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Morning Meanderings… A Snapshot of Australia and a Bit Of Crazy

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Good morning.  It is Saturday.  Coffee Cup and I are on round two.  It looks as though it will be a nice day here in Central Minnesota, the sun is already shining…there really is no snow… so odd.

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This picture was taken from my back deck this morning. This is the way Central Minnesota has looked almost all winter. I personally love it. Now a snow fan.

 

For today’s Saturday Snapshot I thought I would pop out a few more pictures from Australia.  We did spend three days in Sydney before we boarded the cruise ship.  They were not snoozy days – we were up early and exploring.  Here are some random shots of that time:

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I can not recall if I posted about this lady before.  I know I put her on Facebook and if I did already chat about her here, sorry about that but perhaps she is worth repeating.  (Honestly I am too lazy to look back through my posts this morning).  In Sydney on the pier we found this lovely lady all in white paint standing as still as a statue.  However, if you were say a middle grade child… she would slowly move her hand and wave you over.  If the child’s parent/guardian were to take a picture of the smiling child in front of her… she would bend over the child and show her fanged teeth.  Yup.  It was super cool and the smiling child would not suspect until he seen the picture.  Awesome.

 

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Two things about Australia…. Tim Tam – the cookie several of you told me I had to try so I diligently purchased a bag and shared them with the group.  Mmmm… they are good.  The coffee.  EEP.  When I would order coffee in the morning at the hotel (at about $4.00 a cup!) they make it one cup at a time.  I would have been happy for a good old gas station coffee but instead it was this super strong foamy brew.  Don’t get me wrong… I drank it.  It is coffee after all. ;)

 

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Hmmm…. flippy bad hair.  We were on a boat and it was beautiful out.  Behind me, of course is the famous Sydney Opera House.  From reading Bill Bryson’s book, In A Sunburned Country I learned this… Sir Eugene Goossens, the man who had started the idea of the Opera house never seen it completed.  In 1956 while passing through customs he was found to be carrying a large amount of pornographic materials.  Australia security pretty much said “not in our country”, and he was asked to leave… permanently.  That said, Goossen never did see the Opera House completed in all of its glory.

 

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So.. the Sydney Harbor Bridge is the world’s largest bridge – but not the longest.  Once again, in Bill Bryson’s book I learned that it was meant to be the longest as well, however the bridge took longer to build than anticipated.  10 years later when the bridge was complete, it was discovered that just shortly before, the New River Gorge Bridge in Virginia had opened up and it was 10 inches longer.  “Doh!”

 

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We purchased Ferry tickets one day in Australia and tooled around on the different Ferry’s going from here to there.  One of the Ferry’s went to an area where people came into the main town by Ferry.  It was a very ritzy area and this is one of the homes that we passed along the way.

 

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Another view from the ferry.

 

I will leave it at that for today.. more to come… more sights to share. :)

 

This afternoon my friend Amy and I will leave for the cities, putt around, and wind up at the Great Gatsby Party this evening.  I am soooo excited!  This is part of my birthday weekend plans (my birthday is on Monday).

On another crazy note…. yesterday I was chatting about the Polar Plunge I participated in 4 years ago.  My mouth got the best of me on Facebook as I teased my cousin’s wife about her saying she would never do it again… by the end of that conversation she and I had both signed up to participate in the Plunge on February 28th in Anoka Minnesota.  :shock:

Ahhh well…. it is for a good cause.

1aa2If you would like to sponsor me, the proceeds go to Special Olympics

Click here

 

Have a super Saturday!!!

 

Morning Meanderings…. Oh The FOOD!

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As you probably know (from all the gushing over here, on Facebook, etc…) my husband and I along with friends went on a 17 day trip to Australia and New Zealand earlier this month.  We spent three days in Sydney before we boarded our Cruise ship for the rest of our journey.

This post is for Weekend Cooking and for Saturday Snapshot and it is all about FOOD.  Food is really part of the experience and my rule for traveling is that we can never eat at a place that I could eat at around where I live.  I love new food experiences!

Disclaimer:  Not all food pictured is mine (thank goodness!) I took pictures of the food that my hubby as well as our friends were eating too.

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While in Sydney, we stopped at a little pub for lunch.  I ordered a burger that was to come with “hot chips” and I was very curious about these chips.  Turns out, chips are french fries.  Now I am not a huge fan of thicker french fries, I like the crispy fresh thinner ones with that salty yum flavor.  These were DELICIOUS.  I became a big fan fast of the hot chips of Australia and New Zealand.

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We were in Sydney 3 days and at one stop enjoyed a Japanese Cuisine meal.  The four of us girls were really excited about this, however the two guys, Ray and Al were not… thinking it was going to be like a china buffet.  The boys were converted quickly.  The food was incredible and Al (my hubby) said he would stop anytime that he sees Japanese noodles.

 

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At our hotel was a very nice restaurant and the above picture if from their display window.  We never had a chance to eat there, we were too busy out exploring.

 

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I wish I had taken better notes, but I did not.  While in Sydney we took an all day trip to go and see some of the sights.  We stopped at a quaint little town where we had a change to grab a bite to eat.  We walked into this corner cafe that displayed the above window.  I chose a delicious sandwich pictured below:

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On to the cruise….

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If you have ever taken a cruise, you know there is a lot of food.  There was a buffet area that was open all the time.  A pizza place, hamburger and hotdog spot, your main dining area, a steak house, Italian restaurant, and a Sushi restaurant.  The food, other than the steakhouse, Italian, and Sushi, were all included in your cruise cost so knock yourself out.  :)  The above picture is my dinner on the first night we ate in our dining room.  This is a chicken Alfredo in a Parmesan shell.  I know right?  I dont even want to think about that calories in that mouth watering, buttery yummy concoction.

 

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Al and I ate in the steak house twice.  Once with our whole group, and then once just the two of us, a gift from our Travel Agent.  The steak house menu gave you choices of appetizers, soups and salads, your main dish with choice of sides and of course dessert.  Everything came with dessert.  Below is one of the appetizers I had, a crab cake with shrimp on top.  This was also the night I had the creme brulee.  I was so full!

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On one of last excursions we went to Christchurch in New Zealand.  We had heard that they had amazing fish and chips (there’s that chips word again!).  We stopped at three different fish and chips places and all three were closed or out of business.  By mid afternoon we were pretty hungry and finally found a nice looking pub style restaurant.  (I love these pubs you can find some of the best food there!)

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I ordered a chicken sandwich which I was sold on because it came with avocado.  I also ordered for all of us, the nacho’s as us girls had been craving nachos but unable to find them anywhere in Australia or New Zealand.  Wendy ordered for us to all try the potato wedges.

 

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My sandwich was good, but the nacho’s and potato wedges were excellent.  Each had a tasty chili sauce that I would love to try to duplicate.  The portions were HUGE, but all 6 of us were able to get our fill of these delicious treats.

1I of course have to talk about the deserts on the cruise ship.  They were always beautiful and you just had to try them… no matter how full you already were.  Below are pictures of some of the deserts we experienced on the cruise.  Again – note, these are not all mine :)

 

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If I were to mention any favorite of the entire trip it would have to be the Japanese Noodles we had in Sydney, the chicken Alfredo in the Parmesan bowl,  and the nachos at the pub in Christchurch.

This is why I have been on my treadmill almost every day since we have returned.  Ha!  :)

 

Do you have a favorite that you see here?

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Meanderings… A Look At The Hobbit Movie Set

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Many of you know I just returned this Thursday from a 17 day trip to Australia and New Zealand.  Fair warning: I am sure I will be talking about this trip and posting pictures for weeks to come.

Today, for Saturday Snapshot, I thought it would be fun to share with you my husband and my trip to Middle Earth, the bookish tour we were able to take part in New Zealand…. yes,

Hobbiton.

I absolutely would not be me if I did not take the opportunity to get my geek on.  We were not the only ones…  1,500 people a day, seven days a week, on average visit this site.  At $75 a person… that’s a lot of “cha-ching”.

 

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When you first walk in, this is what you see…. a few Hobbit holes. The tree to the left is 100% fabricated. Over 10,000 artificial leaves were hand stitched for this tree and sent to the set from Taiwan where they were then individually wired on to the tree.

 

We were lucky enough to have out tour guide be a nephew of the owners of the property the Hobbiton movie set and tour is on.  The story of how this came to be the permanent movie and tour set is an interesting one.

Book JOurney, Hobbiton New Zealand

39 Hobbit holes are on the property.

 

When Director Peter Jackson was flying over New Zealand looking for a potential spot to shoot parts36 of the film, The Hobbit, he could not believe his luck when he seen a piece of property that had the makings of covering the Hobbit Village.  The property is owned by a family named The Alexander’s and when Peter Jackson came knocking on their door with their idea they pretty much told him they were busy and shut the door.  Peter Jackson showed up the next day with more people and more money…. and so it began.

 

 

18The project was a BIG secret.  Peter Jackson even had the air space above the property as a “no fly zone” to keep what was happening under wraps.  The New Zealand Army brought the set up to the property in army trucks and if people asked questions, they were told it was exercises for the NZ Army.

Note:  During filming two pilots did fly over the set.  They were tracked down, made to give up any cameras, film, and memory cards they had that could carry pictures of the top-secret set.  These pilots also lost their licenses to fly in New Zealand forever.  It was that serious. 

Initially the set was to be built, filmed, and then tore down restoring the land to its natural state.  When it came time to tear it down, New Zealand was experiencing extreme weather conditions and the project was delayed by three weeks.  During this time a few of the people on their tear down team went into town to a pub and proceeded to drink a little too much ( true story!).  While in this pub they said a little too much about the filming of the movie on the property.  Neighbors went nuts wanting to see the set, demanding to see the property and initially it was opened up a tour only for those who lived around the area.

Hobbiton, Bilbo Baggins, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

The most famous Hobbit home of all… Bilbo Baggins.

 

Then, a different idea came to be.  With the potential of future movies being made, the set was rebuilt using sturdier materials and this time built as a permanent set.  The windows to the hobbit houses were real glass heated to give the wavy “aged” look they have.  Thatched roofs were built on some, the hobbit homes were painted and then sprayed with vinegar purchased at the local stores to give it the worn and aged look.

 

As seen above in the movie clip, Al and I walked on the bridge to the Hobbit Village where we had a snack along with special made beverages made only for the Hobbiton Village.  I tried the cider beer and Al tried an Ale, both were very good.

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This picture was taken from the bridge.

This was a great tour!  If you are ever in Matamata New Zealand I highly recommend you experience this village.  I can only imagine how blown away JR Tolkien would be.

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The Party Tree in Hobbiton Village... considered to be one of the most famous trees in the world.

The Party Tree in Hobbiton Village… considered to be one of the most famous trees in the world.  Bilbo made one of his long speeches under this tree.

 

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A closer look at the trees. The fake one (left) and a very real one (right)

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Al and I sitting in the Shire.

Al and I sitting in the Shire.

 

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Thanks for visiting Hobbiton with me!  :)  Here is a link to the tours and more information.

Morning Meanderings… Christmas, Weather, and A New Year Is Coming

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Good morning!  We made it to Saturday!  My house is quiet, the boys are gone, Al is out working, and the day is all mine.  LOVE days like this.  No agenda.  Nada.  I thought for Saturday Snapshot today we would take a peek at Christmas, but first… look at this shot out my front window this morning…

Central Minnesota - 12/27/14

Central Minnesota – 12/27/14

Yup.  Central Minnesota has no snow.  Some are complaining.  I get that there is no tubing, skiing, snowmobiling…  but to me it means there is no super cold, super wet, slippery roads, driveways to plow, sidewalks to shovel….   I’m good with this. :)

Christmas as I mentioned yesterday was lovely.  We had a great day of food and games and movies.  We opened gifts and hung out together.

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Good times!  Now this week is fairly quiet but I have a big trip coming up soon so need to prep for that.  (More details to come!)

 

2aaaaaaa2015

For those of you participating in the First Book Of The Year (and I hope you all are!)  please send in your pic of you and the book by December 31s so I can prep the collage to go up on January 1st.  Details about first book are here.

Morning Meanderings… Much Ado About Nothing

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Good morning!  Saturday and I am in St Cloud preparing for day two of our Board Meeting for Camp Benedict.  This has been awesome so far.  Already we have made great strides to what camp will look like in 2015 and I am excited about the teamwork that has gone into those decisions.

Today we will wrap up by early afternoon.  I am going to get ready, load my car, and then head down to the breakfast area to enjoy COFFEE and wait for the rest of the group to trickle down.  My picture for today’s Saturday Snapshot came from the Lounge as we wrapped up our meeting last night:

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It was just a funny pic to see Santa sitting at the bar.  He wasn’t drinking anything, but it was still funny…. made we want to think of a caption for the pic :)  He was more than happy to oblige us for the picture.

Heading home this afternoon…. have a project I am working on for Christmas and I am excited to get started. :)

 

2014 in Review – The People, The Events, The Haircuts….

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At the end of each year I like to take a look back and see what the past year has looked like as a whole.  As things happen throughout the year I tend to either forget about them, or forget they happened this year.  It is a fun “year in review” for me… and I thought this post would work wonderfully for Saturday Snapshot.

*Note all links lead to the original posts written on these events.

 

January 2014…

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This was the first year I hosted the First Book Of The Year meme and it was sooo much fun!  50 people from around the world joined me by sending in a picture of then with the first book that they planned to read for the New Year.  It seriously brought tears to me eyes!  (I am hosting this one again if you would like to sign up)

 

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My friend Amy and I also started off the New Year by running the Polar Dash 5K on January 1st in St Paul, Minneapolis.  Yes, it was cold but a great way to start out the New Year!  (There are some great shots on this post including a guy who ran the MARATHON version of this run in a speedo.)

 

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Harper Collins blessed our Book Club with copies of the Labor Day book by Joyce Maynard as well as tickets to go see the movie and a gift card to purchase goodies to enjoy with the movie!

 

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Going to the Pink Concert!

 

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A few of us drove to see author Wendy Webb on the release day of her newest book, The Vanishing.

 

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Spending time with Author Patrick Ness!  (Author of an excellent series, The Knife Of Never Letting Go.

 

 

February 2014…

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Dog sledding for my friends birthday!

 

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Bookies out for horduerves and then to the Labor Day Movie!

 

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I asked my College son for the gift of levitation for my birthday.  I had found instructions of how to do it on Picmonkey and Justin came through!

 

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Locking myself our of my car at the cabin… on the North Shore… on a Sunday.  Egads.

 

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Detroit Lakes getaway with friends – Sara, Heidi, and Cindy

 

 

March 2014…

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The Bookies trying coke and salted peanuts for our review of The Secret Life Of Bees.

 

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The Get Lucky run – 5k!

 

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The Glow Run with Laura and Amy!  I did not write a post up on this… it was a run at night and it was hard to get any pics :)

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Spring Library sale!

 

April 2014…

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April… and still snowing.

 

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Cabin weekend of books and time with Sammy the dog.

 

 

May 2014…

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Justin graduated from college in May!!!

 

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Jon Hassler Library Dedication event.

 

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Harper Collins party in New York during BEA and AWKWARD Twitter moment….

 

 

June 2014…

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Nathan Jorgenson Author event.

 

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Speaking at the Blogger Con in New York on Taking Your Writing to the next level.

 

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More details on the Harper Collins party in New York.

 

BEA Author breakfasts:  Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segal, and Jeff Kinney (DIary Of A Wimpy Kid)

 

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My five year Blogiversary!

 

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Camp Benedict – a camp for those infected and affected by AIDS

 

 

July 2014…

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The Bookies Queen event!

 

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The GIGANTO rabbit in my yard all summer!

 

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Author Julie Kramer event.

 

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Tour of Saints 50 mile bike ride.

 

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A New Normal.

 

August 2014…

 

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Wisconsin MUCKFEST! 

 

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More about the Muckfest.

 

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Bookies going to an author event!

 

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Author Christina Baker Kline Event!

 

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Learning to extract honey right from the hive!

 

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Wine and Words The Event!!!  212 awesome guest!

 

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Wine and Words after the party!

 

September 2014…

 

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Hair cut ;)

 

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The Fall Book Sale – going to the next level :)

 

October 2014…

 

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Wine and Words wins best new Friends event in Minnesota!

 

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The big author event in St Paul Minnesota and I think I honestly forgot to recap it! Good grief!

 

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Monster Dash with my friend Wendy (I dont think I posted this either…)

November 2014…

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Harry Potter World in Florida with Justin!

 

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My thoughts and review of the Gringotts Bank Ride at Universal Studios

 

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Working in Florida with bees

 

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Thanksgiving with the family!

 

December 2014…

Nothing going on at this time in December.  I have been working in the house and writing.

 

SO that’s the year so far.  It has been one of many different hair styles, events, friends, family.  It has been a year of change that is for sure.  I am excited to see what 2015 will hold.

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Morning Meanderings… Library Happenings

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Good morning!  Post Thanksgiving and 2 days.  I suppose some of you are still entertaining family or out-of-town yourself for the weekend.  I am at home, Justin left for the cities yesterday afternoon and all has been put away.  Life is back to normal.

Today for Saturday Snapshot I wanted to post what has been happening at our library lately.  Last Sunday we went in and decorated for the holidays:

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On Wednesday I went in and changed out the window to Christmas or Winter reading:

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Today I am going in to make the book tree for our open house.  The Open House is Monday.  This is an annual event where we invite in the public for refreshments and to see the decorations for the library.  We will have Friends Of The Library information set up, cookies and punch, as well as a drawing for Christmas turkeys.

It should be a good time. :)

Does your library have a Friends Group?  Are you a part of it?  It is a lot of fun and connects you to other book lovers.

 

Morning Meanderings… What I Have Been Doing While I Was Away

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Good morning!  This post was planned for two Saturdays ago but where we were staying in Florida I had terrible internet and I could not get my pictures to load up.  Now that I am home they loaded up quickly and for this Saturday Snapshot I thought I would share what I did in Florida.

I was working with my friend Amanda and her husband Tim.  They own a bee business here in Brainerd, Buck’s Busy Bee’s.  The bees go to Florida every winter as the Minnesota winter months are too hard on them.  Amanda needs to go to check on them once a month and asked if I would like to come along and help and I said yes, it sounded like a nice break from the cold and I am fascinated by what the bees do.

This is a bee yard.  Each set of stacked boxes represents a hive.

This is a bee yard. Each set of stacked boxes represents a hive.

 

November turned out to be a longer trip than initially planned.  We initially were going to be a week, but weather in Minnesota prevented us from completing some things here that had been planned out so we had to do that in Florida instead.  Our trip was 16 days of working sun up to sun down – and many days later than that.

One of our main focuses was to split the hives.  Splitting the hives makes more hives and when you have a strong healthy hive it is easy to take a few splits off it.  To split a hive each new hive must have:

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The cocoa colored area in the center of this frame is brood. Babies!

 

  1. A brood.  Brood are babies and what the worker bees work hard on to keep warm and protect.

 

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2.  Honey.  The frame of honey goes up against the frame of brood so the worker bees can feed the babies.   Preferably you would like two frames of honey one on each side of the brood.

 

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3.  Drawn out frames.  (You can see what a clean frame looks like at the bottom of each pic.  They are yellow and that is what the bee works off of).  A drawn out frame, as seen above can be dark like this one or could be light like the start of a honey frame.

 

4.  BEES.  You want lots and lots of bees to go with each hive to start their own.  The hives are actually moved  at night as that is when all bees are back in the hives and the forager bees are home.  These are the bees that go out and bring the pollen back to the hive.

5.  A QUEEN.  Each hive needs its own Queen.  I wanted to take a picture of a queen on a frame but to do that would have involved me to take my big work gloves off and well… it was a bit risky so instead I have this little video to show you the difference between the Queen and the other bees and how to find the Queen (yes I know I don’t have to capitalize “queen” but it seems like I should…LOL, she is royalty after all!)

 

What takes the longest in this process is that you must find the Queen before you start creating splits as she needs to remain in the bottom box as an existing hive.  The other splits will require a new Queen to be placed in each of their boxes/hives.

So how do you keep the Queen in the bottom box once she is found and you are not ready to move the rest of the hive yet?

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This is a Queen Excluder

 

A Queen Excluder allows the regular worker bees to crawl through the tiny slats, but the Queen herself is too large to fit through.  That way, once find the Queen and ensure she is in the bottom box, you put the excluder over the top of that box and then add the rest of the boxes of that hive on top of that.

I enjoyed finding the Queen although it can be frustrating when you go through each frame three or four times and can not find her.  Sometimes I felt that I was “Queen blind”.  Finding her though brought out the gamer in me, like I had passed that level.  She is actually fun to look at and watch.  She moves a little slower than the worker bee, but amazingly she is the bee that keeps the whole hive working.  Without her the hive will die.

 

Beetle Trap Oil

Beetle Trap Oil

Another thing we did in Florida was we went through and put in each box a small tray of this Beetle Trap Oil which I liked to call Beetle Juice.  The Beetle Oil (juice!) attracts beetles that can get in the hive and kill the bees.  The beetles which are tiny and black fall into the oil and are killed.  Nasty business.

Anyone else remember this awful movie from 1988?

Anyone else remember this awful movie from 1988?

 

We moved bees at night – over night actually.  They were loaded on to a semi truck after dark as that is when the bees are in the hive.  I did not do, but Amanda and Tim would then haul the new hives 3 1/2 hours away to host home yards, which are people who had agreed to have bees on their property.

 

It was a lot of work.  We usually started our day between 5:30 and 6:00 am and ended around 6 – 8 pm.  I pretty much just worked, ate dinner, and slept.  My hands hurt from all the lifting of the hives and frames each day as well as the stings on my fingers (even through the work gloves).  My hands are still swollen and I can not get my rings on yet.

 

That’s pretty much the basics of where I have been and what I have been doing.  I am in still recovering now that I am home (arrived Thursday evening).  Today I am just hanging around the house doing a little reading, a little audio, just chilling out.  My body is exhausted.

 

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Universal Studios: New Harry Potter World Additions and Re-Read Kick Off

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Happy Kick-Off to the Re-Read Readathon for Harry Potter!  This Re-Read happened to coincide with my son and my annual Florida trip to Universal Studios… more importantly Harry Potter World.  If you are a Potter Head, such as myself, you are probably aware – or at least heard Muggle mumblings of additions being made to the park…. most specific – A Hogwart’s Express that you can actually ride from one park to another.  There was also mention of additional shops, Diagon Alley, and a Gringott’s Bank ride.  All of this…

definitely worth checking out.

Join me now… for my thoughts on the additions to the park and what you should know before you go.

 

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For the whole “Look I have been accepted to Hogwart’s and am going to the school on a train!” experience, it is important (vital really) that you enter from the Universal Studios side of the park.  *Note – it is two parks adjoined together, you can pay for the Adventure Island park pass and be able to walk into Harry Potter World but for the full experience with the train ride and Diagon Alley you will need to buy the park pass for both parks…expensive – yes.  Worth it?  You bet.

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Once you enter the King’s Cross Area you will have your ticket checked by a Train Conductor (I like to use the word Keeper) but my son says that is not correct… sheesh… like he is Magic born or something…)

While on your way to the train you get to experience some super cool effects.  Do not miss out on going through the wall to get to platform 9 3/4 (it is easy to miss – you have to watch your friends go through to see it.. if you see other people stopped and looking at a wall – you should too!)  I have a cool video of this on my Facebook page (Sheila McKinney DeChantal).  Here is a sort of picture of it:

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Once you get to the train area (oh yeah it is awesome!), you will wait to be seated and you will go in a very authentic looking version of the Hogwarts train – even the fun little compartments to sit in with your Hogwart friends.

Justin at 9 3/4

Justin at 9 3/4

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Then you are off – it is actually a smooth ride and you may not even think the train is actually moving – but it is because the doors open up and you are in the other park (Island Of Adventures) and you are at the entrance of Hogsmeade, the town near the Hogwarts School.  This is all the original Harry Potter World park so if you are new, be sure to check out all the amazing detail in the shops, listen for the show on the stage, and perhaps grab a bite to eat in Three Broomsticks, a beer in Hogshead (very cool and authentic) or – for the whole family… you must try the Butter Beer – either on ice or frozen:

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If you are new to the Harry Potter Wold or a repeat offender such as Justin and I, you must go on The Forbidden Journey ride.  Walking through the Hogwarts building is a treat in itself with amazing detail, talking pictures, the whole works.  Even if you opt out of the ride, you are able to walk through this part and check it out.  However – do not opt out of the ride!  It is mainly simulated, you are in a seat and get the feeling of flying through the air.  There are no sudden drops and you are not really shook up as in some rides.  I personally LOVE IT.

But now… where is the new stuff?  Well, we were not sure either but we looked at the awesome sauce park map and discovered it was back in the other park…

Nicely played Universal, nicely played….  utilizing both parks so well.

 

Note – this is perfect.  YOU want to ride the train into Hogsmeade and go to Hogwarts BEFORE you go back to Diagon as the train experience is a bit different.  When you get off the train back in the Universal Park Diagon Alley is not obvious where it is.  Come off the train and go to the left… you will receive a few hints… for instance, the Knight Bus is there along with the Shrunken Head (be sure to check out the back of the bus, you can step into it.)

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If you look across the road from the Knight Bus you will see a large brick wall and you can see an area to go in.  It looks as though it may be a way to bathrooms… there is nothing identifying it… but step in and around the corner…

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AHHHHH AHHHHHHHH!  It is DIAGON ALLEY!  Sweet Mother!  It is a while new world hidden behind a wall!  Seriously, this finding… took almost the rest of our day!  There is so much to see!

 

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Many of the shops you could walk into… of course they are selling everything from chocolate frogs to Quidditch gear.  Scarves, gloves, hats, t-shirts, gowns, Weasley sweaters, key chains, Christmas ornaments… you name it.. they probably have it.

The Leaky Cauldren is a restaurant but they told us it had a different menu than the Three Broomsticks which is found at Hogsmeade.  Florrish and Blotts had notebooks, diaries, pens, note pads… there was so much to see and do!  Justin even was chosen to be tried for a wand…

Yes, we got our geek on.

Yes, we got our geek on.

 

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was a cool shop of candy and gags, great looking building inside and out.

 

Kids… ok people, can purchase wands and in certain places in Diagon Alley you can stand on these cool areas that tell you what spell to use and how to swish your wand and things will move.  It was brilliant and the kids… err…. people, loved it.

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Of course… the real highlight of the new Diagon Alley area is the Gringott’s Bank ride.  This ride will be discussed in a separate post so not to make an already long gushing post longer.  :)  Hopefully I will get that post up today.

 

My overall rating on a scale of 1 – 10, a 10+.  For all Potter fans this is a must do trip.  It was absolutely awesome to see all the people wearing Harry Potter gear, ties and gowns were everywhere.. this is truly a franchise that is not going anywhere soon and kudos plus to the amazing J K Rowling for creating such a phenomenon that captures the imaginations of children of all ages.

 

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This is as I mentioned the kick off date the The Harry Potter Re-Read Readathon.  Check out the details… there are giveaways and house points and all sorts of fun for those who decide to join in. :)

Saturday Snapshot: Minnesota Library Association Conference

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This Past week I had the pleasure of attending the Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference in Mankato Minnesota. I went, representing the Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library, 4 Librarians from our Library attended as well.

I arrived on Wednesday afternoon and joined the rest of the Brainerd Group for what was called Parlor Games.  A series of fun games from 6:30 – 9 pm.  A mix of Balderdash, Apples to Apples, and a fun team game where we split the 90-some people in the room into two groups and we had to follow a series of clues to complete a task.  It was fun!

Parlor Games!

Parlor Games!

 

On Thursday, along with hour-long sessions for the Librarians to choose from, there was an additional amount of sessions that were Friends Of The Library related.  I had a list of choices for each hour, and spent my first hour of the day at the Library Friends Idea exchange.  I picked up ideas there like a 5k, scholarship offering for seniors, character events for children, and more.

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I spent the second hour of my day in the same room listening to the author of Beyond Book Sales, Susan Dowd, speak about the things the Friends groups can do to raise finds beyond the books.  How to build membership, how to be listed in a will…

 

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At 11:15 I went to a different room, a room where I would be speaking.  Our local event that started in 2013 was up for an award for Best New Friends Event.  This was exciting!  I was up against a group who added on to their children’s area at their library and a Great Gatsby Event that raised $47,000.  I was sure Gatsby had it.  There would be two runner ups that would receive $250 each, and then the winner, who would receive the plaque and a thousand dollar check for their friends.

Each of us had ten minutes to talk about our project.  In the end…

Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library took Best Project!  I could not believe it!

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Holy Smokes batman!!!!

The day then went to lunch where Tod Bol,the creator of Little Free Libraries spoke.  It was really interesting to hear how this wave of little book exchanges have popped up all over the world!  I did not realize Tod was from Wisconsin.

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After lunch, Laurel from our Library spoke on Social Media and her talk was very interesting!  After listening to her, I have some work to do. :)

All in all, a great couple of days hanging out in a Bookish World, just the way I like it ;)

 

I am adding this to Saturday Snapshot.  Please check out what others are posting in pictures this Saturday.  I am off to work with bees this morning and then home to work on my house… tomorrow, starts another adventure ;)

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