Julie Blue

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!

Julie 61.jpg

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

Julie 64.jpg

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

Julie 63.jpg

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?

Little Moments

Life & Time, Marriage, Penny PupJulie StanleyComment

Last week of classes! Holla!!!!

We are coming up on the end of this spring semester, "we" being my husband and I. It's hard to believe that we are already through this time, it's blown by so fast! His first semester is done and we've managed to be back under the same roof for four straight months. And we still like each other. It's just nuts, man. 

When I dreamt about him coming home, I knew I didn't want to take little moments for granted. I really wanted to savor all the times I had with him without making them heavy. It's just, I missed so much of the little things while we were a part that I didn't want to miss out on them when he came home.

The semester has been busy for both of us, no surprise there, honestly, and yet we've been able to make time for one another. Breakfast together on Sunday's, yard work for a Saturday afternoon, and date nights on Friday's even if it's home watching whatever series we're binging. Lately it's just been neighborhood walks. Sometimes it's a lot of conversation, something it's just about walking side by side. Well, side by Penny by side--you know, the dog's got to be right there between her people so, there ya go. In any case, we've made sure that there's a time for each other no matter how busy life gets. 

Just thinking in calendar time, we're a third of the way through 2017 now. A third! Four months can go by hurriedly and if we're not careful we can find a lot of wasted time or missed opportunities. I think we've been consciously making choices to slow down and take in those little moments and I think it's made this year pretty stellar so far. 

Here's to all those little moments and how big of an impact they actually make!

Oh, and here's to the start of summer because, duh, it's summer! Cheers! 

What's a little important moment for you?

Friday Five

Friday Five, Favorite Things, Life & Time, SpringJulie StanleyComment

It's Friday, yay! We made it through the week, tackled those projects, and got stuff done! I tell you what, after weeks like this, a Friday sure does feel like the first sip of a good cold cocktail. I certainly plan on toasting to the weekend! 

Alright, Friday Five! Back at it this week. I just read an article about hygge in Women's Health the other day. There's a great New Yorker article here from December, but BASICALLY it's about finding that feeling on being comfortable and cozy, really. It seems it's the little things that make you feel, well, happy and content, I suppose. So, in the spirit of hygge, I've got five things that have just brought me pure joy during these last few busy weeks. 

Friday Five

Little Bits of Happy

 

1.  Pen Mate Markers - I love putting pen to paper for lists and calendars, it just feels relaxing to me. I'm pretty picky about what pens I use to write in my Passion Planner specifically so I took a gamble on trying some a couple single Pen Mate Markers from Office Depot. Y'all. I'm in love and I've got a package sitting in my Amazon cart ready for purchase as an end-of-school treat! 

2. Gardening - We spent last weekend cleaning up our front and back yards as well as our little box garden. Two years ago we had a thriving vegetable garden that brought us so many tomatoes, cilantro, squash, and jalepenos. We loved it! But summer work got in the way and we put a pause button on it. BUT, after cleaning everything out, we've got cucumbers, cantaloupes, and watermelons planted! Hoping we're going to have another successful harvest this year! I've got flower seeds to plant, too, a total inspiration per Lara Casey's Instagram Stories. That women is so inspirational and her garden is stunning to say the least. I want a vase of flowers on the kitchen table every day or at least that's the dream! 

3. Bai Drinks - Oh my word, they're so good. I was in heaven with their coconut flavor and then I tried the mango and last weekend I had their watermelon one. So. darn. GOOD! Even the bubble versions are delicious! Try the pineapple, you won't regret it! 

4. Smokehouse Flavored Almonds - I love those salty smokey things. A handle with a pepper jack cheese stick and I'm one happy girl. In fact, I think that's going to be my snack today! 

5. Bella Grace Magazine - My mom sent me to look for this magazine at Barnes and Noble last fall and I thought it would cry. It's a work of art really and a journaling lover's dream come true. There are beautiful articles to read, take-your-breath-away pictures and exercises to do that tap into your creativity or just let your mind wander for a moment. In following them on Instagram, I answered one of their questions. When I picked up this season's edition of a whim, I opened up the article to find this...

See a familiar name?!

See a familiar name?!

Day = Made!

Look, Mom! I'm published! Just kidding. But really...

Alright y'all!  Here's to hoping you find your own little bits of happiness throughout your weekend! Happy Friday everybody! 

Coral Cold Shoulder

Fashion, SpringJulie StanleyComment

Sometimes you gotta give 'em the cold shoulder. 

And then a wicked happy smile because, hey, I'm really loving these style right now! The cut out shoulder just adds some fun for these gorgeous spring days. 

This dress is so comfy and breezy and pretty friendly on the budget. I'm definitely a Target shopper--I can't help by take a pass through their clothes and find something that I need! I especially adore their Knox Rose collection. 

Throw on some glamorous earrings and spruce it up with a sweet pom-pom duster like this one. I picked mine up at a cute boutique in Graham, Texas called The Tattered Pearl. I actually worse this dress for Easter with a my fringed cardigan over it and a different pair of tan wedges. Worked perfectly for a whimsical church dress and no fussing with it during mass! Win-win, people! 

This is one outfit that made me pleased as punch to wear and when an outfit does that, you can't help but strut it out! 

Got anything in your closet right now that does the same?

Good Morning, Monday!

Life & TimeJulie StanleyComment

Hello sweet readers! It's a new day, another start to the week and time to get cracking! I'm starting this week with a lot of coffee after a restful weekend! How 'bout you?

After what seemed like a whirlwind of four weeks, I finally had a weekend where I could do crazy things like vacuum my house, clean out the kitchen, grocery shop and unearth my kitchen table. I'm not going to lie, it felt so darn good to do that! I'm no neat freak, but I certainly like a tidy space and it just got ridiculous there for a hot minute. 

Sometimes you just have to take a moment to clear it out  and give yourself a clean work space--I truly believe that can help you set the tone for a fresh start. Monday's can be a great day to refresh, too, first day of the new week and all. They might not be everyone's favorite day of the week, certainly not mine, however, it's still possible to give it a positive beginning for you.

Take a quick five minutes today and clear off your work space, empty out the dishwasher or clear off the kitchen counter where you eat. Set a timer and just do it. See how you feel afterwards. It might just give your mind an open space to think through to-do lists or give you a moment to breathe. 

So happy Monday, y'all! I've got to finish up my coffee before I run out the door and on to the next thing for the day. At least I know I have a clear kitchen table to sit at when I come home for dinner. 

Cheers to a new day! 

Springing into Style

Fashion, SpringJulie StanleyComment

It's spring time for real people. The cold weather has left the building and it's been beautiful sunshine lately! In short, I'm in heaven! Break out the shorts and fun cardigans--good weather is here to stay!

This easy outfit makes me feel classy and comfy all at the same time. A touch of lace, a touch of boho fringe. What's not to love? 

There's nothing like a perfect spring day, am I right?

 

Bag: Vera Bradley

Sunglasses: Vera Bradley

Top, Shorts, and Necklace: Loft

Cardigan and Flats: Target 

Photos by Katy Michele Designs. 

Tied Up

Fashion, ProjectsJulie StanleyComment

Hair ties. Hairbands. They're an every day necessity, truly. 

I don't like my hair in my face when I teach dance and too often I get into intense work sessions where I need my hair pulled back. So when I say these little hair elastics are necessary, I mean it AND I'm sure most women would agree with me on that. 

I'm a purist at heart, too. Simple bands are all I need, but lately I've gotten bored of the standard athletic elastic headbands and my plain ol' black ponytail holders. Some of those packets can be expensive though and for what I'm paying, I want to LOVE those colors, not just kinda-sorta-stand them. What's a girl to do, right?

Well, I'll tell you what I did--I went out and made some. That's right, I made some and they turned out to be a really simple project, too! 

Your local Hobby Lobby or fabric store will have rolls of elastic ribbon you can pick up. It's a matter of measuring and stitching together or tying off. See? Simple! Five minutes, that's all you need, I swear! 

Simple Instructions

I found that 18.5 inches of ribbon worked well for my headbands according my head measurements. You can measure your own headbands out, double the length and try that if it works for you. I stitched the ends together, leaving a little tail, no more than a quarter of an inch, and made sure to back stitch for strength.

About 5 inches of ribbon was used for the hair ties and wrapped together at the ends to form the knot. Again, you can measure your favorite ponytail holders--just fold in half, measure, and double the length before knotting. Nothing to it. You can burn the ends, too, so the ribbon doesn't fray. 

I picked out several styles of ribbon; feminine, cute, wild, and sparkly. It's a couple bucks for a roll of ribbon which means I could make multiples if they broke, I lost one, wore it out, share with friends, or if my cat ate it (true story). 

There's nothing earth shattering about this project--it's just an easy and simple one that might add a little somethin'-somethin' to your spring outfits or workout wear. If you'll excuse me, I've got to make a new ponytail holder, since my cat just chewed up my favorite one. Gross. 

What's your favorite 5 minute project to make? 

New Birthday Cake Traditions

Holidays, Recipes, SpringJulie Stanley1 Comment

Janson's birthday was last week and I was totally flabbergasted when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted.  Usually a red velvet or strawberry boxed cake will do for my man, but this year he asked for a new cake: Boston Cream Pie Cake. 

Challenge accepted! 

I started doing my research and the more I talked with him about it the more I began to realize that he had a very specific idea of how he wanted it done, too. No, it couldn't be a sheet cake, it had to be round. Wouldn't it be cool if it was a poke cake so the pudding could fit all the way through each layer? Ladies and gents, this man knew exactly what he wanted. 

I took a crack at it, just like he wanted, boxed cake with icing and instant pudding, too. Truth be told, it turned out a lot easier than if I had done it all from scratch, but I'm thinking I'll try my hand at it again without the instant options just to see the difference. 

The only problem with trying out something for the first time is you run into little bumps in the road and the pictures doesn't turn out quite as pretty as you hoped. In fact, I took very few pictures because I was too busy figuring this sucker out and in the learning process, it didn't turn out too pretty...Who cares though! It's birthday cake! 

The anticipation of the first piece! 

The anticipation of the first piece! 

OK, so here it is, a quick and dirty recipe for what turned out to be a deliciously ugly cake: 

Boston Cream Pie Cake

1 box of yellow cake mix - make according to directions

1 box of instant vanilla pudding (two for extra thick layers and leftover pudding) - make according to directions

1 can of milk chocolate frosting

My mother is probably cringing with thought of all boxed items right now, no doctoring necessary. I actually wish I could see her face while she's reading this.  

We dove in before I got a shot, clearly too excited to try it! 

We dove in before I got a shot, clearly too excited to try it! 

Bake two round layer cakes, let them cool and pop them out onto a rack. After they're cooled, whip up your instant pudding. While it's still a little on the liquid state, place your bottom layer on your plate for serving. Poke holes in the cake with the round end of a large spoon and drizzle about half the pudding on top of the bottom layer of cake. Fill in the holes well and smooth the pudding of the top. 

Take the second layer of cake and place on top. Poke holes just like you did before and drizzle the rest of the pudding on top. This is where I made my mistake. Don't get to too much pudding up there. A light layer will do you just fine! 

We went a little too heavy on the pudding, people. Just a warning. Also, please excuse our fridge. 

We went a little too heavy on the pudding, people. Just a warning. Also, please excuse our fridge. 

Chill the cake as is for 1-2 hours. 

Pull the cake out and warm 1/4 to 1/2 the can of icing in the microwave BRIEFLY. It doesn't need to be melted, just soft enough to drizzle and spread. 30 seconds is too long so I aimed for 20--try 10-15 seconds and stir. Let it cool for a moment before drizzling on top, letting a little slide on the side. 

Now, if you made it too hot, it will immediately slide off to the side. No problem. The icing cools quickly, just use a spatula to scrap the sides and spread back on top carefully not to mix with the pudding.

Honestly, this is why my cake turned out a little on the messy side presentationally speaking. The pudding never melted or slide anywhere after being chilled, but that darn icing was a tad too warm and slide right off. If you can't tell, the presentation of this cake is supremely bothering me. 

Once the icing is in place, put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour and then voila! You have yourself a very quick Boston Cream Pie Cake! 

*Always store this in your fridge. We used a cake dome on top to keep instead of plastic otherwise the icing would have pulled out with cling-wrap.* 

It's super sweet so you don't need a massive piece or else you'll be on sugar overload. It's really tasty, that's for sure, but I'd edit a few things next time I do it. 

We actually ate a piece for breakfast the next morning. I mean, it's practically a donut anyway so I see no problems here...

Next time we try it from scratch with pictures and a beautiful finished product. Really though, who cares? We're not meant to look at cake--we're meant to eat it! Am I right? 

Hands down, what's your favorite birthday cake to have?

Cake 5.jpg