day 13: #40shoutouts40days


Dear Ashley Rodriguez,

I knew you were talented long before I became a fan solely because of the way Jono talked about your bacon caramels. His wife, my precious friend Aimee, easily gets excited about pretty much anything but not Jono. I think that’s why they are a perfect pair. Jono is a critic. Jono holds his accolade cards close to his chest. When his eyes widened as he described those caramels and Aimee stood by nodding enthusiastically I knew they’d be magic. I knew we would likely get along.

I’ve been cheering you on via cyberspace ever since they mentioned you were starting a blog way back when. It has been so incredible to see the ways things have taken off for you. I nearly wept happy tears when I saw you landed a book deal for Date Night In. You better believe I pre-ordered a signed copy. My in-laws imported it with them when we met in Italy last spring. Laying eyes on the book was a big moment for me – I squealed like a school girl. (How much talent is there between you, Gabe and Boone?! It’s crazy. God really pulled out the stops.)

I haven’t referred to cookbooks as page-turners in the past but I file yours in that category and I’ve lost count of the copies I’ve given away as gifts. When I began reading about the inspiration for the book, about how you were sick and tired of falling into bed having barely connected in the evening, I knew I needed to study every single word.

Last spring Steve was thick into his third year of his PhD dissertation and we were living life as roommates not spouses. I hated it. I knew the season would pass but I wanted so much more for our relationship. Toddlers are so damn crazy and academia is not for the faint-hearted. It felt like we were chronically hanging on by a thread. The book remained on my bedside table and kept me company afternoon and evening, a source of encouragment.

Like you, my love language is food. I won Steve’s heart through his stomach but last spring I was struggling to drum up enough enthusiasm to do anything out of the routine. Enter Date Night In.

Yes, the menus are creative and meaningful, seasonal and utterly drool-inducing on the pages. You can find that in a lot of cookbooks. What you can’t find, however, is an author who so vulnerably shares the reality of life as a wife and mother. Your stories illuminate the recipes as treasured memories, milestones of the good, the bad, and the redeemed. Your book is more than just fodder for ideas. Your words ministered to my pathetically uninspired culinary imagination and pepped me up to love my man the way I do best: through food.

I’m going to stop here because my husband just knocked on the door to say he’s going to bed. I’m sure you understand.

All my love and thanks,

Elissa Joy

PS. Keep up the good work for that next proposal! I’ll pre-order that one in a jiffy.


2 thoughts on “day 13: #40shoutouts40days

  1. Ashley says:

    I’m am floored, humbled and vibrantly encouraged. Thank you so much for this. Hearing your words helps to validate the whole book writing experience – it’s not always an easy one. But I would do it again and again to know that I can be used by God in a ways that encourages others. Thank you for writing this.


    • Elissa Joy Watts says:

      Marinate in the warm fuzzies and be encouraged!!! Your faithfulness to bravely and skillfully create is an act of worship. Make no mistake. That book has blessed so many individuals, so many couples, so many kids, and Lord willing, generations. I had to put the book on the shelf for a short season because I was licking too much cream and chocolate off of spoons and consequently my clothes began to shrink but that is my only criticism. Everything else is superb. Pour a cocktail and kick that second book proposal in the ass, my friend. You can do it because God can do it.


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