AND ONE MORE FOR THE LADIES...ROTHYS!

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NOW FOR THE ROTHY’S!!! As promised, I didn’t forget about the ladies when we were doing the kids’ back-to-school shoe giveaway. ONE OF YOU WILL WIN A PAIR OF ROTHY'S OF YOUR CHOICE THIS WEEK. And for the guy readers, dads and men in our lives, there will be a giveaway coming for you, too, soon! (PS- they recently launched children’s shoes, too, so you can pick one pair site wide!).

Just in time for running around during the busy back-to-school season (but if you have no ties to school days anymore, these are just chic, comfy and so on trend for anyone). I know this sounds like a sponsored ad, but it’s 100% NOT. It makes me HAPPY to hopefully see a pair on YOUR FEET! You guys do so much for me, I want to do something to give back to y’all!

My Rothy’s are a staple now in my wardrobe and many of you have converted after hearing me talk about them so often. (Like HERE, and in this post and this post about on set, too!) If you’ve followed along on social for a while, you’re aware of the myriad of reasons I wear Rothy’s. Sustainable fashion (check the amount of recycled plastic they are repurposing on their website), WASHABLE, comfortable, slip-ons… are a few of the reasons. I keep a pair in the car for when I’m walking across studio lots for meetings (then will slip into heels right before I walk in;) These go from day to date night, yoga to school pick-ups. I even wore the sneakers all day at Disney recently. One other quick thing… the petal pink ones in these photos I got when I was pregnant with Hayden. Been washing and wearing ever since. They last!

EASY PEASEY ENTRY:

Make sure you’re following us on social:

@ashleyaubra @rothys on instagram

@ashleyjonesofficial on facebook.

Leave a comment here on the blog. That’s it!

For an extra entry for YOU, tag a friend on instagram in the comments on today’s instagram post or the following one up soon!

Winner will be announced this upcoming week. Good luck! Your biggest issue will be picking which pair!!

xoxo

AAJ

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Back to School- GIVEAWAY

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Start your kids off on the right foot!

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My boys are fans of Pediped footwear. And I’m a fan of the support the shoes give their feet. Huck and Hayden get very excited about these shoes…. we’re hoping you child will be, too. Pediped is GIVING ONE OF YOU A FREE PAIR of shoes to have your child fully “supported” going back to school (and in style). All you need to do is comment below on this blog post! YEP! IT’S THAT EASY. Let them know you have a child that would love a pair of their shoes. These shoes are so well-made, they hold up beautifully. Many of the shoes run $60, so this is an awesome giveaway. PLEASE, PLEASE leave your instagram, facebook or twitter handle so you can be contacted. I will be announcing the winner this week and will let you know via stories on FB and instagram. And will comment back on here on this post with the winner, too. You’ll need to provide the size and style you want, an email and address. ALSO…. DON’T THINK I’M LEAVING the MAMAS OUT… stay tuned for another shoe giveaway this week for from Rothys!!! Yay.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S EVEN MORE…. Pediped is having a fun BACK TO SCHOOL HUNT! Here are details below:

#PEDIPED BACK TO SCHOOL CONTEST: Starts Monday 8/5!
Kids heading back to school, but missing shoes from their school checklist? Follow along and join our pediped.com BTS Hunt to win a pair of shoes for $1! Two winners announced each day through August 9th. GO CHECK IT OUT! ENTER to win there, and HERE on the blog.

On a similar note, I mentioned recently in a post about Hayden (and thumb sucking) that one the reasons I believe Joel is so adamant about Hayden stopping the thumb is because of Huck. Huck started walking on his toes at a very young age. Even with doctors and therapists, stretching and excercies, the toe-walking became a serious habit that is extremely hard for him to break now at 7 years old. Huck is working hard to stop. His feet and legs hurt sometimes and it’s harder to find shoes that fit comfortably. Pediped’s brand is great and very helpful for our situation with Huck. They are sturdy and weighted. Finding shoes that help keep his heels down are paramount!

Good Luck, y’all.

xoxo

AAJ


FERTILITY humility

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Last week, I posted in stories about being at the doctor— again. Although I received concerned questions, I was reticent to say why I was back at the doctor; I feel like a broken record. It’s more fertility stuff (if you’re new here and curious about our journey, search “FERTILITY” in the search bar at the top of the HOME page, or scroll down to the featured posts at bottom of this post). But after a few days, I figured, why not share our struggle via a blogpost?? If there are other people out there feeling the same way, I’d like them to know they’re not alone! I understand the frustration, disappointments, emotional roller coaster, desire and pressure it puts on your marriage.

I feel like this post is a bit redundant, so I apologize. Even if it doesn’t interest you, perhaps you find yourself talking to someone or a family member in the future that it would help. And if you have anything to add, I hope you will leave in comments?! I’ve already learned from you all!

There’s a term in the medical world called “secondary infertility.” Hayden was conceived easily, but the journey to have another child has not been straightforward. This is not for the weary. It’s humbling. But, when I get down emotionally, I take my time away from the world and pray about it. I end up nesting at home, disconnecting from things and even sometimes people. I’m learning this a personal journey with God, Joel and our family unlike any other we’ve ever attempted.

As I start to open up, I’m amazed by the people I know reaching out via email, calling, texting with their own experiences… and even more amazed with people I don’t know emailing through the blog, DMing on social platforms. This life issue is common. It’s a real desire. And as hard as it is to go through, the journey cultivates the virtue of humility.

NEW STEPS I WISH I HAD TAKEN TWO YEARS AGO…

The book I talked about in previous posts, IT STARTS WITH THE EGG, is worth the read if you’re looking to get pregnant. A reader on this blog recommended it to me. Then the doctor reiterated what supplements I need to be taking everyday and I had already read about them in the book, so I was prepared. 

Because many of you have asked for my list, below is my current regimen of supplements and vitamins that I started. From my understanding, these are common during TTC, but once you DO conceive, some should be stopped (DHEA, Co-Q10 especially), so here’s my disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am just sharing my latest bit of knowledge, PLEASE consult your doctor before taking anything as each body chemistry is different. I’ve also recently been told (and read) that a low dose aspirin is helpful, but I have not taken that. I heard from multiple people that taking muscinex can help, but I have not done that, either.

DHEA 75mg/day

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Methyl-folate

Ubiquinol (Co-Q10)

Pre-Natal Vitamin

Vitamin D

Iron rich foods

low caffeine 

Plenty of water

Minimize processed and saturated fatty foods

low sugar

melatonin 


Find what and WHO might help YOU. My doctor recently was my cheerleader. My favorite part of the meeting was when she had to step out and “do something quickly.” She returned with a huge smile, laughing, saying, “That will be you soon; a patient a bit older than you that is well into her pregnancy dropping us a visit.” By the way, I hear there are great support groups on facebook. Anyone know of one in particular?  

xoxo

AAJ

Experiencing Loss

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This past  week was full of loss on different levels. I’m not ready to open up about all of it, but one specific aspect I feel strongly about sharing, even if only one of you needs to hear it.

Before doing so, though, you must know how grateful my family is for all the prayers about my sister’s brother-in-law, Logan Schatte. I’m so happy to report that prayers have been answered. While there still a long road to full recovery, Logan’s young life was spared. Praise God for that. Thank you for those of you that have asked about him. I can’t get back to every DMs, which is why I like being able to communicate on this blog.

While Logan was released from ICU this week, another friend, Jenna Wittman, went into intensive care, but tragically did not have the same outcome. Jenna was a beloved member of the Bell Family, a wonderful makeup artist. I had known Jenna since my first day on Y&R, where I sat in the makeup chair next to her as she did sweet Sabryn Genet’s makeup (see Sabryn’s post HERE). We were close, the three of us. Jenna loved to make others happy, make people laugh.

In recent years, she made up some of your favorite faces on CBS soaps and some talk show hosts. See Melody Thomas Scott’s post about her HERE. And our B&B producer, Casey Kasprzyk, shared HERE.

I could go on and on about things I’d love to reminisce with her over the past few decades: our trip to NY, long days on sets, getting to chat with Stephen King. But that’s my point, memories that keep popping in my mind that I’d like to share with HER, but no longer can… heartbreaking she went so fast, but I know she feels the outpouring of love from those of us left here on Earth. 

Forgive such a sad post, for it should be more of a celebration of a life. What I’m wanting to convey is this: say the things you want to say now, in the living years. And in case you’re like me and need one extra reminder, let some stuff go. Find the beauty in today. If you are experiencing loss or devastation of your own, my heart goes out to you. There’s no great way around it, just through it. Everyone grieves differently, in their own time. And sometimes we grieve what could have been, what should have been. But you are not alone.

THE LORD IS CLOSE TO THE BROKENHEARTED AND SAVES THOSE WHO ARE CRUSHED IN SPIRIT.

Psalm 34:18

Hugs.

xox

AAJ

Fertility Update

Hayden at 2 weeks. How is he about to start PRE-School?

Hayden at 2 weeks. How is he about to start PRE-School?

Hey ya’ll, it’s been a while since I discussed anything about fertility in your 40s, specifically my fertility journey. After reading comments in my post HERE, and the post HERE, I learned a lot about some of YOU that are in a similar boat. I have been thinking about you all, wondering how it’s going??

As most of you know, I started using the ovulation sticks (that I talked about HERE). That was/is helpful for sure, but I know it takes more time at my age.  I read from several of you that took fertility medications successfully.

I asked my doctor about clomid. I took that for three months in a row, along with a hGC shot before ovulation. And….nothing. 

I went back and looked at the comments here on the blog and one of you actually mentioned Letrozole, also called Femara. It was in the back of my brain…then, last month I decided to have a consultation with a specialist. She was very thorough and honest, reticently hopeful. She brought up Femara and a light bulb went off from reading it on the comments from one of you on this blog. So, I switched to that for a month.

Another one of you recommended IT STARTS WITH THE EGG by Rebecca Fett. I had never heard of it before. The book has a ton of good information (and you don’t just have to take our word for it, check out the reviews). It helps keep me feeling proactive, which is extremely helpful. There is a lot of info packed in this book, so my one bit of advice would be not to let it stress you out. It’s an excellent guide. Plenty of info on what the male counterpart can do to help improve sperm quality, too. (Not always easy to get your partner to comply, but worth a try!).

The book has a great guide for all the vitamins and supplements out there that can be helpful for both the male and the female.

I’ve received such good advice from you all. Anything else you can pass along, I’d be so grateful!

And if you are on this road, I’m hoping to read positive notes in the comments!

xoxo

AAJ



Got Kids? TOP THINGS TO DO IN LA WITH KIDS!

Photo: @Ographr

Photo: @Ographr

Top things to do in Los Angeles WITH KIDS— the second part of my VISIT LOS ANGELES series. (See the first post on TOP FREE THINGS TO DO IN LA). The City of Angeles has gems for children that are worth carving out time whether you are a local and looking for fun things to do this summer or year round, or vacationing on the West Coast.

There are many lists out there, but these are my curated picks from the past few years running around LA with Huck and Hayden. Nothing is sponsored, by the way…I’m so often asked these questions, I just decided to jot it all down.

THE HUNTINGTON GARDENS

CHILDREN UNDER 4  ARE FREE.

If you follow me on stories, you see how often we are at “The Gardens.” I truly love the wide open spaces, the unbelievable selection of different gardens and cultures. It is an amazing experience for kids of all ages. My suggestions for first time visitors:

If you live in the area, buy a family membership for about $150 or so. It will pay for itself quickly and you can also bring a guest (there are rules to how many and adults verses kids, please check).

I recommend giving yourself some time if you are paying the day rate. There are several places to eat throughout the gardens, but you could also pack a picnic. If you want to see it all, I would give myself a good 3-4 hours, maybe more. Get a map- there is a lot to see! Make sure you don’t miss the Botanical Garden, the Children’s outdoor museum and the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, where you can also grab a bite to eat on site. The Art galleries are worth visiting, but may be more of an interest to you, not the kids. If your child likes water, there are fountains and streams in the children’s section. I make sure we have a swimsuit that dries easily or a change of clothes. You don’t have to, but the younger ones tend to get wet. We definitely use a stroller for Hayden, FYI. There are stroller and wheel-chair accessible ways throughout the entire garden.

THE SKIRBALL MUSEUM

The Noah’s Ark Exhibit is not to be missed. From my experience, it seems to interest children until the age of around 11 or 12. ADMISSION IS FREE for children under 2 always and FREE for everyone EVERY THURSDAY on a first come, first serve basis starting at 11:45. Huck had the best time here when he was 3, and now Hayden is taking after him. It’s incredibly inventive, educational and historical (even I enjoyed it!). Plenty of activities to keep your interest, keep them occupied (ropes to climb, lightning to “make,” etc), and don’t miss the Family Art Programs.

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Courtsey of Museum

Courtsey of Museum

MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

I have heard AMAZING things about this Natural History museum in Los Angeles, so I felt the need to include it. My usual rounds of the Natural Science and History Museum is in Houston with my parents and Hayden, so I added the text from the website. While writing this column, I’m making a separate list to take Huck and Hayden asap and I’ll update this with my thoughts!

Discover your world past and present. See dinosaurs in our new Dinosaur Hall, including the world’s only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series. Get the behind- the- scenes look at how scientists work on fossils at our Dino Lab. See 240 specimens, including skeletons from mastodons to whales, animal dioramas from North American and Africa, and more.Stroll through our extensive Nature Gardens, and discover true stories about plants and animals in our Nature Lab. See and touch more than 2,000 spectacular specimens displayed in our Gem and Mineral Hall, and enter into the vault to view diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other exquisite gems. Our Butterfly and Spider Pavilions are open seasonally. Here you can wander through the changing ecosystem with over 30 species of fluttering butterflies all around you, or witness arachnids up close and personal. source: website.

Courtesy of Museum

Courtesy of Museum

Courtesy of instagram/museum

Courtesy of instagram/museum

BACK AT THE BEACH

I’ve talked about how Back at the Beach Cafe is one of my favorite spots in between Santa Monica beach and Malibu before (like in THIS POST HERE). I LOVE it.

PROS: Enjoy lunch while your toes feel the sand. Let the kids play on the playground on the beach right by the patio all in front of the ocean. If you aren’t responsible for any kiddos, btw, sit under the umbrella and enjoy a glass of wine. You are steps away from feeling the water on your feet! It's adjacent to the Anneberg Beach House, which is worth a visit, too.

CONS: Parking. On a good parking day, there’s inexpensive paid parking right in front… on a crowded summer weekend, it takes a long time to find parking and can take a while to get a spot at the restaurant outside on the patio. Indoor seating can be reserved for tables of 6 or more. You can also make reservations through the Anneberg for parking and a pool spot, which I would highly recommend if you want to make a day out of it.

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FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE

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Right here in LA county, there is a little slice of New England seaside in the Marina called Fisherman’s Village. It definitely has some instagram worthy photo-ops, but I would only make a trip to Marina Del Rey if I was 1) staying nearby or 2) going on a boat ride. The village is still in need of a bit of renovation, however, there’re restaurants and stores open that are charming.

FYI- the Marina is very close to Venice and Santa Monica, as well as LAX. So, if planned properly, could be an easy stop to end the day and watch the boats sail into the sunset.

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

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SANTA MONICA PIER

You’ll most likely get some great photos here, but I describe my reticence in the first segment of these posts HERE. If you’re visiting the area in an off season, I say go! But it gets very crowded otherwise. Still a famous site to see and kids love festival type games and rides, so it’s a must have on this list.


ECHO LAKE PARK

Rent a pedal boat and have a picnic in the park that dates back to 1860! After the extensive renovation, pedal through the lake or walk the path lined with palm trees with the Los Angeles skyline as the back drop. Have a bite at Beacon while you’re there!

LA BREA TAR PITS

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Again, this made the list on the first segment, but it bears repeating here because kids love it. Right here in the HEART of LA, you get to experience the Ice Age. The LA BREA TAR PITS next to the L.A. County Museum of Art is the most significant source of prehistoric fossils ever excavated. These fossils have made their way into museums around the world, but the largest collection is here at the Page Museum. It's free to wander the park and look at the tar pits and outdoor exhibits. During the summer, you can watch the excavators at work

ANGELS FLIGHT RAILWAY

Remember Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams riding this Angles Flight railway in THE NOTEBOOK? Well, maintenance is now complete and it is open! If you have reason to go to Downtown LA, this is a MUST SEE or must ride! I must say I had forgotten about this historical landmark until Katherine Kelly Lang and B&B producer Casey Kasprzyk added it to their Bus Tour! It’ll be one of the best dollars you spend in LA! And totally instagram worthy;)

Image: instagram

Image: instagram

TRAVEL TOWN

When Hayden was barely a month old, we took our first family outing to Travel Town to do something fun for Huck. This is a great space for kids to explore old trains, learn about the rich 150 year-old heritage and roam around. ADMISSION IS FREE. Train rides are a nominal fee (around $3) and really fun for younger kids. Bring a picnic to have a snack at a picnic table. There are limited snacks available on site.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIO TOUR

If your kids are a bit older (at least 8), your family might consider a studio lot tour to see behind the scenes of where the magic happens. This site does a great job at breaking down all the tours in town, prices and age limits. If you are a fan of a show (like FRIENDS, for instance, you might get a kick out of sitting on the couch at “Central Perk!”), take that particular tour! I’ve been on all the lots and seen the tours drive by. Generally, they are all pretty informative and fun. If you keep your eyes peeled, there’s a great chance you’ll see stars of shows walking around. I hear Universal reenacts the plane crash from WAR OF THE WORLDS, has fire, etc—- plus you get to spend the rest of the day at the Universal park! Most people I talk to after they take a tour rave about it! The studios are located all over the city, so make sure you plan your day’s events around traffic and parking.

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Scroll down on my post HERE where I give away a great secret for kids that love music. Many concerts at the bowl have FREE rehearsals during the day with easy (nearly VIP) parking and so fun for the kids to run around and get a “private” day concert.

If you’ve done any of these activities and have some tips, PLEASE LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENTS. I want to continually update this post so it stays current. Looking foward to your thoughts and if you have anything to add.

Happy Summer with the kiddos!!

xoxo

AAJ

MANY FACES and places OF FAGE

FAGE is back sponsoring this blog post...how much do we love our FAGE®? FAGE has become such a staple in our lives. My mom even stocked in her fridge in Texas this week for Hayden because he requested it! I bring it along running errands, to Disneyland (scroll all the way down for photo;), playdates at the park. If we’re planning on eating it sooner than later, I literally throw it in my bag without lugging a cooler. I even included it at the kids’ recent birthday party. I wanted an alternative for parents that didn’t want their kids eating so much sugar. And, although we had great food there, I wanted to make sure I had a quick, healthy, low fat, protein packed snack for me. Especially during set up time before the food arrived. 

We brought quite a few FAGE® Total Split Cups. They were gone at the end of the party! I could not believe how many parents indulged (guilt-free) right along with me, or said they were grateful we had an alternative to cake for the kids. (Just remember to bring spoons if you follow suit.) I loved sharing FAGE with our friends. 

Clearly, by the look(s) on my face, I was grateful to sneak away for one second and enjoy my split cup. My husband thought it was so funny, he wanted a photo of me “taking my moment.” Because I TOOK A MOMENT and indulged. These pictures crack me up. The love is real.  Do you blame me? A 3-year-old and 7-year-old’s birthday! I needed energy. 

Just a bucket of FAGE at Hayden and Huck’s birthday party.

Just a bucket of FAGE at Hayden and Huck’s birthday party.

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A friend at the party came up and mentioned they have the same ones in their fridge. She said her son thinks of them  as dessert! A treat worthy of bribery. She loves how they taste and appreciates how healthy they are! Sometimes her son doesn’t always eat his protein at dinner, but he’ll always have his FAGE

It’s true. I don’t worry so much about Hayden and Huck finishing their meal if they eat yogurt afterward. It’s packed with so many good benefits, it’s covers a lot of the basics. Probiotics, proteins, Vitamin D, etc. 

The split cups are almost like arts and crafts. The boys enjoy folding the perforated seam and pouring the flavored goodness over into the creamy white bowl. Hayden begs me, “let me pour it,” he says. Sometimes, if it’s right out of the fridge, it’s too cold to pour over, so I often set them out as I’m cooking dinner. By the time dinner is over, they are the perfect temperature for Hayden’s little arts-and-crafts-with-food time.

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The last post on the blog about FAGE I described what I like that it DOESN’T have! No GMO’s, growth hormones, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners or preservatives and no added sugars. 

I have to admit, my husband did not want me to substitute the 0% fat FAGE® plain yogurt in our recipes or dishes.  He wanted all the fat of old school sour creams, heavy creams, butters and oils. There is a time and a place for all that, but living your daily life, it’s better to have healthier options. I don’t mind fat. But saturated fat catches up with you quickly. Once I did the swap out, he couldn’t even tell the difference. He loved it!! Substituting with FAGE Greek yogurt, lowers the fat content greatly.  Recently, we’ve made lasagna with 0% yogurt, crustless quiche with yogurt, and I took out sour cream and added FAGE in our homemade burritos (see photo). FAGE now makes sour cream, so don’t be surprised with a new list of recipes coming your way. Have you made the swap?

and ps- I got all your recommended FAGE flavors! (thank you!) Loving my new dessert choices;) What other recipes would you like to see on the blog? Below I’m adding a new mac and cheese recipe that is quick and easy and healthier than the normal ones because of a yogurt substitute. Oh, and it’s sooo good!!

I’m gonna attempt a fat-free cheesecake soon, so I’ll let you know how that goes, but I added the recipe below! HAPPY WEEKEND!!

Recipe is courtesy of ALLRECIPES.COM

Recipe is courtesy of ALLRECIPES.COM

Taking a Greek yogurt break at Disney! lol

Taking a Greek yogurt break at Disney! lol

SUMMER DRESSES!!

I HAVE IDEAS FOR YOUUU!!! In the past month, I’ve received so many questions on what I am wearing. I can’t get back to every email or DM, unfortunately, but I can communicate via the blog!

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THIS DRESS is kinda genius. The fabric is thick, but not hot or heavy. It balloons out just so to create a slight princess cut (and give you room to eat and not worry!!). And it has POCKETS. Need I say more? It’s definitely on trend with the floral print and cut. I see this dress working for a long time. It’s classic enough to not fall into the “80s grandma curtain print.” I stopped counting after the 10th Dm asking me where to get it when I wore it to Step Up’s Inspiration Awards So…. here you go!! It’s a perfect option for a dressy summer wedding or cocktail party. Btw- the red dress I wore to Step Up’s event last year is on sale in blush for under $32!!

I wish I had spent more time on my hair… but, you know, I’ll do better next time.

I got stopped more than once last time I wore this jumper. It has a cut- out back, wider legs with a tie belt. I feel so put together when I wear it. I added my red Rothy’s last time and loved the pop of color with the outfit.

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THE YELLOW DRESS worked well for the boys’ birthday party. And I will wear it all summer. I didn’t think yellow worked on me, but it worked with the cake!! lol I do love a subtle polkadot. This cut works well for a variety of bodies with the slight A-line. AND ALSO…POCKETS and adjustable straps. I promised several people in comments on instagram and twitter that I’d do a blog… I’m doing a full birthday blog, but for now—- here is THE DRESS;)

I posted about this dress recently when it was on sale. I think the sale is over, but I’m posting it again anyway. I have this dress in two colors because I love it THAT MUCH. You’ve seen me in it in white over and over! (Like HERE to the Inspiration awards, HERE on Easter, HERE with leather) I try to change it up with white sneakers sometimes, nude heels or my Rothy’s (like in photo above). Even though the dress is not on sale, it’s still affordable under $90 and no joke- you will wear it over and over!

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I know it’s kinda old news now, but I appreciated all the questions about the DAYTIME EMMY DRESS I wore. IT IS BACK IN STOCK and really affordable. The whole look is! It’s a great fabric, but I did WEAR SPANX. Yep, I felt like it helped with my tummy and thighs. It’s no secret that we’ve been trying to have another baby.. I’m now on medication that is known for gaining weight, retaining water, etc. So…. to counteract that for a red carpet, I wear THESE. It might be TMI or overly sharing to let you know that- but it’s the kind of information I appreciate from other people, so I thought I would tell you, too. My strapless bra I planned on wearing didn’t totally work, so I also wore THESE sticky nu-bra type things. (It gives you a bit of a lift if you push those puppies together before you put the stickies on-and with the gentle boning in the dress, it works!).

And the yellow floral dress above is on SUPER SALE under $50! Sizes with all these things so fast, so happy shopping if you’re looking for something special.

And Happy Thursday! Hope y’all are having a great week. My parents arrive tomorrow, so today I’m cleaning! LOL. And getting ready for them while I have a little mini-me undoing the work. Ha.

I’d really like to know if y’all want more fashion type posts like I used to do- with more detail and such. Actually, while I’m here asking, I’d love know overall topics you’re more interested in: food, travel, fashion, parenting, fertility (I have another post I’m working on for that), work stuff, kid stuff, etc.

thanks, Y’all!

XOXO

LOVE LANGUAGE WITH FAGE®

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This scene is sponsored by FAGE®, but it was a real moment documented at our home;)

Int. House-MOTHER’S DAY


MOTHER

Hayden, what is your favorite thing to do with Mommy?

HAYDEN

Um…what does that mean?

MOTHER

If you could do one thing with just mommy today, what would that be?

HAYDEN

Let me show you.

EXT. HOUSE- PORCH

Hayden takes his mother’s hand and leads her outside to the patio. Points to the outdoor couch.

HAYDEN (CONT’D)

Sit down right here. 

Mother sits.

HAYDEN (CONT’d

Let’s eat oatmeal right here. With yogurt. 

END SCENE

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Most weekdays, after his dad and brother leave, Hayden and I have our special moments. Sometimes eggs and toast, but more often than not, oatmeal. Even if we’re rushed, I grab an oatmeal packet (yes, I use instant often #busymom), boil water, cool if off with a large dollop of Greek yogurt and fruit. I think there’s lots of reasons he loves this. He gets to help me “make” it, even though it’s just combining a few ingredients. And I’ll have my coffee, he has milk. We cheers to the day, say our thanks and he talks. “Remember mommy? Remember yesterday when Hucky was here and….” 

If I grab my phone for something, he takes my face in his hands to let me know this is his time. I got that memo and honor that. Of course, we have moments all day everyday…books, learning our letters and walks and outdoor time and family time, etc. But I know he loves this breakfast time in the morning on the weekdays. It’s our love language. Sounds stereotypical that a boy’s love language is food…. starts early, I know! It may be more that toddlers like structure and habitual activities; Hayden is no exception. 

If you follow my stories, you’ve seen Hayden begging me for yogurt in the morning. It’s pretty funny how excited he gets over yogurt. Specifically FAGE® Greek cause that’s what we keep stocked. And that is actually an understatement… he and Huck beg for it for lunch and dinner, too. FAGE® is so creamy and rich in taste, it’s often dessert for our family. I appreciate FAGE® is Non-GMO Project Verified and all natural, no added sweeteners, no preservatives. All of FAGE®’s products are verified through the Non-GMO project, which offers the highest level of transparency about GMOs. I know exactly what -and what isn’t- going into my little boys’ bodies, and my body!

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I incorporate yogurt in so many dishes. Substituting yogurt in a recipe can lower the fat substantially. From simple things like oatmeal (pictured here), to taco dinners, baked potato (my personal favorite), lasagna and obviously desserts (angel food cake - or biscuits- with FAGE® yogurt and strawberries. Name something better in life!). Scroll down for the recipes. Substituting Greek yogurt in many recipes lowers the sugar and raises the protein (and LOVE) for your family. You can use FAGE® plain to replace butter, sour cream, oil, shortening or milk! I keep FAGE® plain fat free yogurt in our fridge, as well as the 30% less sugar split cups. I also brought a bunch to the boys’ birthday party last weekend. I liked the option to have this for dessert for people that didn’t want to eat cake, but I did NOT expect them to all be eaten. Every single split cup was gone! 

So… if you’re a regular here on the blog, you’ve heard me talk about FAGE®- have you tried it yet? What recipes do you substitute in Greek yogurt? Would LOVE to hear.

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Also, another fun summer idea I learned from FAGE®—- add yogurt to an icing dispenser. Squeeze the yogurt into the opening of raspberries, then let them freeze in the freezer to make frozen yogurt pockets!

See below for other recipes!

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TURNING PASSION INTO PURPOSE

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Thrilled to say I’m partnering again with American Cancer Society; they’re sponsoring the blog today!

What are your plans this summer?? I have an idea! Whatever you may already be doing, add a “good cause” component to it. Turn a passion into purpose! I was honored to work with non-profit health organization American Cancer Society earlier this year talking about cancer prevention. More importantly, it seems many of you also appreciated the topic, which meant a lot to me. I’m all about doing what we can to prevent getting sick, but the truth is that sometimes cancer is unavoidable. #RaiseYourWay is ACS’s summer campaign; we are both summoning YOU for help, read on, please!

Even though #CancerSucks, I want this post to be positive! I’m sharing a recent story of success in our lives. One of Hayden’s precious friends spent the 2nd year of her life battling cancer. Her family was turned upside down, weeks upon weeks in the hospital. Her mother, my friend, is a superwoman. Sweet thing is now almost done with the laborious treatments and cancer free….what a success story. There are many stories like that. But, there should be more. And with our help raising funds for researching treatments, recovery methods and supporting initiatives that provide care during the cancer journey, more and more families will be a living testimony of inspiration. It’s heartbreaking to think of any other outcome. Although I pray for another child, I’m beyond grateful for the healthy ones I have. I cannot imagine how hard it is to go through treatment with your child.

I mentioned my personal scare in this post here. The older I get, a couple of times a year, I hear about someone in my life getting a dreaded diagnosis. I feel paralyzed, somewhat helpless. But a few friends have lead the way to encouraging me to turn that helpless sadness into a purpose. Many of you know my mama on Bold and the Beautiful, the inspiring Katherine Kelly Lang. She has turned her passion into purpose for cancer. I have joined her in the past to raise money, and will most likely -fingers crossed- be joining her on her summer fundraising adventure (she tours the Bold and Beautiful locations around Los Angeles and 100% of the proceeds go toward the cancer organization of her choice).

And my girlfriend that I mentioned above (her toddler is a now a cancer survivor) recently put together a awesome cycling class and donated all the money to cancer research. The American Cancer Society is a national health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer, and their Raise Your Way platform lets you turn any passion into a fundraiser.

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My sons and I want to host a summer beach safety soiree for kiddos (sun-safety outdoors), so here in these photos I’m down at the beach checking out the space to do this. I’m gonna send out an invitation to join us and donate the entire day to ACS. Hayden scoped out Back On the Beach Cafe at The Annenberg Beach House (an awesome spot to go if you’re near Santa Monica/Malibu, btw. Crowded on the weekend if you don’t have reservations.) I’m hoping to raise awareness about prevention, but the goal will be to have everyone #RaiseYourWay and donate a suggested price of $25 to attend through Crowdrise.com/AmericanCancerSociety.

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It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. It could be your own backyard BBQ!! So…Hayden and I are proposing you try and have one yourself! I’ll even make easy and lay the ground work! wink-wink.

Here are some other ideas I’ve been thinking about:

From a recent girls’ event;)

From a recent girls’ event;)

  1. GIRLFRIENDS. Wine/chees/movie night (or a bachelor night)….and DONATE! (MEAN GIRLS came out 15 years ago. I never saw it. My dearest Lacey Chabert is one of the stars. Sounds like a perfect set up for a girls’ night, amiright? lol)

  2. SUMMER BIRTHDAY…no gifts, but please donate. I just went to my girlfriend Ali Fedotowsky Manno’s house for her son Riley’s first birthday. She asked everyone to donate to the charity of her choice in lieu of gifts. I did- many of us did! Loved that idea.

  3. YOGA/SPIN/RUN day. Ask your local yoga studio if they would donate proceeds from one class! That adds up. Send out an email letting your friends know that your fundraising event is happening and you’d love them to join. And if they can’t make it, they can always drop a few dollars;)

These are just my personal ideas… but the point is, anything could work. And it turns a normal get together into a special purpose! I believe people love doing good work. So, given the opportunity, they will give what they can. We all know every $1 adds up. Let them know that you are dedicating the day to raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. And also… It feeds our soul to DO GOOD for others.

GROUNDWORK:

1) Get creative: come up with an idea

2) Here is a very easy, tax deductible way to set up your event.

3) GO to crowdrise.com/americancancersociety

4) Set up an account or use facebook

5) Follow the prompts (it is sooo easy, I just did it) to create an event and goal.

6) Share your event before and after! Spread the word on your social pages with your friends.

So feed your soul…and tag me on social media when you do. I’m looking foward to reposting/retweeting/commenting on your adventures. And let’s inspire each other… what ideas do you have that others might implement?  Comment below and let’s get this (fundraising) party started!

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Swinging from the Chandeliers

Occasionally, I make great decorating choices and get very excited. I’ve said before that I’m not impulsive when finishing the house. Wait… ‘not impulsive’ is an understatement. I’m slow and get paralyzed sometimes making decisions. But these chandeliers were not one of them! 

I was waiting to post this when I could say, come on in….wish you could have a hot tea or a glass of wine and I could show you around the house. But, I’m still not done!!! UGH. I’m not even going to tell you when we moved in… well, I will. Hayden was almost one. He’ll be THREE on Friday (I’m thrilled for his birthday and in disbelief my baby is growing up, but that’s another post. I’m in birthday mode over here for BOTH BOYS. A joint one)!!

Back on topic- So, we’ve been in the house two years. But I have to give myself a break. He was a baby. I was working. We MOVED, for crying out loud. We were going through custody things regarding Huck. It was a lot. So….if metaphorically you’re in a similar boat, please give your self a break. Life happens. We need to enjoy it, live it, appreciate it. And things like this (decorating, redecorating, re-organizing your life) happen in phases. Or it does with me! I’m learning that is ok. I’m working with a budget and juggling many things. So, it takes time. 

I’m oversharing here…we haven’t finished the office and I’m showing you the unfinished version. Bookshelves messy- probably not even the bookshelf I’ll keep, but hey….we’re trying. I wanted you to see this photo to see the size of the chandelier compared to Hayden!

I’m oversharing here…we haven’t finished the office and I’m showing you the unfinished version. Bookshelves messy- probably not even the bookshelf I’ll keep, but hey….we’re trying. I wanted you to see this photo to see the size of the chandelier compared to Hayden!

  1. Long striped soft button down 2. My current favorite jeans 3. Chandelier Option ONE

    4. Chandelier Option TWO 5. Chandelier Option THREE

I ordered three of these chandeliers for the house. Originally, I wanted all three in the entry way, but when they arrived, I realized it was too overpowering for the space. So, I used them in the piano/playroom downstairs, office upstairs and entry way. The playroom/piano room has a very large curved window you can see from the street. The office upstairs faces the street, too. At night, when the front door is open, you can see all three of the chandeliers , dimmed. It was as if it was all designed that way! I wish I had a photo to show you, but I’ll get one soon. I linked three pendants for you in this post because I like people to have options. Sometimes I have credit or points at one store and not another, or one is offering free shipping, etc. The price points are slightly different- at amazon, houzz and lumens , but the Morgan pendant is the same! It comes in two different finishes and very well made.

Also, I’m linking the cozy outfit. I have talked about these jeans a lot. They are under $30. The exact ones I linked above are low on sizes, but THESE JEANS HERE are the same, without the exposed buttons. The top is muted colors with the softest fabric. I love that it’s long in the back so I can wear it with leggings, too, if I wanted, or tie it in front, or tuck it in.

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Part of my style is a bit more traditional.  But there is something to be said about “feeling the space you’re in.”  We put in the classic, traditional chandelier over our dining table. I often have it in stories on instagram, so you may have seen it. It hangs over a large table, against a glass wall of greenery. But overall, the house has more of a clean line, modern, Mediterranean feel. These gorgeous chandeliers still felt classic and match the house. 

I’m going off on a slight tangent here, but something got into me yesterday! I seriously wanted to feel lighter, decluttered. I cleaned out a few things I’ve been holding onto in the attic, in closets and the garage. I have lamps, rugs, bedside tables that “might work in another house.” But today— I loaded them into the car and donated them! I wanted to do it before I changed my mind. A dear friend of mine recently told me that things are meant to be in our lives for a period of time, in a certain space, to serve us… but sometimes, it’s ok to pass them along to another family. I know she is right. Plus, how often have I looked back and regretted passing things along? Not often.

Keep the family heirlooms, but things that we’re hoping will fit into our lives in the future that are only taking up valuable real estate, look at those things. Creating space is good thing. A great thing. Never know what we’re making room for;) But no, not pregnant yet. Keep the positive vibes goin’ for me/us…prayers welcome!

xoxo

AAJ

FAREWELL, BIG BANG...

The beloved character Penny on THE BIG BANG THEORY is played by my dearest friend, Kaley Cuoco. Over the last 12 years, many of our friends and family have had the distinct pleasure of hanging out on tape nights behind the scenes and in the audience. Memories have been made, stories have been told, secrets have been kept, and laughter and sometimes even tears have all happened during Tuesday night tape nights on Stage 25 at Warner Brothers; this is the same stage scenes from CASABLANCA, GIANT, KNUTE ROCKNE and BONNIE AND CLYDE have filmed scenes, just to name a few. It’s pretty special….we’ve shared plenty on social media, but I’ve never shared on the blog. Here are a few of my highlighted memories told in photos from my humble perspective attending the show. I’m sure I’m leaving many out, so I reserve the right to add to it… check back for more.

To the phenomenal cast and crew of a show I feel is more like family- you broke the mold. Here’s to going out with a BANG on TOP.

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PRESERVING TRADITIONS

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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BRING ON MAY (cauli)FLOWERS plus a GIVEAWAY

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a fun day with Cali’Flour Foods. New and old friends joined to learn about cauliflower recipes, eat, pick out some jewelry and catch up with each other. It really was such a good girl gang that day!

I love friends from different parts of my life getting to come together and meet each other. I should add here that this post is not sponsored- I just enjoy sharing….PLUS I AM doing a GIVEAWAY in this post!!! And since we have all these fun photos,  I had to show off my friends;)

Top Row: Kaitlyn Villasuso and daughter, Kimberly J Brown, Angelique Cabral, Briana Cuoco, Chef Ameera, Amy Lacey, Chrissy Kling, Amy Davidson, Jessica Hall, Karen (Lisa’s friend), Caitlin Brandes (Friend of Jessica’s). Bottom Row: Kaylene DeVries, Lisa Breckenridge, me, Sarah Jane Morris, Virginia Williams, Nicole Levine, Casey Henricks.

Top Row: Kaitlyn Villasuso and daughter, Kimberly J Brown, Angelique Cabral, Briana Cuoco, Chef Ameera, Amy Lacey, Chrissy Kling, Amy Davidson, Jessica Hall, Karen (Lisa’s friend), Caitlin Brandes (Friend of Jessica’s). Bottom Row: Kaylene DeVries, Lisa Breckenridge, me, Sarah Jane Morris, Virginia Williams, Nicole Levine, Casey Henricks.


Amy Lacey wrote CALI’FLOUR KITCHEN, a book all about cooking with cauliflower and incorporating her brand, Cali’Flour Foods. We wanted to try out some recipes (and add a southern flare cause, you know, your girl IS from Texas!). Chef Ameera graced us with her cooking and dropped some knowledge. One of the my favorite things she said was that food should inspire you to be the best version of yourself— and her food will. I thought about that later. It’s a simple concept, but what we put in our bodies DOES affect a lot: our moods, our digestion/nervous system, brain power, waistline and even affects levels of anxiety. The old saying we are what we eat holds some truth. 

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So much of this blog is about healthy lifestyle choices, so it’s fun to bring another idea for you all to try and incorporate in your lives. I started enjoying Cali’Flour pizzas a while ago when I tasted them at an event. Then, I ordered some to try at home. We love the italian crust. I like to put it on this pizza stone the last few minutes so it gets extra crispy. IF YOU want to try it out, we are randomly picking from comments below to pass along a $50 gift certificate. Tell us why you’d love to try it for yourself or your family. One of the things I love about using their crusts or pasts? I sneak veggies in for the kids. Hayden and Huck happen to love mashed cauliflower, but it’s not the easiest to make sure they get a decent amount of vegetables everyday.

Amy wanted to heal herself from an autoimmune disorder- necessity is the mother of invention. This lead her to creating Cali’Flour foods. She shared her story with us while we (cried a little!) and munched on the awesomeness. 

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Dessert Pizza was sooo good. I’m getting the recipe, so stay tuned!

Dessert Pizza was sooo good. I’m getting the recipe, so stay tuned!

Our friends from EmmaJ Jewelry set up a mini-shopping experience where the girls got to pick a piece to take home. Vitacups provided the afternoon pick-me up! (They would love you to try out their sample pack for free! Just pay shipping at $2.95!) ALSO… THEY ARE GIVING 30% OFF TO YOU. Code ASHLEYJ works on their site until May 25th. Yay!

And last but not least, everyone went home with my some Usana goodies. Anyone that’s followed along on this blog knows I’ve been a fan and often times ambassador of sorts, so I asked for some of my favorites to share with my friends. We went with the Booster C 600, Pure Rest and new pretty in pink water bottle.   Polkatots did the cutest dessert cupcakes and our dear friends at Bashful Rose did the arrangements!! (If you are in the area and need flowers, I’m telling you… it’s been almost a week and these haven’t even wilted!!!)

Also, for those wondering, the dress I’m wearing is great for summer! Per usual, I love the pockets! I slipped my Tight Lip’d gloss in there and my phone while I hosted. It’s also in the shop section (under boutique) on the blog.

Love this shot of our coffee booth with our COOKIE FISHY. Guess who named our fish? lol

Love this shot of our coffee booth with our COOKIE FISHY. Guess who named our fish? lol

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These stunning arrangements from Bashful Rose graced the table.

These stunning arrangements from Bashful Rose graced the table.

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Kaylene DeVries, owner of EmmaJCo.com….see my bull ring???! It’s on her site now!

Kaylene DeVries, owner of EmmaJCo.com….see my bull ring???! It’s on her site now!

POLKATOT cupcakes

POLKATOT cupcakes

Amy Lacey and I before the food was devoured.

Amy Lacey and I before the food was devoured.

Lisa Brekenridge, me, Virgina Williams, Sarah Jane Morris

Lisa Brekenridge, me, Virgina Williams, Sarah Jane Morris

My sister-in-law Casey Henricks, Actresses Kimberly Brown, Angelique Cabral, Briana Cuoco, Amy Davidson

My sister-in-law Casey Henricks, Actresses Kimberly Brown, Angelique Cabral, Briana Cuoco, Amy Davidson

I’m gonna throw a few other items from our gift bag goodies in the package! So seriously— leave a comment letting us know that you’d love to try Cauli’Flour foods and we’ll announce the winner (maybe 2?) this Saturday, May 4th. So, may the force be with you. LOL.