There are a few recipes that I have torn out of magazines and put in clear plastic sleeves because I cook them so often that they need to be protected from my messy cooking habits.  One that I took from Real Simple magazine 10 years ago has become a household favorite.  I leave out the mint and lemon zest but that is completely your call.

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  • Serves4
  • Hands-On Time
  • Total Time

    NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

    Per Serving

    • Calories735 calories
    • Calories33 calories from fat
    • Fat27 g
    • Sat Fat16 g
    • Cholesterol86 mg
    • Sodium639 mg
    • Protein34 g
    • Carbohydrate85 g
    • Sugar7 g
    • Fiber19 g

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1pound dry orecchiette or some other short pasta
  2. 2tablespoons olive oil
  3. 4leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
  4. 1/2teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1/2teaspoon black pepper
  6. 2cloves garlic, finely chopped
  7. 110-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  8. 3/4cup heavy cream
  9. 1cup (4 ounces) grated Pecorino
  10. 2teaspoons lemon zest
  11. 1/4cup fresh mint leaves, torn

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain it and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the leeks to the saucepan, season with the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and peas and cook for 2 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the cream and ¾ cup of the Pecorino. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the sauce, lemon zest, and mint to the pasta pot and toss. Divide among shallow bowls and sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino and pepper.
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My mom was the best cook I knew.  Her amazing meals are deeply missed.  One of the ways I try to reconnect with her is through her recipes.  An easy recipe to make for parties is her version of Quaker’s Oatmeal Cookies.    See recipe below.

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Mom’s Quaker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter softened

3/4 Cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/2 cups(s) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cup(s) Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350 Degree F.

In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

Add combined flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well.

Add oats and chips; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove wire rack.  Cool completely.

Store tightly covered.

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When my husband and I first got married, we bought a house in South Philadelphia. We were originally planning on getting an apartment, but his co-worker, who was also a part time realtor, suggested we buy instead. I am so thankful that she did guide us into home ownership because while in that home we developed some amazing relationships with our neighbors. Two of our neighbors, Colin and Luisa, became some of our closest friends. Luisa is an extremely talented artist and she started her business the same time I started my photography business, so we went through so many growing pains together and try to help each other through the bumps  It was great to have such close friends right on the street when our son was born.  They treated him like their own.

We love them so  much that I even left my (still breastfeeding) daughter on her first birthday to travel to Luisa’s home country of Columbia for their insanely beautiful wedding.

PINSo we were very honored to not only become their first born’s Godparents, but to photograph the birth as well.

While I have taken pictures in the hospital after a baby was born, this was the first time I have actually photographed the birth process.  They delivered at Pennsylvania Hospital in a wonderful room with an amazing crew.  It was a gift to be there for the birth and to meet him before anyone else.  Plus, since  I have had two kids of my own, being able to watch the miracle of life without any pain was a refreshing change of pace.

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Fast forward a bit….he’s no longer a newborn.

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Last weekend he was Christened and we celebrated his first birthday, baptism, and Easter all on the same weekend.

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Oh and my son lost is 9th tooth with the help of Colin’s sister, Jenny, who you may recognize from my website as I have photographed her and her family many a time.  :O)

PINI love their tradition of including an Easter Egg hunt as well as piñata.  So much candy!

PIN PIN PINHappy 1st Birthday Oliver!  I can’t wait for our adventures together!

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Fall is a very popular time for families to have their picture taken in this region.  The beautiful autumn foliage and pleasant temperatures are an obvious draw, and I love getting outdoors and shooting families for this reason.  However, even fall weather can be temperamental and this time of year can be very chaotic for families with school obligations and holiday events filling their schedules.  Quite often, newborn sessions happen in the winter, but many families don’t realize that this is a great time for a lifestyle photo session at your home.  For this reason, I encourage families to think creatively and schedule a session now.

HERE ARE MY TOP 10 REASONS WHY WINTER IS AN AWESOME TIME FOR A LIFESTYLE PHOTO SESSION AT YOUR HOME:

1.) Shooting at home allows you embrace the chaos and let you document those everyday moments that you will miss once everything calms down.

Children won’t remember a good part of the beginning of their lives.  Looking back and being able to see what their living room/bedroom/kitchen looked like when they were a wee one, is like giving them the ability to travel back in time.

Parents may look around their house and get frustrated by the mess of toys being strewn everywhere, but they forget that this is a phase that will be missed once the kids are grown.  Shooting at home helps preserve those moments for memory lane…you know, when you are no longer stepping on legos and slipping on stuffed animals!

Plus, lets face it…we spend a lot of time and money in/on our homes, celebrate the memories you are making together in it.

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2.) It is a great way to document milestones.

It feels like in the blink of an eye, your once immobile baby is all of the sudden crawling and climbing.  These are very short phases filled with cuteness that you want to remember.  Memories like crawling, finally being able to climb onto the couch, or putting their shoes on by themselves are some of my favorite childhood milestones.

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Toddler climbing on sofaPIN

Toddler putting on shoesPIN

3.)  You can capture pictures of them playing with their cherished toys. 

Being at home gives them access to all of their toys.  This is so comforting for kids to be around their favorite stuff and they typically show it off with pride.  Being able to document their little hands playing with their favorite toy is another way to authentically document their childhood.  An added bonus is when they grow up and are able to see how they played in their own room.

Child playing with trainsPIN

Boy playing with plane in kitchenPIN PIN

4.) You are able to document the relationships in your family on a whole other level.

Lifestyle photography goes beyond the posed shots and captures the family’s connections and interactions, which are memories that will only become more treasured over time.

Mother and son having a quiet moment at home.PIN Father and son snuggling on couchPIN Mother and son reading on couchPIN

5.) You can document the fun siblings have when they are home together.

Even though they may fight a lot, siblings create so many memories together through playing at home with each other.  Watching  kids create games, burst out laughing together, or just snuggling together is so heart warming.

Brothers playing togetherPIN PIN

Siblings laughing on couchPIN

6.) You can document everyday activities…and actually be in the picture.

This past Christmas, my daughter and I did a lot of baking.  Here are some images from our time together.  Do you see something that is missing?  ME!  I am hardly ever in the shot because I am the one taking the pictures of their childhood.  Don’t be Claire…get in the picture so your children know you were there too.  Being able to photograph you and your child baking cookies, having a tea party, building a fort, or playing with blocks are just some of the activities you can do together.

Little girl bakingPIN

Little girl bakingPIN

Little girl bakingPIN

7. ) You can document the quiet moments.

Let’s face it, the giggles and games are fun but parenting is exhausting.  Those moments when a child passes out on the sofa or is quietly playing in their room are highly cherished.

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Little girl reading on floorPIN

8.)  You can include family pets.

Your pets are such an important part of your life so why not make sure they are included in the pictures too. Children and their petsPIN Mother, son, and dog reading in nurseryPIN

Toddler with her catPIN

9.) Winter is a great backdrop for fun.

Even though the leaves may have fallen and everything can be gray, snow makes everything fun and magical.

Father and son sleddingPIN

Playing in the snowPIN Playing in the snowPIN

10.) Winter is way less stressful than fall.

Now that the holidays are over and the cold weather is in full effect, life tends to calm down.  This means you are way less stressed and can concentrate on having pictures taken purely for your enjoyment.  This equates to happier kids and parents and photos filled with love.  Plus, why not make it super easy and stay in your pjs and document some very authentic moments.  Before you know it, the warm weather will be here and your schedule will be packed again.  Take this time to concentrate on your family.

Dad with kids in the kitchenPIN


WINTER SPECIAL


For the months of February, March, and April, I am holding a winter special for at home lifestyle photo sessions.  Those that are subscribed to my email newsletter get first access to the winter special rates and dates set aside.

Subscribe to my mailing list to get VIP access to exclusive dates and prices.



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Ever since I was a child, becoming a mom was a mandatory part of my future.  For as long as I can remember, people have mentioned how great I interact with kids.  So when my husband, Omari, and I were ready to start a family I wasn’t prepared for the thought of anything otherwise.   However, after months of trying, accompanied by erratic periods, and no results, my doctor became concerned.  A series of tests and one surgery later, I underwent surgery to remove one of my fallopian tubes, due to a massive cyst that had enveloped it.  Even more worrisome, I was diagnosed with a borderline tumor. While this type of tumor has a low chance of becoming cancerous, it can reoccur, and often attacks one’s reproductive system so frequently that the repeated surgeries may become life threatening.

This new development led to a meeting with a gynecological oncologist. He began by reassuring me that this was the best case scenario for anyone entering his office.  However, I learned that even though my tumor was removed, they would now need to take my ovary because of its proximity to the affected area.  This would help reduce any chance of it coming back.  Before taking this very frightening step, my husband suggested that we meet with a reproductive specialist, to understand all of our options.

One of the doctors present during my initial surgery was a reproductive specialist named, Dr. Jeffery Russell.  He made the call to remove my fallopian tube because it was completely engulfed by the tumor.  Naturally, we sought his advice on the remainder of my reproductive system.  Upon first examination, he determined that not only did I have to worry about the borderline tumor but believed that I also had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (a.k.a. PCOS). This is something that can take a toll on a woman’s body and reproductive system even without the complications a borderline tumor. Once I was staged, I was to be treated by him for the PCOS.  Thankfully the staging went well and I was only at stage one, which means the chance of the tumor coming back is fairly low.

Shortly after my second surgery, I started fertility treatment.  I really like the way that Dr. Russell approached things.  He starts with a full month of diagnostics to make sure his original assessment was correct and he can treat my body properly.  I’ve seen too many friends go through fertility with doctors that just try to throw things at their patient and see what sticks.  I started going to Dr. Russell’s office for monitoring multiple times a week for bloodworm and pelvic ultra sounds.  I complicated matters because his office was about an hour away.  Needless to say, there were a lot of early morning starts, long days, and lots of driving.  It became very wearing fast so I can’t imagine the toll it takes on women that endure treatment for many more months to years.

If you have ever been in a fertility treatment waiting room, you understand the palpable tension in the room.  So many women are undergoing months (years) of heavy duty treatment and are faced with repeated heartache and stress on both their body and marriage. The waiting room is tense and heart  breaking.  I have seen many friends battle with fertility, some with success but others without.  For those who endure fertility and can not become pregnant, it is heartbreaking. Due to Dr. Russell’s thoughtful approach, I became one of the blessed ones.  After a few months of treatment, I was given the amazing news that I was pregnant.  I was able to get pregnant using clomid and a few support drugs.  My oncologist monitored me for five years to make sure the tumor was growing again.  I was so fortunate to have clear results throughout those 5 years.  Praying that nothing returns in the future.   My blessings were doubled when I became pregnant on my own three years later.

For those struggling to get pregnant, I send you my love and support.  If you want to pick my brain, I’d be happy to help.


Our family

Months into our journey, I hit a wall and needed to get away.  My doctor said I had one week in July where I could go away without it affecting the process.  We rented a cabin on the water in Maine.  This was where we received the call that we were pregnant.  It was a beautiful location to get life changing news.

My battle with infertilityPIN

The bonus to fertility treatments is that you get ultrasounds way more frequently.  You get to see your baby grow from a teeny tiny sac as you get monitored regularly.  It really is mind blowing watching the progress in your own body.  My dad always said my son has the perfect profile, even from in the womb.

My fertility storyPIN

He was two weeks late with a challenging labor but it was all worth it.  This is our first family picture…I look exhausted and rightfully so.

My fertility storyPIN

Four years later, we became a family of four.  Thankfully, I did not need fertility treatment for my daughter.

Philadelphia Family PhotographerPIN

Photo below by the wonderfully talented Claire Hudson.

Photos below by Ginger Unzueta:

Here are my two littles…getting bigger by the second.

Philadelphia Child PhotographerPIN

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