San Antonio is open (keep your distance)

August 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

San Antonio, socially distant, yet pretty close to home

Photos and story by Laurette Veres

It’s the perfect time for a road trip. The most popular destination in Texas has always been San Antonio and the people in the Alamo City are rolling out Texas-sized safety measures to put you at ease. San Antonio is open and ready to safely greet you and your family.

Where to stay

A suite at The Westin Riverwalk

The River Walk is the second most popular attraction in San Antonio. (The Alamo is number one). When selecting a hotel, proximity to the River Walk is always a consideration. The Westin Riverwalk, San Antonio www.westinriverwalksanantonio.com meets all the criteria of a river front property. It’s located on the quite side of the river, which allows for tranquility on your patio, yet you are steps from the bustling restaurant and bar scene. At the hotel, masks are mandatory in all public areas and only two people can be on an elevator. Despite these restrictions, the lobby was bustling and two brides were on property taking portraits. Several balconies on the second floor overlook the River walk, a serene setting highlighted by brightly lit tour boats. Just to the left, as you head to the action, you’ll pass the infamous Marriage Island.  Expect to see weddings here every day of the week. When you enter your room, look for the sticker taped to the door and doorjamb “cleaned and sealed for your protection”. This is your assurance the room is ready for you. The plush accommodations feature pillowtop mattresses on the Heavenly Bed and marble bathrooms in the Heavenly Bath. Brown and gold tones create a relaxing vibe and spending time on your balcony looking out over the River Walk is the best part. Beat the summer heat at the Westin’s pool where there is always a party, reservations required to ensure social distancing.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

Outdoor Exploration
The San Antonio Botanical Garden www.sabot.org is a welcome respite from the Covid-19 pandemic. You can easily spend half a day at this treasure trove of local flora and fauna. In the welcome center, plan your day. Don’t miss the vegetable and herb garden, home to the chef program for healthy eating. Brightly colored peppers remind you of the holidays. Today cooking classes have been converted to on-line, but when they can be held on property again, amateur cooks are welcome to collect herbs right from the garden.  

The family adventure garden is the perfect place to keep your distance while the children run and play. Kids love the teepees, rolling hills, and the splash pad. Not your ordinary splash pad, it looks like a real Texas river replete with boulders and waterfalls. There is a Botanical garden representative monitoring the splash pad limiting capacity to twenty people. This leaves plenty of time to explore the rest of the establishment.

The most notable feature here are the five glass conservatory buildings. Each is a tribute to local plants; the fern grotto looks like a plant scene from Jurassic Park. Another explains life in the desert. Photographers flock to this area for some of the best photo ops in town. Keep walking and you’ll see San Antonio’s first water reservoir from 1877, now an amphitheater. Take a short jog up a hill to one of the highest points inside the loop to take in great skyline views.

To get a true picture of Texas’ past, the native Texas area has pioneer homes on property highlighting three areas: South Texas, the Hill Country and the Piney Woods. The setting is remarkable and the landscapes change to mimic the locations. The temperature really does go down as you stroll the Piney Woods. Over 300 species of birds have been sited at South Texas’ birding area. The limestone in the hill country depicts the importance of aquifers to the residents. The Auld home is an 1800 homesite where 7 children were raised. Today, it can be used to host weddings and corporate receptions.

To learn more about the types of landscaping that grows well in San Antonio, the cottage gardening area features Spanish Courtyards and more. Walk through the Wisteria Arbor, or take a seat on a bench and enjoy the shade as you make your way to the great big lawn and the Japanese Garden. Here you’ll discover serenity. The large lawn plays host to children’s story time, with social distancing, of course.

Mask up with the Witte Museum in San Antonio

Indoor Learning
San Antonio’s oldest museum, The Witte Museum, www.wittemuseum.org focuses on the history of San Antonio, from the dinosaurs all the way up to the beautiful gowns of the Fiesta celebration. Before you enter, be sure to notice the dinosaur wears a dinosaur-sized mask. You’ll be greeted with an explanation of the slight changes the museum has made as they welcome the new normal. Typically, an interactive museum, today each guest receives a stylist to press the buttons on the exhibits to learn about the Comanche Hunters, ranchers, and oilmen from Texas’ past. Did you know Texas is the only state in the Union to have Farm to Market roads? They are the result of a 1949 bill guaranteeing funding for the roads that help farmers bring their crops to town. Step into the distant past as you explore the Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery, the first permanent dinosaur gallery in the 90-year history of the Witte. You will explore the animals that lived here more than 110 million years ago.

Merry Go Round at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas
You’ll feel great visiting this amusement park where every activity is outdoors. Large entry tents now contain walk through thermometers and everyone is asked to wash hands frequently and masks are mandatory throughout the park. When is the last time you remember your kids being the only kids on the merry go round? In many cases, you’ll be the only family on a ride. Rides close often for sterilizing. Six Flags is committed to the following six axioms: 1. Wear your mask 2. Wash your hands 3. Cover your cough 4. Keep your space 5. Sanitize often 6. Have fun. And, no, your mask does not come off while riding a roller coaster!

Get ready for the water at Sea World

SeaWorld and Aquatica
My first visit to SeaWorld www.seaworld.com was the inaugural year, 1988. At that time we saw a show or two and enjoyed a few exhibits. This brand has grown and changed so much since the early days. Most notably they’ve got some great roller coasters now! Educational shows in the Ocean Discovery area teach about dolphins and beluga whales. As SeaWorld fans across the world will attest, the stars of the park are the killer whales who put on a spectacular show and get most of the audience wet. Speaking of the audience, SeaWorld does a great job distancing groups and dismisses by section to keep social distancing practices.

German fare at the Taste of the Seven Seas food event.

As luck would have it, A Taste of Seven Seas food event was taking place during my SeaWorld trip. Culinary adventures from France, Germany, Greece and Italy popped up around the park. We enjoyed crepes while in France, braised beef in Germany, shrimp flatbread in Italy and a lamb burger in Greece. Chefs were on hand to prepare some of the best amusement park fare I’ve ever tasted. A ticket to SeaWorld also includes their water park Aquatica so plan accordingly. There are cabanas, a wave beach, lazy river and some seriously fierce water slides. The Tonga Twister has four slides, two are open air and two are enclosed. The enclosed rides are a thrill for your senses as flowers float by, music blasts through the speakers and colors change rapidly.

Drive Through Zoo
The San Antonio Zoo www.sazoo.org offers Drive Thru Zoo, a one-of-a- kind experience where families can see the zoo while in the comfort, safety, and security of their own vehicle. The experience includes a guided educational audio tour. In fact, guests have not been able to tour the zoo on four wheels since there were carts led by donkeys then later trams.


Tequila-Almond Croissant from La Panderia

Where to eat
History and taste converge on E. Houston street just minutes from the Westin at La Panaderia. www.lapanaderia.com   The historic building is home to the freshest and most popular pastries in town, created by Mexico City-raised owners. Trip Advisor calls this the number one bakery out of over 50 and we can see why. The most popular lunch item is the Mexican Cubana torta bursting with cilantro mayo, chipotle mustard, ham, bacon, swiss cheese, kiolbassa sausage and pickles. The pride and joy, the Tequila-Almond Croissant, was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Perfectly flaky, with an almond filling and toasted almonds on top, it reminds you of everything great. Think flaky croissant, meets stuffed donut, meets delicious fruit pastry.

For dinner, head over to the Food Hall at the Pearl. As a former brewery operating from 1883 to 2001, Pearl is now a hotel, living and recreational area just outside of downtown. The food hall is all to-go service and offers plenty of seating on the lawn. Mi Roti serves bowls and wraps of authentic Caribbean cuisine. For this build your own concept, we selected the Jerk chicken, coconut rice, and a choice of 12 toppings. The bowl was messy, but deliciously bursting with flavor. The Pearl is located on the Riparian portion of the River Walk, just a casual and beautiful stroll from home sweet home: The Westin, Riverwalk San Antonio.

Book this trip now:

  • “You Deserve It” – whether it was a missed milestone or months of self-isolation, everyone deserves some time away at San Antonio’s ultimate downtown destination. Offer starts at $159 per night and includes two celebratory welcome drinks and a $15 food credit to be used towards “Distance Dining”
  • “Real World Heroes” – for first responders and teachers, The Westin Riverwalk wants to thank you for all you are doing by offering up to 20 percent off upcoming stays with rates as low as $119 per night, including free internet access. Guests must provide ID confirmation at check-in.

www.westinriverwalksanantonio.com

The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa

August 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Destination weddings, honeymoons, bachelorette parties and more converge in Jamaica for a good time, mon!

story and photos by Laurette Veres

Honeymoon at the Jewel Grand

Brides love Jamaica. Great ceremony locations with excellent and service and beautiful weather are just four hours away.

In Grand Style

The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa is the newest luxury property in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Each of the 229 units is a two room suite, perfect for families and bridal parties when some want to sleep and others want to socialize. Inside the suites are refrigerators, microwaves and stovetops. Outdoors you’ll find a private beach, poolside bars, splash pad, kids club and spectacular views. Lush green golf courses, blue-ocean, tropical resort pool and white sugary beaches with yellow parasails floating in the distance are some of the things guests see. The boardwalk has two sundecks jetting out over the ocean, creating perfect bridal portrait locations. This resort has little “nooks” of various sizes to host weddings and receptions; one perfect for any group.

All the action happens at the main pool

Engage your Core in Cabo

July 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Situated above the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico, a special resort majestically and dramatically jets out of the cliffs.

The Resort at Pedregal is a one-of-a-kind, AAA Five-Diamond, Forbes Five-Star Resort destination, offering impeccable service, surprise amenities, exceptional dining and a luxurious spa. The relaxing ambiance in the rooms is nearly indescribable. Is it the slow trickle of water cascading from the private infinity pools that is so calming or the methodical ebb and flow of the ocean waves?

Each evening beer and
guacamole are a special treat.

Get wedding ready by participating in the wellness retreat, a multi-day fitness experience led by Elite Fitness.  The staff at Elite fitness understands most of Pedregal’s guests have access to the best gyms, trainers, and chefs as part of their daily lives,  so they created an out of the ordinary fitness experience to impress the most discerning participants. It starts when Naturopath Dr. Wendy comes to your room to conduct a private BioFeedback Body Scan. She connects wrists, ankles and head to a computer, it feels kind of like having your blood pressure taken. During the process she asks about lifestyle, heath goals, and diet. She compares body scan results with your goals, identifies deficiencies and offers solid steps for improvement. Her message may be to reduce toxins interfering with the brain and daily functions of vital organs, start intermittent fasting or make new/better dietary choices. Once a baseline and goals are set, it’s time to select activities.

Beach Boot Camp

Wake up early and Elite Fitness will push you beyond your normal workout by combining cardio, weight training, cross training, and more. Although it’s beautiful, the coarse Cabo sand makes easy squats become wobbly, cumbersome and challenging. Throughout the weights, squats and high and low impact exercises, fellow participants motivate and cheer on the group. It’s a team project nobody quits. If the pain starts to win focus on the ocean and your new friends.

Farm to table

Visit a nearby farm where locals and Ex-Pats grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. Enjoy a tour of the gardens, yoga on the farm and a farm to table meal.

Stretch and Breathe

The group stretch and breathe workshop focuses on Foundational breathing. (Breath work is beneficial for men too!) The goal is to open up the chest and back to combat the effects of constant laptop and smart phone usage. A beautiful hike follows with gorgeous views of the Baja. Discover the gravesites of the original family as well as the remains of their first home. Along the way small changes will be discussed: quinoa instead of pasta, chipotle instead of sauce, and steeping your own tea. The recommended dessert is particularly noteworthy — healthy ice cream.

Yoga

Sunrise and sunset deserve their own salutations, yogi style. Join the Elite Fitness crew on a luxury yacht at the nearby Marina Cabo San Lucas. Your yoga practice commences just as the boat sails past the famous Cabo Arch at Pelicano beach. The onboard workout is a combination of yoga, mat Pilates and sculpting. This combination workout offers the best of both worlds and is great for people on the go who don’t think they have time for yoga and toning. Just as the sand did, the boat offers unique challenges to seemingly simple poses. The bonus in this “is this really happening moment” is watching the sunrise over beautiful Cabo. The evening calls for restorative yoga on the beach. The waves waft off the day’s workout allowing time to consider small lifestyle changes. 

Spa

A well-rounded wellness program most certainly calls for spa time. Pedregal’s offering deserves ohhs and ahhs. Luna y Mar spa is built in the shape of a clam opening towards the ocean. The pool is the clam and the circular treatment rooms are the pearls. Each appointment begins with a foot cleansing ritual in a circular room displaying the phases of the moon. (new, full, waxing or waning). Various teas are offered based on the current moon phase. Prior to the signature Moon Phase Massage, take advantage of the steam rooms, saunas, ice room and pools. This treatment changes with the moon as well.  For instance if there is a new moon, treatments will be geared towards awakening and invigorating the body through ingredients which include sea salt and chili oil. In contrast, during a full moon when energy levels are at their highest, a nurturing massage using jasmine and coconut soothes; and during the waning moon the spa creates detoxification treatments using aloe vera and herbs to cleanse the body. 

Fun yoga outfit by Manduka.

Dine

Dinner at Pedregal is epic. Start at the Champagne Terrace before taking your ocean-front seat. In true Sea-to-table style, sea bass, tuna, snapper and amberjack round out the fresh options. The fun filled atmosphere is filled with birthdays and special occasion celebrations at El Farallon, one of the best restaurants in the entire Cabo San Lucas area.

Jump-start your wellness routine just in time for the wedding. A few days can make a big difference in your life. Spend them at The Resort at Pedregal and keep your wellness goals on track. 

Island Paradise: Aruba

May 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Travel Blog, Uncategorized

Sunset from Pincho’s Grill & Bar

 

Island Paradise

Plan your next getaway on Aruba

Story and Photography by Laurette Veres

 

The wildly popular tropical island of Aruba is part of what’s known as the ABC islands (Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire). Sunny and sultry Aruba is just outside the line of fire for hurricane season, making it an ideal location for a tropical vacation. It’s also the Caribbean’s hottest spot for adventure and fun!

 

Have fun poolside at the Aruba Marriott

The incomparable Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is tailor-made to host your once-in-a-lifetime event. With 411 stylish guestrooms and 23 lavish suites, this hotel has room for everyone. Each room features a 100-square foot balcony with a breath-taking view of the sparkling waters of the Caribbean Sea. There is something for everyone at this resort, from the party pool with cascading waterfall to the adults-only H2Oasis pool. Where else can you see a Zumba class break out in the middle of the day? The party is always hopping at Stellaris Casino. Family and friends of all ages will be happy on this happy island.

The real fun in Aruba takes place in the ocean. The currents are calm in these waters…lake calm. Your drinks can actually float, undisturbed, alongside you in a fabulous, inflatable flamingo (if you were brilliant enough to bring one). Aruba is the perfect island to push your limits and try some new water sports. Stand-up paddle boarding is very popular. Stretch yourself even further and try a paddleboard yoga class by Vela Aruba. There’s nothing more “zenful” than the peaceful Caribbean Sea swaying beneath you as you find your center. Looking for something more exhilarating? Book a kayaking tour, take a ½ day snorkel sail, parasail above it all or bounce to heart to your heart’s content on floating inflatable trampolines!

 

Looking for a group activity that’s fun for all ages? Beach tennis is big here! It’s the official sport of the isle. In fact, the sport is so popular here, Aruba hosts international beach tennis tournaments. We signed up for private lessons with Aksel Samardzic, currently ranked #9 in the world. It’s like playing tennis on a beach volleyball court, the racket is similar and the ball is a bit smaller. Scoring is identical to tennis and your group will be ready to play a match after only a thirty-minute lesson. It can really be a great team building activity for family and friends who might not know each other well.

What better way to get a real taste of authentic cuisine than spending one-on-one time with the chef. Learn from Chef Ever as he expertly seasons the catch-of-the-day. Watch his demonstration, or don an apron and join him at the stove. Compare your finished plate to his, then take a seat and enjoy the bountiful results.

Walkways connect the beaches together in Aruba

One of my favorite things about the Aruba coastline is the walkway that connects the beaches, creating miles of scenic beachside boardwalk. This family friendly, “walkable” esplanade is great for baby strollers and wheel chairs, speed walkers or casual promenades. Guests with young children will appreciate the multiple play areas right on the beach.

After an evening stroll along the Marriott boardwalk, dinner literally “pops up” at Atardi beachfront restaurant- just in time for sunset. Enjoy a toes-in-sand sunset supper starting with sashimi snapper, tomato caprese, or crab salad. Popular main course items are fresh blackened mahi mahi, grilled sea bass, tropical red snapper and more.

 

Healthy brunch items at Aruba Marriott Governor’s Suite.

The Marriott’s Governor suite is the perfect brunch spot. Your guests won’t be able to get enough of the expansive Palm Beach views. Think mimosa bar and hot and cold brunch buffet on the balcony. Enjoy mini-quiche, pancakes, and pastries or get your granola on. Your guests will be impressed with the food and the views.

In Aruba, almost every location is picture-perfect and Pincho’s Grill and Bar is no exception. Arrive at the Aruba Surfside Marina in time for sunset and don’t miss the “Love Potion” premium margarita. Absorb the soothing sound of whispering waves as you enjoy a meal of luscious crab cakes, crispy coconut shrimp, dark rum-infused blue cheese tenderloin and pan- seared Caribbean grouper. As the sun sets over the water and the moon rises over the palm trees, you’ll understand why you came to this special island for an unforgettable trip.

 

Essentials:

www.arubamarriott.com
www.velaaruba.com
www.pinchosaruba.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book recommendations

May 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Blogs, Finance

This blog post is being written after my family and I have shared over 47 consecutive home cooked meals. As soon as the Covid-19 quarantine was mandated, I vowed to remain positive and READ more. Here are some of my favorite business and personal development books.

It’s never too late to pick up a good book.

Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business

Everything Is Figureoutable

The E-Myth

If you read only one business book, this is the one I always recommend. It has guided me over the last 27 years of business ownership.

https://amzn.to/373aSFD

Honeymoon Travel: San Juan, Puerto Rico, Plan your tropical Destination Wedding

May 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Puerto Rico is one of America's gated cities

Puerto Rico is a small island in the Caribbean Sea that was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. In the early 1500’s, it was settled by Spanish Conquistador Pounce De Leon. Puerto Rico was the gateway to the New World and whoever controlled the island and its deep harbor controlled access to the Americas.

The Spaniards spent nearly 300 years fortifying the area around the port, now called Old San Juan, with giant walls. Atop the walls are lookout towers, huge forts and heavy cannon. Soldiers scanned the horizon 24×7 looking for enemy ships. And enemies came! French, Dutch and British all tried take control numerous times and were turned away by the Spanish forces and their cannons.

Access to the city was gained through five gates in the giant walls. Every night at 6pm the gates were closed. If you were on the wrong side of the gates, you stayed there until morning. Inside the walls was a bustling city. Puerto Rico’s population exploded from a few thousand to nearly a million people by the mid 1800s, and all the needs of a modern society had to be met. Housing, shops, restaurants and markets lined the blue cobblestone streets (the stones were covered with slag from the cannon factories and shone a silvery blue). Churches were erected and it was standard practice for Spanish nobles to arrive in the harbor, walk through the main gate up the hill to the church and thank the Lord for a safe journey.

As the population grew, Puerto Ricans grew weary of Spanish colonial rule. After 400 years, Spain finally lost Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American war when resistance forces teamed up with the Americans. The Americans landed unopposed and marched over land with resistance forces to take Old San Juan from behind. They also had an extremely large navel presence just off the coast, and the Spaniards didn’t want to see the damage the giant American guns could cause. Very few big shells were fired and little damage was done.

Old San Juan is amazing. Most of the city is still surrounded by the original walls; the cobblestone streets still shine blue and are lined with thriving businesses. You can stand outside the main gate on the dock and look up at the walls stretching around the city, 18-feet thick and over forty feet high, and walk as the nobles did to the church; inside you’ll find Pounce De Leon’s tomb. The forts are in place and intact. Now museums, you can stand in the lookout towers and scan the ocean as Spanish soldiers did for hundreds of years. Everyone speaks English and the American dollar is the official currency, but you feel like you’re in Europe.

Condado Hilton, San Juan Puerto Rico

Stay close to town: The Condado Plaza Hilton
The Condado Plaza Hilton is less than five minutes from Old San Juan. It offers great ocean view and access to a private beach access. It’s also connected to the bay where you can enjoy water sports such as kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. This hotel offers the best of all worlds: stunning interiors, great dining, activities and access to all the wonders of Old San Juan.

Private Beach at the El Conquistador

Worth the drive: El Conquistador
Perched high upon a bluff in Eastern Puerto Rico sits the El Conquistador Resort. On the terrace you can sit back, enjoy a refreshing beverage and view the Virgin Islands scattered throughout the Caribbean.
The El Conquistador property is huge, over 500 acres of bluffs, golf courses, rain forests, playgrounds, pools, even a private island. Once you get there, there is no reason to leave. Twenty-three restaurants and bars serve everything from grab and go cuisine to the world-class steaks at Chops Steakhouse. To help navigate the bluffs, a tram system that looks like a cross between elevators and gondolas angles from top to bottom. The beach, with all its activities, is on the private island; a large ferry loops between the island and the resort every hour.

If you like lying by the pool, you’re in luck. There are seven pools throughout the resort. The Cogui water park is not for wimps. The slides will get your adrenalin running; one has a forty-foot drop! You can experience elevation changes over 200 feet on the Arthur Hills designed championship golf course. After an adventurous day, you can work out the kinks at the Waldorf Astoria Spa.
El Conquistador has it all: views, fun and activities for all ages and excellent luxury accommodations. You can stay in hotel rooms, casitas or three bedroom villas. Puerto Rico is an American territory, so you don’t need a passport, foreign currency or a translator to get around.

For tips for planning your honeymoon, attend the Bridal Extravaganza Show. https://www.bridalextravaganza.com/post/10-tips-for-attending-bridal-extravaganza

2020 Wedding Predictions

December 29, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

As the U.S. experiences a decline in the marriage among Millennials due to factors like, exposure to divorce and success in the workplace, couples are waiting longer to marry in order to increase life experiences rather than just one evening.

Trends from Texas brides include:

Gift Registries Re-boot: Gift registries are changing and evolving. Gone is the focus on china, entertaining, and homemaking. Today’s couples can register for their honeymoons, massages, after dinner drinks and lifestyle gifts like camping gear, exercise equipment, and cooking classes.

Must add meaning: Couples look for meaning in personal items, menus and more. One couple attended a jewelry class and made their wedding bands.Another couple added tamales to their menu as a nod to a “tamale incident” that occurred early in their dating life.

Focus on sustainability: The sustainability trend continues. From reducing the wedding footprint by accepting digital RSVPs and carrying florals and décor from the ceremony site to the reception to reduce the event’s footprint is popular.

Food becomes interactive: Today’s food presentation is all about showmanship. Say goodbye to plated chicken dinners and hello to interactive stations. A build your own ramen bar served in recycled bamboo bowls offers the perfect opportunity for  guests to mix and mingle. Instead of pulled pork on a plate, imagine a whole roasted pig arriving on the table aka Hawaiian luau.

New twists on bar service: Brides don’t want guests to stand in line and bartenders have been known to create bottlenecks. Help yourself! Self-serve bars contain signature drinks, fully decorated margaritas and more. Bars also come to life with specialty drinks being served by a model who is literally “wearing the table.”

Lights. Wedding. Action: Bold lighting helps create an energetic wedding vibe. Vows can be projected onto a ceremony floor. Neon signs boldly proclaim the couple’s last name. Marquee letters spell dance, or smores.

Alternative locations: Get married in a tee pee? Why not? Semi-permanent structures are popping up as new nuptial options.

Balloons are making bold statements: Not just for children’s parties anymore, balloon artists are making their mark on weddings. As a backdrop for a dessert table, or a grand entrance, unique balloon displays bring a new level of fun to receptions.

Unplugged Ceremonies and Honeymoons invite couples to “be present”: Even millennials want to unplug! Not only do the couples want guests to be present with them, they want to control the images posted to social media.  Couples are now opting to follow their own rules,  unplugging for their entire wedding day, as well as their honeymoon. Unplugged honeymoons give couples the chance to celebrate their newlywed status without distraction, simply enjoying each other’s company as they start their marriage journey together.

by Laurette Veres, Bridal Extravaganza Show Producer. Since 1983, catering exclusively to brides, grooms, and their families, The Bridal Extravaganza Show has been bringing brides and bridal businesses together bi-annually to help thousands of to-be-weds plan the wedding of their dreams.

www.BridalExtravaganza.com

Gift Guide Holiday 2019

December 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

For the pet lover

Pink Papyrus

Treat yo’ pup with Pink Papyrus! They started with tees and have expanded to sturdy, fashion forward gear. Long walks on all terrains just got upgraded with hand spun, cotton, weather proof, hypoallergenic, naturally elastic, sustainable leashes. Protect your pup from bugs and sun with a classic, tie-on bandana. Created to minimize stiffness, these beauts allow for flexibility in size. When nature calls, be prepared with a durable waste bag holder crafted from heavy-duty fabric and solid brass hardware. A little extra wiggle room offers space for a few personal items.

www.PinkPapyrus.com Price: $20.00+

For the Fashionista

Kissing Glitter

Take your lips to a new level with this yummy Kissing Glitter! Simply roll on this shimmery gloss for a sweet pout that looks and tastes amazing!

For the Ultimate Texan

Art of Twisted Nail

Popular at farmers markets and festivals around the state, and the “Outstanding New Vendor” at the State Fair of Texas, Art of the Twisted Nail is offering unique art with a Texas flair. Pieces are ideal for outdoor spaces and can be customized for ranches and party barns. Most popular pieces include the Bluebonnet Texas, Rivers of Texas, and the nativity scene.

http://www.artoftwistednail.com

For the Hostess with the Mostess

LOUIS XIII Black Pearl AHD

When money is no object,splurge on LOUIS XIII Cognac and the limited-edition world famous LOUIS XIII Black Pearlin a new size: LOUIS XIII Black Pearl AHD. Part of the exclusive Black Pearl Collection, the unprecedented 350 ml crystal decanter contains a rare blend of LOUIS XIII Cognac, drawn from a single tiercon hidden in the family reserve cellar. In a numbered and exclusive amount of only 1498, the bespoke Baccarat decanter comes in Black Pearl’s iconic limited-edition steel color and is an exquisite work of art. This is the first time a decanter part of the Black Pearl Collection has been available since 2014.

$13,000 USD. https://www.louisxiii-cognac.com/

For the new baby

Clappy the Animated Monkey (Baby GUND)

It’s never too early (an age) to hop on the GUND craze. Clappy is an enthusiastic, animated plush monkey who is always ready to keep your baby engaged and entertained. This washable, huggable toy helps baby develop and learn through two different play modes. Touch his left foot to play an interactive clapping game, and the right to hear the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in a cute child’s voice. When playtime is over, this adorable 12” monkey doubles as perfect room décor to enhance your room or nursery.

$40.00 Gund.com

For the Homemaker

Drinkmate Countertop and Spritzer

Now you can carbonate anything in the fridge with this patented detachable Fizz Infuser. This small device doesn’t use much counter space, is easy to operate and easy to clean. 

$89.99 www.idrinkproducts.com 

For the Naturalist

Parry Botanicals

This local cosmetic company features all natural ingredients. More than a stocking stuffer, this 3-piece gift set is perfect for any of your gifting needs. It includes full size 3-piece set of Parry Botanical’s best-selling lotions –Restorative Cream, Body Cream and Pure Botanical Lotion all in a stylish bag. 

$100  parrybotanicals.com

For the Entertainer

Shaker33

Everyone is shaking with excitement over the latest innovation in Cocktail Shakers – Shaker33. The large format enables large batches to be mixed at one time. It’s BPA-Free, features stainless steel design and is shatterproof.  Shaker33 is revolutionizing the art of mixing drinks. You can even mix one handed!

$39.95 www.shaker33.com  

For the Art Lover (who love their pets)

Crown and Paw

Is your pet your baby? This holiday season turn a favorite picture of your pet into a one of a kind renaissance masterpiece with Crown and Paw pet portraits. What a unique way to express your love, adoration, and even obsessiveness, with beloved pets. Crown and Paw curates authentic 19th century portraits and rare Renaissance era oil paintings and digitally combines them with your pet photo, creating an incredibly life like work of art.

from $49.99 www.crownandpaw.com

For the Home Brewer

The Noelle™ Ceramic Electric Tea Kettle

Fashion meets function with this stylish tea kettle by Pinky Up®! The Noelle™ Ceramic Electric Tea Kettle features glossy mint ceramic glazing and a trendy rose gold metallic base. Includes 1.5L capacity with easy on/off switch. Boiling water has never been this chic! 

$59.99 available at most online retailers

For the Fitness Junkie

Downward Dog

 Built for your mother or brother, sister or mister, Corc Yoga’s line of 100% sustainable and renewable yoga mats and accessories are the perfect holiday gifts. Sustainable, 100% chemical free, and anti-microbial, Corc Yoga makes products entirelywithcork harvested in Portugal, simultaneously revitalizing the practice and supporting a sustainably viable future. Built by removing harsh metals from production and using plant-based color dyes, Corc mats are completely natural and biodegradable.

from $21.99 to $205 www.corcyoga.com

For the Wanderlust Family

Elsewhere USA Scratch Off Map Poster

Whether your children are active wanderlusts or travelers in training, let them scratch, write on and explore in ways most maps won’t let them. The Elsewhere USA Scratch Off Map Poster provides an interactive way kids can learn about the places they’ve gone, locations they can visit and other facts, figures, and notes that makes them.

Amazon.com

For the Home Décor Junkie

Coffee table book by local author

Author and photographer, Margaret Wilson Reckling released her new book of images, prose and historical research, Woody Creek: Views from a Homestead. Reckling brilliantly captures Woody Creek Canyon’s intimate allure and panoramic vistas through her photographic study and written words. The author has spent much of the past five years restoring and maintaining the original Colorado homestead ranch which was built in the 1800’s by the area’s early settlers. Her oversight of this historic property was the inspiration for the book and resulted in thousands of images of local wildlife, the changing seasons, night sky astronomy and more.

Available for purchase by emailing woodycreekhomestead@gmail.com.

For the Foodie

Home cutlery at its finest- F.N. Sharp

Differentiated by striking designs, superior Damascus steel and a hassle-free sharpening subscription model, F.N. Sharp brings a whole new edge to the home cutlery industry. The exceptionally sharp blades crafted from 67 layers of high-quality Japanese VG-10 steel;are available in 3-knife (Chef, Santoku, Paring) or 6-knife (Chef, Santoku, Paring, Boning, Bread and Utility) sets and steak knives in sets of four.

https://fnsharp.com/knife-collections/6-knife-set/

Holiday Gift Guide

November 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Features

As the holidays approach, H Texas Magazine offers this list of some sweet stocking stuffers.

For the Health Nut

A better-for-you sweet snack, Nature Nate’s Honey Co. www.naturenates.com is packed their 100% Pure, Raw and Unfiltered honey into the perfect pouch for snacking. Nature Nate’s Honey Packets are a great allergy-friendly and delicious sweet treat kids will love to see in their stocking come Christmas morning.

 

 

 

For the Wine Lover

Savino Connoisseur Wine Saving Carafe

  • Designed to maintain fresh wine for up to a week
  • Float rests on top of the wine preventing oxidation
  • Carafe and lid are made of high-quality flint glass
  • Plastic float is BPA free and is designed to very stringent dimensions
  • Lid with rubber seal prevents spills
  • Holds a standard bottle of wine (750 ML)
  • Fits in most refrigerators (10.5 inches tall)
  • Available in glass or plastic, for outdoor adventures
  • MSRP: $49.95 (glass), $24.95 (plastic)

 For the Man Who Loves Quality

The editors of The Robb Report have created a unique gift box for men: Robb Vices. This subscription box gives you a monthly dose of luxury. Robbvices.com

 

 

 

 

For the Book Worm

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich (October 2; $35.00) has been 14 years in the making with a thousand great books to get lost. It’s a 1,000 page shelf talker curated by a literary expert. You’ll want to read every book Jim discusses. www.workman.com

 

 

 

For the Entertainer

Dos Ron 8 Year Rum is your spirit of choice a fine whisky, scotch, or bourbon? Then you will enjoy the golden hues, exotic aromas, and diverse flavor notes of Dos Ron. Forget Jim, Jack, or Johnnie…Instead, opt for a gift with distinction, character, and sophistication. The rich taste of Dos Ron 8 Year Rum is great on the rocks and also blends well with cola, fruit juice, or your favorite mixer; while the bountiful, complex flavor profile of Dos Ron 16 Year Rum strike the perfect balance of heat and smoothness and is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

 

Semi-Precious Agate Coaster Set

Semi-precious Agate Coaster Set’s classic design makes the perfect gift. Named after the Portuguese word “stone”, these coasters are authentically created from pure, semi-precious agate. Each coaster is hand- polished in Brazil and protected by rubber feet on the underside.  (Note: due to the natural variation of the stone, color and size may vary; retail $80.)

 

 

For the Sportsman

The Texas Flannel Sport Shirt is the perfect button down no matter where the cooler Texas winds take you. These made-in-Texas shirts feature a hidden button-down collar and corner-cut sleeve cuffs. The Texas flannel fabric is a lightweight, super soft, pure cotton that is stitched together by third-generation shirt makers in west Texas. From the ranch-house to the clubhouse, our Texas flannels are tough to beat. Exact same fit as the Standard Sport Shirt—not too slim, and never boxy (available in Field, Club and Ranch; $99.50). www.Texas-Standard.com

  • Made in Texas
  • Hidden button-down collar
  • Rugged 100 percent brushed cotton fabric
  • Designed with a length that also wears well untucked
  • Discrete front-pocket logo tag
  • Cut true to size: not boxy or too slim

For the Boot Lover 

The perfect gift for all of the important women, men and children in your life, Miron Crosby’s handmade boots are a memorable gift they can wear for years to come. Offered in a variety of styles, the luxe line of boots are hand-lasted in Texas at a 160-year-old manufacturer where master artisans with decades of experience cut, last and stitch every pair by hand. Concierge design service allows clients to customize any boot with an array of colored leathers and threads as well as personalize with monograms. Clients can even inscribe a personal message to the interior shaft of the boot!

For the Dreamer

Give the gift everyone has on their wish list…more SLEEP! The Dreampad is a clinically proven and researched Smart Pillow that actually helps its users shut down for a good night’s sleep! It’s a perfect gift choice for anyone who has a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, or those who travel frequently and find themselves struggling to get shut eye in hotel rooms and unfamiliar spaces. The Dreampad plays music through a patented method which triggers the body’s relaxation response and signals your body and mind to relax. Through the app, you have access to 10 different song choices, volume control and length of play.  Once your head is relaxed on the Dreampad, the music travels internally signaling your body’s natural relaxation response so you can ease into a great night’s sleep!

The Dreampad is available in a variety of sizes to fit every sleep style, including Memory Support, Firm Support, Medium Support, and Slim Support (Great for Travel). Retails between $129 and $179.

For your Girlfriend or Bestie

Athleisure is all the rage… especially in H-Town where we really can wear leggings anywhere! These cute sets and lightweight mats from Manduka make for a great gift for your girl

friend or your best friend. They are easy to wear and look chic while working out. Prices range from $52–$128.

 

International Food & Arts event San Miguel de Allende- from July 12-15

June 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

With summer here and travelers seeking fun festivals, one of the hottest tickets in July will be the international Food & Arts event taking place in one of Mexico’s most popular destinations – San Miguel de Allende- from July 12-15:
Dozens of dinners, events and activities are planned over the four days including themed feasts, tastings, art exhibits and performances, and a grand marketplace of food, spirits and art.  The themed dinners and lunches, which cost between about $77 and $150 each, and the After Party can be booked at www.magmexico.com. 
MAG will get underway on July 12 with a Kickoff Dinner in Moxi at Hotel Matilda themed “Beyond Borders – Mexico.” The event will feature acclaimed Mexican chefs Eduardo Garcia of Maximo Bistrot, Alan Mendez of Pasillo de Humo and Francisco Ibañez of Moxi, along with exhibits by artist Eugenia Martinez and music by Los Rumberos de Massachusetts.
A series of themed dinners and lunches will celebrate the cuisine of different countries with noted chefs cooking and artists exhibiting their works. In addition to the Mexico-themed dinner at Moxi, there will be:
  • July 13: Dinner at Rosewood San Miguel with Reylon Augustin, chef of One-Michelin-Star Madeira at Rosewood Sand Hills, and artist Adrian Gonzalez.
  • July 13: Dinner at Casa Dragones with chef Norma Listman and Saquib Kebal from restaurant de Masalá in Mexico City, artist Pedro Reyes.
  • July 14: Brunch at Moxi with chefs Eduardo Echeverria, John Gallo and Rene Reyes from PINCH based in Miami.
  • July 14: Australia dinner at Bovine Brasserie with chefs Paul Bentley and Duncan Welgemoed from Africola, a restaurant in Australia
  • July 14: Dinner at L’Otel with Chef Justin Smillie from Upland Restaurant in NYC
  • July 15: Brunch at Fatima 7, Casa Blanca 7 with Chef Donnie Masterton and artists from Colectivo Hoja Santa.
A grand market of gastronomy, food, drink and art, the Marché, was a huge hit in the inaugural MAG last year and it will be back for three days, July 13-15. Held in San Miguel’s beautiful Parque Juárez, it will feature some 100 booths offering tastings ‒ dishes by leading restaurants, tequila, spirits, beers, wines and cheeses, as well as an installation by artist Eugenia Martinez.

 

RODEO UNCORKED!® ROUNDUP AND BEST BITES COMPETITION

February 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Blogs, Dining

Last night, foodies and wine enthusiasts gathered to eat drink and be merry! Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition featured 106 Houston restaurants, chefs, caterers and food trucks paired with winning wines from the 2018 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition.

The 2018 Best Bites winners are:

Outstanding Showmanship Award

  • Grand Champion – Brothers Produce
  • Reserve Grand Champion – Pop Fancy People’s Choice Award
  • Grand Champion – Killen’s – Beef Ribs
  • Reserve Grand Champion – Taste of Texas – Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin Tasty Traditions Award
  • Grand Champion – Ooh La La – Corn Flake Cookie
  • Reserve Grand Champion – Texas de Brazil – Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce andMashed PotatoesTrailblazing Appetizer/Starter Award
  • Grand Champion – Snooze an AM Eatery – Pork Belly on a Tortilla with Mango Pico de Gallo
  • Reserve Grand Champion – Brennan’s – Tasso and Grit Dumpling with NOLA BarbequeShrimp
  • Third Place – EuraAsia Fusion – Pepper Tuna CrabLone Star Entrée Award
  • Grand Champion – Killen’s – Beef Ribs
  • Reserve Grand Champion – Texas de Brazil – Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce andMashed Potatoes
  • Third Place – Brio Tuscan Grill – Balsamic Braised Beef with Smoked Gouda, Polenta andBrussel SproutsTwo-Steppin’ Dessert Award
  • Grand Champion – Killen’s STQ – Maple Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Reserve Grand Champion – Pop Fancy – Cereal Pops
  • Third Place – Ooh La La – Corn Flake CookieRookie Award

Pop Fancy – Cereal Pops
Trail Boss Food Truck Award (new for 2018)

Breaking Bao – The Hot Jam Bao
During the event, each dish could be paired with one of 452 complimentary, champion wines selected from the 2018 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition.

A selection of the champion wines will be available for tasting, by the glass and bottle, throughout the run of the Rodeo, Feb. 27 through March 18, in the Champion Wine Garden, located in Carruth Plaza.

rodeohouston.com

 

Champion Wine Garden at Houston Rodeo

March 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Blogs, Entertainment, Events

Opening a sparkling wine correctly is important. Hold the cork. Shift the bottle. It should sigh. Open and enjoy.

Tips like this and so much more are available when you visit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Champion Wine Garden.

 

Live music, a festive

atmosphere and award winning wines are on tap at this outdoor venue located between the carnival midway and NRG.

Wine submission stats:

2850 wine entries

20 countries

235 Texas wines

 

The double blind judging took place in November.

Wines to watch:

Grand champion is from Spain.

2010 Arinzano $120.

 

2014 Texas Chardonnay Fall Creek $94

Notorious Mt. Veeder Malbec

Nice Winery $120.

http://www.rodeohouston.com/Visit-the-Show/Attractions-Activities/Wine-Garden

 

 

 

SAYING THE SOOTH

January 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

By Lynn Ashby                                       9 January 2017

 

A great woman will die, a team will win the World Series and Apple will come out with a new product that will not only make all other iPads, iPhones and iNukes obsolete, but will completely disable every other communications device. Yes, it’s time once again for us to predict the future, with special attention to our new government. Remember that last year’s predictions were 100 percent accurate with a margin of error of a mere 100 percent.

JANUARY – After only parents of the players attend, and with TV ratings below the Test Pattern Channel for the first annual KFC Gravy Bowl, the NCAA announces that, in the future, bowl games would be limited to schools with actual coaches and a team. In his inaugural address, President Donald Trump orders he be addressed in the third person. In His Imperial Majesty’s inaugural parade, the float carrying his ex-wives is hustled away by the Secret Service, as are the cheerleaders and marching band from Trump University.

FEBRUARY – The Super Bowl held in Houston features a halftime show of the Best Super Bowl TV Commercials, the Battle of San Jacinto — so as not to offend anyone, this time the Mexicans win — and a recreation of the Apollo 13 blast-off. The second half of the game is cancelled because someone forgets to open the stadium’s moveable roof. (Texan officials later explain, “We have a roof that opens?”) The Texas Board of Education bans a textbook on World War II for saying the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima was the Enola Gay.

MARCH –.In anticipation of the 2020 Census which will allot Texas at least two or three new Congressional seats, the Texas Legislature approves a resolution making gerrymandering the Official State Sport of Texas. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick changes his mind about school bathrooms, with a press release saying, “I thought the Trans-Gender was a freeway.” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry sues Jeb Bush for “a total lack of energy.” As part of a new treaty, President Trump replaces the U.S. Marine Band with the Red Army Band, explaining: “The Marines are so military.” Hillary Clinton is reported missing by husband, Bill, “for the last three months.”

APRIL — UT student leaders declare that the name of the Austin festival, South By Southwest, “smacks of slavery,” and demand the name be changed to a Festival of Love, Hope and Flowers for People of All Color, Creed and Sexual Persuasion. In reply, South by Southwest officials say they’ll meet the UT student leaders at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. President Trump demands that his children be allowed to sit in on an intelligence briefing dealing with our spies in Russia, adding: “They keep lots of secrets.”

MAY — The Texas branch of Planned Parenthood seeks political asylum in Aleppo, saying, in a press release, “For us, it’s safer than Texas.” President Trump disregards unanimous findings by our 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia hacked emails, phone conversations and dead-drop document transfers, to influence the outcome of last November’s presidential election in favor of Trump; He calls the reports “the work of amateurs – I know more about spy work than they do. Just look at my own disguise. You think that’s real hair?”

JUNE –Is busting out all over. New director of the IRS announces that a little-known law requires New York City developers to withhold their federal income tax statements. A reporter calls the CIA to check out rumors that Russians have infiltrated top-secret positions in the agency. A spokesman replies, “Nyet.” The Texas Democratic Party is official listed on the Endangered Species list. “That’s not true. We are alive and kicking,” he says.

JULY– The Fourth of July lands on July 4. President Trump takes full credit. Texas A&M announces it is leaving the SEC for the NFL. In response to criticism that Aggieland is being turned into a football factory, a press release explains: “Texas A&M is awl about edukashun.” The Kremlin announces that 25 American. spies exposed in Russia have been executed. Fox News wins Pulitzer for Best Fiction writing.

AUGUST – FBI Director James Coney reports newly found emails show a fortune awaits him from a Nigerian prince. The Texas Board of Education approves printing books with moveable type on paper “as a pilot project.” FEMA declares the Astros’ bullpen a disaster area. A final NBC exit poll finds Clinton beating Trump in the Electoral College by13 points.

SEPTEMBER — Labor Secretary Andrew Puzder abolishes Labor Day, explaining, “Even the Lord only took off on Sundays.” Baylor University announces its football players will no longer wear jerseys with numbers across their chests. “They bring back bad memories.”

OCTOBER –Hillary Clinton is found hiding in a tunnel under a New York City pizzeria. Bill Clinton says, “Not her. Keep looking.” President Trump asks, “Do we really need 17 different intelligence agencies?” No one knows why, so Congress establishes a new Committee to Find Out Why, with a Budget of $30 million and a staff of 400. Under new leadership, the EPA announces a new Friends of Smog Society and its Adopt-a-Refinery program. .

NOVEMBER – Sen. Ted Cruz acknowledges that he has finally renounced his Canadian citizenship and now has dual citizenship with the entire U.N. Security Council, He may run for Grand Sultan of Senegal. Employees at the U.S. Treasury Dept. rebel on receiving orders to change the curriencies to read: “In Trump we trust.”

DECEMBER — Upon hearing that, during the Christmas season, bell-ringers will be placed outside department stores by the Salvation Army, Gov. Greg Abbott orders the Texas Guard to “monitor this imminent threat of a military takeover of Texas.” A blizzard hits northern Alaska. Newt Gingrich blames “the elite liberal media.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson orders all embassies and consulates to replace the U.S. seal with an Exxon logo. Lt. Gov. Patrick is run over on the Trans-Gender Freeway.

Ashby is soothful at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moody Gardens Holiday of Lights

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Events, Travel Blog

Moody Gardens should be on your holiday calendar every year! Offering something for all ages, from the Festival of lights, to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 4-D, your family will enjoy time spent here.

We arrived around 4:00pm to give us a time to explore the property before dusk. Start with a quick tour of the rainforest pyramid. This is the type of exhibit you can explore at your own pace. Be sure to look for the River Otter and watch out for the White-faced Saki monkeys who literally roam the tree tops of the rainforest.

No visit to Moody Gardens would be complete without saying hello to the penguins. You’ll encounter some sharks as you take the Caribbean tunnel to see the penguins.

Next, The North Pole meets the Caribbean as Moody Gardens introduces ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas. For the third year in a row, Carvers have come from China to sculpt two million pounds of ice. This cool holiday attraction features nine scenes such as scuba diving, a towering oilrig, tropical fish and more; all maintained at a chilling nine degrees.

 

At dusk it’s time to walk the one-mile Festival of lights trail filled with sound-enhanced lighting and animated displays. This leisurely walk features spectacular lights, trains, fish, butterflies, and culminates with the North Pole. The walk takes about 30 minutes.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

Admission to the Festival of Lights is $10.95 and other ticking options vary.

FOUR SEASONS RESORT PUNTA MITA PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE OCT. 31 – NOV. 4

August 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

image001Award-winning Beachfront Oasis Invites Photography Lovers to Experience Punta Mita through the Lens of Renowned Professional Photographers, Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita will welcome photographers of all skill levels to the picturesque landscape of the Riviera Nayarit October 31 – November 4. The AAA Five Diamond property will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from American photographer Robert Caplin and American sports and portrait photographer Peter Lockley, in one of the most naturally beautiful beachfront destinations in Mexico.

Guests can participate in guided workshops, on-location shoots, one-on-one editing and constructive critique, as well as instructor demonstrations, all while enjoying the breathtaking scenery that Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita has to offer. In between photography excursions, participants can bask in the luxury of their own spacious Mexican-style casitas, complete with tranquil views of the turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Additionally, guests are invited to indulge in an array of invigorating culinary experiences available at the resort, including custom tequila blending and new indigenous outdoor cooking classes.
“We are delighted to partner with such renowned photographers Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley to offer guests the chance to embark on a visual journey throughout the stunning and diverse landscape of Punta Mita and the Riviera Nayarit,” said John O’Sullivan, General Manager Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. “The workshop is created for photography enthusiasts of all skill levels to fuel their passion for finding beauty and magnificence through the lens of their camera, and we are positive they will find that here as they discover the wonders of Punta Mita.”
Professional photographers, Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley – known for their contributions to leading publications including New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Times and ESPN the Magazine – will offer their guidance during daily photography adventures through Punta Mita’s most scenic natural settings. They will lead outings to charmed places including the vibrant town of Sayulita, the incredible nature preserves of San Blas, the energetic fish markets of La Cruz, and Punta Mita’s best secret surf spots, all while lending their combined expertise in editorial, commercial, and portrait photography. These outings will present a variety of unique shooting situations; from landscapes to portraits, to stories, utilizing natural and artificial light in order to help refine and develop participant’s skills. Throughout the week Caplin and Lockley will lead inspiring lectures and hands-on gear demonstrations, offering personalized, engaging feedback and analysis to further develop and refine participant’s abilities and leave them refreshed and eager to continue their personal photographic journey.
While polishing their photography skills and harnessing their creativity, guests are able to fully take advantage of all the resort has to offer, including unrivaled service, pristine white sand beaches, spectacular fine dining options, and new immersive culinary experiences. Photographers can trade in their cameras for mixing spoons and learn historically-inspired indigenous cooking techniques in the Iku Garden outdoor kitchen, try their hand at customizing their own tequila during a hands-on tasting and blending experience, or simply indulge in a seasonally flavored Mexican gelato or popsicles at the resort’s new beach front Gelateria.
Pricing for the workshop starts at USD $4,999.00 for a single participant, which includes all workshop fees, daily breakfast and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita luxury accommodations in a Garden View Double Room. Ocean view and beachfront rooms are available for an additional cost. Participants will also enjoy a hosted cocktail reception upon arrival and gourmet farewell dinner at the close of the program. It is recommended that participants bring their own camera; however cameras and additional equipment will be available to check-out and purchase before, during or after the workshop. Reservations will be handled by Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita through http://www.fourseasonsworkshop.com/.

National Ceviche Day

June 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Dining, Travel Blog

While most people think of Ceviche as a dish made with ocean seafood, this recipe demonstrates the cultural diversity of the dish. Peruvians incorporate potatoes and corn – two major staples of the Peruvian diet – as well as lake trout. The result is delicious. And there is no better place to enjoy it than at the foot of the world’s #1 landmark: Machu Picchu

A Ceviche and Pisco Sour class is included, complimentary, for all guests at Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (www.sumaqhotelperu.com).

Recipe for 1 portion of ceviche

Ingredients:
-6 oz. trout
-3 tablespoons lime juice
-3 tablespoons morrón pepper sauce
-1/2 teaspoon ground garlic
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/teaspoon chopped cilantro
-1/4 red onion sliced julienne
-1/4 Peruvian corn
-1/4 yam
-Salt & Pepper to taste
Garnish: lettuce, corn, limo hot pepper rings, yam strings.

Preparation:
Cook the corn with some anise seeds, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Cook the sweet potatoes, then peel them and cut them into matchsticks. Marinate the trout in lemon, salt, pepper,
cilantro, garlic, ginger, and onion. After two minutes, marinate again adding the pepper. Add ice cubes to the preparation to preserve freshness and lower the marinade’s acidity. Remove ice. Garnish with lettuce, onion, hot chili peppers cut into rings and crispy yam strings.

Pristine Bay, Honduras

June 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Rockport Beach offers a free admission day -April 3rd

March 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

FREE day at the Beach

Rockport-Fulton Texas (March 8, 2015) – SundayApril 3, 2016 has been designated by the Aransas County Navigation District as a “ Free Beach day” for all to enjoy. Visitors and locals alike are invited to take advantage of this free offering. After all who doesn’t love to get something for free?
Rockport Beach was labeled Texas first Blue Wave Beach and remains one of only three in the state. The beach has something to offer the entire family. Visitors will, get the opportunity bask in the sun, stroll along the beachfront and splash in the clear water of the bay.

For the youngsters, the beach offers shallow water without strong waves and children’s play areas with playground equipment. For the sports minded,  a volleyball net and walking track are available  for land-lubbers, but the opportunities for watersports are endless from water-skiing to fishing and everything in between. The entire family will enjoy the beach palapas, the covered picnic cabanas and the clean restrooms with indoor showers. For those who wish to swim, there is a saltwater lagoon at the far end of the beach, with beautiful views of the Key Allegro community.

Rockport Beach has two pavilions that can be rented for business meetings, reunions or other special occasions: The Beach Pavilion with indoor and outdoor meeting space or the Saltwater Pavilion.

Pets are not allowed on the beach, but there is a special section just outside the beach area for pets to play in the water. Admission to the beach is normally $5 (per vehicle) daily, a yearly beach pass can be purchased for $20.

For more information on Rockport Beach www.rockportbeach-texas.com .For information about Places to Stay visit www.rockport-fulton.org or call 1 –800 242-0071 or email tourism@1rockport.org.

Directions from San Antonio and Houston

If you are traveling from San Antonio take IH-37 south to Corpus Christi, and then take U. S. Highway 181 to Gregory; at Gregory take State Highway 35 into Rockport.

From Houston, take U. S. Highway 59 to Victoria, take U. S. Highway south to State Highway 239, and then, south to Tivoli, and at Tivoli, take State Highway 35 to Rockport.

 

 

 

 

PERRO DE MAYO FUNDRAISER PLANNED TO BENEFIT BARRIO DOGS

March 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Events

Volunteers are busy planning the 2nd Annual Perro de Mayo fundraiser that will take place Sunday, May 15, 2016, from 3:00 to 7:00 PM at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, Houston, TX. The event will benefit Barrio Dogs and is open to the public. It will feature live music, food and a silent auction fundraiser. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or in advance on Eventbrite.

This year’s host will be Rick Heysquierdo of KPFT’s Lone Star Jukebox. The musical lineup includes Zenteno Spirit, Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Review and Mike & the Moonpies. DJ Jason will spin classic vinyl and local artist Carlos Hernandez is creating more unique Perro de Mayo merchandise. Original artwork and other items will be sold via silent auction and a delicious barrio dinner will be available for purchase.

 

Barrio Dogs is a community-based nonprofit that has been working in Houston’s East End since 2010 to educate and empower residents to improve conditions for the animals in their community. Stray and roaming animals are a big problem in the area with 61% of residents citing it as their biggest public health concern.1 Contributing to the situation are owners who do not spay or neuter their pets and allow them to roam the streets and breed, creating more unwanted animals.

 

Founder Gloria Medina Zenteno is grateful for the support from Perro de Mayo. “We rely heavily on our friends and volunteers. Their support is invaluable to us and helps us continue our work in the community, where much remains to be done”, said Zenteno. “Sadly, despite our best efforts, you see still dogs roaming the streets, pregnant mamas, chained dogs. More than ever, we believe education is the best solution to the problem and with everyone’s help, we’ll continue trying to make a difference.”

 

Barrio Dogs focuses on community and educational outreach at schools, businesses, neighborhood centers and civic association meetings where volunteers make presentations and distribute literature on topics like low cost spay neuter options, proper pet care and reporting animal abuse and neglect. At community outreach days at East End parks, pets belonging to nearby residents are signed up for free spay and neuter. To date, Barrio Dogs has fixed, vaccinated and vetted over 2,000 animals, all paid for with private funds raised at events like Perro de Mayo.

 

The organization began when native Houstonian Zenteno returned to the East End after years away and was horrified to see so many homeless, neglected and mistreated animals. Zenteno first worked with rescue groups but realized that the community lacked a humane solution addressing the root of the problem. With that belief, Barrio Dogs was born with the message that: 1) pets are a lifelong commitment and must receive proper care and treatment, 2) education and spay neuter are the most humane and effective methods of controlling animal overpopulation, and 3) zero tolerance for animal mistreatment and neglect will create safer, healthier, higher property value communities.

 

Barrio Dogs is a proud partner with community leaders and residents in their East End community. Despite popular belief, Barrio Dogs does not have a physical location nor a full-time staff; the core team is comprised of a handful of volunteers, most of them concerned residents with full-time jobs, who dedicate their free time to the organization. To learn more, visit Barrio Dogs at www.barriodogs.org or email inquiries to info@barriodogs.org

¹ Health of Houston survey 2010, sph.uth.tmc.edu/research/centers/ihp/health-of-houston-survey-2010

SINGAPORE AIRLINES LAUNCHES BOOK THE COOK SERVICE

March 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Singapore Airlines has launched Book the Cook service in Houston, offering First and Business Class passengers flying from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) the convenience and control of pre-ordering their meal before they fly, and introducing local flavors to their inflight dining experience.

Part of Singapore Airlines’ prestigious culinary program, Book the Cook gives passengers the flexibility to select their choice of main course online or through the reservations office up to 24 hours before flight departure. Book the Cook menus include dishes featuring innovative international fare, as well as signature dishes with regional influences comprising its World Gourmet Cuisine.

The new menu was designed specifically with Houston travelers in mind, incorporating local favorites such as BBQ Beef Brisket with Spanish Rice, alongside SIA traditions such as the popular Lobster Thermidor. Book the Cook is now available in each of SIA’s four U.S. gateways: New York (JFK), Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.

First Class passengers also enjoy their choice of Dom Perignon or Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne, while Business Class passengers are served Taittinger Prelude Grand Crus—in addition to Singapore Airlines’ international wine list carefully selected by a roster of expert sommeliers.

Singapore Airlines serves the Houston area with flights five times a week from IAH to Moscow (DME) and Singapore aboard the B777-300ER. For more information, visit Singaporeair.com for more details. Join us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/singaporeair and follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/singaporeair.

 

 

Seared lamb loin with jus served with crushed pea with mint, leek and olive oil mashed potatoes. Designed by Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel Chef Alfred Portale.

 

A high resolution version of this image can be downloaded here.

 

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