Julie Blue

Christmas Scramble

Food, HolidaysJulie StanleyComment

Happy Friday, y'all!

Our Christmas show opened last night and it was just as festive and wonderful as it always is! So festive in fact I got a little inspired with my breakfast today. It's definitely Christmas themed. I'm not complaining though. 'Tis the season! 

I'm trying to get through all my grading a little at a time so next week isn't too crazy. I'm really looking forward to wrapping up this fall and getting a little break before spring starts. The break never seems long enough but thank goodness I get a break at all!  

Speaking of which, my break time is almost up--time to start grading again! 

Yeah, just ignore that burned toast. This is what happened when you don't thaw the frozen ezekiel bread first before popping it in the toaster. Live and learn, am I right? 

Christmas Scramble

  • 1 Tbs of olive oil 
  • 1 Tbs of diced onions
  • 2-4 Chopped asparagus (depending on your love for asparagus) 
  • 1 Tbs of chopped red bell pepper
  • 2-3 Sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 6-8 spinach leaves 
  • 1/4 tsp of minced garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Heat oil in small skillet on medium heat. Add onions, peppers, and asparagus to pan stirring occasionally. Add dash of salt and pepper. When veggies begin to soften, add spinach, tomatoes and garlic, stirring occasionally until spinach leaves are wilted. 

Take two eggs, gently beat in separate bowl and then add to mixture. Add your dash of red pepper if you like a little heat. Gently fold veggies into beaten eggs and watch until eggs are cooked to preference. 

Serve up your plate and add some toast, OJ, and maybe a little coffee, too! Enjoy! 

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Here's to a good start to our Friday! 

Let the Shopping Begin!

Family, Holidays, WinterJulie StanleyComment

As a kid I loved shopping for Christmas gifts. I couldn't wait until I was old enough to do the surprising, shopping, and wrapping myself! Because it's Christmas, you've got to make this a whole experience with specials scents, good drinks and snacks and of course, Christmas music. Usually I like to wait until I'm really in the season spirit do all things Christmas, shopping, wrapping, etc. 

Well, that ship has sailed. No more waiting for the mood because let me tell you, the mood comes and goes. This is a crazy busy time of year and it's impossible to put off and wait. Now I'm starting to see the light in shopping early and getting things prepped before Thanksgiving hits the table. 

This year I'm really focused on the kiddos for gifts--with Janson back in school we're being more strategic in our purchases. I'm on the hunt for things I know the nieces and nephews will love but will also bring a little more practicality to their little lives.  

For my sweet little niece, she's takin' a shine to dance (I can't say my little heart doesn't explode just knowing this) so I've picked out a beautiful new leotard, tights, and some beautiful ballet shoes for the spring. I wrapped up the shoes in a sparkly pink stocking with a ballerina doll that I gave to her at Thanksgiving. I wanted her to have new ballet shoes for her first Nutcracker performance! The rest will be waiting for her under the tree. 

Definitely something she'll appreciate and get some use out of this spring! 

For my youngest nephew, well, he's a busy little guy and into a lot already. I spied some cute wooden race cars at Target and I've been thinking it might be wonderful to get him something that moves with him. How about a train set with a track? 

It's small so it doesn't take up much space plus it's something his big sister to help him build and play with, too. Best part is, if he loves it we can add on more tracks or trains for his birthday in April! 

I have three more precious kiddos to think about and I know how much their parents want to share more experiences with them than toys. I love that they enjoy getting their kids involved in activities--it makes me think creatively as a gift giver but knowing these kids, they love to go out and do just about anything! They've been gifted with museum school and and zoo school before and loved it! For their spring birthdays, I'm thinking some help with pool passes would be awesome! 

For Christmas though, we're going with Fandango gift cards! Take the kids to a new hot movie that's out and make it a family outing for everyone! Add some treats, popcorn, a soda, and you've got yourself a right nice afternoon.

We're also thinking about some favorite children's books for family read alongs. I found an awesome book, American Tall Tales, filled with great stories for my rough and tumble nephews. I'm sure they'll love learning about Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan!

I'm feeling pretty good about the kids gifts this year! Now it's time to start wrapping and baking up all the goodies that make it feel like the holidays. Cheers, y'all! 

What are some of your Christmas gift ideas this year? 

 

Christmas Jams

New Jams, Winter, Holidays, ChristmasJulie StanleyComment

I'm spending a lot of time at work grading, writing letters, reading papers, and jotting down ideas for the spring. All that time in my office, I need something to just keep me feeling light and joyful despite the ever growing list of to-do's. This particular time of year is usually made easier with the help of some good ol' classic Christmas music. 

I whipped a quick playlist of my favorite albums to listen to this time of year. I swear they help me work faster without getting irritated by the same old carols. Let's be honest, this is a season we don't need to feel irritated. I want to by joyous in celebrating this Christmas spirit! And if I have to spend three solids weeks bringing in a show, grading millions of papers, projects and wrapping up a semester, well, by golly, I'm going to do it to some incredibly soothing yet seasonal music! 

I have a few albums from my childhood I love to play in the background, just classical style Christmas tunes that help me focus and feel cheerful. When it comes to reading papers and editing work, I will get way too distracted with too many lyrics--I can't help but break out in song! At the same time you can't have Christmas music without a few sing alongs. Just had to make sure they were ones that didn't (a) pull me off task or (b) grate the nerves! I think these artists will do just fine though! 

Happy listening to all and to all a happy weekend! 

What are some of your favorite holidays albums? 

Dreaming of a Book Filled Christmas

Bookworm, WinterJulie StanleyComment

OK, it may be November still but I'm already dreaming of Christmas break! Only another week and a half of classes and then a week of finals. Sure, there's a ton of things to do between now and then but as soon as the grades are, my office is picked up, and the fall chapter closed, I will be happily in my home embracing all the Christmas wonderfulness this season! 

What, pray tell, does that include? A ton of reading! 

I was getting really great at taking 15-30 minutes a night to read an unwind and when the Thanksgiving break hit, my reading slowed to a halt. Next week is show week so you know there won't be any time for pleasure reading since we'll be up in the theater every night. I figured this would be a good time to start plotting my next reads for the break. 

Poldark

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I've been obsessed with the show ever since Big Sister told me about it. I literally set up a nest on my guest bed, made myself hot tea and embroidered while I traveled back to 1770 something for all of seasons 1, 2, and 3. It was heaven! 

I can't wait until season four to know what's happening so I think it's only reasonable I dive into the series! 

Little Women

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I guess I'm into these older tales, but at least I've jumped to the 1860's! As much as I love the story and the movie, I have never sat down to actually read this book. I don't know why, it just seems like a perfect Christmas time story to read. Perhaps it's the idea of family, sisterhood, and love, all those feel good emotions that pop up around the holidays. 

The Snowman

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I know, a total left turn from the historic line and romantic era, but I've been into suspense novels as of late and this one just looks like a good winter spook. Might have to save it for January but it's definitely one at the top of the list for me. Sounds like a good one story to me! 

 

All I have to do know is make it through all the grading and then, it's all about relaxing and enjoying some much deserved down time! 

What kind of books are you looking to sit down with this December? 

Great & Full November

Celebrations, Holidays, Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Each November that comes around, I see the Christmas decor go up, the Christmas carols start playing and feel the pressure of people's excitement as they start the countdown. I get it. It's hard to wait and put off the most wonderful time of the year, but November, it's one of my favorite months. 

The leaves are officially everywhere and the boots are out of their boxes! It's fall for certain! 

The leaves are officially everywhere and the boots are out of their boxes! It's fall for certain! 

I love Thanksgiving. I'm a turkey day lady, for sure. It's the best holiday to me--a day celebrate food, family, friends, and all the blessings we have in this life. For the past few years I've kept track of my thankful thoughts on Facebook, sharing with friends my grateful feelings for the day. Lately though, I'm spending less and less time on social media. 

Don't get me wrong, I have my moments of flicking open the app and scrolling for a brain break, but I find myself sliding out it quickly, faster than in past months. Maybe my brain is somewhere else, maybe I'm finding more to do and focus on outside social media. Heck, even my Instagram account is seriously boring these last few months. I just haven't had the drive to document and post what's going on these days.  

In any case, I thought this year was a good time to make my thankful thoughts more personal. So I took out my personal journal, unearthed one of my favorite pens and began writing down what I'm grateful for each day. One thing. That's it. And it didn't have to be earth shatteringly amazing. It's just something that made me stop and say, "Good grief, thank you for this." 

Every day there should be a moment to say "thanks" or to feel grateful for something. It's an opportunity, a friendship, a missed ticket or wreck. The job you always wanted, the contract that finally came through, a relationship beginning or new dreams coming true.  It's a pick up on the other end of the line, a good meal or a good laugh and maybe something about fitting into jeans or getting that last hug in before they left. It's big. It's small. It's whatever, but it's whatever means something to you. 

Maybe you're on Facebook tonight or Instagram and scrolling through at the end of your day. What better of a time than now to put the phone down and say "so glad I have  _______ in my life" That's it. Five seconds, no more. 

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I tried to find a grateful thought every day this last month because to tell you the truth, I really do forget how lucky I am in this life. It's easy to drift off into your own island and wish for something else not realizing someone's out there wishing for what you have.  As we're closing out November, coming up on the big turkey day feast, try taking a minute to say find what you're thankful for this season. 

"Sometimes in my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed." 

What are you grateful for these days? 

Netflix and Nap

Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Our first real super cold snap hit Friday and carried over into Saturday. Sweaters, boots, hot homemade soup and Netflix binging? Yes please! 

Pyro Man and I watched all of Stranger Things 2 between Friday and Saturday nights. That's probably why my Sunday was spent half picking up the house and half napping. All in all pretty good weekend if you ask me. 

Here's to a happy start of our week! May this Monday be blessed short and my coffee cup be continually full! And if more of these maple donuts show up in my kitchen this week, I wouldn't complain either.

Cheers, y'all! 

Donut you wish it was the weekend again? 

Donut you wish it was the weekend again? 

Fall Greetings

Bookworm, FallJulie Stanley1 Comment

It's fall, y'all! 

Well...

As close to fall as we get here in Oklahoma, although, it's certainly more fall than Texas, that's for sure! We've got falling leaves and the temperatures are dropping, too. It's that time of year you leave your house wrapped up for winter and come home stripped down to your skivvies. The weather is ridiculously fickle, but hey! That's fall in OK for ya!

Speaking of fall, it is October, end of the month, really, and I've found myself craving some good ol' Halloween tales. Some spooks. Things that make your brain go "eek!" While I'm not a blood and goop reader, I do enjoy a good suspense story and I found two I really enjoyed: 

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

The Dry by Jane Harper 

I found My Husband's Wife as a recommendation on Pinterest--there's so many book recommendations on there, it's ridiculous, but also very helpful, really. I really enjoyed the journey of the story. Each piece of information you got kept you thinking what would each twist in the plot lead you to next.

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The Dry was a Reese Witherspoon recommendation. Not that I know Reese personally, I just happened to read her list on People.com. Yes, I do love to read me some People. Anyway, I devoured this story! Our protagonist is on a quest to find out if his friend really did commit a heinous crime or if it's a cover-up from a secret they both kept from long ago. So. Flipping. Good. Go read it. Seriously. Go. 

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And if you want something a little more fantastical, something with a bit of mystery, try The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern. I loved it and it totally fueled my creative imagination in a way I really needed. 

I'm on to my next book and hoping to keep the good reads coming. I've been trying to make it a nightly habit to leave the phone on the charger and read rather than scroll. My brain needed some refueling and I'm happy to say I get so much more by activating my imagination with these stories than mindlessly scrolling for the forty eleventh time. 

Oh! One last thing! I've gotten picky about buying books and with as much as I'm trying to read, I just can't go out and buy book after book. I use the OverDrive app and you might want to try it, too! It's your library online! I connect to my local library using my library card, of course, and I check out books for 7 or 14 day periods. I have a wish list that I keep and holds I put on books that I want to read when they come available. It's awesome! Check it out if you haven't tried it yet. 

What books are you reading these days? Any favorite spookers or suspense novels? Share! 

Never Forget, Can't Forget

Julie StanleyComment

It's one of those days that comes around every year and you can't help but think about that day.

I can remember standing in the drill team locker room as one of our teammates started telling us about the voicemail her mom just left her. It couldn't be true. A plane crashed into one of the twin tours. It was the next period when our principal come on the loudspeaker to let us know what had happened. The rest of the day was nothing but news and watching the horror replay. 

The next year I was in NYC curled up on our tour bus nursing what I would later know as my first migraine and listening to our bus driver talking with another driver about this horrific day. What I saw from my Texas TV was far from what these New Yorkers experienced. I laid there and listened to their genuine retelling as we sat parked in front of ground zero. The memorial was being built and my friends was touring the area, but to my listening to these men reliving that day made it that more real to me. 

Just a few years back I was back in NYC for a convention with one of my dear friends. She wanted to see the memorial and I...was really hesitant. Something about memorials stirs up feelings and I knew this one would feel too real. But I went...and I'm thankful I did. I may have walked through each exhibit incredibly disturbed, horrified, and sorrowful, but I would do it again just to pay respect to those who were innocently taken and those who bravely went to rescue.

You walk through the entire memorial and every step is reliving what happened. There is a room within the building where you can listen to voicemails, recordings from people who were on the plane calling their loved ones. It sticks out in my memory most of all. I looked around and we all had tears streaming down our face. Theses messages heartbreaking and it touches a part of your heart that you can't ever shake. 

This awful day, this horrific devastation that took the world by surprise has left a mark that, dramatic as it may sound, quite seriously changed the world around us. There's not a single aspect of how we operate today that wasn't touched by this. 

Today the effects of hurricane Irma are reaching our news feeds, the devastation of it circulating now with pictures and videos. It's another day of shocking news, this time mother nature taking her toll. Thank goodness people were able to evacuate and seek shelter and I pray that folks were able to find safety while riding out the storm. 

Mostly I'm glad to see people leaning on one another, lending a helping hand in this storm as they did a few weeks ago for Harvey and as they did sixteen years ago in NYC.

We're living in a pretty heated time, folks up in arms about everything. You can't say anything without striking up a heated fight and you say nothing, post nothing, then you must be a part of the problem, whatever that may mean to the person pointing the finger.

Put your hand down, step off your soap box and let it go for today. It's a not about wining an argument or picking a side, getting even or shutting people out. Put it away today. Let it go for today. This day is a day to hold your loved ones, tell them what they mean to you and lend a helping hand.

If nothing else, take a moment of gratitude today for all the blessings and gifts you have in this life. Never forget those who's lives were cut short within a moment, those who gave their lives to help their fellow man and those who will live without their loved ones today.

Never forget. 

Simple Dreams

Julie StanleyComment

I've got dreams y'all. Big ones. 

Like, one of my dreams is taking a bubble bath with a really nice smell-good bath bomb, a good book, and a glass of wine. 

No joke. 

I've got other dreams, too. I know, it's unreal I could want anything more than the aforementioned dream bubble bath, but really, it's true. Like enjoying a hot meal at the table...and uh...something about else about a manicure...um...I guess that's it this week. 

I'm really shooting for the stars, but let's just say it's been a busy week.

It's been the kind with a lot of late nights, back to back meetings, a newly discovered gray hair, and three meals in your office kind of week.

One where you're going where you can feel like Super Woman for a moment and then think, "what the heck am I doing?"

One where you're wondering if you actually can fix your hair in any other style and accidentally over do it on the coffee one morning...whoops. Caffeine, much? 

Yeah. 

So I'm striving for some simplicity this weekend, something that requires little movement from a very calm and serene place.

Simple dreams, man. I'm all about 'em today! 

Hello, Hello, September!

Blogging, Friday Five, Life & Time, SummerJulie StanleyComment

Do you remember the (twenty) first day of September?

It's September, ya'll! Last month of the summer season but inevitably the time where everyone starts dreaming of fall. It's hard not to start thinking of cooler temperatures, baked apples, cinnamon smells and of course, pumpkin spice everything this month. We've still got 21 days until the actual fall season drops! Plenty of time to prep! 

School is up and going, we're definitely getting into the thick of it now. I've already got grading to do, a show in the works, and to-do lists like you've never seen. That's fall, folks. I like getting back into the groove of work and I've got a new focus to help me stay accountable with everything there is do. Sometimes you just got to look through a new lens! 

Looking ahead, I can already tell you this month is going to be dominated by work--it always happens that way and I'm 100% fine with that, but girl's got some goals over here for this month, too! 

Friday Five: September Goals

1. Little More Reading: It's easy to hop on your phone each night before you go to bed and scroll and scroll and scroll....and scroll. I feel like a zombie and yet my hand instinctually reaches for the phone. Best way I can think to break this habit it pick up an an old favorite one, reading.

Got some books you love? Send them my way! I got a library card burning a whole in my wallet! 

2. Gardening: It's surprisingly cooler here in Oklahoma these days so I might as well take advantage! We've got pumpkins coming up and our summer crops are on their way out. I'm looking forward to planting some mums in the front again and finding fall florals for our pots! 

3. Little More Time in the Kitchen: I've been enjoying flipping through my cookbooks and trying new recipes the last two weeks. I truly love meal planning and dreaming up delicious things to whip up for dinner.  What's even better is when I get to actually make each recipe up.

There's some baking about to go down. Expect food pictures. It's totally happening. 

4. Rearrangements: I've had an idea to rearrange parts of our house for a while now. I'm in the mood for a shake up, some organization and a little shopping. I'm thinking there's going to be some serious internet retail research for area rugs going on, maybe even house plant info to flip through, too (When Succulents Die--title to my future book on gardening. I dream of a house with more natural light. So do my plants). 

5. More Blogging: I think back on my first little blog often. I wrote almost daily about adventures and dreams, funny stories and thoughts I wanted to share. I've censored myself a lot lately or tried to fit a mold I'd like to be in--in reality, it just isn't fitting and I guess that's why I haven't been as active. Much like clothes, I've tried on a style and now I need to make it my own. 

Best way to find out my own? Just be me. So we're going to try that for a while. Some things might work and somethings might not. I might have to get out of my comfort zone a bit, follow what my gut is telling me, and we'll see what happens. Either way, I want to be on here more so that's exactly what I'm going to do! 

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Enjoy the long weekend, hug your family members, kiss your sweetie and love on those pets. With all the Hurricane Harvey craziness, this is a good time to take the time to be with those you love!  

Monday, Monday

Life & Time, FashionJulie StanleyComment

What up, Monday? Fancy seeing you here again!

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Me? Oh, I'm just tackling my lists of to-do's and knocking those projects out. You know, the usual. 

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Meet you here same time next week? Sounds great! Don't forget to bring the donuts this time--please and thank you! 

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Love, 

Julie Blue 

New Cookbooks, Yes Please!

Favorite Things, Recipes, Food, SummerJulie StanleyComment

Do you ever have a moment when you feel, "whoa. I am one person in a sea of people?" Yeah, I get that on Instagram sometimes when I'm flipping through and I realize just how many people there are in the world. That and whenever I travel to NYC. 

In any case, as overwhelming as Instagram can feel sometimes, I do love the fact that following some of my favorite people can lead me to new favorites. Do you feel an example coming up? 'Cause here it is! 

Love the Bobby Bones Show, if you're a country music fan, and I follow Amy on IG quite a bit. Her personality is fun and I enjoy following her stories about health, fitness, and of course, her ongoing adoption process. A few weeks ago she posted about Laura Lea Balanced and I was completely fascinated. 

Basically she's a holistic chef living in Nashville and her stories consist of her displaying her meals throughout the day, what's in them and yeah, you basically watch her sample food, too. And I love it. I know, a little weird, but I'm fascinated by her choices and what she puts together. So after following for a couple weeks, I finally tried a few of her recipes and really enjoyed them--except for a grilled chicken marinade that I blame on my use of greek yogurt...should have just used regular ol' plain yogurt...

Bought her book and it just came in--eek! I'm totally geeking out! I spent time reading that sucker the last couple nights and drooling over the pictures. It's simple ingredients and I can't wait to dive in!

Best of all, she offers tons of choices to make things as you need them. Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, whatever. I tried a pecan date loaf bread with white flour (Shocking! People still use white flour? Yep--this girl does) instead of buckwheat and it still turned out delicious! It's nice to find something that offers wiggle room depending on what you're wanting AND she promotes listening to your BODY more than anything else. I like that concept so much and I've found that it's been incredibly helpful to get me back on track these last couple weeks. If you're interested, check her out here, Laura Lea Balanced

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I've spent the last maybe three years trying new ingredients and taking time to figure out how to make healthier choices that are sustainable for me. It's a work in progress. Seriously. Chik-fil-a is still my favorite fast food trick and I can't always convince myself to make the right choices 100% of the time or (les be honest here) 50% of the time, but that's part of this journey, right? 

If you haven't tried things like tahini, tamari, tumeric or even kale, start small. I tried to change my entire diet for a four week challenge at the beginning of my search and I'm pretty sure that was the worst thing I could have done. You might find yourself crying in front of a closed Marble Slabe, just for example...Cutting yourself off cold turkey from all your regular choices just doesn't work so be smart, introduce things a little at a time and keep trying until you find what works for you--there's tons of options out there (Pinterest, anyone?) so don't give up. 

One last little thing, I learned a great new way to eat yogurt in the morning: add a scoop of almond butter or peanut butter to it! AH! GAME CHANGER!

Seriously, try this: 

1/4 cup of blueberries

1/2 - 3/4 cup of yogurt

2-3 Tbl spn of granola

1 Tbl spn of almond/peanut butter

1/4 - 1/2 tsp of chia seeds

You can thank me in the comment section. Just kidding, but really, you should try this! 

Happy weekend, y'all! 

Crazy Summer

Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Summer time, a time to relax or, if you're like me, ramp up the the amount of activities on your list to do! Hi. It's Julie. The blogger of this little blog and I'm back. 

It's been a crazy summer, much like the last couple I've had but this year I took a second to just focus on what needed to be done. And it felt really great to just do focus on one thing at a time. I was actually a lot less stressed in many ways and I'm taking a lesson in that. 

SO. What the heck was I doing during these last few months? I had another opportunity to come back to Texas to work with a theater setting Fiddler on the Roof with one of my favorite choreographers who was actually directing. It was a lot of fun and the cast and crew, so lovely! Two months of singing and dancing, can it get any better? 

The last couple of weeks I've been teaching classes for our on campus music theater and dance camps. My body is so sore, my heart is so full. I really enjoy getting to see young dancers have a blast moving, smiling and enjoying that freedom that comes with dance. There's a lot of technique, but I made it my mission the last two weeks to focus on the fun with great music and interesting combos. Much like getting someone to eat their veggies, you cover those technique needs with some flavor in style and music choice and those students will have a good time!

Did I mention my body is sore? Oy, my feet! 

Now--it's back to school time, y'all! Can you believe it? I may have about three weeks until orientation week for the fall begins, but I've got much to do and a fun final summer vaca coming up! So, with that, I'm off to get some stuff done! 

In the mean time, a few brief pictures to summarize the summer which included celebrating the big 3-0, baking delicious pies, sewing pretty things, celebrating an opening, a blooming garden, and a five year anniversary hoorah! Enjoy! 

Happy Fifth Anniversary!

Celebrations, Family, Marriage, SummerJulie StanleyComment

Has it already been five years? Just like that, time is passing faster than I can imagine and I know we missed out on some memories these last two years, but we're making up for it now. Crazy as it sounds, I'm actually grateful for our long distance challenge. We learned a lot about what marriage is and what it takes to make it not just work, but to make it great. We took the challenge head on and saw it through to this, finally being home together again. So yeah, in some ways I am glad we had to climb that mountain together. 

But really, we're not doing this long distance junk again. That chapter is closed. For reals. I mean it. Done. 

Handsome, you're a peach, a darling, a Dr.-Pepper-Lovin'-man that drives me crazy but I love you. There's no one else in the world who can love me like you do. Many times you say or do the right thing and it makes me realize how much you know my heart. I count my lucky stars to have you in my life. Then you also do something wacky that makes me want to throat-chop you. Really, that's just balance though, right? 

My sweet, I hope we always laugh and keep communicating. I hope we continue to grow together and lean on each other through all our future challenges. I hope we celebrate big for all the successes and excitements that come our way. I hope I keep you on your toes and I hope you do the same for me. I hope you continue to take me on adventures and I hope I continue to be your home.  Mostly, I hope we continue to love, honor, and cherish one another. Always. 

Happy fifth anniversary, Pyro Man! 

I love you like crazy. 

Three cheers for celebrating our anniversary ON our actual anniversary TOGETHER in the SAME. PLACE!  Miracles do happen! 

Sugar, Butter, Flour

Recipes, SummerJulie StanleyComment

The year was 2007, I was home for a bit of the summer and there in the newspaper was a black and white advertisement for the newest Keri Russell movie, "Waitress." I remember looking up the preview and falling in love with the story, the people, and the pie. As soon as it was out on DVD I bought it watched half a million times. 

It was quirky and sweet and heartbreaking and delicious. To me,  it was a beautiful story, that's right, all baked up in a pie. I loved it. 

When the musical came out, I swooned. I've been dying to go up to NYC to see it and weep into a sweet jar of pie. I've worn out the soundtrack and even set a fun piece to the opening song in my pointe class--yes, pointe. And it was darling! 

At one point I had scoured the internet for Bad Baby Pie, Mermaid Pie and others. I'd spent time reading up on how they developed the recipes including the spaghetti pie which apparently did not turn out too good.

Two weeks ago I happened to see that they had indeed released a pie book inspired by "Waitress" and I nearly fell out of my seat. So for my birthday, my sweet mother ordered it for me.  

Behold, all the beauty and deliciousness one needs is in this book. 

I poured over it when it came in last week and I've already made note of each one I want to make. I'll have to seriously to pace myself here. 

It's a beauty and I'm so excited to start working on these incredibly mouthwatering recipes! If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen drooling. 

Great Uncle Wesley

Family, Holidays, Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

All my life I'd heard about Great Uncle Wesley, my dad's uncle he never got to meet. He was the younger brother of my grandmother, Mother Prebble, and she gave Dad Wesley's middle name, Maldon, a name I still have no clue where they got. I'd seen his happy face in a vintage blue frame, smiling in his army uniform. The picture and his face just seemed to be a part of our daily lives, his story one that we talked about on days like today.  

2nd Lieutenant Wesley M. Green served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and worked with the famous Flying Tigers. His plane was shot done and he went missing in action during 1943. That's about all I knew until yesterday. 

My parents started cleaning through old letters and photo albums from Mother Prebble in the afternoon. Dad had some questions about Wesley and he picked Mom's brain a bit--She had listened to a lot of family stories from Mother Prebble and read through all those corresponding letters years ago. Plus, her mind is like a steal trap when it comes to family history. I can thank my mother for all the help on family tree projects growing up! 

In any case, I wandered into the room to listen to some of the letters and by the evening I was interested in seeing what other information was available online. After all, it's 2017. What isn't posted out there nowadays? So I asked my dad to look up some info about  General Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tiger Fame and his time in China between 1942 and 1943. Great Uncle Wesley served under his command and between General Chennault's history and some of the letters and dates we had, we were able to start searching a little more deeply into the webs of the internet. 

Wesley was a navigator for a B24  of the 425th Bomb Squadron, the 308th Bombardment Group in Kunming, China. My family always knew the basic information about Wesley's job and where he was and the day he died, August 24th, 1943, but we never knew what his mission was that turned out to be so fateful. That was our biggest question: what happened? 

Our search began. All we had to go off of were the letters Wesley had sent, pictures of him and his crew, correspondence with the other families missing their men and the telegram about Wesley missing in action. Wesley was declared deceased in November of '44, a year and a couple months after he went missing. His remains were identified in '46 and kept in Hawaii with his other crew members until '49 where they moved him to be reburied in his hometown of Wellington, Texas. He was one of four they were able to identify out of ten men, his dog tags were blessedly on him. 

Wesley sent his last letter to his sister on August 21st, 1943, which turned out to be a pretty bloody day for his station. Apparently a fleet of Liberators from Chengkung went to bomb Hankow that same day he wrote. See, these men were in charge of fighting off the Japanese by bombing trade routes, docks, airfields, coal yards, and more. Their purpose was to keep the Japanese from invading China by supporting Chinese ground forces. The history of this group is fascinating and it really opens your eyes to all the moving parts of this war. 

On August 21st, the Liberators went out on their mission with a promise of an escort of fighters to flank them. The escort was unable to join.  The Liberators made the decision to continue on with the mission, but where attacked by 60 Japanese fighters on their way back and lost all but one of their planes. This is where Wesley's story comes in; Three days later, in an attempt to destroy a supply line and avenge the deaths of their fellow men, Wesley's flight crew and six other planes were dispatched on a mission to bomb Hankow.  Wesley was to fly with his crew of ten in the plane, "938," unnamed since it was so new it hadn't been given a name yet. 

On their way, four P-40's flanked the grouping, saluted, and then flew ahead never to be seen again. After dropping their bombs on an airfield, the planes began making their turn to head back having accomplished their mission when a swarm of Japanese fighters came upon them. 

Wesley's plane was struck first. Three men from "938" parachuted out, no one knows who they were, before the plane began to smoke and spin out of control. The rest of the men and planes experienced what I can honestly describe as a harrowing experience.

At this moment I can turn your attention to the story published on History.net, originally in the Aviation Journal back in 2008. This article gave us this information from a firsthand account of 1st Lieutenant John T. Foster written by his son, Alan Foster. Lt. Foster was in one of the seven planes that left for this mission and survived. Out of the 73 men that went out on that mission, only 11 returned home.  

Without this article, we would still be wondering what happened to Wesley, what his mission was, where he was going, and why he perished over Hankow. I'm so glad we were able to read about it in detail, although the details are heartbreaking, to say the least. At some moments it seems as if you're reading a great story from a novel until it hits you that this is real. Real men were on those planes fighting for their country and had families, loved ones waiting for them to come home. This was a real man's history, not a fictitious character in a book, but a smiling face in a blue frame sitting atop his sister's piano.  

Wesley had wanted to share details with Prebble and his family but couldn't and wrote secret hints for her to figure out where he was going. He often referenced how much he wanted to tell her of his adventures. Sadly, he never got the chance and we never knew why until now. Wesley was a beloved brother, a light in his family's life with a good sense of humor, a star athlete, and a smart man with a bright future. What else I know about Wesley is that he wanted to serve his country and that his mission was important enough to risk his life for our freedoms. 

Mom read this account out loud with my dad and I wide-eyed in amazement, sometimes tearing up. Wesley's story is finally known and it's sobering to think this is only one of many for families across the US. 

Many men and women have laid down their lives in order for us to have the freedoms we have here in this country and continue to have today. Without the brave services of men and women like Wesley, I can't begin to think of what a world that would be. I do know that I am incredibly thankful for his services and his lineage. 

Home of the Free Because of the Brave. 

Happy Memorial Day to All!

May you remember the ones who have served this country bravely and given their lives so that we may live freely. 

 

Thank you, Alan Foster, for publishing the detailed description of your father's account. This story brought an answer to a question we'd wondered for years and more importantly, it closed a chapter left open since 1943. 

See Ya Later, Spring Semester!

Celebrations, Life & Time, SpringJulie StanleyComment

Y'all, it's FRIDAY!!

Whoop whoop! The students had finals all week and I've been grading like a mad woman, locked myself in my office and made a little nest for myself on the floor. I even have some ocean sounds playing in the background to keep me focused and sane. I wish I were kidding, but that stuff actually does work. Try it some time, let me know how it goes. 

It's the end of another term and even though there's still a half-page of to-do's to be done, I can step back enough to say this was a good year. Sure, there are always lessons to be learned, no year is ever the same and just when I think I have it figured out, there's something new around the corner. It will never stop, that's just life. Still, I got to teach some awesome kids, watched a lot of growth in them, stretched myself in fresh classes, and even choreographed more than I expected, including a dinosaur dance. For reals. 

Sometimes it's really easy to get caught up in thinking about next year. I've already got my summer list going of things to prep for August. I know. It's MAY and I'm already into fall. It's part of the job and it's hard to turn off the part of my brain that wants to improve everything, smooth out the kinks, try harder and fix what I knew I can do better. I really don't sit down and think about the good things that happened during the school year or even after. 

I think it's good to look back, otherwise you're rushing through everything and you've forgotten to soak up the important stuff. So, I think as a little treat to myself, as a way to stop and smell the roses before the craziness begins again, I'm taking a few minutes to jot down the good things from this school year. I already know what needs to be edited and fixed. No brainer on that. But I want to remember all the wonderful moments that made this year a good one. And it was a very good year. 

My little Passion Planner let's me keep track of everything including the memories from the year. 

My little Passion Planner let's me keep track of everything including the memories from the year. 

If you're ending your semester as a teacher or student, what's something wonderful that stands out as a beautiful memory? 

Two Weeks

Life & Time, Spring, HolidaysJulie StanleyComment

Y'all. I'm two weeks out from a pretty special day. My day, actually. My birthday and good grief, it's a big one 😳

PS--JUST figured out I can put emojis in this sucker. My world is forever changed. 🌎 Just kidding, but I'm seriously going to have to restrain myself.

Back to the story! I'm actually really looking forward to this next birthday. I have always looked forward to this one with hope that it's going to be a start to a new decade being that much more content with life. I remember being 18, 19 and reading InStyle articles about Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Garner just living in their thirties, embracing the lessons and feeling wiser, more in love with their life and their bodies and so forth. I mean, they made 30 sound AWESOME, am I right? 

You know, I loved my twenties, truly. They weren't a wild rumpus of running around a major city, living the life of a show gypsy like I thought I'd have, BUT I still had my own adventures. I actually got so much more out of them that I think really prepared me for this next decade. More on that later. 

So yes, I'm turning 30 (I just said it out loud and it's that much more real. Oof.) and I'm really excited for the next phase. I'm skipping all the articles about "Things to Do In Your Twenties" and moving on to "This is Thirty" stories which include gobs of information about holding on to youthful skin. Now I'm on a tear to protect my fair porcelain epidermis and I keep reading my twenties were supposed to be prep time to start the prevention in my thirties. What the heck, man? So now I'm LATE to the party when I just arrived?! Am I too late now? 

Hopefully not. I'm scouring posts and articles trying to find the best nighttime cream that I'm apparently supposed to have been using for years now. And what the heck is retinoid anyway? There's 50,000 types of eye cream--which one do you pick and why are they all a million dollars a piece? What happened to just plain ol' moisturizer, huh?! Seriously. Send help. I'm drowning in beauty articles. 

Basically, this is my introduction to a new decade. Embrace yourself but be sure to slather on the cream first. Lordy, Lordy, I am so about to be thirty. 🙆

Two week count down begins! Things are gettin' real up in here..

Two week count down begins! Things are gettin' real up in here..

Best birthday tradition for yourself: Go! 

It's Gonna Be May!

Favorite Things, Spring, Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Happy May Day, Y'all! 

Hope you're enjoying a beautiful day celebrating a new month! Actually, it's my favorite month, really.  So many wonderful things to come! There's final's week (almost there!), the start of summer break, Mother's day, and my favorite day of all, my birthday! And y'all, it's going to be a good one this year! Oh what a wonderful month to look forward to! 

Ramen Wasn't Build In a Day

Recipes, Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Ok, actually ramen can be made in a day especially if you use this super duper easy recipe! 

Ahhhhmazing! 

Ahhhhmazing! 

A few months back I met up with some girlfriends at this great restaurant for some ramen. Now, I've had ramen soup before but it was in a styrofoam cup and friends, if that's the only way you've had it, you need to venture out because dang! It's actually wonderful! 

Taking my leftovers home, I soon realized that it is best to consume said wonderful ramen while it's hot. Just trust me. In any case, I thought it was simple wonderful and I had to figure out how to make it. Listen, there are plenty of recipes out there. I did some digging and reading and more searching and more reading until I decided to. just. wing it. 

Yep. I went rogue, took what I knew from what I read and just let it happen. Last Friday after a torrential rain storm--I'm not even kidding, by the way, it was raining like crazy--I thought this concoction would be both fun and creative, which it was. And it was delicious and spicy and wonderfully warming and so good I ate all of it this weekend. Well, with the exception of the bowl I offered to my sweet Pyro Man husband who also agreed it was kick butt good.

I started off with the idea of ramen and basically it turned into a spicy asian chicken soup with ramen noodles. Do I care about the overuse of details in that description? Nope. All I care about is remembering what I did so I can do it again! So here we go, diving in:  

Throw Together Ramen

32 oz of Chicken Broth 

2 cups of water

4 chicken breasts

2 packages of ramen

1-2 tbsp of oil 

1/4 cup of yellow onion

1/4 cup of celery 

1/4 cup of carrots

1/4 cup of peas

green onion for garnish

Spices: Garlic, Red Pepper, Ginger, Salt & Pepper

Soy Sauce (I use a reduced sodium or Tamari is good!)

Sriracha 

Directions

1. Add the oil into a pot, heat and begin cooking cubed chicken. Halfway through, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Splash some  soy sauce for taste and season chicken with salt, pepper, a clove of garlic (or 1/4 tsp of pre-diced), and a couple dashes of ginger. Cook until chicken in tender. 

2. Add the broth and 2 cups of water. Season broth with soy sauce and Sriracha to tasting. Add in more garlic and red pepper flakes for flavoring and another dash of ginger--approximately 1/8 - 1/4 tsp each, more red pepper if you want some spice! Bring soup to gentle boil. 

3. Add in two packages of ramen, no additional seasoning from the packages--throw that away, please! Add in peas and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Taste broth and add extra spices as needed.

4. Serve up, add diced green onion on top. Any additional soy sauce  and Sriracha can be added to everyone's own preference. All you gotta do now is enjoy! 

It's great reheated the next day and best part is that is does not look like there's a layer of gelatinous fat sitting right on top. Nope, pretty clean eating. When reheating, splash a bit of extra water in the bowl as the ramen will soak up some of the broth. 

The only thing I can think I really missed is the egg. Man, that would have been the perfect topping! 

Yeah. It's that good. 

What's your favorite throw together meal?