24 Dec

Annual Family Newsletter


 

I didn’t get as many Christmas cards out this year as I had hoped, so here’s the newsletter that went out in case anyone wants to hear my ramblings. 🙂

 

Hello, friends and family! After getting plenty of flak from various friends for not sending out a newsletter last year, I decided I’d better whip myself into shape and send one out for 2015! Fernando and I have had a pretty exciting year- and by exciting, I mean we were able to travel on some great trips, see some fantastic live shows, and watch an embarrassing amount of TV (thanks, Netflix)!

As you may know, Fernando works as the IT Wizard for a small co-op in [name redacted in this post so it isn’t floating around the Internet 😉 ]. Every year, everyone in the co-op meets to catch up- this year, we met in Puerto Rico. Rather than fly straight there, Fernando and I left a few days early and headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. It. Was. Phenomenal. I’m a huge Potterhead (Fernando attempts to keep up), and this trip did not disappoint. I sincerely felt like I was walking around the fictional Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You can even take the Hogwarts Express train between the two parks! Eventually, we had to depart and head to Puerto Rico. I had five whole days to do nothing but laze about, watch TV, cross-stitch, and walk along the beach while Fernando worked!

This is one of the only two photos Fernando let me take of both of us this year, and my eyes are shut in the other one. Now you see why I didn't send out a family photo. ;)

This is one of the only two photos Fernando let me take of both of us this year, and my eyes are shut in the other one. Now you see why I didn’t send out a family photo. 😉

Fernando and I have been having lots of fun following America’s Test Kitchen, a PBS show that prides itself on finding the best way to make just about any recipe through experimentation (and is one of the only ways that I can have meals that turn out the way they should). We were able to go see their live tour when they came through Minneapolis- I think we were the only people under the age of 50 in the audience! Nevertheless, the live show was entertaining and educational!

In addition to spending our free time learning how to be smarter cooks, we’ve also fallen deeper down the craft beer rabbit hole. We’ve visited just about every brewery in the Twin Cities and we’ve joined a beer club! Once a month, we get together and bring a few beers to share. Then, we taste them all and vote on our favorites!

We made a whirlwind trip to Chicago for my 30th birthday (how did that happen?), mostly to attend the Legend of Zelda symphony orchestra. Fernando is an avid video gamer, and Legend of Zelda has always been his favorite game. It has a beautiful soundtrack, and it was magical to hear it played live! It was especially funny to hear a college choir making video game beeping sounds while the orchestra played. In addition to the concert, we visited a Nutella bar and ate some of the most delicious donuts I’ve ever tasted! If you’re ever in the area, give Firecakes a try! (Do I get some kind of free donut deal for inadvertent product placement in a holiday newsletter?)

Earlier this year, my friend Sole asked if I’d accompany her to the UK on a nerdy pilgrimage of sorts. She and I are both avid Harry Potter fans, so it was only fitting that most of our trip involved the series. We built a solid itinerary (almost to the hour) of some very nerdy activities, including visiting the sets where the movies were filmed in and around London, going on a whirlwind tour of the Scottish Highlands, and a quick trip to Wales to visit the sets of one of the longest-running British TV shows, Doctor Who.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting the Central Library in Edinburgh, Scotland: we happened upon it almost by accident when looking for a restroom. It’s easily the most gorgeous library I’ve ever been in- very reminiscent of the library seen in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast.

I’m very happy to announce that Fernando has officially received his final grades for his master’s program, which officially means he has completed his MBA! I’m thrilled, and hope this means he’ll stop being so cranky and stressed out all the time- and because he wouldn’t help me write this, he’ll never know how I called him cranky! Muahahahaha! Cranky or not, I’m very proud of him. When asked the biggest lesson he learned through the program, he answered, “I still don’t like group projects.”

It’s been a pretty good year for us. Here’s hoping 2016 brings just as many adventures (and no homework) for all of us!

19 Oct

Nerd-cation

If you haven’t already heard me blabbing about it to everyone and their mothers, I’m going on the nerdiest trip of my life in a few weeks! Early this year, a dear nerdly friend asked me if I’d be interested in accompanying her to the UK to visit some Harry Potter and Doctor Who sights (and sites). 🙂

While I find traveling thrilling, I almost enjoy the art of planning it even more: who wants to return home only to realize that there may have been something super cool that you missed?! A bunch of people have asked about our itinerary, so I’m plunking some of the major pieces here in this blog post for my fellow travelers, Potterheads, and Whovians in case you’ll find it helpful.

Edinburgh

We’re swinging up north to Scotland for a few days to:

  1. visit the birthplace of Harry Potter (ok, so it’s one of the cafés in which J.K. Rowling first started to pen the series, but I’ll still take it),
  2. hopefully meet one of my favorite bloggers that loves the Potter journey as much as I do,
  3. take a bus tour through the Scottish highlands (mostly so we can pretend we’re on the Hogwarts Express). I generally don’t like bus tours, but I’ll make an exception for one that will take me through the Highlands! (Plus, this one is FREE!!!)
I don't care if it's 'just' a tea room. There's something very magical about knowing this is one of the places where Harry was written into existence.

I don’t care if it’s ‘just’ a tea room. There’s something very magical about knowing this is one of the places where Harry was written into existence.

Cardiff

I would describe myself as a casual Doctor Who and Torchwood fan. My friend Sole definitely has me beat in this category. In fact, she has a TARDIS in her front lawn! However, I’ve taken on the very difficult task of watching most episodes of Doctor Who in order to have a better understanding of the characters and storylines.

  1. The Doctor Who Experience without walking around in a confused state. This will give us the chance to see the sets, props, and costumes used when filming the series. In addition, there’s a chance some of the cast may be there!
  2. Torchwood is a spin-off series from Doctor Who filmed primarily in and around Cardiff. The Hub, or headquarters, is ‘secretly’ located just under the Millennium Centre in the heart of downtown. There’s not an actual exhibit to go see, but we’re going to run around town seeing a bunch of filming locations. And, um, that’s about all I know about that… Better go watch some more TV.

On a non-TV note, also in Cardiff is Roald Dahls Plass, a plaza named in honor of my favorite children’s author (and who just happened to be born in Cardiff). My Matilda tattoo will feel so at home!

London

By some kind of Muggle magic, we happen to be in town while the first-ever Doctor Who Festival is taking place, so we’re going there!

No trip to London would be complete without a stop at Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross station, where all the young witches and wizards hop on the Hogwarts Express!

Happy to go back for a third visit!

Also on the London docket is the Muggle Tour. Unlike the Studio Tour, this tour covers the real life ‘Muggle London’ locations that inspired certain set designs and were even included in certain scenes. I’m most looking forward to seeing the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry of Magic and the pub that inspired the fictional Leaky Cauldron!

A new addition to the Potterhead dream is the Wizard Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel. Ever wanted to sleep in a Hogwarts dormitory? This is the next best thing! We’re staying in hostels every other night on this trip, but splurged for one night on this beauty. Rumor has it that it’s haunted- I will be spooning Sole all night in fear, just in case!!

Staying in a Gryffindor dormitory? Yes, please! Hold the ghosts, though.

The impetus of this trip is the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, where much of the eight Harry Potter films were made. While I admittedly prefer the books to the movies, I cannot resist the ability to step into the Potter ‘verse and live it, touch it, breathe it. I was lucky to be here in 2012 and nearly broke down in tears from excitement when entering the Great Hall- and that was just the first stop on the tour! You get to walk around and see a ginormous number of sets, props, costumes, and more! Bonus: this time around, we’re going while everything is decorated for Christmas!!! It’s fitting that this will be the last stop on our trip, as I’m not sure anything could possibly beat this.

The Great Hall set at Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

And there you have it! Nerd-cation, here we come!!!