Monday Musings – Where Tapirs & Jaguars Once Roamed

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Last Monday, I shared a favorite recipe that my family loves equally whether in Costa Rica and the U.S.  It just works well in a hot climate or in cold weather.

This week I want to share something else that works well in both hot or cold weather – a great book!  Whether lounging in a hammock or curled up in front of a fire, you can’t beat a cozy read.

And what better topic than Costa Rica?  Especially when it’s for a good cause.

So for you fellow bookworms, I want to share that Jack Ewing (of Hacienda Barú and Monkeys are Made of Chocolate) has a great new book hitting the shelves soon – Where Tapirs and Jaguars Once Roamed: Ever-Evolving Costa Rica.  Like Jack’s other projects, the proceeds will benefit Costa Rica, specifically the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor project.

You can pre-order the book here on Amazon, or learn more about Jack and contribute to their crowd-funding page here.

Brides & Grooms – Jack’s books are a great gift to get your guests excited for their upcoming travels for your wedding!

Enjoy!

Jack Ewing

Flower Friday – Bouquet Inspiration

Bouquet

Save the Americans

The Costa Rica Tourism Board’s ad campaign for 2015-2016 is “Save the American’s” and the video created for this is hilarious.  We have shared this on Facebook previously but wanted to share again today since we’ve been receiving so many phone calls from you freezing Americans :P  Bad weather in the States means our phones start ringing so it must be pretty chilly up there this week!  No worries, you’ll be in Costa Rica soon and for now, enjoy this clip:

 

Tonya & Josh

Tonya & Josh were married at a beautiful waterfall in La Fortuna.  They had a few friends that joined them on this adventure, and one even served as their Officiant for a very personal ceremony.  Great friends, a beautiful setting, sweet vows… well, you’d be smiling as much as they are in these pics!

Tonya wanted vibrant colors that would pop from the green background, so her bouquet was done with bright pinks, yellows, and oranges. She and her girlfriends even rocked hot pink shoes!

The last photo is a personal favorite. The waterfall involves a bit of a walk and we suggest brides rock sneakers on the way and change shoes at the base of the waterfall.  The texture of the walkway, the shoes, the tattoo, the dress… this photo completely captures the attitude of this off-the-beaten-path bride!

Bride Elopment photos

Elopement photos

IMG_1426

Top 10 Tuesday – Wedding Favors

Let’s talk wedding favors.

You want the kind of favor that says, ‘we appreciate you coming to celebrate our big day and want to give you this little something to show our gratitude,’ but at the same time, you don’t want the favor left behind or to end up in the trash.

Feeling a little stumped? We have several ideas that can get you thinking so you can nail that perfect guest favor.

minibottles

Mini Bottles: We love the mini bottle guest favors! So easy to add a touch of personalization with a cute straw, ribbon, or even a customized label. When picking this favor, consider who your guests are. Are they the type to enjoy a bottle of champagne, or would mints and soda pop fit them better?

 

Pampering Items: You can never go wrong with sending your guest home with items they’ll actually use on a day-to-day basis. Some of our favorites include lip balm, oils, soap, lotions, and body sprays. When picking one of these items, consider a clever little line to attach with it, ‘The perfect Blend,’ or even, ‘Our love is the balm!’ Who doesn’t love a good cheesy, but adorable line?

 

Local Touch: This is a great place to bring your destination into your event. The most popular items we see for this are coffee beans, hot sauce, and honey. Coffee beans tied up in cute bags, with a custom or DIY tag or stamp (etsy rocks for this!) with – what else? – another adorable line! “The Perfect Blend”.  I like that this favor really does get used and enjoyed. I often hear back from guests that they made this their “special Sunday coffee” for a couple weeks after the wedding – along with a request to know how to have more sent to the States!

 

Sweet Treats: Local bakeries can provide something sweet. A midnight snack for guests to enjoy once back in their rooms. Cake pops, chocolate truffles, etc.. Or if you or your family have a special recipe this is an area you can DIY for a personal touch. Mini bags of s’more ingredients to continue the party if you have a location that allows a bonfire. “S’more Love” anyone?

 

Seeds: Seed packets that guests can plant when they get home is a great way for them to keep an ongoing memento from your wedding getaway memories. It also contributes if you have an eco-theme, and is in keeping with Costa Rica’s eco-focus.

 

Household Items: Custom made candles are sure to be a favorite. Try a tropical scent such as coconut or mango. Coasters are another great choice. A bride that had a lot of bamboo elements in her wedding included bamboo coasters in her guests welcome bags. Great way to keep her style consistent across the board, and sure to make your guests smile with memories every time they are used at home.

 

Fans: This is a great option that is multi-purpose. First, it’s functional to cool guests down during the ceremony. Second, it adds to your ceremony decor and emphasizes color palette or style of event. And third, of course as a favor for guests to keep.

 

Customized Beer Coozies: This is an easy way to bring in a fun element for a laid back party vibe. Initials, names, dates, or “Pura Vida” and using your wedding colors can make this a customized this item easily.

 

Add a Spark: Fun light-hearted favor. Sparklers, custom matchbooks.

 

And of course, for the guests who love to keep the celebration going:

Two words: Hangover Kit. When you have a wedding group who enjoys a good after party, hangover kits might have your guest thanking you for days to come. Locating the nearest store for Tylenol is not ideal when you have a hangover in a foreign country.   While planning your kit consider these items: Tylenol/Advil, Vitamin C, Water, Mints, Wipes, Chap Stick, Band-Aids, and even a door hanger that keeps housekeeping from knocking too early!

1982249_10152886018416942_4606967612083210092_n

Monday Musings – Arroz con Pollo

So we’ve finally exited the time warp that is the holidays.  You know.. the holiday time warp that begins when you are sucked in sometime around Thanksgiving.  Everything speeds up with parties, shopping, wrapping, visiting, eating, drinking.. you get spit out the first week of January, somersaulting your way through another week and landing with your feet on the ground mid -January.

January for us is quite busy, with a series of events in January, February and March. When I have a busy week ahead I like to rely on whipping up a family favorite on Sundays that will tide us over for Sunday and Monday dinner, and likely lunch on Tuesday. Eliminating cooking on Monday is always a good idea!

So today I’m going to share one of our Costa Rica favorites, Arroz con Pollo.  This recipe comes from when I first moved to Costa Rica.  My brother & sister-in-law’s housekeeper, Hortencia, taught me how to make this within a month or two of my arrival.  Now, at that point I spoke no Spanish.  And she spoke no English. So this recipe was jotted down as a mix of visual observation, charades, and plain old guesswork. But it’s the one I’ve always used.

The first time I made this without Hortencia I used like 6 pots but I promise you develop a system the second time you make it. Enjoy! :)

 

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts

couple cloves of Garlic

Bunch of Celery*

1 green or red pepper

1 carrot*

1 tomato

½ bag green beans*

3 cups or so of rice (to 6 chicken breasts)

Salt

Pepper

packet of Chicken consommé (you could probably just use chicken stock instead of water, and leave this out)

Achiote paste (small white round container w/ red writing, size 1” high 2” round, look in your international aisle)

Lizano salsa (brown sauce with white, red & green label, look in your international aisle)

 

* I usually add more veggies than recipe calls for.

  1. Put chicken in a pot & fill pot with water to just above the chicken. Add a couple cloves of pressed garlic, some celery, some pepper slices, bit of salt & ½ packet chicken consume. Boil 20 minutes or so.
  1. While chicken is cooking, dice: 1 pepper, garlic, 1 carrot, celery (use ends of celery stalks so lots of leaves), and green beans.
  1. Preheat a pot to very hot and put a decent amount of oil in and only a handful or so of the veggie mix you just cut. Sauté and pour in rice (3 cups or so) keep stirring, add some salt.
  1. Take chicken pot in Step 1, set the chicken aside, strain & discard the veggies, and pour the water only from the chicken pot into the rice pot. Add some extra water (little less than 1 cup). At this point the rice pot will have a soupy look to it. Cover & leave.
  1. Tear up the chicken (easier to do if you tear it under running cold water, helps you avoid burning your fingers).
  1. Dice 1 tomato
  1. Rinse your chicken pot out and preheat again. Add oil and 1/3 stick of butter. Put in the rest of the veggie mix you cut up in Step 2 & stir. Then add tomato & stir, add the chicken & stir, add 1 large Tbsp of Achiote & stir, about ½ cup water or more, add some more consome (but don’t finish the packet, you don’t really need a whole packet for this recipe so you will likely have some leftover).
  1. Check the rice. If it’s done, stir it up and add 1/3 cup water. Remove from heat.
  1. Add some pepper & the salsa to the pan from Step 7. Cover & leave for 5-10 minutes to cook the carrots and green beans.
  1. After you think the carrots & beans are cooked, add the rice mixture to the pan.
  1. You can add corn from a can to the mixture at this point if you want. I like corn being added, my husband likes to skip that step, so it’s up to you.
  1. Add some Lizano sauce on top before eating. This stuff is delicious. Dig in.

 Lizano Sauce

Behind the Scenes: Table setup in Costa Rica

Just a shot of a gorgeous table during set up to brighten your day!  Still to go: place cards and straightening the succulents. After that – showtime!

Thank you to Artflower for the beautiful flowers and Renee at Renascent Photography for the beautiful shots!

Costa Rica Wedding Details. Photo: Renascent Photography

Costa Rica Wedding Details. Photo: Renascent Photography

 

Real Wedding – Tatiana & Patrick – Waterfall Ceremony

Tatiana & Patrick were married at the base of a beautiful tropical waterfall, deep in the rainforest of Costa Rica. This couple was focused on the experience and immediately drawn to a destination wedding in Costa Rica.  They worked with Meghan in making this an unforgettable day. When you are in a location as pretty as this, it is hard to believe it can adequately be captured on film but Toh Gouttenoire was up to the challenge.  We love the results and we are happy to say Love + Wander agrees as they have featured this waterfall ceremony in their blog.  Love + Wander’s focus is to “live an inspired life” … wouldn’t you agree that being married in Costa Rica is doing just that?

 

Love+Wander Costa Rica Wedding

Love+Wander Costa Rica Wedding

Christmas Gifts for your Guests

Recently one of our brides contacted me with a brilliant idea.  She wanted to arrange for resort gift cards for their guests, to be used as Christmas presents, for guests use at their resorts during the wedding getaway next year.

I love this idea and wanted to share with it all of you other brides-to-be!  What a great way to solve the question of what gift to give while also getting your guests excited about their trip to Costa Rica!

While loving on the resort gift card idea, it prompted me to think about other great Christmas gifts that could be given to your guests over the holidays. Items such as coffee or chocolate covered coffee beans to give them a taste of Costa Rica… useful travel items such as passport covers, luggage tags, or sarongs for the beach… less obvious items like jewelry perfect for an exotic locale…

I ended up creating a board to gather these ideas. Check out the Pinterest Gift Board here for some initial thoughts. Be sure to follow the board as I’m sure there will be many more to come!

Holiday Gifts for your Destination Wedding Guests

Holiday Gifts for your Destination Wedding Guests

Real Wedding – Paul & Belen – Manuel Antonio

Traveling from Switzerland and Scotland, Paul and Belen were looking for a luxurious elopement ceremony in Costa Rica.

They enjoyed the simple sophistication of Arenal Nayara with stunning views of the Arenal Volcano, the cozy cloud forest mountain lodge El Establo, and the beautiful 5 Star Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio. It was during their stay at Arenas del Mar that Paul and Belen exchanged vows on the beach. I love Paul’s kilt and socks, along with Belen’s classic look. The white phalaenopsis orchids were in keeping with the earthy tones that were captured in the photos… the white, brown, green, and blue/gray of the sky and water.

There are many reasons Arenas del Mar makes for a great wedding site for a wedding in Costa Rica but one I love for elopements is that they will prepare an intimate dinner for two in a location of your choosing – in your suite, on the beach, or in their oceanside restaurant. What a sweet way to celebrate your marriage!

Congratulations Paul and Belen!

And thank you Kevin Heslin for the lovely photos of this Costa Rica Wedding! I am particularly smitten with the photo of Paul & Belen sitting on the rocks.

Manuel Antonio Elopement Photos