up, tell a story, give the background and start from the top. I handle everything this way.

4. Don’t let one thing define your everything

It’s why as a leader and manager for the past 25 years and having reviewed millions of resumes and hired a lot of people – if your resume has typos, it’s thrown out. If you don’t check your own work, how will you check mine?

Wow – a missing comma just defined your everything. You’re lazy. Yikes.

Where else does that hold true?

What can you tell about people who:

  • Don’t return the shopping cart in the proper place so it can roll into another car
  • Volunteer
  • Are rude to waiters and waitresses
  • Run tri-athalons
  • Speed and weave in and out in traffic
  • Plan a full week of food in advance
  • Belittle other people
  • Give compliments

How you do one thing is how you do everything. I’m just sayin…

Spiced Pecan Recipe

25 Nov

I kind of feel stupid for posting a post on nuts when there are so many other things to talk about right now. I have several friends and family members going through some shit and nuts doesn’t make the list of important topics.

However, I just made this and it was kind of therapeutic. The whole stirring, melting and mixing kind of occupies your mind and is a nice distraction. And it smells scrumptious! If you don’t like spice, just omit the pepper.

This is my friend Ginny’s recipe. I hope my nuts come out as good as hers.

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp each of:

  • Ground cumin
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Dried ground orange peel (you can buy this at spice store or just grate some orange and nuke in microwave)
  • 1 pound (16 oz) pecan halves
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar (or just use light)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Directions:
  • Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Mix the salt, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and orange peel together in small bowl and set aside.
  • Place nuts 🥜 in a cast iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 4 to 5 minutes until they just start to brown and smell toasted. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, add both sugars and water, stirring until mixture thickens and coats the nuts, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  • Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet pan and separate them. Allow nuts to cool completely before transferring to airtight container for storage. Can be stored up to 3 weeks.
  • Stuff I’m watching

    17 Nov

    If you are getting older…ha ha … that would be all of you – you HAVE TO WATCH this Netflix short movie on Elaine Stritch.

    If you don’t think this is damn awesome you probably think Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born is ugly.

    I was filled with so much passion for life after watching this. So raw and real and lovely.

    Ok. Next is a series on Tru called I’m sorry. You can watch this too on Netflix. Season Two is coming out soon. Andrea Savage is a flipping hoot. And it’s produced by Andy Sandburg.

    Do you want to take a peek at what kind of content the “kids” are watching nowadays. Subscribe to some of the channels I do on the Tube. This chickee has OVER SIX MILLION FOLLOWERS. Hello! More than most tv channels! You will watch and go …”huh??” I watch so I know what the hell is going on as I grow ancient.

    Then if you want to smile watch any of these!

    Happy Saturday!

    Can’t Sleep

    15 Nov

    This is what I think about from 12:34am-4am:

    1. Maybe I should just get up.
    2. Why can’t I hear dog snoring, is she breathing?
    3. That Caesar salad was amazing. Get it again.
    4. What should we have for breakfast when mom comes this weekend?
    5. I’ll just get on phone for minute.
    6. Shopping on Amazon is too easy.
    7. Nordstrom…sale….
    8. Am I traveling on the busiest travel day of year?
    9. Why can’t I hear ROF breathing, is he ok?
    10. I’m not going to remember to turn the alarm off in morning
    11. Martha Stewart rocks. Am I too old to reinvent myself?
    12. What are my interests- list them.
    13. Teaching, professional women growing in career…
    14. What’s my niece up to – call her tomorrow. Hate to bug her knowing how busy she is
    15. What was that noise?
    16. I’m hungry.
    17. Why aren’t my notifications on LinkedIn?
    18. What’s my day like tomorrow.
    19. You better get up and walk in morning.
    20. It is morning.
    21. How do you know you’re dehydrated?
    22. I’m hungry.
    23. Tasty video made me drool
    24. Tomorrow I’m going to accomplish one of my personal goals before I start working.
    25. I’ll just clear out my inbox then I’ll sleep.
    26. What is this tapping thing? Stupid.
    27. Does GP have sleeping issues? Perfect-
    28. I should write a blog dedicated to the style of Leanne Ford.
    29. I wonder how old she is.
    30. What should I get ROF for Christmas?
    31. I miss my sis.
    32. Moms coming!
    33. I hope Mike makes taylor ham & eggs. Mom will love that.
    34. I’m going to listen to my Glenn Harold recording then I’ll go right out.

    Stuff I Grabbed…

    13 Nov

    I’m going to be messy here. Not going to clean these up for you. Here are some things I screenshot because I:

    • Wanted
    • Liked/Loved
    • Thought was cool
    • Want to make

    Enjoy your Tuesday!

    Be Good to Yourself

    17 Oct

    I’ve decided to write about something I don’t know much about nor do I adhere to whatsoever.

    For example, it is 2am and I’m writing this. I should be getting my beauty sleep but in spite of my (very comfy) new flannel sheets, earplugs, lavender oil diffuser and going to bed at 9pm…I’m up.

    You know what I’m into? Changing your thinking. And what I want to do is change my thinking about being good to myself.

    It’s about to get real, folks. Yep, I’m getting vulnerable. Don’t judge.

    I’ve gone through life with the goal of feeling good as a priority. And not the kind of feeling good you may be thinking. More like if it feels good, do it. And I justified this with “I deserve it.” Now, this isn’t necessarily bad or wrong unless taken to excess.

    I might take it to excess.

    There is a big difference between being good to yourself and doing things that feel good.

    For example, being good to yourself means having self-discipline and saying no to things that may feel good.

    Feeling good is temporary. It’s drinks at a bar, it’s saying yes to dessert or buying that sweater. None of which are bad things if you are living with the goal of being good to yourself.

    However, it isn’t good if you are living with the goal of just feeling good. Then it can easily shift into over-indulgence with too many drinks or over-eating or over-spending. It’s thinking if it feels good, then I’ll do it all the time. Without built-in stops in place- either from how you were raised or how disciplined you are, it can go bad.

    Following?

    The best part of my journey is realizing this. I’m aware. And that’s the first step to a more fulfilled life. So now what?

    For me, it goes back to changing thinking. Not easy because, well, <sigh>, I’m old! That’s not so easy. But here’s the game plan.

    1. Feeling good needs to be about being good to myself. That is going for health and longevity. I’m going to walk every day. Follow my mug on Instagram (@afulford) as I will provide proof. All encouragements welcome. #appreciatorgood

    Ok. I’m stopping there. Little steps done daily make big results. This is a TO BE CONTINUED post that I will add to as I go.

    Stuff I Grabbed

    9 Oct

    Damnit. Been up since 2am and could fall back asleep. Are you sleeping well?

    Anyway, do you have any idea how awesome the photos app is on the iPhone? Well, let me tell you. There is an album called screenshots and (wait for it) it saves all your screenshots!

    I liken this to the day WAY BACK THEN when I would rip shit out of magazines and save them in a file. Like recipes, sweaters I liked, hairstyles, home decorating ideas, hot places to eat – you get the idea. Same thing. This little album is filled with marvelous eye candy of just stuff I think is cool or want.

    Now, I’m not going to pretty this up for you at all. I’m just going to give you a peek into what I’ve grabbed and you can figure out why.

    Excellent Podcasts on Modern Marketing

    6 Oct

    Yesterday morning I got to spend some quality time with a good friend visiting from Dallas. We grabbed a chai latte and I ate most of the pumpkin scone drizzled with warm honey we split.

    And we had only the kind of great marketing discussion great marketers like us can have. It mostly revolved around how freaking fast our industry has evolved.

    We knew it would.

    We were talking about the IoT ten years ago. Long before the word “influencer” was whispered, I pioneered a multi-channel blogger program with Facebook and Twitter 8 years ago. Jackie developed the Chevy Music Showcase years ago for a bunch of car dealers and one of the artist showcased was … Leon Bridges. Both of us are driven by relevant marketing IRL.

    But the way the industry has flip flopped the rules is amazing. You don’t need a fancy agency (that quite honestly might move a little slow) to do your marketing. There are a ton of excellent marketers giving away the goods for free!

    Now anyone (good) with a microphone on their phone can create a podcast chalk filled with great content and get millions of listeners. You don’t have to only go to college to unlock secrets to success at your potential career. Just take online classes, listen straight from the horses mouth the rules for winning at whatever you want to win at.

    Here are a couple podcasts to check out if you touch marketing at all. You could be a real estate realtor wanting to grow your business. Or a radio or direct mail rep not even knowing where to start learning about this stuff. Heck, you could be a CEO that just realized that you too could stand to learn a trick or two about communicating with potential customers in this day and age.

    If you think you know marketing, pop into any of these podcasts for a quick listen.

    Please don’t embarrass yourself by saying the overused “I don’t have time for that” phrase. First, that is so 2011. Second, here are 11 ways you can listen to a podcast:

    1. Taking a morning walk
    2. Running on treadmill
    3. Driving anywhere
    4. While getting nails done
    5. Making breakfast (or lunch or dinner)
    6. In the shower
    7. As a couples activity
    8. Required listening for team discussion

    Click on the picture to take you to a specific episode I picked out for you. Just pop in and check it out.

    If you have any additional resources to share, please share! Let me know what you think below!

    Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake Recipe

    3 Oct

    Who doesn’t need a wonderful, delicious chicken casserole recipe right about now?  I know I do!  As the weather here in Madison gets colder (and wetter!) – nothing seems to warm you up like a good old-fashioned casserole.  Am I right or am I right? 

    Don’t let a big casserole intimidate you.  Is it only the 2 of you?  Cut this recipe in half and make in little ramekins.  

    This recipe is my sister-in-law, Susan’s recipe and it’s adapted from Better Home & Gardens.  

     

    Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake

    6 servings

    GET IT:

    bow tie pasta – 8 ozs

    onion – 1 small, chopped

    eggs – 2

    butter – 2t

    milk – 1 1/4c

    crushed red pepper – shake

    dried Italian seasonings – shake

    chicken  -2 c cooked + chopped

    monterey jack cheese – 2 c, shredded

    artichoke hears – 14 oz can

    spinach – 10 oz, fresh

    oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes – 1/2 c drained and chopped

    panko  bread crumbs – 1/2 c

    paprika – 1/2 Tsp

    parm cheese – 1/4 c

    MAKE IT:

    Preheat oven to 350.  

    Cook pasta according to directions, drain. 

    In a medium skillet cook onion in 1 tsp of butter over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring every so often.  remove from heat, set aside.

    In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, seasoning, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  stir in chicken, cheese, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, half of the parm cheese, pasta and onion.  get in there with your hands and stir it up – a spoon can’t do it justice! transfer to a 13 x 9 baking dish.

    Fix a glass of wine.

    Bake this baby, covered for 20 minutes.  

    In a small bowl, combine remaining parm cheese, bread crumbs, paprika, and 1tsp butter melted.  sprinkle mixture over pasta.  Bake for 10 minutes more until golden!

    WATCH IT:

    Here is Susan showing how to make it!

    adapted from better homes and garden

    Monday Bliss Playlist

    1 Oct

    Monday’s aren’t to be dreaded. Not if you’re doing what you love. Pop this in on your morning or evening commute and as background music all day. It will get and keep your toes tapping.

    3 Ways to Live Your Life Right

    25 Sep

    1. Realize You Only Have Today

    That sounds really depressing but it’s so important to remember.  And so you don’t think I’m preachy or self-righteous- these are all things I (especially) need to remember.  And it’s things I know.  As many of you know, 13 years ago on this day, my dad died.  For those of you who haven’t had someone that you loved with all your heart and all your mind pass away – it is a grief you never get over.  You don’t ever “get through it.”  It’s a soul, a parent, a child, a friend, a person who made a lasting impression on you.  Daily there are reminders.  Some small – like a James Taylor song playing in the background at a restaurant.  Some big – like when even after 13 years there are things I think “I can’t wait to tell my dad!” and that feeling when you remember that you can’t.  These are things I learned from that experience. I’ve always felt like I am invincible and going to live forever.  But the likelihood of that happening isn’t guaranteed.  Things can change in a millisecond.  All those stupid quotes that tell you about the past is gone and the future unknown and we only have the present are kind of not stupid.  People that live in the past are consumed with fear.  Fear of the present and fear of the future.  Being consumed with fear is no way to live fully.  When your day comes, you will (I promise you) regret the way you lived.  Your time is up and you didn’t live to your potential.   My dad had a pain in his stomach and went to the doctor who told him he had 4 months to live.  4 months!  Can you imagine being told that?  Imagine it right now.  What would you do differently?  Would you spend it harboring old pain that you can do nothing about or about controlling what you can control right this very minute?

    “Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.” – Wayne Dyer

    2. Act Now on the Hard Stuff

    Going back to my dad finding out he had 4 months to live – he righted every wrong instantly.  He didn’t think about it, didn’t mess around – he made some BIG decisions very fast.  Like sold his house and moved back to Dallas in a couple of days.  Moved from a house on a golf course on Hilton Head Island with beautiful stuff to an apartment walking distance to me in Dallas.  Might make you think – why’d he ever leave? What decisions might you make if you found out you had 4 months to live?  Here is a checklist of potential decisions you might make.  Make a mental note of what you would do:
    • Call someone you need to talk to no matter who was right or who was wrong
    • Have you been putting something off like moving home or moving away from home
    • Go see something you’ve always wanted to see or do something you’ve always wanted to do

    DO IT NOW.  Don’t wait.

    3. Accept Yourself

    “Self-acceptance means accepting and coming to terms with ourselves now, just as we are, with all our faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, errors, as well as our assets and strengths.  Self-acceptance is easier, however, if we realize that these negatives belong to us – they are not us.  Many people shy away from healthy self-acceptance because they insist upon identifying themselves with their mistakes.  You may have made a mistake, but this does not mean that you are a mistake.” – from Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
    Time is running out.  You is all you have!  My dad ended up living 11 months, not 4.  It was some of the best 11 months of my life with my dad.  Truth be told, my dad before cancer was a little bit of a “look what I have” type of person.  Not snotty or showboating but liked nice things.  I like nice things.  Nothing wrong with that.  Sometimes it can get out of control.  It sounds awful when I put it like that but you know what I mean, right?  But when you have very little time left in your life all that shit really goes out the window.  You are yourself, you’re honest and you’re real.   Don’t shake your head at me now and tell me that’s how you always are.  Come on.  Unless you’ve lived with someone who is dying you don’t know what I’m talking about and I’m probably doing a poor job of explaining it.  My most treasured time ever was when my dad in his bald head, cane popping glory would hoof it over to my second story apartment in the morning before work and have coffee with me.  He would make me laugh and cry and we were real with each other.  All that other bullshit falls completely away.  I didn’t care if he came over is the same damn gray sweatsuit he wore the previous day or that we didn’t have dinner plans that night or anything. So what to learn about accepting yourself?  Do what you need to do to be your true uninhibited self.  Don’t let past negativity hold you down.

    Be Encouraged

    18 Sep

    I’ve picked these for you.

    Killer Chili Recipe

    16 Sep

    I think I may have found a killer chili recipe.  Actually, I have several really good chili recipes – but this is no ordinary recipe.

    This is fancy chili.

    This ain’t no throw it in a pot and watch it boil type of chili.  It’s stay-in-on-a-cold-Saturday-afternoon-light-a-fire-in-the-fireplace kind of chili.  in our case, we made it before the super bowl while it was a balmy 7 degrees outside.

    I got this recipe from one of my favorite cooks, but it actually isn’t her recipe but an award-winning chili from one of her friends.  I googled this name and found a lot of bloggers have already covered this chili recipe, so if you don’t believe me how good it is – company good- just click here, or here or even here.  I don’t mind, but they don’t have cute ROF in their photos!

    PLEASE NOTE:

    1. We cut this recipe in 1/2 and it gave us 6 servings.  Make a note of that or you’ll be eating it for a week!

    2. It has coffee in it.  Fancy…!

    3. There is a ton (i mean a TON) of hot spices in here.  May want to cut it back just a little if you’re not adventurous like us.   The sour cream is a mandatory topping to cut the heat.

    Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Serves 6 to 8 )

    Copyright 2010, Devon Fredericks, All Rights Reserved 

    5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
    ¼ cup olive oil
    2 cups yellow onions, chopped
    6 large garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
    1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    2 tablespoons cumin
    2 green peppers, diced
    1 bay leaf
    6 cups tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
    Salt and pepper
    ½ cup strong coffee
    2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans
    2 tablespoons basil

    Serve with
    Sour cream
    Grated Cheddar
    Diced tomato
    Tortilla chips
    Guacamole

    Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy casserole and quickly brown the meat in batches on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until limp, but not brown. Add the chili powder, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green peppers, bay leaf, tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

    Add 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste, and the coffee, cover the pot and simmer for one more hour.

    Add the kidney beans and basil, and warm through. Serve with bowls of sour cream, grated cheddar, diced tomato, tortilla chips, and guacamole.

    IMG_6811 IMG_6797 IMG_6820 IMG_6822 IMG_6831

    Brunch Birthdays

    15 Sep

    First of all, we all love birthdays.  I mean, I love them a little less now that I’m over 35… but it’s nice for people to acknowledge your birth.  However, they can be a little predictable. Right?  You know the drill:  Birthday dinner.  Balloons.  Cake.  A song.  Presents. That is why I loved this idea of a BRUNCH BIRTHDAY.

    This was my SIL’s, Susan’s idea.  She threw a brunch birthday celebration for our nephew, Bill today.  I loved the idea.  Because family (including moi) was in town a week or so before his birthday but wouldn’t be here for the big day, we celebrated Saturday morning. 

    Here are the deets:

     Menu:

    Ham & Cheese Quiche

    Broccoli Cheese Quiche

    Fresh Mangos

    Iceland Yogurt Parfait Starring:

    • Blackberries
    • Honey
    • Pistachios
    • Granola

    Lots of bakery goods that people fight over and pick on during the meal.

    Lots of coffee and OJ and leave plenty of time to chat and laugh. 

    Thanks for the great morning Susan!

     

    Stopping the Drive to Betterment

    12 Sep

    There is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  My drive for constant betterment has got me down.  I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve my “peak state.”

    Is it depressing to say that?  Am I giving up?  No.  But I’m going to press pause for a season.

    Why, you ask?

    I think it is encroaching on my ability to appreciate things the way they are right now.  Today.  After all, I am The Appreciator.  And because my focus is on achieving big, big goals, it’s become so all-encompassing, it’s frustrating that I’m not reaching them.  And then I let myself down.

    Am I the only one who thinks this way?  <sigh>

    I certainly appreciate my drive.  My drive to be the best I can possibly be.  I can’t imagine life being content.  To be being content, to me, is the same as being apathetic.**

    Maybe I should give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.  If you’ve made it this far reading this, you might be scratching your head and wondering what the hell-o I’m even talking about.  And then there will be those that I grabbed at my headline who know exactly what i’m talking about.  Here we go…

    It is engrained in me to strive to be the best I can be.  In case you were wondering, I’m not even close.  I’m obsessed with reading about how others achieve their peak performance and how I could do the same.  On one hand, this is healthy.  I plowed through my career like a racehorse – always wanting to learn more, to be first, to grow, teach, mentor and lead.  This trait is what gets me up at 4:40am every day and follow a routine that includes scouring thousands of blogs, reading my devotional and reading this book, this book and sometimes this one.  It is what makes me listen to this in the car and this and especially this.  I don’t like to watch television or go to many movies because it would take up too much space in my head where this other stuff lives.  That’s the truth.

    On the other hand, being a deep thinker and striving for betterment constantly, I’ve decided, sometimes is depressing.  Instead of focusing on what I have and being in the moment, I’m just focused on what I’m not achieving.  And I know that is not the purpose of attaining your peak state.  I get that.  But that’s where I am.

    I’ve kind of worked through my problem. There are 3 things I’m going to do to be encouraged to be my best vs frustrated and drained by defeat.

    1. Define What Success Looks Like To Me. I read somewhere that the pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time. Maybe that is what I’m doing … reading about others success without defining what success looks like to me.

    2. Action vs Thoughts. Come up with a daily action plan that becomes my new routine. In my frustration I’ve resorted to a bit of mind-numbing activities like flipping through IG too much or throwing back a few sav blancs on the weekend or fixing grilled cheese at 1am (doing that now!)

    3. Get Inspired. I need to be inspired. I’ve spent my career encouraging and motivating others but have reached a point where I need to be lifted up. I’m inspired by big ideas, big solutions, innovative marketing, and making a difference. This is where my focus needs to be. Going to seek out those people who are doing this. I want to be surrounded by those people.

    Wish me luck!

    Positively Positive Playlist

    2 Sep

    Happy long weekend to you.  I hope it’s been a good one.  ROF and I are UP NORTH again but this time way up in Presque Isle, Wisconsin.  Yesterday we were so north we were in Michigan!  We’re at a friends house on a private lake with only 14 other houses.  It’s truly one of the most beautiful places on earth (along with all my favorite places up north.)

    I keep my eyes peeled hoping to catch a glimpse of an albino deer.  Yesterday there was a bear and even talk of a sighting of moose.  Ann and I went out on the pontoon, dropped in a line (no bites) and floated in the middle of the lake.  LAKE HAIR, DON’T CARE.

    A while ago I ran into an old friend who told me that my Instagram and blog posts were inspiring.  I loved hearing that.  The older you get, the harder life is.  And you know what, it’s not always so easy to deal with.  With IG and Facebook and other tools, you can glimpse into other people’s lives easier.

    And I see you. 

    I see you going through chemo and dying your hair “mermaid blue” as a celebration before it all falls out.  I see you kissing your son goodbye at college.  I see the pictures of moms or dads who have passed away and you’re honoring them.  But with all that I see, I know there is a lot I don’t.  It’s not easy to post an image of how lonely you are.  Or how you want to be ok with where you are in life but just aren’t.  There aren’t a lot of quotes out there to happily express your need for a job, or a husband or just money to make the bills.

    So – here is a playlist for you.  I love these songs.  They are not “cheer you up” songs, but more “lift you up” songs.

    Cocktails with ROF: Sangria!

    12 Jul

    There is nothing like fresh Sangria in the summer!  Well, a margarita is pretty good too.  Sure, you can buy the premixed Sangria drinks from Costco, and honestly, it’s pretty good.  But ROF has been making his own Sangria for as long as I can remember.

    See video – filmed from vacation in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.  Recipe below.

    FRUIT NEEDED:

    1 peach

    1 plum

    3 limes

    1 lemon

    1 orange

    Cut up all fruit into chunks and squeeze the lemon, lime and orange juice into the JUG.  

    BOOZE NEEDED:

    1 cup of sugar

    1.5 cups of Brandy

    1 cup of Triple Sec (orange liquor)

    2 bottles of cheap red wine/merlot

    Mix everything together.  Serve over ice with a splash of club soda on top and a lime or lemon.  ENJOY!!

    The Best Steak Recipe You’ll Ever Make: Hawaiian Ribeyes

    10 Jul

    Last year, ROF and I went to Hawaii with some close friends.  It was my first time in Hawaii and it didn’t disappoint.  You know how people talk a place up for so long and it either disappoints, meets expectations or exceeds expectations?  This exceeded expectations.  Awesome.  

    While there, ROF made his delicious Hawaiian ribeye steaks that we grilled. I’m dying for you to try these steaks.  Your mouth might start to water as mine did when you watch this. 

    The recipe is below.  If you try it this weekend, please send me a picture! 

    Hawaiian Ribeye Steak

    the marinade:

    1 cup of sugar

    3 small cans of pineapple juice

    1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

    1 cup of soy sauce

    2 inches of fresh ginger, chopped

    1 small white onion, chopped

    the meat:

    4 (12-16 oz) bone-in ribeyes – look for good marbling of fat throughout. 

    Mix all ingredients well (with a whisk) except the steaks in a large bowl.  Add two steaks to a large ziplock baggie.  Carefully divide the marinade between the two bags with the steaks.  Marinate the steaks for between (but no longer!) 12 and 24 hours in the refrigerator.  

    Grill the steaks over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes on each side for medium-rare.  Baste the steaks on each side with the marinade.  Enjoy!

    4 Ways to Entertain With Ease

    10 Jul

    This quote is the key to entertaining. Memorize it.

    I love to have people over.  The whole experience should be smooth, fun and lovely not only for your guests – but for you. Why? Because whether you are having friends over for dinner, your spouse’s colleagues around for a happy hour or a baby shower for 30 – the whole point of the event is meant to be… fun. You want your guests to be left with the feeling of inclusion, warmth, and happiness.

    Good luck, I can hear some of you sigh with a harrumph. Entertaining freaks me out, some of you might say. Well, here are 4 things to remember:

    1. START WITH WHAT YOU LIKE AND KNOW

    It’s no secret that my husband likes cocktails. He likes planning out a signature drink for the evening, buying the ingredients, setting up a bar, getting the ice and serving our guests when they arrive. That’s just one of his things. He starts his dinner party prep there.

    I like music and candles. I like creating playlists for the kind of mood I want to create. Maybe it’s a yoga night or we’re going up north or having drinks on the beach– I want to create a feeling with what people hear when they arrive and what they smell – that’s where I start.

    Where do you start? Here are some examples to help you decide:

    • Cooking or baking
    • Cleaning and/or decorating
    • Paper and invites
    • Music
    • Place settings
    • Landscapes
    • Planning
    • Making cocktails

    Figure out what you LOVE to do and start your planning there.

    2. DON’T STRIVE FOR PERFECTION, NO ONE CARES AS MUCH AS YOU DO

    Ina Garten said in one of her books something I’ll never forget.  She and Jeffery were young and broke but that didn’t stop her from having people over. She didn’t have the perfect napkins and matching place settings and her furniture was dated, but she confirmed that no one cares about stuff like that.

    If you wait to have everything “perfect” you’ll let life pass you by.

    Be driven by your guests need to feel welcome, not by your need to impress.

    3. PLAN EVERY ASPECT IN ADVANCE + DON’T DO IT ALL

    The more you plan, no matter how big or small the event, the easier it is to pull off an awesome party.  Take the time to think everything out – top to bottom – start to finish – write it all down, design a menu, make a grocery list.   I’ve designed an outline for you to use to help. 

    Another tip is don’t feel like you have to do it all.  Have friends bring the drinks or food.  Get party platters for appetizers that are already made or just put out some nuts and cheese.  Check out some EPIC party platters here.  

    4. YOU SET THE STAGE 

    You can either be like this:

    or like this:

    I Love Lucy!

    More reads on entertaining here, here and here.

    3 Wonderful Classes I’m Taking

    9 Jul

    This morning, I’m on vacation!  I’m sitting outside on the back porch of a house we rented in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.  It’s 6am east coast time and I’m watching the sun rise over the dunes in front of the ocean. I put some pics below.

    Now that I’m on vacation, along with sitting at the beach (already got red) and eating off-KETO diet, I love spending the early morning hours learning.  I just finished lesson 7 of a great class I’m taking online with the app and website called Creative Live.  Joyce Maynard is teaching “Writing Your Story” and it’s excellent!  It’s on writing memoir-style.  Being old, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to actually LEARN from a teacher.  So it’s a real treat to learn from an excellent, passionate teacher.  Check out this website if you’re interested in photography, art, design, music, money & life classes.  Varys in cost.  This class that I’m taking is fantastic. 

    I also joined Masterclass which is badass learning for all kinds of interests.  Once you belong to it, you can take as many classes as you want.  Classes by Malcolm Gladwell (!!!), Alice Waters and a ton of other experts teaching in their field of expertise.  I finished Gordan Ramsey’s class and I’m on to Alice Waters.

    12 Quotes to Point You in Right Direction

    7 Jul

    Best Rose Wine for Summer

    5 Jul

    I could give you a top 10 list but I just don’t have it in me. 

    I also can’t find the little symbol to go over the “e” so it is Rose-A not Rose.  But I think you get it.

    Ok. Not going to use terms like peachy finish or well-balanced either.  This is me.

    Just get it.  Go to Total Wine or google it.  At only $8.99 a bottle, it’s simply the best.  At that price, get 2.  Or a case.  Thanks Curt for introducing it to us.

    I would buy it and drink it with this, this or this.

    How to Tie a Summer Scarf

    3 Jul

    The other day, I cleaned out my scarf drawer that contained literally THOUSANDS OF SCARVES.  I folded them somewhat the same and made the drawer look so nice.  But in going through all those scarves, it made me mad to think I could only wear them in the fall or winter.  Why not summer? ok, maybe not the heavy plaid ones, but the light linen ones?  But how do you wear one when it is hot out and you really don’t want something heavy around your neck?

    First of all, this video is a little dated but my favorite video ever on folding a scarf.  Yes, at one point in my life, I did follow along and tie all the ties.  Subscribe to Wendy’s IG or blog – she’s awesome.

    Second of all,  these are some great looks!

     

    This is from The Darling Detail.

     

    Then there is this from GlamRadar.com

    I’m digging it.  Might give it a try.  Will probably last 5 minutes around my neck, just sayin’.

    I LOURVE this one by Lands End!  Plus I think I’m going to buy the scarf!

    There you go!  Now go and be safe this mid-week holiday celebration.

    Top 5 Drinks to Mix When Hot

    30 Jun

    My boy, ROF, is a cocktail mix master.  It is a balmy 90+ degrees here in Mad Town and here are some cool drinks you can make tonight or for brunch this weekend.

    The Blood Orange Martini

    The Tidal Wave

    Rum Punch

    Jalapeno Margaritas (The Best! No Mix!)

    Bacardi Rum Cocktail

    And if you need something to eat along with all these drinks, throw some of these DELISH steaks on the grill!

     

     

     

    3 Articles to Help You Be All You Can Be

    26 Jun

    While it’s important to be present in the current moment, as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t help but to (constantly) read articles, blog posts and books on best practices. More specifically, best practices on being your best self.

    Here are 3 of the best.  Click on the title to take you to the article.

    30 Behaviors of Unstoppable People

    By Benjamin P. Hardy

    A lot of people are good at what they do. Some are even elite. A select few are completely unstoppable.

    This is How to be Super Productive Every Day Without Losing Your Mind

    By Thomas Oppong

    Extremely productive people know the difference between urgent and important.

    This 1 Habit Separates Successful People From Everyone Else, According to Warren Buffett

    By Elle Kaplan

    Who knew?

    4 Great Breakfast Recipes

    25 Jun

    4 GREAT BREAKFAST RECIPES

    There ain’t nothing like a good egg.  My family loves eggs and we make them many different ways.  My sister, Katie makes a mean fried egg.  She can even flip the egg in the pan without a spatula.   She’s cool.  ROF scrambles eggs like no other.  it’s so simple yet so good.  They are just the right consistency and filled with the previous night’s leftovers.  Like salmon and cream cheese.   My specialty?  Poachies.  

    breakfast

     

    breakfast

     

    Sometimes I like to venture past eggs and here are some great recipes!

    First is blogger Oh Joy’s rainbow pancakes. aren’t these the best idea ever?  especially if you have kids.  Pop over there to get the recipe that is in video format.

    6a00d8341c6a0853ef017ee9947fc8970d-800wi 9fb947895aac596f4ae386e618dc47d9

     

    Second, is something that just made my mouth water a little bit.  Baked baguette french toast by the Dash and Bella blog.  I haven’t made this yet but think I will when I have my next overnight guests.

    baguettefrenchtoast

    For the third recipe, I’m heading back to eggs.  Check out these awesome egg cupcakes.  Another great company breakfast.  Thanks dine & dish for this recipe!

    0b8a1e2d9145dfb6299e5879530fcb85Lastly, how about these amaretto french toast bites by the awesome sweet paul?  Delish!

    afd8bda220bfadc300a7f06a5af8ff8c

     

    3 Things I Learned From Getting Older

    24 Jun

    1. HOW TO BE KINDER TO MYSELF

    I’m a lot easier on myself. As the years rolled on, I’ve learned to be as kind to me as I would be to anyone else. It took a lot of work to get to this point.

    When I was younger, I always had this voice inside my head that pushed me on. It began with my mom encouraging me, and then it became my own. It whispered:

    The sky is your limit. You can go as far and as high as that. Easily.

    That was when I was a kid. Walking my dog, Maggie, at night. And I believed it.

    Photo by reza shayestehpour 

    But that voice changed as I got a little bit older. It started to grow more critical and judgmental. It was damn harsh. Where did this come from? I think it was because I was so influenced by everything in my teens and 20’s. Magazine ads, sitcoms, MTV, friends.

    You sounded stupid when you said that. You don’t even know how to do that.

    And I started to believe that too.

    But as I’ve gotten even older, I simply don’t care as much.  Fitting in, keeping pace and people’s perceptions of me – all that -is exhausting. There’s a huge freedom in letting that go.

    As I’ve gotten older, what I let influence me has changed. People who are authentic, funny and creative interest me more than people who try too hard to fit in.

     

    2. HOW TO SAVOR THE PRESENT

    I have the ability to realize  – in the very moment – that everything I do becomes a memory.  If your mind doesn’t go down the crapper, those collections of memories will be all you have someday. When I was younger, I didn’t think like that. I was too busy indulging. Now, I savor every moment I can knowing I will someday reflect back on that moment.

    A good example of this was holding my dad’s hand when he was dying. I held his hand in mine and studied his flat palm, then traced the veins on top of his hand and I remember the softly rounded fingertips. I etched this in my memory to have forever.  13 years later, I can close my eyes and remember how his hands felt. 

    As I’ve gotten older, I realize the importance of really appreciating the present moment. I do this when playing cards with my husband, snuggling with my bulldog, laughing with my sister, visiting with my sister-in-law or just about anything.

    3. HOW TO RESET MY MIND + FOCUS

    Another thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is how important it is to have a positive disposition. You always have a choice on what to focus on. Always. You can choose to live in a way that you add joy to others lives or you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

    But as you get older, you are faced with a lot more shit. There’s the rub. YOU WILL GO THROUGH TOUGH TIMES. No doubt about it. Someone will pass away, you’ll have to put your dog down, or less dramatically — you’ll just have more crappy days. Anticipate it. Go through it. Feel it. But get a shovel and start digging your way out. The only thing that soothes pain (next to prayer, for me) is time. Spend your time wisely. 

    Getting older has helped teach me to reset my mind. To focus on my side of the street, to understand that I can control only what I can control and not to enable people I can’t control. If I want to be an encourager, then I must not let things trip me up

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not thrilled with getting wrinkles and achy muscles. But these are some positive aspects of gaining experiences (or getting older…!)  What are you learning? 

    Weekend Playlists

    23 Jun

    Music is a big part of any fantastic weekend. Whether you’re running around with errands, road tripping with family, making dinner or just lounging around-it’s all better with music.

    I’ve curated not one but two incredible playlists for you. I know they’re good because I’ve listened to them a million times.

    Chainsmoking + Vodka is perfect if you are chilling out this weekend.  Check out WILDFIRE by Mandolin Orange which I snagged from the great coffeehouse PORTER here in Madison.  I do have to warn you, the new Ben Howard song is way out there but I admit, I LOVE IT.  ROF wasn’t too keen on it.  Let me know if you’re a fan.

    Mascara + Chardonnay was originally compiled for women only. But I realize that men have good taste in music too.  ha. laughs. jokes.  I bet you can picture me singing “1950” at the top of my lungs.  Because I do. I first heard the Ed Sheeran song at my friends cabin up north and had to snag that jam.

    Enjoy!  Spotify links below .

     

    Staying Curious in a Curious Time

    21 Jun

    Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your mojo?  That is how I’ve felt this year.  I hate saying that out loud because I have so much to be thankful and happy for when so many of my friends and acquaintances are going through a hard time.  Do you know what I mean?  If all I’ve lost is my mojo then I’ve got it pretty good. Mojo might be over-rated anyway.

    What this year has taught me so far is that life is finite.  You see, I never thought that.  My thinking as a self-absorbed career girl has always been that there is so much time left.  In my 20’s I smoked like crazy because – WHY NOT?  Life was long and I’d have plenty of time to quit (and thankfully, I did!)

    Here is why I’ve lost my passion and how I’m going to get it back (took some soul searching)

    How I lost it:

    • My career in the past was bent on leading clients in new directions with marketing.  I was talking Facebook, blogs, and Twitter in client meetings across the country 8 years ago!  I loved educating clients on more relevant ways to market their business.  I was driven (driven is the operative word) by coming up with unique ways to make a connection between my clients and their customers.  And it worked.  I think I’m missing that driven part now. And it has something to do with connection.
    • Loss, in general, has shaken me.  Knocked me off center.  And I hate saying that because it hasn’t been my loss. But I really feel for my friends who have lost parents, siblings, and pets.  Sudden loss, surprising loss.  Friends with cancer who have lost parts of their body to surgery.   Even the loss of people I admired but didn’t know personally rocked me.  Anthony Bourdain, who I quoted here, had my dream job and I loved following him around the world.  Kate Spade was the first expensive purse I bought and I have her inspiration all around me in her books, shoes, earrings and more.

    I’ve felt knocked off center a bit.  But this is how I’m getting it back.  I’m not going to include the things you think I’m going to say like being thankful.  These are very true but you can read that anywhere.  I’m going to be thankful and grateful every single day.  Because I am.  And just because I’ve felt off – doesn’t mean I’m not appreciative.  After all, I am The Appreciator!

    How I’m getting my Mojo back:

    • Think in the present tense.  I tend to think in the future.  I don’t dwell too much on the past but instead am always thinking of what’s to come.  Or what I think should come.  For example:
      • When I lose 80 pounds, I’ll be so much happier
      • When I accomplish the goals I have set out for myself for the day and the week
      • When we are able to buy a cabin up north
      • When, when, when

    If you’ve never read anything by Eckhart Tolle, read him.  His faith is different from mine, but I appreciate his thinking and beliefs about living in the NOW.  This I’m going to practice.

    • Guarding My Mind. There is so much shit content out there. Whether it is podcasts, blogs, television, articles, webinars, social media – it is all consuming.  Oh, I love it, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a consumer.  Like this, this and this<swoon> 

    Proverbs 4:23 says: ” More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.”

    I’m going to guard my mind and train it to focus on my main passion – being curious.  If I can stay focused on that goal and that is what I seek out in the content I’m consuming, then I think I can get my groove back on.  It’s so easy to get off track and run down that rabbit hole of WOPAD (what other people are doing) – I’m going to stay curious.

    Is this getting too deep for you?  It almost is for me.  Need a coffee break.

    OK.  I’m back.  Here is the biggest thing.  Saved the best for last.

    I need to create.  It’s what drives me.  (wait. there is that word again!) And I’ve so gotten away from that.  If I really think about when I’m happiest – it is when I’m being creative.  Whether it is re-arranging furniture (only when ROF is gone, it stresses him out) or making a playlist, helping my clients, compiling an inspiration board or cooking dinner – I need to be creating.

    Are you in a funk?  What do you NEED to be doing?  Do it.

     

    Limoncello Cooler Recipe

    21 Apr

    Because us folks up north need a little sunshine Springtime right now!

    1oz gin

    1oz Limoncello

    1/2oz fresh lemon juice

    2-3oz club soda

    Lemon wedge

    Mix first 3 ingredients in a shaker. Pour into glass with ice. Top with club soda, garnish with lemon. Make now and if you’re in a state that still has snow on the ground, think warm thoughts and make another. Cheers! Here’s the video:

    Just Do it

    21 Apr

    My first official Pilates class in new city. Scared!

    %d bloggers like this: