Fairy Tales Come True, Even On A Weekday

weekdays

When couples decide to get married, the first thing they normally do is open a calendar and choose a date. And that date almost always falls on a weekend.

Next they choose a venue to hold the ceremony. But with only 52 weekends in a year — and high demand for the best venues — couples often have to settle.

It turns out that “weekday” is not such a dirty word anymore. More and more couples are opting for a formerly unfashionable midweek wedding date to ensure they get to marry in that historic house with large grounds, or that prime golf course on the ocean.

Surveys show a record 1 in 3 couples are spurning expensive weekend weddings to save money by hosting their nuptials on days when rates are generally cheaper — as much as 40 percent cheaper in some cases.

The study, which questioned 500 modern brides, found that the number of women walking up the aisle on a Saturday or Sunday has fallen to 67 percent of all weddings.

Aside from saving money, other factors that may cause couples to favor a midweek ceremony include convenience, an ability to hire the best wedding professionals, nostalgia (choosing a grandparent’s anniversary, or a quirky date such as Leap Day), intimacy (midweek works best for smaller, more personal weddings) and the fact that no other wedding or large event is likely to fall on their big day.

The honeymoon is also a consideration, with 17 percent of couples surveyed taking advantage of midweek flight deals by jetting off straight after the wedding.

Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley is a highly sought-after venue, so weekday weddings have become a huge hit, for the following reasons:
1. Savings. Holman Ranch offers a very reduced site fee for weekdays, and couples can expect the same from their vendors. Holman recommends that couples use that extra room in their wedding budget to splurge on that dream dress, or other extras that may have been budget busters before.
2. Flexibility. Times have changed, and more and more people work unconventional schedules, telecommute and are able to work anywhere with the right technology in place. Hotels usually offer discounted rates plus flights and car rentals are cheaper during the week.
3. Availability. Weekend dates can book up a year or more in advance, leaving weekdays as a viable option. And the sun shines just as brightly in Carmel Valley on weekdays as it does on weekends.

Holman also points out that weekday weddings naturally whittle down the guest count, therefore reducing costs. You can still invite the “B” List, but with more assurance that not all will be able to come due to the weekday. Couples score bonus points with the kind gesture inherent in an invitation, but are able to keep the guest list to a more manageable number.

Traditionalists might argue that the sense of occasion is lost on a weekday afternoon. But a wedding should be able to transcend its date, with hope that a couple’s loved ones will be just as excited to witness true love midweek as they would be on a weekend.

From Shaving Cream To Cat Tonic, Olive Oil Has Many Uses Outside The Kitchen

It’s well known that olive oil is a key ingredient in delicious vinaigrette, is integral in any marinade and coats every great chef’s sauté pan.

It’s also no longer news that olive oil is a major component of a healthy diet. Nutritionists have long touted the heart-healthy benefits of extra-virgin olive oil, which can significantly lower the risk of having a heart attack, suffering from a stroke or dying of heart disease, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. It can also help lower cholesterol and control insulin levels in the body, and research also suggests it helps prevent some cancers.

holman olive oil

But would you ever rub olive oil on your face, or your hair? Or treat a squeaky hinge with it? Outside the kitchen, olive oil has some other uses, some of which may surprise you.

1. Moisturize Skin
Olive oil makes the best moisturizer, especially during the dry, cold winter months. It soaks easily into your skin and doesn’t leave it feeling greasy. And if you soak herbs (such as lavender, rosemary or mint) in the oil you’re left with a very subtle, delightful scent. Packed with good fats and nutrients, a little bit of olive oil soothes crusty cuticles, relieves dry skin.

2. Polish Furniture
Don’t waste money buying chemical-rich wood furniture polish. Instead, use olive oil because it’s highly effective and more eco-friendly. It also works well for polishing silver and copper, or to clean and season cast-iron skillets.

3. Control Hair Frizz
A bit of olive oil can transform bad hair into manageable hair. Pour a few drops on your hand and rub them together once or twice to evenly distribute the oil. Lightly run your hands over your head to control the frizz. Olive oil can also be used as a deep treatment for dry or damaged hair. Comb a few tablespoons of oil through your hair, rubbing it in well. Cover with a shower cap and let it sit for at least half an hour before shampooing.

4. Ease Stuck Zippers
If your zipper is stuck, run a cotton swab soaked in olive oil along the metal teeth. It can help ease it back on track.

5. Use as Shaving Cream
Forgot those high-priced creams and gels, just rub a bit of olive oil on your face (or legs for that matter) and enjoy a smooth, clean shave.

6. Fix Squeaky Doors
Instead of wasting money on solvents, apply some olive oil on squeaky hinges to quiet an irritating noise without harsh chemicals or a toolbox.

7. Shine a Stainless Steel Sink
A light coating will make your sink gleam again, and prevent future water spots from showing up.

8. Remove Paint From Hair
If your home-improvement weekend leaves your head matching your freshly painted wall, use olive oil to ease the color out of your strands.

9. Care for Your Cat
Add a teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food to help prevent hairballs, and provide a shiny coat.

10. Lice Treatment
Apply olive oil to your youngster’s hair, and leave on for at least 40 minutes. Shampoo twice, and then re-apply as a preventative.

The Fight Goes On Between Equine Purists And Advocates Of Cloning

Argentinian millionaire and polo superstar Adolfo Cambiaso found it impossible to say goodbye to his star horse Aiken Cura after he broke down during a 2006 match.

So he cloned him.

Sounds like science fiction, but equine cloning has been discussed in the popular press since the birth of the first cloned equids (three mules and one horse) in 2003. Cambiaso saw an opportunity, and went into partnership with Texas oil tycoon Alan Meeker, who had purchased the cloning technology.

Cloned_Horse

Today, Cambiaso has created around 100 clones of his favorite horses to ensure he continues to have the very best animals on the polo pitch, creating debate and controversy along the way.

Americans don’t care much for polo, but the success of Cambiaso’s cloning venture may have huge implications for what was once one of the most popular sports in America — horse racing.

There has been a subtle shift in perception of cloned horses worldwide, underscored when Federation Equestre Internationale, the international equestrian governing body, reversed an earlier ban on clones in competition. Clones will now be allowed to participate in the Olympics beginning in 2016. The FEI’s decision is based on the belief that clones are not 100 percent identical and also that the rider and environment make a difference in a horse’s performance.

In America, the controversy is playing out in court. Two Texas breeders — a rancher named Jason Abraham and a veterinarian named Gregg Veneklasen — sued the American Quarter Horse Association in 2012 after the AQHA refused to register eight cloned horses. The AQHA, like all other horse breed associations, has policies against registering cloned animals, and bans them from participating in races and other official association events. In its official policy statement on the lawsuit the association argued that cloning is “not breeding” because “clones don’t have parents” and said cloning does not improve the breed but makes “Xerox copies of the same horse.” AQHA also said that selected breeding was the only way to ensure the strength of the breed in the future.

A jury in a federal court in Texas ruled that the AQHA’s ban on cloned horses was a violation of anti-monopoly laws, and ruled in favor of Abraham and Veneklasen. The AQHA has appealed, however, and a resolution has still not been reached.

The AQHA, which bills itself as the “world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization,” has more than 750,000 quarter horses registered.

Other U.S. horse-breeding groups are watching the case closely because it could set a precedent. No U.S. horse-breeder group allows clones to be registered. Breeders worldwide could be affected because semen could be transported to other countries, though some international laws might not allow the use of clones.

Currently it costs about $150,000 to clone a quarter horse. The chromosomes of a cell from the donor animal are transferred into the cytoplasm of an egg, and the egg is signaled to develop an embryo. Given the current state of science, it’s difficult to produce a clone with the exact same attributes as the original.

But if you clone the same horse a number of times, a near-exact match is almost assured — and that prospect has really opened Pandora’s Box.

Near-Historic Drought Stresses Grapes Just Enough To Make Delicious Wine

Winemakers across California’s famed regions picked and crushed grapes ahead of the usual harvest time this year because the near-historic drought has ripened crops early, one symptom from a lack of water.

But wine fans should shed too many tears. Vines don’t require nearly as much water as fruits and vegetables do, and the best vineyards have extremely efficient, environmentally correct irrigation systems. Even the vineyards that are dry-farmed have not been not overly stressed by the lack of rainfall.

What’s interesting to consider is that some stress is good for the vines, because that struggle to survive produces smaller, more concentrated berries and a somewhat higher sugar content — both results often coveted by winemakers.

If, however, California’s drought extends into 2015 and beyond, there could be significant issues in the vineyards.

vineyards

Extreme water stress can have detrimental effects on both the vine and on potential wine quality. To conserve water, a vine will try to limit its loss through transpiration. The plant hormone abscisic acid triggers the stomata on the underside of the plant leaf to stay close in order to reduce the amount of water that is evaporated. This limits the intake of carbon dioxide needed to sustain photosynthesis.

When a vine has been deprived of water it can go beyond what is known as its permanent wilting point, and can become catastrophically damaged beyond recovery — even if later watered.

Some symptoms of severe water stress include: flaccid and wilting tendrils; wilting of young grape leaves; and berries shriveling and falling off the vine.

The Paso Robles wine region has been hit especially hard, and has actually forced some growers to abandon vines. So far, Monterey County vintners have not had to resort to such drastic measures, but they are hoping the new rain season, which began Oct. 1, brings much needed precipitation.

State officials are urging residents and businesses to keep conserving water as the state ends another extremely dry “water year” with no guarantee the coming year will be any wetter.

The 2014 water year was one of the driest on record, with the state getting less than 60 percent of the average precipitation, according to the state Department of Water Resources. The state’s major reservoirs collectively held only 57 percent of average water storage on Sept. 1.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency and called on residents to reduce water usage. The state and federal government have drastically reduced water deliveries to Central Valley farms, and the state water board approved fines of up to $500 for wasting water.

In 2012, California produced 89 percent of the wine in the U.S., from boutique labels such as Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley to corporate-owned giants.

Producing that much wine puts pressure on the state vineyards to adjust to environmental changes while keeping the quality high.

Holman Ranch always “stresses the vines” of its fruit with emphasis on reproduction, which in turn, stops growth and ripens fruit, so the overly dry year was nothing out of the ordinary. The valley configuration at the vineyard also allows for fog in the morning, which brings some natural moisture. But the fog rapidly moves out as the air warms, which is great for grapes, especially Pinot Noir.

Holman strives for balance and structure in its grapes, while aiming for three tons per acre at harvest, and it uses no herbicides or pesticides, which is in line with its sustainable and organic designation.

There’s Nothing Pedestrian About A Leisurely Hike

The word “pedestrian” describes a person walking, but it also means “prosaic, plain, commonplace or uninspired,” and for centuries that has cast a negative light on walkers everywhere. From the Latin pedester (on foot), the word once caused much derision (a foot soldier paled in comparison to a cavalry man, for example), meaning not to be on a horse or mobile in any way other than by foot, was to be utterly unremarkable.

The idea of walking through the countryside for pleasure developed in the 18th-century, and arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature, associated with the Romantic Era. Before this time period, walking generally indicated poverty or vagrancy — and was, well, pedestrian. The Romantic Era launched an appreciation of the outdoors, and a slow, leisurely, up-close method of viewing it.

We called this pastime hiking, which in North America is the preferred term for a long, vigorous walk in the countryside. The word hiking is also sometimes used in the United Kingdom, along with rambling, hillwalking, and fell walking. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping, while Australians often call it bushwhacking.

fell walking

Whatever the term, mass mechanized transportation began to erode what the Romantic Era spawned, and greatly curtailed the love of walking and hiking, especially in the United States — which is a shame because the U.S. has more state and national parks (and open space in general), than any other country.

Statistics show that these days Americans prefer not to walk much. Experts recommend that a healthy human take around 10,000 steps per day (that’s the equivalent of about 5 miles). The average American takes about 5,100 steps a day, an embarrassing total when compared to Australians (9,695), Swiss (9,650) and Japanese (7,200). A rural South African woman takes an average of 10,594 steps a day (many while carrying a load), and an Amish man takes about 18,425 steps, making everyone else on the planet look downright sedentary.

There are still plenty of folks who love to hike. For them, there’s a simplicity in walking into the woods to commune with your surroundings. With no distractions or modern conveniences, you can learn a lot about yourself on a hike.

The Central Coast of California is a hiker’s dreamland. From the gorgeous coastline along Highway 1 to Big Sur, to the protected lands of Point Lobos, inland to Carmel Valley’s Garland Ranch Regional Park, hikers can find a range of views, topographies and wildlife.

After the sheer beauty, what makes hiking in these parts so appealing is the weather; dry summers, sunny and warm fall harvest months, a fresh, mild spring that produces verdant hills replete with wildflowers, and temperate, green winters. It creates a long season for those who want to explore.

With 400 acres, Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley specializes in multi-day retreats and single-day off-site events that feature unique event spaces and amazing activities, including hiking on property, where you’ll encounter vineyards, agriculture, mountains, olive groves, horses, flora, fauna, and so much more.

Nothing pedestrian about that.

Dancing Can Lead To Romance — And Wedding Bells

Going on a first date can often feel a lot like a job interview. You sit down to dinner, ask and answer awkward questions, squirm in your seat and try not to look nervous.

Instead you could be dancing.

Alex and Alyssa Pagonis know the power of dance. The two met on a mission trip to Figi and “it was love at first sight on the dance floor of the resort we were staying at,” said Alyssa.
Their first date upon returning home? Dinner and dancing (of course) in San Francisco.

After many dates and many dances, Alex proposed while the two sat overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. “I was living in San Francisco while we were dating, and we grew to love the city together,” she said.

weddingdance

Alex and Alyssa married on Aug. 4 of 2014 at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. They chose Holman Ranch for its beautiful grounds, friendly staff and the couple’s ability to customize the wedding with vendors of their choice.

Of course, they had DJ and plenty of dancing.

“During the dancing, we played a couple of Greek songs,” said Alyssa, a decision to honor her husband’s heritage. Alex’s mom and his theias (Greek for aunts) baked some delicious Greek cookies for the dessert bar, too.

For Alex and Alyssa, it all started on the dance floor. So why waste another evening at a restaurant or in the movie theater when you and your date could be grooving to some music? Dancing is a great way to discover any potential chemistry between you and your date. You become one another’s partner, instead of just two people on a date. And participating in something active like dancing releases endorphins that elevate mood and generate positive feelings. Combine that with some fun music and you’ve got an experience that will curb any first date jitters while allowing people to be themselves.

Other reasons why dancing is a good idea for a date:
• Dance is the universal icebreaker. No talking is required because the music fills the airspace between you. All you need to do is smile and be natural, not trying to do too much — especially if it’s beyond your skill level.
• It can ignite passion. Dance is an exciting way to get to know each other. It fosters respect for both partners and forces you to let your guard down by just having fun. Being in close proximity to your date, making eye contact, and learning the way each other’s bodies move can be very alluring.
• It’s easy. People of all ages, sizes and experience levels can dance. Dance studios host private and group lessons for every level of expertise from beginner to expert.

Couple: Alex and Alyssa Pagonis
Wedding Date: Aug. 3, 2014
Guest Count: 182
Other Vendors
Wedding Planner: Dreams on a Dime, Jessica Goldblatt
Caterer: Paradise Catering
Photographer: Dave Medal Photography
Videographer: Ellay Films
DJ/Band/Musicians: Sound in Motion
Bakery: Gizdich Ranch Pies
Hair and Makeup: M.U.A.H. Makeup and Hair
Florist: Loop Flowers and Event Arts

A Qualified Farrier A Necessity For All Horse Owners

“No hoof, no horse” isn’t just an old proverb. Equine experts estimate that 70 percent of all lameness experienced by horses is caused by hoof-related problems. Neglecting proper horse hoof care can allow problems such as thrush, canker, abscesses, cracks and laminitis to develop and worsen.

That’s where farriers become an important member of a horse-care team.

A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves, if necessary. A farrier combines some blacksmith’s skills (fabricating, adapting, and adjusting metal shoes) with some veterinarian’s skills (knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lower limb) to care for horses’ feet.

farriers

Farrier comes from “ferrarius,” a Latin word meaning “of iron” or “blacksmith,” which explains why farriers are so often confused for being blacksmiths.

Historically, the jobs of farrier and blacksmith were practically synonymous. A farrier’s work in Colonial America or pre-Industrial Revolution Europe would have included shoeing horses, as well as the fabrication and repair of tools, the forging of architectural pieces, and so on.

There’s a lot involved in the work of a modern farrier, including knowledge of biomechanics, sculpting, locomotion, anatomy and, of course, blacksmithing. A farrier has to be able read how a horse moves, how it gaits, read wear patterns on hooves and how it all relates to the limbs.

Additional tasks for the farrier include dealing with injured or diseased hooves and application of special shoes for racing, training or cosmetic purposes. Horses with certain diseases or injuries may need remedial procedures for their hooves, or need special shoes.

Acting as veterinarians, farriers care for hooves by watching for signs of disease or other ill-health. They also perform the following tasks:

Trimming
Farriers maintain hooves by keeping them trimmed. A young horse should get its first hoof trim at three months of age, before the cartilage has set, to prevent problems such as pigeon-toeing. Using tools such as rasps and nippers, farriers cut away the hoof material. This allows the horse to maintain foot balance by keeping the feet at the proper shape and length.

Cleaning
Hygiene is important, especially for animals confined and allowed to continually walk over the same ground where they urinate and defecate. This underlines the importance of farriers cleaning the feet and cutting out excess hoof walls.

Horseshoeing
Most domesticated horses need horseshoes because their hooves harden less than in the wild, they’re not walking on hard surfaces as often and their hooves don’t naturally wear themselves down as much.

Farriers also apply horseshoes as a corrective measure to improve a horse’s gait and to help an animal gain traction when walking in slippery conditions such as ice. Not all horses need shoes. It all depends on how often the person rides the animal and what type of environment they live in. If you ride a horse less than three times week, you can probably get without shoes. Racehorses and performance horses obviously need shoes.

The farrier trade has been passed down from the days of Romans. In the second millennium, Asians were putting leather sandals on their horses.

For more information on farriers, or to find one in your area, visit http://www.americanfarriers.org. For a great local place to board your horse please see www.holmanranch.com/stables

The Best Wine Pairing For Turkey Day? Pinot Noir

Nearly 90 percent of all Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, translating to 46 million birds roasted and dressed and put on our tables each year.

Historians believe the turkey to be an odd choice as our centerpiece, given that turkey was not part of the first Thanksgiving meal in 1621 at Plymouth Rock. The stately bird gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice for Americans not long after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

It made sense. The turkey is big enough to feed a large family. Unlike chickens or cows, they didn’t serve much utilitarian purpose such as laying eggs or producing milk. And unlike pork, turkey wasn’t so common that it didn’t seem like a suitable choice for a special occasion.

So turkey became an autumn staple. The question for Americans then became: What is the best wine to pair with this bird?

According to noted wine blogger Steve Stacionis, and a majority of other wine experts, pinot noir fits the bill perfectly on Turkey Day.

holman ranch pinot noir

“If it’s a red you’re after, I’d bet most heavily on a Pinot Noir. Lighter in body and softer on the palate than something like a Cabernet or a Merlot, California Pinot Noir’s plush, easy berry fruit is just the right match for poultry and all your T-Day fixings,” he writes.

Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile, food-friendly red wines because it contains soft tannins and a fresh burst of tart acidity. Pinot also has herbal notes that complement all the sage, thyme, and fennel in a Thanksgiving feast, and an earthiness that brings out the best in gravies and stuffing.

Pinot remains such a favorite at the Thanksgiving table due to a number of other factors:
• It is generally light to medium bodied, the opposite of full-bodied wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, which can easily overpower a turkey-based meal. And because a traditional Thanksgiving meal usually lasts 2-3 hours, you want to avoid the heavier wines that can make guests tired and sleepy (most people blame the turkey for this).
• It is characterized by its vibrant, juicy red and black cherry characteristics, which can really enhance the succulence of the turkey, stuffing, gravy and all the accoutrements.
• It has bright acidity and gentle tannins. The high acid of the wine helps bring out the juiciness in the turkey, and will cut through the heaviness of the gravy, and it will also cozy up to that American tradition of green bean casserole. The low tannic nature of this varietal helps it pair well with green veggies such as Brussels sprouts.

Growing pinot noir grapes is not easy, but Monterey County does it as well or better than any other region in the world. The warmth of the inland valleys coupled with the cooling marine layer from the coast creates ideal conditions.

At Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, their Burgundy clones have thrived from the perfect blend of ideal climate, southern exposure and thin rocky soils, and they produce six different pinot noirs.

Now pinot lovers everywhere have the opportunity to put their taste buds to the test and enjoy these six amazing wines side by side. Pick one, or all six, to enjoy at your Thanksgiving table. The Holman Ranch Pinot Noir Tasting Experience is available in store or online, for a total cost of $180.

Find out more at http://www.holmanranch.com/vineyard_winery/wines.html.

Proposing At A Restaurant?

Popping the question while dining at a restaurant has become tradition among grooms-to-be. According to The Knot.com, nearly 60 percent of women said they would want to be asked at the site of their first date, while 31 percent said they’d want to say yes at their favorite restaurant, or one they’ve always wanted to try.

Naoki Nakata decided to propose to his beloved Roxanna Veloso on Valentine’s Day at an Asian fusion restaurant in Burlingame, Calif., called Archipelago.

“We always talked about trying the restaurant one day so I decided to take her there and surprise her by proposing at the same time,” he said.

She said yes (of course) and the two eventually married in April of 2014 as 120 guests witnessed the ceremony at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley.

romantic-dinner-engagement

They chose Holman Ranch for “the warm, cozy feeling from the venue, its aesthetic and style, and the breathtaking scenery above the vineyard where we had our photo-shoot mid-wedding event.”

And it all started in a restaurant, where a nervous Naoki asked the most important question of his life. A restaurant offers the groom (or bride) a calming influence, and he or she can lean of the staff for help.

So whether you’re thinking of asking for someone’s hand at a corner taqueria over a burrito, or heading to the big city for a one-night, no-expense-spared surprise meal, here are some tips.

1. If You’re Going to Do It Over Dinner, Do It Out
Proposing is stressful enough. If you do it in a restaurant, asking aside, there is nothing the proposer has to worry about, according to Megan Vaughan, service director at Eleven Madison Park (below, left). “Unlike at home, you don’t have to cook, there is no wine pairing to fret over, and you’ll be doted on to ensure the evening is something you both will never forget.” Louis Risoli, a 30-year veteran of L’Espalier in Boston’s Back Bay, thinks it’s also fun for the couple. “Why not combine this special event with a special place, doing something you both enjoy greatly?”

Even though you’ll have the restaurant team on your side, don’t forget to add your own signature touch, advises Chad Bertelsman, senior dining room manager at Chicago’s Spiaggia. “Proposing in a restaurant has become part of our culture,” says Bertelsman. “The best proposals include something that is special to the couple from their time together — a photograph of a trip taken together, a special poem, a favorite flower.” Just as if you were proposing somewhere else, it’s these little details that matter most if you want to make the moment truly unique.

2. Get the Restaurant to Work With You
The first thing to do is get the restaurant on your side. Contact them and explain what you’re envisioning. “Ask them if there is special seating they would recommend, perhaps something a bit secluded,” says Risoli. If unfamiliar with the restaurant, Bertelsman suggests asking them what table they’d recommend. “Most of us have handled thousands of proposals and can help advise and inspire you.” Once the management knows, they will often work with you to make special requests — like pouring Champagne right after s/he (hopefully!) accepts — happen. Others will also do something special just for the occasion adds Vaughan, like giving the couple an exclusive tour of the kitchen or preparing a special course, or series of courses, that isn’t on the menu.

3. When to Propose
It’s common for the question to be popped over dessert, while others just want to get it over with and share the meal with their betrothed in the know. Risoli agrees. “The proposer is bound to be very nervous beforehand, and is unlikely to enjoy anything until the ring is on the finger! I always recommend doing it earlier in the meal, perhaps after ordering, but before the food arrives.”

Bertelsman recalls one man who planned to propose over dessert who was so nervous, he was drinking Scotch to manage the stress. “His girlfriend noticed he was drinking more than usual and began to question him. He of course got defensive, she got mad and left — all the while the ring was still in the restaurant’s safe.”

Remember, the restaurant is on your side here, so let them know your plan. They’ll be on the lookout, delaying the meal, popping open a bottle of Champagne, whatever you want and need to make the event as memorable and personal as you wish. Too nervous about figuring out when the “right” time will be? Let them take it off your hands completely. “Many proposers will give the ring to the restaurant manager in advance and it brought to the table at a specified time, perhaps on a small domed tray, with a beautiful flower or two,” adds Risoli.

4. Ways to Make it Memorable
When proposing, how it’s done and the small details are what make for lasting memories. Vaughan recalls one more unconventional proposal where the man wanted to pop the question dressed in a full server uniform. He had asked his girlfriend’s boss to take her to lunch. Once seated, he approached the table with a tray of hors d’oeuvres — and the ring. She was so immersed in conversation she didn’t even realize it was him until he started talking — and got down on one knee. (And yes, the boss left the two of them to have lunch together.)

Bertelsman remembers one particularly lavish proposal with a carefully selected eight-course tasting menu. The ring — along with a great bottle of Champagne and a dozen roses — was served first, but with each subsequent course, a dozen more roses were presented. While there was room for the 90 roses at the end of the meal, when they left to get in the horse-drawn carriage, she only took one stem.

5. Important Advice to Heed
Aside from making sure your loved one will say yes (which is somewhat out of your control), call the restaurant the day before and re-confirm any plans. Checking, and triple checking, that everything will go as planned will let you rest just a bit easier. Bertelsman and Risoli agree that keeping the moment private, just between the two of you, is best. Bertelsman adds, “don’t bring your mom, your best friend, or your attorney. I’ve seen all three.”

The Dos And Don’ts Of Planning Off-Site Corporate Events

Off-site meetings can be a great way for companies to brainstorm ideas, strengthen professional relationships, resolve communication issues, gain a renewed commitment to company goals and get everyone’s creative juices flowing again.

In a recent national survey of more than 600 business professionals, 63 percent say meetings outside of the office are more productive, and 67 percent say they would book meetings outside of their normal workspace to enhance their company’s image.

HolmanRanchdinner

However, an off-site meeting that is not well-planned can be a disaster. All it takes is one botched trust-building exercise, a lineup of truly horrid banquet food or a venue that is too noisy or distracting to erode all the good feelings about getting away and getting down to work.

Here are some helpful tips for planning a successful off-site meeting:
• Anchor the meeting with goals that actually mean something to the business. Be sure to think about the off-site strategically, making it more than just an employee bonding exercise. With planning it can became an opportunity to generate new ideas and help employees grow in accordance with company guidelines.
• The physical surroundings of your off-site meeting can make an enormous difference. Hotels and conference centers are great locations, but they’re not the only options — and can create distractions. Look for comfort, convenience, peacefulness and efficiency. Don’t assume a “creative” location will automatically inspire your team to greater creativity. In short, pick a venue that allows your employees to focus on the meeting.
• When selecting your meeting site, be sure to take a tour of the facility beforehand, including the “back of the house.” Check for ample storage space for supplies, secure areas for employees to put their belongings and a sufficient number of clean restrooms. Of course, the venue must also provide ample meeting spaces and a place to gather for meals.
• Don’t forget the fun. Just because this is a business meeting, don’t neglect the recreational opportunities. Build time into the day’s schedule to allow employees to take advantage of these extras.
• Be sure to determine your budget ahead of time. Expenses to consider: transportation, facility rental, equipment rental, accommodations, catering, and possibly the cost of hiring a guest speaker or entertainer.
• Create a detailed schedule and determine the event needs beforehand. Be conscious of production needs, food orders, printing, and anything else that needs to be thought out before the meeting day.
• Build in travel time to and from the site, and set an agenda with that in mind. Also ensure that everyone has appropriate transportation to get to the meeting on time. Decide up front whether you want the day to be a high-intensity, nose-to-the-grindstone event, a laid-back and relaxing retreat, or a balanced program combining a bit of each.
• Circulate a pre-retreat agenda that lets employees know the objectives for the off-site meeting. This will provide everyone with an opportunity to prepare and ensure full and constructive participation. Consider giving pre-meeting homework that employees need to bring to the meeting.

With 400 acres, including a working vineyard, olive grove and oak-studded hills, Holman Ranch in sunny, tranquil Carmel Valley specializes in multi-day retreats and single-day off-site events that feature unique event spaces, engaging activities and more. This unique property offers an idyllic environment, elegant style, executive services and contemporary technologies to make any corporate retreat memorable.

Team-building possibilities include skeet shooting, roping, scavenger hunts and poker nights. Holman Ranch offers a fully appointed executive boardroom, wi-fi access, audio-visual equipment and many other amenities.

Find out more at www.holmanranch.com .

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