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DIY: Inspirational Comp Book

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The DIY section is woefully under represented… My apologies! Also, I just realized the downsides to typing on my phone… spelling and grammatical gaffe fixing commences!

This is a simple collage project that can be completed in a couple of hours and which has potential to become a yearly tradition. Comp books come in a variety of colors and patterns these days, but if you’re jonesing for a more personal touch to keep your writing muses inspired for the long haul (the Great American Novel does not write itself, folks) then scrapping together inspirational pictures from magazines, old holiday cards, and just about any paper material that you can imagine using creatively is a great way to start.

Not only is this project an easy and fun way to personalize the most sacred of writing mediums (let’s face it, fellow writers, our notebooks are like second bodies, repositories for words that come straight from the soul) but it also makes them irreplaceable companions as you go about creating epic worlds and developing unforgettable if only to later kill off quirky characters.

Materials needed:

1 notebook or composition book, spiral bound not recommended but doable

Magazines, comic books, flyers, old ticket stubs, brochures… Anything that calls to your attention as inspirational. Most likely you will already own many of these items and it is preferable as it forces you to get really creative with what you’ve got rather than going out and prefabricating a notebook (but feel free to check out your art store’s scrapbooking area).

Clear masking tape

Ribbon (optional)

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Kimmy’s Tips

1. Go through all of your material before deciding what will make it into the comp book and select everything that draws your attention whether or not it will go well with other previously selected items. Trust me, it will all make sense later.

2. Sit comfortably on the floor/large table or desk and keep your comp book or notebook clear from any other materials.

3. You don’t have to use everything you picked out but you will decorate both sides of the notebook.

4. Once you’ve arranged your materials, cut out a long piece of clear tape and carefully tape down starting on the area you are most afraid will come undone is jostled too much. Maybe you cut out a hundred tiny little stars in one corner and you’ve got them placed just so… Yep, that’s the corner you want to protect most. Left over tape edges will be creased on the opposite side of the notebook panel to secure the entire collage at the end.

5. If you will make a comp book with a book marker like so:

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First, secure the lower and upper portions of it to the outer spine with small pieces clear tape before finishing off with a longer strip that runs down the entire length of the spine. The tape ensures a water-proof notebook so don’t be stingy. Enryoushinaideyo!

And that’s it. Also great for diaries or school notebooks! Spirals are not recommended as they make taping more difficult but Kim’s done many a spiral in the past with equal, if more time consuming, success.

It’s my first time making a comp book so it’s not nearly as creative or amazing as Kimmy’s but not too bad either way 😀

What makes the comp book a great yearly tradition is that you can make a new one for each story you’re planning/writing.

The Final Road Trip (with Kim as co-pilot)

From the beloved Gonohe in Aomori to the tip of Kagoshima Prefecture. A projected 25 hour ride along the west coast according to the ever reliable demon oracle Siri, with two friends who made this year the adventure of a lifetime, and you can bet we will be hitting up every last Pokemon center on the way down and on the way up.

Okay, so it won’t be the last road trip I take, but it will be the last with dearest Kim as co-pilot. All good things must come to an end…

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A lovely picture up above, just so everyone can appreciate that this summer may spell out certain doom. Yes, I understand that Kyushu is the single most miserable place on Earth during the summer but the challenge is there, it’s so very much temptingly there… Wanderlust comrades, unite! In reality, we may only get as far as Fukuoka. My boss, in his youth, fondly recalled setting out one day for adventure as he put it… which ended in Hiroshima, but he applauded my recklessness by adding an ever encouraging がんばるべ. Not sure if I shall rent out a car to make driver switching less of a hassle or if taking Suzu-chan for the memories would be, well, more memorable. All 4,000 km.

Which leads me to the Prefecture Bucket List of many a month ago. Considering the length of this road trip, I would be heading towards un-chartered territory (both in methods of long distance travelling and locations). Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Hyogo, Tottori, and Shimane would be completely new destinations, with Hiroshima/Kyoto/Miyajima being blasts from the past going on round two.

Although, this also serves as scoping out the lay of the land for when Mumsie finally makes her first trans-Pacific flight during summer 2016.

And that concludes the insanity quota for the day, folks.

Sports Day Festivals

Sunny days coming and Aomori Prefecture warms up just in time for the Sports Day Festival \O/ This and next weekend will be completely devoted to cheering on my kids as they compete for the greater glory of melon flavored bread and a commemorative plaque somewhere in their schools’ glass cabinets.

Teams are divided into Red vs White and are called Kouhaku (same as the battle of the bands during the New Year’s celebrations). In bigger schools, you’re more likely to find an upwards three or more groups so other colors apart from the traditional red and white are introduced (you’ll find a yellow group in the pictures below). I’m not exactly sure if every school breaks up the same way but one school did the group breakup completely through raffle. The other had less kids so it tested all of them and then evenly distributed the strongest/weakest/median kids into two separate groups. Unlike American sports days (which I remember having jumping, running, sit up/push up/dodge ball competitions), Japanese kids only have variations of a long time favorite: running.

Relays, races, marathons… it’s all basically running. Just about the only competition that doesn’t involve running is the cheer war between red and white teams. And I’m sure the parents are quite grateful to be invited to watch their kids burn all their unspent energies on the track. With the exception of one almost cancelled sports day due to some unexpected rain, for the most part they ran in a smooth and timely manner, with all kids helping to clean up afterwards.

Hangman, the Art of Spelling

For all the 90s babies who remember what it was like to live in a decade without internet distractions or cell phones… And who remember having to play a good old round of Hangman to pass away the hours.

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Brought out this golden oldie for the junior high first years (who did not question the hanging man) and had a blast spelling out classics such as “SPAGHETTI” and stumping them with “GRAPES”.

Elementary kids on the other hand immediately called me out on the translation work…

Kids: “American kids actually play this?”

Me: “Uhhhhhhh YES :D”

Kids: “But it’s so mean!”

Me: “I never actually thought of it until now…”

Kids: “Stop hanging him, can’t you see it hurts?”

Me: “Then guess more vowels xD”

Kids: “Is Y a vowel?”

Me: “Sometimes”

Kids: o.O”

The best way to make this lesson plan work: after reviewing the alphabet and breaking them off into teams, allow younger children (elementary school age) to have a visual of the vocabulary open (textbook should be rife with illustrations and words).

The smart ones will start to count out the number of spaces. Once they get the feel for it erase the spaces for a blind version of Hangman. They won’t know how many spaces and the word will be slowly revealed for even greater suspense.

For more advanced classes, don’t reveal the word for them but leave the answered letter scrambled as they guess each letter. For example, if the word is “FISH” but they guess the letter in the following order: “IFHS” then leave it as is and offer double points for the team that unscrambles it first. Beware… POST & STOP are anagrams of each other.

And there you have it: Traditional Hangman and Blind Anagram Hangman all in one lesson.

Cheers!