The kids and I hiked at Beaverdam Reservoir today. I took a few pictures. I love this beautiful natural resource that is right in our backyard here in Brambleton. I would love to see the community come together to help take care of it and keep it clean. Our clean up date is set for April 24th and this a family friendly event. One Love Loudoun has kindly posted the event at

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Levi Earned His White Belt

by Jessica on April 2, 2016

in Levi,Parenting,Photography

Levi recently signed up at CJR Martial Arts in Ashburn.  He was so very excited to earn his white belt today.

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Future Trillionaire: Boy’s Fashion

by Jessica on February 23, 2016

in Levi,Photography,Sons

Recently a hip new children’s fashion designer called Future Trillionaire reached out to me to review their boy’s clothing brand that focuses on shirts and matching ties and bow ties.  Their catch phrase is “Wouldn’t it are great if there was a one-stop shop that will have them camera ready in a jiffy?”  As a headshot photographer and family photographer, I am definitely on board with fashion ready companies that make putting together a boy’s ensemble super easy.

Today our Future Trillionaire matching shirt and tie arrived and my son Levi couldn’t be happier.  He was eager to put on his shirt and tie and excitedly mentioned that he’d like to wear this outfit to an upcoming wedding we’ll be attending.

Here’s a few photos of him sporting his new threads.



Levi says this shirt is comfortable and he and I both love the design of the tie which easily clips on.  The buttons on the shirt are patterned and fun and easy for small fingers to button.

I can’t wait to try out more of the matching shirts and bow ties for Levi.   Check out Future Trillionaire for upcoming holiday and family celebrations.

Do you have a favorite children’s retailer that perfectly delivers outfits with ease to parents, has cute designs and is super comfortable for kids to wear?


Interview with Elisabetta Canalis

by Jessica on September 8, 2015

in Health,Photography

Recently I had a chance to talk with Elisabetta Canalis, Italian actress and model, best known in the U.S. for being on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as a performer on Dancing with the Stars.

Guitars in music store Elisabetta Canalis Copyright Deha Campaign 2015-2016

At eight o’clock eastern time this past Wednesday, Elisabetta called so that we could talk about her modeling and television work and so that she could share a little bit about a big change in her life: the upcoming birth of her first child with husband Brian Perri, an orthopedic surgeon.  Elisabetta is also working out during her pregnancy to stay in shape and stay healthy. As part of her mission to stay fit, Elisabetta has become an enthusiast and is  vocal about women’s self defense via her practice and teaching of the Israeli martial arts krav maga.


Photo of Elisabetta teaching krav maga.  Photo courtesy of Zimbio

The following is taken from my conversation with Elisabetta on September 2nd:

Jessica Monte: Congratulations on your pregnancy!  You look amazing!!!  So, how are you staying fit during pregnancy?

Elisabetta: I’m feeling good. So exciting!  Just a few weeks away from delivery.  To stay fit, I’m exercising and doing a lot of cardio.  [I do] water gym. (laughing) Dancing is not my thing. I just try to be in shape.

Dancing isn’t your thing . . . but you did Dancing with the Stars?

Yes!!!  Dancing with the Stars wasn’t a fortunate experience because I left after 2 weeks. I wasn’t really prepared for the audience and all the emotions. Between Monday and Tuesday, there are millions of people watching you . . . because of the language barrier, it was a strange experience. I understood my partner (Val Chmerovskiy) and the judges but I couldn’t express myself. Everyone was more confident than I was . . .

Was being on DWTS a fun experience?

Yeah, I had fun dancing. I actually learned a little bit more [about dancing]. I had a great partner with a great parnership. He was a very talented dancer. Val is still on the show.

What other kind of television and ad work have you done in the U.S.?

I have been doing a lot of commercials in the United States. And I am hosting television in Italy and Germany.

Can you tell me about the work you’ve done for Vanity Fair and Vogue?

All the things I did for Vanity Fair and Vogue were related to my television work.  I wanted to be a model in college but nobody wanted me because it was in Kate Moss’s time and I had a butt and boobs. An agent noticed me and I wasn’t planning to do T.V.  In Milan, it is a very strict fashion city and you need to have the right measurements. For me, television was better. Also, from doing television, I realized how much I liked contact with people and my personality was better for TV.

Eventually though, your television work lead to modeling.  Can you tell me a little bit about that?

I’ve never been a model but I’ve done interviews and covers, photoshoots for magazines. I’ve never had the real body for modeling or catwalks — all that stuff. I’ve done campaigns, Cavalli underwear . . . everything came from my work on T.V.  I started working in cinema and television and that segued into my work in fashion.  Click here to see Elisabetta’s magazine work.

57_1elisabetta_canalis_peta Elisabetta’s campaign for PETA

From what I’ve read about you, you have a huge presence in Europe.  Do you plan to focus on your work in Europe? Would you ever consider living in the U.S.? 

Italy is where my professional identity is solid.  My husband is American but I’m still not sure where to reside.

How did you meet your husband?

We just had friends in common. I met him one year and a half ago. Everything evolved pretty quickly.  Our baby will arrive in three weeks. I am having girl. I would hope that she will love animals and people and be a sensitive person. Between my husband and me, we love sports so I think she will [too]. We will set a good example for her to be active and fit.

Prior to pregnancy, what were some of your favorite ways to stay active?

I’ve always done exercise, including 10 years of horse back riding. I’ve also been doing Israeli krav maga. (Laughing) Now that I’m pregnant it’s not the best thing to do.  I need to be careful.

How did you become interested in krav maga?

It’s very effective and is mostly taught to women for self defense.  I’ve become more confident since I started krav maga. You want to do this for self defense because you hear of women being attacked walking their dogs or in the street . . . this is basically focused on letting you get home safe. It means if someone is attacking you; it is short distance combat and it allows you to counterract. My reflexes became faster.  It’s important because when you are being attacked you need to be fast . I am now working with the Italian Federation of Krav Maga.

This is a personal question.  Have you and your husband put together a birth plan?


No, we think that everything will be regular and it does help that my husband is a doctor. We know the delivery is all about women and there is nobody else who can replace you in that moment.

I hope I don’t need pain medication but if I need it I will. I am totally pro-epidural and I don’t want to try to be a hero to give birth with no epidural. I will request an epidural if I feel I need it.

Will you be able to spend time with the baby or will you be headed straight back to work?

I will return to work in January for projects in Italy. I do have time to spend time with the baby after she’s born.

What are you most excited about with becoming a mom?

I’m so excited about everything because everyone says it is something you can never imagine. I am happy to try what it means. I never planned to have a baby and never planned to be a model so I didn’t feel that it was something I had to do.  But you find the right person, you fall in love and you can picture yourself with a baby and that’s what happened to me.

How does your husband feel about becoming a dad?

My husband is very excited. We went to my country for a month and vacationed for 20 days and did a baby moon.   (Laughing) We will do another baby moon with the baby when I go back to Italy in January for work.

Speaking of work, what’s next on the agenda?

I live in the United States now. Everything will start next year for me.   There are a bunch of projects in cinema that I will be working on as well.

I have to shoot a big campaign for DEHA [an Italian clothing brand] pilates, yoga and krav maga.  DEHA represents the personality of many women—women who like doing martial arts, yoga, pilates, running. It will represent all of the different options. To show women all the possibilities that women have for fitness.

Thank you so much for talking with me Elisabetta!!!  I’m glad we got to talk about your pregnancy, your modeling and acting experiences, and your work on behalf of women’s self defense via krav maga.

Thank you Jessica!!!  I’m happy to do it.


Trip to the Quarry

by Jessica on July 22, 2015

in Annabelle,Levi,Parenting,Photography


We made it to the quarry!   A few weeks ago when Levi and I started his rock collection, we noticed that on the way to pick up Annabelle from camp that we passed a large stone quarry that had a pretty driveway and entrance.  It looked friendly from the road, so I thought I’d call them and see whether they offered tours for the public.  It was our good fortune that they did!  When they asked me how many of us would be coming, I immediately thought of my friend Sara and her three kids so I told them we’d be a group of seven.

When we arrived, we met with Mr. Lewis who is the quarry manager and who gave us a personal tour around.  We drove to the quarry in Sara’s car and Mr. Lewis drove us around when we got there.



Mr. Lewis told the kids all about the different kinds of rock that the quarry provides, mostly to local construction companies who are building roads, houses, and sky scrapers.

The kids were impressed with the size of the wheels on the quarry machines.  Most were over 6 feet in height.


As you can see, the quarry gets rock by moving rock layer, by layer out of the earth.  Eventually some of the quarries will be utilized by our local water company as an additional reservoir.


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We then circled up to a part of the quarry that sells recycled rock.  This pile is full of recycled concrete.  _DSC3624

Then we visited the pulley and conveyer belt system responsible for moving most of the rock around in the quarry.  We also could see a building that encloses a machine which crushes the rock that the quarry sells.

In the photo below, a truck is loading up the crushed rock.


Here the conveyer belt system is hauling more rock to a rock pile.


It’s apparently expensive to install a conveyer belt system for a quarry but it ultimately saves labor, time and money.


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We also got to see where the machines are repaired.  The quarry employs its own mechanics to repair the trucks which are quite expensive to purchase and need to be maintained regularly.


Next door to the quarry is an asphalt company that uses rock mined at the quarry.


Before we left, Mr. Lewis and his team generously gave our kids small rock kits and back to school packets with a pencil case and ruler.   When we loaded up in Sara’s car, all of the kids talked about what a great time they’d had at the quarry.

At home, Annabelle and Levi got out paper and markers to write thank you notes to Mr. Lewis and the quarry.  I’m also sending over an Edible Arrangement to thank them for their time.


Oh, and on our last trip to the library, Levi checked out a few dvds about quarries and mining.   Our morning at the quarry turned out to be one of the kids’ favorite day trips this summer.

Are there any out of the ordinary places you’ve visited with your children to learn about industry?  We are now scheduling a tour to our water company and the local landfill.  Would love to hear your ideas and experiences.

Thanks for reading,



Berry Picking

by Jessica 16 July 2015 Annabelle

Over the weekend we drove out to Purcellville to Crooked Run Orchard.   We wanted to do something outside and since it looked like it might rain we thought berry picking would be perfect.  Strawberries were just out of season but gooseberries were ripe and ready for picking.   I brought along my camera because […]

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Gardening with Kids

by Jessica 8 July 2015 Annabelle

Last week we had an open afternoon with nothing to do.  So we turned to our cork pin board and pulled down the stack of activities we’d written on index cards.  When Annabelle pulled “Herb gardening,” there was a little bit of groaning from both kids, but I pressed on and reminded them, “You both […]

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Sun Tea and Lemonade Iced Cubes

by Jessica 4 July 2015 Annabelle

Sun tea.  Super easy to make.  Lemonade ice cubes.  Also super easy.  And then, add your iced cubes plus a little sugar to your tea and you’ve got a cool summer treat. Here’s what we did: 1. Add black tea bags to a glass pitcher of water (ideally with a lid or cover on it). […]

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Collecting Rocks

by Jessica 2 July 2015 Family

I’m not sure whether I mentioned it previously, but the way the kids and I are selecting fun activities for our summer is from a list we put together from the book The Kids Outdoor Adventure Book.   After we put together our list from the ideas in the Kids Outdoor Adventure Book, I wrote […]

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Baseball Game June 2015

by Jessica 30 June 2015 Annabelle

We are so lucky.  My friend Shelley recently came into Nationals tickets.  Lots of Nationals tickets.  And she invited us.  So we said yes.  Of course we said yes!  It was such a treat and for this baseball loving mama, it was a night full of fun!  We ate hotdogs and Matt and I drank […]

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