A Joyous Morning: 30 Minutes in December

A Joyous Morning: 30 Minutes in December

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 theartofadventures@gmail.com.

Gorgeous Engagement Session in Clermont

Gorgeous Engagement Session in Clermont

This stunning couple showed up to their engagement session ready for some sweet romance, to celebrate and announce their engagement!

Nick has brought Analice sunflowers throughout the time they’ve been dating, so sunflowers included in their session was the perfect addition to represent their love.

I love the soft greens and pinks from these fields that helped their session come out so incredibly dreamy.

Of course every engagement session needs to highlight the other star of the show: the beautiful engagement ring! Representing the promise of love and dedication to each other.

The start of a new adventure together: I cannot wait to see where this journey leads this gorgeous couple!

Congratulations, Nick and Analice! Your love for each other shined throughout your session. I know that the beginning of this next chapter is sure to bring amazing love and joy for the two of you.

If you’re interested in booking an engagement, couple, or family photography session in the Central Florida area, please email me, Jess, at theartofadventures@gmail.com

Gorgeous Family Session with Two Little Boys in Winter Garden

Gorgeous Family Session with Two Little Boys in Winter Garden

This family has a lot to celebrate this holiday season: they have a new baby boy and a little boy who just turned 3! They came to their session ready to celebrate and have fun, which is perfect.

First, some photos of this little guy turning THREE, with a big 3 ballon! It says “I am Three” in both English and Dutch as their father is from The Netherlands.

Then he picked a flower for Mommy! The sweeeeetest…

These little boys with their big eyes! So adorable!

Some snuggles, tickles and play time is always included in sessions with little ones. Although little brother seems a little skeptical of all the silliness!

So thankful for another stunning evening with beautiful light for this family session in Winter Garden, Florida.

This gorgeous family rocked their family session.  Adjusting to life with two littles isn’t always easy, but this family makes it quite beautiful!

Are you interested in booking a session in Winter Garden or Central Florida? Please email me at theartofadventures@gmail.com.

Lebkuchen – Plant Based, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

Lebkuchen – Plant Based, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

Click on this image to pin for later.

With German heritage and living in Germany for a year, Lebkuchen is one of my absolute favorite parts about the holiday season. So if you’re eating plant based and gluten free, can you still eat this delicious holiday tradition? The answer is yes! Read on to learn how to make this easy and delicious cookie.

This recipe also makes a great recipe for a cookie exchange as you will impress all of your friends and your plant based and/or gluten free friends will feel included and be so thankful!

Lebkuchen is a spiced German holiday cookie coming from the German word “kuchen” or cake. Throughout the holiday season, they can be found hanging in German Christmas markets decorated with hearts or saying “Ich Liebe Dich” – “I Love You.” So I always thinking of this as the German love cookie.  Sharing Lebkuchen is a way to spread love, kindness and joy in the busy holiday season.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Grab your Plant Based and Gluten Free Lebkuchen ingredients.

Soften the butter and then add to sugar and neat egg substitute.

Combine dry ingredients separately.

Chop candied orange into thin pieces.

Cutting Candied Orange

Combine all ingredients slowly adding oat milk as well.

Continue to add nuts, candied orange and Gran Marnier.

Place small amount of dough on cookie sheet. Then bake.

Place the glaze on top and then enjoy!

Find the full recipe, including a printable version here:

Lebkuchen - Plant Based, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

Plant Based Gluten Free Lebekuchen
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Keyword: Christmas Cookie, cookie exchange, Gluten Free, Lebkuchen, Plant Based
Servings: 24

Ingredients

Lebkuchen Spices - Use 1-2 Tbsp per recipe

  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • ½ tsp Ground Allspice
  • ½ tsp Ground Coriander
  • ½ tsp Ground Cardamom
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Ground Anise Seed
  • ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg

Lebkuchen

  • cup Ground Almonds or Ground Hazelnuts (or mixture of both)
  • ½ cup Softened Vegan Butter I use Earth Balance
  • 1 cup Sugar Organic
  • 4 Neat Eggs
  • 3 cup Gluten Free Flour Cup for Cup
  • 1 Tbsp Lebkuchen Spices
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • tsp Double Acting Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Oat Milk Or other non-dairy milk
  • ½ cup Candied Orange Peel, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier

Glaze

  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar

Instructions

Lebkuchen

  • Preheat Oven to 375°F.
  • Soften butter and then mix in sugar and eggs until fluffy.
  • Combine dry ingredients: flour, spices, cocoa powder and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  • Alternate adding dry ingredient mixture with oat milk in small amounts to promote consistency while preventing clumping.
  • Fold in nut mix and orange peel.
  • Stir in Grand Marnier. 
  • Drop 3 tablespoons of cookie dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet or a greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes. Turn down oven to 350°F if cookies are browning too much.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then move to a cookie or cake rack to cool.

Glaze

  • Prepare the glaze while the cookies are still warm.
  • Place ½ c. sugar and ¼ c. water in a small saucepan on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil for a few minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and add vanilla and Grand Marnier. 
  • Sift powdered sugar over hot sugar syrup and stir until dissolved.
  • Brush warm glaze over cookies with a pastry brush while they are warm. Let cookies cool if you can (I like them warm too) and enjoy! 

What other plant based gluten free recipes would you love to see? Tell me in the comments.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to find out what recipes are being posted monthly!

Happy Holidays to you and your family! – Jess

Can’t Miss Quick Food in Disney Springs

Can’t Miss Quick Food in Disney Springs

When you’re in Disney Springs and looking for something quick to eat, there are a few spots that you definitely shouldn’t miss! We eat plant based and so these are all plant based and have gluten free options although every single one is a great, can’t miss spot everyone will enjoy!

Blaze Pizza

Our family loves Blaze Pizza! Here you can order your pizza fully customized and there are a variety of crusts, vegan toppings and vegetables to choose from making this a great spot to please everyone in your party.

The regular crust is vegan and the gluten free crust is also vegan. (The keto and cauliflower crusts are not vegan.) They also offer vegan cheese and vegan chorizo. A variety of vegetable toppings including everything from standards like basil and spinach to more unique like kalamata olive and pineapple are all available to help you customize your pizzas. We prefer our pizza to be like a salad on a crust but you could even just get a plain cheese pizza or anything in between!

If you have allergies, be sure to mention this at the beginning of your order. You can request a glove change, fresh cutter and ingredients to be pulled from the bottom, fresh, if this helps you eat safely.

Blaze Pizza offers indoor and outdoor seating

Two vegan pizzas and an Erin McKenna’s donut

De-Luxe Burger

De-Luxe Burger is a quick service restaurant that serves burgers and fries.  The exciting news is that they have a plant based burger as is on the menu! The even more exciting news is that if you’re vegan and gluten free, you can get this meal vegan and gluten free, including a gluten free vegan bun! Just always ask when ordering, especially if you have any allergies.

They were very accommodating for me.  I believe this is made with the Beyond Burger which isn’t my absolute favorite burger (I prefer the Impossible burger and the Beyond sausage) so the chef helped me out by adding some extra BBQ cooked right on.  The ketchup, curry ketchup and BBQ are all vegan and gluten free as well. You can add or subtract any toppings you’d like to make it perfectly the way you like it!

Burgers and fries – all plant based with gluten free optional bun

Erin McKenna’s Bakery

Erin McKenna’s absolutely has my heart!  This all vegan and gluten free, allergy-friendly bakery is exactly what vegan and gluten free dreams are made of.  If you’re looking for something sweet, or even savory, you’re sure to find it here.  I think the key to enjoying Erin McKenna’s the most is knowing what to order.  Some of their items are better than others, and it usually has a lot to do with how they retain their moistness even though being gluten free.

My favorites, in no particular order, are:

Everything Bagel – It’s not exactly what you’d expect from a regular everything bagel, it’s a little more dense, but also carries a nice flavor and texture.  I take this home, toast it nice and warm and load it up with tofu and avocado – the best way in my opinion!

Chocolate Raspberry Teacake – this alway stays nice and moist and is definitely a solid option if you’re a chocolate lover like I am!

Brownies and Brownie Cupcakes – I love the way the brownies taste here and they’re even good with icing if you’re in the mood for that!

Seasonal Treats – being vegan and gluten free can mean having a hard time finding seasonal treats so I always try to try the new treats.  Pictured here is a fall treat but I also enjoy the holiday gingerbread and thin mints!

This was a fall treat with caramel

A variety of daily offerings

The “Bakery Sink” is a great way to try some treats!

Sprinkles

Although there isn’t currently a vegan and gluten free option at Sprinkles, there is a Vegan Red Velvet cupcake that is delicious here! Be sure to sign up for the Sprinkles Club through their website to get this cupcake for free on your birthday!

What’s your favorite plant based treat to eat in Disney Springs? Tell me in the comments below.

For more updates on plant based and gluten free treats at home and at Disney, be sure to follow me on Instagram where I post regular updates about all of the deliciousness we enjoy weekly!

Magical Evening with the Perfect Light

Magical Evening with the Perfect Light

When this dad reached out to me to have some holiday photos of his family in the Winter Garden area, I knew right away that it would be a perfect session!

He had lots of amazing ideas and we let the kids run and play while we got some amazing photos of this sweet family enjoying time together in the most magical evening with perfect light!

As I aim for in all of my sessions, I got a variety of photos from amazing smiles looking right at me to the family playing in the breathtaking golden sunset.

 

Are you looking to book a session in the Winter Garden / Orlando or Central Florida area? I am available and would love to work with you.  Simply email me at theartofadventures@gmail.com.

Epcot: Festival of the Holidays!

Epcot: Festival of the Holidays!

Just when you’re missing the International Food and Wine Festival, Epcot International Festival of the Holidays arrives! Keep reading for information on the food, cookies, shopping, traditions and more!

Walt Disney World has a magical part of their world that includes all kind of different worlds from future land to many different countries, Epcot. Exploring Epcot is an excellent way to explore different cultures and learn while playing. For Christmas, it turns into a worldly celebration for Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.

My friend, Whitney at Simplifying Family, invited me to check out the preview of the Festival of the Holidays with her. Thank you to Whitney and Walt Disney World for inviting me to sneak a peek at all of the fun offerings starting on November 29, 2019 and going through December 30, 2019. I’m excited to share with you some of the fun things we learned and saw!

Holiday Belle

My friend, Whitney, and I met Belle all dressed up for the holidays!

Festival of the Holiday Booths

Similar to the other Epcot Festivals, the Festival of the Holidays has booths throughout the World Showcase offering speciality food and drink offerings. You can find all of the food offerings on Disney’s official booth list here. For those of us who eat vegan, the Aripes at L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen can be made both vegan and gluten free simply by asking at the booth. Disney can accommodate allergies at many of the booths, again simply ask and they often will call a chef to confirm for you.

Holiday Drinks

Holiday Cookie Stroll

The holiday cookie stroll will include a passport so you can try each cookie! The black and white cookie at L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen is plant based / vegan! Cookies are one food I definitely associate with the holidays so I love the cookie stroll idea and that they have a vegan cookie! So special!

Black and White Cookie

Plant Based Black and White Cookie

Special Country Offerings

Many of the countries have special shows or fun offerings that are specific to the way their country celebrates the holidays! For example, in the America Pavilion, you can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. In the China Pavilion, you’ll be able to see a Chinese dancing dragon (check out the sneak peek in my video below).  One of my favorites is meeting Befana in the Italy Pavilion. Also, while you’re exploring the different countries, don’t forget to do the Chip and Dale experience which you can see in the video below as well. You’ll just have to go experience a walk through the countries to experience it and tell me which one is your favorite!

Candlelight Processional

Traditions:  That’s what the holidays are about!  One of our traditions has been to see the Candlelight Processional.  I remember the first Candlelight Processional I saw with my family when I was younger.  It was so magical and special.  Now, my husband and I get to bring our daughter as we actually started the tradition when I was pregnant with her! We always make sure we see Neil Patrick Harris.  I love his fun anecdotes about his own family fun at Disney mixed with his excellent narration.  Many of the popular narrators are hard to see without seating, so a Candlelight Processional Dining Package is a great idea and makes an excellent gift for the family!

Shopping

Speaking of gifts, another fun part of the holidays is shopping! While the holidays are not all about material gifts and are also about traditions, it’s so fun and can make your heart feel so warm when you get the perfect gift! There are plenty of adorable gifts to choose from at Disney overall but the cute Chip and Dale themed merchandise available this year is so fun, and a nod to the nostalgic scene of Chip and Dale dancing around the tree. Check out the video below to see all the fun shopping to be done. Can you imagine any of those gifts under your tree?

Santa Goofy

What’s Santa brining this year?

Floral & Gifts

Did you know that you can have flowers and gifts delivered to your Walt Disney Resort and even some other places locally (that’s right, if you’re local they may be available for you as well!).  Be sure to check out the video below to see the cutest My First Visit Christmas Gift!

Floral and Gifts

Frozen 2 Fun

As you’ll know if you’re following my stories on Instagram, my daughter wears Anna and Elsa dresses day and night and sings Let it Go and Into the Unknown all day. She 100% has Frozen fever so we were excited to see that Anna and Elsa have new Frozen 2 outfits! Meeting Anna and Elsa is in the Norway Pavilion along with Frozen Ever After ride.

Elsa’s New Dress

There is also plenty of shopping to be done to grab new Frozen 2 gifts too!

Living with the Land for the Holidays

Living with the Land is one of my favorite rides and this year they have added some more holiday decor to make it even more festive! Be sure to check out this cute holiday version of a classic ride available after dark, with a preview in the video below.

Epcot Forever

During the preview, we also got to experience the Dessert Party and the Epcot Forever Fireworks show.  This is the perfect end to a perfect day! There were plenty of treats and drinks for everyone, including for vegan and gluten free.  They offered several dessert cups as well as cookies, fruit punch, coffee and more. Everyone will leave happy and full ending the night this way!

Vegan Dessert Party

One of the many vegan and gluten free, allergy friendly options available!

I really enjoyed this preview of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays and I’m really looking forward to enjoying it with my family in just a few days! What is your favorite part of Epcot Holidays? Tell me in the comments below.

I hope you’re having a magical day and always feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Holiday Tree Farm Sessions 2019

Holiday Tree Farm Sessions 2019

This year I held a set of Holiday Tree Farm Sessions at Santa’s Farm in Eustis, Florida. I loved having the sessions there. Not only was the tree farm a perfectly adorable holiday session area, but I also love the way that Santa’s Farm runs their family business. It’s beautiful and all of the employees were fantastic. Also, there are restrooms, a little petting zoo, a hay ride to your session area if you want it and even a changing / breastfeeding area if needed. Overall, I just loved Santa’s Farm.

Even more importantly, I had the cutest kids and the most beautiful families show up! As you’ll see, they all had so much fun and it was just a perfect day!

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Thank you to all of you who made these Holiday Tree Farm Sessions so special! I had so much fun getting to know your families and I look forward to working with you again.

Also, special thanks to my two little helper Elves at Santa’s Farm.  My husband and daughter were great assistants, helping me make sure everyone knew where to go and making sure I had everything I needed.

Santa's Tree Farm Photographer

Are you looking to book a session in the Winter Garden / Orlando or Central Florida area? I am available and would love to work with you.  Simply email me at theartofadventures@gmail.com.

30 Minutes in November: Safari

30 Minutes in November: Safari

The Kilimanjaro Safari has always been one of my favorite things to do at Animal Kingdom. We used to go come to Walt Disney World for vacation and now that we live here, it still remains one of my favorite things to do at all of the parks. No two safari rides are ever the same. You often see different animals, they grow and change, they sometimes are closer or more active. It’s a joy to see every time!

Now that we live about 20 minutes from Animal Kingdom, taking a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari is one of my favorite ways to spend a half hour. The ride is about 20-30 minutes, depending on if there are any surprises like a giraffe-ic jam! It’s such a calm, peaceful experience. When my daughter was younger, she always fell asleep by the end. I hope you enjoy seeing these 30 minutes in our daily life and be sure to go check out the next 30 minutes blog at the end, as this is a photography loop blog.

Pelican

Hippopotamus

The hippopotamuses are one of my animals to see.  When I was nursing my daughter, a mother hippo was also nursing her baby. The Safari driver told us that while the hippopotamus is a generally a peaceful herbivore, she will do anything to protect her baby, which is very relatable to this plant-based mama!

giraffe

Giraffe in the way of Safari truck

This is what they call a giraffe-ic jam! The giraffes often hold up the truck while they cross the path.  I think they enjoy doing this as I see it often, and it’s one of our favorite parts too.

elephant

elephant

elephant

Another animal I always look forward to seeing is the elephant.  Mother elephants are also very nurturing and protective and elephants spend about 12-18 hours a day eating grass, plants and fruits (which sounds fantastic, minus the grass part haha). Asian elephants are categorized as Endangered and African elephants are categorized as Vulnerable due to hunting elephants for their tusks which have no practical use to humans. I hope that we continue to strongly advocate for these beauties so they can continue to live safely in their natural habitats.

I love all of these images, the way they showcase the animals and we get to see a little glimpse of them living their daily life as well.  I hope you enjoyed seeing something we love to do with 30 minutes in our life and I will see you next month to share another 30 minutes!

Some technical information about this photography: This session was taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a 70-200 2.8 IS II lens.  Photos were edited in Lightoom, adjusting for warmth to give that African glow feeling and to highlight the details in the animals. It is a bumpy truck ride, making it difficult to get some images. However, I am pleased with the clarity I got.

Please be sure to check out my friend, Jennifer, at Blueberry Hill Images and her 30 minutes about Bedtime Stories here.

Tell me in the comments, which is your favorite photo or animal on Safari?

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have a wonderful day! – Jess

The Ultimate Princess Gift List

The Ultimate Princess Gift List

This post contains affiliate links, which at no extra cost to you help me support my family.

Have you been wondering what to get the Little Princess in your life?  I’m bringing you a list of ALL of the BEST things to gift your little princess this holiday season.

We have a princess obsessed toddler in our house and several friends who have little girls who love all things princess, glittery, fancy and fun.  So we are very familiar with all of the princess favorites.  In this list you’ll find gifts ranging from big to small, younger kids to older kids and for a variety of activities.  But one common theme is these are all perfect for your little princess!

The Ultimate Princess Gift List

I like to theme gifts with one large item and a few smaller items that complement the larger item.  If you’re looking to do this as well, you could start with a wardrobe for your princess to display dresses, shoes and accessories and add a few new dresses, shoes and accessories too! Or a small vanity to sit and play.

Little Adventurers makes beautiful, durable and washable dresses. Here are a few examples of princess dresses available from Little Adventurers.

We also love the Disney dresses! My Daughter can’t get enough of Elsa and Rapunzel right now. She loves both the original Frozen and Frozen 2 dresses.

Of course, all princesses need to accessorize!

The Wet Brush is one of my favorite brushes ever and now you can get a Princess Wet Brush, which is as practical as it is adorable!

Jewelry sets help complete an outfit.

Every princess needs a tiara, and these are the perfect option!

Every Princess loves nail polish, of course! And Piggy Paint is a very natural option even for younger princesses.

Wands and scepters make little princesses feel excited and ready to take on the world!

“If you wear a dress and have an animal side kick, you’re a princess” – Maui (Moana). So obviously, you’re little  princess needs a side kick!

Your little princess may also love dolls.  My daughter loves the plush dolls and sleeps with them at night.

Play castles are a huge hit in our house too and provide hours of entertainment.

For bath time fun, here are a few options like the swimming Ariel or Sparkling Light Swimming Barbie.

For your princesses who love games, these games are adorable!

I always love the products from Melissa and Doug and so does my daughter.  Quality and princess approved!

Princesses also love to learn and read, so don’t forget to fill their stockings with a few good books, too.

And last, but not least, little princesses love castles to imagine, play and read and use all of their amazing gifts in!

Tell me, what is your princess getting this holiday season? My daughter has many things on this ultimate princess list and is getting a few more for Christmas!