East Africa or Southern, for your first safari experience?

JJ pic sizes east or sa

We pretty much covered East African Safari destinations in a previous blog which you can access here, however, before we head to Southern Africa, we should draw your attention to Rwanda and/or Uganda, especially if gorilla trekking is of interest to you! For many this is the ultimate wildlife experience and adventure. These gentle giants can be found in the area known as the Virunga Mountains, and live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mountain gorillas can be reached after a trek of three to eight hours up and through the rain forest, which you should not attempt unless you are not in good health and able to sustain a slow mountain climbing pace. However it is totally worth it! Trackers will let your ranger know where to find them prior to your trek up the mountain, and then lead you to them. Seeing these incredible animals up close is nothing short of magical!

Continue reading East Africa or Southern, for your first safari experience?

The Cycles of Life

new yearWell it is finally 2020 and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. As for me, this past year was a very difficult one for my family and I, as my father passed away in September, the same month my mother passed, but several years ago. Two months after he passed away I had my birthday, then came Hanukkah, Christmas, my sister’s birthday and of course, now the New Year. All these “celebrations,” one after the other, were firsts without my father and extremely painful. Waking up in the morning and thinking about wishing him a happy new year and then the realization that I will never get to do that again. Suddenly I am an orphan and the month of September really sucks. When I talk to my sister we cannot talk about memories without breaking down and whereas before it was just mom we missed, now it is both of them and the “remember when” chats are doubly devastating and it has gotten worse during the Holidays.

My father had a long and really good life. My parents were happily married, had their own business and travelled extensively.  One of their favorite places was the Kruger National Park in South Africa and Chobe Sunsetneedless to say, memories of our family’s many vacations there came flooding back! The 2am wakeup calls to get to the gate of the Park early in time for breakfast and so that we can watch the sun rise in that most incredible of places. We visited the KNP so often that my dad became a honorary game ranger. I don’t know whether they still do that, but years ago it was a big deal. Mom’s ashes are sprinkled there and now dad’s will be too, and I know they are in their “happy place,” and at peace. While I have not been back there for many years, I kept looking at the posts and beautiful pictures in a Facebook group about the Kruger National Park, and remembered all the places they mention, almost as if it was yesterday. Each camp has a special memory… a boyfriend I met, the BBQ or party on my parent’s birthdays or anniversaries… and the peace that is indescribable.

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A Hidden Gem in Beverly Hills – Redesigned and Stunning!

Beverly Hills Marriott

Several years ago I catered a wedding at a hotel where the Marriott Beverly Hills is now, and not operated by Marriott at the time. I was not impressed by the dark uninviting interior nor the design. It felt gloomy and I never returned there for another event.

Continue reading A Hidden Gem in Beverly Hills – Redesigned and Stunning!

Summer Lovin…. Happened so fast!

It is not just the summer lovin that happened so fast… summer is almost over! Officially that is. Fortunately Los Angeles has its own summer months…In fact it’s most of the year! Lucky us!

These hot August nights in Los Angeles remind me of the ever popular Grease musical; especially the song Summer Lovin…   since summer is the most popular time for romantic events such as weddings and engagements, although those happen more towards the end of the year. Actually considering the variety of events we get booked for, it is probably the most popular time for any event! I don’t know about you but there is something really special about sitting outdoors with your favorite person(s), as the sun sets with a cool glass of wine (or whatever works for you) and relaxing especially after a long day at work.

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A Bar or Bat Mitzvah on a Budget?

mitzvah

I am asked this question about budget all the time and the answer is a resounding YES!…but it takes some research, the assistance of family and friends and being very creative, however it is absolutely doable to have a gorgeous memorable celebration on a budget.

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Croatia: A Trending Wedding Destination

Croatia weddings venues

Whenever destination weddings come up in conversations with my wedding clients, the countries that usually pop up first are Paris or Italy which are known as the most romantic places for lovers and are the usual Countries that inspire romantic visions. Lately though, couples have been asking more about off the beaten track destinations which got me doing some research about the latest trends that are NOT France or Italy of course, and Croatia kept popping up as trending. In case you were wondering… The country is situated just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. It’s no wonder that it has the perfect climate for making wine and olive oil! Well there is no better way to get the down low about a country, than from a dynamo travel agent with many years of experience and hails from Croatia!

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Ideas for Hosting a Wine Tasting!

wine table setting

If you enjoy wine, then anytime of year is a good time to have a wine tasting and hanging out with good friends. If you also enjoy entertaining, then this will be nothing but fun for you! However, if throwing a wine tasting party seems a little intimidating and/or expensive, don’t worry! This is about having fun not breaking the bank! I have some ideas to throw an easy and inexpensive wine tasting at home.

The Wine
It doesn’t have to be expensive. You could host a party with a collection of inexpensive wines just to see which ones taste the best and you might even find a wine that could end up a favorite. You can choose from red (Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Red Zinfandel,) or white (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvingon Blanc, Riesling.) You could have different varieties such as comparing Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s Central Otago, California’s Russian River Valley, Oregon’s Dundee Hills, Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits, or California’s Sonoma Coast or stick to a specific region. Taste through a series of similarly styled wines for example, select an array of “crisp, dry white wines” or “rich, bold reds” or “dessert wines.”

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The Wedding Budget!

chuppah on beach

For the couple on a tight budget!

Now that you and your fiancé have decided on your vision and the most important aspects of the wedding, the next step is the budget. A realistic budget that will allow you to choose most of the must-haves for your special day. In order to do this well you should know approximately what things cost in your area. You don’t want to spend time creating a budget only to discover that flowers cost twice as much as you had hoped to spend, so do the research. When you have info on most of the costs, you can look at the available funds and figure out what kind of wedding you are going to have. If needed and possible, ask your parents if they are willing to help in some way – whether by paying for some aspect of the wedding or just adding funds to the budget. Have a discussion with them and share your wish-list so that they know the scale of the wedding (and also so that they don’t try to pressure you into having the wedding of their dreams!) With open communication, parents can tell you how much they were planning to contribute. If you want their help financially you’ll get much better results when you invite parents to participate and allowing them to state what they’re comfortable with. Show them your priority list and share your excitement about the wedding planning process, rather than just telling them what your dream wedding is going to cost or trying to guilt-trip them into contributing more than they can afford. Never compare what they are contributing to what the in-laws are! If you initially told your parents that you are paying for the wedding yourself but after a period of time expenses have piled up and you now need help, just be direct and ask whether the offer of financial assistance is still on the table. Just FYI – couples typically spend between $20,000 and $33,000 but, it is possible to spend less than $10,000 and still have a fabulous wedding.

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Infusions, Champagne Bar and Wedding Trends.

This blog is inspired by research I have been doing for a couple  who is so much fun to work with – a planner’s true ideal client! As we are going over the details for their wedding, their signature cocktail came up. As they are having pink-ish/blush accents in their bouquets and decor they wanted to carry that through to the signature champagne
cocktails as well which had us discussing what we would have to infuse their champagne with to get that effect. Continue reading Infusions, Champagne Bar and Wedding Trends.

Fun Pairings for Cocktails and Food Stations

Hamburger sliders and friesOne of the biggest challenges for any caterer or wedding/event planner is to find fun and unique ways to wow guests at an event so fish and chips with mini beersI have been looking around for inspiration for the next wedding we are both planning and catering and will share with you some fun beverage and appetizer pairings for cocktail hour and even for the main course that your guests will love! These appetizers are served a little differently than what we are used to seeing at events and this will work well whether you are having a formal black tie or casual backyard event. In fact imagine inviting your guests to a black tie wedding and then giving them fish and chips wrapped in paper with mini beer shots! So far we have had rave reviews.

Continue reading Fun Pairings for Cocktails and Food Stations