PRESERVING TRADITIONS

ashley-jones-ball-jars-canning.JPG

Thank you Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Home Canning products, for sponsoring this post and bringing us so much joy; but as always, thoughts are authentically mine!

I really can’t even explain the fun we had canning recently. And although I have used Ball® jars for years for many purposes, canning had not been one of them, till recently.

Lemme start from the beginning. My earliest memories of my paternal grandparents are picking strawberries on their farm. My Pa Jack, as we called him, would take my hand and show me how to gently collect the fruit. My Ma would take all the “pickings” and can them In Ball® jars. They canned concord grapes from the vines in the backyard, green tomatoes, even cabbage slaw! They lived in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, small town USA where people take care of each other, grow their own food, and share. My dad has vivid memories. And even getting to write up this column, it was lovely to bring up the “good ‘ol days” and let him tell me a little more. I even connected with some cousins and my Aunt Debi to discuss their memories of canning. It was more than a tradition for my dad and aunt growing up; it was a way of life.

WE DID IT!!!!

WE DID IT!!!!


As an adult, I was intimidated and overwhelmed by the concept. It seemed like such a huge (and somewhat messy) process to me. BUT I’M HERE TO TELL YOU DIFFERENTLY!! If I can do it (and do it WELL!!) so “can” YOU. And our experience canning in our kitchen was a family affair. We all pitched in some way.

CANNING-ASHLEY-JONES-BALL-JARS.jpg

Huck and Hayden helped pick out the organic strawberries from the farmers market and mash them! I was excited to try strawberry lemonade marmalade (try saying that 5 times;) And Joel is ALL THINGS SPICY. All things. Anytime. So, Texas-style Maple Pickled Jalapeños were right up his alley. Our small-batch canning experience was such a success that Joel has it on the calendar for another upcoming weekend. He even wants to have a “canning” party. I’m sensing a new hobby in our household. But, hey, it’s a healthy one we all are loving.

HAYDEN-MOMMY-MARMALADE.jpg

The cans turned out so well, I took them to a picnic birthday party with Hayden for a hosting gift for friends. Hayden was proud to tell the group that he helped make the “red jars.”  Hayden and “Mommy Marmalade.” lol So, if you are on my Christmas list, guess what you might be getting?! Hope you like Maple Texas pickled jalapeños or strawberry preserves! (I was even thinking of sending one of you a complete canning kit from Ball® with a sample jar of the jalapeños...thoughts?)

There’s something nostalgic about using Ball® Aqua Vintage jars available now. They look like the same jars my grandparents used years and years ago…because they are! Ball® Home Canning is celebrating 135 years of heritage and family traditions.

ASHLEY-JONES-PICNIC-BALL-JARS.jpg

In a world of instant gratification, microwaved speed and information at our fingertips, there’s something to be said about the art of canning and preserving.

I got to go first and do the Strawberries. I followed the instructions carefully using the Ball® Preserving Starter Kit and Ball® Jars. If you get this exact kit available at Target, it comes with everything you will need (outside of the ingredients). All in all, it was about an hour process to make. Then, they need to cool and sit still for 24 hours.

Joel was ALL ABOUT the jalapeños. We used this helpful cutting board to get the right sized pieces for the jalapeños and onions. (He also used a knife to perfect some and on the ends.) My husband used to brew his own beer, so he really enjoyed this process. I’m not into beer, but this newfound hobby I’m finding very rewarding.

I’m adding our exact recipes below. And in case you get an itch to preserve your special commodities of the season while they are fresh, I’m also adding a great list from Ball® about the do’s and don’ts of canning.

Is this something you would do with me?? I’m thinking about doing a LIVE facebook or instagram during our next canning experience! And leave a comment if you’d like to win a package of the memory-making Ball® jars!! What would YOU preserve or use the  Ball® Aqua Vintage jars for (even flowers would be fun!)?? Leave in comments..I’m asking the brand to randomly pick a winner;) We’ll just need your name, email and address if you win!

xoxo

A

Maple-pickled-peppers-ashley-jones-ball-jars
Strawberry-lemonade-marmalade-ashley-jones-ball-jars-recipe


dos-donts-canning-recipe
Dos-don't-canning-ball-recipe
6D4A1629.jpg

BACK FROM TEXAS: traveling with a toddler

Hayden and I are back in California and I'm missing my family. I'm not typically a jealous person, but I have to admit, when I see other people with their family surrounding them all the time, I wish we had that! But, alas, life choices took me away from Texas years ago and our family lives here in California!

white easter dresses.JPG

1. My Exact white dress (comes in 9 colors)  2. Variation of the dress 3. V-neck dress & bell sleeves

4. Similar Option to Sister's dress

BLENDED FAMILIES

I've been asked about life with a blended family. I don't feel like an expert on the topic, so I rarely comment. However, I realized sharing my experience is simply that... I'm not trying to give advice. There are so many beautiful aspects of a blended family. We cherish the time when our whole family is together (Hayden and Huck are very close-- it's chaotic, but great). But, when it comes to schedules and trips and visiting family, it gets hard. Although Huck was on spring break while Hayden and I were in Texas, that time is split between Joel and Huck's mom. Since I want to see my family as much as possible, often that means I am in Texas with just Hayden. We make it work like many of you do. Family trips just take more pre-planning and time. Who went through something similar recently? 

TRAVEL TIME WITH A TODDLER

It's a joy to see Hayden with his grandparents and my siblings. He loves his Aunt Jordyn! As hard as it is flying by myself with him on my lap (oh.my.goodness!), it's worth it. I think we are at an in-between stage traveling with him. A little bit older and he'll want to watch a movie. A little younger, he'd sleep on the plane. Right now, he just wants to roam. I tried to be overly prepared with a kid's headset, downloaded movies, snack packs, etc. and it definitely helps, but if you guys have tips from your own experiences, I'd LOVE to hear. I do love the backpack diaper bag. It's genius for traveling and walking through airports while pushing a stroller. 

I don't know about you all with toddlers, but we always seem to get our groove of naps and bedtime the last day or so. I have yet to figure out the best way to handle time changes and sleep routines. Hayden has done well recently in his own bed. Outside of his own bed, it is challenging. I've heard other kids sleep like champs in a pack and play, but Hayden fights me! This explains the lack of sleep and why my hair is usually in a bun! Lol. Of course, the very last day, he slept in the pack and play. 

WEAR IT AGAIN? yes, and again and again!

Okay, if you all visit the blog or follow on social media, you are well aware that I like this dress. Yes, this is the same one I wore last year on Easter. I love a great new dress or item of clothing, but I also appreciate pieces I already own. I've talked way too much about this dress, like I did HERE, so I'll move on now. Oh, and my flats are washable, sustainable and I love the petal pink. 

My sister's dress is so cute on her. Love the style and type... she got it from chicwish, a site I like, but it's sold out. So, I found great similar options. ALL the dresses below are under $100. So great for summer parties, date nights, baby showers, etc. And the dress I'm wearing comes in 9 different colors!

1. My Exact white dress (comes in 9 colors)  2. Variation of the dress 3. V-neck dress & bell sleeves

4. Similar Option to Sister's dress

 

I promise to move on to other fashion options soon! Hope everyone is having a great day. 

xoxo

 

Coming Full circle! Work, travels and turning one!

It's been a while since I've posted here... I miss it and want to start writing more. Recently, a few life events kept us busy. As many of you know, we moved! Anyone that's ever moved gets this! It is NOT easy. NOT super fun. (You inevitably can't find important items and feel so up in the air it's ridiculous). Then, shortly after we moved residences, we found ourselves traveling again to film a Lifetime movie. Not down the street to Santa Barbara or DTLA, but across the country, up some great lakes and through the border we go.... to Toronto, then Ottawa, where I am currently typing this post. 

AshleyAJones.com/family

I've filmed quite a few tv movies up in Canada...even near the place where we are staying now. I distinctly remember walking to get dinner by myself on my day off one night. I watched families strolling by all bundled. It's pretty special now that I am one of these people...strolling Hayden! I can't wait to say more about what I'm up here filming, but it'll (hopefully) be one fun thriller to watch. I'm playing a doctor. (I guess I missed Bridget!) I'm so grateful Joel was able to fly out for the weekend to get us set up here and will come back for the last part of filming. He returned home for his son Huck and his work. We miss them, but will see them very soon. Huck turns five mid-May and Hayden turns one shortly after! Party time! It honestly seems just like yesterday that I was pregnant and writing this post! I feel silly saying this because it's the most overused phrase, but...where does the time go?

Enjoy the weekend! 

ps- for outfit details, see HERE;)