STARTING THE YEAR CLEAN AND PURE

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First things first, I need to say I feel very privileged and blessed that I have the luxury to voice opinions about the topic of water. I am aware that there are millions of people that can’t get remotely clean water every day. Let alone have it coming out of their tap. So, this is definitely a first world “thing.”

Right after I had Hayden, I chatted with Dr. Oz on his show about being a new mom. If you caught the episode, do you remember his advice? Not just for new moms, but all of us? Drink two (TWO) GLASSES of water first thing in the morning. I tried doing that! I still try. Then last year at this time, I wrote a column for Soap Digest about resolutions and drinking more water was at the top of the list. Even the mid-year check in post was… you guessed it. WATER! 

 And I must pat us on the back…  I heard from more than a few of you that were excited about meeting your water intake for the day. I really felt great the days I followed through. I got fun water bottles to carry my water (even thinking about branching out and creating my own with ALL the little details I’ve been missing in the ones I have). 

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The days I didn’t follow through I started asking myself why. Stay with me here…. I’m going somewhere with this. We have a so called “top of the line” refrigerator with filtration (or so I thought). But the water comes out so cold, it was often hard for me to drink it immediately. I had to let it sit for a while. I LOVE super cold soda, but not water so much. Just a quirk of mine. Then, Joel started testing the contaminants in the frig water. They were higher than he wanted. And this was the water I had been using to make Hayden’s bottles when we first moved in a year and a half ago. This was the water we all drank everyday. Keeping hydrated with clean and pure water is the basis of good health. So, I started buying bottled water again. UGH. It’s expensive. It’s heavy. It’s extremely wasteful. And IT STILL HAS CONTAMINANTS. NO JOKE. Although I don’t believe our tap water in small doses would gravely harm our family, I also know that impurities, disease causing bacteria, chemicals and toxins are what lower the quality of water. **

If 2018 was focused on drinking MORE water, perhaps my 2019 commitment is look into the QUALITY of the water I am drinking and offering to my family.

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Joel wanted to end any questionable issues by installing a system of reverse osmosis, ph balanced mineral water right out of our kitchen sink. It sounded expensive, big and I hated the idea we had to cut a hole in the counter top to put in the new faucet. Little did I know, reverse osmosis eliminates sodium, removes lead, it’s easy to maintain, and does NOT take up much space. We could get it custom ordered for our needs and it would arrive quickly. We found this re-mineralizing, reverse osmosis system from Home Master. I found a guy on yelp to cut a perfect circle in about 10 minutes. Plus, it’d pay for itself in a matter of months. And it tastes so good, not too cold. 

photo courtesy of HomeMaster (this is our exact system, but not the exact one in our home). Check out instagram stories for that.

photo courtesy of HomeMaster (this is our exact system, but not the exact one in our home). Check out instagram stories for that.

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The contaminant level of our new system is so low, it’s shockingly awesome. I love they the good minerals we want (unlike other systems) are not compromised so the water is re-mineralized. It’s basically #MineralWaterOnTap.

But this is just the beginning. I researched Home Master and started a dialogue with them. They offer a great deal more for all stages of life: college students all the way to established home owners that want to add water filtration throughout the entire house. Naturally, I get excited. This blog is about sharing ideas. It just makes sense to share these thoughts with you. Home Master and I have some big plans ahead! And we’re starting with a little gift for you readers:

 

Free shipping and a FREE second year Filter Change Set with the purchase of any RO System – Use code ASHLEY at checkout.

Free shipping with the purchase of any Whole House System (no free filters for Whole House System - Use code ASHLEY2019 at checkout.

Tell me something: are you drinking enough water? Do you drink tap? Filtered? Have you thought much about this yet? I really wanna know! 

I’m thinking about doing a facebook live next week to demonstrate some of the info I’m talking about in this post. And show you my exact system under my counter, etc. Stay tuned on that!

xo

AAJ

 **The more I am learning about clean water, the more I’d like to share with you. If you are using a TDS meter, it is not a “poison” meter! Often, the numbers are high due to GOOD minerals.      Can you test the filter performance with a TDS Meter? – Not really actually. Calcium and magnesium minerals comprise the bulk of TDS. TDS isn’t necessarily an indication of poor water quality – it depends on what elements comprise that figure. Because of marketing tactics employed by companies like bottled water companies in particular, people get the impression that all TDS is bad, and that a TDS meter is a “poison meter”. TDS is a measure of Total Dissolved Solids -- irrespective of whether those solids are good or bad. Dissolved solids can be good like calcium and magnesium, or bad like uranium. Distilled water bottle companies might have zero minerals and zero TDS. Bottled water companies that market mineral water will have lots of minerals and sometimes up to a 400 TDS.

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MARRIED WITH CHILDREN

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Couldn’t resist the opportunity to use this title. 

Joel and I have recently been discussing carving out more alone time without the kids, computers or phones. My husband’s job is centered around technology…computers, servers, etc. And he communicates internationally, so often he has earlier or later calls. And I am often using my computer for work centered stuff. 

Alone time: it sounds like such an easy, basic  idea…Just get babysitter we trust and have a date night. Or put the kids to bed a bit earlier and voila! Or take advantage of nap time. Huck doesn’t nap any longer, but every other weekend he is with his own mom.

So, truly, it shouldn’t be terribly hard. 

Wrong! 

We had a rainy, cold LA weekend. I just got home from Texas, so this was the perfect weekend to implement our new plan of more alone time.

Best laid plans of staying home watching Academy screeners (this is always a fun time of year when nominated shows are sent out to those of us voting) turn into a little voice popping up from nap early wanting to take advantage of us snuggling in front of the tv with his favorite cozy blanket!! “Let’s watch The Beast! (Beauty and the Beast) or fire truck videos, mommy! Yay, this is so fun,” he says. How can we resist? Family time. (And too often computers sneak back in and we are in the same place we were prior to making our grand plans). 

We resolve to postpone our alone time to a bit later in the evening to watch our own movie. I get Hayden to sleep, straighten up a bit, climb into bed all excited to watch the Green Book. Cut to me STRUGGLING to keep my eyes open. Like for REAL.  

So, today, I got a sitter!! Woo-hoo. We are going to a proper date at the movies later today. With popcorn (and I might have a fountain drink!). 4:15 showing! We’ll be home in time to snuggle with Hayden and get ready for a big week ahead. I have two auditions tomorrow and a big meeting. Married with Children! To the parents out there, what do you do to keep up your relationship with your spouse? Do you have a set date night? How important is this for you? 

note: Hayden DOES wear clothes. He had just taken off his sweater and was lounging near the fireplace (covered and protected, for those that might be wondering;) And forgive the messy kitchen! Plus, do you see the ball under the ottoman in the photo with Hayden? I mean… there are so many balls in my life! Lol.

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** Linked a few basics I really like above. This white blanket is one of my favorites. It comes in many colors and is under $30!! Such a great gift. I gave the grey one to my sister two years ago and it has held up SO well. Mine still looks so pretty, even with two boys and a pug!











NEW YEAR, WHAT'S YOUR WORD?

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It feels like just a few weeks ago I was writing my “reflections for the 2018 new year.” And, my friends, here we are again. My first blog post of the year. With the Golden Globes last weekend, I looked back on some posts during this time in past years.  I need to implement some of my own tips now! Just so interesting how time works. None of this stuff seems that long ago. But having a baby gives you a direct frame of references as you watch them grow (literally out of their pants and shoes). And from that perspective, so much has happened. 

Today, I just feel a bit tired. I’m traveling with a toddler and haven’t gotten back on a schedule since the holidays. We had family in town, then I came to Texas. I am going to try to be as healthy as possible, but sometimes I just need that Dr. Pepper pick me up! (Diet Dr. Pepper 10 for me. Ugh….it really is so good). Some may judge me, but some may totally understand! What’s your vice? Do you have one you aren’t super proud of but aren’t totally ready to kick yet?

Before I jump to the new year…HOW WAS 2018? Honestly, it’s been a hard year for me and many I know.  But with the hard, much good has blossomed and will continue to grow into something brilliant. I do believe that.

Every few months or so, I feel a deep gratitude and need to thank you all for going on this journey with me. When I read your emails you have written and comments on social media, I feel inspired. Often there are critiques and I appreciate them, even the mean ones!! It all motivates me. 

I promise to go back to lists of ideas you all have given me regarding topics for posts and expand on even more. I have big plans for the year and am ready to take them on! I’m looking forward to the tv projects coming out this year. And, of course, will let you all know if I’ll be on any of your favorite daytime shows soon.

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  1. Cape *not a jacket, but I love it and have worn it a ton 2. Statement Necklace (also have worn it SO often!)

I’ve been reading a few articles and seeing people’s posts that are intended to make you reflect on the upcoming year…. changes you wanna make, etc. A friend of mine asked the reader to think of one word. My word is PROACTIVE. I want to be even more than prepared and ready, I want to be proactive about life. So, I’m praying about that. If I could pick two, the other word would be GRATEFUL. So, maybe I want to be proactively grateful! HA!

What would be your word? I’d really love to know. 

xoxo

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MERRY MULTITASKING with AUTOTRADER

Who wants a new car for Xmas?? NOT ME... but, read why I changed my mind?! 

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Y’all.... I’m opening up here. First of all, this blog post is sponsored by Autotrader, but you know me.... these thoughts are definitely my own. If you frequent this blog or communicate with me via social media, you may know a few things about yours truly already.
Secondly, I can be indecisive. I deplore it and am WORKING ON IT. Finally, I don’t love change. WORKING ON IT. 

Something you probably DON’T know about me is this: I have outright owned my car since January 2005. Yep. In one month, it will be 14 years. I’m not sure what all that says about me, I’ll let you all make your own opinions (and feel free to share in comments cause I’m curious). 

All this to say, Joel wants me to get a new car for Christmas. I kept saying NO NO NO, I like my car. I take care of my car. It has served me well and is still very safe. But now, even my parents are chiming in....they think I will appreciate driving my children around in an updated vehicle with back up cameras and all the added safety components. 

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Ok. Fine. I will say when I get my car serviced and they give you a dealership “loaner,” it is tempting to want that upgrade!! But who has the time it will take to do this?? So, I put it off. I mean, I still haven’t picked that chandelier I’ve discussed with you! (oops, that was a confession). I can barely get to the grocery store! This is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most hectic. So many little things to attend, gifts to remember to buy. It seems everyday, I remember somewhere else I WANT to be. Holiday school performances, charity events, etc. My husband, kids and work obviously take a great deal of attention. So, when I finally have a moment to myself, I usually want to go for a run or yoga. Or sleep. (Or catch up on my shows, am I right??) Not go car shopping. UGH. It sounds overwhelming. 

When AutotraderAccelterate reached out to partner for Christmas, it seemed serendipitous. I thought, ok, if I needed ONE MORE SIGN to do get this car thing done, here I have it. I wanted to test it out to see if was really helpful before sharing anything with y’all. I started using their online (mobile, iPad, computer) service Accelerator. I could easily get so many answers from my fingertips. This is a merry-multi-tasker’s dream!! Could I trade my car in for anything? Or should I donate? What is the safest model out there right now? If we have another baby (I KNOW, A WHOLE DIFFERENT CONVERSATION), what vehicle comfortably fits THREE CAR SEATS. (Oh.MY.Goodness). Am I now only able to drive a minivan or are there other options?? 

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According to USNews.com, more people buy cars in December than any other month. Are any of you adding car buying to your already busy to-do list? It does make sense. People want to get inventory off their hands by the end of the year, make sales quotas, donate a car for tax purposes (and to be a good person- wink, wink!). So, the heat is on for me to make this transition 

You may already be using accerator, but if you’re not, I highly suggest checking it out. It does so much of the work for you. I put the kids to bed, pour a glass of wine, get cozy and shop for a car. On my own time. In my own weird, picky way. #MerryMerry to me! 

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They do so much of the work before hand. (Did you know an average buyer spends 3 hours in the dealership completing their deal. WHO HAS THAT TIME??) To learn more about car shopping online, look HERE.

Here’s the deal: So, basically, #AccelerateWithAutotrader has a search algorithm that drives more relevant results for you. It also has Kelley Blue Book so you purchase with expert, up-to-date data and pricing info. You do all the hard part with your hot cocoa in bed at home (even the majority of the paperwork, credit, etc), then all you have left to do is SHOW UP, TEST DRIVE AND SIGN on the dotted line. So, depending on how exciting my car driving adventure will be, I’m allotting under an hour on my schedule. No joke! Drop off gifts, go GET MY NEW CAR, pick up dry-cleaning, pick up Huck after school. Look at me, being decisive and getting stuff done. 

PLEASE, let’s encourage each other just to be decisive and get stuff done if you’re in the same boat. If not, feel free to encourage meeeeee! I’ll be reading all the comments today;)

xox

AAJ

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KID'S GIFT GUIDE from a 6 year-old!

I have the best guest blogger today! My stepson Huck chimes in with his favorite ideas for kids. Meanwhile, Hayden climbs the walls to try and ring the door bell for the 100th time! But, truly, Huck helped so much with the kid guide. He says all the kids are loving anything emoji and the girls really love LOL dolls. Take a peek below.

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HUCK’S TOP PICKS FOR KIDS THAT ARE SIX (and over and under)


Some of his ideas are genius for “kids” of all age… like ME and my friends! I love the karaoke idea! What fun to pull out for family nights or with friends over. And the little photo reel viewer is such a cute idea. I’m thinking my friends would love this in their dressing room. It’s a fun gift that lives on in perpetuity (you can get new photo slides every year).

It’s Friday night here and we’re off to a holiday soiree in our neighborhood. But stay tuned, I hope to get the hostess and HIM/HER guide up asap. I bringing one of the candles to their house tonight. I happen to know they do burn candles, so hoping they like it. The home scent is subtle and lovely, so hard to go wrong with that!

Then, tomorrow we are volunteering at Huck’s winter wonderland school!! LA Zoo light tomorrow night…busy Saturday. Fun for the kids. See you in stories!! Is your weekend this busy? And do you always like you’re behind on stuff at home?! lol.

Who are you looking for? Right now, I’m scoping out ideas for Joel!

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ps- for those of you that haven’t seen my recent post with this jacket and statement necklace, it’s HERE. I LOVE this jacket I’m wearing in these pictures. It’s 55% off under $120 and I’m wearing a small. The necklace is 25% off. The feedback I’ve gotten from the blog and DMs of people that got this necklace has been great. It’s a costume, easy piece to doll up anything (I wear it all the time).

xoxo

AAJ






HOLIDAY DECOR & FUN FOR KIDS

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Hayden has ideas, y’all. He’s a mini person with LOTS of his own thoughts now. And one of those thoughts this week was to surprise Huck. Hayden understood that we were putting lights on the Christmas tree in the living room and he had the bright idea to put lights on the cactus tree in Hucky’s room.


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He brought in his favorite stuffed “friends” to join the fun and surprise Huck when he arrived. I’m surprised by Hayden’s decisiveness. I get in my head too often and get indecisive. So much so, that often I end up not making a choice about something at all (not good, people). Remember the chandelier in the stairwell recently? I put it on instastory asking for advice and help? Well, I got too indecisive and ended up putting a pin in the whole concept till later. I’m annoyed with myself.

Well, Hayden is the opposite. He knows what he wants to do, eat, wear, etc. I am proud of that quality in him.

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I’m on a timeline here to get this done so I can go pack for the breakaway for cancer event (leaving bright and early tomorrow morning). But I wanted to get this up for a few reasons…. first of all, this faux cactus is REALLY cute anywhere in the house, but especially a bedroom. Huck thinks it’s pretty fantastic. And it’s on sale 50% off right now. Right now, I found the giraffe for under $60 on amazon HERE. It’s also HERE and HERE, depending on where you might also be shopping? I like to put options this time of year in case anything sells out. The dinosaur (from Joel’s mom Shirley;) comes in a couple of sizes. The one we have is 2 feet or so, but it also has a ‘giant’ option that’s much larger. (And on sale HERE). And the large shark was a gift from my mom. Such a great gift for all the “baby shark” lovers out there right now. After surfing these animals, I now want the zebra and tiger! The price points are so great, but our space is limited for a life size stuffed jungle! HA.

I posted this photo recently of Hayden and me and I got Q’s about this sweater and his boots! The boots are from Royal Standard. And I’m wearing more bright colors recently because it makes me feel more awake and rested. Maybe it’s mental, but it peps me up when I catch a glimpse of the bright blue. And under $50! Similar to the blue coat from this post…

And I’ll stop and say goodnight here. If you’re interested in the event this weekend (and to see some of my fellow B&B cast mates), I’m sure we’ll be posting on our stories. Thanks for those of you that follow along. I know there’s many more interesting people to to watch!!

Also, if you haven’t seen it, check out the post about gifts that give back;)

xoxo

AAJ

GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK

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I’m pretty excited about this blog post…as I started looking for gifts, Joel and I discussed searching for gifts that keep giving. Party and gifting season is here! Hostess gifts, thoughtful gifts, thank you gifts…. If there’s a chance we can “purchase with a purpose” this season, let’s do it! There are many companies out there supporting a greater purpose, so look for them! I even wrote my holiday column for Soap Digest (out soon!) about this. The column has many more different ideas.

And to kick off the spirit, TODAY, we are giving away three of the candles I created that benefit LAFD.

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Last night, I left the one “HOME” on my nightstand (not burning). I would get little waves of vanilla, oak and myrrh with it just sitting out near me. HOME is a subtle scent that relaxes me. There are three different ones, each developed with specific moods I wanted to create. (If I haven’t reminded you a ton yet, I helped design and create these candles.) BRIGHTEN gives me energy with the fresh, uplifting scents of Tuberose and Gardenia. And GET COZY is just that….cozy feeling from mistletoe, evergreen and fir. Truly obsessed with it.

Made in Hollywood. GET 20% OFF today!! Plus, we are giving away three of them! Make sure you are following @makersandgoods and me on Instagram, leave a comment here and/or on our last posts on our pages with your favorite one!

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IMPACT: 10% of proceeds go to SupportLAFD in the wake of the devastating California fires. Makers and Goods also feeds a child in need for every $10 spent.


STARFISH JEWELRY PROJECT

I’ve written about this company before (in this post) because I was very moved by their mission after speaking with them. Their products also come in the cutest packaging with a letter from the woman that made it and wrapped it. Any of their items are meaningful gifts. I wear these delicate dangles earrings a lot. Just ordered this necklace for a gift. If you ordered anything from Starfish, I’d love your feedback in the comments. I hope you felt the same way I did! Check out their sale going on now!

IMPACT: 100% of your Starfish Project purchase is reinvested into our social mission to restore hope to exploited women and girls. Your support allows Starfish Project to help exploited women experience freedom, establish independence and develop careers.




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HOSTESS

Honestly, I love the idea of giving one of the candles, but I like having options;)

A cute spatula designed by Gwen Stefani.

IMPACT: 30% of purchase price benefits NO KID HUNGRY.

A set of reminder mugs with sayings like FILLED WITH GRATITUDE.

IMPACT: When you purchase this set, FEED will provide six meals to children in need – and with every sip of coffee or tea, the mugs will serve as a stylish reminder that we can all be part of the solution. 


BABY AND TODDLER

I really like these sweet handmade treasures from Cuddle + Kind. They are so unique and meaningful. I want the unicorn for myself!

IMPACT: For every doll purchased, cuddle + kind will donate 10 meals to children in need in the USA and around the world through one of their giving-partner organizations.


GIFT OF nutritional CHOCOLATE

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Another great hostess gift is Good Day Chocolate’s variety pack. My kids beg me for these vitamins and if you’ve been following along on social or this blog, you know I personally enjoy keeping them around. I love the feedback from those of you that have ordered them. Check out their sale right now! This great variety pack is marked down!

IMPACT: Good Day Chocolate supports Smile Train. Read about how the founders give back one smile at a time. It will leave you smiling, I’m certain.


Fashion ABLE friends

This whole site is full of worthy gifts that truly give back. This scarf is a fun gift for any girlfriend on your list and you can both feel good about the impact your are making in the world.

IMPACT: ABLE is a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women. Read their full mission!

A FUN PERSONAL GIFT - HOME TEE

I love these fun, soft t-shirts. A few people on my list are receiving these. I also think they’re a fun hostess gift if you know the hostess well.

IMPACT: 10% of purchase price donated to multiple sclerosis research.

happy shopping.

xoxo

AAJ

ps- although the items we’re wearing are not included in the gifts that give back, I still wanted to share the info. The blue jacket is made by JCrew and so easy to put over anything! It’s on sale for $119 and comes in grey and red, too. I added the necklace for interest and a festive touch. It’s on sale for under $50 right now! But, otherwise, I’m wearing jeans and a white t-shirt. I love Joel’s sweater he calls Mr. Rogers.


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HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM US TO YOU!

Oh our little family! We stayed home today in LA to have a quiet holiday together. Feeling very grateful for our life today. And see our Oscar making it in the shot. I think he was so overwhelmed with the chaos, he stayed back!

And LIFE it has been! Hayden woke up wanting mommy to rock him at 3:30am. I couldn’t go back to sleep after that! Finally fall asleep right before he wakes up at 7am, so I nudge Joel to attack the day! His beautiful way of handling that was to match Hayden’s scream with his own scream! EYE ROLL. Needless to say, we were all up early. LOL. To all you parents out there, I feel ya!

Huck left to go be with his mom, but we will have him at Christmas. It’s not easy to share those you love, but it’s necessary. Hayden counts down the days till he gets to see his brother again. Anyone else out there with blended families doing the same thing today? My hope is that it’s peaceful and loving for both families.

I’m also feeling so grateful for all of you. When I wrote out my gratitude list, you all are on it! It’s been lovely to connect with you here on the blog and share ideas. Thanks for hanging in there with me and being so supportive of the projects I’ve been a part of this year. I try to get back to each of you and all the emails that come through this site one way or another- either through other blog posts or on instastories, etc. It takes a while sometimes, so I appreciate the patience. And really do like all the comments. What unexpected things are on your gratitude list?

I know some of you have had health troubles, some of you have been affected by natural disasters or the fires…. you are in my thoughts. Praying today is a good day surrounded by loved ones.

XOXO


If you’re anything like me, after I clean up later and am snuggling on the couch (do you watch anything specific on Thanksgiving? I have a feeling I’ll turn on one of my dearest Lacey’s Hallmark movies!), I’m sure I’ll be surfing the internet for pre-Black Friday sales and start attacking that Christmas list.

The boys’ pants are from JCrew - and the WHOLE SITE is 40% off right now. And a limited edition JCrew coat at Nordstrom’s is on sale…. it sold out and is now back in stock in three colors. (I just got it and am obsessed with the gorgeous blue color. I’ll be posting about it soon, but in case it sells out quickly, take a peek.) It may be predictable, but I get the bulk of Joel’s gifts from JCrew, so mind as well do it now while it’s on sale!

And my sweater in this photo comes in array of different colors. It’s under $50. I’m just a sucker lately for pink. It makes me feel more awake on days when the baby wants to read books at 3:30am!

But how sweet does he look in this dog sweater in the photo. By the way, Janie and Jack has the cutest kids’ clothes. Take 30% off of everything right now! (I know I still refer to him as the ‘baby’ even though he’s a full on toddler. I could go back and retype that, but I’m not! He’s still my baby for a bit longer… and forever in my heart.)

Party Pretty In Pink Season

A FEW THINGS: First of all, it’s only in the high 50s at night, but we’ll fully call that winter coat season for Los Angeles! I so many DMs about this long cardigan type coat I posted on instastories recently, I decided to write it about here for those interested! Not sure if it’s been my time recently on a show about fashion, Bold and Beautiful, but my style has been more adventurous the rare times I’ve made it out of the house. And finally, I haven’t done many “fashion” posts lately, so I’m wondering if y’all still enjoy these? (Regarding other DMs, I’ve also been getting a considerable amount about Parker on GH! I know the character was mentioned recently;)

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Laughing at that picture above. I was trying to get Hayden to run to me, but he was more interested in the squirrels. I know the jacket is a bit of an investment, but lemme tell you why I like to do this once in a while. It’s a fun statement piece that will stand the test of time if you take care of it for certain, but here are the other standouts: pockets, check! Not harming animals, check! It’s faux fur from Australia. It hangs almost like a cardigan. It’s supporting small businesses worldwide, check. I got it via Shoptiques. And comfort level high, check! It covers the bum for a easy night out. I’m wearing an XS for reference.

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I didn’t have a chance to take some shots last time I wore the coat out dressed down with converse, but I like the versatility. I also am wearing it with a dress in heels to a charity event next weekend!

The shoes are compliments of my bestie Kaley Cuoco. The pop of color is not something I usually do, but LOVE. I found a few options linked below. I’m digging the hot pink idea!

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So, if you’re feeling adventurous with your style, what standout piece do you wear? Accessories? Shoes? Coats?

Circling back around to answer the DMs and emails I’ve been getting about Parker….I have no idea if she will resurface on your screens. I don’t like giving hope where there may be none, but I can tell you this: Frank Valentini (and everyone at GH) and I are on great terms. So, if it’s meant to happen at some point, it will. I cannot thank the fans enough for your continual support of that character and other characters I get to play. (You even get excited for me when Bridget pops in at weddings on Bold and Beautiful!).

On another note, gearing up for gifting season (and Black Friday). If you’ll be surfing online, what items are you looking for??

I really happy to tell you about my collaboration with Makers and Goods (tomorrow morning I’m announcing). If you wanna peek, I’m probably not suppose to do this….BUT LOOK HERE!!

xoxo

AAJ

Good Day PJS!

Good Morning! This is really a quick hello because Huck just left for school and Hayden is quietly playing with his toys (don’t be jealous, this will last all of 10 minutes max). HOW ARE YOU ALL TODAY? I’m already halfway ready to leave for a morning meeting, but stay in my lounging pjs till the last possible minute. Always, right?

Glancing at this photo- how does my house (no matter how many times I pick up everything) always seem to have a random ball appear!? (see blue ball in lower corner) I mean— BOYS!

Working away on my holiday column for Soap Digest. Excited about this year’s article because it’s all about GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK. Snuggled up learning lines for B&B tomorrow and an audition later today and juggling pick-ups with kiddos. Big cup of coffee, check. About to get a refill.

Whenever I say, “it never ends,” Joel replies, “until it does.” Which I always think is kinda morbid! But, he’s right. Happy and grateful for today.

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This photo above makes me want to go get Oscar and cuddle. He’s always trying to find a way to share my chair!

If you read the post earlier in the week, I commented on this marble table pictured above and how it migrates around our home. Not joking;) With their current sale, it’s $77. If you’re starting your holiday gift list, add this insanely plush blanket. It’s under $40, comes in a plethora of colors and seriously holds up. I have given this gift to friends and my sister and own two myself. Although these PJs can work for post-baby, I am wearing them nearly everyday. Soft, soft material. (I spy with my little eye the candle I can’t wait to share with y’all! I don’t even have to burn it, the scent just subtly fills the space and reminds me of winter. It’s a giving back product and it launches this week, so stay tuned).

Y’all have a great day!





Cooking With Toddlers: sweet potato casserole

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Hayden loves “helping mommy” cook! Scroll all the way down to see the video! Since I’m not much better that he is, we make quite the pair;) Sticking to easy-as-pie recipes for now, like this sweet potato casserole. I appreciate purchasing California Grown commodities for many obvious reasons. Locally grown always seem to last longer and taste better in my opinion. I cook the potatoes in the slow cooker so I can throw them in and forget it about it for a while. (I did three hours on medium). And when all is done, I served it in these oven-to-table individual ruffled, ceramic pie dishes- so cute and durable and worth the money. Now they come in white and other colors. I would have bought the white had I known;)

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We love our big table, but I also like having a tablescape, so I use these marble side tables from World Market that I LOVE. They look so much more expensive than they are ($77 right now). We have two of them and move them around as computer tables, side drink tables, etc. I also have the matching tray on the table. And right now, all their furniture is 40% off and free shipping for over $200, so there’s that!

Recipe is below, but note we didn’t even use the electric mixer. I just whisked it really well. I didn’t bother to chop the pecans finely, just enough. Also, my mom used to make the topping with marshmallows. So, we’ll do that next! Sounds so amazing.

RECIPE

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THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO! I WISH. PLEASE GO TO SPENDWITHPENNIES.COM OR CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE MORE, BUT I LOVED THE INSPIRATION IT PROVIDES.

THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO! I WISH. PLEASE GO TO SPENDWITHPENNIES.COM OR CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE MORE, BUT I LOVED THE INSPIRATION IT PROVIDES.

 

happy cooking/baking season!!

xoxo

AJ

MAKE ME UP: recent makeup questions answered

I have a notes section on my phone that I copy and paste DM’s or comments from you all…from time to time, I read them and have a lot of the same type of questions. Today, I’m answering questions about makeup.

On no level am I a makeup expert. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from the all the makeup chairs in which I’ve sat. And in recent years, I like to collaborate with the makeup artists. I’m happy to share anything I’m using or what I’ve learned. I’m hoping you will share your ideas and collaborate with me, too.

The below are three iPhone photos. Different lighting (which can make ALL the difference) and no filters. I wanted you to see that for red carpet events (the bottom one), most of us wear a decent amount of makeup, especially if I’m broken out.

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Q: WHAT FOUNDATION ARE YOU WEARING?

I often switch up my foundation, but for the past few months I’ve been using Dior Airflash (in all below photos, too). IT DRIES VERY QUICKLY. So, if you wanna give it a shot, take note. I do spray it directly on my face (some people use a makeup tray) but I am ready to go with my brush to quickly blend it all over. I’m really liking it. Mainly because once it sets in, it stays put. It’s pricey, but it has lasted me a long time. I even used it every day on the Lifetime movie I just wrapped. And I still have a lot left. Shake it well before you use it. You can find it HERE (nordstrom) and HERE (sephora).

Q: IS THAT ONLY MASCARA OR ARE YOU WEARING FAKE LASHES?

In this photo above, it’s only mascara. But the bottom two photos, I am wearing fake lashes. I’m running low, so this is reminding me to reorder them now. I switch up my mascara often, but my go-to is LancomeDefinicils. But, I OFTEN wear Voluminous By Revlon from the drugstore or $5 on amazon right now.

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Q: DO YOU USE POWDER?

Yes, I like Jane Iredale Pure Pressed powder. It’s not too matte.

I also like IT Cosmetics bye-bye pores powder. (My forever issue— why won’t they shrink for good!)

Q: FAVORITE LIPBALM?

I am using Lanolips multipurpose right now.

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Q: WHAT IS THE LIPSTICK YOU ARE WEARING?

I get asked this almost every time I wear this lip color in the above photo (also wearing it in the middle photo). It’s Trish McEvoy Veil Lip in Tea Rose. Sometimes I layer it with another color to lighten or deepen the color.

In the first photo, I’m wearing 86 Tiger Eye shimmer Estee Lauder. It is very hard to find this color in the shimmer. (It’s on eBay for a ridiculous amount). The lighting makes it look slightly different, but in reality, it’s a perfect fall brown-ish with hints of iridescent light. If you run across it, lemme know;)

So hopefully, that answered some of your questions. I added a few of my other favorites right now below, too.

Makeup Forever Concealer - I have two to mix together for the perfect coverage for a breakouts or under eyes. Flesh and Pink Porcelain for me…

Almay concealer for breakouts.

Jouer highlighter in Citrine for high on the cheeks, tip of nose, below brow, tip top of forehead, décolletage and just above the lip line (barely) for a fuller lip look.

More questions? Lemme know in the comment. Also, I know I mentioned doing a Q&A with Jamie Greenberg, so I will make that happen, too. Also, YOUR TURN! As I mentioned above, I love learning and collaborating. What are your favorite products I should know about??

I loved learning about certain apps recently when you guys chimed in, so lemme know makeup secrets!

Christmas Card Fail?

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It’s almost Christmas card season. How does time creep up on us! I never sent out photo Christmas cards (except for one of Scottie, my sweet doggie that passed a few years back) until I was married with my own kids. So far, we’ve had a few years to do this and EVERY YEAR December 1st hits and we haven’t started a thing. I’m also dealing with a little extra issue here: we don’t have Huck all the time or every weekend. Part of blended family life. So, we need to try and schedule the family shot around his schedule.

Needless to say, I thought it’d be great to try and set the timer on the camera, all jump on our unmade bed (cause we got a new headboard from World Market, so I thought it might make a decent, clean back drop!) and get some quick shots last weekend. But, best laid plans of mice and men… well, you know.

Hard to get all the kids to cooperate at once. So, we have some memories of the day, but not sure it makes for a pleasant card. Funny, maybe. At least I’m thinking ahead and starting early!!

Have you thought about your cards yet? Do you plan on sending any? Do you use candids throughout the year, or try to take an actual family group photo? Or have a theme? Sorry for the barrage of questions! lol

For those of you asking on my stories, I’m adding info on my dress and some other info below.

  1. Fall floral dress with see-through overlay 2. booties 3. Looney Tunes sweatshirt (similar to Huck’s) 4. RL polo (similar to Hayden’s) 4. Exact Headboard (loving it)

Also like the idea of the white booties with buckles showed in the picture. You just may see me wearing these very soon;) Love how the booties makes a vintage-type look feel so modern.

Off to finish some work. I’m viewing the Lifetime movie we just completed tonight. Eeeep!

Also, thanks to everyone that commented about my auditions last week. I will take ALL the good vibes. Hope all of you are having a great week….

it is feeling like fall here!

ps- adding a few other funnies below.

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I need your HELP... a work in progress

Ok, just wanting some advice. Honestly, I also think if I share some ideas with you all, it’ll force to me to make decisions and COMPLETE these projects. Finally.

I’m showing you the bare bones of the bedroom (absolutely not done- bedding isn’t finished- wrinkled, wires showing, desperately need the bedskirt, etc) as a work in progress. I’m excited because my mom was here recently and gave me a great idea. Wall paper just one wall (behind the bed), finish bedding, add chair or bench, photos and a mirror. So… stay tuned on that. I do love the simple additions that add a ton of flare so far: the headboard and the chandelier from LAMPS PLUS. I absolutely love the change lighting makes, especially when it’s like statement jewelry for the room! We painted the walls a shade of white and added crown moulding. You may remember my post about our new mattress and adjustable frame, which is why it’s easier to just have a headboard for now instead of a whole bed.

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I searched online and decided on these new pieces for many reasons, but affordability and quality were big ones. Plus, Lamps Plus is a family owned business and we also share a birthday!! No joke. They started in 1976;)

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Now… please check my instagram stories for video regarding my bigger question. I need to decide if I’m going to hang this chandelier I got and where. I like the idea of putting it in the stairwell, BUT is it not the kind of chandelier that you look at from above?? It’ll hang in a way that we will see it from above on the second floor. From the first floor, it’ll look great, I think.

Here are my options:

1) I don’t worry about this aspect and just go with it knowing it will look fabulous from all angels.

2) I get a different chandelier.

3) I hang it higher than I originally anticipated. It won’t look as dramatic from the first floor, but, it solves a potential problem.


It’s bronze as shown to the right if you’re looking on a computer screen, and the overall look that’s pictured on the website is shown below.

Ok. I have so many more things to share about house decor, but this is enough for now. If you have an eye for decor (or just an opinion), please share. It’s not cheap to hang chandeliers, so if I’m gonna go to the trouble and spend the money (because it’s so high, it’s not easy), I want to LOVE the way it looks.

SIDENOTE- I’m looking for a high quality 16in drop bedskirt. If anyone knows companies that makes them, please let me know!

Also, when I find cool things, I am showing up on my liketoknow.it app page HERE. So, if you have the app or go to that site, look me up! I have the same handle I do on instagram. @ashleyaubra.

If you haven’t used this free device, I recommend it. Mainly because if you see something you love on someone that has the app, you can easily shop it and have it at your doorstep. I love discovering new things from people I follow. Even I don’t buy them, I get fun tips and ideas like I do when I’m playing on pinterest.


xoxo

thank you for your ideas and advice! Sorry if it’s a super confusing post today!!

AAJ







Homesick. Bear with me here....

Fall 2017. Did that year go by fast?

Fall 2017. Did that year go by fast?

SATURDAY 22ND 6PM:

I miss Hayden. I chose to take this film far away, so it feels wrong to now complain. I enjoy getting to work and am grateful. Perhaps complaining is not the right word.

Joel and I can talk all the time… communicate as often as we want (until recently, but that’s due to weather, see below). Huck has two homes. We don’t see him all the time; that’s our reality right now as a blended family. But, Hayden is just a toddler. We spend an incredible amount of time together. This time apart is out of the ordinary for us.

Question for parents: how old were your kids the first time you left them for an extended amount of time?

The days are long, but the years are short. A year ago this month, @Ographr took this shot.

The days are long, but the years are short. A year ago this month, @Ographr took this shot.

I think if I’m honest with myself, it feels like I’m missing out on these days with him; I feel guilty. Did I make the wrong choice? Every time I find myself missing him, it translates to guilt in the pit of my stomach. Serious separation anxiety. Hayden IS with my parents and sister. That part is the good news. He is bonding with them and literally having a blast: walking in the rain (fully clad with the cutest frog rain gear you’ve ever seen-see below), searching for lizards, playing with Betty the Bunny. My family is keeping him stimulated and smothered with love! But, I am up here in Canada far away from him. Hearing him say “Hold you, Mama…hold you” through the phone breaks my heart. For months he’s heard me say, “Want me to hold you?” Hence the “Hold you, mama.” 

I was kind of doing ok emotionally until today. Last night, a tornado hit Ottawa. Our production is right in the middle of it. I was downstairs near the hotel lobby waiting for one my producers and wardrobe for an intense, long fitting where we would decide on outfits for each remaining scene for my character Connie. There were other visitors in the lobby around the same time. In a chorus type melody, each phone began to sing the chime of a weather alert. One after another updating each of us of the danger heading our way. The news had a headline saying: TAKE COVER. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. A TORNADO IS YOUR NEAR VICINITY. What??? The other locals and desk clerks laughed. They said authorities loves to alarm citizens about tornados, but nothing ever happens. 

About five minutes later, through the large glass entry way doors, we saw the tree across the street leaning so far over on its side, it looked like a cartoon. The street lights flickered, then went out. Inside our hotel, the same thing happened. Zap! Darkness. It seemed surreal for a second. I thought to myself… oh geez, we’ll have to wait for a few minutes before the power returns. Well, that was over 24 hours ago.

While we are all safe, we have been without electricity. No one knows how long till it resumes. It’s mayhem here. Few stores or restaurants are open. The ones that are up and running are packed with lines out the door. Once I was able to charge my phone, cell service has been so spotty (and forget trying to get wifi), it’s been very hard to communicate with my husband and family. Currently, I am in a different section of the city writing this, charging my phone and hoping to get some food. Unfortunately, nothing is available near my hotel and since the refrigerator is out…you get the picture. Some of the headlines on the news say this area looks like a WAR ZONE. It’s sad. I feel for these people that are having to rebuild their lives and homes. And my understanding is that many are injured. The school where we’ve been shooting this film caught on fire and has extensive damage. 

No one has died, at least no reports I’ve heard. I thank God for that. And our production crew is safe and sound. So, all in all…. there is nothing more to say. 

Except, I always have one more thing to say, so… I guess it feels as though things can happen anywhere at anytime. My phone isn’t working- I can’t get the videos my parents are sending of Hayden. I know it sounds silly in the grand scheme of things. It’s only been 24 hours. People and families go through real troubles everyday.

I was scheduled to have five days off starting today. My plan was to be on a plane to Texas to see Hayden. And Joel was looking into meeting us there briefly until he was back in LA with Huck. But, alas, this force majeure has altered schedules and I am now shooting during part of that time. 

Hug your loved ones extra tight tonight. 

UPDATE SUNDAY 23rd 11AM:

Power is back on!! Wifi is still spotty, but I can find certain spots now to FaceTime with Joel and Hayden. I got a flutter of photos and videos from Joel (he is visiting his 89 year old grandmother!) and my family. 

The schedule had to be altered for production, but they’re on top of that figuring out new locations, a new school, what needs to be reshot… a lot of juggling. 

Thanks for letting me vent. I’ve received a few DMs or comments from people responding to instastories/posts about being away from Hayden. Your encouraging words help! I especially appreciate personal stories of your own experiences. Working mom stories, travels, etc. I

SECOND UPDATE: Omgoodness!!!! As I was finishing the update above, the fire alarm in this building went off! We were all evacuated temporarily. Kinda crazy. All was taken care of and we are back in our rooms, but wow. (see instagram stories)

SO…. I repeat. Hug your loved ones. Call your loved ones. And also—- I appreciate you all for reading this far! Much much love.

xo

AAJ

My last update..! I saw notes on instagram asking where to get this frog rain gear from the instastory….so, I said I’d add it to the blog post. He is 2 years and 5 months and the 2T fits perfectly. Size 7 shoe.

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Pantry and Closet Makeover!

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YOU GUYS....! I am thrilled to share my collaboration with Metro's Other Woman. Lemme give you a bit of back story. I met the owner, Sarah Benken, (above with Hayden) and immediately felt an excitement about working with her. The company offers different types of services, from personal and business assistants to room makeovers and even laundry services. I learned about Metro’s Other Woman through the ladies at Good Carma Studios. Women entrepreneurs connecting and building up other women! Amen to that.

I knew I could use the ladies in several areas of my life, but we decided to start with specific spaces. The pantry and surrounding kitchen cabinets were the downstairs focus. Then, upstairs, my side of the master closet got a "facelift." Over the phone and via emails, measurements and inspirational photos were shared. Next, I got to meet Sarah and her her team, Taylor Gladden and Liz Williamson.

Before I launch into the before and after photos, I want to share Metro’s Other Woman’s THREE TOP TIPS for you to implement today:

1. When starting any organization project the first step is to purge In your closet, get rid of anything you haven't worn in 6 months to a year. In the pantry, get rid of any expired items that you've had in your pantry for 6+ months that you haven't used/have no plan to use. Next you want to remove everything from your space and start with a blank slate! When removing, place things with like items so it's easier to put back in the right spots.

2. For smaller spaces we suggest baskets, lazy susans, food storage containers (place bulkier boxed items in food storage containers ie; cereal, pasta, chips, flour/sugar, etc.) Scroll down to see our options. NO bulky boxes!

3. If you can only buy a few new items to organize your space, baskets are always our first choice! You can use baskets to store (in the pantry: snacks, breakfast foods, etc./in the closet:scarfs, purses, hats, etc.) and make it look neater and prettier. Next we'd suggest food storage containers in the pantry, or hooks for the closet. 

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Lemme tell you, we took these tips and made such a difference in a fairly short amount of time. I know this is not the first time you have been told to purge, or put “like with like” and see how many scarfs you actually own. But, perhaps something in this post will encourage you to block out time on the calendar and just make it happen. I was shocked how much had expired (oops!) in our pantry. You may remember a few of my instagram stories from the days the girls were here. The pantry and cabinets were completely emptied. Everything was examined to see if it should stay or be tossed (or perhaps not live in the kitchen at all!). OXO sent over the most amazing assortment of their products to seriously organize the pantry and streamline everything. (I'ver been using that word a lot lately...streamline. I think I dream of "streamlining" my life. To be completely honest, I don't even know what that would mean or look like, it just sounds like someone that really has their stuff together, you know?!) 

AFTER

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BEFORE

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The ladies and I got excited about the products from OXO. My husband (don't get too jealous, y'all) unboxed everything, hand washed and dried it all so it would be ready to go for the makeover. We're talking lazy susans, cereal dispensers, canisters, baskets, etc. I linked some of my favorites below from Container Store, but you can find OXO products at a variety of retailers.

The ladies had such a vision...and worked so well together. While one person was color coordinating the upstairs closet (Liz), Sarah was tackling the pantry and Taylor made a Target run to get baskets for pantry and neccesities for the closet. I love these steel baskets with copper handles (see below in a variety of sizes).

When the ladies were done with the pantry, the craziest thing was how much space there was. When you put items in their perfect spaces and remove items that don’t belong, a natural zen begins to happen. I love it and now am addicted. I want to do it to every space in the house. And although I didn't do a huge closet purge, Liz and I conquered a decent amount quickly. I was ready to be honest and face some facts about where I am in life today. Not years (and pounds less) ago. (I still have WAY too many things I'm holding onto, but I'm making progress will pat myself on the back for that!) One thing that makes me feel good about purging is the thought of giving my favorite pieces from yesterday a new life. Someone else (often my sister) will make memories wearing these items. And women's shelters are a fantastic place to donate, too. I feel great about thinking someone might wear my favorite jacket to a job interview and work it!!

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I love how Taylor found certain items at Target that were repurposed for our closet. Like the kitchen lid organizing rack (top shelf in photo- only $10) that now holds my clutches! So genius!! Slim, space-saving hangers are a closet’s dream! Baskets and shelves were added to the shoe organizers (my mom made me put those in!) to tidy up even more.


Thank you, Metro’s Other Woman. I look forward to the next project!! I know we have quite a bit of work to do in the house still yet (hello, garage!), but WHAT A START!!

Check out their website HERE…also, take a look at their KNOWtribe magazine introducing you to influential women from cities they are currently highlighting! And they will most likely be in your city soon.

xoxo

AAJ





Back-to-School Relief?

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It's funny to hear my friends with kids discuss back-to-school time. It's as if they just walked into a spa. Such relief comes over them. Before I had kids, I was almost shocked to hear how excited people are to get their kids back in school. But, I'm slowly starting to understand. 

I suppose that's one way to look at it, but for many of us, the transition can bring on stressors that attack both parents and kids alike. I saw a meme on instagram that said "I can either have a good morning or get the kids to school on time, but I can't have both." 

I'm still new to the process. Hayden will start pre-school soon, but Huck started first grade. (I don't want to sound like that parent that can't believe her step-son is growing up so fast, but take a peek at the bottom of this post to his sweet face three years ago!!) Stress from this time of year mainly comes from the adjustment period. A new year can bring on anxiety for kids. New classes, different friends, teachers, new schedules, homework, lack of sleep, etc. Plus, if you are in our boat as a blended family, it can be an adjustment figuring out schedules and communication with two separate households. 

From what I'm learning, the best way to prevent these stressors from taking over your household is to be prepared to identify them, talk about them and hopefully prevent them. Am I paying attention to the overall vibe of my environment? Taking a mental note of what worked well in our day and what needed improving helps me. For my family, it usually comes down to these three things:

SLEEP: I wrote about overall wellness starting with sleep HERE. It's incredibly important for all of us, especially kids. The National Sleep Foundation explains most of us need more sleep than we are getting. We are sleeping considerably better with our new mattress. We also got an adjustable frame. I slept with my head slightly elevated recently because I was coming down with a cold. It helped me breath 10 times better than if I had been flat. If your child has trouble going to sleep, staying asleep or waking up in the morning, it's worth discussing with your pediatrician.* Would a melatonin supplement help? Good Day Chocolate makes chocolate bites with 1 mg. suitable for children. A good night sleep helps the morning routine, school performance, attitude...just about everything. We all know that from experience.

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ORGANIZE and MOTIVATE: Both kids know if they listen and do their chores or homework (clean up toys for Hayden and homework for Huck) they get one Good Day Chocolate MultiVitamin chocolate treat. They love the reward. It helps with routine and schedule. And I love knowing it's so good for them. I also give them a probiotic

And Joel and I need to be organized for the week ahead of time. Joel works best when he knows the schedule. He likes me to jot it down in our shared google calendar. I'm not good at remembering, but when I do, it makes life easier for him (and in turn, me). I am currently working on a space for the boys to drop bags, shoes and file folders from school. If you saw my stories recently revamping the pantry and master closet, we also got tips for this "practical closet." Stay tuned on that small redo. I wonder if it's sad how excited I am to get seriously organized? It really makes me feel good! I finally got the boys this adorable bistro table from Delta Children (so affordable, why didn't I do this earlier?). It's under $110, search "bistro table" on that link. They love that it's their own table. Huck does his homework here, too.

I know the mornings run more smoothly when I have clothes and bags laid out the night before. I never regret doing that;) This sounds like more for my daily to-do list, but if I get in the habit of it, life runs smoothly. And this isn't just for the boys, it's for me, too. When my closet is organized (my clothes are ready to go, make-up isn't in several bags, but where it should be), I get ready so much faster with less stress.

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FAMILY MANAGEMENT TIME AND SOCIALIZE: This is hard. I'll be honest. I know they want/need to play, eat dinner, have bath time and bedtime routines. As kids get older, they have after school activities, sports, etc. I'm not sure how people juggle it all and work. Hats off to you! What are your suggestions? I would imagine delegating and preparation are the most important. Right now, my priority is to be prepared for dinner and family time (even if it's brief) all happening early enough so the bedtime routine starts earlier so we're not all rushed. How many of you look at the clock and can't believe the kids finally got down and now it's almost 8:30... or 9pm. It's not enough time for them or for us! 

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These are basic points for success in many different situations, but seem particularly good to remember during this adjustment for the family. Lately, I've enjoyed adding a few extra resources if people wanna click away and glance. I like reading what teachers had to say about helping your child succeed in this article here. My mom taught school for many, many years. I know she would agree with the majority of this article. I notice getting to school on time and making sure kids are prepared for their day are on that list!

 

*Please always discuss any supplements with your doctor. Also, to find out more information on these scrumptious chocolates, go to the source: GoodDayChocolate.com

AshleyAJones.com
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#Blowout Blues: the World of Poop

This post is thoughtfully brought to you by Triple Paste, but if you know me at all, you know these thoughts are all my own.  

I remember the first time it happened. As a brand new mom, I was warned (even by some of you!), but for sure wasn't prepared. Hayden was about two months old. We had taken him out on his first real all-family event to Travel Town. Clad in the cutest overall outfit with a conductor hat, he nailed the occasion, if I do say so myself.

I was just beginning to supplement breast milk with a tiny bit of formula and his little system was adjusting to it. I pick him up and cuddle him closely for a photo opp (and of course, I choose to wear all white- again, new mom! eye roll!!) when I  hear something awful. I slowly walk toward Joel to see if anything was running down my shirt....and sure enough, by the look on his face, I just knew. There was dark "mustard" all over the back of his overalls and his legs, a ridiculously large amount transferred to my shirt and my arm where I was holding him. Then, suddenly, the smell. My goodness, that smell! It just seemed to bake in the summer California sun. As overwhelming as it can be, poop happens to the best of us. We set up a makeshift station in the car and did our best to remedy the situation.

That's when I first realized Hayden had pretty sensitive skin, so I needed to be on top of potential diaper rashes. At one point, right before the one year mark, he was teething and got pretty bad diarrhea, which I learned can also cause diaper rashes. Even though I changed him immediately, at times, it would flare up anyway. It was upsetting hearing him cry when we changed him. The skin would get so irritated so quickly, I felt helpless. I was about to leave to shoot 12 DAYS OF GIVING in Nebraska and was worried about traveling with him with a rash. To heal it, we did frequent baths, naked-time, etc. We even used prescription (expensive, not covered by insurance) compound, medicated diaper cream every time I even barely suspected one creeping up. My good friends Bill and Scout Masterson-Horn (The "Guncles")  told me they would slather Triple Paste every change to prevent diaper rashes and I should save the money and try it. So, I did.

Cut to today... this is a staple in our changing kits. I can see potty training on the horizon, but we are not quite there. I'll rephrase that. Joel and I are not quite there. I know we need a good few days to a week to completely commit to the initial endeavor in order to be successful. But seriously, I don't think he's fully ready. It's just an ongoing conversation in the house. Boys love to discuss poop. I mean.... good grief!

Hayden does come announce when there will be a "diaper change" happening soon, that is, if Huck doesn’t beat him to it. And I have the emergency kit upstairs, downstairs and in the to-go bag. Hayden knows he wants Triple Paste because it makes it "not hurt." I catch him grabbing it even before I do sometimes. It's a juggling act-- a slight cat and mouse game now with him! Anyone near the little stinker (pun intended) can sense it's time to change him (especially Huck!), but he plays hard to get. Likes a good chase. He is not loving diaper changes right now, but lemme tell you, when he's rash free, it's so much easier.  I know it's nearing the time for potty training, but what I didn't know is that diaper rash paste will be entering that phase with us, too. Our doctor recommends putting a it on at night and in the morning, just to protect Hayden's sensitive skin.

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So when Triple Paste wanted to do a collaboration, I was excited. If I could share my frustration with diaper rashes to help even one other mom out there going through it, that would be great. First of all, please know you didn't cause this! Let's get rid of the #momguilt. Obviously, change your little one as soon as possible every time, but occasionally that's not enough. What DOES HELP is prevention. All the time. Cover their area with Triple Paste and let me know if it helps;) And if you're in this diaper phase, share your own #BlowoutBlues stories with me. If you're way past it (congrats!), I bet you remember one or two big ones!!

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Touching Base

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I feel compelled to say thank you at times. Today is one of those times. Thank you to many of you that were so supportive of the recent visit back to The Bold and Beautiful. I appreciate all the comments and tweets showing your support. Perhaps we'll see more of Bridget on the horizon very soon... It's pretty nice to go to a place that you love with people you truly want to work with. I don't take that for granted when it happens anywhere. 

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My favorite thing is how the cast and crew support each other. John McCook (my dad!) has a very cool dressing room close to set. On long days shooting scenes like weddings, he allows us to congregate in there on breaks. He has been so inclusive to every member of the cast since day one. I love quickly catching up with everyone while lounging on his sofas. 

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A great deal of you ask about Parker often. With Lexi back on the horizon, (and much talk of Parker on the show recently) there are questions about "Pristina." I did get to chat with Frank Valentini, executive producer of GH, recently at an Emmy event. He wasn't able to confirm any future thoughts about Kristina or Parker, but what's great about the soap genre is this: things change all the time with the stroke of a pen from the writers. People can even "DIE" and come back to LIFE (hello, Hunter Tylo). I truly don't know what their plans are for Parker. Do I think it makes sense to Kristina and Parker on screen together figuring out whatever issues they may or may not have? Sure, of course. I believe there's story left to tell. But, from a production standpoint, there's a whole puzzle of characters to place every week in storylines that keep Port Charles alive and dramatic and fun to watch. This may sound like a politically correct response, but having been on the other side of the camera from time to time, I understand. 

I'm happy to be filming a movie for Lifetime in September. It's a VERY different kind of character. One I've never really played before. Looking forward to spilling the beans as soon as I get the go ahead. I'll be shooting on location in Canada. Excited to go back to the east coast up there. 

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Until then... thanks for visiting here. I like sharing ideas, mom stories, fashion choices, favorite products, etc. Always love your ideas, too. Hoping to upgrade the look of the blog soon, but for now, it's simple and straightforward. Curious of any ideas you all have come across for inspiration to update the look here? 

And last but not least, thanks to Soap Digest for the recent cover "casting news." Looking forward to being on your screens more soon. Your emails, comments, tweets and facebook messages get noticed by the powers that be (and ME), so thank you for voicing your thoughts. How would you want these characters to come back into the fold on your favorite show? Fun to hear sometimes.

Now, off to bed. Up early with Hayden and to learn lines for an audition. Magnum P.I.!!

Wellness begins in the Bedroom!

YOU GUYS…. I started August with this whole Wellness thing and I didn’t even know August is National Wellness Month. Crazy coincidence or perhaps there's a natural inclination this time of year to "tune up" our bodies. I'm planning on finishing the month strong: physically and spiritually (read all the way to the bottom for that part). Disclaimer: I'm slowly decorating the room, bear with me on that one. We're starting with the foundation of the bedroom: the bed.

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Today, I wanna talk about sleep. Sleep is a huge part of our health and wellness at every age. I just read that up to 75% of most children don’t get enough sleep. (1) New moms (on average) lose 700 hours of sleep the first year of their baby’s life. 

This is an interesting report about sleep habits in America and how badly they need to improve. Are we listening to our bodies? If our kids get better sleep, would that in turn help us? The National Sleep Foundation sleep released new standards increasing the number of hours most of us should be getting a night. 

Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
— Vince Lombardi, Football Player, Coach (Three time NFL championship)

What is your ideal bedtime routine? I like a bath with relaxing soft classical music, dim lights and lavender candle. Then, I moisturize, put on cozy jammies, crawl into a fluffy bed, lift my adjustable bed frame to reading height, grab my gratitude journal to jot a few thoughts down, as well as my One Line a Day for moms. Next, I grab a book and read. Finally, I turn on the fan, turn off the lights, kiss my husband good night and fall into a slumber. Now, does this actually happen?  Almost never…HA! Occasionally, but so rarely. Life is hectic and that is all a serious commitment. After the boys fall asleep, Joel and I are usually rushing to get work done, clean the kitchen, finish laundry and get to bed at a decent time. Hayden is up earlier and earlier these days. 

However, there’s many things we can do to improve our sleep. Some people have health issues that interfere (and I feel for you- this is very hard), but some of us can take measures in our own hands. I’m breaking it down to HOW, WHAT, WHERE.

HOW do you get ready for bed? Hours before?  Less caffeine after lunch, finish liquids earlier so you don’t get interrupted to go the bathroom, no phones or computers an hour before bedtime, wind our minds down, etc. Some of this falls under time management and planning. I started treating myself to two melatonin Good Day Chocolates for sweet treat after dinner. There’s also Pure Rest from Usana that dissolves under your tongue. Of course, with all supplements, please contact your doctor. I’m just sharing my ideas. 

Good Day Chocolate makes sleepy time chocolates for kids. 1 mg. of melatonin per chocolate. This could be something to bring up with your pediatrician if you have school aged kids not getting enough sleep. Please consult your doctor first. 

WHERE you sleep. Your bedroom!! What is the temperature? Can you dim the lights the hour before bedtime? Are you creating an environment conducive for sleeping? Noise maker? Black out curtains? (We don’t have these, but I’m looking into it). A while ago, I discussed getting an Awair in your bedroom to take note of dust, potential toxins, temperature, etc. Joel uses a decent size air filter that doubles as a noise maker. I like a fan on, too. In the kids' rooms, we use the Dome. I also started setting the "bedtime alarm" on my iPhone. It reminds me at 9:45 that I need to wind down. 

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WHAT are you sleeping on? My husband and I both have had issues with our backs. He was convinced the mattress was not helping his condition.  The experts recommend replacing your mattress every 7-10 years. I researched and researched different mattress and bed frames. I looked at reviews and pinterest for ideas. I visited sleep stores and tried a few out. I found Leesa and we went with it! But, lemme tell you what else we did… we got an adjustable bed frame! It’s like the updated, luxury version of hospital beds. And I CANNOT tell you how happy we are. My husband fully attributes getting more sleep to this bed. They kindly gifted us the Sapira California King Mattress. And we got two twin adjustable frames that connect. Check out my instagram post with a quick video. I LOVE reading in bed, writing, or watching tv (I know, some people disagree with this), while my back is supported and my legs are elevated. 

 

We are trying to implement some of the other above factors, too. It’s all a commitment and investment. Some investments are time, some are financial. But, if you have issues sleeping, your well-being is greatly affected. It’s worth taking the time to make it better. Leesa offers financial plans, too. And right now, there’s a significant discount being offered for Labor Day. NOTE: I’m not getting paid to talk about them, I’m just sleeping better! 

ps- as an added bonus, Leesa donates one mattress to every 10 sold; the company also plants one tree for every mattress sold. I just really appreciate that. 

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I jotted down the above a few days ago, but at church this morning, Rick Warren, our preacher and author of THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, talked about the importance of rest and sleep. So much of the sermon spoke to me, I wanted to share a bit in case it even speaks to one of you. One of my favorite passages is Psalm 23. David says, "God makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides still waters and restores my soul."  It's difficult to be spiritually and emotionally full when you are physically exhausted.

Warren gave us "hints" to know that you are running on empty:

1) Fear creeps in.

2) You find yourself running from things.

3) You begin to back out of commitments.

4) You make poor choices and feel indecisive.

5) You push yourself passed your boundaries.

6) Work begins to seem pointless.

7) You want to quit. 

8) You feel isolated and attacked.

9) You begin to compare yourself to others and feel bad about yourself.

10) You have a constant desire to "give up."

Warren mentioned several passages in the Bible where God commands someone to sleep and eat before making any decisions. The best example is Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5-7. I'm completely paraphrasing this fantastic sermon, but here are the three things to refill your emotional tank:

1) REST YOUR BODY

2) RELEASE FRUSTRATION. Find your small trusted group. Talk to God in prayer.

3) REMEMBER AND REFOCUS. GOD GIVES US HOPE.

Warren closed with an acronym for God's S.U.G.A.R.

"S" is for steadfast love.

"U" is for unfailing mercy.

"G" is for great faithfulness.

"A" is for always kind.

"R" is for Real Hope.

Lamentations 3:19-24

I know this is more in depth that usual, but I felt compelled to include it. Even if you are not a believer in the same sense, much of this is just practical information. If you are interested in hearing the sermon: watch here.

How seriously are you paying attention to your sleep habits? Are you emotionally depleted? What is your number one nighttime routine to help you sleep? Here's to a great rest and refilling our emotional tanks. 

xo

AAJ

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