October Art

Well it was 94 degrees yesterday here on the East coast so it definitely didn’t feel like fall! Overnight though, it dropped 20 degrees and it’s finally raining on the dry earth! I am slowing down a bit today to appreciate the fullness of life and the changing of a season. Here’s a link to these gorgeous fall free printable if you need some inexpensive beauty to add to your home today!

I am still booking for limited dates from now until Christmas, so please feel free to contact me for pricing and availability for this autumn season! emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com

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Monday Confessions, September Favorite Things

As I write this, the sun has not yet come up on this September morning. We are starting our third full week back into the school season and so far, so good! I thought that I would just share a few recent favorite things with you as today’s confessions!

  1. Pumpkin Cream Cold brew at Starbucks. Have you tried this yet? It’s great because it’s the pumpkin flavor without the overwhelming spice and it’s also icy, which is nice because it’s still going to be about 90 degrees today here in DE.


2. Yellowstone TV Show with Kevin Costner: We are hooked on this show! It’s a story of a Montana ranch owner and quite a few dysfunctional family members and ranch hands. The setting is gorgeous and the drama is over the top but it makes for a great show, along with a great sound track!

3. Whiskey Myers Music: This one comes right from the Yellowstone show, because the bland played an epidote in bar scene and now I can’t stop listening on Spotify! If you love southern rock, this is a great listen for you.

4. OPI Funny Bunny nail color: This white nail color is the perfect every day neutral before we get into the darker and deeper colors of fall.

5. Inexpensive & awesome sunglasses at Amazon: These have been a favorite for the second half of the summer with the mirrored lenses and light weight frames. I do have more expensive pairs of polarized sunglasses for days at the beach and long days outside, but these are perfect for just running around!

I hope you have a great week ahead and that September is treating you well!

Monday Confessions, A Photographer's Perspective

I started back to teaching today at the community college and know many other schools start today as well. I know it’s Tuesday, but feels like Monday after the holiday weekend. I told a family member this week that we are limping into fall…one kid is literally limping with a sprained ankle and the rest of us figuratively are limping with exhaustion. It’s a different kind of tired because summer has had no sort of routine. It has been a full summer both in life and business.

Saturday morning I was sipping coffee from my “blessed” Rae Dunn mug and it hit me as I scanned the photo galleries I shot this summer. These are truly people’s lives we get to capture. I realized that this sounds a bit trite, but it’s true nonetheless. I looked at the four marriages we witnessed, the students heading into their senior year, the families who welcomed new babies, families with multiple generations finally together in one spot, or the other special milestones like communion and moving on ceremonies. I even photographed one presidential candidate alongside the sweet older man who mentored him in politics, and who we have since lost to heaven. When a family sends a note saying, “these photos are worth more to us than any money,” it’s a reminder to me of the value of what I do.

I have captured all these things and more this summer, along with raising four kids and one growing puppy. This all might explain my tiredness, but it aligns with my desire to pause time. In a way, photographers get this privilege, to actually pause time in frames. We get to create physical reminders of people and moments. This is a gift I don’t want to take lightly as I head into a new season!

What a better symbol for a new season than a butterfly? Over the last few weeks I have seen quite a few gorgeous butterflies while I have been out on shoots. I hope you have a great week ahead!


Senior Photos, Middletown, DE

As summer winds down and thankfully starts to cool off some, it gets us all thinking of fall. If you know or have a student heading into his or her senior year of high school, I am offering late summer and fall photo sessions for seniors. I know many schools offer options but this is a bit more personalized. I had the chance to photograph my sweet younger cousin this past week as she gets ready to head off to her senior year at her school overseas! We had to outrun a wicked thunder and lightning storm so we had to work quickly! She is as kindhearted as she is beautiful and I know she’s going to do great things out in the world!


Beautiful Summer Bride

It’s August over here and I am hanging on for the ride with a busy wedding month, the kids still trying to savor the rest of summer and me trying to find a balance! Here’s a sneak peak of the gorgeous bride from the wedding I am working on editing today. I am now booking for family fall photo sessions, emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com for pricing and availability for fall!



We are away this week but hit the ground running with a full month of weddings in August! Wishing I could bottle the "fresh off the beach" feeling. Here's a sunset view looking over the Assawoman Bay for you to enjoy! Hope your summer is treating you well!


Monday Confessions, We got a puppy

We have been hearing the “mom, can we get a dog?” for a few years, basically since we had to say goodbye to our other dog, Dozer. We had so many good excuses like “wait until we move” or “we need Benji to be a little older” or really any other reasons to push it off a little bit until we were ready again. Fast forward to this spring when Matt & I begun seriously exploring options. We put a deposit on the pup through a breeder connection we had and hoped that having a puppy for summer would be a good fit. Kids are all home to help and bond with the pup, as well as the outside potty training didn’t seem as bad in summer as it could in the chill of winter!

So we find ourselves in the thick of trying to house train her and keep her from biting off all the kids fingers and toes! And yes, she is as fluffy and snuggly as she looks! Please welcome Nellie to the Emily Troutman Photo family :)

Photo Credit on these images: Matthew Troutman


Sweet Summertime, Wilmington, DE

“Perfect song on the radio
Sing along 'cause it's one we know
It's a smile, it's a kiss
It's a sip of wine, it's summertime
Sweet summertime” ~Kenny Chesney

I first got to photograph this family when little B was just 6 months old. He’s now a busy 2 year old and with a sweet baby sister. We met up on a beautiful summer evening with a breeze to capture a few sweet memories for this family on Father’s Day weekend! We got some great moments with daddy and each of his kiddos!

I am still booking certain dates for summer, email me today for availability emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com


Monday Confessions, on a Tuesday

Hey there internet friends! I am working hard on getting back into my Monday Confessions series. It’s a great place for me to keep up with all of you in between photography posts. I hope all of you find your summer off to a great start. We have hit the ground running with an out-of state wedding the first weekend the kids done school and then traveled to the shore for part of last week in between photo jobs.

I have to say that I am daily wrestling between the need to try to enjoy my kids and to get work done in this busy season. My kids keep saying their really annoying SpongeBob quote, “the inner machinations of my mind are an enigma.” I laugh because these confessions are basically sharing the “inner machinations of my mind!” SO there you go, Patrick and SpongeBob can be deep right?! (Insert kid humor because that’s where I am living these days!)

  1. I am hooked on Annie F Downs Podcast That Sounds Fun, because it is the summer of the Enneagram. Have you heard of this personality typing yet? What number are you? I would love to hear from those of you also learning about the enneagram. I definitely recommend these episodes, which will take a “number” or personality type for each episode and break it down. It’s not only so helpful with learning your own heart, but also in relating to those around you. It can really help explain motivations and fears. Start here with Suzanne Stabile and her explanations in this episode!

  2. I confess that in seasons when we are all too busy, we are grumpy. Does this happen to you too? May was truly an insane schedule for our family with little time off for anything and both the kids and grown ups were feeling down. How do you build in some rest or put guards on your schedule? I think it’s especially hard when you work for yourself (insert my personality type that thrives on trying to get things done.)

  3. I confess that the older I get, the more I despise how other people drive. Is that weird? Can anyone relate? I have been watching so many aggressive driving behaviors lately on the roads and I am like “hello, can you not see me trying to safely drive my 4 children here?!”

  4. We have been big on BLT sandwiches for dinners lately. It’s perfect for summer with the fresh tomatoes and an easy dinner that doesn’t heat up your whole kitchen (unless you fill your entire house with smoke like i did last time…burnt bacon smell, delicious!! Haha) Anyhow, I would like to share the game changer when I made the herb mayo from the Magnolia Cookbook . Here’s the recipe below from Magnolia Blog, enjoy!

    Creamy Herb Dressing

    1 cup mayonnaise (or 1 cup plain greek yogurt)
    1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
    1 cup chopped fresh chives or green onion
    1 tbsp fresh flat-leafed parsley
    1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
    1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
    2 cloves chopped garlic
    1 tsp ground black pepper

    1 tsp salt
    1 cup sour cream

    In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients (except the sour cream) until smooth. Add sour cream and process until blended. If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days. (This dressing can be made the day before. Just cover and chill.) Yields: 2 cups

  5. I met Robin Roberts briefly at the Phillies Game last Wednesday! How fun is it to meet someone in person who shows up every morning on your tv screen? I have admired how she has handled a lot of things, including sickness, publicly.

H Family Siblings

“Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply.” – Jane Austen

Jane Austen is more eloquent but it basically means that siblings have the power to be your oldest friend and ally on earth. I know on days that when raising four kids feels impossible, I am reminded of this sentiment. These kids will always have each other!

This is another reason I love the opportunity for a good sibling photo session. This fun session had to be rescheduled due to weather a couple times but we lucked out on a gorgeous late spring afternoon and Bob the family dog even joined us! I enjoyed their easy laughter and family connection. Handsome little brother just turned 10 yesterday, so happy birthday buddy! Enjoy!


Monday Confessions, Podcast Roundup

If you have talked to me in person at all recently, you’ve probably heard me utter the words, “I heard on a podcast…” and then fill you in on some kind of wisdom from household tips to interesting spiritual input. Podcasts are such a fun, modern way to engage in media. I equate podcasts to radio shows, but you can choose the theme or topic. There are SO MANY different good ones though and I am sure that I will BARELY scratch the surface here, but here’s a handful of podcasts that I check into regularly or have found helpful.

If you aren’t sure how to even listen to a podcast, look for this application on your apple phone and you can get started from there! You can search and listen. If you have bluetooth in your car, you can listen through your phone. I listen to podcasts during my drive time or exercise time mostly.

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Happy Our with Jamie Ivey: I often joke that this show was the gateway drug into other podcasts. Jamie Ivey’s show is by women and for women (with a rare episode including men). It’s a faith based show that weaves in the faith story of each person she interviews. She interviews everyone from very famous and well known women, all the way to women who have just survived something incredible or awful …and how they come through on the other side with their faith in tact. I have listened tothi’s show for year and the stories have stayed with me. It is an hour episode usually. so plan accordingly. She always ends the interview with three things she is loving and what she’s reading. I love that part too and have found some awesome book and goods recommendations from that list! This includes my current manicure, a recommendation from last week’s episode!

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The Dropout from ABC news: It’s based on the Elizabeth Holmes tale involving her scheme to prove to the world she had the newest technology on blood drawing. Season 1 has 6 episodes and it walks us through how this young woman goes from Stanford dropout to running billion dollar company. (If you liked Serial or other true crime, this will be up your alley).

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The Daily: New York Times puts on these short 20 minute episodes of the latest news and popular stories. As a mom, it can be hard to get timely news and information. If I just want to hear the short version of recent hot topics in the news, this is a great way to listen.

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Behind the Scenes with Jeremy & Audrey Roloff: These two were made well know from the Little People, Big World reality tv show, but their podcast is focused on marriage. I have only listened to a few but so far so good! This podcast is also faith based so they bring that element into the marriage conversation, which I appreciate. There can be heavy topics but I also find it encouraging that such a young couple is so pro-marriage!

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Young House Love has a Podcast: This is about all things interiors and sometimes just fun chats. It’s full of casual decorating ideas and DIY advice. Sherry and John Petersik are the married couple that started the Young House Love blog over a decade ago and have influenced so many in recent years on what it means to be at home. The latest episode is “the most high inducing DIY projects among couples” - so who can’t relate?!

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In the Word on the Go with Champ Thornton: This is a short and simple bible focused show around ten minutes per episode, focusing on one verse at a time. It really just breaks down a verse and not only what it means in context but what it has meant to the person being interviewed on the episode. If you’re trying to find more ways to get in scripture on your own, or even with your kids, this is such a great, short podcast for that!


The Lazy Genius: I am newer to this series but I am finding them super helpful. I actually listened to the laundry episode twice and am contemplating on listening to the morning routine episode again as well. I am trying to bring in some streamlining to processes in my life and that’s exactly what this podcast is about. She talks about processes and home care topics. Her tagline is, “Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't.” It’s sort of like grown up life hacks :)

Meeting Joe Biden

Last week I had a phone call that changed my week. I was contacted by a family who was holding a small ceremony to honor their father/grandfather for his service to both the country and the world, as his health is failing. He served faithfully in WWII and then came home to serve locally in his hometown in Delaware. Part of his Delaware connections and influences included Joe Biden. This connection with Biden had survived the decades, which is why it was touching to the family that Biden wanted to attend the pinning ceremony for their family member. I want to protect their privacy at a sensitive time but I wanted to share a few images of getting to meet and photograph Biden last week, especially considering him announcing his run for the presidency this morning.

Biden is very warm and personable, which explains his popularity through the decades. He joked with me about photographers being the only ones all over the world to “boss around” world leaders and they have to listen. He also teased that whenever photographers say “just a few more shots,” that we are never telling the truth. It made me laugh and brought levity to the moment when I felt a little under pressure.

He also shared something his mother used to say that stuck with me. She apparently used to say something to the effect of, “courage is the most important virtue because without courage, none of the rest of the virtues will matter.” I can imagine that advice served him well in life, when things got tough or odds seemed impossible. He has survived much loss in his lifetime and yet continues in public service. Although I wouldn’t necessarily politically align myself with a lot of his stances, I certainly was drawn to his person and character. It will give me a lot to ponder heading into the voting booth in November 2020.

I am thinking on all of this today, after visiting the U.S. Constitution center in Philadelphia yesterday. I have to say, it’s a powerful place. It reminded me yet again of the brilliance and beauty of our system of government. It reminded me of the continued fight for equality among U.S. citizens and a striving from those very early days of our nation to create a strong central government, while protecting personal freedoms. The opening lines of the constitution are so powerful and lay out the purpose of our federal government, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” May we all consider these words as we work toward that more perfect union and work together to bring about things such as justice and domestic tranquility.

*images cropped to protect privacy*

Signing copies of his book     Promise Me Dad

Signing copies of his book Promise Me Dad


K & J Engaged, Odessa, DE

“So sweet love seemed that April morn. When first we kissed beside the thorn, So strangely sweet, it was not strange We thought that love could never change.” ~ Robert Bridges

Here’s to a sweet spring engagement session! Looking forward to their June 8 wedding in Connecticut!


My visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, September 2018

““And if you wish to receive of the ancient city an impression with which the modern one can no longer furnish you, climb--on the morning of some grand festival, beneath the rising sun of Easter or of Pentecost--climb upon some elevated point, whence you command the entire capital; and be present at the wakening of the chimes. Behold, at a signal given from heaven, for it is the sun which gives it, all those churches quiver simultaneously. First come scattered strokes, running from one church to another, as when musicians give warning that they are about to begin. Then, all at once, behold!--for it seems at times, as though the ear also possessed a sight of its own,--behold, rising from each bell tower, something like a column of sound, a cloud of harmony. First, the vibration of each bell mounts straight upwards, pure and, so to speak, isolated from the others, into the splendid morning sky; then, little by little, as they swell they melt together, mingle, are lost in each other, and amalgamate in a magnificent concert. It is no longer anything but a mass of sonorous vibrations incessantly sent forth from the numerous belfries; floats, undulates, bounds, whirls over the city, and prolongs far beyond the horizon the deafening circle of its oscillations.

Nevertheless, this sea of harmony is not a chaos; great and profound as it is, it has not lost its transparency; you behold the windings of each group of notes which escapes from the belfries. ” 
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

Early morning light

Early morning light

View in between towers

View in between towers

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

A gargoyle’s view of Paris

A gargoyle’s view of Paris

The bells in the bell tower

The bells in the bell tower

Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Yesterday evening, a spark grew into a flame and forever changed the facade of Notre Dame, “Our Lady,” Cathedral in Paris, France. She has seen a lot of human events in her over 800 years of existence, some of which marred her. My hope is that the fire, although drastically changing her, will not forever damage her. Her history is linked to those like Joan of Arc, Henry VI of England, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon is said to have revived much of the cathedral, as well as Paris, after being in disrepair . So much beauty and history exists in this same place. It’s often a spiritual place for people of the Christian faith from all over the world. It stands near “kilometer zero” of the French highways, meaning it is the literal center of things.

I am just thankful that I got to see it this past September in the form that it has stood in for so many hundreds of years. When I studied in Italy one summer in college, a professor told us the saying that the church was central to every life in Europe, considered a part of “birth, life and death.” A church was where you were baptized at birth, you celebrated things like marriage in life and then of course, held a funeral at your death. We can look at Notre Dame and think about the many lives it was a part of. We will have to look at this fire as the beginning of the next chapter for her and see what lies ahead. I know many will join the efforts to restore and support the revitalization. The thing about Notre Dame is that it took over 300 years to complete in the first place, so those who embarked on starting the cathedral never saw the finished product. It took a work of faith to build something that one would not see in his lifetime.

Monday Confessions

I was wrestling for a writing prompt or a deep thought for Monday confessions this morning and after a few failed attempts of writing topics, I think the deepest thought I can possibly share is what I read in my bible this morning.

“ This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

-1 John 4:10

Honestly, that’s what the week leading up to Easter is all about, thinking on Jesus’ willing sacrifice for us. So let this truth, that God loves you, bring you (& me) hope this Monday morning!

Rowan Farm, Middletown, DE

Rowan Farm, Middletown, DE

Monday Confessions, Early Spring Musings on church

“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Yesterday morning, after hustling to try to get 6 people out of the house and drive the twenty minutes to church, it started to rain. Matt dropped us curbside and as I struggled to open the umbrella with one hand and hold my coffee and bible with the other…I was suddenly wearing the coffee. I started to laugh so that I didn’t cry. By the time we got inside, I lamented to the kids “how are we still ten minutes late?” I was in all my coffee and dry-shampoo-wearing-glory wondering just why is church such an effort. Is it worth it?

It became clear though on the way home, when two of our big kids that had joined us in the adult service were able to give back to us the three main points of the sermon from Luke 6. When our kids said back to us that a true believer in Christ is “fruitful, truthful and faithful,” I felt much better about the shenanigans we endured to get ourselves there. I remember someone saying once that we might not remember every meal that our mom served us through our childhood, but we know we were nourished. We are supposed to look at church attendance in that light, that we might not remember every sermon or point but we are spiritually fed. So as parents, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up'“ (Galatians 6: 9).

So, even if the early spring rain is falling or the coffee is spilling, we are doing the important work as parents. We are investing in our kids spiritually and that takes the long view. I am so thankful that we have our faith to guide us in this parenting gig.

Here are some spring scenes from around our yard yesterday. We are loving all the animals to watch around our new home!


Monday Confessions, Recent Reads Fiction

Hello blog friends! I hope this chilly first Monday of March finds you well. I had some requests last week to do an updated book recommendation post on here and you can follow my hashtag on Instagram that is #emilytroutmanreads to get updates when I post shorter comments on books. It honestly helps me keep track of what I read and helps when I get asked for recommendations! This post will strictly be fiction and I will try again soon with non-fiction (I promise there’s lots of great non-fiction out there)

Some of you might remember I had a dream trip to Paris last fall with my parents. Part of my book-loving self could not wait to check out Shakespeare and Company book store, right along the Siene river, across from Notre Dame Cathedral. Shakespeare and Company is a famous book store that hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, among other well know writers who lived in Paris. It’s just a neat experience to walk into places like that, which have birthed inspiration for so many. I thought I would share a few shots from my Shakespeare visit along with this book post! I bought and read The Paris Wife in Paris. It’s about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley (more thoughts on this book below)!

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own making.” My mom’s feet are at the top, making it even better for me. She’s a librarian now and leaves a legacy of a love of reading!

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own making.” My mom’s feet are at the top, making it even better for me. She’s a librarian now and leaves a legacy of a love of reading!


1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - I adored reading this book in Paris and in general, I enjoy historical fiction. I was seeing some of the places and spaces that she was writing about. I was also understanding the magic and appeal of a life in Paris for the young couple. This is a fictionalized version but I am pretty sure it’s close to truth. It was easy and enjoyable to read until later in the saga, when Ernest starts to stray. It then becomes difficult to root for him as a man…but I would say a good follow up read to this was Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. It’s his own take on some of these early days in Paris with Hadley. Order here if you want your own copy to arrive from Paris :)


2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan was a delightful fiction read and also had some Parisian scenes that I appreciated. I took this photo of the book though literally minutes before I got into an accident at my kids school and NO it wasn’t my fault and NO I wasn’t reading at the time…I digress, back to the book review….I loved this read because it shed some light onto Asian culture that is not as main stream as one might think. My husband works at a prestigious boarding school and it gave me a giggle because in some ways it really shed light on what some of the Asian students deal with in their families and with their parents. Some things are based on stereotypes but also most stereotypes are based in some type of truth. I definitely recommend reading this book for the great writing and then rent the movie, which is just as enjoyable!

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3. Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy - If you grew up loving the Anne of Green Gables series, this is a great read for you. It’s like finally getting the back story on Green Gables and what it was like growing up there or why Marilla and Matthew are single siblings living there until adulthood. I admit, I realized I knew scant amounts of Canadian history before reading this and I had to look up some little nuggets of info to help shed light on the story. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount of historical details but I did want to make sense of the times. I really liked this read but some people that are purists to the original series might not like someone adding to it (which is kind of how I feel with the second season of Anne with an E on Netflix. Not my favorite.)


4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - I also really enjoyed this fictionalized story of the North Carolina marshlands. It weaves together a modern crime being solved while flashing back to the beginning of the story. It was thankfully so well written that the time hoping did not confuse me (sometimes I can’t track with books that jump around in time). It’s the story of Kya, growing up in the marsh land and often alone. It was tender and hard to read at times, but it also just made you cheer for the main character to persevere. It has a fantastic ending in my option and it’s just a great read that takes you to another time and place! I found it recommended on Reese’s Hello Sunshine book club.


5. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - This was an interesting coming of age story set in New York City with two main characters from completely different backgrounds. I really enjoyed this young adult read for the most part. It was a quick read and an interesting ending. I think it drives home the idea of some people being in your life for a reason, even if only for a brief time and I am not spoiling anything - there are many examples of this in the book. I have to say though, of all the other books I review here, this one probably goes as my least favorite, as in, read the other books first! (If you liked Park & Eleanor a few years ago, you might like this one :)

Monday Confessions, Recipe Round up

This winter has had me inside cooking a ton. It has led me to some great recipes so I thought I would share a few hits here on the blog today. I have even crowd sourced recipes on Facebook and dinner ideas, so I thought I might share some too. I also am starting a bit of an eating change (let’s not call it a diet) for a bit to see if I can get my body to change and feel better. Many of you that have followed me know that I have wrestled with sleep issues for quite some time, so I’m hoping it might help with that as well. None of these are necessarily diet friendly but they are all family friendly!

Super easy Tortellini Soup: Delicious, easy and budget friendly ingredients, especially at Aldi.


Shauna Niequist’s Berry Crisp: This is delicious and clean eating if you’re on a plan. Can be a great breakfast with greek yogurt or a nice light dessert.


Ayesha Curry’s One Hour Bread: Bread intimidates me, yet this one was simple and delicious. It was actually simple enough that my 9-yr old daughter helped me make it!

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie: This is a yummy dinner crowd pleaser and even easier with left over rotisserie chicken and pre-made pie shells. It feels like you worked for hours for this hearty dinner but it’s easy as can be.

Paula Deen’s Shepherd’s Pie: This has been a winter favorite of our family for years. It’s especially easy when you have any left over mashed potatoes from another meal or ground beef you need to cook up.

Pot Roast Hand Pies: These are my 9yr old son’s absolute favorite. They’re meant to use up left over roast beef but I actually made them last week with left over taco meat and made it more like a little cheese burger. Again, if you have pre-made pie shells in the fridge, these are a breeze and kids like to help cut out the dough circles for each hand pie. I serve with a veggie on the side and wa-la!


Joanna Gaines Chocolate Chip Cookies; Self explanatory deliciousness! No diets here :)

Here’s to having a great week and let me know if you decide to try any of the recipes I shared!

Monday Confessions, 5 things to stop doing in order to produce more Joy!

I don’t know about you friends, but January usually finds me trying to slow down and take stock a bit about what’s important. It’s sometimes a forced change in pace. The winter weather keeps us in, the hustle of the holidays are over and things are just generally slower for me in business. I need this “reset” so badly but I also find myself resisting it. So, instead of resolutions of things I need to start, I’ve actually been thinking about some things that I know I need to stop doing in order to allow for more joy in my days!

Listen friends, I am taking this advice as much as I am giving it. I’ve been wrestling with chronic stress and insomnia (see also “Mommy Burnout” by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler) so these are things I need to stop as much as anyone to gain fresh joy and perspective in my life, as well as my health.

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

1. Stop over scheduling: This seems self explanatory but we all need to take a good look at our schedules, especially as we head into spring and a new season. Don’t try to jam in too many things for yourself or your family. Kids need margin too. They need free play and even, boredom. I know how much it causes me to get frazzled when I am rushing everyone around and nothing puts disappointment on a kids face like telling him he has to rush off somewhere instead of getting to play outside with friends/siblings.

“Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to over schedule, over inform, overprovide.” - Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

2. Stop Comparing: We all know the saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and yet so many of us live constantly trying to see how we measure up. I think this affects each of us differently, but it can be everything from body image, to clothing style to our home or kids…It is any area of life that we find ourselves comparing and lacking. Don’t do this to yourself. If you find yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself why?

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -G. K. Chesterton

3. Stop wasting too much time on internet: See above about the comparing issue….so much of this springs from our internet culture. We don’t all need to know what the housewife in Wisconsin is baking or decorating or wearing today. It’s not that all these things are bad things, but it’s just that it takes up time and mental space that you could devote to other things in your days. Set a timer if you need to or remove apps from your phone. A big help is turning off notifications so that you aren’t getting dinged constantly and beckoned to come look at your phone. I promise more days with less internet will bring your heart joy.

“Deep breath. Are we all inhaling intoxicating Pinterest fumes? An oxygenated reality? And if so, can we call it true inspiration? The definition of inspiration is the drawing of breath, an inhalation, a gasp. A filling-up that offers an abundance of energy for your day, for the task, for that project, for this life.”

- Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

4. Stop acting like you don’t have power to change: I heard a podcast the other day talking about maintaining a family’s schedule and the interviewer said, “it feels more like the family schedule controls me than I control it.” I do understand this feeling for sure, but a question arose while I listened. Are we not in control of what we choose to fill our lives with? We truly do have the power to change things if they aren’t working for our lives or families. If nothing else, America is certainly the land of choice. We have options about schools, jobs, foods, etc. We can change things that aren’t working. Does that mean it’s easy? No, it most likely won’t be easy. I can revisit a lot of feelings from early last year when we contemplated moving…it was by FAR not easy and 2018 was the year that tried to kill me, but now sitting on the other side of that journey in our new home, I can see it was worth the huge change. This idea of the power to change can apply to all kinds of habits, from our health to our housework, so don’t be afraid and start small! One small change can lead to big differences over time.

5. Stop with the frantic: I know all these suggestions here are like a spiderweb that all connects at this point, which they do. This frantic part though, it’s not just a pace but the frantic part is a mind set. Frantic has you thinking, “when your mind has to work seven steps ahead instead of just being where you are, because this deadline’s coming, and the laundry has to get done before that trip, because you can’t forget to pack snowpants for school, and you need to beg for more time on this project. Again…Good things like efficiency and multi-tasking go off the rails so far that sometimes I find myself running in my own house, shuttling things from room to room like my life is a timed obstacle course. This is insane.” (excerpt from Shauna Niequist, Stop Hustling and Get Your Life Back).

I find myself getting like this all the time, worrying about everything from big decisions like education all the way down to what is for dinner. It’s not like we can escape a lot of these parts of life, but we can make room for more slow time and quiet. It’s the opposite of what culture teaches us constantly, which is to dominate, to hustle, and to succeed at all costs. Sometimes “success” needs to just being to slow down and play with our preschooler on the floor. Our souls need a lot more of that type of interaction than the constant hustle. As I am exploring my serious need for rest and a change of pace, this is not only a preference issue but an absolute necessity for me. I need to change out of the frantic if I am going to find health again.

I hope you hear my heart on this Monday morning, we are in it tougher. What are some things you need to STOP doing in order to create more joy in your days?