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Morning Meanderings… Let’s Get This PARTY Started!


Good morning!  Another Saturday is here!  Saturdays are my FAVORITE day of the week.  The work week is over and usually Saturdays are a day that I have something fun going on.

Speaking of Saturday’s, last Saturday was no exception.  After spending the afternoon in a Writing seminar, I sped away to a local gas station where I changed into a dress and went to congratulate my friend Julia Lee at her book launch.

I walked in almost an hour and a half after the launch had started due to the seminar and I was surprised (and excited!) to see how full the room was with people!

Julia Lee, Launch Party, Book Journey

This is the book signing line when I walked in!


I had talked a bit about Julia the week of her book launch for her book Seven Stones when I interviewed her, and then reviewed her book.  Julia is so fun and easy to chat with that she is one of those people that when you meet her, you want to read whatever she has written to see if that personality shows through.

She is like a room full of champagne bubbles.

Julia Lee, Book Launch, Seven Stones, Book JOurney

Signing like a pro at her first book release party. I wonder if she practiced? ;)


The event was a lot of fun, the venue, Prairie Bay is known for delicious and unique horduerves such as artichoke chicken pizza, and apple and goat cheese skewers.  It was amazing food and great conversation as I waited in line with my friend Christy and chatted up what else?  Books.

Julia Lee, Book JOurney, Launch party, seven stones

Still smiling!


Book Journey, Julia Lee, Seven Stones

Sorry Julia, as soon as I took this picture I knew it was a keeper! LOL… it is a rare moment of a quick break in the signing!


What a great first signing!  The event was a lot of fun, I caught the tail end of it and had a glass of wine with Laurel from our Library and then went home after a long and productive day.

Julia Lee, Book JOurney, Seven STones


Today… I leave in about an hour for the library where a few of us are meeting to start hauling some of the books for the April book sale from the library to the venue we will be using.  I am kind of excited to start this process and as there are SO MANY BOOKS this time and we are moving off site every little bit we do helps take the pressure off of the big push in a couple of weeks.


Julia Lee, Book Journey, Seven Stones

Stolen… errr borrowed from Julia’s site… the pic with her author cup that I requested! You have to have a coffee cup pic!

You can read Julia’s fun blog here where she talks about the book, the excitement, life stuff, and great recipes!


Morning Meandering… Recap of A 7K


Last weekend I was a part of the largest run that Minnesota hosts every year, the Get Lucky.  The Get Lucky run is a ST Patrick’s Day Run and it is a 7 K Run or a 7 7 7 Run (21 K).  This is my third year being a part of this run.

For Saturday Snapshot this morning I thought I would give you a little recap of the run.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Waiting for the 7K to start


I ran the 7k with 11,000 other people in Minneapolis.  In St Paul, another 20,000 were running the Triple 7k.  CRAZY stuff.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal, Get Lucky Run

It was a beautiful day in the 40’s


Get Lucky Run, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney


The run has entertainment along the way.  These girls were dancing Irish style at the start of the run…


Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney, Get Lucky

More entertainment

These little boys were about half way through the run.  There were also a couple of Irish bands along the way that played music for us as we went by.



There were signs along the way that marked what “K” we were at to torture us let us know how far we had gone.


Book JOurney, Get Lucky, Sheila DeChantal

Ahhh… the hilly bridge

The route is the same every year and towards the end of the run we go over a bridge that is always an uphill battle.  Literally.



Sweet victory was mine!


Get Lucky, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Tiki Run is my next ortho run


At the end of the run they had up signs for other runs they will be having in Minnesota this year.  I am signed up for the Tiki run next that will be a night run in St Paul.  SWEET!


Get Lucky, Ortho run, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney


One of the things I really enjoy about the Ortho Runs is the swag you get for doing them.  Ortho does not give out yet another event t-shirt.  They usually have cool hoodies or running gear.


SO that was the run.  Today is a literary day.  After a walk with a friend this morning, this afternoon I am attending a writing class and after that a book release party.  I am looking forward to a good day!



Morning Meanderings… Pics Of The Plunge or… ICE ICE Baby


Kind of hard to believe from the comfort of my cozy home this morning that a week ago I was loading up the car with a prom dress, bubble toe tennis shoes, a black make up marker, and wearing a friend of mines dog tags to go to Anoka Minnesota to throw myself in the lake.


Crazy Minnesotans… we will do anything for entertainment in the winter.  :)

SO for this Saturday Snapshot, I give you the Polar Plunge pics that I have.  There are more to come from the professional camera peeps of the event however those are not posted yet.

Polar Plunge Anoka MInnesota, Book Journey

This is what we walk through to get to the water. We come in through the back where that dark blue is. This is the lull before the storm :)


Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

I had offered those who sponsored me to be able to choose what I wore. I had to wear something from Australia (the white t shirt I am wearing), something from Harry Potter (the scar on my forehead), my friends dog tags for his birthday, and a prom dress. Check, check, check, CHECK.




This is me and my cousins wife Rhonda (I call her cousin-in-law)…. the dude is a photo bomber and the look on my face is because I suddenly felt someone over my shoulder and he surprised me.


Sheila Book Journey Polar Plunge

Showing that I am wearing the dog tags


Book JOurney, Polar Plunge, ANoka MInnesota

We are “Plungeriffic”


Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney, Polar Plunge

This is my “I guess I am really doing this” face.


Book JOurney, Polar Plunge, Anoka MInnesota

This is our team, we were supporting Angela Wood, a Special Olympian!


and the pictures you are waiting for….

Polar Plunge, Anoka Minnesota, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Yup… for a moment I walked on water. And yes, I plugged my nose… this one was deeper than the one I did three years ago.


Polar Plunge, Book Journey, SHeila Dechantal, Anoka Minnesota

Me… still in the water. If you are wondering what that feeling is when you jump into a Minnesota lake in March it is mainly “how fast can I get out!”


It was for a good cause, our area alone had 1,000 plungers raising a total of $208,000.  Other areas:

South Metro: 985 Plungers raised more than $232,000
Alexandria: 435 Plungers raised more than $93,100

Today there is a plunge in my home town of Brainerd Minnesota.  Oddly, I have completed two now but I have never jumped in Brainerd.  Hmmm…. maybe next year :D



You may recall in January I picked my word for this year to be Emerge.  I purchased the above necklace for myself on my birthday to remind myself of my word.  I think so far… I am living it. :)


Today is a day of reading, web design, working out, and just chilling around the house.  I rented Mockingjay for my hubby and I to watch tonight.  Laying low and loving it!

Morning Meanderings… A Good Day To Jump In The Lake


Good morning!  As the sun comes up this morning in Central Minnesota I am prepping to leave for my two-hour drive to Anoka MN where at approximately 1:45 pm today, I along with many many other crazy people are going to jump in the lake for Special Olympics.


The last time I did this was in 2012.


Showing off my fashionable books.  When in Minnesota...

These boots will be coming along this year as well!


So….. yeah.

I am guessing I signed up, I received pledges.  I am doing this.

I offered the people who pledged me to have a say in one thing that I wear.  I will be wearing a prom dress.  Dog tags.  And something Harry Potter.  I will show you what that ensemble looks like at a later time.

For the rest of you… stay warm.  Read something good.  I will be finishing the audio book All The Bright Places today during the drive time.

I am linking this post to Saturday Snapshop.  Stop and see what everyone else is taking pictures of today :)

Morning Meanderings…. Glow Worm Caves Of New Zealand


Good morning!  For today’s Saturday Snapshot I thought I would share with you a little information on the Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand.  When traveling there last month I had never heard of the glow worm caves.  Our travel-mates were signed up to do a tour at the caves and we decided to join them.

What a trip in education!


The caves are located in Waitomo, New Zealand.  From our cruise ship that had docked in Auckland it was about an hour to the caves.

The glow worm is actually while pretty to look at, also gross.  It is apparently the larvae life cycle of an insect and looks like a maggot.  (The caves were dark so thankfully we only seen the pretty part).

Glow Worm caves, New zealand, book journey

Pictures are not allowed in the caves so this picture is from the Glow Worm website as linked here


The caves themselves are beautiful lime caves.  I wish we could have taken pictures inside, the rock formation was beautiful.

The female glow worms drop a line which is what you see in the picture. The line attracts insects and they get stuck to the line.  It is crazy but the females live two days and the males live three days.  The cycle continues due to the thousands of eggs each female lays in her short lifetime.

Glow worm caves, book journey, new zealand

This picture is also from the glow worm website as linked here



It is deep within the caves that we then get in the small boats.  We are asked to remain very quiet as our voices cause vibrations and disturb the glow worms.  It is a pretty cool experience.



Just outside the caves I was able to get a picture of two of our travel team, Wendy and Ray. I think it is funny that everyone else around them are smiling too. New Zealand… so friendly! :)


You can read more about the glow worms on the Glow Worm Tour website.  It is a unique tour.  I had never heard of a glow worm until the tour.

Check out more Saturday Snapshots here.

Today I may just read.  Or I am talking big.  I keep saying I am going to read all week but I have been busy with projects and the books kind of go to the wayside.  I do need to have some book time this weekend.  Order of the Phoenix and a few others wait on me.

What are you reading this weekend?

Morning Meanderings…. 50 Shades Of… AWESOME!


New coffee cup pic to come… I have one but for some reason can not get it to upload this morning and tired of waiting ;)


Happy Saturday!  I have the best weekend ahead of me here…. no plans!!! I love it!  I might have lunch with a friend, visit my aunt, try out the snow shoes finally… the possibilities are endless :)

As you probably know, today is the official release day of the 50 Shades Of Grey movie.  It’s Valentines Day… aren’t they cute?  I have not read the book and do not plan too and will more than likely be passing on the movie as well.  However, I would be neglect if I did not say the play on the title (mush as I have done today) has been fun. :D

Today for Saturday Snapshot, I thought it would be fun to post pics of my book club through the years because they really are 50 shades of AWESOME!  I was going through pics on Facebook the other day and thought it was fun to see all the crazy things we have done through the years.  Granted, this is not all of the craziness… this is just some.


This was for our review of Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. We disguised ourselves like she did in the book. Can you find me in this group? ;)



Pride and Prejudice was the classic we were reading…. we dressed the era.



A little fun with this pic.



Sharon’s birthday. We surprised her and wore our “Bookies” shirts



The review for The Wizard Of Oz.



Our 100th meeting celebration! YAY!!!



When one of us was diagnosed with breast cancer we wore pink to the meeting in support of her.



Our first SKYPE with author Sandra Brannan. Sandra had sent us a care package for our review.



Our current Queen and her coronation.



This has been fun for me to look back through these pics of a book club I adore.  Going strong since August of 2001!  There are a lot more pics, but now I think I am on a mission….. more on that later ;)




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


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.


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:


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.



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. ;)



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.




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!”



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.



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!


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.


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.

PicMonkey Collage

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.



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.



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:


On to the cruise….


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.



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!


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!)


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.


PicMonkey Collage4

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 :)


PicMonkey Collage1

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


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,


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”.



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.


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.





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.




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


Al and I sitting in the Shire.

Al and I sitting in the Shire.



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


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.

PicMonkey Collage

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!)



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.


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