cooking

Candy Apples from Scratch: They’re Kickin’ Sweet and Amazing

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Image above from Pixabay

A few times a year, I like to make candy apples from scratch. It’s only a few ingredients: apples (obviously), corn syrup, sugar, water, and red food coloring.

The hardest part is having to get the right temperature in order to dip the apples into the candy liquid. You will need a thermometer. You can also use cold water and put the liquid drops in there. It will fade in the beginning, but you need it to turn brittle at some point.

Most of the times I’ve made candy apples, they were irresistible and I’ve made a lot of them. This time of year, though, I’ve made fewer and used half the recipe’s ingredients. Only one was good enough to be consumed. I ate that one. The others, however, didn’t get all the candy coating.

Another tip is to use white sugar only. Never use brown sugar. I tried that once and it turned the liquid dark brown and smelling burnt.

And the most important tip of all is be patient. The temperature will take time. It needs to be 300 degrees F.

And be aware, they candy coating is super-sticky. I like the homemade ones more than the packaged kinds you get at fairs. But be prepared for a lot of handwashing and trying not to get stickiness other places.

 

travel

I’ve Been on a Trip… to Niagara Falls – 2008

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Image above from Pixabay

In the spring of 2008, when I was 14, my mom, brothers, and I went to Niagara Falls. Another family went with us too. We all rode in my mom’s minivan.

We got to see the falls. However, due to the cold weather, not as many attractions were open. For instance, we couldn’t go on the maid-of-the-mist boat ride.

On the bright side, we still got to do a lot of other fun activities. Where we were was kind of like a mini-Vegas. We did a lot of virtual reality rides and shows, such as a SpongeBob one. We also rode on a Ferris wheel and had Buffalo wings that were just called wings. They did have the same Buffalo sauce, though.

The Canadian side of the area had more to offer than the American side. We had to show our passports to go past the border, even in a car.

After a few days in the Niagara Falls area, we stayed at my uncle’s house in Pennsylvania, not too far from the Niagara area. I don’t really remember what we did then.

I would love to visit Niagara Falls again, especially in the summer. I did do the maid-of-the-mist ride when I was really little, like 5. But now in my mid-twenties, it would be a different experience.

There are a lot of places I would like to visit. I am more into trips where I get to do activities, like boating or ziplining, rather than touring places like historical sites. Because I’m not a child anymore, I have told that trips should be somewhat educational too. Yes, I do agree. But I still like the ones where I can do activities more than touring sites.

cooking

Healthy Gingerbread Cookies – They’re Luckily Delicious, No Matter What

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Image above from Pixabay

I found a recipe for healthy gingerbread cookies on Google a while back. For copyright reasons, I will not post the link. However, you can search for it or any other one on your own.

The one I am going to discuss is not only healthier, but is also dairy-free (it called for coconut oil, not butter) and can easily have its ingredients be substituted. I replaced the all-purpose flour with gluten-free and whole wheat flours as well as almond meal. The cookies came out delicious.

Unlike me, many people I know didn’t enjoy the cookies as much. I brought them to a social event at one of my friend’s houses. Sadly, they weren’t a hit, despite being homemade. Even my own family didn’t really care for the cookies.

However, I enjoyed them enough that I kept eating them. One time, I used coconut sugar and pure maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima pancake syrup) in place of granulated sugar. My mom smelled the coconut. I did not, though. Some things my family can smell—I can’t. I’ve become immune to the scents. One example is seafood. Others can be coconut, like in this case.

I also found no difference in taste for the batch of these healthier gingerbread cookies to the classic recipes that call for granulated sugar and all-purpose flour. Others were easily able to tell the difference, though. Still—what matters more is that I enjoyed the cookies.

movie

Tick Tock on “The House with a Clock in its Walls” Review (2018)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I saw this film with some friends, not knowing what it was going to be about. In some ways, it made the movie more exciting as everything was a surprise.

The film begins with 10-year-old Lewis, who was recently orphaned and is being sent to live with his uncle, Jonathan. Uncle Jonathan seems nice and doesn’t place any rules at that moment. His house, however, seems haunted to Lewis. Lewis’s mom comes up in Lewis’s dream and says that Uncle Jonathan is evil. Lewis wakes up and believes that. He tries to escape. Even the kids at Lewis’s new school consider the house dangerous. They also don’t care about Lewis. Uncle Jonathan’s one rule is not to open a certain cabinet. Tarby, a classmate of Lewis, tries to disobey that guideline, thinking that it’s no problem. Desperate to make friends with Tarby, Lewis breaks that rule and unintentionally raises Isaac Izzard from the dead. It takes time for Uncle Jonathan and his neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, to listen to Lewis when he tries to admit that he opened that forbidden cabinet. After Lewis confessing his wrongdoing, things get worse and intense.

The movie had its light and dark moments. It also had some strange material, such as toilet humor. I had to cover my eyes when the winged lion excreted. That moment when Lewis is trying to undo the eclipse, Uncle Jonathan turns into a baby with the same adult face and voice. I was trying not to laugh, even after that scene. Does humor like that really belong in a dark moment?

Despite it being rated PG, there were a couple of mature words as well as some intensely dark moments that I was getting goosebumps from, even as an adult. I thought it would’ve been better off PG-13.

On the bright side, the story has a lot of excellent elements. The plot was well-thought-out. I appreciated the plot twists, such as when the neighbor, Mrs. Hanchett, was really Selena in disguise this whole time and her dog was Selena’s rat. Selena has been disguised as Lewis’s mom in Lewis’s dreams the entire time. I also admired how Uncle Jonathan was actually a good guy this whole time, despite the hints of him being wicked at the beginning. After the eclipse was undone, he told Lewis not to tell Mrs. Zimmerman about his baby body during the eclipse process. I found that to make him very believable.

Overall, I would rate this 4 out of 5 stars. I’m not sure if I’d recommend this to very young children, but older kids 10 and up may enjoy it. Note, I never read the book and didn’t know there was a book of this until after I saw the movie. I may check it out, though.

TV show

I’m Gonna Analyze, Cause it’s “Danny Phantom”

Ah, “Danny Phantom”—one of those amazing cartoons for people who grew up in the 00’s, like me. Created by Butch Hartman after “The Fairly Odd Parents”, the premise focuses on a 14-year-old boy named Danny. He has two ghost-hunting parents who have a special machine with a portal. Danny has done something that altered his DNA. And… you guessed it… he became a ghost. Well, half ghost. From then on, he is Danny Fenton (his human surname) and Danny Phantom, although the people in his town refer to him as the ghost boy and think he’s evil.

But why is Danny okay with that—being considered a villain? I know he doesn’t let anyone know he’s the ghost boy, except for his two best friends, Tucker and Sam, and later, his sister, Jazz. Still—someone could seriously hurt him. Nothing can get too extreme as “Danny Phantom” was a children’s show.

There was one episode special, however, where Danny accidentally revealed to the public that he was the ghost boy. His parents were shocked, and so was everyone else. But we didn’t get to see Valerie’s reaction. In fact, she didn’t appear at all there.

You probably remember Valerie, that girl who also hunted ghosts, but was harsher than Jack and Maddie Fenton, Danny’s parents. But she wasn’t always kept tracked of too well. She had three different voice actors, the third being Cree Sumner, who voiced her throughout the series from that point on. But then she seemed to have disappeared. I remember finding it unsatisfying that Valerie wasn’t in that special where Danny transformed from ghost to person. I’ve always considered how she would’ve reacted.

Another thing I discovered about the show was that the ghosts aren’t dead, and they’re only referred to ghosts to make it easier to recall than to use some other word (I can’t remember the other term). This came from the fan theory: Is Danny Phantom half dead? Ironically, in one episode, a ghost said, “You can’t catch me alive,” and another said, “Um… you’re a ghost.” Hmmm… was that ever explained? Or how Danny just sucked his future evil self into the Fenton thermos to resolve the main conflict? I wonder how that worked out.

Regardless, the ghosts were memorable and well-developed. I loved the box ghost—his signature line, “I am the box ghost” is so clever. He sounds like the alien, Mark, from “The Fairly Odd Parents”. Ember the Rockstar had an amazing song and I enjoyed how she hypnotized people to love it (until Tucker undid that in one episode).  Desiree the wishing ghost was like a wicked genie. She reminded me of Norm, who was also from “The Fairly Odd Parents”.

Ghosts could possess people in this series. I loved when Danny possessed his dad when he got in trouble at school. It was such a clever way to avoid getting punished.

And have you also noticed this detail about the extras? They’re all physically diverse. People have all different body types and I applaud that. After all, no one should ever feel self-conscious about his or her appearance, especially from something on the screen.

Now about the characters. Sam’s parents were the opposite of her. They had sunshine-like appearances and personalities while Sam was goth in both her looks and personality. Paulina was (I think) Danny’s crush at first, but then, out of nowhere, she seemed to have betrayed him and joined Dash’s side. I wonder why this happened and without explanation.

And Danny… our hero and star of the show… he was such a relatable character. From going through teenage issues to being Jazz’s annoying little brother at times to being loyal to his friends. Wow.

The show ended in 2007, despite its popularity. There are still some shorts of it on YouTube, such as the special where all the Butch Hartman cartoons cross over with “Danny Phantom” and “Danny Phantom goes to Hogwarts”. Even if there’s unlikely to be a reboot, the show is still great. I would gladly recommend it to kids today.

 

art

Mini Art Show: A Simple Banquet Room

Banquet Room Drawing

This is one section of a made-up banquet hall room I illustrated myself. I used a few reference images for design and points-of-view.

The color scheme was done through research on what colors are often used in catering hall rooms. Having a natural eye for color-combos, I was inspired by having vibrant tones (like the purple) go with muted or achromatic gray (neither warm nor cool–just purely black and white mixed together).

Many banquet room carpets have detailed designs or patterns. However, I decided to simplify my catering room’s floor design. I drew this in Photoshop, and although you can make patterns look neat and professional there, for this POV, it ended up looking the opposite. So I chose to use stripes instead.

I am also more fond of modern design than old-fashioned design. It was even easier to create simple bulbs with light rather than chandeliers. The walls also don’t have relief textures or fancy wallpaper.

About the dancefloor? It was added since many catering events have dancing. I elected not to do anything unusual to it so that it would appear believable. Of course, not all dancefloors are created equally. But I saw no reason to do something over-the-top to it.

Below is a continuation of this room.

Banquet room opposite POV w stuff

This here is the opposite side of the picture at the top. I added tables to test layouts for this room. There are doors and an exit sign above it.

Of course, not being an architect, I have no plans to submit these to be designed. This was just to test my illustration skills and see what else I could do.