Just a Little Sunday Hello!

Hello!

Good morning! Or afternoon or evening, whenever you’re reading this!

Just a quick little post to say hi y’all! I’ve been eyeball deep in work, no surprise, but I’ve also been actively trying to enjoy the downtime I have in the evenings and weekends. Somehow taking a little less pressure off myself to accomplish and do all the things seemed like a bright idea to reduce stress. Who’da thunk?

In that down time I’ve gotten to enjoy finally seeing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I love it! I think Amy Sherman-Palladino is brilliant and I love her quirky style, fast dialogue, and the characters she creates (read: original Gilmore Girls fan). In any case, yes, I know I’m late to the game but I really wanted to like it and surprise, I actually loved it! On to season two!

I wrapped up The Bear & The Nightingale trilogy. If you are someone that enjoys fantasy books, this one is really lovely. Katherine Arden blends Russian folklore together with some historical references, it’s very light and she’s well aware she’s mixing things together for this beautiful story. Essentially you follow the story of a young woman on her journey to fully embracing herself as a witch by watching her grow up, mess up and rise above all the struggles, and she she has a lot. In a lot of ways, if you strip away all the folklore, you read about woman growing up, discovering who she is, learning to embrace that even if it costs her the security of familiarity by walking down the traditional path. I know I’m summarizing three books very, very broadly.

There are tons of books that take on that subject, most likely set in current day, but what I really liked about this character is that she never shied away from what she knew she needed to do or wanted to do. Even if her family told her, “this is a terrible idea,” she went through with it because she knew it was what was best for her. I get very tired reading about the same character that has a responsibility and doesn’t want to step up to the plate. For Vasilisa, our heroine, she just continues to plow ahead without really sitting down to feel sorry for herself (Thank you!).

Here are all three books with the most gorgeous covers! Yes, marketing teams are totally selling to people like me.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the fun read and it was something different to dive into. Plus, any time I can find a series I’m usually sold. I love seeing characters continue on and if I’m really enjoying the book, there’s nothing better than knowing another story is around the corner!

Currently I’m wrapping up Life in Motion by Misty Copeland. I picked up her book just before school started as a nice way to get back into reading more on dance. When I think back to my college days, I couldn’t believe I got to spend so much of my time immersed in dance and I thoroughly enjoyed our dance history classes. Reading and writing about dance? Yes, please and thank you, more please!

But as many people will tell you, when your hobby becomes your job, and know that dance was always more than hobby for me, things shift a bit. Your whole world revolves around the subject and there’s no other creative outlet outside of that passion which means the chance of burnout is pretty strong. So, I tend to turn off a lot of dance things at home in order to recharge a bit. I listen to podcasts, I ready murder mysteries and fantasies, I cook and bake, study fashion bloggers, and anything else I can find to let my dancer brain rest.

I wish I could be that person that’s always fueled by it, completely content to think, talk, dream, do nothing but dance, but I’m simply not. For a long time I thought that made me a terrible dancer if I wasn’t 1,000% committed all the time. I actually came to realize that it helps make me a more well rounded person and therefore better at my job because I can get perspective.

In any case, I thought this year I could dedicate some time outside of work to dance a little more often and do it because I wanted to, not because I needed research for a project or lecture. See the difference there? Whether that was spending an afternoon watching a dance documentary or a musical or reading a dance related book, I just wanted to enjoy it simply for pleasure again.

So here we are, reading Misty Copeland’s book and I’m definitely enjoying it. I only knew a fraction of her story and I was always fascinated with her. My niece in particular thinks she’s amazing and she is. How she got where she is was truly a path of hard work, dedication, pure love for the art, and a whole heck of a lot of believers supporting her.

Alright y’all, that’s my Sunday wrap up! I’ve got a week full of choreography and grading ahead so it’s time to get back to work. But if you’ve got any reading suggestions, let me know in the comments section. I’m always looking for another good read!

Penny likes a good read so long as there’s cheek scratches to go with it!

Penny likes a good read so long as there’s cheek scratches to go with it!

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Currently Reading...

Back in college, I couldn’t wait for summer to happen so I could dive into reading for pleasure! There simply wasn’t enough time with projects to work on, classes to craft, and tests to study for so summer was the time to catch up.

When adulthood happens, that is to say, life after school, I got really focused on work and suddenly there wasn’t really a summer break to spending reading gobs of books. I just had to somehow fit in reading for fun and I wasn’t very good at that.

To get better with having some fun reading outside of work, I make it a goal to read for 15 minutes every night. I get as far as I need to, sometimes I stay up a little later and sometimes I just crash, either way I get a little closer to my goal of more reading for fun!

Lately I’ve been on a fantasy kick with Bear and the Nightingale (A Winternight Trilogy) by Katherine Arden. Actually, I blew through that so fast and now I’m on to The Girl in the Tower, the second in the trilogy story. If you think I’m stopping at two, you are dead wrong! And oh, they’re great! Russian folklore with a twist, a mysterious magical young woman and her great adventures on a noble stead. Seriously. What more could you ask for?

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She Wore Blue Velvet

I think velvet is divine and this last fall I found a dress on Pinterest, a velvet dress mind you, and I had to have it. Of course I couldn’t find it but I did call my dear sweet mother and asked her pretty please could she help me out and y’all, she did a bang up job on this dress!

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I really wanted a blue velvet dress to wear for our Christmas show performances and I felt so classy and elegant in this pattern my mother made. Yes, my mother is a whiz at sewing. Have I told you she made my wedding dress? From three different patterns? I feel terrible sad for my future children who will not know the fantastic Halloween costumes I had growing up. It’s a skill I work on intermittently and needs attention desperately.

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I digress. So my mother made me this gorgeous dress (yes, I know it’s truly velour fabric) and I’ve been dying to find the right time to wear it again when I saw my favorite childhood musical is coming to town, Phantom of the Opera. Years ago my mother ordered a top hits of Andrew Lloyd Webber album back when CD’s were brand spanking new. I fell in love with every song from Phantom and oh, how I wanted to be Christine Daae! She was beautiful, she could sing like a bird, and everyone (who really mattered in the story) loved her. Sort of sounds like Snow White but a little more dark and haunting. Oh, and no poisonous apples or dreamless sleep.

Dad took me to see the tour when it came through Dallas when I was about twelve and I was just captivated. I’m pretty sure I wore that souvenir sweatshirt until it had holes. When the movie came out, I had the biggest crush on Patrick Wilson. I practically swooned when I met him at a music theater intensive that same summer.

To see a favorite production in a stunning blue dress, what more could gal possibly want? In short, I’m really looking forward to a night at the theater!

You can find a version similar by Calvin Klein at Macy’s or this plunging neckline wrap dress at Lulu’s. Another wrap dress at Dillards is beautiful as is this thin strapped number at Nordstrom!

Do you have a favorite show you enjoy seeing live? Straight play or musical? Opera? Ballet? Spill!

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A Little Relaxation

Made it! Made it to Friday!

And now? I give myself one large glass of wine, my newest book, and one evening to soak with my very favorite bath bombs!

Happy Friday to me!

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Planner Party

All my planners raise their hands! Whoop whoop! I see you, I recognize you and I appreciate you! We planner folk area a tribe in and of itself, lover's of all things organized and visual people who need to see and write the word of our schedule down in order for it to happen. I get you. 

I am that lady that loves shopping for organizational tools, it just makes me feel like I've got my world together! But I actually do use these tools on a daily basis. My schedule is color coded, there's a calendar on the wall for family life, alarms on my Google calendar for major appointments and meal planning lists on the fridge. I cannot function in an online calendar world alone. Pen to paper helps me process what's happening as does seeing what's coming up and writing out the to-do's for the week, month, etc. 

We’ve got 55 days until January 1st hits which, wow, that’s really not that far away! That’s 55 days to hunt down a new planner for the next year and maybe you’re wanting to switch it up a bit. With so many planners out there, you have an infinite amount to choose from ranging from the grocery store finds to the customized exquisite design. I assume people have heard of all the more niche products but in case you haven't, here ya go:

Top Five Planners for a Planner Lover

1. There's the Erin Condren, a beautiful custom designed option, made to your specifications for her Life Planner. There are many, many designs to choose from and you can adjust the layout to fit your hourly or weekly desires. She has so many additional doodads to choose from, it feels like scrapbooking for your life. I wouldn't mind trying one, but I worry the bulkiness of the planner would frustrate me after a time. She does offer petite journals for meal planning, baby information and more as well as wedding planners, teacher planners, academic calendars and just monthly calendars plus so much more! In short, I'd give it a whirl someday and I always go back and look at it each year as an option.  

2. Emily Ley is another one that I like and one I'd be interested in switching to when there is a bigger shift in my life set-up. The Simplified Planner is refined, elegant and chic with a few pops of fun here are there. Where Erin Condren is bright and colorful, this one tends to fall under a more mature feel and color scheme. Bound or spiral, you can find a daily or weekly set-up that fits your style. Her daily only goes to 9 pm which is a bummer for me as so many things go past that time like rehearsals or shows or auditions. Emily is very much into simply tracking and keeping up with your life and to me, it seems like a great fit for mom's who need to coordinate so much. It's definitely a planner to look at someday, but maybe just not yet for me. 

3. May Designs is one I found through a podcast series. I heard an interview with Mica May on the Jess Lively show a couple years back and I was so fascinated by her story I went to check out her products. They are fantastic! May Designs has journals and planners that are all customizable and pretty to boot! She has a ton of options to pick from and there are several designs to choose for setting up the calendar that you want. I personally am interested in just getting one of her journals to have on hand, but my journal collection is currently out of control. She also offers leather folios for the journals and tumblers, screen designs and more. I still shop frequently through her merchandise though! 

4. Day Designer is another popular brand of planners designed by Whitney English. If you are wanting something similar to the Simplified Planner, this is your stop! Day designs runs January to December and she also offers academic planners as well. Unlike some of the others, there is an option to have a leather planner with refills, a la Franklin Covey if you were a fan of that back in the day. I still have my grapefruit pink planner case from Covey--it's too pretty to pass on! It's a daily planner to really help you get your life on track with intentional planning and if you're someone who is trying to hit big goals or make daily habits, this may be the planner for you! 

5. Over the last four years I've been a faithful Passion Planner consumer. A good friend showed me the website when she stumbled upon it the very first year it opened and just… wow. It's truly built around following your passion. The road maps to making your goals was very helpful in starting a year out right. In truth, I've used them less in the last couple years as life has been a bit of rollercoaster but I found that the format really gave me what I desired. A weekly layout with a monthly insert and each week offered a way to divvy up personal and work to-do's nicely. I set an intention every day and thank goodness, the hours go past 9 pm! I am in love with the set-up and how it keeps me accountable. 

BONUS: Last summer I tried out a six month run of the Cultivate What Matters  Goal Planner. This is not so much a planner for weekly and daily life but a planner that helps you set intentions with how you want to spend your time. In short, it's what helps assist your planner.  I loved using it so much that I bought a yearly one last November and have loved using it each month! It's taught how to break down my bigger goals for the year, for the month, the week, and the day. I've learned a ton about what is attainable and what is not. Turns out you can't save the world and cook dinner all in one day, but I can make a step towards my goals and have a date night with my husband if I prioritize well.

Far left is a 6 months one I started with first back in 2017 then did the full year for 2018 and my 2019 just came in!

Far left is a 6 months one I started with first back in 2017 then did the full year for 2018 and my 2019 just came in!

The Cultivate What Matters Goal Planner focuses on finding the balance in what you need in relationships like family and friends, work, health, finances, spiritual and recreational needs. I'm not going to lie, I have a hard time balancing all of these things and this book really helped me figure out how to do that better without stressing. At the beginning of each month, it's listing out everything you want to accomplish and then there is a heart and brain dump essentially. I write out all that's on my mind or weighing heavy on my heart and its very cathartic. I can clear away the clutter and get focused on what can be done and break it down in bits that I can handle. From there, it's a matter of passing that information on to my every day planner and it's helped me immensely! 

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I know, two life planners seems like a lot especially with my love for the Passion Planner. For me it's been the best to help me balance all the things I want to do and all the worries I have about time being split. Since I love journaling so much, this is a joy to spend some quiet time doing that in addition to planning out the month. 

What is your favorite planner to use? 

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Favorite Bath Bombs

I jumped on the bath bomb bandwagon a little late having only really discovered them a couple years ago. It all started off in this cute shop in downtown Rockwall, TX that sells their own and I really loved them--they smelled wonderful and it was a perfect treat when I wanted a night to sit, soak, and relax. But that's not the place that sells my favorite. 

Of course, if you've shopped at Lush, their bath bombs are equally divine and definitely designed with the body in mind using materials guaranteed not to cause infection or irritation to the skin. I love them, too, but I my favorite bath bomb doesn't come from this chain either. I actually found them totally by accident--isn't that how all great finds work though? 

On our trip to Charleston last year, we stopped through the Historic Charleston Market to shop and see all the local finds when I happened upon a booth with the most heavenly scent. This shop, Old Whaling Company had all sorts of scrubs, soaps and you guessed it, bath bombs. I immediately started picking up and inhaling each one, loving everything I touched. I ended up with about four or five to purchase and savored them over the next couple of months. 

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After the last one was gone, I couldn't help but pine for more. Fortunately they ship (Duh, Julie, it's 2018--everyone ships!) so I hopped on their Etsy site just recently to order more and I can't wait to dive into my stash! 

I was so pumped to receive my fragrant shipment! Seriously, the box smelled like a spa, clean and relaxing. I wish our screens were scratch and sniff so you could smell this, too! They send you samples of soap to try and I'm excited to see how I like these two; One is bergamot and grapefruit and then magnolia is the other. 

This company really does keep health in mind when they craft their products, try reading their story here of how the founder got into making their products. Finding a company that really is conscious of what goes into their products makes me feel like a cared for consumer and honestly, the last thing I want to do while I'm soaking is worry about what the heck is floating in my water. 

Penny just about went crazy with all the different smells! 

Penny just about went crazy with all the different smells! 

If you're like me, a bath bomb enthusiast, you really should check out Old Whaling Company! You can mix and match the scents in a bundle or try a few at a time. Shipping is quick and you're sure to get a hand written note and samples included as well--how thoughtful! 

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The only real question now is which one do I start with first? 

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Alright, time to share!

Bath bombs or bath salts? Floral or clean? What's your favorite scent for a soak? 

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I Spy

I spy with my little eye something...yellow. 

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Would you believe this gorgeous oasis is right here in OKC? This little passion project of mine has really given me a reason to explore more parts of this city and I'm loving it!

What's your favorite spot in town? 

 

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Podcast Roundup

As much as I love listening to music or watching a good show, sometimes I need to hear something different. I found podcasts serve as a great substitute for that. Whether it's listening to a story, a bit of business advice, an interview from a neat person, or just news stories, it's something different for my ears. And my brain! 

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Alright folks, it's time for a podcast round up! Whether you're doing some road tripping, commuting to work or heck, just cleaning around the house, here are a couple of podcasts you might enjoy: 

1. Crimetown 

Oooooh, you better run from you mama now! Or so the opening song goes. This one, it's pretty dang good. So good, in fact, that Pyro Man really dug into this story. Crimetown is all about the mob out of Rhode Island and it's inner workings with the government, specifically mayor Buddy Cianci. If you like mob stories, you're going to love this one! 

2. The Daily

I like this one a lot as an every day news briefing. About 20 minutes focused on one element in world news with a few last parting things, "what else you should know today." What I like most about this New York Times podcast is that it's straight facts, some interviews, but mostly facts about what is going on and why it's important to be informed on it. Essentially, I get the 411 on my way to work every day. 

3. Up & Vanished

A documentary film maker turned detective sleuth. Seriously. And it's all true. Payne Lindsey takes you on a journey through his search to find out who killed Tara Grinstad, local Georgia teacher and former beauty queen. The whole story is riveting and something we binged on our way out to Charleston and back last year. If you like mysteries and unsolved crimes, definitely check it out if you haven't yet. 

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4. Goal Digger Podcast

Somehow I found Jenna Kutcher a couple years ago on Instagram and I was drawn to her postings. When she started a podcast for entrepreneurs, I was subscribed without hesitation. What I like about her show is a balance of talking to successful entrepreneurial woman and her own episodes offering tips and tools for business. I find her encouraging, the stories interesting, and the information helpful. Mostly, it just makes me feel inspired. 

BONUS:   How it Works  episode with  Kate Spade is one of my favorites.  

BONUS: How it Works episode with  Kate Spade is one of my favorites.  

That feels like a pretty solid group of shows right there. Trust me, i definitely dig into other ones and I'm always on the hunt for more, but these are a good start if you're looking for a change up in your radio dial. 

Alright, spill! What are some of your favorite podcasts you've been listening to lately?

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PB and Hey!

Well, I'm trying really hard to reduce my sugar intake these days. Note I didn't say quit sugar, I'm only human, folks. I'm trying really, really hard to make those treats take place only when I really, really want one. And when I have one, they have to be three things: really enjoyable, delicious, and something I can savor and enjoy. 

Last week I had a hankering for something sweet . Nothing in particular, just something tasty, soft, warm, like a cookie or a cupcake. Problem is if you whip up a batch you have leftovers...I know it's probably hard to see this issue there, but trust me, having temptation in this is house right now is not helpful to all the work I'm doing right now! 

So I opted for a quick easy mug cake. There's a million recipes out there and some are super easy and some a little more complicated. Lucky for me, I found a PEANUT BUTTER one that I kept tweaking to make perfect for moi! 

It's the same type of recipe I do for my peanut butter cookies except it's just one mug of peanut butter goodness. Can't beat that, really. So without further ado, I give you...

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The Peanut Butter & Hey Mug Cake

For every peanut butter loving person whose needing a sugar fix without any lingering tempting morsels in the kitchen.  

3 tbls of peanut butter

1 egg

1-1/2 tbls of sugar

1/4 tsp of vanilla

1 tbls of chocolate chips

In a tall mug, mix the PB, egg, sugar and vanilla really well. Just beat it...(beat it)...beat it....(beat it)...

Toss the chips in and mix up. You want to make sure that egg gets beat in there really well so you don't have scrambled egg hidden in your cake. I know, that'd would ruin the whole experience right there. 

Throw a few chocolate chips on top and the option of a little sugar sprinkle, too. Pop into the microwave for 1:00 - 1:15. You want to make sure the bottom part is done so check with fork down the side or a long cake tester. Always better to check at the minute mark first! 

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If you ask me, I think it's delicious. The cake isn't overly sugary but it still hits the spot for something with some sweet. I also feel like it's made for peanut butter lovers like myself. Like I mentioned before, this recipe is so close to the recipe I use for PB cookies which is more than likely why I love it. It's just the cookie in cake form. What's not to love?

Easy recipe + peanut butter + cake result = Happy Life

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Got a favorite quick sugar fix? What's your go-to dessert? 

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New Cookbooks, Yes Please!

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! 

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