October 2020 - Like Honey

Slow Cooker Chili Soup

Chilly season is chili season! Right?!

We LOVE soup around here (okay, maybe just me and my Crockpot, do) and one of my favorite fall traditions I've carried over from my own childhood is a big, steamy bowl of chili and a gooey grilled cheese right after trick-or-treating on Halloween. Nothing beats coming out of the cold to a warm soup bowl and sitting down to a night of festive movies! It's so easy to have simmering all day long and ready to go when you get home with that heavy bag of treats--just slap a few grilled cheese sandwiches on the griddle while the kids sort through their goodies and you'll be digging into your new favorite cold weather dish in no time!


In the spirit of full disclosure, my husband and I disagree when it comes to this dish. Growing up, this is what we had as our "chili", so that is what I call it. He deems it unworthy of a true chili (something about it lacking enough meat/beans/etc.) and has dubbed it "spicy tomato soup".  I mean, I do omit the beans in my version of this recipe, even though my mom never did, but I never liked a chunky chili--chili is a soup, not a casserole! I do like to add in a bit of cheese when I'm feeling indulgent. Do you think this recipe qualifies as a chili? I titled my recipe "chili soup" as a sort of compromise, but, whatever you call it, I promise you'll be adding it to your regular rotation because it's delicious!

Can You Freeze It?

Since we're only a few weeks out from having baby #3 over here, I decided to go ahead and whip up a batch for my freezer. I simply cooked and crumbled the ground beef and added it to a gallon freezer baggie along with the other ingredients listed, sealed and double bagged it, and tossed it in the freezer. In a month, I'll thaw it (just enough to get it to slide out of the bag) and dump it in my slow cooker for an easy dinner I don't have to think about while trying to juggle THREE KIDS. Still wrapping my head around that one.

Do you have any Halloween traditions? What about other holidays? What meals are a standard for you during the festivities? I would love to hear about them in the comments! And let me know if you think this recipe counts as "real chili" or not! I can't be totally alone!



How to Take Your Own Family Photos

I Took These Photos Myself!

Last weekend, we took to the woods and shot a few family/maternity photos on our own. I set up my tripod, snapped away in between kids' potty and exploration breaks, and did a little editing on my phone (I love Snapseed) and voila! A sweet little photoshoot done in a pinch! I really love how they turned out and can't wait to meet our baby in a few weeks--and do this all again with him included! Hello, Christmas card photos!

Don't get me wrong, I love all of my photographer friends and support them whenever I can, even just online, but to be honest, we simply don't have the budget for professional family photos. In our area, a standard cost is upwards of $300 (sometimes not even including prints or digital images!). I don't want to undervalue a local small business owner, so rather than haggle them for prices I can afford, I opted to start learning how to do them myself. Are they perfect? No, but they do work for me in my current season of life. One day, I'll save up and get amazing professional portraits of my whole family and cherish them forever, but learning to make do with what I have and hone a new skill has been rewarding on several fronts and I highly recommend giving it a shot if you're in a similar situation.

Since I've been taking our own photos for a few years now, I thought I'd share with you a few of the things that have helped me along the way, like what to wear, what tech items I use, and how I get my family (ahem, kids) to cooperate. First things first:

What Should We Wear?

I think aside from the actual click of that camera button, figuring out what everyone should wear is one of the most stressful parts! As women, we tend to overthink things (or at least I do), but as long as you have a little coordination going on, you can totally nail your family portraits! I'm always happy to provide feedback on outfits for your family if you shoot me an email at likehoneyblog@gmail.com. I can work with whatever budget you have, even just using items you already have!

For now, here are a few outfit collections (with shoppable links for everything below!) that can hopefully give you a little inspiration for your own family photos!

Green & Neutrals

This is probably my favorite collection! The colors are just so timeless and if you're planning to frame your photos in your home, these are hues that won't clash with any decor palettes you might have. Here are some alternative options for a similar green & neutral look: don't like dresses? Have mom or daughter wear light wash jeans and neutral sweaters instead! Dad not into sweaters? A solid button front shirt will still look timeless without bringing in too many more patterns.

Burgundy & Cream

This color scheme works so well with snow or evergreen trees! It would be perfect for your Christmas card! I absolutely love the little girl's pinafore dress (such a classic!) and this gingham button front shirt for boys works yet again to tie everything together! Normally, one of my biggest tips when compiling coordinating outfits is to have a good mix of solids and prints (i.e.: don't have everyone in a different pattern or everyone in the same two solid colors), but this look only has one patterned item and still works thanks to the girl's outfit having a bit of contrast with two separate pieces. Never live and die by one single rule when you lay out your outfits! You never know what might mesh perfectly once you have it all put together.

Mustard & Navy

I love how casual this collection looks! Laid back looks are so great for those family photos that are more candid and real, in my opinion. You'll want to look back on your photos and evoke memories of real-life. This rust/mustard color is one of my favorites for fall and pairs perfectly with hues of dark blue. Don't fear mixing khakis and jeans amongst your family--khakis can look less dressy with a careful shoe selection and a roll of the sleeve.

Navy & Emerald

This look is a close second for favorite for me! I love the holiday ready plaids that don't completely scream Christmas! It works great for a Christmas card photo but is still timeless enough to frame in the hall. This collection isn't too dressy, but could easily be spiffed up with a change of shoes and dress pants for the boys. My husband has several of these collared sweaters and throws a button down shirt underneath to dress them up for church.

Don't I Need a Professional?

Of course, if you have the time and budget, I highly recommend supporting a local photographer's small business by hiring a professional! If you already possess a decent DSLR (it doesn't have to be top of the line--mine is a refurbished Canon T5!), all you really need is a couple of accessories and a bit of patience to make great family photos happen in a pinch.

What Do I Need I To Do-It-Myself?

Here are the four tech items that made these family/maternity photos possible:

CAMERA: I have a Canon T5 that we got refurbished for about $250 six years ago. It is still holding up just fine! I promise, you do NOT need a high-end, state-of-the-art new camera to take pretty pictures!

TRIPOD: My tripod actually belongs to my father-in-law, but he rarely uses it so I've kind of just taken custody of it! Amazon has several options that are very affordable and will get the job done.

SHUTTER RELEASE + REMOTE: This was the biggest help to me! No one wants to race back and forth to their camera to click the shutter and try not to miss that 10 second timer (but believe me, I've done it!). The downfall to an older camera model like my Canon T5 is that it does not have infrared capability, which means I can't buy a simple universal remote control or an app on my phone to control it. HOWEVER, this little shutter release has been serving me well for 2 years now and works like a dream! It has a little device that connects to the top of my camera and plugs into a port in the side of the camera body. Then I use the included remote to control that device which acts as an external shutter release! I has continuous shooting (helpful when shooting with wiggly kids!), single shooting, and flash options and cost me less than $25!

A GOOD LENS: Investing in a better lens than the standard one that comes with your camera is so important! I used to have a 50mm I loved, but when it broke unexpectedly, I decided to try a 35mm lens instead. I really like it for portraits, but have a lot of trouble with it when it comes to close up shots like I need for many posts here on the blog. I felt like my 50mm was the better purchase and will be replacing it soon! Either way, do a little research on what lens you think will serve you best for your personal habits and hit up Amazon for affordable options that have great reviews!

What Else Will I Need?

Prep and patience. Seriously.

I'm really not the best at posing. It's hard to tell what your family group looks like when you're standing in the middle of it. Something that has helped me tremendously is scouring Pinterest and saving family photos I love to a specific board that I can reference when planning my shoot. I actually just took a handful of screenshots while we drove to our location and went from there when we took these photos and I am more than happy with the results!

As for patience, that one's easier said than done. I'm easily frustrated and get anxious when we try to do photos, even when I'm not in front of the lens. This time, I prayed ahead of time that God would give me a patient heart and help me be more of a "fun mom" during these photos instead of my usual frazzled and irritated attitude that comes out after the first few shots go south. Wouldn't you know it? The whole shoot went perfectly! We took several small breaks to let the kids explore the area which kept them from getting too antsy while also giving them great memories with dad. We had to stop twice for potty breaks, during which I took the opportunity to take individual portraits of the kids while we waited. Where I normally would have been getting heated and impatient, I chose to enjoy the moment, relax, and remember: if I get just one good photo, that will be enough. It's fine. Promise. And you know what else? My cheerful attitude made for better smiles all around. We were all genuinely happy while taking these photos--no forced smiles, no hidden pinching to correct behavior--and it shows.

What If I Have Babies or Toddlers?

Go re-read what I wrote about patience. Then make sure you bring a few snacks. When my kids were busy toddlers, a bag of fruit snacks could go a long way to making happy smiles and getting little ones to sit still. Don't be ashamed to bribe if you need, to. I honestly bribed the kids with this shoot, too. I told them when we were done they could have a snack in the car on the way home. They were thrilled! Bribes don't have to be crazy, just little incentives to keep them looking forward instead of getting bored and cranky. For babies, make sure they're not getting too close to their naptime if you can. Stopping for a feed halfway through your shoot might be necessary, too. Again, keep calm and patient and your kids will follow suit. Worst case scenario, you have to try again another day--at least you didn't just drop a few hundred dollars!

Have you ever taken your own family photos? What tips do you have for others who might be looking to try it themselves? I hope these outfit ideas and shooting tips were helpful to you! I am far from a professional and learned everything on YouTube or Google, but I'm happy with the results I get and want to share what's working for me with all of you! Good luck!


Slow Cooker Chicken Gnocchi Soup | Olive Garden Copycat!

When Your Favorite Restaurant Is Out Of Reach...

I don't know about you, but Olive Garden is definitely one of my top favorite restaurants. Now that we live about 30 minutes away from the nearest location, I've realized how much I miss not only that creamy, delicious alfredo but also that warm, comforting bowl of Chicken Gnocchi Soup that welcomes me while I wait for my entree.

...You Start Trying To Recreate Your Favorite Dishes At Home!

Now that your mouth is watering and you're locating your nearest OG, let me just tell you: this recipe is JUST like the real thing. Dare I say, better? I mean, things do just taste better at home sometimes and the fact that this recipe whips up with ease in the crockpot means I can enjoy it even on my busiest night of the week! Go ahead and click the image below to download this printable recipe card for yourself!

Every Season is Soup Season

I won't bore you with any other details, except to say that if you love Olive Garden's chicken gnocchi soup, you'll love this at-home recipe! And even if you've never had their soup, you're sure to enjoy a light, yet hearty, bowl of this year-round staple soup! Even my kids love it, spinach and all!

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