Northern Italy is one of the most stunning places in the world and it’s also a place where some of our favorite foods have originated. Genoa is a small city in Northern Italy where a tasty sauce called pesto was born. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in a quaint city called Parma, which is a culinary delight and not far from Genoa. One thing I learned from my time there is that food is a beautiful part of Italian life, where cooking and eating are valued, done slowly and enjoyed with family. I think we have a lot to learn about life from this way of cooking, eating and living. We love bringing pieces of the Italian way of life into our home!
Pesto: A Versatile Superfood
One way we have done that is to add pesto into our regular rotation of foods. We mix it up a little and have experimented with different flavors to bring our health goals and love of food together. Read on to learn some of our favorite combinations and ways to have pesto meet any of your dietary needs and culinary desires!
Traditional pestos are made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and parmesan. You can easily make this traditional pesto vegan by skipping the parmesan and add a few extra pine nuts or walnuts instead.
However the possibilities are endless! You don’t need to stop at just having basil pesto, although we definitely keep that on rotation in our home as well. Here you will find a specific recipe for a plant based, vegan and gluten free pesto. I also will give you several ideas on how to make a cheap, easy, healthy superfood pesto, getting some of your ingredients straight from your garden! These pestos are packed with nutrients and can be used in a variety of ways, from pasta sauces to sandwiches sauces and more!
Ingredients in Garden Pesto
Options for Greens from the Garden (or Store)
Basil is an excellent and traditional flavor for pestos. It goes especially well on pasta but truly it’s a great summer flavor and is a perfect straight from the garden herb.
Basil from the garden
Our Swiss chard plants have done really well in our garden. Of course you can cook these up like your normal greens but why not mix it up by turning it into a versatile pesto sauce? This is a perfect way to mix up your use or use some extra veggies that need to be used soon.
Swiss chard from the garden
Did you know that you can re-grow carrot tops? Simply place the carrots tops in a dish with some water, changing the water regularly. When they start to sprout, place them in soil. They will not re-grow carrots this way but you will end up with some nutrient packed carrot greens on repeat and they are an excellent option to use in pesto!
We’ve always had luck growing peppers. I’m thinking maybe because we’ve lived in warm climates and they’ve done well here or perhaps it’s just a hearty plant! Pick a pepper and add it to your pesto for that extra spicy kick you love in your dishes. Or for extra spice, skip the greens and lemon and make your own version of a hot sauce pesto.
Peppers from the garden
Some other greens you could consider would be other herbs like cilantro and dill or other vegetables such as broccoli or beet greens (the top of beets).
Pick Your Nut
Nuts are packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins and are overall wonderful for your health in moderation. Some nuts are healthier, cheaper or more available so that may help you choose which nut you would like to use. For example, pine nuts are very expensive so you may choose to add a smaller amount of pine nuts or all walnuts instead if you’re trying to stick to a budget. Additionally, food allergies or sensitivities may dictate your choice. You can experiment with any nuts or seeds you like in these pestos, knowing that some may require some additional adjustment of other ingredients. We most often use walnuts as they are a great option!
Oil and Salt
If you are maintaining a whole foods plant based diet or are choosing to limit salt and oil for any reason, you can also experiment with using no or low oil and salt. Most people will find the flavor to be better with oil and salt but you can easily reduce the amount to your taste.
Citrus fruits also have a lot of health benefits. Packed with vitamin C and a fruit I always think of as an excellent body cleanser too, we love adding lots of citrus into our foods. Typically, we use lemon in our pesto recipes. You also could easily add lime. For example, lime and cilantro pesto is a delicious combo! Lime or orange with peppers are also a great combination. If you experiment with orange or lime, let me know!
How To Make Pesto
The basic recipe to experiment with is pick a green, add some citrus juice, oil and salt. Experiment with amounts to achieve desired texture and taste. I prefer more creamy for pasta sauce and more course for a sandwich spread. Add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse it until it’s finely chopped. approximately 10-12 times and then on high for about 10 seconds for the desired consistency.
Yield: 12 oz
Garden To Table Pesto
Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time3 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
4 to 6 Swiss chard leaves (stalks optional)
8 to 10 greens from mature carrot tops
1 large garlic clove
1 oz extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lemon juiced
1/4 c walnuts
1. Gather ingredients and cut into approximately 1-2 inch pieces.
2. Place all ingredients in a food processor.
3. Pulse 10-12 times until finely chopped and ingredients are mixed inside the food processor. Turn on high for 10-12 seconds or until desired consistency is acheived.
How to Store
We use Mason jars with lids to keep these in the fridge for a few days to a week at a time. I also believe you could freeze these pestos which would make it an excellent way to use up veggies from your garden and store them for later.
I would LOVE to hear what combinations you explore and what are your favorites. Share this with a friend now and come back later to tell me your favorite combo!
If you’re where I’m at in this scenario, you’re wishing it weren’t true. You wish every single person was safe, physically and financially. You’re also wishing your life was back to normal. These things aren’t mutually exclusive and I’m going to just go ahead and say it…
It’s not selfish to miss your normal life.
Our normal life was bouncing around Walt Disney World together as a family and I miss it. Yesterday I was longing to take my daughter for a walk around Animal Kingdom, dancing and playing with her. I wanted to see her huge Mickey hugs and her awe of the larger-than-life Kevin. We could have come home to meet my husband and then walked around Epcot as a family, enjoying the flowers at Flower and Garden Festival, my favorite time of year. But instead it felt like the walls were closing in on us as we escaped the love bugs on our patio and read the same book we’ve read almost every day multiple times.
Disney isn’t just a place that is fun for kids or a place that makes a good vacation (although in my opinion it’s those things as well – I’ve never had an easier vacation with kids than at Disney). It is a place where families gather and create memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. And so much more.
Our family with Mickey and Minnie, enjoying our day together at Animal Kingdom
What I Miss
Walking the Safaris in Animal Kingdom, getting myself exercise and sunshine and teaching my daughter
The smiling faces of Cast Members reminding me that in this season of being a stay at home mom to a young child, it’s okay. Those moments where they’d play peek a boo and I could feel the pressure taken off even for a few minutes.
Sweet luxuries like a Starbucks latte to start my day or a dole whip to cool me off
The smile, giggle and wonder of my daughter while she rode on the Little Mermaid Ride
Watching my daughter around Elsa and Anna, her copying their every move because they are the people she looks up to the most
Super close snuggles on Frozen Ever After ride as Marshmallow blew us down
My husband stealing a kiss while my daughter was happy, entertained and playing and we had a brief moment to ourselves
Crying at the fireworks because I used to wish upon a star for my daughter and now I have her. Somehow everything about Disney reminds me how lucky I am to have my family, but especially the fireworks
A Disney Photo Pass Photographer caught this moment of us watching fireworks together
What I Look Forward To
Hearing the joyous songs on Main Street that give an energy to my day
Riding the Jungle Cruise and hearing all the punny jokes
Sitting in the Tiki Room remembering my own childhood wonder
Seeing my daughter’s childhood wonder come to life right in front of me
Having our Family Fun Night at Hollywood Studios, dancing together like no one is watching
Celebrating birthdays and the excitement of Cast Members adding to our celebration by wishing us well
Finding magic moments that you can’t ever predict, they just happen
Living my happily ever after with my favorite people, our family and friends
Mickey Mouse asked my daughter, Queen Elsa, for her autograph
So, no, in my opinion it is NOT selfish to miss Disney or to be mourning the family vacation you had planned. Please don’t let anyone make you feel badly for how you feel! There are many families that have more difficult situations. Truly, my heart goes out to families effected and for example Make a Wish families and those that had planned to be at Give Kids the World. The work they do there is absolutely amazing and you can see more on the fantastic things they do here.
You can give your heart to others and your own heart can still ache for your own situation at the same time. It’s not selfish. It’s normal.
Do you miss Disney too? What do you look forward to doing when you go? Let me know in the comments.
This month has felt very chaotic while we are in the midst of selling the house we’ve called home for the last three years and the home where Elodie was born to move into a new home. We have slowly picked out each piece of this new home and have many more finishing touches coming soon. It is a very exciting, albeit a little bittersweet time in our lives.
This 30 minutes photography blog is a circle blog where I join other photographers from around the world in sharing a little moment of our ordinary lives. Please be sure to see the link at the end to see what Janet Crouch did this month as well.
In our 30 minutes this month, we are taking a look at our new home in it’s somewhat raw form. It’s not quite ready, although it will be soon. New construction is an interesting process and this will give you a small peak into what we’ve been up to this month.
Here our daughter leads us to the front door, “Come on in!”
This is the kitchen, it’s almost completed. The final touches will be done in the next few weeks and then we will be DIY-ing some additional upgrades as well. We plan to do an upgraded faucet and a complementary backsplash. Open to ideas on colors that will look good, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments!
Have to play peek-a-boo with all these empty closets. “Is this where they keep the treats?!”
I think one of our favorite parts of this home and what we really led us to finalize our decision is these gorgeous sunsets over the lake.
Time to check out the backyard and that view.
Beautiful sunset light pours over the backyard every evening.
As new life is popping up everywhere here too.
Soon we will get to enjoy these gorgeous views daily and we are truly looking forward to it!
These photos were all taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and Sigma 35 mm ART lens and lightly edited in Lightroom.
Thank you so much for joining me in this month’s 30 minutes. Be sure to check out Janet Crouch Photography for her blog on donuts and find us on Instagram to share your own daily life photography!
Have you ever wanted your photos of your vacation or kids to stand out a little more? Do you wish that they were a little brighter, more bold or have that “pop” that you see?
I’ll give you ten quick steps to make your photos have that bright, beautiful pop that you want! These steps are made for anyone to follow and the preset is for everyone to use. You can be a regular mom, a Disney mom or a professional photographer! These are easy to use for everyone!
Ten Steps To Better Photos Today
Download Lightroom Mobile for free from your App Store. Sign up for a free account if you don’t already have one.
Click on the small blue picture icon with a plus sign on the bottom right corner to add a photo to your Lightroom library.
Select a photo from your photo library, then you can start editing. I recommend either starting with your favorite preset or going directly to the “Light” category on the bottom toolbar.
I recommend adding a preset but you do not need to. You can get my favorite preset for free by signing up for my Newsletter here and following the instructions below to add it to your Lightroom Mobile app.
Then go to “Light” / “Exposure” first and move the slider to the right or left to achieve desired brightness. I almost always prefer the slider to the right a bit for a brighter photo.
Next, go to the “Color” / “Temp.” I recommend usually moving more towards the yellow side for a warmer photo as that’s my preference; however you may prefer cooler photos and then should slide to the left toward blue.
For a nearly last step of editing, go to “Crop” on the toolbar. Start by straightening your photo. There is an automatic “straighten” button or you may manually rotate the image lining up the grid with the natural horizon of the photo. This may appear to only make a subtle difference at first; however, it can offer a dramatic improvement to the eye. To crop the photo, just pull a corner in and hit the checkmark to crop. This can be helpful to get a closer look or remove unwanted crowds or blank space from corners of a photo.
Tap the checkmark in the top right to save your edit in Lightroom.
Click on the share button which is the second button in on the top right menu bar “Share to…” which will lead you to being able to click on the words “Share to…” and from there you can save your image by clicking “save image” or share it socially from there.
Enjoy sharing your bright and beautiful photos with family and friends!
Using The Art of Adventures Free Preset, Main Street Adventures
To download my favorite preset, sign up for my newsletter, and then follow these steps to load the preset into Lightroom Mobile. You will only have to set this up once and then you will be able to use this preset – forever!
After you sign up for my newsletter, the preset will be automatically sent to your inbox.
Click on the “download the preset” button.
This will take you to a OneDrive file which you will save by clicking on the three dots on the top left and “download.” This file may appear blank at times, do not be alarmed.
Open Lightroom Mobile app.
Click on “Add from Files” and add the downloaded DNG file, “Main Street Adventures,” to Lightroom Mobile.
Click on the DNG file in Lightroom mobile to open it and be able to edit it.
Click on the “…” in the top right. Click “Create Preset.” Name the Preset “Main Street Adventures” and add the group “The Art of Adventures Presets.” Keep all blue check marks checked. Then click on the checkmark in the top right to save the preset.
Open a new photo in Lightroom Mobile and on the bottom bar scroll to the far right to find “Presets” and apply your new Main Street Adventures to your favorite photo! Follow the steps above to fine tune the adjustments to your liking.
Before and After Main Street Adventures Preset
This specific preset is more based on outdoor photos like you will see taken on Main Street USA with buildings, shops, castles, flowers and the sky as your backdrop!
Take a look at these before and after examples!
PhotoPass Photo Before | Main Street Adventures Preset Added After
iPhone X Portrait Mode Photo Before | Main Street Adventures Preset Added After
RAW photo from professional camera BEFORE | Main Street Adventures Preset AFTER
I hope you find these tips for using Lightroom Mobile and this free Lightroom Mobile Preset helpful! Tell me in the comments what else you’d like to know about taking and editing better photos of your family today!
Maybe you’ve heard… Disney PhotoPass introduced a new PhotoPass session as of February 10, 2020. These “Capture Your Moment” PhotoPass sessions are times you get with a dedicated PhotoPass photographer. Read on for all of the details including what is included, how much these cost and some tips on making your experience the most magical!
*Note: The first seven photos in this post have been edited with my preset which you can get for free by signing up for my newsletter. To see photos as delivered by PhotoPass, see the end of this post.
What You Get and Pricing
For the 20 minute session you pay $50 or for 40 minutes you pay $100. There are no set amount of photos guaranteed. If you do not have Memory Maker or an Annual Pass that includes PhotoPass photos, then you will need to purchase the photos separately. Use of special props provided by Disney is included. Some of these props are not available at any other PhotoPass location.
Disney recommends that you check in 10 minutes prior at Town Square Theater. Once you meet with your photographers, they will explain the process and walk to your preferred location. Your time starts as soon as they take your first “good” picture not when you check in or start walking. Disney is providing some props or you may bring your own so long as they fit within park guidelines. Clothing also must abide by park rules for example no wedding attire is allowed for these sessions. Over the phone I was told anyone over 18 must have photo ID and proper admission tickets; however, they did not check our IDs. Your session can include up to 8 people. There are no changes due to weather changes unless Disney makes the change due to extreme weather. So if it’s raining, which it’s known to do here in Florida, the session will continue so be sure to make the best of your rainy day session with an umbrella or poncho!
Locations and Props
When we met with the photographer, we were given options of several areas around Main Street and Cinderella Castle. We asked for a location where you could see the castle and less crowded. A spot to the left of Cinderella Castle was recommended and I was happy with it. You can have your pick of locations though! Some props are available such as a special “&” sign with a not-so-hidden Mickey, a pair of ears that say “Future Mouseketeer Fall 2020,” some magnetic letters and more. You may also choose to add your own props. Some ideas would be your own letter board or wooden sign, balloons from home or from Disney, a stuffed animal side kick or some treats like a Mickey bar or cupcake.
When and How to Book
To book, you call Disney reservation line at 407-939-7758. You can book up to 180 days in advance. Times available are generally from 9:15 AM to 7:45 PM on the :15 and :45 of the hour. So, for example, you can pick 12:15 or 12:45. If the park is open later, they may have later times available so you’ll need to inquire about exact times when you call to book. When you book, full payment is due that day and Disney’s 24 hour cancellation policy applies where you can receive a refund so long as you cancel 24 hours prior to your reservation.
My Personal Review
When we arrived, our PhotoPass photographers were extremely nice and professional. It was very nice to have two photographers, one acting as an assistant. One was helping with props and trying to get our daughter to look toward the camera. The other was actually taking the photos. We had two amazing photographers: Ricky and Chase. We have had Disney PhotoPass photos taken by both Ricky and Chase previously. Both are very talented and kind and actually two sets of my favorite photos ever taken by PhotoPass were by them so I do believe that Disney chose some excellent photographers for this program. They helped us choose a location and happily walked us to the location and were great with my daughter.
We chose this as a way to celebrate my birthday. As a photographer, I have many photos of my family but I’m rarely in them outside of Disney PhotoPass photos so it was nice to be able to celebrate in this way.
Our photos were, in my experience, typical of the better PhotoPass photos I receive. As a professional photographer, I can tell you the quality is good and you can definitely print these even at a pretty large size. You could use a preset to brighten them and get the colors a little more to your style and that would perhaps make them even more to most people’s liking. For more tips on editing, find my post on using Lightroom Mobile here.
Is it worth it? Only you will be able to determine if this will be worth it for you. We saw a gender reveal being done on Main Street at the exact same time and it was done very well and I am confident it was captured well. I once waited for 30 minutes for a photo on front of the castle and it was completely blown out and unusable so PhotoPass in general is not a guarantee whereas with this session there is a higher standard and more time. Using Capture the Moment, you will get the time and attention of a highly qualified photographer with no waiting and they will make sure the photos are of good quality before you walk away. If you do not want to wait in a line and you want to make an announcement at Walt Disney World, I believe you would love this experience. For less than $1 per photo, we got a fun and unique experience that we enjoyed!
Tips on Making the Most out of Your Experience
I recommend arriving early to ensure that you are in the right location. Getting to Magic Kingdom almost always takes longer than expected and it can take time to even get around Magic Kingdom and I wouldn’t want to miss any time for being late. It is also a good idea to have a general idea of which location you would like. I also recommend bringing along some props to make your session extra magical!
We chose to have our session at 5:15 PM which is within the golden hour – the hour before sunset. A time a little closer to sunset may have provided a better sky although photos also may have been even darker. For best lighting, photos will always be optimal the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. If you would like nighttime photos, they do offer after sunset photos as well. PhotoPass photographers use on camera flash.
The Future of PhotoPass Capture Your Moment
I went to experience these PhotoPass sessions on their very first day available so they may implement changes or improvements over time. For now, these sessions are only located at Magic Kingdom. Although unofficial, I was told that there are plans that Disney will offer them in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios possibly as early as mid year 2020 and then offer them in Epcot 2025 after construction in Epcot has concluded.
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Examples of Unedited Photos Provided by PhotoPass
I received 66 photos during my 20 minutes. These are some the images I received in MyDisney Experience PhotoPass photos from my Capture Your Moment session so that you can see what was provided. These are all unedited, not even cropped, posted as I received them.
I would love to hear your opinion. What do you think of this Capture Your Moment session? Are you planning on booking one for yourself or your family?
When you get the news that you’re expecting a little baby, you’re sure to be filled with lots of emotions and then you’ll be excited to share the news: you’re pregnant!
Are you looking for a fun and creative way to share your pregnancy announcement with your family and friends? I have lots of ideas that will help you share this special news in a memorable way!
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to schedule a pregnancy announcement?
Please feel free to reach out right away. My schedule fills up quickly and I may not be available last minute. As for what week in pregnancy, that’s totally up to you! Some families love to share immediately whereas other families wait until 12 or even 20 weeks. It’s a personal choice.
What if I have a creative idea that I haven’t seen before?
Tell me about it in an email and I’ll let you know how we can work together to make your vision come true! And if you are looking for more ideas, please feel free to let me know that too. For example, you may want to tailor it to the season or a hobby you have.
How much is a pregnancy announcement session?
I am offering a special pregnancy announcement sessions: You will receive up to a 15 minute session and 5 edited images for $75. This can then be applied to any full maternity or newborn session. So if you are booking a maternity or newborn session with me, your announcement is FREE at booking! GIFs and videos are an additional fee. Please email for more information or with any questions.
Where are pregnancy announcements done?
I have a list of locations that are included in this price.
What should I wear?
You may have your own style already picked out, I can help you find your style or I have a small client closet.
What if something happens and I need to cancel my session?
I have a compassion clause for cancellation due to loss or you may apply the funds to a different session.
Check out this video announcement:
Are you ready to book a session? Email me at email@example.com to start the booking process today!
Moving. Moving has so many emotions attached to it. It’s almost always bittersweet as you close one door and open another, literally. You are moving from one place where you grew your families’ memories to a place where many new memories’ will be built.
For this move, we also get to learn from the knowledge of my husband. He is a builder. So our daughter gets to follow along and learn as he checks our house to make sure everything in the process is running smoothly. This month, our 30 minutes in our ordinary life was spent doing just that: our daughter exploring our new home under the supervision of my husband. They did some quality assurance checks, checking to make sure everything looks up to standards.
Here she is checking out the upstairs with the loft and bedrooms. Yes, she’s in her ballet outfit because we came from ballet but can’t forget boots and a hard hat for safety!
She’s excited and everything looks good! She’s planning where all of her castles are going…
Next on to check out the downstairs with the kitchen and the tile. And of course, a snack break!
Everything looks good, Dad! High five!
What tips do you have for moving with a little one? We will be moving into this house in just about a month and will be posting about our move daily over on Instagram – we’d love to have you follow along!
All photos were taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and Sigma 35 mm Art lens, edited in Lightroom.
These 30 minutes in the life blogs are part of a blogging loop so be sure to check out Janet Crouch Photography today as well!
What’s Included: 30 Minute Photo Session 15 Edited Digital Images Glitter makeup done for you (optional) Magical glitter added for final delivery (environmentally friendly) Printing rights
Perfect for milestones, memories, or making someone’s day with a beautiful photo gift! This session is designed for 1-2 people. Children, Adults, Couples, and Pets all welcome. If party is more than 2 people, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with details.
Ready to book? Email me and be sure to ask how to get a $20 Print Credit!
This month, our 30 minutes were simple and festive. The 30 minutes it took my daughter to open her Christmas gifts is also just about the most festive thing I can think of. There’s so much joy on Christmas morning. Not because of physical gifts. But because it’s together time; a reminder of all the magic we work hard to provide all year long, wrapped up simply and festively to celebrate the holiday season.
I’m wishing you and your family a joyous and festive holiday season and new year!
Can you tell what her two favorite gifts were?
These were all taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and Sigma 35 mm Art lens and edited lightly for color in Lightoom.
Please continue on in the Circle Blog by checking out Blueberry Hill Image’s Festive Five as well!
Are you interested in booking a photography session in the Winter Garden, Central Florida area? Please email me at email@example.com.