Julie Blue

- sharing my life's delights -

Is-Knit This Dress Great?

ProjectsJulie StanleyComment

Love a good t-shirt dress. Even better, I love this simple gray one. 

Why you ask? Because I made it! That's right folks, I concurred this easy-sew McCall's pattern and I lived to tell the tale and wear it proudly. Knits, you don't scare me any more. 

But really, I made this dress pattern my mission to start and finish over Spring Break and happily, I did! 

It was my first knit pattern and even with a few hiccups, I'm actually pretty pleased with how it turned out. I'm starting to get the hang of this sewing stuff! 

The fabric is just a lightweight t-shirt material--I wanted to start off with something less expensive because I knew there would be problems. In fact, the material was cut incorrectly so I spent quite a bit of time laying out the pattern trying to fix the issue so the dress wouldn't be twisted. 

Like my material weights? That's called "being resourceful," people. 

If I'd been paying attention earlier, I would have had it re-cut, but I washed the material before checking. Lesson #1 learned! 

I still think a serger would have made a huge difference in putting this sucker together, but Lesson #2, I learned a zig-zag stitch would have been an alternative choice. Good to know since I plan on tackling this option again! 

I'm just a novice with this stuff, but each time I attempt another project, I get better at it and that's really the only way I'm going to get better. My ideas for projects keep growing and I eventually want to get good enough that I can tackle those complicated ideas or at least can sit down and knock out a project in an afternoon. 

Still, I'm pretty proud of this little t-shirt dress here. Is-knit it just the greatest? 

What projects are you tackling lately?

Creamy Chicken Crock-Pot

Family, RecipesJulie Stanley2 Comments

It's Janson's birthday week! It's been a couple years since we've celebrated his birthday together in the same place so I really want to make it feel like a special day for him. This week I'm planning on whipping up a few of his favorite meals.  Just wait 'til you see what kind of cake he asked for! I'm really excited to test it out! 

My husband can be a picky eater and yet, sometimes he will go for the more exotic of dishes at restaurants. I can't explain it.  Salsa? He loves it? Tomatoes and onions in a dish? All picked out, but he loves the flavor they bring. It's always interesting so when I hit a meal he likes, and actually eats leftovers of, it becomes a staple on the menu. 

This one is no exception. In fact, it's his favorite meal we make. It takes a little bit of time setting up, but it's worth it, trust me! 

Southern Living's Creamy Slow-Cooker Chicken

It's seriously one of the best crock-pot recipes around. Don't even think about skipping the browning part at the beginning--you just can't. Without those dripping, the sauce just isn't the same. 

We tend to dump a huge pile of mushrooms on top for Janson. I like to saute up some green and yellow squash with onions, carrots, a little bell pepper. You just dish up some rice, throw some veggies on the side of the bowl and layer the chicken and sauce in there. It's just....sigh....wonderful. 

We're definitely whipping this up this week and I'm sure it won't take long for us to finish off the leftovers!

What's one of your favorite dishes to make in the crockpot?  

True Confessions from a Worry-Wart

Life & Time, Projects, BloggingJulie StanleyComment

Hello. My name is Julie and I'm a worry-wart.

It's true. I play an exceptional game of "what if" in my head constantly and I bet I could beat the pants off you if you ever wanted to play, too. In some cases this is a good skill to have, to think of all the possible challenges of what could go wrong and how to problem solve. That's a skill for people who need to be quick thinking like teachers, performers, stage managers, event planners and more. You notice I tend towards the entertainment route, it's what I know, folks. 

Or, you know, to think of all the things that could go right. Hello, Julie? The flip side of that negative thinking is positivity. Sometimes I forget to go down that positive road, I'm so concerned about the crash and burn part because that part hurts the most. What's funny about that is nine times out of ten, people comment on my positive nature, energy, spirit, whatever. I am a see-the-glass-half-full kind of gal, that's very true, so to admit I'm a worry-wart seems absurd. 

All worry stems from fear, I think. These days there are certain catch phrases and ideas that promote leading a fear free life, embracing the unknown and jumping off the cliff and trusting fate.

*Insert beautiful video of free spirit youngins running through a field of gosh-knows-what with happy gleeful smiles and waving arms as they fly through the unknown.* 

No ma'am sir. I am not that person. Trust me. I've tried and I've found that I like a plan. I like to know my options. I love security. It's awesome--what more could make you feel better than to have a safe cocoon around you so that when you jump off that cliff with your parachute, you know that your landing is on a cushioned position of securely built certainty? 

Nothing my friend. That's all I need, certainty. 

And yet, here I sit with nerves all balled up in my stomach, my heart fluttering and I'm desperately trying to push out all the negative thoughts from my head. I'm nervous. I'm a little scared--I even got teary the other night. The ridiculousness is that it really started over a stinkin' Facebook page for this blog. 

It's ridiculous because it's something simple, a basic way to funnel information to a group of folks who want to stay connected and up to date with the blog. Nothing more. This new Facebook page is supposed to help keep my personal page separate so it can be that, personal (Which is also private for a number of reasons, not completely helpful for this blog.).  But I'm supremely nervous about it anyway. 

Sending out invites to friends was an anxious process. For a long time I've linked my blog on posts but it felt like a safe way to share. Blogs have been my own corner of the world to share bits of my life, things I love, stories, mess-up's, whatever I wanted. Making it a more public site, something anyone can see, feels very revealing in a way I hadn't anticipated. 

Side note: Yes, I do realize my blog is a public place and that I've made it so. I never said this thinking was a rational pairing with this project. 

Let me paint you a picture here: I love New York City. I think it's a vibrant place to visit, but I hate riding the subway. I feel 100% more comfortable driving around anywhere new in a car I control. Why? Because in a car I'm (1) in control of the adventure and (2) safely confined in a bubble, able to allow people in if I want or not. Subways aren't like that at all. Everyone gets on and it's crowded sometimes and empty others. People are pushing and rushing past you and it's easy to get knocked all over and around the place. Plus, you're not in control of anything there. You can't even guarantee there's a seat for you or that the schedule will run on time. 

That's what it feels like right now, like I'm opening myself up to a ride where I'm feeling a little more exposed than in my safe little car. There are pros and cons to every little thought about it, too. Trust me, I've run through them all! 

Parts of me is excited to see how building this little page will go! Parts of me are supremely nervous at the thought of expanding--what if it doesn't go well? What if it never builds?  What if people really don't like it? What if it's not exciting enough? What if they think it's silly?  What if...what if...what if...

And on and on those thoughts can creep in. Well, more like bust through the door and invite themselves in. Shutting off that running faucet of crazy-scary "what if" questions is a struggle. 

But...

What if people do like it? What if my life does seem adventurous to someone else? What if I reach out and relate to a few people who enjoy my posts? What if it leads to a new idea to build something wonderful?! What if! What if! WHAT IF! 

Those are the questions that force me to keep going because what if it all turns out fine? 

Taking steps out of your comfort zone can feel uncomfortable. Majorly uncomfortable. Sometimes it feels like running back into the safe house would be easier and feel better than exploring what's outside. When you do that for so long though, it only grows those nerves, it doesn't help diffuse it at all. I'm really tired of being inside that safe house though. I think if this was just a passing phase it would have ended back when it started and I wouldn't still be trying eight years later. 

Now I'm determined to make it what I've always wanted happen and that's required stepping out of my safe hut and letting friends know, "Hey. I really want to do this and I'd like your support."

That's all. There's nothing really scary about asking for encouragement in something that's important to you. 

Sometimes opening up that possibility feels daunting and opening up about those honest feelings can be, too. How easy it can be to scoff off real feelings as being "silly" or "ridiculous" but how real those feelings are! 

Maybe you've been struggling with stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something new like beginning a new career path, traveling by yourself or even starting a side business.  Try giving up those worry-wart tendencies and just reach out for that help, and most importantly, ask yourself "what if it all turns out fine?"  Because it just might and oh, what a wonderful possibility that is! 

Happy Sunday, ya'll! 

If you liked the page, thank you, thank you, thank you! It's a boost of confidence and it's very much appreciated over here! If you haven't yet, there's a button at the bottom of the page and you can click it to send you through to the Facebook link. 

 

Toast to Friday

Life & Time, RecipesJulie StanleyComment

Taking a little time to enjoy the Friday morning with my favorite weird breakfast: toast bread with peanut butter, sliced banana, honey and chia seeds. 

Here's to the end of good week and the start to a new weekend! We can all clink coffee cups and head into this day feeling caffeinated and full of chia seeds. It's aces already! 

What's your favorite breakfast food?

Hot Shot

Life & Time, SpringJulie StanleyComment

Y'all. I have very talented friends. Very sweet, kind, and talented friends indeed. I love seeing what they do, but even more I love to support their exciting endeavors! 

I called up my one of my sweet friends, Katy, and asked her to shoot some pictures for me. You've probably heard me mention her here before, her shop is Katy Michele Designs and I'm in love with her products! Chic and trendy, she's a classy gal and so is her work. 

She's really got an eye for photography and her work is stunning. Katy's photographed for her products, of course, and dancers for a past position. Lately she's been doing more headshots and lifestyle shoots and I couldn't resist any longer. I've always told her I'd love to have her shoot some pics for me and we were able to get together this past week!

It was a total blast! Crazy quick changes in my car, running around downtown OKC trying to get the best light and background. It was a ball! And there's nothing like shooting with someone who knows you. Katy gave great direction and her peppy personality relaxed me and put me at ease. Plus, she's an honest friend who will help you look the best--thank you, m'am!

She sent me a couple of sneak peeks and I squealed when they came through! I'm excited to see the rest! Thank you, thank you, Katy for making me feel like a million bucks!  

Photo by Katy Michele Designs

Photo by Katy Michele Designs

Side Note: I made the blue skirt last summer and picked up my cute Texas necklace from Nan Lee Jewelry in McKinney, TX. 

Happy First Day of Spring

Spring, Favorite ThingsJulie StanleyComment

It's the first day of Spring! What a beautiful season!

All my tulips are in bloom and look how gorgeous! 

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This is one of my favorite seasons, a lovely time of change and growth. 

A time to bloom and oh, what a sight it is! 

It's simply beautiful. 

"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'
- Robin Williams

Really, I couldn't agree more! Happy Spring, everyone! Now get out there and go plant something!

Opening Night!

DanceJulie StanleyComment

It's Opening Night! I feel like this show has gone by considerably faster than most but here we are, ready to rock another Spring Show with some fabulous pieces! I've got a dino dance I can't wait to see with an audience--it's pure ridiculous entertainment and I'm in love with it!

I really can't tell you or even begin to explain how much fun it is to choreograph a piece revolving around an inflatable dinosaur or how elated I felt after every session I danced prepping for my "Boogie Shoes" number. Pure bliss. Music that makes you feel, makes you move and ideas that set your brain and heart on fire really do make a huge difference in the creative process. I'm honestly grateful for what has been a very fun and fulfilling spring show this year. 

Seriously. You can help but smile and giggle watching a dancing dino. 

inflatable t rex gif

I'll be so sad to see it end this weekend, but I'm pretty darn thankful I've got a director and company willing to take a risk with my crazy ideas and fully support it from conception to presentation.  

Alright y'all! Let's get this show on the road! Break legs, dancers!

Best opening night of your life: Go!

Springing into Fashion

Favorite Things, Spring, FashionJulie StanleyComment

Alright y'all. It's almost spring and after several days of living in studio space and theaters wearing spandex and sweatpants, it's time for a change! I've got all sorts of looks I'm dying to try this spring so I put together a little wish list.  

This floral print is sublime. Big, beautiful, and simple.

You know what else you need with a great top or pretty skirt? Great shoes!

I've got my eye on some peep toe booties and block heeled sandals this season. How cute will these be with those floral skirts and dresses? 

Photo from Dillards.com. Click the link for info. 

Photo from Dillards.com. Click the link for info. 

Photo from Dillards.com. Click the link for info. 

Photo from Dillards.com. Click the link for info. 

No outfit would be complete without a proper purse. How about this sweet pink rose bag by Kate Spade? Doesn't this just say "spring" to you?!

Photo from KateSpade.com. Click for more info. 

Photo from KateSpade.com. Click for more info. 

Spring isn't just about flowers though. I've been eyeing these sporty t-shirt dresses for a while and I know my closet could use a little something-something like this, too. 

Photo from OldNavy.com. Click for more info. 

Photo from OldNavy.com. Click for more info. 

I'm in love with these easy t-shirt dresses! They look so comfy, throw them on, grab a jean jacket or a comfy cardigan and you're off!

Photo from Anthropologie.com. Click for more info. 

Photo from Anthropologie.com. Click for more info. 

Oh, but don't forget your cute white tennis shoes! PS--those also look great with some cropped relaxed jeans and a comfy shirt.

UGH! It's all so cute!

Looks like now that I've got my shopping list all ready it's time to get to shopping! 

Ladies, what's on your spring list this season?

Show Week: Theater Musts!

Favorite Things, DanceJulie StanleyComment

We just wrapped up blocking weekend and it's time to really move into the theater! Every night this week I'll be sitting in the dark watching the whole show go up. Lights, costumes, haze, you name it, it's on! 

Show week can really be one of the more stressful times of the season but I think you just have to know what it is you need to make it a smoother process. First of all, I meal prep. I plan out every meal and set it up so it's a grab-and-go situation. Dinner is always simple, usually leftovers I can reheat in a jiffy. Simple, easy stuff that fuels me--that's it! 

Secondly, I pack the life essentials in my bag for show week. This is everything that makes me feel good and caters to every need I could have sitting in a auditorium for hours. Here they are: 

Ten Must-Have Show Week Items

1. Water bottle. Theaters can be really dry so I make sure to stay hydrated with a water bottle I can refill over and over again. This is a Pioneer Woman water bottle from Wal-Mart and I love it! It came with the cutest lunch bag that I use for my prepped lunches and dinners. 

2. Saline Spray. Like I said, theaters are dry and old and full of gosh only knows! I spray my nose and blow three times before I go in and I do it again at the end of the night when I leave.  I know, TMI, but I'm telling you it really does clear out your nasal passages of whatever dust and crud you've been breathing in. 

3. Eye drops. Dry air = dry eyes. Rinsing my peepers with some drops at the end of the night re-moisturizes them AND cleans out whatever got in. 

4. Essential Oils. Say what you want, but I believe 100% in a few smells: Peppermint to prevent headaches, lavender to stay calm, and lemon in my water for taste and to cleanse my system. Mix the three together and you get a sinus protection that yes, you got it, helps in a dry theater full of dust!  I mix these with coconut oil so they last and it tempers the strong scent for those flavors.

5. Lip balm and lotion. Man, that dry air, I'm telling you! It just gets me so I lather up my hands so they don't crack and I apply a quick swipe of lip balm to keep my lips from cracking, too. I also try to use a light or non-scented lotion so I don't bother my fellow choreographers and the management team. Some scents are just too much in a close space. 

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6. Book Light. Whether you're following a script for a musical or just reading through the tech sheet, this little guy will come in handy more than you can know! 

7. Scarf, wrap or sweatshirt. Theaters always tend to be on the cold side so your better to dress in layers. For some it's a big comfy sweatshirt, for others it's a giant scarf you can wrap yourself in--it's honestly whatever floats your boat! 

8. Hair ties. I tend to wear my hair down so I release tension from having it pulled back all day, but after a while it gets in the way. I made this cute hair ties I can wear on my wrist in case I need to whip my hair back. Some people opt for a hat, too. 

9. Snacks. Settle on in because it's going to be a long night!  Or week. Even if you ate dinner beforehand, you're bound to get a little hungry as the night wears on so pack something that will offer you protein or a bit of energy! Nuts are good, trail mix, a meat/cheese pack or even an apple with some PB. I like grabbing Almond M&M's because hey, nuts have protein, and the chocolate gives me a sweet little jolt. 

10. A good attitude! Yup, I went there and ended with a super cheesy line, but it's true! I try to get my mind relaxed and ready for anything. Right now it's about getting the show up and running and that's going to take as long as it needs. If I'm not mentally present or anxious about when we'll get done, I'm going to be more of a stressball than necessary. So, I relaxed, I mentally prepare and I enjoy the magic of bringing in another show. How many people get to do this for a living? This is a time to feel lucky and excited to see it all come together! 

Everyone has a different system that works for them and every theater set-up is different, too, but after years of performing and now choreographing, I stick closely to this list. Honestly, it's whatever you need to survive a busy, busy week! 

If you're ever in a show or needing to tweak your own list, these might be things to consider! Even if you're not performing, this list is great for traveling! 

What items do you keep handy for those busier times of the year? 

Friday Five: Five Meatless Recipes

Friday Five, Recipes, SpringJulie StanleyComment

No meat on Friday's at this time of year and it never fails that I scramble for dinner ideas. SO, here are five ideas I'm mulling over for dinner the next few weeks! 

Friday Five: Meatless Meal Ideas

1. Pizza - Can't go wrong with a good veggie pizza or even go for a margarita pizza. Either one works for me especially if it's homemade or from my favorite pizza place, Hideaways! 

2. Pasta - I like a tortellini dish with tomato sauce and a side of salad. Of course there's an Asian noodle dish I like from the Barefoot Contessa, too. Dress some pasta up with sauce, veggies, lemons or fish, doesn't matter 'cause pasta is G-O-O-D! Did I mention mac'n cheese is a total option here? 'Cause it is and I think I will definitely put this on my menu plan.

3. Fish  - I enjoy a good salmon filet now and again. I like it baked with lemon and veggies, but if I'm feeling a little adventurous, a honey ginger sauce glaze can shake things up with a spicy kick. 

4. Shrimp - These little guys can be fixed up just about anyway but I sure do like 'em pan seared! Pioneer Woman has a Summer Stir Fry that's really nice and I just made a shrimp etouffee on Mardi Gras that hit the spot. You can't go wrong with shrimp. Unless you're allergic. Then it can go really wrong. So don't eat shrimp if you're allergic. 

5. Veggie night - This could be baked potatoes and salad or even just a big ol' salad with lots of fixin's. How about a zucchini quesadilla? Not everyone is a veggies fan but I think it's all about how you whip it up. Pick a fun new dressing for a salad or protein up your baked potato with cottage cheese. In fact, add some cheese and quinoa to your broccoli and you've got yourself a nice bowl of awesomeness. 

Alright folks, what are some of your favorite meatless meal ideas?

Homemade Shrimp Etouffee was a perfect! I have to remember more shrimp for Pyro Man! He tried to pick them all out for his own bowl! 

Homemade Shrimp Etouffee was a perfect! I have to remember more shrimp for Pyro Man! He tried to pick them all out for his own bowl! 

I said "LENT," not "LINT"

Celebrations, Holidays, Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

The Lenten season is upon us! No, not "lint" like what's in your bellybutton. That's just grody. No, I'm talking about Lent, a religious observance of prayer and fasting in the Catholic faith (and other denominations). 

I've found though, that regardless of whether people are Catholic or not, a majority of folks actually enjoy partaking in this particular 40 day process for a number of different reason. My husband is one of them. I think he particularly likes the challenge of being able to follow through with something for six weeks steadily. 

For me, it's a time of total renewal with my faith, clear off the dust on my soul, and check back in to what's important. How does that happen? It's a time of penance and usually you give up a little something to know what it's like to walk in His shoes for a few days.  

Wait, wait! Before you go running from this site thinking, "she's gonna preach!" I'm not. It's not my style. But I will say that this is my most favorite time of year with the church. Every year there's a new lesson to be learned and I find it really does help me feel reconnected. 

It's a challenge to select the right focus for the season. Some people give up things for the time, hoping to gain perspective on how difficult it is to do without a favored item.  I've given up things I adore like coffee and peanut butter, both of which might seem minor but are items I count my survival by on the daily. Some people choose to focus on giving back rather than giving up. I've done this by trying to send letters to people and finding ways to offer help to those around me. Sometimes it's making a conscious effort to connect to the Holy Spirit by way of conscious prayer, holding true to no meat of Friday's and attendance at mass every Sunday. 

I don't think there's every been a Lenten season where I haven't been tempted or actually fallen off the path I set myself on. It's finding a deep self discipline that makes you stronger and keeps you from succumbing to whatever is pulling you off track. 

I also think this journey is incredibly personal. There's an outward appearance of what is sacrificed, but no one can know the journey of these six weeks better than you. In fact, I think it goes beyond just "giving up" something. I truly believe you gain more than you gave up. 

So let's say Lent isn't something you've done before or you don't follow a faith that subscribes to, consider it a period of refocusing.  I couldn't think of a better time than now to let go of some of things in order to gain new perspective and appreciation. Heck, you might even find a little inner peace and we all could use some peace these days.  Don't you agree?

Ever taken part in Lent? What about just giving something up for a time? What did you do to stay the path and how did you feel afterwards? 

New Jams

New JamsJulie StanleyComment

This. On repeat ALL day today. 

You're welcome. 

Happy Saturday, Ya'll! 

What's your weekend jam right now?

 

Berry-licious

Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Happy Friday, Y'all! 

Here's to hoping you have a "berry" good end to your week!

Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts--we may be looking at another cold front sooner than you think! 

Dreaming of those summer berries! Anyone else looking forward to warmer weather and brighter colors?

Sew Many Lessons

Projects, Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Every time I see a dress or skirt or top that catches my eye, I think, "ooh! I could make that!" because in my brain, anything can be made. I trot myself down to the local fabric store, sit my pretty self down at the pattern books and start making lists of everything I'm going to make. 

Recently I hit a sale on Simplicity patterns and picked up a bunch I knew I really wanted to try. I've attempted a few projects in the last couple years in hopes I'll get better at this whole sewing things. This last weekend I set my mind to making a cute spring top with as minimal colorful adult phrases as possible. 

Well, I did it. Made the top. It's not perfect but I made it through without tears or yelling and the top ain't half bad either. I've even got my next pattern lined up, determined I'm going to make it through at least three more projects before May. 

There's a little life lesson in everything. For me, I'm reminded of some good solid ones through this sewing journey. 

  1. You can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes work.
  2. You have to keep practicing, keep trying and keep going.
  3. You can ask for help and you should whenever you need it. 
  4. You should be proud of the work you completed.
  5. You must continue to pursue the work if it keeps calling to you. 

So I will keep on keeping on, learning all that I can and practicing. I'll be proud of the work I complete and appreciate all the imperfections--they were all mini lessons to be learned along on the way. 

It looks a little like a scrubs top and I'm thinking it really needs some darts but this is me really refraining from telling you every thought I have on this top. In all sincerity, I couldn't be more proud that I actually made this thing in less than six months. Praise the sewing gods! 

Happy Wednesday, ya'll! 

What projects have you been working on lately? 

What Up Monday?

Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Hey there, Monday.

I'm ready for ya.

Just give me like five more minutes to snooze...

zzz....

Extra coffee today, please...

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Menu Planning, Oh Boy!

Favorite Things, Life & Time, ProjectsJulie Stanley1 Comment

I'm a planner--I blame my mother for this in the absolute best way possible. I remember the day she had a black book then brown book and now she's full on internet based. Everything was written in the calendar and if it wasn't written down, the event just simply did not exist. 

Her ability to keep track of my sister's life, my life, my dad's life, and her own just seemed like second nature with that book. To me, you were a grown up if you had a planner and man, did I want to seem grown up! Mom's influence carried over into college where I went to school in this wonderful bubble that required you to have a planner--legitimately--and I lived by that thing. Every moment of my life was planned back then because there was so much to do. Homework time, work out times, grocery runs, meal times and more. There was not a moment to be wasted!

Between a busy schedule and a budget, I had to get smart about planning out meals. When was the best day to make something? When was the best day for leftovers? How can I not eat out multiple times a week? To top it off, I love cooking and baking so menu planning keeps me in check on the off (read: probable) chance that I will over cook and over purchase and have end up with food going bad. 

I know folks who just exclaim, "I couldn't possible do that!" Well, you could--it's really a choice that takes practice and honestly, a little self discipline. Some people love it and some people don't. It works for me and my family mostly because it helps our ship run better. I try not to take forever on it, but some weeks are easier than others. Planning can be a breeze if you just set a timer and hit hard an fast, 10 minutes. Get in, get out and no one gets hurt. 

Say you're not in the camp of loving menu planning, totally understand! What if I gave you a couple of tips to help make it easier--would you try it? Great! Let's give it a go: 

1. Check your calendar--What's your busiest day, longest day? Take note and plan on leftovers that night. Boom. One night down. What's your shortest and easiest day? That's your meal making night. 

For example, Sunday's and Monday's are easy for me to cook a meal--they're pretty low stress and I'm usually the most energized from a weekend of rest. Tuesday's and Wednesday's are long for my husband so we do leftovers from Monday and Tuesday. 

2. Plot out the week--When I write down the days I'm doing leftovers (even if I don't know what they are yet), it makes it easier to see how many meals I'm making and what exactly I need to buy. Here's what a typical week looks like: 

Sunday - New Meal
Monday - New Meal
Tuesday - Sunday Leftovers
Wednesday - Monday Leftovers
Thursday - New Meal
Friday - Thursday Leftovers
Saturday - New Meal (Smaller) --> like a pizza that I eat for lunch on Sunday or a small grilled meal or it's our eat out night. 

3. Check your pantry and look at the ads--Plan your menu around what you got and what's on sale. I usually make three meals a week and plan a generic lunch I can take when I'm not hitting the leftovers. I have a running list of meals we like and I usually pull from there each week. 

If I can use what I have and purchase just a few ingredients, I call that a win. 

4. Insert the meals you want to make! Balance it out for you and your budget. I can't live on rice and pasta all week or eat only one meal all week like my husband suggests ("It'd save money!"). No one can live on one dinner for seven days and leftovers four nights in a row gets old. 

I'm that weirdo that dreams about menus and salivates over the meals I can't wait to make. Like I said earlier, not every week is like that though. Sometimes it's a struggle to find something! That's where you're list of favorite meals comes in handy. Stick it on the fridge and use it for inspiration when needed! 

Honey sometimes helps, but mostly she wants to lay on my papers. 

Honey sometimes helps, but mostly she wants to lay on my papers. 

I think what also helps, really helps actually, is having a menu planner on the fridge. Everyone knows what's for dinner for the week and you can clearly plan it all out ahead of time. My personal favorite is this Knock Knock pad. 

It's $7 on Amazon right now, but there's a ton more you can search for online that have different layouts. In any case, I've run through several of these puppies in the last few years--it's a 60 page pad of paper meaning you can mess up a couple times a year and still have plenty of sheets left over!

Now that I'm all planned out, it's time to start shopping! Although I think Honey would prefer we just stay in an nap. Happy menu planning all! 

I just get a kick out of planning. And this crazy weirdo cat of mine!

I just get a kick out of planning. And this crazy weirdo cat of mine!

What's your favorite meal to make during the week?

Lesson Learned: The Tale of Sad Co-Workers

RecipesJulie StanleyComment

Well, Monday night, after a particularly long day, I set out to whip up a batch of Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies for my Valentine. We went light this year since we've had some big changes and it was going to be a busy week. Make the cookies, no problem. Or so I thought. 

No, the problem happened when I posted about said cookies and then did not show up to work with aforementioned cookies. Every time I bake I usually bring up the batch to share with everyone at work--it's a nice to have a sweet treat now and again and I love sharing. I didn't do that this time and it did not go unnoticed! 

I got a little razzing from some folks and they made me laugh so hard about it, but I tell you what: I will NEVER post about cookies without bringing some to share at work! I'm glad those little bits of goodness bring some sunshine to people's day. Plus, we dancers thoroughly enjoy our sweet treats! 

PS--These super easy and delicious cookies were found on Pinterest. The recipe is from Sally's Baking Addiction. Give them a try and I promise you won't be sorry! 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Celebrations, HolidaysJulie StanleyComment

Happy Valentine's Day, ya'll! 

I love this happy pink, red, and white heart filled day! It's a day full of sweet treats, beautiful thoughts, and a whole lotta love! What more could I possibly need?

I hope you all have an especially sweet Valentine's day!

Much love and sugar, 

Julie Blue 

Birthday Celebrations for Penny!

Family, Penny PupJulie StanleyComment

My sweet little shadow is three years old today! Happy birthday precious, Penny Pup! You're the best travel buddy, my favorite sous chef, an exuberant walking buddy, and the best foot warmer in the world.

She's been a constant companion for me ever since we brought her home. I can't imagine a single day without this pup. Here's to another year of throwing frisbees, tearing apart woobies, snuggling close to Mama, running crazy with Dad and hoping for more peanut butter snacks! 

Happy Birthday, Penelope Petunia! 

Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

FamilyJulie StanleyComment

I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I even had a running lists of the foods she didn't like so I could remember what foods I wouldn't like either. 

I wanted to be a big kid just like her, with homework and no recess and cool friends, too. I wanted to be smart like her and play volleyball just like her--turns out volleyball was not my calling even though she tried to teach me how to actually hit the ball, not eat it. 

She's got a quick wit, a wonderful sense of humor, and the best muppet impression by far. She's one of my biggest champions, the first to draw her sword when little sister is in trouble. She'll break out the pompoms when it's time to celebrate and she's got a signature dance move I bet she didn't know I've actually borrowed a time or two. 

Occasionally she steals my stuff but I take it to mean I've hit her status of cool, maybe. We share the same love for hot chocolate chip cookies and an appreciation for shared recipes. We still love a good musical and great sing-a-long and fortunately that's something my precious niece loves to do, too. She's made two awesome little people that I love more than anything and bestowed the honoring title of "Nannie" to me nearly five years ago. 

Even as an adult, I can still manage to be a little sister and no matter how much older we get, she's still my Big Sister and she'll always be there.

Happy birthday, Sarah!  

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating another year here! I love you very much! Or as Grandma would say it, je t'aime en bien beaucoup! Much inflection on the "bien"!