Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Happy Halloween! The Big Day Is Here!

Can you believe it? It's Halloween! Wahoo!

And guess what? I didn't choose my Superman costume—are you shocked? I was all ready to tie up that familiar cape, and hang out with my super hero friends tonight (even my sister Amelia is getting into the spirit with her new Wonder Woman costume)—but I changed my mind at the last second.

Maybe it has something to do with the weather—it's snowing in my back yard—or the fact that tomorrow kicks of National Novel Writing Month and I'm trying to write a spooky story this year. Whatever the reason, I opted for my scarier, and somewhat warmer, costume.

Ready? Here I am:


In case you haven't guessed, I'm one of the characters from the Superman Duffy graphic novel Beneath The SOIL. The spider, obviously, which is kind of ironic since I have a bit of arachnophobia. What better way to conquer your fears, though, than to face them head on!

Come to think of it, that's kind of the theme of my NaNoWriMo project—which I'll talk more about throughout next month. Thanks for hanging out with me as I counted down the days to MY favourite holiday, Halloween. I hope you stick around in November too, as I dish out some storytelling tips that will be useful, even if you're not writing 5,000 (or 50,000) words in 30 days.

Gotta jet! Stay safe and warm out there tonight, and have a SPOOKTACULAR Halloween!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

PS - The answers to yesterday's True or False quiz are:
1. True  2. True  3. False  4. True  5. False  6. False  7. True

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Monday, 30 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 1 Sleep!

Halloween is TOMORROW. One. More. Sleep. This has been the longest month of my life, counting down the days to my favourite holiday. But, I hope you've enjoyed some of the crafts, treats, and Halloween lore I've been dishing out over the past 30 days.

I'm still working on my Halloween costume—which I will reveal tomorrow—but I'm pretty much ready for the big day. I spent an hour yesterday helping my mom stuff candies into latex gloves (she lets kids grab a "handful" of treats) while my sister tied ribbons.

I made a half dozen cookie monsters, too. The house and yard are fully decorated, the pumpkins are carved...


So I thought I'd take today to share some fun Halloween facts in the form of a true or false quiz.

If you've read my blog (or been on Twitter), you'll know some of the answers, but you may want to use Google for the rest—the first 10 people to email me with the correct responses will receive a copy of Beneath the SOIL, the spookiest Superman Duffy graphic novel in the series!

Okay, here we go.

Remember, these are true or false responses. Just mark TRUE or FALSE next to each of the "lucky seven" questions.

1. The first Jack O' Lanterns were actually made from turnips.
2. Samhnainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
3. Canada is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween.
4. The first known mention of trick-or-treating in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.
5. Halloween has been around for 10,000 years.
6. Toronto, Ontario is the self-proclaimed Halloween capital of the world.
7. According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

How do you think you did? I'll put the answers in tomorrow's post—but if you figure them out before then, don't forget to email me for your chance to win a book!

Gotta jet! Good luck trying to sleep before the big day. <grin>

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 2 Sleeps!

I have so much to do today. Not ONLY do I have make a final decision on this year's costume (not going to lie, I'm leaning towards Superman...again), but I also have to plot my story for NaNoWriMo. No surprise, but I'm writing a ghostly tale of fun. Not Casper, but that kind of ghost. (We watched Casper as a family on Friday night and it inspired me!)

But with all I have to do today, I'm taking a few hours to hang out with my sister and our cousins for a fun (and yummy!) monster cookie decorating session. Check these out:

Fun, right? The full directions are here, but you can pretty much do any kind of face you want for your monsters with the right icing, sprinkles, and imagination. I'm on it!

Gotta jet! Have a spooktacular day, and see you tomorrow for my second to last post on the Halloween Countdown!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 3 Sleeps!

Hello! I promised that I would share the pumpkins Amelia and I carved soon—and today is that day.

We thought about a bunch of different themes and patterns—super heroes, Star Wars, Frankenstein, and so son—but in the end, we decided on these:

Can you guess which one is mine, and which was carved by my sister? Guess correctly and I'll send you a copy of Beneath the SOIL, the scariest of the Superman Duffy graphic novels.

We're having a family Halloween party tonight, so I've gotta jet! But tomorrow, I'll be back to round out the last couple of days of this year's spooktacular Halloween Countdown. I hope you've been having as much fun as I am!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 27 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 4 Sleeps!

It's Friday—and you know what that means? The LAST weekend before Halloween! Four. More. Sleeps. I can't believe it.

Over the last month, I've talked about Halloween treats, crafts, books, and even music. But I've forgotten all about MOVIES, and at this time of the year, there are some spooktacular ones. I'm not talking about going to see Stephen King's IT or anything (that's way over my comfort level) but here are five of my Halloween favourites.

The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin. 
Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home cause confusion. 

A misunderstood boy takes on ghosts, zombies, and grown ups  to save his town from a centuries-old curse. 

A paranormal expert and his daughter bunk in an abandoned house populated by three mischievous ghosts and one friendly one. 
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth  and return to his home world. 

Good choices, right? So, pop a giant bowl of corn, and settle in for some creeptastic fun! Gotta jet, but OBVIOUSLY I'll see you tomorrow. Right?

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 5 Sleeps!

Did you know that today is National Pumpkin Day? If you haven't been already, it's the perfect day to indulge in a pumpkin spiced...well, pretty much anything. Or, dig in to a slice of pumpkin pie or cheesecake. (Fun fact: the largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds!)

Actually, while researching for this post, I found a whole bunch of very interesting facts. Like, did you know that ore than 2 billion pounds of pumpkin is produced in Canada and the U.S. each year? That's a lot of pumpkin!

Another neat fact is that pumpkins are part of the gourd family, which you probably know. But did you know that watermelons and zucchini are part of the same family? In fact, pumpkin comes from the Greek work 'pepon' meaning large melon.

In one article I read, researchers estimate that pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. And, they're healthy too! The flowers, seeds, and flesh are all edible and are high in potassium and Vitamin A.

Cool stuff to know, but I bet tonight, most people will celebrate National Pumpkin Day by carving them for Halloween! Click here for my grandma's recipe for the perfect pumpkin seeds, and then scroll down to see pictures of some fantastic pumpkin carving I found on the internet.

I'll show you the pumpkins me and my sister carved soon, but I can tell you now, they're nowhere NEAR as good as these. Which one is your favourite? I love the Han Solo one!

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow as we head into the last weekend before the big day. So much to do...

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 6 Sleeps!

If you've followed my blog for a while, you know how much I love Frankenstein. I've watched every Frankenstein movie I can get my hands on, read all kinds of books, and even dressed up as Frankenstein for Halloween.

So obviously, this Frankenstein cake is right up my alley.

And it's easy to make, too. You can get the full directions here, but pretty much any cake mix will do the trick. Bake it into a rectangular pan, then mix up your black and green icing. When the cake cools, use a cake decorating nib to draw your Frankenstein face. Don't forget the classic hair and bushy eyebrows!

My grandma says we can make the cake this weekend, which is the perfect way to celebrate the last few days before Halloween.

If you're a Frankenstein buff like me, you might want to try your hand at this quiz, which is all about Mary Shelley's amazing book, Frankenstein. Of course, if you haven't read the book, you can get it here. It's a classic.

And if this Frankenstein cake is too easy, maybe one of these Pinterest pins will inspire you. You could do an entire Frankenstein theme—talk about the ultimate Monster Bash!

Hm. All this talk about Frankenstein is making it harder for me to decide which of my costumes to wear this Halloween. I'd better hurry up and choose—only SIX MORE SLEEP TO GO!

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow as we continue to countdown the final days to Halloween.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 7 Sleeps!

Gah! Halloween is ONE WEEK AWAY! Maybe it's just me, but I always think the week BEFORE the big day should be blocked off, like the Christmas holidays. No school...well, maybe school, but only if we're doing fun stuff like painting pumpkins, eating themed snacks, or playing games.

Speaking of games, I found some great "quiet" games online that I think my Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Kratky, will love.

Into Bingo? Check out these free printable bingo cards from Makoodle. I love that they use candy corn for blotters—less messy and more tasty than the ones my Grandma uses when she goes our with her friends.

And if those Bingo cards aren't what you're looking for, there are dozens of them here.

If Word Searches are more your thing—and who doesn't love to play hunt and seek with vocabulary, you can find a Halloween-themed one here. For some spooktacular crossword puzzles, check out this link, and this site even has a Halloween sudoku!

I'm going to suggest these links for Mrs. Kratky, and see what she thinks. Maybe we'll skip Math tomorrow and play Halloween word games instead! (Sigh. Probably not...it's not my best subject.)

Gotta jet! I hope you have a day filled with Halloween fun—and I'll see you tomorrow as we continue to count down the days to my favourite time of the year!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 23 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 8 Sleeps!

Eeep! Halloween is just 8 sleeps away! The month is flying by so fast it's...scary! (Mwahahaha) You know what else is terrifying? The start of National Novel Writing Month (aka: NaNoWriMo)—which is 9 sleeps away. Gulp. 

I'll be doing my usual NaNoWriMo blog, with daily writing tips and other information I've gathered from several sources (including the author of the Superman Duffy graphic novels)—but today, I'm going to post five more story prompts. (Just in case you're stuck on what you'll start writing on November 1.)

Ready? Okay, here we go. Who knows, maybe one of them will be just what you need to get your creative juices flowing?

  1. Write a 10-line Halloween poem using the following words: black cat, pumpkin, dark, graveyard, ghost, witch, gloomy, haunted, clown, and spooky.
  2. Of all of the costumes you have ever worn on Halloween, what costumes are among your favorite? What makes these costumes so memorable? Describe what the costumes looked like. 
  3. Write a 50-100 word story using the first line, "It was all fun and games until we saw something move in the Haunted house." 
  4. Write a recipe for a magic potion using five items you see around your house or classroom. In addition to the ingredients list, provide cooking directions and explain the purpose of the magic potion. 
  5. Imagine you are hosting a Halloween party. Identify three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to your party (aside from your friends and family). What makes these guests so special? Why do you think they would make a great guest at your Halloween party?
So...? Do any of these writing prompts inspire you? If not, go back to this post (or this one!) for Halloween story starters I've used this month. And if a creepy story isn't what you want to write this November, check out my archive of story prompts here. 

I've got a big day ahead of me, so I've gotta jet, but don't forget to check in tomorrow. I have a great Halloween Countdown post planned—you're not gonna want to miss it!

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 9 Sleeps!

Today is the BIG day. The annual Duffy Pumpkin Carving Event. It's the most wonderful time of the year—well, one of them anyway.

Carving the best Jack-O-Lantern is great, but you know what's almost better? The feast afterward! I'm talking about pumpkin seeds of course. Tradition in our house means that my sister and I help Mom get them ready for roasting, while Dad digs out one of our Halloween movies.

When the seeds are ready (finally!), we separate them into four bowls—and eat it like popcorn whilee watching Frankenstein or something equally as awesome. Delicious!

So, how does Mom make the perfect pumpkin seeds? I thought I'd let you in on her secret for today's Halloween Countdown post. Don't worry, she said it was okay.

The most important step is to wash your seeds thoroughly. You want to get rid of all the pumpkin fibres (guts), so when you think you've cleaned them enough, clean them again. And again. (Seriously, it takes us like an hour to clean them!)

The other BIG rule is that you have to keep a watch on them while they're cooking. Set the timer for 10 minutes, check on them, move them around, set the timer for another ten minutes, move them around, and repeat until they're done. If you leave them alone too long, they'll burn. And trust me, burnt pumpkin seeds are NOT the same.

So what to put on them? Well, Mom says there are a few different recipes if you want to look them up. But here's what she does....

You need:
½ teaspoon of Seasoned Salt
½ tablespoon of Canola oil
Dash of salt

This is enough "topping" for two pumpkins worth of seeds.

After you've cleaned—and cleaned—the seeds, let them soak in a bowl of water for about half an hour. Fill a pot with water and a dash of salt. Bring the water to a boil, and then add the pumpkin seeds, cooking for about 10 minutes.

Drain the seeds, and put them in a bowl. Toss the seeds with the canola oil, and then lay them out on a cookie tray. Sprinkle on the seasoned salt. (My mouth is watering already!) Cook the seeds at 350C for about 40 minutes, making sure to turn them / move them around every 10 minutes.

I know this is the hardest part, but take them out of the oven and allow them to cool before gobbling them up.

And there you have it—perfect pumpkin seeds.

Gotta jet! Have a great day. I'll be back tomorrow for more Halloween fun.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 10 Sleeps!

It's come to my attention that not everyone loves to CARVE pumpkins. Apparently, some people prefer to keep their fingers free from oozing guts, and slimy seeds. *shrug* Not me, but I guess I can their point. It's not the cleanest job in the world.

So that being said, I thought I'd take today's post to explore some of the ways you can decorate your Halloween pumpkin without scooping out its core. And wow, did I ever find some neat things.

Check this out. Apparently you can add puffy paint to your pumpkins to create this neat look.

Or, plain old paint for some Halloween-inspired messages, faces, and patterns.

You can put nail polish on them.

Use lace.

Or even melt crayons on them for this cool effect.

And if you're really ambitious, you can use craft paper, fake jewels, or junk drawer finds that can be attached to your pumpkin.

Wow! Some really fun stuff, right?

 I'm still carving my pumpkin (that's tradition in my house) but if I was going to change it up, I'd think about melting crayons. How about you?

Show off your crafty pumpkin in the comments below, and I'll send you a copy of Beneath The Soil—the spookiest book in the Superman Duffy series of educational graphic novels.

Gotta jet! Happy crafting.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 20 October 2017

Halloween Countdown: 11 Sleeps!

Halloween night is so close now that I can hardly stop the fluttering in my stomach. It's mostly excitement, but I'm also a bit nervous about everything I still have to do—like pick a costume, carve my pumpkin, and decorate the inside AND outside of the house. (Pictures when I finish!)

But for today's post, I'm knocking off one of the items on my very big To Do list. Every year, I give my fellow classmates a Halloween-inspired treat. One time, I put candy in latex gloves for a creepy "grab bag" <grin>, and my mom made caramel popcorn balls once. This year, every kid in my class is getting a Lollipop Ghost. 

Spooktacular, right? And who doesn't love a Tootsie Pop? You can find the full directions on this Pinterest post, but you'll get the gist by scrolling through the pictures below. All you need is tissue, ribbon, a black felt marker, and Tootsie pops (or another kind of lollipop with a similar shape).

I think my class mates are going to love them. I might even make some for my parents to hand out when people come trick-or-treating at our door. Not that I'll be there...I've got some trick-or-treat plans of my own!

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow...right?

~ Chase Superman Duffy