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!


Jack Ewing

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 😛  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:


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! 🙂



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)



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

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

JetBlue Announces Flights from Fort Lauderdale to Costa Rica

Budget airline JetBlue Airways announced daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose.

Service for this route began this past week, will run daily, departing Fort Lauderdale at 9:45a.m. and landing in San Jose at 10:38a.m. local time.

To celebrate the new route, JetBlue is offering sale fares from $135 one-way through Tuesday July 2, for travel between Sept. 6 and Dec. 13.

Plenty of time to plan an elopement or small event!!

Real Wedding – Marjean & Dave – Manuel Antonio

Traveling from Salt Lake City, Marjean and Dave were looking to experience Costa Rica to its fullest and planned their time accordingly. With two weeks to explore Costa Rica these adventure-seekers filled their days with whitewater rafting, horseback riding, snorkeling, kayaking, and guided tours near Arenal Volcano and through the Cloud Forest in Monteverde.  With a very full wish-list in hand, we’re glad to say they also fit in some time to relax, with an evening at the Tabacon Hot Springs and of course sunny days lounging on the beach in Manuel Antonio.

Towards the end of their getaway, Marjean & Dave were married on the private beach at Tulemar Reserve while enjoying their stay at Buena Vista Luxury Villas.

Wedding photographer, Kevin Heslin, was able to capture the couple’s sweet and personal elopement ceremony thanks to fantastic weather and one beautiful couple.

One of the best parts about these two is their spontaneity as Marjean called us around a month prior to their travel dates.  There’s a lot to be said for being able to start packing as soon as you finish your planning!

Congratulations you two!

Marjean & David Manuel Antonio Elopement, Costa Rica

Photographer – Kevin Heslin