“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.

Cruising Alaska, Part 4: Ketchikan and Last Day of Cruising

7/1 – Wednesday: Ketchikan was our last port of call. We went on a tour that brought us to a Totem Pole Park and a Lumberjack Show. At the park, we learned that all the totem poles that natives made had stories behind them. All of the stories had a moral at the end, kind of like fairy tale. Someone also said they saw a bear in someone’s driveway. My mom wanted to see it, but my dad and I said, “No!”

This is one of the totem poles that would have taken a lot of time.

This is one of the totem poles that would have taken a lot of time.

They call the little disks they chop off "cookies"

They call the little disks they chop off “cookies”

Here is the animal carving of a bunny

Here is the animal carving of a bunny

Once we finished up at the park, we saw a competition where the lumberjacks showed off their skills. They climbed up huge poles to show how fast they could climb up trees, cut logs in half several different ways, carved faces into logs with chainsaws and  tried to balance on logs floating in some water. It was really cool. One guy fell on the log, though. I felt really sorry for him.

There were a lot of signs that we saw on our way to get our final charms for the bracelet. One sign was their rain gauge, and it showed how much rain they get on average a year. They get a LOT of rain–300 days a year, but it was sunny when we were there. A few other signs were the street signs. One said “Killer Whale Avenue,” and another said “Totem Row.” Some of the signs were at the lumberjack show. They were a bit strange, to say the least.

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This is my Watercolor Mountain

This is my Watercolor Mountain

7/2 – Thursday: This was another day of cruising and our last full day on the boat.. We didn’t really do a lot. I did create a watercolor picture of a mountain in the watercolor class. They did have some trivia. I answered one question spot-on, thanks to my fourth grade art teacher. We came in second place to another team, but we traded in our points for a deck of cards and a scrap-booking kit. After we did that, we saw a show that Yulia & Alan Reva opened for. They did a really cool routine, and then a comedian named Phil Tag came to the stage. He had really funny jokes.

7/3 – Friday: We left the ship in Vancouver and headed into the bus terminal. We got our luggage and stood in line for the bus. Once we got to the airport, we had to show our passports again and again and again as we went through customs. We waited around for our plane to arrive, and boarded. We then had our four hour plane ride home. I tormented my cat when we got home (not really, I just gave Zip a really big hug).

Travel Statistics:

  • Time on the airplane: somewhere around 12.5 hours total.
  • Time on a bus: about 11 hours total.
  • Distance cruising on the boat:  around 1,939 miles.
  • Number of times I got hand sanitized: probably near 100 times.
  • Number of times we had to show our passports: 10-12 times.

 

Cruising Alaska, Part 3: Skagway & Ice Strait Point

6/29 – Sunday: In Skagway, it was supposed to be sunny, but it got foggy and rainy. Our trip to dog-sled on a glacier was cancelled, so we did two things. First, we took a helicopter ride to a different glacier–the Mead Glacier–and hiked around. This was my first helicopter ride. It was cool. The glacier was freezing cold. The guide told us about moulins, or glacier mills, which are really deep vertical shafts, where you could see the blue glacier ice. We could also drink glacier water if we wanted to, but I didn’t want to put my hand in the cold water.

Glacier water running in to a moulin at Mead Glacier

Glacier water running into a moulin at Mead Glacier

Our helicopter ride from Mead Glacier

Later, we went to a dogsled camp and dog-sledded, learned about Alaskan huskies and held pups. When we dog-sledded, there was a ten-month old husky named Rowdy, who kept jumping up and down and looking behind when he ran. It was funny.

Rowdy is the second dog on the left.

Rowdy is the second dog on the left.

Here Rowdy looks a bit tired.

Here Rowdy looks a bit tired.

My favorite part of the trip was cuddling with the Alaskan husky pups

My favorite part of the trip was cuddling with the Alaskan husky pups

We also 3-month-old pups learning how to run as a team. They mostly wanted to chew on things.

We also saw 3-month-old pups learning to run as a team. They mostly wanted to chew on things.

This is the driftwood building

This is the driftwood building

We also went on another hunt for the Alaskan charms, and saw a few odd sights. There was a unicorn on a car, a building made of driftwood, and a sign read “NOPE.”

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I’ve never seen a unicorn hood ornament before.

Evidently this means “Closed”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devil’s Club

6/30 – Tuesday: In Icy Strait Point, there were a lot of bald eagles and ravens. There were even a few whale sightings. Unfortunately, all I got to see was a little bit of the whale’s tail and some spouts. We went into a few of the stores there, and we saw some weird types of salves. One of them was called “Old Man’s Beard Salve.” There was also a Devil’s Club salve, so we wondered what Devil’s Club looked like. We went on a nature trail and found some. The leaves are HUGE, and their stems are really spiky. Natives wound hang them outside their house to ward off evil spirits because the plant was so spiky.

Devil’s Club stem is really spiky.

Later we had some frybread, which tastes like a less sugary doughnut. We also saw an eagle’s nest. Once we got back on the boat, they had some more trivia. This time it was about The Beatles. We got most of the questions. We should have gotten all of them, but we were tired. We had done a lot so far!

 

Cruising Alaska, Part 2: Glaciers & Juneau

My Alaskan Forget-Me-Nots painting

My Alaskan Forget-Me-Nots painting

6/27 – Saturday: We basically just cruised for the whole day, and cruised and cruised and cruised and cruised and cruised and cruised and you get the idea. After breakfast, we went into one of the lounges and stumbled into a watercolour class. I ended up painting a picture of Alaskan Forget-Me-Nots, the state flower. Later, we went on a galley tour, which was basically a tour of one of the ship’s kitchens. They had a really cool carving in a watermelon.Then, it was time for lunch.

fruit carving

This melon must have taken hours to carve.

We also got to see the Hubbard Glacier. It was a blue colour, which seemed strange, but it was from the way light reflected off the really compacted ice. It was also cool to see the ice fall off the glacier, which is called “calving.” When you hear the ice fall, it’s too late to see it because light travels faster than sound. This means you have to stare at the glacier for a while if you hope to see calving.

The blue Hubbard Glacier

The blue Hubbard Glacier

In the X Club, we did a Joke Quest with a Go-Pro camera. It was really hard to make people laugh. Later in the day, we went on another scavenger hunt around the ship in order to find people from different states. It was surprisingly hard. Lots of people were from Florida and Georgia.

 

The marmots were kind of cute

The marmots were kind of cute

6/28 – Sunday: We docked in Juneau and took a tram up Mount Roberts. Then we walked around the trails, and walked and walked and walked. We saw some eagles in trees, and we even saw a couple of hoary marmots. It was cool to them. One was just a few feet from the trail.

This is their version of "No Smoking"

This is their version of “No Smoking”

We were exhausted by the time we got back to the nature centre. There was a bald eagle called Lady Baltimore by the centre. She had been in a bad accident when she was younger and was blind in one eye, so she could not be re-released into the wild. Back in the nature centre, we saw people carving a totem pole. It was cool to watch. We also started our hunt for charms for a charm bracelet of Alaska.

On the boat, we watched an acrobatic dance show performed by Yulia and Alan Reva. Yulia was an Olympic Gold Medalist in gymnastics. Their performance was death-defying with all of the lifts. There must be a lot of trust between those two.

The tram was really steep.

The tram ride was really steep.

Cruising Alaska, Part 1: Pre-cruise Events

We take vacation at least once a year. Normally, we do a road trip and drive through tons of states. This year we flew, rode in a bus a lot, took a train and then went on a cruise ship to see Alaska!

plane-to-seattle6/23 – Tuesday: We headed to the airport around 1:00 pm CDT. The plane came in late, which was normal, so it wasn’t a big deal. However, our flight was no longer going to be a nonstop to Fairbanks, Alaska. We had to stop in Seattle to refuel because of two things: 1.) the wildfires in Alaska meant they had to reroute the flight which meant they needed more fuel 2.) the plane was too heavy to carry the extra fuel unless 29 people didn’t take the flight, which wasn’t an option. Once we boarded the plane, they found out that the wrong food had been loaded onto the plane. We got delayed another hour AND the plane was too heavy, so we needed a different truck to help push the plane from the gate. We didn’t take off until a little after 4:30 pm CDT. We landed in Seattle to refuel around 8:00 pm PDT (10:00 pm CDT).  After the refueling was done, we were supposed to take off to Fairbanks, Alaska. Turned out that our pilot and crew had timed out–meaning they had already flown as many hours as they could in that day and couldn’t fly any more according to regulations. No other crews were available, so we got stranded in Seattle. We had to stay in a crummy motel, and we didn’t get there until near 11 pm PST (1 am CDT). Originally, we were supposed to be in Fairbanks at this time.

The Seattle-Tacoma airport had a cool stained glass window.

The Seattle-Tacoma airport had a cool stained glass window.

6/24 – Wednesday: We woke up bright and early (4 am) in order to catch our rescheduled flight to Fairbanks, and after a few more hours of flying, we finally arrived in Fairbanks around noon Alaska time (which is three hours earlier than CDT).

Alaska from the plane window

Alaska from the plane window

The wildfires were sort of near Fairbanks, so it was really smoky there. The sun was a dark orange colour, and extremely bright.

Fairbanks was really smoky from the wildfires

Fairbanks was really smoky from the wildfires

We loaded our tour bus, called Pavlof, and headed to our hotel. It was definitely a step up from the Seattle motel. We had missed the morning Gold Dredge Tour, but we did get to tour the downtown area. We had lunch at a hot dog stand because my mom loves those little food-cart things. My dad had a reindeer sausage while I just had a normal hot dog. We also went to a cultural centre and saw an Antler Arch.

fairbanks-antler-arch

Antler Arch. Moose shed antlers every year and grow new ones the next.

The hotel we stayed at was cool because it had ICE CREAM, signs with cool facts, and free rock throwing into the river (they had an actual sign for it, and there was a 50 rock limit per guest).

Pike's Lodge offers free rock throwing.

Pike’s Lodge offers free rock throwing.

denali-train-16/25 – Thursday: We had a REALLY long train ride to Denali, Alaska (SIX HOURS). The scenery on the way there (and in the rest of Alaska) was nice, but looked the same after a while. We had breakfast on the train–mountain blueberry pancakes and birch syrup. I didn’t like the birch syrup because it tasted fruity, but the pancakes were really good.

denali-train-breakfastdenali-traindenali-train-2

Once we got to Denali, we went on a nature-history tour. It was cool, but then it rained. We didn’t see Mt. McKinley (Denali) because of the fog, but we did see a moose grazing alongside of the road. It was right next to the bus.

Mt. McKinley was hiding in the clouds while we were there.

Mt. McKinley was hiding in the clouds while we were there.

denali-moose

This moose was probably just a few years old.

 

 

 

There were a lot of sections of burnt trees from the wildfires.

There were a lot of sections of burnt trees from the wildfires.

6/26 – Friday: We had another six hours of sitting in our tour bus, but this time we were headed to Anchorage, Alaska. We had lunch and shopped a bit there. We had ice cream, but it tasted fruity to me (I wonder if they put birch syrup in it…). I didn’t like it. I guess sweet foods taste like fruit in Alaska. Then we had another three hours in the bus on our way to Seward, Alaska. We finally got on the cruise ship around 4:30 pm, and it was HUMUNGONORMOUS. Our stateroom, though, was really tiny. We met our steward, Lydia, and she was really nice.cruise-shipFor dinner we went to the buffet. There was a LOT to eat, ranging from pasta to sushi and pizza to tres leches cake. I was also introduced to other teens (ages 12-17) aboard the ship in the Teen’s Room (aka the X Club). This is where teens could hang out to play games or paint or planned activities like quests. It was a lot of fun. We left port at 8 pm.

 

Autumn Fun

leaf-pile

Do you see me?

Autumn can be a lot of fun. One of my favorite things is raking up a huge pile of leaves and jumping into it. Yes, after a while it gets old, but it’s still a lot of fun. There are other things to do, too, especially with the leaves!

Some leaf projects are:

  • Making leaf bowls! They are so cool. You just can’t be to hard on them or wash them. But they are cool decorations.
    leaf-bowl-creationleaf-bowls
  • Leaf rubbings! Cool and fun pieces, all you need is some materials you should have around the house (and outside). Really easy for little kids.
  • Leaf prints! Fun to do, especially if you like to make art with paint.
    Here are some leaf prints my mom and I made when I was littler:LeafPrint1LeafPrint2

I also enjoy looking the at the colors of the leaves when their still on the tree. Some family road-trip stuff is:

park-in-autumn

Do you know…

Q: What makes the leaves change colors, and are leaves that change colors lazy leaves? Look for the answer at this website: http://www.livescience.com/4213-fall-foliage-leaves-change-color.html

Berry Bog Blog

This past weekend, I went to a cranberry bog in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is the #1 cranberry grower in the USA. Massachusetts was #1 for a while, but they didn’t have the space to expand. Wisconsin had the space to expand, though. Oregon is a big grower, too. The coolest thing was that I got to put on hip boots and stand in the bog like the Ocean Spray guys!

In the picture, the berries aren’t as red as the ones you see in the Ocean Spray commercials because of the weather. The bog owners said they were a week or so behind because the weather was too mild. The berries turn red in colder weather.

Kendyl in a cranberry bog

cranberries on the vine

Cranberries are hidden under the vines until you add water. Then they float.

Some other cranberry facts are:

  • You need special dirt and sand to grow cranberries.
  • Cranberries don’t grow on water. They grow in the ground and farmers flood the areas to harvest the berries.
  • Cranberries don’t have seeds. In order to plant them, you need a cranberry vineclipping.
  • The berries have four air cells, so they float when put in/on water.
  • If you take care of them, cranberry vines can bear fruit for almost 100 years!
  • If you plant cranberries, you won’t see any (good) berries for about 3-5 years.
  • You can dip cranberries in melted caramel or chocolate and stick them into little pumpkins via toothpicks. It’s a great party treat.
harrowing the cranberries

This machine knocks the berries off of the vine so that they float to the top of the water to be harvested.

We also went to the Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens and got to try different cranberry creations like cranberry salsa and cranberry ice cream. The salsa was okay but I’m not a big salsa person. I did, however, like the cranberry chocolate swirl dip, especially on pretzel sticks. My favorite, though, was the chocolate-covered cranberry caramel swirl ice cream! Yummy! Yummy! :)

 

Cool Math

I haven’t been on in awhile because I’ve been busy with school and EVERYTHING else. I may have taken on a little too much this year. But I do have time to play this one game. And it helps with math–Cool Math 4 Kids.

It has a lot of different food games under “math games” where you can learn timing when preparing orders, getting orders correct and other math related skills. There’s a burger place, cupcakeria, pancake place and others that are quite fun. The games are made for kids ages 3-12 and make math really fun–at least to me :) . Some help you with logic and strategy. I think I’m going to try the “Blob’s Story” next.

 

Drama Days

Hola! Bonjour! Ni Hao! Dia dhaoibh! Ciao! Yiasou! Conichiwa! Sawubona! Hallo! Здраствуй! Nameste! Many others all that mean “Hello!” I am going to tell you about my drama classes. Twice a week, I have a drama/theatre class. It’s quite cool. We perform little parts of the play we’ll be performing, “The Invisible Dragon.” This week our teacher will tell us what part we get. I hope to be the stage manager who is responsible for hand props to the characters on stage. It really is part of the play, not a backstage role.

The stage manager is silent, yet the teacher says it’s the hardest part to play. If you ask me, I say it’s hard too. You have to do all these silly faces like annoyed and angry. On me, they look like a clown trying to be sad and mad all at once. No offense to clowns, but they freak some people out. There are several funny parts, like when the stage manager wants to hit the prince over the head with his “horse.”

I have an idea. If you comment in a play written by you, or possibly a poem or story, I could write it in on here. Just be sure to include your name.

Rules:

  • Must be original. Exceptions are if you quote someone famous and include the name of that person.
      Example: “I have a dream…”  – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Must have at least two complete sentences.
  • Must have your name – as my art teacher says, “No name, no fame.”