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31 August 2011

Starting a new 30-Day Challenge

To get my butt back on the photography wagon, I'm starting a new 30-Day Challenge for the month of September. You should do it, too. All the cool kids are. :)

24 August 2011

NC Life 365 - Day 134

I've clearly taken a short hiatus from my daily photography posts, and I'm not sure how regular these will be given how busy I am. But I am definitely going to try and be more regular. Having a real world life is no excuse for abandoning my digital life.

So how better to restart my NC Life 365 series than with some super tasty treats? Namely, lemoncello shots! I saw these on Pinterest and adjusted the recipe to my liking.

Um ... yum!

They are as yummy as they are easy.

These are super-easy to make and are more delicious than they look. Here's the recipe:

What you need: 
  • 1 box of sugar-free lemon Jell-O (You can use the pre-sugared kind, but there really is enough sweetness once the entire shot is made.)
  • 5 small-medium fresh lemons. (Have one extra in case you need it.)
  • 1 cup combination of lemon juice and boiling water
  • 1 cup combination of chilled plain vodka and lemoncello

What you do:
  1. Cut each lemon in half and gently squeeze (by hand!) the juice into a glass bowl. Clear out any seeds of leftover pulp. You want to squeeze the lemon halves gently so as not to compromise the integrity of the rind. You'll be filling them with the Jell-O mix, and you don't want it leaking out. Set juice aside.
  2. Use a spoon to gently remove all of the pulp, leaving a clean rind. (I'm sure there is something you could do with the remaining pulp, but I'm not sure what that something is.) Rinse the rinds and let them dry a bit.
  3. Whisk together the lemon Jell-O and the boiling water/lemon juice mixture. The lemon juice should not be boiled! Just add it to the boiled water. (My mixture ended up being about half water and half lemon juice, but it depends on how juicy your lemons are. Here's a tip: pop those lemons in the microwave for about 45 seconds to soften them and you'll get a lot more juice with a lot less squeezing.)
  4. Add the chilled vodka/lemoncello mixture. Whisk until completely mixed. 
  5. Set the empty lemon halves into a cupcake container. This will keep them upright and level while the Jell-O sets. I also used a bit of torn paper towel under the rinds to keep them even more level. Pour the mixture into each half, filling it completely. (If you have extra liquid, quickly cut and prepare the extra lemon to use as a shell.)
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge until they are solid. Mine set in about 5 hours, and I made them two days in advance.
  7. Before serving them, cut each half in half once more to make lemon wedges.
  8. Enjoy!

Girls' Night should be fun tonight!

23 August 2011

Happy New Year!

A new school year has begun, and I'm thankful to return to a more normal routine. I miss work during the summer months because I truly am a creature of habit and routine. I need that regularity to feel productive.  We've been in school for going-on-five days now, and things are shaping up to be a pretty fine year. I've got A LOT on my plate this fall, so I hope I don't blow it and forget something or screw it up.

First, during from September 12th until October 16th, I have a photography show in the fine arts gallery at my school. It's not a huge deal or anything, but it is my work and it will be up on display for anyone to see at any time. Most significantly, it requires A LOT of preparation. Once the show starts, it's easy. The work is up and all I have to worry about it coordinating a small reception one night. But getting the show ready is pretty daunting. I have to pick out all of the pieces I'm going to show (which was surprisingly difficult), get them printed, mount them on foam core, and then hang them in the gallery. All while I teach full time, try to be physically fit, and write a dissertation. Oh, and write a paper for a conference in October that is due by the 3rd ... of September.

Speaking of ... I'll be in Dublin in 38 days! I'm an super excited about visiting Dublin with my mom while I present at a conference there. We'll be there for a week, and I cannot wait. After I present and attend the conference, we're renting a car and taking a little jaunt around the country. We'll visit the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills in Northern Ireland, drive through the western country to see the Cliffs of Moher and then back to Dublin. There is so much I want to see and do while I am there, but I have to prioritize. The conference will take considerable time, so I won't have as much exploring time as I would like. We'll have a lot of time in Dublin, and I'm excited about seeing all of the great stuff that is there.

One month later I'm heading to Chicago for another conference where I get to present with one of my favorite colleagues. I'l be staying with The Boy's family, but I'll be in Chicago for a week. In November. When it is VERY cold. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to that conference less than the first. But I'll have good company which makes everything better.

My dissertation writing schedule has sadly taken a back seat to the start of school. I've also reached a point where I need to research more before I can write more. But, that being said, I haven't exactly been good at doing a little bit every night. I'm hoping that once my body and mind readjust to a rigorous daily schedule, I'll be able to get back into a solid routine.

Thankfully, that is all I have lined up for this fall. And, honestly, it seems more than I can handle right now. But I like to have a lot on my plate. It keeps me out of trouble.

06 August 2011

Six days in ...

... and still going strong!

I've been working out regularly (except for today) and have been making regular progress on my writing. I've written at least 750 words each and every day, and I'm super stoked to report that I've written over 10,000 words thus far!

That translates to just over 30 pages!

Words cannot truly express how happy this makes me. I had been in a dissertation holding pattern for quite some time and was honestly getting quite disillusioned with the whole process. It seemed impossible to start. I think a lot of that was fear. It has been almost four solid years since I have written an academic paper of any kind. My prospectus doesn't count. I'd honestly forgotten how to write using sources and critique and critical engagement. Which, for me, is rather heartbreaking since it is something that I genuinely love. But my priorities and responsibilities have shifted. I spend my time reading and writing for my students more than for myself. And this has made me a worse writer. And, with my fear of writing, came a doubt of whether I was even capable of it. So finishing 30+ pages in the last two weeks or so feels really amazing. My confidence is getting a nice boost, and I'm slowly remembering how to write again. It feels kinda good. I'm not bragging, but I'm a little proud of myself.

Now that I've made some real progress, I'm going to start setting some deadlines. I'm not ready to do that just yet -- especially with the start of school on the horizon and knowing how crazy those first few weeks are -- but I'll be making a deadline for my first chapter submission in the next week or so. If I can get one chapter out and read, I'll feel really invested and ready to keep plugging along.

I'm also pretty proud of myself for actually sticking to this routine (albeit has only been six days) and writing every day. Given that this whole process is something that I've been dreading, I'm pretty impressed with me.

03 August 2011

Off to a good start!

Today is August third, and it is the third day of my August challenge. Makes sense, right? Well, I'm pretty excited to say that I'm doing well so far!

I have written at least 750 words each day. In fact, I've written MORE than 750 each day.

I've worked out every day in August (which sounds really great until one remembers that it's only the third), and I've burned over 1500 calories. That's pretty sweet no matter how you put it.

Only 27 more days to go!


01 August 2011

Setting Goals

August has arrived and with it comes normal life. Summer, for me and many teachers, is "not normal." I have a lot of free time, no real schedule, and I feel like I wander around aimlessly, looking for purpose. August means that I return to a regular routine with responsibilities and deadlines and a much busier schedule. I am definitely one of those people who needs a routing and a pretty rigorous schedule. Without it, I find it hard to focus. So I truly welcome August!

This August, I'm setting a few goals for myself. I think goals work really well with routine, and I like the push to accomplish my goal, even if there isn't a "pot of gold" waiting on the other side of it. This August, I'm not setting any "teacher" goals; I figure I'll be busy enough with the start of school to worry about any goals.

First, I've decided to set an exercise goal. Quinn's Momma and I have decided to work out/exercise AT LEAST 14 of the 30 days in August. While that isn't quite half of the month, we figure that it is a good place to start since August is such a hectic time for us teachers. to help me accomplish this goal, I have a new little toy to accompany me: My new heart rate monitor! It tracks heart rate, calories burned, distance travelled ... you name it, and then it wireless syncs to my computer, so I can upload all of that information to a program and keep track of it. I started using it today, and I LOVE IT. (But don't worry. I didn't pay the SRP.)

Second, I've signed up for the 750words challenge for August. I've been using it off and on for the past week or so (after a loooooong hiatus from the program), and it's really been helping me make progress on a draft of my dissertation. I figure that if I can keep it up for another month, I'll have made a lot of progress that I can be happy about. By my count, that would equal about 90 pages by the end of the month. Granted, those would be rough, unedited pages, but 90 pages nonetheless.

I think two solid, measurable goals is good for now. That should keep me busy for a little while. And I'll post updates regularly for, you know, an added level of accountability.

In case you are wondering, I have accomplished BOTH of my goals for today. I wrote over 750 words AND I worked out. All in a hard day's work.


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