Recent FriFotos Articles

The Emirates First Experience… in GIFS

A smiling air hostess aboard an Emirates flight from DWF to DXB

I’ve flown a few legs on Emirates in First Class recently. Since nothing is going to top the video my husband and I made back in 2009, I needed to come up with another way to capture the experience.

The Emirates Flight Crew at DFW airport GIF

I thought it might be fun to do GIF post.

2004 Dom Perginon prior to take off GIF

I shot these images as stills on my iPhone 6 and then turned them into GIFS using the Giffer Pro App ($3.99)

Dates before take off on Emirates First

Emirates is known for hiring very attractive “brand ambassadors” as flight attendants. Here my husband enjoys one of the dates offered to Emirates First prior to take off.

Arabic coffee pour with a smile GIF

Small cups of arabic coffee are poured prior by an Emirates flight attendant. I love their I dream of Jeannie style hats. Giffer Pro also offers fun filters which help compensate for bad airplane light.

The Emirates First shuttle at Dubai International Airport

Giffer Pro also allows you to turn video into a GIF, like I did with the video I shot on my iPhone above.

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Meet the Dogs of The Monkey Tail Ranch: a Photo Essay

Maybelle, an autism service dog hopeful

I recently visited The Monkey Tail Ranch for their Volunteer Recognition Day and Open House. Located in Hollister, California about an hour south of San Jose, The Monkey Tail Ranch is a 501 organization which trains service dogs, mostly for children with autism.

I met Tim and Elise through K9 Training Concepts where they helped me better train my lab, Scarlet. Not all dogs make the cut to be service dogs, and those that don’t get socialized and trained to be Instadogs, which are family pets. My puppy, Zeppelin, is an Instadog and the perfect addition to our family.

Here’s some video I shot of my two dogs playing at the Monkey Tail Ranch:

Scarlet and Zeppelin playing at Monkey Tail Ranch

Eight week old Maybelle is very well socialized

Perry is almost done with his service dog training and will soon be going home to his forever boy.

Elise working with Zeppelin, my instadog

Boomer the horse was happy to eat carrots from guests at the Monkey Tail Ranch

I think the world of Tim and Elise and work they do with pets and service dogs. If you think an Instadog might be right for your family, check out the Instadog website and the Instadog Facebook page. You can learn more about the Monkey Tail Ranch on their Facebook Page.

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Landscapes of St. Lucia: a #FriFotos Photo & Video Essay

A view of Gros Piton from Ladera Resort

I just returned from my first trip to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia is all lush rainforest and curvy mountains. If islands were supermodels, I’d say St. Lucia is the Kate Upton equivalent. In honor of #FriFotos, I thought I’d share a few landscapes from St. Lucia.

iPhone panorama shot from the deck of Ladera Resort

Diamond Falls, St. Lucia

The Piton Mountains are no doubt the island’s most notable geography– they are an UNESCO  World Heritage Site– but St. Lucia has many other charms. The island has beaches, rainforest, volcanos and waterfalls (especially the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens) are all beautiful and worth visiting.

St Lucia’s Diamond Falls

Peak a book Piton view from the pool at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort

If you’re into cloud porn, then St. Lucia is for you. Here’s a timelapse I shot from the deck of room 709 at Sugar Beach.

Cloud Time Lapse from Room 709 at Sugar Beach

Beautiful landscapes are one thing, but Lucians, as the locals call themselves, are lovely people. And it was nice to leave the hotels and go into Soufriere and dine with the locals while taking in another spectacular sunset.

Sunset at Soufriere Harbor, St. Lucia

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FriFotos: Service Dogs in Uniform at the Monkey Tail Ranch

Tim and Tater, the FEMA search and rescue dog, en route to Alaska

When I found out this week’s FriFotos theme was “uniform” I decided to take the opportunity to pay tribute to some very special professionals who wear uniforms– service dogs.

I’ve learned quite a bit about service dogs in the past year because my puppy, Zeppelin, is being trained by Tim and Elise of K9 Training Concepts who know quite a bit about the subject. In addition to training dogs as family pets (like my Zeppelin), Tim and Elise are both members of the FEMA Search & Rescue teams. Their dogs, Tater and Lupin, are are trained to find live human scent in disaster situations. These dogs have mad skills. Check out Tater climbing a ladder at the 1:15 mark in this video.

Tater climbing a ladder at the 1:15 mark is highly impressive

Tater in Uniform

Tim and Elise are also the co-founders of The Monkey Tail Ranch, a non-profit organization where they train service dogs to help those living with autism, post-traumatic stress, and other disorders that can benefit from having a service animal.

Nothing cuter than a puppy in uniform: Future service dogs in training

I didn’t know about autism service dogs until until I got to know Tim and Elise, and every time I hear updates about how the Monkey Tail service dogs have changed lives, I often find myself moved to tears. 

First time in uniform: 9 week old Bailey, a future autism service dog

If you know of anyone who might benefit from an autism service dog, I highly recommend checking out The Monkey Tail Ranch. I cannot speak highly enough of Elise and Tim’s commitment to dog training– be it their own FEMA search and Rescue Dogs,  service dogs for austim, and family dogs.

Lupin the FEMA Search and Rescue dog looking very handsome in uniform

Tim is also a full time firefighter, and while Firemen a reputation for looking fine in uniform, I don’t think he’d be insulted knowing that Tater and Lupin kind of steal the show. I’m grateful Elise and Tim train family dogs, too, like our Zeppelin. Zepp is an Instadog and won’t be officially home with us until he is fully trained this summer.

Zeppelin is proudly being trained by k9 Training Concepts

Above Photo Credit: Rebecca Adler Rotenberg

The Monkey Tail Ranch is located in Silicon Valley in Hollister, California.

The photos in this post are courtesy of the Monkey Tail Ranch and Rebecca Adler Rotenberg. Much thanks to Tim, Elise, and Rebecca. Without them, this post would not be possible.

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Luxury and Whimsy Meet at the Saint James Paris

The Saint James is the only hotel in Paris with official Chateau status

What could make a trip to Paris more magical? Staying at the Saint James, the only hotel in Paris that has official “chateau” status. Located in the upscale 16th arrondissement, the Saint James is unlike any place else I’ve stayed in Paris… and I really, really liked it.

Visually stunning staircase at the Saint James Paris

With bold yet whimsical interiors by Bambi Sloan, the Saint James is a stunner, but not at all stuffy. There is a hot air balloon motif through the property that pays homage to days when the grounds were used as an air field.

Left: Hot air Balloon Lamps Right: Zebra taxidermy is so Paris

The rooms and suites are very large by Parisian (or any major European city standards) which more than makes up for the property’s location in the upscale residential 16th  (it’s a 10 minute taxi ride to L’Arc de Triomphe and right near the the Porte Dauphine metro stop).

The timeless dining room at the Saint James

The location wasn’t an issue for me, because my stay was over a bank holiday in January and the property was so fabulous, my husband and I did not want to leave. With a restaurant and bar on the property, there wasn’t a need to when the weather got nasty.

Classically elegant details at the Saint James: a chandelier and an antique clock

The Saint James is part private club, part hotel, which gives the place a nice, understated buzz in the communal areas like the dining room and the bar.

The bedroom of suite 311 at the Saint James was carpeted with a hardwood design

The Saint James is a great choice for a sophisticated romantic getaway, or for those who love luxury and value for money (the basic rooms here are half the price as some of Paris’ most famous hotels).

Left: Nespresso Still Life Right: Fabulous bathroom with great tile & tub

While the Saint James is visually stunning, it’s also functional and comfortable and has a great staff. They are helpful and not overly formal. The concierge helped with dinner reservations and arranging transportation. Wifi is free and works throughout the property.

I loved this particularly bold room inspired by the Last King of Scotland

With only 48 rooms (20 of them suites), the Saint James makes you want to return to have a different experience in another room. So it’s not much of a shocker that the fashion crowd loves this boutique hotel property.

Some flamboyant touches at the Saint James

The bathrooms are definite stand outs both for design and practicality. Suite 311 had a claw foot tub that filled quickly and a separate shower with excellent water pressure that didn’t soak the entire bathroom. The amenities were Lanvin (so not mad at that)!

crazy good bathtub

Room rates include an impressive breakfast spread complete with Mariage Freres tea (my personal favorite).

The beds are comfortable at the Saint James

There is an outdoor garden with a terrace bar shaped like a hot air balloon that I’d like to visit again when the weather is pleasant.

A comfortable seating area in a suite at the Saint James

My stay at the Saint James Paris was a top notch boutique hotel experience.

Left: Hot air balloon wallpaper Right: a lighting fixture shaped like a hot air balloon

There is a fitness room and spa on the property, as well as loaner bikes if you’d like to explore Paris on two wheels.

The Spa Pavilion

The Saint James is a member of Relais & Chateaux.

Left: Love these striped pillows

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Leopard carpet makes the classic dining room feel modern

The breakfast bread basket at the Saint James

The impressive breakfast spread

The Library Bar had a Hogwarts like charm

Room rates at the Saint James start at about $400 USD.

Saint James Paris

Address: 43 Avenue Bugeaud, 75116 Paris, France
Phone:+33 1 44 05 81 81
Email: contact@saint-james-paris.com

Much thanks to Jon Makmaltchi of  JMak Hospitality, Nicolas Egloff and the staff at the Saint James for arranging my stay and hosting me at the Saint James. Without them this post would not be possible.

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