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

Friday, 19 January 2018

Celebrating International Popcorn Day With Popcorn!


Happy International Popcorn Day!

Popcorn is one of my favourite snacks. Not only is it easy to make, but a simple internet search brings up hundreds of recipe ideas. My current favourite is a delicious (and spicy) treat—just add 8-10 drops of hot sauce to the canola oil before you pop the corn. Yummy!

But since today is International Popcorn Day (honest!) I've been thinking about popcorn a little differently. Like, did you know that popcorn is perfect for crafting? Seriously. For example, you can make a simple snack garland for the birds by stringing together day-old popcorn and dried fruit. Scroll through Google for some more great craft ideas.

Or, what about making family movie night a little more creative? Decorate small paper bags with crayons, markers, stickers, or whatever fun stuff your mom has in her craft room. Fill each bag with your favourite popcorn flavor and settle in for the flick. Or, instead of popcorn while watching a movie, how about popcorn as a delicious snack for reading—"pop" open a good book. (Get it? hehe)

I know we'll have popcorn in class today, but in case you're looking for ideas on how to celebrate with your friends at school, here are 10 fresh ideas.

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend...whatever you're snacking on.

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

P.S. – Here’s five really cool popcorn facts! How many did YOU know?

1. When black popcorn is popped, it becomes white.
2. Popcorn was the first food to be microwaved deliberately.
3. If popcorn is salted before the kernels are popped, it becomes tough.
4. If popcorn kernels dry out, they can be freshened by adding 1 or 2 Tbsp (15-30 mL) of water to the jar and shaking it.
5. Archeologists found some popped corn in a bat cave in New Mexico that was 5,600 years old.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Soup's On! Keeping Warm During The Deep Freeze


I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but most of the province is back in the deep freeze—yesterday, we dipped down to -37C again, and it’s been three days since I’ve been able to run outside. Training on my treadmill just isn’t the same, and if I don’t do something, I’ll go stir crazy. (I mean, aside from all of the reading I’m doing…)

My weather app says we’re going to snap out of this cold tomorrow (just in time for the weekend), but this is Alberta, and anything could happen. Which is why I’m thankful Mom has been making a lot of soup, stews, and casseroles for dinner. Not only do those hearty (or heavy) meals provide comfort, they can keep you warm!

To keep my energy levels up when I’m running (or just playing outside), Mom says it’s important to eat nutrient-dense, balanced meals of proteins, whole grains and healthy fats.

Like when I stay at Grandma’s this weekend, I know she’ll make me a ham, spinach and lower-fat cheese omelette, or delicious oatmeal sprinkled with raisins, pumpkin seeds, vanilla yogurt, and a little brown sugar. YUM!

Mom never makes that stuff. She says it’s too “tempting” and her portions are always too big—her New Year’s resolution (again) is to lose a few pounds and she’s been eating rabbit-food for days, even when we're eating potato soup. No wonder she’s always cold! Maybe it’s time I gave her a dose of her own medicine and learned how to make some kind of comfort food the won't be able to resist.

Wait! Maybe there’s a recipe in TASTING MY STORY! I’m going to check it out. Don’t have a copy? You can order it from www.learncanola.com. 

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

P.S. If you like to cook, Grandma says there’s great food recipes at www.canolainfo.org. The picture of the soup above is from that website. Here's the recipe.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Training (And Farming) With This Mixed-Up Weather


Can you believe this weather?

Last week, it was so cold that outdoor New Year's Eve events were CANCELLED. No skating, no hot chocolate at the Legislator grounds—we didn't even watch the fireworks. (Though, we sure heard them. I can't believe people went outside to WATCH them!)

But this week, I'm back to running outside—the other day in my T-SHIRT! Sure,  I’m dodging ice patches, but many of those are melting too. I just treat the sidewalk or trails like an obstacle course. Coach says it’s great training for track.

But this weather isn't necessarily great for crop farmers, my grandpa says, because in his area, there's been very little snow. And a lack of snow means that winter and perennial crops like alfalfa and winter wheat aren’t insulated.

Snow insulates plants like that “pink stuff” in our houseskeeps us warm. And without snow, cold temperatures (like those last week) or high winds will damage the crops and they won't survive until next spring. With the weather experienced last week, there's a chance the damage has been done.

For the farmer's sake, I'm hoping for snow. Even if it covers the sidewalks and trails, I can go snowshoeing—one of this year's outdoor activity goals. Especially if the temperatures stay reasonable!

Anyway, gotta jet! This weekend I'm running...unless it snows. Then you'll find my strapped to a pair of snow shoes and exploring new trails.

See you next week!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year!


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It was far too cold where I live to enjoy any outdoor festivities last night, so me and my family stayed INSIDE, with sparkling Gingerale, a wood burning fire, and an enthusiastic game of Whovilleopoly. Dad won—again—but that doesn't matter. The point is, we spent time as a family, and together we rang in a New Year.

Welcome, 2018. I've been waiting for you!

I don't always do great with resolutions (though, if you look back on my posts from 2017, you'll see my resolve to learn more about Canada went well!) But here are a few things that are important to me for 2018:

Write more letters. I have friends across the country (and even some from around the world) and instead of just emailing, I am going to try and write at least one letter a month. It’s the perfect way to start Letter Writing Week!

Read more books. I know, this is always on my list, and I did a bit better in 2017. But in 2018, I pledge to read at least 25 books. I'll try to remember to review them on the blog so you can see what I'm reading—and hold me accountable to my goal.

Start a new hobby. My mom says hobbies are important for personal growth (or something like that)—so I am going to spend the next week or so coming up with a new hobby. Something that won’t take too much time, but something really different. Any ideas?

I have some other resolutions too—like helping mom around the house more, spending more time with my sister, beating my personal running best, and writing at least three short stories.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

Gotta jet! Have a great day and a wonderful 2018!

~ Chase Superman Duffy