My Fabulous Life

Let’s Be Real Here

It’s the busiest time of the year for me, being in the beginning days of my 11th annual Holiday Gift Guide! Every year, November and December are consumed with all things holiday shopping, gift giving, and giveaways. Working from home allows me the luxury of working these busy days in cozy clothing by the fire, but the busy season also means some of my other household duties can slack. Like any parent, I find it hard to balance my work and household responsibilities and also carry that guilt that comes when you feel like you don’t measure up.

Contributing to that feeling is, of course, social media. I struggle with pinning social media as the bad guy because that’s the realm I work in every day, but it’s true that with the positives of social media, one of the negatives that prevails is the “unreal” stuff out there. Think about it, even if you don’t work on social media like I do, if given 10 selfies, you’ll always chose the most flattering one and perhaps touch it up if you like. It’s human nature.

What’s important to remember, though, is everyone else there is doing the same. The Kardashians don’t look like their perfect selves when they roll out of bed in the morning and even your favorite food blogger has a messy kitchen and food that looks just like yours does when served to the kids. We add to, touch up, and prop our photos to look their best and especially for those who work in social media, they go the extra mile!

I’m not a professional food blogger, but I’m continually working to improve my recipe photos. So, in the spirit of sharing and being real – thanks in part to the inspiration from the Catelli Real Feels Good campaign where real parents share the real-deal when it comes to parenting trials and triumphs, I thought I’d share what it really looks like behind the scenes of a recipe post. If you check out my recent InstaStories here, you’ll see the process behind making a delicious lasagna recipe using Catelli Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles. Below, this is the real deal…

First, a photo of my lovely clean, bright white kitchen. Because it always looks like this right? Especially when prepping a recipe for photographing.

The realty is that no, nobody’s kitchen looks like that all the time, and especially when they’re cooking! Sure, it’s amazing to start your recipe with a clean surface and space everywhere but the reality of life for a mom of 3 working at home is that there’s always something on the counters. Also, my kitchen isn’t that bright – editing is needed of course to spruce things up! So bright and shiny later!

Next, here’s a great product shot photo. It’s a great way to share the product used and other ingredients that go into the recipe. But when you think about it – does anyone actually display their ingredients like this? Of course not. We grab and go. My spinach is in a large plastic container in the fridge, my cheese in a bag, and spices in the containers of course.

How it really looks when photographing that recipe post. In the fall and winter months, bright daylight is scarce so I have to rely on extra lighting to help – plus editing software of course.

And there it is! The final photo after a messy, then cleaned, kitchen. After the prep-shot that is pretty unlikely to occur in any kitchen, and the final result on a table cleared just enough to display the food (my laptop is just a few feet away from the plate!) Oh, and this is next-day lasagna because it photographs better than out-of-the-oven lasagna because 1) it’s already dark outside by that point and my kids want to eat, not sit and wait while I photograph their food and 2) the cheese doesn’t sit well and the steam causes issue with photography. Also, why is there spinach on the side of my plate? The spinach is IN the lasagna, cooked and wilted, but it makes for a good photo.

Looking for that lasagna recipe? Click to visit that page, back from 2013. Can we please also pause for a moment look at those photos? See? I’m learning as I go!

I used Catelli Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles this time around. No one in my family is celiac (which is a serious disease and utmost care must be taken to ensure the person dealing with it keeps gluten out of their system) but we have found, through trial and error, that gluten-free noodles are easier on the stomach for my husband and myself. Less bloat, we found. The kids don’t notice a difference at all, so we’ll continue using Catelli Gluten Free pasta products (we really like the spaghetti noodles too.)

Let me know if you try my lasagna recipe! Either way, I hope you remind yourself – as I do too – that the perfect photos, perfect parenting, and perfect lives you see on social media simply are creations for the post. None of us are perfect, and none of us have a perfect life. All parents are working hard to do their best, and we all make mistakes and missteps along the way. Even if your lasagna looks more like a simple mixture of noodles and sauce (“Wait, there’s supposed to be layers?”) and your kitchen looks like a bomb went off, the important part is the family meal at the end of it all; sitting down at the end of a busy day to come together and chat. Another best part when lasagna is involved – the next day leftovers! They always taste better the second day, why is that? That mystery remains.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Catelli and the Real Feels Good campaign. All opinions and commentary are, as always, my own.



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  • My son is 2 and is basically a tornado. I cleaned the house top to bottom last week and actually sent pictures to my hubby at work to show him I do actually do things because by the time he would get home, it would be back to the disaster it was before. Lol.

    • Thank you for this comment! I do this too! My twins are a whirlwind that I just can’t keep up with. I get one space clean and they have “destroyed” another. The cleaning up after them is a constant, all day, every day job. πŸ™‚

  • My kitchen island always has a pile of random papers on it…among other things cluttering the counters. It’s a constant battle.
    I bought the gluten free Catelli lasagna noodles to make a dinner for a family that is “gluten aware”, and made a double batch for our own dinner, and was really impressed! Pasta is my go-to meal that I know all the kids will eat so its nice to have an option like this!

  • It’s nice to see that I am not alone in the life of mess! Sometimes I feel inadequate in the face of all these perfect media families!

  • It is just the two of us and my kitchen is always messy. I use to be particular but I don’t really care anymore. The lasagna recipe looks good. I have not tried the over ready ones before.

  • A messy house means your a busy mom with lots of things on the go..and that’s just fine. It will be for a short time in our our children grow up and leave, there will be plenty of time for a neater kept home..

  • Love your kitchen, mine always has some clutter too, guess we are all just normal people lol the lasagna looks great this is something I haven’t had in ages

  • Your post is right to the point, you can not believe everything you see online, and yes no one has a spotless kitchen while cooking!

  • lol that is funny! the only time my kitchen looked like that was when we were moving and showing our home. oh another note…mess or not your kitchen looks beautiful. AND I will give that lasagna recipe a try

  • I cant keep my house clean. Its generally picked up but clutter just keeps jumping in there. I have decided that isnt what makes me happy. I do what I can and say I will do better but really, probably not

  • I will give your lasagna recipe a try. I too struggle with feeling that I don’t do enough. Self talk and affirmations help me realize and practice self worth.

  • I’m looking forward to trying your lasagna recipe, it looks really yummy and I LOVE lasagna.
    I haven’t tried the Catelli Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles yet.

  • Social media is a horrible beast to contend with. My house is cluttered and messy, and will continue to be for years. I’m at home for the first time in years as a stay at home mom and it’s pretty overwhelming, dealing with all the expectations.

  • It’s so true. Take a picture of that perfect cake and you miss the 11 piping bags and spatulas in the background.

    I love that corner sink btw. Such a nice design.

  • So true about perfection in social media and wanting you to believe their subtle messages. I do enjoy finding a recipe that I think my family will like. I don’t care about a messy kitchen while I am cooking as long as the recipe turns out. And we love lasagna so will have to try this one.

  • I know that things on social media are always the best of the best shots, etc, but its hard not to compare myself to those pics… I should lighten upon myself tho

  • It’s definitely hard to keep everything in order and clean. Nothing in life is perfect and advertising etc. is always staged.

  • I haven’t try your recipe yet but so easy, what can of spaghetti sauce do you use. I would like my kitchen looking like your first photo but it hard to accomplish that….

  • your kitchen is lovely! even when ‘messy’ … mine, well it gets really messy but is a well used room and the heart of the house! Thank you for the great post! Will be trying the lasagne, just bought some of the Catelli pasta yesterday!

  • It’s a very hard balance. It’s good to remember that it’s like this for everyone and that we are all doing our best.

  • So true! I really enjoyed your post. We sometimes strive to achieve the impossible and to meet unrealistic expectations because of what we see in the media and on social networks.

  • Social media makes everything and everyone look perfect which can sometimes really make us feel like we’re not good enough. I have a tendency to clean my house and change my clothes when I’m taking photos. So ridiculous and so time consuming when you just want to get a quick (spontaneous) wink, A great article you posted and like others have said already, you kitchen is beautiful and not messy at all.

  • Ill definitely be trying the recipe and YES reality is WE live and we make a mess and then we clean when we can πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for the reminder – it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others – and I LOVE LASAGNA!! mmmm πŸ™‚

  • I like this ‘real’ post. I prefer blogs to mainstream magazines because the magazines are always so polished and photoshopped.

  • looks like a delicious lasagna and I get you, I don’t know how many times ive snapped a photo and thought ugh you can see something out of place in the backround, lets re-take it but we should also be real, nobodys perfect!

  • I appreciate seeing the real story of things not being in pristine condition. We all try to do our best and when I see repeat pictures on different blogs of everything perfect I feel like I am failing in some way. Thanks for sharing the real picture, which still looks great compared to my real most of the time. I am a messy cook as much as I try to change that. lol

  • Unless you are so lucky to have people hired to clean your house daily or makeup artists doing your makeup I do believe most people realize that people’s photos are touched up because obviously that is what we want to portray to others that we have it together. In real life the majority do not have it together and slap on our makeup as we go out the door. As far as a tidy house unless your children are little robots the house is going to look lived in.

  • With four very active kids, it is hard to keep up on the clutter. I try not to let it overwhelm me but I have to say that it often does.

  • Chaos is what our house looks like most of the time lol. I have 4 kids and you can guarantee if I am cleaning in one area they are creating some sort of mess in another.

  • It always makes me wonder if maybe the person posting the pictures is actually that clean and organized. I do like how my house looks when it is freshly cleaned… so for about 3 minutes but clutter and crumbs are reality and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • This is such a good reminder! Even though we know social media is often staged we still feel pressured by it! Sometimes even that I can’t stage it as well as others gets to me!

  • What a great article! I think sometimes our household chores can wait, and no-one has a perfectly clean house! A house should look like its being lived in, and that means it can and should be a tad messy or disorganized.

  • Very true! I love the honesty and life is usually not all perfect like some people claim on social media πŸ˜› Thanks for this post!