A funspirational guide to finding superific things to do!

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Watching TV, playing on the computer and going to the park are fun, but there’s a lot more you could do. You could create a new recipe, build something cool or write a new song. You could “travel” the world or make your own holiday. Nothing’s impossible with the right imagination.

Here are some of my top tips, suggestions and ways to get the most out of your free time.

Happy Holidays!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m very thankful for the diversity of the world, which celebrates a lot more holidays than one might think. After October 31st, there are at least 29 major holidays celebrated by the world’s religions. While some people celebrate Christmas, other people celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, or none of these at all. It’s important for people to know these types of things and to be open to the idea that there are more holidays than just Christmas.

Besides the religious holidays, there are holidays all the time after October 31st. One includes Festivus, a holiday on December 23rd for people who don’t celebrate mainstream holidays. There was also World Kindness Day, celebrated on November 13th. It should be celebrated more than it is to remind people to not be jerks to one and other. National Chocolate Day and National Egg Nog Day are on December 24th, while National Chocolate Covered Anything Day is on the 16th. There is also Humbug Day on the 21st of December. There are many more, no matter what month it is.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season¬†and a not too bitter winter! ūüėõ

HALLOWEEN!

Happy (somewhat belated) Halloween! I hope everyone had a safe but spooky Halloween. There are a lot of good things that come with Halloween. There are the ghost stories, the movies, the costumes, the pumpkins, and the cats, all of which I love.

First, did you know that part of the reason black cats are considered unlucky dates back to the Middle Ages–specifically back to the Black Plague? People don’t quite understand why the cats were first associated with the Devil, but people killed many black cats during the plague. That actually made it worse since the cats had been keeping down the rodent population that spread the plague. Another part of the reason came from the hysteria outbreak about witchcraft. People assumed that “witches” took in (typically black) alley cats to be their companions. People spread rumors and wouldn’t let go of historical beliefs, thus strengthening the idea that black cats were unlucky. I don’t think these felines are unlucky. I have a lot of black cats friends at the animal shelter I volunteer at. I hope to befriend all of the black cats at some point since they’re all really sweet.

Did you also know that the original jack-o-lanterns were carved from potatoes, turnips, and beets? The Irish legend of the jack-o-lantern can be read at the above link, but basically a man named Jack tricked the Devil into not taking his soul and then died. God wouldn’t take Jack and the Devil couldn’t take him, so Jack’s soul wanders the earth with a burning coal in a carved-out turnip. Many people began to carve scary faces into other gourds and root vegetables to scare away this wanderer.

There are too many movies, stories, and costumes to list here, so which ones are your favorites?

OCTOBER IS HERE!!!

Hello! It’s October, one of the best times of the year! It’s getting cooler, the leaves are changing, AND Halloween is this month! I’m soooooooooooooooooooooo excited!

Since it is October, I dedicated a math project on conditional statements to the month. It goes as follows:

If it is October, then you buy a pumpkin. If you buy a pumpkin, then you make a jack-o-lantern. If you make a jack-o-lantern, then it is close to Halloween. If it is close to Halloween, then you buy lots and lots of candy and chocolate. If you buy lots and lots of candy and chocolate, then you will want to eat it. If you want to eat all of the candy and chocolate, then you will eat all of it. If you eat all of the candy and chocolate, then you will have nothing to give the trick-or-treaters (besides the fact you would more than likely go into a diabetic coma). If you have nothing to give the trick-or-treaters, then your house will get TP’ed. if your house gets TP’ed, then you will become the laughing stock of the whole neighborhood. If you are the laughing stock of the whole neighborhood, then you will never leave your house. If you never leave your house, then you will become very lonely. If you become very lonely, then you will buy lots of cats. if you buy lots of cats, many of them will be black cats. If you have a lot of black cats, then you will be reminded of superstitions. If you’re reminded of superstitions, then you might see some superstitious figures. If you see superstitious figures, then it is October.

The whole reason we wrote these projects was to practice conditional statements, but it was also inspired by the whole If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series by Laura Numeroff. I thought it was a lot of fun to do since it could be based on anything.

Besides the If-then story, we went to go get pumpkins this past weekend! Instead of the classic orange pumpkins, we got a white pumpkin and a green-silver pumpkin. They’re really cool, and I love them even though they are just pumpkins. I don’t know if we’re going to carve them or not, since we could just draw spooky faces on to the pumpkins. I can’t wait to do even more decorating for Halloween! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

A Muddle Of Things

Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope you all stayed safe on this unofficial end to summer. By this point, a lot of kids are back at school. I started high school just over a week ago. It’s awesome, although all my friends would beg to differ. I really like my physics teacher. He’s a lot like my middle school science teacher: wacky, nerdy, and fun–all good things. Some of my classes have content that will work together, so I think my grades will benefit from alternate explanations of things I don’t understand. I’m really looking forward to engineering. We’re going to get to design stuff and possibly even build things. Most of my teachers have explained things fairly well when they are teaching, so I’m thinking this is going to be a good year.

Not only does Labor Day mark the start of school, it also marks the start of Halloween decorating in my household! Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday. The colors, the atmosphere, the overall history; it’s all really cool. My favorite part is getting to go to Halloween stores and gawk at all the stuff, then get inspired for a bazillion different costumes I could make. I don’t even want to do the costumes for trick-or-treating anymore; the costume making and wearing is fun enough. I get really giddy around this time of year because¬†it’s time to get spooky!

Reasons to Like Geometry

This sounds like an out-of place post, but I’ve been taking a summer course for geometry to help prepare for high school. There are actually a lot of reasons I like it:

  • So many great puns and jokes come out of geometry, such as “if you’re cold, go stand in the corner, it’s 90 degrees,” and “parallel lines have so much in common, it’s a shame they’ll never meet.”
  • Squares fit into about six different categories in the shape world. They also have the easiest perimeter and area to find.
  • I didn’t realize this before, but angles can be over 360 degrees. Drawing them can be a bit difficult, though.
  • There are a lot of simple references to¬†geometry in real life. Any time I see a triangle, I think of how one side can’t be longer or equal to the sum of the other two sides, or shorter than the difference of the other two sides.

Now, there are downsides–one I am quite vociferous about:

  • CIRCLES ARE SO WEIRD. They have so many different parts, such as circumference (there are a lot of puns about this, too), area, diameter, and radius. There are also arcs, radii, and many nonsensical things.
  • Circles are¬†the only downside I can think of.

Besides the circle aspect, I really enjoy¬†geometry. I’m hoping that in the actual class we will get more into proofs and such because those are very helpful. I’m really looking forward to it.

“Tomato”

Since we missed all of the tomato holidays for a while, we decided to have our own Tomato Weekend. There was a lot of food involved, of course. We decided to make stuffed bell peppers that had a very tomato-y rice creation inside. While I didn’t help too much with that, I gladly helped devour some chili that was made the next day. I’m not a very big tomato fan to begin with, so when we attempted fried red tomatoes I was beyond concerned. I don’t think I have ever made a face about food like what I did when I tried one. To make up for the bizarre tomatoes, we made tomato soup cake. It’s more of a spice cake than anything else and the tomato soup is basically to serve as the cake’s liquid. It was very good and made me a little bit less reluctant to try other tomatoes.

We had to get our tomatoes somehow, so we went up to Kenosha to a farmer’s market. There was a lot of stuff there. Besides getting our tomatoes, I talked my parents into getting me lemonade and they got breakfast egg rolls (which I didn’t know there was such a thing). AND because it was our tomato weekend, we had to watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.¬†It’s definitely… weird. It’s better that I watched it now instead of when I was little so I understood more of the pop culture stuff. My favorite part was in the library and the guy just says “Tomato.”¬†It never fails to make me laugh.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This summer, I’ve taken to reading a lot of slightly older, darker books. I finished reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (by Robert Louis Stevenson) a couple of weeks ago. It was wonderful, but had a really sad ending. The premise is that if a person could separate their personality into two separate identities, the world could be better. Dr. Jekyll tries this, and his world breaks down into chaos. I won’t tell the ending for people who hate spoilers.

A local college was doing a production of the musical¬†Jekyll and Hyde. It was a perfect opportunity to have read the book before seeing other versions. The day before we saw the musical, though, we decided to watch the 1920¬†Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde¬†movie. It’s a silent film with John Barrymore, and it is really good in the special effects area, considering the time it was made it. I was overjoyed when I found out that Mr. Hyde was short in the movie like he was in the book. The movie followed the book pretty well,¬†with very small deviations. One of the deviations was in the ending, so I won’t tell that one (you’ll have to read and watch them for yourself). The movie did a nice job of wrapping up where the book leaves you on a cliffhanger. Both endings are wonderful, though. There was also a comedic version of the movie, a silent 20-minute short film called¬†Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde with Stan Laurel from Laurel & Hardy, a comedy duo. It’s one of those things that one can’t explain well enough to get the humor across, but they did a good job of making a serious movie into a comedic summary.

Finally, the musical. Music sure does lengthen the time it takes to tell a story, but it was great music. I normally couldn’t stand musicals, but this year that has been changing a bit. My favorite song was “Alive,” mainly because of the range of notes (which I wouldn’t in a million years be able to reach, but they were beautifully done). The music in general was amazing, and the you could see the conductor and band backstage were having a lot of fun. The actors were amazing, too. The play was closer to the movie with more deviations from the book. It gave a little bit more backstory than the book did. The biggest difference from the book in my opinion was that a different person was killed. More people, actually, were killed in the musical than in the book or the movie (eight people people total in the musical). The musical used the almost the tallest person for Dr. Jekyll, meaning they could make him hunch over to be Mr. Hyde so he could still be short. I don’t know why that’s so important to me, but a lot of monster characters are often displayed as fairly tall beings, and to have a shorter monster character seemed to be something that needed to be kept.

I really would love to be in a version of Jekyll and Hyde when I get older. I kind of hope the college does it again when I can actually audition.

Chocolate and Video Games

July 7th was Chocolate Day, so we decided to have a chocolate-themed weekend to extend the chocolate fun. We decided to be daring by trying some savory chocolate foods.

On Friday, we made chocolate cornbread and chili with a bit of cocoa powder. The chili was good, but there is a reason chocolate corn doesn’t exist. We saved the cornbread on Saturday by turning it into chocolate cornbread bread pudding, which was really good with ice cream. In addition to this, we went to the Chocolate Sanctuary¬†and had very chocolaty food. I found out that I evidently like cocoa barbecue sauce when I had it on chicken wings for the first time. I have also never had Chicken Mascarpone and Savory Cocoa Fettuccine until Saturday–it was interesting, but I don’t think I would do it again. We also had salad with a chocolate vinaigrette, pork sliders with more chocolate barbecue sauce, cocoa-spiced butternut squash soup, a turkey flatbread sandwich with cocoa-candied bacon, and then truffles for dessert! Overall, most of the savory stuff was okay. The barbecue sauce was really good. The truffles were great!

On Sunday, we made chocolate pancakes for dinner. I kind of put in a bit too much vinegar, but we fixed it with some baking soda. Saturday was also Video Games Day, but we thought it was Sunday so we celebrated a day later. Time to get past a couple of dungeons!

Happy Independence Day!!!

Happy Independence Day everyone! This holiday about celebrating America’s freedom is fairly hectic. Tons of people do barbecues on the 4th of July, preparing for the wild fireworks to come late at night. Red, white, and blue parades gather a lot of¬†people, too. All this excitement¬†can take your mind off the heat of the day. ¬†Here are some fun facts to also entertain you:

Did you know that the Declaration of Independence was drafted on a “laptop,” a small, lap-sized desk? ¬†Another rare fact is that¬†only John Hancock (so far proven) signed the Declaration on July 4th.

Some other facts include:

Hope everyone has a safe and fun July 4th holiday!

Upper Mississippi Vacation (Part Two)

Brain Surge ride at Mall of AmericaYou can’t do an Upper Mississippi trip without stopping in the Twin Cities (well, you could, it just wouldn’t be right). We got to Minneapolis and had a few hours to do the rides in Mall of America. It wasn’t very crowded, surprisingly, so we had time to ride about 10 rides. My favorite one was Brain Surge (pictured), where you use a joystick to spin yourself forward and backward. I wouldn’t recommend it to people with motion sickness or who get queasy.

20170613_093050The Mill Museum was our next destination. We walked around the Mill Ruins Park, a beautiful little area by a dam that was next to the Mississippi. There was a large stone bridge that we also walked across before we went into the museum since we had time to kill before it opened. I think I’m starting to appreciate architecture and rustic things more now because I found everything in the area beautiful.¬†Once we were inside the museum, we walked around and explored the old mill’s purpose. I had fun before our tour with the interactive water example. It showed how the mills would use the water from the 20170613_110641Mississippi to power water wheels and other items. Our tour, once it started, consisted of getting on a big elevator and listening/watching a documentary of sorts. I don’t quite know how to put it, because we heard people recount their experiences working in the mill before it exploded and burned, but we watched examples of the stories as we went up and down eight various floors. We got to see old “vacuums” that took the flour dust out of the air and pumped it into the Mississippi, before the rules about disposal of stuff. We got to look out over the ruins of part of the mill once we reached the ninth floor, as well as learn about why the side walk was made out of wood. There was a canal below the road and sidewalk that all the mills in the area drew their water from.

2017-06-13 12.14.48As we continued, my mom had her heart set on finding a Minnesota classic for food: a Juicy Lucy. She found a restaurant that served them. It turned out to be a place that claimed to be the home of the cheese-filled hamburger, 5-8 Tavern and Grill. They were fairly big hamburgers and very hot, but they were delicious. From here on out, it was just a ride back home. On this ride, I found a true monster truck.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to do a “reboot” in the next year and see the stuff we didn’t on this trip.