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.

Upper Mississippi Vacation (Part One)

We planned to do an Upper Mississippi River vacation since we had already seen the lower part, and my mom really wanted to walk across the headwaters. We didn’t have as much driving as previous vacations, so that was a plus. It was also only a four-day  trip.

First stop was the Wisconsin Deer Park. Wisconsin Deer ParkWe bought deer food when we arrived and got to pet and feed the deer that were out and about. I never realized how cute deer were until then. They were really affectionate when it came to the food, and they even ate out of our hands. The antlers on some of the deer were very soft and fuzzy. After we finished feeding them, we walked around and looked at the other animals for a bit. There were rheas, peacocks, goats, bison, and a lot of types of deer.

20170610_130255Next stop was Villa Louis. Villa Louis is an old Victorian house with mostly original everything inside, which is pretty rare in old homes. It was a pretty neat place. We got to see the old office building on the property along with the adjoined billiards room. During the tour of the inside of the house, we saw the bedrooms and even some of the clothing people wore. There was a display of Victorian wedding dresses going on, so we saw all the old types of dresses as well. The original owners of Villa Louis raised racing horses. 20170610_131036They believed that if the horses drank mineral-filled water, they would run faster. They drilled artesian wells that put out the water that had a lot of iron, which also makes things around it red. Whether or not it helped the horses at all, I don’t know. But we did get to try the water from one of the wells, it was pretty good. As cool as the place was, we had to chug along to continue with our vacation on schedule.

20170610_165133Our next destination was to the American Pickers‘ place in Iowa. My dad really wanted to come here since he likes the American Pickers show. It took us a bit to find it, but we did. And when we did, we were kind of…surprised. My dad compared his reaction to when Ralphie decodes the Ovaltine message in A Christmas Story. It’s a somewhat interesting place, but they don’t have many antiques for sale there–mostly a lot of American Pickers t-shirts, coffee mugs and magnets. It was funny though to see my dad’s reaction.

Next was the upper Mississippi. We drove around in the Lake Itasca park and did some walking on steep nature trails. It was beautiful, although there were a lot of bugs. After getting a little turned around, we headed up to the headwaters. Well, we walked across the “mighty” Mississippi where it was about 18-feet wide and 2-feet deep.Wading across Mississippi River We walked down the stairs to get to the river. It was cold and sort of slimy in the water, but we did it. We hit the road again and then realized after looking at a postcard…we didn’t actually reach the headwaters (disclaimer: there were no signs where we were to point us in the right direction). Mom guesses that she was just so excited to have walked across the Mississippi that she didn’t even think about it not being the actual headwaters. So, now we’ll have to do a reboot of this vacation to go up to the actual headwaters of the Mississippi.

Watch for “Part Two” of our mini-vacation next week.

 

End of 8th Grade!

It’s been a busy couple of months (which is why there have been fewer posts). For one, I’m finally out of 8th grade! There was way too much practicing that went into the ceremony (which really didn’t need to happen, but the teachers are perfectionists). There were a lot of us graduating (about 250), too, so it took a while to get through all of the names. At the actual ceremony, in a theatre (wow), we were given empty envelopes when we walked across the stage. When we got on the buses to head back to our school, we received the actual proof of our graduation–a nicely typed, half-page certificate. It was basically an over-complicated and elaborate event to make an 8th grade graduation look good and/or cool. I have to admit though, it was still pretty nice to go through it.

The best thing to come out of this is, of course, summer break! I’m hoping to have a lot of fun this summer, even though I’m going to summer school to get some credit for high school. I should be able to do more regular posts soon, so look out for those.

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful start to their summertime!

Happy Springy-Spring!

20170422_172825Yea, it’s been spring for a while now, but for once it actually feels like it! Spring has a lot of holidays, a few of which were this past Saturday. First off, there was Earth Day on April 22. We went around our neighborhood picking up trash and recyclables. It didn’t look like much improvement at first, but we had two big bags when we were finished.

Next, to celebrate Record Store Day (also on April 22), we drove out to a small record store to try to find a few albums, but to no prevail. It was fun to get to sort through all the records, though, and see what all was there. Half Price Books also had some records, so we went there in search of both records and books. My dad got his records, I had fun looking for horror books, including Cujo, Frankenstein, Dracula, and a couple of Ray Bradbury books.

Tie-Dye Day was also on April 22, but we weren’t in the mood to do shirts. Instead, we celebrated by making coffee filter flowers. We used water color paint to color the flowers to look like tie-dye, let them dry, then bunched them up to look like flowers and secured them with pipe cleaners. The flowers look very cool on our mini-tree.

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1a) Paint the filter with water color and a brush.

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1b) Or you can put a bit of water on the filter and dip the filter in water color so it wicks up some paint.

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2) Let the filter(s) dry.

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3) Fold/crimp/roll your flowers together and secure with pipe cleaner at base. Should look ruffle-y.

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Pretty flower tree!

(Had I done this closer to Easter, there would have been an eggs-travagant amount of egg puns while looking back on all the egg-traordinay egg-ventures from the past few years. So I guess it can be looked at as a blessing that you only had to deal with three. ;P )

Outbreak!

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a while, it’s been busy! I’ve been busy doing Interdisciplinary Units (IDUs) for school, basically a series of themed projects. This year, our theme is outbreak. That means outbreaks of colds and flu to outbreaks leading to the apocalypse. It has been awesome to do these.

For our first project, we had some options to choose from. I decided to do a slide presentation on Marburg. Basically, it’s almost the twin of Ebola, but a bit less deadly. 

For our next project we made up a story about an outbreak of any virus–one that either exists, doesn’t exist, or is yet to be discovered. My story was about a tuberculosis-mimicking disease that also turns people’s veins black and their skin translucent. The scientist who tries to fix the outbreak forgets to try to save herself, so she ends up dying. It’s set up as a series of journal entries over the course of a year from the perspective of the young scientist. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Next up was a prevention brochure of any disease. My disease? Senioritis! Thought my teacher would get a kick out of that one, so I gave various information on this sluggish disease. Other people have done research and projects on senioritis, and most say it is a psychological condition; however, it still qualified as an outbreak since it affects a large number of people. Here’s my brochure (click on picture to see larger version)…

Senioritis Brochure-frontSenioritis Brochure-inside

As our fourth project, we had to do research and math on a particular disease in a particular state. I got to research the poliovirus in Alaska. There was a surprising amount of math that I did that I really didn’t need to do (just like me to make things harder on myself), but it was still a fun project.

Finally, a hysterical marker (yes, it’s a play on words of “historical”). My mom helped me find a topic, and we discovered “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s. Perfect for a school project, right? The research done showed that it was about children accusing daycare centers and elementary/preschools of satanic rituals, murders, rape; everything that would give a sane person the chills. My poster for this project was no better: bloody/fiery border with candles, Satanic Panic written in a creepy-gorey font, and a few pentagrams for good measure (I swear I am a normal person), along with the information and a hand-drawn version of the book cover of Michelle Remembers, thought to be a book that was one of the causes of this hysteria outbreak.

So far, of the three years and IDU themes I have done, I think this could be the coolest theme. I’m looking forward to what they plan for incentives based around our outbreak IDU.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Yeah, I know it’s almost a month late, BUT Chinese New Year is still in the future – January 28th, in fact. 2017 is the year of the rooster, the Chinese Zodiac occurring every 12 years. The Chinese New Year’s date always changes since its based off of the Chinese lunar calendar, unlike our traditional new year based on the Gregorian calendar. The years of the rooster are often thought of as unlucky years even though the people born in those years are supposed to be pretty good, but I think this year will be alright. (For some other fun-facts, go here.) I hope all of you had a good start to 2017.

Speaking of China, my school is doing a play centered in China: Disney’s Mulan (Jr.) It’s been going pretty good so far with the practices, but we haven’t reached the frantic stage yet. We are hoping that this year will end up being a lot better than last year’s play (let’s just say it was beyond hectic). We have been trying to figure out ways to pull off Chinese decor without spending a lot of money, so if you have any ideas, please drop it in the comments.

There are a lot of differences between the movie and the Junior Play. First of all, I would like to point out that Mulan is considered a Disney Princess, but she is not born into royalty nor does she marry into royalty. She is considered also to have a prince, but no prince is present until the sequel and Mulan does not marry the prince (sorry that always bugged me).

  • In the movie, Mulan has to disguise her body so the soldiers won’t notice she’s a girl. In the play, the whole thing is that the soldiers should not be able to see her hair. The solution? Oddly enough, a “boyish ponytail,” quoth the voice-over. Then they put the ponytail in a helmet, but not until later.
  • Next off, Mulan is scared to death in the movie when the guys go into the lake to bathe, because she doesn’t want the soldiers finding out. In the play, she has to play a game of strip mahjong (yes, the play gets away with this, but it’s offstage) and win so she wouldn’t be exposed.
  • The way she is found out in the play isn’t as heroic as it is in the movie. Her helmet legitimately just falls off, whereas in the movie she gets stabbed saving the captain and the doctor stitches her up and finds out. There also isn’t as much fighting (if any) in the play.
  • THERE ARE A LOT MORE SONGS IN THE PLAY. THERE’S ONLY FOUR IN THE ORIGINAL MOVIE WITH THREE IN THE SEQUEL (yes there is a sequel to Mulan, it’s really pretty good). THERE’S SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MANY SONGS IN THE PLAY. Of course, I guess it was converted into a musical of sorts…Otherwise, the drama teacher wouldn’t have picked it.

On that note, I hope you all enjoyed your 2017’s start and will enjoy the Chinese New Year!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Hi everyone! I hope you all aren’t too stressed this time of year, because it’s time to celebrate… and to remember! Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, and food, but mainly being thankful.

I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my home, and my life. Those are fairly common things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my family because they put up with me and are supportive of me. I’m thankful for my friends because they don’t abandon me. My home is basically where my life has taken place, besides school. My life has given me the ability to exist. I’m thankful for other things, such as music and video games. Both provide a distraction or escape from reality and are really fun (music is fun to sing with and video games are fun to play, even when you get stuck in a dungeon in Ocarina of Time and your playing info. is lost [true story]).

Food, food, where do I start? There’s definitely an array of food at this time. Pumpkin pie and turkey are probably what comes to mind when Thanksgiving comes up, but I prefer green bean casserole. I don’t understand why turkey is the main meat of this holiday, though. At the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans and Pilgrims were eating quail and fish. I’ve never tried quail and I don’t like fish, so I guess I’m fine with turkey.

I am upset that Thanksgiving doesn’t seem to be a big holiday anymore. It always seems to be Halloween from August to October 31, and then on November 1, it’s straight to Christmas. Thanksgiving should be more important, even if Black Friday is right after. If it hadn’t been for the first Thanksgiving, America might have been a lot different… just something to think about.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends, appreciate everything you have, and don’t each too much food!

Everything SPOOKY!

Happy (belated) Halloween and Day of the Dead! Did you guys see any ghosts? Speaking of which, that reminds me of my science project on the paranormal! It definitely was a weird topic to have, especially since it isn’t a real science (yet). In this project, I had to research a lot of stuff, including what “paranormal” is, why it isn’t a true science, and what has already been disproven/proven in the field of the paranormal. Of course, that wasn’t all. I got to hold an experiment of sorts to test my classmates for “extrasensory perception” (telepathy, aka mind-reading) and I had to write a fictional story about the paranormal. It was a fairly fun project, but very long and tiring to do.

The reason this ties into Halloween is, of course, ghosts! They are a type of paranormal, not yet proven but possible within the laws of physics and nature. I think that was my only tie to Halloween with my paranormal project, since vampires, zombies, and werewolves would be more under the supernatural aspect of unexplained phenomena. But Halloween ties to horror movies, including PsychoThe Shining, and The Birds.  Now they may not all sound like horror movies, especially by the title The Birds, but they all are horror movies (or just plain out weird/creepy to the point of horror). This was the first time I had seen these movies, and I thought they were really good. I don’t have a favourite, though.

halloweenfest

At the park district’s Halloweenfest, I worked at a game where kids could reach in and grab prizes. We had A LOT of kids play. My costume was a broken porcelain doll–wearing a volunteer vest.

Sadly, we did not get the chance to carve a pumpkin. However, we did do a lot of Halloween activities. I helped the park district with their Halloweenfest and repeated the same thing about 28 million times (ok, maybe not that many, but close to it). I also trick-or-treated with my friends after one of them came back to visit. It was a really fun October this year, even without the pumpkin guts!