Tag Archives: amy fulford

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.

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.

 

Fun Stuff I Found!

14 Mar

I don’t know if you do this or not, but whenever I’m reading something or I see something online that I love, I screen grab it.  Are those two words or one?  Screengrab?

Anyway, I’ve been doing this for years and now that the iPhone actually separates your screengrabs out for you in iphoto – all the things I’ve been saving are right there in one handy album for me!  It’s the 2018 equiv to what I used to do in my teens and 20’s. I would read a shitton (that is a new word I’m making up) of magazines and rip out articles and ads that I liked.  Then I’d either pin them up on my wall (that would be directly on to the wall – no bulletin board or the like) or make photocopies of them and pass the article out to people at work with the date written in at the top.

I digress.  On to the stuff I found. 

This isn’t in any kind of special order because I’m too lazy to actually think about that.  I just uploaded these babies.  Ready for some fun?  ok… read on.

This first one is pretty self-explanatory.  Damn good.  Do you NOT want to make these right away?  Notice, it doesn’t say “yogurt,” it says “cheesecake”.  Get in my tum-tum right now!  The recipe can be found here.

If you know me, you know that the minute the Dane County Farmers Market opens up in Madison – this is me every Saturday morning gathering the homeland’s finest flowers and bringing them home.  Oh, I can’t wait.  I can smell the early morning lake scents wafting into the state capitol and feel the summer against my cheek!  <sigh> I love this photo, so I grabbed it but don’t know where it came from.  IG, I’m sure.

 

Girls, have you heard of this “capsule” idea?  Boys do this automatically, I believe. If I had the body for it, I would jump on this like white on rice.  Is that politically correct to say?  LOL, I don’t know anymore.  Geez.  Anyway, check this out!  For those of you that want to just throw something on and not think about it but still look super cute – get a capsule!  This is a curated bunch of basic clothes you can mix or match all season long.  I know who would like this of my friends (Megan & Connie?)  Read more about it here and here.

Do you know who this is?  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this photo!  OMG (insert girly scream here) Click on the link if you didn’t catch that.

 

I grabbed this above because ROF and I play cards EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Not kidding.  and YES YOU ARE WINNING, ROF!  And to me, accessorizing is key.  Can you say WANT THIS?!

Someday, I will buy one of these kits and do it.  I really want one.

A long time ago, I bought my friend Susan a similar kit from Anthro and I’d love her tell the story of what happened with that birthday gift that I bought her.

Susan, if you’re reading, please comment below! xxoo

I didn’t have just one pair of these shoes, I had at least three pairs of these shoes.  Not at once but because I WORE THEM OUT!

Who knew?  By the way, you can do this OR pay over $500 for it to be done by a nutritionist. 

 

Mom?  Wouldn’t this be awesome?  Let someone else figure out the meds.  And yes, this would work perfectly for me too!

 

Ok, that’s it for now.  I haven’t even been able to make a dent in the things I’ve grabbed so more later.  What have you found?

February Playlist: Leonard & Frost

15 Feb

Not my typical playlist. That’s my disclaimer for –arguably– the best playlist for this dreary, tepid, news-saturated month.

So turn off the boob tube. Go on. Open this playlist and start at the top. Damn it’s good, if I do say so myself.

I’ve made it collaborative so you can add a song or two if you want. No AC/DC. I’m gonna call out some peeps here to contribute – you know who you are: AH, JG, DS, KK, CH, JG.  Yep, you.

You’ve gotta follow May Earlewine on IG. I love her morning pour over coffee jams.

Enjoy! It’s my Leopard & Frost playlist on Spotify.

how to make world class scrambled eggs

22 Nov

scrambled eggs?  am i off my rocker?  what about turkey, cranberry sauce or harvest rolls?  nah, you’ve got that covered...it’s too late for that.  but what you really need to know is how to make world class eggs.  guys, listen up.  and by that i truly mean guys.  you have an opportunity here to master this art and win over your kids hearts every saturday morning.

at least that was the case with me.  my dad cooked a few things real well.  steak and eggs.  not together.  he was the world class scrambled egg maker.  in his slippers, saturday mornings, MTV blaring in the family room next to the kitchen.  TURN THAT CRAP DOWN!  sorry, i digress.  now, these may not have been the best eggs i ever had but i would never know it.  my dad talked everything he did up.  so when he served the eggs and bacon he’d say “have you ever seen anything more beautiful than that?”  and “you’re in for a real treat today, kids” – always matched with an eye roll from my mom.

now, i’m married to ROF and he really does make the best scrambled eggs.  i would have loved to have a scrambled egg challenge with him and my dad.  that would have been fun.  but ROF cooks me eggs a lot – even during the week! and i have to say, they are the best.  (shout out to my sis who makes the best over-easy eggs and egg sammies in the world!)

watch ROF at work here and how to make scrambled eggs.  oh, and of course, you girls can master this too! 🙂

2 things for tuesday – maple + einaudi

14 Nov

it’s 2 for tuesday.  here’s a little sumethin-sumethin for you on this most lovely tuesday.

these are two things i feel like talking about and since it’s my blog, i will.  you’ll thank me for it.  if you like to eat and like to listen to good music, you’re in for a treat. keep reading…

forget you, pumpkin spice. i want maple.

sure, i love to light a pumpkin soufflé candle from anthro like the rest of you, but i’m in love with another fall flavor.  it’s a flavor that takes a backseat to what we’ll call PS from now on but is (in my humble opinion) so much better.

why should maple be relegated to just a sunday morning pancake topper?  brace your taste buds for these snaps:

starting clockwise from upper left:

  1. creamy maple brie and cheddar apple soup// thanks to kevin lynch and the closet cooking website

  2. pastry wrapped baked brie with maple butter roasted apples//thanks to tieghan and the half-baked harvest blog

  3. maple glazed bacon wrapped roasted carrots//thanks again to the closet cooking website

  4. maple dijon chicken thighs//thanks to budget byte$ blog

if those recipes don’t make your mouth crave some maple… i’ve collected 15 others on my pinterest board that will!  see them here!

****

2 for tuesday – #2

get hip to ludovico einaudi

inspired initially by reading my favorite book and learning that listening to certain types of music and the SAME music while you work over and over again increase productivity (it works!) i stumbled upon this brilliant italian composer and pianist.  if you want to play a soundtrack to:

  • enrich the background of your life
  • make you think, make you happy, make you contemplate
  • help you concentrate
  • force you to meditate, let go

listen to einaudi.  i have done 2 things for you.  i’ve cultivated a playlist to listen to IN ORDER here:

also, here is a playlist that is my work playlist that i personally love.  you might love it too! then again, you might need more of a motley crue type of playlist!

make it a great tuesday!  i’m grateful for you!

encouragement for today

11 Nov

there’s something i want to remember every single morning.  

but i don’t.  i wake up and go through my programmed routine and i forget.  in the beginning i didn’t forget. and i made myself promise that i wouldn’t.

i don’t want to forget to remember to live this day as if i had 4 months left to live.  

like so many people out there, i learned this lesson the hard way.  it happened to someone close to me.  in fact, now that i think about it, it has been a similar situation for several people close to me.   why should you listen?  because i promise that if this news hasn’t crossed your path yet, it will someday.  

do you know what my dad did when he found out he had 4 months to live?  he moved, within weeks, two doors down from me in an OK apartment complex in dallas, texas.  do you know where he was living?  in a million dollar or so house on a golf course on hilton head island – away from his children – away from his family.

when he got the word that he was dying, his very first thought was me, my sister and my brother.   and my mom.  he didn’t give a shit that he was going to a rented one bedroom apartment – all that mattered was he was close to his family.  he didn’t care about feeling uncomfortable about asking our forgiveness, he did it.  and quick.

i could go on more about this but this encouragement for today isn’t about my dad.  it’s about you + me.  how can we live each day with this mindset?  here is what i thought about:

1. close your eyes.  you just got this horrible news.  what is very most important to you?  make it that important every single day and act as such.  pick up and move to dallas, so to speak.

2.  make it right.  if there is anything off kilter, make it right, now.  don’t wait for this day to come.  make it right RIGHT NOW.

3. make other people important.  taking a lesson from dad, i absolutely became the center of his life.  and i wasn’t before.  he was genuinely interested in what i was doing, saying, learning.  my favorite memories ever were in the morning before work, i would see his bald head bouncing down the outside walk to my house for coffee.  i loved it.  he couldn’t wait to wake up and talk to me about my day and what i was going to do.  i need to be like that every day with everyone i encounter.

4. get over yourself.  and your fears, insecurities and inhibitions.  it’s not about you.  it’s about your time with people important to you.  big difference.  so say i’m sorry, say i’m scared, say let’s pray, say i love you – stop with the inside voice telling you stupid things.  you only have a limited time.

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3 quick tips on how to talk to people

30 Aug

one thing i’ve been blessed with is an absolutely fantastic career.  

one big part of this career over the past 24 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.  BORING!  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 is 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 their story.  how did they get to where they are today?  i’m 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 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.  

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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 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.

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

over + out.

grill your pizza, yo!

29 Aug

 ROF was not happy about the idea of grilling pizza.

we were doing our pre-dinner ritual of playing cards when he kept saying things like:

“so i don’t get it.  how does it work?  i mean, do you roll the dough out?”

trust me, love.  look at all these recipe books that have done it – it can be done!

i have to say – on behalf of both of us – it was not good – the pizza was AWESOME.  y’all do this – this weekend!  this is what you do (not a recipe, just directions)

go to whole foods or trader joes and buy pizza dough in the freezer section.  you can buy dough anywhere but i can’t then vouch for how good it is.  thaw it out in the fridge. ours was in there for a few days – no biggie.  get your toppings together.  we fried up some onions and mushrooms from the farmers market on the stove.  might have thrown in some garlic too.  take the dough and just stretch it out with your fingers.

now, get your toppings together.  we fried up some onions and mushrooms from the farmers market on the stove.  might have thrown in some garlic too.  take the dough and just stretch it out with your fingers.  ROF and i did this together and (he won’t admit this) i think he may have had some fun.  his dough turned out much better than mine.

get the grill nice and hot and oil up the grates, oil up the pizza dough on both sides and throw those puppies on!  Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  bring all your toppings including sauce and cheese down to the grill, open the lid and after the dough has been flipped twice, go to work.  we both decorated our pizza the way we wanted it.  one way is to put the cheese on the bottom, no sauce and then throw the veggies on top.  but we used sauce.

Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  bring all your toppings including sauce and cheese down to the grill, open the lid and after the dough has been flipped twice, go to work.  we both decorated our pizza the way we wanted it.  one way is to put the cheese on the bottom, no sauce and then throw the veggies on top.  but we used sauce.  i dropped some ricotta cheese on mine because that’s how i roll.   then eat!

love you woody allen. yes, i mean it.

14 Jun

listening to harry janes & his orchestra – the i’ve heard that song before” – takes me right back to age 22 when i first realized that woody allen’s movies were the slice of life movies i loved.  especially this song in hannah & her sisters.    i know. i know.  lots of controversy on WA.   i don’t care.  you know why?

oh these movies are so good.  but let me explain why.  these aren’t cliff-hanger, sensational movies.  no.  these are really deep “love ’em or hate ’em” character movies.  it’s honest.  they are hard to watch sometimes.  once again, they are a bit slow but it’s meant to be watched like you are just an observer – a fly on the wall.

i probably have written this before but i got into woody movies from an awesome class i took at columbia – urban life in media & film. thought it would be a blow-off class.  not so much.  but when we watched the movie MANHATTAN in that class -that was it for me.  done.  sold from the opening scene:

at 24 years old, i can’t even believe how much i watched his movies.  to the point that my clients gave me as a going away gift, a CD collection of all his movies (love.) 

take this scene my chicago roommate and i watched over and over again in his movie HUSBANDS AND WIVES.  i think judy davis won an award for this role.  this scene comes from her first date after she separated from her husband who was cheating on her.  her acting is brilliant, funny and sad all at the same time.

but my favorite movie of all time is annie hall.

la dee da.  the greatest part is that annie was from… wisconsin. chippewa falls.  i love it.

well, i just heard that song.  and this is what i thought about it.

happy wednesday.

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