Friday, 23 February 2018

Gearing Up For Tell A Fairy Tale Day

I know I have a lot of "favourite" days of the year—but one of them is coming up on Monday: Tell A Fairy Tale Day. Seriously, it's a real thing.

And I take it very seriously.

So does my Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Kratky. Last week, she assigned us all the task of writing our own fairy tales. I'll be spending most of the weekend crafting mine, but first, I've been reading some of my old favourites. Like Beauty and the Beast. I also love Hansel and Gretel—probably because it's a little bit spooky and you know how I like scary stories.

My fairy tale is going to be a little on the scary side too.

One of the things that makes fairy tales so interesting is that they tend to change over the years. Most of the stories you know, for instance, started off as "grim" tales, told by the Grimm brothers. I wrote about that in this blog from a few years ago.

Anyway, I thought I'd share fun facts and trivia about some of the most popular fairy tales—maybe a few things you can impress your teacher or friends with. <grin>

Did you know that more than 700 versions of Cinderella have been collected from around the world, and it has appeared in almost every language? It's one of the most re-imagined stories too, like Cinder by Marissa Marr.

And, the very first tale of Cinderella was recorded in China at around AD 850. That Cinderella is Yeh-hsien, and she wears a dress made of kingfisher feathers.

In some versions of Little Red Riding Hood, the heroine is taking grape juice and banana bread to her grandmother—not apples. I wonder if the wolf liked them better! (In the Grimm version of this fairy tale, the wolf EATS Grandma!) And here's another fun fact about that story—in some version, Red Riding Hood doesn't come across a wolf, she runs into an ogre or a werewolf.

Did you know that Roald Dahl wrote a version of Little Red Hood? In his tale, the heroine actually strikes back against the wolf!

If you like Charles Dickens, here's an interesting fact—he loved fairy tales. He said that they helped to keep him forever young.

Seems like Dickens was on to something!

Well, I'm off to read more fairy tales and then write a really good one for class on Monday. Maybe Mrs. Kratky will let me read mine aloud—as long as it's not too spooky. What's YOUR favourite fairy tale?

Gotta jet!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 16 February 2018

Lessons From The Olympics

I don't know about you, but my eyes have been glued to the TV for the past few days—the Olympics are on!

It's true, I'm more of a summer sports person—so many of my heroes are Canadian track stars—but I can appreciate the hard work and commitment that goes into training for any sport, and there's something magical about watching someone ride the rails on a snowboard. I can't even stay upright for a full ride down the bunny hill!

We've been talking about the Olympics in class, of course, and not just about the science or math (counting medals!) of it, but also about some of the important things we can learn from Olympic athletes. Here are my top 5 lessons—how many can you relate to?

They never stop learning. Olympic athletes are at the top of their games because they spend so much time practicing, always looking for ways to improve. They try new techniques. My coach says if I'm going to be the best runner I can be, I will need to be a student of the sport for life.

They overcome obstacles. On the course, yes, but also in life. It's sometimes easier to run from adversity, but Olympic athletes find a way to persevere. I saw a mini documentary the other day on a snowboard athlete who had fallen in every Olympics—she didn't win gold this year, but she made it to the end without falling. It must have been really disheartening to keep falling—but she got back up. Every time.

They think big. Olympic athletes don't sell themselves short—they believe they're going to win gold. Whether it's acing a math test, running your best race, or finishing some kind of personal challenge, don't sell yourself short—believe it, and in YOU!

They know it's desire that counts. Winning isn't everything. Deep down, I know that. As long as I do my best—whatever that takes—then I can be proud of my efforts. I don't have to win, but I do have to want to win. Every athlete at the Olympics shares that goal.

They are accountable. Olympic athletes are accountable to their country, their coach, themselves— and that makes a huge difference. For some of my goals, I'm accountable—like, running track for my school. But others? I could use a bit of practice. How about you?

Watching the Olympics is a lot of fun—and it's also a great educational opportunity. What have you learned? And, what's your favourite sport? Mine? Snowcross, of course. It's like Nascar on snowboards!

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 9 February 2018

Making Dog Treats—For Real!

I don’t have a dog.

I WANT a dog (I know, I've been saying that for years), but pets don’t really fit into our lifestyle. My sister and I are involved in a lot of activities, and my parents are both working professionals, which mean we’re not always around to take care of a dog.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself so I don’t have to think about not having a dog.

BUT, International Dog Biscuit Day is coming u on Feb 23, and since it's so cold outside, I’ve decided to make treats for some of my favourite dogs. Like, my friend Sophie’s poodle. She’s really cute. The poodle, I mean…

I bet you didn’t know how easy dog biscuits can be to make, did you? Well, I thought I’d share the recipe from my Grandma’s family cookbook so that you can make treats for all of the dogs in your life, too!

What you need:
2 cups              whole wheat flour                        500 mL
½ cup               wheat germ                                 125 mL
¼ cup               skim milk powder                         50 mL
                         pinch of salt
½ cup               no-salt chicken stock or water    125 mL
¼ cup               canola oil                                     50 mL
1 Tbsp              molasses or honey                      15 mL
1                       egg                                              1

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In a large bowl, measure and combine the flour, wheat germ, skim milk powder, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together stock or water, canola oil, molasses or honey, and egg.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended.
  5. Spread a small amount of flour on a clean counter.
  6. Turn dough onto the floured surface. Knead the dough a couple of times.
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough ¼- ½ inch (0.5-1 cm) thick.
  8. Cut the dough into bone shapes with a cookie cutter or knife.
  9. Transfer cookie shapes to an ungreased cookie sheet.
  10. Using a fork, prick each cookie several times.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the cookies, until pale golden and firm.
  12. Turn the oven off, but leave the “bones” inside for a few hours to harden as they cool.
  13. Store in a tightly-sealed container.

Easy right?

I can’t wait to take over a batch for Sophie’s dog.  Gotta jet! Stay warm this weekend. Brrrr.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 2 February 2018

What Does It Mean When The Groundhog Sees His Shadow? Who Knows?

Today is Groundhog Day, and I have no idea whether the little guy will see his shadow or not—but I'm starting to wonder if ANYONE can predict the weather these days. Even just the past month has been so strange.

I know we live in Alberta (well, at least *I* do) but don't you think the weather has become a little more unpredictable than usual lately? I mean, one day, I’m outside in a t-shirt, and the next, there’s a blizzard warning and I’m bundled up in a parka, or putting on 17 layers of clothes to walk to school.

I guess Albertans—and Canadians really—are used to that but actually, weather is changing ALL ACROSS THE WORLD.

We’re learning about climate change in science class right now—which is pretty much defined as a significant change in the weather for a long period of time. It can cause…chaos. Like, flooding, drought, melting snow and ice, extreme heat, and really crazy storms. Maybe that doesn’t sound scary to you, but for some people, farmers like my Grandpa for example, climate change can have an impact on, well, everything.

The thing is, you can’t control the weather. So, I asked my grandpa—how do farmers cope with climate change? You know what he said?

Well, to find out, you’ll need to read one of the books in the Superman Duffy series of graphic novels, Cloud 9 —it’s ALL about the effects of climate change. I know, I’m a big tease, right?

Update: I hear the Groundhog DID see his shadow... What does that really mean? With the weather lately, who can predict? No WONDER the weatherman has such a hard time!

Gotta Jet!

— Chase Superman Duffy