PANTRY REFRESHER! Win your own PANTRY MAKEOVER

WIN YOUR VERY OWN PANTRY MAKEOVER from RUBBERMAID®

As I’ve mentioned on the blog already, March is National Nutrition Month.  It spurred me to take a look at our pantry and see what snacks we have readily available. I also wanted to make sure they were easy to find and healthy! Although we did a great job making over the pantry last year, it’s a good idea to give it great refresher every 6-9 months. It was the perfect time to go throw a few things out and combine items in baskets. If you’re in need of more than a refresher… like a  FULL BLOWN MAKEOVER valued at $5000!… keep reading! This is NOT a sponsored post. I worked with Rubbermaid® this to spread the word about their giveaway on social media, but this blog post was not a part of it. I just really want one of you to win!! LOL. So, read on and ENTER! Also, I had too much fun organizing with my mini-me (see photos below:) and wanted a place to share all these silly, fun pictures. I’m definitely oversharing here—- there’s so many!

rubbermaid 05-1.JPG

Last year, Metro’s Other Woman came to help with organization and gave a few tips that stuck with me.

1. DO NOT keep boxes. This takes up unnecessary space and you can’t tell when you are running low on commodities. Throw out the packaging and DO KEEP items in containers or baskets. Rubbermaid® Easy Find Lids™ are an awesome solution.
2. DO KEEP “like with like.” For instance, keep all your bars (protein, granola) in one basket (I like wire ones I can still see the items, some people like solid baskets). All the pastas together in containers, crackers and chips, etc…. you get the idea.
3. DO USE Lazy Susans and can holders to maximize space.
4. DO utilize back of pantry door with racks (we haven’t done this yet, but I’m looking into it).
5. DO NOT keep expired items. Check your dates, throw out expired items to create space!

rubbermaid 04.JPG
rubbermaid 01.JPG

Honestly, the first rule of thumb about not keeping boxes will make a world of difference. I created so much extra space, I was able to carve out a section for the kids. Hayden and Huck’s little art cubby was one big messy basket. But now, it looks so creative and inviting, with little kid-friendly snacks. Hayden LOVES to “help” me in the kitchen, so this one way to keep him engaged!

So just in time for that spring cleaning fever, enter the Easy Find Lids™ sweepstakes between March 17-May 5 for a chance to get your dream pantry: www.EASYFINDWIN.com. There are two ways to enter: with a receipt of a qualifying purchase of Easy Find Lids™ or without a qualifying purchase. All info can be found with that link ->easyfindwin.com. If you have any questions, please comment below and I will get answers for you! In the meantime, start your organizing! Rubbermaid® made these Easy Find Lids especially for me, I swear. Lids are like socks sometimes. They just get lost. These lids are “easy to find” because they are red and snap to the base of the container. They are stackable, dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe-- and affordable.  
How often do you go through things in your pantry? It feels SO GOOD to declutter and create space. If you’re one to keep up with organization, what is your top tip to share?

ps- my super soft t-shirt is on SALE FOR $9! And jeans are on SALE FOR $37!

rubbermaid 03.JPG
rubbermaid 6-1.JPG
rubbermaid 4-1.JPG
rubbermaid 2-1.JPG

Some of the BEFORE AND DURING shots below. By throwing out the boxes and combining items in the containers, I created more space.

IMG_0300-1.JPG
create-space-pantry.JPG
rubbermaid 02-1.JPG

FRIDAY THOUGHTS AND UPDATES

flower-bouquet-europe-ashley-jones-com

Hi everyone. Happy almost weekend! I had a bigger plan for this post, but it’s not done, so I’m just popping in to say hello. And this photo is not me. But I’ve saved it for a while. It’s a stock photo on the internet. LOL. In my memories of European days (which WILL happen again), this is me. So, stay tuned for a copycat.

I’ve been thinking about some of you that have commented on recent posts. Those of you that are dealing with health issues or health issues of a loved one, I hope today is a good day. Sometimes, it’s just a day at a time.

And those of you that commented to on the post about fertility, I wanted to thank you for the encouragement. Some of you are right there with me, so I’m sending up great thoughts in my prayers tonight. For all of us!

I’m heading into the doctor tomorrow again to check stuff for fertility. Bright and early. And then tomorrow night is the Bold and Beautiful Anniversary party. 

On a different note, the movie I filmed in Canada last year, HOME KILLING QUEEN, is set to premiere on Lifetime May 11th! I’ll share more soon. It’s such a different role for me. The other actors and actresses in the film are excellent. And it was written by my friend Andrea Canning, Dateline corespondent. It’s a thriller, with a darker comedic tone. What I appreciate about the film is the overall message of values. We become what we feed our souls. Choose wisely.

UPDATE:

That was all written last night and I never posted it. All looks good for now from the doctor after my appointment, so we wait. UGH. We tried and we wait. This is the hardest part, am I right? Fertility is amazing and so hard sometimes.

I’m gonna distract myself and go get ready for the B&B party. Also, for you guys out there that know or have younger children, I have a fun post up for a giveaway…check it out on instagram. It’s the Chickapig book, game and soft fluffy chick creature! (So cute, actually). A great Easter gift, so go WIN it! Here’s the exact link-> instagram post giveaway.


30 years ago...HAPPY BIRTHDAY WORLD (WIDE WEB).

Since you are here on this site, you might have already opened google. If you haven’t yet, you inevitably will.  And then you’ll see Google is celebrating 30 years of the world wide web!

ASHLEY-JONES-HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-GOOGLE.jpg

Well, that makes me feel old. Do you remember where you were the first time you plugged in to “dial up?” That bee-bo-bop-oh, ch-ch-beep sound. I remember getting those AOL disks in the mail and doing free trials. What is all the fuss about? It’s alien to my preteen-age brain. 

I also remember my parents not loving the idea for us kids. I don’t recall specifics- but now that I am a parent, I can only imagine what they were thinking. We want to protect our children any way we know how. And this was a totally unknown connection to strangers (and expensive…remember?)!

This thing we all are so accustomed to now certainly changed the world. Forever. Made it smaller in some ways for some people and much larger in ways for others. You? How has it affected your world? 

Ironically, I was forced to think about this last night. Joel went to a concert, Hayden was asleep and I had big plans to work in bed (with Bachelor on in the background, since we all knew what was happening anyway)— but our internet wasn’t connecting properly for a bit and messed up the tv, too. Immediately I felt disconnected, frustrated, and annoyed. Like… how can I go all night without the internet? 

It rebooted and all was normal again.

Just 30 short years ago…. before cell phones, social media, kindle, netflix, and even before the world wide web, there was the dewey decimal system. And snail mail. And newspapers. And coffee where we just had words with friends (like actual words, not the game on our phones).  And pagers! Remember pagers? I’ll never forget getting those beeps on my pager driving back to Pepperdine from my audition for THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. I got off the freeway to use a payphone and hear the good news.

I love this “connected” stuff as much as the next person, but to celebrate the 30th birthday, I might go offline. Go crazy like it’s 1989.

At least for a few hours. 


Anyone out there feel this way? Fertility in 40s.

6D4A8226.jpg

Anyone that frequents this blog knows we are trying to have another baby. Sometimes I say “discussing” it or “considering expanding the family” in posts and such. I think I do that to take the pressure off of us, make it seem like we are okay no matter what happens- baby or no baby. 

And, of course, we are. Hayden and Huck are amazing blessings straight from God. When I walked into Hayden’s room this morning (bright and early cause he needed to go potty) he said, “I’m so excited to see you, Mommy. I had a good sleep.” I mean, just so precious. And Huck never forgets to say, “I love you,” when he leaves to go to his Mom’s house. We have the family I prayed for long ago.

I haven’t talked about this openly much, if at all really. There’s still a strong feeling we are not done. We have been trying. There were a few months I felt for sure I was pregnant. It must have been psychosomatic feelings. Anyone that has gone through this process knows the disappointment every month when you see a negative on the pregnancy test, or your cycle comes. 

I know it can take time. It just happened quickly with Hayden. I also was pregnant with four of my closest friends. This time it feels different for us. I shouldn’t speak for Joel, but I feel more alone going through this process at my age now. 

However, from what I’m reading, I am not at all alone. According to a recent study, the only female age group that saw an increased birth rate was for women 40-44! The percentage of millennial women having children is at an all-time low! The surge is mostly women my age, so I’m wondering how many of you out there are in the same boat? There’s got to be some!

I don’t want to dwell too much on anything negative, but it is a very depleting, anxiety inducing, crazy making process at times. It’s hard not get down on ourselves. We’re suppose to relax and let stuff go, yet my instinct is to be proactive. 

So, I am trying to be as proactive as possible. Cutting way down on the following: caffeine, sugar, wine, processed food and Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m not being crazy about that list, but trying very hard. No hot yoga (ugh, I love it, but I can do every other kind of yoga). I started seeing an acupuncturist that gave me the most disgusting herbs I’ve ever tasted to drink everyday. (She suggested three times a day). I’ve only seen her a few times, so I’m thinking I should increase the frequency. Thoughts?

I never froze my eggs. I haven’t tried any fertility methods. I’m absolutely supportive of all of that, I just haven’t done it….yet.

I’m seeing my doctor (OBGYN) today. Gonna drive over the hill in the pouring rain later. 

I would much rather write all this as post-journal success story. I’ve been waiting for that. But, that’s not our journey right now. I believe it will be. We don’t seem to talk about this stuff much. I understand why, but I wish we did discuss it more. So that’s why I’m writing this stuff here. This is a personal blog about lifestyle, fun, food, family, style (sometimes!) and it makes sense to find out if there are more of you out there feeling the same way I do? What steps are you taking? My hope is to make us feel more connected and less alone. If you have success stories- please share! 

WATER, WATER, WATER

drink-water-weight-loss

It’s March 1st! Happy National Nutrition Month! Last month, I wrote some posts on wellness; I’m happy to go into March with a few posts coinciding with nutrition. 

I wanna start with one of the basic six essential nutrients…. WATER. You may feel like I’m beating you over the head discussing water. I realize I’ve been talking about drinking enough water for basically the passed 6-12 months. I guess I’m not done! #sorrynotsorry (scroll all the way down for fun art on how to get more high water content foods in your diet!).

HM Importance of Water - 2019.png
6D4A1213.jpg

Hayden is picking up on our habits— and I’m proud this good one he is choosing to copy. LOL. He loves saying, “I need more water, mommy,” while grabbing his bottle and stool and heading to turn on the filter. Little mess!! But so happy because I’ve read potty training is an incredibly important time to stay very well hydrated.

Yesterday, if you saw my post (here) I squeezed in a hard workout, drank a ton of water and felt so much better afterward. Less anxiety, more focused. I believe endorphins help greatly, but I also notice a distinct difference when I drink my water, specifically my filtered mineral water. The main difference is feeling more focused and energetic and grounded. It’s easy to forget the importance of water… but it only takes a headache or lots of anxiety to remind us.
I thought this was a perfect day to answer a few more of your questions that keep coming in about our Water Filter System! And I love it!! The main questions have been about the Home Master® Filters RO system Joel and I have. I also want to say the only thing I regret is waiting so long to get this. It has made our lives easier! If you’re on the fence, lemme know! I drink probably 25% more water now that I have this mineral water on tap.

questions

What do you mean by “mineral water on tap?”

Great question! I kept asking Joel this, too. These Home Master® Filters are patented, advanced pH balanced water purification systems that ADD minerals back to your water two times during the process of purifying, hence, #MineralWaterOnTap.

Artesian Water Tastes Better - OFFICIAL6.png

Did we get upgrades?

I asked Joel to go over everything we got (I honestly just loved the mineral on tap at my sink, I didn’t know every little thing Joel did, but I’m learning!). YES, we got the loaded package which Joel strongly recommends. 

The Loaded version adds:

1. Luxury Standard Brushed Nickel RO Faucet

2. Fridge Connection Kit

3. Dow Filmtec High-Performance RO membrane (75 GPD)

4. Permeate Pump

Customers can pick and choose what they want for upgrades and/or choose a different faucet from our Faucet Line here: HERE as well via our Home Master Reverse Osmosis System Products Page.

For more information regarding our Home Master Upgrades visit here.

HM Loaded Package - OFFICIAL.png

Can I just buy the refrigerator kit? 

Yes - you can install a Home Master® RO System and connect it solely to the refrigerator. You simply have to purchase a Home Master® Refrigerator Connection Kit, and also cap off the line going to the faucet with an additional 3/8 inch inline ball valve. All of which are available right on the company website.

What if I want hot and cold water at my #MineralWaterOnTap filter (like ours at the kitchen sink)?

YES! I hear you and I feel you! This is our next upgrade. And it is possible, affordable and doesn’t take up much space.

Check out the Chiller Daddy (hilarious name and you won’t forget it!) and the Hot Tank that would easily fit under our sink.

HOT TANK INFO:

You can purchase the Waterstone™ Hot Tank to add to your Home Master® drinking water filtration system for instant hot tea, coffee, instant soup, water with lemon in the morning, etc!  When you purchase the Waterstone™ Hot Tank, you will need to purchase one of the four Hot/Cold Waterstone™ Water Filtration Faucets.

  1. Parche

  2. Hampton

  3. Annapolis

  4. Pembroke

 Hot/Cold Faucets will come with a secondary lever. One lever for cold water, the other for hot water.

 CHILLED WATER INFO:

You can add the Chiller Daddy®, a compact undersink water chiller to your Home Master® RO system to provide you and your family with chilled purified water! The Chiller Daddy® is compatible with any of the Home Master® Water Filtration Faucets.

Hot Water & Cold Water - OFFICIAL.png

QUESTIONS? So much info here!! Please leave any thoughts or concerns in the comments below. If you can, tune into our Q & A live next week (scheduled for 10:30am PT on facebook and I’ll be chiming in on instagram live, too. Home Master will be on there with us helping answer questions). Home Master® Filters and I will make sure all your questions are answered. You can also contact HomeMaster at 1-877-693-7873. Tell them I sent you and you will get free shipping and a second year filter free on your RO system. 

Or use codes ASHLEY for free shipping and free second year filter ON YOUR RO SYSTEM. Or ASHLEY2019 on your whole house system!

Water Foods-01.png

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

I’m thrilled about our new sponsor: CFP Board. They’re shedding light on something I want all of us to think about and discuss – our finances. It’s not always comfortable, but it is extremely necessary.

mommy and me.jpg

As you may already know from my other posts, Joel and I are thinking about expanding our family (eeep!); this has led to discussions about our finances.

Lately, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with my mind racing about these discussions. I know stress is not the best during this “process,” but it’s also hard to avoid.  Joel and I both have family in the financial world that have impressed upon us the importance of planning for the future. We were told it was time to get help and make a plan created by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.

First off, I’m learning that many people without the necessary qualifications call themselves financial planners, so just beware. It’s essential to get someone who has a CFP® certification upholding the ethical standards required of a CFP® professional. Just like you want a doctor that has the proper license, you want someone guiding your finances that has the proper qualifications.

paperwork/ashleyajones.com.jpg


Like my desire to KonMari style organize my house is strong, my desire to get organized financially is even stronger. Meeting with a CFP® professional near us (letsmakeaplan.org) can help Joel and I start working on all of those questions that keep popping up in the middle of the night. I mainly want to plan for education (from preschool to college) and know how much we should be putting away for retirement and life insurance. It must be our age, but retirement seems to come up in conversation a lot lately. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and be happy just making ends meet every year, but I know there is a way to WIN the rat race one day–and enjoy retirement–IF we stay on a targeted plan.  

AshandHuck.ashleyajones.com


Like most Americans, our financial needs range and change. The above thoughts are my urgent issues today, but I also have so many others. For instance, lots of little questions about our personal taxes for those of us with blended families. A CFP® professional will work with us today and grow with us as our needs change, especially if (and when!) another little one joins the family. How can we make our money work for us, not the other way around!??  My father gave me the best reason to work with a CFP® professional: worry less. He said money is a terrible master, but a wonderful servant.

Do you feel like your money is working for you? I hope so! But could it be working harder? I’m excited to let the professionals do what they do best, so I can be the best for those I love and be the best at what I love.

It’s so easy to just meet with a CFP® professional. Go to letsmakeaplan.org and find one in your area. The best part of CFP® professionals is that they work with you to build a plan to take care of a myriad of needs–both big and small. If you are starting your own family, there is NO better time than now to start planning ahead and securing your future. If you’re even younger, let me tell you: when I bought my first house in my 20s, I thought that was enough to secure my financial future, but in hindsight, I could have done so much more had I retained a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. See what they have to say!

If you’re interested, I hope to share our journey with you all–and show you how much financial planning can serve you in your lives. It can be a lifelong relationship, my CFP® pro and me!

As always, any comments below are welcomed! Have you ever worked with a financial planner?

xox

AJH

6D4A7837.jpg

forget Partying at the Oscars, we're all about: PARTY AT THE POTTY

Our first attempt at potty training at 19mo did not go over well.

Our first attempt at potty training at 19mo did not go over well.

PARTY AT THE POTTY

If you follow me on social media, you know I’m in the middle of potty training Hayden. 

Hayden’s pediatrician believes we need to work on weaning diapers before I try to wean the thumb sucking (that’s a polarizing topic for another day). I thought there was a good chance I’d be working on set on a show this week, so when that didn’t pan out, I had a few free days. Hayden seemed to understand what I was talking to him about (I know, he’s TWO, but he really did seem to get it). So one full day we discussed it, then off went the diapers the next day.

HaydenPotty1years.JPG

I must say I was dreading potty training, but maybe since I expected the worst, it’s not as bad? I tell you one thing- I’m over diapers!! For all you parents out there about to start the process, I feel for you, but just go for it IF YOU FEEL your child is ready. I tried potty training Hayden at 19 mo. and he was NOT ready. His imagination came alive, creating many other uses for the potty other than the intended one (see photo above!). I’m weary to say much just yet because we are only on day 3. So, what I will discuss is preparation

Here goes:

I did nearly nothing. Ha! We read some books on the topic at night on and off recently. Not books for me, books with stick figures that talk about walking to the potty and sitting down on the potty, etc. I talked to my friend Willa Ford @wfordinteriors that went through this process before me and she recommended some products that I highly suggest using! So, I spent about 5 minutes amazoning the below. I’ll link them. I bought them all!

I’m grateful Willa gave me her list! I would have NEVER thought of the “piddle pad” for the car seat until it was too late and been super frustrated trying to clean it! Trips anywhere we don’t want to carry a potty with us, these portable silicone fold up seat covers with liners are genius. My biggest thing is not letting Hayden touch anything. This basic POTTY book really helps them understand what is happening. And I ordered the padded undies because they will catch the initial dribbles! The thin one that come in packs of 10 will NOT do that. And finally, I’m keeping the travel potty in the car. I have one at home that is simple, but this one had a COVER LID if we need to hold off on dumping for a moment.

Potty training must be one of those things that is hard to recall once it’s all over and time has passed. I met Huck when he was about Hayden’s age. We went through potty training together. I helped implement “no more diapers.” We used pull ups for a short period at night, then big boy underwear. I remember moments of the process, having to rush home after accidents, Huck holding my neck as he pooped in the potty for the first time telling me he was scared. But, over all, I don’t remember that much. Is it human nature to selectively forget the hard parts or we would never want to do it again?? I can’t imagine that time was a super easy process for any of us, especially Huck, because he was going back and forth between his mom and his dad. But, he adjusted, as kids do.

I know there are books on the subject that outline it all. I skimmed the jist of them on google and just went for it. Lemme tell you one thing I quickly noticed: there are two schools of thought.

1) Never put the diaper back on them again. Even for naps or nighttime.

2) Put the diaper on them for sleeping or traveling distances. 

I chose the latter.

For now, it’s all “party at the potty!” ha! We’re handing out little mini prizes and limiting the sweet treats as much as possible. Stay tuned for how it goes. Do you remember potty training your child? Or are you thinking about starting??

Please please share any ideas, tips and tricks. One of you (I don’t share names without asking first) shared Brandi Bruck’s Potty Training in 3 Days. I may order that book! Thanks for those of you that are so encouraging of this process!! #MYtribe is awesome.

xo

AJH


SINCE I POSTED THIS, OTHER ISSUES HAVE COME IN TO PLAY. CONSTIPATION WAS MY BIGGEST CONCERN.

UPDATE 2/24/19 10am

While many I know were at Oscar parties last night, we were home partying at the potty! I got concerned that Hayden had not pooped. Now, it’s been over 2 days. Who has dealt with potty training constipation? I’m googling and it can quickly turn into an alarming situation. I’m feeding him more foods that might help that issue right now. I’m reading I might need to give prune juice. He is peeing in the toilet every time, but clearly holding the poop for one reason or another. Is anyone else dealing with this or have you recently?

Also, I am so grateful and overwhelmed at everyone’s comments on DM, but I would rather us all share here where others can benefit from your wisdom. I know it’s frustrating to have to sign into squarespace before you leave a comment, but it’s pretty easy- give a name and an email. The email is not for my purposes, but squarespace security. (Honestly, you could probably make one up…not sure, but it is not connected to my website, so I will never know). We only see addresses if you voluntarily sign up for newsletters (which we are working on finally accomplishing!). All that to say—- PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT so others can benefit;)

I’ll be leaving updates here of anything that works for us. For those of you that are just now tuning in and are questioning potty training, the main thing I’ve learned so far is that YOU have to be more ready to do this than your child. It’s really TRAINING THE PARENTS.

UPDATE: 2/24/19 10pm

Ok, I got so preoccupied with stuff- sorry for the delay here. Thank for those of you checking on us! He ate a lot and had quite a few apple slices. Nothing was happening and it had been 2 days. I read a great deal online and got concerned. I didn’t want to develop contipation issues. At 4pm, I rubbed a bit of vaseline back there with Joel helping me hold Hayden (tiny bit, on the outside). He finally started pooping around 5pm (cried a tiny bit). I said he could poop anywhere he wanted - in a diaper, in his (padded) big boy undies or in the potty whenever he wanted to. He started to go in his undies, then I gently took him to his little potty. He finished there and was very excited to show daddy and flush it. He continued to go in the potty (pee) the rest of the night ( 2 more times). One of you mentioned that I should explain he is a big boy and he can come tell Mommy or Daddy when he needs to go to the bathroom. I tried that and it did work with pee, but I still reminded him he could go potty every hour. I put a diaper on him for bed tonight.

UPDATE: 2/25/19 10:16 pm

I’m so tired. This gets draining. I do believe this will help others, so that’s why this is so detailed.

I’ll start by saying he waited till 4pm to pee AT ALL today (even with a ton of food and water and milk in him). He just kept saying he didn’t need to potty. At nap time, I put a diaper on him and it was bone dry when he woke up. I’m less concerned today, but still went to the store to get some raisins and more apples. He ate them. Finally at 4pm, he went. He waited till 5p to poop. He started in his big boy pants, then I lured him over to the potty with the promise of a little toy car. He was so excited to flush it, he forgot about the toy. I brought it up anyway and praised him.

NOTE: I am SO happy with these slightly padded undies I wrote about below. I wasn’t sure if they would work, but he loves to put them on and feels very comfortable in them. If he starts to go, it doesn’t soak up like a diaper, so he is aware, but it also doesn’t leak immediately. We have 4 pairs (one pack). I got a 3T, which are perfect for him.



Hayden much more “relaxed” about the process now.

Hayden much more “relaxed” about the process now.

A DIFFERENT DIRECTION

It’s a dreary, cold day here in LA. I don’t feel like doing much. I’m a bit down mentally and physically. I’m congested and worn out. Probably the exact time I should force myself to go workout. We’ll see. I’m also in the midst of potty training. Lord, help me! lol.

Last Friday I mentioned on inststory I had an audition. Yesterday, I found out it was down to the wire. I was what we call “pinned” in the auditioning world. I’m not sure if I should say what show, but I don’t really see why not? For the sake of the show, I will wait and say what series later…It was for a recurring role on popular primetime show.  The character was very interesting and complicated. Truth be told, there aren’t that many roles right now for Caucasians my age. I should feel good that I got so close to getting it. But, alas, last night, I learned it went to the other woman. There’s lots of fun ways they tell you the role is not yours.
They “went another direction,” or “it didn’t go your way this time.”  Makes me want to make a change… what can I do to shake things up? Go back to my natural dark hair? Yep, this photo below is my natural color. (By now, a little grey has seeped in, though). Silly thing to change my hair, but maybe not? Maybe I should go in a different direction!

Side note for those of you that might ask, I would be so happy going back to your favorite daytime shows or working on Hallmark or continuing with Lifetime (next movie airs in May). So, thanks for your support in those endeavors.

darkerhairphoto/ashleyajones.com

The business side of our industry is depleting at times. I don’t like to call it rejection. There are so many puzzle pieces to making a project work, sometimes it really is not about me. So, I have to let go. I usually allow myself 20 minutes or so of being bummed, then I must move on and forget about it. I come home to my family, my reality… where we have plenty of other things to worry about.

Embed from Getty Images


I know we all go through things like this in life where we are so close to the “next step,” or getting a new campaign or case or position at the company. And then it doesn’t happen. But we have to understand there’s a bigger picture. Sometimes it’s just so hard to see or even want to see. It just feels like failure. I wanna get mad at…. I don’t even know who really. 

Some of you have left comments here about current situations. Health issues, or job changes….or both. I truly cannot begin to imagine how frustrating, depleting and devastating some of those circumstances are. I am so encouraged by your strength and it puts things into perspective for me. Also, I appreciate this blog and communicating with y’all. Thanks for sharing with me, too.

One book in the bible that I like to read (and should read more) is Isaiah. If you are interested, here are two of my favorites that help me change my perspective and give my thoughts to God. Also, unanswered prayers are often protection. 

Isaiah 41: 10 Have no fear, for I am with you; do not be looking about in trouble, for I am your God; I will give you strength, yes, I will be your helper; yes, my true right hand will be your support.

Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 

Have a great day, y’all. Feel free to share in the comments!!

HOW GOOD ARE YOU TO YOUR FUTURE SELF?

CANCER PREVENTION #realtalk today

6D4A1984.jpg

Continuing with the health and wellness series, I want to thank the American Cancer Society for sponsoring this discussion about cancer prevention. This is all my own #realtalk, but trying my best to bring positivity to this heavy topic.

A bump in my breast led to being slightly cut open for a surgical biopsy. I was very young. Too young to know about cancer yet. I don’t recall that much about it, although I remember the look on my mother’s face when she was listening to the doctor. It was a scare, a benign fibrocystic lump. But something about that time stuck in my mind forever.

Fast forward to my twenties when a dermatologist dramatically reacted to moles on my body. And more biopsies happened. I have long, deep scars from the scares that time. And although my parents taught me a lot about protecting and taking care of myself, this series of tests really woke me up. I started reading more about prevention and taking some big steps. I slather on sunscreen and have never gone near a tanning bed again. 

It seems I hear way too often that someone is going through chemo. Or was diagnosed with stage...you name it. These people have their lives changed in an instant. The thing about cancer is this: it does not discriminate. It affects any race, any way, at any time. But, the more knowledgeable we are, we can actively work to try and prevent it to some degree. 

There’s so much we cannot control with the unknowns of cancer, but if we can make small daily changes, it definitely won’t hurt and very well might greatly help. Approximately 42% of cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths in the United States each year that are linked to modifiable risk factors, thus potentially being preventable. Those statistics woke me up! February is world cancer prevention month. It’s a great time to gently remind those we love of little habits we can implement to change our world...and BE GOOD TO OURSELVES, too. Any regulars here know I’m all about clean living. DOESN’T MEAN I DO IT EVERYDAY. I try. I’m not a doctor (even though I'm Dr. Bridget Forrester on B&B;), but I have the privilege of meeting with specialists that lead me in the right direction.

I bet you could write the below on your own. However, it never hurts to be nudged. I just took a break from writing this to refill my water bottle and go walk on the treadmill because all this is reminding me of the benefits. You all help me stick to my regimen, too. It’s so easy to get lazy; accountability helps. 

IMG_8525.jpg


MY TOP TIPS:

  1. SCREENING

I got my first mammogram last year. It’s already time to get my next one. I’ve been avoiding scheduling the appointment, but I’ll do it today. Will you?  Screening and early detection of certain types of cancer is paramount. If you’re feeling something is off anywhere or if you have a question, please, talk to your doctor. And even if there’s not a question, talk to your doctor about what screenings are best for you. PLEASE. 

2. NO TOBACCO

Quitting smoking is not easy, but you can do it. To have the best chance of quitting and staying quit, you need to know what you’re up against, what your options are, and where to go for help. Check out a great source here at cancer.org

3. FOOD AND ALCOHOL

IMG_0233.jpg

Diet: what are we putting in our bodies food and drink related (if it’s not pure water)? High calorie foods, regular consumption of alcohol, and processed foods are not wise choices. We know we should be eating more whole foods: fruits and vegetables high in anti-oxidants, limit processed foods.  My boys love going to our local farmer’s market. I remember blogging about it last year and loved reading your responses about your local markets — those that have access to one.

farmersmarket.jpg

4. EXERCISE

Exercise. Yep. Yep. Just do it. I try to get in at MINIMUM 3 hours a week. I’ll be honest, before Hayden, I was a 6 day a week girl. I did the work. Now, it’s harder, so I get that life can take over. If we are trying to look like Cindy Crawford, we probably need to put in the time, but if we are trying stay healthy and work at preventing cancer, a little goes a long way. 150 moderate minutes a week, or 75 high intensity minutes will fit the bill. (And when I make time to do this, I feel like I’m floating afterward. The natural endorphins seriously kick in.) If you’re following my stories, you often see me participating in yoga. I love the intensity and principles of yoga.

6D4A1853.jpg

5. PROTECT FROM THE RAYS

SUNSHINE I love it. I need it. I live near the beach for it. A little goes A LONG WAY. My family and I are so used to slathering sunscreen all over us, my kids know the drill, even thought Hayden hates it. Appreciate the sun and all its Vitamin D benefits and mental health benefits, but don’t worship it. Our skin cannot take the heat, so to speak. Even in cloudy, snowy climates— wear your sunscreen. And your sunglasses; protect your eyes! Just a reminder that the top of our heads, hands and tops of our feet need protecting, too. Hats, glasses, enjoying the sun IN THE SHADE, and sunscreen protect us. Give your whole body the love of protection. You all know I’m pale. If you ever see me tan, it’s spray or makeup. The real me is as white as Capser the friendly ghost.

Joel loves picking a shady spot wherever we go.

Joel loves picking a shady spot wherever we go.

I sincerely appreciate and praise those that share their own stories with cancer. I followed the hashtag #worldcancerday and broke into tears. It isn’t fair.

BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. Love life. Visit the American Cancer Society’s website for more tips. Don’t forget to share this post with those you love as a gentle reminder. And will you share with us in comments what you’re doing for yourself for disease and cancer prevention? We can continue to encourage each other.

xox AJH

WHAT'S IN YOUR FRIDGE?

Continuing the new wellness series with this post supported by FAGE yogurt. In full disclosure, we have been a FAGE family for a long time. This partnership just makes sense to spread our love and we hope to continue to partner with more awesomeness in the future.

6D4A0844 copy.jpg

What’s in MY fridge?

It’s the middle of winter. Whether you’re in Arizona’s 69 degree weather, or you’re in the snowstorm in the northeast freezing or here in California where it’s been raining, it’s winter. And this, my friends, is an excellent time to start our spring cleaning preparation of mind, BODY and space. Last year, I embarked on a wellness series with y’all and enjoyed it. I feel like we’ve already started with all the “drinking more water” talk. And I’m not gonna let down on that..reminding myself to drink more clean water everyday.

Today, I’m continuing the topic with healthy food choices. So many of you ask me what I make for dinner, or what I’m feeding my kiddos. I also get asked if I EVEN make dinner or what I heat up that’s frozen! VALID, I’ll admit! Any parent in the world has to figure out food for their family—a normal question, albeit a DREADED ONE. Anytime I have the opportunity to ask friends and get new ideas— you bet I do! 

6D4A0847.jpg

Today is a busy day. It’s raining in LA and I have appointments. So, I threw chicken in the slow cooker with salsa as a base. Later when it’s time for dinner, I’ll shred it, add a bit of yogurt, yes, FAGE (read benefits of greek yogurt from HEALTHLINE here), low-fat cheese, cilantro, and roll it into a burrito and voila! When I got home, I gave Hayden a FAGE Total Split Cup yogurt container. We have been eating yogurt a lot. FAGE reduced the sugars in FAGE Total Split Cups (fruit varieties) by 30%!! From 16-17g down to 11g per serving! That’s incredible sugar cutting with no artificial sweetners. I love nothing more than to feel like I’m giving my family GOOD, whole foods that help their bodies function properly and fight off sickness.

And for ME!

http://bit.ly/2S5NgLu

Who can relate to this? Whatever I give the kids or my husband, I usually give a portion to myself. Or at least take bites here and there. So, if our snacks or dinner are really fatty (which we went through a phase), I take those bites. Then, I would also eat my dinner later. I have gained a bit of weight (different topic) but am working to makeover our family lifestyle. We are committed to good food, organic or all-natural as much as possible, locally grown, etc, but then my husband still loves melted cheese all over chips. Or brownies. Or muffins. (okay, fine, I like those things, too!). I know there’s a balance, so when I can offer lower calorie, lower sugar snacks, I will. More nuts, fruits and yogurts, or yo-guns, as Hayden calls them. My husband loves FAGE and the individual split cups were easy to tote for the kids.  If we go to the Huntington Gardens (a regular activity when it’s nice outside), I throw a few packages in my backpack with some mixed nuts and a banana. I keep them in stock for my own pre/post workout snack. If I’m leaving the house for auditions and meetings, I have one with me. I can park, read over my lines and eat a high protein snack. The probiotics are healthy for our digestion and fighting toxins in our bodies, too.  The benefits run deep!

6D4A1014.jpg
6D4A0851.jpg

One thing I love about FAGE Total Split Cup packages is that you add the fruit component. So, I control how much I put in. I can add a few nuts, a few spoonfuls of the fruit component and mix it together. AHHH so good. I also mix the two components in oatmeal most mornings. Hayden and Huck LOVE it.  Even if I do make low fat blueberry muffins for the kids, instead of butter, we spread FAGE.

What’s in YOUR Fridge?

Check out recipes idea here under the “recipe” section at the top! Their sweet potato toast pictured below looks amazing, so does the Macaroni and Cheese!

FACERECIPE

Now, it’s YOUR turn. What’s in your fridge? What are you making for dinner? gimme ideas! Any new things with Greek yogurt;)? Would love to hear about it in the comments below or on my latest post on social media!

XO

AJH

THE PERFECT WATER: Q & A follow up

perfectwaterajones.jpg

Hi everyone!

To all of you that checked out the facebook live last month, thanks for joining! February is kicking off a month of serious wellness for me for several reasons. 

First of all, it’s cancer prevention month. I’ll be writing about that more soon. Secondly, I’m reading more about fertility and seeing what I can do to have the best possible chances with that process, so I’m working from the inside out. And finally, I’m looking at my skin after traveling and “winter” and “age” and seeing what I can do about it! All the three of these things have something in common that jumped out at me. DRINK MORE WATER. 

So, this brings us back to my facebook live about water. If I’m going to be drinking more, might as well make it convenient and the highest, purest quality.

perfectwaterajones.jpg

I looked at the comments and outlined the main questions that were asked. If you missed the live, I’ll be doing one another (hopefully getting better at them). But, if you wanna peek at this one, you can watch it on my page HERE.

6D4A1200.jpg

Here were your main questions that I tried to get answered:

If I am curious about water filtration, where’s the best place to start?

MY WATER FILTER NEEDS

How much was our exact model?

Prices range according to your needs. An over the counter one starts relatively low. Click to check it out and get free shipping on models like mine and also a second year filter for free. If you feel you are in a similar situation to mine, I highly recommend looking into this model. Please ask me if you have questions because the company will chime in and help me answer.

6D4A0553.jpg

How often do you need to change the filter?

FILTER CHANGE SET

Is this better than well water?

Well water quality should be tested before consumption. It can be incredibly pure or highly contaminated. Home Masters does make well water systems. Please test first - get the right tool for the job!

more info:

CHECK OUT FILTERS FOR WELL WATER

How do I hook up a frig filter without buying a whole system?

Your fridge filter is basic filtration, and while better than nothing, its filtration capacity is limited. The Home Master Artesian -- Full Contact Reverse Osmosis System produces slightly alkaline Mineral Water on Tap® by first stripping the water clean, removing 98% of contaminants using the reverse osmosis (RO) process, then channeling the water through the advanced remineralization filter twice using our patented Full Contact Technology to rejuvenate and restore 30-60 mg/L calcium and magnesium minerals. It’s an entirely natural process - just like rainwater passing through the earth.

Yes – you can install a Home Master RO system to directly feed just your refrigerator’s water and ice dispenser. However, in order to do so you’ll need to flush out the system from time to time and so its handy to have a way to get the waste water in your sink or a bucket. You don’t want the flush water getting into your fridge because it’s a bear flushing out your fridge and ice maker. Get the Refrigerator Connection Kit and use the Inline Ball Valve 3/8” as your termination and flush point under your sink.

Learn More Here:

Do I need to drill a hole for the RO faucet?

Can I mount the Home Master RO in the basement?


What are benefits of drinking filtered cold water out of the fridge?

All the same benefits of water, but cold BURNS CALORIES. Um…Ok. Sold.

I’d like to look at all the potential faucet options:

FAUCET OPTIONS


I’m renting and may move, so what is easy to take with me and affordable?

Check these out! countertopfilters

Any other questions, please ask and I’ll add them here for us to reference. Do you already have a filter? If so, I wanna hear about it! If not, are you thinking about one?

xox

AJH

I could fit all my usual stuff in here after the water filter;)

I could fit all my usual stuff in here after the water filter;)

SEEING HEARTS! Happy Valentine's Day to YOU

6D4A0971.jpg

I’m getting all the feels! Valentine’s Day!! If you’re thinking about showering someone big or tiny with some love, read on! I’m excited to share these fun little things with y’all. With the beauty of AmazonPrime and 2 days shipping from most of these outlets, it can be here in a jiffy.

My mom sent Huck and Hayden the cutest gifts! These musical, singing soft animals: a lion that sings “Come and Get Your Love” and lights up, and a puppy that sings “SugarPie, Honeybunch.” They are up on my instastory right now. Oh my goodness, the cutness when Hayden sings along. I know they are not the cheapest gifts, but do make a big impact.

Hayden loves these things so much and wants to play and listen and learn the words to the songs from them. So does Huck. It’s easier for Huck, at 6, to pick up everything they are saying and remember. Hayden takes a bit more time, but it’s so cute watching the process. The lion lights up around his face, it’s very cute.

I have to share the Mother Goose my mom also got Hayden. We left it in Texas, but he loves it so much, I may order it for him here, too. She reads (moving her mouth, animated) 7 nursery rhyme stories. It’s the sweetest thing (athought the nursery rhymes we all learned as a child are a bit morbid! Jack and Jill broke their crowns!) to hear Hayden learn them and want to play with this. Take a look at the reviews…. this is such a gem for the price!

Then, I added a few I wouldn’t mind being on the list if I were to treat myself to a little self care….and thinking about the shoes below for Joel. He needs new converse. These are the “designer” version, but pretty cute!!

In my stories recently, I commented about my sister’s lipgloss. You all asked what it was, so I added it below with a few other things. It’s a version of Nars that is not easy to find. She gave me hers!! And then I also found it to link it for y’all.

The gold bar necklace I have on in these photos says HENRICKS. Totally affordable personalized gold necklace. I love it. I got it when Joel and I were engaged and have been wearing it a lot again recently. Such a sweet and budget friendly gift for any occasion: baby, engaged, newly married, initials, besties, etc.

AND NOW FOR YOU

6D4A1067.jpg

For my parents and in-laws, I’m sending out books today I made on mixbook. I took quite a bit of time making them for each set of parents. They turned out so beautifully, I was thrilled. I think it stands out more because it’s not around a big birthday or Christmas or holiday. It’s VALENTINE’S DAY. I’m hoping when they receive this book, they realize how often and much we think about them and love them. The one photographed below is ours. I made one for Huck when he was 3, and now I finally have one for Hayden. I literally cried when I opened it. Besides the fact that the book is stunning (we got the flat-lay pages, 12x12), the memories are all in one place where I can see them (and NOT ON MY COMPUTER). I am a longtime fan of Mixbook and they know it. So, just to be lovely, they are giving you all a little Valentine’s day gift of your own:

If you caught my stories, you know you can get $25 FREE/ no minimum. CLICK that link or USE CODE ASHLEY25 - Get cute cards (my sister got the prettiest palm tree personalized note cards), thank you cards, or Valentine’s day! And I wanna see what you choose, so show me when you get them!

If you wanna make a book, GET 50% OFF!!! That link will automatically give you 50% off until March 15th. Or use code: ASHBOOK50.

Thank you mixbook for being so cool to our readers!… KEEP SCROLLING DOWN.

6D4A1080.jpg

While I’m here, don’t forget Coso Beauty is also gifting readers a FREE CBD SHEET MASK. (I posted in stories recently about this, but you can also check my post about it here). The catch? There’s really not one except for shipping. It’s under $6, but you need to take care of that. ALSO— I’d love your feedback. I’ve been toying with different things I want to create and I’m in talks about a mask. For many reasons! SO I WOULD LOVE YOUR HONEST FEEDBACK. It will help me make the best product. I’m already getting DMs about it, but will create a post soon that everyone can chime in on their ideas. I have my own and will voice my opinion, too.

Also, lemme know if you guys like these kind of promotions. I will keep them up…;)

XOXO

AJH

STARTING THE YEAR CLEAN AND PURE

AshleyWATER

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). 

HaydenWATER.jpg

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.

OurINSTALLEDfaucet

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.

running-water.jpg

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.

HaydenWATER3.jpg

MARRIED WITH CHILDREN

pjs 1.jpg
6D4A8324.jpg

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.

6D4A8295.jpg

** 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?

DDP photo.JPG
6D4A7998.jpg

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.

DDP 3.jpg
  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

DDP 2.JPG

















MERRY MULTITASKING with AUTOTRADER

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

Autotrader 1

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. 

autotrader 5.JPG

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?? 

autotrader.JPG

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! 

autotrader 4.JPG
autotrader close.JPG

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

autotrader 2.JPG

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.

huck and present.jpg

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!

huckandme.jpg



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

cactus3.jpg

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.


cactus 6.jpg
cactus 4.jpg
cactus 7.jpg

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.

<

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

presents .JPG

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.

CANDLES

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!

ashleycandlesmall size photo.JPG

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.




PRESENTS 2.jpg

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

gdc 4.jpg

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.