beautycounter, eczema, skincare, Uncategorized

Less Skincare, More Life


For as long as I can remember my skin has been a topic of conversation. As a child I had eczema so I was always being moisturized and more severe or infected areas were being treated with topical steroids and carefully crafted bandages. In the summer I was slathered in sunscreen and when it failed (it always did) I was usually very sunburned and peeling. The teenage years brought acne into the already dry and eczema mix and which was frustrating as all the treatments for acne seemed to exacerbate the eczema situation. Into my twenties the acne and eczema combination worsened and after my first big eczema flare in 2014 I simplified my skincare down to virtually ZERO products. I did UVB therapy 1-3x a week for almost two years so I have substantial “sun” damage on my face and all over. In the past four years I have simplified my beauty and skincare routine to the bare minimum and found that in the absence of products my skin and hair really seem to flourish on their own when left to their own devices… and when provided with fruits and vegetables. That element is clutch. Dairy and gluten lead to acne breakouts on my chin almost immediately. As if the eczema and gut health wasn’t a motivator enough to eat clean (it’s not, sometimes I really want cheese.), I get the bonus motivator of a zit-free chin.

The most fascinating thing about my eczema journey is really the way my soul morphed through it all. I was an average lady when it came to appearances. I didn’t wear a TON of make up, but I wore a lot to achieve a “natural” look. Which kind of makes me laugh, looking back. I was not okay going out without something on my face, even though my light mineral make up usually wore off pretty quickly.  I’d always cover blemishes and those dark circles under my eyes (which didn’t exist because I slept SO much in my twenties), and leaving home without wearing mascara was not an option. When my eczema started worsening in 2014 I upped my make up game, covering as much as possible which definitely made it worse. After weeks of literally causing myself stinging, burning pain just to keep up appearances I really questioned myself WHY I continued to wear make up when literally it was just for other people to feel better about the way I looked. No one gave me sad looks or made comments if I covered up the sores. Is that a metaphor or what?

One of the core values of our church’s code is we do more by doing less  and it has permeated every part of my life just about. Skincare included. By using less on my skin, less in my hair, less on my body I am overwhelmed with more. More confidence in who I am and not what I look like. More time to sleep in the mornings. More money in our budget to spend elsewhere. More life, less showering. Literally, MORE natural oils in my hair and on my skin which is an indicator of health. More fun, less worry about the long term effects of

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my simplest of simple beauty and skincare routine and favorite products. Face toner, shampoo, make up remover… all kinds of stuff! Some are super crunchy (looking at you, Apple Cider Vinegar) and some you can buy at Target (hello, Eucerin baby eczema cream). Some are from Beautycounter (you can shop here:— I recommend checking out their Countermatch line) and some are from the grocery store. Less really is more! Let’s go!

100 Days of Blogging, personal

Hey remember that time…

Remember when I said I was going to blog 100 days in a row? And then after one week I got behind? And then two days after that I just stopped completely because life.

It’s been REAL busy around here but we are turning a corner… things are slowing down, priorities are shifting, the vision is becoming clearer. 

Early in July we roadtripped to Tennessee to see Marshall’s family because his grandmother passed away suddenly. We attended a memorial service and then spent the weekend visiting with aunts, uncles and cousins watching home movies and chasing the baby around. It was a sad time, but it was a great time. My favorite memories as a kid were being at my grandma’s house at Christmas or Thanksgiving when all 5 of my mom’s siblings were there with their kids. It was just the craziest of times but so much fun. People and food everywhere, kids running around getting into trouble… it was just the best. Friends are special, but cousins are just a special kind of special.

I was watching the home videos of Marshall’s (and my) Grandma Joy, the sweet woman we named our little girl after and it hit me. At the end of my life I want to have lived a long life with many, many, many, many, many, many memories of a house full of my people. My kids, my kids’ kids, their significant others… when I’m 70 none of my family is going to care what I posted on Instagram or Facebook, or how successful my blog or business was or wasn’t, what they’ll care about is what I poured my life into. So Kellie, what are you pouring your life into? Working all the time for what?

Suddenly I just have this urgency to spend all of my days in the best possible way in the way that matters most to me. I want to spend every moment soaking up every detail of this celestial calling I’ve found myself in. I can’t believe that it’s already been three and a half years since we brought the biggest one home. Four of eighteen summers is underway– and I’m in it to bring it home, too.


100 Days of Blogging, parenthood, personal

Our Favorite Daddy

This man. Like lots of girls, I entered adulthood projecting all kinds of life experience onto God, viewing him through the lens of my earthly father. I was blessed with a hardworking dad, but he’s human and has his shortcomings like we all do, and I definitely attributed some of his qualities to my Heavenly Father. When this guy became a dad, it forced me to question my dad perspective and to really examine the qualities I had “seen” in God. A few weeks ago we visited Elevation Ballantyne, the “mothership” and broadcast location for our church in Raleigh, and they played this beautiful song from Hillsong church, ‘I am who you say I am“. By the first chorus I was totally undone, realizing the flawed way I had been viewing my Father’s love for me. Who the son sets free oh is free indeed, I’m a child of God, yes I am! In my father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes I am! I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am!”

How God views me is not contingent upon my behavior, obedience, good deeds that I do, or nice things I say… his love is unconditional and simply is because of who I am: his child.

So on this Father’s Day, thank you to my wonderful husband, who in spite of his shortcomings loves our children, and me, unconditionally just because of who we are are. You make me a better mom, a better person, a better everything. Thank you for pointing me to truths about myself and our life when it’s tempting for me to believe the lies. You are my greatest gift. You’re always a hand squeeze away, willing to load the dishwasher, change the diaper, trim the nails, dress my wounds (more than I can count) and hug it out. You’re a dream come true.

Thank you for making me a mom. I like to say that the kids did, but really, it was you. Happy Father’s Day!

100 Days of Blogging, personal

Friday Introductions: Hey, it’s Kellie.


I have a little “about” page but it’s FRIDAY! So here’s a somewhat “fast five” about me.

  • I have been blogging since 2007, which is INSANE! Note that I didn’t say that I’ve been blogging everyday, or consistently, or am making money by blogging… it’s just something that I’ve kept somewhat constant through all the life seasons. I actually hate actual journaling or scrapbooking so this has been a fun outlet for me. No rules, just fun, and just Kellie-ness. This WordPress situation has been so fun to see come together… Imported all the posts from all my blogs that I’ve had over the past decade into one place so the gang’s all here! If you ever get bored and want read what 19 year old Kellie was doing in Spain in 2007 (that time I fell down the stairs and thought I broke my arm…) or what 24 year old newlywed Kellie was thinking, or what 27 year old new mom Kellie was raving about–IT’S ALL HERE.
  • I don’t really like labeling myself or my profession. I just feel tied down and smothered and I need to be FREE from expectations. I have recently learned that I am most likely an Enneagram 4 Wing 3 (WHERE MY TYPOLOGY NERDS AT?/I thought I was so unique I can’t believe I am actually one of nine types) and this obsessive compulsion I have to be an individual makes so much sense now. So we’ll just say that I am a “freelancer”. I freelance a lot of things… teaching Spanish, taking photos, picking up groceries, changing diapers. I relish in the freedom of that title, in that it doesn’t not have an expected outcome but I also rest in the boundary of having a definition of what I do. Just so very “four” of me.
  • Photography wise, my passion is birth photography. Without a doubt. I am in the process of building a framework for a realistic way to make this my full time gig, so if you are pregnant or you have a friend that’s pregnant and looking for birth coverage I have a deal for you. I am empathetic by nature and birth is one of the most powerful things I have experienced and witnessed on this earth and I feel that I have been called to serve families in the days and weeks leading up to their baby’s Birth Day. You can read more on my “Birth Days” page above!
  • I love my church. I did not love church for a VERY long time. It always felt kind of dead, like an obligation and filled with lots of “shoulds”.  I became a Christian in the 6th grade — I encountered Jesus in an undeniable way and that was the beginning of a lifelong journey of discovering him and my faith in a REAL and RELEVANT way. For years, I was looking to the church to be something I was lacking. I was looking for community, unity, diversity, authenticity and excellence and I was disappointed for years. And then we visited Elevation Church in Raleigh. Over several months I realized that that thing I was lacking was JESUS and that I couldn’t always lean on the church to meet all my needs– Jesus would meet all my needs. Through Elevation we have SEEN people raised to live in Christ and God move in and through us and others regularly– miracles every single day. It’s incredible to be a part and to witness such a refreshing move of God through a church that is AUTHENTIC. If you’re not local to one of the seventeen locations, definitely tune in online and catch the sermon and be a part of eFam. What we get to be apart of is INCREDIBLE!
  • I have had eczema for my WHOLE LIFE until I started a new miracle drug in February and I am basically flare-free. I’m not eating 100% paleo anymore but mostly gluten and dairy free (mostly…) and I cannot imagine what life would be like right now with two kids if I had never tried Dupixent. To read more about that journey click here! And here for 10 days in! And here for my postpartum eczema story in 2015!
100 Days of Blogging, blogs & brands, brands, photography

Dontezz Foster | Brand Photography

In March I had the absolute HONOR of shooting some fresh content for Dontezz Foster– a local gospel artist! He is in the process of wrapping up his album and it was such a blast to hang with him and his team and get some great photos in. We were able to use the studio space at Playground Studios in Durham which was an awesome growth opportunity for me as I don’t normally do studio work and I loved it and will definitely do again. I’m in the process of designing an in-home studio space because there is just something super classic about a portrait with a backdrop, even though parking deck lighting will always be my first love…

I just wrapped up our second gallery and planned out our third session and I am loving this collaboration! God continues to send me clients that I just gel with immediately and I am so thankful. I try not to be cliche about it, but we are most def handpicked! Looking forward to shooting lots of content to come, the best is ahead! Can’t wait to hear the new album. Music is another love of mine and I’m a self proclaimed choir nerd (11 years of choir right here, 4 show choir competitions and 2 barbershop quarter camps, coming at ya) so working with musicians like this is an unspoken dream come true. Thankful barely covers it!

Find Dontezz on Facebook and follow him on Instagram.

100 Days of Blogging, birth, maternity

Katie | Ayr Mount Maternity


Watching this sweet friend become a mama has been the greatest joy! Katie and I go way back to the days of Girl Scouts, high school English group projects and most recently, bridesmaid duties. When she got married and became a (step) mama to Cayden, it was so incredible watching her step into that role and own it! I did some photos of the two of them a few years ago and blogged it back in my Tumblr days, and she is still just as gorgeous as ever.

They welcomed sweet Emmie a few weeks ago and this coming Saturday morning I get the complete pleasure of documenting some of the sweet newborn snuggles at their new (!) home and I cannot wait.

It is such an honor to tell these stories! That baby girl is so treasured and prayed for. Miracles happen every day— they really do!

Probably my favorite part of this session was the big beautiful tree. If you’ve ever seen a placenta (if you haven’t, you probably can’t believe I just dropped that word in here like normal– I take a picture of it at each birth so I can show it to you, if you want) you’ll know that the veins leading to the cord are an undeniable tree and branches. It’s truly incredible to see a perfect picture of nature in such an intimate place. The placenta acts as a filter, getting nutrients and oxygen to baby while they grow, and trees do the same for us. Brilliant design. So, brilliant! I just love the image of baby growing with that big tall tree.

Stick around for more of Katie and Emmie’s story… it’s a great one. They are an incredible duo and have the sweetest boys in their life. Mamahood looks so good on you, Katie!

100 Days of Blogging, parenthood, personal

Monday Adventures (Alternate Title: Why didn’t I get coffee this morning?)

Today I looked in the mirror (it wasn’t a mirror, it was selfie camera on my iPhone) and I barely recognized myself. The one year old was screaming “AAAA DA” (all done) in her crib, my three year old was napping in sheets that totally had pee on them from the night before and I just shoved a couple of Fauxreos into my mouth and washed them down with blue Gatorade.

Eating paleo? Nope.

Clean house? Nope.

Work done for the day? Nope. 

Laundry caught up? Nope. 

The baby stopped screaming so I got suspicious. I should have suspected asleep, but instead I suspected suffocation, climbing out of the crib or some other general naughtiness. I quietly crept into her room to watch her little cherub self sleep and as soon as the door opened she shot right up and I hit the floor. I mean, I literally dropped my body to the floor and tried to hide from my one year old. She peered over the edge of her crib and said “Haaaaaaiiiii. Ma. Ah da.” And then started jumping up and down whining and demanding that I hold her.

So for those of you at home judging me because we haven’t sleep trained, the score is now Emmeline 386, Mama 0. In my defense, I did let her cry it out one day for nap while I showered and I came to her room to find vomit all over the crib, wall and floor. It’s possible she had a “stomach bug” but I think I know the truth. She cried so hard she puked. Because that’s my girl!

Exciting times here lately.  I thought the husband was staying home to wrangle kids today while I worked. He thought he was going to work to… work. So I went in to this week at a mental disadvantage. But seriously, these kids push me to my boundaries of sanity, cleanliness and joy on a daily basis and I LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT. There are definitely seconds that I wish would pass quicker than others, but these are definitely the days of my dreams. Cheerios and all.

100 Days of Blogging, birth, everyday photos, maternity, photography

The Murphy Family | Maternity

This year is the year of exploring what it would be like if I were really a birth photographer. It has been so enlightening and enjoyable and I’ve gotten to really dive in to all the facets of storytelling for these little babes, and the big bump is a big part of it!

I had a random Saturday morning open up so I invited myself over to the Murphys’ for some in home maternity photos just for funsies before baby boy’s birth and I am so glad I did. When I was shooting weddings years ago I always included an engagement session so I could hang with the couple before the big day and this proved to be just as important! I mean, the next time I saw these guys Mandie was in labor so it was really fun to have some fun hang time before the big day. Mandie was approaching full term with this baby, a major victory after developing preeclampsia with her oldest and delivering at 34 weeks. I’m all about a photo session to commemorate a milestone so I was so happy to be able to capture some of this answered prayer for them!

Once I became a mom it became the Saturday mornings that I truly loved the most. Weekdays are hectic with work and preschool, Sundays are quick so we can get to church, but Saturdays. Saturdays are pajamas, and slow long breakfasts and hanging out in bed. Saturdays are awesome. Behold, the Saturday mornings of the Murphys as a family of three. Little brother joined the party yesterday, so it’s like looking at a little time capsule. Also, those curls. I sent them an obscenely large gallery, most of the photos were of THOSE CURLS. They are amazing.


photography, seniors, Uncategorized

Senior|Olivia + Chrissy

My darling little sister in law, Olivia Joy, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill last month and we are just so proud of her! She asked me to take some grad photos for her and her friend Chrissy and we had a b l a s t. It was so fun frolicking around campus, racing all the other grads and their photographers to the best spots! We wrapped up the session with a visit to YoPo (The Yogurt Pump) and then Olivia and I had dinner and a grand ole time was had by all. These girls were so fun to shoot. Thanks for having me, the best is yet to come!

friday favorites

Friday Favorites: Parenting Podcasts


I freaking love talk radio. Like A LOT. Both jobs I had before I was working from home I had almost an hour commute each day and I loved it. It wasn’t until the end of my commuting life that I got into podcasts, but man, I love them. You can pick the content and you can skip the commercials. A talk radio junkie’s dream come true! Like two and a half years ago I shared my favorite podcasts and there’s a few that have remained favorites but I’ve added quite a few to the queue. As always, I am looking for new awesome podcasts so let me know what you’re listening to! Today’s post is about the parenting podcasts– I don’t listen to many of them, but I have found a few that I truly look forward to!

  • God Centered Mom Podcast
    • In general, I am usually very skeptical of things made BY Christians FOR Christians, because let’s be real, a lot of times the products are out of touch and the content isn’t always very good (Case in point, the Christian film: Sunday School Musical. This was a real movie, guys.) This podcast is neither of those things! It’s so real, authentic, deep and wildly practical. Like most podcasts, she’s interviewing entrepreneurs or authors so at times it feels a little salesy, but she did a series in the past year that rocked me to my core. “Well Lopsided” was incredibly well done, I had to listen to it several times to really get it, but it was so freeing and so inspiring.
  • Respectful Parenting
    • Oh hey Janet Lansbury, you’re a genius. The phrase “I will not let you _____.” is literally the only phrase that my three year old responds to when he’s wearing his turd hat. This is a short and sweet compilation of wisdom nuggets from the Baby/Toddler whisperer herself, and I think sometimes she’s a little bit farther out into the crunchy realm where I comfortably go, but she’s truly brilliant and has an episode for almost everything. And they are short! Like you can listen to the whole thing on your way to the grocery store and back. She saved us when Lincoln got up and down from the dinner table 2898134038209423 times during a meal, and now he just sits, eats and gets up when he’s done. All because of Janet. Janet, we love you. And your podcast!
  • Parent Cue Live
    • This one is relatively new to me, and in conjunction with the Parent Cue app is an absolute gut punch. The app is a companion to the Orange Kids Ministry so it syncs up with the curriculum and what they are learning at church and gives you some tips on what to talk to your kid about. It also tells you how many weeks you have left until your kid graduates from high school. Gut. Punch. The podcast is so great though! It is faith based, and they offer really interesting perspectives on parenting through all the stages– not just the baby/preschooler stage. I definitely recommend!
  • Honorable mention (aka: not parenting podcasts, but I’m a parent and they help me)
    • Elevation Church with Steven Furtick
    • For the Love with Jen Hatmaker
    • Happier with Gretchen Rubin