An interview with Julie Deily of the Little Kitchen.

Most everyone I meet has a story (or two) about their name. Even a name we think of as fairly common can leave its bearer with moving stories.

Case in point. When I met Julie, I didn’t know there was an inspiring story lurking behind what seemed to be a fairly common name. But sometimes the best name stories can come from the least expected places.

The Name Project: Julie Deily

Julie and I have met before, but it was our most recent meeting at the Food Blog Forum conference in Nashville where we finally had a chance to talk at length. And any time you talk with me, the subject of names is going to come up. And any time you talk with Julie, it’s going to be a fun and inspiring conversation! Join us and learn more about the energetic, motivational, and beloved Julie Deily, the mastermind behind the site The Little Kitchen.

What did your parents name you when you were born?

My parents named me Thy. It’s actually pronounced just like the letter “T”.

My parents also gave me an American name, Julie, but it wasn’t a part of my legal name. Going to school while growing up, my friends always called my Julie.

Everyone knows me as Julie and the only people who still call me Thy are my grandparents.

Do you know why they picked this name?

So supposedly, I was named Thy after my biological father’s ex-girlfriend. Crazy huh?

The origin of name Julie is from the Love Boat! My mom named me after Julie McCoy, a character on the show.  My parents fled Vietnam and came to the U.S. during the war and I think 70s television shows helped them learn English in addition to classes they took.

It’s funny because I have lived up to my namesake. Julie McCoy was a cruise director, and I love planning stuff!

Did you like your name as a child?

I don’t think I had a complete aversion to Thy, I just remember being called Julie ever since I could remember. I do remember being annoyed because no one could pronounce the name Thy. I liked the name Julie and it was much easier to tell my teachers on the first day of school to just call me Julie.

How about now, as an adult?

I am fortunate that I had the ability to change my name legally to Julie while I was in college in 2001. I did it before I graduated so my diploma reads Julie T. Tran. I actually took my stepdad’s last name, Tran, when I changed my first name. I put the T in as a placeholder for later on when I would get married.

My biological father was abusive towards my siblings, my Mom and I. My parents finally divorced when I was 12. He is a monster and it felt really good to shed myself of his last name. During the name change court proceedings, the county court judge asked me standard questions and then the last question he asked me was why I was changing my name. I told him I was too old to be adopted. He answered that you’re never too old. I responded that this is much cheaper.

Do you think your name has had any impact on your life – helped or hindered you in any way?

I definitely think being able to change my name was a source of empowerment for me. Being able to shed my father’s name was definitely a good thing. I do think that if someone does not like their given name, they should just change it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

What inspires you?

I do know for a fact, that my childhood experience motivates me. It has inspired me to help children in similar circumstances. I organize a school supply drive and a toy drive each year at work to benefit foster children. Our greatest fear growing up, was that someone would find out what was happening and take the kids away and separate us. I definitely see it differently as an adult but it still happens, families embroiled in abuse are often split up and at such a crucial juncture, it should not be done.

Too many children are abused every day by their own parents and I know for a fact, we don’t talk about it enough. It’s not swept under the rug like it used to be but it’s not spoken about like it should be. Parents are supposed to protect their children, not cause them harm. There are definite telltale signs and I think I exhibited them. I loved school and even if I was sick, I wanted to go to school. My older sister told me when we were older, that she dreaded weekends. She would often ask her teacher on Fridays if she could go home with her.

I’m inspired by my friends’ creativity, their grace and their awesomeness. I’m forever grateful for the friends I have in real life and online (friends I have made since I started blogging). I’m always inspired by them to do better, to push myself and to learn more.


Knowing people like Julie who’ve been through so much in their lives and then find ways to reach out and help others gives me hope and a healthy dose of inspiration as well.

Thanks to Julie for taking the time to talk to me about her name and her life. You can learn more about Julie by visiting her site, the Little Kitchen.

My series, The Name Project, showcases interviews with the people I meet. Names are my inspiration and The Name Project is a place for me to share with you photographs of people and stories about their names.


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