Newborn Photography

Before our daughter was born, I had many ambitions about taking photos of her first few days of life. I created a whole Pinterest board with ideas and poses I had planned for her. I also spent hours reading blog posts on the subject. Well,  it is safe to say, I had no idea what I was in for. Being a new mother I found it hard to find the time to eat and sleep… never mind spend time taking specific pictures!

As an experimental photographer, I felt I had failed myself. As a mother I felt guilty! In the past I have spent hours photographing buildings, plants, bridges, trees, waterfalls, food, etc. How could I not take the time to photograph my own newborn?!

It was very important for me to have images of our daughter in her first few weeks of life. I was running out of time. If I couldn’t take the photos then it was time to hire a professional!

I contacted Rachel Brencur Photography. I was lucky that she had a spot open that week! After securing an appointment, I immediately felt relieved. I proceeded to relax about pictures and get some needed rest.

Rachel was amazing with our daughter! Right from the beginning, she wanted to make sure she honoured our hopes and wishes for the session. Rachel sent me a detailed survey to help me think through what I wanted and to assist her in planning  the shoot.

I am happy to say that any of my thoughts or ideas I had from Pinterest were blown away! Rachel accomplished so much more than I could have dreamed! I was so impressed with the care and professionalism I witnessed as she took photographs of our daughter. My cheeks were sore from smiling so much during the session. Rachel is like the baby whisperer! She gently moved our daughter through various poses and wardrobe changes all without causing her any stress or discomfort. I am so grateful for the pictures we now have of our daughter that we will cherish forever.

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After our session I felt relieved that we had photos of our daughter in her newborn state. Since I was more relaxed, I allowed myself time to take pictures “in the moment”. My favourite kind of photography. The featured image in this post was during one of her naps. It is special to me because this is exactly how she fell asleep.

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The moral of my post, hire a professional for newborn photography and work on being a mom! Knowing that “they grow up so fast”, I aim to capture many more photos as she grows. As an experimental photographer, I know I have plenty of opportunities to photograph our daughter and will refrain from putting pressure on myself.

Healthy Minestrone Recipe

This is my ultimate favourite soup recipe! Of course I have to give the credit to Tosca Reno, the author of ‘The Eat-Clean Diet’ (2007). Many of my favourite recipes come from her cookbooks. I have been making this soup for almost 10 years. Over time I have made some changes to it, especially for canning. Here I will write about how I make it, but you are welcome to buy her book to see her recipe.

The first time I made this soup my pot was not big enough! Make sure you have a large pot! One that holds at least 10 litres.

Also, make sure you have at least 6 hours. You need lots of time to chop and cook the vegetables, and then you need at least an hour for processing the jars.

Ingredients:

1 leek, whites only, halved, rinsed and sliced

2 cups blanched tomatoes (I blanch the night before so they are ready to go)

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds or quarter pieces

1 onion, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

4 stalks of celery, chopped

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and chopped into bite-sized chunks, keep skins on

2 zucchini, diced

1/2 cup red kidney beans (prepare dry beans the night before)

1 cup snow peas, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 Tbsp olive oil (add more as needed)

1/4 pound green beans, cut off and discard ends, and chop into bite-sized pieces

1/2 pound kale

1/2 green cabbage, shredded

1 Tbsp basil (2 Tbsp if using fresh basil)

1 Tbsp parsley (2 Tbsp if using fresh parsley)

1 Tbsp rosemary (2 Tbsp if using fresh rosemary– the only reason why I started growing in my garden was for this recipe!!)

2 litres low-sodium vegetable juice (I like the PC Blue Menu vegetable juice blend)

16 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (Here I use 2, 900mL containers of PC Organic Vegetable Broth + 9 cups of water and 3 vegetable bouillon cubes. Water and bouillon cubes prepared separately before adding to soup mixture)

1/2 cup small pasta shells (I use rice pasta shells)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the dried beans the night before: bring 2 litres of water to a boil, add beans and bring back to boil. Remove from heat and let soak in pot overnight.
  2. In a large soup pot heat olive oil on medium heat and start adding vegetables. I do them in a specific order, allowing each batch to become slightly soft before adding the next. This is also the way that I grouped vegetables when chopping in advance. See Canning Soup and Having a Baby for more on that.
    1. onion, red onion and leeks
    2. once onions are soft stir in garlic and continue adding vegetables
    3. carrots, celery and potatoes
    4. zucchini and snow peas
    5. green cabbage
    6. kale
    7. once vegetables are fairly soft add tomatoes, spices and green beans
    8. give a good stir and add vegetable juice, soup stock and kidney beans
  3. If canning, let simmer for 1 hour. If serving the soup, then let simmer for 2 hours.
  4. If canning, do not add pasta noodles. Those you can add when you prepare the soup for consumption. If serving soup add noodles about 15 minutes before serving.

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Canning Instructions: To Come…

My husband’s 100 year-old grandmother loved this soup! That’s gotta to say something about the soup! I continue to make it every year. It’s healthy and delicious!

Canning Soup and Having a Baby

My favourite soup, the one that got me through my pregnancy when I didn’t want to eat anything else, is Minestrone. But not any Minestrone soup will do. I love the Clean-Eating Minestrone Soup from The Eat-Clean Diet (2007) book.

Last August I made about 16 litres of the soup. Much of the soup was made up of vegetables from our garden. Last week, so over a year later, I finished eating the very last jar of soup. My heart sank. What soup was I going to eat now?

Lately my baking and cooking and photography and blogging efforts have been put on hold as I care for my lovely daughter. However, she is now 5 months old and taking longer naps. This allows me to get back to big batch cooking, baking, some photography (mostly of her), and blogging! Yay!

Making this soup and canning it from start to finish takes about 6 hours. Six hours when it was just me and endless summer hours on hand. I was a bit disheartened as there was no way that my daughter would (and I wouldn’t want her to) sleep while I made the soup. It was time to plan like never before for cooking!

Step 1 (Day 1): Hire Oma to babysit while I grocery shop for all of the ingredients. At this point the baby doesn’t fit in the cart with all of the groceries I needed. Unfortunately I was not able to use many vegetables from our garden this year, because let’s face it, being a new mom and gardening was too much for me! I admire you supermoms who can do it! Maybe next year.

Step 1B (Day 1-2): Prepare dried beans for overnight soak.

Step 2 (Day 2): Start cleaning and chopping chunks of produce while the baby naps.

Step 3: Baby’s up, take a break from chopping.

Step 4: Baby’s down, continue chopping.

Step 5: Baby’s up, feed and take into the kitchen to finish a batch of chopping.

Step 6: Baby’s down, keep chopping.

Step 7: Wonder if all this work is worth it.

Step 8: Finish chopping and prepping vegetables just as baby wakes up from final nap of the day!

Step 9 (Day 2-3): Once our daughter goes down for bed in the night she is very unlikely to wake up until early morning. I know, we’re very lucky! So once she went down in the evening that’s when I started cooking and then canning soup. The cooking and canning part took about 4 hours. The chopping of all the vegetables during her naps throughout the day was about 3 hours. I made a double batch so there was more chopping to do than usual. The first night I made one batch of soup (that’s all I can fit in the pot). I made a second batch of soup the next night, taking another 4 hours. My sister says I’m dedicated! I just really love this healthy soup I guess. In total I spent about 11 hours making 18 and 1/2 litres of soup! This is much longer than before, but it’s totally worth it! I got to spend time with my daughter and work around her sleep schedule to cook healthy meals for our family.

Throughout this process there was absolutely no time for food photography! The photographs from this post were taken last August when I made the soup. However, the objective of having clean-eating soup for winter was accomplished!

Here is the recipe: Healthy Minestrone Soup

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Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Blank sets of note cards are available for purchase. In the past I have made these as gifts for a child’s teacher and for friends. They may be that extra item you were looking for to finish off someone’s stocking!

Profits from these sales will also go to Alivia’s Rainbows. A set of 5 cards is $15.

Here are the images:

See our Events page for more details about cards and the holidays.

Wedding Photography

In July I had the honour of being the photographer for Mike and Melissa’s Wedding. I have to admit that I was extremely nervous about this. If you have been following my blog you know that my photography subject matter is always places, things, landscapes and the odd animal. I do not take pictures of people.

In the past I have been asked to do engagement photos. However, I had always declined. I do not take pictures of people.

I do not take pictures of people because I find it very stressful in positioning, finding poses, and keeping those involved happy during the time consuming process of getting that perfect shot! Wedding photos and engagement photos are those very special moments in life that couples keep forever. My biggest fear– I will disappoint. Therefore I do not take pictures of people.

I do not take pictures of people… until July 25, 2015.

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Melissa approached me the week before the wedding with her photographer concerns. She indicated that if no one was designated to take pictures the couple’s memories may only be pictures from camera phones. Melissa’s mother, a talented photographer, had offered to take pictures. However, she is the mother-of-the-bride! She has enough to worry about never mind pictures. With these things in mind I agreed to my first wedding shoot.

The week leading up I was all over Pinterest finding poses and tips from other wedding photographers. I also played with my carmera settings a lot more than I had done in the past. The night before I had a hard time sleeping. The fear of disappointment looming over my head.

I am happy to say that everything turned out great and am glad I did this for a friend! The couple was very easy-going. They were open to some of my suggestions for poses and locations. However, they also had many of their own ideas of shots they wanted to have which helped me a lot. And, they are quite photogenic! This made my job easier.

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Mike and Melissa’s Wedding was a great experience from a photographer’s standpoint. Now, I am more likely to say yes to taking pictures of people in the future– but they would have to be as relaxed as this couple was.

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Food Photography Tips

From one beginner to another…??

While making Zucchini Muffins I decided to work on my food photography skills. Here are a few tips and tricks I tried.

  1. Buy extra ingredients IMG_5346

The photos show way more eggs and fruit than I would need to make this recipe. I added more food for visual appeal; to capture repeating patterns and play with shadows.

  1. Take way too many pictures

The pictures that appear on my blog are a small fraction of the number I took. I actually took over 350 pictures that day! I mostly took pictures of the same things but from different angles and under different lighting.

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  1. Play with camera settings

Throughout the day I tried different settings (close-up, landscape, portrait, etc.) and therefore got better shots depending on the situation. It is hard to really tell if the photo is what you like until it is loaded onto the computer. Therefore it is better to experiment with different settings and delete unwanted pictures later.

  1. Play with lighting

Half of the pictures I took inside my kitchen. There I played with the blinds; letting in different amounts of light depending on the details in the food I was trying to capture. I also set up another table outside! There I had complete natural light. Most of the food photos from my blog are taken outside.

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  1. DO NOT USE A FLASH

You will lose the details in the food! I would have lost the texture of the blueberries and the grains in the zucchini. Go back to point 4 for lighting ideas.

  1. Give yourself lots of time

It took me over 3 hours to make muffins! I wanted to capture each part of the process and then decide later if I was going to use the shot or not. As I mentioned earlier, I took some photos inside, but the best ones were taken outside. It took a lot of time to bring out certain foods, snap the photos, and then bring them back in the house. However, in the end I was glad I had the outdoor set-up.

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I started taking photographs of food last summer. My guide and inspiration was this blog post from Averie Cooks: http://www.averiecooks.com/2011/08/food-light-photography-tips-from-diane-cu.html

For Zucchini Muffin recipe click here— don’t worry, it will not take 3 hours to make!

The passion and inspiration behind my photographs