Monday, December 31, 2012

A Very Good Year!

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the past year. Some of my wildest dreams came true, I made new friend and lived experiences of a lifetime. It made me realize that dreams really do come true and to never give up on those dreams. New Years Eve is traditionally a time of reflection, celebration and remembrance of the past year.

In the words of Old Blue Eyes, " When I was 35, it was a very good year, it was a very good year". I really thought nothing could top 2011, which was a great year.

I cannot believe how many blessing came down this year, I am so thankful and amazed by them all. It has been challenging in its own way too. We've had to make some major life changing decisions that will start to take affect very soon. Decisions that have been weighing heavily on us and upsetting others. I will share more about that tomorrow.

Wishing you all a very happy 2013 filled with many blessings and much happiness! I hope you all rise early like me tomorrow and watch the Rose Parade.

My goals for 2013
Move to the east coast
Lose 50 more pounds
Be more positive and no more worrying
Start a new business
See more friends

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Story of The Just Jules Icon

December 29, 2005, I took the kids across the street from our house to the park to play. I called my Grandpa on the phone. It was a cold grey day that matched my cold, grey,sad mood until I looked up to see the image above and was mesmerized. Marty had bought me a point and shoot camera for Christmas, I lifted it and snapped the picture. Little did I know, that picture would come to mean so much to me.

December 25,2005 a day that I often would much rather forget except for the part when God spoke to me. It was Christmas day, we went to church and I had a lot heavy on my heart that day as did a dear friend of mine. I remember praying for my Dad's health that morning. As I sat in the sanctuary watching a friend play the piano I heard God say, very clearly, "You have a long rough road ahead of you. Don't worry, I will be with you." he said a bit more but I won't share that part.

As we drove home from church, I hit the intersection before my house and made a phone call to my Dad. I went to wish him "Merry Christmas" but only heard this instead, "Your grandma has fallen and is pretty bad. We are going to take her to the hospital later. She won't go until after Christmas is over." That night she was on a ventilator in ICU.

It was a terrible day spent crying and worrying. I was far away and couldn't just leave. Grandma had taught me well that my kids always come first and to make Christmas nice. So I did Christmas for them that day and honored her the best I could.

Three days later, I was planning to leave town and go be with my family. I called Grandpa on the phone at the park that morning. I told him that I was praying for Grandma and how very sorry I was that she was so sick. It was the first in a series of life changing conversations with him, conversations that will live in my heart forever.

The kids and friends playing at the park that day

I was talking to Gramps when I got this picture and realized that I needed to get higher

There is a lyric in a song by Jack Johnson that says, " Now I remember watching that old tree burn down, I took a picture, I don't like to look at"

For the longest time, that is how I felt about this next picture. 
No filter or editing. The view of the Sierra Nevada's from the St.John's river

It takes me back to that cold grey day and reminds me that life changes in a instant. Now, I love this picture and what it has come to mean to me. God wasn't lying when he said it was a long rough road ahead. 2006 is not fondly remembered at all. My life became a giant country song that year Grandma died, Grandpa died, Mom got really sick, my car broke down, it was really bad. I chronicled it here, warning you will see that my writing has vastly improved and it is not well written.

The next five years entailed a very long, hard,dark time in my life that most others wouldn't survive without being destroyed. Now this picture reminds me that God moves mountains, brings peace like a river and that I can survive it all. 

I actually really love this picture because of the simple beauty of it. It has come to be my signature picture and stand for me. Most people probably wonder why I've stuck with it all these years and it was high time the story be put to paper. 

Sometimes a pretty picture isn't just a pretty picture.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just Ask Jules or Just Guest Blog for Jules

Today I created a new email icon over on the left hand side of my blog. This will help you contact me with any questions, comments, opportunities, etc. for the site. I had some friends help me test it out this morning but thought it might be fun to do another Ask Jules segment.

Ask me,Ask me,Ask me in the words of The Smiths. Ask me anything you want and I will answer all the questions in a blog next week. I reserve the right to not answer a question publicly but will answer every question. I am open and think it would be fun to hear from my readers. You can ask me anything and I will answer.

Next line of business, I am looking for guest bloggers for 2013. Do you have a story you want to share? Need to get something off your chest? Want to try your hand at blogging? Email me and we can talk, I am open to hosting you on my blog. I do reserve the right to say no but have only done that once before. We can work out the details via email. I would love to share Just Jules with others and its always nice to be able to take a break.

So click on the little mailbox up on the top left and start talking to me. I think this is going to be fun and would love the interaction with my readers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Unexpected Perspective and Answered Prayers

Perspective is a beautiful thing especially when they come in the form of answered prayers. Today has been a big day in the world of Just Jules. It started out quite normal until I checked my Twitter then email before heading to my day job.

For the last few months I've been writing guest posts on Finding Purpose in the Pain for my good friend Stacy. Today my post; which I wrote last month was about our upcoming move and how I was scared about setting a date and making a jump. You can read my post here, since writing this post I've been working very hard on my thought process and realizing it will all be okay.

Some of you don't know but I have slowly been starting my own business on the side. I've been asked many times to help friends start blogs, make Facebook pages and for Twitter advice. I've done this as  kindness for others until now. Before I was offered the job in Knoxville doing the same thing, I was wondering how I could turn this into a job? Along with running the social media for Fig and Company in Knoxville; I am starting my own social media consulting company. Here is my new website for my business:

Today, I awoke to a email saying that one of my blogs was featured on the Daily Buzz Mom's website. I wrote a post a long time ago about our Christmas stocking exchange and they featured it today in their top nine. You can read that post here.

I was going to share most of this later but since all three go together so well, I decided today was the day to share the news. For 2013, the goals have been set high, I am dreaming big and taking a leap of faith. Fear, worry, scare tactics of others and naysaying won't stop me. Either I will fall or I will soar, all signs point to soaring. The journey will be well chronicled and you can follow along as I take the steps into the future. I have all the faith in the world that I will succeed.

Just Jules Featured on Daily Buzz Mom's

This morning while checking my email; I got the shock of a lifetime that I am featured on Daily Buzz Mom's Top 9 today!

Thank you Daily Buzz Mom's for featuring our stocking exchange tradition. Tonight I will be working on a follow up post to detail our tradition a bit more and share pictures from this year's exchange.

Follow @DailyBuzzMoms on Twitter and like their Facebook page for great articles on all things Mom!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

The O.C. Supertones "Joy to the World" is blaring in the background, the family is sitting around the table, cookies are baking. Christmas is upon us in the Timms household once again. I forced the kids to endure some "Mandatory Happiness" today so that I could write a Christmas blog. This year I skipped sending out Christmas cards as usual. It feels strange but I simply have been too busy with work and running the family to find time. In fact, I usually am done baking before today!

Conner 15, Elizabeth 12

This year has been a year of the "new" normal for our family. The kids continued on in their home studies, Julie returned to the work force, Marty continued working for the state. Our lives have been non stop since Marty had his transplant. Much of this time has found us planning and dreaming of a new adventure with our second chance at life.

Conner learned to work a sound board and helped run the sound for his youth group. He has grown up before our eyes this past year. He still has that boyish face but is quickly surpassing all of us in height and shoe size. I think someday he will be wearing that "size 13" boot my grandpa often threatened us with. He still is as busy as ever, this is often put to good use by helping around the house and keeping our bikes in working order. He is looking forward to learning to drive next year.

Elizabeth completed her second triathlon  and discovered the joy of being a boy band fan girl ( much to her momma's delight) with her love of all things 1 Direction.  She constantly amuses all of us with her quick wit and randomness. She loved going to a concert with the youth group last month and seeing her favorite bands live. She is looking forward to more of that in the new year.

Marty has continued working for the state while planning out the future. He has spent much time researching and planning our move next year. Sadly due to work, he hasn't been able to play his bass this year and is looking forward to starting that up again in the new year. He has enjoyed spending time with the kids during the day while I work. They always have something funny to tell me when I come home. Marty is looking forward to moving and realizing a long time dream.

This year has been truly wonderful for me. I grew closer to old friends while making many new friends around the world. People always ask me "How do you end up meeting all of these people?" I haven't a clue, it just happens. I enjoyed spending Easter with friends and family in LA, meeting New Kids on the Block not once but twice, meeting many of my Twitter friends in real life, and rejoining the workforce. It has been challenging to be working again yet still managing the household. I have enjoyed the challenge though. I am looking forward to losing 50 lbs next year, moving and starting my new career  in Knoxville.

We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas. May you be blessed with happiness,love,joy and peace in the year to come. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy 30th Birthday Stacy!

Stacy has the distinction of being the first friend that I ever made online. We met ten years ago on Candace Cameron's website in the prayer rooms. I really thought going online and talking to people was really weird but praying for people online became a passion. I remember talking to Stacy on the phone for the first time about a year later, she was just twenty years old and fresh out of college. I would NEVER tell anyone that I had a online friend, that was just weird.

That year we began online bible studies together. Writing them across the miles and ministering to many across the world on Candace's site. I started telling people I knew what I was doing and suddenly it wasn't so weird to me anymore. My time online had found a purpose and Stacy has long been a partner in that ministry. Together we have been virtual pioneers in ministry, it has been such a amazing journey.

Stacy came to CA to visit my family several years ago, we had a great time traveling all over the State of CA by car together. My family and I loved taking her to all of our favorite places in California and showing her the sights.

I lost all my picture from that trip in a computer crash but this one remains.

Stacy and I have been on a journey together the last ten years that neither of us has fathomed possible. Our lives have taken paths we never could have dreamed. We have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together. We have prayed together, shared many praises together and shared some dark times.  She knows me really well, the good, the bad and the ugly. That is what true friendship is though isn't it? A real friend knows you well.

We have lived in a reality that many don't understand. I am thankful to have her to call when the need be and chat it out. This past year, God really showed me that we are in a circle of amazing women whose lives are intertwined. It is almost random really but I know it isn't random because God is a great weaver of the tapestry of life. She long ago embrace the craziness of it all, it has taken me longer to get there.

I am thankful to once again be working with Stacy by contributing to her site Finding Purpose in the Pain monthly and sharing some of the hard parts of my life with other amazing women. It is truly a honor and I am so grateful she asked me to join in.

She is a amazing women of faith,she has lived with chronic pain at a young age and shared the hard truths of that candidly with many. I have learned so many lessons from her down to this very day actually, this past week God used her to show me a truth. It has been such a joy to watch so many prayers be answered for her and with her.

Stacy, I no longer think of you as the younger girl fresh out of college. You are very much a inspiration to me and I am so thankful that God brought you into my life. These past ten years have been a crazy journey, I cannot imagine what the next ten hold. I look forward to being friends for years to come. I'm always praying for you. My prayer is that God bless you abundantly, bring you good health and much joy in the years to come.

Happy 30th birthday, the newest member of the club 30!

Be sure to send your wishes to her @dayspring82 on Twitter.

PS maybe we can see each other again soon.  We need a new picture!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Free Snowflake Ornament

Mailpix is offering a free snowflake ornament. All you have to do is pay shipping. I know what my kids are getting this year for their yearly ornament

Jerry's Birthday

Tonight, we remember our donor Jerry on his twentieth birthday. A life that was short and ended tragically has profound effects that are far reaching. Two years ago today Jerry turned eighteen years old, just fifteen days after deciding to be a organ donor. Twenty four days later, he became Marty's donor, giving his kidney and pancreas as a gift of life after death.

We don't know really anything about Jerry except that he was very young with a whole life ahead of him. Days like today are a real eye opener when we think of him. Today is the first year that we know it is Jerry's birthday or even know his name.

We always knew it was a man, so many friends and family felt the same. We prayed for three years for this boy not knowing who he was or how his life would end? Days like today are hard, we remember that our day is good because of his gift.

Marty was off work, taking care of Conner who is under the weather, joking around with Elizabeth while I worked. Such a different picture of life, all because of Jerry.

Two years ago, we were sad, life was dim and dark. Marty was sick, a sick that I have never really shared the depths of publically. The dialysis was failing and fast, we truly weren't sure if he would ever feel better again.

One day before, we had been given a glimmer of hope and were believing that maybe, just maybe everything would be okay. The story can be read here , it was something so crazy that we only told a few people at the time. It was one story I shared with Jerry's mom over the phone that had us both floored. It happened the day before Jerry's birthday.

One month, almost to the day later we got "The" call  and our lives were forever intertwined. We learned a few months ago that one day before, Jerry's mother Debbie had made the heart wrenching choice to let him go. During this choice, she honored his wish and donated his organs.

Two of those organs came to our family and saved Marty's life. I always tell people, Jerry saved four lives that day. He gave two kids their father and a wife her husband. Not one day goes by that we aren't grateful for the precious gift.

Jerry is our hero. He lives on through his organs and the gift of life he gave our family. We share his name every chance we get so that people will know he lived and he was a hero. He profoundly changed our lives forever and we are forever grateful.

Marty two years later

Marty and Elizabeth being silly as always

Conner and his Dad


This post is late today so let's plan for tomorrow. I challenge the readers of Just Jules to commit a random act of kindness in honor of Jerry's twentieth birthday. Let's honor Jerry in the best way possible by being selfless and giving to others.

One way you could give is by donating money to Taylor's Gift in Jerry's name. They have a fundraising goal they would like to meet by this Christmas

The Storch family and their story was a huge comfort to Marty and I during our wait for a donor. Taylor was the same age as our son when she donated her organs.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Finding Purpose in The Pain Monthly Submission

Today is my bi-monthly blog over at Finding Purpose in the Pain. Today's post is entitled " The Waiting Room.

Here is a sneak peek:

Sometimes life is a giant waiting room isn't it? Waiting on God to lead, move and shape our lives can be a challenge especially when the situation is tough or difficult.  It can feel like life is on hold and nothing will ever change while waiting in the waiting room. Sometimes it feels like we are alone and cut off from the world while in the waiting room. Instead of viewing it that way, we can use it as a way to draw closer to God.

To read more, head over to Finding Purpose in the Pain :

Happy 17th Birthday David!

Once in awhile, someone profoundly touches your life in a way that changes you forever. David came quietly into our lives this summer and changed us forever.

We met through his mom Fanette, we really only knew his brother Vincent and his mom Fanette from our many Skype conversations. David has autism and really never wanted to talk to us on Skype during our many chats.

Fanette decided to come visit this summer, while planning she really wasn't sure David could handle the long flight, the language barrier or being in a strange place? The plan was to leave him behind in France but she had a change of heart.

We are forever grateful she brought this beautiful soul to meet us. In one day, there wasn't a language barrier but a instant connection of hearts. Our family fell in love with David, hard and fast.......sometimes love is a language that has no words.

David has the most beautiful green eyes that expose his beautiful soul. When he is around, you forget the complicated trappings of the world  instead seeing life as simple, uncomplicated, and easy.

He is obsessed with Fantasia, he especially loves the sequence when the Flamingos dance. He spent many hours doing this dance in my hall way. He was also fascinated by Elizabeth's room, he would walk in, close the door and spend time staring at all her treasures. He never touched anything, he just looked and admired.

We loved that he wanted to hold our hands in public. As we were walking into Universal Studios holding hands, he was so excited that he grabbed my face and planted a huge kiss on me. It was such a beautiful, moving moment that his mom and I were bawling.

He loves to memorize movies and recite them. He was walking around saying " ooo, mes amies" and I repeated it en francaise with my very poor accent. He mimicked me, poking fun at me and I laughed loudly. It became a running joke, I would say it in french and he would say it in English or vice versa.

We went to a friends house for a Fourth of July party, they live in a large compound and I was searching from building to building for them. David loudly starts saying, "Hello, is anybody here..?"in English ( he picked up English very quickly, much to the amazement of his mother)

Two of the best moments of my life were watching David as he saw Flamingos at Sea World and seeing Fantasia come alive before his eyes during Fantasmic.

These little sayings and phrases bridged the culture gap and made the trip so much fun. We were sad to leave David and his family. We have Skyped again since their return and now he will come to the computer to say " anybody there?"

Sometimes language is a barrier overcome by love.

Joyeux anniversaire David, nous vous aimons. Passez une bonne journée

Regarde les nous Julie"
He loved wearing Marty's hats
In the mountains
Conner, Vincent and David
Happy David
In the Sequoias
David and the Flamingos
beautiful green eyes
Truly a magical moment!
He is still wearing his In and Out hat in France
David and Elizabeth
David and Conner laughing
Marty, Fanette and David
before Fantasmic

Monday, December 10, 2012

Solo Road Trip Weekend

I rarely leave my family and venture off on my own. This weekend I hopped in the car and made a six hundred mile round trip drive by myself. I was headed down to San Diego for a memorial service for my friend ALE originally. I made plans to meet with some friends along the way, it turned into a wonderful weekend of the unexpected.

My friend Janet had been asking to get together and was right in the direction of where I was headed. We met for a girls day of shopping and fun. I loved meeting her mom and kids for the first time. We had fun shopping and spending time together. She is truly one of a kind and to know her is to love her even more. Her kids are so sweet and really touched my heart when they started calling me " aunt Julie" on their own. I was sad to leave them at the end of the day.

I planned to stay with my dear friends the Fitz's, they live near San Diego and were a good stopping point on the first day of driving. I hadn't seen them since 2006 when my grandparents passed away. Jim has been a family friend for thirty years, since I was six years old. He is like a brother, second dad, crazy uncle, friend all rolled into one. When he married he gave our family his dear wife Jen, who has been like a big sister and mentor to me throughout the years.

When I was in high school, I babysat their kids Kevin and Caiti until I was married. They were like my first children and I love them as my own. Kevin remembered me while Caiti knows that I am special but really doesn't remember our times together. We had a fun night of reminiscing through stories and pictures. I had a girls night with Jen. Spent time with Kevin and Caiti separately before I headed home

What a wonderful experience to stay in their home and spend time with them again. It was really wonderful and I am so glad that I did. .

Jen and I

I spent a lot of time on this fire phone in High school

Jim and I

Kevin and I

beautiful Caiti and I

Then I made my way to San Diego to have breakfast with two other women who were friends of ALE. None of us had ever met except on Twitter, one I had spoken to on the phone previously and had become friends with about a year ago. The other I met the week that ALE passed away, she has been very kind and helpful during this hard time.

 We had a lovely breakfast remembering our friend together. The memorial was rescheduled to a time that I cannot attend. So this would be my one time to meet together with other friends of ALE. It was truly wonderful and I walked away feeling peace,love and joy.

ALE loved tweeting food pics, we tweeted pics of our food in her memory

Then I started the long drive home. I decided to stop in my hometown to see my Mom's new car and visit my Dad. He just happened to be at my cousin Rissa's house which meant that I got to see Baby Drew. Oh who I am kidding? I just went to see Drew, I am a sucker for babies.

Gerber baby cuteness!

I then quickly drove home to my family that I missed. It was fun to see so many people in a short time and find closure on the loss of a dear person who I knew for far to short a time. I am thankful to have had the opportunity.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Blogger Staci: Mandatory Happiness

I begged my friend Staci to guest blog for me. I knew if she could put her infamous "Mandatory Happiness Day" into words it would be hysterical. She did not disappoint, this is for every mom that has ever tried to wrangle a family for a Christmas picture.

I laughed so hard, I downloaded the pics, blog and posted it straight away!  Thank you Foxy Momma for the great post.


Mandatory Happiness 
Oh, if only such a thing existed!
Mandatory Happiness Day for the Fox Family is usually held the Sunday following Thanksgiving.  It's a special, special day, we as a family "enjoy" as we try to capture one special moment of togetherness.
It started several years ago when my big girls were about 1 and 3 (now the big girls are 17 and almost 15).  If getting two little girls (and a dog once) to be happy or at least look happy, try adding three more girls and mom and dad!
The first few Mandatory Happiness Days were all about matching outfits and coordinated colors.  As our family grew it was more about just keeping everyone in once spot for a few minutes and the baby keeping her clothes on....that's all I want!  Focus people. Focus!
Over the years we've had a few tears on Mandatory Happiness Day.  Ya, they had the audacity to cry on my picture day. We've had smirks, frowns, sticking tongues, and even sucking thumbs. It's all the excitement you can imagine wrangling 5 independent girls for a few minutes. And, you would think that it would get easier the older they got. Wrong!  That just means more opinions to deal with. The topper of it all is my dear husband.  He doesn't like his picture taken but does indulge me this one time a year. 
You can say that Mandatory Happiness Day has become a Fox holiday tradition.  Even with all my fuss, I love it.  Here are some pictures that didn't quite make the cut this year:

Nana's Chicken and Noodles

We grew up with a great grandma in Pittsburg, Kansas. We called her Nana, she was a short, stout, stubborn lady who could cook anything. She wasn't overly affectionate but showed her love through her cooking.

Whenever she would come to California or we would go to Kansas, she would make two things for us. Apple cake and chicken and noodles. Nobody had the recipes for either of these things, she didn't have them written down.

I remember the night before watching her make the noodles from scratch, cutting them into thin strips and laying them out to dry on the counter. Then she would make the dish the next day.

Noodles in a chicken gravy with pieces of chicken in the sauce. Good, simple, hearty food out of the heartland.

Nana has been gone fifteen years now and she took her Chicken and noodle recipe with her. I know my Aunt makes her version that is close.

I was shopping yesterday and happened to see a bag of noodles in the freezer section. Right away, I recognized they looked just like Nana's noodles. I grabbed two bags and decided to try my hand at recreating chicken and noodle.

I made them today and they were perfect! I love these noodles. Soon I will try to make my own but for now, I am sold on these.

Nana's Chicken and Noodle

1 package Grandma's frozen  egg noodles ( or make your own from scratch

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
kosher salt
cold water

In a large stock pot, put six cups of water, a handful of kosher salt and one can of chicken broth.Boil chicken until it is tender and cooked through enough to shred. Do not drain the broth. Take chicken out of the broth piece by piece and set in a colander to dry.

Shred chicken into bite pieces when cool

Take package of egg noodles and put them in the boiling broth. When noodles are cooked through, do not drain them. Use a slotted spoon to gather them out, setting them in a colander. Keep the broth in the pan

In a measuring cup, take two cups of cold water and mix with 1/2 cup of cornstarch. Add to the broth in the pan along with chicken pieces. Stir until thickened, adding pepper and salt to taste ( you may not need salt but pepper for sure) 

The consistency should be like gravy

*  if you need add cornstarch and cold water as needed if the original amount isn't thick enough.*

When mixture thickens, add noodles back into the mixture and let cook until warm.  Serve and enjoy.

Really simple, down home meal. Tasted just like Nana's! I am so proud of myself for recreating this recipe from my memory. This is the first time it has ever been written down and shared. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mailpix 8x10 Canvas with Free Shipping

Need a last minute gift, Mailpix is offering a 8x10 Canvas with free shipping. Click on the picture to take advantage of this great deal. Photo Books

*disclaimer* I am affiliated with Mailpix and do receive compensation from referrals.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Guest Blogger Lori: Jordan Hill "Someday at Christmas" Interview

My Super reader Lori asked me if she could do another guest blog for Just Jules and I agreed quickly. She has quickly become a great asset to this blog and I would do anything for her. She wanted to help one of her favorite musicians promote her new Christmas single and do a interview. A big thanks to Lori and Jordan Hill for giving me this opportunity. Check out Lori's interview after the picture

You may know of Jordan Hill from her song "Remember Me This Way" from the Casper movie soundtrack (you know, that song that "real life" Casper danced with Kat to?). It's always been one of my favorite songs!

That song feels like a lifetime ago, but I've personally kept up with Jordan's career since way back then. These days with the power of the Internet, independent artists such as Jordan Hill have gained the ability to keep in touch with their fans, whether they are working on a new album, sharing new tracks or planning a gig, it's amazing how the Internet has allowed these artists to keep their fans informed and up to date!

Over the years, she has worked on putting out new material and a new album, and that time will be coming very soon, but in the meantime she has recorded a Christmas track to release first - "Someday At Christmas".

"Someday At Christmas" is a cover of Stevie Wonder hit Christmas song and is available to for purchase on iTunes, with all proceeds being donated to Children's charities!

I got to ask Jordan a few questions about the track, Someday At Christmas, and her NEW upcoming Pop album coming out in 2013 - check it out!

Me: I'm guessing that Christmas is favorite holiday - what do you love about the Christmas season?

Jordan: Yes it is!! I love everything about Christmas! The decorations, the music and the excitement and happiness that everyone feels during that time of year! I really love seeing the joy of giving. That's the best part. When you see someone so excited to give, or when you  see someone so appreciative when they receive.

Me: Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?

Jordan: Christmas Eve has always been a BIG deal in my family. We do it up BIG! There are 60 plus family members that get dressed up and enjoy an amazing sit down dinner together. We  read the Christmas story, play games, open presents, and have a huge fireworks display! Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year! I love being able to see my family together and happy!  Its so special!

Me: What made you choose this song specifically to cover?
Jordan: Well "Someday At Christmas" has always been one of my FAVORITE Christmas songs! It was originally recorded by Stevie Wonder. And I am a huge fan of the Motown Era. So I just had to record this song!

Me: Which charities are you planning to donate the proceeds to?

Jordan: We are working with  The Children's Angel Tree, Children's Hospital, Childhelp USA, and St Jude's.

Me: What artists or music inspire the music you create yourself?

Jordan: I am a HUGE fan of all music! I listen to just about everything from Pop, rock, R&B,Gospel and Classical. I would say the artists that most influenced me are Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

Me: When did you start singing / when did you know that it is what you want to do with your life?

Jordan: I have been singing my entire life! lol I cant remember when I wasn't sing! We have recordings of me from when i was less than a year old and I was singing full songs before I could speak full sentences. I just connected with music from an early age. The first time  performed in front of an audience I was 5. I remember how excited I was! And when I got off the stage, I knew from that moment on.... I was going to sing and entertain people for the rest of my life.

Me: How would you best describe the type of music that your upcoming album will be?

Jordan:  My new album will be a combination of different styles. Pop,R&B and Rock. I like to call it universal, because there is something for everyone!

Me: When might we expect the first single from the album?

Jordan:   We are shooting for Summer of 2013 ! I cant wait for everyone to hear it! This has been a long time coming and I'm so proud of the music! It's the best music I've ever recorded!

There you have it!

Jordan's song "Someday At Christmas" is available now on iTunes and Amazon. She is also releasing a  version of  "This Christmas" on December 1 ,that will also be available for Download on Itunes!

By downloading a copy of "Someday At Christmas", you can have a chance to win a FREE IPAD MINI! Email your full name, and proof of purchase from Itunes of "Someday At Christmas", to Enter@ to be entered! A winner will be chosen on January 1, 2013.          
  Here's the link to Download "SOMEDAY AT CHRISTMAS"  NOW!!   Someday at Christmas - iTunes

Be Sure to like Jordan Hill Music on Facebook and follow Jordan on Twitter

A huge thank you to Jordan Hill for being a part of Just Jules!

Let Jules and I know what you think of the song in the comments below.

Friday, November 30, 2012

So Long NaBloPoMo 2012, Looking Toward the Future

I bet you're all happy! The last day usually means that I take a blogging break for a bit. Can you just be quiet for a bit? I bet you're all thinking that.

When I started this blog in 2005, I had no clue where it would take me as a person, writer, friend and family member. The doors this blog has opened for me are amazing and mind bending at times. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become the place it has become.

Simply put, that is all thanks to you, my readers. From my first readers on Myspace, to my first blogging friends, my family and now the Twitter world. Thank you for reading, sharing, retweeting and helping me reach a far greater audience than my circle in life.

If I didn't have readers, I wouldn't still be blogging. It's no fun talking to yourself. I love hearing how a blog has touched someone, made a difference or inspired change. When someone tells me they read my blog,  I am always humbled, floored and honored.

 I love having a place where my friends can share with others too.

 On this note, I would love to see more comments. Don't worry, I don't bite and would love to hear your thoughts. It is super easy to comment, you can sign in with Facebook or Twitter. You can even leave anonymous comments. I try to answer every comment back and they truly are the payment for blogging.

I am also asking for feeback for the future. What would you like to see more of? What would you like me to write about? Anything you want to see featured? Constructive critcism? I am open to kind thoughts and words.

Also, would you like my Facebook page? Sign up for my email list? Share my blog with others? All of these things will help this site continue to grow.

Interested in guest blogging? I am always looking for submissions. I do reserve the right to decline but I am open to almost anything you have in mind. I would love to share my place and share with my readers another point of view.

Thank you for reading, encouraging and loving me along the way.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Lori, Vidya and Tiybor for constantly retweeting my blog. It is appreciated and it  does make a huge difference. Also thanks to Azu for sharing my post on Facebook.

Thank you to all who've recently retweeted me, it really means the world to me every time my blog gets retweeted. The benefit of having a super memory, I remember each one.

Thank you to Mary for guest blogging for me this month. Thank you to Bob for the blog link. Joel for the support and content.

To my Brown family,cousins, and parents for letting me use them as a source of material and supporting me. Without our story, Just Jules really wouldn't exist.

Thank you to Di for starting me off writing every November. Thanks Dan and Stephanie for writing a long this month.

Most importantly, thank you to Marty and the kids. I wouldn't be able to share our life without your support and encouragement. I know sometimes it is annoying and bothersome. Thank you for loving me and letting me blog.

I cannot wait to see where the future takes Just Jules. I hope you all join me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jules the Tenderhearted

Tenderhearted, sensitive, thin skinned, sappy, emo, soft hearted, cry baby, overly emotional. Words that I have heard over and over my entire life. I am a sensitive person with a big heart, I wear my heart on my sleeve for all to see. For years and years, I have worked hard to change, adapt and assimilate to this character trait. In the end, I've found it is a gift and I am thankful for it.

When I was a little girl, my parents took me to see the new Benji movie in theaters. It ended up they had to take me from the theater screaming and crying, "Help him, help him find his family." I remember being carried up the aisle by my Dad. I was only about three years old and already showing my heart for the hurting and the lost.

In my school days, it was rough being a sensitive girl. Often a harsh personality, a confrontation or even a joke could make me cry. My poor friend Rico and I had some doozy of battles but he was the first person to really tell me to get a thicker skin aside from my family.

I often drove my family crazy,taking everything to heart and personally. I often got in trouble for my crying episodes some of which were wrong at times.

As a married woman, it would often cause issues in fights. I always ended up crying and my husband didn't really know how to handle that. For years, I prayed for God to change me and make me a thicker skinned person.

I didn't want to cry over everything. I didn't want to be overly emotional, why couldn't I just be like everyone else and not care?

Eventually a series of events led me to go to counseling and learn to control my emotions. I learned my emotions are a wonderful gift, if kept in check and used for the right purposes. I learned how to work on dealing with tough situations and take every thought capitive.

I eventually learned that my sensitivity is a gift. It helps me be sensitive to the hurting, people who just need a kind ear and a hug. It isn't a burden when you are using it for the right purposes.

As the years have come and gone, I have met many wonderful people. I have learned to care less about what others think, to blow off things that don't matter and not cry over everything. I used to cry everyday, now I don't.

This sensitivity comes with another gift of being able to have a "spidey sense" as one friend puts it about others emotions and feelings. I am often dead on the money when someone is hurting or needs prayer. They are often thankful for my tenderheart in their time of need.

My good friend Joyce once told me, "if you didn't cry, your head would burst. Let the tears flow"

Sometimes I cry when I am happy, when I am laughing really hard, I cry when someone truimphs, I cry at the agony of defeat in sports, I cry at sappy movies and commercials.  I cry when someone else is hurting and it is something that I wouldn't change for the world.

When a friend is sad, I am the first to give a hug and a listening ear. I often am the first person people come to when they need a shoulder to cry on, when they need prayer and a safe place to share.

I've never struggled with depression or low self esteem. My sensitivity has nothing to do with either of those things. I just have a marshmallow for a heart and I wear that heart where everyone can see it.

I work on it everyday, making sure I learn to keep my emotions in check and using them for the right purpose. As the years go by, I get thicker and thicker skin. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me, now I realize that and immediately start to put them in check.

 I learned when Marty was sick that life is short and for so many years, I let small things rob me of my daily joy.

This can be a process at times, It can take a while for me to let things go but I eventually do.

Life is good, life is really good. I have learned to let the small things go, enjoy each day and not to sweat the small stuff.  I know what is important in life and what isn't, I learned that the hard way. Recently the death of my friend has put many of these things in perspective again. It was her motto and I promised to live that everyday.

As my title states, I am Just Jules and I am happy with who I am. If you don't like it, then I am sorry to hear that I am not going to worry about that. Not everyone has to like me and I am finally okay with that. Life is really good and I am happy with that.

A/N But if you hurt one of my friends or family, I do have a harder time letting that go. Make fun of me all you want but you better not make fun of them. Then I get mad.

Also thanks to my friend Tiy for the blog idea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time Machine Tuesday: My Love of Music

The final Time Machine Tuesday of NaBloPoMo 2012! Does anyone even read these things? Do you like them? Should I keep this feature next year?

I love looking back from where I have come as a person and writer. It is truly one of my favorite features and I think Elizabeth's too.

My first time seeing Tears for Fears after being a fan for over 25 years

The burning question: Why does Christmas music make you cry?

 Christmas 2007 was awful

My first time meeting NKOTB, such a dream come true

My interview with Jill and Kate, a great new act and a great album to buy for Christmas

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Cousin Series: Happy Birthday Kyle

I must admit, I am already in tears and I haven't typed a word. This is going to be a hard blog to write for me and is one of the most painful stories of my life. I have been stewing over this for a month or so now.

 If you are a long time reader, friend or family then you will know that I love my cousins. They are truly my closest friends in life. This story is much different than the others and something that I hope with time will change. As you know, I always strive for transparency and honesty on this blog. You all know that I am also a Pollyanna with unending hope.

To my cousin Kyle on his birthday:

Kyle is one of only two cousins on my Mom's side. He is a few years younger than myself closer in age to my sister Carrie. He is the only child of my Mom's brother Greg. Two cousins you think would be easier to know than 12 cousins, right? wrong.

Kyle and I holding hands in a picture with my parents and sisters.

We grew up the first few years of his life being baby sat by our Gramie. I remember watching cartoons with him, eating breakfast with him, watching him crawl up on the counters, playing with his ping pong gun and army men toys. I loved spending time with him at Gram's house.

An almost complete picture of my Grandparents with their grandchildren. Kankad, Gramie, Kim, Julie, Kyle and Carrie

They were truly wonderful times and I am thankful for my super memory that can recall them in a instant. I never knew that I would have to hold on to them for a lifetime. After my Kankad passed away, life changed drastically for our family.

Sadly, Kyle's Dad didn't live up to his responsibilities and his mom Teri was faced with a tough choice. She had to not let Kyle visit any longer. As a mother, I applaud this choice and to this day think she made the right decision in a difficult circumstance. It is tough to be a mother and not have support. I will always stand by her decision. It was truly my uncle's fault and he never made a move to change it. Something that I have worked years and years to let go of.

I remember crying and crying about not being able to see Kyle anymore.I remember driving by his house and seeing him outside, yelling that we loved him. Then he didn't go to the same school anymore and I didn't see him on the playground.

Years passed, 11 years if I am not mistaken. We didn't see Kyle and then one day in 1995 a miracle happened and Kyle showed up at my Gramie's house. He wanted to see his Dad and his mom took him to visit. I remember rejoicing that we could see and hug Kyle again.

On the very best day of my life, my cousin Kyle was there! He was at my wedding and I have complete family pictures. 

Clare ( my adopted British sister), Aunt Jeanette, Mom, Shawn ( ex brother in law), Gramie, Kelly Ann, Teri, Kyle and Uncle Greg.

This next picture captures one of the best moments of my adult life

Kyle hugging me on my wedding day

Sadly, my uncle never changed even after his second chance. More bad choices were made and Kyle went away again. I admire you for making such a big effort to get to know your Dad. I will always be sad that in the end not even his son could get through. I am so thankful that you tried and were there even at the very end.

 Thankfully Myspace was created which reconnected me with Kyle. We have been online buddies for years. Social media has brought us together and for that I am so grateful.

I have found that we love much of the same music, we share a mutual love of A Christmas Story. He is wickedly funny with a strong sarcastic gene. He is a hard worker, a faithful husband with a very full and promising life. He is one of two remaining with the Davis name.

Hopefully someday we can meet again and visit. I will always be here for you Kyle and hopefully someday we can be close. All I can do is show you that I am different and a really good cousin to my other cousins. I may not see you, talk to you often but I love you just as much as the others.

Happy Birthday Kyle, you have a very special place in my heart and I wish you all the best in life. You deserve happiness, light and joy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Love Carries on Through Cooking

"Thankful for tradition. Going through pantry making sure I have everything I need for Thursday, thinking we always make the same things and realizing that's what its all about! Family, tradition, and still tasting moms cooking even though she is no longer at our table."

Last week my Aunt Maggie posted that as her Facebook status. It was profoundly touching and really moved me. She put something into words that I hadn't ever been able to get down on paper or in a coherent sentence.

I love the song "There is No Place Like Home for the Holidays" every time I hear it my mind immediately goes to my grandparents home at the holidays. Even though their home is gone and I live far away from my family through cooking I am never very far away.

We were raised steeped in tradition at the holidays. My Grandmother loved the holidays, she had the most beautiful home at the holidays and her food always tasted good. We just never thought of the day she would be gone and we would be left to carry on the traditions.

Grandma's beautiful tree

Last week, my friend Mary asked for a stuffing recipe. Our family makes the easiest, most flavorful stuffing recipe that grandma passed on. For me that happened over the phone after I had moved away from home and family. I never had written it down, simply put I hear Grandma in my head when I go to make it. The recipe is in my head and I like recalling the phone conversation where she taught me. I wrote it down for the very first time to share with her. ( she loved it by the way)

This year was my cousin Caiti's first year away from home and family. It has always amazed me how I can live a few hundred miles away yet still eat the same meal as my family. The recipes and traditions have allowed me to carry on far away from home. I make all the same dishes as my family by myself every year for my own family.

This year as I was cooking, I thought about Maggie's quote and realized that Grandma is never very far. I could feel her close while making the stuffing. I can always go "home" to my childhood, when I smell the food cooking and the smell of " home" invades my home.

Traditions and recipes are a way to stay behind and love our family someday when we are gone. They are a mother's love for her children leaving a part of herself behind. I love cooking my grandmothers recipes and feeling them near once again. 

Now we are teaching our children the recipes and traditions to carry on, My kids already know the menu and shopping list by heart. Elizabeth is already asking about our cookie baking list for next month. Conner already knows how to make the cranberry relish on his own.

Someday when we are gone, the traditions of grandmother and great grandmother will live on. In fact, yesterday I made a apple cake recipe of my Aunt's which is the closest recipe to my Nana's recipe. I can still see my great grandmother making that apple cake for me in Kansas. Tasting that is like sitting in Nana's kitchen in Pittsburg.

Grandma, Gramie and Nana are never coming back but I still feel the close in the kitchen and home. I am thankful for a family that teaches each other tradition and honors our elders. I am thankful to have learned from wonderful women and help carry on their legacy. 

Thankful that someday, my children will carry the legacy on also. The saying is true, " A Mother's love lives forever"

Do you have family traditions? Recipes that you make? Do you have things that bring loved one's gone before us closer?

A/N Thank you Maggie Z for allowing me to quote you. Also to my friend and reader Teri for asking me to write a blog on this subject.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

365 Days of Thanks

My friend Joel over at Reasons2Ride wrote a blog on Thanksgiving yesterday. This has led him to start a new Twitter project 365 days of thanks. His idea is why do we just spend one day being thankful? We need to be thankful 365 days a year.

He is challenge others to live with a attitude of gratitude daily. Instead of focusing one day, week or month out of the year on thankfulness, why not focus daily? It is a practice that I have long tried to adhere to myself. I used to focus on the negative and worry constantly. A few years ago, I decided to practice positivity instead. It changed my life drastically and I am so thankful that I started doing it.

Joel asked if I would share this and ask my readers to join the challenge. Simply add the hashtag #365DaysofThanks to a tweet everyday with something you are thankful for. Join the challenge for the next year and follow along.

I have found that a little bit of positive goes a long way. It encourages others to do the same and soon we have more good to focus on than bad.

Today I started the challenge and hope you do too!

Read Joel's blog on Thanksgiving:
Tweet Joel:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Need Christmas Card Pictures? Photo Gifts? Try Mailpix

I am so thankful to be a part of the Mailpix affiliate program. I have recently started using their service and love it. It is the best picture service I have used by far and makes uploading a snap.

On Mailpix you can sign into your Facebook and Instagram account to print pictures with the click of a button. I tried it and it is so simple. I was even able to order a picture for a friend who posted a great picture on her account.

My parents love picture calendars using Mailpix makes it so much easier. In the past I would have to download pictures that I had on my phone to the computer and they never looked right. This way I just sign into Instagram or Facebook, click and they are uploaded.

Today they are having a Black Friday special along with several Christmas specials. Just click on the ad in the blog and it will take you to sign up.

I am using the 100 free 4x6 promo for my Christmas cards this year. Who doesn't want 100 free prints to put in Christmas cards?

MailPix 100 Free Photo Prints

Check out Mailpix for all your holiday photo needs

*disclaimer* I was not paid for this post. All opinions and content is mine. I do however earn a commission from all sales made from this blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What Jules is Thankful for? Thanksgiving 2012

It is no secret that I haven't had a life filled with sunshine and roses. It has often been filled with trials and tribulations since I was very young. There is one secret that I've never shared........I wouldn't change it for the world.

Those trials and tribulations have made me, who I am and I happen to like who I am. I have so many blessings to be thankful for and have lived quite the adventure.

Thankful for Marty and our 16 years of marriage. He has been very supportive and helped me overcome many obstacles and challenges in life. He also is supportive of my crazy whims. Thank you for being a hard worker for our family and taking care of us.

Thankful for Conner who brings me so much joy. I never imagined I would have a son and I am so thankful that I do. He is a great kid.

Thankful for Elizabeth. I love having a daughter who is smart, funny, independent and thinks for herself. She is one strong willed child and I know she will be successful in life. I love her sharp wit the best, she had a gift her momma only wishes she could have

Thankful for Jerry and his family. Thank you Debbie for honoring Jerry's wishes and giving our family new life. You didn't just save one life, you saved four lives.

Thankful for my Dad, he is one of my best friends and confidant. Thankful for his support.

Thankful for my Mom, thanks for all you've done for me this year and for being so supportive.

Thankful for my grandparents. They may be gone but are never far away. Like Aunt Maggie said, Grandma lives on through her cooking and recipes. I may be far from family but we are always together with food because Grandma made sure of that.

Thankful for the Brown family. My Aunts who have taught me so much, my Uncles for always being a fun part of my life. Most of all my cousins who fill my heart with joy and love. Thank you all for being there for me and supporting me.

It is no secret that I am blessed in the friend department. Not many people can say they have thousands of friends all over the world.

Thankful for my sisters of the heart for taking me on and being my sisters. Thankful for your unconditional love and support.

For the Fitzpatrick family. So thankful Jim came into my life at five and has been a constant support. When he married Jen that only brought more love and support.

Thankful for my childhood friends who have stayed the course.

Thankful for my high school friends who have continued to be some of my best friends in life and strong allies. Even though I haven't seen some of you for years, you have always remained close.

Thankful for my Disney friends. What a blessing to be part of the fraternity/sorority of Disney. Such wonderful women and men to have known throughout my adult life.

Thankful for my Visalia friends. I know our time is coming to a close. I can never thank you enough for all you've done for our family throughout the years. You've helped me raise my kids, walk through so many trials and loved us. I hope you all know that even though we don't live close, we will always be friends.

Thankful for our Parkside Chapel family. Such a supportive church that has been there for us throughout the years. What a wonderful place it has been to raise our children. They have had many grandparents, second parents and friends through this church. We are sad that our time there is coming to a close but so thankful for the firm foundation that has been laid.

Thankful for my friend Stacy. Who knew that following a celebrity on her site would lead to a long standing ministry and that we would be pioneers. Thanks for staying the course and helping me grow.

Thankful for my prayer group of 8 lovely ladies. I never imagined a silly television show would bring you into my life and I am so thankful it did. You all have been such a blessing to me and have become family. Look forward to the day we can all be together.

Thank you to my Blockhead sisters for making this year so wonderful. Thank you Lori, Andrea and Lindsey for helping make my longtime dream come true.

Thankful for my Twitter friends round the world. Who knew that I would become friends with people far and wide via social media. You all have taught me so many things and my life is better for knowing you. The Twi community, the cycling community, the blogging community, the Tears for Fears community and the BH community.

Thankful for my job.Thank you Kyler, Kavicka, Kelly and Kanaan for taking a chance on me. Glad to know your family and work for you. I love laughing with you guys everyday.

Most of all, thank you to the supporters of Just Jules for the phenomenal year. I never imagined this little mommy blog would grow into what it is today. I could NOT have done it without readers and supporters. I am so grateful for everyone who clicks on this blog and hope it brings you joy.

My life is full and blessed. I have so many blessings in life and thankful that God has blessed me beyond measure. I am truly thankful everyday and make gratitude a part of my daily routine. I don't need just one day to be thankful. I am thankful everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving