Okay. I’m totally geeking out over here. Cue alllll the exclamation points because I’m excited!!!!! Like a-freezer-full-of-ice-cream-plus-a-three-day-weekend excited. Today’s Talking Shop post features Jaryn McGrath: mother, creator, and author of Treasured Times, a beautiful, inspiring, and magical book about creating timeless and meaningful memories with our families through seasonal traditions (and food!) Ever since I discovered her book, I knew I just HAD to chat with her on the blog. Not only is her book a 10/10 recommend, but Jaryn is a lovely, wise, and kind soul. Her family traditions have truly inspired me to make more never-forget-it memories with my own family. Everyone, meet Jaryn!
For you, what does the word “tradition” mean?
“Tradition” for me has a deep meaning of connection with the ones we love most. Values, beliefs, recipes, and celebrations that have been passed down remind us of family members who may no longer be with us. Many of our family’s traditions revolve around food, because we love to eat!
What advice do you have for families looking to establish their own meaningful traditions?
For families looking to establish their own traditions, I would say to start by making a list of the traditions they really enjoyed when they were young. From there, couples can talk together to decide what to continue, what would work well for their family, and what might not work so well. For example, my husband’s family loves making Hawaiian Breakfast for special occasions. It is such a simple tradition that is easy to continue. It also connects him, and now our children, to the wonderful times he had while living in Kauai as a kid. An example of a tradition that my husband and I have not continued is buying matching pajamas for our children to open on Christmas Eve. My mom always did this for my siblings and me growing up, but in our family now, it adds one extra expense during the holiday season. Grandma still tends to surprise us with cute holiday-themed pajamas, which the kids love, so maybe it has now become Grandma’s tradition for her grandchildren!
What was the process of putting together a book like for you?
This was a very long process for me. In total, it took about three years to put Treasured Times together. I started slow, with thoughts on paper. Then on a long road trip, I felt inspired to narrow each chapter down to one idea/celebration per month. I also felt that I needed to hire a particular stylist who I had been following on Instagram, Alexis Andra, and I am so glad I ended up working with her. She connected me with florists, photographers, and my print layout designer. I feel so lucky to have met all of these unbelievably talented people. I took the photoshoots very slow, for about a three-year span. One summer, I went to a writer’s conference in New York City and met the publishing company that I ended up working with. I felt so good about using this particular company for publishing my book exactly how I wanted it, and it turned out better than I could’ve imagined! Each publishing experience is unique, but this was the best one for my circumstances.
How did Treasured Times start? What inspired it?
Treasured Times began when a friend from my children’s school told me that I needed to write a book about all of the fun things I did with my kids. She inspired me to start writing things down. In the beginning, it was meant to be a book solely for my own children and future grandchildren. I didn’t think anyone else would care to read about our traditions, but now when I see my book in so many homes inspiring others to spend meaningful time together, I am overcome with gratitude and joy.
What tradition from your growing-up years was most significant/memorable?
Traveling is my number one favorite thing to do, so any time we traveled together as a family is what stands out the most from my childhood.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Failure is how we learn to grow.
What is the worst?
I’m not sure if I’ve ever received bad advice?? If so, I can’t think of anything.
In Treasured Times, you say that we must “search for beauty in an imperfect, present, and slow lifestyle.” How can we all do that better?Lately, I have been reading many books on minimalism, and have been so inspired to simplify all aspects of my life. A good place to start is by listening to Joshua Becker’s book, The More of Less. My sister-in-law recommended this one, and I am so glad she did because I have already been making changes in our home. Also, just stop and take a look at your amazing children! Really look them in the eyes. This will slow you down.
The Fun Qs:
Where could we find you on a Saturday morning?
Probably at one of my children’s sporting events. If we don’t have sports, I leave a note outside our bedroom door that says, “Please don’t wake us up.” I love to lay lazily in bed whenever I can, but that doesn’t happen very often.
What is your ideal meal?
Years ago, I had chosen the book, Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist for my Book Club. After reading the book, I asked my friends to come prepared to tell us what they would want to eat if they knew it was their very last supper. Here is my list: A raspberry Italian soda, a fresh baguette with butter and a garlic dipping sauce, some fresh bruschetta to go with the baguette, my lemon pasta the Amalfi Way (found in my book), a Margherita PIZZA (always Pizza!!), a chocolate chip pizookie with vanilla ice cream, and a slice of Martha Stewart’s chocolate raspberry tart with homemade whipped cream. Can you tell I’m Italian and I love carbs and sugar?!
What is your dream vacation?
I love Europe, and I have always wanted to visit the Christmas markets for my birthday because my birthday is in December. That is on my bucket list of something I’d like to do before I turn 40.
What song is currently stuck in your head?
Always “Thunderclouds,” by LSD. My kids also play and dance to “Like It Like That,” by Cardi B nonstop.
What celebrity would you love to switch places with for a day?
Sandra Bullock. She is my all-time favorite actress!
Thank you, Jaryn!