Friday, 18 January 2019

Fun Facts to Celebrate Popcorn Day

Popcorn is one of my favourite snacks. Not only is it easy to make, but a simple internet search brings up hundreds of recipe ideas. My current favourite is a delicious (and spicy) treat—just add 8-10 drops of hot sauce to the canola oil before you pop the corn. Yummy!

But with International Popcorn Day right around the corner (tomorrow!), I started thinking about popcorn in a whole different way. Like, did you know that popcorn is perfect for crafting? No, seriously. For example, you can make a simple snack garland for the birds by stringing together day-old popcorn and dried fruit. Obviously you'll need to wait for Spring to do that but if you scroll through Google or Pinterest, you'll find all kinds of great craft ideas.

Or, what about making family movie night a little more creative? Decorate small paper bags with crayons, markers, stickers, or whatever fun stuff your mom has in her craft room. Fill each bag with your favourite popcorn flavor and settle in for the flick. This Sunday, we're going to watch Goosebumps 2—it's out on DVD now!

And, if you’re looking for a more fancy popcorn recipe, you should give this a try. 

Gotta jet!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

P.S. – Here’s five really cool popcorn facts! How many did YOU know?

  • When black popcorn is popped, it becomes white.
  • Popcorn was the first food to be microwaved deliberately.
  • If popcorn is salted before the kernels are popped, it becomes tough.
  • If popcorn kernels dry out, they can be freshened by adding 1 or 2 Tbsp (15-30 mL) of water to the jar and shaking it.
  • Archeologists found some popped corn in a bat cave in New Mexico that was 5,600 years old!

Friday, 11 January 2019

Feeding my imagination

We’re talking about the history of flight in school and of course Amelia Earhart came up. She’s one of the most famous pilots in the entire world.

In case you don’t know, Amelia Earhart’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in October 1937 (yeah, a long time ago) when she was trying to fly across the world. Most people think she ran out of fuel and crashed.

But, I did some research and not everyone has the same idea. There are some pretty crazy theories out there—if you let your imagination wander. Which of course, I did. <heh>

Here are my Top 5 Theories About Amelia Earhart:

 1. She was a spy.
 2. Her plane was shot down and she was captured.
 3. She assumed a fake identity.
 4. She was abducted by aliens.
 5. Her plane got sucked into the Bermuda Triangle.

I don’t really believe any of those are true, but they got me thinking: each of my theories would make for a great story.

I started Google searching, and I came up with a bunch of conspiracy theories, urban myths (things/ideas people thought were true but have no evidence to back them up) and fun statistics and facts. All of a sudden, I was writing down story ideas and character descriptions.

Like, maybe I’ll write a story about how the Bermuda Triangle is actually a UFO headquarters and everyone who has ever been lost in it (even Amelia Earhart) lives there. Think of all the characters that could be trying to get out!

Mrs. Kratky says we’re going to write a few short stories over the next couple of months. I’m feeding my 'idea factory" with some great research. Which one of these theories would YOU write about?

Gotta jet!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 4 January 2019

Eat Healthy to Stay Warm! (For Real)

Compared to New Year's Eve (-27C where I live!), it’s been like a heat wave the past couple of days Above zero temperatures, hardly any wind—I even went for a few runs outside without worrying about frostbite. (Though, I was careful where I stepped because some sidewalks are icy.)

Yep, last week was cold, bitterly cold. And I agree with m grandpa—there is a lot more winter to go. This is Alberta, which means the temperature could drop overnight. (Which is good for the ice castles that just opened in Edmonton!) But right now, I’m enjoying the warmth. Even the little flakes of snow falling outside my window.

By Grandma says even though it might feel like Spring (ish), now isn’t the time to start thinking about lighter meals. Soups, stews, and casseroles may seem hearty (or heavy), but they do much more than use local ingredients and provide comfort.

They can keep you warm!

To keep my energy levels up when I’m running (or just playing outside), Grandma says it’s important to eat nutrient-dense, balanced meals of proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Like when I stay at my grandparent's farm this weekend, I know she’ll make me a ham, spinach and lower-fat cheese omelette, or delicious oatmeal sprinkled with raisins, pumpkin seeds, vanilla yogurt and a little brown sugar.

Mom never makes that stuff. She says it’s too “tempting” and her portions are always too big—her New Year’s resolution is to lose a few pounds (again) so I guess it's rabbit food for a while. No wonder she’s always cold! I think it's time for Grandma and I to stage an intervention.

Gotta jet! Enjoy the last weekend of your holidays—and keep warm!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

P.S. If you don't already have it, the Superman Duffy graphic novel, TASTING MY STORY, is loaded with great, kid-friendly recipes. You can order you copy from the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. 

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Resolution Time!

Are you making New Year's resolutions this year?

I don't know how much I believe in them, but I have decided to go back to my "old faithful" for 2019 and focus on one main goal—more reading. 

It's becoming a pattern that each year I look back at my year in review, I'm disappointed in the number of books I've read. Last year, I only made it through 15, and while that sounds like a lot, it's about 20 short of my goal. Ugh. 

It's not all bad though, because although I didn't read as much as I wanted to, I did write. A lot. I finished my second ever National Novel Writing Month challenge (and even sent my story in to a publication contest!), wrote two short stories for Mrs. Kratky, and scribbled out a few haikus.

But to be a better writer, I need to read more. So that's the goal. In 2019, I plan to read 25 books—and  journal about them. They don't have to be long entries, but I should keep a record of them and write a few sentences about whether I liked them or not. <grin>

Of course, I'll also resolve to train harder for track and field, complete my third NaNoWriMo, continue getting good grades in Science and Math (my hardest subjects), and do more chores for my grandparents when I'm at their farm.

Gotta jet! I know it's not 2019 yet, but I'm getting an early start on my reading with a new book I got for Christmas. (Santa must have known I was going to make this resolution!) Share your resolutions—maybe we can keep each other accountable?

Have a fun (and safe) weekend. See you next year!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 22 December 2018

DIY Cold Weather Crafts For The Season

It's no secret my sister and I like to do crafts. Arts projects are a great way to spend a chilly afternoon—especially since the weather in MY area has turned particularly nasty! Did anything in your yard topple over in that crazy wind yesterday? Brrrr.

Best to stay indoors! But mom says we have enough craft supplies in this house to open our own craft store. So, with the help of Google, I tracked down seven holiday crafts my sister and I can do with recycled products, or things you can find around the house. So, not only are these crafts FUN, they’re also environmentally friendly. Win-win! Check them out.

STAR ORNAMENT: All you’ll need is paper, straw, beads, coloured ribbon and pipe cleaners to make these star ornaments. Lucky for us, Grandma has a collection of different coloured beads!

RECYCLED CARDBOARD TREE: Rather than chop down a tree, why not use one that’s already been recycled? Dad has tons of boxes stored in the garage.

DRIFTWOOD TREE: Okay, maybe it’s a little harder to find driftwood, but if you can—or something similar—wouldn’t this be an excellent gift? My mom would love it.

UPCYCLED HOLLY LEAF HOLIDAY CARD WREATH: A Styrofoam ring forms the base for this paper holly wreath—and cutting out all of those leaves will keep my sister busy for HOURS.

RUSTIC SNOWFLAKES: There’s still time to collect twigs, pine needles, berries, old buttons, and ribbons to make these great snowflakes.

CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATION: Aren't these easy-to-make (and inexpensive) paper Christmas tree decorations cute? We could fill an entire tree with these.

WRAPPING PAPER: I’m wrapping up this list (see what I did there?) with environmentally-friendly ideas for giftwrap. Try fabric, comic strips, newspaper, wallpaper, calendars and more—just in time for me to start wrapping. I'm way behind this year!

Don’t worry if you’re not particularly crafty—everything on this list is EASY and fun. Plus, you might want to give away some of these crafts as Christmas gifts. I can already see some that would be perfect for members of my family.

Gotta jet! Stay warm and have a great weekend. Christmas is almost here!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 14 December 2018

Traditions — From My House To Around The World

I'm gearing up for a weekend of annual traditions—cookie decorating, our yearly "Whoville" party, wrapping gifts, a tour of the lights... It's going to be a busy couple of days. PLUS, we're going to decorate our Grinch gingerbread house.

But the truth is, this is just the beginning. My entire Christmas holiday is filled with family traditions.

Even the way we decorate our tree is traditional. Dad always strings the lights, Mom always puts the star on the top, and my sister and I put up specific decorations. All while listening to holiday music and drinking hot chocolate with peppermint sprinkles.

Family traditions are important. So, I thought it might be fun to check out some different Christmas traditions from around the world. Boy, did I learn a lot!

Like, did you know that in Ireland, kids leave mince pies instead of cookies for Santa? Or that in Russia and Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on January 7, not December 25th?

The people of Netherlands, who celebrate Christmas on December 6th, await the arrival of SinterKlaas and his sidekick, Black Pete. SinterKlaas leaves candy and nuts for boys and girls who have their shoes filled with hay and sugar for his horse.

I’m a BIG fan of turkey, but in Japan, traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Can you imagine? In fact, you’d have to make a reservation to eat at a KFC on Christmas in the country!

And you all know how much I love Halloween, so of course I’m all about the Austrian folklore that jolly Saint Nick makes his rounds with a sidekick in tow—creepy Krampus. He takes care of the kids on Santa’s NAUGHTY list, and trust me, his “punishment” is worse than a lump of coal. Er…not that I would know first-hand of course.

What are some of your family traditions? I’d love to learn more about them!

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 7 December 2018

Random Acts of Holiday Kindness

Sometimes it's easy to forget "kindness" when you're jostling for position in a long line, trudging through snow or slipping across ice, or when you're scrounging for quarters to pay for that last Christmas present you almost forgot to buy. The season famous for holiday lights, hot chocolate, and family gathered around the table can also be very stressful.

So this year—again—I'm making a list...of ways I can spread KINDNESS this season. Little things *I* can do to make it easier on someone else—my family, my friends, even strangers. The world needs kindness. And we can all do our part.

Here are a few ideas I had:

  • Bake cookies (with Grandma) and drop a batch off at the local senior's home—or maybe the police station, fire station, or hospital. Retailers aren't the only ones working extra hard over the holiday season. 
  • Shovel the neighbour's walk—or for someone else on my street. 
  • Buy hot chocolate for the person behind me in the coffee shop line. 
  • Take my sister ice skating. (If you saw how she skates, you'd know how kind of me this is!)
  • Help my neighbour put up his Christmas lights. Obviously I won't be climbing on the roof or any ladders, but I can arrange the light-up snowmen and deer on the lawn!
  • Smile! It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised what a genuine smile can do during this stressful time of year. 
  • Volunteer to wrap presents for local seniors or maybe the children's wing at the hospital. 
  • Leave a Christmas card for the mailman in the mail box. 
  • Pick up trash at a park and throw it in the garbage.
  • Donate some of extra toys, books, or clothes. 

That's not a bad list. Have things to add? Great—we can all brainstorm together and come up with the BEST list. Share your Random Acts of Holiday Kindness in the comments so we can keep the ideas coming.

Gotta Jet! I’m going to start on this list this weekend. See you next Friday!

~ Chase Superman Duffy