Dream Fulfillment

At the Chicago "Bean" 2012
At the Chicago “Bean” 2012

With the uploading of the final assignment for the final course in my University Certificate Program (Professional Writing in Public Relations and Marketing) I have realized the life-long dream – a dream at times I didn’t even know I had – of attending University.  This is a moment worth savoring.  This is an accomplishment worth celebrating. My heart is full.  This dream fulfillment has been two years of hard work towards this moment, utilizing, enhancing, improving upon and fully embracing a passion (writing) I have had for years.  Not for nothing, I accomplished this while doing/dealing with:  chronic pain; migraines; sleep apnea; arthritis; anxiety; the death of my father and the death of our beloved pets in 2013 (and the byproduct of loss – grief); keeping our home running; writing articles for magazines; developing inventory for two photography shows, etc.

I will actually receive my formal Certificate in the fall due to missing the deadline this spring because of course timings.  The University also has certificate graduation ceremonies however I will not be eligible to participate in this year’s ceremony due to the application deadline. I’ve submitted my name for next year’s graduation ceremony. I was eligible, based on academic standing and the program I was taking, an endowment award of $500 and applied for the same. I will know at the end of May whether I was selected.

Obtaining this Certificate would not have been possible, on so many levels, without the love and support of my husband. Honey, you rock! Thank you so much. “I’m not a parasite, I’m a tax deduction!”

I was asked for my thoughts on what comes next.  I’m curious about our culture that creates this. This seemingly pushing along of life.   It occurs in various forms: once one is engaged, one is asked “when’s the wedding”, as if the engagement itself was not  a moment to cherish, celebrate, savor.  When one is married, the question changes to “when are you having kids?”  Same thing: Is the stage one is at not a stage to enjoy for it’s own sake? And, when one graduates, it is “what will you do now?”  Well, now I am savoring my accomplishment.  I am patting myself on the back, tooting my own horn, and making merry over what I have achieved. This is a big deal to me; huge!  I’m also going to catch up on my sleep. As to the future? In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll “worry about that tomorrow.”

Salad Rolls {Gluten Free}

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After a friend of mine made salad rolls and brought them to our luncheon a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to try making them myself. These are nice as an appetizer or even a main course when it’s too hot outside to cook.

Recipe and instructions:

You will need a package of rice paper wrappers. I bought mine at a health food store but it’s likely these are available in less expensive stores such as Superstore in Canada.

First prepare your filling ingredients. You will need:

Shred or slice thinly one cooked chicken breast or cooked pork. Cooked shrimp will also work. Slice very thinly (or shred) an assortment of vegetables. Here I used a pepper, cucumber, and green onions. Quantities used for  the vegetables were about 1/2 pepper, 5 or so green onions, and about one-third of an English cucumber (which was enough for 10 salad rolls) Also, about a tablespoon of broccoli slaw and a leaf of fresh basil per wrapper was also used.

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Fill a large bowl with warm water. Take the individual rice wrapper and soak it for 5 seconds in the water. Place the wrapper on a plate or the counter and let it sit for 30 seconds to soften.

Then, fill wrapper with a small amount of each of your ingredients, placing the ingredients near the bottom of the rice wrapper. The rice wrapper pictured below likely had too much filling; I tended to over fill mine and then, when it came time to eat them, they became “deconstructed salad rolls.”

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Carefully draw the sides of the filled rice wrapper towards the middle. Then fold the bottom in towards the middle and roll up.  Lather, rinse, repeat for as many rolls as you have filling for.  I had enough filling for about 10 salad rolls.  Cover with saran wrap once you’re done making the rolls so they do not dry out.

**Salad rolls are pretty versatile. Today I made them using shredded carrots, thinly sliced pieces of romaine lettuce, pepper, broccoli, and leftover canned salmon.

Enjoy with peanut sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.

Peanut Sauce:

1 c. water (GF chicken broth could also be used)
2 T. cornstarch
¼ c. peanut butter
1 T. oil
2 T. wheat free / GF soy sauce
2  – 3 T. Thai sweet chili sauce or to taste

Whisk together in a small pot and heat over medium heat until peanut butter is melted. If this becomes too thick, add  a little more water or broth.

Classmates videos {ADL310}

Herewith are links to some of my classmates blog posts (which contain links to their videos) with my reflections.

Julie’s video making skills using scribing software and plotagon made using the same to make look videos fun and easy.

http://julieadl310.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/plenty-of-pleasure-with-plotagon-adl310/

http://julieadl310.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/sparkol-videoscribe-oh-what-fun-it-is-to-scribe-adl310/

I appreciated how natural Tara (Drive by Quilter) and her friend January sounded in their video on selecting fabric.

http://drivebyquilter.com/2014/05/12/episode-4-selecting-fabric-for-a-project/

I enjoyed seeing Christine aka Nocturntable’s world music collection. I’m not familiar with a lot of that genre,  so I’m going to have to investigate some of the music she mentioned.

http://nocturntable.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/essential-podcast-video-podcasting-impressions-take-one-adl310/

Sherry’s (Family Adrift) video  was from the heart and very inspiring. Kudos to her for sticking it out–16 hours of production time spent!

http://familyadrift.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/treating-family-like-it-matters/

I enjoyed Sheri’s video (Mud Puddle Days) on how she and her son spent Earth Day picking up garbage at a local park. As well, I was introduced to inquiry based learning, something I’m not familiar with.  As an aside –my response your enthusiastic post for your accomplishment at making this video:  you go, girl!

http://intheirnature.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/video-podcasting-walt-whitman-me/

Edited to include the following:

Jill’s budget tips presentation was informative and will be useful for any bride on a budget.

http://eventmedia3.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/essential-post-my-first-video-2/

I enjoyed learning about the forest garden in Liliana’s presentation

http://faesrule.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/my-video-assignment-5/

(I just wanted it done; my classmates actually seemed to have fun.)

social media train
All Aboard the Social Media Train!

Most importantly for me, I have really enjoyed getting to know my classmates a little better through these videos.  I am happy to call you my classmates; I could not have asked for a better group of people to be on this journey into social media (or what I’m calling the “social media train” ) with.

 

Treating Family Like It Matters

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Oh this blog post and accompanying video on podomatic resonate with me so much. To see and hear the desire in the post and video of how much Sherry wants the family to reconnect again is so awesome. It is palpable. My history — crappy childhood starting with the death of my mother at a young age, continuing on to being unwanted by my birth father, in the foster home system (where foster parents were told not to attach to their foster children)..I was the little girl nobody loved.. It’s taken it’s toll on me of course. I never had a relationship with my father and he died last year. Someday I’ll write my memoirs and the words of Anne Lamott will be on the first page of the book: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Are We Having Fun Yet? {ADL310}

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People do this for fun?????

 

My thoughts/rant/what-have-you on making a video for #ADL310.

First of, I try to determine whether I had the necessary equipment (I don’t have a web cam on my laptop and I don’t think my husband’s PC has one either).  Hmmm..do I beg, borrow, what’s necessary?   I ask my friend to borrow their digital video recorder. Discover it’s not available til Thursday (today) as it’s out of town. Hoping to get this over with before then, I check whether we’ve got something at home that will work. Okay, sigh of relief, looks like the tablet will work.

Get things ready to do the video on the tablet. Write a bit of a script. Perform. Five takes later this isn’t working because a) even I was bored with the subject I’d chosen, and b) the video’s too long at 8 minutes.  The textbook says if you can’t get the viewing public’s interest in two minutes, they’re gone.

So a change in subject matter for take #6 and voila, a star is born! Or, at least, a video is recorded on the tablet. Off the cuff and decidedly raw but it’s done.  I try not to care that I don’t look at the camera/tablet much, my chins are showing, my eyes look tired, and other self-criticisms.

Later that same evening…..

My husband had to be my “production assistant” and he was able to get the vid off the tablet and onto the jump drive so I could load on to my laptop.

Sometime the next morning….

Only thing is, the video somehow got corrupted along the way (it played fine on the tablet) and is now showing all sorts of distortion when I move my head etc. No worries I think, a copy of it is living on my husband’s PC..only I can’t open it to check if it’s okay or not as for some reason neither video playing software we have on there PC will read an .mp4 file, despite this not being a problem in the past.

I determine, with the help of phone calls to my production assistant, that it’s Windows Video Player that’s causing the distortion etc. (thank you, Microsoft) as, when I loaded it onto a different video player (the trial version of Camtasia was Cam-tastic for this!), the vid played just hunky-dory.

Tick-tock gotta get this done!
Tick-tock gotta get this done!

Meanwhile at this point I am running out of patience and out of time. I have a pounding headache and neck, arm, back, and hand pain.  This was supposed to be fun?  Ha ha ha…

Make it look all pretty via editing software? I. Don’t. Care.  Upload to Podomatic and hold my breath it doesn’t crash while Podomatic works its’ magic. At one point after my vid was loaded onto I thought I’d killed Podomatic.  Was my video that bad I chuckled to myself rather maniacally hysterically?  (Podomatic would not open in my browser afterwards, despite clearing my browser’s history in Firefox, trying to open Podomatic in Explorer. Finally, after re-starting the laptop twice and another browser “cleanse” Podomatic re-opened.)

Oh my word — people do this on a regular basis  for fun?

 

Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Mustard-Maple Cream Sauce

Fast and fancy, this was last night’s dinner.

For the salmon:

2 salmon filets

1 T. oil

1/3 – 1/2 c. pistachios

Shell 1/3 – 1/2 c. pistachios, and coarsely chop. I used my mini-chopper to chop the pistachios:

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Brush two salmon filets with 1 T. oil.  Sprinkle the filets with salt and pepper. Dump the pistachios onto a plate. Take each filet and turn upside down onto the pistachios to coat the top of the filet with pistachios. Press some pistachios onto the side of the salmon. The filets will look something like this:

 

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I cooked the filets “low and slow” in the oven – 325F for 20 minutes. The low cooking temperature, oil and pistachio crust all kept the salmon moist.

While the salmon was cooking, I made the sauce:

Maple Mustard Cream Sauce

1/4 c. 10% cream

1 T. soy sauce

1 T. mustard

2 T. maple syrup

1 tsp dried dillweed

salt and pepper

Combine above in a small pot. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through and the mixture starts to bubble a little. Remove from heat.  Combine a teaspoon of cornstarch with a little cream in a small container and add to sauce to thicken. Makes 3/4 c. Serve over salmon.

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I served it with rice (which I started making in the rice cooker before I started the salmon) and pre-packaged coleslaw to which I added a pepper and an apple. The salad dressing I used on the coleslaw was a combination of bottled Poppyseed Dressing and–shhh don’t tell anyone–Miracle Whip.

The main dish is gluten free and, if one substitutes almonds for the pistachios,low fodmap. Substitute or leave the apple out of the coleslaw and use a different salad dressing to make the coleslaw low fodmap (the poppyseed dressing contains onions) and/or gluten free.

Serves two

 

 

Video For Social Media {ADL310}

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How useful would social media be for me in my work context?

Some of the ways I could use video for social media purposes are:

  • As an author, I could post videos with excerpts from my writing, make book trailers, do Q & A sessions, other author interviews, book reviews of others’ work, giveaways, etc.
  • As a food blogger, I could definitely see the advantage of using videos to do cooking demonstrations of recipes, product reviews, giveaways, or to demonstrate tips and tricks to help people with chronic pain move more ergonomically in the kitchen, and elsewhere in their home.
  • My own work could be publicized and marketed as well via video.
  • On a personal note, writing can cause me to experience hand, arm and neck pain (hello, repetitive strain injury – in fact I’m feeling pain in my hands right now).   Using video instead on days like today when my pain is flaring from typing and other activities may help alleviate that.

 

My Three Video “Reviews” {ADL310}

holding a book
Image via gratisography.com – free images

All of the videos I selected were videos starring best-selling authors.

The first video I selected was an interview with author Stephen King:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1qItKJ8RiQ

It’s a short interview tie-in with the release of his book of short stories, Just After Sunset.  In this interview, King discusses the short story genre, the “lost art” of the short story, the difficulty of the medium, and how he got his start as author by selling a short story at the age of 19.  In his opinion, short stories can take on a life of their own and often become novellas or novels.  He seemed to imply the short story was a difficult medium to write in.

The second video is a Q & A session with one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrNHeHsrg4g

She appears to be sitting in a bookstore, and an off-camera interviewer is presenting her with questions from Facebook and Twitter.  Jodi, who has probably been asked similar questions a multitude of times, answers each question thoughtfully, in an engaging and warm style.   Two negatives: I found the background noise a bit distracting.  Also, while Jodi references a character in her  book The Storyteller, those who haven’t read that book (like myself) would not know exactly what she was talking about. Jodi does social media well – her website http://www.jodipicoult.com/ is filled with videos, podcasts, and pictures of both her life, and clips from her books.  Chapter 11 of Kobani’s book on page 179 recommends to keep videos real. In essence,  a video should be an authentic portrait of one’s life.  Jodi accomplishes this with her videos posted both on her website and elsewhere on line.

My third video “review” is a video produced by another one of my beloved (and likely the most prolific on the planet) authors, James Patterson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqhuy9wV27o

In this “funny” video, Patterson is joined by Zachary Gordon, a young comedian.  This video is a promo for Patterson’s book, I Funny, a middle school story about Jamie Grimm who wants to be the world’s funniest stand up comedian. The video promo, which is actually fairly cleverly done, includes a real-life contest for the funniest kid, with the prize being a trip to Disney World. Patterson too does social media well. His website has a community section which includes videos, links to his Twitter and Facebook feeds, even Pinterest.  On a personal note, Patterson’s  Women’s Murder Club series is one I have devoured. This series showcases how tight, sparsely written chapters, which still manage to convey necessary details, can move the story along at lightening speed.

 

These videos demonstrate how this form of social media can be used to not only to interact with fans of your work but also to “attract, convert and transform” video watchers into customers.

 

Pasta with Sausage and Spinach in Tomato Sauce

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4 c. rotini (for low fodmap/gluten free, use rice or other gluten free pasta)

water

3 Italian pork sausages (gluten free)

1 T. oil

2 – 3 handfuls of fresh spinach

1 large 28  ounce can diced tomatoes

1 T. oregano

Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in water in a large pot according to package directions.  Drain.  Return pasta to pot.   Add the oil to a frying pan. Squeeze the sausage out of their casings into the frying pan and cook until brown. Add to pasta.  Puree the tomatoes with the oregano, and add to pasta.  Return pot to the stove and heat on medium for a few minutes until the pasta is re-heated and the sauce is hot. Add the spinach and mix until the spinach wilts a little bit.  Serve with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4- 6. Note: the Italian sausage, while gluten free,  likely has garlic and onion added in so may not be suitable during the initial phase of a low fodmap diet.