Morning Meanderings: Learning Something New – Extracting Honey


Happy Saturday!  Another week has flown by!  This week I have been working in my office on rewrites, research, a couple of days dedicated to the baskets for the auction next Friday prep,Book club and an author event, and I spent some time extracting honey.  Yup honey.

For this weeks Saturday Snapshot and Weekend Cooking I thought I would share some pictures of the amazing process of honey extracting.

My friend Amanda started raising bees a little over three years ago.  The fun thing about her story is that she is pretty much self taught between books (yay books!) she purchased at our local book store and You Tube Videos.  What started out as a hobby has grown into a full grown commercial bee business from rearing her own queens, splitting hives, providing bee nucs for other companies (pretty much a bee starter kit), pollinating almond trees in California – and of course producing and selling honey.

Her business, Buck’s Busy Bee’s has grown exponentially and as of this fall she will have over 2,000 hives.

A few months ago I was contracted to write her story for our local magazine Her Voice.  That article came out this week but unfortunately while in magazine format, has not yet been put on line so I am unable to link to it.

I have helped Amanda off and on through the years from going into the hives, to building the frames that go into the boxes they live in, to harvesting honey, and now most recently; extracting the honey.  When giving my notice recently to invest more time into the writing opportunities that are coming in, Amanda asked me if I would want to assist her with the bees when I am able to.

Uhhh…. YES.

I really do enjoy learning about the bees and this is the final push before the bees are trucked off to the warmer states – Florida and California where they will spend their days in the sun, probably in the next 5 weeks or so.  Amanda’s husband owns a trucking company so he takes the bees to their warmer destination as they do not do well in the cold Minnesota winters.  Lucky bees!

So here is the process:

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, s Busy Bees

This is a bee yard. Amanda has 53 of these around the area. They are secured with electric fencing to keep critters out such as bears. Each box holds 9 to 10 frames. The frames are where the bees make brood (babies!) and honey. When the frames become full, another crate is added to the top of the stack so they have more room to do their thing. If a hive remains full and no box is added, the bees can become frustrated (panic mode) and leave the hive as a swarm. It is important to keep them happy :)


Book journey, bucks busy bees, Amanda Buck, Sheila DeChantal

When the honey is harvested from the hives, it is loaded into boxes and then taken to the Honey House, a sanitized area that the honey will be processed in.



Bucks Busy Bees, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, Book Journey

The frames are now individually processed by using a special tool to gently scrape the capped honey. This loosens it up for the next step. Both sides of a frame will have honey on it.


Bucks Busy Bees, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, Book Journey

The frames now go into this great device that will spin the honey out of them. I am sure there are more technical terms… but this is the basics of what happens next!



Bucks Busy Bees, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, Book Journey

Here is the “Extractor” in all of its glory. I call it Dorothy because it reminds me of what they used in the movie Twister to put the little balls in the air to create read outs of tornado conditions.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Just a quick visual of Dorothy from the movie Twister…. ;)



Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey, Bucks Busy Bees, Amanda Buck

Up close and personal – this is what it does. The honey runs out into these screened buckets. The screen captures all the wax and filters out the pure honey into the bucket. It takes approximately 30 minutes for “Dorothy” to spin out 10 to 12 frames.


Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey, Bucks Busy Bees, Amanda Buck

The next step (which I neglected to take a picture of) is pouring the honey from a bucket with a spout on it into assorted honey jars. That is what I helped with. The honey is prepped, then capped, and ready for sale.


Each host home, (a home that has given space for there to be hives on the property) will receive a case of honey as a thank you.  The rest of the honey will first go on sale at the Little Falls Craft Fair which is the 6th and 7th of September and after that what is left will be on sale on her website.

It really is a fascinating process and who knows… maybe someday I will write a book about bee keeping, or have a bee keeper character in it.  ;)

Stop by Buck’s Busy Bee’s on Facebook and like the page.  Giveaways are going to start on Monday on the Facebook page and winners will be drawn from the page likes :)

This post is a part of Saturday Snapshot where people all over the world post pictures of what they are doing, or what they have done in the past.  It’s great fun so pop on over to West Metro Mommy Reads and see what others are taking pictures of :)  I am also linking this to Weekend Cooking found over at Beth Fish Reads because this is kind of a foodie post too :)

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

1caaLauren Elliott dreams of being a bride but Todd, her boyfriend of many years avoids the subject like it is the plague.  When Lauren’s younger sister who is already married announces she is pregnant Lauren feels even more strongly that it is time to make moves towards what makes her happy, and that may very well mean moving on without Todd.

BethAnne Scranton is the happiest she has ever been in her life with her second husband Max.  He is everything a husband is supposed to be (caring, loving, passionate, a friend and companion) and everything her first husband was not.  The only thing not perfect is the fact that Max’s business is so far away he maintains a separate household and that seems to make BethAnne’s ex think there is room to wiggle back into her life.

Lydia Goetz owns the local yarn store called ‘A Good Yarn’.  She worries about her store and how to think of unique ways to bring in business… it seems however someone is secretly helping her with that.  Baskets of yarn and needles are showing up around the town with a message to knit a scarf and bring it into A Good Yarn where it will be donated to someone in need.  The yarn is all coming from Lydia’s shop… but who?  And why?  Although Lydia is not complaining as her business door is opening more and more to new customers.

How will these women’s lives intertwine?  Who’s relationships will survive the bumps? 



A long time ago I had dabbled in the Debbie Macomber series, Cedar Cove.  I loved how each book was a street address and you learned about the people who lived at that address and their association with the others in the town.  Then the next book would be a different address and from that person’s perspective in the same town.  Really, it is a brilliant series.  As my reading expanded, Debbie Macomber and Cedar Cove were put aside for other books, and I never did find my way back to Cedar Cove, or for that matter, to Debbie Macomber.

Until now.

On a whim…. this book, Blossom Street Brides sounded kind of light and fun, and just the right audio length to hold my attention during the beautiful summer drives.  And… I was right.

Blossom Street Brides is a sweet read centered around three women and their relationships with spouses, boyfriends, and children.  While romance reading has never been a “go to” genre for me, Macomber never lays it on thiick so I am able to enjoy her smooth style of an engaging storyline.  There are a couple of happenings in the book that made the independent woman in me think “oh come on!”, but over all putting reality aside, I found enjoyment in the read.

Going into this book, I did not realize it was part of a series until I finished it, but I never felt I was missing any previous information.  I listened to this one on audio with Cassandra Campbell as the narrator and I enjoyed it.

Fans of Macomber will enjoy this fun look into the three women’s lives.


  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 59 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: March 25, 2014

Orphan Train – Bookies Review and Author Christina Baker Kline Event


A few days ago I posted my thoughts on Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  Last night, the Bookies Book Club met for pizza and reviewed this book as well and then followed up by seeing the author speak.

The whole Orphan Train experience has been fun.  First, our Book Club won the books from a Harper Collins on line contest.  Then our Library secured her to come and speak in our town, AND it just happened to be on the day our book club normally meets AND happens to be the Bookies Anniversary month (13 years!), it sounded like a fun night.


Bookies discussing Orphan Train over dinner.

When we went to see the author of  Orphan Train speak we were in for a real treat.  Christina Baker Kline was a delight to listen to.  She put an impressive amount of research into the book, fueled on to the topic as her husband’s grandfather was an orphan on the train.


When Christina asked the audience if anyone knew someone who had been on an orphan train, a third of the rooms hands shot up.  Wow. 

Orphan Train, Minnesota, Book JOurney

As you can see, Minnesota was one of the higher states as far as the count of orphans were that road the trains.  It was sad to learn that only 30% of the children were orphans.  Many were abandoned, and some were even taken.  Christina said that you did not want your children outside after dark for fear that they be snatched and put on the trains.

The children mainly were between the ages between 2 and 14.  Preferred were boys between the ages of 9 and 14 as they were handy to use on the farms and they could sleep in the barn.  Babies were the next in demand and these trains of babies were called Mercy Trains.  The hardest to place were girls as they could not do the physical labor that was needed and they were more underfoot as girls did not sleep in the barns but in the homes instead.  Harder yet to place, Christina said, was red heads.  No one wanted red headed children or children with freckles.  Christina had articles where they specifically said they do not want any red headed children claiming that they were more prone to disobeying and fights.


Most of the children were not adopted by the families that took them in.  Adoption meant inheritance and people did not want these children to inherit their lands.  They were chosen and signed for with very little paper work – and yes, like in the book Orphan Train, some were abused.

The trains ran from 1854 – 1929.  Over that time more than 100,000 children were placed in homes – many with no records of who they were or where they came from.  Christina had documented conversations with some of the Orphan Train riders she had spoke with and even though the survivors are now in their later 90’s, they still say they always felt something was missing – while they may have been placed in good homes, they still felt somewhat disconnected and knew that “these were not my people.”




When Christina first started her research she was able to connect with around 60 Orphan Train Riders.  Now she said there is about 25 left in the world, and it is their descendants that have picked up the torch to carry on the research and the questions yet unanswered.

The Bookies overall rated the book a strong 4 out of 5.  Most of us really enjoyed the historical fiction mixed with fact.  Following up with the author event was a real treat and for me, has left a need to know more.  This will not be my last look into the Orphan Train.  Thank you Christina Baker Kline for opening our eyes to such an important part of our history.


Do you know anyone who has ridden the orphan trains?

Morning Meanderings… Picnic, Baskets, 17 Hour Days, an Anniversary and Author Event

Sheila DeChantal, Book JourneyGood Morning!  Wow!  Wednesday already!  This week has been FLYING by!  On Sunday we did have the Annual Potluck for church but indoors due to the rain.  This was totally fine and it was fun to hang out with friends.  Once home I worked on cleaning up my neglected home, including shampooing carpets which kept me busy until about 10 pm. 

On Monday I rolled out of bed early (6ish) to set up tables in my living room for putting together the Wine and Words baskets.  At 10 am I worked on the seating arrangement for the event and then worked on the baskets for most of the day with Gail – left for a hair cut at 4 and then came back and worked on them again until 9:30 pm and then moved the whole set up downstairs to be continued this coming Friday.


Bucks Busy Bee's, Book JOurney


Yesterday (Tuesday) I woke up early and walked 4 miles with my friend Kate on the trail.  I fueled up my car, packed a lunch, and then went out to my friends farm to assist in extracting honey from her bee hives and putting it in jars.  Crazy stuff… I think I will post pics of this procedure on Saturday.  Then I came home in the afternoon, cleaned up and met my book club for dinner and the review of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  We went out to dinner at Boomers Pizza, reviewed the book and then went to the College where Christina Baker Kline was speaking on the book.  (Nicely played Bookies… nicely played).  It was an Orphan Train evening ;)  August marks the 13th anniversary of the Bookies.  WOW!



Bookies Book Club at Boomer’s Pizza

I came home last night around 10:30 pm…WIPED OUT.  Today and the rest of the week should go a little easier on me.  I do not have any more commitments this week and my evenings are free!  Woo hoo!!!!  I have had a dull headache the last couple of days from running so hard from one thing to the next – tonight I may rent a movie and chill.  :)

August…. always crazy busy.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading


Hey there!  Welcome to It’s Monday, What Are You Reading!

I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. Fair warning… this meme tends to add to your reading list! ;)

Super busy week this last week but in good ways.  I completed some writing, spent time with friends, helped extract honey (FUN!), and yes… I read.  Here is what I posted this past week:


And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

Mud Run Pictures

CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline


Not too bad a week.  I am finally caught up on reviews.  For this week here is what is on tap:


For My Ears:



1985. Gun Barrel City, Texas. Police searching for missing Fire Department Captain Jimmy Don Beets dug inside a wishing well in the neatly-tended garden of his wife, 48-year-old Betty Lou Beets. Not only did they find his body, but that of Betty Lou’s fourth husband, Doyle Wayne Barker. Each had been shot in the head and buried in a sleeping bag. It wasn’t long before investigators unearthed the terrible truth.

I am a few hours into this one… and … WOW.




Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star and Eva the sidekick, journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.

With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine though a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and surprising events, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life, conventional and otherwise. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, a group of unforgettable people love, lie, cheat, and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.


Sounds interesting!




Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

Cant wait to start this one!


For My Eyes:


Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

I started this one a couple days ago and it sucked me right in!


So what are you reading?  Please share your Its Monday What Are You Reading using the link below where it says click here.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

For those of you who read mainly children and middle grade books, please also feel free to add your link here:


Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Molly Ayer knows the Foster Care System all too well.  She has been a part of it for most of her life bouncing from one home to another.  Now at seventeen years old she is required to do community service for a petty theft crime.  She is required to go through an elderly woman’s attic and clean up, toss out, and organize the cluttered dusty boxes.  An undertaking that on sight appears impossible, especially since the widowed old woman Vivian, does not seem to keen on parting with her things.

As Molly explores the attic and what is inside the boxes, she discovers that Vivian too was part of a much earlier foster system called the Orphan Train. The Train would take children from stop to stop where families could come to the train and choose children to go home with them… that system unfortunately, worked about as well as some of it does still today. As Molly and Vivian spend their days together in the attic they learn of each others experiences with the foster care system, some good..and some bad.  Some times it was your wits and your desire to survive that pulled you through.

Both women find out that they have a lot more in common than one would ever guess by looking at them.



Orphan Train was our book club selection for August.  We chose this book because we won the books for our group from Harper Collins – woo hoo!!!!!!!!  AND the author Christina Baker Kline will be speaking in our town on August 12th, as it happens, our regular Tuesday that we hold our book club on.

Orphan Train turned out to be a delight.  As I had loaned my copy of the book out to a friend, I did not have one in my possession so I decided to try it on audio.  I had heard it was an excellent listen and that turned out to be true.  Narrator Suzanne Toren was perfect for this book.

I went into this book with little knowledge of what it was about other than the Orphan Train (*spoiler alert… it’s the title! ;)  )  I had not read any reviews of the book so even the format of going from Molly’s story to Vivian’s was a surprise and a pleasant one at that.

I enjoyed the storyline and the knowledge I picked up along the way regarding the Orphan Train.  It is a subject I hope to learn more about and I am hopeful that next week Christina Baker Kline will talk more about her research.

Historical Fiction fans will enjoy this read.

I will talk more about the Bookies Book Club thoughts on the book as well as the Author Event next week.




  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Release Date: April 2, 2013






Morning Meanderings… Rainy Day and Books


Good morning.  Mmmmmm….. coffee is good here.  I am sitting at my kitchen table writing this post and watching it gently rain outside.  It is a hazy kind of day – the kind that makes for good reading or keeps you inside to do house cleaning.  I need to do a little of both today as I get ready for the basket assembly that will be happening here tomorrow morning with my friend Gail in preparation for the Wine and Words auction.

The bummer side of the rain is that today is the annual Church Picnic and baptism around 12:15 today.  It still has time to stop raining, so perhaps things will just be nice and clean.  We do need the rain it has been pretty dry here these last few weeks.

A few treasures came in this week:



Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich  (audio)


Thrones and Bones by Lou Anders (audio)


The Young World by Chris Weitz (audio)


The Girls Of August by Anne Rover Siddons (audio)


Enchantress by Maggie Anton


The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi


The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle


Always A Catch by Peter Richmond


Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand


So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan


The Barter by Siobhan Adcock


Lots of good listening and reading!  I have to go and get ready, but curious….

what do you like to do on rainy days?




California by Edan Lepucki (hmmmm….)


It’s been two long hard years since the world as it was broke into this food scarce fend for yourself type shell of what it once was.  The land of abundance is no more.

For Cal and Frida, life is quiet in the wilderness they have created a home within.  They have a garden, and a house, and a water source near by.  Admittedly it is a lonely world but it is what they have and for the most part they feel secure.

When Frida discovers she is pregnant she feels strongly that they must look for others.  While Cal is uncertain of this move, he understands his wife’s fears and together they go off to search for other people.  When they come across a community that is heavily guarded they are allowed inside, at least for a while to see if they will be accepted.  The community is full of surprises – some personal, and some frightening such as the fact that there are no children there.  As Cal and Frida cautiously look for answers they do not know who they can trust.  Is this the best the world now has to offer?  Were they better off alone where they were, or was that too only a temporary feeling of safety?



When I first heard about CALIFORNIA it sounded like a book for me.  I love a good dystopian novel and I was excited to dig into this one.

CALIFORNIA had a very slow start for me.  It honestly could have been partially due to the changes going on in my life at the time of starting to read this one, but I found it slow-moving and not gripping enough to hold me to it.  I picked it up, read a few pages and put it down off and on for weeks.  When it finally started moving (about 100 pages in) then I became engaged in what was happening.

The book was good… very good in some ways, but as I progressed to the ending I knew that all the different plot lines that had been opened up could not possibly be closed within this one book.  My biggest disappointment is I felt at the end it just…


Not a cliffhanger… but more like it ended like a chapter ends.  There should be more but there was not.

I had a lot of questions left and felt there was a lot more that needed to happen to bring this story line to full and satisfying conclusion.  No where that I have looked do I see that there are plans to make this into a trilogy or that there will be a sequel even.  For now.. I am under the impression that was it and if that is the case… I am left unfulfilled.

Morning Meanderings…. Book Lovers In The Mud!


Last weekend I went with fellow Bookie and awesome friend Amy to the Muckfest in Wisconsin.  This is an annual mud run to raise money for MS… my 3rd time doing this one, her second.  We brought with us two rookies…. Jennifer and Jody who did MARVELOUS!

For this weeks Saturday Snapshot I thought I would bring you some of our pictures from that muddy event.

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey Muckfest

I did post this picture earlier this week – this is the picture we took at the check in. Look how clean we are!



Book JOurney, Sheila DeChantal

Amy (left) and Jody (right)


Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

After our jump (left) and the clean up area (right)


Sheila DeChantal

The end! Final pic of the Muckfest


Check out other Saturday Snapshots from West Metro Mommy Reads.  You never know what people are taking pictures of :)

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

The One Safe Place, Tania Unsworth, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Twelve year old Devin is ill prepared for what to do when his Grandpa suddenly passes away.  They lived on a farm, one of the precious few left in the dystopian type world of despair, drought, and destruction.  When Devin leaves the farm to go and find help in the direction that his Grandpa had always told him to go in the case of needing help, he instead finds wild kids of his own age without the skills or the care that he was nurtured in.

When Devin and a new friend Kit, hear about the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood, a place that is said to be filled with others their age, lots of food and great accommodations, they hurry on to find this place that sounds too good to be true.   As the old adage says…. if something sounds too good to be true…

it probably is.



I was impressed with this Middle Grade (MG) style audio book.  The One Safe Place gives a modern and possibly creepier feel to the old Hansel and Gretel story… and as I write this I think this is more like a dystopian version of that story – obviously with a modern twist that helps it hold its own.

I enjoyed this audio of a strange world of survival at any cost.  I also like that instead of the usual YA (16-20) characters that are often found in this type of read, they targeted it to a younger group who I think will really enjoy the feel of the book aimed at the MG readers.  Nicely played Tania Unsworth.

Mark Turetsky was the narrator for this book and I think that may be my only unfortunate take away is that the narration felt as though someone was reading to me.  I personally like to fall inside an audio book, forgetting about the narration and immersing in the world the author has created.  The fact that I found myself thinking of the narration while listening to this book shows that did not happen.  Narration was pleasant, do not get me wrong, and I know that it is certainly a skill that I do not have, but that is my take away.

Middle Grade listeners and readers will enjoy this perfect level of age appropriate creepy.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,847 other followers