muggles and wizards and way bigger fans than me, oh my!

At the tail-end of our trip last month, we went to The Making of Harry Potter studio tour just outside of London. David and I had just finished reading the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and watched the first four movies. I wasn’t sure what to expect since it’s a studio tour and not an adventure park. It sounded kind of boring, the cost was no joke and commute was long (2 hours, both ways via train, subway, and bus!) But despite my reservations, I knew it’d be exciting for David – he put up with running around Berlin, watching my marathon so we could do this.

I thought it’d be fun to share our top 10 favourite things from the day since it is Halloween and all…

  1. The fans. They’re legit and come in all shapes and sizes. I will admit, seeing the kids *and big kids* freak out when the bus pulled up to the studio was…. dare I say… magical.
  2. The staircase. The very first thing you see is the room under the stairs – it’s where it all started. The tour begins with a guided introduction with what I think is the better story, J.K. Rowling’s imagination and her ability to dream up this magical world and then how even after the first book was written, it was a little girl that convinced her dad that the movie(s) would be worth making… Lesson: Listen to kids, they know what’s good! Once we were given this little bit of history, the curtains were drawn, and the doors to the Great Hall were revealed (yes, I got goosebumps!)
  3. The Great Hall and the Goblet of Fire. This is where the guided tour ends. I won’t tell you whose name flew out from the Goblet of Fire.
  4. The sets. Once you’re out of the Great Hall, it’s up to you how fast you want to go through the rest of the building. There are tons of props, sets, costumes, and details about the production of the movie. The cast is just a small part of it all. It’s huge and full of many gems so make sure you eat before the journey.
  5. The props. Oh, so many props! As an art student who majored in design, learning about the makers of props and sets was pretty cool, they deserve so much credit.
  6. Butterbeer. Not going to lie, I went for the butterbeer. What the heck does it taste like?!? David and Mike were not fans, it’s fricking sweet, but I endured, got the picture and checked the experience off the list.
  7. The wands. David wanted a wand. I wanted a wand. David got a wand, but I resisted the temptation. I was pretty excited however that he chose Hermione’s wand. Throughout the tour, there are a few fun experiences you can partake in (broom flying with a green screen, photo opts, broomstick spells, etc.) but a quick lesson on how to use a wand was pretty cool.
  8. The Hogwarts Express. You can walk inside and see the passenger rooms – one decorated for each movie.
  9. Diagon Alley. It really felt like you were winding your way through an alley and you see all of the familiar store signs.
  10. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I can’t put into words how cool this was – a massive model of the castle that you can walk around – look down on, look up at, examine and see how they took it to the big screen. I am pretty sure if I was ten and seeing this, I’d want to be an architect. It was breathtaking.

If you are a big or little fan, I’d highly recommend the tour.

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – J.k. Rowling

#teamGryffindor

life lately (on the hill)

Itching to see 200 photos of mountains with a some cute kids mixed in? Here’s life lately. In February we travelled across to the country to spend a late Christmas holiday with our family from another country. Mike’s parents came as well and we enjoyed a five glorious days skiing  at Whistler with some Vancouver sightseeing to bookend the adventure.

Day 1

With the time-change, I was wide -awake at 5:00 am and went out for a run around Stanley Park. Not the smartest thing to do alone in a big city, but it was a bucket-list item … It was really dark (which is why these pics are so grainy) and also why I thought the statue in the water was a real person. img_0153 img_0150img_0155After breakfast we met up with Mike’s brother and his family and went back to Stanley Park to the see the totem poles and visit the Vancouver Aquarium.img_0158In daylight, she looks a lot less real.img_0169Joel, David, Evan and Celeste:img_0162img_0160 img_0178As a devote DANGER BAY fan, I was excited to see where Dr. Robert’s worked:img_0171 Sting Ray touch tank:img_0176 img_0174 img_0173 img_0172Afterwards, we took a bus to Whistler and made it in time to see the fire show.img_0183img_0181

Day 2

The kids went to ski school for the first three days and had a blast.img_0188… And here are the mountain photos – I mostly skied alone on the first day.img_0190 img_0191 img_0192 img_0194 img_0197 img_0199 img_0200 img_0205At the end of the day, I rode the peak-to-peak – the gondola that takes you on a +4km  ride from Whistler to Blackcomb mountain:img_0205c img_0205d img_0206 img_0207

Day 3

I skied with my father-in-law. He was incredibly patient (with my skiing and photo taking) and I convinced him to ride a t-bar up to Blackcomb Glacier… then we hiked up a hill just to snap some more pics.img_0208 img_0209 img_0210 img_0215 img_0216 Carl and me on the top:img_0217 img_0218 img_0219 img_0226Lunch with the Ackermans:img_0213Whistler village has totem poles too.img_0227img_0230img_0231Terrible photo (sorry) but it’s the only one I have of Jeff and Allie. It was great to see them again!img_0242

Day 4

It was rainy at the bottom and wet snow at the top so I only skied in the morning. img_0245 img_0248But I enjoyed the mitten warmers in the bathroom at one of the hill-top restaurants:img_0249 img_0250 img_0251 img_0252 img_0253After lunch, I roamed around the village and grabbed a coffee.img_0256

Day 5

We got in line super early for the first-tracks breakfast at the top of the hill. Steve, Celeste and Rachel on one side:img_0257 And me and Pauline on the other:img_0258 David and Evan own the podium:img_0259 img_0260 After breakfast we attempted to all ski down together… which did not happen. Turns out, families that ski together, don’t stay together. img_0264 Half of us headed over to Blackcomb for the rest of the day:img_0267 Back on the peak-to-peak, this time with Mike, Evan and David.img_0269

Day 6

Our last ski day at Whistler – it was great to see how much the kids improved with just 3 days at ski school. They’re so much better than me, and brave! img_0273 The best part about skiing:img_0276 img_0277 img_0278

Day 7

Our last bit of time with the family before they travelled back to England. Joel is already taller than me… and I am guessing Evan will be too the next time we meet…img_0280 img_0281 img_0286 The village rink and playground:img_0287 img_0291 img_0292 Cousin time is the best time:img_0293 img_0294 img_0296

Day 8

Back in Vancouver, we explored the city and rode the mini taxi boats to Granville Island.img_0301img_0308img_0309img_0312img_0311David thought I was taking a picture of him but obviously, I was taking pictures of the palm trees:img_0313We had lunch with Nelson and his lovely family – Nelson and I met in University and it’s been years since we’ve seen each other – what a treat!img_0314img_0315img_0316Earl’s in Yaletown:img_0305 And finally, hockey night to wrap up the holiday.img_0326 img_0327 img_0332psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomegimg_0298

school’s out for summer!

Grade one is over! Summer Starts Now!

IMG_5749I feel like David kind of turned into a seven-year-old punk. Hats were lost, teeth fell out, glasses were replaced but we all survived.  Grade1I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday and you all check everything off your list! Here is David’s Summer Bucket List:IMG_5739

  1. Camping
  2. Bike at Nanna and Poppy’s house
  3. Ice cream
  4. Swim in Nanna and Grandad’s pool
  5. Beach day
  6. Kayak from Nanna and Poppy’s to an overnight camping adventure

Kids are a lot easier to please… he has 6 and I have 100.

IMG_5752(Source for banner idea) It’s all about celebrating everything.

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg

hello from away

Guess where I am?

Hint:Sunday RiverI have a bit of a crush on Maine… It’s a lot like home but a little more rustic. In full disclosure, every time I come to Maine (which has been many many times), I imagine myself working as a layout designer for L.L.Bean. They pump-out a lot of catalogues and I think it’d be a fun gig.

Here is what I am L.L.Loving lately at the Bean:LLBEAN

A. Therapeutic Dog Couch / B. Maine Guide Wool Parka, PrimaLoft / C. Hunter’s Tote Bag, Zip-Top / D. Coleman Triton Instastart Two-Burner Propane Stove / E. Boardworks Raven Stand Up Paddle Board Package, 12’6″ / F. PrimaLoft Packaway Vest / G. Moon Beam Clock with USB Port / H. Lakehouse Bed / I. All-Weather Deep Seating Chair with Stripe Cushion / J. Backcountry 3-Person Dome Tent / K. Bean boots / L. Mariner Dress / M. Washable Wool Blanket, Herringbone / N. Women’s Winter Walker Snowshoes / O. Waterhog Mat / P. Women’s Wicked Good Moccasins / Q. Stowaway Snow Tube Set / R. Signature Cotton Fisherman Sweater, Washed / S. Katahdin CT Sleeping Bag / T. Comfort Trail Pants / U. Wool Hooked Rug, Black Whale / V. Woodlands Screen House / W. Heritage Chamois Flannel Sheet Set, Plaid / X. Soft-Knit Cotton Pajama Set / Y. Peterboro Woven Laundry Basket / Z. Wool Hooked Throw Pillow, Lobster

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 7.03.29 AMpsst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg

book it

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Three times in one week the topic of making photo albums had come up in conversation. Not the photo albums we grew up with – sticky cellophane protector pages / brass ringed coil binding / padded landscape covers – but rather, the ones you make digitally and send away for printing.

I made my first album after our wedding and found the hardest part to be editing down the amount of photos to fit in less than 96 pages. After that, I went on to make albums of vacations and quickly realized editing is important because additional pages costs more money (I should know this, seeing that I do print production for a living).

Fast forward seven years, David is almost five, life is busy: We’ve been on a few great vacations but production has slowed down. I only realized this week, I started a California Book for the trip to California in 2012 and never made it past the cover page. Since then, we’ve also been to Florida (and I’ve been to California again) so I better start designing.

There are many options for book making online – Shutterfly, MyPublisher, and Pinhole Press to name a few – but I have only used Apple’s iPhoto print products and have been pleased with the results. Although there have been slight changes in their template design, I love the consistency and find the process to be super easy. And at this point, If I want to get at least one more done before our next vacation, I should stick to what works.

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What about you? Have you had great success with one of the other publishers? Can you persuade me to switch? I am very excited about the Pinhole Press products, like the personalized memory cards, and plan to make them for my youngest nephew, but that’s for another day.

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Psst. Share and subscribe if you like what you’re reading. xomeg

Note: The David book was made by David’s daycare provider, Miss Allie. One of the sweetest gifts a mom can receive.